C O N T E N T A P P R O V A L G R A N T E D
B Y F R A Y L U I S D E L E Ó N
i h a v e s e e n t h i s Natural and Moral History of the Indies written by
Father José de Acosta of the Society of Jesus, and it is Catholic in matters
pertaining to the doctrine of the Faith, and as for the rest worthy of the great
learning and prudence of the author and worthy of causing all who read it to
praise God, who is so wonderful in all his works. Given in San Phelipe de
Madrid, on May fourth, 1589.
Fray Luis de León∞
1. In the sixteenth century, the Inquisition regularly submitted texts to a university committee for review.
Acosta’s work fell under the review of Fray Luis de León (1528–91), an Augustinian friar best known for his
siglo de oro poetry and his exposition on marriage, La perfecta casada. Even though he had never been to the
Americas, León read and approved Acosta’s chronicle of New World history in his capacity as a chaired
professor of sacred scripture at the University of Salamanca. A history of the New World, be it an account of
Spanish actions or a philosophical treatment of the origins of native peoples, carried weighty political
consequences. Acosta wrote during an era of hypersensitivity to the study of indigenous history because in
1577 King Philip II had ordered the censorship of all publications on native customs and rituals. See Fray
Diego Durán, The History of the Indies of New Spain, translated and edited by Doris Heyden (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), xxxii, citing Georges Baudot, Utopia e historia en México: Los primeros
cronistas de la civilización mexicana (1520–1569) (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1983), 471–500.