Colonialism is a domination practise where people or nations are economically and politically subjugated. In the western tradition, colonialism legitimacy remains one of the longstanding concern especially to moral philosophers as well as the politicians. Colonial expansion was on only a preserve of genuine colonial powers for instance Spain and England only since the transfer process has shown that even other colonisers who came in late, for instance Germany also took part in this process of political expansion. The process is known to be one of the historical one where Europe shaped the history of the world decisively as well as shaping Europe in return. A close look at the essential element about Spanish World Empire dating back to the 16th century, it is clear that it is similar to that of the English to a great extent to the most recent time. They are similar to each other in the sense that, they believe that as Europeans, they managed to create their empires even without other people’s participation (Kupperman, doc 2). The rationale of this paper is to show how the Spanish as well as the English put religion into use as one of the ways of establishing their legitimacy in America in what was referred to as imperial legitimacy.
The two empires, that is, the Spanish and the English empires, approached the religious argument differently as they worked to establish legitimacy with about their attempt to expand their imperialism in America. At that point in time, America was under the rule of Elizabeth who led the protestant group and the Spanish empire wanted to overthrow her. Spanish at the moment was in control of Spanish Netherlands and they were forcing the citizens in Netherlands to be Catholics, and people wanted their freedom (Kupperman, doc 6).
However, most people were already familiar with the idea of becoming Protestants but they feared for their lives as the government of the day was against the idea. In fact, the protestant would risk losing their life’s if the stated their religious position publicly. The Spanish empire was out to ensure that the Protestants were hunt down. To achieve this, they used a secret unit in the police that was referred to as inquisition to hunt the Protestants down. On the other hand, it is worth noting that when Elizabeth was in control, the English would help the people who wanted and had turned to Protestants. The British Empire allowed the protestant migrants who had run away from their country to return after they were attacked. This attempted to allow them return home as the initial impact was recognised by the regional society (Kupperman, doc 6).
Some of the religious differences that existed between the two empires are that the English empire was largely composed of none Catholics and, therefore, accommodated the Protestants. On the other hand, the Spanish empire was composed of Catholics alone. With this in mind, all the protestant were to be driven out or persecuted.
It is worth noting that the two empires that used religion as a mean of expanding their imperialism in Native America had several thing in common. One of things they have in common is that they used the Christian religion to advance their colonialism agenda. The two colonies also believed in worshiping where the English were largely Protestants who believed in being free from sin and the Spanish believed in faith and morals. The Spanish as well as the English colonies engaged in missionary activities as a means of perpetrating their colonisation agenda and establishing as well as expanding their imperialism in the Native America (Kupperman, doc 6).
The two empires seeking to expand their imperialism in America through the use of religion had religion redefine them when they encountered the natives from America on their arrival. At the time the Spanish arrived at the place that is 16th century, the natives lived in villages and most of them engaged in subsistence farming (Kupperman, doc 4). The people in the native land were majorly Indians and upon the Spanish entry they were converted to Catholicism by the Spanish missionaries who had set a mission in every village across the land. For the Spanish, their missionary work had three objectives as they tried to expand their imperialism. They wanted to sow the seed of Christian religion, to engage in trafficking and finally to conquer (Kupperman, doc 2).
On the other hand, the English empire had a similar idea but different in several way. Their mission in the native America was a spiritual journey where the British empires wanted to engage in the evangelisation mission to the natives. They also wanted to engage in some commerce as well as trade and they would achieve this by imposing order where chaos erupted as well as consecrating the native land to be the New Jerusalem. From their encounter with the natives apparently of the India tribe whom had savage forces as they had untamed nature their religious position had to be redefined so that the natives could be tamed (Kupperman, doc 4).
They allowed the conquest to become mythologized and as such the native had to define a new relationship with the new world. Religion also shaped the encounter of the two empires once they landed in a place in that they had to support their culture of subsistent farming so that they could be able to freely interact with the people. This was the only way they could use to achieve their objectives. The British Empire relied on with the native wholly for all they did for instance trade and other mean for survival (Paterson, pg 56). In the long run, the British Empire became greedy for land and this lead to a serious rift between the two. For the Spanish missionaries, the viewed the Native American from a different perspective and they saw them as heathens who needed to convert. The Spanish soldiers actually stated that they were fit for subjugation and killing.
History has it that the English empires seemed to be more religious. A close examination of how the two empires tried to reach the people and colonise them, it is without doubt that the English empire avoided ways that would encourage people to divide (Kupperman, doc 5).
The Spanish strategy of ensuring that all the people in the native America became Catholics was discriminative and as a result it meets resistance. On the other hand, a close evaluation of the strategies that the English empire used to give the people the freedom to decide whether to remain Catholics or become Protestants shows that they understood the dynamics of religion. With this in mind, it is without doubt that the English empire was more religious as they united people than the Spanish empire that threatened Protestant to death for abandoning the catholic faith (Kupperman, doc 2).
In conclusion, the paper has compared and contrasted the different way through which the two colonies that is the Spanish and the English used religion as a way of expanding imperialism in native America to seek for legitimisation. The paper examined the different way through which religion was used by the colonisers the Spanish using it to consolidate the people but ended up dividing them through use of religion while the British Empire accommodated all religion and as such it became successful. How religion took part in shaping their encounter with the Native American has also been covered in the paper. The paper establishes the reason as to why one group was seen to be more religious compared to the other and the reasons for the position have been explained (Kupperman, doc 2).
Paterson, Thomas G, and Karen O. Kupperman. Major Problems in American Colonial History: Documents and Essays. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2013. Print.
Kupperman, Karen O. Major Problems in American Colonial History: Documents and Essays. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.
Kupperman, Karen O. Major Problems in American Colonial History: Documents and Essays. Boston Mass: Wadsworth Cengage learning, n.d.. Print.