A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies/Preface
The Reverend Author of this Compendious Summary was Bartholomaeus de las Casas alias Casaus, a Pious and Religeous person, (as appears by his zealous Transports in this Narrative for promotion of the Christian Faith) elevated from a Frier of the Dominican Order to sit in the Episcopal Chair, who was frequently importuned by Good and Learned Men, particularly Historians, to Publish this Summary, who so prevailed with him, that he Collected out of that copious History which might and ought to be written on this subject, the contents of this concise Treatise with intention to display unto the World the Enormities, &c. the Spaniards committed in America during their residence there, to their eternal ignominy; and for the author finding that no Admonitions or Reprehensions, how mild soever could operate upon or sink into the rocky-hearted Tyrants in those Occidental parts; he therefore took up a firm resolution, being then about 50 years of age (as he himself declares) to run the Hazards and Dangers by Sea, and the Risque of a long voyage into Spain there to acquaint and Certifie the most Illustrious Prince Phillip the Son and Heir of his Imperial Majesty Charles the Fifth of Blessed Memory, with the Horrid crimes, &c. perpetrated in those countries, part whereof he had seen, and part heard from such as boasted of their Wickedness. Whereupon his Caeserean Majesty moved with a tender and Christian compassion towards these Inhabitants of the Countries of America, languishing for want of redress, he called a Council at Valedolid, Anno Dom. 1542. consisting of Learned and Able Men, in order to the reformation of the West-Indian government, and took such a course, that from that time their Tyranny and cruelty against those Barbarians was somewhat repressed, and those Nations in some measure delivered from that intolerable and more then Aegyptian Bondage, or at least the Spaniards ill usage and treatment of the Americans was alleviated and abated. This Book mostly Historical, part Typographical, was Published first by the Author in Spanish at Sevil, after that Translated into Latin by himself; and in process of time into High Dutch, Low Dutch, French and now English; which is the Sixth Language it has been taught to speak, that anyone of what Nation soever might in this Narrative contemplate and see as in a mirror the dismal and pernitious fruits, that lacquey and attend unlimited and close fisted Avarice, and thereby Learn to abhor and detest it, Cane pejus & angue: it being the predominant and chiefest motive to the comission of such inexpressible Outrages, as here in part are faintly, not fully represented. Which sin the Pagan Indians themselves did exprobate in the Spaniards with all Detestation, Ignominy and Disgrace: for when they had taken some of them Prisoners (which was rarely) they bound them hand and foot, laid them on the ground, and then pouring melted Gold down their Throats, cried out and called to them aloud in derision, yield, throw up thy Gold O Christian! Vomit and spew out the Mettal which hath so inqinated and invenom'd both Body and Soul, that hath stain'd and infected they mind with desires and contrivances, and thy hands with Commission of such matchless Enormities. I will then shut up all this, being but an Extract of what is in the Prefatory part of the Original. I earnestly beg and desire all Men to be perswaded, that this summary was not published upon any private Design, sinister ends or affection in favor or prejudice of any particular Nation; but for the publick Emolument and Advantage of all true Christians and moral Men throughout the whole World.