Defending the Conquest

Bernardo de Vargas Machuca's Defense and Discourse of the Western Conquests

Edited by Kris Lane Translated by d F. Johnson

Paperback - £23.95

Publication date:

15 December 2010

Length of book:

176 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271029375

Of great benefit for scholars and teachers, this is the first English translation and critical edition of a rare refutation of Bartolomé de las Casas’s famous 1552 Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, one of the most influential texts of the sixteenth century. The Defense and Discourse of the Western Conquests, written by the Spanish soldier Bernardo de Vargas Machuca about 1603, provides valuable insights into the other side of the debate over the morality of the Spanish conquest.

“While all the world has heard of Bartolomé de las Casas, the ‘Apostle of the Indians,’ few have heard of the crusty and garrulous Spanish captain Bernardo de Vargas Machuca, who, in a state of high indignation, set out to refute the Dominican’s depiction of the Spanish conquest of America as an unremitting chronicle of atrocities. But if we are to get a fair picture of the extraordinary events surrounding the conquest, it is important that the voices of those who took issue with Las Casas be heard. The editor and translator of Defending the Conquest have therefore performed a great service in making available to a modern readership this most politically incorrect of conquest histories. Like the gripping stories of Las Casas, those of Vargas Machuca may also have something of value to tell us.”

—Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Oxford