Bartolomé de Las Casas (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Las Casas wrote a history of the early Spanish conquests in the New World and participated in the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean. Concerned with the plight of the Indians, he spent more than fifty years attempting to free the Indians from the oppression of their European conquerors, working to destroy the encomienda system and finding new ways of converting the Indians to Christianity.
Bartolomé de Las Casas was born in Seville in 1474 into the family of a not very successful merchant, Pedro de Las Casas, who sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. Las Casas had witnessed the triumph of Columbus’ return to Seville from his first voyage (March, 1493). He saw service in the militia against Moors in the Granada Rebellion (1497), studied Latin and theology at the cathedral academy in Seville, and became a lay teacher of Christian doctrine.
He accompanied Nicolás de Ovando, the designated governor, to Española (1502). There, he participated in putting down Indian uprisings, for which he was rewarded with a royal grant of lands and Indians (encomienda). He was successful as a planter, and he began to evangelize the Indians in his role as lay catechist. In 1506, he gave up his lands,...
(The entire section is 1910 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!