Bartolome De Las Casas Destruction Of The Indies Summary

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This piece is written by Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish Dominican friar who witnessed atrocities by the Spanish colonists on the Native Americans, mainly in Cuba and Santo Domingo. It is an extract from his work ‘A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies’ – written in 1542 and published in 1552. The extract details how, in las Casas’ opinion, the way the Spanish colonists treated the native Indians, particularly in Cuba, was not acceptable and he was using his first-hand experience of these atrocities to appeal to King Charles V to stop the atrocities towards the natives of the recently discovered New World. When las Casas first moved to the New World as a young adult, he was actually a slave owner but quickly changed to his later …show more content…

He then made it his ambition to end these so called atrocities. Considering that merely months after las Casas had completed this work, King Charles V introduced the ‘New Laws’ which aimed at improving the treatment of the Indians of the New World by trying to prevent their exploitation by the colonists. If not for the work of las Cases, I would argue that not only would the New Laws not be introduced but in fact Charles V and the people of Spain and the rest of Europe may have not even known of the treatment of the indigenous population of the New World. It had not been all that long ago that the ‘brave,’ ‘chivalrous’ and ‘heroic’ Christians had defeated the ‘oppressive’ and ‘sinful’ Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula. Las Casas, despite being a Christian friar himself seems to be emphasising the fact that the atrocities in the New World are being performed by the Christian Spaniards. Whether he is doing this to openly criticise Christianity or simply just to appeal to Charles V, the divinely appointed ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, to show him what atrocities his subjects are carrying out in the name of his religion. In my opinion, despite the fact he was obviously appealing to his Liege regarding the safeguarding of the rights of the natives, I feel that las Casas was not so subtly criticising the morals of Christianity as a whole. The reason for this is that las Casas keeps alternating in the use of ‘Spanish’ and

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