A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 656 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 04.
original inhabitants.  To confirm these representations, they particularly recited many instances of cruelty exercised by the Spaniards upon the Indians, among which were numerous circumstances that were by no means well authenticated.  They alleged as one of the greatest of these evils, and a principal cause of the destruction of the Indians, that they were forced to carry heavy burdens on long journeys, far beyond their strength, without any consideration of justice or humanity.  They added that these tyrannical practices had been carried to the greatest excess by the governors, lieutenants, and other officers of the crown, and by the bishops, monks, and other favoured and privileged persons, trusting to their authority and immunities to be exempted from punishment for their improper conduct, by which they were encouraged to the commission of every excess.  He who insisted in these remonstrances with the greatest zeal and perseverance was Fra Bartholomew de las Casas, a Dominican monk, whom his majesty had raised to the bishopric of Chiapa.

After maturely considering these representations, his majesty was anxious to devise proper means to relieve the Indians from oppression; and for this purpose he assembled a council of all those persons to whom the administration of affairs in the Indies was confided, with several other persons of probity learned in the laws.  By this assembly the whole affair was deliberately examined, and a code of regulations drawn up by which it was expected to remedy the abuses complained of.  By these regulations it was enacted that no Indian should be forced to labour in the mines, or to dive for pearls; that no excessive labours should be imposed on them, and even that they should not be obliged to carry burdens except in places where no other means could be employed; that all Indians should be paid for their labour, and that the tribute which they were to pay to their masters should be fixed; that upon the death of any person to whom lands and Indians now belonged, they were to revert to the crown.  Besides, that all lands and Indians belonging to bishops, monasteries, and hospitals, or to governors, lieutenant-governors, or other officers of the crown, should be taken from them and annexed to the crown, even although the possessor should incline to demit their offices for the purpose of enabling them to retain their repartitions.  It was particularly ordered in regard to Peru, that all who had taken any share in the civil wars between the marquis and Almagro should forfeit their lands and Indians.  And finally, all Indians set at liberty by this regulation were to belong in perpetuity to the crown, to whom their tributes were to be paid in all time coming.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 04 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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