BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS: "FATHER OF THE INDIANS" By Marcel Brion
Annotation: A biography of Las Casas, but the emphasis is on the arguments he used to persuade the Spanish crown to alleviate the suffering of the Indians. Repetitive, but a worthwhile book.
(I do not have this book in my library)
Some notes from Bob Corbett while reading this work
- De las Casas b. 1473
- P. 51. las Casas' father sailed with Columbus in 1492. Bartolome most likely did not sail on the 2nd voyage. Most likely on the third voyage of May, 1498. He was 25 years old.
- P. 54 1509 Pedro de Cordoba, Dominican, founded a monastery at Santo Domingo. Las Casas heard a sermon by Montesinos. He was changed. Freed his slaves. Ordained in 1510 in Cuba.
- In 1511 seeing the near genocide of Amerindians las Casas called for the importation of African slaves to do the heavier work, on the grounds they were more capable.
- P. 58. He didn't introduce slavery to the New World. Negro slaves came earlier. Various authors give earlier dates:
- in 1498 (Herrera)
- in 1503 (Charlevoix)
- in 1508 (Hargrave)
- in 1510 King Ferdinand himself send 50 blacks.
- In 1516 Charles V took over. Las Casas had to deal with a new monarch.
- May 19, 1520 he got Charles' permission to try his peaceful co-settlement plan in Venezuela. Upon his arrival his lands were embroiled in a reprisal against an Indian uprising. By the time he appealed the military had violated his lands. He returned June, 1521 but most of his Spanish laborers had left his employment or quit the project.
- When he once again returned to Santo Domingo to plead protection from nearly Spanish, his village was attacked by Indians and all were killed.
- P. 100 In 1523 he became a Dominican. He went to Nicaragua and Guatemala preaching to the Indians.
- 1537 Las Casas won a royal inspection visit.
- The central issue of his life was pacification by violence (the standard move) vs. his preference of pacification by conversion.
- P. 134. At age 70 he was made the bishop of Chiapa. His writings did much to cause the king to put severe restrictions on abuses against the Indians.
- His activism called him to be recalled to Spain for questioning concerning his loyal to Spain.
- P. 143. His defense was in "Thirty propositions at law on the rights the Church and Christian princes have or may have over infidels, to whatever nation they may belong." The theme of the book is summarized in the introduction: "I affirm that all that has been done in the Indies by the Spaniards is without any legal standing;" as done without royal authority and opposed to natural justice.
- 1550 a debate before the king between las Casas and Juan Gines de Sepuloeda--historian.
- Las Casas never questioned the task of conversion of the Indians. The issue was the use of violence and cruelty.
- P. 168.
"Sepulveda and his partisans maintained that one should tear the infidels by force away from their idols, and that if they opposed them, it was legal to punish them with death and confiscation of their goods."
las Casas won the debate. He had nearly always won with Charles and the other monarchs. But--putting law into practice was another thing.
- He died in 1566 in his 93rd year.