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Authors: John H. Elliott

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Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830

BOOK: Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830
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Britain and Spain in America


J. H. Elliott


List of Illustrations vii
List of Maps Xi
Introduction. Worlds Overseas xiii
Note on the Text xxi
Part 1. Occupation
1. Intrusion and Empire 3
Hernan Cortes and Christopher Newport; motives and methods
2. Occupying American Space 29
Symbolic occupation; physical occupation; peopling the land
3. Confronting American Peoples 57
A mosaic of peoples; Christianity and civility; coexistence and segregation
4. Exploiting American Resources 88
Plunder and `improvement'; labour supply; transatlantic economies
Part 2. Consolidation
5. Crown and Colonists 117
The framework of empire; authority and resistance
6. The Ordering of Society 153
Hierarchy and control; social antagonism and emerging elites
7. America as Sacred Space 184
God's providential design; the church and society; a plurality of creeds
8. Empire and Identity 219
Transatlantic communities; creole communities; cultural communities
Part 3. Emancipation
9. Societies on the Move 255
Expanding populations; moving frontiers; slave and free
10. War and Reform 292
The Seven Years War and imperial defence; the drive for reform; redefining imperial relationships
11. Empires in Crisis 325
Ideas in ferment; a community divided; a crisis contained
12. A New World in the Making 369
The search for legitimacy; the end of empire; the emancipation of America: contrasting experiences
Epilogue 403
List of Abbreviations 412
Notes 413
Bibliography 481
Index 517



between pages 200 and 201
1 Woodcut of the city of Tenochtitlan from Praeclara Ferdinandi Cortesii de nova maris oceani hispania narratio (Nuremberg, 1524). Newberry Library, Chicago.
2 Antonio Rodriguez (attrib.), Portrait of Moctezuma (Motecuhzoma II), c. 1680-97. Oil on canvas. Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Pitti, Florence. Photo A. Dagli Orti/Art Archive, London.
3 Abraham Ortelius, `New Description of America' from Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Antwerp, 1592). Coloured engraving.
4 John White, Indians Fishing. Watercolour. British Museum, London. Photo Scala, Florence.
5 New England Natives Greeting Bartholomew Gosnold. Engraving. Library of Congress, Washington D.C. Photo Bridgeman Art Library, London.
6 Powhatan's mantle, North American Indian, from Virginia (late sixteenth/early seventeenth century). Deerskin with shell patterns. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Photo Bridgeman Art Library.
7 Seal of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Photo Bettmann/Corbis.
8 Simon van de Passe, Portrait of Pocahontas (1616). Engraving. Photo Culver Pictures/Art Archive, London.
9 Thomas Holme, A Portraiture of the City of Philadelphia in the Province of Pennsylvania in America (London, 1683). Engraving. Courtesy of James D. Kornwolf.
10 Samuel Copen, A Prospect of Bridge Town in Barbados (London, 1695). Engraving - separate print in two sheets. Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library, Providence at Brown University, Rhode Island.
11 Illustration from Fray Jeronimo de Alcala (?), Relation de Michoacan (1539-40), showing the author presenting the Relation to the viceroy. © Patrimonio Nacional, Biblioteca del Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial (C.IV.5).
12 Miguel Gaspar de Berrio, Description of the Cerro Rico and the Imperial Town of Potosi (1758). Oil on board. Museo de Las Charcas, Sucre, Bolivia. Photo Paul Maeyaert/Bridgeman Art Library
13 Jose de Alcibar, St Joseph and the Virgin (1792). Museo de America, Madrid.
14 Anon., Mrs Elizabeth Freake and her Baby Mary (c. 1671-74). Oil on canvas. Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts. Photo Bridgeman Art Library.
15 Andres de Islas, Four Different Racial Groups (1774): No. 1 De espanol e india, nace mestizo; No. 2 De espanol y mestiza nace castizo; No. 9 De indio y mestiza, nace coyote; No. 10 De lobo y negra, nace chino. Oil on panels. Museo de America, Madrid. Photo Bridgeman Art Library.
16 Anon., Portrait of Viceroy Don Luis de Velasco, the younger, marques de Salinas (1607). Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico D.F.
17 Sir Peter Lely, Portrait of Vice-Admiral Sir William Berkeley. National Maritime Museum, London.
18 Anon., Angel Carrying Arquebus, Cuzco school, Peru (eighteenth century). Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes, Salamanca. Photo G. Dagli Orti/Art Archive, London.
19 Anon., Santa Rosa of Lima and the Devil (seventeenth century). Oil on canvas. Villalpando Retablo, Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de Mexico, D.F. Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes/Direction General de Sitios y Monumentos del Patrimonio Cultural/Acervo de la Catedral Metropolitana, Mexico D.F.
20 Anon., Plaza Mayor de Lima Cabeza de los Reinos de el Peru (1680). Oil on canvas. Private collection. Photo Oronoz, Madrid.
21 Jose Juarez (attrib.), The transfer of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe to its first chapel in Tepeyac (1653). Oil on canvas. Museo de la Basilica de Guadalupe, Mexico D.F. Photo Jesus Sanchez Uribe.
22 Anon., Return of Corpus Christi Procession to Cuzco Cathedral (c. 1680). Courtesy of the Arzobispado de Cuzco. Photo Daniel Giannoni
between pages 328 and 329
23 Anon., View of Mexico City, La muy noble y leal ciudad de Mexico (1690-92). Biombo (folding screen), oil on wood. Museo Franz Mayer, Mexico D.F.
24 School of San Jose de Los Naturales, Mass of St Gregory (1539). Feathers on wood with touches of paint. Musee des Jacobins, Auch, Gets, France.
25 Church of Our Lady of Ocotlan, Tlaxcala, Mexico (c. 1760). Photo Dagli Orti/Art Archive, London.
26 Interior of Christ Church, Philadelphia (1727-44). Courtesy of James D. Kornwolf.
27 Cristobal de Villalpando, Joseph Claims Benjamin as his Slave (1700-14). Oil on canvas. Collection of Jan and Frederick R. Mayer, on loan to the Denver Art Museum (10.2005).
28 Rectangular silver gilt tray, probably from Upper Peru (1700-50). The Royal Collection © 2005 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
29 Miguel Cabrera, Portrait of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1750). Oil on canvas. Museo Nacional de Historia, Mexico D.F. Photo Dagli Orti (A)/Art Archive, London.
30 Peter Pelham, Portrait of Cotton Mather (c. 1715). Mezzotint. Photo Hutton Archive/MPI/Getty Images, London.
31 Portrait of Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora from his Mercurio volante (Mexico D.E, 1693).
32 Westover House, Charles County, Virginia (1732). Photo c. 1909. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
33 William Williams, Husband and Wife in a Landscape (1775). Oil on canvas. Courtesy Winterthur Museum, Delaware.
34 Jose Mariana Lara, Don Matheo Vicente de Musitu y Zavilde and his Wife Dona Maria Gertrudis de Salazar y Duan (late eighteenth century). Oil on canvas. Fomento Cultural Banamex, Mexico D.F.
35 Jan Verelst, Portrait of Tee Yee Neen Ho Go Row, emperor of the Five Nations. Private collection. Photo Bridgeman Art Library.
36 Bishop Roberts, Charles Town Harbour (c. 1740). Watercolour. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
37 Anon., The Old Plantation, South Carolina (c. 1800). Watercolour. Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg.
38 Henry Dawkins, A North-West Prospect of Nassau Hall with a Front View of the President's House in New Jersey (1764). Engraving after W. Tennant. Photo Corbis.
39 Paul Revere, The Boston Massacre, 5 March 1770 (1770). Engraving. Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts. Photo Bridgeman Art Library.
40 Anon., Union of the Descendants of the Imperial Incas with the Houses of Loyola and Borja, Cuzco School (1718). Oil on canvas. Museo Pedro de Osma, Lima.
41 William Russell Birch, High Street, from The Country Market Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1798). Engraving. Photo Hulton Archive/MPI/Getty Images, London.
42 Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington (1796). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo Bridgeman Art Library.
43 Portrait of Simon Bolivar painted on ivory. Minature. France (1828). After a painting by Roulin. Photo courtesy of Canning House, London.



1. The Peoples of America, 1492. 2
2. The Early Modern Atlantic World. 50
3. Spanish American Viceroyalties and Audiencias (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries). 124
4. Principal Cities and Towns of British and Spanish America, c. 1700. 174
5. The Caribbean, c. 1700. 225
6. British America, 1763. 293
7. Spain's American Empire, End of the Eighteenth Century. 354



Introduction. Worlds Overseas
`On how much better the land seems from the sea than the sea from the land!" The Spanish official who crossed the Atlantic in 1573 can hardly have been alone in his sentiments. After anything up to twelve weeks tossing on the high seas, the European emigrants - more than 1.5 million of them between 1500 and 1780s2 - who stumbled uncertainly onto American soil must have felt in the first instance an overwhelming sense of relief. `We were sure', wrote Maria Diaz from Mexico City in 1577 to her daughter in Seville, `that we were going to perish at sea, because the storm was so strong that the ship's mast snapped. Yet in spite of all these travails, God was pleased to bring us to port ...'3 Some fifty years later Thomas Shepard, a Puritan minister emigrating to New England, wrote after surviving a tempest: `This deliverance was so great that I then did think if ever the Lord did bring me to shore again I should live like one come and risen from the dead. '4
Differences of creed and of national origin paled before the universality of experience that brought emigrants three thousand miles or more from their European homelands to a new and strange world on the farther shores of the Atlantic. Fear and relief, apprehension and hope, were sentiments that knew no cultural boundaries. The motives of emigrants were various - to work (or alternatively not to work), to escape an old society or build a new one, to acquire riches, or, as early colonists in New England expressed it, to secure a 'competen- cie's - but they all faced the same challenge of moving from the known to the unknown, and of coming to terms with an alien environment that would demand of them numerous adjustments and a range of new responses.
Yet, to a greater or lesser degree, those reponses would be shaped by a home culture whose formative influence could never be entirely escaped, even by those who were most consciously rejecting it for a new life beyond the seas. Emigrants to the New World brought with them too much cultural baggage for it to be lightly discarded in their new American environment. It was, in any event, only by reference to the familiar that they could make some sense of the unfamiliar that lay all around them.6 They therefore constructed for themselves new societies which, even when different in intent from those they left behind them in Europe, unmistakably replicated many of the most characteristic features of metropolitan societies as they knew - or imagined - them at the time of their departure.
It is not therefore surprising that David Hume, in his essay Of National Characters, should have asserted that `the same set of manners will follow a nation, and adhere to them over the whole globe, as well as the same laws and languages. The Spanish, English, French and Dutch colonies, are all distinguishable even between the tropics." Nature, as he saw it, could never extinguish nurture. Yet contemporaries with first-hand experience of the new colonial societies in process of formation on the other side of the Atlantic were in no doubt that they deviated in important respects from their mother countries. While eighteenthcentury European observers might explain the differences by reference to a process of degeneration that was allegedly inherent in the American environment" for them at least the fact of deviation was not in itself in dispute. Nature as well as nurture had formed the new colonial worlds.
In practice, the colonization of the Americas, like all colonization, consisted of a continuous interplay between imported attitudes and skills, and often intractable local conditions which might well impose themselves to the extent of demanding from the colonists responses that differed markedly from metropolitan norms. The result was the creation of colonial societies which, while 'distinguishable' from each other, to use Hume's formulation, were also distinguishable from the metropolitan communities from which they had sprung. New Spain was clearly not old Spain, nor was New England old England.
BOOK: Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830
10.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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