Francisco de Vitoria
Francisco de Vitoria was a Spanish theologian, teacher, and defender of the rights of the Native Americans who inhabited the newly discovered continents of North and South America.
Vitoria was born circa 1483 in Vitoria, Álava, Spain. He taught at the University of Valladolid from 1523 until 1526. In that year, he moved to Salamanca, Spain, where he taught theology for the next twenty years.
Vitoria's campaign for the rights of native peoples started in 1532, when he began a series of lectures on that subject. He incorporated the substance of these lectures into a treatise entitled Relecciones De Indis et De iure belli [Readings on the Indians and on the Law of War]. The work not only advocated the case for the Native Americans but also presented basic precepts on the law of nations.
In his fight for freedom for Native Americans, Vitoria asserted that they owned the territories
they inhabited and opposed their compulsory conversion to Christianity. He believed that the Spanish government should establish a ruling system that would benefit, not injure, the native people.
Vitoria believed that an ideal government would receive its authority from the people and would rely on the tenets of NATURAL LAW and reason to enact laws beneficial to all.