a rare and important work by one of the earliest economists and anti-slavery theorists of america.
Bartolomé de Albornoz, included by some in the School of Salamanca, spent many years in Mexico, where he was professor of Law at Mexico University, and had first-hand experience of the intricacies of international commerce. For him the exchange of foreign goods was "the most natural [contract] that exists in humanity... Buying and selling is the nerve of the human life that sustains the universe. By means of buying and selling the world is united, joining distant lands and nations, people of different languages, laws and ways of life. If it were not for these contracts, some would lack the goods that others have in abundance and they would not be able to share the goods they have in excess with those countries where they are scarce." Albornoz contributed to the theory of the just price and argued that the difference in purchasing power of money in two different economies should not be taken into account at the moment of establishing the exchange rates between their currencies. He provides first-hand information on the economic organisation of Aztec society and of the new financial system introduced by the conquistadores. He gives a critical account of Bartolomé de Casas' activities, claiming that he lacked practical knowledge of New Spain and was not constant in his endeavours.
In addition this work is perhaps one of the most outspoken attacks on the absence of just causes for black slavery in the period. He argues that slavery was 'contra todo derecho (divino y humano)' for it deprived human beings of natural freedom and 'es igual a muerte'. He dismisses the slave owners' arguments that they had converted their slaves to the true faith and the justification of slavery based on the fact that the church had purchased slaves: 'the black man can become a Christian without being a slave' and 'the freedom of the soul cannot be paid with the servitude of the body'.
"While Bartolomé de Albornoz did not demand a general emancipation of slaves, he had the outlook of a genuine abolitionist. It would appear that no one else attacked Negro slavery with such uncompromising boldness until the late seventeenth century. And one may note that Albornoz's book, which is now exceedingly rare, was placed upon the Index'' (David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture)
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