Sepulveda Vs. Bartolome De Las Casas

1278 words - 6 pages

The argument of Juan Gines de Sepulveda is that of negative feedback to what was experienced in the first encounter of the Spaniards and American Indians in the Sixteenth Century. Also, Sepulveda demonstrates through his opinion that war against the Indians is a rightful act due to the fact that the Indians are seen as lower beings. The proof that Sepulveda uses to support his position is the glimpse the Spaniards noted in the short time they observed the Indians. Sepulveda thought that the Indians were uneducated individuals that were uncivilized in the way they conducted their lives. This can be seen in that Sepulveda comments on how Indians are not educated because they seem not to have ...view middle of the document...

In all, Juan Gines de Sepulveda's argument supports the idea that some human beings were created by God to be slaves and concludes that the New World natives were in this category. Don Fray Bartolome de Las Casas disagreed with Juan Gines de Sepulveda's argument in many ways. Las Casas refutes this argument by saying that a proper goal for the Spaniards was to convert the Natives by peaceful means and to make them Spanish subjects. He saw that the Spaniards were in the wrong to want war against the Indians just because they were not as educated and civilized as the Conquistadors. Casas supports his argument and beliefs with the Christian faith and the beliefs of the church. Bartolome declares that God did not command war against idolators, he clarifies his position by saying that if the Spaniard can punish the Indians for their religion then any other religious group can punish the Spaniard for being non-believers. Las Casas does not support the idea that Indians are not civilized and uneducated for he states that the Indians have a rich, vibrant civilization and sophisticated culture. Also, it is seen that he believes that a person is only considered a slave when he/she has taken an oath of loyalty to another. As a result, the Indians can not be seen as subjects to the more powerful Conquistadors. The Spaniards believe that the only means of conversion is by force when Bartolome's opinion is that peaceful conversion is the most effective means of spreading Catholicism. Although human sacrifice is evil, Las Casas declares that indiscriminate warfare is more evil. The Spaniards see human sacrifice as an evil act upon another human being, but Bartolome believes that "the death of an innocent is better than the destruction of an entire kingdom." It is seen as unnatural to cause war against the Indians for that particular reason. Finally, Las Casas states that the Indians are not as dangerous as other enemies of the Spaniards may be, all they wish to do is to keep their ways of life. The Spaniards believed that they had a right to rule over the Indians and they had justification for war against them. Their first belief that supported their views is that the Indians have many sins, especially idolatry which is seen as going against their God. Second, the rudeness of the natives which made it necessary for more "refined" people like the Spanish to educate them. Even though the Indians were seen as uneducated because they were different it is in no way a reason to justify the Spaniard's goal of waging war against them. In...

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