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With the help of the archbishop, the Plan para la reformación de las Indias was conceived, and Las Casas, named priest-procurator of the Indies, was appointed to a commission to investigate the status of the Indians. [41], Following a suggestion by his friend and mentor Pedro de Córdoba, Las Casas petitioned a land grant to be allowed to establish a settlement in northern Venezuela at Cumaná. He made up his mind to give up his slaves and encomienda, and started to preach that other colonists should do the same. [94], Las Casas's legacy has been highly controversial. "History of the Indies" has never been fully translated into English. [d][114] He was among the first to develop a view of unity among humankind, stating that "All people of the world are humans," and that they had a natural right to liberty – a combination of Thomist rights philosophy with Augustinian political theology. [118], The small town of Lascassas, Tennessee, in the United States has also been named after him. Demographic studies such as those of colonial Mexico by Sherburne F. Cook in the mid-20th century suggested that the decline in the first years of the conquest was indeed drastic, ranging between 80 and 90%, due to many different causes but all ultimately traceable to the arrival of the Europeans. He decided instead to undertake a personal venture which would not rely on the support of others, and fought to win a land grant on the American mainland which was in its earliest stage of colonization. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Arriving in Spain he was met by a barrage of accusations, many of them based on his Confesionario and its 12 rules, which many of his opponents found to be in essence a denial of the legitimacy of Spanish rule of its colonies, and hence a form of treason. In the Catholic Church, the Dominicans introduced his cause for canonization in 1976. He is also featured in the Guatemalan quetzal one cent (Q0.01) coins. While bishop, Las Casas was the principal consecrator of Antonio de Valdivieso, Bishop of Nicaragua (1544). A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies is a book that marks a significant moment in the way 21st century colonial Latin American historians would address world history. Las Casas managed to secure the support of the king's Flemish courtiers, including the powerful Chancellor Jean de la Sauvage. In addition, his critique towards the colonizers served to bring awareness to his audience on the true meaning of Christianity, to dismantle any misconceptions on evangelization. As a reward for his participation in various expeditions, he was given an encomienda—a royal land grant including Indian inhabitants—and he soon began to evangelize that population, serving as doctrinero, or lay teacher of catechism. He is said to have preached, "Tell me by what right of justice do you hold these Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? [19] In December 1511, a Dominican preacher Fray Antonio de Montesinos preached a fiery sermon that implicated the colonists in the genocide of the native peoples. [47] There he continued his theological studies, being particularly attracted to Thomist philosophy, and there is little information about his activities in the following ten years. [82], The text, written 1516, starts by describing its purpose: to present "The remedies that seem necessary in order that the evil and harm that exists in the Indies cease, and that God and our Lord the Prince may draw greater benefits than hitherto, and that the republic may be better preserved and consoled. After several months of negotiations Las Casas set sail alone; the peasants he had brought had deserted, and he arrived in his colony already ravaged by Spaniards.[44]. But soon his uncompromisingly pro-Indian position alienated his colleagues, and in 1547 he returned to Spain. Bartolomé de Las Casas, (born 1474 or 1484, Sevilla?, Spain—died July 1566, Madrid), early Spanish historian and Dominican missionary who was the first to expose the oppression of indigenous peoples by Europeans in the Americas and to call for the abolition of slavery there. Because the land had not been possible to conquer by military means, the governor of Guatemala, Alonso de Maldonado, agreed to sign a contract promising that if the venture was successful he would not establish any new encomiendas in the area. [54] Las Casas left Guatemala for Mexico, where he stayed for more than a year before setting out for Spain in 1540. Originally planned as a six-volume work, each volume describes a decade of the history of the Indies from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 to 1520, and most of it is an eye-witness account. Omissions? [67] His last act as Bishop of Chiapas was writing a confesionario, a manual for the administration of the sacrament of confession in his diocese, still refusing absolution to unrepentant encomenderos. [119], He is a central character in the H. R. Hays historical novel The Takers of the City, published in 1946.[120]. De Las Casas came from a modest family and was well educated. [108] That critique has been rejected by other historians as facile and anachronistic. The Dominican friar, Bartolomé de las Casas (1474-1566) founding an Indian colony in Cumana (Venezuela). Why do you keep them so oppressed and exhausted, without giving them enough to eat or curing them of the sicknesses they incur from the excessive labor you give them, and they die, or rather you kill them, in order to extract and acquire gold every day. Through the efforts of Las Casas's missionaries the so-called "Land of War" came to be called "Verapaz", "True Peace". Lantigua, David. But, rather than a chronicle, it is a prophetic interpretation of events. Sepúlveda was a doctor of theology and law who, in his book Democrates Alter, sive de justis causis apud Indos (Another Democrates /or A New Democrates, or on the Just Causes of War against the Indians) had argued that some native peoples were incapable of ruling themselves and should be pacified forcefully. Biographical Information Bartolomé de Las Casas was born to an aristocratic family in Seville in 1474. [5] In 1522, he tried to launch a new kind of peaceful colonialism on the coast of Venezuela, but this venture failed. Vestibulum ac diam sit amet quam vehicula elementum sed sit amet dui. Durham–London: Duke University Press, 2007. The only translations into English are the 1971 partial translation by Andree M. Collar, and partial translations by Cynthia L. Chamberlin, Nigel Griffin, Michael Hammer and Blair Sullivan in UCLA's Repertorium Columbianum (Volumes VI, VII and XI). Bartolme De Las Casas is an interesting character. His stirring defense of the indigenous peoples before the Spanish Parliament in Barcelona in December 1519 persuaded King Charles I (the emperor Charles V), who was in attendance, to accept Las Casas’s project of founding “towns of free Indians”—i.e., communities of both Spaniards and Indians who would jointly create a new civilization in America. Las Casas became a hacendado and slave owner, receiving a piece of land in the province of Cibao. Those who survived the journey were ill-received, and had to work hard even to survive in the hostile colonies. Bartolomé de las Casas. [13] As a young man, in 1507, he journeyed to Rome where he observed the Festival of Flutes. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before. Las Casas's enemies slandered him to the king, accusing him of planning to escape with the money to Genoa or Rome. In 1533 he contributed to the establishment of a peace treaty between the Spanish and the rebel Taíno band of chief Enriquillo. Bartolomé de Las Casas died on July 18, 1566, in Madrid. The colonist would only have rights to a certain portion of the total labor, so that a part of the Indians were always resting and taking care of the sick. Las Casas had a considerable part in selecting them and writing the instructions under which their new government would be instated, largely based on Las Casas's memorial. Among those they equaled were the Greeks and the Romans, and they surpassed them by many good and better customs. Some 10 years later he commenced work on the Historia de las Indias (History of the Indies). https://www.britannica.com/biography/Bartolome-de-Las-Casas, United States History - Biography of Bartolomé de Las Casas, The Mariners' Museum - Exploration through the Ages - Biography of Bartolomé de las Casas, The Catholic Encyclopedia - Biography of Bartolome de las Casas, Bartolomé de Las Casas - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Bartolomé de Las Casas - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up), Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias. [11] According to one biographer, his family were of converso heritage,[12] although others refer to them as ancient Christians who migrated from France. [102][103], The Dominican friars Antonio de Montesinos and Pedro de Córdoba had reported extensive violence already in the first decade of the colonization of the Americas, and throughout the conquest of the Americas, there were reports of abuse of the natives by friars and priests and ordinary citizens, and many massacres of indigenous people were reported in full by those who perpetrated them. [105] Other historians, such as John Fiske writing in 1900, denied that Las Casas's suggestions affected the development of the slave trade. Las Casas did not publish Historia in his lifetime, but he did publish a summary of Historia as a polemic. He proposed 12 other remedies, all having the specific aim of improving the situation for the Indians and limiting the powers that colonists were able to exercise over them.[84]. He also had to repeatedly defend himself against accusations of treason: someone, possibly Sepúlveda, denounced him to the Spanish Inquisition, but nothing came from the case. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Las Casas was devastated by the tragic result of his peasant migration scheme, which he felt had been thwarted by his enemies. He is the subject of the poetic sequence "Homage to Bartolomé de Las Casas" by the American poet Daniel Tobin, which appears in his book Double Life. Bartolomé de Las Casas was a Dominican priest and missionary in the Americas. [43], Arriving in Puerto Rico, in January 1521, he received the terrible news that the Dominican convent at Chiribichi had been sacked by Indians, and that the Spaniards of the islands had launched a punitive expedition, led by Gonzalo de Ocampo, into the very heart of the territory that Las Casas wanted to colonize peacefully. In 1514, Las Casas was studying a passage in the book Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)[25] 34:18–22[a] for a Pentecost sermon and pondering its meaning. Updated November 07, 2020. Las Casas's strategy was to teach Christian songs to merchant Indian Christians who then ventured into the area. To secure the grant, Las Casas had to go through a long court fight against Bishop Fonseca and his supporters Gonzalo de Oviedo and Bishop Quevedo of Tierra Firme. To Las Casas's dismay Bishop Marroquín openly defied the New Laws. The first edition in translation was published in Dutch in 1578, during the religious persecution of Dutch Protestants by the Spanish crown, followed by editions in French (1578), English (1583), and German (1599) – all countries where religious wars were raging. Bartolomé de Las Casas was a prolific writer. The emperor, probably because of the doubts caused by Las Casas's arguments, never took a final decision on the issue of the encomiendas. The Reverend Author of this Compendious Summary was Bartholomaeus de las Casas alias Casaus, a Pious and Religeous person, (as appears by his zealous Transports in this Narrative for promotion of the Christian Faith) elevated from a Frier of the Dominican Order to sit in the Episcopal Chair, who was frequently This sets up the inherent responsibility of kings, as dictated by God, to take care of the people under their rule. He joined the Dominican order in 1523. New Jersey : Paulist Press, ©2006 (DLC) 2005035937 (OCoLC)62728483: Named Person: Bartolomé de las Casas; Bartolomé de las Casas; Bartolomé de las Casas: Material Type: Biography, Document, Internet resource: Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File: All Authors / Contributors: Paul S Vickery In Spain, Las Casas started securing official support for the Guatemalan mission, and he managed to get a royal decree forbidding secular intrusion into the Verapaces for the following five years. In the end a much smaller number of peasant families were sent than originally planned, and they were supplied with insufficient provisions and no support secured for their arrival. Each town would have a royal hospital built with four wings in the shape of a cross, where up to 200 sick Indians could be cared for at a time. They also carried out an inquiry into the Indian question at which all the encomenderos asserted that the Indians were quite incapable of living freely without their supervision. As a young man, Las Casas participated in several military expeditions in the West Indies. quoted from, Las Casas's retraction of his views on African slavery is expressed particularly in chapters 102 and 129, Book III of his, Also translated and published in English as. Although during his first 12 years in America Las Casas was a willing participant in the conquest of the Caribbean, he did not indefinitely remain indifferent to the fate of the indigenous peoples. Four years later, while serving as prior of the convent of Puerto de Plata, a town in northern Santo Domingo, he began to write the Historia apologética. [55], But apart from the clerical business, Las Casas had also traveled to Spain for his own purpose: to continue the struggle against the colonists' mistreatment of the Indians. He participated in campaigns at Bayamo and Camagüey and in the massacre of Hatuey. Bartolomé de las Casas spent 50 years of his life actively fighting slavery and the colonial abuse of indigenous peoples, especially by trying to convince the Spanish court to adopt a more humane policy of colonization. [17][18], In September 1510, a group of Dominican friars arrived in Santo Domingo led by Pedro de Córdoba; appalled by the injustices they saw committed by the slaveowners against the Indians, they decided to deny slave owners the right to confession. [77], One matter in which he invested much effort was the political situation of the Viceroyalty of Peru. During this time the Hieronimytes had time to form a more pragmatic view of the situation than the one advocated by Las Casas; their position was precarious as every encomendero on the Islands was fiercely against any attempts to curtail their use of native labour. Las Casas himself was granted the official title of Protector of the Indians, and given a yearly salary of one hundred pesos. [9] Subsequent biographers and authors have generally accepted and reflected this revision. [51] As a direct result of the debates between the Dominicans and Franciscans and spurred on by Las Casas's treatise, Pope Paul III promulgated the Bull "Sublimis Deus," which stated that the Indians were rational beings and should be brought peacefully to the faith as such.[52]. He later wrote: "I saw here cruelty on a scale no living being has ever seen or expects to see. He arrived in Hispaniola as a layman then became a Dominican friar and priest. The location selected for the new colony was on the Gulf of Paria in the northern part of present-day Venezuela. Las Casas was finally convinced that all the actions of the Spanish in the New World had been illegal and that they constituted a great injustice. Before a council consisting of Cardinal García de Loaysa, the Count of Osorno, Bishop Fuenleal and several members of the Council of the Indies, Las Casas argued that the only solution to the problem was to remove all Indians from the care of secular Spaniards, by abolishing the encomienda system and putting them instead directly under the Crown as royal tribute-paying subjects. According to those laws, the encomienda was not to be considered a hereditary grant; instead, the owners had to set free their Indian serfs after the span of a single generation. In 1527 he began working on his History of the Indies, in which he reported much of what he had witnessed first hand in the conquest and colonization of New Spain. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. To make the proposal palatable to the king, Las Casas had to incorporate the prospect of profits for the royal treasury. [56] The encomienda had, in fact, legally been abolished in 1523, but it had been reinstituted in 1526, and in 1530 a general ordinance against slavery was reversed by the Crown. To restabilize the political situation the encomenderos started pushing not only for the repeal of the New Laws, but for turning the encomiendas into perpetual patrimony of the encomenderos – the worst possible outcome from Las Casas's point of view. (Latin America Otherwise. His party made it as far as Panama, but had to turn back to Nicaragua due to adverse weather. The accounts written by his enemies Lopez de Gómara and Oviedo were widely read and published in Europe. As Archbishop Loaysa strongly disliked Las Casas,[62] the ceremony was officiated by Loaysa's nephew, Diego de Loaysa, Bishop of Modruš,[63] with Pedro Torres, Titular Bishop of Arbanum, and Cristóbal de Pedraza, Bishop of Comayagua, as co-consecrators. In 1551 he rented a cell at the College of San Gregorio, where he lived with his assistant and friend Fray Rodrigo de Ladrada. In this new office Las Casas was expected to serve as an advisor to the new governors with regard to Indian issues, to speak the case of the Indians in court and send reports back to Spain. [7], Bartolomé de las Casas was born in Seville in 1484, on 11 November. Bartolomé de Las Casas (c. 1484–July 18, 1566) was a Spanish Dominican friar who became famous for his defense of the rights of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Sepúlveda argued that the subjugation of certain Indians was warranted because of their sins against Natural Law; that their low level of civilization required civilized masters to maintain social order; that they should be made Christian and that this in turn required them to be pacified; and that only the Spanish could defend weak Indians against the abuses of the stronger ones. The Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies) had an immediate impact in Spain. In this way he was successful in converting several native chiefs, among them those of Atitlán and Chichicastenango, and in building several churches in the territory named Alta Verapaz. Created by Manolo Caro. [39], When he arrived in Spain, his former protector, regent and Cardinal Ximenez Cisneros, was ill and had become tired of Las Casas's tenacity. , Brief Account of the earlier Spanish settlers to the initial 50 shareholders in Las ’! 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