Glossary: encomienda(s)

A system or legal arrangement adopted in 1503 whereby the Spanish crown assigned rights over native American labor and tribute in the Spanish American colonies to individual colonists (encomenderos) in return for protecting and Christianizing their subjects. However, most native Americans ended up as virtual slaves with no recognized rights. Not to be confused with the landed estate (latifundio--q.v.), the system was not ended until late in the eighteenth century.

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