Bartolome de Las Casas

“Bartolome de Las Casas: (1474-1566) Spanish-born Dominican missionary and historian. Las Casas came to Santo Domingo in 1502 and was the first priest ordained in the New World (1510). In 1514, Las Casas suddenly became aware of the injustice with which the Indians were being treated in America, and subsequently devoted himself entirely to promoting their welfare, usually with the support of the crown, but against the bitter opposition of the Spanish settlers. Brevisma relacion de la destruccion de las Indias (1522), his vivid, but probably exaggerated, account of the Indian sufferings, was instrumental in fostering the long-lived ‘black legend’ which denigrated the colonial policies of Spain in America. His major work, Historia general de las Indias (1875), is an important source for the early period of colonization in Latin America.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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