Las Casas, Bartolomé de

(c. 1475–1566)
   Missionary, Bishop and Polemicist.
   Las Casas was born in Seville, Spain, and was educated at the University of Salamanca. His father had accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. After he was ordained in 1510, he concentrated on improving the conditions of the native Indians in the New World and he made several journeys across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1521 the Indians in his Indian settlement revolted against the organisation. Las Casas went into retreat and subsequently joined the Dominican Order. When he returned to his work, he campaigned for new laws to improve the lot of the native Americans.
   Although these were passed in 1542/3, there was much opposition from the colonists. Las Casas was consecrated Bishop of Chiajia, Mexico, in 1544. Then, in 1551, he returned to Spain and continued to work for his cause near the centre of government. He was the author of several works including Brevísma Relacion de la Destrucción de las Indias in which he inveighed against colonial exploitation. Today he is a controversial figure in that he encouraged the importing of African slaves. None the less he fearlessly and tirelessly worked for the betterment of the Indians and has been described as the ‘Apostle of the Indies’.
   J. Fried and B. Keen (eds), Bartholomew de las Casas in History (1972);
   H.R. Wagner, The Life and Writings of Bartolomé de las Casas (1967);
   G. Guttierez, Las Casas (1993).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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