HIST 250.01 Colonial Latin American History
Assumption College
M, W, F: 11:30-12:20
Fall Semester 2002

“On August 13, 1521, Tlatelolco, heroically defended by Cuauhtémoc, fell into the power of Hernán Cortés.  It was neither triumph nor a defeat, but the painful birth of the Mestizo people who are the Mexico of today.” ---Plaque on the Great Pyramid of Tlatelolco in the Square of the Three Cultures, Mexico City

Instructor Information for Dr. Thomas M. Edsall
Office Hours: MWF: 9:30-11:00, TTH 3:30-6:00, Founders 106
Phone #: 1-508-767-7024 
E-Mail:  tedsall@assumption.edu

Required Texts and Readings:
Burkholder, Mark and Lyman Johnson.  Colonial Latin America.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Lavrin, Asunción, ed.  Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America.  Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.
Mills, Kenneth and William Taylor. Colonial Spanish America: A Documentary History. Scholarly Resources Books, 1998.
I reserve the right to add additional materials in the future that serve to enlighten and interest students in the course.

Description of Colonial Latin American History
This course is designed as a survey of colonial Latin American History.  It traces the origins of Latin American society, focusing on the cultural interaction between the different groups that call the region home. Themes include an examination of Iberian and Pre-Columbian Indigenous societies, the conquest of the region by Spanish and Portuguese invaders, the social, political, and economic order they imposed on the region, resistance and adaptation to this order, the structure and distribution of power, land and labor, and the order and disorder of colonial society.  A major theme is the inter-ethnic relationships between European, African, and Indigenous men and women, which made up the complex social fabric of the colony. 

Class Policy:
1. Attendance is required and will be taken before each class. If you are late, state attendance at the end of the class.
2. Please, no eating in class.
3. Late paper will be assessed one point grade for each class day late.
4. There are no make-up exams, late papers, or quizzes without an official reason.
5. Honor code. Students should familiarize themselves with the code.  Where the professor has doubts about paper authorship; the student must demonstrate knowledge about the subject and how they wrote it.  Please save drafts and notes as a result. Please abide by the honor code. 
6. More than 3 unexplained absences will be reported to your advisor.  Repeated absentees will receive WF (Withdrawal with Failure) as a grade.  Please be on time, this will be factored into your class participation grade.
7. Be responsible. Please talk to me about any problems you may be having with class. The vast majority of problems are easily solved with honest and open communication.
8. Readings will average 60-70 pages a week plus the texts used to prepare your final paper. Be responsible in your readings. This averages out to only 10-15 pages a day. Don’t postpone your readings until the last minute.
9. Please inform me of any learning disabilities.  I have a math/handwriting disability and am quite willing to accommodate those students with verifiable disabilities.
10. Again, if you have problems with a paper or assignment please talk to me, or at the very least e-mail, and I will try to the best of my ability to help you work out the problem.

Important Class Dates:

1st Map Quiz:

Sept. 11

2nd Exam:

Oct. 25

Paper Topic:

Nov. 6

1st Exam:

Sept. 20

3rd Map Quiz:

Nov. 18

Final Paper:

Dec. 4

2nd Map Quiz:

Nov. 1

Book Report:

Nov. 6

Final Exam:


Last Day to Add/Drop:  August 30
Last Day to Withdraw: November 15

Method of Evaluation:

Participation (Includes Attendance)


Two Exams (During Semester)


Final Exam


Quizzes (Geographical/Demographical)


Book Report


Research Paper


Grading Policy:

Number Grade

Letter Grade Equivalent

























Grading and Assignment Methodology Explained:
Participation (15%)
The final grade will take into account a number of variables, included but not limited to:

  • Participation in class discussions of the readings and class materials.
  • Attendance and punctuality.
  • Willingness to actively engage with the instructor and other members of the class on an intellectual level.
  • Respect and positive attitude toward the instructor and your peers. 
  • Preparation for each and every class.

Exams (20%)
Two exams will be given during the course of the semester. These exams will cover the lectures and readings assigned up to the point.  The second exam will not be cumulative. Knowledge of the terms, broad themes, and primary documents will be the focus of the exams.  Exams are not curved and there are no make-ups without an official reason. 

Geography and Demography Quizzes (10%)
There will be three quizzes on maps, languages spoken in different regions, and human demography in the course of the semester.  Each quiz will be worth 3.3% of your grade.

Book Report (5%)
You will hand in a 3-page report on a scholarly text about Latin America.  This book should then be used as an integral part of your research paper.  Please hand in paragraph description of potential research project and methodology for final paper along with report.

Research Paper (25%)
Student will complete a 12-page research paper about some aspect of colonial Latin American History. They must have a proposal and tentative bibliography ready at least one month before the paper’s due date.  Use of primary and secondary texts required in the preparation of the final research paper. Evidence of critical thinking is strongly emphasized in final grade.

Final Exam (25%)
Final exam will be cumulative. The emphasis will be on demonstrating your ability to critically analyze the information gained form reading texts and class lectures.

Course Organization:
Introduction to Course                                       August 26- August 28
Pre-Columbian Cultures and Spanish Conquest  August 30-September 18
Colonial Order                                                   September 23-October 18
Colonial Society and Culture                               October 21-November 6
Bourbon Reforms and Independence                   November 8-December 2




Lecture Theme

Readings Due for Class

Aug. 26

Introduce Course


Aug. 28

Comparing Colonial U.S. and Colonial Latin America: Roots of the Difference

Introduction: Mills and Taylor

Aug. 30

Pre-Columbian Indigenous Civilization: Sedentary, Semi-Sedentary, Non-Sedentary and Latin American History

Pages 1-22, Burkholder and Johnson

Sept. 2



Sept. 4

Aztec and Inca

Sections 1-4: Mills and Taylor

Sept. 6

Maya, Tupi of Brazil, and Nomadic Groups


Sept. 9

Iberian Background: Spain, Portugal, and the Reconquista

Pages 23-32: Burkholder and Johnson; Section 5: Mills and Taylor.

Sept. 11

Discussion of Indigenous and Iberian Civilizations 1st Map Quiz: Geography of Latin America, Indigenous Societies, and Iberia


Sept. 13

Age of Discovery and the Columbus Expeditions

Pages 32-42: Burkholder and Johnson

Sept. 16

Conquest of Mexico

Pages 42-50: Burkholder and Johnson

Sept. 18

Conquest of Peru

Pages 50-78: Burkholder and Johnson

Sept. 20

1ST EXAM: Pre-Columbian Civilizations and the Conquest


Sept. 23

Reorganization of Indigenous Societies: Congregaciones, Encomiendas and Reducciones

Pages 79-106: Burkholder and Johnson

Sept. 25

Spiritual Conquest of Mexico and Peru:
1) Campaign against Pre-Hispanic Religion
2) Christian Conversion and Cultural Conflict

Sections 7-13: Mills and Taylor, Pages 96-117: Lavrin: Individualization and Acculturation

Sept. 27

Establishment of Viceroyalties:  Struggle between Crown and Conquistador

Sections 15-24: Mills and Taylor

Sept. 30

Discussion:  Spiritual Conquest and Issues of Cultural Disruption


Oct. 2

Colonial Government and Administration

Pages 79-91: Burkholder and Johnson

Oct. 4

Colonial Church: Social Control
1) Holy office of the Inquisition
2) Social Functions of the Church

Pages 92-106

Oct. 7

Colonial Church: Education and Culture

Sections 25-37: Mills and Taylor

Oct. 9

Colonial Labor in Latin America

Pages 107-134: Burkholder and Johnson

Oct. 11

Colonial Legal and Landholding Systems

Pages 134-151: Burkholder and Johnson

Oct. 14



Oct. 16

Colonial Economy: Haciendas, Plantations, and Mining
1) Imperial Policy of Bullionism
2) Development of Large Landed Estates
3) Plantations

Pages 160-170: Burkholder and Johnson

Oct. 18

Early Colonial Brazil: Overview and Contrast with Spanish America


Oct. 21

Inter-Ethnic Relations and Tensions

Pages 171-208: Burkholder and Johnson

Oct. 23

Colonial Melting Pot and the Casta System

Pages 209-248: Burkholder and Johnson; Section 45: Mills and Taylor

Oct. 25

2nd Exam: The Colonial Order

2nd Exam

Oct. 28

Colonial Society: Marriage and Family

Have Read all of Lavrin by this date!!!

Oct. 30

Discussion of Lavrin articles. 


Nov. 1

Architecture, Urban Planning, and Family Housing.  Discussion.
2nd Map Quiz: Colonial Latin America

Revise all sections of Mills and Taylor that apply to Arch. and Urban Planning for Discussion MAP QUIZ

Nov. 4

Colonial Latin American Culture

Revise all sections of Mills and Taylor that apply to Art for Discussion. 

Nov. 6

Daily Life in Latin America: Class, Culture, Gender and Cultural Variables.

Lecture and Discussion.


Nov. 8

Spanish Seaborne Empire: Treasure Fleet, Flota System and Imperial Defense.

Pages 248-271: Burkholder and Johnson

Nov. 11

Foreign Invasions and Piracy along the Spanish Main: French, English, and Dutch Pirates and their Impact

Pages 272-304: Burkholder and Johnson

Nov. 13

Imperial Reform: The Bourbon Campaign in Colonial Latin America

Sections 38-41: Mills and Taylor

Nov. 15

Bourbon and Pombalian Reforms and Resistance

Sections 42-44, 46-47: Mills and Taylor.

Nov. 18

Discussion of Bourbon Reforms: What were their goals and why were they resisted?
3rd Map Quiz: Bourbon Reforms

Discussion of Primary Documents

Nov. 20

Casta and Indian Rebellions and Interethnic Conflict: Mexico and Tupac Amaru


Nov. 22

Spanish Collapse and the Vacuum of Power

Pages 304-315: Burkholder and Johnson; Sections 48: Mills and Taylor

Nov. 25

Wars of Independence in Latin America:
South America- The "Liberal Revolutions"

Pages 316-328: Burkholder and Johnson; Section 50: Mills and Taylor

Nov. 27

Wars of Independence in Mexico: The "Conservative Revolution"

Pages 329-341: Burkholder and Johnson; Section 49: Mills and Taylor

Nov. 29

Thanksgiving – No Class


Dec. 2

Discussion: Independence Movements


Dec. 4

Impact of Independence, Review

Pages 343-353: Burkholder and Johnson