The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

Granada, in which he had always been surrounded by a crowd of ghostly advisers, and had professed to do everything for the glory and advancement of the faith. In this holy war, as it was termed, it was a common practice to make inroads into the Moorish eratories and carry off cavalgadds, not merely of flocks and herds, but of human beings, and those not warriors taken with weapons in their hands, but quiet villagers, laboring peasantry, and helpless women and children. These were carried to the zaart at Seville, or to other populous towns, and sold into slavery. The capture of Malaga was a memorable instance, where, as a punishment for an obstinate and brave defence, which should have excited admiration rather than revenge, eleven thousand people of both sexes, and of all ranks and ages, many of them highly cultivated and delicately reared, were suddenly torn from their homes, severed from each other, and swept into menial slavery, even though half of their ransoms had been paid. These circumstances are not advanced to vindicate, but to palliate the conduct of Columbus. He acted but in conformity to the customs of the times, and was sanctioned by the example of the sovereign under whom he served. Las Casas, the zealous and enthusiastic advocate of the Indians, who suffers no opportunity to escape him of exclaiming in vehement terms against their slavery, speaks with indulgence of Columbus on this head. If those pious and learned men, he observes, whom the sovereigns took for guides and instructors, were so ignorant of the injustice of this practice, it is no wonder that the unlettered admiral should not be conscious of its impropriety.*


CHAPTER VI.
EXPEDITION OF COMUMBUS AGAINST THE INDIANS OF THE VEGA
—BATTLE.

[1494.]

Notwithstanding the defeat of the Indians by Ojeda, they still retained hastile intentions against the Spaniards. The idea of their cacique being a prisoner and in chains enraged the

____________________
*
Las Casas, Hist. Ind., tom. i, cap. 122, ms.

-324-

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