Spanish Central America

[ Latin American Studies ]

Spanish Central America

A Socioeconomic History, 1520-1720, Revised Edition

By Murdo J. MacLeod

Now with an updated historiographical and bibliographical introduction—a sweeping history of the middle centuries of Spain’s colonial enterprise in Central America.

2007

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Paperback

6 x 9 | 616 pp. | 8 maps, 22 tables, 5 charts

ISBN: 978-0-292-71761-9

The seventeenth century has been characterized as "Latin America's forgotten century." This landmark work, originally published in 1973, attempted to fill the vacuum in knowledge by providing an account of the first great colonial cycle in Spanish Central America. The colonial Spanish society of the sixteenth century was very different from that described in the eighteenth century. What happened in the Latin American colonies between the first conquests, the seizure of long-accumulated Indian wealth, the first silver booms, and the period of modern raw material supply? How did Latin America move from one stage to the other? What were these intermediate economic stages, and what effect did they have on the peoples living in Latin America? These questions continue to resonate in Latin American studies today, making this updated edition of Murdo J. MacLeod's original work more relevant than ever.

Colonial Central America was a large, populous, and always strategically significant stretch of land. With the Yucatán, it was home of the Maya, one of the great pre-Columbian cultures. MacLeod examines the long-term process it underwent of relative prosperity, depression, and then recovery, citing comparative sources on Europe to describe Central America's great economic, demographic, and social cycles. With an updated historiographical and bibliographical introduction, this fascinating study should appeal to historians, anthropologists, and all who are interested in the colonial experience of Latin America.

A New Introduction: More than Three Decades of Writing on Spanish Central America, 1973–2006 By Murdo J. MacLeod
Preface
By Way of Introduction: The War of the Worlds

Part One. The Society of Conquest and Encomienda, 1520–1576
1. The Central American Background and Conquest
2. Slaves and Silver: The First Exports
3. Ephemeral Hopes
4. Soconusco, A Hint of Things to Come
5. The Cacao Boom
6. From Conquest to the Emergence of Order and Pattern
7. The Two Republics, Indians and Spaniards, in the Age of Encomienda

Part Two. Years of Trial and Much Error: The Economics of Search and Diversification, c. 1576–1635
8. Attempts to Revive Declining Industries
9. The Search for New Industries and Trades
10. Indigo, 1580–1720: Possibilities and Frustrations
11. The Effects of the Crisis on Local Populations and Economy

Part Three. The Seventeenth-Century Depression and the First Signs of Recovery, c. 1635–1720
12. The Aftermath of a Boom: Seventeenth-Century Cacao
13. Honduran Mining: The Emergence of a Local Industry and Culture
14. External Trades in the Depth of the Depression
15. The Currency Crisis
16. Men and Land in Mid-Century: Contraction and Isolation
17. The Two Republics in the Years of Depression
18. Costa Rican Cacao
19. Signs of Strain and Change (c. 1685–1720)
20. The Growth of a New Solution: The Rise of Smuggling

Conclusion
Appendix
Abbreviations
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Murdo J. Macleod is Emeritus Professor of History of the University of Florida at Gainesville.