Cover image for Violent First Contact in Venezuela: Nikolaus Federmann’s Indian History By Peter Hess

Violent First Contact in Venezuela

Nikolaus Federmann’s Indian History

Peter Hess

COMING IN DECEMBER

$26.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09179-2
Coming in December

136 pages
5.5" × 8.5"
3 b&w illustrations/1 map
2021

Latin American Originals

Violent First Contact in Venezuela

Nikolaus Federmann’s Indian History

Peter Hess

“An unvarnished description of the brutal mechanics and motivations of the Welser Company’s short-lived colonial project in the Americas. Early sixteenth-century narratives of European exploration in the Americas often mix conquistador ambition and expeditionary ethnography. In contrast, Nikolaus Federmann’s account of his military band’s methodical shakedowns of successive indigenous groups for provisions and forced labor makes explicit the violent dynamics of early racial capitalism.”

 

  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Subjects
Published in 1557, Nikolaus Federmann’s Jndianische Historia is a fascinating narrative describing the German military commander’s incursion into what is now Venezuela. Designed not only for classroom use but also for the use of scholars, this English translation is accompanied by a critical introduction that contextualizes Federmann’s firsthand account within the broader Spanish colonial system.

Having gained the rights to colonize Venezuela from the Spanish Crown in 1528, the Welser merchant house of Augsburg, Germany, sent mercenaries, settlers, and miners to set up colonial structures. The venture never turned a profit, and operations ceased in 1546 after two Welser officials were murdered. Federmann’s text gives an account of his foray into the interior of Venezuela in 1530–31. It describes violent first contact with indigenous peoples as well as Federmann’s communication strategies, how he managed to prevail in hostile terrain, and how he related to other agents of the conquests. It also documents his unwavering belief in the intrinsic preeminence of European Christians and, ultimately, in the righteousness of his mission.

The only detailed record of this incursion, Federmann’s text adds a unique and important perspective to our understanding of first colonial contact on the Caribbean coast of South America. It provides insight into the first-contact dynamic, the techniques of subjugation and dominance, and the web of diverging interests among stakeholders. This volume will be a valuable resource for courses and for scholarship on conquest and colonialism in Latin America.

“An unvarnished description of the brutal mechanics and motivations of the Welser Company’s short-lived colonial project in the Americas. Early sixteenth-century narratives of European exploration in the Americas often mix conquistador ambition and expeditionary ethnography. In contrast, Nikolaus Federmann’s account of his military band’s methodical shakedowns of successive indigenous groups for provisions and forced labor makes explicit the violent dynamics of early racial capitalism.”

Peter Hess is Associate Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Resisting Pluralization and Globalization in German Culture, 1490–1540: Visions of a Nation in Decline.

Acknowledgements

Foreword

Map

Introduction

Indian History

To the noble and mighty Johann Wilhelm von Laubenberg

Chapter 1. About the departure of Nikolaus Federmann the Younger from Spain

Chapter 2. How Nikolaus Federmann acted after his arrival in Coro

Chapter 3. The beginning of Nikolaus Federmann’s journey from Coro inland

Chapter 4. The Nation of the Jirajaras

Chapter 5. The Nation of the Ayamanes

Chapter 6. The Nation of the Gayones 
Chapter 7. The Nation of the Achagua

Chapter 8. The Nation of the Caquetíos 
Chapter 9. The Nation of the Cuibas

Chapter 10. The Nation of the Coyones 
Chapter 11. The Nation of the Guaiqueríes

Chapter 12. The Nation of the Caquetíos

Chapter 13. The Nation of the Ciparicotos

Chapter 14. Return from the back country to Coro

Chapter 15. Return to Spain from Coro

Chapter 16. Return to Augsburg from Spain

Selected Bibliography

Index

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