Bartolomé de Las Casas

Bartolomé de Las Casas

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Bartolomé de las Casas O.P.
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 (c. 1484 – 18 July 1566) was a 16th-century Spanish
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 historian, social reformer and Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

. He became the first resident Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 of Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians
Protector of the Indians
Protector of Indians 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.-Origins:...

". His extensive writings, the most famous being "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies is an account written by the Spanish Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas in 1542 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...

" and "Historia de Las Indias", chronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies, focusing particularly on the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the Indigenous peoples.

Arriving as one of the first settlers in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 he participated in, and was eventually compelled to oppose, the atrocities committed against the Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 by the Spanish colonists. In 1515 he changed his ways and gave up his own Indian slaves and encomienda, instead advocating before King Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 on behalf of rights for the natives. In 1522 he attempted to launch a new kind of peaceful colonialism on the coast of Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, but this venture failed causing Las Casas to enter the Dominican Order
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 and become a monk, leaving the public scene for a decade. He then traveled to Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 undertaking peaceful evangelization among the Maya of Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 and participated in debates among the Mexican 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 passing of the New Laws
New Laws
The New Laws, in Spanish Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles V of Spain regarding the Spanish colonization of the Americas, are also known as the "New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians", and were created to prevent the exploitation of the...

 in 1542. He was appointed Bishop of Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, 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 due to his pro-Indian policies and activist religious stances. The rest of his life he stayed at the Spanish court holding great influence over issues relating to the Indies. In 1550 he participated in the Valladolid debate
Valladolid debate
The Valladolid debate concerned the treatment of natives of the New World. Held in the Colegio de San Gregorio, in the Spanish city of Valladolid, it opposed two main attitudes towards the conquests of the Americas...

, where he argued that the Indians were fully human and that forcefully subjugating them was unjustifiable, against Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda was a Spanish humanist, philosopher and theologian. In 1533 and 1534 he wrote to Desiderius Erasmus from Rome concerning differences between Erasmus's Greek New Testament , and the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209...

, who argued that they were less than human and required Spanish masters in order to acquire civilization.

Bartolomé de las Casas spent 50 years of his life actively fighting slavery and the violent colonial abuse of indigenous peoples, especially by trying to convince the Spanish court to adopt a more humane policy of colonization. And although he failed to save the indigenous peoples of the Western Indies, his efforts resulted in several improvements in the legal status of the natives, and in an increased colonial focus on the ethics of colonialism. Las Casas is often seen as one of the first advocates for universal Human Rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

.

Background and arrival in the New World


Bartolomé was born in Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 in the year 1484, probably on 16 November. Centuries of tradition had earlier placed Las Casas' birthdate in the year 1474. However, in the 1970s scholars conducting archival work demonstrated this to be an error, after uncovering in the Archivo General de Indias
Archivo General de Indias
The Archivo General de Indias , housed in Seville, Spain, in the ancient merchants' exchange, the Casa Lonja de Mercaderes, is the document repository of extremely valuable archival documents illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines...

 records of a contemporary lawsuit that demonstrated he was born a decade later than had been supposed. Subsequent biographers and authors have generally accepted and reflected this revision. His father Pedro de las Casas was a merchant and the family descended from one of the families that had migrated from France to found the town of Seville, his family also spelled the name Casaus. According to one biographer his family were of converso
Converso
A converso and its feminine form conversa was a Jew or Muslim—or a descendant of Jews or Muslims—who converted to Catholicism in Spain or Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. Mass conversions once took place under significant government pressure...

 heritage, although others refer to them as ancient Christians who migrated from France. Following the testimony of Las Casas' biographer Antonio de Remesal tradition has it that Las Casas studied a licentiate at Salamanca
Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

, but this is never mentioned in Las Casas' own writings. As a teenager in 1507 he journeyed to Rome where he observed the Festval of Flutes.

With his father, Las Casas emigrated to the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

 in 1502 on the expedition of Nicolás de Ovando
Nicolás de Ovando
Fray Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres was a Spanish soldier from a noble family and a Knight of the Order of Alcántara. He was Governor of the Indies from 1502 until 1509...

. Las Casas became an agricultor and slave owner, receiving a piece of land in the province of Cibao
Cibao
Cibao, usually referred as "El Cibao", is a region of the Dominican Republic located at the northern part of the country.The Taíno word Cibao, meaning "place where rocks abound", was originally applied to the central mountain range, and used during the Spanish conquest to refer to the rich and...

. He participated in slave raids and military expeditions against the native Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 population of Hispaniola. In 1510 he was ordained a priest, the first one to be ordained in the Americas.

In September 1510 a group of Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 friars arrived in Santo Domingo led by Pedro de Córdoba
Pedro de Cordoba
Pedro de Cordoba , was an American actor.Pedro de Cordoba, who appeared in his first film, a 1915 version of Carmen, was actually a classically trained theatre actor who confessed he did not enjoy appearing in silent films nearly as much as he liked working on stage...

, they were appalled by the injustices they saw committed by the slaveowners against the Indians, and they decided to deny slaveowners the right to confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

. Las Casas was himself denied confession for this reason. In December 1511, a Dominican preacher Father 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." Las Casas himself argued against the Dominicans in favour of the justice of the encomienda, and the colonists dispatched a complaint against the Dominicans to the King and they were recalled from Hispaniola.

Conquest of Cuba and change of heart



In 1513, as a chaplain, Las Casas participated in Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain.-Early life:...

s and Panfilo de Narvaez
Pánfilo de Narváez
Pánfilo de Narváez was a Spanish conqueror and soldier in the Americas. He is most remembered as the leader of two expeditions, one to Mexico in 1520 to oppose Hernán Cortés, and the disastrous Narváez expedition to Florida in 1527....

' conquest of Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. He participated in campaigns in Bayamo
Bayamo
Bayamo is the capital city of the Granma Province of Cuba, and one of the largest cities in the Oriente region.The community of Bayamo lies on a plain by the Bayamon River...

 and Camagüey
Camagüey
Camagüey is a city and municipality in central Cuba and is the nation's third largest city. It is the capital of the Camagüey Province.After almost continuous attacks from pirates the original city was moved inland in 1528.The new city was built with a confusing lay-out of winding alleys that made...

 and in the massacre of Hatuey
Hatuey
Hatuey was a Taíno Cacique from the island of Hispaniola who lived in the early sixteenth century. He has attained legendary status for leading a group of natives in a fight against the invading Spaniards, and thus becoming the second fighter against colonialism in the New World after Anacaona...

. 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." 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
Cienfuegos
Cienfuegos is a city on the southern coast of Cuba, capital of Cienfuegos Province. It is located about from Havana, and has a population of 150,000. The city is dubbed La Perla del Sur...

. For the next years he divided his time between being a colonist himself, and his duties as an ordained priest.

In 1514 Las Casas was studying a passage in the book of the Roman Catholic bible, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 34:18-22"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 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 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 against the enslavement and abuse of the native peoples. Aided by Pedro de Córdoba and accompanied by Antonio de Montesinos, he left for Spain in September 1515 arriving in Seville in November.

Las Casas and King Ferdinand



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. In the winter of 1515 King Ferdinand
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 lay ill in Plasencia
Plasencia
Plasencia is a walled market city in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura, Western Spain. , it had a population of 41,447.Situated on the bank of the Jerte River, Plasencia has a historic quarter that is a consequence of the city's strategic location along the Silver Route, or Ruta de la Plata...

, but Las Casas was able to get a letter of introduction to the Majesty from the Archbishop of Seville, Diego de Deza. On Christmas Eve 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
Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca
Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca was a Spanish bishop, a courtier and bureaucrat whose position as chaplain to Queen Isabella enabled him to become a powerful counsellor to Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs...

 and secretary Lope Conchillos
Lope Conchillos y Quintana
Lope Conchillos y Quintana 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 encomienda in Arasibo in Puerto Rico...

, who were functionaries in complete charge of the Royal policies regarding the Indies, they were both 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. Regency of the Castile passed on to Ximenez Cisneros and Adrian of Utrecht
Pope Adrian VI
Pope Adrian VI , born Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens, served as Pope from 9 January 1522 until his death some 18 months later...

 who were guardians for the underage Prince Charles
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

. 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. In this early work, Las Casas advocated importing Black slaves from Africa to relieve the suffering Indians, a stance he later retracted, becoming also an advocate for the Africans in the colonies. Las Casas' retraction of his views on African slavery is expressed particularly in chapters 102 and 129, Book III of his Historia. This shows that Las Casas first concern was not to end slavery necessarily, but to end the physical abuse and suffering of the Indians. Worried by the visions that Las Casas had drawn up of the situation in the Indies, Cardenal Cisneros decided to send a group of Hieronymite friars to take over the government of the islands.

Protector of the Indians


Three Hieronymite Friars, Luís de Figueroa, Bernardino de Manzanedo and Alonso de Santo Domingo, were selected to 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' memorial. Las Casas himself was granted the official title of Protector of the Indians
Protector of the Indians
Protector of Indians 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.-Origins:...

, 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 regards 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 take on a more pragmatic view of the situation than the one advocated by Las Casas, their position was precarious as every encomendero on the Islands were 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
Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca
Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca was a Spanish bishop, a courtier and bureaucrat whose position as chaplain to Queen Isabella enabled him to become a powerful counsellor to Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs...

. They also performed an inquiry into the Indian question where 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 confession to Slave owners, and even stated that priests who took their confession were committing a mortal sin. In May 1517, Las Casas saw himself forced to travel back to Spain to denounce the failure of the Hieronymite reforms to the regent. Only after Las Casas had left did the Hieronymites begin to congregate Indians into towns similar to what Las Casas had wanted.

Las Casas and King Charles V: The peasant colonization scheme



When he arrived in Spain his former protector, regent and Cardinal Ximenez Cisneros was ill, and had tired of Las Casas tenacity - Las Casas resolved to meet instead with the young King Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

. Ximenez died on November 8 and the young King arrived in Valladolid on November 25 of 1517. Las Casas managed to secure the support of the King's Flemish courtiers including the powerful Chancellor Jean de la Sauvage. Las Casas influence turned the favor of the court against Secretary Conchillos and Bishop Fonseca, whereas 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 was abolished, Indians were 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 colonisation, 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 colonisation 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 and cash advances and the tools and resources they needed to establish themselves there. The recruitment drive was difficult and during it the power relation shifted at court when Chancellor Sauvage unexpectedly died. In the end a much smaller number of peasant families were sent with insufficient provisions and no support secured for their arrival: those who survived the journey were ill received and had to work hard to even 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 instead to win a land grant on the American mainland which was in its earliest stage of colonisation.

The Cumaná venture



Following a suggestion by his friend and mentor Pedro de Córdoba
Pedro de Cordoba
Pedro de Cordoba , was an American actor.Pedro de Cordoba, who appeared in his first film, a 1915 version of Carmen, was actually a classically trained theatre actor who confessed he did not enjoy appearing in silent films nearly as much as he liked working on stage...

, Las Casas petitioned a land grant to be allowed to establish a settlement in northern Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 at Cumaná
Cumaná
Cumaná is the capital of Venezuela's Sucre State. It is located 402 km east of Caracas. It was the first settlement founded by Europeans in the mainland America, in 1501 by Franciscan friars, but due to successful attacks by the indigenous people, it had to be refounded several times...

. Founded in 1515 there were already a small Franciscan monastery in Cumaná and a Dominican one at Chiribichi, but the monks there were being harassed by Spaniards operating slave raids from the nearby Island of Cubagua
Cubagua
Cubagua or Isla de Cubagua is the smallest and least populated of the three islands constituting the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta, after Isla Margarita and Coche. It is located 16 km north of Araya Peninsula, the closest mainland area....

. In order to make the proposal palatable to the King, Las Casas had to incorporate the prospect of profits for the royal treasury. He suggested fortifying the northern coast of Venezuela, establishing ten royal forts to protect the Indians and start up a system of trade in gold and pearls. All the Indian slaves of the Indies should be brought to live in these towns and become tributa 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 supports Gonzalo de Oviedo, and Bishop Quevedo of Tierra Firme. Las Casas' supports were Diego Columbus and the new chancellor Gattinara. Las Casas enemies slandered him to the King, accusing him of planning to escape with the money to Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 or Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. In 1520 Las Casas' 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 produce 15,000 ducats of annual revenue, increasing to 60,000 after ten years, and to erect three Christian towns of at least 40 settlers. Some privileges were also granted to the initial 50 shareholders in Las Casas scheme, and the King also promised not to give any encomienda grants in Las Casas' area. Thay said, finding fifty men willing to invest 200 ducats each and three years of unpaid work proved impossible for Las Casas. In the end, 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.

Arriving in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 in January 1521 he received the terrible news that the Dominican convent at Chiribichi had been sacked by Indians and 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 peacefully colonize. The Indians had been provoked to attack the monks by 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 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 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' men. He returned to Hispaniola on January 1522, and heard the news of the massacre, the rumours even included him among the dead. To make matters worse, his detractors used this as an example of the need to pacify the Indians using military means. This tragic outcome of Las Casas great mainland adventure made Las Casas turn life in a new direction.

A Dominican friar



Devastated, Las Casas reacted by entering the Dominican monastery of Santa Cruz in Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

 as a novice in 1522 and finally taking holy vows as a Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

 in 1523. There he continued his theological studies, being particularly attracted to Thomist
Thomism
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, his commentaries on Aristotle are his most lasting contribution...

 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
Prior
Prior is an ecclesiastical title, derived from the Latin adjective for 'earlier, first', with several notable uses.-Monastic superiors:A Prior is a monastic superior, usually lower in rank than an Abbot. In the Rule of St...

 of the convent. In 1527 he began working on his History of the Indies in order to report many of the first hand experiences that he had witnessed in the conquest and colonization of New Spain. In 1531 he wrote a letter to Garcia Manrique
García Fernández Manrique, 3rd Count of Osorno
García Fernández Manrique y Toledo, 3rd Count of Osorno was a Spanish nobleman.He was the son of Don Pedro Fernández Manrique, 2nd Count de Osorno and of Teresa de Toledo, daughter of García Álvarez de Toledo, 1st Duke of Alba...

, 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 making of a peace treaty between the Spanish and the rebel Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 band of chief Enriquillo
Enriquillo
Enriquillo was a Taíno Cacique who rebelled against the Spaniards from 1519 to 1533. His father was killed while attending peace talks with the Spanish, along with eighty other regional chieftains under the direction of his aunt Anacaona in Jaragua. During the talks, Spanish soldiers set the...

. In 1534 Las Casas made an attempt to travel to Peru to observe the first stages of conquest of that region
Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire
The Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire was one of the most important campaigns in the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This historic process of military conquest was made by Spanish conquistadores and their native allies....

 by Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

, his party made it as far as Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, but had to turn back to Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 due to adverse weather circumstances. Lingering for a while in the Dominican convent of Granada
Granada, Nicaragua
Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 110,326 , it is Nicaragua's fourth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically...

, he got into conflict with Rodrigo de Contreras, Governor of Nicaragua, when Las Casas vehemently opposed slaving expeditions by the Governor. In 1536 Las Casas followed a number of friars to Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, 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 de Betanzos and studied the K'iche' language
K'iche' language
The K’iche’ language is a part of the Mayan language family. It is spoken by many K'iche' people in the central highlands of Guatemala. With close to a million speakers , it is the second-most widely spoken language in the country after Spanish...

 with Bishop Francisco Marroquín
Francisco Marroquín
Francisco Marroquín was an early bishop of Guatemala and translator of Central American languages.Marroquín was born in Santander, Spain. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Huesca...

, before traveling into the interior in 1537.
Also in 1536, before venturing into Tuzulutlan, Las Casas went to Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca , , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Oaxaca is one of the 31 states which, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided into 571 municipalities; of which 418 are governed by the system of customs and traditions...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, 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 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. As a direct result of the debates between the Dominicans and Franciscans and spurred on by Las Casas' treatise, Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

 promulgated the Bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 "Sublimus Dei
Sublimus Dei
Sublimus Dei is a papal bull promulgated by Pope Paul III on June 2, 1537, which forbids the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and all other people...

," which stated that the Indians were rational beings and should be brought peacefully to the faith as such.

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 a 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
Alonso de Maldonado
Alonso de Maldonado was a Spanish lawyer and a member of the Second Audiencia of Mexico City, which governed New Spain from January 10, 1531 to April 16, 1535. He was also president of the First Audiencia of Guatemala, and in that capacity interim governor of Guatemala from 1536 to September 15, 1539...

, agreed to sign a contract promising that if the venture was successful he would not establish any new encomiendas in the area. Las Casas' group of friars established a Dominican presence in Rabinal
Rabinal
Rabinal is a small town located in the Guatemalan department of Baja Verapaz, at . It serves as the administrative seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. The municipality covers 504 km² and, in 2004, had a population of around 36,000...

, Sacapulas
Sacapulas
Sacapulas is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of El Quiché.In 2006, Sacapulas was connected by a new paved road to Aguacatán and to Nebaj. This road will give the entire area new access to markets and opportunities for economic development....

 and Cobán
Cobán
The city of Cobán is the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala. It also serves as the administrative center for the surrounding Cobán municipality. It is located 219 km from Guatemala City....

. By teaching Christian songs to merchant Indian Christians who then ventured into the area, he was successful in converting several native chiefs, among them those of Atitlán
Atitlán
Atitlán may refer to:* Lago de Atitlán, lake in Guatemala* Volcán Atitlán, volcano in Guatemala...

 and Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango, also known as Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, is a town in the El Quiché department of Guatemala, known for its traditional K'iche' Maya culture. The Spanish conquistadors gave the town its name from the Nahuatl name used by their soldiers from Tlaxcala: Tzitzicaztenanco, or City...

, 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
Rabinal
Rabinal is a small town located in the Guatemalan department of Baja Verapaz, at . It serves as the administrative seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. The municipality covers 504 km² and, in 2004, had a population of around 36,000...

. In 1538 Las Casas was recalled from his mission by Bishop Marroquín who wanted him to go to Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and then on to Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in order to seek more Dominicans to assist in the mission. Las Casas left Guatemala for Mexico, where he stayed for more than a year before setting out for Spain in 1540.

The New Laws



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
School of Salamanca
The School of Salamanca is the renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish and Portuguese theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria...

 of Salamanca
Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

, led by Francisco de Vitoria
Francisco de Vitoria
Francisco de Vitoria, OP was a Spanish Renaissance Roman Catholic philosopher, theologian and jurist, founder of the tradition in philosophy known as the School of Salamanca, noted especially for his contributions to the theory of just war and international law...

 of the mass baptism practiced by the Franciscans, resulting in a dictum
Dictum
In United States legal terminology, a dictum is a statement of opinion or belief considered authoritative though not binding, because of the authority of the person making it....

 condemning the practice as sacrilegious.

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. The Encomienda had, in fact, been abolished in 1523, but they had also 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 pleade once again for the Indians with Charles V who was now Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

. 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 was best achieved by peaceful means.

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
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies is an account written by the Spanish Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas in 1542 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...

". Before a council consisting of Cardinal Garcia de Loaysa
García de Loaysa
Juan García de Loaysa y Mendoza was a Spanish Archbishop of Seville and Cardinal.-Biography:...

, the Count of Osorno, Bishop Fuenleal
Sebastián Ramírez de Fuenleal
Sebastián Ramírez de Fuenleal was bishop of Santo Domingo and president of the Audiencia of Santo Domingo 1528 to 1531. He was also president of the second Audiencia of New Spain...

 and several members of the Council of the Indies, Las Casas argued that the only solution to the problem were to remove all Indians from the care of secular Spaniards by abolishing the encomienda system and putting instead them directly under the Crown as royal tribute paying subjects. On November 20, 1542 the Emperor signed the New Laws
New Laws
The New Laws, in Spanish Leyes Nuevas, issued November 20, 1542 by King Charles V of Spain regarding the Spanish colonization of the Americas, are also known as the "New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians", and were created to prevent the exploitation of the...

 abolishing the encomiendas and removing certain officials from the Council of the Indies. 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
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 and Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 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' life. The Viceroy
Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

 of New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 decided not to implement the laws in his domain and instead send a party to Spain to argue against the laws on behalf of the encomenderos. 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 colonisation by peasants instead of soldiers.

Bishop of Chiapas



Before Las Casas returned to Spain he was also appointed as Bishop of Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, a newly established diocese
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 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 30th 1544, the ceremonied being officiated by two Bishops instead of by archbishop Loaysa
García de Loaysa
Juan García de Loaysa y Mendoza was a Spanish Archbishop of Seville and Cardinal.-Biography:...

 who strongly disliked Las Casas. As a Bishop Las Casas was involved in frequent conflicts with the encomenderos and secular of his diocese, among them the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Bernal Díaz del Castillo was a conquistador, who wrote an eyewitness account of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards for Hernán Cortés, himself serving as a rodelero under Cortés.-Early life:...

. In a Pastoral letter
Pastoral letter
A Pastoral letter, often called simply a pastoral, is an open letter addressed by a bishop to the clergy or laity of his diocese, or to both, containing either general admonition, instruction or consolation, or directions for behaviour in particular circumstances...

 issued on march 20th 1545 he refused absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

 to slave owners and encomenderos even on their death bed, unless all their slaves had been set free and their property restituted to them. Las Casas furthermore threatened that anyone who mistreated Indians within his jurisdiction would be ex-communicated. He also came into conflict with the Bishop of Guatemala Francisco Marroquín
Francisco Marroquín
Francisco Marroquín was an early bishop of Guatemala and translator of Central American languages.Marroquín was born in Santander, Spain. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Huesca...

, to whose jurisdiction the diocese had previously belonged. Bishop Marroquín openly defied the New Laws to Las Casas' dismay. The New Laws were repealed on October 20, 1545, and riots broke out against Las Casas. 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
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 on January 12, 1546, he left his diocese never to return. 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 Zumarraga and Bishop Garces of Puebla agreed completely with his new moderate stance, Bishop of Michoacán Vasco de Quiroga
Vasco de Quiroga
Vasco de Quiroga was the first bishop of Michoacán, Mexico and one of the judges in the second Audiencia that governed New Spain from January 10, 1531 to April 16, 1535....

 had minor reservations, and Bishops Marroquin of Guatemala and Zarate of Oaxaca
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Antequera, Oaxaca
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Antequera, Oaxaca is a Roman Catholic archdiocese based in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca. The cathedral church is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption....

 did not object. This resulted in a new resolution to be presented to viceroy Mendoza. 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.

The Valladolid Debates


Las Casas returned to Spain, leaving behind many conflicts and unresolved issues. Arriving in Spain he was received 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' strict rules. In 1548 the Crown decreed that all copies of Las Casas' confesionario be burnt, and his Franciscan adversary Motolinia, happily obliged, sending 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.

As a part of Las Casas' defense by offense he had to argue against Juan Gines de Sepulveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda was a Spanish humanist, philosopher and theologian. In 1533 and 1534 he wrote to Desiderius Erasmus from Rome concerning differences between Erasmus's Greek New Testament , and the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209...

 a doctor of theology and law, who in his book Democrates Alter, sive de justis causis apud Indios (Democrates Alter, or on the just causes of War against the Indians) had argued that the native people were naturally inferior and should be pacified forcefully, and were destined to perpetual servitude to Christian Europeans. 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.

In order to settle the issues a formal debate was organized, the famous Valladolid debate
Valladolid debate
The Valladolid debate concerned the treatment of natives of the New World. Held in the Colegio de San Gregorio, in the Spanish city of Valladolid, it opposed two main attitudes towards the conquests of the Americas...

, 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 reading his counterarguments in the form of an "Apología". Sepúlveda argued that the subjugation of the Indians was warranted because of their sins as pagans; that their low level of civilization requiring Civilized masters to maintain social order; that the fact that they required Christianity and that this in turn required them to be pacified; and the fact that only the Spanish could defend the weak Indians against the abuses of the stronger ones. 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 lacked 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.

Then the judge, Fray Domingo de Soto
Domingo de Soto
Domingo de Soto was a Dominican priest and Scholastic theologian born in Segovia, Spain, and died in Salamanca at the age of 66...

, summarised the arguments. Sepúlveda addressed Las Casas' 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. The verdict was inconclusive and both debaters claimed that they had won the debate.

In 1552, Las Casas published A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies is an account written by the Spanish Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas in 1542 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...

. This book, written a decade earlier and sent to the attention to then-prince Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

, contained accounts of the abuses committed by some Spaniards against Native Americans during the early stages of colonization. In 1555 the his old Franciscan adversary Toribio de Benavente "Motolinia" wrote a letter in which he described Las Casas as an ignorant, arrogant troublemaker, describing how once las Casas denied Baptism to an aging Indian who had walked many leagues to receive baptism from the Bishop, only on the grounds that he did not believe that the man had received sufficient instruction in the doctrine. This letter which reinvoked the old conflict over the requirements for the sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of baptism between the two orders, was intended to bring las Casas in disfavour. It did however, not succeed.

Later years and death



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
Colegio de San Gregorio
The Colegio de San Gregorio is a historical building in Valladolid, Spain, currently housing the National Museum of Sculpture. It is one of the best examples of architecture in the period of the Catholic Monarchs in Spain , and was founded as a Theology College for the Dominican order....

 where he lived with his assistant and friend Fray Rodrigo de Ladrada. 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 visited Spain to relate their cases to him, as did, for example, the Nahua noble Francisco Tenamaztle from Nochistlán
Nochistlan
Nochistlán is a town in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, on December 3, 1531, hired Juan de Oñate to establish a village in Nochistlán; the village would be named Guadalajara to honor Guzmán for having been born in Guadalajara....

. 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.

One matter in which he invested many efforts was the political situation of the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

. In Peru power struggles between Conquistadors and the viceroy became an open civil war in which the conquistadors led by Gonzalo Pizarro
Gonzalo Pizarro
Gonzalo Pizarro y Alonso was a Spanish conquistador and younger paternal half-brother of Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of the Inca Empire...

 rebelled against the New Laws and defeated and executed the viceroy Blasco Núñez Vela
Blasco Núñez Vela
Blasco Núñez Vela y Villalba was the first Spanish viceroy of Peru, from May 15, 1544 to January 18, 1546. He was charged by King Charles I with the enforcement of the controversial New Laws, which dealt with the failure of the encomienda system to protect the indigenous people of America from the...

 in 1546. The Emperor sent Pedro de la Gasca
Pedro de la Gasca
Pedro de la Gasca was a Spanish bishop, diplomat and the second viceroy of Peru, from April 10, 1547 to January 27, 1550....

 a friend of Las Casas to reinstate a legal rule, 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 making turning the encomiendas into perpetual patrimony of the encomenderos - the worst possible out come from Las Casas' 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 king that it would be a bad economic decision and 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' arguments, never took a final decision on the issue of the encomiendas.

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. It was in fact not published until 1875. He also had to keep defending himself against accusations of treason: Someone, possibly Sepúlveda, accused him to the Spanish Inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

, but nothing came from that case. Las Casas' also appeared as a witness in the case of the Inquisition against his friend Archbishop Bartolomé Carranza de Miranda
Bartolomé Carranza
Bartolomé Carranza , Spanish theologian and Archbishop of Toledo, sometimes called de Miranda or de Carranza y Miranda, who spent much of his later life imprisoned on charges of heresy....

, falsely accused of heresy. In 1565 he wrote his last will signing over his immense library to the college. Bartolome de Las Casas died on July 18, 1566 in Madrid.

Memorial de Remedios para las Indias


The text 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”

Las Casas first proposed remedy was a complete moratorium on the use of Indian labor in the Indies until such time that 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 of 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.

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 ca. 1000 Indians to be situated as satellites of Spanish towns or mining areas. Here, Las Casas argued, Indians can 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.” He even draws 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 shows that this arrangement can easily be kept and a profit still extracted by the continued extraction of gold.

A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies


A Short Account of the Destruction of the IndiesAlso translated and published in English as A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, among several other variants. is an account written in 1542 (published in 1552) about the mistreatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 in colonial times and sent to then Prince Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

.

One of the stated purposes for writing the account is Las Casas' fear of Spain coming under divine punishment and his concern for the souls of the native peoples. The account is 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
Greater Antilles
The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

, particularly the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

. Las Casas' point of view can be described as being heavily against some of the Spanish methods of colonization, which, as he describes, inflicted a great loss on the indigenous occupants of the islands. His account is largely responsible for the passage of the new Spanish colonial laws known as the New Laws of 1542, which abolished native slavery for the first time in European colonial history and led to the Valladolid debate
Valladolid debate
The Valladolid debate concerned the treatment of natives of the New World. Held in the Colegio de San Gregorio, in the Spanish city of Valladolid, it opposed two main attitudes towards the conquests of the Americas...

.

The book became an important piece in the creation and propagation of the so-called Black Legend
Black Legend
The Black Legend refers to a style of historical writing that demonizes Spain and in particular the Spanish Empire in a politically motivated attempt to morally disqualify Spain and its people, and to incite animosity against Spanish rule...

 -- the tradition of describing the Spanish empire as exceptionally morally corrupt and violent. The book was published 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' death appeared in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

 during the Catalan revolt
Catalan Revolt
The Catalan Revolt affected a large part of the Catalan Principality of Catalonia between the years of 1640 and 1659. It had an enduring effect in the Treaty of the Pyrenees , which ceded the county of Roussillon and the northern half of the county of Cerdanya to France , thereby splitting the...

 of 1646. The book was banned by the Aragonese inquisition
Spanish Inquisition
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition , commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition , was a tribunal established in 1480 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. It was intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms, and to replace the Medieval...

 in 1659.

The images described by Las Casas were later depicted by Theodore de Bry in copper plate engravings that helped expand the Black Legend
Black Legend
The Black Legend refers to a style of historical writing that demonizes Spain and in particular the Spanish Empire in a politically motivated attempt to morally disqualify Spain and its people, and to incite animosity against Spanish rule...

 against Spain.

Apologetic History of the Indies


The Apologetic Summary History of the People of These Indies (Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 Apologética historia summaria de las gentes destas Indias) was first written as the sixty-eighth 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
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

 accounts of the indigenous cultures of the Indies - the Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

, the Ciboney
Ciboney
The Ciboney were pre-Columbian indigenous inhabitants of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. The name Ciboney derives from the indigenous Taíno people which means Cave Dwellers; evidence has shown that a number of the Ciboney people have lived in caves at some time. Over the years, many...

, 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 civilization—and more civilized than some other European high civilizations. It is in essence a comparative ethnography comparing practices and customs of European and American cultures and evaluating them according to whether they are good or bad, seen from a Christian viewpoint. He writes, "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." This work in which Las Casas combines his own ethnographic observations with those of other writers, and compares customs and cultures between different peoples, has been characterized as an early beginning of the discipline of Anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

.

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
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 in 1492 to 1520, and most of it is an eye-witness account. It was also in the History of the Indies that Bartolomé de 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)"

Las Casas in Posteriority


Las Casas' legacy has been highly controversial. In the years following his death his ideas became a taboo in the Spanish realm, and he was seen as a nearly heretical extremist; the accounts written by his enemies Lopez de Gómara
Francisco López de Gómara
Francisco López de Gómara was a Spanish historian who worked in Seville, particularly noted for his works in which he described the early 16th century expedition undertaken by Hernán Cortés in the Spanish conquest of the New World...

, and Oviedo were widely read and published. As the British empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 rose to power and hostilities between the British and Spanish began, the British used Las Casas' accounts of Spanish cruelty as a political tool making it part of the foundation of what Spanish nationalists have called the Black Legend
Black Legend
The Black Legend refers to a style of historical writing that demonizes Spain and in particular the Spanish Empire in a politically motivated attempt to morally disqualify Spain and its people, and to incite animosity against Spanish rule...

, the tendency of Historians to slander Spain for its imperial past, while looking mildly at the same undertakings by other such as the British.

Anti-Lascasian history writing had its climax in the history writing of Spanish right-wing, nationalist historians in the late 19th and early 20th century constructing a pro-Spanish White Legend, arguing that the Spanish empire was benevolent and just, and denying any adverse consequences of Spanish colonialism. Spanish pro-imperial historians such as Menéndez y Pelayo
Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo
Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo was a Spanish scholar, historian and literary critic. Even though his main interest was the History of ideas, and Hispanic philology in general, he also cultivated poetry, translation and philosophy.He was born at Santander where he showed that he was an infant prodigy...

 Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal
Ramón Menéndez Pidal was a Spanish philologist and historian. He worked extensively on the history of the Spanish language and Spanish folklore and folk poetry. One of his main topics was the history and legend of The Cid....

 and J. Pérez de Barrada have painted a picture of Las Casas as a madman, describing him as a "paranoic
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

" and a monomania
Monomania
In 19th century psychiatry, monomania is a single pathological preoccupation in an otherwise sound mind. Emotional monomania is that in which the patient is obsessed with only one emotion or several related to it; intellectual monomania is that which is related to only one kind of delirious idea...

c given to exaggeration, and as a traitor towards his own nation. Menéndez-Pelayo also accused las Casas of having been instrumental in suppressing the publication of Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda was a Spanish humanist, philosopher and theologian. In 1533 and 1534 he wrote to Desiderius Erasmus from Rome concerning differences between Erasmus's Greek New Testament , and the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209...

's "Democrates Alter" out of spite, but other historians find this unlikely since it was rejected by both the Theologians of Alcalá
Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares , meaning Citadel on the river Henares, is a Spanish city, whose historical centre is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, and one of the first bishoprics founded in Spain...

 and Salamanca
Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

 who were unlikely to be influenced by las Casas.

Critiques


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 Las Casas were too high making 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 Cook
Sherburne F. Cook
Sherburne Friend Cook was a physiologist by training, and served as professor and chairman of the department of physiology at the University of California, Berkeley...

 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 European arrival. 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 of numbers.

It has also been suggested that the atrocities that las Casas describes were exaggerated or even invented, but this is not generally considered likely as Las Casas was far from the only person who was intensely worried about abuse and mistreatment of the Indians - the Dominican Friars Antonio de Montesinos and Pedro de Córdoba
Pedro de Cordoba
Pedro de Cordoba , was an American actor.Pedro de Cordoba, who appeared in his first film, a 1915 version of Carmen, was actually a classically trained theatre actor who confessed he did not enjoy appearing in silent films nearly as much as he liked working on stage...

 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 are were reported in full by those who perpetrated them. Even some of Las Casas 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 precise figures given by Las Casas, but maintain that the general picture he presents of an intensely violent and abusive conquest was not unrealistic.

One persistent point of criticism has been Las Casas' repeated suggestions of replacing Indian with African slave labor. Even though he regretted this position towards the end of his life and included an apology in his History of the Indies, some later criticism has even held him responsible for the institution of the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

. For example the abolitionist David Walker
David Walker (abolitionist)
David Walker was an outspoken African American activist who demanded the immediate end of slavery in the new nation...

 was fiercely critical of Las Casas, calling him a "wretch...stimulated by sordid avarice only" holding him responsible for the enslavement of thousands of Africans. Other historians,such as John Fiske writing in 1900, have denied that Las Casas' suggestions had any actual effect on the development of the slave trade. Modern historians generally do not consider Las Casas to have had any effect on the Slave trade which was already well in place before he began writing.

Revisionist histories of the late 20th century have argued in favor of a more nuanced image of Las Casas, suggesting that he was neither a saint or a fanatic, but a person with a spectacular willpower and sense of justice, which sometimes led him into the sins of arrogance, stubbornness and hypocrisy. Some historians such as Castro (2007), 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 spiritualities with Christianity, he was in effect undertaking a spiritual colonialism that was in a way more intrusive than the physical one. This critique has been rejected by other historians as facile and anachronistic.

Cultural legacy



In 1848 the capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas
Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, Ciudad de San Cristobal was renamed San Cristóbal de Las Casas
San Cristóbal de las Casas
San Cristóbal de las Casas also known as it's native Tsotsil name, Jovel is a city and municipality located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas...

, in honor of its first bishop. In 2000, the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 began the process for his beatification
Beatification
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name . Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process...

. His work is a particular inspiration behind the work of the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He is also often referenced as a predecessor of the Liberation Theology
Liberation theology
Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions...

. He is commemorated by the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 in the Calendar of Saints
Calendar of saints (Church of England)
The Church of England commemorates many of the same saints as those in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, mostly on the same days, but also commemorates various notable Christians who have not been canonised by Rome, with a particular though not exclusive emphasis on those of English origin...

 on July 20.

Bartolomé de Las Casas has also come to be seen as an early advocate for a concept of Universal Human Rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

.Glendon 2003 writes: "When Latin American nations gained independence in the nineteenth 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 sixteenth-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.”" He was among the first to develop a view of unity among human kind stating that "All people of the world are humans", and that they had a natural right to liberty - a combination of Thomist
Thomism
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, his commentaries on Aristotle are his most lasting contribution...

 rights philosophy with Augustinian
St. Augustine
-People:* Augustine of Hippo or Augustine of Hippo , father of the Latin church* Augustine of Canterbury , first Archbishop of Canterbury* Augustine Webster, an English Catholic martyr.-Places:*St. Augustine, Florida, United States...

 political theology. In this capacity a Ecumenical Human Rights institute located in San Cristobal de las Casas
San Cristóbal de las Casas
San Cristóbal de las Casas also known as it's native Tsotsil name, Jovel is a city and municipality located in the Central Highlands region of the Mexican state of Chiapas...

, the Centro Fray Bartolomé de las Casas de Derechos Humanos, has been named after him.

External links