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date: 26 September 2022

Germans in the Habsburg Empire in South America (Colonial Venezuela)locked

Germans in the Habsburg Empire in South America (Colonial Venezuela)locked

  • Giovanna MontenegroGiovanna MontenegroBinghamton University

Summary

In 1528, the Welsers, bankers of Augsburg, received a capitulación (contract) from Charles V, Holy Roman emperor and king of Spain, to govern the Province of Venezuela for the Spanish Crown. The territory, located in the northwestern region of modern-day Venezuela, was ruled by a joint German-Spanish administrative team that was plagued by chaos and distrust. In addition to undertaking conquest expeditions, the Welsers engaged in both the African and the indigenous slave trade and experimented with the extraction and export of medical plants such as balsam. The Spaniards, anxious about the Welsers’ access to power in the conquest and colonization of the “Spanish” Indies, saw the Welser governors as Lutheran barbarians. Most of the Spanish historiography did the same. In any case, the colony ended officially in 1556, soon after Juan Carvajal tried to administer the colony and had Philipp von Hutten, the colony’s governor, and Bartholomäus Welser VI, the eldest son of the company’s boss, assassinated. The colony was mostly forgotten in Germany until the 19th century, when German imperialists used it as an example to further colonization in parts of Africa and the South Pacific. Venezuelans, after gaining independence from Spain, maintained a pro-Spanish view of the colonization of the nation’s western territory into the early 21st century.

Subjects

  • History of the Caribbean
  • History of Latin America and the Oceanic World
  • 1492–1824
  • Colonialism and Imperialism

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