European Debates on the Conquest of the Americas Criticism: Major Spanish Figures - Essay

J. H. Parry (essay date 1940)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Parry, J. H. “The Right of Conquest.” In Spanish Theory of Empire in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 12-26. London: Cambridge University Press, 1940.

[In the following essay, Parry discusses the enormous influence Dominican theologians in the 1500s had on the debate about whether Spain had the right to force Indians to convert to Christianity. In particular, Parry concentrates on churchmen John Major and Francisco de Vitoria, who gave religious justifications for the Spanish conquest even as they demanded that Native Americans receive at least some degree of civil protection.]

The Dominicans in the early sixteenth century were the principal champions throughout...

(The entire section is 3925 words.)

Lewis Hanke (essay date 1946)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Hanke, Lewis. “Viceroy Francisco de Toledo and the Just Titles of Spain to the Inca Empire.” The Americas 3, no. 1 (July 1946): 3-19.

[In the following essay, Hanke discusses how Francisco de Toledo, the Viceroy of Peru from 1569-1582, sought to refute Bartolomé de las Casas' condemnation of the Spanish conquest with historical treatises designed to depict Incan history as savage and tyrannical, and Spain's subsequent domination as legitimate and just.]

The best example of the effect produced by Fray Bartolomé de las Casas' theoretical writings concerning the just title Spain held to America occurred in Peru during the rule of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo,...

(The entire section is 7547 words.)

Silvio Zavala (essay date 1947)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Zavala, Silvio. “The American Utopia of the Sixteenth Century.” The Huntington Library Quarterly 10, no. 4 (August 1947): 337-47.

[In the following essay, Zavala argues that Thomas More's Utopia served as an early model for the relatively humanistic treatment of Indians in Mexico in the sixteenth century by the Spanish jurist and bishop Vasco de Quiroga.]

The subject to be discussed here draws attention to the Europe of the Renaissance. Instead of dwelling upon the enthusiasm felt by the Renaissance man for the literary and artistic values of the ancient world, we shall stress the attitudes which he adopted when he incorporated them into his own...

(The entire section is 4146 words.)

Robert E. Quirk (essay date 1954)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Quirk, Robert E. “Some Notes on a Controversial Controversy: Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and Natural Servitude.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 34, no. 3 (August 1954): 357-64.

[In the following essay, Quirk argues that Sepúlveda has been wrongly condemned for having argued for the enslavement of American Indians, maintaining that Sepúlveda was really recommending that natives be treated like the free serfs of Europe.]

The heat engendered by the debate between Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda in 1550 at Valladolid has long since subsided. What the two formidable antagonists said there is recorded history.1 How to...

(The entire section is 3700 words.)

Andrée Collard (essay date 1971)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Collard, Andrée. Introduction to History of the Indies, by Bartolomé de las Casas, translated and edited by Andrée Collard, pp. ix-xxiv. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971.

[In the following essay, Collard argues that Las Casas' History of the Indies, which recounts Spain's discovery and conquest of the Americas between 1492 and 1520, was the greatest and most influential attack on Spanish treatment of Native Americans.]

Roughly 500 years after the discovery of America man again accomplishes spectacular achievements in space while nations again threaten to be destroyed by their imperialistic expansion and disregard for human rights. Just as...

(The entire section is 6250 words.)

James Muldoon (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Muldoon, James. “The Mechanics of Political Evolution.” In The Americas in the Spanish World Order: The Justification for Conquest in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 66-77. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Muldoon traces how the seventeenth-century Spaniard Juan de Solórzano y Pereya argued that his country's conquest of the Americas could be justified only as a temporary measure to assist Native Americans evolve into the kind of advanced Christian society for which Spain provided the model.]

Once Solórzano had demonstrated that the Spanish could not legitimately deprive the inhabitants of the New World of their...

(The entire section is 5735 words.)

David M. Traboulay (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Traboulay, David M. “Bartolome de las Casas and the Issues of the Great Debate of 1550-1551.” In Columbus and Las Casas: The Conquest and Christianization of America, 1492-1566, pp. 167-90. Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 1994.

[In the following essay, Traboulay analyzes the famous 1550-51 debate between Bartolomé de las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda over the nature and rights of Native Americans; unfortunately, Traboulay concludes, subsequent laws to protect Indians did little to slow Spanish greed and cruelty or the near extinction of aboriginal Americans.]

In late 1550, an assembly of jurists and four theologians met with the council of...

(The entire section is 9761 words.)