The women of Colonial Latin America The women of Colonial Latin America faced an epidemic unlike any other, Men. Since the men had come to Latin America for conquest they did not bring their women with them. The men battled plagues, natives, weather and each other. Most of them died, the ones that survived looked to the Indian native women for wives. Indian women had limited say in their arrangement with men; though the law attempted to provide a safe haven for them they were unsuccessful on many fronts. These women lived a hard life, seen through the eyes of modern society.
To them however, marriage was a stepping stone in a class system they came to accept. Few European women came to Latin America, and a mixing of the races, therefore, was common. By the end of the colonial period people of mixed blood, called mestizos (people of mixed Native American and European ancestry) and mulattoes (people of mixed black and white ancestry), formed the majority in many Latin American colonies. These variations in race and culture contributed to the diversity that has since characterized the region. (Encarta) Despite cultural variations, remarkably similar social structures developed throughout the region. A tiny corps of royal officials governed the colonies in collaboration with the clergy and a slightly larger class of landholders and merchants. These European and American-born families and bureaucrats dominated the Native Americans, blacks, and people of mixed race, who formed the majority of the population.
This is an Essay that I wrote for World History Research* Throughout history there were many countries exploited by means of invasion. During the age of colonization, Europeans imposed many things on the Latin American territory that have had an extensive, disturbing effect on the indigenous community. Europeans invaded and controlled much of South America and the Caribbean islands by means of ...
Colonial Europeans had more control in Latin America then they possessed back in Europe. The father had the legal authority over the family. A wife had few legal rights, if any. Children were kept physically under father’s thumb; the family was a very strong unit and included more than the nuclear family. Over time, there was a reduction of restraints which led to the eventual mixing of the races. The existence of Indians and Negroes caused a demoralization of upper classes.
There was a two class system. There was an upper class and everybody else. Women could be raised in the class by marriage but men could not. The class system was more of a caste system when men were concerned. Many women viewed marriage as a means to move higher up in the class. The higher in the class, the more control you had over lower, more mixed groups and individuals.
There were different kinds of divisions in lower class. There was discrimination on racial lines, as well as occupational and matrimonial discrimination. Racial tension was common. The Crown went to legislative trouble to protect Indian women. It first tried to prohibit marriage but failed. Then it allowed licit unions because Spanish men wanted legal heirs and because marriage aided conversions to Christianity. Thus, it legalized miscegenation. Encomienda could be inherited by women by marriage.
For others, marriage was necessary to hold office, gain wealth, have offspring etc. The 1540’s Indian rebellion in Yucatan was a revolution against the way the Indian women were treated by the Spanish. Mestizaje, the mixture of indios and Spanish, began immediately as conquerors began fornicating with Indian women. It was not until the mid-16th century that the Crown saw the ever-larger mestizo population as a problem and began to restrict what mestizos could do. This was built into the class system. The women were expected to do house work and look after the young.
They lived rugged lived, and bared many troubles. The rich amongst them can afford luxuries. The lower class can rarely afford new shoes. The richer sorts of them wear bracelets and bobs about their waists and necks; their hair is gathered up with fillets. When they go to church or abroad, they put upon their heads a veil of linen, which hangs almost to the ground, which is the most expensive article of clothing they wore. The poor barely covered them selves appropriately.
Where did all those romantic fellas go? With all that can be, all that is within us, romance lives forever! So why not take advantage of it. Did you ever look around and wonder why a woman will chose another man over you? Maybe you are more handsome, intelligent, richer and so much more than that other plain fellow what's his name. But he's romantic and obviously knows how to treat a woman and ...
Such a difference between the upper class and lower class embedded itself in the every day lives of the people of colonial Latin America. When they poor were inside their homes hard at work they commonly take off their surplice, discovering the nakedness of their breasts and body. They lie also in their beds as do their husbands, wrapped up only with a mantle, or with a blanket. Their houses are but poor thatched cottages, without any upper rooms, but commonly one or two only rooms below. The poorer sorts have but one room, where they eat, cook, and sleep. Few set any locks upon their doors, for they fear no robbing nor stealing, neither have they in their houses much to lose, earthen pots, pans, dishes, and cups being the chief commodities in their house. There is scarce any house which hath not also in the yard a stew, wherein they bathe themselves with hot water, which is their chief physic when they feel themselves distempered. Their living standards were not the only hardships they faced.
When the conquerors came they brought with them no serious infectious diseases which were transferable to Europeans or Africans except, perhaps syphilis, but the Natives to Latin America had no immunity to African and European diseases. Because of this, there was a demographic disaster in the Americas. Microbes, not humans, conquered the New World (historicaltext).
Faith in established institutions and beliefs cannot easily withstand such disaster. Skills and knowledge disappear. There was wholesale demoralization and simple surrender of will. There was devastation from many epidemics, Smallpox in 1518.
Measles in from 1530-31, Typhus may have come by 1546, and there was an influenza epidemic from 1558-59. Acquiescence to Spanish “superiority” was seen as the only possible response. Many native men and women died, those that survived were placed in servitude, some used for entertainment, some for work. This was considered a common practice of the time by conquerors. The women of Colonial Latin America faced and endured many hardships, from plagues, to poverty, the oppression of a social class to the vile instincts of man. Those that survived the war and disease were placed in a life of servitude. Some that were fortunate enough to wed a Spaniard were moved up to a small extent to the level of being declared human.
The role of women in learning and education underwent a gradual change in the Afro-Eurasian world and the Americas between the 11 th and 15 th centuries. As societies in Africa, Middle East, India, China, Europe, and America grew more complex they created new rights and new restrictions for women. In all regions of the world but the Middle East, society allowed women to maintain education in order ...
Through these testaments, the women of that time have set their story in stone over the years. Their lives are still lived through the words of the authors of today. Work cited Encarta,Microsoft, 2005 Historicaltext,Donald J. Mabry, 2001 .