Willing Assent and Forceful Jurisdiction in Bartolomé de Las Casas

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Bartolomé de Las Casas (1484-1566) is commonly known for his defense of Native Americans rights and rationality. For this, Las Casas is revered as a patron of anti-colonialism and human rights. This paper shows how his Defense of the Indians, rather than being chiefly concerned with distinguishing Indians from racially different barbarians and natural slaves—the standard anthropological interpretation of modern interpreters—is understood as distinguishing Indians from religiously different Moors, Turks, Saracens, and Jews. It explores the jurisprudential context of the crusades in Las Casas’s argument, and highlights the supreme importance of how a Christian’s right to “contentious jurisdiction” over territory is exercised. Final comments urge the distinction of Las Casas’s anthropological and territorial concerns, and encourage interreligious dialogue to better address the problem of territory.

Palabras clave

Bartolomé de Las Casas, derechos humanos, historia de España, mundo atlántico, ley canónica, historia de la Iglesia, conflicto religioso, diçálogo interreligioso.