What resources did the Nahua value most at the time of Spanish conquest?

What resources did the Nahua value most at the time of Spanish conquest?

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I am doing research on how the Spaniards and Nahua felt about gold and wealth (their differences) during the conquest. The Spanish were very open about their thoughts on gold & wealth. But what about the indigenous people? What did they consider as treasures? Certainly they were interested in more things than cultivation. I have not had much success looking elsewhere online, so I thought I would look here.

Since we are comparing two civilizations, note that the Spaniards came from a world where money was long used in order to buy all manner of goods. When you had more money, you could buy whatever you wanted -- including lands, titles, and power. Even if you already had all of these, more money is always needed.

None of the civilizations of the New World had developed any form of currency; in order to acquire goods one had to hold a position which deserved them. That is, the status of you and your family determined your obligations and rewards.

Thus the Nahua would not have seen gold as a form of money, but rather as something that was due to the uppermost members of the status hierarchy. It was not a commodity to be bought and sold, but rather one to be used for display, as with jewelry, etc.

So when the Spaniards demanded gold, they at first appeared to be just another form of highly entitled group, albeit from some distant realm. It only became apparent over time that they were merely greedy interlopers. But by then it was too late.

The Nahua, and other New World civilizations, valued status; material goods followed status. There is no hierarchy of material goods when all good things come to you based upon your social status.

For example, consider Aztec Religion:

The sixteenth-century accounts written in Spanish and Nahuatl provide detailed descriptions of Aztec concepts of death and the afterlife. One of the most important accounts of Aztec mortuary rites and beliefs concerning the hereafter occurs in Book 3 of the Florentine Codex, an encyclopedic treatise of Aztec culture compiled by the Franciscan Fray Bernardino de Sahagún. According to this and other early accounts, the treatment of the body and the destiny of the soul in the afterlife depended in large part on one's social role and mode of death, in contrast to Western beliefs that personal behavior in life determines one's afterlife.

Read more: http://www.deathreference.com/A-Bi/Aztec-Religion.html#ixzz4HhDejN00

Note: Aztec tribute:

Religion and Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansionism, By Geoffrey W. Conrad, Arthur A. Demarest (1984), on p. 55, lists some of the tribute demanded by the victorious Aztecs (the Nahua):

Tribute from the subjugated peoples, besides food stuffs and other material needs of the people, included various items required as status symbols by the elite. Sacrificial victims were also provided in great numbers.

Tribute items: quetzalcoatl feathers and sacrificial victims

For good reads try:

The True History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492-1581), one of the lieutenants of Cortez.

The First New Chronicle and Good Government by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, (1535-1615), a Quechua nobleman known for chronicling and denouncing the ill treatment of the natives of the Andes by the Spanish after their conquest.

Spanish conquest of Honduras

The Spanish conquest of Honduras was a 16th-century conflict during the Spanish colonization of the Americas in which the territory that now comprises the Republic of Honduras, one of the five states of Central America, was incorporated into the Spanish Empire. In 1502, the territory was claimed for the king of Spain by Christopher Columbus on his fourth and final trip to the New World. The territory that now comprises Honduras was inhabited by a mix of indigenous peoples straddling a transitional cultural zone between Mesoamerica to the northwest, and the Intermediate Area to the southeast. Indigenous groups included Maya, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Sumu, Jicaque, Pipil and Chorotega. Two indigenous leaders are particularly notable for their resistance against the Spanish the Maya leader Sicumba, and the Lenca ruler referred to as Lempira (a title meaning "Lord of the Mountain").

In March 1524, Gil González Dávila became the first Spaniard to arrive in what is now Honduras with the intention of conquest. He founded the first Spanish port upon the Caribbean coast, Puerto de Caballos, which became an important staging post for later expeditions. The early decades of the Spanish conquest of Honduras were beset by jurisdictional disputes between different Spanish colonies attempting to invade the territory, which resulted in conflict between rival expeditions launched from Mexico, Hispaniola, and Panama. The Spanish territory was reorganised as Higueras in the west, and Honduras in the east. As the Spanish became established throughout Central America, the colony of Honduras-Higueras became involved in territorial disputes with neighbouring colonies in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

From 1530, the colonists became the arbiters of power, installing and deposing governors. Spanish government in Honduras was riven by factionalism. As a response to the growing anarchy, the colonists requested that Pedro de Alvarado intervene. Alvarado arrived in 1536, put an end to the political infighting, and gained an important victory over Sicumba, a Maya leader in the Ulúa valley. Alvarado founded two towns that later became important, San Pedro de Puerto Caballos (later to become San Pedro Sula) and Gracias a Dios.

In 1537, Francisco de Montejo was appointed governor. As soon as he arrived in Honduras, he cancelled the land distribution carried out by Alvarado. In that year, a great native uprising spread throughout Honduras, led by the Lenca ruler Lempira. Lempira held out for six months at his formidable stronghold at the Peñol de Cerquín ("Rock of Cerquín") before he was killed, during which time the uprising across Honduras threatened the existence of the Spanish colony. After Lempira's death, Montejo and his captain Alonso de Cáceres rapidly imposed Spanish dominion across most of Honduras the main phase of the Spanish conquest was complete by 1539, although Olancho and the east were not brought within the Spanish Empire for some decades to come.

HMS Discovery , ship of George Vancouver, left. Princessa Real, ship of Manuel Quimper, 1790, right. Drawings by Hewitt Jackson. Robert Ballard Whitebrook, Coastal Exploration of Washington (Palo Alto: Pacific Books, 1959).

European and American Exploration of the 18th-Century Pacific Northwest

Spain's galleons sailed between Mexico and the Philippines, beginning in 1527, establishing a limited Spanish presence in the North Pacific:

1707: The Spanish galleon San Francisco Xavier , sailing from Manila to Acapulco, shipwrecked on the Oregon coast near Nehalem Beach

Russian expeditions to Alaska spur Spanish voyages to the Northwest Coast:

1728: Vitus Bering discovered the Bering Straits
1741: Bering and Aleksei Chirikov sighted portions of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands

Spanish expeditions to Northwest Coast affirm Spain's claim to the territory:

1774: Juan Jose Perez Hernandez explores coastline and trades with Indians
1775: Bruno de Heceta and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra sail northward, landing and claiming territory at points in Washington and British Columbia

British expeditions to Northwest Coast search for the Northwest Passage, discover the rich trade in sea otter pelts, and challenge Spanish claims to the region:

1778: Cook's third expedition to the Pacific Ocean (1776-1780) made landfall at Nootka Sound, acquired sea otter pelts, and explored the coastline northward to Alaska
1785: James Hanna's voyage marked the return of the British to open the coastal fur trade
1786: Eight British ships sailed to the Northwest Coast to trade furs
1787: Six British vessels sailed to the Northwest Coast to trade furs
1785-1794: Twenty-five British ships sailed to Northwest Coast to trade furs

Click on the map icon, right, to see a larger view of British explorations

Nootka Sound Affair, 1789-1794:

1789: Spain sent expedition led by Esteban Jose Martinez to fortify Spanish claim to Nootka Sound and seize British vessels and crews
1790: Spain and Britain signed the Nootka Sound Convention, resolving the dispute over claims along the Northwest Coast in favor of the British
1792: Britain sent George Vancouver and Spain sent Bodega y Quadra to Nootka Sound to implement the 1790 Convention locally both captains explored the coastline
1794: Spain and Britain amended the 1790 convention, and Spain decided to withdraw from Northwest Coast

United States efforts on the Northwest Coast:

1788: Robert Gray and John Kendrick (1787-1790) arrived on Northwest Coast to trade furs
1792: Robert Gray returned to trade furs, and in so doing discovered the Columbia River
1788-94: Fifteen American vessels arrived to trade furs
1795-1804: Fifty American vessels arrived to trade fur (compared to nine British ships)
1805-1814: Forty American vessels arrived to trade fur (compared to three British ships)

In the century between the 1740s and the 1840s, different nations competed with one another, and with native peoples, to take control over the area that is today known as the American Pacific Northwest and the west coast of Canada. In one sense this competition had begun in 1492, when Columbus landed in the New World, claimed it for Spain, and inaugurated a European rivalry for territory. Over the next two years, the Pope responded to the discovery and the threat of competition over it essentially by dividing the western hemisphere into Spanish and Portuguese zones of influence, and assigning the Pacific Northwest to Spain. Yet Europeans would not actually see Alaska and the Pacific Northwest until the 18th century, when their ambitions spurred one another to explore the territory. The contest ended in 1846, when the Americans and British divided most of the region between themselves by drawing a boundary between Canada and the United States at the 49th parallel another key event occurred when Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867. It thus took more than three and a half centuries for peoples of European descent, following up on Columbus’s first voyage, to establish some degree of mutually respected authority over the Pacific Northwest (and for decades longer, even that authority remained contested by native peoples). This long span of time illustrates just how isolated the region once was from European centers of power.

The period 1774-1795 marked an especially intense era in this rivalry, for it was when sailors from different nations first visited the lands between Alaska to the north and California to the south, and engaged their countries directly in a contest over who would control the territory. The Spanish arrived first, in exploratory voyages of 1774 and 1775, and performed ritual acts of possession that asserted their claim to the territory. The British soon followed, with the first ship arriving in 1778 and many more coming thereafter. Other nations also made appearances in this period: the United States, a relatively weak competitor, showed up belatedly Russia coveted lands south of Alaska but never really established an effective claim to any (except at Fort Ross in California, between 1812 and 1841) and France sent only a single exploratory expedition in this era. But Spain and Great Britain were the main contestants, and the nature and outcome of their rivalry loom large in understanding the European forces increasingly at work on the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca (left). John Meares, Voyages made in the Years 1778-1812. London, 1790. Atlas, plate 7. Sketch by T. Strothard.

Carlos Schwantes, in The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History (p. 42), comments that before 1774 Spain “showed little interest in a region that seemed so pitifully lacking in either economic resources or good harbors,” and had to be roused from “her imperial lethargy” by Russian advances toward Alaska. These comments don’t portray Spanish colonization very fully. Between the time of Columbus and the later 18th century, Spain was the most successful colonial power in the Americas, occupying most of the coasts of Central and South America as well as the Gulf of Mexico, and extracting enormous wealth from such places as Mexico and Peru. When Russian voyages to Alaska in the 1720s and 1740s threatened the North Pacific coastline that Spain claimed, they motivated Spain to send expeditions to the Northwest Coast, as well as to establish missions, forts, and towns along the California coast. But Spanish interest in the lands that would become the west coast of the United States and Canada was not initially focused on its economic potential or prospective harbors. Rather, Spanish officials intended to secure the region--or at least its coastline--as a buffer zone between possible Russian colonies to the north and Spain’s main center of imperial activity (not lethargy) in Mexico.

Consider how Spanish officials in Mexico justified the exploratory voyages of the mid-1770s. First, they used religion to explain their presence along the Northwest Coast. (“Christianity” should be added to the “three C’s of empire” that Schwantes mentions [p. 42].) Rather than let the Russians or English try to convert the Indians, Spain hoped that the natives would be “drawn into the sweet, soft, desirable vassalage of His Majesty” [the King of Spain] and “bathed in the light of the Gospel by means of spiritual Conquest, to separate them from the utter darkness in which they live and show them the road to eternal salvation.” Using the well-rehearsed rhetoric of European colonization, the Spanish basically claimed that Indians would benefit greatly from their arrival. Second, they also claimed that the Indians would do much better as Spanish vassals than as vassals of England or Russia. The Spanish insisted that they were not sailing to the Northwest Coast simply to expand their territory. And in truth, they were having enough trouble as it was trying to populate the northern frontier of Mexico, including California they had no interest in trying to send settlers to the Pacific Northwest, or in trying to develop its economic resources. They went there, an official explained, “not because the king needs to enlarge his realms, as he has within his known dominions more than it will ever be possible to populate in centuries, but in order to avoid the consequences brought by having any other neighbors [there] than the Indians.”

It is important to understand that the Spanish did not sail north from Mexico seeking economic resources or good harbors. They never sent any traders to the Northwest coast, or even any missionaries to the Indians there. They simply meant to assert a right to the territory, in the hope that reinforcing their claim dating from the 1490s would somehow prevent or discourage other European powers from doing the same thing. The ceremonial nature of this assertion—landing at a few selected points on the coast, erecting a cross, burying a bottle containing official documents at the foot of the cross, and then departing—suggests just how limited their vision of colonizing the territory was. Moreover, the Spanish found it quite difficult, given the limited means of its navy, actually to sail northward along the coast from Mexico. In the end, they could and would not mount a claim to the region in a way that we today, and that other nations at that time, would recognize as assertive. But this does not mean that the Spanish were lethargic colonists it suggests rather that their attention lay elsewhere, especially in Mexico, from which they had been extracting wealth aggressively for more than two centuries.

Section of chart (right) showing Cook's 1778 voyage along the North West Coast. Area displayed is from Cape Gregory to Cape Edgcombe.

Consider by contrast the British approach to the Northwest. As Schwantes explains (pp. 19-24), the British first arrived in the region as a byproduct of their search for something else—a Northwest Passage through North America that would expedite travel and trade between Europe and Asia. Cook’s crew was initially uninterested in the Pacific Northwest in its own right. But as soon as the British discovered--again, almost by accident--the economic value of sea otter pelts to Chinese markets, they hustled back to the Northwest Coast to do more trading and exploring. The Spanish sent only a handful of expeditions from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest between 1774 and 1795 these vessels came to claim, defend, and explore the territory, but never to do business there. The British, by contrast, sent 25 vessels in the decade 1785-1794 all but a few of them went primarily to participate in the maritime fur trade. In contrast to the Spanish, the British were on the lookout for economic resources and good harbors almost from the beginning of their exposure to the Pacific Northwest, and they approached colonization of the territory more aggressively.

The different designs of the Spanish and British led directly to the Nootka Sound controversy of 1789-1794, a crisis in which Spain and Britain challenged one another’s claim to the Pacific Northwest (see Schwantes, pp. 47-48). The crisis started in 1789 when Spaniards tried to defend their claims to the territory by capturing British trading vessels as they arrived at Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The British seized upon this incident, and talked about going to war over it, because they saw it as an opportunity to promote a different approach to colonization in the Americas. Spain should not be permitted simply to claim territory and prevent other Europeans from doing the same, the British argued, unless it was actually occupying and making use of the territory. In essence, Britain wanted to change the “rules” of colonization more to their favor. Rather than rely upon the edict of the Pope or some ritual act of possession to assert control over territory, it insisted, relatively unoccupied lands ought to be accessible to any nation that could make productive (i.e., economic) use of them. This concept of colonization was written into the Nootka Sound Convention (signed in 1790, amended in 1794), which resolved the controversy between Britain and Spain.

These new rules, of course, clearly favored Britain over Spain. They were in a sense (and to oversimplify) an attack by the “new” Europe against the “old.” Spain’s approach to colonization in many ways dated from the 15th and 16th centuries. It depended heavily upon big and rather inflexible institutions—especially the crown, the military, and the Catholic church—and offered little in the way of incentives or opportunities to common individuals. Its mercantilist economic thinking emphasized the accumulation of bullion in Spain. Great Britain, by contrast, had traveled further down the path of modern capitalism. It was much more commercial and industrial in its orientation, and therefore more capable of manufacturing and transporting trade goods to the Americas. Britain was also a somewhat more democratic society, which meant among other things that it offered more opportunity to individuals hoping for economic gain and social mobility, and that certain commercial interests could pressure the government to follow a foreign and military policy more favorable to “free trade” (or at least freer access to non-European resources). For what it is worth, Britain was also a Protestant nation, in contrast to Catholic Spain, and a stronger maritime power. We might view it as more “modern” and less “medieval,” although again this is oversimplifying things. In any case, the two nations’ approaches to the Pacific Northwest illustrated different kinds of European societies. By the late 18th century, Britain’s distinctive traits gave it certain advantages over Spain in the contest for territory on the Pacific Rim, and enabled it to win access to an area that the Spanish had long claimed as theirs.

Resolution of the Nootka Sound affair provided an opportunity for Captain George Vancouver to visit the Pacific Northwest. After signing the convention in 1790, each nation sent envoys to Vancouver Island to implement locally the terms of the agreement. Spain dispatched Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, who had sailed along the Northwest Coast in 1775. The British sent Vancouver, who had sailed to the Northwest under Cook in 1776-1778. During this voyage, Vancouver and his crew undertook detailed exploration of the Northwest coastline that included a tour approximately 100 miles up the Columbia River as well as the first recorded non-native visit to Puget Sound. That visit to the Sound is the subject of the reading excerpted from Vancouver’s Voyage of Discovery and introduced below.

To gain additional background on exploration in this period, one might compare Vancouver’s perceptions to those of others at roughly the same time. Accompanying Vancouver aboard his two ships were a number of individuals, including Peter Puget, who also left accounts of what they saw and thought. At roughly the same time, Spanish explorers were also sizing up the region anew. (Initially, the Spanish reacted to the Nootka Sound convention by establishing a more active presence in the vicinity that included sending more vessels northward from Mexico.) See, for example, Jose Mozino’s Noticias de Nutka: An Account of Nootka Sound in 1792 for a Spanish scientist’s depiction of the region.

Mt. Rainier from the south part of Admiralty Inlet (right). Sketch by John Sykes. (University of Washington Special Collections)

George Vancouver was born June 22, 1757 at King's Lynn, Norfolk, England. At the age of 13 he joined the Royal Navy and served as a midshipman during Captain James Cook's second and third voyages to the Pacific Coast (1772-75 and 1776-80). He thus accompanied Cook on his visit to the Northwest Coast in 1778. Following nine years of service in the West Indies the British government assigned to him a three-fold mission: to implement the Nootka Sound Convention, to explore the Pacific waters of North America, and to locate a Northwest Passage through British North America. Vancouver commanding the Discovery , and William Broughton on the Chatham , left England on April 1, 1791 and sighted the west coast of North America in April of 1792, close to the time when the American Robert Gray first located the mouth of the Columbia River. Vancouver and his crews meticulously surveyed and documented the Pacific Coast from San Francisco to Vancouver Island, including Puget Sound, so named for crew member Peter Puget. Vancouver's survey's proved that an easily navigable Northwest Passage did not exist, but in the process he named innumerable Pacific Northwest landmarks. He also strengthened British claims to the territory and left behind detailed records of the coastline for later navigators. His account suggests that he was constantly aware of his Spanish and American rivals. Vancouver returned to England on October 20, 1794, and died in 1798 at the age of forty. His brother published the account of the voyage, including maps, texts, and illustrations following the explorer's death. (For more information see Robin Fisher, Vancouver's Voyage: Charting the Northwest Coast, 1791-1795 . Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1992.)

UW Site Map © Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington

Spanish conquest of Honduras

The Spanish conquest of Honduras was a 16th-century conflict during the Spanish colonization of the Americas in which the territory that now comprises the Republic of Honduras, one of the five states of Central America, was incorporated into the Spanish Empire. In 1502, the territory was claimed for the king of Spain by Christopher Columbus on his fourth and final trip to the New World. The territory that now comprises Honduras was inhabited by a mix of indigenous peoples straddling a transitional cultural zone between Mesoamerica to the northwest, and the Intermediate Area to the southeast. Indigenous groups included Maya, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Sumu, Jicaque, Pipil and Chorotega. Two indigenous leaders are particularly notable for their resistance against the Spanish the Maya leader Sicumba, and the Lenca ruler referred to as Lempira (a title meaning "Lord of the Mountain").

In March 1524, Gil González Dávila became the first Spaniard to arrive in what is now Honduras with the intention of conquest. He founded the first Spanish port upon the Caribbean coast, Puerto de Caballos, which became an important staging post for later expeditions. The early decades of the Spanish conquest of Honduras were beset by jurisdictional disputes between different Spanish colonies attempting to invade the territory, which resulted in conflict between rival expeditions launched from Mexico, Hispaniola, and Panama. The Spanish territory was reorganised as Higueras in the west, and Honduras in the east. As the Spanish became established throughout Central America, the colony of Honduras-Higueras became involved in territorial disputes with neighbouring colonies in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

From 1530, the colonists became the arbiters of power, installing and deposing governors. Spanish government in Honduras was riven by factionalism. As a response to the growing anarchy, the colonists requested that Pedro de Alvarado intervene. Alvarado arrived in 1536, put an end to the political infighting, and gained an important victory over Sicumba, a Maya leader in the Ulúa valley. Alvarado founded two towns that later became important, San Pedro de Puerto Caballos (later to become San Pedro Sula) and Gracias a Dios.

In 1537, Francisco de Montejo was appointed governor. As soon as he arrived in Honduras, he cancelled the land distribution carried out by Alvarado. In that year, a great native uprising spread throughout Honduras, led by the Lenca ruler Lempira. Lempira held out for six months at his formidable stronghold at the Peñol de Cerquín ("Rock of Cerquín") before he was killed, during which time the uprising across Honduras threatened the existence of the Spanish colony. After Lempira's death, Montejo and his captain Alonso de Cáceres rapidly imposed Spanish dominion across most of Honduras the main phase of the Spanish conquest was complete by 1539, although Olancho and the east were not brought within the Spanish Empire for some decades to come.


Amatl paper has a long history. This story exists not only because the raw materials are still there, but also because the craft, distribution and uses have been adapted to the needs and constraints of different eras. This history can be roughly divided into three periods: the pre- Hispanic times, the Spanish colonial times up to the 20th century and from the end of the 20th century to the present day, each characterized by the use of paper as a commodity.

Pre-Hispanic time

The development of paper in Mesoamerica shows parallels to the cultures in China and ancient Egypt , where rice fibers and papyrus were used. It is unknown where and when papermaking began in Mesoamerica. Some scholars give a date between 500 and 1000 AD, while others suggest it much earlier: at least before 300 AD.

Iconographies (in stone) from this period are provided with drawings that presumably show the manufacture of paper. For example, Monument 52 of the Olmec site of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán illustrates a person who is adorned with pennants made of folded paper.

However, there is no more detailed information about papermaking from the pre-Hispanic times. Stone Dutchmen dating from the 6th century AD have been found and these tools are mostly found where Amatl trees ( Ficus cotinifolia was most popular, Ficus pertusa (Syn .: Ficus padifolia ), Ficus) citrifolia (Syn .: Ficus laevigata ), Ficus lapathifolia , Ficus maxima (Syn .: Ficus mexicana ) (Syn .: Ficus radula ), Ficus crocata (Syn .: Ficus yucatanensis ), Ficus obtusifolia (Syn .: Ficus bonplandiana ) (Syn .: Ficus involuta ) as well as Ficus glabrata (Syn .: Ficus insipidia ) and Ficus petiolaris , from the genus of figs and white mulberry Morus alba , black mulberry Morus nigra , red mulberry Morus rubra ) grow.

Most Dutch are made of volcanic rock , but some are also made of marble and granite . They are usually rectangular or circular with flutes on one or both sides to macerate the fibers . Such dutchers were always used by the Otomí artisans and were made entirely of volcanic rock with additional grooves on one side to hold the stone in place. According to some Spanish records, the tree bark was placed in water overnight so that it could soak up. The finer inner fibers were then separated from the coarser outer fibers and tapped into flat sheets. But you don't know who did the work or how the work was divided .

Paper also had a sacred aspect and was used in rituals together with other objects such as B. incense or incense, copal , Maguey thorns and rubber used. Tree bark paper was used in various ways for ceremonial and religious events: as decorations for fertility rituals, yiataztli , a kind of bag, and as an amatltéuitl , a badge that symbolized the soul of a prisoner after sacrifice. It has also been used to idols (idols), Priest and Victim candidates to dress in the form of crowns, stoles, feathers, wigs, belts and bracelets. Paper items such as flags, skeletons, and very long paper (the size of a person) were used as gifts, often by burning them. Another important paper item for rituals was paper, cut in the shape of long flags or trapezoids and painted with black rubber stains to mark the character of the god to be worshiped. At certain times of the year, they were also used to solicit rain. The paper was dyed blue with a plumage on the tip of the spear .

Debate from the 1940s through the 1970s has centered around AD 300 on the use of tree bark clothing among the Maya . Ethnolinguistic studies lead to the names of two villages in the Maya area, the reference to the use of tree bark paper have: Excachaché (place where white bark collars are smoothed) and Yokzachuún (over the white paper). The anthropologist Marion mentions that in Lacandones , in Chiapas , the Maya were still making and using tree bark clothing in the 1980s. For these reasons, it was probably the Maya who first propagated knowledge of the manufacture of tree bark paper (the Mayans called their paper "Huun") by using them throughout southern Mexico, Guatemala , Belize , Honduras and El Salvador widespread, in the heyday of the pre-classical period According to the researcher Hans Lenz, this Maya paper (Huun) was almost certainly not the Amatl paper that was known in later Mesoamerica. The difference is actually only in the surface treatment, the Aztecs improved Mayan paper by using heated stones to press the paper and thus closing the pores of the base paper, this corresponds to satinizing in modern paper production .


Amatl paper was used extensively during the Aztec Empire . This paper was produced in over 40 villages in the Aztec-controlled territory and then given as a tribute by the conquered peoples. The tribute was approximately 480,000 sheets annually. Most of the production was concentrated in what is now Morelos state , where ficus trees grow in abundance because of the climate. This paper was assigned to the royal sector to serve as gifts on special occasions or as a reward for warriors. It was also sent to religious elites for ritual purposes. The remaining part was assigned to the royal scribes to write codices and other records.

As a tribute item, Amatl belonged to the royal realm as it was not considered an everyday item. This paper was related to power and religion, the method by which the Aztecs imposed and justified their dominance in Central America . As a tribute, it stood for a transaction between the ruling group and the ruled villages. In the second phase, the paper used by the royal authorities and priests for sacred and political purposes was a method of authorizing or authorizing and often registering all other exclusive luxury items.

Amatl paper was manufactured as part of a line of technology aimed at satisfying the human need to express oneself and communicate. Its predecessors were stone, clay and leather for the transmission of knowledge, initially in the form of images, later among the Olmecs and Maya using a form of hieroglyphics . Bark paper had important advantages as it was easier to obtain than animal skins and easier to work with than other fibers. It could be bent, curled, glued and mixed for specific fine work and decoration. Two other advantages promoted the extensive use of bark paper: its low weight and easy portability, which resulted in great savings in time, space and labor compared to other raw materials. In the Aztec region, Amatl paper retained its importance as a writing surface, especially in the production of chronicles and records such as inventories and bookkeeping. Codices became "books" by folding them like an accordion . Of the approx. 500 codices that have survived, around 16 date before the conquest and are made of tree bark paper or bark paper. These include the Dresden Codex from Yucatán , the Fejérváry-Mayer Codex from the Mixteca region and the Borgia Codex from Oaxaca .

From colonial times to the 20th century

When the Spaniards arrived, they noticed the production of codices and paper made from maguey (Ixtli) and palm fibers as well as from tree bark and (Amoxtli) from various rushes Juncus spp. , was manufactured. It was mentioned in particular by Pedro Mártir de Anglería . After the Spanish conquest of Mexico , native paper, especially tree bark paper, lost its value as a tribute item, not only because the Spanish preferred European paper, but also because it was banned because of its connection to the local religion. The justification for the banishment of Amatl was that it was used for magic and witchcraft. This was part of the efforts of the Spanish to convert the locals en masse to Catholicism , which involved the mass burning of codices which contained most of the indigenous history as well as cultural and scientific knowledge.

Only 16 of the 500 codices that survived were written before the conquest. These cocices, written after the conquest, were written on tree bark paper, a few also on European paper, cotton fabric or leather. For the most part, they were the work of missionaries such as B. by Bernardino de Sahagún , who was interested in recording the traditions and knowledge of the local people. The important codices of this type include a. the Codex Sierra , the Codex La Cruz Badiano and the Codex Florentino . The Codex Mendocino was commissioned by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza in 1525 to learn about the tribute system and other indigenous traditions in order to adapt them to Spanish rule. However, this was written on European paper.

Although tree bark paper was banned, it did not go away completely. In the early colonial days there was a shortage of European paper, which made it necessary to use the local version occasionally. During the evangelization process, Amatl was approved by the missionaries together with a paste made of corn cane for the production of Christian images, mainly in the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, the paper was still secretly produced among the locals for ritual purposes. In 1569, the friar Diego de Mendoza observed several locals who were carrying gifts made of paper, copal and woven mats to the lake in the interior of the " Nevado de Toluca " volcano as gifts. Most successful in keeping the papermaking tradition alive have been certain indigenous groups living in La Huasteca , Ixhuatlán and Chicontepec in northern Veracruz and some villages in Hidalgo . The only records of bark papermaking after the early 1800s refer to these areas. Most of these areas are ruled by the Otomí and the roughness and isolation from central Spanish authority allowed small villages to produce small quantities of paper. In fact, the secrecy helped the paper to survive and so defy Spanish culture and reaffirm its own identity.

Late 20th century to the present day

Until the middle of the 20th century. Knowledge of the production of Amatl paper was only found in a few small towns in the rugged mountains of Puebla and Veracruz such as B. San Pablito, an Otomi village, and Chicontepec, a Nahua village, are kept alive. This was particularly strong in San Pablito in Puebla, as many of the surrounding villages believed that this paper had special power when used ritually. The production of paper fell here exclusively into the realm of the shamans, who kept the process secret and mainly made paper to cut out gods and other figures for rituals. However, these shamans came into contact with anthropologists and learned of the interest that people from outside have in their paper and their culture. But although ritual paper-cutting continued to be important to the Otomi people of northern Puebla, the use of Amatl paper gradually declined as industrial paper or tissue paper gradually replaced Amatl paper in rituals. An incentive for the commercialization of Amatl paper was that the shamans became more and more aware of the commercial value of their paper: They began to sell small-scale cutouts of bark paper figures in Mexico City, along with other Otomi handicrafts.

The sale of these figures made bark paper an object of daily use. The paper only became sacred when a shaman cut it as part of a ritual. The manufacture of paper and non-ritual cutting did not conflict with the ritual aspects of paper in general. This allowed the Amatl, previously only used for rituals, to also become something with a market value. It also allowed papermaking to become accessible to the people of San Pablito and not restricted to the shamans.

However, most of the Amatl paper is sold as backing reinforcement for paintings made by Nahua artists from Guerrero state. There are different stories about how the painting on bark paper came about, but the main difference is whether the Nahua or the Otomi came up with the idea. Both the Nahua and Otomi are known to sell handicrafts in the Bazar del Sábado in San Ángel, Mexico City in the 1960s. The Otomi sold their paper and other handicrafts, the Nahua their traditionally painted pottery. The Nahua transferred many of their pottery painting designs onto Amatl paper, which is easier to transport and sell. The Nahua named their paintings after their word for bark paper, namely "Amatl." Today this word is applied to all works of art that use this paper. The new form of painting met with great demand from the beginning, and initially the Nahua bought up almost all of Otomi paper production. Painting on bark and towards the end of the 1960s it became the main economic activity in the eight Nahua villages of Ameyaltepec, Oapan, Ahuahuapan, Ahuelican, Analco, San Juan Tetelcingo, Xalitla and Maxela. Each Nahua village has developed its own style of painting from the tradition of ceramic painting and this allowed the work to be classified.

The triumphant advance of the Amatl came at a time when government policy towards the rural indigenous population and their crafts were changing, with the latter being encouraged, particularly to develop the tourism industry. FONART (Fondo Nacional Para El Fomento De Las Artesanias) became part of the consolidation of efforts to spread Amatl paper. For the most part, this included buying up the entire Otomi production of bark paper to ensure that the Nahua would have enough supplies. Although this intervention only lasted approximately two years, it was the crux of the matter in developing sales of Amatl handicrafts in national and international markets.

While the Nahua are still the main buyers of the Otomi Amatl paper, the Otomi have since branched out into different types of this paper and developed some of their own products for sale. Today, Amatl is one of the most widespread Mexican handicrafts nationally and internationally. It has also drawn artistic and academic attention on both levels. In 2006 an annual event called “Encuentro de Arte in Papel Amatl” was launched in the village and a. with processions, dance of the flies , Huapango music. The main attraction is the exhibition of works by various artists, such as B. Francisco Toledo, José Montiel, Jorge Lozano and many others. The Museo de Arte Popular and the Egyptian Embassy in Mexico City held an exhibition on Amatl and Papyrus in 2008 with over 60 objects comparing the two ancient traditions. One of the most notable artists in this medium is the shaman Alfonso Margarito García Téllez, who exhibited his work in museums such as the San Pedro Museo de Arte in Puebla.

The Quiché Dynasties

The final part of the Popol Vuh concludes the adventures of Jaguar Quitze, Jaguar Night, Naught and Wind Jaguar. When they die, three of their sons continue to establish the roots of Maya life. They journey to a land where a king gives them knowledge of the Popol Vuh as well as titles. The final part of the Popol Vuh describes the establishment of early dynasties by mythic figures such as Plumed Serpent, a shaman with godly powers: he could take on animal form as well as travel into the sky and down into the underworld. Other figures enlarged the Quiché domain by means of war. The Popol Vuh ends with a list of past members of great Quiché houses.

Convicts or Conquistadores ? Spanish Soldiers in the Seventeenth-Century Pacific *

*This article has benefited from the insightful comments of Karol Florek, John Gagné, Mary Laven, Michael McDonnell and Sujit Sivasundaram.

Stephanie J. Mawson, Convicts or Conquistadores ? Spanish Soldiers in the Seventeenth-Century Pacific , Past & Present, Volume 232, Issue 1, August 2016, Pages 87–125, https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtw008

In 1565 a conquering party led by Miguel López de Legazpi sailed across the Pacific to establish a permanent Spanish settlement in the Philippines. 1 Ever afterwards, the history of the archipelago was defined by its orientation towards the Pacific. More than thirteen thousand kilometres of ocean separated the islands from the nearest outpost of the Spanish empire, the viceroyalty of New Spain (modern-day Mexico). Yet the Pacific crossing was enduring. Galleons plied Pacific waters between Manila and Acapulco for two hundred and fifty years, transporting cargoes of Chinese silks to New Spain and bringing back to Manila boatloads of soldiers, missionaries, silver and much needed supplies. 2 Spanish territorial control eventually settled across most of the Visayas, Luzon and parts of Micronesia, with brief Spanish settlements in the seventeenth century in the Moluccas, Mindanao, Taiwan and the Celebes (see Map). 3

Yet, within a historiography that lauds the transpacific galleon trade and charts the exploitation of indigenous Filipinos in the lead-up to the revolutionary nineteenth century, very little has been written about the ordinary soldiers who acted as the agents of empire in this arena. Soldiers were nonetheless integral to the spread of Spanish control in the Pacific. They manned the galleons that patrolled the archipelago and transported silver and Chinese silks between Acapulco and Manila. They defended the islands against attacks by Dutch and Moro raiders, and they were essential for furthering the evangelization and colonization of indigenous peoples. 4 Numerically, soldiers outnumbered other Spanish migrants to the Philippines by seven to one, with approximately 15,600 soldiers making the Pacific crossing in the seventeenth century alone. 5 Their presence within the archipelago has left a lasting impact on the Philippines and helps to account for the high levels of cultural and racial mingling between Spaniards and indigenous populations. 6 Despite this, soldiers appear only as murky figures within the historiography of the early colonial Philippines. 7

Where soldiers do appear within the historiography of the Philippines, they are presented simultaneously as pawns of their military leaders and as complicit and active participants of conquest. Historians of the Philippines have often assumed that soldiers’ interests were intertwined with those of their king and their military commanders, drawing on the famed image of the Spanish conquistadores who conquered the territories of New Spain and Peru and were richly rewarded with land and treasure for their efforts. The influential historian John Leddy Phelan reinforced the notion of a compliant and loyal soldiery very early on in the historiography of the colonial Philippines by asserting that ‘Spaniards of all classes … were inspired by an almost limitless faith in their nation’s power and prestige’. 8 Robert Reed later wrote that the colonization of the Philippines was ‘a unified effort of soldiers, missionaries, bureaucrats and merchants in which all participants could reap their just material or spiritual rewards’. 9 Renato Constantino, one of the great nationalist Filipino historians, concluded that all soldiers were motivated by the pursuit of ‘their private goals of enrichment while at the same time consolidating the rule of Spain… . The instruments of pacification thus served the dual purpose of strengthening Spanish sovereignty and of enriching the men who had made possible the annexation of the territory’. 10 Subsequent historians have adopted these claims uncritically, 11 while still others have gone even further, imbuing the soldiers of the Spanish empire with the quality of brutalized murderers. 12

By contrast, the archives tell us a very different story. In 1605 the attorney-general of the Philippines, Don Hernando de los Ríos Coronel, complained that the Spanish were losing face among indigenous Filipinos because of the disgraceful behaviour of the soldiers stationed in Manila, who regularly gambled away their wages and ‘afterwards they go about without their shoes and naked without their clothes’. They would sell their arms and weapons to the indigenous population and ‘walk about begging for alms, making a thousand despicable acts among the unbelievers, so that only with dishonour are they called soldiers’. 13 In 1626 Governor Fernando de Silva described the soldiers as ‘the scum of the entire Spanish nation’, saying that most of the recruits were criminals and young boys with corrupt minds. 14 In 1650 Governor Diego Fajardo Chacón reported that the soldiers were more often than not boys under the age of 12, mulattos, Indians and ‘men of bad character’. 15 Governor Juan Niño de Távora even described the soldiers as a threat to the overall project of colonization, warning the king that the ‘great misery and labour’ endured by the soldiers of the presidios of the Philippines could have undesired consequences. He invoked the experience of mutiny among soldiers of Flanders by cautioning the king that ‘nothing places that state of Flanders … in a greater predicament than [soldiers’] mutinies’. 16

Maritime South-East Asia, 1630. From Jan Jansson, Indiae Orientalis nova descriptio (1630). Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia, MAP RM 4527.

Maritime South-East Asia, 1630. From Jan Jansson, Indiae Orientalis nova descriptio (1630). Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia, MAP RM 4527.

As well as confronting the myth of the quixotic conquistador , the research presented here also contributes to an emerging literature on the role of soldiers in early modern empire construction. Long considered the prerogative of military historians with an interest in charting the changing nature of service within the context of the military revolution, 17 soldiers have been largely left out of early modern and labour histories. 18 Phil Withington has recently suggested that their exclusion from early modern historiography derives in part from a prevalent assumption that soldiers, like other lower-class or plebeian subjects, lacked social agency and political consciousness, and therefore very little could genuinely be said about them. 19 Early modern historiography has tended to focus instead on the ‘chivalric’ and distinguished actions of the military elite, who better represent notions of military honour and patriotism dominant within the civic humanist imagination. 20 While some fine examples of social history exist for soldiers who served in European armies, until recently there has been a paucity of studies dealing with soldiers who served in the expansion of European colonies. 21 Our understanding of the place of soldiers within early modern empires stands in stark contrast to the history of sailors and maritime labour. With the ship described famously as ‘an early precursor of the factory’ and a site of collective labour, 22 the maritime history of empire has been written as a labour history, replete with strikes, mutinies and the explicit challenge to the state of early eighteenth-century piracy. 23 Sailors are thus written into the history of empire as active participants and sometimes even active detractors of empire. 24 Soldiers have traditionally attracted none of this romance. Especially within colonial Latin American historiography, they have been depicted as brutal conquistadores of indigenous victims of European domination, creating what one historian has termed ‘a neomythology of the good and evil twins, pairing an essentialized victim and victor, conquered and conqueror’. 25

Yet an emerging literature on soldiers who served across a diversity of colonial spaces challenges these assumptions. As Miguel Martínez points out, the coincidence of the military revolution with imperial expansion meant that many early modern soldiers were thrust into global imperial networks, becoming both agents and subjects of empire. Their collective and individual stories point to an unprecedented global mobility and interconnectedness. Soldiers could thus be thrown into the role of empire’s victims: pawns within a game of military expansion, where their experiences of violence and conflict were not equally matched by loyalty to the empires they served. 26 Rather than unthinking agents of empire, many soldiers serving in colonial armies were subject to conditions of extreme deprivation, exploitation, extortion and penury. Convict transportation and forced or fraudulent recruitment were common, as were brutal and cruel punishments. 27 At the same time, studies of colonial armies across a diversity of contexts have encouraged us to rethink the ethnic identity of the typical soldier by demonstrating the participation of slaves, free blacks, and mixed-race and indigenous peoples. 28

Soldiers also acted as settlers and go-betweens, marrying into local communities and forming relationships and alliances with indigenous and slave populations. 29 In frontier regions like the Philippines, Chile and the Chichimeca territory in northern Mexico, soldiers were often the only representatives of empire, and their service records thus help to enliven histories of confrontation and negotiation that otherwise could not be told. 30 While ultimately tasked with the job of subjugating indigenous people and extending European domination, soldiers’ relationships with these populations could also be subverted in times of mutiny, rebellion or desertion, when the boundaries between agents and subjects of empire blurred. At these moments, soldiers could easily be as destabilizing to the imperial project as they were essential to it. 31 While soldiers have traditionally been left out of the historiography of European expansion, as agents of empire they are nonetheless an important analytical category if we wish to understand how empire was expressed and experienced.

What follows is a detailed social history of Spanish soldiers serving across Spain’s Pacific presidios. The article begins with an assessment of the origins of Spanish soldiers in the levies for the Philippines in New Spain. Far from the image of adventuring, fortune-seeking professional soldiers of pure Spanish ethnicity, the companies of soldiers stationed across the Pacific consisted of half-starved, under-clothed and unpaid recruits, many of whom were in fact convicts, and were more likely to be Mexican mestizos than pure-blood Spaniards. The archetype of the quixotic conquistador is thus broken down not merely because most ordinary soldiers served in the Philippines involuntarily, but also because few were ever really rewarded for their service. From this basis we examine the conditions that soldiers experienced once they reached the Philippines, which often led them towards disloyalty in the form of desertion and mutiny. The final sections consider the impact these factors had on the success of Spanish aims in the Pacific in the seventeenth century, concluding that ultimately both a chronic shortage in voluntary recruits and a lack of loyalty among those who did serve undermined ambitions to expand the project of empire in the Spanish Pacific.


In 1617 Diego López de Miranda crossed the Pacific from New Spain to fight in the wars against the Dutch. An honoured soldier with an illustrious career spanning more than fifteen years and three continents, he had served as a military officer in Hispaniola, as captain of a ship in the armada off the coast of Africa, as an alférez in New Spain responsible for recruiting soldiers for the Philippines, and as captain of infantry in Puerta de Navidad, before finally enlisting to serve on the other side of the Pacific. 32 Once in the Philippines, he was quickly promoted and in 1620 he served as corporal of an aid ship sent to the Moluccas. Unfortunately, his ship was seized by Dutch corsairs and he was taken prisoner and held captive for three and a half years before finally escaping on board a tiny boat. As he sailed across the Celebes Sea towards the Philippines, his ship was attacked by Moro raiders and his arm was broken during the ensuing skirmish. He was left floating at sea for the next eight days. Undeterred by his travails, when he finally returned to Manila, López de Miranda signed up for the next armada that set sail in pursuit of the Dutch. 33 In recognition of his loyalty and services to the Crown, he became captain of artillery in Panama in 1632. 34

López de Miranda’s service record paints a colourful, swashbuckling picture of the mobility and adventure experienced by the military officers who traversed the Spanish empire in the seventeenth century. His time spent in the Philippines formed just one part of a much longer career that criss-crossed four continents. The service records of other officers serving in the Philippines also suggest that elements of López de Miranda’s story were relatively common. The careers of the military officers in the Philippines link almost every corner of the empire and beyond. Particularly in the first half of the century, many had fought in European theatres of war such as Flanders and Italy, while others had participated in military incursions into Africa or sailed on board the famed silver fleets of New Spain. 35 Of all the military men serving in the Philippines, these officers were the most likely to adhere to the image of the conquistador portrayed in the historiography, since as career soldiers they benefited through the attainment of future positions of title and prestige, if not monetary advantage.

Nevertheless, we need to pause and question how accurately this story reflects the common experience of ordinary soldiers serving in the Philippines. Although numerical data across the century is patchy, the data that does exist suggests that Spanish soldiers numbered between fifteen hundred and two thousand across all Philippine presidios during the course of the century. 36 What is also clear from official records is that this was never considered enough. An audit of the military needs of the Philippines in 1633 indicated that the archipelago needed to maintain a military presence equalling at least 2,200 soldiers in order to be able to maintain its defences. 37 The major barrier to meeting these needs was simply a lack of sufficient soldiers sent to the archipelago on board the galleons from New Spain. Although dispersed and fragmentary, the yearly accounts of the socorros sent to the Philippines during the seventeenth century indicate that the number of soldiers sent from Acapulco to Manila averaged just 156 per year. 38 (See Table 1 .) By contrast, governors of the Philippines regularly requested that the viceroys send up to three hundred soldiers annually, while the king on a number of occasions commanded the viceroys to organize dispatches in the order of four or five hundred soldiers. 39

soldiers sent aboard galleons from acapulco to manila, 1600–1693 * ( Total: 8,436 annual average: 156)

Year . No. . Year . No. . Year . No. .
1600 209 1644 255 1662 300
1601 500 1645 254 1663 700
1603 150 1646 141 1664 149
1604 150 1647 0 1666 70
1605 850 1648 81 1667 50
1606 40 1649 136 1670 0
1608 350 1650 54 1671 135
1610 268 1651 0 1672 101
1615 311 1652 0 1676 146
1617 0 1653 100 1680 130
1619 156 1654 167 1684 190
1620 407 1655 110 1685 206
1621 170 1656 0 1686 0
1622 482 1657 0 1687 0
1628 250 1658 164 1688 0
1630 0 1659 130 1689 163
1631 80 1660 41 1692 0
1632 90 1661 0 1693 0
Year . No. . Year . No. . Year . No. .
1600 209 1644 255 1662 300
1601 500 1645 254 1663 700
1603 150 1646 141 1664 149
1604 150 1647 0 1666 70
1605 850 1648 81 1667 50
1606 40 1649 136 1670 0
1608 350 1650 54 1671 135
1610 268 1651 0 1672 101
1615 311 1652 0 1676 146
1617 0 1653 100 1680 130
1619 156 1654 167 1684 190
1620 407 1655 110 1685 206
1621 170 1656 0 1686 0
1622 482 1657 0 1687 0
1628 250 1658 164 1688 0
1630 0 1659 130 1689 163
1631 80 1660 41 1692 0
1632 90 1661 0 1693 0

* Sources: AGI, Filipinas, leg. 7, ramo 1, núm. 23 ramo 5, núms. 58, 64, 67 leg. 8, ramo 1, núms. 16, 17 leg. 9, ramo 1, núms. 13, 16 ramo 2, núms. 30, 34 ramo 3, núms. 44, 49, 50 leg. 13, ramo 1, núm. 7 leg. 14, ramo 1, núm. 4 leg. 15, ramo 1, núm. 23 leg. 19, ramo 3, núm. 47 ramo 6, núm. 91 leg. 22, ramo 9, núm. 45 ramo 10, núm. 57 leg. 23, ramo 2, núm. 4 leg. 30, núm. 12 leg. 31, núm. 43 AGI, México, leg. 24, núm. 39 leg. 25, núms. 4, 62 leg. 26, núms. 22, 46, 91 leg. 27, núms. 35, 58 leg. 28, núms. 2, 24, 46 leg. 29, núms. 18, 37, 86 leg. 30, núm. 14 leg. 36, núms. 25, 35 leg. 38, núm. 86 leg. 39, núm. 7 leg. 41, núm. 18 leg. 44, núm. 23 leg. 46, núms. 19, 45 leg. 60, ramo 1, núm. 1 Gregorio M. de Guijo, Diario, 1648–1664 , 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1952), i, 89, 209 Antonio de Robles, Diario de sucesos notables, 1665–1703 , 2nd edn, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1972), i, 195, 277 ii, 62, 83–4, 177–8.

soldiers sent aboard galleons from acapulco to manila, 1600–1693 * ( Total: 8,436 annual average: 156)

Year . No. . Year . No. . Year . No. .
1600 209 1644 255 1662 300
1601 500 1645 254 1663 700
1603 150 1646 141 1664 149
1604 150 1647 0 1666 70
1605 850 1648 81 1667 50
1606 40 1649 136 1670 0
1608 350 1650 54 1671 135
1610 268 1651 0 1672 101
1615 311 1652 0 1676 146
1617 0 1653 100 1680 130
1619 156 1654 167 1684 190
1620 407 1655 110 1685 206
1621 170 1656 0 1686 0
1622 482 1657 0 1687 0
1628 250 1658 164 1688 0
1630 0 1659 130 1689 163
1631 80 1660 41 1692 0
1632 90 1661 0 1693 0
Year . No. . Year . No. . Year . No. .
1600 209 1644 255 1662 300
1601 500 1645 254 1663 700
1603 150 1646 141 1664 149
1604 150 1647 0 1666 70
1605 850 1648 81 1667 50
1606 40 1649 136 1670 0
1608 350 1650 54 1671 135
1610 268 1651 0 1672 101
1615 311 1652 0 1676 146
1617 0 1653 100 1680 130
1619 156 1654 167 1684 190
1620 407 1655 110 1685 206
1621 170 1656 0 1686 0
1622 482 1657 0 1687 0
1628 250 1658 164 1688 0
1630 0 1659 130 1689 163
1631 80 1660 41 1692 0
1632 90 1661 0 1693 0

* Sources: AGI, Filipinas, leg. 7, ramo 1, núm. 23 ramo 5, núms. 58, 64, 67 leg. 8, ramo 1, núms. 16, 17 leg. 9, ramo 1, núms. 13, 16 ramo 2, núms. 30, 34 ramo 3, núms. 44, 49, 50 leg. 13, ramo 1, núm. 7 leg. 14, ramo 1, núm. 4 leg. 15, ramo 1, núm. 23 leg. 19, ramo 3, núm. 47 ramo 6, núm. 91 leg. 22, ramo 9, núm. 45 ramo 10, núm. 57 leg. 23, ramo 2, núm. 4 leg. 30, núm. 12 leg. 31, núm. 43 AGI, México, leg. 24, núm. 39 leg. 25, núms. 4, 62 leg. 26, núms. 22, 46, 91 leg. 27, núms. 35, 58 leg. 28, núms. 2, 24, 46 leg. 29, núms. 18, 37, 86 leg. 30, núm. 14 leg. 36, núms. 25, 35 leg. 38, núm. 86 leg. 39, núm. 7 leg. 41, núm. 18 leg. 44, núm. 23 leg. 46, núms. 19, 45 leg. 60, ramo 1, núm. 1 Gregorio M. de Guijo, Diario, 1648–1664 , 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1952), i, 89, 209 Antonio de Robles, Diario de sucesos notables, 1665–1703 , 2nd edn, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1972), i, 195, 277 ii, 62, 83–4, 177–8.

These records also suggest that ordinary soldiers outnumbered officers by anywhere up to nine times. 40 Yet ordinary soldiers are almost inevitably much harder to study than the officer class. For the most part they did not leave behind the kind of merit and service records that allow us to tell an individual story like the account given above of López de Miranda’s military career. Instead, the archives portray ordinary soldiers as a mostly amorphous grouping. Questions regarding the origins and motivations of soldiers serving in the Philippines and their overall loyalty to the Spanish empire therefore need to be approached in a different way, beginning with the records relating to the military levies for the Philippines.

The vast majority of soldiers serving in the Philippines were recruited from levies conducted in New Spain. Banners were raised across the major urban centres of New Spain in the months leading up to the arrival of the galleons from Manila in March or April each year. Levies most commonly took place in Mexico City, Puebla de los Ángeles and Veracruz, but could also be held in more minor cities such as Zacatecas, Antequera (Oaxaca), Celaya, Cuernavaca, Tlaxcala and Acapulco. 41 In these locations captains were appointed to establish a recruiting booth and issue a public decree that the levy was in progress. 42 These levies were intended to attract voluntary recruits however, finding sufficient volunteers to serve in the Philippines was a consistent and notorious problem throughout the seventeenth century. Deterred by the lengthy voyage across the Pacific and the limited prospects for returning from what was known to be a volatile and dangerous frontier, few soldiers ever really enlisted voluntarily. Some soldiers were even known to have paid officials in the port of Acapulco to be exempted from the levy before they embarked on the galleons bound for Manila, while others deserted while en route to Acapulco. 43 In 1648 the viceroy Conde de Salvatierra acknowledged the unpopularity of the levy, noting that recruits ‘were always lacking, they collected men from the levies of [Mexico] City, Puebla and Veracruz, but from the rest of the recruitment sites there were few or none’. 44

Viceregal officials responded to the chronic shortage of voluntary recruits in two ways. Firstly, military officers in the Philippines came to rely much more heavily on the recruitment of indigenous Filipino soldiers (a complex subject that I have dealt with in much greater detail elsewhere). 45 Secondly, recruiting officers in New Spain utilized a number of coercive means to find soldiers. A standard clause within the instructions given to recruiting captains charged them with issuing a pardon ‘to all those [criminals] who within the first fifteen days following the pronouncement of this decree do present themselves before the said captain or his deputy to enlist themselves’. 46 The same captains were then instructed to apprehend by force and impress any criminals who failed to enlist in the stated time frame. 47 Yet recruiting officers who were desperate to meet their quota often resorted to more informal methods of impressment. In Puebla de los Ángeles the city council reported that it was commonplace for respectable citizens to be impressed into the army alongside vagabonds and young boys. Only a hefty bribe to the recruiting officers would secure them their liberty. 48 Finally, when all these other methods failed, viceregal officials in New Spain would seek to supplement the number of recruits sent to the Philippines through the criminal justice system. Criminals were taken off the rural highways and urban streets and out of the gaols of New Spain and sentenced to serve as convicts in the military of the Philippines under what was known as the forzado system. 49

Roughly a quarter of all soldiers sent to the Philippines were forzados 50 however, once we take into account the full range of coercive recruitment methods used in the levies, it seems safe to assume that the number of soldiers serving in the Philippines against their will was very high, if not an outright majority. Significantly, this had an impact on the type of soldier who travelled to the Philippines. Since the Philippine levies relied so heavily on involuntary methods of recruitment, the majority of ordinary soldiers were drawn from the plebe of New Spain, rather than from the ranks of career soldiers. The plebe of New Spain was a multi-ethnic underclass of criminals, idlers, vagabonds, fugitives and runaway soldiers and sailors who transgressed the social norms of genteel Spanish society. 51 According to the viceroys, the miscegenated nature of the plebe meant that it had absorbed all the worst characteristics of its constituent subgroups, and for this reason miscegenation was discouraged by the viceregal authorities. 52 Viceroy Palafox y Mendoza described the plebe of New Spain as being made up of ‘blacks, mulattos, mestizos … and Indians and some fallen Spaniards and habitual delinquents’. He went on to argue that ‘there runs risk among such a diversity of colours, nations and conditions, all of them with little light of reason and no shame’. 53 The plebe was a particular fixture of urbanized populations in Mexico City and Puebla de los Ángeles, where they congregated in taverns and marketplaces and engaged in unruly and criminal behaviour. 54 At the same time, an itinerant plebeian population plagued the highways of New Spain, engaging in acts of petty theft and highway robbery which threatened many of the major communication routes in New Spain. 55 Criminals on the highways of New Spain were known to target large landholdings and attack travellers, merchants and carters journeying between settlements. 56

Unsurprisingly, a variety of criminal justice measures were designed to transform the unruly plebe of New Spain into productive members of society through forced labour schemes. 57 While a number of these schemes existed, recruitment and sentencing to serve in the Philippines was in many ways a particularly final measure for removing unwanted social elements from Novohispanic society. This was certainly the intention behind the forzado system, if not the majority of other coercive recruitment methods used during the Philippine levies. 58 Records relating to the forzado system indicate that the majority of forzados were sentenced to serve in the Philippines either for property crimes including highway robbery, rustling and petty theft or for the ‘crimes’ of vagabondage and idleness, although rarer, violent crimes such as murder and rape were also recorded. 59 Forzados were emblematic of the unruly plebe of New Spain, and they were thrust into the volatile frontier environment of the Philippines largely against their will. Far from being loyal servants to the Crown, the same culture of disobedience that led to their expulsion from New Spain accompanied them to the Philippines on board the galleons that crossed the Pacific each year.

In addition to the recruitment of criminals, the Philippine levies also targeted another specific plebeian grouping: illegal migrants arriving in New Spain on board the Indies fleets. Lower-class Spaniards frequently circumvented the official restrictions on migration to the New World by enlisting as soldiers and sailors in Spain and then deserting upon arrival in Veracruz. One estimate suggests that this form of illegal migration contributed as many as 50 per cent of the annual migrants to the Indies during the seventeenth century. 60 When they arrived in the New World, these soldiers and sailors would desert from their ships and attempt to disappear into the colony without a trace, establishing themselves in a trade, re-enlisting in the army or joining the ranks of the itinerant populations that roved the highways of New Spain. Historians such as Jonathan Israel and R. Douglas Cope have argued that the presence of these illegal migrants helped to introduce irreverent picaresque traditions from the streets of Spain into the melting pot of New World society. Moreover, the presence of lower-class Spaniards was abhorred by viceregal authorities as a threat to the established order of Spanish racial superiority. 61 This group of plebeians thus became another obvious target for recruitment for the Philippines. Specific commissions were given to individuals to patrol the highways of New Spain looking for runaway soldiers and sailors, as well as highwaymen, vagabonds and other criminals. In December 1648, for instance, Juan Alonzo was appointed ‘for the duration of the recruitment for the Philippines’ to capture thieves, highwaymen, criminals, vagabonds and deserting soldiers in the province of Chalco. 62 Juan Martín Gallardo was likewise instructed to send the deserting soldiers and sailors whom he encountered to the Royal Gaol so that they could be enlisted in the 1645 levies for the Philippines and the Armada de Barlovento. 63

Inherent within the philosophy of socially cleansing New Spain of insubordinate plebeians was an assumption that such men could be transformed into not only productive but also loyal servants of the empire. 64 In 1642 Viceroy Palafox argued that it was convenient to apprehend vagabonds for the Philippines levy every year ‘because those who are restless here in peacetime are noteworthy over there in war’. 65 The assumption that being transferred to one of the remotest parts of the empire would alter the moral character of forced recruits was particularly strong in relation to Spanish and mestizo soldiers. Soldiers with Spanish lineage were supposed to find a new pride in their race and their empire when confronted by the realities of the East Indies. For this reason, official instructions stipulated that soldiers recruited for the Philippine levies had to be ‘Spaniards and mestizos or sons of those … and not elderly, friars, clerics, Indians, blacks, mulattos, nor those that have transmittable diseases’. 66 Yet, particularly in the latter half of the century, soldiers were more often than not recruited from within the heterogenous casta population of New Spain. In 1659 the royal officials in Manila complained that most of the soldiers who were being sent from New Spain were black, mulatto or Indian, with almost no Spaniards among the contingents. They petitioned the king for more white soldiers to be sent from New Spain because of the great shortage of white people in the islands. 67 Concerns about these recruits extended beyond their limited military training the officials in Manila also worried about their overall loyalty to the imperial project in the Pacific and their capacity to combine with indigenous populations to form a multi-ethnic plebe which mirrored the plebeian underclass of New Spain. 68

The social engineering behind the Philippine levies was at the forefront of the minds of viceregal authorities in New Spain. Yet the royal officials in the Philippines were far more concerned with the capacity of soldiers to perform their core duties of defence and pacification. Far from extolling the virtues of a glorious cohort of conquistadores , numerous governors throughout the seventeenth century described the men who arrived on board the galleons from New Spain as ‘pernicious and scandalous’. The criminal backgrounds and largely unfree nature of soldiers serving in the presidios ultimately meant that royal officials in Manila had a hard time trusting the loyalty or utility of their military forces. 69 Seen in this light, the soldiers who served in the Philippines hardly meet our expected image of the traditional conquistador . Nevertheless, the extent to which soldiers redeemed themselves by proving their loyalty to the empire can only be answered by considering the conditions that soldiers experienced while stationed in the presidios of the Pacific.


In 1660 Governor Sabiniano Manrique de Lara succinctly summarized the state of the Spanish infantry stationed in the Philippines. After having received just forty-one soldiers on board the galleons from New Spain that year, the governor noted that, in the past twenty years of socorros , the viceroys of New Spain had not contributed a tenth of the number of soldiers who had died in the various wars that they had been fighting, and that the supply that arrived that year was not even a sixth of what they needed. This left the soldiers to ‘labour incessantly for the Crown so as to gain great returns and all for love … despite the repeated adversity that has befallen them’. 70 The governor went on to add that the soldiers were ‘on the brink of giving up and losing their minds because of the lack of reinforcements and aid sent by the viceroy’ and because of the threat of enemy assault. He likened the situation to that of a cancerous attack running through the flesh and bones of the ‘incorporeal body’. Without reinforcements, the soldiers stationed across the Philippines were forced to ‘resign themselves to death from a life of fatigue without resources’. 71 The situation was worst on the island of Ternate in the Moluccas, where the many deaths and bad conditions had led to mutinies and loss of loyalty among a soldiery faced with hopelessness. More than 120 soldiers had died in Ternate that year, with many others running away and defecting to the Dutch. 72

Life for those in the service of empire in the seventeenth-century Philippines was hard. For the Spanish population, Spain’s Pacific presidios were defined by the vast and perilous expanse of the Pacific Ocean which separated the Philippines from the viceroyalty of New Spain (see Plate ). When soldiers arrived in Manila, they were distributed across a network of presidios spanning Spain’s Pacific territories. Soldiers were primarily intended to defend the archipelago against external threats and to engage in the conquest of groups that violently resisted colonization. Yet, in practice, they also supported the work of missionaries and helped to institute the labour and tribute systems that underpinned Spanish imperial authority over conquered populations. The bulk of these soldiers were stationed in Manila and Cavite, which throughout the century housed between four and seven companies, or between four hundred and nine hundred Spanish soldiers. 73 These soldiers defended the city and the incoming galleon trade against external threats from Dutch raiders or Chinese pirates, or against the threat of rebellion among the Chinese population of Manila, and were also dispatched from Manila in times of need. Outside Manila, soldiers were distributed across a network of presidios located in Cebu, Oton on the island of Panay, Cagayan in northern Luzon, the Moluccas (1606–61), Zamboanga (1635–61), Iligan and Caraga in Mindanao, Formosa (1626–42), Calamianes in present-day Palawan, the Mariana Islands (from 1667), Bolinao (Pangasinan), Lampon and Pampanga. 74 There is evidence that the Spanish also occupied smaller locations rarely mentioned in administrative records, for instance in the Celebes, north of Sulawesi. 75 (See Tables 2 and 3 .)

Working with Spanish Colonial Records and Archives: Reflections and Practicalities

H aving recently completed several months of archival research on the early Spanish colonial period in Mindanao, I thought it would be useful to share with other potential researchers and students the practical and personal issues I encountered during that time, with the objective of making their turn less disorientating and hopefully more productive.

When my archival research project was still in preparation, I had turned to older, more experienced colleagues (Philippinists and Americanists) for advice, and they were quite generous with their time in discussing my project and in offering encouragement. However, I was unable to gather much information in terms of the practicalities involved. This was due in part to every project being unique in scope and requirements, and the fact that many of these colleagues had not been to these particular archives in recent years. Archival research is also such an individual and rather introspective enterprise that, in a sense, nothing but the doing can truly prepare you for it. Nonetheless, the dearth of practical advice made the prospect of archival research seem unnecessarily daunting, and the prospect of walking into Spanish archives downright intimidating. In fact, when I first arrived in Spain, I was still so nervous even after completing the application for my research permit that I postponed picking it up for a full week.

This would not be relevant except that in every archive I worked in, the staff commented that I was the first researcher on the Philippines they had seen in a long time. In the case of the two religious archives, they told me it had been many years since anyone had expressed an interest in their collections. Reflecting on my own experience, I would wager that this apparent lack of interest is not, in fact, due to a lack of interest, or even a lack of funds, but due to the sheer intimidation that new researchers must feel when they ponder dealing with Spanish archives. I have written this article with that situation in mind, in the hopes that by providing some practical nuts-and-bolts knowledge that everyone can use at the outset, others will have a more realistic idea of what to expect, and more new researchers will be willing to make that journey.

While this article is geared specifically to those interested in the history of the Philippines, the information presented here will be relevant to any researcher who may need to delve into the Spanish archives, which cover a rather wide geographical range. In the course of my own research on Mindanao, for example, I encountered documents referring not only to the usual suspects (places we know the Spaniards had been, such as the Americas, and also Guam, Maluku and the rest of what is now Indonesia), but also to Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, China, Japan, India, other Pacific islands, and even Thibet. The Spanish archives are therefore relevant not only to studies of Spain’s former possessions and nautical haunts, but also to broader Southeast Asian and Asian studies. 1

My particular project involved dissertation research that focused on religious conversion, missionary activity, and armed conflict in northeast Mindanao in the 16 th and 17 th centuries. It specifically required me to collect data from materials archived in the United States and Spain. The peculiarities of these individual collections will be explored further below for now let us begin with the archival researcher’s most essential tools.



I will never forget my first encounter with Spanish script from the 16 th century, a photocopy of diplomatic correspondence from Puebla, Mexico being studied by a fellow graduate student at my university. It was a series of squiggles, beautiful as it was, it was utterly incomprehensible it could have been an abstract work of modern art. After squinting at one section for a full minute, I was dumbstruck by the realization that I could not decipher a single letter. This, when the archival project I proposed for my dissertation research had already been approved by my committee and, for logistical reasons, it was too late to retool my project entirely from scratch.

The ethnohistorian John Chance taught me that the only way to deal with the issue of paleography, or the scholarly interpretation of earlier forms of writing and the documents that utilize such writing, was to start trying to read them. No class or tutoring would be able to mitigate this particular process, he told me I had to start staring at the script and eventually it would begin to makes sense.

This wisdom was confirmed by other researchers I met in Spain. One profesora from Mexico had taken several classes in Spanish paleography which, essentially, consisted of staring at texts until they began to make sense, albeit in a classroom environment where you could discuss particular issues with others and someone could check your transcription. However, the availability and cost of such classes can be highly problematic, and many researchers make do without such preparation. While 19 th century writing is relatively modern and therefore accessible without preparation, those of other centuries will require practice.

In any case, for someone who, like me, works with a wider time frame —16 th to 19 th centuries— self-study is the most practical route. The following two books were my introduction to Spanish paleography, and they remain my most valuable references. I highly recommend them to anyone preparing for archival research on Spanish colonial texts. Within the United States, at least, they are easily available from various university libraries through Inter-Library Loan.

La Escritura y Lo Escrito: Paleografía y diplomática de España y América en los siglos XVI y XVII by Vicenta Cortés Alonso. Published in 1986 by the Instituto de Cooperacion Iberoamericana, Madrid (ISBN: 84-7232-393-5). This book is essentially an academic treatise on diplomatic writing and paleography of the 16 th and 17 th centuries, but its great value lies in its appendices, which contain, among many gems, a section on Normas de Transcripción that provides a basic introduction to some important norms for orthography, abbreviation, punctuation, etc., from this period. The final section, marked Abecedarios de los Documentos B Laminas de los Documentos B Transcripcion de los Documentos y su Comentario, contains exactly what it says, and is invaluable for practical exercises. There are 31 facsimiles of actual documents (laminas), accompanied by an alphabet primer relevant to that particular text (abecedario), and finally, a transcription of and commentary on the same text.

Manual de Paleografía Diplomática Española de los Siglos XII al XVII, second edition, by Jesús Muñoz y Rivero. Published in 1889 courtesy of the Viuda de Hernando, Madrid. It is not as thorough as the previous text, however it deals with a wider time frame. While it includes some discussions of the Visigothic that are of no use to scholars of Asia, the remaining portions are of practical interest and, fortunately, presented in an easy to digest manner. Part I is an academic discussion of paleography, while Part II is the practical section essential to archival researchers. Pages 45 to 66 offers a detailed look at each individual letter of the alphabet, in both upper and lower case, comparing how it has been written over the centuries. This is followed by several chapters on abbreviations, numerals, and other orthographic minutia. Part III contains 34 brief transcription or reading exercises B sans answer key but pointing to specific pages in Part II that will help students decipher the text.

I was fortunate in my particular research project to begin at the Vatican Film Library, where I read through a microfilm copy of the Pastells collection (more on this later). Pastells transcribed documents from various Spanish archives at the turn of the 20 th century, first by hand and later with a typewriter. The ability to see the letters in the squiggles comes only with the passage of time, but the norms of abbreviation can easily be studied and memorized. By starting out with the Pastells collection, I was able to read real text from the 16 th and 17 th century and therefore learn its peculiar orthography, language, and flow but transcribed in the consistent and easy-to-read late 19 th century hand of Pastells. After studying the Pastells transcriptions for a good month, I learned what to expect in terms of the abbreviations and other norms, and was therefore able to make the transition to primary sources without serious problems. From that point on, all that remained was to apply the paleography I had learned in order to decode what letters the squiggles represented.

A final practical word about this particular skill is that it is like a muscle that requires regular exercise. Otherwise, the words again dissolve into squiggles. But the degeneration of this skill is mitigated by knowing the norms of transcription. Armed with this knowledge, it will take you only a few minutes, rather than hours, to get acclimated and unsquiggle the texts.


A working knowledge of Spanish might seem an obvious part of one’s archival toolkit, but I’ve since learned that quite a few researchers make do with relatively minor reading ability. The historian Peter Schreurs, for example, began his graduate research on Limasawa and Caraga armed only with his knowledge of Latin, French, and Italian. With his lucky combination of great intellect and extensive historical knowledge, he worked past this limitation to learn both Spanish and Portuguese on the job. But most of us are not so blessed.

For those who grew up in the Philippines speaking a Philippine language, Spanish will seem a familiar enough language, leading to the belief that one is able to read and understand it as I believed as well. Certainly every Spanish word or phrase mentioned in this article will be comprehensible to most Filipinos, and at some level, we can get away with relying on instinct. But to work extensively with primary sources you will need at least an intermediate level of Spanish to do your work viz., if you are unable to read and understand every word of a short novel 2 or a long academic article (with a dictionary of course), then your level remains insufficient, for two reasons.

First, you will have to deal with an infinite number of subtleties in the primary sources, the things that are implied between the lines or by the use of particular tenses. For example, the subjunctive is not only used for making polite requests, and the imperfect doesn’t automatically indicate that something happened in the past. There will be emotions (disbelief, outrage, sarcasm, resignation) conveyed in the documents that may be relevant, even critical, and even if you do not fully comprehend what is going on, you should at least be able to determine that something special is happening. It might also be important to know not only how or when something happened, but also whether it actually happened. To this end, even those who (like myself) test at a high-intermediate level will find the following book useful:

Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish by Joseph Keenan. Published in 1994 by the University of Texas Press, Austin (ISBN:0-292-74321-1).

Second, given that all languages change over time, Spanish orthography or spelling has also undergone many transformations over the centuries. Don’t forget that some of the Spanish writers were non-native speakers of Spanish (e.g., Portuguese, Catalan, Basque), and would have spelled things their way. The same goes for regional accents such as the very distinct Andaluz speech pattern of southern Spain (more on this later). Other writers may have been functionally literate but not literary geniuses, and would have written as they spoke, phonetically. This is not such an issue by the 19 th century, but you cannot depend on your dictionary in terms of early colonial orthography you must be able to deduce the modern and unabbreviated form of the word. Here is a snippet from an account (dated 1565) of Legazpi’s voyage: 3

…tambien les dixo el General q les vendiese alg os bastimentos de arroz y puercos y gallinos q dixeron tener deloq al el mastre de campo vio en el Pueblo câtitad prometiero d traerlas y no lo puxieron ni bolvieron mas ni bolvió el q se ofrecio de yr a Tandaya y ellos quisieron cûplir cô solas palabras sin ninguna obra.

Here is what it looks like written in modern (dictionary) spelling:

…también les dijo el General que les vendiese algunos bastimentos de arroz y puercos y gallinas que dijeron tener de lo cual el maestre de campo vio en el Pueblo cantidad prometieron de traerlas y no lo pusieron ni volvieron más ni volvió el que se ofreció de ir a Tandaya y ellos quisieron cumplir con solas palabras sin ninguna obra.

Note with dixo (dijo) and puxieron (pusieron) that you cannot simply replace every misplaced x with the same letter. Many misspellings are relatively easy to decipher, such as: rrio=rio hedad=edad caygamos=caigamos, qual=cual hize=hice muger=mujer. But often it is not just one word but a whole phrase that has to be deciphered, such as: andicho=han dicho asido=ha sido edado=he dado evisto=he visto.

In addition, if you studied Spanish in the United States or elsewhere in the Americas, you will almost surely be missing the familiar second person plural or vosotros form, which is used in Spain but not in the Americas. If so, then you must start paying attention to it.

Beyond the academic part of the equation, you will need to know the language well enough to deal with the practicalities of your stay and of your research. In the archives you will need to comprehend and communicate in Spanish to place an order for a document or request a photocopy. Such tasks are not always straightforward, and I was surprised by how complicated it sometimes became. And even if, like me, you constantly forget your vocabulary, the staff will still appreciate your effort it may mean the difference between your copies being available today or not until next week, when your visa has already expired. When you have ordered to view a document that does not materialize, it may mean the difference between the staff answering with a diligent I’ll see what the delay is about or a haughty It will get here when it gets here. I say this only because I had heard from others that the staff of the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Madrid were surly and unhelpful. After my own very positive experience there, I would emphasize that any effort to communicate matters greatly, because even the most sophisticated, cosmopolitan Spaniard will grow tired of dealing with an English-only speaker.

Beyond such basics, you need to take advantage of the expertise of others working in the archives (staff, fellow researchers) when you cannot decipher a word, or can’t figure out where to find something, which will happen very often. It will allow you to form friendships with colleagues there, the majority of whom will be from Spain and the Americas it will allow you to attend academic lectures at local universities and institutes and ultimately, it will expand your horizons regarding your own research. Considering the solitary nature of archival research, being able to follow a conversation in Spanish will, at the very least, make your life more bearable socially.

I would like to direct an additional note on language to Filipinos in particular: Our indigenous language skills will make it relatively painless to pronounce modern Spanish (with the possible exception of the verb desarrollar ). But there is also a distinct disadvantage to this because, with your ease in pronouncing the language, people will assume you know more than you actually do, and that you are either pretending to be dull or are in fact not very bright (maybe even mentally retarded). This will be on top of the inevitable issues of cultural difference you will already be dealing with. Ironically, I found that explaining my limitations got me nowhere. No one will believe you, especially if you manage to blurt out a well-practiced (and therefore flawless) Lo siento pero no puedo hablar muy bien . Eventually I decided to try changing my pronunciation to sound more unnatural, and the strategy yielded immediate results. People began using simpler, less colloquial words and were noticeably more patient in that I was not expected to know things only native speakers would know. Bear this in mind before you obsess about perfecting your pronunciation.


If you wear prescription glasses for everyday use, consider getting a pair of reading glasses with anti-glare coating to minimize the potential for headaches from staring closely not only at paper documents but also at digitized documents on a computer screen several hours at a time. Another piece of equipment you might find handy is a large magnifying lens, preferably in a rectangular shape. Digitized documents can usually be zoomed to facilitate reading, but paper documents will not do that of course.

If you are using a laptop computer, please take a few minutes to make sure that your keyboard can easily insert diacritic marks on top of and underneath letters, like this: à, í, ü, ñ, ç. You should be able to do this by pressing the equivalent mark followed immediately by the letter, e.g., for an umlaut (ü), you use the double quotation marks (“). It does not matter what word processing program you use because this is a function of the keyboard itself: you cannot program it differently. If your keyboard cannot do this in any program, you must find a different computer. Otherwise you will waste a lot of time going into the insert character utility of your word processing program over and over again. Diacritic marks are a key component of Spanish as a written language, and the wrong keyboard will be a big hassle. Also take note that computer keyboards in Spain are configured differently and will take some time to get used to.


The final preparation to consider before we proceed to a discussion of the archives themselves is knowing what is available in each collection. It is our great fortune that in this day and age internet technology permits us to examine catalogs and sometimes even the documents themselves from another location. With the exception of the private Religious archives, i.e., the Jesuits’ microfilm library and the Recoletos’ Provincial archive, the archives discussed below can be searched online from anywhere in the world , all you need is a stable internet connection. The url for each catalog is provided below under the individual archives.

The online catalogs were invaluable to me in terms of general preparation as well as writing my research and grant proposals. They also helped me immensely in planning determining how much time to spend at each archive. Moreover, the online catalogs will allow you to work more efficiently, because you will already have a list of documents to request when you arrive. The gem of all online catalogs is that of Spain’s state-run archives, which is known as the AER or Archivos Españoles en Red, which is discussed the next section.


The Archivos Estatales or state archives form a vital part of Spain’s national patrimony and cultural legacy. Researchers from all over the Americas and elsewhere go to Spain to study their histories. One day at the Archivo General de Indias (AGI), after reflecting on the rows of Andean and Amerindian faces in the sala de investigadores or researcher’s reading room, I had to ask one of the staff archivists how he felt as a Spaniard, seeing all these Americanos studying how his people had colonized theirs, studying their revolutions against people like him. He said he tried not to think about it too hard, but that Spain had no choice but to reckon with its own past, and that there was still much to learn. I mention this to remind Filipinos of the obvious: a considerable part of our own national identity is wrapped up in those archives as well. It is my hope that eventually more and more Filipinos and Philippinists make the journey to lay claim to that legacy, if only to come to terms with the totality of our historical legacy. Think of it as an academic hajj.

When you do make that hajj, you will need a Tarjeta Nacional de Investigador or National Researcher Card, which is your research permit. It is referred to in print as the TNI, and verbally as the carnet de investigador (researcher I.D.). You apply for it in person at the first state archive you visit, and if you bring the right materials with you, 4 the application process itself will be easier than buying a train or airline ticket. When you apply for the TNI, there is a form to fill out, and they issue you a temporary permit, valid until your permanent research permit has been processed and approved, which normally takes a day. If they are not too busy, they should find someone to take you to the Sala de Investigadores (the reading room) and introduce you to the staff, who will show you how to log into, search through, order and/or view documents, and request copies from Athe system.

The TNI is valid for three years and will give you access to all the state archives. All you have to do at each new archive is register at the office so that their computers will accept your login number (i.e., TNI number). You will need the TNI card to enter any sala or reading room. Memorize your TNI number, too, because you will need it to do anything in the archives, including log in, order a legajo (document bundle), request, pay for and pick up reproductions, and inquire about the legajos you ordered or reserved. If you lose your card, it will also be easier to replace if you know your number by heart. Outside the archives, the card can also be used as personal identification in a pinch.

Applying for the TNI will be your first face-to-face contact with the state archives. While there is no need to dress formally, do dress presentably enough to demonstrate that you are a responsible person who will respect their archival treasures. With your TNI, you will be legally bound to follow all their rules, which were designed to preserve their collection for future generations. For example, under no circumstances are you allowed to wield anything containing ink inside the sala (try a mechanical pencil instead). Inside the sala of the AGI, there are armed guards who will not hesitate to remind you of this.

A final practical matter for the state archives in general is that each archive has its own modus operandi and its own peculiarities. General information about the state archives (hours, services, directions, special advisories, 5 etc.) is available through the section on Archivos on the website of Spain’s Ministry of Culture, at http://www.mcu.es/archivos/index.jsp. Take careful note not only of their opening hours, but also the schedule for ordering documents, the maximum number of documents you can order at a time, and the normal schedule for photoduplication services. There may be busy days when you find yourself on the waiting list, but never despair because there is always some turnover of work stations during the day. For example, the AGI is most crowded in the weeks immediately before and after Sevilla’s world-famous observance of Semana Santa (Holy Week), but the longest I ever had to wait was one hour.

For a relatively thorough orientation to the kinds of primary Philippine materials that can be found in Spanish repositories, I highly recommend the compilation below. Like a travel guide, it is by no means exhaustive, and provides only general information on the collections. It is nonetheless the only source I know that provides all this information in one place, and in my case it was invaluable for determining where to focus my research.

Guía de Fuentes Manuscritas para la Historia de Filipinas Conservadas en España by Patricio Hidalgo Nuchera. Published in 1998 by the Fundación Histórica Tavera in Madrid (ISBN: 84-89763-21-6).

Patricio Hidalgo has other publications relevant to Philippine studies, though they are mostly bibliographic compilations, including a companion guide that lists repositories of primary sources located outside Spain. 6 I have not seen this particular guide, but it is no doubt as useful as the one cited above. This particular Guía de Fuentes is available in Spanish (and soon in English) through Digibis (Madrid) at http://www.digibis.com/catalogo.htm. The Digibis catalog also carries several CD-Roms B part of the Clásicos Tavera project B that compile many of the classic publications from the Spanish colonial period, and therefore an important resource for anyone with an interest in Philippine history. For those with concerns about ordering online from Spain, my experience with two separate credit-card orders was uneventful, and I received my orders (in the U.S.) within a few days. In both cases international shipping was already factored into the cost of each item.


The Ministry of Culture in Spain is engaged in a long-term project to digitize and make available online their wealth of archival records. To this end, they have established the Archivos Españoles en Red (Spanish archive network) or AER, located at http://www.aer.es. Access is free of charge you need only to sign up for an account (click on Alta de Usuario), upon which you will be issued a TNI number exclusively for online use. Please note that this number has no relevance offline you will still need to apply for a real TNI to use in the actual archives. Once you are logged on, you should explore this website as much as possible. Under Enlaces de Interés you will find some very informative links on archival research in general, and there is a bulletin board called the Foro de Investigadores through which you can ask all and sundry questions of other AER users. Under Búsquedas you can run systematic searches of the AER database, and the search results can be saved for future reference in your very own Agenda del Investigador.

Try using the search engine or browsing through the catalog section by section. The escalator-like symbol next to a title indicates that there are subfolders, and the camera symbol indicates some digitized content in one or more subfolders. No special software is required to view the documents, and for ease of viewing you are allowed to manipulate the images to a certain extent (contrast, zoom, tone, etc.). All told, the AER is a tremendous resource, but no system is perfect. Bear in mind that, as with anything computer-related, there will be occasional glitches in the system, and at times the browser will unexpectedly freeze and shut down.

The most relevant section will be the Documentos e Imágenes Digitalizadas, through which you will find a partial catalog of documents drawn from various archives, and digitized images of many of the these documents. If a document has been digitized, you will normally be unable to touch the original document due to preservation concerns. However, the quality of the AER’s digitized images is equal to what you will see at the actual archive. It will take time to get used to reading such documents on a computer screen (online or at the archives), but the resolution almost always exceeds anything that you may get as a printed image.

Although they are all part of the same system of Archivos Estatales and therefore follow more or less the same cataloging system, specific style will differ slightly from archive to archive (including the AER, which is also accessible at the various archives). By browsing through the AER, you will learn how each archive is conceptually organized, and eventually you will learn which sections are most relevant to your work. Click on the Archivo General de Indias, for example, and you will learn that there are different Secciones containing very different sorts of documents, that those pertaining to the Philippines are not limited to a single Audiencia de Filipinas. Other archives directly relevant to Philippinists are the Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) and the Archivo General de Simancas (AGS). With regard to differing citation styles, i.e. to find the same document in the physical archive, take note of the catalog information that is provided in the full AER listing.

As an example, let us consider a document from 1632 in which the Procurador General of the Recoletos, fray Pedro de San Nicolás, informs Bishop Arce of Cebu of Avarious crimes committed in the province of Caraga [eastern Mindanao] by some of its natives. This document refers to the Caraga Revolt of 1631, which is indexed as La sublevación de Caraga. Below is the information that appears on the AER catalog listing for this document.

Archivo Histórico Nacional

Código de Referencia: ES.28079.AHN/141//DIVERSOS‑COLECCIONES,26,N.62
Título: Informe sobre varios crimenes cometidos en prv. de Caraga
Alcance y Contenido: Informe presentado, con permiso del obispo de la ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús, fray Pedro de Arce, por fray Pedro de San Nicolás, procurador general de los agustinos descalzos, sobre varios crímenes cometidos en la provincia de Caraga, de las Islas Filipinas, por algunos de sus naturales. 12 hjs. fol. sello placa
Nivel de Descripción: Unidad Documental Simple
Fecha(s): [c] 1632‑06‑22. Manila
Signatura(s): DIVERSOS‑COLECCIONES,26,N.62
Productor(es): Información de Contexto
Notas: Signatura antigua: DIVERSOS‑DOCUMENTOS_INDIAS,N.320
Notas del Archivero: Autor responsable: Guzmán Pla, María del Carmen.
Fuentes de Información: Pescador del Hoyo, M.C. ‘Documentos de Indias…’

Whereas the AER reference number appears on top as the código de referencia, the rest of the listing informs you that the document is from the Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN) and its call number or signatura in its home archive is ADiversos-Colecciones,26,N.62,” which is its location in the actual AHN in Madrid. The signatura antigua is its old reference number prior to the reorganization and computerization of the state archives, and is useful for checking references found in older bibliographies or studies.

This part of the website is constantly under development, and each month brings new additions. At the time of writing, the Philippine images are relatively limited, and the AER contains only a small percentage of all documents that have already been digitized. Moreover, only a very small percentage of all Philippine and other documents have been digitized. But what is already available through the AER is of unquestionable value to researchers, as well as those preparing to undertake archival research.


Before we move on the AGI, a few words about its geographical location. The city and province of Sevilla, in the Autonomous Community of Andalucía, is where the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) was established in 1503 to regulate commerce, navigation, and many other matters related to the colonies. Nearly everyone and everything (including Magellan) went through here first. The main colonial archive, into which the records of the Casa de Contratación were eventually incorporated, was established here two centuries later. Sevilla is a beautiful, magical city that will inspire you to formulate more historical research projects just as an excuse to return. Of course, you will then have to do the actual research, but that’s life.

Andalucía is also the home of the peculiar Andaluz speech pattern, which can only be described as Spanish at warp speed, so fast that whole consonants get thrown by the wayside. 7 For example, the question Cómo estás, Tomás? (How are you, Thomas?) will end up sounding like Cometá Tomá? Oddly, they also add consonants where there are none, e.g., the word edad (age) becomes hedad, with a hard h. If your name is Jesús you will be called Jesú. If you want two or three of something, be prepared for do and tre. And sometimes you will not know if you are being addressed in familiar or formal terms (quiere and quieres will sound exactly the same). At the AGI in Sevilla, many of the staff will speak this way. So will almost every food service worker in every eating establishment in the area. Just get used to it.

If you are staying in Sevilla for several weeks or months, there are many affordable apartments or rooms available for rent, except during Semana Santa. Many of these are advertised online, and almost anywhere within the Centro of Sevilla is walking distance to the AGI. To gauge distances on a map, the distance between the AGI and the Plaza de Cuba (in barrio Triana, across the Guadalquivir River using the closest bridge, San Telmo) is roughly ten minutes at a leisurely pace. Almost any point within the barrios of Santa Cruz and Arenal is only five minutes away by foot, while those of San Vicente and Macarena may be ten. With all the walking you will do, I should also warn you against eating the oranges off those pretty trees that line the streets: the fruit is so bitter, even animals will not eat it.

An option for researchers to consider is the Escuela de Estudios Hispanoamericanos (EEHA). It houses a respectable research library (though with only a handful of Philippine books), and has a Residencia for scholars coming from out-of-town. They also hold weekly lectures called mesas redondas on a wide range of research topics, and it is worth attending at least a few. They are often quite interesting, and you are also likely to see other AGI researchers there. Take advantage of these lectures to hone your listening and comprehension of proper academic Spanish is much easier to understand than everyday vernacular, especially in Sevilla. If you cannot find the schedule of lectures, you might just try showing up at the Escuela at a little before 7 pm on any given Tuesday and inquire at the reception.

The EEHA Residencia is a good place for a brief stay, and there’s no denying that it helps your bona fides somewhat when colleagues find out you are staying at ALa Escuela. But as guests have no access to kitchen or laundry facilities, and the cost of outside laundry service is ridiculous (at least 7 euros for a single load of wash), unless you have a substantial grant you may wish to weigh other options. Some might also find the general ambience of the Escuela a bit off-putting. I heard more than one person joke that the place was so austere, it must have been designed by the Opus Dei. Finally, there is the 24-hour live and video security throughout the building and the grounds, which makes you feel safe until you realize that you are also under constant surveillance, except inside your room. Even if you have nothing to hide, it may eventually start to bother you.

That said, the Escuela’s rooms are not only very secure, they are quite nice, each with a private bath, and ideally located at the Plaza del Duque (around the corner from El Corte Inglés, the largest supermarket and department store in town). At 40 euros a day, they are not cheap, but the EEHA offers residential scholarships (becas) for non-Spanish citizens. These amount to free lodging for a month or so, a value of about 1200 euros. More information is available at http://www.eeha.csic.es. Be prepared to use only Spanish in applying for this beca, and to demonstrate your competence in Spanish through the quality of your proposal and your correspondence with them. Philippinists should be aware that rarely do our kind make an appearance vis-à-vis the local academic establishment, and this rarity may cause them to take full advantage of your presence there. You might be asked (as I was) to give one of those mesa redonda lectures that are normally reserved for more established scholars. In fact, only becarios with a Ph.D. present their work, so I did not come prepared. Don’t let this happen to you.

Knowing my own linguistic limitations, I was absolutely horrified by the prospect of speaking extemporaneously in Spanish, and tried to explain to the Director that, despite my reading abilities, I was in fact not ready to give a presentation in his language, and it would only embarrass them in the end. It would have been convincing except that I explained it just a little too well, so the Director chided me for joking around as he wrote down the date of my lecture. Most people will confuse good pronunciation with fluency, so let that be a lesson. As such, I had no choice but to spend all my free time for the next two weeks neglecting my other work in order to write a lecture in tortured Academy Spanish and pestering other, busier researchers to check my grammar. In English, I normally would not need more than an outline for such a presentation, but in Spanish I had to read it out word for word, to avoid embarrassing myself (and by extension all Filipinos). So, if you can, do prepare something in advance, even if it is only a basic Spanish translation of one of your old papers. Even if you never present it as a lecture, you can print a copy for anyone interested in your research.


ARCHIVO GENERAL DE INDIAS (Sevilla, Andalucía, Spain)

The AGI is no doubt the archival headquarters for the Spanish colonial period, with almost 50,000 legajos or bundles of documents, each of which might contain a stack of papers more than a foot high. While Filipinas comprises only a small part of this grand collection, it is the motherlode as far as this period is concerned. Yet the AGI’s collection of Philippine materials is sadly underutilized, and many of its documents might not have been viewed in the past century. They are just there, waiting to be explored. This is no doubt why the staff notices when someone is researching Filipinas. 8

A good, basic orientation to the kinds of Philippine materials that can be found at the AGI is already available in pages 58-77 of Patricio Hidalgo’s Guía de Fuentes Manuscritas para la Historia de Filipinas Conservadas en España, mentioned in the previous section. There is no need to repeat it here. But I want to dispel the rumour I heard (which may still be circulating) that there is a room of Philippine materials at the AGI in which one can browse through random stacks of uncatalogued Philippine materials. I asked the archivist I became friends with there: there is no such room. Believe in conspiracy theories if you must, but the bottom line is that if it does not have a reference number in the computerized catalog, they cannot retrieve it for you.

There are, however, many, many legajos that have only nondescript labels that say absolutely nothing about their contents. If you have the time to explore, it is worth the trouble to go through at least one or more of these, just to see what might be there. It might just be more workaday bureaucratic correspondence, filed in triplicate, informing the Governor General that his letter of a certain date had been received and that there would be a proper reply sent in due course, and in the meantime long live the King, may God keep Him for as many years he wishes as he defends our Most Holy Faith, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But even within that context there are many interesting possibilities, and you never know what you might find.

When you are there, take the time to look through their library. Those bookshelves are lined not only with dictionaries but also with reference materials pertaining to Spain’s colonial history. Just browsing at random, I found a number of surprisingly useful books, including a comprehensive series that compiled the laws of the Indies, or rulings pertaining to the colonies, highlighting important legal distinctions between the colonization or pacification of the Philippines and the conquest of the Americas, especially with regard to the rights of indigenous leaders. There is a separate library from which books can be requested, reserved, and brought to your workstation. During renovations to the AGI, the card catalog and request forms are located right next to the entrance of the temporary quarters on Calle Sto. Tomas. This is something you can do should you find yourself on the waiting list or are having a particularly slow morning.

The AGI has its own procedures for ordering legajos for viewing, and I will only include here the things that might be useful to know before you walk into the sala for the first time. First and foremost is that the staff will retrieve orders only three times a day B if you place your order before 9 a.m. (this includes orders placed after 1 p.m. the day before), you will get your legajos by around 9:30 a.m. After that, you must wait until after 11 a.m. to get your legajos. The final round of orders is concluded around 1:00 p.m. If you place your order after that time, don’t count on seeing your order until the next day, because the AGI closes at 3 p.m. By the same token, if you plan to arrive at the AGI first thing in the morning and expect immediate access to your legajos, you should order them by 1 p.m. the day before and place them in reserve. You can keep materials on hold if you plan to use them again within a few days, but you can have only three existing orders at a time. At this time, there is also a need to conserve table space in the sala (see fn. 5), because the current workspaces are not big enough for more than one legajo.

The request forms on the archivists’ desks are for microfilm and other special items. Most of your document requests will made online from your work station. If you order something online and there is a microfilm copy, you will be asked to choose the microfilm copy, which will require filling out a paper form. If you want printouts of your microfilm pages, you must do it yourself at the machine. The staff will load the roll for you, and show you how to print if you make only a handful of printouts, they will not bother with the charges.

As for reproductions, photoduplication, and other services, you will need a master form (the largest form on the archivists’ desks) for each type of reproduction you are ordering. This means that you must list orders for printouts of digitized documents (imágenes impresas) and photocopies (fotocopias) on separate master forms. In each case, you can select one or more particular pages to be copied, or request a copy of the whole document B just make sure you indicate the page numbers clearly, and that the information on the master form matches the individual orders.

In addition to the master form, each individual order for imágenes impresas is placed online from your work station. Each printout is relatively cheap and you will be tempted to order printouts of everything. The nice thing about imágenes impresas is that if you pay for your printouts by 11 a.m., you can generally pick them up after lunch on the same day. They say that, in theory, you can wait until you are done be it a week or even a month before you choose to pay. But please be aware that these orders are spooled on the AGI server and will remain there until you pay for your order. Too many spooled orders will shut down the system, and they don’t like it when that happens. Once your imágenes impresas order reaches a hundred pages or more, it’s time to pay up so that it can be cleared from the server’s memory. Payment is really the only bothersome part of the process because you must exit the archive and go to a bank around the corner, wait in line, wait for the teller to place the money in the AGI’s account, then take the receipt back to the AGI office to prove that you paid. At that point they will press the [email protected] button and tell you how long it should take to print everything out.

Photocopies and other reproductions of non-digitized items take much longer, and are ordered individually with a paper form that is inserted in the respective legajo. Make sure the information there matches what is on your master form. Photocopies at the AGI can take six weeks or more due to their backlog, but they deliver these orders by insured mail. If you order a lot of copies and printouts, you might find it useful to either retain a copy of your master form or write down the information in your notes for reference purposes. If your total order is massive (I have around 1500 pages of reproductions), doing this will allow you cross-reference the documents you have received and help you determine whether anything is missing.

If like me you stay in Sevilla long enough and pick up some of your special orders in person, you might decide to mail them home in boxes rather than cart them around in your already heavy luggage to the next archive (remember, all those souvenirs will weigh a ton). The Sevilla post office has sturdy boxes for sale and insured mail is reliable and reasonably priced. According to my archivist friend at the AGI, if disaster strikes and the mailed reproductions are somehow lost, the AGI will try its best to help you out. If you retain a copy of your master forms, you will be able to re-order all the same documents by mail as a last resort. Of course you will have to pay for everything all over again, but you can do this by international wire transfer.



The AHN is distinct from the AGI in that you will encounter a much smaller percentage of digitized documents here. Despite the relative inconvenience of having to order photocopies instead of imágenes impresas, this can be a welcome change after you’ve grown tired of staring at a computer screen all day. Their coverage of the Philippines is not quite as monumental and nebulous as that of the AGI, and therefore it will be in many ways much more manageable. Most of the materials you will find here are from later in Spanish colonial period, especially from the 19 th century. Consequently, the correspondence and reports you will encounter here are somewhat more complete, and so much easier to read.

Working at the AHN is much less complicated than working at the AGI. For one, it is a smaller archive, with fewer work stations in a very pleasant sala blessed with lots of natural light. Ironically, they appear to have the same number of staff working in the reading room. The AHN also has a treasurer only a few doors down from the sala, which means greater convenience in paying for copies. There is also a cafeteria only two buildings away in the same compound (ask the security guard).

As for special procedures, they will not retrieve new legajos in the second half of the day, but their system allows for greater leeway with orders in the morning, when compared to the AGI system. You place your legajo orders both online and on paper, but there are no set times during which such orders can be placed. Every legajo I ordered arrived less than 15 minutes after I placed the order. Their Photoduplication department also seems much more efficient. Here, photocopies normally take only one week instead of six. They are able to mail orders out, as well as receive orders by mail. For a minor fee you can expedite your request into a one-day pickup under special circumstances (e.g., your flight leaves the next day). 9

What I liked best about the AHN was that sala was quiet, even though it is located in the heart of busy Madrid. This is because, although the AHN is located inside the larger campus of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) 10 on Calle Serrano (a busy four-lane street), the archive is situated away from the main road, surrounded by other buildings that dampen the sound of city traffic. In contrast, the AGI is located in the heart of Sevilla’s tourist attractions, right next door to both the Cathedral and the Reales Alcázares. As such, researchers in the AGI listen to the klop-klop of horse-drawn carriages, the bustle of tourists, and the revving of automobiles all day long.

As with the previous archive, there is a special residence for visiting scholars close to the AHN. Even those who are no longer students can stay at the Residencia de Estudiantes, and you can find the necessary information through their website at http://www.residencia.csic.es/. For those staying elsewhere in Madrid, the archive is a relatively long block from the nearest Metro stop (República Argentina on the n o 6 grey line), but it is a pleasant walk.


The archives described below are open to the public, free of charge, but are considered Aprivate because they are not financed or run by government officials. As such, you will need to make your own arrangements with each individual archive, but as their mandates are similar to those of public libraries, researchers need not do anything in advance unless they are applying for in-house grants or are requesting special workplace accommodations. The exception is the archive of the Augustinian Recollects, for the simple reason that there is only one very busy archivist, and if he is away on business, no one will be able to help you, and you will have traveled all the way to the foot of the Pyrenees for nothing.

THE VATICAN FILM LIBRARY (St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.)

The Vatican Film Library is located inside the Pius XII Memorial Library on the lovely campus of St. Louis University (SLU), a private Jesuit school located in the midwestern United States (not to be confused with the actual Vatican Library in Rome). The Film Library contains no original manuscripts but microfilm copies of materials from other Jesuit repositories, including their Roman archive. Through their website, http://www.slu.edu/libraries/vfl, you can learn more about their collections and the fellowship options for researchers from out-of-town. They do not have an online catalog.

Philippinists will be interested two collections, both of which are extensive. The first is the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu or ARSI collection, which contains administrative records from the Jesuit Generalate in Rome. There is material from every administrative region or Assistancy, including the Spanish Assistancy, under which records of the Philippine Province can be found. In their bound catalog, look under Assistentia Hispaniae > Provincia Philippinarum. There are 12 ARSI microfilm rolls pertaining to the Philippines, including some with interesting but brief biographies B in Spanish B of Jesuit missionaries who served in the Philippines. But most of the rest of the ARSI is in either Latin or Italian, the languages of the Vatican, and my very limited knowledge of these languages prevented me from learning much from this collection.

The second, of greater interest, is the Pastells collection, which is essentially a microfilm copy of the original Pastells collection housed in the grand Catalonian archive of the Jesuit order, the Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu Cataloniae (AHSIC) in Sant Cugat del Vallés, Barcelona. Hidalgo’s description of the AHSIC’s Pastells documents (pages 267-273 of the Guía de Fuentes ) of course applies to its duplicate in the Vatican Film Library. In brief, the Pastells collection is comprised of transcriptions made by Pablo Pastells, S.J., at the turn of the 20 th century, of primary sources found mostly in the AGI in Sevilla, but with a few from the AHN, the Archivo General de Simancas (Valladolid), the Biblioteca Nacional (Madrid), the Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid), and various Jesuit archives. In the course of undertaking this project, which was primarily about the history of the Jesuit order, Pastells transcribed documents pertaining to the political and ecclesiastical history of the Philippines. Pastells himself had worked as a missionary in the Philippines in the late 19 th century, serving eastern Mindanao for over a decade. The larger collection has considerable coverage of the American colonies, as well as the Marianas, China, and everywhere else the Jesuits traveled in Asia.

Pastells’s transcriptions were first done by hand, then later by typewriter. But in both cases, no [email protected] were made to modernize what was being transcribed. In other words, the original orthography, abbreviations, and flow of the source documents are preserved. Most of the source documents themselves already contain an expedited version of the main document, or a précis of its contents on the first page. But Pastells adds his own fairly accurate index at the beginning of each volume, which makes the Pastells transcriptions a valuable, practical resource to train would-be archival researchers. For the Philippines, there are about 23 volumes on 8 densely packed microfilm rolls, and four weeks of full-time work was not enough for me to read and take notes on every document. 11

The Vatican Film Library is a sadly under-utilized resource in terms of Philippine historical studies, and I was told in 2004 that I was the first person to check out the Pastells microfilm collection in a very long time. That said, you can be sure that fellowship applications for research about the Philippines will be eagerly considered by the library.

There are some practical issues with regard to using the microfilm collection at the VFL. The first is that their machines are so old, they look like Soviet-era contraptions and will feel awkward if you are used to modern microfilm readers. That said, they are purely mechanical, using only a hand crank, and therefore do not require any special training and are less likely to break down. However, the text is not quite as clear in these older machines, possibly because of an inferior light source. The second issue is that these old machines are not connected to any printers. However, on the second floor of the Pius XII Memorial Library, you will find about six modern microfilm readers, four of which are connected to rudimentary printers, and two of which are connected to scanners. You will of course need explicit permission to take the microfilm out of the VFL reading room.

You can use either coins or copy cards (available on the main floor) to pay the per-page printing fee. If you want to retain reference copies of more than a few pages, however, you have the option of using the Minolta scanners to read the microfilm and convert the images into a PDF document, which you can then save and take home on a portable storage device, such as a floppy disk, ZIP disk, or USB drive. In my case, I would load the scanned documents onto a removable USB drive until it was full, then download its contents into my laptop’s hardrive, and then use my CD burner to create a backup. Then I would empty my USB drive and return to the Minoltas to scan some more documents. Of course, you will need to ask one of the librarians to show you how to use these machines, which are splendid but tricky. When I was there, they did not have any CD burners on the library’s computers. But technology always changes, and as I write this, it has been over a year since I used their machines I recommend calling first to verify what recording options are actually available.

St. Louis, Missouri, is easily accessible by air and car, and a range of local accommodations is available, including SLU’s in-house hotel, the Water Tower Inn. You can find some very basic information through their website at http://www.slu.edu/events/wti.html, but you’ll need to call for their rates. Even though the Water Tower Inn is relatively economical, and there is a considerable discount for long-term stays, I also suggest calling the VFL secretary in advance to ask about other options. I started out at the Water Tower Inn, but courtesy of the VFL secretary, I was pleased to move to a closer and much cheaper apartment being sublet for visitors by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The university’s cafeteria and a student center with various food service options are both within a two minute walk from the library. The VFL itself is currently located in an odd corner on the ground floor of the Pius XII library, and the environmental controls in that room only seem to work at full blast. In the summer, it will be freezing, no matter where you sit: bring a sweater, warm socks, and maybe even a scarf.

THE NEWBERRY LIBRARY (Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

The Newberry Library is another profoundly under-appreciated and under-utilized resource for Philippine history and ethnology. It is a treasure trove of books, manuscripts, maps, and pictures, all of which are potentially relevant to a wide range of research possibilities. It has a very special connection to the Philippines in the form of the Ayer Collection, which was originally assembled at the very beginning of the American occupation of the Philippines. Many of the Ayer materials are unique, salvaged from the Barcelona library of the Compañía General de Tabacos. There are excellent materials dating from the latter half of the 18 th century until the Revolution. There are hundreds of photographs from the Dean Worcester and other collections. There is an assortment of manuscripts and booklets on the religious missions, the British invasion of Manila, various explorations of the archipelago, and their accompanying maps, from the Spanish period. They also have accounts of early explorations of the New World and the Philippines, including a reportedly contemporary copy, in manuscript form, of an eyewitness account of Legazpi’s arrival in the Philippines in 1565. A very large portion of Blair & Robertson’s 55-volume compendium The Philippine Islands 1493-1898 12 is in fact comprised of translations from materials in the Ayer collection, which underscores the breadth and significance of this collection.

Rizalians will be delighted to know that there is a precious handful of correspondence by our dear José Rizal. This includes a sparsely filled notebook in which he wrote down how much he spent on food and other expenses in Madrid, and in which he laments on March 31 st (the same day he spent 1,20 pesetas in stamps to mail a letter to the Philippines) that, my days pass with speed and I find that I am very old for my age I lack the joy of young hearts… 13 Filipinos overcome by homesickness while at the Newberry can take comfort in the bust of Rizal that watches over the Special Collections reading room. The reading room itself is a very pleasant and quiet place, and in late 2004 they were talking about providing internet access from there, which would make it easier to cross-reference the library’s catalog as you work. The staff there is incredibly efficient, helpful, and accommodating, but every archive has its conventions and procedures. To stay in their good graces, do memorize the in-house rules (no pens, etc.) and observe them diligently.

The Newberry has a very accessible and informative website, which includes an excellent overview of their collections. Go to http://www.newberry.org/ and browse under the ACollections & [email protected] section. Please be aware that less than half of their collection is represented on the online catalog, but it is constantly being updated. Most of the original Philippine manuscripts can be searched only through the old-fashioned card catalog. But those with access to a university inter-library loan system within the U.S. will easily find a copy of the following reference bibliography, which is the single best introduction to the Newberry’s Philippine treasures.

Calendar of Philippine documents in the Ayer Collection of the Newberry Library, edited by Paul Lietz. Published in 1956 by the Newberry Library, Chicago (ISBN: 0911028013). It is out of print, but I was able to obtain a used copy from the online bookseller Alibris for less than $10. The Newberry of course has in-house copies for researchers to consult.

On the same website, in the Scholars & Teachers’ section, researchers will also find a wide variety of in-house fellowship and financial aid options for working at the library. Some housing options for researchers are available on the FAQ page for Fellowships, with additional options available by writing the Research & Education office. Even without a fellowship, I highly recommend contacting the Research & Education office to negotiate some form of affiliation. Fellows and other scholars so recognized by the Newberry have important privileges in that you are allowed to reserve microfilm and certain categories of books, and are given your own study carrel, through which you also receive high-speed internet access. You will also be allowed in the library after public hours, during which you have no access to the special collections but are free to browse the card catalog, use the microfilm reader, and pore through the reserved materials in your carrel. You will also be able to use the employee lunchroom and leave things in the fellows’ room, which might make your daily commute easier. In addition, an affiliation might in some cases give you access to Chicago’s other private libraries, including those at the University of Chicago. Finally, a fellowship or other such affiliation with the library will place you in the company of scholars whose companionship and insight may prove valuable to your own quest. This particular benefit of my affiliation with the Newberry remains my fondest memory of my time there.

The Newberry Library is located in possibly the most beautiful neighborhood in Chicago, known locally as the Gold Coast. It is in the heart of The [email protected] and directly across the street from Washington Square, a quiet and unassuming park with a colorful history. 14 The library is easily accessible from anywhere in the city through public transportation, lying equidistant to both the Clark & Division and Chicago stations on the El train’s red line. A great many bus lines also pass through this area. At certain times of the year, downtown Chicago is itself so pleasant to walk in that you might find yourself going past your regular El stop just to have a longer walk. All things considered, it is one of the most pleasant places I can think of to do archival and library research.

(Convento del Orden de los Agustinos Recoletos, Marcilla, Navarra, Spain)


Of all the archives described in this article, the Provincial archive of the Augustinian Recollect Order in Marcilla (ARM) may be the only true logistical challenge for the researcher. This is because it is located in a very small rural town (pop. 3,000 or less) in economically depressed northern Spain, and you will be at a loss for finding accommodations. Also, no one in this town even among the Recoletos themselves speaks English, or will admit to doing so. This part of Spain went to Franco during the Civil War, and there remains a streak of conservatism that may prove a challenge for some, especially after such cosmopolitan centers as Sevilla, Madrid, and Chicago. People are no more religious here than in the rest of Spain, but they will nonetheless make it their business to know whether you are Catholic, and whether you in fact attend Mass regularly. That said, nowhere else in Spain was I welcomed so wholeheartedly into local people’s homes, and made to feel like a treasured part of their lives. I made some real friends in Marcilla, and I miss them very much.

The Recoletos have very significant historical tie to the Philippines, for that is where their Order spent their formative years as a missionary order, starting in the early 1600s. The Philippines, especially the Visayas and Mindanao, was their first mission field, and some of the Recoletos’ most important figures earned their stripes, and sometimes their martyrdom, there. As the Fathers and Brothers in Marcilla will tell you, the Philippines, and Filipinos, still hold an important place in their hearts. Marcilla itself has a special connection to the Philippines in that until the mid-1980s this was where new Filipino priests and brothers came to receive their theological formation (education) within the Order. In 1998, the Philippines was given its own Provincialate, and the Province of San Ezekiel de Moreno was born. Since then, the original Province of San Nicolás de Tolentino has focused on its remaining mission fields, primarily in the Americas.

However, the Recoleto convent in Marcilla retains possession of the archives pertaining to its genesis as a Religious Order. This means that all their original records on the Philippines from the Spanish colonial period remain in Spain. However, Filipino Recoletos undertook a project some years ago in which a large portion of the original Provincial archive referring to the Philippines was scanned electronically and preserved on CD-Rom. Researchers in Metro Manila might want to first inquire about accessing those digital records before planning a journey to Marcilla. I compared the CD-Roms’ contents with the actual archive and can tell you that the scanned documents are of good quality, and the CD-Rom collection is quite comprehensive, with the documents arranged in the correct order, retaining the pagination of the original legajos, etc. But they do not include everything, and in the case of one very long document from Legajo 61, some pages were omitted. In any case, even though holding the actual documents in your hand is, in my view, a singular experience, the CD-Rom version is a worthy substitute, especially for those who cannot afford to travel to Spain at this time.

As to the contents of the ARM, they will concern mainly those researchers whose areas of interest were part of the Recoleto mission field, including but not limited to northern and eastern Mindanao (Misamis, Caraga, Surigao, Agusan), where they planted and maintained new missions from the 1620s until the late 1800s, when the Jesuits moved in. Local history buffs will be particularly delighted by the detailed coverage of Misamis from the 18 th century on. Those Mindanao historians who have relied on the Jesuits for information will probably be stunned when they learn how important the Recoletos actually were to the island’s history, and that proper credit for the successful Christianization and Hispanization of north-eastern Mindanao indeed belongs to the Recoletos. 15 It’s true that the Jesuits tried to plant the first ever mission in northern Mindanao in Butuan in 1596 but it was never fully established, and faltered due to personnel problems. They soon abandoned this part of Mindanao to the newly established Recoleto Order, also known as the Agustinos descalzos (barefoot Augustinians). Other significant fields were parts of the Visayas especially Mindoro, and various parts of Luzon. Those researching the Muslim/ Moro areas of the Philippines will also find some interesting material on piracy and other interaction between them and the missionaries. In addition to the ARM itself, the Convento has a very good library on religion and missiology that is worth a serious look.

On the practicalities of using the ARM, the archive itself is in clausura (cloistered), but they have a general index that will help you decide what legajos to ask for. Since they rarely have researchers passing through, procedures, schedules, and other terms will have to be negotiated with the Father archivist on an individual basis and entirely in Spanish. The current archivist, Father José Manuel Bengoa, is himself a scholar and despite his young age has already published extensively on the history of the Recoletos. He is an outgoing, jovial person whose enthusiasm for his work and his vocation is a welcome change from the weighty scholars you will no doubt have met in the course of your research. He can speak Italian, but not English. The Convento itself is a very peaceful if lonely place to work, with all the modern conveniences, including efficient radiators and high-speed internet.

The Marcilla convent of the Recoletos has a website at http://www.terra.es/personal2/recole01/, but you will not be able to find information about their archives there. Best to write the general email address, and then wait for the archivist to write you back. Be patient, because he is often traveling. For the ARM archive on CD-Rom, the homepage for the Philippine Recoletos is http://www.recoletos.ph/page/home, and the contact information for their Provincial center in Quezon City is at http://ezekiel.pinoyrekoleto.com/contact_us.html.

In terms of the logistics of going to Marcilla, the most direct route is to fly into Pamplona, take a taxi to the bus station downtown, then take the regular bus service, which is run by Conda S.A.. They have a good website with an English version at http://www.conda.es/index.php?idi.eng. The last bus that passes by Marcilla leaves at 8 pm daily, and will drop you off rather unceremoniously an hour later at an unlit stop about 50 meters from the entrance to the Convento. The fare is extremely cheap, almost negligible considering the distance they take you. You will of course not be staying at the Convento, unless you happen to have a relative in the Order, or are yourself a Religious from another Order.

There is only one commercial accommodation in Marcilla, a hostel (locally referred to as la fonda, or Athe inn) just a short walk away but then again, everywhere in town is a short walk away. Fearing that the Recoletos would cloister me in the nunnery on the other side of town, I insisted on staying at the fonda. It certainly made for a very colorful experience, but if I could turn back time and do it all over again, I would beg Fr. José Manuel to place me with one of his parishioners. If you stay several weeks, as I did, then the fonda’s cheap daily rate (minimally edible food included) is just not worth it, unless you delight in sharing a single bathroom with anywhere from 2 to 6 (possibly more) other people who, like too many people in Spain, are incorrigible smokers. While I never felt my personal safety threatened there, I did not enjoy being the only female boarder at the fonda, and was relieved when the waitress the most colorful character of them all moved in temporarily to save money. Incidentally, the fonda will also do laundry for you, at a per-load price, in a doubtful washing machine. In sum, the fonda is on the dodgy side and not a place for the weak-hearted.

The town of Marcilla itself has a government website at http://www.marcilla.es/, and an amateur website at http://www.telefonica.net/web2/marcillaot/. One thing to bear in mind is that Marcilla is at a relatively high elevation (almost 1,000 feet), and on the edge of the lovely Pyrenees mountain range. In April it can still get very cold here, sometimes even freezing, at night. But for this inconvenience you are rewarded with perhaps the most beautiful and sparsely populated natural landscape in Spain, and encounter some of its most considerate and good humoured people. If you can find a way to take a drive through the countryside, through the well-preserved medieval towns, and into the neighboring Basque region, do not hesitate to do so.


I hope that this information encourages others to explore some of these archival treasures, and that they come to be exploited as fully as possible by Philippinists. More potential repositories of records from the Spanish colonial period remain, including the archives of Mexico. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me directly if you have specific questions regarding the archives and places mentioned in this article. My contact information will be updated regularly on the Philippine Studies Group website, which currently is located at http://psg.csusb.edu/.

Oona Thommes Paredes
Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. Issue 7. States, People, and Borders in Southeast Asia. September 2006
Although all the web urls were working at the time of original publication in March 2006, they have
not been updated or checked since that time.

  1. See, for example, Rubiés, Joan-Pau, AThe Spanish contribution to the ethnology of Asia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,@ Renaissance Studies 17(3):418-448, 2003. ↩
  2. Do not reach for poetry or the novels of Gabriel García Marquez. Start with with the straightforward language of Laura Esquivel=s Como Agua Para Chocolate or the light popular novels by Paulo Coelho. ↩
  3. Relacion del viaje e jornada, que larmada de su Mag. hizo del descubrimiento de las Islas del Poniente, que partio del puerto de la navidad delaño 1564 de que fue por general el muy Illmo señor Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (Manuscript 1410, Ayer Collection, Newberry Library, Chicago, IL, USA), pages 23-24. ↩
  4. You will need two color photographs, your passport or other official national identification, and something that proves you are a legitimate scholar, such as an affiliation with a university. In my case, all it took was my student I.D. card. But just in case, I recommend bringing a signed, official-looking letter from your department, on university letterhead, that certifies you are a student or faculty member who is doing research on a particular subject. You will also need some cash to pay the negligible processing fee. ↩
  5. This is your only reliable source for updates on the renovations at the AGI, whose reading room has for the moment been moved from the Casa Lonja to an inconspicuous, unmarked building across the street on Calle Sto. Tomás, No. 5. The temporary sala is much smaller and therefore the number of workplaces and individual table space is limited. ↩
  6. Researchers in the United States may also want to check the microfilm collection of the Library of Congress=s Manuscript Division, which includes reproductions of select portions of Spain=s archives, acquired under the auspices of their Foreign Copying Program and through private donations. ↩
  7. My favorite example is a popular song by the Andaluz band Chambao, Ahí Estás Tú, which was used for a national television campaign to promote tourism in Andalucía. The refrain, y ahí estás tú (Aand this is where you [email protected]) B but pronounced yáyetatú B was utterly incomprehensible to Spaniards up north in Navarra. Those I spoke to insisted that it was not Spanish, even though the phrase was itself the title of the ad, and was written prominently onscreen. ↩
  8. Do try to talk to the staff about what you learn there B you might well be able to tell them something new about their Filipinas collection. One day for a change of pace I started looking at documents from the Philippine Revolution, and found a special collection of photographs from that time, which was described in the catalog as including pictures of insurrectos. Bracing myself for images of bolo-wielding Katipuneros either dead or about to be executed, I instead found an array of individual and group portraits featuring unidentified men in European dress, some of whom were definitely of pure European descent. One photograph was of an unidentified man who bore a striking resemblance to images of Andres Bonifacio I had seen in elementary school. The archivist was grateful for the possible identification, which he said would be noted in the catalog. He asked me who else I could identify, and I’m sorry to say that, because my research focus is neither on this late period nor on the Tagalog region, Emilio Aguinaldo was the only other face I recognized with any certainty. The European-looking insurrectos were a particular mystery, as they appeared in almost every photograph and, like the indios, were unidentified. This particular set of photographs is cataloged in Diversos,S.2, among the papers of General Camilo Polavieja, as ADiversos,37,n.3,d.1(s/f). It requires special handling and must be requested at least a day in advance. If this interests you, make sure to view the other legajos within Diversos, especially 26, 27, and 33. ↩
  9. In my case, the treasurer seemed so delighted to meet a Filipino who was willing to speak some Spanish that he expedited my order for me, making a show of calling the Photoduplication department and scolding them to speed it up so I would not have to pay the [email protected] 20 euro shipping charge. In retrospect, one could interpret his actions as paternalistic, or maybe even flirtatious B but 20 euros is still a lot of money. ↩
  10. CSIC is Spain’s national umbrella research organization, and they sponsor research in the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. The EEHA and its Residencia in Sevilla are both branches of CSIC. Spaniards pronounce the initials as ASE-sik. ↩
  11. There is currently no catalog that indexes the Philippines portion of this collection, but if anyone is interested, I can offer a work record that provides a rough outline of the contents for each volume and roll. The VFL also has a copy. ↩
  12. The essential ABlair & [email protected] set has been placed on CD-Rom thanks to the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Two online retailers that sell this CD-Rom collection are www.myayala.com and www.defensor.org. The University of Michigan also has produced an online archive called AThe United States and its Territories, 1870-1925,@ at http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text‑idx?c=philamer. It contains a photo archive, as well as scanned pages of several important publications from this period, including Blair & Robertson. I do not believe the entire 55-volume compendium is actually online at this time, but at the very least the indeces are already available. ↩
  13. Mis días corren con velocidad y encuentro que soy muy viejo (así me llaman muchos) para mi edad. Me falta la alegría de los corazones jóvenes… (Ayer MS 1417, p. 88) ↩
  14. In the early 1900s it became known as ABughouse [email protected] and was a popular public space for political and artistic free speech. Later in the 20 th century, the serial killer John Wayne Gacy reportedly prowled the park for victims. ↩
  15. See Caraga Antigua: The Hispanization and Christianization of Agusan, Surigao, and East Davao by Peter Schreurs, MSC. Published in Cebu by University of San Carlos Press, 1989 (ISBN:971-100-054-7). Even though I had read this book, which was written by a priest from neither Order, I was struck by the profundity of the Recoletos= work in Mindanao, which in my view remains unacknowledged. Newspaper accounts from the 19 th century, stuffed into the ARM legajos indicate that a major political brawl erupted at that time between these two Religious Orders, not only for territory but also for proper recognition, which the Recoletos obviously lost. ↩

Issue 29

– Philippines
Enhancing the eLearning “White Space” in a Fully-Online Southeast Asian Studies Course at De La Salle University
Mark Inigo M. Tallara, De La Salle University (DLSU)-Manila, Philippines

– Singapore
Social Considerations-and-Constraints of Online Teaching-and-Learning: A Digital Native’s Reflection
Sue Chia Ng, doctoral pre-candidate, the National Institute of Education, Singapore

– Hong Kong
The Impact of the Pandemic on Our Operations within the Johann Sebastian Bach Music Academy
Nikolay Demerdzhiev, Johann Sebastian Bach Music Academy, Hong Kong

– Indonesia
Shifting Knowledge Authority from School to Home: Education Anxiety in the Pandemic Era
Lukis Alam, National Institute of Technology, Yogyakarta (ITNY), Indonesia

– Philippines
Discerning Truth in a Time of Pandemic: Reflections from a Filipino Jesuit School
Franz Jan S. Santos, Ateneo de Manila University (and senior high school), Philippines

– Japan
Some Negative Impacts for University Students During Pandemic 2020
Makibi Nakano & Kumiko Kato, PhD candidates, Kyoto and Sophia Universities, Japan

– Indonesia
Teaching in Times of Global Disruption
Amelia Joan Liwe, Lecturer, International Relations, Universitas Pelita Harapan, Indonesia

Teaching Pandemic History During a Pandemic Present
Michael G. Vann, California State University, Sacramento, USA

– Philippines / Taiwan
The Pandemic and East Asian University Internationalization: The Southern Taiwan-Philippine Experience
Brian U. Doce, De La Salle University International Studies Department, Philippines

– Indonesia
Addressing the Challenges in Implementing Online Learning During the Pandemic in Indonesia
Syanne Helly, high school teacher and International Baccalaureate coordinator

– Philippines
The Trial of Philippine Studies
Charlie Samuya Veric, associate professor of English, at Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

– Malaysia
Compression of Space: Reflection on Teaching During Pandemic Pedagogy
Mohd Sazni Ahmad Salehudin, Faculty of Film Theatre and Animation (FiTA), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) , Malaysia

– Indonesia
Introducing EdTech to the Classroom – A Reflective Piece
Peter J. Whitfield, Tzu Chi School, Jakarta, Indonesia

– Japan
Engaging Hearts and Engaging Minds: Teaching Sociology in Japan during the Pandemic
Allen J. Kim & Johanna O. Zulueta, associate professors, International Christian University, Tokyo, and Soka University, Tokyo, Japan.

– Singapore
Teaching Public Policy Communications at a Singapore University during COVID-19 and Beyond
Yao Hing Wong, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore

– Thailand
Finding a Balance between Comfort Zone and a “New Normal” Way of Teaching Online
Mukda Pratheepwatanawong , Mekong Studies Center, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

– Indonesia
Academic Servant Leadership during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A reflection from Indonesia
Ricky Wang, Petra Christian University, Indonesia

– Philippines
What Is To Be Done? A Reflection of an Academician from the Below
Sensei M. Adorador, Carlos Hilado Memorial State College-Talisay City, Negros Occidental and University of the Philippines- Visayas

– Brunei Darussalam
“Keep Annabelle in the Closet!”: Reflections on Online Teaching during COVID-19 in Brunei Darussalam
Chang-Yau Hoon, Centre for Advanced Research (CARe), Universiti Brunei Darussalam

– India
Assumptions, anticipations, imaginations and impact of Pandemic Pedagogy
Sudebi Thakurata, Depicentre Consulting, and Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India

Frontier Forts of New Mexico

by Robert A. Bieberman

Following President Polk&rsquos declaration of war against Mexico in May 1846, a United States Army force was sent from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, against the Mexican provinces of New Mexico and California. This army, known as &ldquoThe Army of the West,&rdquo was led by Gen. Stephen W. Kearny. Upon his arrival in Santa Fe in August 1846, General Kearny issued a proclamation which informed the citizens that New Mexico was now a part of the United States and that he and his army and the forces to follow would protect them and their property. General Kearny remained in Santa Fe only one month, but during that month he appointed a governor, judges, and other officials, started construction of a fort in Santa Fe, and sent troops against the Navajo Indians in fulfillment of his promise to protect the people. Kearny and his &ldquoArmy of the West&rdquo left Santa Fe in September 1846 to conquer California, leaving behind a detachment of troops under the command of Col. Alexander W. Doniphan. Thus began the role of the U.S. Army, which was to continue for the next half century, in securing the frontier in what we now know as the State of New Mexico.

History has shown that the troops stationed in New Mexico were called upon to participate in the Mexican War and the Civil War and to protect the newly established border between Mexico and New Mexico from violations from both sides. However, the basic role of the military, the role which continued for fifty years, was to protect the traveler, the farmer, the miner, and the settler from Indian attack. Its task was made no less difficult by the changing, unrealistic, discriminatory Indian policies which came out of Washington during this period. When relative calm was established, promises were forgotten and violence erupted anew.

The defense policy in New Mexico did not follow a set plan but gradually evolved. Military posts were established at different places when the need arose and were abandoned when the need diminished. A few of the posts were occupied and used by the army throughout most of this period. Others existed but a few months or years.


Fort Union

Located twenty-seven miles northeast of Las Vegas, Fort Union became the most important and most famous fort in the New Mexico Territory. Established on the Santa Fe Trail in 1851, it served as supply depot for the territory and as a base for troops engaged in the protection of traffic along the Santa Fe Trail and of the settlements in the area from the depredations 65 of the Apaches, Utes, Comanches, and Kiowas. The site can be reached by traveling eight miles of paved road which leaves U.S. Highway 85 one mile north of Watrous.

During its forty-year history, Fort Union occupied three different sites, all within the same general area. The original fort was of log construction which rapidly fell into disrepair. In August 1861, amid rumors of the possible invasion of the territory by Confederate forces, construction was begun on a new fort. This fort was of earthworks, in the form of an eight-pointed star. It was here that the troops waited for the attack which never came. With the passing of the Confederate threat, work was begun in 1863 on the third fort, the remains of which are seen today.

Fort Union soon became the largest fort in the territory. It was constructed in two sections, one for the garrison and one for the supply depot. The garrison area consisted of four infantry and two cavalry barracks facing a row of nine officers&rsquo quarters across the parade ground. A sixty-bed hospital was constructed. The depot area included five warehouses, mechanics corral, transportation corral, and administration buildings. An arsenal was built about one mile from the fort proper.

The buildings were constructed of adobe on stone foundations. The roofs were flat and the walls were capped with brick copings in what has become the territorial style of architecture.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service)
Ruins of Fort Union

Fort Union was a community within itself and a lively social center. Weary travelers on the Santa Fe Trail eagerly anticipated their arrival. Few complaints were heard when soldiers were transferred to Fort Union, for this was a popular assignment.

With the coming of the railroad and peace at last descending on the frontier in the 1880&rsquos, the need for the fort diminished. But it clung to life for a few more years, mainly because of the fond memories which lived in the hearts of the military leaders who had been stationed there. Finally, the end came and Fort Union was abandoned in February 1891.

New life came to the fort in 1955 when it became a National Monument. The ruins have been excavated and stabilized and a fine visitors&rsquo center and museum has been established. Fort Union has at last assumed its rightful place as a shrine of history. Stand on the parade ground and survey the majesty that was Fort Union, listen for the sounds, the bugle calls, the barklike commands of close-order drill, the creak of wagons, and the thunder of horses&rsquo hooves. These are the sounds of Fort Union. They are still there if one will only pause and listen.

Fort Marcy

Fort Marcy was established in 1846 at Santa Fe and was named for the then Secretary of War, W. L. Marcy. The fort was located on a hill overlooking the city some 1000 yards northeast of the plaza. A deep ditch or moat surrounded the massive adobe walls of the fort and a blockhouse, within musket range, protected the only entrance. At the time of Colonel Manfield&rsquos inspection trip in August 1853, the troops were quartered in public buildings in Santa Fe, there being no quarters provided at the fort however, it could be occupied on a moment&rsquos notice. The original Fort Marcy was abandoned in 1867 and a new one was constructed a short distance to the west. This new site is now occupied by business and residential properties. The War Department abandoned Fort Marcy in October 1894, the troops and equipment being moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The site was turned over to the city of Santa Fe in 1897.

Fort Marcy played an important role during the military occupation of New Mexico. It served as a base of operations against marauding Indians, was captured and occupied for a short time by Confederate forces in 1862, served as headquarters for the Ninth Military Department (changed to Department of New Mexico in 1853) throughout most of this period, and was a center for the social life of Santa Fe. Only low mounds of earth now mark the site of Fort Marcy.

Fort Wingate

Fort Wingate, at the site known today, was established in 1868. It is located on the site of a pre-existing fort at Ojo del Oso (Bear Springs) about twelve miles east of Gallup and three miles south of U.S. Highway 66.

Fort Fauntleroy was established in August 1860 and was named for the 67 then Department Commander, Col. T. T. Fauntleroy. The name was changed to Fort Lyon in September 1861 after Colonel Fauntleroy resigned his commission and joined the Confederate forces. The fort was abandoned in December 1861 as troops were concentrated at other posts to meet the threat of invasion of the territory by Confederate forces from the south. With the defeat of Confederate troops early in 1862, the military returned to the Indian problem and established a post some sixty miles to the east on the Rio de Gallo near San Rafael. This post was named Fort Wingate in honor of Capt. Benjamin Wingate who died of wounds received during the battle with the Confederate forces at Val Verde. The post proved to be too far from the Navajo country for effective control and, in 1868, was abandoned and a new Fort Wingate established at Ojo del Oso on the site occupied earlier by Fort Fauntleroy.

The physical plant of the new Fort Wingate consisted of barracks, officers&rsquo quarters, hospital, guard house, storehouse, employees&rsquo quarters, corrals, barns, and various repair and storage sheds, all bordering the traditional rectangular parade ground. Some of these buildings are in use today.

In 1914, 4000 Mexican refugees lived in a tent city at Fort Wingate until peace was restored after Pancho Villa&rsquos revolution in Mexico. Following World War I, it became an ordnance storage depot, and new administrative and living quarters were built several miles west of the original fort enclosure. This installation is known today as Fort Wingate Ordnance Depot, and the long rows of concrete ammunition storage bunkers can be seen from U.S. Highway 66. In 1925, the original fort enclosure was transferred to the Department of the Interior for use as an Indian school. Today, the parade ground is a playground and the barracks are dormitories for the children who attend this school. The missile age came to Fort Wingate in 1963 when a portion of the military reservation became the launching site for test rockets which impact at the White Sands Missile Range 200 miles to the south.

Fort Wingate has seen many changes during its long and colorful history. It served well during its first 100 years and continues to serve today.

Fort Craig

Fort Craig was established in the spring of 1854 on the abandonment of Fort Conrad, nine miles north. It was named in honor of Col. L. S. Craig who was killed by an army deserter on June 6, 1852. The remains of Fort Craig are located on the west bank of the Rio Grande about thirty-four miles south of Socorro and five miles, by dirt road, east of U.S. Highway 85. The fort was established to afford protection against the many bands of Apaches that roamed this part of the territory.

Fort Craig was well built and became one of the best-garrisoned military posts in New Mexico. Built on the usual rectangular plan, the parade ground was bordered on the northeast by two double officers&rsquo quarters on the northwest by the guard house, prison room, and sallyport on the southwest by three soldiers&rsquo barracks each in the form of a hollow 68 square enclosing a patio and on the southeast by various workshops, storerooms, stables, and corrals. The commanding officers&rsquo quarters occupied the west corner of the parade ground and the hospital the east corner. Behind the commanding officers&rsquo quarters there were three large bombproof storerooms. The entire installation was enclosed within a high wall, beyond which a ditch encircled the fort. Gun bastions projected from the north and south corners.

Remnants of guard house, Fort Craig (built of basalt blocks)

Fort Craig was one of the most important military posts in New Mexico. Its troops participated in many engagements with the Indian. In the fall of 1861, troops from other posts were concentrated at Fort Craig to meet the threatened invasion of Confederate forces from the south. In February 1862, these troops were defeated by the Confederate invaders in the battle of Val Verde which took place about four miles north of the fort. Upon the withdrawal of Confederate forces from the territory later in 1862, the troops at Fort Craig returned to the Indian problem. In March 1885, the fort was relinquished by the army and the improvements sold. The last soldier left in August 1885 after government property was removed and sent to Forts Bliss and Stanton. The buildings were sold at public auction on April 30, 1894, to the Valverde Land and Irrigation Company for $1070.50.

Fort Craig is now a ruin, but the outlines of most of the buildings can still be seen. Portions of the plastered walls of the commanding officers&rsquo quarters remain, as do portions of the hospital and stone guard house. The 69 wall and ditch surrounding the fort, gun bastions, storehouses, and cemetery are still much in evidence. Coal marks the blacksmith&rsquos shop and broken bottles the sutler&rsquos store. Another frontier fort has passed into history.

Fort Stanton

Fort Stanton was established in May 1855 on the Rio Bonito at a site located approximately four miles east of present-day Capitan and three miles south of U.S. Highway 380. The fort was an attempt to control the Mescalero and White Mountain Apaches and was named for Capt. H. W. Stanton who had been killed by Apache Indians earlier that year. Many a soldier stationed at Fort Stanton gave up his life to an Apache during the Indian wars.

Map of New Mexico showing location of frontier forts

The original fort was little more than a stockade, with few buildings and little equipment. In August 1861, the government stores were burned and the troops moved to Albuquerque in the face of the Confederate invasion. Confederate troops occupied the site one month later but promptly left after a few encounters with the Apache. The site was reoccupied by Union troops October 1862 and, later, substantial buildings were erected, most of which still stand.

With the passing of the frontier, Fort Stanton was abandoned as a military post in August 1896, and in 1899, the installation passed to the U.S. Public Health Service for use as a merchant marine hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis. During World War II, a German prisoner of war camp was established at the fort. In 1953, the hospital was closed by the federal government because of the high cost of running the establishment. Fort Stanton is now a state tuberculosis hospital operated by the New Mexico Department of Public Welfare.

Col. Kit Carson used the fort as a base of operations while rounding up the Mescalero and White Mountain Apaches in late 1862 and early 1863. In 1881, the famous outlaw, Billy the Kid, was confined in the building now used as a dental clinic while on his way to the gallows in Lincoln, which never claimed him. Gen. John J. Pershing, as a young lieutenant, was stationed for a time at Fort Stanton.

Fort Selden

Fort Selden was established in 1865 and named for Capt. Henry R. Selden (later colonel) who distinguished himself at the battle of Val Verde, February 21, 1862. The fort was beside the Rio Grande nine miles north of the settlement of Doña Ana. The site is located along U.S. Highway 85 about seventeen miles north of present-day Las Cruces.

Fort Selden was one of a chain of forts established to control the Apaches. It was on the Butterfield Trail and provided protection for the government rope ferry which crossed the Rio Grande at nearby Leasburg. The summit of Mt. Robledo, across the river to the west, was used as a heliograph station, flashing messages between Fort Selden and Fort Bliss at Franklin (El Paso, Texas).

The buildings of the fort were one-story adobe structures with walls two feet thick. The installation included barracks for enlisted men, two double officers&rsquo quarters, a ten-bed hospital, stone guard house, storehouses, workshop, bake shop, corrals, and a magazine with stone walls three feet thick. The fort was rectangular in ground plan, the buildings enclosing a parade ground.

Fort Selden was abandoned in 1879 when the railroads began to draw travel away from the overland trails. It was reoccupied in 1881 when the Apache Chiefs Victorio, Nana, and later Geronimo were on the warpath. With the passing of the Indian problem, Fort Selden was permanently abandoned in 1892. During World War I, the grounds of the fort were used for cavalry maneuvers by units stationed at Fort Bliss.

A rather famous American once lived at Fort Selden. Gen. Douglas 71 MacArthur, as a child of four, moved with his family to the fort in 1884, following the assignment of his father, then an infantry captain, to that post. The family remained at Fort Selden until late in 1886.

Now only crumbling adobe walls mark the site of Fort Selden, once a welcome sight to travelers in southern New Mexico. The wind, rain, and sun have taken their toll, aided in no small way by man himself. In 1963, through the efforts of the Doña Ana Historical Society, Fort Selden was made a State Monument by the New Mexico legislature. It is to be hoped that the fort will now be protected from further weathering and vandalism so that the remnants of this old outpost will stand for many years to come as a monument to the men who once manned it.

Fort Cummings

Fort Cummings was established in October 1863 in what is now Luna County, New Mexico. It was located at Cooke&rsquos Spring, an important watering stop on the Butterfield Trail, at the eastern edge of Cooke&rsquos Canyon. Prior to the establishment of Fort Cummings, the Apaches made frequent and fatal attacks upon travelers as they passed through the four miles of Cooke&rsquos Canyon or stopped at the spring. Cooke&rsquos Canyon was one of the most dangerous stretches on the Butterfield Trail. The fort was named for Maj. Joseph Cummings who was killed by Navajo Indians in August 1863. Its ruins can be reached by turning off State Highway 26 at Florida, sixteen miles northeast of Deming, and traveling seven miles to the west.

Fort Cummings was the most elaborate and best-walled fort in New Mexico. It covered an area 365 × 320 feet and was completely surrounded by a twelve-foot-high adobe wall. The main entrance was topped by a guard tower. Officers&rsquo quarters occupied the west side of the parade ground, the hospital the north side, and soldiers&rsquo quarters the east side. The various workshops, storerooms, offices, stables, and corrals extended along the south side of the fort.

Abandoned in August 1873, Fort Cummings was reoccupied in 1880, and then again abandoned in October 1886. Later it was used as a cattle corral by the Carpenter-Stanley Cattle Company. The spring was walled and covered, and the water piped to Florida.

Little remains of Fort Cummings today. A few weathered walls here and there among the mesquite and creosote bushes mark the site. The spring still flows, supplying water for the stock which now graze upon this &ldquoprotector of the trail.&rdquo

Fort Bayard

Fort Bayard, established in 1865 to protect the miners and settlers moving into the area following the Civil War, allowed the orderly development of what was to become New Mexico&rsquos most important mineral-producing area. Named for Capt. George D. Bayard who was wounded repeatedly during Indian forays and who died of wounds received in the Battle of Fredricksburg (Va.) during the Civil War, the fort was located 72 about five miles southeast of Pinos Altos and about midway between the mining towns of Pinos Altos and Santa Rita. The site is about nine miles east of present-day Silver City, just north of State Highway 90.

The original fort consisted of log and adobe buildings forming a square around the parade ground. During its thirty-four year history as an army post, many changes and additions were made to the fort, including the building of two-storied officers&rsquo quarters. In 1899, the line troops were removed and the fort was officially designated as a U.S. Army General Hospital to treat tubercular soldiers. In 1920, the hospital was turned over to the Public Health Department in 1922, to the U.S. Veterans Administration and again, in 1966, to the State Health Department as a facility for the care of the aged and of tuberculosis cases. It can now accommodate more than 300 patients. The modern buildings are a far cry from the dirt-floored log and adobe buildings of the original fort.


Pre-Civil War Period.

The period 1846 to 1861 was characterized by constant Indian warfare. Treaties were made, then broken. Forts were established, then abandoned, and new forts built as the military tried in vain to cope with the problem. Punitive expeditions proved ineffective as the Indians separated into small and predatory bands which overran the country.

Forts Union, Marcy, Fauntleroy, Craig, and Stanton were established during this period. Additional forts, whose sites have returned to the desert, are Fort Conrad (1851), on the Rio Grande about twenty-five miles south of Socorro Fort Thorn (1853), on the Rio Grande about five miles north of Hatch Fort Fillmore (1851), on the Rio Grande about seven miles south of Las Cruces Fort Webster (1852), on the Mimbres River about one and one-half miles northwest of San Lorenzo Fort McLane (1860), at Apache Tejo about four miles south of Hurley and Fort Floyd (1857), on the Gila River about two miles south of Cliff.

Civil War Period.

The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 created a new problem on the frontier in New Mexico. Confederate military leaders moved quickly to seize control of the Southwest and California to cut off the supply of gold to the North and divert it to the Confederacy. Confederate troops under Col. J. B. Baylor occupied abandoned Fort Bliss at Franklin (El Paso), Texas on July 1, 1861. Baylor began his move northward along the Rio Grande on July 23 and quickly occupied Mesilla. Nearby Fort Fillmore was abandoned and the Union forces retreated toward Fort Stanton, but they were soon captured by Baylor&rsquos troops. Upon the fall of Fort Fillmore, Fort Stanton was hastily abandoned on August 2 and was taken over by the Confederates shortly thereafter.

Gen. H. H. Sibley arrived at Fort Bliss in December 1861 to assume command of the Confederate forces. Sibley&rsquos troops moved northward along the Rio Grande and were engaged in battle by Union troops from 73 Fort Craig, under Gen. E. R. S. Canby, as they attempted to bypass the well-garrisoned post. The Battle of Val Verde took place four miles north of Fort Craig on February 21, 1862. After a day of bloody fighting, Sibley emerged the victor. He occupied Albuquerque on March 2, 1862, and Santa Fe on March 23. The Confederate forces then moved toward Fort Union in an attempt to gain complete control of the territory. On March 27 and 28, they were met by Union forces sent out from Fort Union and were defeated in battle near present-day Glorieta. Sibley then retreated to Fort Bliss.

The Confederate campaign in New Mexico , 1861-1862

While Sibley was thus engaged, another part of his army moved across what is now southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona and occupied Tucson (Arizona). Gen. J. H. Carleton and his California 74 Column left Los Angeles on April 13 and cleared this area of Confederate troops, reaching the Rio Grande on August 7. Carleton reoccupied Fort Bliss, which had been abandoned by the Confederate troops in their retreat.

Post-Civil War Period.

While the Union troops were preoccupied with the Confederates, the Indians stepped up their raids and depredations. With the passing of the Confederate threat, attention was once more focused on the Indian problem. A new plan was formulated which called for the capturing of the Indians and confining them to reservations. A reservation (Bosque Redondo) was established late in 1862 near present-day Fort Sumner, New Mexico, to which were eventually confined several thousand Navajos and Mescalero Apaches. This resettlement was not a success since the Apaches ran off and the Navajos suffered greatly from sickness and disease. A treaty was signed with the Navajos in 1868, and they were allowed to return to their homes, no longer a threat to the frontier. The Mescalero Apaches were finally settled on a reservation in their own country south of Fort Stanton, and the Jicarillas on a reservation west of Tierra Amarilla.

The Mimbreno, Mogollon, and Warm Springs Apaches of southwestern New Mexico were more of a problem. In 1871, a reservation and Fort Tularosa were established near present-day Aragon in western New Mexico. After a futile attempt to keep the Indians there, they were moved in 1874 to a new reservation and military post at Ojo Caliente, about forty miles northwest of present-day Truth or Consequences. This, too, proved a failure and the Apaches were moved to the San Carlos Reservation in what is now Arizona. During these attempts to locate the Apaches on reservations, various rebellious bands of Apaches led by Victorio, Nana, and Geronimo continued on the warpath. Geronimo and his band surrendered in 1886 and were imprisoned in Florida. After Geronimo&rsquos surrender, relative peace descended upon the frontier in New Mexico.

Established in the post-Civil War period were Forts Wingate (old and new), Selden, Cummings, and Bayard, as well as Fort Lowell (1868), near Tierra Amarilla Fort Bascom (1863), on the Canadian River about eight miles north of Tucumcari Fort Sumner (1862), on the Pecos River about five miles southeast of present-day Fort Sumner Fort McRae (1863), on the Rio Grande about ten miles northeast of Truth or Consequences and Fort West (1863), on the Gila River about two miles south of Cliff.

With the arrival of the railroad and cessation of hostilities with the Indians, a new era was begun. One by one, the old forts were abandoned: their need had passed. The colorful frontier forts of New Mexico are just a memory now.


A remarkable Bengali writer has complained of a decline of historicity in the West, of the sense of man as part of history, during his lifetime. footnote 1 Dr J. H. Plumb, in a striking introduction to The Spanish Seaborne Empire, footnote 2 as editor of The History of Human Society series, laments the same ‘flight from social and historical reality’, and the narrowing down of history to the pedantry of which so much academic work in our time has consisted. Various things have helped to begin our liberation from this arid professionalism, including the disturbing influence of Marxism and the enlightened self-interest of some publishers. In quite a number of series of historical surveys modern man is being introduced to his ancestors, or provided with a family portrait-gallery. Many of these books, Professor Parry’s among them, do their work remarkably well, combining the virtues of scholarship with those required for broad presentation of a large subject. If the public they are meant for is equally successful in assimilating them, we ought to see the result in a rising level of intelligence in our democracy, which might even, sooner or later, have some effect on its leaders.

This is an account of the rise and fall of Spanish power in the Americas, not primarily by way of narrative but of commentary on the main phases into which the record falls, the main forces at work, and the consequences, both for Spain and for the New World. The Philippine Islands are left out, though the title raises an expectation of them, and they would supply an instructive addition. Even without them there is a wide range of interesting topics—the structure of Spanish colonial government the pre-Columbian civilizations, about which European readers have been showing a good deal of curiosity of late, along with a loss of cocksureness about their own the Atlantic shipping and its perils from primitive navigation and poor harbours, tropical woodworms and English pirates. All these things have, naturally, been written about before, but very few writers could be as well qualified as Parry

to bring them all together and fit each into place. He is seldom superficial, and never dull.

Whatever else may be thought of it, Spain’s seizure and possession for three centuries of a vast continent beyond a perilous ocean was a feat quite unparalleled in history. What were the springs of action, the motivating forces? Parry has only space to offer limited suggestions. He recalls the Castilian conquest of Andalusia from the Moors, as a sort of ‘domestic imperialism’ generating a habit of conquest that would later overflow outside the Peninsula. Andalusia came two centuries before America there may not be much to be learned from the English conquest of Wales about later British empire-building. It may be more relevant to observe that Spanish imperialism boiled up in a country convulsed by social and religious tension. Of the two grand victories beyond the Atlantic, the conquest of Mexico came a few years before, that of Peru a few years after, the revolutionary upheaval of 1520–21, of the Comuneros in Castile and the Germanìas in Valencia. Italy was being overrun, and north Africa attacked, at the same time. Parry notes that when the Crown took care to restrict the liberties of the new colonial municipalities, it showed a good memory for the sedition of the Castilian towns in 1520.

That there were no more attempts at revolution in Spain for three centuries (except by national minorities) may be viewed as, in a great measure, one of the baleful results of empire. Colonies were places where restless spirits could betake themselves, thus relieving Spain of their presence as Ireland helped to relieve Cromwellian England. Parry guesses that in the course of the 16th century 100,000 Spaniards may have emigrated. (Nearly all these were men: they left a multitude of women ready to listen to the mystical summons of St. Teresa, and flock after her into the nunnery in quest of an elusive Eldorado of the soul.) Empire furnished the Crown with vast new patronage, an important supplement to its resources. Charles I’s subjects would not have chopped off his head if he had had so many jobs to distribute. Still more, it invested the monarchy, as the chosen instrument for the Christianization of a hemisphere, with an aura of sanctity it had been far from enjoying before.

But for the mass of Spaniards empire was a dead loss a fact of some significance for modern controversy about the working-class and its crumbs from the table of imperialism. The ordinary Spaniard got hardly any crumbs, and had to pay for the tablecloth. Between old-style imperialism, Spanish or Arab, and modern, the fundamental difference is that the former brought back to the home country only precious metals or luxuries for a restricted upper class, while the latter brings bulk commodities that have to be sold to a wide public in order to be converted into profit for the upper class. Spices, tobacco and sugar, cotton and tea and coffee, have been the making of modern imperialism, and with it (the speculation may be hazarded) of modern capitalism. America could be made to produce sugar, but this was already grown in southern Spain hides too competed with home production indigo had a limited market tobacco was taken up more quickly by other European countries. Chocolate and coffee formed a real addition to

Spain’s comforts, but they came at a later stage. In the peak year of the 16th century, 1594, gold and silver accounted for 95.6 per cent of the value of all that Spain received from America. This added to the wealth and power of the government, the Church, and the rich, to whom the tribute went for the public it meant only inflation, currency crises, and grinding taxation, largely to pay for Atlantic defence. Yet Spaniards clung as patriotically to their Andes as Britons today to their more nebulous East-of-Suez. Parry has a good deal to say about the economic ruin that empire helped to bring on Spain as a nation.

He regards the pre-Columbian civilizations as products of an independent evolution, without borrowings from the Old World. To speak of their mentality as ‘profoundly pessimistic, the sad, acquiescent faith of the last great Stone Age culture’, sounds rather metaphorical. These Amerindians were not aware of being the rearguard of the Stone Age, and the pessimism that later travellers were often struck by might be more easily explained by their experience of the Iron Age. Might they have evolved further? In culture they may not have got beyond the Maya of a thousand years before but in most respects Europe had not got beyond Rome or Athens. Politically the Inca realm was a recent and impressive growth, and much more a true polity, as Parry stresses, than the predatory Aztec State. Both these were top-heavy, and had crushed out local initiative and with it the possibility of continuing resistance to the Spaniards. Once they were overthrown the defeat of the Indians was abysmal. Dash and daring helped the Spaniards more than their equipment, which was superior but very scanty. Cortés routed the Aztecs with 13 muskets, 16 horses, and a few small cannon. Parry rightly makes much of the flame of adventure that mingled in the conquistadores with brutal greed and an almost as brutal religion—their desire to perform prodigies, to dazzle mankind. Most of these men were nobodies from a feudal society, upstarts eager to lift themselves to the glorious level of the nobility. They belonged to that southern fringe of Europe which so often has provided men of mettle with no better outlet than the delusions of Don Quixote or the banditries of Fra Diavolo. Pizarro and his men united the two characters.

Still more Quixotic were some of the early missionaries, most of them Franciscans. Parry remarks on their enthusiasm as an outgrowth of the revivalism that had been fermenting among Spanish Franciscans, and on their ‘vision of the millennial Christian kingdom’ to be erected in the New World. Religious excitement and millennarian visions were part of the social ferment of late-medieval Europe as a whole and America may have assisted conservatism in Spain by drawing off fiery spirits dreaming of a new pattern of human life, as well as restless swordsmen. One missionary bishop had read Thomas More, and tried to found Indian-Christian Utopias. The outcome was starkly different from what such an enthusiast imagined his mental world and his real world were separated, like Don Quixote’s, by more than the breadth of an Atlantic. It was an epitome of Christianity’s reduction to absurdity in such a situation that the papal commission to Spain to spread ‘Christian faith and sound morals’ came from Alexander Borgia.

Watch the video: An introduction to New Spain