Roles of Religion In Spanish and English Colonization of the New World

Topics: Colonialism, United States, Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pages: 2 (638 words) Published: October 19, 2014
Although there were many incentives pertaining to the colonization of the New World, by the Spanish and English, religion demonstrated several distinct roles. Religion became a way for empires to justify their actions. These nations believed it was their duty to educate and spread their religion to those they considered "uncivilized". Thus to a larger extent, religion was part of a greater scheme of cultural assimilation of the natives but it was not a simple process regarding the destruction of the Indian population. In the 1500s, the Spanish had constructed an extensive and independent empire in the Americas. The first phase of Spanish colonization included many forms of malicious violence. The English had taken little interest in creating its own overseas colonies during the early 16th century because of the religious conflict when King Henry VIII launched the English Protestant Reformation. England’s second attempt at colonization was more successful because individuals wanted to flee religious persecution. The Spanish colonization of the Americas was introduced by the conquistadors and developed by the Monarchs of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The spread of Puritanism in England became a threat to the Anglican Church. Puritan leaders were severely persecuted therefore they fled to New England in search of establishing a pure and religious unified community. One of the focal motives for colonial expansion was to spread the religion through indigenous conversions. Both the Spanish and English used religious motives to justify their cruel actions towards the natives. These countries thought it was their responsibility to instruct and spread their religion to the indigenous people. Juan Gines de Sepulveda is a perfect example of how the Spanish justified their actions to the natives. He rationalized Spanish treatment of American Indians by arguing that Indians were “natural slaves” and that Christianity in the New World would benefit them....
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