In some isolated rural areas, government oficials and others routinely kept two, three, or four Indian women as their mistresses. Encarta Despite cultural variations, remarkably similar social structures developed throughout the region. Among the Aztecs, for example, approximately 95 percent of all females were married, an exceedingly high igure. Common to almost all African societies, like those in preconquest America, was a belief in the sexual division of labor. Slave women were encouraged to marry by the Spanish crown and the Catholic Church, although most of their white owners opposed this since it tended to make selling the slave more difficult. Some Indian women successfully escaped and rejoined their tribes.
The Catholic Historical Review 90. Spanish thinkers and writers such as Fray Martín de Córdoba, Juan Luis Vives, Fray Luis de León, and Juan de la Cerda inluenced the gender ideology that conditioned the oficial ifteenth- and sixteenth-century view of women. Increasingly in regions such as Yucatán women came to own houses, domestic animals, looms, and yarn. America had three major groups of women: the Native Indian, the African, and the European. In parts of America, Indian women also supplied forced labor tribute servicio personal , often exacted by the encomendero in the form of domestic service.
One way I have used these sources is by having their analysis form the basis for class discussions of race and gender. Women were peripheral to this most exalted human activity, but they were often included in the booty claimed by the victorious warriors. The social reality faced by women who transgressed the accepted social mores varied greatly by the nature of the sexual relationship and social class. In other regions, such as central Mexico, monetary tribute replaced tribute in goods by the middle of the sixteenth century. Just as Spanish men coming to America represented a wide social spectrum, so did the Spanish women who followed. In the later colonial society elite women and the women of indigenous communities, although separated by a huge socioeconomic gap, did have a common propensity to marry, whereas the urban poor usually did not formalize their unions. Specialists and non-specialists alike will come away from this text with a richer understanding of the opportunities and challenges that shaped the lives of women in the America ruled by Spain and Portugal.
Among these women were those who were able to amass enough capital to invest in real property. Even though the women are free from paying tribute everywhere, it is the women who really pay the tribute. By the eighteenth century, Indian women living in Toluca, for example, successfully invoked Spanish law to defend their landholdings against men questioning their right to inherit and purchase property. They were literate and could read and write, often in more than one language. These native sodalities also provided a ceremonial life, as well as practical help in the form of burials, inancial aid, and dowries for impoverished offspring.
Conquest also produced slaves — men and women — sold in the central markets of major pre-Columbian cities. In addition, Indian women who had grown up in societies that accepted polygamy may have found concubinage with Spaniards to be not all that different from the sexual relations they had previously known. One of the most interesting and well-documented examples of this social movement can be seen in the case of Francisca Ramírez. City life produced a slow process of acculturation to Spanish ways. But very different social patterns obtained depending on whether the man or his wife was the survivor of the marriage.
With the passing of time, and the continued numerical growth of the mestizo community, people of mixed race came to constitute a separate racial category. Virtually all societies believed in the sexual division of labor, structuring the workplace into male and female tasks. Poor people settled for consensual unions, but unions nonetheless. Only through cohabitation before marriage could a couple judge the strength of their relationship and the probability that it would last. Nonetheless, the lives of Indian women varied greatly.
Where class size permits, I break students into groups of four to five people and instruct them to discuss these questions with their classmates for 10-15 minutes. Although responsible for female conduct, mission priests were enjoined to avoid all contact with Indian women. Warfare was an important and highly regarded activity for most preColumbian societies. With the exception of mayorazgo, women inheriting, owning, buying, selling, exchanging, and donating property had the same basic legal rights as men. There is at least one other major area of inquiry for which this roundtable has implications: the issue of Catholicism in the Americas or as a transatlantic phenomenon. For some witnesses, tracing the blood lineage of the prospective groom, Don Teodoro Jaramillo, was essential.
Fearing sexual promiscuity, the friars campaigned to stamp out informal unions and promote early marriage. The Mayan moon goddess, Ixchel, was associated with spinning and weaving. Th e W o m en o f C o lo nia l Lati n Am e r i c a Second Edition In this second edition of her acclaimed volume, The Women of Colonial Latin America, Susan Migden Socolow has revised substantial portions of the book — incorporating new topics and illustrative cases that signiicantly expand topics addressed in the irst edition; updating historiography; and adding new material on poor, rural, indigenous, and slave women. This cloistering of Iberian women was both a blessing and curse; while they did not have freedom to move around as the lower class women did, they did escape the social stigma attached to women who did appear on the streets. Isabel I was a strong, even dominant woman.
One profound change made by the conquest was the imposition of Spanish laws governing property, inheritance, gender, family, and kin. Unlike Iberian women, most indigenous and mestiza women were forced to work in order to survive and pay their tribute tax. Women and Work 120 9. Reviewing her wardrobe, we can see that Maria Amores dressed herself in luxurious native clothing and jewelry, while mixing garments from several indigenous cultures with Spanish and Oriental pieces. Cases in which a child was born within two or three months of marriage can be found in all colonial marriage registers. In later times, convents designed for other races and classes were opened in Latin America, despite the opposition of the elite Spanish nuns.