Bartolomé de las Casas

Bartolomé de las Casas (Spanish: [baɾtoloˈme ðe las ˈkasas] (listen); c. 1484[1] – 18 July 1566) was a 16th-century Spanish colonist who acted as a historian and social reformer before becoming a Dominican friar. He was appointed as the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians". His extensive writings, the most famous being A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indias, chronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies. He described the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the indigenous peoples.[2]

Arriving as one of the first Spanish (and European) settlers in the Americas, Las Casas initially participated in, but eventually felt compelled to oppose the abuses committed by colonists against the Native Americans[3]. As a result, in 1515 he gave up his Indian slaves and encomienda, and advocated, before King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on behalf of rights for the natives. In his early writings, he advocated the use of African slaves instead of Natives in the West Indian colonies. In the 20th century, he has been criticized for being among the founders of the Atlantic slave trade. Later in life, he retracted this position, as he regarded both forms of slavery as equally wrong.[4] In 1522, he tried to launch a new kind of peaceful colonialism on the coast of Venezuela, but this venture failed. Las Casas entered the Dominican Order and became a friar, leaving public life for a decade. He traveled to Central America, acting as a missionary among the Maya of Guatemala and participating in debates among colonial churchmen about how best to bring the natives to the Christian faith.

Traveling back to Spain to recruit more missionaries, he continued lobbying for the abolition of the encomienda, gaining an important victory by the passage of the New Laws in 1542. He was appointed Bishop of Chiapas, but served only for a short time before he was forced to return to Spain because of resistance to the New Laws by the encomenderos, and conflicts with Spanish settlers because of his pro-Indian policies and activist religious stance. He served in the Spanish court for the remainder of his life; there he held great influence over Indies-related issues. In 1550, he participated in the Valladolid debate, in which Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda argued that the Indians were less than human and required Spanish masters in order to become civilized. Las Casas maintained that they were fully human and that forcefully subjugating them was unjustifiable.

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. Unlike other priests who sought to destroy the indigenous peoples' native books and writings, he strictly opposed this action.[5] Although he failed to save the indigenous peoples of the Western Indies, his efforts did result in improvement of the legal status of the natives, and in an increased colonial focus on the ethics of colonialism. Las Casas is often considered to be one of the first advocates for a universal conception of human dignity (later human rights).[6]

Bartolomé de las Casas, O.P.
Bishop of Chiapas
ProvinceTuxtla Gutiérrez
Installed13 March 1544
Term ended11 September 1550
Other postsProtector of the Indians
Consecration30 March 1554
by Bishop Diego de Loaysa, O.R.S.A.
Personal details
Birth nameBartolomé de las Casas
Bornc. 1484
Seville, Crown of Castile
Died18 July 1566
Madrid, Crown of Castile, Spain
BuriedBasilica of Our Lady of Atocha, Madrid, Spain
DenominationRoman Catholic
OccupationHacienda owner, priest, missionary, bishop, writer
Bartolomé de las Casas, O.P.'s signature
Feast day18 July
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Title as SaintServant of God

Life and times

Background and arrival in the New World

Bartolomé de las Casas Regionum 355385740 MG 8829 A3-f1
Depiction of Spanish atrocities committed in the conquest of Cuba in Las Casas's "Brevisima relación de la destrucción de las Indias". The print was made by two Flemish artists who had fled the Southern Netherlands because of their Protestant faith: Joos van Winghe was the designer and Theodor de Bry the engraver.

Bartolomé de las Casas was born in Seville in 1484, on 11 November.[7] For centuries, Las Casas's birthdate was believed to be 1474; however, in the 1970s, scholars conducting archival work demonstrated this to be an error, after uncovering in the Archivo General de Indias records of a contemporary lawsuit that demonstrated he was born a decade later than had been supposed.[8] Subsequent biographers and authors have generally accepted and reflected this revision.[9] His father, Pedro de las Casas, a merchant, descended from one of the families that had migrated from France to found the town of Seville; his family also spelled the name Casaus.[10] According to one biographer, his family were of converso heritage,[11] although others refer to them as ancient Christians who migrated from France.[10] Following the testimony of Las Casas's biographer Antonio de Remesal, tradition has it that Las Casas studied a licentiate at Salamanca, but this is never mentioned in Las Casas's own writings.[12] As a young man, in 1507, he journeyed to Rome where he observed the Festival of Flutes.[13]

With his father, Las Casas immigrated to the island of Hispaniola in 1502 on the expedition of Nicolás de Ovando. Las Casas became a hacendado and slave owner, receiving a piece of land in the province of Cibao.[14] He participated in slave raids and military expeditions against the native Taíno population of Hispaniola.[15] In 1510, he was ordained a priest, the first one to be ordained in the Americas.[16][17]

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. Las Casas was among those denied confession for this reason.[18] 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. 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? On what authority have you waged such detestable wars against these people who dealt quietly and peacefully on their own lands? Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before. 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."[19] Las Casas himself argued against the Dominicans in favour of the justice of the encomienda. The colonists, led by Diego Columbus, dispatched a complaint against the Dominicans to the King, and the Dominicans were recalled from Hispaniola.[20][21]

Conquest of Cuba and change of heart

Reconstruction of Taino village, Cuba
Reconstruction of a Taíno village from Las Casas's times in contemporary Cuba

In 1513, as a chaplain, Las Casas participated in Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar's and Pánfilo de Narváez' conquest of Cuba. He participated in campaigns in Bayamo and Camagüey and in the massacre of Hatuey.[22] He witnessed many atrocities committed by Spaniards against the native Ciboney and Guanahatabey peoples. He later wrote: "I saw here cruelty on a scale no living being has ever seen or expects to see."[23] Las Casas and his friend Pablo de la Rentería were awarded a joint encomienda which was rich in gold and slaves, located on the Arimao River close to Cienfuegos. During the next years, he divided his time between being a colonist and his duties as an ordained priest.

In 1514, Las Casas was studying a passage in the book Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)[24] 34:18–22[a] for a Pentecost sermon and pondering its meaning. 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. He made up his mind to give up his slaves and encomienda, and started to preach that other colonists should do the same. When his preaching met with resistance, he realized that he would have to go to Spain to fight there against the enslavement and abuse of the native people.[25] Aided by Pedro de Córdoba and accompanied by Antonio de Montesinos, he left for Spain in September 1515, arriving in Seville in November.[26][27]

Las Casas and King Ferdinand

A contemporary painting of King Ferdinand "The Catholic"

Las Casas arrived in Spain with the plan of convincing the King to end the encomienda system. This was easier thought than done, as most of the people who were in positions of power were themselves either encomenderos or otherwise profiting from the influx of wealth from the Indies.[28] In the winter of 1515, King Ferdinand lay ill in Plasencia, but Las Casas was able to get a letter of introduction to the king from the Archbishop of Seville, Diego de Deza. On Christmas Eve of 1515, Las Casas met the monarch and discussed the situation in the Indies with him; the king agreed to hear him out in more detail at a later date. While waiting, Las Casas produced a report that he presented to the Bishop of Burgos, Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, and secretary Lope Conchillos, who were functionaries in complete charge of the royal policies regarding the Indies; both were encomenderos. They were not impressed by his account, and Las Casas had to find a different avenue of change. He put his faith in his coming audience with the king, but it never came, for King Ferdinand died on January 25, 1516.[29] The regency of Castile passed on to Ximenez Cisneros and Adrian of Utrecht who were guardians for the under-age Prince Charles. Las Casas was resolved to see Prince Charles who resided in Flanders, but on his way there he passed Madrid and delivered to the regents a written account of the situation in the Indies and his proposed remedies. This was his "Memorial de Remedios para Las Indias" of 1516.[30] In this early work, Las Casas advocated importing Black slaves from Africa to relieve the suffering Indians, a stance he later retracted, becoming an advocate for the Africans in the colonies as well.[31][32][33][b] This shows that Las Casas's first concern was not to end slavery as an institution, but to end the physical abuse and suffering of the Indians.[34] In keeping with the legal and moral doctrine of the time Las Casas believed that slavery could be justified if it was the result of Just War, and at the time he assumed that the enslavement of Africans was justified.[35] Worried by the visions that Las Casas had drawn up of the situation in the Indies, Cardinal Cisneros decided to send a group of Hieronymite monks to take over the government of the islands.[36]

Protector of the Indians

Three Hieronymite monks, Luis de Figueroa, Bernardino de Manzanedo and Alonso de Santo Domingo, were selected as commissioners to take over the authority of the Indies. 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. Las Casas himself was granted the official title of Protector of the Indians, and given a yearly salary of one hundred pesos. 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. Las Casas and the commissioners traveled to Santo Domingo on separate ships, and Las Casas arrived two weeks later than the Hieronimytes. 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. Consequently, the commissioners were unable to take any radical steps towards improving the situation of the natives. They did revoke some encomiendas from Spaniards, especially those who were living in Spain and not on the islands themselves; they even repossessed the encomienda of Fonseca, the Bishop of Burgos. 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. Las Casas was disappointed and infuriated. When he accused the Hieronymites of being complicit in kidnapping Indians, the relationship between Las Casas and the commissioners broke down. Las Casas had become a hated figure by Spaniards all over the islands, and he had to seek refuge in the Dominican monastery. The Dominicans had been the first to indict the encomenderos, and they continued to chastise them and refuse the absolution of confession to slave owners, and even stated that priests who took their confession were committing a mortal sin. In May 1517, Las Casas was forced to travel back to Spain to denounce to the regent the failure of the Hieronymite reforms.[37] Only after Las Casas had left did the Hieronymites begin to congregate Indians into towns similar to what Las Casas had wanted.[38]

Las Casas and Emperor Charles V: The peasant colonization scheme

Bernard van Orley (1487-1541) Karel V - Koninklijk klooster van Brou 25-10-2016 10-06-36
Contemporary portrait of the young Emperor Charles V

When he arrived in Spain, his former protector, regent and Cardinal Ximenez Cisneros, was ill and had become tired of Las Casas's tenacity. Las Casas resolved to meet instead with the young king Charles I. Ximenez died on November 8, and the young King arrived in Valladolid on November 25, 1517. Las Casas managed to secure the support of the king's Flemish courtiers, including the powerful Chancellor Jean de la Sauvage. Las Casas's influence turned the favor of the court against Secretary Conchillos and Bishop Fonseca. Sauvage spoke highly of Las Casas to the king, who appointed Las Casas and Sauvage to write a new plan for reforming the governmental system of the Indies.[39]

Las Casas suggested a plan where the encomienda would be abolished and Indians would be congregated into self-governing townships to become tribute-paying vassals of the king. He still suggested that the loss of Indian labor for the colonists could be replaced by allowing importation of African slaves. Another important part of the plan was to introduce a new kind of sustainable colonization, and Las Casas advocated supporting the migration of Spanish peasants to the Indies where they would introduce small-scale farming and agriculture, a kind of colonization that didn't rely on resource depletion and Indian labor. Las Casas worked to recruit a large number of peasants who would want to travel to the islands, where they would be given lands to farm, cash advances, and the tools and resources they needed to establish themselves there. The recruitment drive was difficult, and during the process the power relation shifted at court when Chancellor Sauvage, Las Casas's main supporter, unexpectedly died. 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. Those who survived the journey were ill-received, and had to work hard even to survive in the hostile colonies. Las Casas was devastated by the tragic result of his peasant migration scheme, which he felt had been thwarted by his enemies. 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.[40]

The Cumaná venture

View over the landscape of Mochima National Park in Venezuela, close to the original location of Las Casas's colony at Cumaná
Masacre de Gonzalez de Ocampo en Cumana
The Natives of Cumaná attack the mission after Gonzalez de Ocampo's slaving raid. Colored copperplate by Theodor de Bry, published in the "Relación brevissima"

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. Founded in 1515, there was already a small Franciscan monastery in Cumana, and a Dominican one at Chiribichi, but the monks there were being harassed by Spaniards operating slave raids from the nearby Island of Cubagua. In order to make the proposal palatable to the king, Las Casas had to incorporate the prospect of profits for the royal treasury.[41] He suggested fortifying the northern coast of Venezuela, establishing ten royal forts to protect the Indians and starting up a system of trade in gold and pearls. All the Indian slaves of the New World should be brought to live in these towns and become tribute paying subjects to the king. In order to secure the grant Las Casas had to go through a long fight in court against Bishop Fonseca and his supporters Gonzalo de Oviedo and Bishop Quevedo of Tierra Firme. Las Casas's supporters were Diego Columbus and the new chancellor Gattinara. Las Casas's enemies slandered him to the king, accusing him of planning to escape with the money to Genoa or Rome. In 1520 Las Casas's concession was finally granted, but it was a much smaller grant than he had initially proposed; he was also denied the possibilities of extracting gold and pearls, which made it difficult for him to find investors for the venture. Las Casas committed himself to producing 15,000 ducats of annual revenue, increasing to 60,000 after ten years, and to erecting three Christian towns of at least 40 settlers each. Some privileges were also granted to the initial 50 shareholders in Las Casas's scheme. The king also promised not to give any encomienda grants in Las Casas's area. That said, finding fifty men willing to invest 200 ducats each and three years of unpaid work proved impossible for Las Casas. He ended up leaving in November 1520 with just a small group of peasants, paying for the venture with money borrowed from his brother in-law.[42]

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. The Indians had been provoked to attack the settlement of the monks because of the repeated slave raids by Spaniards operating from Cubagua. As Ocampo's ships began returning with slaves from the land Las Casas had been granted, he went to Hispaniola to complain to the Audiencia. 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.[43]

Las Casas worked there in adverse conditions for the following months, being constantly harassed by the Spanish pearl fishers of Cubagua island who traded slaves for alcohol with the natives. Early in 1522 Las Casas left the settlement to complain to the authorities. While he was gone the native Caribs attacked the settlement of Cumaná, burned it to the ground and killed four of Las Casas's men.[44] He returned to Hispaniola in January 1522, and heard the news of the massacre. The rumours even included him among the dead.[45] To make matters worse, his detractors used the event as evidence of the need to pacify the Indians using military means. The tragic outcome of Las Casas's great mainland adventure made him turn his life in a new direction.

A Dominican friar

Devastated, Las Casas reacted by entering the Dominican monastery of Santa Cruz in Santo Domingo as a novice in 1522 and finally taking holy vows as a Dominican friar in 1523.[46] 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. He oversaw the construction of a monastery in Puerto Plata on the north coast of Hispaniola, subsequently serving as prior of the convent. In 1527 he began working on his History of the Indies in order to report many of the experiences he had witnessed at first hand in the conquest and colonization of New Spain. In 1531 he wrote a letter to Garcia Manrique, Count of Osorno, protesting again the mistreatment of the Indians and advocating a return to his original reform plan of 1516. In 1531 a complaint was sent by the encomenderos of Hispaniola that Las Casas was again accusing them of mortal sins from the pulpit. In 1533 he contributed to the establishment of a peace treaty between the Spanish and the rebel Taíno band of chief Enriquillo.[47] In 1534 Las Casas made an attempt to travel to Peru to observe the first stages of conquest of that region by Francisco Pizarro. His party made it as far as Panama, but had to turn back to Nicaragua due to adverse weather. Lingering for a while in the Dominican convent of Granada, he got into conflict with Rodrigo de Contreras, Governor of Nicaragua, when Las Casas vehemently opposed slaving expeditions by the Governor.[48] In 1536 Las Casas followed a number of friars to Guatemala, where they began to prepare to undertake a mission among the Maya Indians. They stayed in the convent founded some years earlier by Fray Domingo Betanzos and studied the K'iche' language with Bishop Francisco Marroquín, before traveling into the interior region called Tuzulutlan, "The Land of War", in 1537.[49]

Toribio de Benavente "Motolinia", Las Casas's Franciscan adversary.

Also in 1536, before venturing into Tuzulutlan, Las Casas went to Oaxaca, Mexico, to participate in a series of discussions and debates among the bishops of the Dominican and Franciscan orders. The two orders had very different approaches to the conversion of the Indians. The Franciscans used a method of mass conversion, sometimes baptizing many thousands of Indians in a day. This method was championed by prominent Franciscans such as Toribio de Benavente, known as "Motolinia", and Las Casas made many enemies among the Franciscans for arguing that conversions made without adequate understanding were invalid. Las Casas wrote a treatise called "De unico vocationis modo" (On the Only Way of Conversion) based on the missionary principles he had used in Guatemala. Motolinia would later be a fierce critic of Las Casas, accusing him of being all talk and no action when it came to converting the Indians.[50] 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.[51]

Las Casas returned to Guatemala in 1537 wanting to employ his new method of conversion based on two principles: 1) to preach the Gospel to all men and treat them as equals, and 2) to assert that conversion must be voluntary and based on knowledge and understanding of the faith. It was important for Las Casas that this method be tested without meddling from secular colonists, so he chose a territory in the heart of Guatemala where there were no previous colonies and where the natives were considered fierce and war-like. Because of the fact that 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. Las Casas's group of friars established a Dominican presence in Rabinal, Sacapulas and Cobán. Through the efforts of Las Casas's missionaries the so-called "Land of War" came to be called "Verapaz", "True Peace". Las Casas's strategy was to teach Christian songs to merchant Indian Christians who then ventured into the area. 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. These congregated a group of Christian Indians in the location of what is now the town of Rabinal.[52] In 1538 Las Casas was recalled from his mission by Bishop Marroquín who wanted him to go to Mexico and then on to Spain in order to seek more Dominicans to assist in the mission.[53] Las Casas left Guatemala for Mexico, where he stayed for more than a year before setting out for Spain in 1540.

The New Laws

Leyes Nuevas1
Cover of the New Laws of 1542

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. He also informed the Theologians of Salamanca, led by Francisco de Vitoria, of the mass baptism practiced by the Franciscans, resulting in a dictum condemning the practice as sacrilegious.[54]

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.[55] 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. For this reason it was a pressing matter for Bartolomé de las Casas to plead once again for the Indians with Charles V who was by now Holy Roman Emperor and no longer a boy. He wrote a letter asking for permission to stay in Spain a little longer in order to argue for the emperor that conversion and colonization were best achieved by peaceful means.[56]

When the hearings started in 1542, Las Casas presented a narrative of atrocities against the natives of the Indies that would later be published in 1552 as "Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias". 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.[57] On November 20, 1542, the emperor signed the New Laws abolishing the encomiendas and removing certain officials from the Council of the Indies.[58] The New Laws made it illegal to use Indians as carriers, except where no other transport was available, it prohibited all taking of Indians as slaves, and it instated a gradual abolition of the encomienda system, with each encomienda reverting to the Crown at the death of its holders. It also exempted the few surviving Indians of Hispaniola, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica from tribute and all requirements of personal service. However, the reforms were so unpopular back in the New World that riots broke out and threats were made against Las Casas's life. The Viceroy of New Spain, himself an encomendero, decided not to implement the laws in his domain, and instead sent a party to Spain to argue against the laws on behalf of the encomenderos.[59] Las Casas himself was also not satisfied with the laws, as they were not drastic enough and the encomienda system was going to function for many years still under the gradual abolition plan. He drafted a suggestion for an amendment arguing that the laws against slavery were formulated in such a way that it presupposed that violent conquest would still be carried out, and he encouraged once again beginning a phase of peaceful colonization by peasants instead of soldiers.[60]

Bishop of Chiapas

Fachada de la iglesia conventual de San Pablo (Valladolid)
The Church of the Dominican Convent of San Pablo in Valladolid where Bartolomé de Las Casas was consecrated as Bishop on March 30, 1544.

Before Las Casas returned to Spain, he was also appointed as Bishop of Chiapas, a newly established diocese of which he took possession in 1545 upon his return to the New World. He was consecrated in the Dominican Church of San Pablo on March 30, 1544. As Archbishop Loaysa strongly disliked Las Casas,[61] the ceremony was officiated by Loaysa's nephew, Diego de Loaysa, Bishop of Modruš,[62] with Pedro Torres, Titular Bishop of Arbanum, and Cristóbal de Pedraza, Bishop of Comayagua, as co-consecrators.[63] As a bishop Las Casas was involved in frequent conflicts with the encomenderos and secular laity of his diocese: among the landowners there was the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo. In a pastoral letter issued on March 20, 1545, Las Casas refused absolution to slave owners and encomenderos even on their death bed, unless all their slaves had been set free and their property returned to them.[64] Las Casas furthermore threatened that anyone who mistreated Indians within his jurisdiction would be excommunicated. He also came into conflict with the Bishop of Guatemala Francisco Marroquín, to whose jurisdiction the diocese had previously belonged. To Las Casas's dismay Bishop Marroquín openly defied the New Laws. While bishop, Las Casas was the principal consecrator of Antonio de Valdivieso, Bishop of Nicaragua (1544).[63]

The New Laws were finally repealed on October 20, 1545, and riots broke out against Las Casas, with shots being fired against him by angry colonists.[64] After a year he had made himself so unpopular among the Spaniards of the area that he had to leave. Having been summoned to a meeting among the bishops of New Spain to be held in Mexico City on January 12, 1546, he left his diocese, never to return.[64][65] At the meeting, probably after lengthy reflection, and realizing that the New Laws were lost in Mexico, Las Casas presented a moderated view on the problems of confession and restitution of property, Archbishop Juan de Zumárraga of Mexico and Bishop Julián Garcés of Puebla agreed completely with his new moderate stance, Bishop Vasco de Quiroga of Michoacán had minor reservations, and Bishops Francisco Marroquín of Guatemala and Juan Lopez de Zárate of Oaxaca did not object. This resulted in a new resolution to be presented to viceroy Mendoza.[66] 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. Las Casas appointed a vicar for his diocese and set out for Europe in December 1546, arriving in Lisbon in April 1547 and in Spain on November 1547.[67]

The Valladolid debate

Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, Las Casas's opponent in the Valladolid debate

Las Casas returned to Spain, leaving behind many conflicts and unresolved issues. 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. The Crown had for example received a fifth of the large number of slaves taken in the recent Mixtón War, and so could not be held clean of guilt under Las Casas's strict rules. In 1548 the Crown decreed that all copies of Las Casas's Confesionario be burnt, and his Franciscan adversary, Motolinia obliged and sent back a report to Spain. Las Casas defended himself by writing two treatises on the "Just Title" – arguing that the only legality with which the Spaniards could claim titles over realms in the New World was through peaceful proselytizing. All warfare was illegal and unjust and only through the papal mandate of peacefully bringing Christianity to heathen peoples could "Just Titles" be acquired.[68]

As a part of Las Casas's defense by offense, he had to argue against Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. 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. The book was deemed unsound for publication by the theologians of Salamanca and Alcalá for containing unsound doctrine, but the pro-encomendero faction seized on Sepúlveda as their intellectual champion.[69]

In order to settle the issues, a formal debate was organized, the famous Valladolid debate, which took place in 1550–51 with Sepúlveda and Las Casas each presenting their arguments in front of a council of jurists and theologians. First Sepúlveda read the conclusions of his Democrates Alter, and then the council listened to Las Casas read his counterarguments in the form of an "Apología". 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.[70] Las Casas countered that the scriptures did not in fact support war against all heathens, only against certain Canaanite tribes; that the Indians were not at all uncivilized nor lacking social order; that peaceful mission was the only true way of converting the natives; and finally that some weak Indians suffering at the hands of stronger ones was preferable to all Indians suffering at the hands of Spaniards.[71]

The judge, Fray Domingo de Soto, summarised the arguments. Sepúlveda addressed Las Casas's arguments with twelve refutations, which were again countered by Las Casas. The judges then deliberated on the arguments presented for several months before coming to a verdict.[72] The verdict was inconclusive, and both debaters claimed that they had won.[73]

In 1552, Las Casas published A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. This book, written a decade earlier and sent to the attention of then-prince Philip II of Spain, contained accounts of the abuses committed by some Spaniards against Native Americans during the early stages of colonization. In 1555 his old Franciscan adversary Toribio de Benavente Motolinia wrote a letter in which he described Las Casas as an ignorant, arrogant troublemaker. Benavente described indignantly how Las Casas had once denied baptism to an aging Indian who had walked many leagues to receive it, only on the grounds that he did not believe that the man had received sufficient doctrinal instruction. This letter, which reinvoked the old conflict over the requirements for the sacrament of baptism between the two orders, was intended to bring Las Casas in disfavour. However, it did not succeed.[74]

Later years and death

Valladolid San Gregorio 20080815
The façade of the Colegio de San Gregorio in Valladolid, where Las Casas spent his final decades

Having resigned the Bishopric of Chiapas, Las Casas spent the rest of his life working closely with the imperial court in matters relating to the Indies. In 1551 he rented a cell at the College of San Gregorio, where he lived with his assistant and friend Fray Rodrigo de Ladrada.[75] He continued working as a kind of procurator for the natives of the Indies, many of whom directed petitions to him to speak to the emperor on their behalf. Sometimes indigenous nobility even related their cases to him in Spain, for example, the Nahua noble Francisco Tenamaztle from Nochistlán. His influence at court was so great that some even considered that he had the final word in choosing the members of the Council of the Indies.[76]

One matter in which he invested much effort was the political situation of the Viceroyalty of Peru. In Peru, power struggles between conquistadors and the viceroy became an open civil war in which the conquistadors led by Gonzalo Pizarro rebelled against the New Laws and defeated and executed the viceroy Blasco Núñez Vela in 1546. The emperor sent Pedro de la Gasca, a friend of Las Casas, to reinstate the rule of law, and he in turn defeated Pizarro. In order 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. The encomenderos offered to buy the rights to the encomiendas from the Crown, and Charles V was inclined to accept since his wars had left him in deep economic troubles. Las Casas worked hard to convince the emperor that it would be a bad economic decision, that it would return the viceroyalty to the brink of open rebellion, and could result in the Crown losing the colony entirely. The emperor, probably because of the doubts caused by Las Casas's arguments, never took a final decision on the issue of the encomiendas.[77]

In 1561, he finished his Historia General de las Indias and signed it over to the College of San Gregorio, stipulating that it could not be published until after forty years. In fact it was not published for 314 years, finally being done so in 1875. 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.[78] Las Casas also appeared as a witness in the case of the Inquisition against his friend Archbishop Bartolomé Carranza de Miranda, who had been falsely accused of heresy.[79][80] In 1565 he wrote his last will, signing over his immense library to the college. Bartolomé de Las Casas died on July 18, 1566, in Madrid.[81]


Memorial de Remedios para las Indias

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."[82]

Las Casas's first proposed remedy was a complete moratorium on the use of Indian labor in the Indies until such time as better regulations of it were set in place. This was meant simply to halt the decimation of the Indian population and to give the surviving Indians time to reconstitute themselves. Las Casas feared that at the rate the exploitation was proceeding it would be too late to hinder their annihilation unless action were taken rapidly. The second was a change in the labor policy so that instead of a colonist owning the labor of specific Indians, he would have a right to man-hours, to be carried out by no specific persons. This required the establishment of self-governing Indian communities on the land of colonists – who would themselves organize to provide the labor for their patron. 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. 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.[83]

The second part of the Memorial described suggestions for the social and political organization of Indian communities relative to colonial ones. Las Casas advocated the dismantlement of the city of Asunción and the subsequent gathering of Indians into communities of about 1,000 Indians to be situated as satellites of Spanish towns or mining areas. Here, Las Casas argued, Indians could be better governed, better taught and indoctrinated in the Christian faith, and would be easier to protect from abuse than if they were in scattered settlements. 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. He described in detail social arrangements, distribution of work, how provisions would be divided and even how table manners were to be introduced. Regarding expenses, he argued that "this should not seem expensive or difficult, because after all, everything comes from them [the Indians] and they work for it and it is theirs."[84] He even drew up a budget of each pueblo's expenses to cover wages for administrators, clerics, Bachelors of Latin, doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, advocates, ranchers, miners, muleteers, hospitalers, pig herders, fishermen, etc. He showed that this arrangement could easily be maintained and gold still be extracted at a profit.

A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies

Bartolomé de las Casas (1552) Brevisima relación de la destrucción de las Indias
Cover of the Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (1552), Bartolomé de las Casas

A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies[c] (Spanish: Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias) is an account written in 1542 (published in Seville in 1552) about the mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in colonial times and sent to then-Prince Philip II of Spain.

One of the stated purposes for writing the account was Las Casas's fear of Spain coming under divine punishment and his concern for the souls of the native peoples. The account was one of the first attempts by a Spanish writer of the colonial era to depict the unfair treatment that the indigenous people endured during the early stages of the Spanish conquest of the Greater Antilles, particularly the island of Hispaniola. Las Casas's point of view can be described as being heavily against some of the Spanish methods of colonization, which, as he described them, inflicted great losses on the indigenous occupants of the islands. 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.[85] His account was largely responsible for the adoption of the New Laws of 1542, which abolished native slavery for the first time in European colonial history and led to the Valladolid debate.

The book became an important element in the creation and propagation of the so-called Black Legend – the tradition of describing the Spanish empire as exceptionally morally corrupt and violent. It was republished several times by groups that were critical of the Spanish realm for political or religious reasons. 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. The first edition published in Spain after Las Casas's death appeared in Barcelona during the Catalan Revolt of 1646. The book was banned by the Aragonese inquisition in 1659.[86]

The images described by Las Casas were later depicted by Theodore de Bry in copper plate engravings that helped expand the Black Legend against Spain.

  • Las Casas, Bartolomé de (1999). Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Nigel Griffin. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-044562-6.

Apologetic History of the Indies

Bartolomé de las Casas (1552) Disputa o controversia con Ginés de Sepúlveda
Cover of the Disputa o controversia con Ginés de Sepúlveda (1552), Bartolomé de las Casas

The Apologetic Summary History of the People of These Indies (Spanish Apologética historia summaria de las gentes destas Indias) was first written as the 68th chapter of the General History of the Indies, but Las Casas changed it into a volume of its own, recognizing that the material was not historical. The material contained in the Apologetic History is primarily ethnographic accounts of the indigenous cultures of the Indies – the Taíno, the Ciboney, and the Guanahatabey, but it also contains descriptions of many of the other indigenous cultures that Las Casas learned about through his travels and readings. The history is apologetic because it is written as a defense of the cultural level of the Indians, arguing throughout that indigenous peoples of the Americas were just as civilized as the Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilizations—and more civilized than some European civilizations. It was in essence a comparative ethnography comparing practices and customs of European and American cultures and evaluating them according to whether they were good or bad, seen from a Christian viewpoint.

He wrote: "I have declared and demonstrated openly and concluded, from chapter 22 to the end of this whole book, that all people of these our Indies are human, so far as is possible by the natural and human way and without the light of faith – had their republics, places, towns, and cities most abundant and well provided for, and did not lack anything to live politically and socially, and attain and enjoy civil happiness.... And they equaled many nations of this world that are renowned and considered civilized, and they surpassed many others, and to none were they inferior. Among those they equaled were the Greeks and the Romans, and they surpassed them by many good and better customs. They surpassed also the English and the French and some of the people of our own Spain; and they were incomparably superior to countless others, in having good customs and lacking many evil ones."[87] This work in which Las Casas combined his own ethnographic observations with those of other writers, and compared customs and cultures between different peoples, has been characterized as an early beginning of the discipline of anthropology.[88]

History of the Indies

The History of the Indies is a three-volume work begun in 1527 while Las Casas was in the Convent of Puerto de Plata. It found its final form in 1561, when he was working in the Colegio de San Gregorio. 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.[89][90] It was in the History of the Indies that Las Casas finally regretted his advocacy for African slavery, and included a sincere apology, writing, "I soon repented and judged myself guilty of ignorance. I came to realize that black slavery was as unjust as Indian slavery... and I was not sure that my ignorance and good faith would secure me in the eyes of God." (Vol II, p. 257)[91]

"History of the Indies" has never been fully translated into English. The only translations into English are the 1971 partial translation by Andree M. Collar, and partial translations by Nigel Griffin in UCLA's Repertorium Columbianum.

De thesauris in Peru


Fray Bartolomé de las Casas depicted as Savior of the Indians in a later painting by Felix Parra
"Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, convertiendo a una familia azteca", by Miguel Noreña

Las Casas's legacy has been highly controversial. In the years following his death, his ideas became taboo in the Spanish realm, and he was seen as a nearly heretical extremist. The accounts written by his enemies Lopez de Gómara and Oviedo were widely read and published. As the British Empire rose to power and hostilities between the British and Spanish began, the British used Las Casas's accounts of Spanish cruelty as a political tool, as part of the foundation of what Spanish nationalists have called the Black Legend, the tendency of historians to slander Spain for its imperial past but to look mildly at the same undertakings by others such as the British.[92]

Opposition to Las Casas reached its climax in historography with Spanish right-wing, nationalist historians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries constructing a pro-Spanish White Legend, arguing that the Spanish Empire was benevolent and just and denying any adverse consequences of Spanish colonialism.[93][94] Spanish pro-imperial historians such as Menéndez y Pelayo, Menéndez Pidal, and J. Pérez de Barrada depicted Las Casas as a madman, describing him as a "paranoic" and a monomaniac given to exaggeration,[95] and as a traitor towards his own nation.[96] Menéndez Pelayo also accused Las Casas of having been instrumental in suppressing the publication of Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda's "Democrates Alter" (also called Democrates Secundus) out of spite, but other historians find that to be unlikely since it was rejected by the theologians of both Alcalá and Salamanca, who were unlikely to be influenced by Las Casas.[97]


Las Casas has also often been accused of exaggerating the atrocities he described in the Indies, some scholars holding that the initial population figures given by him were too high, which would make the population decline look worse than it actually was, and that epidemics of European disease were the prime cause of the population decline, not violence and exploitation. 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 of course to many different causes but all ultimately traceable to the arrival of the Europeans.[98] The overwhelming main cause was disease introduced by the Europeans. It has also been noted that exaggeration of numbers was the norm in writing in 16th-century accounts, and both contemporary detractors and supporters of Las Casas were guilty of similar exaggerations.[99][100]

It has also been suggested that the atrocities that Las Casas described were exaggerated or even invented, but that is not generally considered likely as Las Casas was far from the only person to be deeply worried about abuse and mistreatment of the Indians. The Dominican friars Antonio de Montesinos and Pedro de Córdoba had reported extensive violence already in the first decade of the conquest of the Indies, 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. Even some of Las Casas's enemies, such as Toribio de Benavente Motolinia, reported many gruesome atrocities committed against the Indians by the colonizers. All in all, modern historians tend to disregard the numerical figures given by Las Casas, but they maintain that his general picture of a violent and abusive conquest represented reality.[94]

One persistent point of criticism has been Las Casas's repeated suggestions of replacing Indian with African slave labor. Even though he repented that position later in his life and included an apology in his History of the Indies,[101] some later criticism held him responsible for the institution of the Atlantic slave trade. One detractor, the abolitionist David Walker, called Las Casas a "wretch... stimulated by sordid avarice only," holding him responsible for the enslavement of thousands of Africans.[102] Other historians, such as John Fiske writing in 1900, denied that Las Casas's suggestions affected the development of the slave trade. Benjamin Keen likewise did not consider Las Casas to have had any substantial impact on the slave trade, which was well in place before he began writing.[103] That view is contradicted by Sylvia Wynter, who argued that Las Casas's 1516 Memorial was the direct cause of Charles V granting permission in 1518 to transport the first 4,000 African slaves to Jamaica.[104]

Revisionist histories of the late 20th century have argued for a more nuanced image of Las Casas, suggesting that he was neither a saint nor a fanatic but a person with exceptional willpower and a sense of justice, which sometimes led him into arrogance, stubbornness, and hypocrisy. Some historians, such as Castro, argue that he was more of a politician than a humanitarian and that his liberation policies were always combined with schemes to make colonial extraction of resources from the natives more efficient. He also argues that Las Casas failed to realize that by seeking to replace indigenous spirituality with Christianity, he was undertaking a religious colonialism that was more intrusive than the physical one.[105] That critique has been rejected by other historians as facile and anachronistic.[106][107]

Cultural legacy

Monumento a Bartolomé de las Casas (Sevilla)
Monument to Bartolomé de las Casas in Seville, Spain.

In 1848, Ciudad de San Cristóbal, then the capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas, was renamed San Cristóbal de Las Casas in honor of its first bishop. His work is a particular inspiration behind the work of the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.[108] He is also often cited as a predecessor of the liberation theology movement. He is commemorated by the Church of England in the Calendar of Saints on July 20, The Episcopal Church (USA) on July 18, and at the Evangelical Lutheran Church on July 17. In the Catholic Church, the Dominicans introduced his cause for canonization in 1976.[109] In 2002 the Church began the process for his beatification.

He has also come to be seen as an early advocate for a concept of universal human rights.[d][110] 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.[111] In this capacity, an ecumenical human rights institute located in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas de Derechos Humanos, was established by Bishop Samuel Ruiz in 1989.[112][113]

He is also featured in the Guatemalan quetzal one cent (Q0.01) coins.[114]

The small town of Lascassas, Tennessee, in the United States has also been named after him.[115]

He is a central character in the H. R. Hays historical novel The Takers of the City, published in 1946.[116]


Content notes:

  1. ^ "If one sacrifices from what has been wrongfully obtained, the offering is blemished; the gifts of the lawless are not acceptable. ... Like one who kills a son before his father's eyes is the man who offers sacrifice from the property of the poor. The bread of the needy is the life of the poor; whoever deprives them of it is a man of blood." quoted from Brading (1997:119–20).
  2. ^ Las Casas's retraction of his views on African slavery is expressed particularly in chapters 102 and 129, Book III of his Historia.
  3. ^ Also translated and published in English as A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, among several other variants.
  4. ^ Glendon 2003 writes: "When Latin American nations gained independence in the 19th century, those two strains converged, and merged with an older, more universalist, natural law tradition. The result was a distinctively Latin American form of rights discourse. Paolo Carozza traces the roots of that discourse to a distinctive application, and extension, of Thomistic moral philosophy to the injustices of Spanish conquests in the New World. The key figure in that development seems to have been Bartolomé de Las Casas, a 16th-century Spanish bishop who condemned slavery and championed the cause of Indians on the basis of a natural right to liberty grounded in their membership in a single common humanity. 'All the peoples of the world are humans,' Las Casas wrote, and 'all the races of humankind are one.' According to Brian Tierney, Las Casas and other Spanish Dominican philosophers laid the groundwork for a doctrine of natural rights that was independent of religious revelation 'by drawing on a juridical tradition that derived natural rights and natural law from human rationality and free will, and by appealing to Aristotelian philosophy.'"


  1. ^ Parish & Weidman (1976)
  2. ^ Zinn, Howard (1997). The Zinn Reader. Seven Stories Press. p. 483. ISBN 978-1-583229-46-0.
  3. ^ "July 2015: Bartolomé de las Casas and 500 Years of Racial Injustice | Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective". Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  4. ^ Clayton, Lawrence (2009). "Bartolomé de las Casas and the African Slave Trade". History Compass. 7 (6): 1532. doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2009.00639.x. ISSN 1478-0542. On advocating the importation of a slaves back in 1516, Las Casas wrote ‘the cleric [he often wrote in the third person], many years later, regretted the advice he gave the king on this matter—he judged himself culpable through inadvertence—when he saw proven that the enslavement of blacks was every bit as unjust as that of the Indians...
  5. ^ Murray, Stuart (2009). The Library: An Illustrated History. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 136.
  6. ^ Beuchot (1994)
  7. ^ Parish & Weidman (1976:385)
  8. ^ Parish & Weidman (1976, passim)
  9. ^ e.g. Saunders (2005:162)
  10. ^ a b Wagner & Parish (1967:1–3)
  11. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:67)
  12. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:4)
  13. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:71–72)
  14. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:72)
  15. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:5)
  16. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:6)
  17. ^ Baptiste (1990:7)
  18. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:11)
  19. ^ Witness: Writing of Bartolome de Las Casas. Edited and translated by George Sanderlin (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1993), 66–67
  20. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:8–9)
  21. ^ Wynter (1984a:29–30)
  22. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:73)
  23. ^ Indian Freedom: The Cause of Bartolome de las Casas. Translated and edited by Sullivan (1995:146)
  24. ^ Ecclesiasticus, Encyclopædia Britannica online
  25. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:11–13)
  26. ^ Baptiste (1990:69)
  27. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:13–15)
  28. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:15)
  29. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:15–17)
  30. ^ Baptiste (1990:7–10)
  31. ^ Wynter (1984a), Wynter (1984b)
  32. ^ Blackburn (1997:136)
  33. ^ Friede (1971:165–66)
  34. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:23)
  35. ^ Wynter (1984a)
  36. ^ MCN Bigrafias: "Figueroa, fray Luis de"
  37. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:25–30)
  38. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:33)
  39. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:35–38)
  40. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:38–45)
  41. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:46–49)
  42. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:60–62)
  43. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:63–66)
  44. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:69)
  45. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:82)
  46. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:70–72)
  47. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:74–78)
  48. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:79–84)
  49. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:85)
  50. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:98–100)
  51. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:89)
  52. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:86–93)
  53. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:94–95)
  54. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:103)
  55. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:105–06)
  56. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:106–07)
  57. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:109–13)
  58. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:96)
  59. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:101)
  60. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:16–17)
  61. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:99)
  62. ^ Clayton, Lawrence A. (Jun 29, 2012). Bartolomé de Las Casas. Cambridge University Press. p. 291. ISBN 9781107001213.
  63. ^ a b "Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas (Casaus), O.P. " David M. Cheney. Retrieved February 29, 2016
  64. ^ a b c Giménez Fernández (1971:103)
  65. ^ Brading (1997:133)
  66. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:104–05)
  67. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:106)
  68. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:170–74)
  69. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:174–76)
  70. ^ Losada (1971:285–300)
  71. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:178–79)
  72. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:1977)
  73. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:181–82)
  74. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:98–100, 243–44)
  75. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:183–84)
  76. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:191–92)
  77. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967, ch. XVII)
  78. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:186–88)
  79. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:222–24)
  80. ^ Giménez Fernández (1971:113)
  81. ^ Hernández, Bernat (March 26, 2015). Bartolomé de las Casas (Colección Españoles Eminentes) (in Spanish). Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial España. p. 192. ISBN 9788430617340. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  82. ^ Las Casas in Baptiste (1990:14)
  83. ^ Baptiste (1990)
  84. ^ Baptiste (1990:45)
  85. ^ de las Casas, Bartolomé (9 January 2007). A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Project Gutenberg. p. 23.
  86. ^ Keen (1969:712)
  87. ^ Las Casas, Historia Apologetica, cited in Wagner & Parish (1967:203–04)
  88. ^ Hanke (1951:88–89)
  89. ^ Historia de las Indias, 1875–76 ed., Madrid: Ginesta vol. 1, vol.2, vol.3, vol.4 vol.5
  90. ^ Las Casas, Bartolomé (1875). Fuensanta del Valle, Feliciano Ramírez de Arellano, marqués de la, 1826–1896; Sancho Rayón, José León, 1830–1900 (eds.). Historia de Las Indias vol. 1. Madrid, Impr. de M. Ginesta.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  91. ^ Pierce (1992)
  92. ^ Keen (1971:46–48)
  93. ^ Keen (1971:50–52)
  94. ^ a b Comas (1971, passim)
  95. ^ Comas (1971:520–21)
  96. ^ Comas (1971:524–25)
  97. ^ Comas (1971:515)
  98. ^ Keen (1971:44–47)
  99. ^ Comas (1971:502–04)
  100. ^ Wagner & Parish (1967:245)
  101. ^ Comas (1971)
  102. ^ Walker's Appeal p. 40
  103. ^ Keen (1971:39)
  104. ^ Wynter (1984a:25–26)
  105. ^ Castro (2007)
  106. ^ Boruchoff (2008)
  107. ^ Rubiés (2007)
  108. ^ Las Casas Institute Archived 2013-07-09 at the Wayback Machine at Blackfriars Hall website
  109. ^ McBrien, Richard P. (2001). Lives of the Saints (1st ed.). HarperSanFrancisco. p. 289. ISBN 978-0-06-065340-8. OCLC 45248363.
  110. ^ Carozza (2003)
  111. ^ Tierney (1997:272–74)
  112. ^ – Fray Bartolome de las Casas Centro de Derechos Humanos Archived 2010-12-25 at the Wayback Machine
  113. ^ Michael Tangeman, Mexico at the Crossroads: Politics, the Church, and the Poor. Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books 1995, p. 72.
  114. ^ "Bills and Currency in Current Circulation". Banco de Guatemala. Archived from the original on September 23, 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  115. ^ A Glimpse at the History of Lascassas School Archived February 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Lascassas School website, accessed April 19, 2008.
  116. ^ Libraries holding The Takers of the City.


Alcedo, Antonio de (1786). Diccionario geográfico-histórico de las Indias Occidentales ó América: es á saber: de los reynos del Perú, Nueva España, Tierra Firme, Chile, y Nuevo reyno de Granada (in Spanish). vol. 1. Madrid: Benito Cano. OCLC 2414115.
Baptiste, Victor N. (1990). Bartolomé de las Casas and Thomas More's Utopia: Connections and Similarities. Labyrinthos. ISBN 978-0-911437-43-0. OCLC 246823100.
Beuchot, Mauricio (1994). Los fundamentos de los derechos humanos en Bartolomé de las Casas [The foundations of human rights in Bartolomé de las Casas] (in Spanish). Anthropos Editorial. ISBN 978-84-7658-430-9.
Blackburn, Robin (1997). The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492–1800 (1st Verso pbk [1998 printing] ed.). London: Verso Books. ISBN 978-1-85984-195-2. OCLC 40130171.
Boruchoff, David A. (2008). "Another Face of Empire: Bartolomé de las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism (review)". Early American Literature. 43 (2): 497–504. doi:10.1353/eal.0.0014.
Brading, David (1997). "Prophet and apostle: Bartolomé de las Casas and the spiritual conquest of America". In Cummins, J. S. (ed.). Christianity and Missions, 1450–1800. An Expanding World: The European Impact on World History, 1450–1800 [Ashgate Variorum series]. vol. 28. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 117–38. ISBN 978-0-86078-519-4. OCLC 36130668.
Carozza, Paolo G. (2003). "From Conquest to Constitutions: Retrieving a Latin American Tradition of the Idea of Human Rights" (PDF). Human Rights Quarterly. 25 (2): 281–313. doi:10.1353/hrq.2003.0023. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-06.
Castro, Daniel (2007). Another Face of Empire. Duke University Press.
Comas, Juan (1971). "Historical reality and the detractors of Father Las Casas". In Friede, Juan; Keen, Benjamin (eds.). Bartolomé de las Casas in History: Toward an Understanding of the Man and his Work. Collection spéciale: CER. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. pp. 487–539. ISBN 978-0-87580-025-7. OCLC 421424974.
Friede, Juan (1971). "Las Casas and Indigenism in the Sixteenth Century". In Friede, Juan; Keen, Benjamin (eds.). Bartolomé de las Casas in History: Toward an Understanding of the Man and his Work. Collection spéciale: CER. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. pp. 127–234. ISBN 978-0-87580-025-7. OCLC 421424974.
Giménez Fernández, Manuel (1971). "Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas: A Biographical Sketch". In Friede, Juan; Keen, Benjamin (eds.). Bartolomé de las Casas in History: Toward an Understanding of the Man and his Work. Collection spéciale: CER. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. pp. 67–126. ISBN 978-0-87580-025-7. OCLC 421424974.
Glendon, Mary Ann (2003). "The Forgotten Crucible: The Latin American Influence on the Universal Human Rights Idea". Harvard Human Rights Journal. 16.
Guitar, Lynne (1997). "Encomienda System". In Rodriguez, Junius P. (ed.). The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery. vol. 1, A–K. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 250–51. ISBN 978-0-87436-885-7. OCLC 37884790.
Hanke, Lewis (1951). Bartolomé de Las Casas: An interpretation of his life and writings. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Hanke, Lewis (1952). Bartolomé de Las Casas: Bookman, Scholar & Propagandist. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Jay, Felix (2002). Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474–1566) in the pages of Father Antonio de Remesal. Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-7131-3.
Keen, Benjamin (1971). "Introduction: Approaches to Las Casas, 1535–1970". In Friede, Juan; Keen, Benjamin (eds.). Bartolomé de las Casas in History: Toward an Understanding of the Man and his Work. Collection spéciale: CER. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. pp. 67–126. ISBN 978-0-87580-025-7. OCLC 421424974.
Keen, Benjamin (1969). "The Black Legend Revisited: Assumptions and Realities". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 49 (4): 703–19. doi:10.2307/2511162. JSTOR 2511162.
Las Casas, Bartolomé de (1997). "Apologetic History of the Indies". Columbia University Sources of Medieval History. From Apologética historia de las Indias (Madrid, 1909), originally translated for Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946, 1954, 1961).
Losada, Ángel (1971). "Controversy between Sepúlveda and Las Casas". In Friede, Juan; Keen, Benjamin (eds.). Bartolomé de las Casas in History: Toward an Understanding of the Man and his Work. Collection spéciale: CER. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. pp. 279–309. ISBN 978-0-87580-025-7. OCLC 421424974.
MacNutt, Francis Augustus (1909). Bartholomew de Las Casas: His Life, Apostolate, and Writings (PDF online reproduction) (Project Gutenberg EBook no. 23466, reproduction ed.). Cleveland, Ohio: Arthur H. Clark. OCLC 2683160.
Orique, David T. (2009). "Journey to the Headwaters: Bartolomé de Las Casas in a Comparative Context". The Catholic Historical Review. 95 (1): 1–24. doi:10.1353/cat.0.0312.
Parish, Helen Rand; Weidman, Harold E. (1976). "The Correct Birthdate of Bartolomé de las Casas". Hispanic American Historical Review. 56 (3): 385–403. doi:10.2307/2514372. ISSN 0018-2168. JSTOR 2514372. OCLC 1752092.
Pierce, Brian (1992). "Bartolomé de las Casas and Truth: Toward a Spirituality of Solidarity". Spirituality Today. 44 (1): 4–19. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29.
Rand-Parish, Helen (1980). Las Casas as Bishop: A new interpretation based on his holograph petition in the Hans P. Kraus Collection of Hispanic American Manuscripts. Washington, DC: Library of Congress.
Rand-Parish, Helen; Weidman, Harold E. (1980). Las Casas en Mexico: Historia y obra desconocidas. Ciudad de Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Rand-Parish, Helen; Gutiérrez, Gustavo (1984). Bartolomé de las Casas: Liberation of the Oppressed. Berkeley.
Rubiés, Joan-Pau (2007). "Another face of empire. Bartolomé de Las Casas, indigenous rights, and ecclesiastical imperalism. By Daniel Castro. (Latin America Otherwise. Languages, Empires, Nations.) Pp. Xii+234. Durham–London: Duke University Press, 2007. £53 (cloth), £13.99 (paper). 978 0 8223 3930 4; 978 0 8223 3939 7". The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 58 (4): 767–68. doi:10.1017/S0022046907001704.
Saunders, Nicholas J. (2005). Peoples of the Caribbean: An Encyclopedia of Archeology and Traditional Culture. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-701-6. OCLC 62090786.
Sullivan, Patrick Francis, ed. (1995). Indian Freedom: The Cause of Bartolomé de las Casas, 1484–1566, A Reader. Kansas City, Missouri: Sheed and Ward.
Tierney, Brian (1997). The Idea of Natural Rights: Studies on Natural Rights, Natural Law and Church Law 1150–1625. Scholar's Press for Emory University. pp. 272–74.
Wagner, Henry Raup; Parish, Helen Rand (1967). The Life and Writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas. University of New Mexico Press.
Wynter, Sylvia (1984a). "New Seville and the Conversion Experience of Bartolomé de Las Casas: Part One". Jamaica Journal. 17 (2): 25–32.
Wynter, Sylvia (1984b). "New Seville and the Conversion Experience of Bartolomé de Las Casas: Part Two". Jamaica Journal. 17 (3): 46–55.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Juan de Arteaga y Avendaño
Bishop of Chiapas
19 Dec 1543 – 11 Sep 1550 Resigned
Succeeded by
Tomás Casillas, O.P.
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies

A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies (Spanish: Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias) is an account written by the Spanish Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas in 1542 (published in 1552) about the mistreatment of and atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples of the Americas in colonial times and sent to then Prince Philip II of Spain.

Antonio de Montesinos

Antonio de Montesinos or Antonio Montesino (Spain, c. 1475 - Venezuela, 1545) was a Spanish Dominican friar who was a missionary on the island of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti). With the backing of his prior, Friar Pedro de Córdoba, and his Dominican community at Santo Dominigo, Montesinos preached against the enslavement and harsh treatment of the Indigenous peoples of the Island. Montesinos' preaching led to Bartolomé de las Casas' conversion and his entering the Dominican Order.


The areíto or areyto was a Taíno language word adopted by the Spanish colonizers to describe a type of religious song and dance performed by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. The areíto was a ceremonial act that was believed to narrate and honor the heroic deeds of Taíno ancestors, chiefs, gods, and cemis. Areítos involved lyrics and choreography and were often accompanied by varied instrumentation. They were performed in the central plazas of the villages and were attended by the local community members as well as members of neighboring communities.


Bacalao, Bacallao, or Terra do Bacalhau was a phantom island depicted on several early 16th century Portuguese maps and nautical charts. The name first appears on a chart in 1508, but there are earlier accounts of Bacalao. The name is a variation of bacalhau, meaning "cod" or "stockfish".

According to Gaspar Frutuoso in his work Saudades da Terra, written in the 1570s, the Portuguese navigator João Vaz Corte-Real in 1472 was granted lands in the Azores by the king of Portugal, because of his discovery of the Terras do Bacalhau. Historians do not consider the work of Frutuoso as very reliable, as it contains a great deal of misinformation. But, Bartolomé de Las Casas also wrote about Portuguese voyages of discovery to Tierra de los Bacallao. There has been speculation that Corte-Real reached the Americas a couple of decades before Columbus.

Off the northeast tip of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula is an island named Baccalao. Its European name was originally in the French language.


Bartolomé may refer to:


Bartolomé Island (Spanish: Isla Bartolomé), a volcanic islet in the Galápagos Islands Group

Isla Bartolomé, Diego Ramirez Islands, ChilePeople

Bartolomé Bermejo (c.1440–c.1501), Spanish painter

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618–1682), Spanish painter

Bartolomé de Escobedo (1500–1563), Spanish composer

Bartolomé de las Casas (1484–1566), Spanish priest

Bartolomé de Medina, (149?–15??), Spanish metallurgist

Bartolomé de Medina, (1527–1581), Spanish theologian

Caro and Cuervo Institute

The Instituto Caro y Cuervo (Caro and Cuervo Institute) is an educative center specialized in Spanish literature, philology and linguistics, oriented to research and promotion of the reading habits in Colombia. This institute produces editions of Colombian authors and politics of preservation of the bibliographic national heritage. The institute was named after two of the main Colombian linguists, Miguel Antonio Caro Tobar and Rufino José Cuervo Urisarri.

The Institute was created by orders of the Colombian government in 1942. Its first assignment was the creation of the Spanish language dictionary Diccionario de Construcción y Régimen de la Lengua Castellana.

Caro y Cuervo has been recognized and awarded several times with important prizes such as the Prince of Asturias Awards and the Bartolomé de las Casas Prize.

Chin (deity)

In describing the customs of the Mayas inhabiting the Verapaz province (including the Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz) of 16th-century Guatemala, Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas mentions sexual relationships, regulated by customary law, between unmarried young men and boys, as well as similar relations prevailing among adolescents receiving instruction in the temples. Chin, together with Cu, Cavil ('idol'), and Maran, is mentioned as the name of the male deity said to have demonstrated sexual intercourse with another 'demon', and thereby to have introduced such relationships: "From that time on some fathers gave their sons a little boy to be used as a woman; and if someone else took the boy, they demanded pay as is done when someone violates another's wife." Institutionalized pederastic prostitution, including transvestism, is recorded in 17th-century Spanish reports of the Itzá Mayas living in the Petén. Among the Classic Period scenes found in a cave of Naj Tunich is a depiction of a naked, sexually excited male creature embracing a nude Maya nobleman, possibly by way of initiation.

Christopher Columbus's journal

Christopher Columbus's journal is a diary and logbook written by Christopher Columbus about his first voyage. The journal covers events from 3 August 1492, when Columbus departed from Palos de la Frontera, to 6 November of the same year. Columbus is known by several contemporary references to have kept a journal of the voyage as a daily record of events and as an evidence for the Catholic Monarchs. Upon his return to Spain in the spring of 1493 Columbus presented the journal to Isabella I of Castile. She had it copied, retained the original, and gave the copy to Columbus before his second voyage. The whereabouts of the original Spanish text has not been known since 1504. Copies based on an abstract from the journal have been made, most notably by Bartolomé de las Casas.

De thesauris in Peru

De Thesauris in Peru is a treatise by Spanish Dominican priest and reformer Bartolomé de las Casas (1484 – July 17, 1566), who was the first resident Bishop of Chiapas. In it, one of his last works before his death, he vigorously defended the rights of the native peoples of Peru against the slavery imposed by the early Spanish Conquest. The work also questioned Spain's right to take the gold and silver acquired from the ransom paid to free Atahualpa, the Inca sovereign emperor, as well as valuables looted from the burial sites of the indigenous population.

As a settler in the New World, he was appalled by the behaviour of the conquistadors towards the Native Americans. In De thesauris in Peru, which was dedicated to King Philip II of Spain, Las Casas wrote that when he had first reached the New World he had supported the atrocities, but had soon become sure that these acts would lead to the collapse of Spain itself in an act of Divine retribution. According to Las Casas, it was the duty of the Spanish to convert the Indians, who would then be loyal subjects of Spain, rather than to kill them. To remove the burden of slavery from them, Las Casas suggested that Africans should be brought to America instead, although he later decided against this when he saw how Africans were affected by slavery.

Diego de Loaysa

Diego de Loaysa, CRSA was a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Modruš, Croatia, from 1538 until 1549.He was known for consecrating the famous Dominican friar, social reformer and bishop Bartolomé de las Casas.

Fray Bartolomé de las Casas

Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Spanish pronunciation: [fɾai βaɾtoloˈme ðe las ˈkasas]) is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. It is situated at 170m above sea level. It contains 31,611 people. It covers a terrain of 1229km2. The annual festival is April 30-May 4. It is named after the 15th-century Spanish priest, bishop, and writer Bartolomé de Las Casas.


Guarionex (Taíno language: "The Brave Noble Lord") was a Taíno cacique from Maguá in the island of Hispaniola at the time of the arrival of the Europeans to the Western Hemisphere in 1492. He was the son of cacique Guacanagaríx, the great Taíno prophet who had the vision of the coming of the Guamikena (White Men).

Since 1494 the Spaniards had imposed heavy tributes on the Taino population of Hispaniola. In 1495, Taino led by Caonabo raised up in arms but were crushed by Bartholomew Columbus. Guarionex then opted for accommodation and appeasement but by 1497 the situation had deteriorated further. Guarionex then sided with Spanish rebel Francisco Roldán and set out to attack the Spaniards. Columbus assembled his troops and attacked Guarionex's camp at night by surprise. The cacique was captured and his warriors dispersed. Guarionex was later released by Columbus and went back to his policy of appeasement. At one point he could not hold to power and fled to the north of the island. The Spaniards captured him there and sent him in chains to Spain in 1502, but the ship sank during a storm. Lost was a fortune in gold said by Bartolomé de las Casas to be worth 3600 castilians.

Lascassas, Tennessee

Lascassas (also Las Casas or Las Cassas) is an unincorporated community in Rutherford County, Tennessee, near the city of Murfreesboro. Its geographic coordinates are 35°55'49"N, 86°17'28"W.The community's namesake is Bartolomé de las Casas (1484-1566), a Spanish missionary on Christopher Columbus's third expedition who was known as the "Apostle of the Indians" in recognition of his efforts to protect the native population from slavery and abuse.Lascassas is the site of a public elementary school operated by the Rutherford County school district and enrolling students from pre-kindergarten through grade 5. Current enrollment is about 855 students.The American actor John M. Pickard was born in Lascassas and died in Rutherford County.

Lope Conchillos y Quintana

Lope Conchillos y Quintana (? - 1521 in Toledo) was a Spanish politician, and secretary at the court of King Ferdinand "the Catholic". He was of Converso Jewish heritage and married María Niño de Ribera, cousin of the Duke of Infantado.

He was awarded an absentee encomienda in Puerto Rico.He was an enemy of Bartolomé de Las Casas, and father in law to Pedro de Guzmán by his daughter Francisca de Ribera Niño.[1]

Pedro Angulo

Pedro Angulo, O.P. (died 1561) was a Spanish Dominican missionary in Guatemala, in the sixteenth century.

He was a native of Burgos in Spain, and came to America in 1524 as a soldier, but joined the Dominican order in 1529. He became a companion of Bartolomé de las Casas in Guatemala, Central America in general, and the Greater Antilles (Santo Domingo). He was made Provincial of the Dominicans for Chiapas and Bishop of Vera Paz, but died soon afterwards.

Angulo was one of the principal figures of the earliest Indian Missions in Southern Mexico and Guatemala, and more successful than Las Casas. He visited tribe after tribe, and lived and taught among them. He resorted to charts on which biblical subjects were allegorically represented. These he carried with him through the wilderness to use as illustrations for his discourses to the natives.

He was proficient in Nahuatl and Zutuhil, and wrote several tracts on religious subjects in the latter.

Protector of the Indians

Protector of Indians (Spanish: Protectoría de los Indios) was an administrative office of the Spanish colonies, that was responsible for attending to the well being of the native populations, including speaking on their behalf in courts and reporting back to the King of Spain. The King of Spain during the period of the Protector of the Indians was King Charles V. The King of Spain throughout this era gained the information of the treatments through Bartolomé de las Casas. Bartolomé de las Casas was one of the first Europeans to set foot into the north hemisphere and he later dedicated his life to the desire of ending harsh treatment of Indians. Bartolomé de las Casas's first attempt to end the inhumane treatment was by his report he sent to the King of Spain about the New World being destroyed and depopulated by the Christians. The Christians showed inhumane treatment by making the Indians work hard hours and pay them back in little to no meals, while the Christians would spectate and enjoy meals themselves to support three Indian households.

Pánfilo de Narváez

Pánfilo de Narváez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpaɱfilo ðe naɾˈβae̯θ]; 147?–1528) was a Spanish conquistador and soldier in the Americas.

Born in Spain, he first embarked to Jamaica in 1510 as a soldier. He came to participate in the conquest of Cuba and led an expedition to Camagüey escorting Bartolomé de las Casas. Las Casas described him as exceedingly cruel towards the natives.

He is most remembered as the leader of two failed expeditions: In 1520 he was sent to Mexico by the Governor of Cuba Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, with the objective of stopping the invasion by Hernán Cortés which had not been authorized by the Governor. Even though his 900 men outmanned those of Cortés 3 to 1, Narváez was outmaneuvered, lost an eye and was taken prisoner. After a couple of years in captivity in Mexico he returned to Spain where King Carlos V named him adelantado, with the mission of exploring and colonizing Florida. In 1527 Narváez embarked for Florida with five ships and 600 men, among them Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca who later described the expedition in his Naufragios. A storm south of Cuba wrecked several of the ships. The rest of the expedition continued on to Florida, where the men were eventually stranded among hostile natives. The survivors worked their way along the US gulf coast trying to get to the province of Pánuco. During a storm Narváez and a small group of men were carried out to sea on a raft and were not seen again. Only four men survived the Narváez expedition.

Residencial Las Casas

Residencial Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, more commonly known as Residencial Las Casas or Las Casas, is a public housing complex located in San Juan, Puerto Rico consisting of 417 housing units. It is under the management of the Puerto Rico Housing Authority (Administración de Vivienda Pública in Spanish) and is under the federal housing program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was named after the famous Spaniard Roman Catholic Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, who also has a town named after him in Mexico, namely San Cristóbal de las Casas.

The Complex is located in an area that was used by the United States military beginning in 1908, as a training camp for the Porto Rico Regiment of Infantry that saw action in World War I and World War II. During that era, the area was known as "Camp Las Casas". It also was Puerto Rico's first commercial air field, with the first Puerto Rican pilot, Félix Rigau Carrera, taking off on the first inter-island flight from the air field, and Aerovías Nacionales de Puerto Rico offering airline service during the 1930s.One of San Juan's oldest projects, Residencial Las Casas wasn't always a poverty stricken project. It was built during the 1950s, after the military had left the area, with middle class customers in mind. Many of San Juan's affluent families bought property there. One of its earliest residents was Puerto Rican actress Míriam Colón and activist Antonia Pantoja.The deterioration of Las Casas began during the 1970s, when most of the middle-class families moved, giving way to lower-class families. The new tenants would typically complain of jet airplane noise as the pilots of airliners landing at the airport would use the apartment complex as a guiding point and airplanes would zoom loudly just over the rooftops of these buildings, on an average of about every five minutes or so. During the middle 1970s, resident Luciano Rivera made the headlines nationally, as he was one of a few survivors of an aviation crash that happened nearby.

By the early 1980s, salsa singer Cano Estremera, a resident, began bringing his musician friends over to practice at Las Casas. Estremera would go on to become a legendary singer and international super-star who, in 2003, made a CD commemorating his twenty years in the music industry. Around this time, Las Casas buildings deteriorated and most buildings still wore the original paint jobs since the 1950s, thirty years after their initial construction.

By the late 1980s, however, illegal drugs began making their way into the complex, although the Puerto Rican drug wars of the era were mainly concentrated into other nearby complexes, mainly Residencial Nemesio M. Canales and Residencial Luis Llorens Torres. In 1989, Las Casas was affected deeply by Hurricane Hugo, with some apartments destroyed, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had to help some of the families in the complex.

By 2004, several gangs residing in Las Casas had entered the drug wars with other projects in the San Juan area, and the residential complex has been affected by an unprecedented rise in violent crimes (for that specific area).

Valladolid debate

The Valladolid debate (1550–1551) was the first moral debate in European history to discuss the rights and treatment of a colonized people by colonizers. Held in the Colegio de San Gregorio, in the Spanish city of Valladolid, it was a moral and theological debate about the colonization of the Americas, its justification for the conversion to Catholicism, and more specifically about the relations between the European settlers and the natives of the New World. It consisted of a number of opposing views about the way natives were to be integrated into colonial life, their conversion to Christianity, and their rights and obligations.

A controversial theologian, Dominican friar and Bishop of Chiapas Bartolomé de las Casas, argued that the Amerindians were free men in the natural order despite their practice of human sacrifices and other such customs, deserving the same consideration as the colonizers. Opposing this view were a number of scholars and priests, including humanist scholar Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, who argued that the human sacrifice of innocents, cannibalism, and other such "crimes against nature" were unacceptable and should be suppressed by any means possible including war.Although both sides claimed to have won the disputation, there is no clear record supporting either interpretation. The affair is considered one of the earliest examples of moral debates about colonialism, human rights of colonized peoples, and international relations. In Spain, it served to establish Las Casas as the primary, though controversial defender of the Indians. He and others contributed to the passing of the New Laws of 1542, which limited the encomienda system further. Though they did not fully reverse the situation, the laws achieved considerable improvement in the treatment of Indians and consolidated their rights granted by earlier laws. More importantly, the debate reflected a concern for morality and justice in 16th-century Spain that only surfaced in other colonial powers centuries later.

Non-governmental and
political organizations
Legal representation
Historical cases

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.