The Spanish conquistadors found it just to attack the indigenous people for a variety of reasons. Compared to the Indians, the Spanish saw themselves as superior people and as such it was their right to conquer the uncivilized, aboriginal people whom they found in the new land. The Spanish seemed more cultured in comparison and they justified their attacks on the Indians by saying that it was all right to attack them as long as the rule of law was followed.
The other reason for justifying their attacks on the natives is was that the Spanish conquistadors had convinced themselves that it was for the good of the Indians to be forced into submission by the Spanish who were, according to themselves, a more sophisticated group. Their opinion of the Indians was that they were slaves by nature so attacking them was an act of kindness.
Another reason that the Spanish saw their vicious attack as just was that since the Indians rejected the rule of the Spanish, it meant that they were uncivilized by nature and it was in their best interest to be attacked since this in some way would make them more civil. The Spanish considered themselves to be godly men. Since the Indians did not share in this faith, it was the right of the Spanish to attack the Indians in hopes they would get acclimatized in their Christian religion.
The Spanish justified their actions by assuming that the indigenous people did not have any particular laws governing their communities, and since the Spanish already had all this social governing structures in place, it would be okay if they imposed the same on the Indians. The Spanish saw this as an act of charity to the Indians and so much so that if they did not continue with their crusade they would be depriving the Indians of these advantages.
The Spanish saw this as a way of stopping the Indians from their savagery. The Indians were notorious for attacking and sacrificing their enemies upon capture. As such, it was the role of the Spanish to attack the Indians in a bid to stop their savagery. At the same time, the Spanish attack on the Indians would act as punishment for the evils like cannibalism and beheadings that the Indians committed.
All the reasons that the Spanish used to justify their campaign were a guise for their real intentions. There are other things that the Indians had in the new land and that the Spanish desired for themselves. The first thing that the Spanish wanted from the Indians was to turn them into slaves. The Spanish thought that it was in the nature of the Indians to be submissive and the nature of the Spaniards to dominate them. On the first trip to the Americas, Columbus noted in his journals that the Indians appeared to be a good and peaceful people who were uncivilized and could make for wonderful servants. In addition he noted that attacking them would require just a handful of Spanish soldiers to conquer a whole village of Indian. The Spanish conquistadors, therefore, attacked the Indians during their campaigns expecting to defeat them and to make them servants. The Spanish was the most dominant force from Europe; they therefore wanted a work force which could work in their fields for crops and n their mines for precious stones.
Another thing that the Spanish conquistadors wanted from the Indians was to convert them to their religion. The Spanish was a dominantly Christian religion, and they saw the Indians as a primitive tribe in need of a religion. The Spanish, therefore, wanted to civilize the Indians and convert them into Christianity in a bid to make them more civil and less barbaric.
The new land was unexploited and therefore had an abundance of gold and silver. The vast land was minimally utilized and therefore the Spanish wanted to use it for agriculture. The Spanish knew the value of gold and silver in foreign trading markets. They, therefore, attacked the Indians under the disguise of educating them so that they could take control of these mines and at the same time get a work force from the indigenous people who could work in the mines. Since there was war in progress back in Europe, the Spaniards used the wealth they amassed in Europe to finance their armies. This led them to become one of the largest forces in Europe.
Bartolome de Las Casas was the main the main critic of the ways that the Spanish were dominating and mistreating the indigenous people. This was the first time that a Christian civilization was criticized for mistreating a non-Christian community. After taking the criticism for a number of years, the Spaniards took action. Due to Las Casas criticism of the ways that the Spaniards treated the Indians, some new laws were adopted by the Spaniards which included stopping slavery of the natives for the first time in the history of any European nation. Even after the criticism of the bigotry that the Spaniards practiced on the Indians, some of them did not deem the Indians as worthy of human-like treatment.
Las Casas had the plan to make the Spaniards stop the virtual slavery that they had adopted and at the same time resettle the natives that were working involuntarily at the farms in towns neighboring the Spanish where they could be taught Christianity. Some of the Spaniards, who lived in the new land, saw the Indians as savages who were unworthy of learning the gospel of Christ. This did not seem to go down well with the king Europe back in. Having brought the conquistadors’ brutal treatment under heavy criticism to the king in Spain, the king saw the conquistadors as a threat since they had grown so rich and powerful. The king eliminated the legal slavery known as encomiendas in a bid to diminish the power the conquistadors had amassed in the new world.
Another repercussion of the criticism that led to the establishment of the new laws was that the Spanish conquistadors who owned native Indian laborers objected to the new laws vehemently. The reason, they argued, was the fact that if the old encomienda laws were to be abolished the prosperity that the Spaniards had achieved would diminish without the labor from the Indians. This objectivity escalated to the point where conflict between the native and the Spaniards led to the death by beheading of the viceroy of Peru.
After the encomienda system had been abolished, the next reaction by the Spaniards in the Europe, who sympathized with the plight of Las Casas, was to set new laws that governed the way the Indians were to be treated. The Indians that were involuntary workers were to be released to become citizens like the Spanish in the new world. The laws stated that, if the owner of the land died and the native Indians became free, they would be treated like Spaniards and they would have to pay in goods to the king back in Europe, but they would not have to labor involuntarily as payment.
Bell, Aubrey Fitz Gerald. Juan Gines de Sepulveda. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Pr. Humphrey Milford, 1925. Print.
Casas, Bartolome de las. A short account of the destruction of the Indies. New York: Penguin Classics, 1992. Print.
Cortes, Hernan. Letter to Charles V. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010.