Bartolome De Las Casas

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Fray Bartolomé de as Casas: Saviour of Slaves or Naïve Idealist? To what extent is Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas “the saviour of slaves” in Latin America? Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas is one of the most contested personalities in Latin American history. His work towards the freedom of indigenous peoples in Latin America from slavery is often considered heroic. Las Casas’ drive to have indigenous rights recognised significantly influence the emancipation of indigenous from slavery. However there are aspects to Las Casas’ approach that are less noble. Many scholars, historians and authors have been critical of Las Casas and his image as ‘the saviour of slaves.’ The focus of these criticism revolve around accusations that he did not understand…show more content… Education. 2015) Las Casas should be considered “the savior of slaves” only to a limited extent. Despite his intentions, Las Casas did not have an accurate understanding of the Indigenous people he sought to protect. He believed that the indigenous people were “...most devoid of rancors, hatreds, or desire for vengeance of any people in the world. And because they are so weak and complaisant, they are less able to endure heavy labor and soon die of no matter what malady.” (Casas, Knight. An Account, Much Abbreviated, Of The Destruction Of The Indies, With Related Texts. p. 4.) In saying this, he exemplifies his sympathetic approach to the native people. Las Casas view of the native peoples was that they were reasonable, even noble beings. To Las Casas, this also meant they were capable of conversion to Christianity. As such, it would be a sin against God to harm them. In1520, Las Casas was granted a hearing by King Charles V. (Orique, 'Bartolomé De Las Casas: A Brief Outline Of His Life And Labour'. Las Casas argued in favor of the emancipation of indigenous slaves against his pro-slavery opponents, convincing the Spanish monarch that the native peoples be governed without force. (Casas, et. al. The Devastation Of The Indies. p. 5.) After this, Las Casas made efforts to create peaceful settlements that governed the native…show more content…
With his mind set on assimilating the native population into the Spanish, Christian society led to conflicts and did not take into account the values of the indigenous peoples. In addition, Las Casas created an unrealistic image of the indigenous people. His use of this image of the “weak” and “complaisant” indigenous people did not reflect accurately the character of the native peoples, again demonstrating Las Casas lack of understanding. It is also clearly demonstrated that Las Casas is “the savior of slaves” only to a limited extent in his involvement and encouragement of African slavery in place of the enslavement of the native people. It is clear that Las Casas can only be “the savior of slaves” to a limited extent as he is limited only to being the savior of the indigenous slaves. His position against the use of indigenous peoples for labor contrasted with his initial encouragement of the use of African slave labor blatantly underpins this point. As mentioned, it is also plain that Las Casas was not the only actor working towards the abolition of slavery with many figures within the community advocating for the ban of slavery at this time. To claim without question that Fray Bartolomé de Las
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