Spanish Empire

How Spain Tried to Dominate the World | Mikaela & Taheera

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Places they colonized 1500s-1600s

  • North & South America = Incan & Aztec Empires
  • Africa; Western Sahara (1884-1975) & Morocco (1911-1956)
  • The Pacific; Philippines (1521-1898)
  • The Netherlands (1579-1743)



Bible and Gun Theory = Convert or die

While discovering new lands and encountering different people during the 15th and 16th centuries, missionaries were sent over to establish Catholicism in the new colonies. Philip II, who reigned as the King of Spain from 1556 to 1598, saw himself as the champion of Catholicism. Thus, missionaries spread Catholicism believing it was their religious duty and forcefully converting the indigenous population was a triumph for Christendom.
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Early exploration in the 16th century revealed areas with abundant resources. In the Americas, silver and gold were mined. These colonies were run as an extension of Spain and all profits were committed to benefiting the "mother land". The objective of the conquistadors was to obtain precious metals, which benefited the Crown as well. However, this was done at the expense of agricultural development. Imported precious metals, raw materials, spices from colonies

  • Colonies = outlet for Spain’s manufactured goods
  • Growing Spanish economy = flourished, Spain’s golden age
  • Enhanced their own power


  • Sincerely believed that the advanced society should rule over the lesser one to improve on it = natural
  • They believed the indigenous were barbaric and inhumane
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Spain's Experience
  • Were seen as bloodthirsty conquerors
  • Anti-Spanish sentiment resulted in demonizing of Spanish empire
Indigenous' Experience
  • Had little to no political rights
  • Civilizations were destroyed


Spain's Experience
  • Their economy flourished thanks to the resources (gold, silver, food, etc.)
  • Inflation (depended on their colonies' resources - precious metals, affecting the poor and those with fixed incomes negatively [1561-1600])

Indigenous' Experience

  • Loss of resources for themselves, were milked
  • Genocide linked to slavery through exploitation of the population
  • Labour system encomienda and repartimiento (allowed colonists to use forced labour)
  • Restrictions were imposed on colonies to prevent competition with Spain
The Spanish Empire, Silver, & Runaway Inflation: Crash Course World History #25


Spain's Experience
  • Became known as The Black Legend
  • Demonized by the rest of Europe
  • Their achievements = ignored in favour of classifying the Spanish as greedy and cruel

Indigenous' Experience

  • 20 million indigenous died from horrors of slavery/disease (though they did try and fight back – undermining Spanish authority, fighting in battles, leaving homeland)
  • Loss of culture (language and traditions) --> ex. Aztec (1519) & Incan (1532) civilizations
  • Had their own class system; emperor, nobles, powerful priests and religion; human sacrifice to appease Gods --> overruled
  • Inca = had their own systems which Spanish adopted but to benefit Spain & was bad for natives
  • Had similar structures w/ both civilizations that merged; administrative, similar link b/n religious & secular power = easy for Spanish to step into power positions of emperors & send their own administrators