Lot 323
  • 323

Las Casas, Bartolomé de

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • paper
Tracts 1-2 [bound 4th] Brevissima relacion de la destruycion de las Indias. Seville: Sebastian Trugillo, 1552, FIRST EDITION, 54 leaves (including 4 leaves [Tract 2] at end (signature 'g') with drop-title 'Lo que se sigue es un pedaco de una carta y relacion que escrivio cierto hombre', often catalogued separately, but bibliographically part of the Brevissima), title printed in red and black below woodcut arms of Spain within four-part woodcut border, woodcut initials, EARLY MANUSCRIPT ANNOTATIONS ON 8 PAGES, [Alden & Landis 552/8; Church 87-88; Field 860-861; Medina BHA 151; Palau 46941; Sabin 11227-8], e4-5 with repaired tear at foot of inner margin affecting a few letters, f5 with small hole affecting a few letters
'The Brevissima relacion remains today almost unparalleled in the vigor of its composition and the nobility of its design... The work is divided into nineteen Articles, each portraying in detail the condition of the Indians, in one of the provinces of Spanish America... ' (Field, p. 217). The four leaves at the end contain the account of a Spanish traveller who witnessed some of the atrocities committed upon the indigenous people by the Spaniards.

Tract 3 [bound 7th] Entre los remedios que don fray Bartolome delas Casas... refirio por mandado del Emperador... para reformacion de las Indias. Seville: Jacome Cromberger, 1552, FIRST EDITION, 53 leaves (lacking final blank), title printed in red and black within four-part woodcut border incorporating the arms of Spain, LONG MANUSCRIPT NOTE ON VERSO OF TITLE (showing through to recto of title), [Alden & Landis 552/9; Church 89; Field 862; Medina BHA 146; Palau 46942; Sabin 11229], without final blank, short tear to foot of title, tear to lower blank margin of f8
'Assigns twenty reasons to prove that the Indians should not be given to the Spaniards in any form of slavery' (Church). 'Though printed by Cromberger, the title page is set within the same woodcut border used by Trugillo for [Tract 7], implying collaboration.' (Alden & Landis)

Tract 4 [bound 6th] Este es un tratado... compuso por commission del Consejo Real de las Indias: sobre la materia de los yndios que se han hecho en ellas esclavos. Seville: Sebastian Trugillo, (12 September 1552), FIRST EDITION, 36 leaves, final page blank, title printed in red and black within four-part woodcut border, woodcut initials, a few manuscript corrections to the text and pen trials, [Alden & Landis 552/10; Church 93; Field 866; Medina BHA 149; Palau 46944; Sabin 11230]
This tract contains judicial authorities and reasons supporting the argument that the native Americans should be freed from slavery.

Tract 5 [bound 1st] Tratado comprobatorio del Imperio soberano ... que los reyes de Castilla y Leon tienen sobre las Indias. Seville: Sebastian Trugillo, (8 January 1553), FIRST EDITION, 80 leaves, Gothic type, title printed in red and black below woodcut arms of Spain, within elaborate four-part woodcut border, woodcut initials, printed CANCEL-SLIPS (of two lines each) at foot of e5r and f6r, [Alden & Landis 553/19; Church 96; Field 869; Medina 156; Palau 46947; cf. Sabin 11231 (second edition, published in the same year with 84 leaves)]
WITH THE RARE CANCEL SLIPS. 'The purpose of this tract is "to prove the sovereign empire and universal dominion by which the kings of Castile and Leon hold the West Indies"' (Church). The longest of Las Casas' essays, and considered by the great collector Salva 'to be the rarest' (Palau).

Tract 6 [bound 8th] Aqui se contienen unos avisos y reglas para los confessores que oyeren confessiones de los Españoles que son o han sido en cargo a los Indios de las Indias del mar Oceano. Seville: Trugillo, (20 September 1552), FIRST EDITION, 16 leaves, final page blank, title beneath a woodcut cut of a confessor with a penitent, within a four-part woodcut border, one underlining and marginal note in ink, signature beneath colophon of Juan Joseph de la Madriz, [Alden & Landis 552/11; Church 90; Field 860-861; Medina BHA 148; Palau 46945; Sabin 11232]
'This tract was written in America in 1546 or 1547, for the direction of confessors during Las Casas's attendance at the Council held in the City of Mexico in 1547' (Church). The rules state that all rites of the Church were to be denied to all those who held Indians as slaves.

Tract 7 [bound 2nd] Acqui se contienen treynta proposiciones muy juridicas: en las quales sumaria y succintemente se tocan muchas cosas pertenecientes al derecho que la yglesia y los principes christianos tienen, o pueden tener sobre los infieles de qualquier especie que sean. Seville: Sebastian Trugillo, 1552, FIRST EDITION, 10 leaves, Gothic type, title printed in red and black within four-part woodcut border, woodcut initials, MANUSCRIPT ANNOTATIONS, [Alden & Landis 552/12; Church 94; Field 867; Medina 148; Palau 46946; Sabin 11233]
These 'Thirty propositions' were written to support the twelve rules that Las Casas had written for confessors in his diocese regarding the bestowing of the rites of the Church, which were refused to all those who held Indians as slaves, as decreed by a Bull of Pope Paul III. Casas also responds to complaints that all property obtained by violence from natives must be returned to them.

Tract 8 [bound 5th] Aqui se contiene una disputa o controversia: entre … las Casas ... y el doctor Gines de Sepulveda. Seville: Sebastian Trugillo, (10 September 1552), FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE (with final line of title reading "Año 1552"), 62 leaves (including final blank), title printed in red and black beneath woodcut arms of Spain from Cromberger's stock (the same blocks used in tract 2), within four-part woodcut border, A FEW MARGINAL ANNOTATIONS AND CORRECTIONS TO THE TEXT, [Alden & Landis 552/13; Church 91; Field 865; Medina BHA 147; Palau 46943; Sabin 11234]
Contains Domingo de Soto's account of the controversy between Las Casas and Sepulveda, who argued against the personal rights of the Indians.

Tract 9 [bound 3rd] Principia quedam ex quibus procedendum est in disputatione ad manifestandam et defendendam justiciam Yndorum [drop-title]. Seville: Sebastian Trugillo, [?1552], FIRST EDITION, 10 leaves, Gothic type, title printed in red and black, [Alden & Landis 552/15; Church 95; Field 868; Medina, BHA 152; Palau 46948; Sabin 11235]
'This tract gives the principles on which Las Casas conducts his defence of the rights of the natives, and was evidently written to familiarize the clergy with the principles upon which he based his whole theory of the rights of the Indians to personal liberty and rights of property' (Church).

Together 9 tracts in 8 parts bound in one volume, small 4to (208 x 146mm.), MANUSCRIPT ANNOTATIONS IN SEVERAL HANDS, CONTEMPORARY LIMP VELLUM, remains of leather ties, flat spine titled in ink, faint ink inscription on upper cover by Diego Fernández de Córdoba Ponce de León, small paper library label at foot of spine ('B / d-14'), MANUSCRIPT NOTES on the endpapers by Diego and Iñigo Fernández de Córdoba Ponce de León (see footnote), occasional light waterstaining, slight wear to binding, lacking ties


1. Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, (b. Cuzco, 1539, d. Córdoba, 1616), see note below
2. Diego Fernández de Córdoba Ponce de León, friend of Garcilaso de la Vega, his signature at foot of first title, and notes on upper cover and preliminary endpapers, stating this book was owned by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.
3. Iñigo Fernández de Córdoba Ponce de León (son of Diego), signature on verso of final endpaper, and manuscript notes on endpapers, confirming his father's statement and providing additional information on Garcilaso de la Vega.
4. Juan Joseph de la Madriz (fl. 1780s), signature on first title and beneath the colophon of the final part
5. Jesuit Province of Toledo, inscription on preliminary free endpaper ("Prova. Tolet. S.J.", i.e. Provincia Toletana)
6. Acquired in the early twentieth century by the father of the present owner.

Catalogue Note

AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE COMPLETE SET OF LAS CASAS'S TRACTS BOUND IN A SINGLE VOLUME, WITH MANUSCRIPT ANNOTATIONS IN SEVERAL HANDS AND A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY NOTE BY DIEGO FERNANDEZ DE CORDOBA STATING THIS BOOK WAS OWNED BY INCA GARCILASO DE LA VEGA: "Este libro lo estimo mucho por q[ue] fué de Garcilaso Ynca de la Vega nieto del Ynca emperador del Piru, fallecio en Cordova ... Escrivio con mucha elegancia el libro de la Florida. Y los Comentarios Reales del Piru ..." ("I VALUE THIS BOOK GREATLY BECAUSE IT BELONGED TO INCA GARCILASO DE LA VEGA, GRANDSON OF THE EMPEROR OF PERU. He died in Córdoba and is buried in the Iglesia Mayor. He wrote, with great elegance, the book on Florida and the Royal Commentaries on Peru, as well as translating into our tongue the discourses of Leone Ebreo").
This statement by Don Diego Fernández de Córdoba Ponce de León is partially repeated on the upper cover in the same hand.

Don Diego's son Iñigo confirms his father's statement and has written beneath in a long note that covers both the upper and lower blank endpapers that his father was a close friend of Garcilaso de la Vega, and that he also knew him and remembered him well. Iñigo also writes about Garcilaso's son, and provides a detailed description of a sword fight between his father and Simon Ponce de Córdoba, against Alonso de Velasco and Pedro de Heredia (in which Velasco was killed and Heredia wounded).

Garcilaso de La Vega (1539-1616), was a noted historian of Peru and chronicler, born in Peru and who later moved to Spain in 1559, shortly after his father's death. He served in the Spanish army and spent much of the rest of his life in Córdoba where he died. 'His work is of enormous historic value and constitutes one of the few documents detailing the ancient history of Peru.' (Howgego)

The manuscript notes in this book were cited by the Peruvian historian Rubén Vargas Ugarte (1886-1975) in an article published in 1930 (‘Nota sobre Garcilaso’, Mercurio Peruano, vol. xx, Jan-Feb 1930, pp. 47-50) as proof that the Inca Garcilaso had an illegitimate son, Diego de Vargas, son of Beatriz de la Vega. The rumour that Garcilaso had a son had existed previously but it was not generally accepted and there was no evidence. Further research published by Rafael Aguilar Priego proved Vargas Ugarte correct and that the notes written in this book were accurate ('El Hijo del Inca Garcilaso: Neuvos documentos sobre Diego de Vargas', 1945). The manuscript notes demonstrate that Diego and his son were well acquainted with both Inca Garcilaso and his son, and the conquistador Gonzalo Silvestre, receiving this copy of Las Casas from the former, and a sword from the latter.

Las Casas (1484-1566), a Spanish Dominican missionary and historian known as the "Apostle of the Indians", was the first to write about and expose the abuses and oppression of the indigenous people of the New World by Europeans and called for the abolition of slavery in the Americas and rights for the native people.