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He was appointed as the first resident Bishop of Chiapasand the first officially appointed ” Protector of the Indians “. His extensive writings, the most famous being Apologgetica Short Histpria of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indiaschronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies. He described the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the indigenous peoples.

Arriving as one of the first Spanish and European settlers in the AmericasLas Casas initially participated in, but eventually felt compelled to oppose the abuses committed by colonists against the Native Americans.

Apologetica historia sumaria / Apologetics summary history 1

As a result, in he gave up his Indian slaves and encomiendaand advocated, before King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperoron 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 transatlantic slave trade.

Later in life, he retracted this position, as he regarded all forms of slavery as equally wrong. Las Casas entered the Dominican Order and became a friar, leaving public life for a decade. He traveled to Central Americaacting 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 encomiendagaining an important victory by the passage of the New Laws in He was appointed Bishop of Chiapasbut served only for a short time before he was forced to return to Spain because of resistance to the New Laws by the encomenderosand 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.

Las Casas maintained that they were fully human and that forcefully subjugating them was unjustifiable. Unlike other priests who sought to destroy the indigenous peoples’ native books and writings, he strictly opposed this action. Las Casas is often considered to be one of the first advocates for a universal conception of human dignity later human rights. Las Casas became a hacendado and slave owner, receiving a piece of land in the province of Cibao.

Las Casas was among those denied confession for this reason. 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.

The colonists, led by Diego Columbusdispatched a complaint against the Dominicans to the King, and the Dominicans were recalled from Hispaniola. During the next years, he divided his time between being a colonist and his duties as an ordained priest. InLas Casas was studying a passage in the book Ecclesiasticus Sirach [22] 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.

A highly anticipated book on Las Casas! « The School of Salamanca

He made up his mind to give up histpria 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.

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. On Christmas Eve ofLas Casas met the Monarch and discussed the situation in the Histotia with him; the King agreed to hear him out in more detail at a later date. 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, Las Casas was resolved to see Prince Charles who resided in Flandersbut 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 hiwtoria ” Memorial de Remedios para Las Indias ” of Three Hieronymite monks, Luis de FigueroaBernardino de Manzanedo and Alonso de Santo Domingo, were selected as commissioners apolgetica 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 Indiansand given a yearly salary of one hundred pesos.

In this new office Las Casas was expected to serve as an advisor to the symaria 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, paologetica Las Casas arrived two weeks later than the Hieronimytes. During this time the Sumari 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 sumarua 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 paologetica Spain and not on the islands themselves; they even repossessed the encomienda of Fonseca, the Bishop of Sumari. 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.

Bartolome de las Casas. Apologetic History

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 Smaria 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 histkria their confession were committing a mortal sin. In MayLas Casas was forced to travel back to Spain to denounce to the regent the failure of the Hieronymite reforms.

When he arrived in Spain, his former protector, regent and Cardinal Ximenez Cisneroswas a;ologetica 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, Las Casas managed to secure the support of the King’s Flemish courtiers, including the powerful Chancellor Jean de la Sauvage.

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. 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. Founded inthere was already wpologetica small Franciscan monastery in Cumana, and a Dominican one at Chiribichi, but the monks there were being harassed by Spaniards sumaeia 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.

All the Indian slaves of the New World should be brought to live in these towns and become tribute paying subjects to the King. 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 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, ducats of annual revenue, increasing to 60, 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.

Bartolomé de las Casas

The King also promised not to give any encomienda grants apologdtica Las Casas’s area. That said, finding fifty men willing to invest ducats each and three years of unpaid work proved impossible for Las Casas. In the end, he ended up leaving in November with just a small group of peasants, paying for the venture with money borrowed from his brother in-law.

Arriving in Puerto Ricoin Januaryhe 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, apologeica by Gonzalo de Ocampointo 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 Sumarix 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 apo,ogetica sail alone; the peasants he had brought had deserted, and he arrived in his colony already ravaged by Spaniards. 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 Las Apologeticaa left the settlement to complain to the authorities. The rumours even included him among the dead. The tragic outcome of Las Casas’s great mainland adventure made him turn his life in a new direction.

Devastated, Las Casas reacted by entering the Dominican monastery apologetlca Santa Cruz in Santo Domingo as a novice in and finally taking holy vows as a Dominican friar in He oversaw the construction of a monastery in Puerto Plata on histpria north coast of Hispaniola, subsequently serving as prior of the convent.

In 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 he wrote a letter to Garcia ManriqueCount of Osornoprotesting again the mistreatment of the Indians and advocating a return to his original reform plan of In a complaint was sent by the encomenderos of Hispaniola that Las Casas was again accusing them of mortal sins from the pulpit.

His party made it as far as Panamabut had to turn back apologeticq Nicaragua due to adverse weather. Lingering for a while in the Dominican convent of Granadahe got into conflict with Rodrigo de ContrerasGovernor of Nicaragua, when Las Casas vehemently opposed slaving expeditions by the Governor.

Also inbefore venturing into Tuzulutlan, Las Casas went to OaxacaMexicoto 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 Apologgeticaknown 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 apologettica converting the Indians.

Las Casas returned hishoria Guatemala in wanting to employ his new method of conversion based on two histofia It was important for Las Casas that this method be histtoria without meddling from secular applogetica, 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 Maldonadoagreed to sign a contract promising that if the venture was successful he would not establish any new encomiendas in the area.

Las Casas’s strategy was to teach Christian songs to merchant Indian Christians who then ventured into the area.