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Jonathan Lindsell 25/04/2011 How did immigration shape the societies of Mexico and Peru in this period?
100 Word Summary Taken one way, immigration actually created the societies of Peru and Mexico. However in a broader sense, they influenced them in a number of ways, causing a transition of leadership from cacique to encomendero to audiencia to viceroy. The Indian population crashed whilst the Hispanic grew. Enough of a class, age and sex spectrum arrived from Spain to imitate peninsular culture well, but imperfectly. Essay In investigating how immigration shaped Spanish colonial society it is first necessary to elucidate the terms involved in the question. Depending on whether you take "society" to mean the 'world of the Spaniards', i.e. those residing in and interacting with the towns and encomiendas, the Europeans, their mestizo offspring, African slaves and yanacona Indians, or the 'wider society' including the seldomcontacted Indians heavily affects the question. Taking the first definition, then it is patently obvious that immigration did not so much shape the colonial societies as create them. The immigrants were the society. Taking the wider definition, however, it is more prudent to see how the impact of settlers coexisted with the Indians and how the society evolved within the period through differing phases of colonisation. Thus we see how the language, culture, power and familial structures of Spain are all transferred, some imperfectly, to the New World. The first and coldest change to society upon the immigration of the very first Spaniards to Peru and Mexico was the immediate, protracted and devastating demographic collapse that threw Indian societies into abject confusion even before actual contact. Indeed, from Betanzos it would appear that Huayna Capac died of smallpox, a European disease, and his demise, that of his original successor, and his crazed mutterings in the grips of the disease were the cause of the Inca civil war that was tearing Andean society even before Pizarro and Atahualpa met at Cajamarca. Of course, Betanzos is merely aware that Huayna Capac died of a mysterious illness, and would not credit the Spaniards with biological warfare even if the concept existed. In wider terms, European disease changed New World society simply by radically reducing the number of participants. Kagan and Parker postulate that Central and Southern Mexico's population dropped from 6.3 million (in 1548, by which time the first waves of disease must already have wreaked havoc) to 0.73 million in 1625. In Peru the drop is from 1.3 million in 1570 (again, after many must have died already) to 0.67 million in 16201. The rapid but also protracted decline in population first meant that societies contracted, and caciques' power inevitably waned. However, the smaller number of natives also proved far easier to manage for the Spanish bureaucrats. On this demographic tone, it seems appropriate to move on to the actual migrants. Peter Boyd-Bowman identified 54,881 migrants in the 16th century for whom birthplaces could be found. The figure, then, does not tell the whole story, for there must have been a similar number of migrants without such detailed information or legal license. Furthermore, African slaves were brought with the Spaniards, and few of these would have been noted in the record books. Lockhart suggests that slave numbers were far higher than originally guessed, and may well have rivalled the number of Europeans by 1600. To estimate terribly vaguely, then, it would seem there 1
Spain, Europe and the Atlantic World, eds. R.Kagan and G.Parker, p.309
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