Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Bartolomé de las Casas, Tyrannies et Cruautez des Espagnols Perpetrees es Indes Occidentales ..., 1582

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, October 2009

Summary Information
Title: Bartolomé de las Casas Tyrannies et Cruautez des Espagnols Perpetrees es Indes Occidentales...
Creator: Casas, Bartolomé de las, 1474-1566
Inclusive dates: 1582
Extent: One volume
This volume is an early French translation of Bartolomé de Las Casas influential treatise Brevissima Relacion de la Destruccion de las India, an indictment of the Spanish conquerors for acts of brutality inflicted on the indigenous peoples of the New World.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1923. M-07.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.


The volume was bought by William L. Clements through Henry Stevens, Son, and Stiles, at the Phillipps Sale in London, June 24-27, 1919. It was previously owned by Frederic North, the likely binder of the manuscript, and before him by Sir Thomas Phillipps.

Preferred Citation:

Bartolomé de las Casas, Tyrannies et Cruautez des Espagnols Perpetrees es Indes Occidentales ..., William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Bartolomé de las Casas (c.1484-1566), was an early Spanish historian of the New World. La Casas' father, Pedro de las Casas, was a merchant and early Spanish settler in Espanola who traveled with Columbus on his second expedition. Las Casas was educated in law at the University of Salamanca and sailed for Hispaniola in 1502, possibly on a mining or military expedition. He returned to Spain in 1506 and became a Dominican priest in 1507. He then devoted himself to stopping Spanish brutality of the Indians in Mexico and the Caribbean. In 1542 he was made bishop of Chiapas, and in 1547 he returned to Spain, where he devoted his energies to criticizing Spanish brutality in the New World. From 1547-1566, las Casas worked as an attorney-at-large in the court of Charles V, where he fought for legal reforms to protect the indigenous peoples. He wrote a series of controversial books describing the atrocities, including the influential Brevissima Relacion de la Destruccion de las Indias, written in 1539, and later published throughout Europe.

Collection Scope and Content Note

In 1539, Bartolomé de las Casas wrote Breuissima relacion de la destruycion de las Indias..., a short treatise that indicted the Spanish conquerors for acts of brutality inflicted on the American Indians in the New World. The first of nine tracts on this subject, Brevissima was first published in 1552 and later published in France in 1579 as Tyrannies et Cruautez des Espagnols Perpetres es Indes Occidentales Quon dit le Nouveau Monde: Brievement Descrites en Lettre Castillane par L'Evesque Don Frere Bartelemy De Las Casas...fidelement traduites par Jackques De Miggrode: à Paris par Guillaume Julien.... Clements manuscript was likely prepared in 1582 for an illustrated Paris edition which was never printed; the 17 watercolor illustrations, depicting gruesome acts of torture, are similar to the engravings used by DeBry for his 1598 Latin edition.

Las Casas wrote two chronicles, Historia General de las Indias and Historia Apologetica de las Indias, which were designed to form a single work. He asked his executors not to publish them until forty years after his death. They were not printed, in fact, until 1875-1876 at Madrid, when they appeared under the title "Historia de las Yndias." The original manuscripts are in the Biblioteca de la Academia de la Historia, Madrid. The Clements copy corresponds to the prologue and first 11 chapters of the printed Historia General.

Subject Terms

    • Indians of Central America.
    • Indians, Treatment of--Latin America--Early works to 1800.
    • Latin America--History--To 1600.
    • Mexico--History--Conquest, 1519-1540.
    • Slavery--Latin America.
    • Spain--Colonies--America.
    • Torture.
    Genre Terms:
    • Books.
    • Watercolor drawings.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Bartolomé de las Casas, Tyrannies et Cruautez des Espagnols Perpetrees es Indes Occidentales... [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has many early publications and translations of books written by Bartolomé de las Casas (which may be found by searching the University of Michigan's online catalog).