Role of women in colonial latin america/tales of potosi

In early 1530, Francisco Pizarro set sail from Spain with the blessing and support of King Charles V. His mission was to conquer the lands of the New World and bring riches back to Spain. Three years later, he would defeat the Incan Empire and claim much of South America for Spain. This would begin an almost three hundred year period of Spanish colonial rule that was centered in Peru. The high country of Potosi, backbone of the Andes, “embraced one of the largest and perhaps richest silver loads ever found on Earth” (Arzans xi). In order to exploit this wealth, colonists were sent to settle this land, bringing with them European culture, European religion and European women. It was a very common belief that European settlers were better than the “inferior” natives that they encountered. Part of this inferiority was that they were seen as heathen savages who needed the guidance of Spanish monks in order to convert them to Christianity. These two pillars of colonial life in Peru (the search for wealth and the influence of religion) affected the daily lives of every colonist. As the work of Bartolome Arzans de Orsua y Vela’s, Tales of Potosi, clearly expresses, life for women during colonial times seemed to be very narrowly defined, particularly in their societal stance and Christian virtues. Arzans uses the tale of The Warrior Maidens as an example of the uncommonly possessed bravery and strength of two young maidens living in Potosi, in mid seventeenth century. Under usual circumstances these brave young women strived to break free of the role most women had during these times. These two young maidens, as was common in the European upbringing of women in colonial times, “had been reared with such circumspection and kept so closely within doors that scarcely anyone knew of their existence, not only in the town at large, but even in the quarter where they lived (Arzans, 59)”. Traditionally, women were brought u…

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