"Are These Not Also Men?": The Indians' Humanity and Capacity for Spanish Civilisation
When on an Advent Sunday morning in 1511 Fray Antonio Montesinos uttered the phrase "Are these [Indians] not also men?" he ignited a political controversy that would rage in Spain for the next four decades. And the continuing fall-out of that fiery speech still has the potential to inflame scholarly tempers and spark heated contests nearly five hundred years later. At stake for Spaniards of the sixteenth century was the way the inhabitants of the New World were to be treated. At issue for subsequent historians has been how that Spanish civilisation's treatment of the natives in the New World is to be assessed.