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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 ?
Ello porque la primera se encomienda exclusivamente a autoridades civiles, mientras que la segunda se encuentra a cargo exclusivo de las Fuerzas Armadas.
Desde el principio supe que podria con la encomienda y a 26 meses de distancia sigo creyendo que ha sido la mejor oportunidad de mi vida.
Without her ability to consult with her own God and conscience about when or if to have children, she and her family are often trapped in endless poverty--a continuing supply of subhuman disposable labor, not unlike enslaved native populations in the Americas on the encomiendas 500 years ago.
Aun cuando formalmente la encomienda fuese una concesion que no implicaba un senorio de vasallos, las condiciones regionales se impusieron.
They looked for a blind spot and grabbed Julius from there,' Encomienda said in an interview.
Entre las primeras espanolas que accedieron directamente a la encomienda o a traves de la herencia, tenemos a Catalina Sotomayor, a quien se le otorgo la de Pachuca.
El asunto adquirio insospechadas dimensiones al saberse que la encomienda iba destinada a dona Ines Prieto, esposa del administrador principal de correos de la ciudad de santa Fe, don Diego Martin Tanco, quien de inmediato mando adelantar las pesquisas de rigor con el fin de detectar en que punto del camino habia ocurrido el extravio.
Por otra parte, a fin de cumplir con la encomienda hecha, Juan Castillo Morales fue hasta su casa y pidio a su amasia que lavara la ropa ensangrentada.
Lovell and Lutz meticulously turn to overlooked manuscripts like tribute assessments (tasaciones) and lawsuits (pleitos) to reconstruct the burdens of the encomienda system.
Ante esta situacion, acudio al rey solicitando se le confirmara la encomienda de la mitad de la provincia de Tlapa, que rentaba unos 900 tributos anuales.
xii-xiv), dada a conocer en 1999, en la que se analizo como fue la ocupacion del espacio y la estructura socioeconomica resultante en los territorios santiaguistas, donde se incluye tambien lo relacionado con la encomienda emeritense.
Sin embargo, ambas acciones pueden volverse en su contra y generar una percepcion de un trabajo descuidado, o peor, en decepcion si la tarea se la encomienda solamente al investigador novel.