Oyendo hablar a un hombre, fácil es
saber dónde vio la luz del sol:
Si alaba a Inglaterra, será inglés,
si reniega de Prusia, es un francés,
y si habla mal de España... es español.
Listening to a man's speech, it's easy
to know where he first met the Sun's rays,
if he praises England, he's English,
if he hates Prusia, he's French,
and if he talks badly of Spain,
he's a Spaniard.
The above poem came from the pen of Joaquim Bartrina, a Spaniard from Barcelona from 1850 to 1880. I found it on Fernando Sánchez Dragón's book, the title of which is exactly this: And if he talks badly of Spain, he is a Spaniard (2007), which we'll review next time here.
I mention them both, the poem and the book, here because it is incredible that our Black Legend has many more believers in Spain than outside our boundaries. It was started in Italy when the Spanish Empire ruled there, and then it was promoted on by gthe English, Dutch and German because of the great fear at the only Empire in the world under Charles 1st and Philip 2nd's.
It is revealing enough that today it is well spread in Spain the opinion that evreything from abroad is better than what we have here. In Spain Europe is very well thought of, even if nothing good ever came from them to us. When I see those newspaper articles, and also posts on social nets, blaming Spaniards for genocide in present day Southamerica at the times of the Conquest, and also about the evil deeds of emperors Charles I, Philip II, and other Spanish rulers alogn our history, I can't help feeling sorry at the deep ignorance of those people, which is unforgivable in people born in Spain or different Southamerican countries. Probably they do not know, or keep a dishonest silence that in Britain Catholics had not full civil rights till the second part of the 20th century, whereas en the whole of the conquered American territory (from Alaska to Punta Arenas South Chile), Indians had the same rights as men born in Castilla. In fact Indians lost those rights only at the moment when they stopped being Spanish, on the independence of the countries where they had lived for thousands of years, or as a consequence of the American War with Mexico or because of different forced treaties. Yes, there was genocide in America, in which complete races were wiped out, but it was not the Spanish who perpetrated them, but the British, the French and, to a larger extent, the United States of America.
In fact Spain never had colonies in America or in any other country in the world, but provinces and vicekingdoms, the heads of which were taken responsible right before the King. Institutions like Indian Council and Judgement of Residence were alien to any non Spanish conquest. The latter prevented resigning high officers from leaving the town where they were in office till a trial was held on them because of their period in power, in which anybody could accuse him for whatever reason. Some of them went to jail or got heavy penalties if it was proven, that they had overdone their powers, or misused them (even the Discoverer himself, Christophorus Colombus, was taken to the presence of the Catholic King and Queen under chains for that reason); though most of them were declared innocent because they usually behaved within the limits of law and Christian virtues. Let's think what could have happened if French and British rulers in their American colonies had been forced to similar trials... So many treaties with the Indians treasoned by white men, so much genocide and unfair wars one or centuries ago on the ground of present day USA becase of white man's greed. Even establishing Indian reservations was exile in their own country, a great shame and violation of human rights. That never happened in Spanish America.
The other institution I referred to, the Indian Council, took care that in the New Continent the King and Queen's justice was carried out in the same way as it was in European Spain. Among the first Spanish universities there are those in the capital cities of Santo Domingo, Peru and Mexico, on the 16th century, what makes them the first in the whole continent... Another different trait was that people born in America were entitled to become noble, what would be totally alien to the British and French North America. However, Simon Bolivar could not enter the Spanish nobility, and they say that was the origin of his hate for the Mother country.
When Independence came, taking advantage that Spain was helpless because of the French Invasion, there was great regression in the land. Indians lost heir rights, and there was a lot of genocide in several places. Soon there wars between the new states, which had enjoyed peace for more than three centuries, those of Spanish rule. According to a public confession by Simon Bolivar himself, We traded independence for everything else.
The ideas I am presenting in this article can be read and checked int he wonderful book by Elvira Roca Brea Imperiophobia and Black Legend, which was published a few months ago. You can find it in any bookshop (only in Spanish to my knowledge), but also in Amazon. There are truths which hurt, and this book indeed hurts the wound of envy and falseness by which the Spanish Black Legend was invented, but it can prove things which I could not understand before I read this book, like, for example, how Francisco Pizarro could conquer a territory four times larger than Spain with only 284 men.
Of course, imperiophobia existed much earlier than Spain: people already hated and were afraid of Rome, and then the British Empire, and the present day American one, not to mention the Muslin one in the Middle Ages. But while in England nowadays you can find people who proudly talk about their British Empire, in Spain nobody dares mention the Spanish Empire. That is because up to now Spaniards believe the lies poured into this legend, because of ignorance or inferiority complex,while England, France, Turkey and other countries have much more to keep quiet for. Where are the millions of Indians who lived in present day USA? Let's remember the widely accepted idiom all over the 19th and part of the 20th: The best Indian is the dead Indian. And where are the Indians who lived in those times in present day Southamerica? Indeed in present day Southamerica. Becuase Spaniards did marry Indian girls, as Elvira Roca Brea proves in her book, because of strict orders from the Queen of Castilla herself. I cannot think of any British king or queedn saying such a thing... Spain copied itself in every conquered country, unlike other countries, who only chantaged and robbed thanks to their more powerful weapons and armies.
That's why Elvira Roca Brea's book should be read by every Spaniard, if he or she wants to know about our cultural heritage, so that we can defend it wherever we must with the knowledge we can gain from her book and any other one in the huge bibliography she includes in it. There was a tie when Europe shivered when the Spanish Corps moved. Nowadays Europe makes fun of Spain and Spaniards the whole time. That happens only because we are ignorant of our own history. Defending it demands knowing it. Books like this one are a must in our book shelves. I heartily recommend reading it, and thanks its author for the answers to important queswtions whi I had always in my mind, unanswered. For example, why didn't the English send a fleet to punish us for the Invincible Armada. The answer was that they did send it..., but it was vanquished in front of Galicia. And, also, the English were defeated in that war, though that is kept aside by the arrogant owners of Trafalgar Square because of shame, and Spaniards because of ignorance.