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During the sixteenth century, Spaniards were inspired by the power and the prestige of their nation, and the impact of Christianity had a significant role in driving its colonialization intentions. In multiple areas around the world, from the Orient to America, there was a strive of Spain to suppress paganism and establish humanistic Christian ideas associated with the Renaissance. For instance, the natives of the lands were oppressed and forced to settle in compact villages, taught to live and work as laborers. However, the mission to forge spiritual unity in the world by eliminating all remnants of Protestantism was aggressive and self-confident. The level to which they elevated their legal and moral basis for authority was extremely high – Spaniards believed that they could be regarded as better than other nationalities.
The main issue contributing to Spain’s imperialism and religious colonialism was the close union of the state and the Church despite their features of autonomy. The Church of Spain supported the military power of the country and was enthusiastic about setting new objectives and targets. Moreover, the imperialism of Spain was both theocratic and bureaucratic, with the royal council of the Indies having supreme jurisdiction over all spheres of colonial endeavors. Therefore, there was a lack of balance between bureaucracy and theocracy, which led to the increased contributions of the Church in the conquest, and the colonization of the Philippines represents a bright example of this issue.
When intending to colonize the Philippines, Spain set three clear objectives:
- Get a large share in the trade of spices, which was monopolized by Portugal;
- Create strong contacts with Japan and China to influence their Christianization;
- Convert all inhabitants of the archipelago to Christianity (Phelan, 2010).
Despite Philip II’s intention to colonize the Philippines without bloodshed, the first phase of the conquest did not occur peacefully. However, a greater negative impact came from economic dislocations: the agriculture of the land could not provide for the two large groups of non-productive consumers (the Chinese and the Spaniards). The exasperating economic crisis drove the conflict between the colonizers and the Filipinos. However, it can be concluded that the conquest did not manage to erase the existing culture and habits. This can be explained by the fact that before the colonization, Filipinos had established a culture with its rules and customs, with such aspects as marital traditions, the dependent status, social roles, governmental relations, and others.
Knowledge about the Spanish conquest of the Philippines is important for understanding the history and the intentions behind colonization. Enforcing one’s traditions, culture, and religion on other countries with diverse history and heritage is an ambitious but egoistic solution for spreading the influence of one government on a global scale.
Phelan, J. L. (2010). The Hispanization of the Philippines: Spanish aims and Filipino responses, 1565-1700 (new perspectives in se Asian studies). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.