You are on page 1of 2

54  Caracol

governor general. These titles invested Columbus with


royal authority to establish and administer trading posts
on behalf of the Spanish Crown. The Capitulations also
specified that he receive one-tenth of the profits from the
merchandise gained during his voyages, jurisdiction over
lawsuits resulting from his enterprise, and the right to
invest one-eighth of the costs of outfitting his ships and
one-eighth of the resulting profits.
Because the Capitulations offered benefits that were
contingent on the voyages success, they created legal disputes between the royal court, Columbus, and his heirs.
Columbus had to prove to the Crown that his voyages
were indeed successful, and he wrote a number of letters to
this effect. His descriptions of the indigenous peoples and
natural world of the Caribbean islands reflected this need
for self-promotion. However, his inability to administer
soon became evident, and the Crown attempted to strip
away the privileges they had bestowed in the Capitulations.
For years, Columbus and his heirs lobbied the royal court
to fulfill the original terms of the agreement.
Karoline P. Cook

Further reading:
Helen Nader, ed. The Book of Privileges Issued to Christopher
Columbus by King Fernando and Queen Isabel, 14921502
(Los Angeles: UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1996).

Caracol Caracol is an enormous archaeological site

located on Belizes western border. The name means


snail or conch and refers to the enormous number of
conch shells discovered there. The centers pre-Columbian
name is unknown. Caracol was a Classic-era Maya center,
and it lay in the heartland of that eras civilization in the
web of rivers that branch inland from the Belizean and
Tabascan coasts. Long growing seasons, abundant water,
and easy river travel allowed the inhabitants of the city
to grow wealthy through extensive regional trade, while
they fed themselves through a combination of slash-andburn MILPA farming and other systems of agriculture.
Construction at Caracol dates from 70 c.e., but the city
did not reach its apogee until at least half a millennium
later. Its strategic advantage was its location near tributaries of the Macal River, which in turn connected it with
the Belize River. At its height, Caracols population may
have been as high as 150,000. It was an archenemy of the
powerful city of Tikal, located west-northwest in what is
today Guatemalas Petn district. Caracol glyphs record
that its people defeated Tikal in a battle in 562 and that
they dealt a similar defeat to the nearby city of Naranjo
in 631. However, Caracol succumbed to the same stresses
that scourged other Classic-era cities: overpopulation,
maldistribution of resources, soil erosion, and collapse of
older trade systems. The last recorded date here is 859; the
center appears to have been abandoned within 200 years.

Today the site of Caracol lies some three hours from


the main roads in Belizes Cayo District. While it includes
a series of impressive temples and ball courts, as well as
several aguadas, or artificial water reservoirs, its most
astonishing structure is the Caana, or sky building, a
136-foot temple that is the tallest in Belize and one of the
largest in the Maya world.
Terry Rugeley

Further reading:
Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase. Investigations at the Classic Maya City of Caracol, Belize: 19851987. Monograph 3
(San Francisco: Pre-Columbian Art Institute, 1987).

Carib The Carib, or Kalinago, inhabited the Lesser

Antilles or the Leeward Islands of the eastern Caribbean,


arriving from South America around 1000 c.e. The
Carib homeland, to the west and south of the Orinoco
river delta, is located next to that of the Arawak-speaking
ancestors of the Saladoid, who had settled the islands of
the Caribbean centuries earlier. The Carib, skilled sailors
and aggressive warriors, slowly but steadily moved from
island to island, conquering the local Saladoid. By 1500,
the Carib had reached the Virgin Islands and perhaps
even Puerto Rico.
Carib society was loosely egalitarian, although only
for men. There were no established chieftains or elite
classes, and all Carib males were expected to be warriors,
with those excelling in combat and taking many captives
obtaining wealth and prestige. Particularly successful men
might be recognized as ubutu, or leaders, although their
authority was more symbolic than real. Women, both
Carib and enslaved Taino-Saladoid, were responsible for
tending the crops (mainly manioc and maize), cooking,
manufacturing household articles such as ceramics and
baskets, and raising children (see family). Since only men
could participate in most religious and social activities,
Carib society developed distinct male and female subcultures, with women even speaking a separate language
based on the Arawak spoken by Taino female captives.
The Carib had a fearsome reputation not only
because of their constant raids on their neighbors but
also because they practiced cannibalism. Usually, male
captives were selected to be eaten as part of victory celebrations. Nevertheless, the Carib also peacefully traded
and intermarried with their neighbors and developed a
vast trade network that connected the Caribbean islands
with northern South America.
Carib spirituality was based on the belief of the duality
of the spirit beings that ruled nature. Bakamo, the great Sky
Serpent (star constellation), guided and protected seafaring canoes but could also cause harm if offerings were not
made. Likewise, the spirits of deceased ancestors could turn
maboya, or evil, if neglected. The boyez, or shaman, could
summon these spirits to heal the sick or interpret dreams.

(c) 2011 Facts on File. All Rights Reserved.

Catholic Church l 55

The Carib fiercely resisted European encroachment


on their islands for several centuries. They also intermarried with runaway African slaves and Taino refugees
(see slavery).
Francisco J. Gonzlez

Further reading:
David Harris. Plants, Animals and Plants in the Outer Leeward Islands, West Indies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965).

Casa de Contratacin (15031790) A centralized

board of trade, the Casa de Contratacin was originally


the only authorized trading house and provisioning
agency for Spains mercantile trade with its colonies in
the Indies. Eventually, the Casa de Contratacin came to
control all trade as well as navigational training and served
as the chief commercial court of the Spanish Empire.
With Christopher Columbuss discovery of the New
World in 1492, Spain needed to create a system of trade
with its new colonies. While developing the first trading
fleets, the Crown realized that controlling and regulating
interoceanic trade with the New World would become
necessary. Between 1494 and 1502, Queen Isabellas confessor and council, Bishop Juan Rodrguez de Fonseca,
controlled virtually all aspects of Spains trade with the
Indies. By late 1502, however, it had become apparent
that the Crown needed to create new institutions in order
to control both the governmental and the fiscal/mercantile aspects of their New World colonies. Accordingly,
in 1503, the Catholic monarchs determined to relieve
Bishop Fonseca of his economic and trading obligations
by creating the Casa de Contratacin.
On January 20, 1503, the Crown formally established the Casa de Contratacin. The new institution
was located in the Royal Alczares in Seville until 1598,
when it moved into what is now known as the Casa Lonja
(which also houses the Archivo General de las Indias).
Initially, the Casa de Contratacin was made up of
a treasurer (tesorero), a chief accountant (contador), and a
business and trading manager (factor). Other posts were
added as it took more control over maritime trade and
transoceanic transportation and then also regulated
the immigration of Castilians to the New World. In
1508, the Italian Amerigo Vespucci was appointed as the
first chief pilot, serving from 1508 to 1514. By 1514 a
postmaster general had been appointed and eventually
a large number of lawyers, notaries, and other officials
were added to the bureaucracy.
By the end of the 16th century, the Casa de
Contratacin operated as a board of trade, a supreme
commercial court, and a clearinghouse for all merchant
traffic and oversaw certain immigration issues. In essence,
its operations were divided into three distinct divisions.
The treasury functions came under the authority of the

treasurer. The chief duties of the treasurer and his officials were to receive and safeguard the gold and silver
bullion and precious stones that were owed to the royal
treasury as payment of the quinto real, or royal fifth tax.
The factor, as business manager of the Casa de
Contratacin, focused on outfitting and provisioning
ships and purchasing supplies, armaments, and all kinds
of merchandise from Europe for shipping to the Indies.
His office also had the responsibility of administering all
of the nonprecious metal merchandise that arrived from
the Indies. The factor and his subordinates also oversaw
all trade regulations, as well as the annual merchant fleets
that sailed between Spain and the Indies.
The contador, or chief accountant, had the difficult
task of registering all persons and merchandise carried
by outgoing or incoming vessels. His office also controlled the fiscal review and accounting of other overseas
Crown officials.
The Casa de Contratacin in Seville functioned and
ensured a royal monopoly on trade with the New World
colonies from 1503 until it was moved to Cdiz in 1717.
As the Spanish Bourbon monarchs reformed the colonial
trading system in the late 1700s, it gradually lost its importance until it was finally abolished by decree in 1790.
See also Casa de Contratacin (Vol. II).
John F. Chuchiak IV

Further reading:

Clarence Henry Haring. Trade and Navigation between Spain


and the Indies in the Time of the Hapsburgs (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1918).

cassava See manioc.


Catholic Church
BRAZIL
The early history of the Catholic Church in Brazil was
dominated by one religious order, the Jesuits. In 1549, a
group of six Jesuits, under the leadership of Manuel de
Nbrega, arrived in Salvador do Bahia, along with the
regions first governor general, Tom de Souza. By 1550,
a second group of four Jesuits arrived; in the subsequent
years, others followed. The Jesuits enjoyed a close relationship with the representatives of the royal government.
While they focused their efforts largely on the conversion of indigenous peoples, they also played an important
role in the general life of the colony. Although eventually
many religious orders participated in evangelization, in
Brazil, the Jesuits took the lead, their influence expanding
steadily throughout the early colonial period. Starting in
Baha, they spread Christianity along the Brazilian coast.
The indigenous people, who relied on some agriculture
and hunting and gathering, lived in small settlements that
were widely dispersed in the interior. They frequently

(c) 2011 Facts on File. All Rights Reserved.