Summary Of Juan Gin?�s De Sepluvedas And Sep??lveda

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During the mid 16th century, the Spanish began their conquest of the newly ‘discovered’ North America . The native populous of North America (referred to as ‘Indians’) became the subject of a heated debate in which the humanity and mental capacity of the Natives were called into question. Specifically, whether or not the Indians had ability to accept Christianity. As the subject became more in-depth Charles V, the king of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire at the time ordered a group of lawyers and theologians at the University of Valladolid to evaluate the two most prominent opinions on the matter -- Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de Las Casas (1474-1566). The two opinions were very different in the fact that Sepúlveda believed that …show more content…

Sepúlveda first uses the Indians intelligence as a reason why they could not accept Christianity. In Sepúlveda’s argument only beings possessing intelligence could commit themselves to God and Christianity. Las Casas counters in his Apologetic History of the Indies, where he states that the Indians have surpassed the Greeks and the Romans and that they have “reached the knowledge that there is a God” . Las Casas goes on to describe how wise the Indians must have been to be self-governing and self-providing for their people. Las Casas argument on the capability of the Indians did not focus as much on what they produced and created but rather than the system and culture that they had created without the influence of Europe. In his Just Causes for War Against the Indians, Sepúlveda brings up the subject of the Indian’s purity and, how because of the savage or barbaric way they have been living they could never truly convert to Christianity or accept the European way of living. Sepúlveda states that the Indians have eaten human flesh and have committed other sins such as idolatry and sodomy . These acts committed against natural law and nature allowed the Europeans to wage war against the Indians and their barbaric acts, at least from Sepúlveda’s point of view.

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