El Requirimiento: Spain’s Protocol for Conquest

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Spain declared the New World hers by the Vatican’s Doctrine of Discovery. Read aloud to native peoples, in Spanish, by Conquistadors like Coronado, the Requirimiento voices its ultimatum: Indians must recognize the superiority of Christianity and submit, or be warred upon. It was widely read in the period when Coronado trekked through the Staked Plains and Palo Duro. Learn more about the Requirimiento

On behalf of his Majesty…I… his servant, messenger… notify and make known as best I can that God our Lord one and eternal created heaven and earth… God our Lord gave charge [of all peoples] to one man named Saint Peter, so that he was lord and superior of all the men of the world… and gave him all the world for his lordship and jurisdiction… One of these Pontiffs… made a donation of these islands and mainland of the Ocean Sea to the Catholic kings of Spain… Almost all who have been notified [of this] have received His Majesty and obeyed and serve him as subjects… and turned Christian without reward or stipulation…and His Majesty received them…as subjects and vassals… Therefore I beg and require you as best I can…[that] you recognize the church as lord and superior of the universal world, and the most elevated Pope…in its name, and His Majesty in his place as superior and lord and king…and consent that these religious fathers declare and preach…and His Majesty and in his name will receive you…and will leave your women and children free, without servitude so that with them and with yourselves you can freely do what you wish…and we will not compel you to turn Christians. But if you do not do it…with the help of God, I will enter forcefully against you, and I will make war everywhere and however I can, and I will subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and His Majesty, and I will take your wives and children, and I will make them slaves…and I will take your goods, and I will do to you all the evil and damages that a lord may do to vassals who do not obey or receive him. And I solemnly declare that the deaths and damages received from such will be your fault and not that of His Majesty, nor mine, nor of the gentlemen who came with me.

The Requirimiento (a version)
(Source: Patricia Seed Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640)