Las Casas Sepulveda Montaignes Essays

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In defense of the Indians by Las Casas and On the Cannibals by Montaigne

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Acceptance and understanding are major factors that must be met in order for people to come together. In many circumstances, it is up to the minority whom are joining the majority to adopt and change its customs and practices in order to assimilate into the majority. However, there are some circumstances in which the minority somehow becomes able to overpower majority and take control. This is the situation which occurred between the Natives and the Europeans during the 1513 conquest. The Spanish Conquest of Central and South America and the voyage to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought the Spanish crown a great amount of wealth. The native inhabitants which resided in the Americas prior to the discovery, saw what was…show more content…

In 1514 he renounced his property and began to preach about the brutal treatment towards the native people in the Spanish colonies (PBS, 2010). Therefore de La Casas treatise is more reliable on the situation that occurred in the Americas because he was able to witness this first-hand. So indeed the facts and arguments that Las Casas makes within In Defense of the Indians are all true because he witnessed everything first-hand. Although there may be a discrepancy regarding the number of Native deaths due to diseases versus those caused by the Europeans, his treatises is full of true statements. Seigneur De Montaigne was known as a great renaissance thinker who was born into a wealthy merchant family (Edelman). He spent his younger years being raised by servants who only spoke Latin to him. He attended the college de Guienne , a highly reputable school (Edelman). In 1554, Montagine became councilor in the Bordeaux parliament (Edelman). In 1571 Montaigne retired to a life of study and contemplation (Edelman). In all his writings he tries to first search for the truth by reflecting on his readings, his travels as well as his experiences, both public and private. Unlike Las Casas treatises, Montaigne essay was not based off of first hand experiences but rather of other sources which he read about prior to writing his essay. For the most part his essay is

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General overviews on Las Casas trace his role as historical actor in the struggle for colonial reforms and Amerindian rights during his era. Essays in the classic collection Bartolomé de las Casas in History (Friede and Keen 1971) place Las Casas in history and shed light on the meaning of his writings in a politically convoluted Spanish imperial-colonial, yet intellectually fertile, world. En el quinto centenario de Bartolomé de las Casas (Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana 1986) is another key volume that, at the moment of its publication, advanced scholarship on Las Casas’s views on the indigenous population, the influence of lettered circles, and his legacy to Spain’s juridical thinking. Several standard overviews (Bataillon 1965, Hanke 2002, and Mahn-Lot 1982) examine how the reformist climate in Spain and the rest of Europe influenced the development of Las Casas’s political thinking. There is no doubt that the persuasive rhetoric and combative force that distinguish Las Casas’s works have led to a close scrutiny of his writings, sources, and philosophical underpinnings. In this vein, Rivera Pagán 1992 examines Las Casas’s 16th-century contextual milieu, while Neto Alves 2003, with an emphasis on Las Casas’s literary influences, focuses on his reweaving of the Aristotelian-Thomistic intellectual tradition. A major task at hand, often neglected in overviews, is setting the record straight on Las Casas’s biography and understanding the social and political contexts that prompted his controversial ideas on missionization and Spanish coloniality. Adorno 1992 does this by addressing the many distortions and errors on Las Casas’s life and writings that still appear in textbooks and scholarship.

  • Adorno, Rolena. “The Intellectual Life of Bartolomé de las Casas.” The Andrew W. Mellon Lecture. New Orleans: Tulane University, 1992.

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    A superb introductory essay that rectifies major misunderstandings on Las Casas’s biography and ideas. Available online from the Royal Danish Library, Guaman Poma Project.

  • Bataillon, Marcel. Etudes sur Bartolomé de las Casas. Paris: Centre de Recherches de l’Institut d’Études Hispaniques, 1965.

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    This compilation of essays refutes extreme biographies on Las Casas by detractors or others who framed his life as a hagiography. Instead, Bataillon reconstitutes Las Casas’s biography with archival materials to provide new insight into his theoretical foray into evangelization. He traces Las Casas’s humanism and connects his ideas to More and Erasmus.

  • Friede, Juan, and Benjamin Keen, eds. Bartolomé de las Casas in History: Toward an Understanding of the Man and his Work. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1971.

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    The most comprehensive collection of classic studies, representing a broad range of Lascasian scholarship.

  • Hanke, Lewis. The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2002.

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    Originally published in 1949, this pioneering study reconsiders Las Casas as a historical actor from a perspective unfettered by religious or political biases. Among other topics, Hanke examines Las Casas’s utopian projects as alternatives to military conquest. His ideas (and book organization) were harshly criticized by Mexican scholar Edmundo O’Gorman in the essay “Lewis Hanke on the Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America,” published in the Hispanic American Historical Review in 1949.

  • Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana, ed. En el quinto centenario de Bartolomé de las Casas. Ediciones Cultura Hispánica. Madrid: Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana, 1986.

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    A collection of essays by renowned Lascasian scholars who participated in the fifth-centenary celebration of Bartolomé de las Casas’s birth in 1985. Essays underscore Las Casas’s past and present legacy, and his influence on international law.

  • Mahn-Lot, Marianne. De Las Casas et le Droit des Indiens. Paris: Payot, 1982.

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    Mahn-Lot has greatly advanced scholarship on Las Casas in the French-speaking world. The volume analyzes the historical and cultural context of the friar in order to highlight his defense of and proposals for a nonviolent colonization. This work traces Las Casas’s activities and writing chronologically.

  • Neto Alves, José de Freitas. Bartolomé de las Casas: A narrativa trágica, o amor cristão e a memoria americana. São Paulo, Brazil: Annablume, 2003.

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    A classic study of Las Casas’s major literary influences: The Bible, and Christian and secular authors who contributed to his interpretation of Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy, in particular of natural law.

  • Rivera Pagán, Luis N. A Violent Evangelism: The Political and Religious Conquest of the Americas. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1992.

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    A critical interpretation of debates and a wide range of primary sources that shaped juridical and theological thinking on colonial practices and policies on Amerindians.


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