Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010a. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 36, “Spain and the New World” Loc. 7896-8337.
Beginning in the late 15th century Spain embarked on an enormous campaign of expansion (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7902). Following Columbus’ landing in the New World, the Spanish crown sought to prevent massive enrichment of feudal lords who would revolt (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7918). At the same time, some of the missionary efforts took an approach similar to that of the Crusades, not protective of the natives in the Americas (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7926). Spain intervened by gaining authority to appoint bishops, a program which only sometimes guarded the natives (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7926). Meanwhile, among the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits, there was a strong missionary emphasis which also defended the Indians’ lives (Gonzalez 210, Loc. 7934). This conflict between the heirarchy and the missions of mercy remained for several hundred years. Gonzalez goes on to describe the practice of “entrusting” Indians to settlers. While the ideal was protection and nurturing, in practice the relationship was normally exploitive (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7959). Despite efforts to the contrary, this type of relationship remained in effect for a long time.
Prior to the arrival of missionaries sent to bring peace, the Spanish settlers had provoked distrust of the Indians, who continued in hostilities after the arrival of the missionaries throughout the Caribbean (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7994).
As Cortez marched through Aztec territory, destroying their gods, it became clear to many Aztecs that the Christian god had defeated theirs. While many sought baptism, there was still deep-seated hostility toward Spanish abuse (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8011). The Christian faith did spread gradually, amid disputes about what made for adequate instruction and baptism (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8027). In many instances, Spaniards resisted educating Indians as it would empower them (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8044). By the 18th century there were Spanish settlements and missions especially throughout the western coast of Mexico, extending into California (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8075).
Central America was invaded successfully by Spain after 1509. Vasco Nunez de Balboa made successful alliances with the Indians and sent gold back to Spain (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8100). He also successfully reached the Pacific, crossing Panama to the south. Spain distrusted Balboa and sent a more forceful governor, whose work led to disorder. Gonzalez also discusses the Franciscan missionary Juan de Estrado Ravago, who led an expedition to Costa Rica, resulting in establishment of churches almost without violence (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8108).
Florida was colonized beginning in 1513 (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8116). It was not until the 1560s, when French Protestants created settlements, that the Spaniards were more successful in their colonization efforts (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8133)
Colombia and Venezuela were colonized in 1525, after an abortive attempt in 1508 (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8150). This effort included a fully functioning church structure with bishoprics and an Inquisition. Efforts to convert the Indian population to Christianity were widespread and largely successful. Gonzalez discusses numerous influential figures briefly (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8159).
A conquest of the Inca heartland of Peru and surrounding areas came about in the 1530s under Francisco Pizarro (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8217). The conquest was brutal on both sides.
Overall, the Spanish conquest of the New World was a mixture of exploitive conquest and missionary care (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8250). The interactions were complex and uneasy.
The last area of conquest was what is now Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, with invasions beginning in 1537 (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 8281). Hostilities toward Spaniards were mostly defused by missionaries, who worked toward education, conversion, and humane care of populations.