One of the most interesting processes that took place during the Colony was crossbreeding. Since the arrival of the Spanish, the relationships established between conquerors and Indians would weave an intricate social plot. Even the highest authorities, both political and ecclesiastic, consented the union between Spanish and Indians given the disproportion of genders on the Caucasian side. Almost every Spanish expedition was made up solely of men, so young Indian girls were coveted among the group. Transformed into a nearly habitual practice, the union would end up spawning a great amount of children that would hardly know their fathers, but they constituted the pillars of the Chilean population.
Thus, mestizos became the most numerous race circulating the incipient urban centers, as well as the natural replacement for the labor needed in those times faced with the considerable drop of indigenous population (killed or held behind the war line).
Without a doubt, colonial society was tiered (stratified). It was easy to identify the levels it was split into, as each of them had characteristic traits. This is how the aristocracy was located at the high part of the social scale, made up of Spanish and criollos (children of Spanish born in Chile). Their main source of power resided in their control over the land (they owned enormous ranches) and the relations they kept with the Spanish crown. They also had encomiendas (trusteeships).
In the middle tier were the poor Spanish that arrived to our country after the Conquest and the mestizos. The first had less privileges as they lacked the glory attained after an adventure, but, without a doubt, they had knowledge that distinguished them from a mere servant. Although the second group acted as subordinates, they developed fine craftsmanship work, commerce and services, among other things.
Indians, mulattos and zambos made up the lowest level. Due to their condition and origin, they were underestimated, marginalized and forced to perform the hardest most arduous labor.
The Catholic Church took on a central role during the first years of organizing the territory, becoming involved not only in ecclesiastic matters, but also in economic and political issues.
Central players of the evangelization process, a few years after the Conquest different religious orders became established, among which were the Dominican order, the Franciscans, Augustinians, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy and the Jesuits. The first to arrive were the Franciscans in 1553 with a contingent of five priests.
One of their main missions was to persuade the Indians to follow the catholic doctrine; however, some priests forgot their true objective and adopted a number of aborigines under the encomienda (trusteeship) system to get rich.
Also during the first years of the Colony, religious orders were in charge of the education of the inhabitants of the territory.