Vanished Worlds, Enduring People

Opening a Transatlantic World

Bartolomé de las Casas. Den Vermeerderden Spieghel der Spaensche Tierannije Geschiet in Westindien. Amsterdam: Cornelius Lodewijcksz, 1621. [view]

Las Casas first sailed to Hispaniola in 1502, and was ordained a priest in Santo Domingo sometime between 1510 and 1513. Disturbed by the desperate conditions of the native population, he became a passionate advocate on their behalf.

Las Casas’s criticism of Spanish rule was well received in Protestant Europe. His Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias (The Destruction of the Indies: A Brief Account) was first published in 1552. This Dutch edition, bound with eight other pamphlets, includes an account of Spaniards torturing a Mexican chief to extort precious metals. The illustration was designed by Dutch engravers to shock readers.

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