Jesuit reductions of the Guaraní

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Jesuit reductions of the Guaraní are settlements created by the Jesuits for the Guaraní . The main goal was Christian proselytizing and protection against attacks by slave hunters and exploitation by the white upper class.

Building the reductions

Jesuit missions and Spanish cities of the Guayrá

From 1610 onwards, Jesuit missionaries built a number of reductions on the Paraná River , e. B. the reductions San Ignacio and Loreto. Portuguese slave hunters, the so-called Bandeiranten or Paulistas, attacked the reductions with increasing frequency. The Indios in the reductions were better educated, so they could be sold more expensively on the slave markets. It is believed that around 60,000 Indians were abducted by the slave hunters.

In 1641 the Jesuit Domingo de Torres decided to arm the Guaraní to protect the reductions. He was able to repel an attack by the gang in the same year so successfully at Mbororé . The slave hunters then spared the Jesuit reductions for many years.

These protected reductions were only allowed to be entered by Guaraní, Jesuits and invited guests. They were not subject to the jurisdiction of the colonial government , but were only (formally) subject to the Spanish crown . Spanish colonists were not allowed to enter the reductions or to force Indians to do forced labor ( encomienda system).

World heritage

The Brazilian Jesuit Reduction São Miguel das Missões was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 . In 1984 the site was expanded to include four Argentine reductions under the name of the Jesuit Missions of the Guaraní : San Ignacio Miní , Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana , Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa María la Mayor . The Jesuit missions of the Chiquitos ( Bolivia ) have also been recognized as World Heritage since 1990 . In 1993 the Jesuit reductions La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue in Paraguay followed .

Jesuit reductions in the border area between the viceroyalty of Peru and Brazil

Florian Paucke : Armed cavalrymen on the forecourt

The most sensational and best-equipped project was undertaken by the Jesuits among the Guaraní in the border area between Portuguese Brazil and the Spanish viceroyalty of Peru .

The Jesuits in the Viceroyalty of Peru and Asunción

From 1538 to 1565, the Jesuits at the Spanish court tried to be included in the list of orders responsible for mission in the New World. The Jesuits of Portugal got ahead of them by sending the first six Jesuits to Brazil in 1549 and undertaking the first attempts at proselytizing among the Guaraní in 1551. With the admission by Madrid in 1566 the first missionaries came to Florida , but they failed, as did the Franciscans in 1572 .

The first priests arrived in Lima on April 1st, 1568 . Their huge mission area, which included Peru, Ecuador , Chile , Colombia , Tucumán , Mexico and Paraguay, they first tried to capture through traveling preachers. However, the successes of the missionaries were moderate, especially since they did not speak the national languages. In order to compensate for this lack, one founded - what the rules of the order had initially forbidden - mission branches similar to fixed local parishes . The first settlement was established in July 1576 on Lake Titicaca . The missionaries also received language lessons there. Father Diego de Torres Bollo , who founded the first reductions in Paraguay in 1610, also received his education here.

Asunción was established as a settlement in 1537 and a city in 1541. The natives of the area rose against Spanish rule several times (1539, 1545, but especially 1569, 1575 and 1578). This was due to the land system of the encomienda system finally enforced by Governor Domingo Martínez de Irala (1552–1557) in 1555. Around Asunción alone, around 20,000 Indians were assigned to the approx. 320 Spaniards. In addition, there were epidemics that killed 90% of the Indians in some areas. In 1588 the first three Jesuits reached the isolated Asunción.

The ecclesiastical organization of the diocese of Río de la Plata did not make progress, although this was already given in 1547. The first bishop did not take over this diocese until 1556 , but after his death in 1573 there was a twelve-year vacancy. The following second bishop stayed for only five years, then another vacancy followed, this time for 13 years. In 1603, Martin de Loyola, a nephew of the founder of the order, ascended the bishopric. Together with Governor Hernandarias de Saavedra (1592–1609, 1615–1621) he tried to integrate the Indians into the colonial system of rule by means of a mission. But the governor initially decided on the Franciscans as the missionary order. Under the leadership of Luis de Bolaños and Alonso de Buenaventura, they founded the Los Altos mission stations as early as 1580, and a few years later those of Ytá and Yafuarón. Widespread diseases wiped out their missionary successes until 1594, because hardly every tenth Indian survived. In 1610 the Spanish military presence forced the baptism of twenty caciques , whereupon the reductions San José de Caazapá (160 km south of Asunción) and one year later San Francisco de Yutí could be founded. Bolaños wrote a grammar of the Guaraní , but he had to realize that the number of Franciscans was far too few. The order ceded some of its reductions to the Jesuits, e. B. 1615 Santa Ana.

The first Jesuit Marciel Lorenzana went to the Indians in 1593. The successes were moderate, however, so that in 1601 the Irish Jesuit Thomas Fields asked the order general Claudio Acquaviva to leave the province to the Portuguese Jesuits. The Salta Order Assembly already gave up the province, the Dominicans were trying to get the Order's property in Asunción. But Aquaviva instead founded the Tucumán-Paraguay Order under the leadership of Diego de Torres, who arrived in 1608 with 13 friars, and 24 followed in 1610. In 1615 there were already 113. Since 1608 a royal letter expressly forbade the military submission of the Indians, which gave priority to the missionaries, who were now supported by the governor. In 1629 the governor Luis de Céspedes tried to subordinate the Indians to his authority, but after his three administrators had almost been lynched - if a priest had not intervened - he finally left the Indians to the care of the Jesuits.

The structure of the reductions


Fathers Vicente Griffi and Roque González de Santa Cruz were supposed to do missionary work under the Guaycurù. However, these were nomads of the Chaco who could easily block the way towards Lima and therefore not accessible for the Jesuit mission. This approach failed.


In Paraná, the Rio Tebicuary formed the border with the Franciscan mission area. As early as December 1609, the Jesuits founded the mission station San Ignacio Guasú , in 1615 Roque González de Santa Cruz founded Nuestra Senora de la Encarnación near today's Posadas . It was later moved to the right bank of the Paraná and forms the core of today's Encarnación .

To establish a reduction, a cross was erected that the Indians had to guard. The governor then issued a permit ( auto ), and construction of the reduction could begin. In the next few years the reductions of Laguna de Santa Ana, Yahuapoa (1616), Corpus Christi (1622), La Navidad the NS de Acaray (1619-1624) and Santa Maria del Iguazú ( Paraná ) were added.


The Jesuits were particularly successful in Guayrá , where the Indians adhered to a monotheistic religion and were relatively willing to adopt the new teaching. This was also due to the fact that the Indians promised themselves better protection against attacks by the secular Spaniards from the new religion. This mission area was also on the territory of the Brazilian West Paraná. The city complexes Ciudad Real and Villarica there were fifty days' march from Asunción. In 1610, Jesuits founded the first mission stations, such as NS de Loreto del Pirapó and San Ignacio-miní del Ypaumbucu, which were inhabited by 8,000 people who were divided into around 2,000 families. After several years of stagnation, the superior Antonio Ruiz de Montoya led the work 1622–1629 again more energetically. This resulted in 11 further reductions.

Soon the reductions were in competition with the encomienda villages founded in 1588, which suffered severely from the population losses caused by ruthless exploitation and disease. Colonialists soon began , despite bans, to rob even baptized Indians from the reductions.

So they were in turn in competition with the slave hunters from São Paulo , the Bandeirantes . These Paulistas or Mamelukes carried out periodic raids that began in 1629. The Indians felt they had been betrayed, and at least one murder attempt was made. After San Antonio moved the Bandeirantes against Jesús Maria and San Miguel, whereupon the reductions Encarnación, San Pablo, Arcángels and S. Tomás had to be given up. In 1631 a bandeira destroyed San Francisco Javier and San José. Only the two oldest reductions Loreto and San Ignacio Miní remained. Tradition speaks of 200,000 dead and prisoners.

In 1631 the Jesuits Antonio Ruiz de Montoya and Francisco Vazquez Trujillo decided, without consulting the Spanish settlers or the governor, to bring the last 12,000 Indians to safety. On 700 canoes and rafts they fled west on Paranápanema , then south on Paraná . Around 2,000 Indians were killed just by bypassing the Guayrá waterfalls. At the Rio Jubaruru , where they arrived after a 1200 km long escape, they rebuilt the abandoned reductions.


In 1619 Roque González de Santa Cruz had such great success with the Guaraní in the Uruguay region that he was able to found the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción reduction in the same year. But in 1622 a plague epidemic completely ruined his success. With the 500 surviving families, he started all over again. In 1626 San Nicolás de Piratini was created, as well as San Francisco Javier de Céspedes and other reductions. As is so often the case here, too, the acquisition of a cacique was decisive.

See also


  • Gerd Kohlhepp : Jesuit Guarani Reductions in North Paraná . In: Paulus Gordan (ed.): For the sake of freedom. A festival for and by Johannes and Karin Schauff . Neske, Pfullingen 1983, ISBN 3-7885-0257-6 , pp. 194-208.
  • Wolfgang Reinhard: Guided cultural change in the 17th century. Acculturation in the Jesuit missions as a universal historical problem . In: Historische Zeitschrift , Vol. 223 (1976), pp. 535-575.
  • Philip Caraman: A Paradise Lost. The Jesuit state in Paraguay ("The lost paradise"). Kösel, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-466-42011-3 .
  • Peter C. Hartmann: The Jesuit State in South America 1609–1768. A Christian alternative to colonialism and Marxism . Anton H. Konrad Verlag, Weißenhorn 1994, ISBN 3-87437-349-5 .
  • Heinrich Krauss, Anton Täubl: Mission and Development: the Jesuit State in Paraguay; five-part course in the media network . Kösel, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-466-36051-X .
  • Horst Pietschmann: State and state development at the beginning of the Spanish colonization of America . Aschendorff Verlag, Münster 1980, ISBN 3-402-05820-0 (plus habilitation thesis, University of Cologne 1977).
  • Frederick J. Reiter: They built Utopia. The Jesuit missions in Paraguay . Scripta humanistica Editio, Potomac, Md. 1995, ISBN 1-882528-11-5 (Scripta humanistica; 116).
  • Elman R. Service: Spanish-Guarani Relations in Early Colonial Paraguay . Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 1971, ISBN 0-8371-3373-4 (reprinted from Ann Arbor, Mich. 1954).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Böhmer: The Jesuits, a historical sketch Stuttgart 1904 / (1921 4 ) / 1957.
  2. ^ Andrés I. Prieto: Missionary scientists. Jesuit science in Spanish South America, 1570–1810 . Vanderbilt University Press, Nashville 2011, ISBN 978-0-8265-1744-9 , p. 63.
  3. a b c d e f g Book: Hans-Jürgen Prien: The history of Christianity in Latin America Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1978, ISBN 3-525-55357-9 ; Pp. 151f, 286, 283, 270, 271 note 4, 273 to P. Nola, 274
  4. a b c Book: Clovis Lugon: La république comuniste chrétienne des Guaranis (1610–1768) Edition “Ouvrières Économie & Humanisme”, Paris 1949; P. 19; 27, letter of July 15, 1608 27
  5. ^ A b Book: Nicolás Techo: Historia de la provincia del Paraguay de la Compañía de Jesús ("Historia Provinciae Paracuaria Societatis Iesu"). CEPAG, Asunción 2005, ISBN 99925-8953-1 (reprint of the Liège 1673 edition); Pp. 23f., 281f.
  6. Published in 1639 the book: Conquista Espiritual hecha por los religiosos de la Compañía de Jesus en las provincias Paraguay, Paraná, Uruguay y Tape ("Conquista espiritual"); Equipo Difusor de estudios de historia iberoamericana, Rosario 1989, ISBN 950-99481-0-1 (reprint of the Madrid 1639 edition)