Bartolome de Las Casas

In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain provided Christopher Columbus with three ships, money and men for a voyage to explore a new route to India.   After many months at sea Columbus discovered a new world filled with gold, exotic animals, fruits, flowers and Native Indians.   In 1493 Columbus returned triumphantly to Spain.   On Palm Sunday, a parade was held in Seville, Spain to honor Columbus and his crew.   The crowed watched in amazement as Columbus, his crew, seven captured Indians, colorful parrots, masks made from shells and gold artifacts passed before them.   In the crowd that day was Bartolome de las Casas and his family.   The de las Casa’s like everyone else in the crowd were in awe of Columbus and his discovery.   Bartolome’s father was so excited he signed up to join Columbus on his second journey to the America’s.   The young Bartolome was also excited at the sights that passed before his eyes that day.   However, a part of him would always remember the sadness he witnessed on the faces of the captured Indians as they were paraded through the streets.
During the next few years Spain began to use the encomienda system to control the new world discovered by Columbus.   Under this system wealthy men from Spain were given the right to holdings of land and Indians.   They were to use the land to gain riches for themselves and Spain and the Indians were to help them.   Instead, the landholders forced the Indians to work as slaves mining for gold under terrible conditions.  

In 1502, Bartolome who had been studying to be a priest a Salamanca College was ordered to travel to the new world to oversee land holdings for himself and his father.   While in the America’s Bartolome witnessed the cruel way the Indians were being treated.   He saw many Indians killed by the Spanish.   He also saw the terrible conditions the Indians were forced to live and work in.

In 1506, Bartolome returned to Spain to complete his studies for the priesthood.   He was...