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The Black Legend And White Legend: Relationship Between The Spanish And Indians In The New World

2525 words - 10 pages

The Black Legend and White Legend: Relationship Between the Spanish and Indians in the New World

The Spanish-Indian relationship can be defined in many
ways. One definition used is through the Black Legend and the
White Legend. The interpretation of the Black Legend can
depend on whom you are talking to. The Black Legend speaks of
the Spaniards abusing the Indians and being guilty of much
more misconduct than history has ever recorded. The White
Legend speaks of how the Spaniards benefitted the Indian
society by building communities, hospitals and spreading the
Word of God. There are two reasons why the Spaniards were so
intent on spreading the Gospel. The first is because Spain
wanted to ensure political and military means of safety and
independence of their own religious community and even more so
their predominance over others. The second was a deeper
desire to convert, which included appealing to the minds and
hearts of individual unbelievers by preaching, reasoning and
if needed by force (Plumb 152).

The conquest of the new world began with a small band of
Spanish soldiers. The soldiers proceeded to march against and
subdue the huge population of the mainland (Black 24). The
Black Legend speaks of all that the Spanish had done to the
Indians and the horrible things done to them and the land.
This Black Legend exists only in areas where the people are
"anti-Hispanic" especially where English is spoken, and in
modern Spanish America (24).

The White Legend is true only in reverse. The people who
claim to believe in this Legend hold to the belief that the
Spanish were a credit to society and help the Indians in their
everyday lives by providing livestock and new medicines and
also education including Religion. They, meaning the
Spaniards, believed that they eliminated cannibalism and human
sacrifice from their society.

The Black Legend states that Spaniards slaughtered
thousands of Indians and subjected the remainder to
exploitative forced labor. The treatment of the Indians by
the Spaniards could be compared to the treatment of animals
which was more tolerable, but the Spaniards viewed the Indians
as "dung and filth of the earth, and so little did they regard
the health of their souls that they permitted this great
multitude to die without the least light of religion" (Spanish

Both legends are accurate, but neither gives the whole
truth. Basically the truth is only what one chooses it to be.

Another argument considered about the Black Legend was
that the Spaniards claimed to want to bring Christianity to
the Indians but this was not the case, for example: "That he
was a Christian, son of God, Creator of heaven and Earth and
that he had come to teach him his divine law." The chief
responded, "If thy God commands thee to go to the country of
strangers, robbing and burning, killing and doing every sort
of evil, we give thee to...

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