DE LAS CASAS, Bartolomé [with] GRYSIUS, Johannes.


DE LAS CASAS, Bartolomé. Den spiegel der Spaensche tijrannije, gheschiet in West-Indien [with]

GRYSIUS, Johannes. Tweede deel van de Spieghel der Spaensche tyrannye, gheschiet in Nederlandt

Amsterdam, Jan Evertsz II Cloppenburgh, 1620

4to, pp. 104; pp. (viii) 126 (i), second lacking L3. Gothic letter, typographical ornaments in second work. Finely engraved t-ps signed ‘DVB (David Vinckeboons, 1575-1633) in[cidit]’ and ‘DEL (Dirck Eversen Lons, 1599-1666) fe[cit]’, depicting the bust of King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598) in a roundel at head, the standing figures of Don Juan of Austria (1547-1578) and of the Duke of Alba (Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 1507-1582), and four scenes of Spanish persecutions. 17 engravings illustrating the atrocities committed by the Spanish against the Native Americans in first work, 20 engravings depict similar events in Belgium and Netherlands in second. Light marginal ink marks and spots to upper margins of pp. 96-97 of first just touching one word, small hole to upper blank corner of p. 49 of first affecting page number, residual blue ink stain to upper outer edges, outer edges of a couple of ll. chipped. A good copy in contemporary vellum over boards, a bit soiled, ink splashes to lower cover. Edges sprinkled red and blue.

Fascinating Dutch translation of the ‘Brevíssima relación de la destrucción de las Indias’ (A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies) by Bartolomé de las Casas, first published in 1578 and based on the first edition in Spanish printed in Seville in 1552. A Spanish Dominican friar and missionary, de las Casas arrived in Hispaniola in 1502, where he worked for many years as a bishop and ‘Protector of the Indians’. He was the first to ever expose the oppression of indigenous peoples by Europeans in the Americas. The ‘Brevísima relación’ is his most famous and influential work, in which he describes the first years of the colonisation of the West Indies and denounces the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the natives. Not only had the Dutch translation of de las Casas been manipulated to make the Spaniards seem even crueler, but the volume also includes a series of vivid and detailed illustrations which were meant to visually reinforce the worst atrocities in the text, including torture and cannibalism. These are among the first images that Europeans encountered of the peoples of the Americas, realised by the famous Flemish engraver and publisher Theodor de Bry (1528-1598). As De Bry never visited the New World, he based his artworks on the drawings of other artists and on the accounts of explorers. In contrast to these sources, the native’s faces and figures in De Bry’s prints are unmistakably European, and often in poses that resemble Greco-Roman sculptures.

Las Casas is bound with an abridged version of ‘Oorsprong en voortgang der Nederlandtscher beroerten’ (Origin and progress of the disturbances in the Netherlands), by the Dutch historian and minister Johannes Grysius printed in 1616. It is concerned with the brutal events of the Dutch Revolt (1566–1648), against the rule of the Habsburg King Philip II of Spain; it also includes a mention of Spanish massacre of French in Florida, as well as of the Spanish treatment of the American Indians. The Dutch printer Evertsen Cloppenburgh Jr (1571–1648) republished these two 1620 editions together as a single volume, with identical engraved title pages, in order to create a symbolic correspondence between the Old World and the New. In this second work, there are images of massacres in Brüssel, Rotterdam, Mechelen, Zutphen, Haarlem, Maastricht, and other cities. Interestingly, in some of them, the inhabitants of the Netherlands are naked like the Native Americans.

1) USTC 1016575; Sabin 11256; BL Low Countries, 1601-1621, C38; Alden p. 181. Not in Brunet, this ed. not in Graesse. 2) USTC 1012856 and 1016574; Sabin 11257; Alden p.181. Not in Brunet, Graesse. See BL Low Countries, 1601-1621, G197. J. Hart, Literature, Theory, History. (New York 2011).