In Defense of the Indians

ISBN-10: 0875805566

ISBN-13: 9780875805566

Edition: Revised 

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Bartolomé de Las Casas championed the rights of the Indians of Mexico and Central America, disputing a widely held belief that they were "beasts" to be enslaved. In a dramatic debate in 1550 with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, Las Casas argued vehemently before a royal commission in Valladolid that the native inhabitants should be viewed as fellow human beings, artistically and mechanically adroit, and capable of learning when properly taught.In Defense of the Indians, Las Casas's classic treatise on the humanity of native peoples, had far-reaching implications for the policies adopted by both the Spanish Crown and the Church toward slavery in the New World. This carefully reasoned but emotionally charged defense addresses issues such as the concept of a just war, the relationships between differing races and cultures, the concept of colonialism, and the problem of racism. Written toward the end of an active career as "Protector of the Indians," the work stands as a summary of the teaching of Las Casas's life.Available in its entirety for the first time in paperback, with a new foreword by Martin E. Marty,In Defense of the Indianshas proved to be an enduring work that speaks with relevance in the twentieth-first century. Skillfully translated from Latin by the Reverend Stafford Poole, it is an eloquent plea for human freedom that will appeal to scholars interested in the founding of the Americas and the development of the New World.
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Book details

List price: $28.00
Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 4/1/1992
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 411
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.232
Language: English

Introductory Letter by Bartolome de la Vega
Summary of the Defense
Summary of Sepulveda's Position
Preface to the Defense
The Defense
Introduction. Distinction of the different kinds of barbarians. First kind of barbarian: Any wild, inhuman, merciless man
Second kind of barbarian: Those who have no written language or persons with a language different from ours. Third kind of barbarian: Those in the strict sense. They are freaks of nature. If these include many men, God's creation would be ineffective
This last statement is true even if most men are corrupt, but they are not. Despite what Aristotle says about barbarians, Christians must treat them as brothers and men. They must be drawn gently
Indians are barbarians who have rule and state. They are mechanically skilled, not ignorant or uncivilized. Sepulveda's position would justify all kinds of wars. His distinction of greater and lesser beings is not valid here. People cannot be forced to accept benefits
Fourth kind of barbarian: All non-Christians
Sepulveda says that war is justified by the Indians' idolatry and their human sacrifice. But we can punish another's sins only if we have jurisdiction. The four ways in which unbelievers are subject to Christians. The Indians are not subject to Christians. The distinction of actual and potential jurisdiction
Unbelievers do not belong to the competence of the Church. The Church cannot uproot idolatry by force
Neither the Church nor Christian rulers can punish the idolatry of unbelievers. The worship of some god is natural
The Church has no power over unbelievers because they live outside the Church's jurisdiction
The Church has no jurisdiction over unbelievers. The preaching of the faith does not begin with the punishing of sins
The previous arguments are bolstered and confirmed by the example and practice of the Church. Appeal to and quoting of the Sublimis Deus of Paul III
Refutation of Sepulveda's arguments from Deuteronomy and Joshua. God did not command all idolaters to be killed or warred against. These passages refer to special cases, e.g., danger of idolatry, descent from Ham
Refutation of Sepulveda's citation of Saint Cyprian. Las Casas explains Cyprian's true position
Beginning of the explanation of the six cases in which the Church can exercise jurisdiction over unbelievers. The presuppositions. First case: If the unbelievers unjustly hold Christian lands. Second case: When they practice idolatry in lands formerly given over to Christian worship
Continuation of second case. Interpretation of the opinion of Pope Innocent IV
Continuation of the interpretation of Innocent IV. Conclusion: Refutation of idolatry as a basis for punishment
John Damascene's apparent contradiction of the conclusion. The types of ignorance found among idolaters
Further reasons excusing idolaters from formal sin. Return to the discussion of invincible ignorance
Refutation of Augustine of Ancona, who said that all creatures are subject to the Pope
The previous chapter is bolstered by an appeal to Saint Thomas Aquinas
Answer to another argument of Augustine of Ancona, viz., that the Pope can punish those who violate the natural law
Answer to the argument of Augustine of Ancona that unbelievers have actually been judged and condemned by the Church. Third case: If unbelievers are knowingly and maliciously blasphemous toward the Christian religion
Fourth case: If unbelievers deliberately hinder the spread of the faith or persecute those who accept it
The obligation of the Church to preach the gospel to every nation does not provide an excuse for war, for force cannot be used to spread the gospel
Further proof and discussion of the fourth case. Fifth case: If unbelievers attack Christian territories. The natural right of self-defense
Sixth case: If a people sacrifice human beings or commit cannibalism (Sepulveda's third argument). The Church does not have the obligation to rescue all the innocent, especially if large numbers will perish in the process
Further discussion of the previous chapter. The necessity of choosing the lesser of two evils. The need, at times, to use the law's permission
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah does not contradict these arguments, nor do other Old Testament stories, because the examples of the Old Testament must be admired but not imitated. All men are guilty by reason of original sin
Refutation of the argument that once a city has been condemned in a just war, all the inhabitants can be killed indiscriminantly
It is not lawful to afflict any number of innocent persons in order to rescue other innocent persons from sacrifice
In war, those guilty of sacrifice cannot be distinguished from the innocent
Continuation of the previous argument. The punishment of those guilty of sacrifice leads to scandal, and this must be avoided. Cannibalism is not intrinsically evil
Human sacrifice is not always evil for those who commit it
Recapitulation of arguments in Chapters Chapter Thirty-Two through Thirty-Seven
The hope and presumption that people can be converted from idolatry, and human sacrifice is another reason for not making war
The effectiveness of good preaching is proved by Las Casas's experience in the New World. Outside the six cases, the Church has no jurisdiction. Its jurisdiction is voluntary
Cajetan's ideas on war against unbelievers. Those who oppose him
Refutation of Sepulveda's fourth argument that war clears the way for the preaching of the gospel and the spread of the faith. The parable of the supper (Luke 14)
Further comments on persuasive compulsion. Interpretation of the parable of the supper
Refutation of the claim that Constantine the Great waged war to spread the Christian religion
The injustice of a war to spread Christian religion is demonstrated from various authorities
Reasons why unbelievers, in contrast to heretics, cannot be compelled
The thought of Saint Augustine on compulsion
Refutation of Sepulveda's appeal to the example of Gregory the Great
Refutation of Sepulveda's appeal to the example of the Roman Empire. God's use of tyrants to execute justice
Refutation of the first argument of John Mayor (Mayr) in favor of the Indian wars--the Indians will not otherwise receive Christianity
Refutation of Major's second argument--a king can be deprived of his rule if his people accept Christianity and he does not
Explanation of the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas on compulsion
Refutation of Major's third argument--a people who accept Christianity should want to have their pagan ruler deposed
The story of Sepulveda's efforts to have his work published. Refutation of Oviedo's General History
Further refutation of Oviedo
Refutation of Sepulveda's claim that Alexander VI approved war against the Indians in the bull Inter Caetera
Further interpretation of Inter Caetera
How the Catholic kings interpreted Inter Caetera, especially in the codicil to Isabella's will
Further interpretation of Inter Caetera
Translator's Commentary
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