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CLASSIC LITERATURE ANALYSIS

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Institutions Imposed On the New World During Spanish Settlement

When the Spaniards came to settle the New World, or what is now Mexico and Peru, they imposed many new ways and customs for the people living there. These institutions were partially what the Spaniards were used to from living in Spain, and others were simply to live better. The Spaniards imposed many political, economical, and social institutions in the New World never heard of before by the Indians, and many feudal customs and systems that they brought wholly intact from Spain.

The political institutions were very important for government functionality in the Spanish colonies. First, a class system similar to that in Spain was reconstructed anew in the colonies. Those in the New World that were born in Spain held the highest position. These people were called Peninsulares, and were the nobles of the feudal class hierarchy. Below them were the Creoles, or Spaniards born in the New World. Then came mestizoes, men and women of mixed Spanish and Indian marriages; mulattoes, people of black and Spanish ancestry; and zambos, those born from black and Indian marriages. Viceroys were another political establishment in the New World. The viceroys were the king's assistants. They helped manage the government in the colonies, and carried out orders from the king. This method did not work too well since orders from the king took months and even years before reaching the viceroys, after which a message may be outdated and irrelevant.

New social institutions changed the way people lived. The Church was the first and most important social institution because Spanish life in the colonies revolved around Catholicism. The Church's goal was to convert everyone presently living in the New World to Christianity. This topic brings us to the Missions. Missions were large estates on which were set up schools and other facilities to teach the Indians to become proper Christians. Encomiendas and repartimientos were also large estates, but on these lived many people and slaves. The Spanish crown entrusted encomiendas and slaves to noble warriors who had done well in battle, and in return, these nobles paid taxes to the crown. Many other people lived on the same encomienda, however, since the noble owning the whole plot of land would divide it up into smaller parts, which other people managed. The rest of the people living on the encomiendas were slaves. Slavery and forced labor were imposed on the Indians as soon as the Spaniards arrived, but black Africans were immediately imported when the Spaniards saw that the Indians could not do very much work at all.

Many institutions were also implemented for the upkeep of the economy. Slavery, as mentioned above, was the key to mass output from the encomiendas and missions. Many workers could accomplish a great deal and produce a lot of money. Furthermore, the larger the encomienda or mission, the more its output. If the soil on a mission or encomienda is fertile, much can be grown and sold for more money.

Many new institutions were developed and implemented by the Spaniards settling the New World. Without proper economic, social, and political establishments enforced, the Spaniards would not have been able to settle the New World as quickly and as aggressively as they did. Only with proper control and strict institutions did Spain conquer and create the great nation it is today.

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