de las casas paper - Gillian Antell COLT 250 Paper 1...

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Gillian Antell COLT 250 – Paper 1 10/3/07 Amerindians of the New World: Advantageous Subjects of the Spanish Crown When Christopher Columbus arrived in the “New World” in 1492, it was the result of a mission motivated by the hopes of acquiring wealth, territory, and subjects for the Spanish Crown. He wrote of his discoveries in his journal, which was given to the king upon his return in order to allocate legitimacy and importance to his journey. Over the next century, this New World was subjugated by the Spanish “conquistadors,” who set up vast estates based on a system of near-slavery. The landowners, or “encomenderos” as they were known, exploited the natives for their own personal benefit and reaped the land for all its worth. In 1542, a man named Bartolome De Las Casas reacted to the corruption and violence of these encomenderos by writing his seminal piece to the Spanish monarchy entitled “An Account…of the Destruction of the Indies.” He was one of the first to call attention to the “injustices” being committed by the encomenderos against the Amerindians and, as he saw it, against the Crown itself. In their accounts of the Americas, both Columbus and De Las Casas portrayed the natives as ideal servants to the Spanish Crown and potential converts to Christianity in order to win the favor of the monarchy and promote their own interests.
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