Two centuries after Cortés and Pizarro seized the Aztec and Inca empires, Spain’s conquest of America remained unfinished. Indians retained control over most of the lands in Spain’s American empire. Mounted on horseback, savvy about European ways, and often possessing firearms, independent Indians continued to find new ways to resist subjugation by Spanish soldiers and conversion by Spanish missionaries.In this panoramic study, David J. Weber explains how late eighteenthcentury Spanish administrators tried to fashion a more enlightened policy toward the people they called bárbaros, or savages.” Even Spain’s most powerful monarchs failed, however, to enforce a consistent, well-reasoned policy toward Indians. At one extreme, powerful independent Indians forced Spaniards to seek peace, acknowledge autonomous tribal governments, and recognize the existence of tribal lands, fulfilling the Crown’s oft-stated wish to use gentle” means in dealing with Indians. At the other extreme the Crown abandoned its principles, authorizing bloody wars on Indians when Spanish officers believed they could defeat them. Power, says Weber, more than the power of ideas, determined how Spaniards treated savages” in the Age of Enlightenment.
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"This is a pathbreaking, tightly organized, surefooted book. At last we have something solid and comparative in the field of colonial Latin American frontiers, and unincorporated Indians can never again be dismissed as unimportant to the story of Spain in America. The book is a pure delight."—Amy Turner Bushnell, The John Carter Brown Library
"A masterful synthesis that will serve as a necessary point of departure for historians working in different areas of frontier or borderlands history for many years to come."—Cynthia Radding, Director, Latin American and Iberian Institute, University of New Mexico
"A stunning book that will be read for generations and lauded for its awesome research, judicious analysis, and graceful prose."—James Schofield Saeger, Lehigh University "A lucidly written landmark study, packed with insight, patterns, regional and temporal specificity, and memorable voices. A key to much about Latin American history. Everyone who wants to write about the colonial period must reckon with this book."—William B. Taylor, University of California, BerkeleyAbout the Author:
DAVID J. WEBER is Dedman Professor of History and director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwestern Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is the author or editor of more than sixty scholarly articles and twenty-two books.
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