Apologetic History of the Indies is published (may 1, 1556 – mar 3, 1560)
he Apologetic Summary History of the People of These Indies (Spanish Apologética historia summaria de las gentes destas Indias) was first written as the 68th chapter of the General History of the Indies, but Bartolomé changed it into a volume of its own, recognizing that the material was not historical. The material contained in the Apologetic History is primarily ethnographic ( the systematic study of people and cultures) accounts of the indigenous cultures of the Indies – the Taíno, the Ciboney, and the Guanahatabey, but it also contains descriptions of many of the other indigenous cultures that Bartolomé learned about through his travels and readings. The history is apologetic because it is written as a defense of the cultural level of the natives, arguing throughout that indigenous peoples of the Americas were just as civilized as the Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilizations—and more civilized than some European civilizations. It was in essence a comparative ethnography comparing practices and customs of European and American cultures and evaluating them according to whether they were good or bad, seen from a Christian viewpoint.
He wrote: "I have declared and demonstrated openly and concluded, from chapter 22 to the end of this whole book, that all people of these our Indies are human, so far as is possible by the natural and human way and without the light of faith – had their republics, places, towns, and cities most abundant and well provided for, and did not lack anything to live politically and socially, and attain and enjoy civil happiness.... And they equaled many nations of this world that are renowned and considered civilized, and they surpassed many others, and to none were they inferior. Among those they equaled were the Greeks and the Romans, and they surpassed them by many good and better customs. They surpassed also the English and the French and some of the people of our own Spain; and they were incomparably superior to countless others, in having good customs and lacking many evil ones."
This work in which Bartolomé combined his own ethnographic observations with those of other writers, and compared customs and cultures between different peoples, has been characterized as an early beginning of the discipline of anthropology.
Added to timeline:
Timeline of A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, by Bartolomé de las Casas