Bartolome de Las Casas
Spanish missionary to Hispaniola and Mexico

1474 - 1566

Bartolome de Las Casas was an early Spanish missionary to Hispaniola, an island in the West Indies. He arrived in 1502 and was ordained a priest there in 1510. He joined the Dominican order in 1524.

Las Casas was one of the first Europeans to defend the rights of the native Indians and worked hard to improve their condition. He especially opposed their enslavement by harsh Spanish masters. Las Casas became known as the "Apostle to the Indians." He published many essays and pamphlets. His most famous work, In Defense of the Indian (1552), criticizes Spanish colonists for abusing the Indians.

Las Casas was born in Seville. He became bishop of Chiapa in Mexico in 1544. Las Casas returned to Spain in 1547, where he continued his campaign for better treatment of the Indians until his death.

Contributor: James A. De Jong, Th.D., President, Calvin Theological Seminary.


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