Christian Based Justifications For New World Conquests

1480 Words6 Pages

Christian-Based Justifications for New World Conquests
In A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, Bishop Bartholomew de las Casas questions the supposedly Christian based motivations of the Spaniards when conquering the indigenous tribes in the New World. In The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery, Columbus posits that conquering the land was a duty and right as Spaniards, barely regarding capture and torture of the native peoples in his overtaking of land and gold. In Democrates Alter, Or, on the Just Causes for War Against the Indians, Sepulveda argues the violence committed by the Spaniards as necessary to carry out a Christian duty. All texts are based in the New World of Latin America. All authors …show more content…

I will also use the term “New World” to reference the places that the Spaniards travelled to. Though in a similar setting with the same religion, each text maintains a different view on the matters of Spanish conquests, which makes for an interesting discussion when comparing similarities all three. Despite a difference of opinion of how to convert, these three texts A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery, and Democrates Alter, Or, on the Just Causes for War Against the Indians similarly posit justification for violent acts and conversion of the indigenous peoples based on religious beliefs. To defend my argument, I will first explain the similar aspects between the three texts regarding the acknowledgement of the cruel actions against the natives to gain more knowledge of the land and its people. I will then discuss the similar opinion of each author that argues a Christian duty to convert the natives after having gained information about the New World. After explaining each author’s interpretation of the events and Christian practices, I will outline the contrasting religious-based justifications for events …show more content…

De las Casas claims that Christians should not commit violent acts to force their faith on others, arguing that non-believers should come to the Christian faith justly and for the sole purpose of knowing the Christian God. Columbus, though, clearly uses Christianity as a device to re-shape the natives into relatable and usable people for the Spanish kingdom. “They took even pieces of broken barrel-hoops, and gave whatever they had, like senseless brutes; insomuch that it seemed to me bad. I forbade it, and I gave gratuitously a thousand useful things that I carried, in order that they may conceive affection, and furthermore may become Christians” (Columbus, 1493). Columbus means to give them tools to be learned to produce efficient and submissive slaves. Columbus uses conversion as an instrument to enact his priority of taking slaves and conquering the land. Alternatively, Sepulveda argues that no one can truly know exactly what the Christian God desires for His people and consequently cannot know which actions are truly righteous in nature despite the Christian Bible’s teachings. “Those words from the bible are not laws in the obligatory sense of the word, but rather advice and exhortation which do not belong so much to

Open Document