*** Marianas history Spanish administration

Marianas History: Spanish Colonial Marianas (1668-1899)

Marianas history
Figure 1.--Here we have a view of the the Spanish colonial era in the Marianas picturing both the Chamorros and two Europeans. They are French medical officers from the corvette 'Uranie', which visited Guam (1819). They doubled as scientists and general ethnographic reporters, hence the notebook. The Spanish administration was centerd on Guam. most of the Chamorro population from the north was relocated here. The drawing was dated dated 1825 and producedby by the French explorer Jacques Etienne Victor Arago (1790-1855). He was the official artist on the expedition. The picture caption reads, "Agagna: Ile Guam. Occupations Domestiques" meanuing "Hagåtña: Guam Island. Domestic occupations".

Although claimed by Spain, Spanish authorities showed little interest in the islands. Spanish colonization began with Jesuit priest Diego Luis de Sanvitores (1668). He led a group of five other priests, laymen, women, and a few Filipino soldiers. At the time, Mariana of Austria was the regent of Spain and she had financed his mission. He thus renamed the islands the Marianas. Sanvitores and his colonists built churches and religious schools and began to convert the Chamorros. It did not prove easy. The Chamorros resisted Spanish rule and the unfamiliar new religion. A string of revolts followed. Christianity was not a good fit with their traditional beliefs. The Spanish response was to forcibly concentrate the people who lived all over the islands. Saipan was the most populace island and the most resistant to Spanish efforts. Rota had a smaller population and more rugged terrain. Many Chamorros were killed during the relocation effort. In addition, by concentrating them the Spanish made them more vulnerable to the spread of disease. The Spanish with the Chamorros still resisting decided to act with more force. José Quiroga was appointed governor of the Marianas (1680). He confronted a series of revolts, sieges, murders of missionaries, and burning of churches with brute force--the Chamorro Wars. The Spanish effort to Christianize and control the islands set off two decades of often brutal hostilities between the Spanish and the Chamorros who violently resisted them. The Spanish had to commit a substantial military force to gain control of the islands. The Chamorros attempted to hide in the rugged terrain of the interior. Quiroga decided to relocate the entire Chamorro population from Saipan and Rota to Guam. Most of the Chamorros on Saipan were relocated. The Spanish permitted Caroline islanders to move to Marianas where they tended cattle for the Spanish. The Spanish had more trouble relocating the Rota Chamorros where many managed to hide in the island's caves and mountains. The Spanish permitted Caroline islaaders to move to Marianas where they tended cattle for the Spanish. Finally, the Chamorro people who survived conceded the inevitable and took the oath of allegiance to the king of Spain and accepted conversion. The adopted other Spanish customs including clothing and began planting corn and other Spanish crops. The Spanish provided artisans teach a range of skills, including sewing, spinning, weaving, tanning, iron forging, stone masonry, and other valuable crafts. By the time Quiroga left the Marianas, the Chamorros were subjected and the Marianas firmly under Spanish rule (1698). From the Marianas, the Spanish seized other islands in Micronesia, not encountering the level of resistance experienced on Saipan. Guam became the center of Spanish administration and an important stop for the Spanish galleons sailing between the Philippines (Manila) and Mexico (Acapulco). The convoy known as the Galeon de Manila. The Marianas under Spanish rule remained a backwater under the General Government of the Philippines. Germany began diplomatic efforts to question Spanish control of the Marianas. Pope Leo XIII confirmed Spanish sovereignty over the Marianas (1885). Partly as a result, Spain changed its policy toward the now thoroughly Hispanicized Guamanian Chamorros. Spanish authorities began encouraging the Chamorros on Guam to move to the Northern Marianas. he Spanish saw a larger Chamorro population on Saipan and other islands in the Northern Marianas as a way of strengthening Spanish control. The Carolinians had by that time settled much of the most productive coastal areas.


Milsom, John. E-mail message (May 12, 2024). John helped correct the caption. John tells us, "I am currently working on an annotated translation of the diary of one of these gentlemen (probably the one with the notebook’, to be published early next year by the Hakluyt Society.


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Created: 5:43 AM 1/3/2013
Last updated: 9:30 PM 5/12/2024