Book V, Chapter XI
How a religious father of the Order of Santo Domingo from this city of Santo Domingo of the island of Hispaniola went to where the cacique Don Enrique and his Indians were, in the mountains of Baoruco, and was there for some days; and the events of his journey.
Translated by Karly Andreassen ’20
In the monastery of the friars of Santo Domingo of this city of Santo Domingo in this island of Hispaniola, among the devout monks residing in this convent, there was one named friar Bartolomé de las Casas, a revered person, lettered and of good principles and life. But in times past he had not been held in the greatest esteem by all (despite being a cleric) due to certain actions he had undertaken while already a priest, yet calling himself Bachelor Bartolomé de las Casas, as will be told further ahead, when I write about the Mainland and the island of Cubagua. But the failure of his earlier enterprise notwithstanding, his own path was good, as he ended up in this habit and religious order. Being in this monastery, he learned what had occurred with the peace settlement with Don Enrique, and moved to do good, he resolved to go see him to comfort him and counsel him as to what was best for his soul. And with the sanction of the prior of his monastery, he went and was there some days, understanding as a good cleric and counseling, supporting, and persuading Don Enrique and his people to persist in the peace and friendship of the Christians, and in remaining very good and faithful servants of the Emperor King, our lord. And he told them how good a Catholic and how deeply Christian is our king and gave them to understand the great clemency the Emperor had bestowed on them so their souls would not be lost. He assured them that peace and friendship would be absolutely maintained unless it was broken by them or by their errors: and he took ornaments, and a chalice, and communion bread and all else needed to celebrate the holy mass; and he said mass every day as long as he remained at the seat of Don Enrique and his Indians, and he made use of this opportunity to help them recall and return to the practices of our holy Catholic faith. And he came with this reverend Father to the village of Azua, and with him many of his Indians, male and female, and their youngsters, and Captain Tamayo was baptized, and in that same way many other Indians were baptized, adults, youngsters and children. And in great peace and calm they returned to his seat in the mountains, where this reverend father had found them (and where they were first found by Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo), and everyone was very happy and proud and praised God, all hopeful that they would persist in the faith.
It has been said that in all the time that Don Enrique’s rebellion lasted, he did not cease to fast on Fridays, nor did he stop saying the Pater Noster or the Ave Maria, and even in many days the Hours of Our Lady. He had another way of being a true Christian, or so people say, and that is that in order to maintain his people fit for war, and for them to be men of purpose and strength, he, in fact, did not abide or consent for men to approach women, nor to know them carnally, until they were over twenty-five years old. I remember having seen in a treatise by Leonardo Aretino, called The Flying Eagle, that the Saxons took pleasure in war and the hunt, and that the men did not approach women for the venereal act until they were twenty-five years of age. If Don Enrique had read or known this, or if it was an invention of his, I do not know; but the one who said this about him was the Father Friar Bartolomé, or so I have been informed. And he said many other things in praise of this cacique, saying that he was very advanced in his faith, like a good Christian. The judges from this Audiencia Real were very annoyed by the departure of this priest, without their license or wisdom, to where these Indians and Don Enrique were, being concerned about his doing anything to alter the very recent and delicate peace agreement; but since Our Lord wanted his work to be beneficial, as I have told, they rejoiced in his success and thanked him for his efforts. And so it is hoped that as each day passes these people will be more domestic and better Christians, so that God can be better served and their souls saved. Don Enrique lived little more than a year after this peace was established and ended his days as a Christian. May God had mercy on his soul: amen.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.