By Lewis Hanke
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Extra resources for Bartolomé de las Casas: An Interpretation of his Life and Writings
But an understanding of the struggle for justice gives us, in my opinion, the most revealing picture of the conquest of America that we have. This struggle for justice was a Quixotic attempt, we may say today, but Don Quixote was a true symbol of the Spanish nation in the epoch of Spain's glory. He was a man of ideals inspired by a passion to right the world's wrongs, and to this end hurled himself upon the world about him. Who can say that he was wrong? The poet and Hispanist Archer M. Huntington has well stated this age-old problem in words which may be applied THE SPANISH CONQUEST OF AMERICA 35 appropriately to the conflict between conquistadores and justice-loving Spaniards : Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring More true than Don Quijote' s vapouring?
Myres, "The influence of anthropology on the course of political science, "Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1909 (London, 1910), 591, 592-94. 2 Blakey, History of Political Literature, II (London, 1855), 365-70. POLITICAL THEORIST AND HISTORIAN 39 America that we find Antonio de Herrera, first important official historian of Spain's work in the Indies, undertaking his investigations about 1600 "so that foreign nations might know that these Catholic kings and their councilors have complied with the provisions of the papal bull, and have not simply despoiled those lands, as some say" 1 • This compulsion to affirm the justice of Spain's title continued on into the seventeenth century and later.
He is to rule these Indian subjects by laws conforming to the natural and divine laws and POLITICAL THEORIST AND HISTORIAN 41 adapted to the Christian faith. He is to break them of barbarous and irrational habits, and lead them to whatever is good. And finally, he is to ensure that not even their local chiefs oppress his people. Las Casas realizes that the kingly office is not a sinecure but is grandissimo y laboriosisimo. Scriptural examples show that it goes hard with those who rule unjustly.
Bartolomé de las Casas: An Interpretation of his Life and Writings by Lewis Hanke