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European Colonization, 1492-1752
Guide: Spanish Encomienda System

These resources explain the Spanish encomienda labor system. Use these resources to help your students evaluate the encomienda system and the circumstances that made it possible for the Spanish to dominate native peoples. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • New advancements in technology can produce widespread social, cultural, and political change
  • Events can have multiple outcomes and include unintended consequences
  • Powerful nations' ability to control wealth and resources increases their ability to influence other nations
  • Cultural exchanges can occur intentionally and unintentionally
  • A civilization's success and growth is largely dependent on geographical location
  • Culture is the product of shared economic, religious, and political values
  • Regional characteristics can influence people's perspectives

Key Questions

  • Explain what was the Spanishencomiendasystem, and how the system affected that native population?
  • How did native populations resist and protest theencomiendasystem? To what extent were their efforts successful?
  • What circumstances made it possible for the Spanish conquistadores to dominate the native peoples they encountered?


  1. Overview: Spanish Encomienda System
  2. Visuals: Spanish Encomienda System (Visual)
  3. Outlines: Outline
  4. Lesson: Introduction
  5. Lesson: 1-The Riches of Conquest
  6. Lesson: 2-Abuse under the Encomienda System
  7. Lesson: 3-Protest and Progress
  8. Lesson: Closing
  9. Glossary Terms: conquistadores
  10. Photos & Illustrations: Cloth tributes to Spanish administration
  11. Reference Articles: Repartimiento
  12. Reference Articles: Laws of Burgos
  13. Reference Articles: Spanish colonization of the Americas
  14. Biographies: Cortés, Hernando
  15. Political, Government & Court Documents: Casas, Bartolomé de las: condemnation of Spain's Indian policy (1540)
  16. Letters & Narratives: Cortés, Hernando: letter recounting greeting by Montezuma II (1520)
  17. Letters & Narratives: Díaz del Castillo, Bernal: on the Aztecs' war captives
  18. Letters & Narratives: Díaz del Castillo, Bernal: a tour of Tenochtitlán with Montezuma II

MLA Citation

"Spanish Encomienda System." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2153057. Accessed 15 Sept. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2153057

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