Most people have heard that of the cruel manner of which the natives of the New World were treated by Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards, but what you may not have heard of was the organized manner in which this occurred. Christopher Columbus came to the New World, in 1492, to complete three main objectives, which I have creatively classified as: God, Gold, and Glory. (Creatively is italicized due to sarcasm, apparently not everyone got this…) His intentions were to spread Catholicism, bring back fortunes in gold and other valuables for the country of Spain, and to gain glory both for himself and Spain. When Columbus arrived to the New World, one of his first tasks was the conversion of these heathens in the Christian religion. We are all aware that Columbus believed that he has landed of the coast of the East Indies, so logically he named the people of this New World, Indians. He also believed these “Indians” to be cannibalistic and that was his original rationalization for the immediate need to convert the savages. While he was mildly successful in the conversion of the natives to the Catholic religion, it was after his death that Spain implemented their own sick and twisted conquest. It it important to understand that during the time of Columbus’ landing in the New World, the Spanish population of Granada had been at war with the Moors in a long, religious battle, Muslim vs. Catholics. Spain, having successfully used the medieval doctrine of “just war” to vanquish the Moors, decided that it would acceptable to use this on the New Worlds’ current natives.
While numerous laws any many ordinances were passed to control the abuse, mistreatment, and exploitation of the inhabitants of the New World, none could withstand or repel the effects of the mighty Spanish Requirement of 1513. The Spanish Requirement of 1513 was a document and declaration which divinely ordained the right to colonize the territories of the New World by force, if necessary, in the name of the Catholic Church. This document was prepared by Spanish jurist Juan Lopez Palacios Rubio. (Jurist does not have the same definition in Europe as it does here. This is a term referring to someone working within the legal system: judge, lawyer, etc.) The Spanish Requirement was intended to remove confusion from the natives. It was believed that the two reasons that the natives did not convert and cooperate was due to malice or stupidity. The Spanish Requirement was read to new societies upon first encounter to “inform” them of the Spaniard’s intentions.
While one might argue that the Spanish Requirement of 1513 was for the Indians, to notify them of their option–Yes, I intentionally left off the s, there were no options! It was really just a simple–give up, convert, or we will kill you. I think that most historians would agree that this was established as an absolution for Spain, to help them sleep at night after slaughtering hundreds “for God.” It was said that the Spanish Requirement was often read in Spanish, without a translator present. That readings were often read strategically before a planned assault on villages. I believe that the intentions of the Spanish Requirement of 1513 was always of evil and served not for religious purposes, but to further greed and corruption.
Below is one version of the Spanish Requirement of 1513, but here is my breakdown.
God created man….God directed St. Peter to establish the Roman Catholic Church….the Pope, St. Peter’s descendant, gave the King of Spain the New World and instructions to convert the Indians….the Indians should listen and accept the religion….or else Spain will make war!
On the part of the King, Don Fernando, and of Doña Juana, his daughter, Queen of Castile and León, subduers of the barbarous nations, we their servants notify and make known to you, as best we can, that the Lord our God, living and eternal, created the heaven and the earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and we, and all the men of the world, were and are all descendants, and all those who come after us.
Of all these nations God our Lord gave charge to one man, called St. Peter, that he should be lord and superior of all the men in the world, that all should obey him, and that he should be the head of the whole human race, wherever men should live, and under whatever law, sect, or belief they should be; and he gave him the world for his kingdom and jurisdiction.
One of these pontiffs, who succeeded St. Peter as lord of the world in the dignity and seat which I have before mentioned, made donation of these isles and Terra-firma to the aforesaid King and Queen and to their successors, our lords, with all that there are in these territories,
Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the ruler and superior of the whole world,
But if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their highnesses; we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him: and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us .