By Jonathan C. Brown
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Extra info for A Brief History of Argentina, 2nd Edition
Note the macabre scene of execution and mutilation on the outskirts of the settlement. Hunger and the lack of indigenous surplus to plunder set the Spaniards to fight among themselves. They slaughtered their own horses and left themselves vulnerable to the attack of indigenous warriors. (Ulrich Schmidel, 1891, courtesy Emece Editores) 21 A Brief History of argentina the equally erroneous name of the River of Silver. In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan passed along the coast of Argentina and around the southernmost point of South America to Asia on the first circumnavigation of the earth.
A number of Guaraní rebelled against the Spaniards in 1545, but the settler community put down the uprising with the aid of “loyal” Indians. 24 Ancient Argentina and the European Encounter In the relative poverty of Paraguay, the settlers enjoyed political autonomy from Spain and freely established a social system to their own liking. Governor Irala divided the Guaraní into encomiendas (grants of Indian labor and tribute) among the individual Spanish settlers. These encomiendas became a kind of permanent serfdom for the indigenous peoples under Spanish rule.
While most workers camped on the outskirts of the city, Spanish officials, merchants, and clergymen, numbering anywhere from a quarter to a third of the population, inhabited permanent buildings downtown. The Imperial City of Potosí boasted of some 4,000 buildings of stone, several with two stories. The Catholic religious orders housed themselves in well-made monasteries and convents decorated with silver plate and tapestries befitting the wealthiest mining area in the world. Without the silver mines, however, no one ever would have established such a metropolis in this Andean wasteland.
A Brief History of Argentina, 2nd Edition by Jonathan C. Brown