Laws of Burgos 1512

The relationship between European invaders and indigenous Nations has been bitterly contentious since 1492. In response to reports of terrible treatment of native Americans, the Spanish government and King Ferdinand II of Aragon issued the Laws of Burgos on December 27, 1512.  The laws formalized the practice of ‘voluntary’ labor at Spanish encomiendas for native Americans, but also stipulated in minute detail requirements for work, pay, provisioning, living quarters, maternity leave, and hygiene. While far from perfect, compared to the treatment of enslaved human beings on 19th century US plantations, the 16th century Laws of Burgos were dazzlingly enlightened. (Image of King Ferdinand II of Aragon)