The Spanish Missions in the Americas were Catholic missions established by the Spanish Empire during the 16th to 19th centuries in areas extending from Mexico and southwestern portions of current-day United States to as far south as Argentina and Chile.
At the start of the Age of Discovery, European governments sent explorers to find trade routes to facilitate economic relations with Asia and Europe. During this time, these men found the new lands that could be used for the economic benefit of their home countries. In order to understand these new lands and the resources that might be available, explorers fostered relationships with the native people. This led to the colonization of the Americas. The Catholic Church was an essential part of both the Spanish and Portuguese Empires so as the empires spread to new lands, it was the duty of the King to be sure Christianity was spread into the New World
Often these empires used missions to teach indigenous people about Christian values that were practised in Europe at this time. These values did not only include religious teachings but cultural aspects of life such as dress and behavior. Missions were formed in different ways across the Americas that have had a lasting impact on the culture of these areas. Catholicism is still a prevalent religion in both North and South America. The formation and implementation of the missions across the New World reflected the beliefs of the Catholic clerics who created and implemented the missions. In the Catholic church, monks, priests and other clerics take vows and are affiliated with a certain order. These orders, their ideologies, and era can be linked to the way of life and teaching in the missions.
Despite extensive efforts and even successes in recovering the cultural history of the cultures colonized in the Americas, much of the evidence currently available comes from the colonizers themselves. Many of the cultures impacted by missionaries had no written language and were thus robbed of much of their oral history when the populations were decimated by Old World illnesses. Cultures that did possess written language, such as the Maya, often had their artifacts deemed sacrilegious and burned. Therefore, much of the evidence of these events comes from accounts of missionaries and—to a much smaller extent—archaeological investigation, and should be handled with care. Therefore, readers should consider the ethnocentric and theocratic context in which accounts recorded by missionaries are presented.
Catholic missions were installed throughout the Americas in an effort to establish European order in the pursuit of gold, silver, and other resources. The missionaries' goal was to convert natives to Christianity and ease the transition into a colonial system and minimize the friction required to establish European dominance in the area. One symbolic example of this was the practice of constructing churches and cathedrals, such as Santa Domingo and Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, on top of demolished native temples. Establishment of missions was often followed by the implementation of Encomienda systems, which forced native labor onto land granted to Europeans by the Spanish Crown and led to systematic oppression.
Pedro de Gante was a European missionary who desired assimilation of Native American communities in order to further educational discourse amongst indigenous communities. He was so influential in his work, he became known as "The first teacher of the Americas". Originally, Peeter Van der Moere, Pedro de Gante, came to New Spain, in 1523 also known as Mexico. A missionary, Pedro de Gante, wanted to spread the Christian faith to his native brothers and sisters. During this time, the mentality of the Spanish people was to not empower the indigenous people with knowledge because it would give them motivation to retaliate over their Spanish rulers. Nevertheless, Pedro de Gante saw the ritualistic practices being made by the indigenous, sacrificing animals, and as a missionary, saw the need for a change in faith. He decided in order to best approach theses indigenous communities he had to adapt to their way of life. He learned their native tongue and participated in their conversations and games. Despite having a stutter, he was a successful translator of Nahuatl and Spanish. Additionally, Pedro de Gante was a big advocate of education of the youth, where he established schools throughout Mexico to cater to the indigenous communities. His influence spanned so wide, others like him followed by example. Of the future missionaries to come to America, at least three of his compatriots came.
In addition to the encomienda system, the aggressive implementation of missions and their forcible establishment of reductions and congregations led to resistance and sometimes revolt in the native populations being colonized. Many natives agreed to join the reductions and congregations out of fear, but many were initially still allowed to quietly continue some of their religious practices. However, as treatment of natives grew worse and suppression of native customs increased, so did the resistance of the natives.
The most notable example of rebellion against colonization is the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, in which the Zuni, Hopi, as well as Tiwa, Tewa, Towa, Tano, and Keres-speaking Pueblos took control of Santa Fe and drove the Spanish colonial presence out of New Mexico with heavy casualties on the Spanish side, including 21 of the 33 Franciscan missionaries in New Mexico. The region remained autonomous under native control despite multiple non-violent attempts at peace treaties and trade agreements until 1692.
The Tepehuan Revolt was likewise stirred by hostilities against the missionaries, which arose due to the concurrent and explosive rise in disease that accompanied their arrival. The Tepehuan associated the rise in death directly with these missionaries and their reductions, which spread disease and facilitated exploitative labor to encomanderos and miners. The revolt lasted from 1616 to 1620 with heavy casualties on both sides, during which time the Spanish abandoned their policy of "peace by purchase (tribute)" in favor of "war of fire and blood".
With resistance and revolts, the native population dropped drastically with the introduction of Spanish missions. However, the main factor for the overwhelming losses were due to epidemics in the missions. Despite being affected before the introduction of missions, the buildings allowed rodents to infiltrate living areas and spread disease more rapidly. Many natives were living in cramped spaces with poor hygiene and poor nutrition. This led not only to high mortality rate, but to low fertility rates as well. It is estimated that every 20 years or so, a new epidemic would wipe out the adult population of natives in many missions, giving no chance for recovery.
In converting natives, missionaries had to find various ways of implementing sacramental practices among them. Some sacraments, like Baptism, were already similar to the Nahuatl rituals during birth, usually performed by a midwife. Many missionaries even allowed for natives to keep some aspects of their original ritual in place, like giving the child or newborn a small arrowhead or broom to represent their future roles in society, as long as it complied with Catholic beliefs. Other sacraments, like Matrimony, were fairly different from native practices. Many natives were polygamous and to perform the sacrament of marriage, Franciscan friars would have a husband bring his many wives to the church, having them all state their reasons for being the one true wife. The friars would then decide based on the testimony who was his wife and perform the sacrament.
In addition to religious changes, Spanish missionaries also brought about secular changes. With each generation of natives, there was a gradual shift in what they ate, wore and how the economy within the missions worked. Missionaries introduced adobe style houses for nomadic natives and domesticated animals for meat rather than wild game. The Spanish colonists also brought more foods and plants from Europe and South American to regions that initially had no contact with nations there. Natives began to dress in European-style clothing and adopted the Spanish language, often morphing it with Nahuatl and other native languages.
Franciscan missionaries were the first to arrive in New Spain, in 1523, following the Cortes expeditions in Mexico, and soon after began establishing missions across the continents. In addition to their primary goal of spreading Christianity, the missionaries studied the native languages, taught children to read and write, and taught adults trades such as carpentry and ceramics. The first missionaries to arrive in the New World were Franciscan friars from the observant faction which believed in a strict and limited way of practicing religion. Because the friars believed teaching and practicing can only be done through "meditation and contemplation", Franciscans were not able to convert as many people as quickly as the Spanish would have liked. This caused strain between colonial governments and Franciscan friars, which eventually led to several of the friars fleeing to present day western Mexico and the dissolution of Franciscan parishes. Other issues also contributed to the dissolution of Franciscan parishes including the vow of poverty and accusations made by the colonial governments. However, Spanish missions often used money provided by the King to fund missions. Having friars taking money proved to be a controversial issue within the church. In addition, the colonial government claimed missionaries were mistreating indigenous people who were working on the missions. On the other hand, the Franciscan missionaries claimed that the Spanish government enslaved and mistreated indigenous people. Present day efforts are to show where Franciscan missionaries protected the indigenous people from Spanish cruelties and supported empowering the native peoples.
The Jesuits had a wide-spread impact between their arrival in the New World about 1570 until their expulsion in 1767. The Jesuits, especially in the southeastern part of South America, followed a widespread Spanish practice of creating settlements called "reductions" to concentrate the widespread native populations in order to better rule, Christianize, and protect the native populace. The Jesuit Reductions were socialist societies in which each family would receive a house and field, and individuals were clothed and fed in return for work. Additionally, the communities would include schools, churches, and hospitals as well as native leaders and governing councils to be overseen by two Jesuit missionaries in each reduction. Like the Franciscans, the Jesuit missionaries learned the local languages and trained the adults in European methods of construction, manufacturing, and, to a certain extent, agriculture. Spanish settlers were prohibited from living or working in reductions. This led to a strained relationship between Jesuit missionaries and the Spanish because in surrounding Spanish settlements people were not guaranteed food, shelter, and clothing.
The Dominicans were centralized in the Caribbean and Mexico and, despite a much smaller representation in the Americas, had one of the most notable histories of native rights activism. Bartolomé de las Casas was the first Dominican bishop in Mexico and played a pivotal role in dismantling the practice of "encomenderos",these laws were intended to prevent the exploitation and mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by the encomenderos, by strictly limiting their power and dominion over groups of natives, with the establishment of the New Laws in 1542.
The cargo system (also known as the civil-religious hierarchy, fiesta or mayordomía system) is a collection of secular and religious positions held by men or households in rural indigenous communities throughout central and southern Mexico and Central America. These revolving offices, or cargos, become the unpaid responsibility of men who are active in civic life. They typically hold a given post for a term of one year, and alternate between civic and religious obligations from year to year. Office holders execute most of the tasks of local governments and churches. Individuals who hold a cargo are generally obligated to incur the costs of feasting during the fiestas that honor particular saints.
Where it is practiced, there is generally some expectation of all local men to take part in this cargo system throughout their lives. Office holders assume greater responsibilities as they grow in stature in the community. Such progression requires substantial financial resources, but eventually an individual who holds a requisite number of posts in service to his community retires and joins a group of elders instrumental in community decision-making, including appointing people to cargos.
This expectation of local men to take part in this system is both an economic and a social one, as those who do not contribute are seen as not being deserving of living in the village. It served to create a village system where the old were helped by the young and women helped by men. Furthermore, the legal enforcement of village obligations solidified communal (social) identity, rather than an identity dependent upon and linked to the national state. The cargo system has also been considered influenced by traditional Hispanic customs, as the municipal government provided the tradition of cargas consejiles', where village residents are obligated to serve post terms.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the cargo system was a ladder system in which indigenous men could climb up. The cargo system was mainly defined as a public labor and community service. Villages that were impoverished were able to get help easier because taxes were not charged, yet public work was given. It was a system in which involved faithful and long term community service. Men and women (husband and wife) were considered one unit, men needed their wives in order to succeed in their community. Women did not claim rights in relation to village government.Colonial Argentina
Colonial Argentina is designated as the period of the History of Argentina when it was an overseas colony of the Spanish Empire. It begins in the precolumbian age of the indigenous peoples of Argentina, with the arrival of the first Spanish conqueror.Franciscan missions to the Maya
The Franciscan Missions to the Maya were the attempts of the Franciscans to Christianize the indigenous peoples of the New World, specifically the Maya. They began to take place soon after the discovery of the New World made by Christopher Columbus in 1492, which opened the door for Catholic missions. As early as 1519 there are records of Franciscan activity in the Americas, and throughout the early 16th century the mission movement spreads from the original contact point in the Caribbean to include Mexico, Central America, parts of South America, and the Southwestern United States.The goal of the missions was to spread the Christian faith to the people of the New World through "word and example". Their attempts, however, resulted in rebellion.History of the Incas
The Incas were most notable for establishing the Inca Empire in pre-Columbian America, which was centered in what is now Peru from 1438 to 1533, and represented the height of the Inca civilization. The Inca state was known as the Kingdom of Cuzco before 1438. Over the course of the Inca Empire, the Inca used conquest and peaceful assimilation to incorporate the territory of modern-day Peru, followed by a large portion of western South America, into their empire, centered on the Andean mountain range. However, shortly after the Inca Civil War, the last Sapa Inca (emperor) of the Inca Empire was captured and killed on the orders of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, marking the beginning of Spanish rule. The remnants of the empire retreated to the remote jungles of Vilcabamba and established the small Neo-Inca State, which was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.
The Quechua name for the empire after the reforms under Pachacuti was Tawantin Suyu, which can be translated The Four Regions or The Four United Regions. Before the Quechua spelling reform it was written in Spanish as Tahuantinsuyo. Tawantin is a group of four things (tawa "four" with the suffix -ntin which names a group); suyu means "region" or "province".
The empire was divided into four suyus, whose corners met at the capital, Cuzco (Qosqo), in modern-day Peru.Indian reductions in the Andes
Indian reductions in the Andes (Spanish: reducciones de indios) were settlements in the former Inca Empire which were created by Spanish authorities and populated by the forcible relocation of indigenous Andean populations. The purpose of the Spanish Empire was to gather native populations into centers called "Indian reductions" (reducciones de indios), in order to Christianize, tax, and govern them more effectively.
Beginning in 1569, the viceroy Francisco de Toledo presided over the resettlement of about 1.4 million native people into approximately 840 of these reductions. The resettlement was carried out in the Royal Audiences of Lima and Charcas, modern day Peru and Bolivia, roughly speaking. The native populations, who had adapted to a way of life suitable to the many, minor microclimates throughout the Andes, experienced immense hardship in the transition to these new regions. Despite these hardships, certain aspects of native Andean life were fiercely preserved by their own agency, and life in the reductions reflected a complex hybrid of forced Spanish values and those preserved from the older native communities.Juan Pardo (explorer)
Juan Pardo was a Spanish explorer who was active in the later half of the sixteenth century. He led a Spanish expedition through what is now North and South Carolina and into eastern Tennessee on the orders of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who had built Fort San Felipe (1566), and established Santa Elena, on present-day Parris Island; these were the first Spanish settlements in what is now South Carolina. While leading an expedition deeper in-country, Pardo founded Fort San Juan at Joara, the first European settlement (1567–1568) in the interior of North Carolina.Mission (station)
A religious mission or mission station is a location for missionary work.Missões
Missões, Brazil is a region of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil roughly occupying the same area previously dominated by the colonial missions founded by Padre Roque Gonzales.
The Missões region is located in the northwestern part of the state and is part of a larger missions' settlement system, extending into Argentina, and other neighboring countries. Which is turn were part of a larger project, the Spanish missions in South America.Quito School
The Quito School (Escuela Quiteña) is a Latin American artistic tradition that constitutes essentially the whole of the professional artistic output developed in the territory of the Royal Audience of Quito — from Pasto and Popayán in the north to Piura and Cajamarca in the south — during the Spanish colonial period (1542-1824). It is especially associated with the 17th and 18th centuries and was almost exclusively focused on the religious art of the Catholic Church in the country. Characterized by a mastery of the realistic and by the degree to which indigenous beliefs and artistic traditions are evident, these productions were among of the most important activities in the economy of the Royal Audience of Quito. Such was the prestige of the movement even in Europe that it was said that King Carlos III of Spain (1716–1788), referring to one of its sculptors in particular, opined: "I am not concerned that Italy has Michelangelo; in my colonies of America I have the master Caspicara".Spanish missions in Arizona
Beginning in the 16th century Spain established missions throughout New Spain (consisting of Mexico and portions of what today are the Southwestern United States) in order to facilitate colonization of these lands.
In the Spring of 1687, a Jesuit missionary named Father Eusebio Francisco Kino lived and worked with the native Americans in the area called the Pimería Alta, or "Upper Pima Country," which presently is located in the areas between the Mexican state of Sonora and the state of Arizona in the United States. During Father Eusebio Kino's stay in the Pimería Alta, he founded over twenty missions in eight mission districts. In Arizona, unlike Mexico, missionization proceeded slowly.
Father Kino founded missions San Xavier and San Gabriel at the Piman communities of Bac and Guevavi along the Santa Cruz River.Spanish missions in Georgia
The Spanish missions in Georgia comprise a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholics in order to spread the Christian doctrine among the local Native Americans. The Spanish chapter of Georgia's earliest colonial history is dominated by the lengthy mission era, extending from 1568 through 1684. Catholic missions were the primary means by which Georgia's indigenous Native American chiefdoms were assimilated into the Spanish colonial system along the northern frontier of greater Spanish Florida.
The early missions in present-day Georgia were established to serve the Guale and various Timucua peoples, including the Mocama. Later the missions served other peoples who had entered the region, including the Yamassee.Spanish missions in Louisiana
The Spanish missions in Louisiana were religious outposts in Spanish Louisiana (La Louisiane) region of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, located within the present-day U.S. states of Louisiana and East Texas.
They were established by Spanish missionaries for Indian Reductions of the local Native Americans.Spanish missions in Mexico
The Spanish missions in Mexico are a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholic Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians, and Dominicans to spread the Christian doctrine among the local natives. Since 1493, the Kingdom of Spain had maintained a number of missions throughout Nueva España (New Spain, consisting of what is today Mexico, the Southwestern United States, the Florida and the Luisiana, Central America, the Spanish Caribbean and the Philippines) in order to preach the gospel to these lands. In 1533, at the request of Hernán Cortés, Carlos V sent the first Franciscan friarss with orders to establish a series of installations throughout the country.Spanish missions in New Mexico
The Spanish Missions in New Mexico were a series of religious outposts in the Province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México — present day New Mexico. They were established by Franciscan friars under charter from the monarchs of the Spanish Empire and the government of the Viceroyalty of New Spain in a policy called Reductions to facilitate the conversion of Native Americans—Indians into Christianity.Spanish missions in South America
The Spanish missions in South America comprise a series of Jesuit Catholic religious outposts established by Spanish Catholics in order to spread the Christian doctrine among the local natives.Spanish missions in Trinidad
Spanish Missions in Trinidad were established as part of the Spanish colonisation of its new possessions. In 1687 the Catholic Catalan Capuchin friars were given responsibility for religious conversions of the indigenous Amerindian residents of Trinidad and the Guianas. In 1713 the missions were handed over to the secular clergy. Due to shortages of missionaries, although the missions were established they often went without Christian instruction for long periods of time.
Between 1687 and 1700 several missions were founded in Trinidad, but only four survived as Amerindian villages throughout the eighteenth century - La Anuncíacion de Nazaret de Sabana Grande (modern Princes Town), Purísima Concepción de María Santísima de Guayri (modern San Fernando), Santa Ana de Sabaneta (modern Savonetta), Nuestra Señora de Montserrate (probably modern Mayo). The mission of Santa Rosa de Arima was established in 1789 when Amerindians from the former encomiendas of Tacarigua and Arauca (Arouca) were relocated further west.Spanish missions in the Carolinas
The Spanish missions in the Carolinas were part of a series of religious outposts established by Spanish Catholics in order to spread the Christian doctrine among the local Native Americans. Spanish missions extended north almost to the site of present-day Charleston, and they remained until the arrival of the English (1670).Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert
The Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert are a series of Jesuit Catholic religious outposts established by the Spanish Catholic Jesuits and other orders for religious conversions of the Pima and Tohono O'odham indigenous peoples residing in the Sonoran Desert. An added goal was giving Spain a colonial presence in their frontier territory of the Sonora y Sinaloa Province in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and relocating by Indian Reductions (Reducciones de Indios) settlements and encomiendas for agricultural, ranching, and mining labor.Suppression of the Society of Jesus
The suppression of the Jesuits in the Portuguese Empire (1759), France (1764), the Two Sicilies, Malta, Parma, the Spanish Empire (1767) and Austria and Hungary (1782) is a complex topic. Analysis of the reasons is complicated by the political maneuvering in each country which was not carried on in the open but has left some trail of evidence. The papacy reluctantly went along with the demands of the various Catholic kingdoms involved, and advanced no theological reason for the suppression.
The power and wealth of the Society of Jesus with its influential educational system was confronted by adversaries in this time of cultural change in Europe, leading to the revolutions that would follow. Monarchies attempting to centralize and secularize political power viewed the Jesuits as being too international, too strongly allied to the papacy, and too autonomous from the monarchs in whose territory they operated. By the brief Dominus ac Redemptor (21 July 1773) Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus, as a fait accompli and with no reasons given. Russia, Prussia, and the United States allowed the Jesuits to continue their work, and Catherine the Great allowed the founding of a new novitiate in Russia.Soon after their restoration by Pope Pius VII in 1814, the Jesuits began returning to most of the places from which they had been expelled.
Spanish missions of the Catholic Church in the Americas