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José de Acosta.

José de Acosta (September/October 1539– February 15, 1600), was a Spanish 16th-century Jesuit missionary and naturalist in Latin America.

Contents

Life

Born at Medina del Campo in Spain, he became a novice in the Society of Jesus at the age of thirteen at the place of his birth. Four of his brothers successively joined the same order. Before leaving Spain, he was lecturer in theology at Ocana, and in April 1569, was sent to Lima, Peru, where the Jesuits had been established in the proceeding year. At Lima, Acosta again occupied the chair of theology; his fame as an orator had preceded him. In 1571 he went to Cuzco as a visitor of the college of the Jesuits then recently founded. Returning to Lima three years later, to again fill the chair of theology, he was elected provincial in 1576. He founded a number of colleges, among them those of Arequipa, Potosí, Chuquisaca, Panama and La Paz, but met with considerable opposition from the viceroy, Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa. His official duties obliged him to investigate personally a very extensive range of territory, so that he acquired a practical knowledge of the vast province, and of its aboriginal inhabitants. At the provincial council of 1582, at Lima, Acosta played a very important part. Called to Spain by the King in 1585, he was detained in Mexico, where he dedicated himself to studies of the country and people; returning to Europe, he filled the chair of theology at the Roman college in 1594, as well as other important positions. At the time of his death, he was rector of the college at Salamanca.

Works

Title page of Historia natural y moral

Aside from his publication of the proceedings of the provincial councils of 1567 and 1583, and several works of exclusively theological import, Acosta is best known as the writer of De Natura Novi Orbis, De promulgatione Evangelii apud Barbaros, sive De Procuranda Indorum salute and above all, the Historia natural y moral de las Indias. The first two appeared at Salamanca in 1588, the last at Seville in 1590, and was soon after its publication translated into various languages. It is chiefly the Historia natural y moral that has established the reputation of Acosta, as this was one of the very first detailed and realistic descriptions of the new world. In a form more concise than that employed by his predecessors, Francisco Lopez de Gómara and Oviedo, he treated the natural and philosophic history of the New World from a broader point of view. In it, more than a century before Europeans learned of the Bering Strait, Acosta hypothesized that Latin America's indigenous peoples had migrated from Asia to Latin America. He also divided them into three barbarian categories. The Historia also described Inca and Aztec customs and history, as well as other information such as winds and tides, lakes, rivers, plants, animals, and mineral resources in the New World.

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Acosta, José de (2002). The Natural and Moral History of the Indies. Edited by Jane Mangan; translated by Frances Lopez-Morillas. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0822328452.
  • Burgaleta, Claudio M. (1999). José de Acosta (1540–1600): His Life and Thought. Chicago: Loyola University Press. ISBN 978-0829410631.
  • MacCormack, Sabine (1991). Religion in the Andes: Vision and Imagination in Early Colonial Peru. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691094687.
  • Pagden, Anthony (1982). The Fall of Natural Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Comparative Ethnology. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521337045.
  • Pagden, Anthony (1993). European Encounters with the New World: From Renaissance to Romanticism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300052855.
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Simple English

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