The encomienda system of colonial Spanish America most closely resembled the European practice of
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The encomienda system, as established in the Spanish colonies in the Americas and in the Philippines, shared many important features with manorialism, the economic, political and legal system of medieval Europe that regulated relations between enserfed peasants and their feudal lords. The similarities between the two systems are not coincidental; in fact, the encomienda grew out of a number of practices that arose during the Christian reconquest of Spain — practices which, in turn, represented an attempt to establish a quasi-manorial system in the newly conquered areas of Spain. An example of a similarity between manorialism and the encomienda system is the paternalistic relationship which both established between the lord and his serfs, and the encomendero and the Native Americans placed under his charge. Both the manorial lord and the encomendero, could extract taxes/tribute or various services from their subjects, and both were given certain judicial powers over serfs and Native Americans, respectively. While Native Americans attached to encomiendas remained technically the owners of their land, in practice their ability to leave the encomienda was severely limited and they often became, like manorial serfs in Europe, bound to the land.