Chapter 11 of Widows and Orphans by Jamie Shovlin makes up pages 92 – 112 of the school textbook A History of the Modern World. Jamie has used multiple editions of the book to find the underlining and highlighting left by previous generations of readers as the basis for the film’s script and structure.
In Widows and Orphans: Chapter 11 we hear about the censorship of books by different religions, the shifting of powers between colonising nations including the Dutch, French, English and Spanish and the effect of this on slavery and native peoples.
Film script read aloud by speakers in Widows and Orphans: Chapter 11:
All countries censored books; Protestant authorities labored to keep “papist” works from the eyes of the faithful, and Catholic authorities took the same pains to suppress all knowledge of “heretics”. In the “machinery” of enforcing religious belief, however, no engine was to be so powerful as the apparatus of state, of political sovereignty.
Negro slavery never assumed the importance in Spanish America that it later assumed in the Dutch, French, and English colonies, and Negro slaves generally received protection and status not accorded them in the northern colonies. In America, after the first fiendishness of the conquista, the Spanish established their own civilization.
The opening of the Atlantic reoriented Europe.
In the Middle Ages the town and its adjoining country formed an economic unit. In this type of business a new type of man developed. Economists call him the “enterpriser” or entrepreneur. In the rise of capitalism the needs of the military were in fact fundamentally important.
The conquistadores fell upon the new lands. They despoiled the native empires. The Indians were put to forced labor, in which many died. The attempts of the church to protect its Indian converts, and restrictions set by the royal authorities on their exploitation, led almost immediately to the importation of African slaves, of whom, it was estimated, 100,000 had been brought to America by 1560.
Black African slavery became less important in most of Spanish America than it later became in some of the Dutch, French, and English colonies or in Portuguese Brazil.