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date: 08 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the scholastic idea of justice presented in the lectures, writings, and advocacy of key Spanish theologians during the early conquests of Amerindian peoples in the sixteenth century. Indebted to the medieval tradition and associated with the University of Salamanca, these Spanish theologians espoused a scholastic method of inquiry grounded in fundamental principles of justice and natural law. Their brand of early modern scholastic humanism displayed an increased sensitivity to historical consciousness and ethno-religious conflict through critical reflection on important sociopolitical questions in the Atlantic World related to the rights of non-Christians, just war, evangelization, and political authority. The chapter demonstrates how scholastic theology in the context of empire provided resources to challenge the injustice of violent colonial institutions and imperialistic humanism by affirming the rights of innocent peoples to spiritual and political freedom. It concludes with a brief overview of the Spanish-scholastic political legacy for the Latin American tradition of human rights.

Keywords: empire, humanism, human rights, just war, Las Casas, natural law, Vitoria, Salamanca

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