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Spanish Colonization of the Americas

Spanish Colonization of the Americas

With the arrival of Spanish in America, there was a clash between two cultures that led to the 16th century being full of violence. It was a period of domination and the settlement of the Spanish colonies over indigenous cultures.

During this period, texts which dominated America and are significant as regards the history of literature, are diaries, letters and chronicles as they tell in detail about what was happening, however not always objectively.

One could say that the first to establish this type of fiction in America is Christopher Columbus in his logbooks. As a good sailor, Columbus conveys every step of the journey trip in detail: the revolt of the sailors, the lack of food and water during the voyage, his first encounters with the Indians, but Columbus also portrays something special in his passionate vision of the New World. Animals and plants, at this point unknown to Europeans, are shown vividly through his description, to us making what he sees come to life through paper.

We should also note the Cartas de Relación that describe the Conquest of Mexico as written by Hernan Cortes. As a student at the University of Salamanca, his studies gave him the skills to write in a way that few others could match. He wrote so well that his letters have a genuine literary quality and give some of the first accounts of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Also as regards this achievement one can see La Historia de la Conquista de Nueva España by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a brilliant testament to the events by an actual soldier and it is possibly the most neutral of all the testimonials written by the Spanish. Díaz de Castillo dedicated his life to complete this work.

But this bloody struggle also helped to bring attention to the protests against the atrocities committed by the Spanish atrocities in order to silence the natives. Fray Bartolome de las Casas, for example, devoted his life to denouncing the events in Historia de la destrucción de las Indias. He worked as procurador y protector universal de todos los indios which also led to him meeting with Emperor Charles I. He succeeded in 1542 to put into place the laws through which all Indian are free of the colonists and were placed under the direct protection of the Crown.