William of Orange once stated, ?Spain committed such horrible excesses that all the barbarities, cruelties, and tyrannies ever perpetrated before are only games in comparison to what happened to the poor Indians.? This statement can be viewed in several different ways: truthful, hypocritical, harsh?the list goes on. William was correct in his statement except for the first word, ?Spain.? Even though Spain did commit horrible offenses against the Indians, William of Orange, and the rest of the European settlers, should be included in that statement. Every settler that came over to the New World, whether they were aware of it or not, condoned the ?horrible excesses? bestowed upon the Indians.
Although several other nations were involved in the horrific crimes against the Indians, Spain may have been the worst in their treatment of the natives they encountered. The Spanish felt that servitude was a natural right, especially if you were born into so form of nobility. Dona Isabel De Guevara was a woman who was born into the position of princess. She came over to the New World only to find the men weak and the food supply scarce at best. She then wrote a letter back to the Queen asking for encomiendas, or serfs. The request was granted and Guevara received several Indians for help with the every day chores while the men were weak.
The Spaniards treated everyone they encountered in the New World inferior for selfish reasons. They felt that Western Europe was the center of the world and there means of living were the ?civilized? way. There reasoning for colonization was ?Gold, God, and Glory.? The Pope, thousands of miles away, created the Papal Bull of 1493 that divided the world between Spain and Portugal. This bold statement shows the audacity of the Spanish towards the newly discovered Natives. Even though measures were taken by the crown to ensure the well being of the Natives, ?the laws and ordinances newly made by his majesty for the government of the Indies and good treatment and preservation of the Indians? didn?t last for long.(H&R 150) It was hard for the crown to regulate a government that was thousands of miles away. The main objective of the Spaniards was to win the Indians trust and to Christianize them.
While some officials were taking measures to condemn the harsh treatment of the Indians, others were making their case for just the opposite. In 1547 Juan Gines De Sepulveda wrote ?Democrats Alter,? which ultimately condoned the war against the natives. He was saying that Indian civilization is not civil and his war is a ?just war.? Spanish conquistadors felt that Spain was the center of earth and everything revolved around it. The crown, or other high officials, may have disagreed, but they weren?t the ones over in the New World making the rules.
It is hard for one to look at the events of history, especially the settling of a New World, and blame one sole nation for the wrong doings bestowed upon the Indians. The English, eventually Americans, continuously pushed Indians West no ?Black Legend? was named after them. It is better to learn from our mistakes and move on rather than condemn people for making those mistakes. William of Orange was correct in his statement to the extent that Spain committed atrocities, but every settler to the New World was guilty of the ?Black Legend.?