Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Black Legend

On the 4th of July it makes an interesting contrast to see how the Catholic country of Spain, ruled by Queen Isabella colonized what is now the United States and South America and how the English governed their settlements.

From this essay that appeared in Free Republic:

For almost 500 years there has been a campaign of defamation against the legacy of Spain in America. It is sad to find that this lack of historical perspective, along with an entrenched Hispanophobia, has been going on for centuries in the Anglo-Saxon countries and consequently has brought about a subconscious, almost automatic, rejection of Hispanic values. According to historian Dr. Powell: “Jaundiced views of the Hispanic world are taught very early in our schools and they are thoroughly inculcated by the time we enter college and university...The standard simplistic version of Spanish rule in America as a slavocracy, filled with tyranny, looting, bleeding taxation, and suffocating obscurantism, does not conform to the facts.” (1) (*) This attitude, based upon prejudices and ignorance, is damaging the image of the Hispanics in this country. Sometimes the Hispanics themselves, either by action or omission or simply because they were not aware of the truth of their history, have contributed to demean their own heritage.

Dr. Philip Wayne Powell, Emeritus Professor of history at the University of California, in his research on the "Black Legend" titled the “Tree of Hate” , (a book that every Hispanist should read) asserts that the study of 16th century Europe clearly reveals the universal pattern of cruelty, intolerance, and inhumanity which characterized the social, religious, and economic life throughout the continent...Examples of this were the reigns of Elizabeth I of England and her successor James I which were known for their most barbarous cruelty. However, Dr. Powell affirms "that the Spain of the conquest period was a deeply civilized nation by all discernible European standards of that day, ...In jurisprudence, diplomacy, monarchical, religious and imperial concepts, and total culture, Spain was a European leader throughout the sixteen century and in much of the next.” (2) (*)

To Summarize some of Spain's Accomplishments:

-Queen Isabella the Catholic took the Indians under her protectsion considering them subjects of the Spanish Crown.

-Fr. Bartolome de Las Casas, the Protector of the Indian and the first prophet of human rights in America.

- Pope Paul III declared that the Indian should not be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, eventhough they were outside the faith of Jesus Christ.

- The University of Salamanca and the College of San Gregorio of Valldolid, recognized the Indian's rights to keep their own laws and territories.

- Emperor Charles V (grandson to Isabella) reaffrimed the prohibition of the Indian's slavery.

1 comment:

hilary said...


Can we please please have a moratorium on any new "'ophobias"?

It is becoming one of those annoying journalistic cliched bits of shorthand that assumes a great deal of agreement where in fact little agreement exists.