By Daniel K. Lewis
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Additional resources for A South American Frontier: The Tri-border Region (Arbitrary Borders)
As their population expanded, the Guaranís were better able to defend their settlements from outsiders. For Spanish invaders, the presence of settled towns had another purpose. This population would serve as the initial foundation for the development of commercial activities that would tie the region to the developing Spanish empire in the Americas. Nevertheless, the process of developing the lands of the triborder region created circumstances that resisted integration and definition. Although they shared a language and certain cultural practices, political authority under the Guaranís was splintered, dispersed, and localized.
In 1750, the Treaty of Madrid gave the Portuguese Crown control of seven missions that operated along the southern banks of the Uruguay River. The transfer of the missions, and their lands and populations to Portuguese control, was part of a decade-long negotiation to settle the boundary between Portuguese and Spanish America from Guairá in the north to Uruguay and the Río de la Plata in the south. When notified of the treaty, the missionaries tried to move the neophytes to other missions. Guaraní leaders, unhappy with the proposed migration and enemies of the Portuguese, rallied thousands of the neophytes against the planned transfer.
This relationship forged a bond between European and American worlds unlike any other in Spanish or Portuguese America. We hold the Guarani or Cario Indians who live for thirty leagues around [Asunción] as vassals of His Majesty, and both they and their wives serve the Christians in all the things they need; 700 women have gone to serve the Christians in their fields and their houses, and because of their work and especially because it was God’s pleasure, there is such an abundance of food that there is enough not only for the people who live there but for another 3,000 in addition.
A South American Frontier: The Tri-border Region (Arbitrary Borders) by Daniel K. Lewis