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Transcript of Thesis:
To a certain extent, both the Spanish and French sought to convert the natives within their territories to Catholicism, while the main goal of the New England colony was to establish religious freedoms condemned in Britain.
Evaluate the influence of religion on the development of colonial society in the Southwest Spanish Region, the New England Region, and the New France Region.
The Southwest Spanish Region
The New England Region
The New France Region
The Spanish Conquistadors
The Spanish word Conquistador means conqueror. The Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers and explorers in search of: wealth (in the form of gold, silver and spices), power, prestige, and to extend the Spanish empire while spreading the Catholic Religion to the “heathen” natives. The people of Spain adhered to the Catholic religion. The primary reason for the Spanish Conquistadors to undertake voyages of discovery was to spread the Catholic faith to the inferior races. The conquistadors were accompanied by Roman Catholic Priests and Friars whom were expected to convert indigenous natives to Christianity.
The Encomienda System
The primary purpose of the Encomienda system was to indoctrinate the native Indians in the Catholic faith. The Indians were to pay tribute to the Spanish Conquistadors and in return they would receive protection and religious instruction. The Spanish government had decreed that the Encomienda system should be established in the New World but due to the distance between the monarchy and North America, they could not ensure the Encomienda system was not abused. The natives were abused, oppressed, exploited and decimated by the Conquistadors and along the way they lost their freedom, rights, culture and religion.
The Laws of Burgos was the first codified set of laws governing the behavior of the Spaniards in the Americas. The laws were put in tact by the Spanish government to protect the indigenous people of America from maltreatment by the Conquistadors after the brutal results of the Encomienda system. The laws still endorsed the conversion of the indigenous people to Catholicism but sought to perform it in a more civilized manner that would not result in the ruthless treatment of the natives. Although the laws were put in place to protect the natives, they ultimately failed as the Indians were still heavily exploited and suffered from severe population declines.
The Spanish Requirement was a declaration by the Spanish monarchy of its divinely ordained right to take possession of the territories of the New World and to conquer, exploit and fight the native inhabitants when essential. The Requirement was read to the Native Americans by the Spaniards to inform them of Spain’s right of conquest under the name of God and the Catholic faith. The natives whom resisted conquest were considered to “harbor evil intentions” and thus were considered to defy God’s plan for Spain. The Spanish used Catholic theology to validate their conquest as they saw they had the obligation to take possession of the “New World” and its indigenous people in the name of God and the throne.
New Laws (1542): The New Laws were principally a revision of the Laws of Burgos, with a major new component which struck furry in the Enocmeindors. The New Laws established the prohibition of the enslavement of the Indians and provisions for the gradual abolition of the Encomienda system. The natives were now considered free persons under the New Laws and their labor could no longer be demanded but the natives were still required to pay tribute to the Enocmeindors and profess their faith to the Catholic religion. The Indians could still work, if they chose to, and were required to receive payments and civil treatment in exchange for their labor but they did not receive the option to retreat to their previous religions and cultures as they were forced to adopt and worship under the Catholic faith.
The “Popes Rebellion” of 1680 was an uprising of the Pueblo Indians against the Spanish colonizers in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México. The Pueblo killed approximately 400 Spanish and drove the remaining 2,000 settlers out of the province under the command of a mysterious Indian, Popé, whom had previously been imprisoned and whipped by the governor for practicing “sorcery”. The Catholic faith, which the Spanish colonizers forced upon the Pueblo Indians, was a driving factor in the rebellion as the Indians were condemned for practicing their own customs and beliefs for the Spanish saw it as “sorcery”. The neglect of the Pueblo’s culture by the Spanish caused much disarray within the community and the maltreatment of the Indians steered their rebellion.
Diego de Vargas Zapata Luján Ponce de León was appointed Governor of New Mexico by the Spanish Crown and was assigned the “Reconquista” of New Mexico from the unruly Pueblo Indians that attacked in the “Popes Rebellion”. His main two goals were: to obtain the surrender of the rebellious pueblos in a peaceful manner but by force if necessary and to re-colonize New Mexico’s abandoned settlements along with reestablishing the destroyed missions. The Catholic priests and friars Christianized the “freed” Indians upon their surrender of the providence. The Indians were promised much better conditions and to be freed from slavery upon their surrender as long as they obtained to the Catholic faith. Eventually, the Pueblo Indians and the Spanish colonizers agreed with peace settlements sealed by intermarriage. These marriages led to New Mexico’s unique blend of Spanish/Indian mestizaje culture and spread of the Catholic faith in the New Mexico providence.
The Non-Separatist Puritans first settlement in North America was the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritan merchants bought the defunct Virginia Company of Plymouth’s charter in the year 1628 and received royal permission from the crown to establish a colony in Massachusetts north of the Plymouth Plantation. Between 1630 and 1640, some twenty thousand Puritan practitioners would travel across the Atlantic in what was known as the “Great Migration”. The Puritans were under great harassment by the Church of England around the time they pondered in establishing a colony in the New World. The Puritans sought to reform Anglican religious practices in order to “purify” the church. The Puritans feared that the Church was following religious practices that closely resembled Christianity both in structure and ceremony which was why the church need undergo “purification”.
The New England Way was a process used by the clergy to determine if applicants were worthy of gaining church membership by undergoing a rigorous examination of a person’s spiritual beliefs in order to identify “saints”. The test served to limit church membership and forced the next generation to modify procedures by its exclusiveness. Although church attendance was obligatory in society, gaining membership was a very tough and length process. The religious selectiveness reflected the Puritans view on their religion and how they felt towards the elite only being allowed into the church or house of God.
The narrow views of the Puritan leaders regarding religious conformity motivated opposition from a man named Roger Williams. He argued for the separation of church and state along with the right of privacy in religious beliefs and against compulsory church service. Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1635 leading him to travel south to Narragansett Bay where he founded the Providence settlement. In 1644, Williams received royal permission to start the Rhode Island colony that was established as a haven for other religious dissenters and nonconformists. Although unconventional, Williams and his journey is a fine example of the religious freedoms the new world offered and even though he was banished, he was able to legally establish a colony in which he belonged.
Anne Hutchinson was exiled in 1637 along with her followers for challenging the authority of the ministers in the Puritan society as well as exposing the subservience of women in society of colonial Massachusetts. Hutchinson’s strong religious convictions were at odds with the Puritan clergy in Boston and her strong charismatic nature helped to accumulate a small following of supporters. In an attempt for religious freedoms, she would eventually establish the settlement of Portsmouth which would soon become part of the Rhode Island colony. Hutchinson is a key figure in the development of religious freedoms in the New England colonies for her bravery and desire to change the Puritanical society.
The Law of 1647, also known as the Old Deluder Satan Act, required that towns of fifty families or more hire a schoolmaster to teach children to read and write in Massachusetts. Teachers were hired with the sole purpose of teaching the young children practices that would aid them in their religious futures and paid for their duties to the communities. The establishment of the Massachusetts public education system in 1647 was aimed around religious concerns. The Puritans realized that learning was necessary in order for their children to read the Bible and write prayers and scriptures in order to carry on their religion. The Laws broke with English tradition by transferring educational supervision from the clergy to the paid teacher of the colony and was yet another way that the Puritans were able to find religious freedoms in America.
The Half-way Covenant of 1692 was a form of partial church membership created by New England. It was promoted in particular by the Reverend Solomon Stoddard who realized that the people of the English colonies were drifting away from their original religious purposes and focusing more on material possessions. The half-way covenant allowed the children of holders of the covenant to be baptized in the church. Puritan preachers hoped that this plan would help to maintain the church’s influence in society and that these “half-way members” would see the benefits of full membership and one day officially join the church. This form of membership underwent rejection by many of the more religious members of the Puritan society as they felt it did not fully adhere to the church’s guidelines. The half-way covenant did support the church’s prominence in society as well as improve membership rates.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is a sermon written by Jonathan Edwards in 1741. The Sermon is relevant to the Great Awakening and emphasizes the belief that Hell is in fact a very real place through his use of vivid imagery and the central message of the sermon. The underlying point is that God has given humanity a chance to rectify their sins and Edwards says that it is the will of God that keeps wicked men from the depths of Hell. Edwards’ sermon was very compelling and often times his audience would moan and cry out in attempts to be saved from their sins. Jonathon Edwards and his “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon was very typical of the time period and reinforced the ideals of religion and how generous God has been to humanity.
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer whom sailed the St. Lawrence River from 1534 and 1542 in search of material wealth in the form of gold and silver. Although Cartier did not find wealth in the form of precious metals, the French soon found something that proved to be just as valuable: furs. The French realized that beaver pelts could be fashioned into high quality clothing for the wealthy and since beavers were all but extinct in Europe, they jumped to monopolize on the trade of fur. The fur trade is, in large, a main reason that the French sough to colonize in North America and one of many factors why they decided to spread their religion across the Atlantic. If the French had not discovered the value of the beavers, their settlement may have been postponed and they’re conversion of the natives to Catholicism may have been completely rejected.
The Company of New France was a joint stock company that was given a royal charter in 1602 which included exclusive trading rights from Florida to the Arctic Circle and westward to the Great Lakes. In exchange for the monopoly on trade, the company made a promise to the French crown to settle and establish 4000 colonists in New France over the course of 15 years. The company also received the task to oversee the conversion of the Native Americans to Christianity. The Company of New France established the first French settlement in North America and was therefore the first to send Catholic priests across the Atlantic in order to convert the natives. The establishment of a settlement in New France fueled Frances desire to spread their religion and government to the Native American’s as they assumed they were superior under the Discovery Doctrine.
Samuel de Champlain known as “The Father of New France” founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608. He is credited with making the first accurate map of the Canadian coastline which helped him to establish settlements. Champlain would go on to become the unofficial governor of New France under orders from Louis XIII for his return to Quebec where he was to devote himself to the administration of the country. Champlain established multiple trading companies that sent fur to France and oversaw the growth of New France and the spread of the Catholic faith to the surrounding natives. Without the establishment of the New France region by Champlain, it is hard to say where the first permanent city in New France would have been and how it would have affected the fur trade and spread of the catholic faith by the French Jesuits.
The New France region of North America had much smaller populations in the 1620s than those of other world powers for France was interested in economic trade and not permanent settlement. The small populations benefited the French for they were able to develop strong bonds with the Native American communities since the French did not inhabit the land in which natives claimed. The French avoided hostility and instead enlisted the Native Americans to help them on their fur trapping expeditions. Their close and almost fraternal bonds with the Indians aided them when Catholic priests arrived and sought to convert the Indians to Catholicism. The French used a tactic that did not involve force to gain the Indians trust and eventually their religious beliefs.
Father Paul Le Jeune arrived in New France in 1631 upon being named the head of the Canadian Jesuit mission. Le Jeune emphasized the importance of studying the natives culture, language, and religious beliefs and practices to better understand affective ways to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. He revamped attempts at conversion by focusing on the group as a whole instead of isolating and educating just the youth as earlier missionaries had done. Le Jeune proved to be very effective in his conversion process as he convinced a number of Indians to convert by utilizing a tactic of ridicule towards the native’s shaman. He convinced them that the position of the shaman was based upon trickery and fraud as well as encouraging the natives to convert through images of the damned in hell.
The Jesuits were a group of Catholic missionaries who came to New France in order to convert the Native Americas to Christianity so that they followed the European way of life. The Jesuits had the misconception that many of the natives had no religion and would therefore easily convert to Christianity. It was difficult for the Jesuits during the conversion process as they could not easily explain the concepts of Christianity to the natives whose language contained no words that easily applied. It was also extremely difficult for the natives to understand the abstract concepts of religion such as the Holy Trinity which left them frustrated and unwilling to convert. The Jesuits desire to convert the Native Americans to their faith fueled their expansion across New France and primarily they were successful with a small number of conversions. Eventually they would meet resistance from the Huron’s and Iroquois tribes on their mission to spread Catholicism.
The beaver population in the mid seventeenth century suffered severely as competition between the English, French and Indian tribes increased. The French were in constant search of cheaper fur and tried to cut the Indian middleman out of the equation in order to increase profits which lead to further exploration of the North American interior. The desire to remain in the trade and continue receiving incentives from the French caused the Indians to increase their exploitation of the beaver and further caused the demise of the beaver population. Killing the beavers for more than their food or clothing went against the Indians beliefs and customs but the desire to remain in the trade override the desire to honor the beaver and Mother Nature. The Indians ideals were corrupted by their adopted European requests for material wealth.
The Laws of Burgos
The Pope Revolt in New Mexico
Reconquista of México 1690
The Massachusetts Bay Colony
The New England Way
Roger Williams banished in
The Exile of Anne Hutchinson in 1637
The Law of
The Puritans establish the Half-way Covenant
"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
Jacques Cartier and the discovery of the Beaver Pelt
The Company of New France
Samuel de Champlain settles New France
New France Benefits From the Small Population
Father Paul Le Jeune
The Beaver Population Suffers