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Juan de Quevedo

Franciscan, native of Bejori, Old Castile, Spain; d. at Barcelona, December 24, 1519

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Quevedo, JUAN DE, Franciscan, native of Bejori, Old Castile, Spain; d. at Barcelona, December 24, 1519. His antecedents are unknown. At the request of King Ferdinand, husband of Queen Isabella, Pope Leo X, on August 28, 1513, appointed Quevedo bishop of Santa Maria de la Antigua, or Darien, on the Isthmus, and he thus became the first bishop on the mainland of America. Accompanied by several Franciscans, Bishop Quevedo on April 12, 1514, embarked at San Lucar with Pedrarias (Pedro Arias de Avila, or Davila), who had been named governor of Darien. The expedition reached its destination June 30. The governor and his officers, despite royal warnings to heed the advice of Quevedo, committed the most frightful cruelties, not only against the Indians, but also against rivals, of which the beheading of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean, is not the least. Las Casas accused Quevedo of having violated a trust, accumulated wealth, and neglected the Indians; but Las Casas was frequently unjust in his condemnations. It is impossible to determine how much truth or untruth his charges contain. Quevedo returned to Spain (1518) and presented two memorials to King Charles. One was against Pedrarias, and the other advocated restricting the powers of all governors in the New World for the better protection of the natives. When these documents were shown to Las Casas, he offered to countersign them. Quevedo declared that all the aborigines of America, as far as he had observed them, appeared to be a race of men whom it would be impossible to instruct or improve unless they were collected in villages or missions and kept under continual supervision. In this he was right, as all subsequent experience has shown. Bishop Quevedo soon fell sick and died at Barcelona.


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