Spanish Central America: A Socioeconomic History, 1520–1720

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University of Texas Press, 2008 - History - 554 pages

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.

 

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Unbelievable...helpful from start to finish, this book is the number one most helpful book for the student of Central America. Thank you, Mr. MacLeod, this book has helped me more to understand Central America than 100 other books on the subject.

Contents

The Central American Background and Conquest
23
Slaves and Silver The First Exports
46
Ephemeral Hopes
64
Soconusco A Hint of Things To Come
68
The Cacao Boom
80
From Conquest to the Emergence of Order and Pattern
96
The Two Republics Indians and Spaniards in the Age of Encomienda
120
Attempts to Revive Declining Industries
145
The Currency Crisis
280
Men and Land in MidCentury Contraction and Isolation
288
The Two Republics in the Years of Depression
310
Costa Rican Cacao
330
Signs of Strain and Change c 16851720
341
The Growth of a New Solution The Rise of Smuggling
348
Conclusion
374
Appendix
390

The Search for New Industries and Trades
152
Indigo 15801720 Possibilities and Frustrations
176
The Effects of the Crisis on Local Populations and Economy
204
The Aftermath of a Boom SeventeenthCentury Cacao
235
Honduran Mining The Emergence of a Local Industry and Culture
253
External Trades in the Depth of the Depression
264
Abbreviations
393
Notes
395
Glossary
467
Bibliography
472
Index
513

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About the author (2008)

Murdo J. MacLeod is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Florida at Gainessville

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