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José Luis Egío García, Andreas Wagner
José Luis Egío García, Andreas Wagner
José Luis Egío García, Andreas Wagner
- Definition and Context
- Infidelitas in Ancient and Medieval Literature. Meaning and Uses of the Concept
- Infidelitas in the writings of the School of Salamanca
- Further perspectives. Conclusion
Definition and Context
The concept of
The Thomistic approach to infidelity opposed other theological medieval and early modern perspectives, according to which Christian Truth had already been preached all around the world by the Apostles, a fact that -if granted- made
The historical encounters with infidel populations in the Americas also motivated the revision or clarification of Thomas's definition of infidelity. Speaking in a very general and synthetic way, Aquinas had stated that the sin of infidelity could also consist in the refusal of someone to hear the Faith or in his contempt for it (STh II-II, q. 10, a. 1 [Editio Leonina, p. 78]). Since royal jurists and theologians had appealed to this vague definition to justify the wars, enslavement and plundering of many American and Asian natives after the failure of a single superficial and purely formal attempt to inform them about the Christian Faith11 The Spanish Requerimiento, written by Juan López de Palacios…
Báñez in this respect is quite representative of the positions of the School and its consolidation, insofar as he summarized, developed and prepared for publication previous manuscripts commentaries of Vitoria, Soto, Cano, Corpus Christi and Medina. See García Cuadrado, José Ángel , “La obra filosófica y teológica de Domingo Báñez”, Anuario de Historia de la Iglesia 7 (1998), 209-229, spec. p. 213. felt themselves compelled to clarify that, in the absence of some supernatural means -such as an internal illumination caused by God (Báñez, De fide, spe et caritate, q. X, a. I, 559)- that would be hard to verify, a peaceful and appropriate predication by honest and competent missionaries (proficient in the Native languages and able enough, for example, to persuade the infidels by natural reasons that the Christian doctrine could regulate life better than any other) was necessary in order to overcome negative infidelity (Báñez, De fide, spe et caritate, q. X, a. I, 578). Moreover, if not convinced of the greater credibility the Gospel had vis-à-vis any other system of beliefs, non-Christians could be considered excused from the sin of infidelity (Báñez, De fide, spe et caritate, q. X, a. I, 579), as it had happened with most of the inhabitants of the Western Indies (Báñez, De fide, spe et caritate, q. X, a. I, 578). These new nuances were also in line with the missionary spirit prevailing in 16th and 17th centuries, and it was emphatically underlined in the pragmatic theology divulged in manuals for priests and confessors working overseas (cf. Acosta, De procuranda indorum salute, Libro V, Cap. IV, Vol. II, págs. 218-219).
The tradition also considered that infidelity is the greatest sin by its nature and consequences (the condemnation of the soul, given that without faith there is no salvation). It involves breaking the first commandment by opposing, hating or culpably ignoring God. Besides, infidelity inclines men to various other sinful beliefs, distorted, superfluous or pernicious ways of worshipping God (cf. Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes (1556), cap. 11 paragr. "¶ Lo segundo qu…"). In the rationalistic Thomistic framework, for a belief to be considered sinful, the individual holding it has to be conscious about him or her holding an affront to God or to the Holy Catholic Faith. That would be the case of the Heretic. But this kind of stubborn reluctance was not the only infidelity considered as a sinful. Those who, having reached the age of reason and having discretion, did not do enough to know the mysteries of Christ and the Trinity, essential dogmas of the Christian creed, also were guilty of the sin of infidelity. Infidels of this kind ignore the Faith by will or laziness (
In popular and not technical writings, concepts such as superstitio and
While, from a theoretical perspective, Salamanca scholastics added only slight nuances to Thomas's definition of infidelity, explaining with supplementary technical terms the kind of opposition to the faith the Doctor Angelicus had referred to -a repugnantia formali & expressa vel interpretatiua (Báñez, De fide, spe et caritate, q. X, a. I, 559)- authors of pragmatic literature focused on the differentiation between the various kinds of superstitious beliefs to which the vice of infidelity inclined men and on the clarification of the proper way in which any kind of superstitious belief had to be judged and eradicated. On their own, some of the most prominent Salamanca theologians discussed burning contemporary topics such as the way in which the countless number of Pagan peoples recently discovered in the Americas should be integrated within the traditional conceptual and normative framework on infidelity.33 With his Libellus circa dominium super indos, presented befo…
With his Libellus circa dominium super indos, presented before the Junta of Burgos in 1512 , Matías de Paz had opened a debate in which Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto and other well-known figures of the School of Salamanca made major interventions. Cf. José Luis Egío, “Matías De Paz and the Introduction of Thomism in the Asuntos De Indias: A Conceptual Revolution”, in: Rg 26 (2018), 236-262, DOI:10.12946/rg26/236-262.
Given the complex historical background behind the notion of
Infidelitas in Ancient and Medieval Literature. Meaning and Uses of the Concept
The concept of infidel emerges in parallel to the awareness of belonging to a new ἐκκλησία during the Paleo Christian era. The Apostle Paul gave the Christian flock the first instructions regarding social intercourse with Jews and Gentiles, the most appropriate ways to instruct them about the Faith, the kind of obedience Christians had to pay to temporary Pagan authorities, etc. In 1 Corinthians 5-12, we find a first general expression used to designate every non-Christian: those who are outside [the community, the Church]. From its very beginning, the reference to infidels clearly had a jurisdictional character: as Paul recognized, the conduct of those outside the Church was beyond his control, that is to say, only God could judge them. Inasmuch as, from Vitoria on,44 Cf. Vitoria, Relectiones Theologicae XII (1557), vol. 1 rele…
Cf. Vitoria, Relectiones Theologicae XII (1557), vol. 1 relect. "De Indis prior"…" art. 29 the Salamanca scholastics opposed the direct potestas over infidels that some previous theologians and canon lawyers had granted to the Pope and ecclesiastical authorities, Paul's designation and criterion would appear recurrently as authoritative source (cf. also Covarrubias, Diego de, Explicatur regula ‘Peccatum', De regulis iuris, in 6, a restitutione facienda quomodo quis excusetur, in: id., Opera Omnia, Tom. 1, Genève, 1679, 622-696; Molina, Luis de, De iustitia et iure, q. 40 [De bello]).
The most ancient sources of Canon Law in Spain, dating from the Council of Elvira (around 302 C.E.), show also the effort of the ecclesiastical hierarchy to separate Christians from infidels, and to develop specific approaches for the regulation of the
Much of the theological doctrine and canonical prescriptions about
Thomas Aquinas was the medieval author that most influenced the Salamanca reflection on
In article five, Thomas distinguished between several types of infidelity according to the different ways in which the truth about the triune God had been rejected: either it had never been professed by the subject beforehand (Pagans), only confessed
Articles seven to twelve deal with many practical questions concerning the living together of Christians and infidels and the legal-political status of the later. The main issues discussed by Aquinas were the following: how pious people should behave towards infidels, whether a Christian should debate matters of religion or cooperate with them, whether they should be forced to assume Christianity, whether they could be tolerated in positions of authority over Christians, whether their religious rites could or should be tolerated, and whether their children should be baptized regardless of the parents' will.
The legitimacy of infidels' dominium (private and public) was a topic of particular interest to Thomas (article twelve). While Christians should not permit that an infidel becomes ruler over Christians (which harbours the dangers of scandalum or
Despite his concessions to infidels, Thomas had remained quite ambiguous: although valid, infidels' dominium was of a precarious condition. In fact, it can be done away at any time by decree of the Church, that as Thomas recognized, had not a fixed position on this matter, transferring infidels'' goods and jurisdiction to Christians only sometimes.55 Cf. Ruby, Jane, “The Ambivalence of St. Thomas Aquinas' View…
Cf. Ruby, Jane, “The Ambivalence of St. Thomas Aquinas' View of the Relationship of Divine Law to Human Law”, in: The Harvard Theological Review 48:2 (1955), 101-128. Given the violence of the wars engendered with theological alibis in the recently discovered America and the counterproductive effects they had, compromising the evangelisation project just begun, Vitoria and other Salamanca authors focused later on closing the gaps and remediate the vagueness of Thomas ideas on infidels' dominium.
In 15th and early 16th century approaches to infidelity, such as the ones of Antoninus of Florence -Summa Theologica (1477), Titulus XII, De infidelitate- and Sylvester Mazzolini of Prierio -Summa Sylvestrina, (1514-1515)- significant differences to Thomas can hardly be found. There are however some nuances that should be noted and would become important reference points for Salamanca's second scholasticism. For example, Antoninus approved of a couple of permissible softer incentives (presents, reduction of tributes) for conversion,66 Cf. Antoninus Florentinus, Summa Theologica (1477), Pars Sec…
Cf. Antoninus Florentinus, Summa Theologica (1477), Pars Secunda, tit. XII., col. 1148. which would be revaluated in the light of the huge American and Asian indoctrination processes. On his own, Sylvester discussed at length juridical issues such as the expropriation of infidels' possessions -concluding that it could be done only by private authority if there were clear links to specific crimes, different from infidelity itself- and the capacity of infidels to serve as a witness in legal trials, which he denied.77 Sylvester Mazzolini of Prierio Summa Sylvestrina, Pars secun…
Sylvester Mazzolini of Prierio Summa Sylvestrina, Pars secunda, tit. Infidelitas, pp. 36-7.
Even if Vitoria had often been seen as the first Salamanca scholastic, who, playing a pioneering role, reevaluated ancient and medieval sources on
Egío, José Luis; Birr, Christiane, “Before Vitoria: Expansion into Heathen, Empty, or Disputed Lands in Late Mediaeval Salamanca Writings and Early 16th-Century Juridical Treatise”, in: A Companion to Early Modern Spanish Imperial Political and Social Thought, ed. by Jörg Tellkamp, Leiden, Brill, 2020, pp. 53-77. Furthermore, the Spanish monarchy had at its disposal accurate and comprehensive opinions about the peculiar infidelity found in the nation of the Indians since, at least, the Junta de Burgos (1512). In one of the treatises presented to this Junta, De dominio Regum Hispaniae super Indos, written by the Salamanca theologian Matías de Paz, Native Americans' infidelity is defined and classified from a theological and juridical point of view. Those people ad quorum notitiam forte nondum venit fides nostra, (De Paz, Matías, De dominio Regum Hispaniae super Indos (2017 ), 86–88), living in lands quae nunquam fuere subjectae iugo Salvatoris nostri (De Paz, Matías, De dominio Regum Hispaniae super Indos (2017 ), 151) are consciously and reasonably put apart from other kind of infidels confronted by Christian Church along its history.
De Paz’s juridical classification between different kinds of infidels according to the lands they inhabited, which remained in manuscript form until the 20th century, was popularized by Cajetan in his commentary on the Summa Theologiae (1508-1523). Addressing II-IIae, q. 66, art. 8, he openly corrected Thomas who, following Augustine, had considered as non-sinful the plundering of infidels' goods. For Cajetan it was necessary to distinguish infidels a) subditi de facto et de iure Christianis, such as Jews, Moors and Heretics living under the dominion of Christian princes,99 These could be legitimately deprived of goods, servants and …
These could be legitimately deprived of goods, servants and even women and children, as it is recorded, in fact, in Decretum Gratiani, Distinctio LIV, Cap. XV, quoted by Cajetan and b) subditi de iure et non de facto principibus christianis, who usurped lands once under Christian jurisdiction, such as Turks and Saracens - both of them susceptible to be deprived of their goods without mercy-,1010 Infidels that were non solum infideles, sed hostes Christian…
Infidels that were non solum infideles, sed hostes Christianorum could be fought and plundered without mercy. from a third kind of infidels, c) who nec de iure nec de facto subsunt secundum temporalem iurisdictionem principibus christianis, living in lands which neither belonged to the Roman Empire, nor had once been under the jurisdiction of any Christian prince. This third category of infidels, to which the Pagan peoples being discovered in the Indies belonged, could not be deprived of their goods in the absence of valid titles other than their infidelity (aggressions, blasphemies or any other kind of iniuriae).1111 Vio, Tommaso de (Cajetanus) (Thomas Aquinas), Summa theologi…
Vio, Tommaso de (Cajetanus) (Thomas Aquinas), Summa theologiae cum commentariis Thomae de Vio Caietani Ordinis Praedicatorum, Parte II-IIae, q. 66, art. 8, Tomus Nonus, pág. 94. The introduction of this juridical distinction between different kinds of infidels, taken up by many 16th and 17th century authors, was so important that in his Historia de las Indias, Bartolomé de Las Casas considered it as the contribution that dio luz a toda la ceguedad que hasta entonces se tenía.1212 Las Casas, Historia de las Indias, Tomo III, Cap. XXXVIII, p…
Las Casas, Historia de las Indias, Tomo III, Cap. XXXVIII, p. 143. From his first work on, Las Casas differentiated infidels according to the criteria of Cardinal Cajetan (Las Casas, De unico vocationis modo [Obras completas, Vol. II, Madrid, Alianza, 1990, pp. 575-576]).
De Paz's and Cajetan's pioneer accommodations, show that, in light of the new phenomena and moral dilemmas arising with the American discoveries, which marked the starting point of modernity, the medieval concept of infidelity and its internal typology began to evolve little by little, trying to provide more differentiated and nuanced answer to the specific quaestiones of the time.
Infidelitas in the writings of the School of Salamanca
Even if most of the texts of the prominent Salamanca masters Vitoria and Soto do not focus on the question of infidelity —that is, not at first glance-, the sheer extent of their discussions about
As the very title of Vitoria's Relectio de Indis suggests, the central phenomenon that the question of infidelity was now seen as addressing, was the existence of entire societies that had never had contact with the Christian faith and that had —by whatever means and by whatever right— come under the jurisdiction of Christian princes.
Infidelitas and the moral capacity of an agent
In Vitoria's Relectio de eo ad quod tenetur homo cum primum venit ad usum rationis (1535), we find the moral theological foundation of the specific Salamanca approach to infidelity, singularized vis-à-vis ancient and medieval sources by the key role played by the concept of natural law. The central question Vitoria addresses in this relectio, written some years before the more famous Relectio de Indis (1539) is how infidelity affects the moral capacity of an agent. To clarify if -against the authority of Augustine of Hippo- infidels could be considered capable of good actions and of exerting a dominium respectful with regards to natural law, was decisive in order to determine the way in which the recently discovered infidels would be brought into Christianity: little by little, and with a certain respect for their natural princes, probably good rulers, or abruptly and without any kind of considerations for their supposedly wicked superiors.
For Vitoria, an action corresponding to the natural
For a complete exposition of Vitoria’s ideas about a morality based on natural reason, see Spindler, Anselm, Die Theorie des natürlichen Gesetzes bei Francisco de Vitoria: warum Autonomie der einzig mögliche Grund einer universellen Moral ist, Stuttgart, Frommann-Holzboog, 2015. For Vitoria then, even if it was difficult that an infidel who was (guiltlessly) ignorant of Christ could live a life free from sin -lacking the precious guiding light of the Gospel-, the possibility could not be strictly excluded. Inasmuch as natural law had been written by God in the heart of every rational being, Faith, even if important, was not indispensable to live a good life, and even infidels trying to live according to their innate insight into natural law could potentially do it.
Justification of infidels?
For Soto, who, in 1545-47, participated in the debates on original sin, grace and justification at the Council of Trent, and in 1547 published his influential writing De natura et gratia (Venice, Giunta, 1547), the determination of the role of Divine grace for virtuous behaviour and for access to God’s grace were also of great concern. In agreement with Vitoria, Soto didn't exclude the possibility of a morally virtuous infidel. Likewise, later Salamanca scholastics agreed unanimously with this position,1414 See a detailed list of many of the Salamanca authors who sha…
See a detailed list of many of the Salamanca authors who shared this view in Solórzano, De Indiarum iure II, cap. 11, § 50-52. Among others, Solórzano mentions Bartolomé de Medina, In II-II, q. 109, art. 2, vers. ad 5 respondetur; Pedro de Aragón, In Secundam secundae diui Thomae doctoris Angelici commentaria, q. 10, art. 10, vers. His tamen non obstantibus; Gregorio de Valencia, De Legibus. Commentaria Theologica et Disputationes in Summam D. Thomae Aquinatis, disp. 1, quaest. 10, puncto 2; Diego de Covarrubias, Cap. Alma mater I parte, § 4, n. 7; Juan de Azor, Institutiones morales, Lib. III, Cap. 29, q. 6; et lib. IV, cap. 25 q. 14; Pedro de Lorca, In II-II sect. 1, disp. 35; Luis de Torres, De fide, spe et caritate disp. 50, dub. 3, coll. 628 ss.; Suárez, Tractatus de fide theologica (1622), De fide, disp. 17, sectio 3, ex n. 2. which was also officially sanctioned by the Council of Trent (sess. 6,
In indirect connection with the general debates on grace and justification, an important collateral controversy, related again with the specific dilemmas raised by the discoveries in the New World, was raised. Could (some kind of) infidels be justified without baptism and lacking an explicit knowledge of Christ?1515 Baptism, the sacramental formal act that makes an individual…
Baptism, the sacramental formal act that makes an individual a member of the Church until the end of his or her life, was considered the essential element for the distinction between
Trying to open a door for the salvation of this new kind of blameless infidels, Vitoria and Soto dared to correct the traditional position of the Church and introduced a significant nuance: in the case of the infidels of the New World, ubi non erat depravata natura vitiorumque caligine obducta (Soto, De natura et gratia, f. 143r), it could have been possible that some virtuous individuals and peoples, respectful of the principles of the natural law, had gained salvation without having been evangelized and baptised. Overstating, or forcing a little, previous statements by Thomas, Vitoria determined in his Relectio de Indis that this kind of good infidels were illuminated by God about the name of Christ and could then be justified without baptism (Vitoria, De Indis prior (1539), art. 33, paragr. "¶ Vnde dico, qu…, in: id. Relectiones Theologicae XII (1557), vol. 1).
In his Commentary on the Fourth books of the Sentences (first printed, 1557-60), Soto takes up the question of what kind of sin infidelity is, whether sinners are to be baptized and if they can reach salvation without baptism, leading to a higher level of abstraction the practical
Cf. Soto, In IV Sent. (1581), dist. 5, q. 1, art. 2, p. 247. With regards to the second point, he insists that after the coming of Christ, all humankind is, indeed, obliged to accept the Christian faith. Nevertheless, some of those who fail to comply with this obligation are excused by virtue of invincible ignorance, and hence the lives they might be able to live virtuously, relying on implicit faith and natural law, need not really be tainted by their failure to comply with that special precept.1717 Again, cf. Soto, In IV Sent. (1581), dist. 5, q. 1, art. 2, …
Again, cf. Soto, In IV Sent. (1581), dist. 5, q. 1, art. 2, p. 247.
Despite the high reputation Vitoria and Soto enjoyed as masters of a whole generation of theologians issued from the University of Salamanca, their resolution of this problematic issue met the resistance of later Salamanca authors who, being active in the ambitious missionary enterprises initiated by the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns, considered such a position to be a discouraging factor. That was the case for Acosta, who in his De procuranda indorum salute, stated bitterly: Y en realidad y verdad, si sin conocimiento de Cristo puede haber salvación o justificación, entonces no vale la pena predicar a Cristo y es inútil enviar a los Apóstoles al mundo entero. Also, Azpilcueta, colleague and admirer of Vitoria and Soto,1818 Throughout his Manual de Confessores y Penitentes (1556) , A…
Throughout his Manual de Confessores y Penitentes (1556), Azpilcueta regularly appeals to Vitoria and Soto as solid supporting authorities in many issues. See, for example, on the debates on contrition (cap. 1 num. 36). sourly condemned this resolution in his Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, considering it to be contrary to the mandamiento de bien creer en Dios and a mortal sin (Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 11, num. 17). Acosta's qualification was even harder: even if such an opinion arose from the well-intentioned attempt of not closing cualquier posibilidad de ir al cielo (…) a la infinita cantidad de personas que en este Nuevo Mundo estuvieron privadas de la luz del Evangelio durante tantísimo tiempo, Vitoria and Soto were responsible in this case of a great and even heretical mistake, since no hay cosa más contraria a la fe que decir que sin la fe puede salvarse algún hombre (Acosta, De procuranda indorum salute, Vol. 2, Libro V, Cap. III, págs. 190-191). The debate about this hypothetical possibility of infidels' salvation outside the Church, having had access to Faith only by an internal illumination shows well the nature of the School of Salamanca: Vitoria, Soto, Azpilcueta and Acosta had a common approach to the topic; they considered problematic the same specific issues; even if belonging to different generations,1919 Vitoria died in 1546 , when Acosta was still a six-year-old …
Vitoria died in 1546 , when Acosta was still a six-year-old child. religious groups2020 While Vitoria and Soto were Dominican friars, Acosta was Jes…
While Vitoria and Soto were Dominican friars, Acosta was Jesuit and Azpilcueta a secular clergyman. and faculties2121 While Vitoria , Soto and Acosta taught Theology at the Unive…
While Vitoria, Soto and Acosta taught Theology at the University of Salamanca and/or at the Colleges of their respective orders, Azpilcueta taught Canon Law at the Universities of Salamanca and Coimbra., they shared a similar argumentative style, evaluating arguments
On the idea of "finger prints" as a key element giving a common identity to the Salamanca scholastics, see Scattola, Merio, “Konflikt und Erfahrung: Über den Kriegsgedanken im Horizont frühneuzeitlichen Wissens”, in: Justenhoven, Heinz-Gerhard, Stüben, Joachim (eds.), Kann Krieg erlaubt sein?: eine Quellensammlung zur politischen Ethik der Spanischen Spätscholastik, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 2006, p. 20. A reappraisal and further development of these ideas in Duve, Thomas, “The School of Salamanca: a case of global knowledge production”, in Duve, Thomas, Egío, José Luis, Birr, Christiane, The School of Salamanca: a case of global knowledge production?, Leiden, Brill, 2020. However, in spite of all these points in common and despite the use of the same "working tools", they could arrive to diametrically opposite conclusions, showing an open disagreement difficult to find in other master-disciples relationships.
Infidelitas and dominium
In the juridical and political theory of the School of Salamanca, there is a common agreement -following the line of interpretation of Thomas, STh II-II, q. 10, a. 12, provided by Vitoria in De Indis- that infidelitas does not preclude dominium (Vitoria, De Indis prior, paragr. "¶ Sed restat, u…", in: id., Relectiones Theologicae XII (1557), vol. 1). Making appeal to the decrees of the Council of Constance, Solórzano remembers that neither infidelity nor any kind of mortal sin annulate dominium, which, instituted by human reason and natural law, does not have its foundation in Faith and grace (Solórzano, De Indiarum iure II, cap. 10, § 57-60, pág. 373). In Soto's De iustitia et iure, where the issue is solved after a thorough distinction between kinds of law, we find the idea that dominium is not nullified by the fact that the proprietor or ruler is an infidel since divine positive law and its distinction between believers and non-believers generally does not invalidate human law (Soto's De iustitia et iure, lib. IV, q. 4, art. 1, p. 302. Cf. also his earlier Relectio de dominio (1995), §32, pp. 170-3). Rephrasing their ideas in contemporary words, we could say that, for the Salamanca masters, civil law and its institutions, such as property (
War, slavery, jurisdiction
From this fundamental core other implications related to war, slavery or conversion, particularly imbued by the polemics on the asuntos de Indias, are deduced or aggregated in the writings of most of the Salamanca masters. Vitoria denied that infidelity in itself can serve as a legitimate ground for war against infidels (Vitoria, De Indis prior, paragr. "¶ Quarta conclu…", in: id., Relectiones Theologicae XII (1557), vol. 1), conquest and occupation of their territories, or even just for interference in their civil administration. After him and making appeal to almost the same sources, rebutting the same medieval contrary authorities -namely Enrico da Susa (Hostiensis) and Richard FitzRalph (Armachanus)- and employing very similar arguments, Salamanca jurists and theologians such as López (Partida II, Título XXIII, Ley II, Glosa Magna, Novena Conclusión, pág. 181), Acosta (De procuranda indorum salute, Libro II, Cap. II, Vol. I, págs. 260-261) and Azpilcueta (Relectio in cap. Novit de iudiciis, Notabile III, § 58-64, pp. 43-44) considered that, since a war declared exclusively on account of the infidelity was unjust (in the absence of a clear iniuria inflicted on Christians), it was also unjust to enslave infidels or to deprive them of their property without a supplementary legitimate
Insofar as the Pagan peoples of the Americas perfectly exemplified the kind of infidels which could be blamed by (almost) nothing more than their mere infidelity as such -a kind of Kantian concept without percept in medieval theological speculation-, they appear time and again as leading protagonists of the different
As the manuals for inquisitors of this period recognize; cf. Simancas, Diego de, Institutiones Catholicae (1552), Cap. XXIX, “De Mahumetanis”, Valladolid, Egidio de Colomies, f. 137v. North African Saracens and Turks were, on their own, unanimously considered as enemies (
Even the most cherished and vindicated theologian of the School of Salamanca, Bartolomé de Las Casas, shared this common position, appealing also to the permanent war against Saracens and Turks on behalf of the Christian princes' right to recover (
While there was agreement on the position that
In general terms, it was considered that while Christians shall not permit that an infidel becomes ruler over Christians (which harbours the dangers of scandalum or
While some authors of the School admitted only actions against predication that had in fact taken place, or iniuriae and actual persecutions against the already Christianized subjects as grounds justifying the annulment of rule (cf. Peña, Juan de la, De bello contra insulanos, q. I, art. 7, Madrid, CSIC, 1982, p. 154), a growing majority considered sufficient the potential threat to the Faith2525 In De fide, Suárez refers to it as periculum moralis and Ave…
In De fide, Suárez refers to it as
Cf. Solórzano, De Indiarum iure II, Cap. 11, § 55-60, pp. 402-405; Acosta, De procuranda indorum salute, Libro III, Cap. II, Vol. I, pp. 392-393. For authors such as Suárez and Avendaño, reflecting on an 17th century European, American and Asian context, in which many lords became Catholic by a non-genuine will, even conversion to the Faith was not enough for a former infidel prince to keep his dominium iurisdictionis. They considered the Church legitimized to overthrow all converted rulers whose character it deemed inclined them to any kind of
Contrary to the dubious political implications resulting from the
Cf. Vitoria, De Indis prior, art. 40; Soto, De iustitia et iure, lib. V, q. 3, p. 445. Later authors such as Gregorio de Valencia and Fernando Vázquez de Menchaca considered even the argument as iniustum and incivile: similar violations were committed every day in the Christianized world, without being alleged as a cause of interference or even war between the Christian republics.2828 Cf. Valencia, In II-II (1603), disp. 1, punct. 7, coll. 431-…
Cf. Valencia, In II-II (1603), disp. 1, punct. 7, coll. 431-6; Vázquez de Menchaca, Fernando, Controversiarum illustrium, Cap. XXIV, "De Bello contra Infideles", Frankfurt, 1668, p. 102.
Historiography has been particularly interested in these issues that can easily -and, sometimes, anachronistically- be put into relationship with contemporary debates about colonialism and international law.2929 Among the most recent attempts to extrapolate the "lessons" …
Among the most recent attempts to extrapolate the "lessons" from early modern Salamanca to the contemporary global order: Beneyto, José María and Corti Varela, Justo (eds.), At the Origins of Modernity. Francisco de Vitoria and the Discovery of International Law, Heidelberg, Springer, 2017. Some of the contributions to this book engage in a harsh polemic against the critical school of international legal scholarship, Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), whose members saw in the School of Salamanca the origins of a perverse regulatory global dynamic. See Anghie, Antony, “Francisco De Vitoria and the Colonial Origins of International Law”, in: Social & Legal Studies 5:3 (1996), 321-336. In Spain, a project of edition led by Prof. Luciano Pereña within the National Research Council (CSIC) focused exclusively on the edition and translation into Castilian of most of the Salamanca sources related to war against infidels under the misleading name Corpus Hispanorum de Pace (CHP), where the slight nuances differentiating each author can be appreciated. Apart from the sources above mentioned, writings of Salamanca theologians such as Las Casas' De Regia Potestate (1571), Roa Dávila's De Regnorum Iustitia (1591) and Veracruz's Relectio de dominio infidelium et iusto bello (1553-54), edited within this CHP project, deserve a careful reading.
Typology of infidels and debates on their conversion and baptism
The political and juridical debates on infidel rulers’ dominium iurisdictionis is closely connected in all the Salamanca masters with an extensive theological discussion about the legitimate and most convenient ways that Christians could and should employ in their attempt to convert infidels to the True Faith. On its own, these debates on infidels’ conversion presupposed the classical framework differentiating between several kind of infidels, slightly updated in the light of the experience gained by missionary theologians in Early Modern period.
In fact, the classical typologies constructed by Thomas Aquinas, Matías De Paz and Tommaso de Vio (Cajetan) appear to be fully consolidated in the 17th century, when not only learned theologians, but also jurists3030 E.g. Solórzano, De Indiarum iure L. II, Cap. 10-11, § 55-60,…
E.g. Solórzano, De Indiarum iure L. II, Cap. 10-11, § 55-60, pp. 402-405, where
Cf. Peña Montenegro, Itinerario para párrocos de indios (1771), Libro II, Trat. 8, Sección 6, Vol. I, págs. 553-555. Peña follows Las Casas' De unico vocationis modo, which refers, in turn, to Cajetan's commentary on the II-IIae, q. 66, art. 8. wrote about American and Asian infidels taking these classifications for granted. The turn from 16th to 17th century experienced not only a mere repetition of old doctrines, but also new substantial contributions to the differentiation process of the new infidel peoples developed in parallel to the global Christian expansion. In the introductory remarks to his influential De procuranda indorum salute, José de Acosta added new criteria -neither properly theological nor juridical, but missiological- aimed to help the Churchmen teaching the Gospel worldwide in the selection of the means that they could put into practice to convert the infidels residing in their sphere of action. In order to do so, Acosta considered it very important to take into account the state of civilization that a certain infidel population had reached until the beginning of its Christianization process, and he classified all Asian, American and some Oceania infidels (notable from the Solomon Islands) into three big groups, defined by their degree of use of
Also in Francisco Suárez's Tractatus de fide theologica, whose arrangement of the questions regarding infidelity (De fide, disp. 16-18, ed. Berton, pp. 405-60) still owes a great deal to Thomas Aquinas's STh, there is an important contribution to the traditional classificatory scheme. In disputation 16, Suárez spoke of a new kind of pure infidelity, that may be called 'philosophical', such as that of one who wants to be neither pagan, nor Jew, nor Christian, but who nonetheless worships one God whom his reason recognizes (De fide, disp. disp. 16, p. 415). In Suárez’s words we find an echo of the kind of the barely budding Socinian rationalist infidelity which became popular during the Enlightenment.
The theoretical debates on the definition of
STh II-II, q. 10, art. 8 (Utrum sint cogendi ad fidem), art. 12 (Utrum pueri infidelium sint invitis parentibus baptizandi) [Editio Leonina, 1895, pp. 88-90, 93-96] and these were major practical issues which were debated once and again in the missionary golden age of Early Modern period, Salamanca scholastics wrote profusely about both issues.
The important role that the complex conceptual framework on infidelity developed by the School of Salamanca had in orientating many practical resolutions has to be properly underlined. While moral theologians and missionaries (mostly Franciscans) working under a poorly developed and unclear conceptual paradigm which, in a very simplistic way, considered
For the Pagan populations of Mexico, see Cline, Sarah, “The Spiritual Conquest Reexamined: Baptism and Christian Marriage in Early Sixteenth-Century Mexico”, in: Schwaller, John Frederick (ed.), The Church in Colonial Latin America, Wilmington, Scholarly Resources, 2000, pp. 73-102. Salamanca scholars and Church practitioners missionizing in accordance with their teaching unanimously condemned such practices. For Vitoria, Soto and the other six colleagues of the Faculty of Theology which signed a critical Parecer sobre el bautismo de los indios sent to the Spanish King in 1541 , baptism was not enough to make a "true Christian" out of an infidel.3434 Vitoria, Soto et al., “Parecer sobre el bautismo de los indi…
Vitoria, Soto et al., “Parecer sobre el bautismo de los indios”, in: Vitoria, Francisco de, Relectio de Indis o Libertad de los Indios (ed. by Luciano Pereña, José Manuel Pérez Prendes. Madrid, CSIC, 1967), p. 157-164, cit. p. 164. Every adult infidel to be baptized needed a proper previous instruction on the Faith (Vitoria, Summa Sacramentorum (1561), pars 2 q. 30 paragr. "¶ QVÆRITVR, quo…") that he or she would assume through baptism, as the degree of grace itself to be conferred by the sacrament depended on the disposition of the infidel to receive it and its voluntary adherence, inexistent in the case of non-catechized adult infidels (Vitoria, Summa Sacramentorum (1561), pars 2 q. 18 paragr. "¶ QVÆritur, an…"). While the administration of baptism should be considered the indelible mark, which implied the entry in the Church of a child being born in a Christian family of a Christian republic, making him or her the depositary of the corresponding rights and obligations prescribed in the normative order of the institution,3535 Meyer, Christoph, “Nichtchristen in der Geschichte des kanon…
Meyer, Christoph, “Nichtchristen in der Geschichte des kanonischen Rechts. Beobachtungen zu Entwicklung und Problemen der Forschung”, in Rg 26 (2018), p. 144, DOI:10.12946/rg26/139-160. the same could not be said without reserve not only for adult infidels to be baptized, but also with regards to those many baptized in the overseas dominions of the Catholic monarchies, which once baptized, were left to their own devices. In the first case, the growing of the child in the Christian faith was socially and institutionally assured. Oppositely, the adult infidel having been educated into another religious culture and tradition or the baptized child abandoned to his or her fate risked to incur into serious infringements of divine and natural law -implying mortal sin and eternal damnation- if not properly and continuously instructed in the Christian faith. The risk of apostasy and returning into traditional religious beliefs and rites was presumed to be enormous. For these adult infidels, the transition from
Peña Montenegro, Itinerario para párrocos de indios (1771), Libro II, Trat. VIII, Secc. IX, p. 219
Coexistence and communication between Christian and infidels
The last of the great topics related to infidelity that remains to be addressed is that of the regulation of coexistence or "communication" between Christians and infidels: The actual, potential, or presumed threats that infidels represented vis-à-vis the Christian faith marked the limits of an interreligious living together made possible by the same acceptance of a religious diversity that was understood at the same time as a persistent and irremediable evil -inasmuch as the forced conversion of infidels was unanimously rejected, since to believe depends on the will (STh II-II, q. 10, art. 9). Only Christian heretics and apostates could be, in fact, coerced to abjure their errors and deviations from True Faith. In these and other general points, Salamanca scholastics repeated without further additions a classical
The permissibility of interaction between Christian and infidels depended on the various aspects and conditions of any given concrete case. In general terms, where neither scandalum nor
With regards to interaction with the classical infidels, Jews and Muslims, Salamanca scholastics repeated the equally classical long list of prohibitions contained in the main sources of canon law: to give but one example, Juan de Azor takes into account in his Institutiones morales (1613) the prohibitions for Christians of living, eating and taking bath together with Jews, making use of Jewish doctors and medicines prescribed by them, allowing their children to be nourished by Jews and borrowing them servants. It was not allowed for Jews to have Christian servants and hold public offices ( Azor, Institutiones morales, Pars I, L. VIII, Cap. XXII, p. 553). Food was a particular field of confessional battle, and Christian responded to infidels’ prohibitions such as the one of eating pork, prohibiting the eating of unleavened bread (ibid.). Of course, visiting synagogues, mosques and other infidel temples and the participation in infidel feasts were forbidden to a Christian (Ibid., pp. 553-554). The traditional regulation tried, in fact, to reduce the interaction of Christians with other religious communities to the minimum needed for the common good of the republic in which both Christians and infidels lived. In this sense, while interreligious commerce was allowed in general terms, any other kind of social intercourse made with ludic purposes fell under a severe prohibition. In general terms, we can say that Salamanca jurists maintained a rigorous legal framework which obliged, for example, to remove the whole cover of a Church's walls if an infidel was improperly buried inside the temple (Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 27, num. 253, paragr. "¶ El segundo ca…").
As in many other fields, the most original contributions made by Salamanca scholasticism had to see with the new kind of Pagans recently discovered overseas, to which the obstinata perfidia (Azor, Institutiones morales, Pars I, L. VIII, Cap. XXII, p. 553) from which Azor had spoken in trying to describe the attitude of Jews in their presumably problematic
Acosta, De procuranda indorum salute, Libro III, Cap. V, p. 293. From the beginning of the conquests, many voices were therefore raised asking for the concentration and isolation of Natives infidels in
See Verástique, Bernardino, Michoacán and Eden. Vasco de Quiroga and the Evangelization of Western Mexico, Austin, University of Texas Press, 2000. and lasted until the dismantlement of the 18th century Jesuit missions. Nevertheless, we cannot really speak about a common Salamanca point of view on this issue, given that many authors tried to reconcile the search for the spiritual good of the Indians with the material ends naturally ambitioned by the Spanish settlers: authors such as Acosta supported the encomienda system, and considered, that despite some abuses, the frequent coexistence between Christian laymen and Natives was the only possible way for the latter to abandon their bestial habits and get a Christian instruction (Acosta, De procuranda indorum salute, Libro III, Cap. XIX, pp. 355-356).
Insofar as the American Pagans would not compromise the faith of their Christians neighbours, they were allowed to "communicate" and live with them. Nevertheless, prohibitions created for Jews and Muslims, such as the one of holding public offices were also applied to them. As Azpilcueta recalls in his Manual de Confessores, other functions that provided honour and social recognition, such as the one of being baptismal godparent, could only be performed by Christians (although infidels could baptize in case of need).3939 Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 22 num.…
Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 22 num. 6.
In many civil and religious issues regarding such different topics as marriage, divorce, contracts, commerce, tributes or clothing,
For example, a marriage contracted between a Christian and a non-baptized -even if
Cf. Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 22 paragr. "¶ Lo tercero, q…". This was contrary to the marriage contracted with a heretic, valid even if sinful and indissoluble even after one of the spouses became heretic. Cf. Azpilcueta, Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 22 paragr. "¶ Lo tercero, q…". Regarding marriages between infidels, those not contravening natural law (i.e. marriages between parents and their own children) were generally considered to be legitimate contracts, but these unions did not have the same status as a Christian marriage, the only one considered to be
Cf. Alonso de la Vera Cruz, Speculum coniugiorum (1562), Art. XXXVI, pp. 452-453.
American Pagans were, in fact, and once again, a touchstone for traditional doctrines regarding marriage. In a treatise consecrated to examine if infidels, and specially the peoples of the New World celebrated true marriages despite being or having been infidels,4242 Dubia raised by Vera Cruz in Articles 1 and 2 of the Second …
In the argument about human nature, Vera Cruz relied on the authority of Aristotle, who in his Ethics had considered the human being, to be more a conjugal animal than a political one; cf. Vera Cruz, Speculum coniugiorum, L. II, art. I, p. 265. he even defended that the marriages contracted by infidels in strict compliance with natural law could be considered as having a certain sacramental character -as signs of something sacred- and conferring a certain degree of grace (Ibid., L. II, Art. XXXV, p. 451). This position opened a front of controversy with rigorous presenters of the traditional canonical framework such as Azpilcueta (Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 22 paragr. "PResuponemos lo…"), Soto or Manuel Rodríguez (El Lusitano) –usually advocated in 17th writings on sacraments such as the popular Castilian Suma by Pedro de Ledesma4444 Pedro de Ledesma, Primera parte de la suma en la qual se cif…
Pedro de Ledesma, Primera parte de la suma en la qual se cifra, y suma todo lo que toca y pertenece a los sacramentos (1617), “Del sacramento del matrimonio”, Cap. XXIV, p. 522.-, especially because, in his attempt to adapt with a certain flexibility classical legal prescriptions to the American social realities, Vera Cruz arrived to consider consanguineous marriages contracted between infidel brothers and sisters as according to natural law and not to be dissolved if they converted to Christianity. Oppositely, Soto (whose authority -in Soto, De iustitia et iure, L. II, q. 3, arts. 7 y 8- was, precisely, challenged by Vera Cruz in his Speculum coniugiorum, L. II, Art. XXII, pp. 382-383) and later masters of the School never admit as valid and indissoluble the marriage contracted by infidels within the first degree of transversal consanguinity.4545 Cf. e.g. Pedro de Ledesma, Primera parte de la suma, Cap. XI…
Cf. e.g. Pedro de Ledesma, Primera parte de la suma, Cap. XIV, p. 484.
Similar in a certain way to Vitoria’s and Soto’s speculations about the possibility of salvation for infidels following the dictates of natural law, Vera Cruz's reflections can be seen as an example of the many innovative nuances to which the need of accommodating traditional normative frameworks to the new challenges faced by the Iberian missionaries drove the intellectuals in charge of elaborating general theological and juridical guidelines. Though well argued, this kind of innovative positions led to a polarisation of opinions, being very problematic to speak properly of sacraments and salvation outside the Church.
Many fiscal issues regarding the way in which infidels living under a Christian prince should be taxed were also re-evaluated in the light of a new scenario in which, suddenly, some Christian monarchs had more infidel than Christian vassals. While some Salamanca authors, driven by their missionary zeal, pronounced themselves in favour of burdening with the highest tax rates possible those
Cf. Vera Cruz, Relectio de dominio infidelium et iusto bello, Dubium XI, 821-822.
A similar research of fair general criteria of conduct against an arbitrariness usually masked under the guise of religious zeal was also pursued for the case of Christian living under the authority of an infidel prince or undertaking transactions which implied the payment of a certain
Pedro de Ledesma, Segunda parte de la suma, en la cual se cifra y suma toda la moral y casos de conciencia que no pertenecen a los sacramentos (1617), Tratado séptimo, p. 193.
One of the most regulated fields in the problematic
Pedro de Ledesma, Segunda parte de la suma, Tratado séptimo, p. 193. The classical sources of Canon Law had already prohibited Christians to sell infidel goods potentially harmful for Christians themselves, such as weapons and raw materials suitable for their manufacture, or products to be used in non-Christian religious rites.5050 Pedro de Ledesma, Segunda parte de la suma, Tratado primero,…
Pedro de Ledesma, Segunda parte de la suma, Tratado primero, p. 23. Those prohibitions were repeated in the normative literature written by the Salamanca masters, who recommended the seizure and confiscation of this kind of goods.5151E.g. Vitoria, De Indis prior, paragr. "¶ Quinta propos…". The Castilian monarchy could also rely on a long tradition of norms regulating commerce and wars with infidels. Especially influential until 18th century were Alfonso X’s Partidas. Appealing to some of their provisions, the jurist Hevia de Bolaños considered even that Christian merchants selling arms to the enemies of the Faith -and soldiers and pilots at their service- could be enslaved.5252 Hevia de Bolaños, Curia Philippica (1603), Libro I, Cap. XII…
Hevia de Bolaños, Curia Philippica (1603), Libro I, Cap. XII. On this kind of issues, Azpilcueta was, without doubt, the author who mostly contributed to adapt that traditional framework to a new context marked by the settling of commercial relationship with the 'new' Pagan peoples of the Western Indies and the growing military and economic power of Turks. In his Manual de Confessores, he incorporated recent legal provisions such as Julius III’s bull In Coena Domini (1550), extending the penalty of excommunication to any merchant selling arms to infidel peoples or princes in actual or virtual war with Christians, including a new kind of hostile Pagans which after six decades of predication of the Christian faith in America, still resisted to it.5353Manual de Confessores y Penitentes, cap. 27 num. 62. The Doctor Navarrus dedicated also a long repetitio to clarify the many specific issues which had arisen in the new context of a commerce with infidels which had become global, linking for the first time in history Europe, Africa, America and Asia.5454 Azpilcueta, Relectio cap. Ita quorundam de Iudaeis in qua de…
Azpilcueta, Relectio cap. Ita quorundam de Iudaeis in qua de rebus ad Sarracenos deferri prohibitis et censuris ob id latis non segniter disputatur (1550), Coimbra, Ioannes Barrerius & Ioannes Aluarus. Azpilcueta redirected the readers of his Manual to this more specific repetitio for further precisions.