Venice, Marco Ginammi, 1626.
Small 4to [236 x 170 mm] of (1) bl.l., (8) ll., 154 pp., (1) l., (1) bl.l. A very light water stain in the margin of the first 4 ll. Bound in contemporary limp half-vellum, paperboard covers, untrimmed. Handwritten notes on the lower cover and on the first blank leaf. Contemporary binding.
First Italian edition of this virulent plea of Bartolomeo de Las Casas who denounces the harmful consequences of the colonization of America by the Spanish.
Graesse, p. 60-61; Sabin 11242; Chadenat 894; Palau 46955; Field 885 (who only mentions the edition of 1643); Leclerc 331 (for the edition of 1630). Brunet only mentions the edition of 1630.
“This first Italian translation of Las Casas’ first and most celebrated tract has the original Spanish in parallel columns.” (Sabin).
“First edition of this translation.” (Chadenat).
“This is the first edition of the first Italian translation of Las Casas’ first and most celebrated tract, and has the original Spanish in parallel columns with the Italian. The translation is by Giacomo Castellani. This is one of the most gruesome books ever written, and one of the boldest works that ever issued from the press. It gives a short account of the cruelties of the Spaniards in each of the colonies, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Florida, Rio de la Plata and Peru.” (Bibliotheca americana et philippina, M. Bross, 2724).
Born in a noble family in Seville in 1474, Las Casas embarked when he was 24 with his father who accompanied Christopher Columbus in his first journey to discover the New World, in 1498. He was the first Catholic priest to be ordained in America, the first defendant of the abolition of slavery, the Indians’ apostle. Back in Spain, he presented to the Emperor Charles V several memoirs in favor of the Indian, denouncing the cruelties exerted against them.
Las Casas spent fifty years in the New World where he was appointed bishop of Chiapa (Mexico). He went back to Spain in 1551.
The work is dedicated to Prince Philip, future Philip II of Spain, then in charge of the Indies’ affairs by his father the emperor Charles V. Las Casas wanted, thanks to his book, to inform the future king of Spain of the injustices and wrongdoings committed according to him by the Spanish in America.
On September 21st, 1556, the work was censored in a royal note of hand.
In 1659, the book will be included in the list of forbidden books by the Spanish Inquisition.
“Las Casas’ works deserve from their intrinsic excellence as well as the excessive rarity of the original editions, an extended bibliographical notice […]. Las Casas was the first priest ordained on the soil of the New World.” (Field 870).
In this work, Las Casas denounces with virulence the iniquity of conversions by strength and the treatment inflicted by the Spanish occupying force to the American Indians.
A very pure untrimmed copy preserved, in its contemporary limp half-vellum binding.
Provenance: Phillipps’ copy with his handwritten note.
The last copy that appeared on the market, bound in modern half-calf, was for sale on the internet at 4,200 € in September 2010.