Nancy E. van Deusen is Professor of History at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. She is the author of
Small Victories?: Gregorio López and the Reforms of the 1540s
The formation of a colonial bureaucracy and legal apparatus in Castile was key to dealing with indigenous slavery in the 1540s. An analysis of two inspections carried out by two jurists on the Council of the Indies, Gregorio López in 1543 and Hernán López in 1549, considers the perspectives of slave owners trying to hold onto their property and the freed and enslaved indios struggling to find a legal voice. While the application of laws played a part in freeing slaves or designating indios as naborias (permanent servants), lawyers, Crown authorities, and litigants interpreted them in particular ways. The making and unmaking of the indio slave was circumscribed by paternalistic practices, the manifestation of the past in the present, and the operation of power struggles over freedom and bondage on a quotidian level.