Dominican missionary and possibly a martyr; b. Spain, not later than 1486; d. West Indies, c. 1530. The birth and death dates of this Dominican friar, known also as Antonio de Montesinos, have not been accurately determined, nor is much information available on his life. He entered the Dominican Order in the convent of San Esteban, Salamanca, on July 1, 1502. Before April of 1510 he had arrived in Española. He took up the cause of the natives and in 1511 preached at least twice against the abuses in slavery. This action aroused opposition among the Spanish colonists, and Montesino was called to Spain on the matter. There he pleaded the need for protection of the indigenous population and evidently influenced the promulgation of the Laws of Burgos of 1512 and of Valladolid in 1513. He made three more trips to Spain regarding related problems in 1515, 1522–24, and late in 1527. About 1516 he wrote Informatio juridica in indorum defensionem. In June or July of 1526 he accompanied Vásquez de Ayllón on the unsuccessful attempt at colonization near modern Jamestown, Virginia. A temporary chapel was built there, and Mass was said, but the unhealthy location, the cold winter, and mutiny combined to destroy the colony. There is no evidence that he led a band of 20 Dominicans to Venezuela in 1528–29, as Zamora and Remesal state. In the margin of the chronicle that records Montesino's profession in the Dominican Order is written: "Obiit Martyr in Indiis." Nothing but this is known of Montesino's death.
Bibliography: a. de remesal, Historia general de las Indias occidentales y particular de la gobernación de Chiapa y Guatemala, 2 v. (2d ed. Guatemala 1932). a. de zamora, Historia de la provincia de San Antonino del Nuevo reino de Granada, 4 v. (2d ed. Bogotá 1945). v. f. o'daniel, Dominicans in Early Florida (New York 1930).
[a. b. nieser]