Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/82

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largely accumulated in the numerous burial-places of a people who preserved with almost Egyptian care the corpses of the dead, depositing with them the gold and silver which had belonged to them when alive. The facilities for marching, which a century of well-organised aboriginal rule had established from one end of the dominion to the other, and in several places between the coast and the mountains, made Pizarro's progress easy. So soon as the supreme chief had been seized and imprisoned or put to death, the submission of his followers, and the subjugation of his territory, quickly followed. But it was an easier task for the vile and sordid adventurers who invaded Peru to destroy the tyranny of its aboriginal conquerors and sack its pueblos, than for the Spanish government to assert the authority of the Crown, and provide the Inca dominion with a suitably organised administration. After much bloodshed, extending over many years, this was at length accomplished; the lands which had belonged to the Inca, the sun, or the native chiefs, and the peasantry, were, with their peasant inhabitants, chiefly serfs attached to the soil, granted by the Crown to gentlemen immigrants, and held on similar terms to those annexed to the "commends" of the military Orders—the name "commend," indeed, becoming the technical term for estates so held. Here, as in Mexico, churches were built and endowed, diocesan organisations were established, and the difficult work of converting the Indians was begun and earnestly carried on by a devoted clergy; superior courts of justice were constituted, and law was administered in the village by alcaldes; the aboriginal population, freed from the grinding tyranny of their old masters, increased and throve; new mines, especially of silver, were discovered and wrought. Both Peru and Mexico gradually assumed the resemblance of civilised life; and their prosperity testified to the benefits conferred on them by conquests which, however unjustifiable on abstract grounds, in both cases redeemed the populations affected by them from cruel and oppressive governments, and bloody and senseless religions.

After the conquest of Peru the treasure sent by America to Spain was trebled; the silver mines of Europe were practically abandoned, and before long Europe's entire gold-supply was obtained from the New World. In these circumstances the naval enterprise not only of the enemies, but of the political rivals of Spain was stimulated to assume the form of piracy; and in this connexion a peculiar cause came into operation about this time, which had a strongly modifying effect on the destinies of the New World. Both Charles V and his son and successor in Spain, Philip II, had constituted themselves the champions of the Catholic Church; and they freely employed the gold of America in the pursuit of intrigues favourable to their policy in every European country. Hence, to cut off the supply at its source became the universal policy of Protestantism, now struggling for life throughout Western Europe. The persecution of the Huguenots drove large numbers of