Little Bits of History

Play Nice

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 27, 2011

King Ferdinand II

December 27, 1512: The Laws of Burgos are issued by the Spanish Crown. Burgos, a city in the Kingdom of Castile (now called Spain), set forth the rules entitled in Spanish Leyes de Burgos. These rules codified the behaviors of Spanish settlers in the New World. It was concerned over the wellbeing of indigenous people in the region and the new laws forbade the mistreatment of them, although it did encourage their conversion to Catholicism. The laws were issued because the common laws of Castile were not applied to the colonies.

Cardinal Archbishop Domingo de Mendoza of Seville had heard reports of abuse of the American Natives, known as Indians. The naming convention resulted after a confused Columbus thought he had reached the Indies instead of bumping into a huge land mass between Europe and Asia. The region became known as the West Indies because of this confusion and the natives were called Indians. Mendoza, appalled by stories of mistreatment, sent a group of Dominican missionaries to Hispaniola to try to intervene. The missionaries were unable to physically stop the abuse, but they agitated with enough vigor to bring about change.

The Spanish settlers were afraid of losing their lands if Mendoza continued and therefore they arranged their own ambassador to Spain. They chose a Franciscan Friar, Alonso de Espinal, to present their case to King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Their plan backfired and rather than making their case, the King was aghast at the treatment meted out to the natives. Ferdinand then created a committee of theologians and academics to arrive at a solution to this problem.

The committee came up with a set of 35 laws, some of which still seem draconian. Indians were to be removed from their land but then placed into “encomiendas” with housing provided and then forced to plant crops to feed the people. A law stated that Indians would leave their land willingly so as not to suffer being removed by force. Churches were to be built close by and natives were to be tested every two weeks to be sure they were learning the Ten Commandments. Two percent of the  natives were to be taught to read. There were many more regulations and they were yet again amended in July 28, 1513.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

“If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” – Marilyn Monroe

“Live one day at a time emphasizing ethics rather than rules.” – Wayne Dyer

“Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Also on this day:

Hagia Sophia – In 537, the Hagia Sophia was officially dedicated.
Coming into Port – In 1703, the Methuen Treaty was signed by Portugal and England.

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