Montesinos, Antonio de (?–c. 1530)

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Montesinos, Antonio de (?–c. 1530)

Antonio de Montesinos (Montesino, Montezinos; d. c. 1530), a Dominican priest who was the first public exponent of the rights of the Indians in the New World. Montesinos criticized Spanish treatment of the indigenous inhabitants on Hispaniola during the early sixteenth century. In his Christmas sermon of 1511, he denounced the maltreatment of the Indians, refused communion to the Spaniards he viewed as most responsible for such activities, and threatened them with damnation.

On 20 March 1512, King Ferdinand of Spain ordered Governor Diego Columbus to silence Montesinos and other Dominicans. On 23 March an official communication from the Dominican superior in Spain, Alonso de Loaysa, was received. It reprimanded Montesinos and ordered him to cease his public criticism. Should Montesinos refuse, he would be returned to Spain and no further Dominicans would be sent to the New World.

It is known that Montesinos spoke at the royal court in Spain in defense of the Indians. Most important, he convinced Bartolomé de Las Casas to renounce his encomienda and commercial interests on the island. Ordained as a Dominican priest, Las Casas undertook the most famous defense of the New World's indigenous population. Montesinos died in Venezuela while working to protect the Indians of that region from Spanish abuses.

See alsoCatholic Church: The Colonial Period .


Bartolomé De Las Casas, Historia de las Indias, edited by Gonzalo de Reparaz (1927).

Lewis Hanke, The Spanish Struggle for Justice in the Conquest of America (1949).

James Lockhart and Stuart B. Schwartz, Early Latin America: A History of Colonial Spanish America and Brazil (1983).

Leslie Bethell, ed., Colonial Spanish America (1987).

Mark A. Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Montesinos, Antonio de, Domingo de Betanzos, et. al. Three Dominican Pioneers in the New World: Antonio de Montesinos, Domingo de Betanzos, Gonzalo Lucero. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 2002.

Nesvig, Martin A., ed. Local Religion in Colonial Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

Wood, Stephanie Gail. Transcending Conquest: Nahua Views of Spanish Colonial Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

                                Heather K. Thiessen

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Montesinos, Antonio de (?–c. 1530)

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