Happy Columbus Day?

•Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conqu

est of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.

•Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, “ought to be good servants … [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion.” [SH200]
While Columbus described the Indians as “idolators” and “slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order,” his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as “beasts” because “they eat when they are hungry,” and made love “openly whenever they feel like it.” [SH204-205]

•On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, “making the declarations that are required” – the requerimiento – to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And “nobody objected.” If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:

“I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you … and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church … and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him.” [SH66]

•Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: “justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England … to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, … and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ.” [SH235]

•In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of “the marvelous goodness and providence of God” to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as “for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.” [SH109,238]

•On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]

•The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and Spanish raids.
•As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.” [SH69]

•The Indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As “they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.” [SH70]

•What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness:
“The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties … They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles… then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.” [SH72]
Or, on another occasion:
“The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts…Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.” [SH83]

•The “island’s population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out.” Eventually all the island’s natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were “forced” to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus “the Caribbean’s millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century”. [SH72-73] “In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated.” [SH75]

•”And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitlán [Mexico city] was next.” [SH75]

•Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other Spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).

•”When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.”

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