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Indigenous Reducciones and Spanish Resettlement: Placing Colonial and European History in Dialogue

O realojamento de indígenas e de espanhóis: pôr a história colonial e europeia em diálogo
La reinstallation des indigenes et des espagnoles: faire dialoguer l’histoire coloniale et l’histoire europeenne
Tamar Herzog
p. 9-30

Resumos

Considerando a urgente necessidade de pôr a história colonial e europeia em diálogo, este texto critica a literatura que tem tratado das campanhas de realojamento da população nativa da América espanhola em aldeias, ali chamadas reducciones ou congregaciones. Argumenta-se que, em vez de serem uma tecnologia colonial visando o controlo e a exploração dos colonizados, as campanhas de realojamento também ocorreram em Espanha, e que, mesmo nas Américas, também abrangeram a população de origem espanhola. O artigo discute igualmente o que a urbanização significou no período moderno, demonstrando que aquilo que principalmente distinguia as comunidades das não-comunidades (despoblados) não eram questões materiais ou económicas, mas sim as relações que os residentes estabeleciam entre si e o regime jurídico que se lhes aplicava e os unia.

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Notas do autor

This is a revised, augmented, corrected, and updated version of a text originally published in French in 2007 (“Terres et déserts, société et sauvagerie. De la communauté en Amérique et en Castille à l’époque moderne”. Annales HSS 62 (3), pp. 507-538).

Texto integral

1Historians describe the Spanish conquest of the Americas as a process involving the formation of urban communities. According to this narrative, even before the territory was under their control, Spaniards proceeded to found new settlements (Aguilera Rojas 1994; Domínguez Company 1984). These efforts were accompanied by the reordering of the native world. Initially, Spaniards divided up natives among conquistadors. Yet, this system, known as the encomienda, came into crisis at the end of the sixteenth century, when it was replaced, at least in some areas, by new arrangements. These arrangements sought to create two parallel yet separate “republics”. The first included Spaniards, who lived in Spanish cities and obeyed Spanish law; the second included natives, who resided in native communities, where native law and native authorities (as long as they did not contradict Spanish norms) prevailed.

2To implement this design, Spaniards launched campaigns to resettle the Indigenous population in new villages, from which all non-natives were theoretically excluded (Mörner 1963; Byrd Simpson 1934; Herzog 2006, 2012). Called congregaciones or reducciones, these villages were to mimic the Spanish organization of space. They were to follow a Spanish design (with a main square and a grid pattern) and have members (vecinos), jurisdictional territory, and Spanish-style municipal authorities (cabildos) (Solano 1976, 9-10; García Martínez 1987, 167-170; Morales Padrón 1979, 489-518). By the early seventeenth century, in the viceroyalty of Peru alone, Spaniards had established perhaps as many as one thousand new Indigenous villages with at least 1.5 million residents (Saito and Rosas Lauro 2017, 14).

  • 1 See Markman (1972), Málaga Medina (1989), Sullivan (1996), Abercrombie (1998), Scott (2009, 69-74 (...)
  • 2 See González (1970, 72-75), Sullivan (1999, 47), Gutiérrez (1993, 21-23), Gose (2008, 118-119), V (...)

3Despite the striking similarities and the chronological coincidence between the projects of urbanizing Spaniards and congregating Indians, historians of Spanish America tend to study these processes separately. Most imply that they were emblematic of colonialism because, while Spanish enclaves allowed conquistadors to ensure their communal survival in a new and hostile environment, the new Indigenous villages were a means to control the native population.1 Representing a new disciplinary “technology of state”, the resettlement of natives was justified by reference to the need to civilize and convert them. However, it mainly targeted harnessing the conquered population to the needs and desires of colonialists, namely, the extraction of labor and resources. Native resettlement was also useful for Spaniards because it allowed for the removal of natives from their ancestral land, thus making it available to European occupation.2 Whereas Spaniards voluntarily chose to come to the Americas and to subject themselves to municipal authorities by becoming vecinos of the new Spanish American enclaves, natives were forced into compliance and those who refused could be severely punished.

4Because the assumption was that the resettlement of natives was directly linked to the needs of the colonial state, most historians emphasize the actual transfer of natives from their original habitat to new villages, and they insist on the material changes that this removal entailed. If and when these two characteristics –actual removal and material changes– were lacking, these historians assume that the resettlement campaign had failed or that natives had managed to subvert it.

5In what follows, I argue that these conclusions are the byproduct of the way we have reconstructed the past. Most historians tend to separate the study of Indigenous peoples from the study of Europeans, as well as the examination of the Americas from that of early modern Spain. However, if we seriously engaged with contemporary observations that Indigenous villages were not substantially different from Spanish enclaves and if we questioned (rather than asserted) whether reducciones were a uniquely colonial phenomenon or a technique also employed vis-à-vis other social sectors in both the New and the Old Worlds, we may reach other conclusions. We would discover that campaigns for resettlement were common all over the Hispanic world and that they were applied to both Spaniards and natives, both in Europe and the Americas. We would further conclude that, although the aim of these campaigns was to ensure subjection to particular religious, social, and cultural norms, the preoccupation they expressed was deeply political because, according to contemporaries, belonging to a local community was also a fundamental precondition for being a member in the Spanish commonwealth. Individuals who lived in communities were clearly superior to solitary humans not only because they were more “civilized”, but mainly because they formed part of the social and political fabric (Cummins 2002, 200).

6These perceptions led to forced resettlement, but they also produced debates regarding what a proper community was and what belonging to it entailed. Thus, while agreeing in the abstract about the importance of communal adhesion, contemporaries continually disagreed as to who needed resettlement, where they should go, what resettlement meant, and how it could be achieved. Many suggested that enclaves that appeared to sustain a community in reality lacked one, while others that were hardly in existence did not. This could happen because at stake were not only, or even mainly, material concerns. Rather than examining what existed on the ground, contemporaries engaged with what it meant and what it could guarantee.

7In order to explore these issues, I will begin by examining the resettlement of Spaniards in Spanish America. I will then survey similar campaigns in Peninsular Spain in order to interrogate what tied them together and what they can teach us about the aims of resettlement. In order to ask what resettlement consisted of, I will examine debates in Spain regarding the revival of non-communities (despoblados). These will demonstrate how contemporaries viewed the distinction between “proper” and “improper” communities. Closing the circle, I will observe how debates on despoblados fared in the New World and what they can tell us about Spanish perceptions of why the Indigenous peoples required resettlement. My aim is to question how we understand things, not to study a particular case or place. I therefore look at large areas over a long time span in order to ask: if we put these cases together rather than separate them, as is usually the case, what do we stand to learn that we would not notice otherwise?

1. Resettling Spaniards: New World Debates

  • 3 The bishop of Santiago de Chile as reproduced in cédula real de 5.5.1716, Archivo General de Indi (...)
  • 4 Letter of the bishop, 12.7.1712, ibid, fols. 8r-10v.

8Whereas the literature on Indigenous reducciones habitually assumes that forced resettlement was a policy only affecting natives, there are plenty of indications that other social sectors were subjected to similar campaigns. Eighteenth-century Chile, for example, was a territory where most Spaniards lived in widely dispersed smallholdings and were criticized for their “disunion”, and “solitary lifestyle”. In the 1700s, the local bishop suggested that this behavior allowed them to “commit grave crimes without being punished and without any religious indoctrination”.3 Because they lived in the countryside at a distance from one another, these Spaniards, he argued, “live as they wished, only caring about their liberty”. The remedy the bishop advanced was simple: it was vital to reduce these Spaniards by forcing them to reside in compact villages. Doing so would ensure that these Spaniards would “live as rational human beings and not as brutes”. Congregation would also facilitate their religious indoctrination and allow teaching them “to respect and fear the magistrates”.4

  • 5 Cédula real de 5.5.1716, ibid, fols. 240v and 241r.

9The Spanish Council of the Indies agreed. In 1703, it ordered all Spaniards who resided in farms, ranches, and rural estates to reduce themselves to existing communities or to new Spanish enclaves that would be built for them. Giving these Spaniards six months to comply with the order, the council also specified that those who refused would be punished with the confiscation of their properties, exile from Chile, and forced labor in military forts and would be considered as “vagabonds without a recognized domicile”.5

  • 6 Vista fiscal, Madrid, 7.1.1712, ibid, fols. 2v-3r.

10Because repeated reports from Chile reiterated that nothing had been accomplished, metropolitan officials again took issue with the resettlement in 1712. Lamenting what he viewed as a catastrophic situation, the representative of royal interests (fiscal) of the Council of the Indies explained that for many years the council had received reports on the irregular way in which local Spaniards lived. The council, he argued, was also cognizant that conscience and justice both required that these Spaniards be made to congregate (congregar).6 Specifically mentioning that royal laws mandated that not only Indians but also Spaniards live in compact villages, the fiscal argued that, in both cases, the aim of resettlement was similar. It was meant to guarantee that all inhabitants live under obedience to civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Those who refused had to be punished because they were social outcasts. To ensure the wellbeing not only of the polity but also of the individuals concerned, it was therefore vital to create new settlements and make sure that the Spaniards dispersed in the countryside be reduced to them by force.

  • 7 The provincial of Santo Domingo on 25.10.1712, ibid, fols. 26r-30r.
  • 8 President Ustariz on 10.11.1712, ibid, fols. 50r-59v.

11The order to resettle the Spaniards of Chile provoked lengthy debates. Although all parties agreed that it was possible, even recommendable, to congregate Spaniards against their will when such a move was necessary, some suggested that Chile was not the appropriate case. Writing from Santiago, the provincial of the Dominican Order argued that the Spaniards of Chile lived in the countryside only a few months each year, when their agricultural pursuits so required, and that the rest of the year they inhabited proper communities.7 The president of the local audiencia (court and administrative body) agreed with him, also concluding that only a few lived in truly dispersed farms and arguing that their residence there was necessary to guarantee the cultivation of the soil.8 Forcing these Spaniards to abandon the countryside would destroy the local economy, depopulate the province, and lead to the loss of many fortunes as well as the end of commerce. Because in Chile there was no other economic pursuit than agriculture, the reduction of Spaniards would produce havoc and serious injury. Furthermore, there was no reason to assume that rural Spaniards were barbarous, uncultivated, or in need of remedy. Many of them were citizens (vecinos) of Santiago or other cities, where they had houses, wives, and children and where they resided part of the year. They were not “so rustic and so barbarous as to become degenerate” to the point that would justify forcing their resettlement.

12Whether the Spaniards of Chile merited reduction or not, the debate in the 1700s and 1710s demonstrated that all sides agreed that Spaniards could be forced to resettle. The Spaniards targeted for reduction were individuals who lived outside the confines of recognized communities. Although most of them lived permanently in small estates, it was their lack of insertion in a proper village or town that made them “vagabonds”. As far as contemporary observers were concerned, this “solitary” residence automatically implied unruly behavior because, by living on their own, these Spaniards obeyed, so it was argued, no God, no law, and no authorities.

  • 9 Letters of president Ustariz dated 24.12.1711 and 26.12.1711, ibid, fols. 4r-5r and 6r-7v; Joseph (...)

13Participants in the debate in both Chile and Madrid also explicitly tied the resettlement of Spaniards to the resettlement of Indians. For those favoring the reduction of Spaniards, if Indians who lived dispersed in the countryside merited congregation, so did Spaniards. The instructions of the main body of colonial royal decrees (Recopilación de Indias) confirmed this by ordering that both Spaniards and Indians live in villages. For those opposing resettlement, neither Spaniards nor Indians should be affected by these measures because, given the particular conditions in Chile, their dispersed residence was actually a good thing, as it allowed agriculture to prosper.9

14One could argue that the Chilean case was singular. Chile was a frontier territory, dependent on agriculture, reputably poor, and susceptible to foreign invasions and indigenous uprising. Conditions in Chile might have also been particularly prone to accommodate a mobile population of individuals of both Spanish and Indigenous descent (Góngora 1966, 4). It is also possible that the so-called Spaniards of Chile were not altogether Spanish or that, despite their Spanish genealogy, their poverty stigmatized them as the quintessential “other” (Góngora 1966, 16; Schiaffino 1983, 226-227).

  • 10 Cédula to the audiencia of La Española, 8.4.1538, AGI, Santo Domingo 868, L.1, fol. 125v.
  • 11 Cédula dated 17.10.1593 to the viceroy of Perú, AGI, Quito 209, L.1, fols. 119r-119v. Also see re (...)

15Nonetheless, there are plenty of indications that the situation in other parts of the Americas was not substantially different. To mention just a few examples, in 1501 Nicolás de Ovando was instructed to found settlements in La Española “so that the Christians of this island live and continue to live in the future, not spread out (derramados)” (Solano 1996, 22). Puebla de Los Ángeles (Mexico) was established in 1531 in order to congregate “vagabond Spaniards”, hopefully transforming them in this way into useful laborers and permanent residents (Martin 1957, 41-56). Living in the valleys around Santo Domingo, it was argued in 1538, were more than one hundred Spaniards whose reduction was necessary.10 In 1567, Juan de Matienzo recommended the formation of several villages near Cochabamba (Upper Peru) for the Spaniards who resided next to their farms “very far from one another” so that they no longer live separately (Matienzo 1967, chapter 19). In 1593, the king ordered the resettlement of Spaniards living “disseminated” in the countryside of Zaruma (Audiencia de Quito) in order to assure that they lived in a proper republic (forma de república).11

  • 12 The governor Carlos de Sucre on 20.4.1735, AGI, Santo Domingo 632.
  • 13 Letter of the governor of the province of Salta to the secretary of state, AGI, Estado 80, No.23 (...)
  • 14 Mörner (1973, 64) also argues that reduction could be applied to “individuals of any race”. Simil (...)

16Spaniards who required their forced reduction were also present in mid-eighteenth-century Venezuela.12 The governor, who requested their resettlement, argued that they were dispersed “in deserted places” with no spiritual guidance. Their reduction would ensure, he sustained, that they live like Christians and in an appropriate republic. In eighteenth-century Guatemala, Indians, mestizos, and Spaniards who lived in small enclaves near their farms “without form of a village” were to be reduced to “formal settlements”, because it was believed that otherwise they were likely to commit many excesses and crimes (Lujan Muñoz 1976). In 1792, the governor of Salta (Río de la Plata) also suggested the establishment of a settlement on the frontier with Jujuy, so that those who “walked confused and miserable in the other cities of this province” would live in a “republic as all the other citizens did, respecting both divine and human laws”.13 All these examples suggest that what happened in Chile might not have been unique.14

2. Resettlement in Spain

  • 15 “Informe de la Real Sociedad Matritense de Amigos del País de 1780 sobre la propuesta de importar (...)

17Spain’s Peninsular authorities also undertook campaigns, whose aim was to resettle individuals who were considered dangerous because they were said to live without submission to law, king, or God.15 Their reduction, also referred to as “reform”, was therefore necessary (Vives 1920; Pérez de Herrera 1598). The king and his officials, though insisting on the freedom of immigration, which all Spaniards enjoyed, nevertheless maintained that this freedom was contingent on those leaving one community immediately joining another (Herzog 2003, 25-29). They asserted that no one could live without a “known citizenship” (vecindad conocida) because that meant complete personal liberty, which could not be tolerated. People who had no fixed domicile or local belonging were both useless and dangerous.

  • 16 Novísima Recopilación, Libro VII, titulo 22 and título 39.

18To force everyone to comply with these rules, the authorities devised policies aimed at punishing those who refused by disciplining, interning or sending them to forced labor or military service. Those, on the contrary, who agreed to mend their ways and fix their domicile in a known community, were spared. The authorities also elaborated rules restricting charity, indicating that it could be given to the poor only in their community of citizenship or birth.16 Other measures included the instruction that all individuals register with the local authorities and notify them of their intention to change their domicile, receiving passports that would declare them “honorable individuals” rather than “vagrants” (Pérez Esteve 1976, 309-310). The individuals who were involved in the elaboration and imposition of these measures regarded them as a herald for the coming of a new age. They suggested that the situation required urgent remedy because, according to them, those whom they sought to reform were not only poor and vagabonds but also heretics and criminals. These individuals transgressed the good laws and customs, committed sins and excesses, and their bad habits could even be contagious. Their insertion into local communities, it was argued, would transform them into useful vassals because life without discipline and control produced thieves and deserters, while life in a recognized community guaranteed obedient citizens.

  • 17 These orders were mentioned in a cédula of November 11, 1692 in Archivo de la Chancillería de Val (...)
  • 18 Pragmática of June 12, 1695 in ACV, SA, Ced/Prg. C.8-88.
  • 19 Pragmáticas of January 14, 1717; October 1, 1726; October 30, 1745; July 19, 1746; October 28, 17 (...)

19Not only the Spanish poor and vagabonds were to be reduced. On occasions, the same policies were applied to peasants, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities suggesting that their lamentable state required such extreme measures. These peasants had to be reduced to settlement because they were gente bárbara rather than gente política y doméstica (Contreras 1982, 94). These policies, which were generally applied, were particularly insistent vis-à-vis certain social sectors, which were stigmatized as insufficiently integrated into local communities. The most obvious example were the Roma (Gypsies). As early as 1499 and again in 1539, 1586, 1619, and 1633, the Roma were ordered to abandon their nomadic way of life and establish a permanent domicile.17 From the late seventeenth century, they were also forced to report periodically to the local authorities and register their names and places of residence.18 A general expulsion of the Roma from Spain was decreed in 1695, from which only individuals permanently residing in municipalities of at least 200 inhabitants and occupied in farming activities were exempt. The authorities re-issued similar orders throughout the eighteenth century, as well as drawing up a list of places permitted for Roma residence.19

  • 20 Chapter 1 of the pragmática of September 19, 1783, cited in the pragmática of February 28, 1784 i (...)
  • 21 Pragmática of July 19, 1746 in ACV, SA, Ced/Prg C.12-18. Sancho de Moncada (1619) cited by Borrow (...)

20Why were the Roma treated this way? According to the decrees, there was no Roma nation, only Gypsy individuals: “Those who are called and who identify themselves as Gypsies are not Gypsies by origin or nature, nor do they proceed from any infected root”.20 Instead, being a Roma was a category taken on voluntarily by people who wished to live badly (mal vivir). These people were ordinary Spaniards. Born on the Peninsula as vassals of the king, they nevertheless behaved in an anti-social and illegal manner.21 They managed to do so mainly by maintaining a nomadic way of life and avoiding integration into local communities. Their constant movement allowed them to live freely, only obeying their own desires. Unlike all other Spaniards, who resided permanently in local communities, the Roma who constantly moved from one place to the next were not under the control of authorities, magistrates, or the clergy.

21This extreme lack of integration required a radical response. The aim of all anti-Roma legislation, the authorities argued, was to ensure that the Roma changed their way of life. They were to abandon their vagrancy and, instead of maintaining their isolation –which was viewed in these decrees as self-inflicted–, they would be forced to integrate into local communities. Refusal to do so would automatically lead to their losing the right to remain in Spain. The Roma who insisted on maintaining a separate existence and nomadism would be incarcerated, expelled, or even sentenced to death. Although the legislation mentioned the Roma’s distinct customs, dress, and language, the most essential point of contention was domicile-establishment. According to contemporary visions, what made the Roma “dangerous” and transformed them into a group perceived as external to the Spanish commonwealth was their lack of permanent residence in recognized communities. Operating here, as in the Americas, was the conviction that life outside a recognized community produced dangerous individuals. Equally constant was the belief that reduction would solve this problem because it would (miraculously) convert all those who refused to obey social, religious, and political norms into good Christians, faithful vassals, and exemplary citizens.

3. The Aims and Meaning of Resettlement

22What was common to the reduction of Spaniards in both the Old and the New World was the conviction that individuals who did not belong to a local community were dangerous. This danger was religious (heresy, sin, and ignorance), civic (crimes and disorder) and political (disobedience to the authorities or the king). It was as if, by living outside the boundaries of a recognized local polity, these individuals also lived outside all social, political, and religious precepts, only obeying their own law.

  • 22 This was a pan-European phenomenon: Toubert (1973), Reynolds (1984), Fossier (1992), and Hubert ( (...)

23The insistence that all individuals belonged to a recognized community was linked to the role of communities in early modern Spain. Beginning in the Middle Ages (mostly the tenth and eleventh centuries), most Iberian farmers residing in isolated rural estates began congregating in villages.22 These processes were motivated by demographic and economic growth as well as by new political and military conditions. The communities founded during this period soon became the main instrument regulating social, economic, and political life (García de Cortázar 1995; Martínez Sopena 1995; Barrios García 1995). Their omnipresence contributed to the emergence of new methods for physically and socially ascribing individuals. Whereas before this process took place most individuals were identified mainly by reference to their kin group, after communities started appearing all over the Iberian Peninsula, many began taking on an identity that linked them to a particular local polity, their patria (Rucquoi 1985).

24The kingdoms that appeared in Iberia in the late medieval period were a byproduct of these developments. Defined as aggregates of many villages, towns, and settlements, they were composite rather than unitary because they were configured as assemblies of autonomous local polities. As a result, in the late fourteenth and fifteenth century, when each of the Iberian kingdoms defined its members (naturales), these were mostly identified as vecinos of local municipalities (Herzog 2003). The linking of local insertion (vecindad) to kingdom membership (naturaleza) continued into the early modern period. In the sixteenth century, it was used to define who Spaniards were: Spaniards were natives of the Iberian kingdoms, and natives were citizens of local communities. In other words, it was through their formal insertion into a recognized local community that individuals could be classified also as members (naturales) of the various kingdoms and of Spain.

25Because being classified as native was tied to the condition of local citizen, individuals who did not belong to a local community were easily defined as foreigners (Herzog 2003, 74-75). This was what happened to the Roma who, albeit being born and bred in Spain, were considered alien because of their itinerant lifestyle. The same, however, also happened to other individuals, such as the poor and vagabonds, who were often suspected of foreignness. Because of the tight link between local insertion and status as Spaniard, Spaniards could become aliens if they ceased being integrated within a Spanish local community. The contrary was also true: insertion into a local community was a means for naturalization.

26These perceptions were also applied to the Roma, whose integration in a local community could transform them not only from itinerants to permanent inhabitants, but also from foreigners to natives. The Roma were aware of these connections. Many argued that local citizenship was a means to acquire the “constitutions, exemptions and privileges” of natives, while others rejected their identification as Gypsies protesting that they were not foreigners (Sánchez Ortega 1976, 248-250).Outside observers tended to agree. The French consul in Cádiz, for example, explained that the Roma could be considered natives, but that they were usually not included in this category as long as they remained vagabonds (Vaux de Foletier 1997, 6-7).

27It is therefore fair to say that, although the struggle to ensure that all individuals formed part of a local community was informed by economic, religious, legal, and social interests, it was also tied to the understanding that unless you belonged to a local community you were not a native of Spain, nor did you form part of the Hispanic commonwealth.

28Returning now to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, their congregation into Spanish-style villages was part of a much wider drive that required that all individuals, Spanish or Indigenous, in Spain or Spanish America, be tied to a local community. Thus, while the resettlement of Indians clearly intensified the hardship inflicted on the native population, and it definitely served the ambitions of settlers, it was neither invented nor specifically designed to sustain a colonial situation (Mumford 2012, 7, 42; Verdesio 2014, 215). But, what was “resettlement”, and how was it to achieve these laudable goals of transforming bad people into good, foreigners into Spaniards?

29Although the literature on Indigenous reducciones insists on the physical and visible changes that resettlement produced, what made for a proper community was not necessarily the presence of certain material conditions. Instead, resettlement was to bring about a legal and political transformation: the conversion of foreigners into natives, strangers into members. This transformation could be facilitated by external and quantifiable changes, but these were neither necessary nor sufficient. Looking back to Spain may help us appreciate this point.

  • 23 See Martín Rodríguez (1984), Palacio Atard (1989), Oliveras Smitier (1998), and Helguera Quijada (...)
  • 24 According to contemporary dictionaries, “despoblado” was a solitary place, with no village or inh (...)
  • 25 The case of Martín Hernando, discussed in Archivo Histórico Nacional (hereafter AHN), Consejos 40 (...)
  • 26 Vincente Bello in the 1792 discussion of the resettlement of Villa de San Martín de Caldillo, AHN (...)

30In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Spanish royal administrators began a wide-reaching campaign for the foundation of new communities.23 Particularly targeting despoblados, that is, territories that had been once populated but no longer were, these campaigns often degenerated into endless discussions as to which territory and which people justified royal intervention. In these debates, rather than automatically assuming that what needed remedy were places without habitation, those favoring or criticizing the campaigns struggled to define what exactly counted as a “non-village”.24 Many suggested that the permanent residence of people on the territory in houses, their classification as vecinos, the cultivation of the land, tax payment, and the celebration of weddings in ceremonies officiated by a local priest, could be proof of the existence of a proper community.25 Others nevertheless contested these conclusions, arguing that classification never hinged on material questions. The presence of individuals who permanently resided on the territory and their self-identification as vecinos, they suggested, could well be an indicator of the existence of a community, but what truly distinguished villages from non-villages was whether residents were “capable of holding council independent of other villages”.26 If they did not, than despite their permanence and their social and economic activities, these individuals did not live in a proper community.

  • 27 ACV, Alonso Rodríguez (Depósito) 0642/2, RCV, Pérez Alonso (Fenecidos) 3225/3, RCV, Pérez Alonso (...)
  • 28 Letter of Bartolomé González Póveda, president of the audiencia de Charcas dated 30.11.1679, in “ (...)
  • 29 The insistence that “urbanism” was present even when the actual settlement was insignificant was (...)

31The insistence that “community” was the same as self-government was such that even the presence of local judges who administered economic activity, verified that neighboring communities were not using local resources such as water and wood, or punished criminals, was insufficient to lead to the conclusion that a proper community was in place.27 While a non-village could feature many of the characteristics of a true community though lacking self-government, some “true communities” were practically a despoblado. Skeletons without flesh, their existence was profoundly phantasmagorical. Londres in Río de la Plata was one such place.28 Founded on several occasions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it was never truly populated or inhabited. No Spaniard had ever resided there, nor were permanent houses ever built. Nevertheless, contemporaries concluded that it was a true community because it had a town council (cabildo). The proof was that its so-called vecinos (who habitually resided elsewhere) regularly met in Londres once a year to elect local officials.29

  • 30 AGI, Quito 215, no.3, fol. 231v. The governor seconded his description: Cédula al presidente de Q (...)
  • 31 The president of the audiencia of Chile, Ambrosio O’Higgins Vallenar, on January 13, 1796, AGI, C (...)

32Londres was not the only phantasmagoric city in existence. In 1684, the bishop of Popayán insisted that many settlements belonging to his jurisdiction no longer merited the name of “city” because they hardly had any citizens or houses. The bishop was particularly concerned about Caloto, an enclave abandoned by its council members. Although these individuals continued to act as if Caloto existed, running its city council and distributing honors, as well as duties, among its so-called citizens, the bishop concluded that Caloto was an imaginary rather than a real town.30 Similarly, in 1796 the city of Osorno (in Chile) was said to have been repopulated not because it was rebuilt but because several individuals reconstituted its city council, thereby entering into “union and society”.31

33These debates clarify that the structures to which the Spaniards of Chile, the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and the poor, vagabonds, peasants, and Roma were subjected were not necessarily material. At stake was not so much where they lived, not even how they lived (though both things could be useful indicators), but under which legal and political conditions. Communities were primarily legal entities, not physical structures. Like the church (which was defined not as a building or an organization but as the community of believers), proper polities were made of the sum total of relations between authorities and members and between members among themselves; they did not include houses, or streets. They featured an adequate legal regime, a local fuero.

  • 32 See Herzog (2003, 61-62), Saito and Rosas Lauro (2017, 24-25), Diez Hurtado (2017, 273), and Zulo (...)

34This understanding of community permeated developments in both Spain and Spanish America. It clarified why Spaniards could disagree regarding which enclaves were proper communities and which individuals merited reduction. Back to the reduction of natives, historians have long struggled to explain why in many cases Spaniards agreed to leave natives in their original habitat rather than forcing them to leave, as the instructions on resettlement required. They asked why many Indigenous enclaves were only slightly modified rather than radically altered, and why the authorities allowed for this continuity rather than imposing a complete physical rupture (Saito and Rosas Lauro 2017, 31 and 35). Yet, if communities were legal, social and political realities, none of the above is surprising. That resettlement could be achieved without producing physical, material changes, rather than pointing to “failure”
may point to success. At stake was not necessarily a gap between model and implementation, or the power of natives to negotiate, as many historians have asserted. Because these campaigns sought to transform natives from members in ethnic collectivities to residents of municipal entities, they did not require the restructuring of streets or buildings. Instead, they could be completed by ensuring the appearance of new relationships.32

4. American Despoblados

  • 33 Antonio Ladrón de Guevara, “Noticias de los poblados de que se componen el Nuevo Reino de León… d (...)

35Transposed to the New World, the debate regarding the reformation of despoblados suffered important mutations. In the colonies, poblados were identified with Spanish cities, whereby despoblados were associated with the not-yet controlled (or insufficiently controlled) Indigenous hinterland. The 1739 “Information on the poblados and despoblados of the New Kingdom of León” may serve as an example. This pamphlet, which discussed how to convert the native population and, in the process, augment Spanish control, suggested that the best method would be to found Spanish enclaves in territories still controlled by “barbarous Indians”.33

36If, in Spain, despoblados were places lacking structures of self-government, in the Americas they also acquired the characteristic of spaces that escaped Spanish control. In Spanish imagination, this meant that they were chaotic and barbaric. Considered dangerous because not yet domesticated, their residents were said to live in a state of nature, more appropriate for animals than humans (Scott 2009; Sluyter 2001, 414).

37The linkage between not-yet-Hispanized native territories and despoblados permeated colonial documentation. In the Old World, despoblados were associated with abandonment, sterility, and desert. In the Americas, they were also equated with inaccessibility and with the continuation of native control. They were therefore often designated as montes (high land) and quebradas (uneven and open territory), regardless of what their geography was. This allowed Spaniards to conclude that whether residing in fixed locations and engaged in agricultural pursuits or belonging to nomad tribes; whether living in plains or in high altitude, all non-Hispanized Indians by definition lived in despoblados because all of them, by definition, lacked membership in “proper communities”. That is to say, rather than depicting a particular habitat, despoblados, montes, and quebradas described (as Covarrubias suggested in 1611) things and people that were a “great hindrance”, caused “inconvenience” or were “difficult to win over or overcome” (Covarrubias y Orozco 1995, 601). Remote, uncontrolled, menacing, and resisting change were the characteristic they communicated, not a specific location.

  • 34 Instrucción a Nicolás de Ovando, March 29 and 30, 1503, reproduced in Solano (1996, 24-26) and Vi (...)
  • 35 Viceroy Toledo, cited in Durston (1999/2000, 83) and “Memorial que el racionero Villaroel dio al (...)

38Applied to different places and circumstances and used in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century to describe a great variety of peoples in a surprisingly similar manner, these perceptions led Spaniards to associate the lack of Hispanized communal structures with barbarity and both with particular geographies. They thus argued in the early sixteenth century that the natives of La Española and Mexico lived separately from one another in montes, sierras and barrancos.34 The natives of Peru, they suggested, could become members of self-governing polities only if they were taken out of their “solitude” and brought to “public places that were flat”.35 Living in the countryside “as barbarians without law or government, separated one from the other”, they clearly needed remedy. In New Galicia, natives who inhabited “rough mountains, deserts and montes” and who lived without village or order, also lacked human reason and acted as wild animals (Enciso Contreras 2017, 648, 653).

  • 36 Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, cited in Tomichá Charupá (2017, 481).
  • 37 “Relación de la provincia del Darién la forma de su conquista…” undated manuscript, inserted in “ (...)
  • 38 Fray Alfonso de la Peña Montenegro in Itinerario de párroco de indios, cited in Ortiz Crespo and (...)
  • 39 AGI, EC 339B.
  • 40 Consulta dated December 5, 1724, AGI, Quito 103, fols. 680r-722r.
  • 41 Letter of the Colegio Apostólico de San Fernando Extramuros de la Ciudad de México, November 12, (...)
  • 42 Report of the auditor general de guerra marquis of Altamira dated August 27, 1746 in “Expediente (...)

39The insistence that Indians who had not yet been integrated into Spanish-style municipalities inhabited despoblados or montes continued into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1599, Luis Velasco, viceroy of Peru, reported to the king that Indians escaped from the newly formed villages to montes and quebradas (Málaga Medina 1993, 308). During the same period and hundreds of miles away, a Jesuit remarked that, before they were reduced, the Indians of Paraguay “lived in their old ways in montes and sierras and in solitary houses, separated one, two, three or more leagues from one another”.36 In the 1660s, the Indians of Darien who lived off agriculture and commerce nevertheless were said to “reside in montes… with no proper settlement or subjection, but instead each family alone”.37 During the same period, Quito’s bishop complained that local Indians received no Christian instruction and were unable to forget their “natural wildness” and live “a political life as humans” because they resided in montes, quebradas and deserts.38 In Veracruz, natives living in “farms with their families separated one from the other” were classified in 1695 as inhabiting the “mountains”.39 In 1724, the natives of Chocó who had escaped to the montes were reported to live dispersed without subjecting themselves to settlement and lacking Catholic instruction or proper government.40 In the middle of the eighteenth century, the Indians of the Seno Mexicano were found to be “very dispersed in the montes and forests without a clear destination of place or farm because they were all uncultivated barbarians without any other economy than the one practiced by animals that eat herbs and hunt”.41 These natives were a “particularly bad and low class of barbarians, habituated and hampered by the lack of reason”, they were “errant, savage and inhuman animals, atrocious and bad to themselves and to others, living… without sociability, religion, laws or any rules that would incline them to do good and reject what is bad”.42

  • 43 Santiago Riofrío in AGI, Quito 401, fols. 20r-20v and Góngora (1966, 28).

40By the eighteenth century, the identification between the lack of submission to the colonial state and residence in despoblados and montes was such that, in Quito, the resettlement and reduction of Indians was often referred to as their “exit from the mountains” and, in Chile, their escape from “proper” settlements was characterized as “taking to the monte”.43Even as late as the early nineteenth century, the authorities of Talamanca (present-day Costa Rica) could still report that Indians who had escaped to territories still controlled by undomesticated and unconverted natives have taken “to the mountains” (Solórzano Fonseca 1999, 77-78).

41This accumulation of factors suggests that, rather than Spaniards preferring valleys and Indians preferring high altitude, as was often argued, what was at stake in these descriptions was a conviction that Indians, even when they lived in valleys and in settled agricultural communities (as was the case in some of the examples above), in fact inhabited montes or despoblados. This could be the case because these designations did not describe a particular habitat but instead pointed to a political space that was insufficiently controlled, civilized, or Hispanized (Mumford 2012, 34). As Inca Garcilaso de la Vega explained in his Royal Commentaries, while in Spain being of the mountains was a sign of prestige because it identified the natives of Asturias and Vizcaya, in the Americas it became a derogatory designation, which classified individuals as savages (Garcilaso de la Vega 1963, 373).

42The consequence of much longer and larger debates, the link between Indians and despoblados, despoblados and montes, and both with barbarism and the lack of submission, ended up reaffirming what many Spaniards already suspected, namely, that not-yet-fully Hispanized Indians were dangerous and their territories hostile. It also implied that these Indians lacked proper communities because the only legitimate form of settlement was the Spanish one. These Indians would never become true political beings, and would never be part of the Hispanic commonwealth, if they would not be reduced to the right order. The result were resettlement campaigns that sought to reduce natives, that is to say, not only concentrate them in new enclaves that would be properly planned and controlled but “convince them to be under a better order”, have them adopt reason, or pass from an incomplete immature state of being to a state of perfection (Covarrubias y Orozco 1995, 350; Hamann 2016, 268-270).

5. Conclusions

43In both Spain and Spanish America, reforming people was a complicated affair. If what was at stake in theory were factual questions such as whether the individuals targeted were truly nomads, criminals, or dangerous, in practice what drove the resettlement campaigns was, above all, the conviction that what truly improved people was their integration into a formally constituted, self-governing community. Following this assumption, those who were not members of local communities were considered to inhabit spaces external to the social, cultural, and political context. And, while the lack of local inscription produced disaster, integration in a community could operate miracles. Spanish and Spanish American archives are full of such examples that argued that, after they were resettled, both Indians and Spaniards were transformed from thieves into useful laborers, from heretics into believers, from barbarians into civilized people, and from foreigners into members.

44These processes, which took place on both sides of the ocean, shared a common conceptual framework. They were not techniques developed in order to subject a colonial population, but rather an enterprise that was to guarantee the insertion of all the inhabitants into the Hispanic commonwealth. Colonialism was certainly a hurricane that left nothing standing. However, the havoc and destruction it produced was often related to ideas and practices that also existed in Europe and that were also applied to its domestic population. These practices produced diverse results on either side of the ocean and had different effects depending on the targeted population. But, unless we engage in a truly transatlantic analysis, any description we might offer of colonialism will be hollow, merely a product of our intellectual imagination.

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Notas

1 See Markman (1972), Málaga Medina (1989), Sullivan (1996), Abercrombie (1998), Scott (2009, 69-74), Rionda Ramírez (2012), Mumford (2012), and Verdesio (2014, 161-163 and 210-212).

2 See González (1970, 72-75), Sullivan (1999, 47), Gutiérrez (1993, 21-23), Gose (2008, 118-119), Verdesio (2014, 214), and Mumford (2017, 93-95).

3 The bishop of Santiago de Chile as reproduced in cédula real de 5.5.1716, Archivo General de Indias (hereafter AGI), Chile 137, fols. 240r-242v. Also see his letter signed 24.2.1710, ibid, fols.1r-2v. The president of the audiencia Juan Andrés Ustariz mentions a somewhat similar report authored by the Santiago city council in 1708: his letter dated 10.11.1712, ibid, fols. 50r-59v. The Chilean campaign was studied in Schiaffino and Urbina Burgos (1978) and Schiaffino (1983).

4 Letter of the bishop, 12.7.1712, ibid, fols. 8r-10v.

5 Cédula real de 5.5.1716, ibid, fols. 240v and 241r.

6 Vista fiscal, Madrid, 7.1.1712, ibid, fols. 2v-3r.

7 The provincial of Santo Domingo on 25.10.1712, ibid, fols. 26r-30r.

8 President Ustariz on 10.11.1712, ibid, fols. 50r-59v.

9 Letters of president Ustariz dated 24.12.1711 and 26.12.1711, ibid, fols. 4r-5r and 6r-7v; Joseph de la Lastra Basauri, Santiago, 4.10.1712, ibid, fols. 16r-24r; the provincial of San Francisco on 4.10.1712, ibid, fols. 32r-34v; fray Alonso de Caso on 15.10.1712, ibid, fols. 36r- 41r and fray Joseph Dote on 11.9.1712, ibid, fols. 42r-45v.

10 Cédula to the audiencia of La Española, 8.4.1538, AGI, Santo Domingo 868, L.1, fol. 125v.

11 Cédula dated 17.10.1593 to the viceroy of Perú, AGI, Quito 209, L.1, fols. 119r-119v. Also see real provisión dated 17.10.1593, giving Zaruma the legal condition of “villa”, ibid, fol. 112V.

12 The governor Carlos de Sucre on 20.4.1735, AGI, Santo Domingo 632.

13 Letter of the governor of the province of Salta to the secretary of state, AGI, Estado 80, No.23 (No.2) and the junta de real hacienda, Salta, 8.12.1792, AGI, Estado 80, No.23 (No.3), fols. 10r-18v.

14 Mörner (1973, 64) also argues that reduction could be applied to “individuals of any race”. Similarly, Scott (2004, 895) mentions in passing that Spanish mobility was also of concern to the authorities who, on occasions, dealt with it in “strikingly similar ways”.

15 “Informe de la Real Sociedad Matritense de Amigos del País de 1780 sobre la propuesta de importar extranjeros a poblar a España”, Archivo de la Real Sociedad Matritense de Amigos del País, Mss. 37/1 and “papeles varios”: Francisco Antonio de Zamora Aguilar, citando a Floridablanca, Madrid, 1.1.1779, Biblioteca Del Palacio Real (hereafter BPR), Mss. II/2512 fol.87V. Also see Pérez Esteve (1976) and Cavillac (2002).

16 Novísima Recopilación, Libro VII, titulo 22 and título 39.

17 These orders were mentioned in a cédula of November 11, 1692 in Archivo de la Chancillería de Valladolid (hereafter ACV), SA, Ced/Prg. C.8-66. The literature on anti-Roma legislation in Spain is extremely abundant. Some of the most important titles are: Sánchez Ortega (1976, 1977), Leblon (1985, 1986) and Peñafiel (1985). Anti-Roma perceptions were also mentioned by Herrero García (1996, 641-655) and García Martínez (1976). Also see Herzog (2003, 128-133).

18 Pragmática of June 12, 1695 in ACV, SA, Ced/Prg. C.8-88.

19 Pragmáticas of January 14, 1717; October 1, 1726; October 30, 1745; July 19, 1746; October 28, 1749; and February 28, 1784, citing that of September 19, 1783 in ACV, SA, Ced/Prg. C.10-88; C.10-139; C.12-8; C.12-18; and C.12-53 and in Archivo General de Simancas (hereafter AGS), Gracia y Justicia (hereafter GJ) 1004, respectively. Many of these pragmáticas were reproduced in the Novísima Recopilación, libro 12, titulo 16. AGS, GJ 1005 and 1006 include additional information about the prosecution of the Roma.

20 Chapter 1 of the pragmática of September 19, 1783, cited in the pragmática of February 28, 1784 in AGS, GJ 1004.

21 Pragmática of July 19, 1746 in ACV, SA, Ced/Prg C.12-18. Sancho de Moncada (1619) cited by Borrow (1924, 98-106), expressed similar opinions. Leblon (1985, 226-227, 229-231) includes the contemporary debate.

22 This was a pan-European phenomenon: Toubert (1973), Reynolds (1984), Fossier (1992), and Hubert (2002).

23 See Martín Rodríguez (1984), Palacio Atard (1989), Oliveras Smitier (1998), and Helguera Quijada (1995).

24 According to contemporary dictionaries, “despoblado” was a solitary place, with no village or inhabitants (“un lugar solitario, donde no hay pueblo ni habitación de gente): Covarrubias y Orozco (1995, 419) or “a desert, abandoned or a place that is not populated” (“usado como sustantivo se toma por desierto, yermo o sitio que no está poblado”): Real Academia Española (1990, 221).

25 The case of Martín Hernando, discussed in Archivo Histórico Nacional (hereafter AHN), Consejos 4057 and the allegations of Cayo Joseph López, vecino of Zafra in 1793, AHN, Consejos 4060, fols. 27R-30R. In RCV, Pérez Alonso (Olvidados) 415/1, Miguel de Jesús María Ochoa is identified as “cura propio” of the “despoblado of Castronuevo” (Ávila). ACV, Pérez Alonso (Olvidados) 1247/11, reproduces a discussion over the allocation of an ecclesiastical rent in the despoblado of San Pedro de Villalonga (León) in 1776. According to ACV, Alonso Rodríguez (Depósito) 0642/2, in the despoblado of Duruelo there was a convent in which daily mass and occasional processions were celebrated and the residents paid local taxes.

26 Vincente Bello in the 1792 discussion of the resettlement of Villa de San Martín de Caldillo, AHN, Consejos 4090, fols. 9r.

27 ACV, Alonso Rodríguez (Depósito) 0642/2, RCV, Pérez Alonso (Fenecidos) 3225/3, RCV, Pérez Alonso (Olvidados) 680/2 and ACV, Alonso Rodríguez (Olvidados) 1019/5.

28 Letter of Bartolomé González Póveda, president of the audiencia de Charcas dated 30.11.1679, in “Expediente sobre la mudanza de la ciudad de San Juan de Vera, valle de Londres (Tucumán) a Catamarca, 30.11.1679-27.9.1681”, AGI, Charcas 23, r.7, v.71, no.1, fol. 1v. This case is also mentioned in Musset (2002, 271-273).

29 The insistence that “urbanism” was present even when the actual settlement was insignificant was also mentioned in Rama (1984, 15).

30 AGI, Quito 215, no.3, fol. 231v. The governor seconded his description: Cédula al presidente de Quito para que informe sobre la proposición del gobernador de Popayán Jerónimo de Berrio de suprimir algunas ciudades por tener poca población, February 16, 1688, AGI, Quito 210, L.5, fols. 243v-246r.

31 The president of the audiencia of Chile, Ambrosio O’Higgins Vallenar, on January 13, 1796, AGI, Chile 316.

32 See Herzog (2003, 61-62), Saito and Rosas Lauro (2017, 24-25), Diez Hurtado (2017, 273), and Zuloaga Rada (2017, 323-339).

33 Antonio Ladrón de Guevara, “Noticias de los poblados de que se componen el Nuevo Reino de León… despoblados que hay en sus cercanías y los indios que habitan y causa de los pocos o ningunos aumentos”, [1739], BPR. Mss. II/2837, fols. 110r-136r, see most particularly fols. 111r and v.

34 Instrucción a Nicolás de Ovando, March 29 and 30, 1503, reproduced in Solano (1996, 24-26) and Viceroy Velasco on several occasions, as quoted in Gerhard (1977, 352, 357).

35 Viceroy Toledo, cited in Durston (1999/2000, 83) and “Memorial que el racionero Villaroel dio al señor virrey Don Francisco de Toledo”, cited in Coello de la Rosa (2001, 170). On these issues also see Zuloaga Rada (2017, 309, note 2).

36 Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, cited in Tomichá Charupá (2017, 481).

37 “Relación de la provincia del Darién la forma de su conquista…” undated manuscript, inserted in “Expediente sobre el resguardo fortificación y poblamiento de las provincias del Darién y Tierra firme 1683-1694”, AGI, Panamá 99. Also see Solano (1976, 13, 53-54), Castañeda Salamanca (2002, 13-14), and Markman (1972, 194).

38 Fray Alfonso de la Peña Montenegro in Itinerario de párroco de indios, cited in Ortiz Crespo and Terán Najas (1993, 205-206).

39 AGI, EC 339B.

40 Consulta dated December 5, 1724, AGI, Quito 103, fols. 680r-722r.

41 Letter of the Colegio Apostólico de San Fernando Extramuros de la Ciudad de México, November 12, 1749, AGI, México 691, No.1.

42 Report of the auditor general de guerra marquis of Altamira dated August 27, 1746 in “Expediente sobre la población y pacificación de la costa del Seno Mexicano, años de 1736 al 1750”, AGI, México 690, No. 11, fols. 12r-54v, fol. 18r-18v.

43 Santiago Riofrío in AGI, Quito 401, fols. 20r-20v and Góngora (1966, 28).

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Tamar Herzog, « Indigenous Reducciones and Spanish Resettlement: Placing Colonial and European History in Dialogue », Ler História, 72 | 2018, 9-30.

Referência eletrónica

Tamar Herzog, « Indigenous Reducciones and Spanish Resettlement: Placing Colonial and European History in Dialogue », Ler História [Online], 72 | 2018, posto online no dia 26 junho 2018, consultado no dia 20 julho 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lerhistoria/3146 ; DOI : 10.4000/lerhistoria.3146

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