Institutions Imposed On the New World During Spanish Settlement


When the Spaniards came to settle the New World, or what is
now Mexico and Peru, they imposed many new ways and customs
for the people living there. These institutions were
partially what the Spaniards were used to from living in
Spain, and others were simply to live better. The Spaniards
imposed many political, economical, and social institutions
in the New World never heard of before by the Indians, and
many feudal customs and systems that they brought wholly
intact from Spain.
The political institutions were very important for
government functionality in the Spanish colonies. First, a
class system similar to that in Spain was reconstructed
anew in the colonies. Those in the New World that were born
in Spain held the highest position. These people were
called Peninsulares, and were the nobles of the feudal
class hierarchy. Below them were the Creoles, or Spaniards
born in the New World. Then came mestizoes, men and women
of mixed Spanish and Indian marriages; mulattoes, people of
black and Spanish ancestry; and zambos, those born from
black and Indian marriages. Viceroys were another political
establishment in the New World. The viceroys were the
king's assistants. They helped manage the government in the
colonies, and carried out orders from the king. This method
did not work too well since orders from the king took
months and even years before reaching the viceroys, after
which a message may be outdated and irrelevant.
New social institutions changed the way people lived. The
Church was the first and most important social institution
because Spanish life in the colonies revolved around
Catholicism. The Church's goal was to convert everyone
presently living in the New World to Christianity. This
topic brings us to the Missions. Missions were large
estates on which were set up schools and other facilities
to teach the Indians to become proper Christians.
Encomiendas and repartimientos were also large estates, but
on these lived many people and slaves. The Spanish crown
entrusted encomiendas and slaves to noble warriors who had
done well in battle, and in return, these nobles paid taxes
to the crown. Many other people lived on the same
encomienda, however, since the noble owning the whole plot
of land would divide it up into smaller parts, which other
people managed. The rest of the people living on the
encomiendas were slaves. Slavery and forced labor were
imposed on the Indians as soon as the Spaniards arrived,
but black Africans were immediately imported when the
Spaniards saw that the Indians could not do very much work
at all.
Many institutions were also implemented for the upkeep of
the economy. Slavery, as mentioned above, was the key to
mass output from the encomiendas and missions. Many workers
could accomplish a great deal and produce a lot of money.
Furthermore, the larger the encomienda or mission, the more
its output. If the soil on a mission or encomienda is
fertile, much can be grown and sold for more money.
Many new institutions were developed and implemented by the
Spaniards settling the New World. Without proper economic,
social, and political establishments enforced, the
Spaniards would not have been able to settle the New World
as quickly and as aggressively as they did. Only with
proper control and strict institutions did Spain conquer
and create the great nation it is today.


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