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Colonial History is about Conquest . . . This is colonial history!
on September 1, 2008
While I appreciate the comment about being frustrated, how can one possibly look at colonial history without talking about conquest and domination and killing Indian people (Sadly, this is almost a definition of colonial history)?
The purpose of a colony, especially a mercantilist colony (which Spain, England, France, and Russia were, incidentally) is that the colony survives for the benefit of the mother country.
But, unlike the English and French regions, Spaniards had to have contracts from the king to settle or explore, as Kessell makes very clear, and had to abide by over 8,000 rules and regulations about the Indies. No other European colony had accountability like the Spanish. This book is far from Black Legend (I have some suggestions for that).
Colonial history is about conquest, domination (how else do you turn something into a colony?), control, exploitation (some worse than others), but they all had to follow the regulations set up in the Recopilacion de las leyes de las Indias==and even Onate was found guilty of using excessive force against the Acoma Pueblos, living immorally, executing two of his own colonists (and more--, even though he eventually got exonerated by King Philip IV).
While this book delves into COLONIAL history from a Spanish perspective, it is about as balanced as one can get. My only complaint is also a compliment--Kessell is an amazing storyteller (the way history should be), but sometimes the storytelling gets the reader off track and it's hard to come back to the flow of the chapter.
Good on ya, Kessell. Great book!