The Spanish were the main people the Tainos met when Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492.
The Spanish in 1491:
- Population: between 6 and 10 million (England at the time had about 5 million).
- Language: Spanish (Castilian), a Romance language that comes from the street Latin of northern Iberia. The Spanish are never called Romance Europeans.
- Lands: Spain: in the western Mediterranean:
- the Iberian peninsula, except for Portugal in the west and Navarre in the north,
- Balearic Islands,
- Canary Islands (off the African coast).
- Cities and towns: Unlike France, Italy and the Ottoman Empire, it had no city of more than 50,000. Largest cities: Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Valencia, Barcelona. Houses were squarish with triangular roofs and held one extended family (?).
- Government: Ruled by reyes, kings, who received taxes and inherited their position. Nearly all were men.
- Society: nobles and commoners. Property passed through the father’s side. Men had one wife.
- Economy: mostly farming and fishing. Full-time craftsmen. Produced iron, wool and sugar for trade.
- grew: wheat, making it into bread, their main food. Grapes, olives, oranges, lemons, sugar.
- raised: cows, sheep, pigs.
- other: fish, wine.
- Religion: gold.
- Sport: pilota, a kind of handball.
- Technology: cities, towns, pottery, farming, sea travel, gold, iron, writing, calendar, plough, compass. Their culture supported millions but was based too much on cities and war to remain in balance with nature (non-ecosystemic). Wheat could only produce half as many calories per hectare of land as maize or cassava.
- Military technology: swords, lances, armoured men on horseback.
- Enemies: the Moors, dark-skinned Muslims who had ruled Spain for hundreds of years.
- Origins: The Tainos thought the Spanish had come from the heavens. This was disproved when it was found that holding them under water killed them and that their bodies would not come back to life, not even days later.
The Spanish wiped out 85% of the Tainos with genocide and disease.
They raped Taino women, took them as sex slaves and wives.They brought in black slaves to take the place of the Taino dead. Today Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are, genetically and culturally, a mix of Taino, Spanish and African.
In 1494 the pope, their religious leader, divided the Americas in two: the Portuguese got Brazil, the Spanish got the rest. The Spanish overthrew the Aztec and Incan empires. They shipped the silver and gold of the Americas to Europe. They produced 80% of the world’s silver from 1500 to 1800, much of it from the mountain of Potosí in Bolivia (then part of Peru). Most of the silver wound up in China, the Netherlands (their bankers) or was wasted in wars.
In the 1800s the Spanish lost their empire in the Americas, though 40% of the people there still speak Spanish as a native language.
Contributions to the Western world: Discovery of the Americas; racist ideas about its native peoples, whom they misnamed indios (Indians).
- Tainos – the model for this post
- Spanish language
- Spanish words:
- John Mohawk: Racism: An American Ideology
- The British – modelled on a post about the Iroquois, just as this one was modelled on the one about the Tainos