Spanish Influence in the New World

 

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before reaching the viceroys, after which a message may be outdated 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 
c