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(ānkōmyān`dä) [Span. encomendar=to entrust], system of tributory labor established in Spanish America. Developed as a means of securing an adequate and cheap labor supply, the encomienda was first used over the conquered Moors of Spain. Transplanted to the New World, it gave the conquistador control over the native populations by requiring them to pay tribute from their lands, which were "granted" to deserving subjects of the Spanish crown. The natives often rendered personal services as well. In return the grantee was theoretically obligated to protect his wards, to instruct them in the Christian faith, and to defend their right to use the land for their own subsistence. When first applied in the West Indies, this labor system wrought such hardship that the population was soon decimated. This resulted in efforts by the Spanish king and the Dominican order to suppress encomiendas, but the need of the conquerors to reward their supporters led to de facto recognition of the practice. The crown prevented the encomienda from becoming hereditary, and with the New Laws (1542) promulgated by Las CasasLas Casas, Bartolomé de
, 1474–1566, Spanish missionary and historian, called the apostle of the Indies. He went to Hispaniola with his father in 1502, and eight years later he was ordained a priest.
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, the system gradually died out, to be replaced by the repartimientorepartimiento
, in Spanish colonial practice, usually, the distribution of indigenous people for forced labor. In a broader sense it referred to any official distribution of goods, property, services, and the like.
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 and finally debt peonagepeonage
, system of involuntary servitude based on the indebtedness of the laborer (the peon) to his creditor. It was prevalent in Spanish America, especially in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru.
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. Similar systems of land and labor apportionment were adopted by other colonial powers, notably the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the French.


See L. B. Simpson, The Encomienda in New Spain (rev. ed. 1966); J. F. Bannon, Indian Labor in the Spanish Indies (1966).



a form of exploitation of the Indian population in the Spanish colonies of America between the 16th and 18th centuries. Indians, who were nominally free, were “entrusted” to the Spanish colonialists, or encomenderos, to whom they were required to render payment in clothing, gold, or food and to perform corvée in the mines and on the estates of the encomenderos. In the 17th and 18th centuries the encomienda existed alongside other forms of colonial exploitation, such as the mita and peonage. The encomienda was officially abolished by royal decrees issued between 1718 and 1791, but in the majority of Spanish colonies it was retained until the early 19th century.


Al’perovich, M. S. “O kharaktere i formakh ekspluatatsii indeitsev v amerikanskikh koloniakh Ispanii (XVI-XVIII vv.).” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia, 1957, no. 2.
Ivanov, G. I. “Enkom’enda v Meksike i vosstaniia indeitsev v XVI v.” Uchenye zap. Ivanovskogo ped. in-ta, 1964, vol. 35.
References in periodicals archive ?
Little more than the first of his three-part, fifty-book history was published at the time, largely due to the opposition of the Dominican friar Bartolome de Las Casas, who contested Oviedo's support of the encomienda system, and it was not until 1851-55 that Jose Amador de los Rios published an imperfect edition of the entire history.
The encomienda was an institution through which the Crown granted a group of native Americans to a Spanish conquistador, who was to proffer religious education.
For instance, just twenty years after the discovery of the New World, (56) King Ferdinand sought theological and canonical advice, on the basis of which in 1512-1513 he promulgated legislation designed to curb the abuses of the encomienda system.
Since the name of Columbus invokes the very dynamic of the signature, it may be worth spending a little more time on the historical origins of the encomienda.
It was the locus to refine concepts of colony, mission, encomienda and revista.
In 1986 King Juan Carlos conferred on him La Encomienda de la Orden del Merito Civil.
Contractor address : Calle Hermes, 11 SAU 8 PolE[degrees]gono Industrial La Encomienda
Unlike other Inca leaders, Paullu worked with the Spanish and received an encomienda from Francisco Pizarro in 1539.
La preocupacion por su hijo es lo unico que da un sentido a la vida de Miriam en La hora azul, al mismo tiempo que Ormache abre y cierra su relato con la evocacion de su propia madre, cuyo fallecimiento abre paso a la trama principal y a cuya sombra protectora se encomienda el protagonista: "Los recuerdos que tendria en el futuro se me revelaban como un consuelo.
6) Whites and non-whites clashed over colonial labor policy, as the latter resisted the devastation of the encomienda, the alquiler general, the mita minera and the agricultural concierto.
First, the Franciscans were highly critical of the military conquest of the Indians and of the encomienda system in general.
While landowners, or encomenderos, were obliged to follow a set of laws mandating that the native Guarani be treated decently and be provided with Christian instruction, the encomienda system quickly deteriorated into a legalized form of slavery.