Confronting American Peoples

A mosaic of peoples

If the America encountered by the Spaniards and the English consisted of a multiplicity of micro-worlds, each with its own geographical and climatic characteristics, the same was no less true of the peoples that inhabited it. Something of this diversity became apparent to Columbus as he reconnoitred the Caribbean islands, although in his effort to make this strange new world comprehensible to himself and his fellow Europeans, he ignored or failed to detect many of the social, political and linguistic differences among the peoples he encountered, and simply divided them into two contrasting groups, the Tainos or Arawaks, and the ferocious, man-eating Caribs who preyed upon them.' Living in villages and grouped into five major polities under chieftains who left a permanent legacy to western cultures in the word cacique,2 the Tainos of Hispaniola presented a series of puzzles to the Spaniards, that were still far from being resolved when the polities disintegrated and the people died out. Had they ever heard of the Christian gospel, and if not, why not? Why were they naked, and yet apparently unashamed? Were they, as first appearances suggested, innocent beings, prelapsarian men and women who had somehow escaped the fall? What god, if any, did they worship, and were they ripe for conversion to Christianity, as Columbus assumed? Did they live in stable communities conforming to European notions of policia or civility, or were their lives - as many Spaniards increasingly came to believe - more like those of beasts than of men?

These were the kind of questions that the Spaniards asked as they made their first acquaintance with the peoples of America; and in one form or another they repeated themselves as the invaders moved on from the Antilles to mainland America, where they found themselves faced with a multiplicity of new peoples, new cultures and new languages. On the strength of many years of residence in Hispaniola, Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo decided that what he regarded as the inordinately thick skulls of the Indian inhabitants of his island were indicative of a `bestial and ill-intentioned mind', and he saw no hope of their being able to absorb Christian doctrine.' On the other hand, Cortes had no doubt, on arriving in Mexico, that he had come across peoples of a very different calibre from those of the Antilles, and that this in turn would have important implications for their future prospects as subjects of the Spanish crown: `... we believe that had we interpreters and other people to explain to them the error of their ways and the nature of the True Faith, many of them, and perhaps even all, would soon renounce their false beliefs and come to the true knowledge of God; for they live in a more civilized and reasonable manner than any other people we have seen in these parts up to the present.'4

Although for taxonomic purposes the Spaniards would indiscriminately lump all the peoples of America together under the name of Indians - a practice that would he continued by the English colonists - they were well aware of their cultural and ethnic diversity. Given the linguistic problems they encountered on their arrival on the mainland, this could hardly be otherwise. On his march into the interior of Mexico, Cortes was exceptionally fortunate to have the linguistic services of a compatriot, Jeronimo de Aguilar, whose eight years of captivity in Yucatan had made him fluent in Chontal Maya, and of Dona Marina - the famous Malinche - who had lived much of her life among the Maya, but whose first language was the Nahuatl of the Mexica. Cortes was thus able to make contact with the world of the Mexica through the Mayan language that, by force of circumstance, Malinche and Aguilar spoke in common. Even then there were formidable difficulties, since Nahuatl, although increasingly dominant, was only one among the languages of Mexico, and Malinche herself spoke a dialect from the southern part of Montezuma's empire.' The English in North America encountered a similar linguistic diversity, as John Smith noted in his Description of Virginia: `Amongst those people are thus many several nations of sundry languages, that environ Powhatan's territories ... All those not any one under- standeth another but by interpreters.'6 Lacking the benefit of a Jeronimo de Aguilar to help them communicate with the Indians, the Jamestown colonists exchanged the thirteen-year-old Thomas Savage for a trusted servant of Powhatan, and the boy soon learnt enough of the Algonquian spoken by the Powhatans to act as an interpreter.'

Europeans themselves - least of all the inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula - were no strangers to linguistic and cultural diversity. Cortes acknowledged as much when the captive Montezuma embarrassingly asked him about the identity of the hostile army commanded by Panfilo de Narvaez which had landed on the Mexican coast on the orders of Diego Velazquez to bring Cortes and his men to heel. He explained that `as our Emperor has many kingdoms and lordships, there is a great diversity of peoples in them, some of them very brave and others even braver. We ourselves come from Old Castile, and are called Castilians, and that captain in Cempoala and the people with him are from another province, called Vizcaya. These are called Vizcayans, and they speak like the Otomis, near Mexico. . .'8

Otomis or Basques, Castilians or Mexica - they were all examples of the infinite diversity of the human race. But the Americas presented the Europeans, and in the first instance the Spaniards, with such a broad range of cultural and social differences as to stimulate intense curiosity about the reasons for this diversity and provoke considerable speculation about the stages of development of the peoples of the world.9 Nothing in his years in the Antilles had prepared Cortes for the sophistication of the civilization he found on reaching Mexico. Here were great cities and ordered polities, which bore comparison with those of Christendom: `... these people live almost like those in Spain, and in as much harmony and order as there, and considering that they are barbarous and so far from the knowledge of God and cut off from all civilized nations, it is truly remarkable to see what they have achieved in all things."0 The empire of the Incas was to evoke similarly admiring responses from sympathetic Spanish observers. `It is almost incredible', wrote Agustin de Zarate, `that a barbarous and unlettered people could have been ruled in so orderly a way."

Although the Spanish discovery of the Aztec and Inca empires brought into question conventional European notions of barbarism by showing that peoples without the benefits of Christianity, or even of writing, could in some respects at least attain to European levels of civility," it gradually became apparent that few if any other parts of the continent contained polities of comparable scale and sophistication. The first Spanish sightings of the Maya world of Yucatan suggested a high level of civilization, but the Spaniards remained baffled by the political and social complexity of a peninsula divided into eighteen or more distinctive polities which warred with each other and displayed very varying degrees of internal unity. This lack of cohesion was to make the Spanish conquest of Yucatan a slow and dispiriting process, spanning two generations and not finally completed until the subjugation of the Itza kingdom of Peten in 1697.13 A similar lack of cohesion was to be found among the settled agricultural communities of what is now northern Colombia, although the numerous chiefdoms may have been on the way to some form of unification when Jimenez de Quesada and his men advanced up the Magdalena valley in 1536 to establish what would come to be called the kingdom of New Granada. But the Muisca, unlike the Maya, were a pacific people who offered no resistance.14 In other regions, however, the Spaniards encountered peoples of a very different temper - in particular the Araucanian Indians of Chile, who would fight them to a standstill, and the hunter-gathering Chichimeca tribes of northern Mexico who, as seen by Spaniards, fully conformed to the traditional European image of a barbarous people. The Chichimecs lived, according to the sixteenth-century Spanish doctor Juan de Cardenas, `like brute savages'."

North America, like central and southern America, contained a multiplicity of tribal and linguistic groups, perhaps some five hundred in all.16 Of these, only the stratified society of the Natchez Indians of the Lower Mississippi and the Algonquian-speaking `empire' of Powhatan could stand any form of comparison with the centrally directed polities ruled by Montezuma and Atahualpa,l' while the absence from the lands first settled by the English of cities like those which so impressed the Spaniards made it less likely that these North American peoples would break free from the European stereotype of the barbarian and the savage. Captain John Smith, in a fine display of the semantic confusion generated by the European encounter with the inhabitants of the New World, compared the success of Cortes and `scarce three hundred Spaniards' in conquering Tenochtitlan, `where thousands of Salvages dwelled in strong houses', with the failure of the English colonists to subdue the tribes of tidewater Virginia. The reasons, he appeared to think, lay partly in the failure of the English to organize a welldisciplined force like that of Cortes, but also in the disparities between the peoples with whom they were confronted. The thousands of Mexican `Salvages', he noted, `were a civilized people' with houses and wealth, whereas the indigenous inhabitants of Virginia were `mere Barbarians as wild as beasts'.18

However awkwardly expressed, Smith's contrast between the indigenous peoples encountered by the Spaniards in central Mexico and those upon whose lives the English intruded in the Chesapeake, points to major differences in the character and outcome of the military confrontations that opened the way to imperial rule. The superiority of European military technology, with its weapons of steel and its gunpowder, gave the invaders a critical edge over peoples whose arms were limited to bows and arrows, slings and stones, axes, clubs and wooden swords, even when, as among the Mexica, these were made especially lethal by the addition of razor-sharp obsidian flakes.19 Firearms may have been slow and cumbersome, and gunpowder easily affected by humid conditions, but the slender steel blades of their Toledo swords gave the Spaniards a powerful advantage in close combat. Initially, too, their superiority was magnified by the psychological impact of the surprise created by guns and horses - `deer ... as tall as the roof', as the Mexica described them.20 But the surprise would wear off, and, as the dogged resistance of Tenochtitlan and Manco Inca's rebellion of 1536 would show, the indigenous opponents of the invaders soon learnt to evolve responses that reduced the impact of a European weaponry not always well adapted to American conditions.

Yet, as Smith hinted, the very fact that the Mexican `Salvages' were `a civilized people' was to play into the hands of the Spaniards. The imperial structures organized by the Mexica and the Incas, with their concentration of power at a central point, made them vulnerable to a European take-over in ways that the looser tribal groupings of Yucatan or North America were not. Seize the supreme figure of authority and the mechanisms of imperial power were thrown into disarray, as Cortes and Pizarro demonstrated. Once final victory was secured - thanks in large part to the assistance of peoples who had chafed at Mexica or Inca domination - it was relatively easy to revive the old lines of command and replace one set of masters with another. The Spaniards thus found themselves in a position of authority over vast populations, which were accustomed to paying tribute and to receiving orders from an imperial centre. The conquerors enjoyed the advantage, too, of having been victorious in battle, thus demonstrating the superiority of their own deity in a cosmic order in which the winners dictated the hierarchy of the gods. Faced, therefore, by peoples who either resigned themselves to defeat or regarded the Spanish victory as a liberation from Mexica or Inca repression, the conquerors were well placed to consolidate their domination over the heartlands of the empires they had won.

Nomadic peoples, on the other hand, presented the Europeans with military problems of a very different order. So too did the relatively loose groupings of tribes without permanently fixed points of settlement, like those that faced the Spaniards in other parts of central and southern America and the English to the north. It was not difficult to play off one tribe against another, but the very fluidity of tribal relationships meant that successes were liable to be temporary, as alliances shifted and tribes regrouped. Initial hopes of peaceful coexistence were all too easily blighted by European greed for land or gold, and by mutual misunderstandings between peoples who still had to take each other's measure. After conquering central Mexico, the Spaniards had high hopes of finding new riches far to the north - hopes that would fade with the failure of Coronado's expedition deep into the interior of North America in 1540-2. The passage of Coronado's men, like that of De Soto's expedition of 1539-43 into the North American south-east, was marked by armed clashes with the Zuni and other peoples on whose territories they encroached.2' Mutual incomprehension clouded attempts at dialogue, even in those regions where reports of the brutality of the Spaniards had not preceded their arrival.

If the North American interior was for a long time expendable for the Spaniards, north-western Mexico was not. Here, in the border areas between the sedentary peoples of central Mexico and the nomadic tribes of the north, Beltran Nuno de Guzman had savagely carved out a new kingdom, New Galicia, in the early 1530s. The behaviour of the Spaniards provoked an Indian uprising, the Mixton War of 1541-2, which shook the newly created viceroyalty of New Spain to its foundations. Once the revolt was suppressed, strategies had to be devised for incorporating these border peoples, and for defending the Spanish settlements that were beginning to spring up, as land was distributed to encomenderos and the friars began arriving. Problems of defence were compounded as the discovery of the first silver deposits at Zacatecas in 1546 precipitated a rush of miners and ranchers into lands populated by the nomadic Chichimeca peoples, who had never been subject to Mexica domination. In the following decades the protection of the mining towns and the Camino Real - the silver route which linked the mines of New Galicia to Mexico City - would become a high priority for successive viceroys.

Their attempts during the second half of the sixteenth century to deal with the Chichimeca problem vividly illustrate the difficulties that faced Spaniards and English alike on the fringes of empire.22 An obvious and immediate response was to build a string of forts - presidios as the Spaniards called them. In the same way, the colonists of Virginia would build Forts Royal, Charles and Henry in the aftermath of the `massacre' of 1644.23 But the garrisoning of forts had important implications for colonial life. Encomenderos had an obligation to provide for the defence of regions in which they held their encomiendas, and initially in New Galicia a few powerful encomenderos were responsible for the defence of the bor- derlands.24 But once presidios were built, they needed permanent garrisons, and this in turn pointed to the need for a professional soldiery. From the 1560s, when bands of Chichimec warriors began intensively raiding Spanish towns, a full-scale frontier war was under way, and this war brought into being the first bodies of paid professional soldiers in New Spain, initially most of them creoles.25 But payment imposed strains on the royal treasury in the viceroyalty that the crown was unwilling, or unable, to bear in full. This meant that war, wherever possible, had to be made to pay for itself, and the easiest method was to allow the frontier garrisons to sell their Chichimeca captives as slaves - legitimate treatment, under Europe's rules of `just war', for those who had failed, after due warning, to submit to the authority of the Spanish crown. But, as war was transformed into a lucrative business, so the inducement to bring it to a rapid end diminished. Along the north-western frontier of New Spain, as later on the southern frontiers of Chile in the war against the Araucanian Indians, self-financing warfare guaranteed its own prolongation.26

Given the perceived threat from the Indians among whom they had settled, English colonists, like Spanish colonists, promptly set about organizing themselves for defence, adapting to local needs and conditions the militia system they brought with them from England.27 The establishment of forts and frontier lines in Virginia pointed, as it did in New Spain, to the need to supplement the militia with paid professionals. But this demanded levels of taxation that the planters were reluctant to bear, and during Bacon's rebellion of 1675-6 the rebels sought to adopt the strategy pursued in New Spain and Chile of making war pay for itself by organizing plundering raids into Indian settlements.21

Although the militia system in Virginia seems to have been less effective than its counterpart in New England, where the presence of towns and villages made it possible to concentrate defence, the Chesapeake region had less need of it once the now almost centenarian Opechancanough was captured in 1646. The governor, William Berkeley, planned to send him to England, but the decrepit chief, dignified to the end, was shot in the back by a vengeful militiaman while languishing in gaol. With the acceptance by his successor of a treaty bringing the third Anglo-Powhatan War to an end, the English colony of Virginia effectively supplanted the Powhatan polity of Tsenacommacah. The Powhatans, who agreed to pay the English a tribute of twenty beaver skins a year, were excluded from their homeland between the York and James rivers, and allotted a reservation north of the York river instead. In the following decades, as new immigrants arrived, the English settlement expanded irresistibly, encroaching even on the Powhatan reservation. Although the colonists still found themselves frustratingly dependent on Powhatan and non-Powhatan middlemen in their attempts to trade for furs with the Tuscarooras and Cherokees, in general they had less need of the Indians as the colony became increasingly self-supporting. By contrast, the native Americans were growing steadily more dependent on the supply of European goods, and their dependence discouraged them from risking further confrontations.29

In New England the crushing defeat of the Pequots in the war of 1636-7 seems at first sight comparable in its impact to the defeat of the Powhatan in Virginia, but here, in contrast to the Chesapeake region, the increasing dominance of the settlers and their continuing encroachments on Indian territory led to major tribal realignments which built up formidable possibilities for future resistance. The consequences were felt throughout New England when the Wampanoag chief Metacom ('King Philip') and his allies launched a fierce assault in 1675, and the region was plunged into more than a year of bitter and bloody conflict, with many English settlements put to the torch.30

The variety of Indian responses to the European intrusion - the rapid collapse of the organized empires of the Incas and the Aztecs, the passivity of the Muisca Indians of the kingdom of New Granada, the prolonged resistance of the Chichimeca and the Araucanians, the exasperated bellicosity of the Powhatan and the Wampanoag - makes it clear that tribal traditions and culture were as important in determining the outcome of any confrontation as were the varieties of approach adopted by the Europeans themselves. In the numerous encounters of civilizations on the fringes of European settlement, a pervasive but varied and uneven process of mutual acculturation was under way. All too often in the first instance this involved acculturation to war. The indigenous peoples, at first terrified by European firearms, were soon craving for them, and there was always some settler or trader ready to oblige, like Thomas Morton of Merrymount in the Plymouth Plantation: `... first he taught them how to use them ... And having thus instructed them, he employed some of them to hunt and fowl for him, so as they became far more active in that employment than any of the English, by reason of their swiftness of foot and nimbleness of body ... And here I may take occasion to bewail the mischief that this wicked man began in these parts ... So as the Indians are full of pieces all over, both fowling pieces, muskets, pistols etc.'3'

Transferring to America the legislation used in Granada against the Moors, the Spaniards from the earliest years of settlement prohibited the sale of weapons to the Indians and their holding of firearms - a policy which seems to have been successfully maintained, at least in the heartlands of empire. Nor were Indians allowed to carry swords or ride on horseback.32 The English also legislated against Indian ownership of firearms, but exceptions were made, and it proved impossible to prevent settlers like Morton trading in guns, especially in the border regions.33 Horses, too, were assimilated into the military culture of the indigenous peoples, notably the Araucanians and the Apaches, both of whom chose warfare as a way of life.34 Besides adjusting to European military technology, peoples who had often fought wars primarily to achieve some form of symbolic ascendancy now learnt to fight for land and possessions, just as they also learnt to fight for the purpose of killing. For their part, Europeans had to learn to adapt their fighting methods to meet native tactics of guerrilla warfare - the sudden ambushes, for instance, and the frightening attacks from out of the forests.35 Following the methods used with such success in the conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires, they also turned to Indians to help them in their wars against Indians, pitting one tribe against another, and building up networks of Indian allies. The Spaniards recruited Indian allies along the Chichimec frontier, winning over recently pacified tribes with gifts and privileges, such as exemptions from tribute and the granting of licences for the possession of horses and guns; the Virginians created a buffer zone of friendly Indians; the New Englanders depended on the Mohegans and other friendly tribes as auxiliaries in King Philip's War.36

The most effective of all allies, however, in the imposition of European supremacy was not human but biological - those Old World diseases which the invaders and settlers unwittingly brought with them to the New. Estimates of the total population of the Americas on the eve of the arrival of the first Europeans have varied wildly, from under 20 million to 80 million or more. Of these 20 to 80 million, the North American population constituted between 1 and 2 million in the assessment of minimalist demographic historians, and as many as 18 million in that of the maximalists.37 While the totals will always be a matter of debate, there is no dispute that the arrival of the Europeans brought demographic catastrophe in its train, with losses of around 90 per cent in the century or so following the first contact.38

The degree to which that catastrophe was the result of atrocities committed in the course of conquest and of the subsequent maltreatment and exploitation of the indigenous peoples by the new masters of the land was already a source of fierce discussion among Spanish observers in the age of conquest, and has remained so to this day. Bartolome de Las Casas's Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, first published in Seville in 1552, etched itself into the European consciousness as an unsparing record of the barbarous behaviour of his compatriots, and there were others, equally well informed, to second his words. `The Spaniards', wrote Alonso de Zorita, a judge of the Mexican Audiencia, in his `Brief Relation of the Lords of New Spain', `compelled them to give whatever they asked, and inflicted unheard-of cruelties and tortures upon them.'39 For others, however, the cruelty lay elsewhere. `It is my opinion and that of many who have had dealings with them', wrote Bernardo Vargas Machuca in a refutation of Las Casas, `that to paint cruelty in its full colours, there is no need to do more than portray an Indian.'40

In practice, there was no advantage to the Spaniards in killing off their tribute payers and labour supply, although this did not prevent many of them from flouting the laws introduced by the crown for the protection of the Indians, seizing them on unauthorized (and sometimes authorized) slaving raids which wrenched them out of their own environment, and exploiting them to the limits and beyond. But, as Zorita himself recognized, the Indians were dying out not only because of the `unheard-of cruelties and tortures' that he catalogued, but also because of the `plagues that have affected them', although he ascribed the susceptibility to disease of the Mexican Indians to the demoralization caused by hard labour and the disruption of traditional ways of life.41

There can be no doubting the psychological impact on the indigenous peoples of America of the trauma induced by the sudden destruction of their world. It was reflected, for instance, in the growth of drunkenness among them, a phenomenon noted in the areas of Spanish and English settlement alike.42 Their susceptibility to disease, however, was not simply the result, as Zorita believed, of the demoralization caused by conquest and exploitation. It was above all their previous isolation from Eurasian epidemics that made them so vulnerable to the diseases brought from Europe. These diseases afflicted not only peoples who suffered the trauma of conquest and colonization but also those whose contacts with Europeans were no more than sporadic, or else were mediated through several removes.

Forms of sickness that in Europe were not necessarily lethal brought devastating mortality rates to populations that had not built up the immunity that would enable them to resist. In Mesoamerica the smallpox which ravaged the Mexica defenders of Tenochtitlan in 1520-1 and killed Montezuma's successor, Cuitlahuac, after a few weeks of rule, was followed during the succeeding decades by waves of epidemics, many of them still difficult to identify with certainty: 1531-4, measles; 1545, typhus and pulmonary plague, an epidemic that struck on a horrendous scale; 1550, mumps; 1559-63, measles, influenza, mumps and diphtheria; 1576-80, typhus, smallpox, measles, mumps; 1595, measles. Comparable waves struck the peoples of the Andes, who were stricken by smallpox in the 1520s, well before Pizarro embarked on his conquest of Peru.43 Over the course of a century the decline in the size of the indigenous populations of Mexico and Peru appears to have been of the order of 90 per cent, although there were significant regional and local variations. The highland regions of Peru, for instance, seem to have suffered less than lower-lying areas, and the impact of the epidemics was affected both by the degree of intensity of settlement by Europeans, and by the settlement patterns of indigenous populations, with dispersed settlements 44 being more likely to escape.

Just as the coming of European diseases preceded European settlement in the Andes, so death stalked the Atlantic coast of North America well before the arrival of the English in any large numbers. Already in the sixteenth century sporadic contacts with Europeans had unleashed major epidemics, as when the Spanish ship that was to carry away the young Indian `Don Luis de Velasco' entered the Chesapeake Bay in 1561.45 As the contacts multiplied, so did the sicknesses. There is evidence that the indigenous population of Virginia was in decline before the founding of Jamestown in 1607, and major epidemics are reported for 1612-13 and 1616-17 in the region soon to be called New England, where the Patuxets were simply wiped oUt.46 As a result, the English found themselves settling in a land that was already partially depopulated. Although this was disappointing in so far as it reduced the chances of their finding an adequate supply of native labour, it also had its advantages, as some of the settlers appreciated. Captain John Smith remarked that `it is much better to help to plant a country than implant it and then replant it', as, in his view, the Spaniards had done, killing off their Indians and then finding it necessary to import African slaves to replace them. `But their Indians', he continued, `were in such multitudes, the Spaniards had no other remedy; and ours such a few, and so dispersed, it were nothing in a short time to bring them to labour and obedience.'47

This was a somewhat optimistic assessment, especially coming from one of the founders of a colony that failed signally to bring its Indians `to labour and obedience', and would soon be importing large numbers of Africans to make good the deficiency. But the relative sparsity of the Indian presence along the North Atlantic coast did much to smooth the path for the first English settlers, and enabled them to `plant a country' on new foundations in ways that were impossible for the conquerors of Mexico and Peru. John Winthrop put it succinctly in a letter of 1634 to Sir Nathaniel Rich: `... For the natives, they are all near dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess. 141 In reality the intervention of providence did not solve the `Indian question' to quite the degree that the earlier English settlers liked to think. But it made it a different kind of question, in character and scale, from that which faced Spanish settlers who found themselves the masters of multitudes - if shrinking multitudes - of vanquished Indians.

Christianity and civility

While the Spaniards, unlike the English, had effective dominion over large numbers of Indians, the English saw their mission in America in the same terms as the Spaniards - as one of `reducing the savage people to Christianity and civility', in Christopher Carleill's words of 1583.49 In this context to `reduce' (in Spanish, reducir) meant in the vocabulary of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries not to level down,50 but to bring back or restore, and in particular to restore by persuasion or argument. `To be reduced is to be convinced', according to the definition of the word in Sebastian de Covarrubias's Castilian dictionary of 1611.51 These were peoples who had to be converted to a knowledge and understanding of the true faith, ideally by persuasion, but, as some argued, by compulsion if necessary, for had not Christ commanded: `compel them to come in 'j52

If the commitment to conversion was paramount, the reduction to `civility' was to prove a great deal more problematical. What constituted a `civilized' being, and in what respects did the peoples of America fail to meet the necessary criteria? Smith's description of the `savages' of Tenochtitlan as `a civilized people"' suggests something of the confusion in European minds as they came into contact with peoples whose customs were so different from their own. If it soon became apparent that levels of civilization, as defined by Europeans, varied enormously from one Amerindian people to another, it still remained to be decided how far those at the top of the scale, in Mesoamerica and the Andes, conformed to the necessary standards of civility, and how far their new masters should intervene to correct their failings.

Since this was a problem that first confronted the Spaniards, it is not surprising that both Spanish America and Spain itself should have been wracked by a series of highly charged debates about the character and aptitudes of the Indians. The Spaniards, by reason of their priority, were forced to be pioneers, evolving by trial and error a set of policies and practices that would determine the extent to which the peoples under their domination were to be `reduced' to European norms of behaviour.54 The novelty of the challenge, and the sheer scale of the obligation imposed on them by the Alexandrine bulls to bring these unknown peoples to the faith, forced the Spanish authorities in church and state to develop what was in effect a programme for conversion - a programme that would slide by sometimes imperceptible stages into widespread hispanicization. In terms both of a programmatic approach and of a systematic effort to implement it, the English colonization of North America would show nothing comparable.

The intensity of the Spanish effort to convert the peoples of the New World to Christianity is only comprehensible in the context of the spiritual preoccupations of late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Christendom, and particularly those of the Iberian peninsula. The hunger for spiritual regeneration and renewal among sections of both the church and the laity unleashed a great movement for reform, which already by the end of the fifteenth century had made a profound impact on European civilization. The reform movement often possessed millenarian and apocalyptic overtones, especially in Spain, where the completion of the Reconquista created its own climate of spiritual euphoria. The defeat of Islam, the conquest of Jerusalem, the conversion of the world, which was regarded as a prelude to its ending - all these hopes and expectations were conjoined in the obsessive mentality of Columbus and inspired many of those with whom he came into contact, including Ferdinand and Isabella themselves." In 1492 Columbus in effect launched Spain and its monarchs on a world-wide messianic mission, although the nature of the mission makes it strange that, while the expedition included an interpreter, there was no priest on board. This deficiency was remedied on his 1493 voyage, when he took with him a Benedictine, three Franciscans, and a Catalan Hieronymite, Ramon Pane, whose experiences on Hispaniola led him to write the first in the great series of ethnographical treatises on the indigenous peoples of America produced by members of the religious orders. 56

The presence of the religious in the Antilles meant that the activities of the settlers, especially in relation to the indigenous population, were now exposed to the scrutiny of those who came to the New World with a very different agenda. The effects of this became apparent with the arrival in Hispaniola in 1510 of four Dominicans, one of whom, Fray Antonio de Montesinos, preached a sermon on the island on the Sunday before Christmas 1511 that was to reverberate across the ocean. His denunciations of the settlers for their barbaric treatment of the Indians was to affect many lives, including that of a priest on Hispaniola, Bartolome de Las Casas, who had his own repartimiento of Indians, but would later join the Dominican Order, and, as the `Apostle of the Indians', would become a tireless campaigner on their behalf. Montesinos's sermon made a public issue of the whole question of the legality of the encomienda and the status of the Indians under Spanish rule. At least symbolically, it marked the opening of ,the Spanish struggle for justice in the conquest of America', and forced the crown, which initially reacted adversely to Dominican meddling in such sensitive matters, to address the issue in the light of its own obligations under the papal bulls. The outcome was the convocation by Ferdinand in 1512 of a special junta of theologians and officials in Burgos, and the publication of the Laws of Burgos, the first comprehensive code of legislation for the Spanish Indies.17

The junta, which included among its members partisans of both the Indians and the encomenderos, laid down a series of principles which were to be fundamental to Spain's future government of the Indies. While the junta did not condemn the encomienda it stipulated that the Indians must be treated as a free people, in conformity with the wishes of Ferdinand and the late Queen Isabella. As a free people, they were entitled to hold property, and - although they could be set to work - they must be remunerated for their labour. In conformity with the bull of Alexander VI they also had to be instructed in the Christian faith.58

The reassertion of the need to instruct Indians in the faith underlined the crown's commitment to the process of evangelization - a commitment that was reinforced by the series of concessions granted it by the papacy for the establishment of a church in America under royal control. In 1486 Rome had granted the crown the Patronato of the church in the kingdom of Granada, thus conferring on it the right of presentation to all major ecclesiastical benefices in a realm that was still not fully liberated from Moorish control. A series of papal bulls in the following years, starting with Alexander VI's Inter caetera of 1493 with its concession to the crown of exclusive rights to evangelization in its transatlantic possessions, cumulatively extended the royal Patronato to the Indies. In 1501 Alexander granted the crown in perpetuity all tithes collected in the Indies, in order to support the work of evangelization, and in a bull of 1508 Julius II gave Ferdinand the right for which he had been patiently working, of presenting to all cathedrals and ecclesiastical benefices in Spain's American territories. Once its Patronato was recognized, the crown began to establish the first dioceses in America, in the Antilles in 1511, and on the mainland in 1513.59

While the framework for an institutional church in Spanish America was now in place, it was the religious orders which launched and led the campaign for the conversion of the Indians. Cortes, deeply suspicious of the pomp and corruption of the secular clergy, urged the crown in his fourth letter, of 15 October 1524, to turn to the friars for the evangelization of the conquered peoples of Mexico.60 In fact they had already made their appearance. Twelve Franciscans under the leadership of Fray Martin de Valencia - the famous `twelve apostles' - had reached Mexico four months earlier, the precursors of what was to be a vast programme of conversion and indoctrination. They were followed in 1526 by twelve Dominicans, and seven years later by the Augustinians. In Peru a similar process was soon under way, starting with the three Dominicans who embarked with Pizarro in Panama. One of these was Father Valverde, famous for his confrontation with Atahualpa, who accompanied Pizarro throughout the conquest and became the first Bishop of Cuzco. As numbers increased, so convents were founded and churches built. In New Spain by 1559 there were 802 Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians, and between them they had established 160 religious houses.61

For all the differences between the Orders, the religious in America, at least in the early years of evangelization, entertained high hopes of the prospects before them. Here was an opportunity to re-create among the uncorrupted and innocent peoples of the New World a church that would resemble the primitive church of the early apostles, untainted by the vices that had overwhelmed it in Christendom.62 The programme for the evangelization of Spanish America was therefore launched on a wave of fervour and enthusiasm generated by members of the religious orders who saw in the New World incomparable prospects for the winning of new converts and the salvation of souls. It enjoyed, too, the full support of the crown, which normally bore the travelling costs of those religious who requested a passage to the Indies,63 and would use the tithes conceded by the papacy for paying the salaries of those in charge of parishes, and for building and endowing churches and cathedrals. The programme began with the mass baptism by the Franciscans of vast numbers of Indians in the valley of Mexico and was followed up by preaching, catechizing and the founding of schools.

The word doctrinero, used first of the friars and in due course, also, of the parish priests working independently or alongside them in doctrinas or Indian parishes, is suggestive of the character of the programme that was now under way64 It was a programme to instruct, or indoctrinate, in the elements of Catholic Christianity, its belief systems, its sacraments and its moral code. Such an ambitious programme, conducted on so vast a scale, inevitably raised fundamental questions about the capacity of the Indians to understand and assimilate the new faith, and about the extent and sincerity of the `conversion' hailed with such enthusiasm by the first Franciscans. Sceptics were soon able to point to some spectacular failures, like the discovery in 1539 of a cache of idols in the house of Don Carlos de Texcoco, a former prize pupil of the College of Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco, established by the Franciscans for the education of the sons of Mexico's indigenous elite.65 In Peru, where the Andean peoples were to show themselves incorrigibly reluctant to abandon their huacas, or sacred objects and sites, the vicar-general of Cuzco in 1541 identified idolatry as the greatest obstacle to the establishment of the faith.66

The setbacks and the failures prompted a variety of reactions. They encouraged some ecclesiastics, like Bishop Diego de Landa in Yucatan, to make a bonfire of sacred texts which could only perpetuate among the indigenous population the memory of the pernicious beliefs and practices with which the devil had for so long held them in thrall.67 But others responded in a more positive fashion. In the opinion of the Dominican Fray Diego Duran, `a great mistake was made by those who, with much zeal but little prudence, burnt and destroyed at the beginning all their sacred pictures. This left us so much in the dark that they can practice idolatry before our very eyes.'68 In other words, to extirpate idolatry one had first to understand it. This could only be achieved by a systematic attempt to explore and record for posterity the character and beliefs of a rapidly vanishing world - the world of the indigenous peoples of America before the arrival of the Spaniards.

The result was an intensive effort by a number of friars to understand the history and the customs of the peoples whom they were attempting to indoctrinate (fig. 11). In order to present the gospel, many of them had already laboriously mastered one or more native languages. Several of these languages were transcribed into the Latin alphabet, and grammars and dictionaries were compiled, like the Quechua dictionary published in 1560 by Fray Domingo de Santo Tomas.69 At the same time native informants who still had some knowledge of life before the conquest were asked to interpret and flesh out the pictographic evidence provided by the surviving codices, and to answer carefully constructed questions about ancient practices and beliefs. Fray Bernardino de Sahagun's great History of the Things of New Spain, completed in 1579 in a bilingual text, Nahuatl and Castilian, may have been ethnography with a purpose - the more effective evangelization of the Indians - but it was ethnography none the less. Sahagun and his colleagues in the Spanish mendicant orders were the pioneers in Europe's attempt to study on a systematic basis the beliefs and customs of the non-European peoples of the world.70

While a growing knowledge of indigenous social and political organization before the coming of the Spaniards evoked admiration in some circles, and provided Las Casas with the ammunition he needed to argue for the rationality of the peoples of America and their aptitude for the gospel, it was insufficient to win over those who saw everywhere around them the footprints of the devil. It was firmly believed that the devil stalked the New World, and everything in native society that allowed him to work his diabolical contrivances had to be systematically eradicated if true Christianity were ever to take root.7'

Yet it very quickly became clear that this involved far more than the eradication of pagan rites and superstitious practices. It was one thing to put an end to the practice of human sacrifice which had so horrified the Spaniards on their arrival in Mexico, but it was quite another to overthrow the belief-systems and cosmologies which had given rise to such barbarities. The friars sought as best they could to fill the spiritual vacuum created by the destruction of the old gods and their priests, and provided their charges with new rites and ceremonies, new images, and a new liturgical calendar that would help to reconnect them to the sacred.72 It also became apparent that the imposition of Christian morality implied major changes in social habits and traditional ways of life, and it was not always easy to draw the line between what should be abolished and what allowed to remain. So far as marriage customs were concerned, it was clear that polygamy, practised among the ruling class of pre-conquest Mexico, must be banned, and concepts of incest be revised to conform to Christian notions.73 But in matters of dress there was more room for latitude. The maxtlatl or loincloth worn by Mexican men offended Christian notions of decency, and gradually lost out over the course of the sixteenth century to trousers; but traditional women's dress, seen as more modest, was allowed to survive.74 Although the friars might struggle to prevent their flocks from being contaminated by European vices, the whole programme of conversion carried with it an inexorable subtext of hispanicization, as spiritual and social pressures alike pushed the Indians into the orbit of the Europeans, and notions of Christianity and civility became hopelessly entangled. Sahagun might be critical of those who wanted to `reduce' the Indians to `the Spanish way of life', but the whole rationale of conquest culture was to compel them to live, in the words of Bishop Landa, `incomparably more like men' .71

In practice many Indians, especially in central Mexico and the Andes, were to adapt with remarkable speed to the culture of the conquerors, soon equalling or surpassing them in some areas of craftsmanship, and assimilating, often with apparent enthusiasm, those elements of Christianity which would enable them in due course to rediscover their own route to the sacred.76 But because they moved at their own pace and in their own ways, clinging fast to practices which branded them as unregenerate idolaters in European eyes and obstinately failing to conform to Spanish notions of civility, they became the objects of increasing disparagement, pity or contempt. Between the heady days of early evangelization and the later sixteenth century, the image of the Indian changed, and changed for the worse. Partly this was a result of changes among the Indians themselves, as traditional social disciplines and norms of behaviour crumbled in the aftershock of conquest. But it was also a reflection of lowered expectations bred by closer acquaintance, and perhaps too by a generational change among the friars themselves. Where the first friars brought with them something of the optimism and curiosity of Renaissance Europe, the second generation came to maturity in the age of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, deeply imbued with Augustinian notions of original sin. This more pessimistic attitude, already apparent in the campaign led by the Dominicans for the evangelization of Peru, induced a greater wariness in the approach to conversion, together with a reduced estimate of the capability of the Indians to assimilate the faith. The Indians no doubt responded in kind.

The result was the gradual emergence of a new, and depressing, consensus about the nature of the Indian, far removed from the generous enthusiasm of Las Casas and his friends. The College of Santa Cruz came to be regarded as a failure, and strong opposition closed the entry of Indians to the priesthood. 77 With the Indians regarded as unfit for ordination, the Spanish church in America was to remain a church run by the conquerors on their own terms. The scepticism about the aptitude of Indians for the priesthood came to pervade the whole missionary enterprise. Where Las Casas saw the mind of the Indian as a tabula rasa on which it would not be hard to inscribe the principles and precepts of Christianity,78 others increasingly saw him as an intellectually feeble and inconstant creature with an inherent inclination to vice. Deficient in rational capacity, did he not conform all too well to Aristotelian notions of natural inferiority?

To the plaudits of the encomenderos, the distinguished humanist scholar, Juan Gines de Sepulveda, argued that the deficiencies of the indigenous peoples of America condemned them to the status of natural slaves.79 Others insisted that at best they were children, who should be fed only the simplest rudiments of the faith. As children, they needed guidance and correction, as Fray Pedro de Feria, the Bishop of Chiapas, argued before the third Mexican provincial council in 1585: `We must love and help the Indians as much as we can. But their base and imperfect character requires that they should be ruled, governed and guided to their appointed end by fear more than by love.'80 Wayward children cried out for a paternalist approach.

Whatever the disappointments involved in the evangelization of Spanish America, the fact remained that, to European eyes, millions of lost souls, formerly wandering in the darkness and subject to the tyranny of Satan, had now been brought into the light. The Spanish achievement was impressive enough for William Strachey to hold it up as an example to his compatriots as they embarked on the colonization of Virginia: `Have we either less means, fainter spirits, or a charity more cold, or a religion more shameful, and afraid to dilate itself? or is it a lawful work in them, and not in us? . . .' The opportunities, as he saw it, were great. The Indians were `simple, and innocent people', and - using the image of the tabula rasa employed by Las Casas - he described their minds as `unblotted tables, apt to receive what form soever shall be first drawn thereon ...'"'

Whether the English had `fainter spirits', a `charity more cold, or a religion more shameful' than the Spaniards are matters for debate, but they certainly had `less means'. With the coming of the Reformation to England, the religious orders disappeared. There was no cadre of militant evangelists in the home country ready to take up the challenge of converting the peoples of North America to the faith. Nor was the Anglican church in the early seventeenth century in a position to devise and implement a Spanish-style programme of evangelization, enjoying full and effective support from the crown. It was still struggling to establish itself and its doctrines at home, and had neither the energy nor the resources to devote much attention to the opportunities that awaited it overseas.

The first meeting of the Virginia Assembly in 1619 endorsed the Church of England as the legally authorized religious establishment in the colony,12 but it was neither quick nor very effective in establishing itself. In 1622 there were fortyfive parishes to be cared for, and only ten ministers in residence." Gradually a church was created in the colony, with the parish as a vital element in local life, but it was a church far removed from the hierarchy in England and one controlled by the planters themselves. Institutionally, therefore, the Anglican church failed to transfer its authority across the ocean, and there was to be no bishop in Virginia, or indeed in any part of British North America, before the Revolution.84 Not surprisingly, in view of this absence of authority and direction, no systematic programme was developed for Christianizing the Virginian Indians, and Henrico College, founded in 1619 for the education of Indian children, closed its doors even before it ever got round to opening them.85

But it was not simply the organizational weaknesses of the Anglican church that hampered its missionary effort in British America. It also possessed no monopoly of religious life. Unlike Spanish America, the English settlements would become an arena for competing creeds. Although Maryland was designed as a haven for Roman Catholics, they were outnumbered from the start by Protestants, and the colony survived its early years by having no established church (which meant, uniquely for British as well as Spanish America, having no compulsory tithes or other more or less compulsory forms of contribution for the support of the clergy), and adopting a pragmatic form of toleration which made religion a private affair.86 It was only after the Glorious Revolution, in 1692, that the first moves were made to establish the Church of England as Maryland's official church. In New England the purpose behind the founding of Puritan settlements was to promote a purer form of religious life and worship than seemed possible under the Anglican church as currently established, and their founders were pre-eminently concerned with constructing in the New World a church of visible saints. 87

This preoccupation did not necessarily preclude a mission into the wilderness to convert the Indians, although in practice it did much to complicate the enterprise. The very fact that the seal designed for the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 displayed an Indian with a scroll emerging from his mouth bearing the legend `Come over and help us', borrowed from the vision of St Paul in Acts 16:9,88 indicates an initial commitment to missionary activity which promised more than it eventually delivered (fig. 7). In the early years there was a shortage of pastors even to minister to the needs of the settlers, and the difficulty of mastering Indian languages was to be a further obstacle to progress in the British colonies, as in the Spanish. But some individuals, in British as in Spanish America, made a determined effort to overcome this obstacle. Roger Williams, whose `soul's desire', as he wrote, was `to do the natives good', published his A Key into the Language of America in 1643.89 In 1647 Governor Winthrop reported in his journal that the pastor of Roxbury, the Reverend John Eliot, had taken `great pains' to learn Algonquian, `and in a few months could speak of the things of God, to their understanding'.9' At the same time Thomas Mayhew, who had settled on Martha's Vineyard, achieved some important conversions and was acquiring proficiency in the native language. The 1640s, then, saw the beginning of a major effort, although small-scale by Spanish standards, to win the North American Indians to Christianity.91

This effort benefited from the triumph of the parliamentarians in the English Civil War, which created a more favourable official climate in the home country for the support of Puritan missionary enterprise overseas. In 1649 the Rump Parliament approved the founding of a corporation, the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in New England, to promote the cause of the conversion of the Indians by organizing the collection and disbursement of funds.92 The enterprise was therefore dependent on voluntary contributions from the faithful - a reflection of the growing tendency in the English world to rely on private and corporate initiative and voluntary associations to undertake projects which in the Hispanic world came within the official ambit of church and state.

As in Spanish America the missionary effort supported by the Society involved the compilation of dictionaries and grammars, and the preparation of catechisms in the native languages.93 It also included something that did not figure on the Spanish agenda - the translation into a native Indian tongue of the Bible, a heroic enterprise completed by Eliot in 1659 and published in 1663. The fundamental importance of the written word to Protestantism strengthened the arguments for the schooling of Indians, and considerable effort - including the construction of an Indian College at Harvard in 1655 - was to be devoted to the teaching of Indian children.94 But the most spectacular, if not the most successful, feature of the New England missionary enterprise was the establishment of the `praying towns' - the fourteen village communities set up by Eliot in Massachusetts for converted Indians.95 The practical purpose behind their foundation was similar to that which inspired the creation of the so-called reducciones in the Spanish colonial world from the mid-sixteenth century: it was easier to indoctrinate Indians and to shield them from the corrupting influences of the outside world if they were concentrated in large settlements, instead of living dispersed. The Spanish policy of concentrating Indians in reducciones led to massive forced resettlement in Mexico and Peru.96 Although there were none of the forced movements of population which dramatically altered the demographic landscape of the Spanish viceroyalties, the praying towns were reducciones writ small, the visible manifestations of the conviction that, if only the Indians could be isolated and brought under the exclusive tutelage of ministers and pastors, they might one day be fitted to join the community of saints.

The results, in both instances, failed to correspond to the high hopes with which the experiment had been invested. Many of the Peruvian Indians fled the reducciones as soon as they could, while some of Eliot's praying Indians were to join King Philip's warrior bands.97 The praying towns had to face not only the scepticism of many of the colonists, but also the derision and hostility of Indian tribes which remained impervious to the appeal of Christianity; and the very proximity of these hostile tribes made the praying towns less safe from attack than reducciones that lay in the heartlands of the Spanish viceroyalties. The towns did, however, achieve some important successes. Where the Spanish church turned its back on the ordination of Indian ministers, the Puritans succeeded in training a number of converts for the ministry, some of whom in turn went out to carry the gospel to unconverted tribes.98 Their contribution was all the more important because the first obligation of Puritan ministers was to their own communities of the elect, and, unlike the friars in Spanish America, they could not devote themselves full time to evangelization among the Indians.

Against the blanket `conversion' of the indigenous population under Spanish rule, must be set the conversion of some 2,500 Indians - perhaps 20 per cent of the Indian population of New England - by the time of the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675.91 The fact that New England was still a frontier society with relatively few Indians living within the borders of the settlements made conditions very different from those that prevailed in the Spanish viceroyalties. It was one thing, for instance, to establish a college for the sons of an old-established indigenous nobility in the urbanized environment of Mexico City, and quite another to persuade young Massachusetts Indians to abandon their open-air existence for the sedentary life and unfamiliar diet of a colonial grammar school. The Indian College at Harvard, not surprisingly, was no College of Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco, which, in the early years after its foundation in 1536, enjoyed a resounding success in creating a new and hispanicized native elite, allegedly capable of producing Latin sentences of a Ciceronian elegance that astonished Spanish visitors. Very few Indians actually went to the Indian College, and scarcely one of them survived the ordeal of exposure to life at Harvard. The college was eventually demolished in 1693.100

The character of the Puritan message, moreover, played its own part in adding to the uphill nature of the task. Puritanism was an exclusive, not an all-embracing, form of religion, and it depended for conversion on the working of God's grace. For this reason, there could be no imitation of the Spanish policy of compelle eos entrare - `compel them to come in'. On the contrary, the colony's policy, as John Cotton wrote in the 1630s, was `not to compel' the Indians, `but to permit them either to believe willingly or not to believe at all'.10' Puritan theology was complex, and no doubt the complexity was all the greater for a population still being initiated into the fascinating mysteries of the written word. Moreover, as a religion without images, and one which prided itself on the simplicity of its worship in the barest of churches, it offered little in the way of the visual and ceremonial that seems to have appealed to the indigenous populations of Mexico and Peru. Only the singing of hymns and psalms tempered the rigour of the message.102

The new faith also demanded changes in social behaviour even more exacting than those required by the Catholic Church in Spanish America. The doctrine of election carried with it strict adherence to a set of norms which left little latitude for manoeuvre where standards of `civility' were concerned. `I find it absolutely necessary', wrote Eliot, `to carry on civility with Religion.'103 Conversion to Christianity meant in effect conversion to an English way of life, and in the praying towns the Indians were expected to abandon their wigwams for the allegedly superior comforts of English-style houses, built with little regard to the climatic conditions of New England.104 Anglicization extended even to attempts to persuade Indians to abandon their traditional custom of wearing their hair long. `Since the word hath begun to worke upon their hearts,' wrote a minister, `they have discerned the vanitie and pride, which they placed in their haire, and have therefore of their own accord ... cut it modestly."°5 In Peru, where the long hair of the Indians outraged Spaniards as much as it outraged the Puritans of New England, a Spanish official, Juan de Matienzo, showed more sensitivity. He could see no great objection to long hair, except perhaps on grounds of cleanliness, and wrote that `to make them change their custom would seem to them a sentence of death. 106

The willingness of the New England converts to face the derision of their unconverted fellow Indians and reconstruct their way of life, even to the extent of adopting the dress and hairstyles of the Europeans, suggests that, for some tribes at least - perhaps those whose lives had been especially disrupted by the advent of the Europeans and their diseases - the new faith, for all its complexity, met a real need.107 Yet these converts remained a small minority, precarious clusters of believers in a pagan ocean, and even then their conversion was regarded with scepticism by many of the settlers, who remained convinced that the whole notion of conversion and civilization of the Indian was `meere fantasie'.108 One or two, like Thomas Morton, might even affect to question its desirability, finding `the Massachusetts Indian more full of humanity, than the Christians',10N but Morton was a notorious maverick.

Although John Eliot shared with Bartolome de las Casas the name of `Apostle to the Indians',"° he was a Las Casas in a minor key. Las Casas devoted a large part of his long life to campaigning, lobbying and writing on behalf of the Indians against their detractors in America itself and at the Spanish court. Confronted by a settler community which justified its exploitation of the Indians by arguments based on their natural inferiority as human beings, he sought to end the oppression by working for the abolition of the encomienda and arguing that the Indians had the spiritual aptitude to assimilate true Christianity if they were removed from the hands of the encomenderos and placed directly under the benevolent rule of the Spanish crown.

The agitation of Las Casas and his fellow Dominicans on behalf of the Indians was sufficiently powerful to persuade Charles V, on the recommendation of the Council of the Indies, to order in 1550 that all further expeditions of conquest in the New World should be suspended until a junta of theologians had pronounced on the moral issues involved. The junta, convened in Valladolid in September 1550, and holding a second session in May 1551, was confronted with the opposing arguments of Las Casas, Bishop of Chiapas, and Sepulveda, the emperor's chaplain, who had no personal knowledge of American Indians but on the basis of his reading of Aristotle had asserted their natural inferiority in his treatise, Democrates secundus. It was this inferiority, in Sepulveda's view, that justified making war upon them.i"'

The judges, no doubt battered and bruised by Las Casas's five-day reading of his inordinately long Latin treatise of apology for the Indians, never delivered their verdict. Yet if Las Casas and his supporters failed in their prime purpose of elevating the status and conditions of life of the Indians, they did succeed in creating a moral climate in which the crown was forcefully reminded of its obligation to defend them against their oppressors and do what it could to improve their lot. In 1563 the Indians were formally classified as miserabiles. This classification gradually acquired a juridical content, as special judges were appointed to handle Indian cases in the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru, and legal assistance was provided for Indians who wished to lodge complaints.'12 Subsequently, in 1573, Philip II promulgated a long set of ordinances, drawn up by the President of the Council of the Indies, Juan de Ovando, that were designed to regulate any further territorial expansion.113 The ordinances came late in the day, and new-style 'pacification' often proved to be little more than a euphemism for old-style `conquest'. Both the convocation of the Valladolid debate, however, and the legislation that followed it, testify to the Spanish crown's commitment to ensuring `justice' for indigenous subject populations - a commitment for which, in its continuity and strength, it is not easy to find parallels in the history of other colonial empires.

Las Casas was primarily known in other parts of Europe for his harrowing Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, which first appeared in English translation in 1583. A new translation, dedicated to Oliver Cromwell, was published in London under the emotive title of The Tears of the Indians in 1656, following the conquest of Jamaica and the outbreak of war with Spain. 114 The name of Las Casas was therefore well known to English readers, and not least to John Eliot, who to some extent would follow consciously in his steps. But there was less opportunity for the emergence of an effective Las Casas in the British world, where there was no encomendero class exploiting a large work-force of nominally free Indians, and no powerful group of missionaries to keep up the pressure on the secular authorities. Nor, in a world of colonial legislative assemblies, was there an over-arching system of royal control which would allow the crown to intervene, by legislative and executive action, on the Indians' behalf.

Those Indians who found themselves living within the confines of English settlements were gradually brought within the legislative purview of colonial societies. During the first decades of settlement in Puritan New England an effort was made to ensure fair treatment for the Indians under English law. Notions of fairness and reciprocity were deeply rooted in both Algonquian Indian and Puritan society, even if their interpretation could well differ in specific instances, and Algonquians, although holding to their own legal autonomy, would on occasion turn of their own free will to the colonial courts, especially for mediation in disputes. In 1656 Massachusetts appointed a commissioner for Indian affairs - a post comparable to that of Protector of the Indians with which the Spaniards experimented in the early stages of the colonization of the mainland"' - and by the 1670s juries composed of six Indians and six whites were pronouncing on criminal cases that arose between Algonquians and settlers. 116 But after King Philip's War of 1675-6 the Indian courts set up by the New England colonists were dismantled, `overseers' were assigned to deal with Indian affairs, and Indian legal rights were steadily eroded.117 Spanish justice, on the other hand, gave Indians at least a chance of fighting for their rights all the way to the summit of the judicial system; and Spanish judges, who personally administered justice and enjoyed a high degree of discretion in the hearing and assessing of evidence and the choice of punishment, showed a flexibility in their approach to crime, whether the case was one of drunken disorder or domestic violence and homicide, that contrasted sharply with the severity of New England's courts."

King Philip's War undid much of the work done by Eliot and other apostles to the Indians in establishing in the English mind the worthiness of native Americans to be considered for eventual inclusion within the fellowship of the visible saints. For the Indians, the war was a disaster. Large numbers of those who had surrendered or been captured were sold into foreign slavery on the pretext, still much used by Spaniards on the fringes of empire, that they had been taken captive in a `just war'. Eliot's seems to have been the sole voice raised in moral protest, and - in striking contrast to the decision taken by Charles V to convoke the Valladolid debate - his protest was apparently ignored by the governor and council of Massachusetts, and went no further. In so far as Eliot played the part of a Las Casas, there was no one prepared to give him a hearing."9

Among the settlers there was a growing consensus that the Indians were, and always had been, degenerate barbarians, bereft of `any religion before the English came, but merely diabolical'.120 It was the same consensus as had come to prevail in Spanish America, and was accompanied by a similar blend of paternalism and contempt. But among the settlers of New England there was a further, and disturbing, element, the element of fear - fear not just of the enemy roaming on the fringes of their settlements, but also of a yet more hidden enemy, lying deep within themselves.

Coexistence and segregation

Europeans who settled in America found themselves living side by side with people who neither looked, nor behaved, like themselves. Nor did they even bear much resemblance to other peoples of whom at least some of them had earlier experience. They were not, for instance, black, as Columbus noted of the first Caribbean islanders he saw: `They were all of good stature, very handsome people, with hair which is not curly but thick and flowing like a horse's mane. They all have very wide foreheads and hands, wider than those of any race [generacion] I have seen before; their eyes are very beautiful and not small. None of them is black, rather the colour of the Canary islanders, which is to be expected since this island lies E-W with the island of Ferro in the Canaries on the same latitude. 121

Although colour was normally explained by sixteenth-century Europeans by reference to the degree of exposure to the sun, and was therefore nominally neutral as a form of categorization, blackness carried with it strong negative connotations for many Europeans, and certainly for the English.122 The peoples of the New World, however, were not black. The Spanish royal cosmographer Juan Lopez de Velasco described them in 1574 as being the colour of `cooked quince', and William Strachey in 1612 as `sodden quince' .121 One chronicler at least dismissed climatic explanations of skin colour. In his History of the Indies Lopez de Gomara wrote that the colour of the Indians was the result of `nature, and not nakedness, as many believed', and pointed out that peoples of different colour could be found in the same latitudes.124 The English, too, were to find in the light of their American experience that the traditional classical theory of climatic influence did not seem to correspond to observable facts.121 But the general tendency was to cling to the traditional paradigm. As long as this prevailed, and climate was regarded as the prime determinant of colour, tawny-skinned Indians were the beneficiaries, since the colour of their skin was free of many of the emotional overtones with which blackness was so heavily charged.

Civility, not colour, was the first test used by Europeans in their assessment of the indigenous peoples of America. Where civility was concerned, the dispersed nature of Indian settlement patterns in the areas of British colonization enhanced the disparities that European colonists normally expected to find between themselves and the indigenous population. In promoting colonization, however, Richard Eburne denied that the English faced a greater challenge than the Spaniards: `The Spaniard', he wrote, `bath reasonably civilized, and better might if he had not so much tyrannized, people far more savage and bestial than any of these. 126

But the pattern of relationships in America was determined by past experience as well as present circumstance. The Christians of medieval Spain had for centuries lived alongside an Islamic civilization with which they enjoyed a complicated and ambiguous relationship. If they fought against the Moors, they also borrowed extensively from a society which in many respects was more refined than their own. Although religion was a decisive barrier at many points, and especially where the possibility of intermarriage was concerned,127 personal contacts were numerous, and increased still further as large Moorish populations were left behind in Christian territory by the southward advance of the Reconquista. In these reconquered territories a toleration born of necessity rather than conviction prevailed for many years, although it came under increasing pressure in the fifteenth century as the Reconquista moved towards its triumphant conclusion. During the sixteenth century Spaniards came to despise and distrust the morisco population which continued to live among them, and whose conversion to Christianity was no more than nominal. But nothing could quite obliterate the experience of their long and often fruitful interaction with an ethnically different society that could not easily be regarded as culturally inferior to their own.121

The medieval English, in seeking to establish their lordship over Ireland, had no doubt of their own superiority to the strange and barbarous people among whom they were settling. Before Henry II's invasion in 1170 the native Irish, it was asserted, `did never build any houses of brick or stone (some few poor Religious Houses excepted)', nor did they `plant any gardens or orchards, enclose or improve their lands, live together in settled villages or towns, nor made any provision for posterity'.129 Given what seemed to the English to be the vast disparity between their own culture and that of a Gaelic population whose way of life was `against all sense and reason', they sought to protect themselves from the contaminating influence of their environment by adopting policies of segregation and exclusion. Marriage or cohabitation between the English and the Irish was forbidden by the Statutes of Kilkenny of 1366, in the belief that mixed marriages would tempt the English partner to lapse into degenerate Irish ways.13o

The very fact that legislative measures against cohabitation were thought to be necessary suggests that English settlers in Ireland did indeed succumb to the temptation to go native.13' The choice made by these renegade settlers could only have reinforced the latent English fears of the dangers of cultural degeneration in a barbarian land. In the sixteenth century the Irish remained for the English a barbarous people, whose barbarism was now compounded by their obstinate determination to cling to papist ways. When the English crossed the Atlantic and again found themselves living among, and outnumbered by, a `savage' people, all the old fears were revived .112 In the circumstances, the equation between the Indians and the Irish was easily made. In the New World of America the English came across another indigenous population which did not live in houses of brick and stone, and failed to improve its lands. `The Natives of New England', wrote Thomas Morton, `are accustomed to build them houses, much like the wild Irish 133 As Hugh Peter, who returned to England from Massachusetts in 1641, was to observe five years later, `the wild Irish and the Indian do not much differ. 134

The instinctive tendency of the colonial leaders was therefore once again to establish a form of segregation. While the danger of Indian attacks made it prudent for the settlers of Virginia to live inside a `pale', the founders of the colony also had no wish to see their fellow colonists go the way of the Norman invaders of Ireland, most of whom, according to Edmund Spenser, had `degenerated and grown almost mere Irish, yea and more malicious to the English than the very Irish themselves'.135 While the pale, therefore, may initially have been devised by the settlers as a means of protection against the Indians, it was also a means of protection against their own baser instincts. In 1609, in the early stages of the settlement of Virginia, William Symonds preached a sermon to the adventurers and planters, in which he drew a parallel between their enterprise and the migration of Abraham `unto the land that I will shew thee' in the book of Genesis. `Then must Abram's posterity keep them to themselves. They may not marry nor give in marriage to the heathen, that are uncircumcised ... The breaking of this rule, may break the neck of all good success of this voyage . . .', Symonds warned. 116 Not surprisingly, John Rolfe agonized over his prospective marriage to Pocahontas, recalling `the heavy displeasure which almighty God conceived against the sons of Levi and Israel for marrying strange wives' (fig. 8).13'

The fear of cultural degeneracy in an alien land was especially pronounced among the Puritan emigrants to New England in the 1620s and 1630s. Images of another biblical exodus, that of the Israelites out of Egypt, were deeply impressed on their minds '131 and their leaders were painfully aware of the dangers that lay in wait on every side. The Indians were the Canaanites, a degenerate race, who threatened to infect God's chosen people with their own degeneracy. For this reason it was essential that the New England Israel should remain a nation apart, resisting the blandishments of the people whom they were in process of dispos sessing of their land.139 In large measure this seems to have been achieved. In New England, no marriage is known to have occurred between an English settler and an Indian woman in the period before 1676. In Virginia, where the sex ratio among the settlers was even more unbalanced, it was much the same story, although a 1691 law passed by the colonial assembly forbidding Anglo-Indian marriages suggests that such unions did in fact occur. 140 But if so, their numbers were small, as Robert Beverley would lament in his History of the Present State of Virginia (1705):

Intermarriage had been indeed the Method proposed very often by the Indians in the Beginning, urging it frequently as a certain Rule, that the English were not their Friends, if they refused it. And I can't but think it wou'd have been happy for that Country, had they embraced this Proposal: For, the Jealousie of the Indians, which I take to be the Cause of most of the Rapines and Murders they commited, wou'd by this Means have been altogether prevented, and consequently the Abundance of Blood that was shed on both sides wou'd have been saved; ... the Colony, instead of all these Losses of Men on both sides, wou'd have been encreasing in Children to its Advantage; ... and, in all Likelihood, many, if not most, of the Indians would have been converted to Christianity by this kind Method .. .141

Beverley's vision was a belated lament for a world that might have been. Among the Spaniards the same vision inspired a series of proposals for inter-ethnic union at a time when colonial society was still in its infancy. In their instructions of 1503 to Nicolas de Ovando as the new governor of Hispaniola, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered him to `try to get some Christian men to marry Indian women, and Christian women to marry Indian men, so that they can communicate with and teach each other, and the Indians can be indoctrinated in our Holy Catholic Faith, and learn how to work their lands and manage their property, and be turned into rational men and women."42 This policy seems to have met with mixed success. In 1514, 64 of the 171 married Spaniards living in Santo Domingo had Indian wives. Most of these Spaniards, however, were drawn from the lowest social stratum, and the marriages may primarily reflect the shortage of Spanish women on the island.141 While Spanish women, even of low birth, were preferred as wives, there was, however, no compunction about taking Indian women for concubines.

By formally sanctioning inter-ethnic marriage in 1514,1 the crown appears to have been reiterating its conviction that a union of Spaniards and Indians would help realize Spain's mission of bringing Christianity and civility to the peoples of the Indies. The idea was taken up again as large areas of mainland America fell under Spanish rule. In 1526 the Franciscans in Mexico wrote to the emperor Charles V urging that, to promote the process of conversion, `the two peoples, Christian and pagan, should unite, and join together in marriage, as is already beginning to happen. 14' Las Casas, advocating the foundation in America of colonies of Spanish peasants, envisaged the intermarriage of their families with those of the Indians as a means of creating `one of the best republics, and perhaps the most Christian and peaceful in the world'.146

The two peoples had certainly been uniting outside marriage. The conquerors, beginning with Cortes himself, took and discarded Indian women at will. Marriage, however, was by no means ruled out, with rank being rated more important than ethnicity. After taking her as his mistress, Cortes married off Montezuma's daughter, Dona Isabel, to a fellow Extremaduran, Pedro Gallego de Andrade, and, following his death, she married Juan Cano, who was clearly proud of his marriage to such a high-born wife.147 In arranging Isabel's marriage Cortes appears to have been pursuing a deliberate strategy for the pacification of Mexico, which led to a number of marriages between his companions and princesses of the ruling house or the daughters of Mexican caciques.141 Such marriages, which were seen as no disparagement where the indigenous women were of noble birth, may well have helped to create a climate of acceptance among later settlers. A merchant in Mexico wrote in 1571 to his nephew in Spain telling him that he was happily married to an Indian wife, adding: `Although back in Spain it may seem that I was rash to marry an Indian woman, here this involves no loss of honour, for the nation of the Indians is held in high esteem.' 149

While it is possible that the merchant was putting the best gloss on his behaviour for the benefit of his Spanish relatives, it is also possible that the obsession with purity of blood in metropolitan Spain, springing from the insistence on freedom from any taint of Moorish or Jewish ancestry, was diluted by the Atlantic crossing. Initially at least, conditions in the New World favoured this dilution. With Spanish women still in short supply, forced or consenting unions with Indian women were accepted as a matter of course. As the first generation of mestizo children of these unions appeared, their Spanish fathers were inclined to bring them up in their own households, especially if they were sons. In 1531 Charles V ordered the Audiencia of Mexico to collect all `the sons of Spaniards born of Indian women ... and living with the Indians', and to give them a Spanish education.' ° But the existence of a growing class of mestizos created difficult problems of categorization in societies that instinctively thought in terms of hierarchy. Where did the mestizos properly belong? If they were born in wedlock there was no problem, since they were automatically regarded as creoles (Spaniards of American origin). For those born out of marriage but accepted by one or other parental group, assimilation within that group was the normal destiny, although illegitimacy was a lasting stigma, and the lack of full assimilation could leave an abiding sense of bitterness, as the career of the most famous of all mestizos, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, testifies. But there were also a rapidly growing number of mestizos rejected by both groups, and therefore unable to find a secure place in a hierarchically organized, corporate society.

No such problem apparently affected the English settler communities. While cohabitation between English men and Indian women inevitably occurred - and in 1639, to the horror of New England colonists, between an English woman and an Indian man"' - it was not on anything like the scale to be found in the Spanish colonies and it is significant that the mestizos born of these unions have largely disappeared from the historical record .112 Nor, apparently, was there any of the easy acceptance of the practice of cohabitation that was to be found in the Spanish colonies. Sir Walter Raleigh boasted of his Guiana expedition that, unlike the Spanish conquistadores, not one of his men ever laid hands on an Indian woman.153 If his boast is true, their behaviour was a world away from that of the band of some seventy Spaniards travelling up the river Paraguay in 1537, who, on being offered their daughters by the Indians, called it a day, and settled down to found what became the city of Asuncion.

Unique local circumstances made Paraguay an extreme example of the more general process that accompanied the colonization of Spanish America. The Guarani Indians needed the Spaniards as allies in their struggle to defend themselves against hostile neighbouring tribes. For their part, the Spaniards, moving inland from the newly founded port of Buenos Aires a thousand miles away, were too few in number to establish themselves without Guarani help. An alliance based on mutual necessity was sealed by the gift of Guarani women as wives, mistresses and servants. The continuing isolation of the settlement, and the almost total absence of Spanish women, led to the rapid creation of a unique mestizo society. Mestizo sons succeeded their fathers as encomenderos, and races and cultures mingled to a degree unparalleled elsewhere on the continent.'54

Everywhere in Spanish America, however, cohabitation took place, and the effect of it was to blur the lines of division which the Spanish authorities in church and state had originally planned to draw between the different communities. In Spanish eyes a properly ordered society was one that consisted of two parallel `republics', each with its own rights and privileges - a `republic of Spaniards' and a `republic of Indians'. But the plan to keep the two communities apart was in danger of foundering even before the emergence of a generation of mestizos which straddled the borderlines between them. The upheavals of conquest and colonization threw Spaniards and Indians into daily, and often intimate, contact. Indian women moved into Spanish households as servants and concubines, while Indians whose lives had been disrupted by the conquest gravitated naturally to the new cities founded by the Spaniards in search of new opportunities in the world of the conquerors.'55

The blending of races and cultures inherent in the process of mestizaje was therefore at work from the earliest stages of conquest and settlement, undermining the bipartite society which royal officials had fondly hoped that they could create and maintain. 116 The crown might legislate to keep encomenderos away from the Indian communities in their encomiendas; Indians might be herded into reducciones or compelled to live in special barrios or quarters of the cities reserved exclusively for them; their natural `inferiority' might be ceaselessly proclaimed by the colonists; but in a world where they heavily outnumbered settlers who could not live without their sexual and their labour services, there was no lasting possibility of closing off the two `republics' from each other by creating the equivalent of an Anglo-Irish `pale'.

Royal policy came to reflect the same tensions between segregation and integration as those to be found in colonial practice. To some extent the encomienda acted as a barrier against integration, except in matters of religion, where it was designed to foster it. In 1550, however, even as the crown legislated to prevent unmarried Spaniards from living in or near Indian communities, it also took the first steps towards breaking down the linguistic separation between the two republics, by decreeing that the friars, in defiance of their traditional practice, should teach the Indians Castilian, `so that they should acquire our civility and good customs, and in this way more easily understand and be indoctrinated into the Christian reli- gion'.157 Already the process of linguistic change was under way in New Spain, as Indians who moved into the cities picked up a working knowledge of Castilian, while Castilian words were simultaneously being incorporated into the Nahuatl vocabulary on a massive scale.15' Large numbers of the Indian vassals of the Spanish crown, however, either resisted the imposition of Castilian or remained to all intents and purposes outside its orbit, while many friars were inclined to ignore the crown's decree. At the same time, creoles with indigenous nurses learnt in childhood the language of the conquered, and in the Yucatan peninsula, which had a high degree of linguistic unity before the conquest, the Maya language, rather than Castilian, became the lingua franca in the post-conquest era."' The crown, for its part, was driven in particular by religious considerations to recognize realities. In 1578 Philip II decreed that no religious should be appointed to Indian benefices without some knowledge of the language, and two years later he set up chairs of indigenous languages in the universities of Lima and Mexico City, on the grounds that `knowledge of the general language of the Indians is essential for the explanation and teaching of Christian doctrine.""

The English, on finding themselves confronted by the linguistic barrier between themselves and the Indians, at first reacted much like the Spaniards. Indians showed little inclination to learn the language of the intruders, and initially it was the settlers who found themselves having to learn an alien tongue, both to communicate and to convert. Indians in areas of English settlement had less inducement than those in the more urbanized world of Spanish America to learn the language of the Europeans, although by degrees they found it convenient to have some of their number who could communicate in the language of the intruders. As the balance of forces tilted in favour of the settlers, however, so the pressures on the Indians to acquire some knowledge of English increased, until the colonists were securing promises from neighbouring tribes to learn the language as a requirement for submission to their rule.16' Here there was no question, as there was in Spanish America, of a policy of actively promoting, at least among a section of the colonial community, the learning of indigenous languages - a policy which had the concomitant, if unintended, effect of encouraging not only the survival but also the expansion of the major languages, especially Nahuatl, Maya and Quechua. The powerful impulse to Christianize that worked in favour of the toleration of linguistic diversity in Spain's American possessions simply did not exist in British America.

While their acquisition of pidgin English extended their access to the developing colonial society, Indians living within the confines of the British settlements tended to have the worst of every world. They remained unassimilated, but at the same time had difficulty in maintaining the degree of collective identity to be found in so many Indian communities in Spanish America. The reasons for this were partly numerical, since their numbers were relatively so much smaller than those of the indigenous population under Spanish rule. But the difference was also a reflection of the differing policies adopted in the British and Spanish colonial worlds. The Spaniards, having imposed their dominion over vast native populations, saw it as their duty to incorporate them into a society defined on the one hand by Christianity and on the other by the rights and obligations that accompanied the status of vassals of the Spanish crown. As converts and vassals the Indians were entitled to a guaranteed position within a social order that was to be modelled as closely as possible on the divine. 162 The hopes of achieving the incorporation of the Indians into an imagined ideal society by means of a strategy of separate development were constantly frustrated by colonial conditions - demographic pressures, the demands of the settler community for Indian services, the desire of many Indians themselves to take advantage of what the Europeans had to offer. But enough of the policy was retained to make it possible for Indian communities shattered by conquest and foreign domination to regroup themselves and begin adapting collectively to life in the emerging colonial societies, while striving with a measure of success to maintain that `republic of the Indians' which the crown itself was committed to preserving.

Where the Spaniards tended to think in terms of the incorporation of the Indians into an organic and hierarchically organized society which would enable them in time to attain the supreme benefits of Christianity and civility, the English, after an uncertain start, seem to have decided that there was no middle way between anglicization and exclusion. Missionary zeal was too thinly spread, the crown too remote and uninterested, to allow the development of a policy that would achieve by gradual stages the often asserted objective of bringing the Indians within the fold. In so far as a `republic of the Indians' was to be found in British America, it was to be found in the praying towns of New England. But the whole concept of such a `republic' was alien to settlers who expected the Indians either to learn to behave like English men and women, or else to move away. Tudor and Stuart England, unlike Habsburg Castile, had little tolerance for semiautonomous juridical and administrative enclaves, and no experience of dealing with substantial ethnic minorities in its midst.

Since so many Indians appeared resistant to assimilation, it seemed to many settlers preferable to remove them out of the way. This would enable the colonists to devote their efforts to more rewarding pursuits. `Our first work', wrote Sir Francis Wyatt, the governor of Virginia, soon after the `massacre' of 1622, `is expulsion of the Salvages to gain the free range of the country for increase of cattle, swine &c, which will more than restore us, for it is infinitely better to have no heathen among us, who at best were but thorns in our sides, than to be at peace and league with them ...'163 Expulsion of the Indians had the double advantage of making space for further settlement, and removing `thorns', or something sharper, from the settlers' sides.

In part, the English response was dictated by fear. If there was a progressive hardening of attitudes towards the Indians, both in Virginia and New England, in the wake of incidents of alleged Indian `treachery' and armed confrontation, intimidation and violent revenge looked like the only options available to the frightened setters who were still greatly outnumbered by those whose lands they had taken.164 Expulsion of the Indians, if it could be managed, at least seemed to offer infant settlements a degree of security. Yet, at a time when the settlers still needed the assistance of the indigenous population in keeping them fed, their reaction suggests that the English had less confidence than the Spaniards in their ability to bring the benefits of their own civilization to these benighted people.

This may be a reflection of their failures in Ireland, although Spain, too, effectively admitted failure when it resorted in 1609 to the expulsion of some 300,000 moriscos from the peninsula. The Spanish failure, however, could be disguised as a triumph for the purity of the faith, whereas the continuing obduracy of the Irish allowed the English no such easy sleight of hand. Inevitably there were some shocking examples of Spaniards going native in the Americas, like that of the sailor Gonzalo Guerrero who, after being cast ashore on the coast of Yucatan, was found by Cortes living contentedly among the Maya, with his nose and ears pierced and his face and hands tattooed. 161 Yet the Spanish in the early stages of colonization appear not to have had the same obsessive fear of cultural degeneration that afflicted the English on making their first contact with indigenous peoples. At least in the early years, it seems to have been confidently assumed that most Spaniards, if confronted by such a dilemma, would imitate not Guerrero but his companion, Jeronimo de Aguilar, who had held fast to his faith during the trials and temptations of captivity, and, unlike Guerrero, seized the first opportunity to rejoin his compatriots. By contrast, there was a constant trickle of deserters from the Jamestown settlement. To the distress of the colony's leaders, the poorer settlers at least tended to prefer a carefree existence among the `wild' Indians to the rigours of building a `civilized' community under the direction of their social superiors. 166

Even on the frontiers of settlement, where life remained precarious, there still seems to have been a strong confidence in the eventual triumph of Christian and Hispanic values. Friars and royal officials approached the nomadic or semisedentary tribes on the fringes of empire with a clear sense of the superiority of what they had to offer the `barbarian' peoples. Over time, the combination of urbanized frontier settlements and missions brought peace and a measure of hispanicization to many of the frontier regions. This was particularly true of northern Mexico, where a shift in viceregal policy in the later sixteenth century away from fire and slaughter to the more subtle weapons of diplomacy and religious persuasion succeeded in pacifying the ferocious Chichimecs.167

Royal officials bribed the Indians on the borderlands with offers of food and clothing. Friars sought to dazzle them with their ceremonies, and woo them with their gifts.168 The inhabitants of the advanced Spanish outposts - soldiers, cattle ranchers and miners - mixed their blood with that of the indigenous popula- tion.169 Although tensions inevitably arose as friars, royal officials and settlers pulled in different directions, they all represented in their different ways a coherent and unified culture which was not afraid to interact with the surrounding population because it took for granted that sooner or later its values would prevail.

While the English displayed a similar sense of superiority, it does not seem to have been accompanied, at least in the early stages of settlement, by the same measure of confidence in the triumph of the collective values of their own society in an alien environment. Confidence was lacking both in their capacity to instil into the Indians their own cultural and religious values, and in the willingness of fellow Englishmen and women to remain true to those values when confronted with an alternative way of life. Religious differences, social differences, and the lack of unified direction may all have worked to lessen the coherence of the twin message of Christianity and civility that the English colonizing enterprise was supposed to bring to the Indians. This in turn brought failure, and as failures multiplied, exclusion rather than inclusion of the Indians became the order of the day. Once the Indians had been defeated, however, and relegated to the margins of their society, new generations of colonists could look out on the world with a new-found confidence based on a sense of power. In their own eyes at least, they might not have Christianized and civilized the `Salvages', but they could claim a massive achievement, both for their forebears and themselves, in clearing the wilderness and transforming the land.

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