Historia de las Indias

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Author: las Casas, Bartolome de (1484-1566)

Year: 1951

Publisher: Fondo de Cultura Economica

Place: Mexico City


3 volumes: lxxxviii+517pp with frontispiece; 611pp; 525pp. Octavo (8 3/4" x 5 3/4") issued in brown cloth with gilt lettering to spine. Edited by Agustin Millares Carlo and preliminary study by Lewis Hanke. First published in 1875. 1st edition of Cronistas de Indias Series.

Bartoleme de las Casas, a Spanish colonist, a priest, founder of a Utopian community and first Bishop of Chiapas, was a scholar, historian and 16th century human rights advocate. Las Casas has been called the Father of anti-imperialism and anti-racism. Others take a more guarded or modest view of his achievements. What there is little or no dispute about is that Las Casas was an early and energetic advocate and activist for the rights of native peoples.Las Casas came to the Indies early, he knew Columbus and was the editor of the Admiral's journal. He knew conditions in the Americas first hand. As the reading in our packet indicates, he was present during Spanish genocidal attacks on the native population of Cuba.After coming to the realization that the Spanish treatment of the native population was unconscionable, Las Casas became a Dominican priest, and began travelling back and forth accross the Atlantic. He was in part responsible for the repeal of the laws which allowed the Indians to be used in what amounted to slave labor gangs. This was the econmienda system. Government officials were willing to go along with this attempt to end the system for they feared that a new class of feudal lords would arise in the colonies. The Spanish colonists were outraged at this interference. Las Casas attempted to set up a colony on the coast of Venezuala where the native people would be treated properly. It failed largely because of the bad example set by the colony's neighbors.Because of preassures from the colonists, the encomienda system was restored. Las Casas returned to Spain and was eventually able to bring about the great debate of 1550 in the Spanish capital of Valladolid between Las Casas and the advocate for the colonists Juan Gines de Sepulveda. The excerpt in our packet is from Las Casas' account of the debate.The advocates of the encomienda system eventually triumphed. When the government realized that it might lose Peru to colonists revolting over this issue, it gave in. Still, Las Casas is a shining example of resistance to the ill treatment of native peoples. His works were translated accross Europe. He likely influenced the French essayist Montaigne's views about the new world.


Corners bumped. Jacket of volume one lacking top half of spine, soiled, edge wear with chips and tears. Very good in a good to very good jacket.

SOLD 2010

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