a benign conquest
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A BENIGN CONQUEST?. It is often argued that the conquest of the Philippines was a relatively peaceful affair compared to the Americas

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It is often argued that the conquest of the Philippines was a relatively peaceful affair compared to the Americas
  • The demographic disaster prompted theological and legal debates in Spain over the treatment of indigenous peoples and policies that should be pursued in the acquisition of new territories
Philippine Conquest
  • requerimiento was still being used in new conquest
  • this document called upon the natives to recognize the superior authority of the King and Church
  • called upon to submit to the Catholic Church and Spanish rule
  • though largely after conquest was a fait a complit in the Americas, there was a great debate between the Dominican friar, Bartolome´ de las Casas and the Aristotleian scholar, Gine´s de Sepu´ lveda
  • Persistent criticism of the requerimiento, that came to symbolize the worst excesses of Spanish treatment of the Indians in the Americas, eventually led in 1573 to the introduction of new Ordinances that specified the procedures to be followed in undertaking new conquests
The new Ordinance
  • ‘conquest’ was officially replaced by ‘pacificacion’
  • were not introduced until after the Spanish had conquered the Visayasand large parts of Luzon
  • Philip II had already signaled this change in policy in his instructions to Legazpi for the discovery and conquest of the Philippines
  • the islands, which bore his name, effectively became the testing ground for the new policy of ‘peaceful conquest’
Spain’s interest in Asia was to establish a foothold in the Southeast Asian spice trade, which at that time was dominated by the Portuguese
  • Legazpi was permitted to barter with natives and if there proved to be items of sufficient economic interest, such as spices or gold
  • he was to establish a settlement where the natives were most receptive and inform the Crown of what had been achieved and await further instructions
  • Circumstances within the islands meant that from the beginning the new approach was doomed to fail
Relations between barangays were sometimes characterized by conflict
  • Spanish demands for Filipinos to recognize Spanish authority and render tribute
  • They often resisted because the payment of tribute was so new and foreign to them
  • Effective rejection of Spanish rule provided sufficient legal justification for ‘just war’ under the requerimiento
  • But even where Filipinos offered no resistance, as was the case in Pampanga, many were killed, captured and sold as slaves
  • conquest in the Philippines was characterized by brutality that showed equally little respect for human life
The Spanish found the first five years in the islands particularly difficult due to shortages of provisions and threats of attack from the Portuguese
  • Spaniards settled at Cebu was a constant pre-occupation
  • Spanish thus resorted to raiding native villages, where they also seized other goods and took captives as slaves
  • the expedition switched its base to Panay in 1569 where provisions were more abundant
  • Spanish continued to raid native villages because the inhabitants often fled and refused to cultivate the land in an attempt to drive them out
  • As such, the Spanishclaimedthey were forced to ‘rob in order to eat’
Low morale amongst the troops and the desire to retain control of the colony meant that in1568 the Crown acquiesced to Legazpi’s request to permit the distribution of encomiendas
  • In the Philippines, it was clear that such privileges were essential if Spain was to maintain its tenuous foothold in the islands
  • Any moral objections that Philip II may have had about the encomienda were overshadowed by practical considerations
  • Theencomiendagave legal license to private individuals to continue their hitherto illegal exactions and as such the opportunity to initiate a less oppressive form of colonial rule in the Philippines was lost
In 1570, exploratory expeditions from Panay culminated in the establishment of Manila from whence further expeditions were mounted to the north and south
  • Although it was claimed that the subjugation of the region around Laguna de Bay occurred without a drop of blood being shed, in most regions it was accompanied by conflict and loss of life
  • Native resistance was in large part a reaction to ill treatment
  • On the coast of Ilocosand Pangasinan, three expeditions between 1572 and 1573 seized 6000 taesof gold, mostly in the form of jewelry
  • the expeditions entered villages demanding tribute, without any attempt to preach to the natives or offer them gifts.
When some attempted to flee they pursued them killing as many as they could, before they returned to loot and destroy their homes
  • The presence of gold may also have contributed to the brutality of the conquest in the Bikolpeninsula
  • soldiers were given ‘wide license’ and sacked, destroyed and depopulated many villages in the Bay of Ibalon, taking many slaves
  • In 1574, the Augustinian friar Martı´n de Radaclaimed that more natives had died there than in any other region that had been pacified hitherto
Although the initial impact of Spanish conquest was quite devastating, in many regions military conquest was short-lived
  • Spanish settled down in Manila to make their wealth through trade with China, exchanging primarily Mexican silver for Chinese silks
  • The long distance from Spain and Mexico and the early reputation that the islands gained for being unhealthy for Europeans served to limit the number of settlers
  • In many regions the main representatives of Spanish authority were members of the religious orders, who also became the major landholders