(redirected from Encomenderos)
Also found in: Dictionary.


(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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
 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.
..... Click the link for more information.
. 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 ?
Nos principais nucleos da colonizacao, os pactos envolviam senhores indigenas, encomenderos, corrigidores e administradores, tanto locais quanto regionais.
Nas terras do marques, os chefes antigos permaneceram no comando das terras, nao enfrentaram a ira dos encomenderos, nem mesmo de ambiciosos maceguales.
Nesse sentido, vale indicar que a intervencao da conquista nao atuou apenas sobre os chefes indigenas, mas tambem sobre conquistadores e encomenderos, ambos tiveram seus privilegios paulatinamente congelados e nao herdados por seus filhos; (39) portanto, a dominacao castelhana na America nao se fazia apenas sobre nativos e antigas elites mexicanas.
Xochimancas se transformo seguramente despues de la conquista, de jardin o ciudad de jardines en hacienda, con encomenderos y esclavos; despues en ruinas y guaridas de fieras y reptiles, y al ultimo en guarida de ladrones, y lo que es peor, y como vamos a verlo, en sitio de torturas y de asesinatos.
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.
Caracas encomenderos used the profits from these sales to purchase African slaves.
He was disowned by his Order, but the King ruled that the Spaniards were encomenderos, or trustees, who might make Indians work but must protect and teach them.
Ello esta relacionado con el papel que formalmente se le asigno al establecer ahi, desde mediados del siglo xvi, la capital del nuevo reino, sede de encomenderos y el obispado dando lugar a un hinterland de alcance mesurable en terminos de cientos de kilometros (Lockart, 1997).
37) As the voice of the colony, Sanchez travelled to Spain to represent the merchants, political authorities, religious leaders and encomenderos.
In securing the conversion of the Asian world to Christianity the encomenderos, as the foot soldiers of the conquest, demanded accommodation.
Comparing the conditions of work in the encomiendas to slavery, and declaring the colony an offense to God, the Augustinians threatened to stop administering confessions to the encomenderos until the newly arrived bishop put an end to the practice of appropriating indigenous labour.
We must recall, moreover, that Ercilla's primary concern is to defend the interests of the Crown, and thus the Araucanians provide a counterpart to condemn the behavior of the encomenderos.