Epidemics, Slavery, Massacres, and Indigenous Resistance 1492-1599


Spain issues requerimiento and Laws of Burgos, demanding subjugation

The Laws of Burgos are the first legal code in the Americas, directing Spaniards to read aloud a religious justification and demand for obedience from the Native populations, known as El Requerimiento. The law gives Native peoples a chance to submit before being attacked or enslaved, but this is an impossible task since Natives do not speak Spanish. Thus, the Spaniards continue to enslave and seize Indigenous lands. “Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the ruler and superior of the whole world. But if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their highnesses; we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him: and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition” (Rubios, 1513).

Settler Colonial Policy