Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines

Scholars have long assumed that Spanish colonial rule had only a limited demographic impact on the Philippines. Filipinos, they believed, had acquired immunity to Old World diseases prior to Spanish arrival; conquest was thought to have been more benign than what took place in the Americas because of more enlightened colonial policies introduced by Philip II. Conquest and Pestilence in the Early Spanish Philippines, by Linda A. Newson, illuminates the demographic history of the Spanish Philippines in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and, in the process, challenges these assumptions.

“The book is truly remarkable in breadth and depth and has the power of a prosecuting attorney’s relentless presentation of a damning circumstantial case: the reader’s resistance gives way under the sheer weight of the evidence. We hear many different voices (some ecclesiastical, some civil or military) reiterating the same sad tale of depopulation and slow recovery. Others have, on less evidence, surmised some of this story of loss, but no one before has effectively estimated its depth or duration. The tale deserves to be told.” —Norman G. Owen, editor, The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia

April 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3272-8 / $56.00 (CLOTH)