El Requerimiento

This is what I think of on Columbus Day — El Requerimiento: (hat tip)

I, (name of the Spanish official), servant of the most high and powerful kings of Castile and Leon, the conquerors of barbarous nations, their messenger and captain, notify to you, and declare in as ample form as I am capable, that God our Lord, who is one and eternal, created the heaven and the earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and we, and all men who have been or shall be in the world are descended.

But as it has come to pass through the generations during more than five thousand years, that they have been dispersed into different parts of the world, and are divided into various kingdoms and provinces, because one country was not able to contain them, nor could they have found in one the means of subsistence and preservation: therefore God our Lord gave the charge of all those people to one man named St. Peter, whom he constituted the lord and head of all the human race, that all men, in whatever place they are born, or in whatever faith or place they are educated, might yield obedience unto him.

He hath subjected the whole world to his jurisdiction, and commanded him to establish his residence in Rome, as the most proper place for the government of the world. He likewise promised and gave him power to establish his authority in every other part of the world, and to judge and govern all Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, and all other people of whatever sect or faith they may be. To him is given the name Pope, which signifies admirable, great father and guardian, because he is the father and governor of all men. Those who lived in the time of this holy father obeyed and acknowledged him as their Lord and King, and the superior of the universe. The same has been observed with respect to them who, since his time, have been chosen to the pontificate. Thus it now continues, and will continue to the end of the world.

One of those Pontiffs, as lord of the world, hath made a grant of these islands, and of the Tierra Firme of the ocean sea, to the Catholic Kings of Castile, Don Ferdinand and Donna Isabella, of glorious memory, and their successors, our sovereigns, with all they contain, as is more fully expressed in certain deeds passed upon that occasion, which you may see if you desire it. Thus His Majesty is King and lord of these islands, and of the continent, in virtue of this donation; and, King and lord aforesaid, most of the islands to which this title hath been notified, have recognized His Majesty, and now yield obedience and subjection to him as their lord, voluntarily and without resistance; and instantly, as soon as they received information, they obeyed the religious men sent by the King to preach to them, and to instruct them in our holy faith; and all these, of their own free will, without any recompense or gratuity, became Christians, and continue to be so; and His Majesty having received them graciously under his protection, has commanded that they should be treated in the same manner as his other subjects and vassals. You are bound and obliged to act in the same manner.

Therefore I now entreat and require you to consider attentively what I have declared to you; and that you may more perfectly comprehend it, that you take such time as is reasonable in order that you may acknowledge the Church as the superior and guide of the universe, and likewise the holy father called the Pope, in his own right, and His Majesty, by his appointment, as King and sovereign lord of these Islands, and of the Tierra Firme; and that you consent that the aforesaid holy fathers shall declare and preach to you the doctrines above mentioned.

If you do this, you act well, and perform that to which you are bound and obligated; and His Majesty, and I in his name, will receive you with love and kindness, and relieve you, your wives and children, free and exempt from servitude, and in the enjoyment of all you possess, in the same manner as the inhabitants of the islands. Besides this, His Majesty will bestow upon you many privileges, exemptions, and rewards.

But if you will not comply, or maliciously delay to obey my injunction, then, with the help of God, I will enter your country by force, I will carry on war against you with the utmost violence, I will subject you to the yoke of obedience to the church and king, I will take your wives and children, and will make them slaves, and sell or dispose of them according to His Majesty’s pleasure; I will seize your goods, and do you all the mischief in my power, as rebellious subjects who will not acknowledge or submit to their lawful sovereign. And I protest that all the bloodshed and calamities which shall follow are to be imputed to you, and not to His Majesty, or to me, or the gentlemen who shall serve under me; and as I have now made this declaration and requisition unto you, I require the notary here present to grant me a certificate of this, subscribed in proper form.

One thought on “El Requerimiento

  1. Sarah Deer October 13, 2008 / 7:09 pm

    There was an interesting dynamic in Lawrence, KS when I studied there. At that time (late 90s), KU did not have a Columbus Day holiday, but Haskell, as a federal BIA entity, did have a Columbus Day holiday. I don’t know if that is still the case, but it did create some interesting dialogue.

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