This article describes the three key stages involved in the establishment of colonial rule in Spanish America after 1492. It describes the intellectual and administrative development of an ideology by which the Spanish Crown and all Spanish conquistadors and evangelizers—with the exception of Bartolomé de las Casas and his followers—could feel comfortable with the destruction of Amerindian peoples and their civilizations. The article considers the polemical limitations of the European archive, which ultimately spelled out a continuous denigration of the Amerindian peoples. After the holocaust unleashed by the epidemics brought to the Americas by the Spanish and the subsequent subjugation of the survivors, the original peoples of the Americas were organized into giant labor camps of one sort or another. The article focuses on the work of the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo (1515–82) and his organization of an extractive colonial economy in the former Inca Empire based on a system of forced labor. It has been argued that the forced entrance of the peoples and wealth of the great Amerindian civilizations constitutes the foundation of modern capitalism.