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The colonisation of the Guanche people

After the conquest, the surviving Guanches in Tenerife outnumbered the colonisers, and were used as free or enslaved labourers. They were baptised and received Spanish names (the names were given according to the day of the saint in which the baptism was carried out), and they received as last names those of their baptismal godfathers, of which some Menceys were exonerated.

The Spanish imposed discipline and their own culture, forcing the Guanches to give up theirs, and erasing their prior lives, except in the case of rebels that sought refuge in the summits and in the most concealed places of the island, hiding away with their livestock and customs, up until the middle of the XVIII century.

The Spanish Church brought by the conquerors took advantage of the many shrines of outdoor cult, cave shrines and holy summits which were christianised in order to place their virgins and saints, planting crosses or building temples and churches over these sacred Guanche places.

The veneration of the Goddess-Mother was usurped by Catholicism, as well as the pantheon of domestic gods, which were substituted by the catholic saints. The christianisation of sacred Guanche trees was also carried out, such as the Holy Pine of Victory (Pino Santo de la Victoria), the Pines of Vilaflor among others.

During the colonisation, the Church was in charge of the task of acculturating the new societies, at the same time evangelising the surviving natives of the conquest.

Once the new colonial society was implanted and established, the festivities and commemorations began to be organised and sponsored by the Chapter Houses, institutions created on each island according to the model of the Catholic Kings.

The land was distributed by the Castilians to the colonisers and new dwellers such as the Portuguese and Italian colonisers, as well as some Guanches who had become illustrious friends of the Castilians.

Most of the Guanche people were assimilated into the new culture and completely denaturalised, still, a small minority imposed itself as an ethnic group. Today, there are descendants of the miscegenation of Guanches with the conquerors and European colonisers, as well as pure descendants of the Guanches.

In some way or another, the Guanche culture, as well as part of their biological inheritance, are still present in some aspects of the present day Canary society, a mixed society of different cultures, not only Guanche and Spanish, but also with important Portuguese, Flemish, and Irish contributions, among others.

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