Pedro de Córdoba

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For the American actor, see Pedro de Cordoba.
Pedro de Córdoba
Born c. 1460
Córdoba, Spain
Died May 4, 1521
Island of Santo Domingo
Occupation Spanish missionary

Pedro de Córdoba OP (c.1460–1525) was a Spanish missionary, author and inquisitor on the island of Hispaniola. He was first to denounce the Spanish system known as the Encomienda, which amounted to the practical enslavement of natives of the New World, for the abuses that it engendered.

Life and career[edit]

He was born at Córdoba, Andalusia, southern Spain. He studied theology at the University of Salamanca and there joined the Dominicans.[1]

About 1510 he went to the Island of Santo Domingo, founding the Santa Cruz province of the order. He was a zealous protector of the Indians and a friend and mentor of Bartolomé de las Casas.[1]

His book, "Doctrina cristiana para instruccion é informacion de los Indios por manera de historia", was printed in 1544 at Mexico by directions of Bishop Zumárraga. It was destined for the education of the Indians, chiefly of the Caribbean islands, and is one of the earliest books of catechism known to have been composed in America.[1]

Fray Pedro was the first inquisitor appointed in the New World. He enjoyed the reputation of a model priest, highly respected by the clergy, the laity, and the Indians. He died on Santo Domingo in 1521.


Among the works authored by Fray Pedro de Córdoba are:

  • Doctrina cristiana para instruccion é informacion de los Indios por manera de historia.
  • Various Memoriales al Rey, or Reports to the King on the social, cultural and economic condition of the Indians.
  • Instrucciones.
  • Sermones.
  • Many Cartas, or Letters, often written in collaboration with his fellow Dominican missionaries in defence of the Indians, including:
  • 'Carta del Vice-Provincial y sacerdotes del convento de Santo Domingo, dirigida a los muy Reverendos Padres' (April or May 1517).
  • 'Carta de dominicos y franciscanos de las Indias a los Regentes de España' (Santo Domingo, 27 May 1517).
  • 'Carta al Rey del Padre Fr. Pedro de Córdoba, Vice-Provincial de la Orden de Santo Domingo' (Santo Domingo, 28 May 1517).
  • 'Carta del Padre Fray Pedro de Córdoba al Padre Fray Antonio Montesinos' (26 September 1517).


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.