Blog Post Engl. 328 (Las Casas)

Imagine yourself as a 16th century Spanish reader of Las Casas’s A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies (1542).  What combination of feelings might you have reading the book? Would you be prone to trust him? Dismiss him? Explain what parts of the text would resonate with you most, and why.  Please respond in 50 words by 9/15 at 12:00 pm.

10 thoughts on “Blog Post Engl. 328 (Las Casas)

  1. While reading this book, there are many feelings thought of during many different parts of the book. But as a 16th-century Spanish reader, I don’t think I would have somewhat normal feelings at that time because many things that happened then, such as slavery and slave-owning, and much more, are not at all normal today. With trusting Las Casas, I believe I would, just because he was a successful man and I would want to also be as successful as him or with him. Therefore, I would most likely trust him. Some parts of the text that resonate with me are when Fray studied Ecclesiasticus and did many other things to convince himself that abusing others was wrong, and I think it is ironic today because people read things like the Bible(and live by it), and think differently about hurting people that are different.

  2. My first reaction would be disbelief, disgust and shock. I would not want to trust him at first, being loyal to my fellow compatriots (how could these civilised countrymen commit such acts?). However, the lengthy, detailed descriptions suggest that perhaps his words hold some truth. As a Catholic, I would be shocked at the sheer lack of religious education, for these Native Americans would have been murdered without a proper understanding of the sacraments, thus not even being able to reach Heaven. It contradicts the aim of the conquest.

  3. I felt shocked and horrified when reading the atrocities detailed in the book, and I believe people are programmed to feel that way when others are suffering. The Spanish were desensitized to what they were doing, but those on the outside would see how terrible it was. I would be inclined to believe him, as he is a Spaniard himself. The descriptions and word choice resonated with me the most, as they are so graphic.

    For example: “The poor innocent people of the area, who simply stayed in their homes and gave not the slightest indication of ill will towards the Spanish, found themselves attacked in the most vicious manner by this butcher and the three hundred men under his command, and many were killed”. (P. 72)

  4. If I was reading this as a 16th-century Spanish reader, I think my focus would turn to religion and ask God why they are doing this and even question if the Native Americans have done anything wrong for them to suffer like that. I added the religious component just because it was just an essential factor during that time and people would turn to God and ask why and even then, blame the Native Americans for something because they did not practice Christianity or Catholicism. On the bottom pages of 47-48 on my version, there is a mention that “God has finally abandoned them and left them to plummet headlong into a life of full-time crime and wickedness” sums up what they did and have done.

  5. Reading Las Casas’s A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies certainly left a moving impression of how the Spaniards intended to claim the foreign lands across the sea. From a religious standpoint, the text highlighted the true extent of cruelty that the conquerors displayed, showing no quarter on par with that of savages, a title they bestowed to their victims in some cruel and twisted mockery. The piece seemed to be inspired by accounts of the cruel demonstrations, anecdotes within stating that “God has finally abandoned them” and other similar phrases.

  6. When reading this text my first initial thoughts were shocked, disgusted, and confused. The words that the settlers were using to justify their actions were not “christianly” at all and caused pain and suffering to those around them. I believe the author’s point of view is important to keep in mind, he is not in support of these actions but rather shedding truth upon them so that others can witness the terrible things that have been done. A reading from the text that spoke to me was:
    “During the three or four months I was there, more than seven thousand children died of hunger after their parents had been shipped off to the mines, and I saw many other horrors also. It was later decided to hunt down the natives who had fled into the mountains, and the subsequent hunting parties were responsible for carnage beyond belief. Thus it was that the whole of the island was devastated and depopulated, and it now affords, as we discovered on a recent visit, a moving and heart¬ rending spectacle, transformed, as it has been, into one vast, barren wasteland.” (Pg. 29-30)
    This piece of text stood out to me because it shows the absolute malice these men were inflicting on the natives; hunting them down after they’d run off to purposely punish them. The end of this text describes the island as devastated and barren because these men had taken everything away from it. Did they have to, no, they wanted to and that is one of the scariest motives a man can have.

  7. Their initial response would be a mix of horror and disbelief. The things Las Casas writes about are beyond forgivable. During this time the catholic religion is the dominant religion in Spain. So reading about the atrocities that were being committed in the new world would be a hard pill to swallow. Dismissing his claims would be a lot easier to do for them. “May God have mercy on him…” (pg 64). After reading all this they would probably turn to their religion to help them through getting all of this knowledge.

  8. After reading the account, I would be prone to trust and believe Las Casas because, as a direct eyewitness, he is qualified to recall the events that he saw. While reading, I would be feeling not only horror, disgust, and great sadness, but shame and disappointment as well. Seeing my nation be represented by such brutal genocide would make me feel ashamed to be a part of the Spanish kingdom. I would especially resonate with parts of the text describing detailed unusual cruelty from the Spanish soldiers such as the quote “One Spaniard, who wished to satisfy his evil lust on a young girl, took out his dagger and cut off the hand of the girl’s mother who was trying to wrench her from his grasp. When the girl persisted in refusing him, he stabbed her to death” (p. 68). Passages like this, as well as other passages about the Spaniards’ enjoyment of death torture, and rape would resonate because they truly show the extent of evil to which these conquistadors were. These horrific displays of malice would further support the idea that, like Las Casas states many times, these men were no longer human.

  9. As I read this books, it feels very much horrible and almost hard to believe but I am inclined to trust Las Casas because there wouldn’t be much of a reason to lie along with the fact that he was a direct eyewitness. However the events are so brutal and horrible to imagine that I find myself having a difficult time picturing that it would happen and that people would do it just because they can. There is definitely an element of disbelief to the story but at the same time it would be naive to ignore and dismiss it. I think that the idea that they were no longer humans but rather something of a monster has much to do with the power that they had over the people that they tortured and it was that power that drove them to do horrible things- of course, I think they must have been horrible people to begin with.

  10. I feel like I would be horrified by the sight and shocked at the same time. Throughout the book, it’s horrifying to imagine all of that happening to native people of the land, but I would probably trust Las Casas of what he says. I’m sure plenty of others would be sickened about what the other Spaniards did but would probably have no reason to argue against La Casas for what he did to colonize the New World.

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