The Sixteenth-Century Encounter, 1492–1550
The most prominent theme running through the initial contact between the European invaders and the indigenous people of the islands is violence. It is diffi cult to envision any other way to look at what happened in those lands between 1492 and the time when one could reasonably say the era of European invasion and conquest ended, about 1550. In the beginning, the violence was the result of the wars of invasion, which lasted for more than 20 years. At the end of that period, the native people were exhausted from trying to resist the demands of the invaders. The men were killed, captured, imprisoned, and forced into slave labor by the Europeans. The women were taken from their homes, raped, and forced into slavery of all sorts, including domestic service. The youngest children also were forced into domestic service, and the culture of indigenous village life ended.