Monday, November 17, 2008

Paraguay - Early History


Spain had sent forth a large fleet consisting of 11 sea vessels and over 2500 men with the charge of conquering "the Countries of La Plata". It is written that on August 15, 1537, two of the smallest vessels had bravely managed to make their way into the deep interior of this wild, unknown country.

Disembarking upon the shores of the river known as the Paraguay River, the white men, dressed in their armor, planted their feet upon this strange new land with every intention of remaining.

The date, August15 th, on the Catholic calendar, was remembered as the day of the"Assumption of Maria". Therefor, they named the new place with the rather grandiose title, "Casa Fuerte Nuestra Senora de la Asunción."

Today, the capital of the country of Paraguay is known by this name but usually it is shortened to simply, 'Asunción'. For many years this city would be known as the heart of South America.

This meeting of Spaniards with the local indians, the Guarani, was remarkably peaceful, mostly because of the hospitality of the indians towards the Spaniards. The Spaniards had the, ahem, luck, ahem, of arriving at a time when the Guarani tribe found themselves lacking in males and with an over abundance of females. The reason for this is not clear, perhaps from a prolonged war or sickness.

They decided to share their women among the Spaniards in the hopes of preserving the tribe through the offspring. It seems the gentlemen from Spain were in agreement with this offered hospitality. According to the writings of a Father Paniagau who lived at that time, each Spaniard was offered between 30 and 50 Guarani women!

A product of this intermingling was that both indian and European developed strong familial ties to each other in a way not shared in other conquered lands.

The Governor during the years 1539 -1556, Domingo Martinez de Irala was said to have 70 Guarani wives! Consequently, the name Irala is still a common one among Paraguayans.

This peaceful co-existence between the two races due to the open hospitality of the Guarani indians towards the new arrivals is said to be the basis for the renowned friendliness and welcoming spirit which is still prevalent among the Paraguayans of this day.

As a foreigner recently arrived here upon the shores of the Paraguay River, in the city of Asunción, I am even now a recipient of their graciousness which they so freely bestow upon new comers. I have been impressed with a society that is so genuinely kind hearted and eager to offer assistance.

But, if anyone starts offering 50 Guarani wives to my husband, things could become violent very quickly!

14 comments:

Mrs. C said...

...what about the native men? What happened to them?? Out of luck?

Charles said...

Fifty wives... Oh my... I can't keep up with the ONE I have.



Man can not serve two masters much less fifty ;-)

crazy4danes said...

I love history...so thank you for sharing! Good luck to the guy who had 70 wives...my husband thinks having one is tough at times!!! LOL crazy! :P

P said...

I wish you were all here!

Jungle Mom said...

P, me too! I do not have an email for you. Could you leave me your addy and I will not publish it?

MightyMom said...

aaahhh,,, THEN the red would start to show huh?? :-)

so where's Uruguay on your map?

Liz said...

Thanks for the history lesson Rita, it seems that I know very little about the sureños countries.

Perhaps we know better the Argentinians and Chileans, but I confess I was surprised with your post.

BTW, I think the spaniards had the same luck here in venezuela. Well.. not so much as 50 wives!!! My own great-great gramdmother (sp?) was a venezuelan indian married to an spaniard.

I'm curious though about the black slaves, were there any? I guess not, being the indians so friendly, the conquistadors didn't have the same trouble as in Perú, Bolivia or Ecuador.

redneck preacher said...

Clearly they needed the Gospel. The Bible teaches a man should only have one master.

HTOITA

(I hope my wife does not read this)

Jungle Mom said...

Liz, oddly enough, the only Black people I have seen in Paraguay are Americans attached to the US Embassy.

Brooke said...

Very interesting!

I imagine things would only get ugly if your hubby accepted the offer of 50 women... ;)

But we all know he never would! :)

Gayle said...

LOL Rita! As if any man could handle 50 wives! :)

This is an interesting post. I wonder what happened to the men? It probably was because of a war, because if it was a plague of some sort it would have taken out the women too.

Starla said...

Now I know where Paraguay is. Thanks for the photo of the map.

Joe Gringo said...

Nice history.

Say hello to PGA Tour golfer Carlos Franco, he's from Paraguay.

William said...

Just wondering, does the name Agustín Barrios Mangoré ever come up in Paraguay? He is a monumental figure in my art form, a true genius. He was very proud of his Guarani heritage and sometimes performed concerts in traditional Guarani clothing. I have never been to Paraguay and I was just wondering.