Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines

Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines

Linda A. Newson
Copyright Date: 2009
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    Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines
    Book Description:

    Scholars have long assumed that Spanish colonial rule had only a limited demographic impact on the Philippines. Filipinos, they believed, had acquired immunity to Old World diseases prior to Spanish arrival; conquest was thought to have been more benign than what took place in the Americas because of more enlightened colonial policies introduced by Philip II.Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippinesilluminates the demographic history of the Spanish Philippines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and, in the process, challenges these assumptions.

    In this provocative new work, Linda Newson convincingly demonstrates that the Filipino population suffered a significant decline in the early colonial period. Newson argues that the sparse population of the islands meant that Old World diseases could not become endemic in pre-Spanish times. She also shows that the initial conquest of the Philippines was far bloodier than has often been supposed and that subsequent Spanish demands for tribute, labor, and land brought socioeconomic transformations and depopulation that were prolonged beyond the early conquest years. Comparisons are made with the impact of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas.

    Newson adopts a regional approach and examines critically each major area in Luzon and the Visayas in turn. Building on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, she proposes a new estimate for the population of the Visayas and Luzon of 1.57 million in 1565-slightly higher than that suggested by previous studies-and calculates that by the mid-seventeenth century this figure may have fallen by about two-thirds.

    Based on extensive archival research conducted in secular and missionary archives in the Philippines, Spain, and elsewhere,Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippinesis an exemplary contribution to our understanding of the formative influences on demographic change in premodern Southeast Asian society and the history of the early Spanish Philippines.

    16 maps

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6197-1
    Subjects: Population Studies, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    • CHAPTER 1 A World Apart?
      (pp. 3-9)

      Spanish conquest and colonization of the Philippines brought fundamental changes to the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the islands. Scholarly studies of the early colonial period, such as those by John Phelan, Nicholas Cushner, and Martin Noone have focused on the initial conquest of the islands and Spanish attempts to set up an effective administration,¹ while others, such as Horacio de la Costa, Pablo Fernández, and Vicente Rafael, have examined the role of the missionary orders and the process of Christian conversion.² While these dimensions are critical to understanding the history of the early Spanish Philippines, the demographic...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Role of Disease
      (pp. 10-23)

      Southeast Asia is generally considered to have been part of the Eurasian disease pool, with Old World diseases spreading to the islands as trading contacts with the mainland developed in the Christian Era.¹ Hence, the lower level of depopulation in the early colonial Philippines compared to the Americas is often attributed to its populations having acquired some immunity to Old World diseases, such as smallpox and measles, prior to Spanish arrival. However, the issue of whether or not Filipinos had acquired such immunity has not been investigated directly. Rather it is has generally been inferred from the relatively low level...

    • CHAPTER 3 Colonial Realities and Population Decline
      (pp. 24-36)

      Despite the Crown’s intention that the “pacification” of the Philippines should be brought about peacefully and its subjects well treated, the conquest and establishment of Spanish rule in the islands was characterized by conflict and bloodshed, which in some regions was prolonged throughout the colonial period. Conflict arose initially because the Spanish experienced shortages of food and resorted to seizing provisions by force, while in their desperate search for gold they devastated native communities and conscripted local people to serve on exploratory expeditions.

      Once the Spanish had established a permanent foothold in the islands, their retention of the colony continued...

    • CHAPTER 4 Interpreting the Evidence
      (pp. 37-50)

      No one will ever know exactly how many people there were in the Philippines when the Spanish arrived or the extent to which the Filipino population declined in the subsequent two centuries. However, through a careful analysis of the evidence available, the demographic history of the Philippines can be discerned in sufficient detail to enable an assessment of the impact of Spanish colonial rule and to make comparisons between population trends in the islands with other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago. Unfortunately there are no Filipino written records dating from pre-Spanish times, while Chinese sources, which have been used...

    • CHAPTER 5 Conquest and Depopulation before 1600
      (pp. 53-79)

      Miguel López de Legazpi’s expedition to the Philippines dropped anchor in Gamay Bay off Samar on 13 February 1565 (see Map 5.1).¹ Preoccupied with finding provisions, the expedition skirted the coasts of Samar and Leyte and finally encountered the relatively large settlement of Cabalian on the east coast of Leyte. There it seized supplies of rice,camotes, and chickens, for which, on departing south, it left behind barter goods as a form of payment. Provisions proved even more difficult to acquire in Limasawa and Bohol since the natives fled fearing further attacks by the Portuguese who had preceded the Spanish....

    • CHAPTER 6 Wars and Missionaries in the Seventeenth-Century Visayas
      (pp. 80-112)

      After the Spanish shifted their base in the Philippines to Luzon in 1571, the Visayas became an economic backwater. However, the islands were not abandoned totally, for they were of strategic importance in the Hispano-Dutch War and in holding the frontier against Moro incursions. Particularly important were Panay and Cebu, the former because it was the main source of provisions, labor, and ships to support expeditions and garrisons in the Philippines and Maluku, and the latter because of its strategic location.

      On account of the abundant supplies of rice, timber, and labor in Panay, economic activities in the Visayas were...

    • CHAPTER 7 Manila and Tondo
      (pp. 115-132)

      Dissatisfied with the island of Panay as the center of Spanish rule in the Philippines, Legazpi sought a location that had better food supplies, a more secure port, and preferably regular trade with China. Having heard rumors through traders of the existence of a settlement at Pasig River, in 1570 Legazpi dispatched the first of three expeditions to Luzon.¹ The first expedition headed by Juan de Salcedo only skirted Mindoro and Lubang, but the second, in May 1570 led by Martín de Goiti, resulted in skirmishes with 10,000 to 12,000 Moros under Ladyang Matanda and his nephew, Raja Soliman, at...

    • CHAPTER 8 Southwest Luzon
      (pp. 133-152)

      For the purposes of this study, southwest Luzon comprises the administrative jurisdictions of Laguna de Bay and Cavite, together with regions on the south coast variously known as Balayan, Bonbón, Batangas, Calilaya, and Tayabas, as well as the island of Mindoro.¹ The history of southwest Luzon was closely tied to that of Manila. The friar estates that developed in the west of the region became major suppliers of provisions for the city and gave it a distinct economic and social structure. Also located in the west were the shipbuilding industry and naval dockyards at Cavite. Elsewhere the imprint of colonial...

    • CHAPTER 9 Bikol
      (pp. 153-165)

      Bikol is a geographically fragmented region composed of an elongated peninsula and four islands. In colonial times overland travel was hampered by the rugged terrain, while the frequency of tropical storms and the lack of deep, well-sheltered harbors, especially on the western coast, made communications by sea difficult. The only passage between the west and east coasts was through the hazardous San Bernardino Strait.¹ Nevertheless, Bikol was unified by its history and to a large degree by its culture. Its distinctive character derived in part from its isolation from the rest of the island of Luzon. During the colonial period...

    • CHAPTER 10 Pampanga and Bulacan
      (pp. 166-176)

      Pampanga and Bulacan were among the most fertile and densely settled provinces that the Spanish encountered in the Philippines. However, in the colonial period their natural and human assets worked to their disadvantage as they became vital sources of provisions and timber, as well as labor to support the city of Manila and the extension and maintenance of Spanish rule in the islands. Pampanga suffered more than any other province fromvandalasandpolos, especially during the Hispano-Dutch War.¹

      Before the city of Manila was founded, more than 2,000 Pampangans from the towns of Haganoy and Macabebe arrived in Tondo...

    • CHAPTER 11 Ilocos and Pangasinan
      (pp. 179-200)

      During colonial times travel to Pangasinan was generally conducted by sea since the Central Plain of Luzon was more heavily forested than at present and Zambal attacks made overland travel hazardous. Hence, although Pangasinan comprised part of the Central Plain of Luzon, its colonial history was more closely tied to that of Ilocos. The two regions along with Cagayan formed the bishopric of Nueva Segovia that was established in 1595. However, some geographical and cultural differences between the two regions were recognized by the appointment of separatealcaldes mayoresand by the assignment of Dominicans to Pangasinan and the Augustinians...

    • CHAPTER 12 Cagayan
      (pp. 201-217)

      In Spanish colonial times the Cagayan Valley formed the backbone of the Dominican province of Cagayan. It encompassed the present-day provinces of Cagayan and Isabela, as well as the northern cordilleran provinces of Apayao and Kalinga. When the Spanish arrived, the region was ridden by internal conflict and soon the “Cagayan nation” came to be regarded as the most warlike in the Philippines and as being “of much cost and no profit.”¹ Nevertheless, the Spanish thought it essential to maintain a permanent presence there, and they considered developing a port because of the advantages of an open sea and the...

    • CHAPTER 13 Interior Luzon
      (pp. 218-248)

      The mountain region that forms the backbone of northern Luzon constitutes a formidable landscape of rugged, forested terrain dissected by deep canyons and fast-flowing rivers. Composed of three mountain ranges, the Cordillera reaches between 8,000 and 9,000 feet in the south and descends to about 3,000 feet in the north.¹ It receives high rainfall, between 70 and 120 inches a year, which feeds the tributaries of some of Luzon’s major rivers, such as the Magat, Chico, Agno, and Abra. In colonial times these river valleys constituted the main routes of access to the Cordillera.

      Colonial sources contain numerous references to...

    • CHAPTER 14 Demographic Change in the Early Spanish Philippines
      (pp. 251-264)

      In general terms, demographic trends following European contact in both Southeast Asia and the Americas followed a similar trajectory, with indigenous peoples in both regions experiencing a significant decline followed by a slow recovery. In Southeast Asia the decline does not appear to have been as great, but it extended through the seventeenth century, whereas by then native populations in some parts of the Americas had begun to recover.¹ In Spanish America, however, population increase was slow and growth did not reach the spectacular rates that characterized demographic recovery in Southeast Asia from the eighteenth century.² Hence, despite the Philippines’...

  10. Appendixes
    (pp. 265-312)
  11. Abbreviations
    (pp. 313-314)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 315-380)
  13. Glossary
    (pp. 381-384)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 385-406)
  15. Index
    (pp. 407-420)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 421-423)