Level 3 Mortlock Wing State Library of South Australia North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000

Destruction of the Indies by Bartholome de las Casas 1598

Casas was a Spanish Dominican friar who became Bishop of Chiapas and the first official "Protector of Indians". 

This very early book, first published in 1552, is important for the influence it had on the abolition of the slavery of indigenous people in the Spanish colonies in the Indies.

2024 RGSSA 4693

Casas, Bartholome de las, (1474-1566) Brevisima relacion de la destrucction de las Indias.1598 (A short account of the destruction of the Indies). 

Bartholome de las Casas campaigned against the mistreatment and atrocities which the indigenous peoples of the Indies suffered at the hands of the Spanish in their colonies of the New World including Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica.

He pointed out to the Spanish authorities that the native peoples were part of the human race by describing their bodies and cultures and that they that should not be treated in the extremely cruel and inhumane way that he had observed. He used this argument to appeal to King Charles V of Spain noting that he feared divine retribution would result from these crimes, and also expressing his concern for the souls of the native people.

Casas initially owned native and African slaves himself. He gave up his native slaves when he realised the cruelty to which they were being subjected. At first, he recommended that native slaves should be replaced by African slaves, but then argued for the abolition of all slavery.

Note: Because of the graphic scenes of torture and executions contained in this book only the title page has been included here.

RGSSA catalogue rgsp 972.02 C335