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CHAPTER 16 Post-Conquest Populations: Components, Numbers, Movements, Distribution Spanish America Sources of Data The kinds and spacing of data largely determine what can be said about the populations of Spanish America after the Conquest. In the seven decades or so that followed the preparation of Lopez de Velasco's Geografia y description universal de las Indias,1 a number of other "censuses" appeared. In 1577, the Council of the Indies sent out a questionnaire to provincial administrators eliciting detailed information on the political geography, topography, natural resources , defense, demography, and other features of their jurisdictions. During the next ten years returns slowly trickled in from Venezuela, New Granada, Quito, Peru, the Antilles, Central America, and New Spain, although many districts failed to comply, and subsequently a number of responses became lost. The surviving returns repose in Spanish archives, and a substantial part of them have been published.2 Some decades later, in 1628, Antonio Vazquez de Espinosa wrote in his Description of the Indies (c. 1620), a province-by-provincesurvey,3 and in 1646 Juan Diaz de la Calle prepared another general description, Memorial , y noticias sacras, y reales del imperio de lasIndias occidentals? Despite these compilations, systematically collected population data for the post-Conquest period tend to fall off in quality and quantity. Peter BoydBowman 's studies of European immigration end in 1600.5 After 1610 or thereabouts , tribute lists and other fiscal documents that providesuch a wealth of information about Indian demography become scattered in both time and space. 332 P O S T - C O N Q U E S T P O P U L A T I O N S After 1640, it is much more difficult to determine slave imports. The Chaunu series stops in that year, and for a good reason.6 During the union of the Hispanic crowns, the Portuguese had a monopoly on the slave trade to the Spanish Indies, and asiento records, if not entirely accurate, are reasonably complete and centralized for the period. Between 1640, when Portugal regainedits independence , and 1651, the Spanish suspended the traffic, and, when Philip IV allowed it to resume, he gave contracts to companies of diverse nationalities so that data are scattered. Dutch and English traders, moreover, introduced a substantial number of Africans clandestinely via their islands in the Caribbean and through the Rio de la Plata. As for mestizaje, only one really systematic study of rates and qualitative and quantitative results exists, and it deals only with Mexico.7 Substantial bodies of general and particular population data do not appear again until the 1740s. It is tempting to speculate about the reasons for a hundred-year famine in demographic information. Does it simply mean that modern scholars have not gotten around to compiling information? Ordoes it reflect objective contemporary conditions: economic stagnation in many parts of the Indies in the seventeenth century, a withering of the vigor and efficiency of royal officials who were supposed to count people and things, the disappearance of curious and diligent cosmographers and geographers?In any event, the following sketch of demographic trends will have to rest on less substantial data than those used analyzing Conquest populations. This is especially true of observations made about the latter half of the seventeenth century. The European Element: Immigration and Natural Growth The Swedish historian Magnus Morner offers the most systematic estimates of post-Conquest Spanish emigration to the Indies. His figures are-, for 15611600 , 157,182; for 1601-25, 111,312; for 1626-50, 83,504. Yearly averages for each of the three periods are: for 1561-1600, 1587; for 1601-25,4452; for 1626-50, 3340. Morner's data did not permit him to extend his series beyond 1650 or to estimate the number of emigrants who eventually returned to Spain.8 The influences that governed the numbers and qualities of immigrants can only be inferred from contemporary conditions and sources. In Old Spain, the concentration of wealth and economic opportunity in the hands of the privileged classes continued in the late sixteenth century and on into the seventeenth . During the same years the Spanish kingdoms, especially Castile, fell on 3 3 3 3 3 4 P O S T - C O N Q U E S T P O P U L A T I O N S hard times owing to bad harvests and famines, plagues, excessive taxation, and monetary disorder. Some Spaniards, especially New Christians, found the religious climate intolerable. These circumstances unquestionably constituted push...


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