encomienda


encomienda
/en koh'mee en"deuh, -kom'ee-/; Sp. /eng'kaw myen"dah/, n., pl. encomiendas /-deuhz/; Sp. /-dahs/. (formerly in Spanish America)
1. the system, instituted in 1503, under which a Spanish soldier or colonist was granted a tract of land or a village together with its Indian inhabitants.
2. the land or village together with its inhabitants.
[1800-10; < Sp: charge, commission, recommendation. See EN-1, COMMEND]

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In colonial Spanish America, a system by which the Spanish crown defined the status of the Indian population in its colonies.

An encomienda consisted of a grant by the crown of a specified number of Indians living in a particular area. The receiver (encomenderos) could exact tribute from the Indians and was required to protect them and instruct them in the Christian faith. The encomienda did not include a grant of land, but in practice the encomenderos gained control of Indian lands. Though the original intent was to reduce the abuses of forced labour, in practice it became a form of enslavement.

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▪ Spanish policy
      in colonial Spanish America, legal system by which the Spanish crown attempted to define the status of the Indian population in its American colonies. It was based upon the practice of exacting tribute from Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista (“Reconquest”) of Muslim Spain. Although the original intent of the encomienda was to reduce the abuses of forced labour ( repartimiento) employed shortly after the discovery of the New World, in practice it became a form of enslavement.

      As legally defined in 1503, an encomienda (from encomendar, “to entrust”) consisted of a grant by the crown to a conquistador, soldier, official, or others of a specified number of Indians living in a particular area. The receiver of the grant, the encomendero, could exact tribute from the Indians in gold, in kind, or in labour and was required to protect them and instruct them in the Christian faith. The encomienda did not include a grant of land, but in practice the encomenderos gained control of the Indians' lands and failed to fulfil their obligations to the Indian population. The crown's attempts to end the severe abuses of the system with the Laws of Burgos (1512–13) and the New Law of the Indies (1542) failed in the face of colonial opposition and, in fact, a revised form of the repartimiento system was revived after 1550.

      The encomienda was designed to meet the needs of the colonies' early mining economy. With the catastrophic decline in the Indian population and the replacement of mining activities by agriculture, the system lost its effectiveness and was gradually replaced by the hacienda (q.v.) system of landed estates. The encomienda was not officially abolished, however, until the late 18th century. See also repartimiento.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • encomienda — 1. f. Acción y efecto de encomendar. 2. Cosa encomendada. 3. Dignidad dotada de renta competente, que en las órdenes militares se daba a algunos caballeros. 4. Lugar, territorio y rentas de esta dignidad. 5. En las órdenes civiles, dignidad de… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

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  • Encomienda — The encomienda [The etymology of encomienda and encomendero lies in the Spanish verb encomendar , to entrust .] system is a trusteeship labor system that was employed by the Spanish crown during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the… …   Wikipedia

  • Encomienda — Francisco Hernández Girón, encomendero español que se rebeló en el Perú en 1553 contra la autoridad real a causa de las Leyes Nuevas que protegían al indígena contra los abusos de los encomenderos. Según dibujo de Guamana Poma de Ayala …   Wikipedia Español

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  • Encomienda — L encomienda était un système appliqué par les Espagnols lors de la conquête du Nouveau Monde, et appliqué dans tout l empire colonial espagnol à des fins économiques et d évangélisation. C était le regroupement sur un territoire de centaines d… …   Wikipédia en Français


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