The seventeenth century has been characterized as "Latin America's forgotten century." This landmark work, originally published in 1973, attempted to fill the vacuum in knowledge by providing an account of the first great colonial cycle in Spanish Central America. The colonial Spanish society of the sixteenth century was very different from that described in the eighteenth century. What happened in the Latin American colonies between the first conquests, the seizure of long-accumulated Indian wealth, the first silver booms, and the period of modern raw material supply? How did Latin America move from one stage to the other? What were these intermediate economic stages, and what effect did they have on the peoples living in Latin America? These questions continue to resonate in Latin American studies today, making this updated edition of Murdo J. MacLeod's original work more relevant than ever.Colonial Central America was a large, populous, and always strategically significant stretch of land. With the Yucatán, it was home of the Maya, one of the great pre-Columbian cultures. MacLeod examines the long-term process it underwent of relative prosperity, depression, and then recovery, citing comparative sources on Europe to describe Central America's great economic, demographic, and social cycles. With an updated historiographical and bibliographical introduction, this fascinating study should appeal to historians, anthropologists, and all who are interested in the colonial experience of Latin America.