Spain vs England Colonial Administration

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Last updated: March 17, 2019

The discovery of a new world by Christopher Columbus in 1492 opened up new opportunities for trading, conquest, and political success and wealth in the later years. Spain and England found their way to the Americas (by crossing the Atlantic, etc. ) and established their own colonies, which were able to give their nations profits. In order to have the imperial power of Spain and England benefit from their colonial establishments, the dependent nations would use their surrounding natural resources which would be then used in trading, selling, and building ships, etc.Although both the British and the Spanish colonies existed for the profit and the power of the core nation, the two nations featured different systems of colonial administration. Spain focused on a centralized colonial administration, giving the crown direct control of the peoples in their colonies through the viceroys (officials) in the New World and the Council of the Indies, whereas British colonies existed under three different kinds of charters: the proprietary charter, royal charter, and charter colonies. Their political administrations each resulted in different effects for their peoples.

Mercantilism, however, was a policy shown throughout the Spanish rule in the Southern part of the Americas and the English rule in North America. The Spanish colonies in the Americas were established by the explorers sent to explore the newly-discovered lands. Any treasure they were able to find, however, would partially belong to the Spanish crown back in Europe. During the 1500’s and 1600’s, Spain began to take over Mexico City and Peru.

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Hernando Cortez was able to control and conquer the Aztecs. Ingeniously, he joined with tribes that disliked the Aztec rule, and therefore they were able to overthrown Tenochtitlan.In Mexico City, the with the Royal Council of the Indies, the viceroys of New Spain appointed officials or inspectors.

For example, Indians would be expected to work in the mills. The viceroys would appoint the mill inspectors, so that not so much injustice would take place in the working areas since the corenation was notified of unfair mistreatment of Indian workers. Likewise, maltreatment of indigenous people was also common in Peru. Peru was first conquered by Francisco Pizarro in 1531 through 1536. With him, he brought diseases, killing many of the population.

He also captured the Inca Atahualpa and executed many officials.Without leaders, the Incas couldn’t fight properly and gave in to Spanish control. New Spain now controlled Mexico City and the Inca land of Peru. Spain controlled their dependent nations with a centralized form of government. The lands, were divided in five provinces. The viceroys acted for Spain and represented the King; they were important and respected. The Council of the Indies made colony laws, members of the cabildo (city council) were appointed in each city or town in order to extend power. Also, supervisions were made in building towns and cities so as to not violate any Spanish laws.

The encomienda system was popular during this time. Encomiendas were the rights to demand taxes or labor from the Indians of the land. Encomiendas were used to make the Indians work (such us in mines – Potosi Mine in Peru – or mills in Mexico City) even when they were in danger of dying.

When Spanish missionaries went to the New World, they openly proclaimed the indigenous people were treated cruelly. Mercantilism – the effort to achieve profits from their dependent nations – was shown in New Spain by the goods provided from the Indians’ labor which would later become crucial for trading therefore giving Spain profits.The English colonial administration, however, did not rely on a centralized government. In fact, it was characterized by charters. The three main charters were known as the proprietary charter, the royal charter, and the charter colonies. The charters defined the relationship of the colony to their corenation, free from involvement from the Crown.

Proprietary charters gave governing authority to the proprietor, who determined the form of government, chose the officers, and made laws, subject to the advice and consent of the freemen. There were three main royal charters.These charters authorized the London Company of Virginia to establish a colony in Virginia (given by King James I). Yet, eventually, with royal charters, all become under direct control of the corenation. There were thirteen English colonies in the Americas: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. They had small farms and plantation systems. Plantation systems were large states were farmers would be expected to farm, with an overseer or owner as the Head.

The plantations helped crops grow; tobacco – imported by John Rolfe from his explorations in the Caribbean – was greatly grown as well as sugar and cotton. Like the Spanish, England colonies used the natural resources around them in order to make goods. Shipbuilding was very common because of the lumber around them. They are close to a body of water, therefore, seafood trading would also be popular. Fish and other seafood would be sold to Spain, Portugal, and the West Indies to make profits. Their plantations of cotton and tobacco were also important.These actions brought riches to the colonies, demonstrating Mercantilism now in North America, like the Spanish had done in South America and Mexico. Yet, England isolated the native populations when it came to intermingling.

Unlike the Spanish, who would bring women, intermingle with the native populations and ultimately produce mestizoes (mixed raced), the British would be separated from the indigenous people in their race. The New World allowed European nations to begin to establish dependent nations there bringing them profits and benefits politically and economically.Spain captured their lands mostly in the south (Mexico and South America) and England mostly in the north (North America). Mercantilism was demonstrated throughout the 1600’s in the Americas. Both nations similarly would find ways to make goods and products from the natural resources around them. Their organization did differ in that Spain was concentrated on a centralized government, while England believed in organizing its thirteen colonies by following three charters. Not only this, but religion identity was different in both. New England was open to religious freedom; Spain, however, mostly tried to Christianize its peoples.

Indians in both of their lands would be used for work; though English colonies did not treat Indians as brutally as Spain, the Indians did mostly work in plantations and had few rights (yet the Laws of 1542 gave Indians the right to own cattle, raise crops, and not be turned into slaves by the Spanish. ) Even though each nation had their own particular way of administration their dependent nations, they were able to bring about effective ways to make the corenation more prosperous, and be able to extend their rule into the New World.


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