Spanish-American Society in New Spain

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The Spanish-American society in New Spain was very difficult to understand. New Spain was originally known as the Viceroyalty of New Spain. New Spain was Spain’s colonial empire in North America. Mexico City was the capitol of New Spain. Mexico City was known as Tenochtillan when the area was controlled by the Aztecs. The Spanish conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521 which included a large portion of North America. The Aztec Empire included land south of Canada and west of the Mississippi River. It also included Mexico, Central America excluding Panama and it also included Florida.

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New Spain also included the Spanish East Indies (Philippine islands, Guam, the Caroline Islands, and Taiwan, Sabah, and parts of the Moluccas) and the Spanish West Indies (Cuba, Hispaniola with Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Trinidad and the Bay Islands.)

Few women went with the Spanish men to the Caribbean and America in the 16th century. This caused intermixing of the Spanish and the natives. The Spanish men started living with the native women. At first the native women were mistresses and they later became wives.

The Spanish Crown wanted to have a social network that would protect the Spanish Marriage. They forbid married men to travel to the New World unless they took their wives. If they went without their wives they had to send for them in 2 years. This Spanish-American social policy failed.

Spain wanted to colonize the New World so they decided to allow Spanish men to marry native women. They decided this might make the men settle in certain regions. The Catholic Church did not oppose these marriages because they hoped they would convert the natives to Christianity.

The Spanish men usually just lived with the native women. Some did marry native women from noble families. These marriages helped the Spanish society in the Americas. It helped create an empire for Spain without any army to protect it. It promoted loyalty between the native nobility and the Spanish. Everyone lived by the Spanish ways and Spanish culture.

The growing Spanish society developed a caste system and at the top was the Spaniards born in Spain. Next in line were people born in Mexico of Spanish parents. They could be landowners and merchants. The natives worked on the farms, ranches, mines and in other jobs and they basically had no rights.

The Spanish-American society did not work out to well for the natives. The natives did all the work and they were not considered much better than slaves.

Article sources:
http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1562-mexico-s-colonial-era-part-2
http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/New_Spain
http://www.pos.org/kcet/wen-worlds-collide/essays/social-in-order-in-spanish-new-world…
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Spanish-American Society in New Spain, Seekyt
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.