Oct 7/98: Religious doctrine & genocide-Burning papal bulls
BURNING PAPAL BULLS
Wednesday, October 7, 1998
"This conclusion [examining the process as to how historical entities are produced rather than taking for granted and assuming their production via 'divine' creation] led me to understand that the basic concept for the historian is that of 'invention,' because the concept of 'creation,' which assumes that something is produced EX NIHILO, can have meaning only within the sphere of religious faith. Thus I came to suspect that the clue to the problem of the historical appearance of America lay in considering the event as the result of an inspired invention of Western thought and not as the result of a purely physical discovery, brought about, furthermore, by accident. But in order to test this theory it was necessary to undertake a critical inquiry aimed at retracing the whole history, not of the "discovery of America," but of the IDEA THAT AMERICA HAD BEEN DISCOVERED. The result of this investigation, published in 1951, allowed me to see that, when carried to its logical conclusion, that idea implies a REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM, and therefore, that it is an inadequate way to understand the historical reality which it attempts to explain."
- Edmundo O'Gorman, The Invention of America, 1961
Aloha y Guaitiao,
E komo mai - welcome! This message is broken into two parts: Part
I announces the papal bulls burning event, particularly the Honolulu event,
and provides some background on the historical and contemporary meaning of these
decrees and the movement to revoke them.
Steve Newcomb's article, "Five Hundred
Years of Injustice," critiques the basis of the "Doctrine of Discovery"
and is a must read in order to see how Christian dogma still forms the basis
of international law with regard to indigenous peoples today.
Part II provides a historical introduction
to the Inter Caetera bull of May 4, 1493, and the words of the bull in
its entirety, for your printing and burning pleasure.
PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL GLOBAL PAPAL BULL BURNING!
COME and PARTICIPATE at the annual global Papal Bulls burning on Monday October 12, 5pm, so-called "Columbus" or "Discoverer's Day." The event in Honolulu will take place at the Catholic Diocese Office of the Bishop, 1184 Bishop St. (Fort St. Mall right off Beretania).
Indigenous peoples and supporters call upon people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade the Vatican and Pope John Paull II to formally revoke these documents.
Speakers include Kaleo Patterson, Hawai'i Ecumenical Coalition; Nalani Minton, Indigenous Law Institute; Hank Raymond, Okanogan San Poil people; Ralph Summy, Spark Matsunaga Institute for Peace; Tony Castanha, Caribe/Boricua descendant. Sponsoring organizations in Hawai'i include the Hawai'i Ecumenical Coalition, Matsunaga Institute for Peace, Ka Pakaukau, Ahupua'a Action Alliance, Indigenous Law Institute, and the Pro-Kanaka Maoli Independence Working Group.
For more information contact: Nalani (firstname.lastname@example.org), Tony
(email@example.com), Francis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Josh
WHAT ARE THE "PAPAL BULLS"?
The papal bulls were decrees issued by the Vatican hierarchy which essentially sanctioned the fifteenth century Portuguese and Spanish invasions and genocide campaigns into Africa and the Amerikas. Though many bulls had been historically handed down, we are primarily concerned with two decrees: the 1452 bull issued by Pope Nicolas V to Portuguese King Alfonso and the May 4, 1493 Inter Cetera bull issued to the king and queen of Spain by Pope Alexander VI. Both decrees established Christian dominion and subjugation of non-Christian "heathen" peoples and their lands. The 1493 bull had divided the world in half, everything 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands went to Spain, everything east to Portugal.
WHY IS REVOKING THE PAPAL BULLS IMPORTANT TODAY?
This action would help restore the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples. The Christian/heathen ideology of the bulls forms the basis of the Doctrine of Discovery and the Law of "Christian" Nations (see Newcomb below) and, subsequently, forms the core of U.S. Federal Indian law today. These documents continue to be used by
Nation-States to subjugate and deny the rights of indigenous peoples.
A movement to revoke the papal bulls has been ongoing for a number of years. At the Parliament of World Religions in 1994 over 60 indigenous delegates drafted a Declaration of Vision. It reads, in part:
We call upon the people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade Pope John II to formally revoke the Inter Cetera Bull of May 4, 1493, which will restore our fundamental human rights. That Papal document called for our Nations and Peoples to be subjugated so the Christian Empire and its doctrines would be propagated. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. McIntosh 8 Wheat 543 (in 1823) adopted the same principle of subjugation expressed in the Inter Cetera Bull. This Papal Bull has been, and continues to be, devastating to our religions, our cultures, and the survival of our populations.
FIVE HUNDRED YEARS OF INJUSTICE:
Steve Newcomb, Shawnee/Lenape Legal Scholar
The Legacy of Fifteenth Century Religious Prejudice
When Christopher Columbus first set foot on the white sands of Guanahani island, he performed a ceremony to "take possession" of the land for the king and queen of Spain, acting under the international laws of Western Christendom. Although the story of Columbus' "discovery" has taken on mythological proprtions in most of the Western world, few people are aware that his act of "possession" was based on a religious doctrine now known as the Doctrine of Discovery. Even fewer people realize that today--five centuries later--the United States government stil uses this archaic Judeo-Christian doctrine to deny the rights of Native American Indians.
Origins of the Doctrine of Discovery
To understand the connection between Christendom's principle of discovery and the laws of the United States, we need to begin by examining a papal document issued forty years before Columbus' historic voyage. In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued to King Alfonso V of Portugal the bull Romanus Pontifex, declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories.
Under various theological and legal doctrines formulated during and after the Crusades, non-Christians were considered enemies of the Catholic faith and, as such, less than human. Accordingly, in the bull of 1452, Pope Nicholas directed King Alfonso to "capture, vanquish, and subdue the saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ," to "put them into perpetual slavery," and "to take all their possessions and property." [Davenport: 20-26] Acting on this papal privilege, Portugal continued to traffic in African slaves, and expanded its royal dominions by making "discoveries" along the western coast of Africa, claiming those lands as Portuguese territory.
Thus, when Columbus sailed west across the Sea of Darkness in 1492--with the express understanding that he was authorized to "take possession" of any lands he "discovered" that were "not under the dominion of any Christian rulers"--he and the Spanish sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were following an already well established tradition of "discovery" and conquest. [Thacher: 96] Indeed, after Columbus returned to Europe, Pope Alexander VI issued a papal document, the bull Inter Cetera of May 3, 1493, "granting" to Spain--at the request of Ferdinand and Isabella--the right to conquer the lands which Columbus had already found, as well as any lands which Spain might "discover" in the future.
In the Inter Cetera document, Pope Alexander stated his desire that the "discovered" people be "subjugated and brought to the faith itself." [Davenport: 61] By this means, said the pope, the "Christian Empire" would be propagated. [Thatcher: 127] When Portugal protested this concession to Spain, Pope Alexander stipulated in a subsequent bull--issued May 4, 1493--that Spain must not attempt to establish its dominion over lands which had already "come into the possession of any Christian lords." [Davenport: 68] Then, to placate the two rival monarchs, the pope drew a line of demarcation between the two poles, giving Spain rights of conquest and dominion over one side of the globe, and Portugal over the other.
During this quincentennial of Columbus' jouney to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the above mentioned documents of the Catholic church. Indeed, these papal documents were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization--which dehumanized the indigenous people by regarding their
territories as being "inhabited only by brute animals." [Story: 135-6]
The lesson to be learned is that the papal bulls of 1452 and 1493
are but two clear examples of how the "Christian Powers," or "different States of Christendom," viewed indigenous peoples as "the
lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors." [Wheaton:
270-1] In fact, the Christian "Law of Nations" asserted that
Christian nations had a divine right, based on the Bible, to claim
absolute title to and ultimate authority over any newly "discovered"
Non-Christian inhabitants and their lands. Over the next several
centuries, these beliefs gave rise to the Doctrine of Discovery
used by Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Holland--all Christian nations.
The Doctrine of Discovery in U.S. Law
In 1823, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery was quietly adopted
into U.S. law by the Supreme Court in the celebrated case, JOHNSON
v. McINTOSH (8 Wheat., 543). Writing for the unanimous court, Chief
Justice John Marshall observed that Christian European nations had
assumed "ultimate dominion" over the lands of America during the
Age of Discovery, and that--upon "discovery"--the Indians had lost
"their rights to complete sovereignty, as independent nations," and
only retained a right of "occupancy" in their lands. In other words,
Indian nations were subject to the ultimate authority of the first
nation of Christendom to claim possession of a given region of
Indian lands. [Johnson: 574; Wheaton: 270-1]
According to Marshall, the United States--upon winning its indepen-
dence in 1776--became a successor nation to the right of "discovery"
and acquired the power of "dominion" from Great Britain. [Johnson:
587-9] Of course, when Marshall first defined the principle of
"discovery," he used language phrased in such a way that it drew
attention away from its religious bias, stating that "discovery
gave title to the government, by whose subject, or by whose authority, the discovery was made, against all other European governments."
[Johnson: 573-4] However, when discussing legal precedent to support
the court's findings, Marshall specifically cited the English charter
issued to the explorer John Cabot, in order to document England's
"complete recognition" of the Doctrine of Discovery. [Johnson: 576]
Then, paraphrasing the language of the charter, Marshall noted that
Cabot was authorized to take possession of lands, "notwithstanding
the occupancy of the natives, who were heathens, and, at the same
time, admitting the prior title of any Christian people who may
have made a previous discovery." [Johnson: 577]
In other words, the Court affirmed that United States law was based
on a fundamental rule of the "Law of Nations"--that it was permissible
to virtually ignore the most basic rights of indigenous "heathens,"
and to claim that the "unoccupied lands" of America rightfully belonged to discovering Christian European nations. Of course, it's
important to understand that, as Benjamin Munn Ziegler pointed out
in The International Law of John Marshall, the term "unoccupied
lands" referred to "the land in America which, when discovered,
were 'occupied by Indians' but 'unoccupied' by Christians."
Ironically, the same year that the JOHNSON v. McINTOSH decision was
handed down, founding father James Madison wrote: "Religion is not
in the purview of human government. Religion is essentially distinct
from civil government, and exempt from its cognizance; a connection
between them is injurious to both."
Most of us have been brought up to believe that the United States
Constitution was designed to keep church and state apart. Unfortunately, with the Johnson decision, the Christian Doctrine of Discovery
was not only written into U.S. law but also became the cornerstone of
U.S. Indian policy over the next century.
From Doctrine of Discovery to Domestic Dependent Nations
Using the principle of "discovery" as its premise, the Supreme Court
stated in 1831 that the Cherokee Nation (and, by implication, all
Indian nations) was not fully sovereign, but "may, perhaps," be
deemed a "domestic dependent nation." [Cherokee Nation v. Georgia]
The federal government took this to mean that treaties made with
Indian nations did not recognize Indian nations as free of U.S.
control. According to the U.S. government, Indian nations were
"domestic dependent nations" subject to the federal government's
absolute legislative authority--known in the law as "plenary power."
Thus, the ancient doctrine of Christian discovery and its subjugation of "heathen" Indians were extended by the federal government
into a mythical doctrine that the U.S. Constitution allows for
governmental authority over Indian nations and their lands. [Savage:
The myth of U.S. "plenary power" over Indians--a power, by the way,
that was never intended by the authors of the Constitution [Savage:
115-17]--has been used by the United States to:
The above cases are just a few examples of how the United States
government has used the JOHNSON v. McINTOSH and Cherokee Nation v.
Georgia decisions to callously disregard the human rights of Native
peoples. Indeed, countless U.S. Indian policies have been based on
the underlying, hidden rationale of "Christian discovery"--a rationale
which holds that the "heathen" indigenous peoples of the Americas are
"subordinate to the first Christian discoverer," or its successor.
a) Circumvent the terms of solemn treaties that the U.S. entered
into with Indian nations, despite the fact that all such treaties
are "supreme Law of the Land, anything in the Constitution notwithstanding."
b) Steal the homelands of Indian peoples living east of the Mississippi
River, by removing them from their traditional ancestral homelands
through the Indian Removal Act of 1835.
c) Use a congressional statute, known as the General Allotment Act of
1887, to divest Indian people of some 90 million acres of their lands.
This act, explained John Collier (Commissioner of Indian Affairs) was
"an indirect method--peaceful under the forms of law--of taking away
the land that we were determined to take away but did not want to take
it openly by breaking treaties."
d) Steal the sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux nation in violation of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie which recognized the Sioux
Nation's exclusive and absolute possession of their lands.
e) Pay the Secretary of the Interior $26 million for 24 million acres
of Western Shoshone lands, because the Western Shoshone people have
steadfastly refused to sell the land and refused to accept the money.
Although the Western Shoshone Nation's sovereignty and territorial
boundaries were clearly recognized by the federal government in the
1863 Ruby Valley Treaty, the government now claims that paying itself
on behalf of the Western Shoshone has extinguished the Western
Shoshone's title to their lands.
As Thomas Jefferson once observed, when the state uses church doctrine
as a coercive tool, the result is "hypocrisy and meanness." Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court's use of the ancient Christian
Doctrine of Discovery--to circumvent the Constitution as a means of
taking Indian lands and placing Indian nations under U.S. control--has proven Madison and Jefferson right.
Bringing an End to Five Hundred Years of Injustice to Indigenous Peoples
In a country set up to maintain a strict separation of church and
state, the Doctrine of Discovery should have long ago been declared
unconstitutional because it is based on a prejudicial treatment of
Native American people simply because they were not Christians at the
time of European arrival. By penalizing Native people on the basis of
their non-Christian religious beliefs and ceremonial practices, stripping them of most of their lands and most of their sovereignty, the
JOHNSON v. McINTOSH ruling stands as a monumental violation of the
"natural rights" of humankind, as well as the most fundamental human
rights of indigenous peoples.
As we move beyond the quincentennial of Columbus' invasion of the
Americas, it is high time to formally renounce and put an end to the
religious prejudice that was written into U.S. law by Chief Justice
John Marshall. Whether or not the American people--especially the
Christian right--prove willing to assist Native people in getting the
Johnson ruling overturned will say a lot to the world community about
just how seriously the United States takes its own foundational principles of liberty, justice, and religious freedom.
As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Inter Cetera bulls on May
3 and 4 of 1993, it is important to keep in mind that the Doctrine of
Discovery is still being used by countries throughout the Americas to
deny the rights of indigenous peoples, and to perpetuate colonization
throughout the Western Hemisphere. To begin to bring that system of
colonization to an end, and to move away from a cultural and spirtual
tradition of subjugation, we must overturn the doctrine at its roots.
Therefore, I propose that non-Native people--especially Christians--unite in solidarity with indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere
to impress upon Pope John Paul II how important it is for him to
revoke, in a formal ceremony with indigenous people, the Inter Cetera
bulls of 1493.
Revoking those papal documents and overturning the JOHNSON v. McINTOSH
decision are two important first steps toward correcting the injustices
that have been inflicted on indigenous peoples over the past five hundred years. They are also spiritually significant steps toward creating
a way of life that is no longer based on greed and subjugation. Perhaps
then we will be able to use our newfound solidarity to begin to create
a lifestyle based on the first indigenous principle:
RESPECT THE EARTH AND HAVE A SACRED REGARD FOR ALL LIVING THINGS
A CALL FOR NON-VIOLENT ACTION
Indigenous peoples and supporters from around the world call upon people of conscience in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to persuade the Vatican and Pope John Paul II to revoke the papal bulls. In the Lili'uokalani-Gandhian-King tradition of non-violent action and resistance indigenous peoples and supporters are asked to symbolically burn copies (or tear it up if you wish) of the Inter Caetera bull of May 4, 1493, provided below.
In Honolulu, the main event will take place on Monday October 12, 5pm, at the Catholic Diocese Office of the Bishop (the Cathedral), 1184 Bishop St. (Fort St. Mall right off of Beretania).
Email instructions? Simply print out this message and clip off the Bull where it says "cut here." Then make copies, distribute and burn (or tear) from wherever you may be, or at your local Catholic church.
THE PAPAL BULLS AS PERTAINING TO THE AMERICAS
The historical introduction below is taken from Paul Gottschalk, The Earliest Diplomatic Documents on America: The Papal Bulls of 1493 and the Treaty of Tordesillas Reproduced and Translated, Berlin, 1927. The introduction and bull Inter Caetera of May 4, 1493 are provided by Frances Gardiner Davenport, ed., European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648, Washington, D.C., 1917.
Returning from his first voyage, Columbus landed on the Portuguese coast
and was at once invited to Court. He reached Lisbon March 4, 1493, upon
the invitation of the King of Portugal. On hearing his report, King John
II claimed the newly discovered lands for Portugal by virtue of the Treaty
of Alcacovas of 1479, sanctioned by the Bulls of Pope Sixtus IV, dated
June 21, 1481. The text of the Treaty and the Bull contain some slight
variations and thereby allow of different interpretations. It is difficult
to decide, therefore, whether this claim of the Portuguese King was
justified. Contemporary as well as modern historians have always differed
widely in their opinions. It is generally believed that, with his famous
message on his discoveries, Columbus dispatched to the Spanish Kings, who
were at Barcelona, a report on the difficulties raised by the Portuguese
King, but it is questioned whether this was sent from Lisbon by land or
from Palos after having reached the latter port, March 14, 1493.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain reported the great news at once
to Pope Alexander VI. It is again doubtful whether this was done by a
special messenger or by a courier sent to Cardinal Bernardin de Carvajal
and to Ruiz de Medina, then Spanish ambassadors at the Holy See, and
whether this was done in consequence of the Portuguese claims or according
to a general custom of that period. Pope Alexander VI, himself a Spaniard,
granted the request to confer the lately discovered lands on the Crown of
Spain by three Bulls issued on May 3 and May 4 1493 (all much in favor of
Spain, and depriving Portugal of nearly all privileges bestowed upon it
by the Bulls of 1452 and 1454, issued bu Nicholas V, and by that of 1481
of Sixtus IV and one of 1484 of Innocentius VIII). Some months later, on
September 26, 1493, a fourth Bull was issued granting to Spain almost
unlimited rights. But this act remained without consequence; for in the
meantime, at the suggestion of the King of Spain, it was agreed that, to
avoid complications already threatening, a conference should be held.
Portuguese ambassadors were sent to Barcelona and, after many negotiations
and some interruptions, a settlement was finally reached at the small
Spanish town of Tordesillas and a treaty was signed on June 7, 1494.
Obviously inspired by the corresponding passage in the second Bull Inter
caetera, but not referring to this or any other bulls or treaties, it
was provided that there should be drawn a line running from North to
South, 370 leagues west from Cape Verde Islands, and that everything west
of this line should belong to Spain, everything east of it to Portugal.
The sanction, which by the terms of the Treaty was to be asked, was never
given by Alexander VI and not before the 24th of January, 1506, was a
Bull to such effect issued by Pope Julius II. Although much disputed
and very differently interpreted, this Treaty remained in force until
January 13, 1750, when the Treaty of Madrid annulled the boundary line.
It would seem, however, that this boundary line, first provided for in
the second Bull Inter Caetera and later corrected in the Treaty of
Tordesillas, decided what parts of the western hemisphere as well as
which regions of the eastern hemisphere were discovered, possessed and
civilized by Spain and by Portugal respectively, and which still speak
the language and show the influence of the culture of their first dis-
Introduction to the Bull Inter Caetera - May 4, 1493
Like the bull Eximiae devotionis of May 3, the bull Inter caetera of May 4 is a restatement of part of the bull Inter caetera of May 3.
Taken together the two later bulls cover the same ground as the bull
Inter caetera of May 3, for which they form a substitute. The changes
introduced into the bull Inter caetera of May 4, are, however, of
great importance, and highly favorable to Spain. Instead of merely
granting to Castile the lands discovered by her envoys, and not under
Christian rule, the revised bull draws a line of demarcation one hundred
leagues west of any of the Azores or Cape Verde Islands, and assigns to
Castile the exclusive right to acquire territorial possessions and to
trade in all lands west of that line, which at Christmas, 1492, were
not in the possession of any Christian prince. The general safeguard
to the possible conflicting rights of Portugal is lacking. All persons
are forbidden to approach the lands west of the line without special
license from the rulers of Castile.
It is not probable that by this bull Alexander VI intended to secure to
Portugal an eastern route to the Indies, as some writers have maintained.
In the bulls of May 3, the earlier papal grants to Portugal are said to
have given her rights in the region of Guinea and the Gold Mine, but the
Indies are not mentioned. The bull of May 4 does not name Portugal and
refers to her only in the clause which excepts from the donation any
lands west of the demarcation line, which at Christmas, 1492, might be
in the possession of any Christian prince.
CUT HERE-:-CUT HERE-:-CUT HERE-:-CUT HERE-:-CUT HERE-:-CUT HERE
The Bull Inter Caetera (Alexander VI.) May 4, 1493
Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to the illustrious
sovereigns, our very dear son in Christ, Ferdinand, king, and our very
dear daughter in Christ, Isabella, queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon,
Sicily, and Granada, health and apostolic benediction. Among other works
well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this
assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic
faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased
and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous
nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself. Wherefore inasmuch as by the favor of divine clemency, we, though of insufficient
merits, have been called to this Holy See of Peter, recognizing that
as true Catholic kings and princes, such as we have known you always
to be, and as your illustrious deeds already known to almost the whole
world declare, you not only eagerly desire but with every effort, zeal,
and diligence, without regard to hardships, expenses, dangers, with the
shedding even of your blood, are laboring to that end; recognizing also
that you have long since dedicated to this purpose your whole soul and
all your endeavors--as witnessed in these times with so much glory to
the Divine Name in your recovery of the kingdom of Granada from the
yoke of the Saracens--we therefore are rightly led, and hold it as our
duty, to grant you even of our own accord and in your favor those things
whereby with effort each day more hearty you may be enabled for the
honor of God himself and the spread of the Christian rule to carry
forward your holy and praiseworthy purpose so pleasing to immortal God.
We have indeed learned that you, who for a long time had intended to seek
out and discover certain islands and mainlands remote and unknown and not
hitherto discovered by others, to the end that you might bring to the worship of our Redeemer and the profession of the Catholic faith their
residents and inhabitants, having been up to the present time greatly
engaged in the siege and recovery of the kingdom itself of Granada were
unable to accomplish this holy and praiseworthy purpose; but the said
kingdom having at length been regained, as was pleasing to the Lord, you,
with the wish to fulfill your desire, chose our beloved son, Christopher
Columbus, a man assuredly worthy and of the highest recommendations and
fitted for so great an undertaking, whom you furnished with ships and men
equipped for like designs, not without the greatest hardships, dangers,
and expenses, to make diligent quest for these remote and unknown mainlands and islands through the sea, where hitherto no one had sailed; and
they at length, with divine aid and with the utmost diligence sailing in
the ocean sea, discovered certain very remote islands and even mainlands
that hitherto had not been discovered by others; wherein dwell very many
peoples living in peace, and, as reported, going unclothed, and not eating
flesh. Moreover, as your aforesaid envoys are of opinion, these very
peoples living in the said islands and countries believe in one God, the
Creator in heaven, and seem sufficiently disposed to embrace the Catholic
faith and be trained in good morals. And it is hoped that, were they instructed, the name of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, would easily be
introduced into the said countries and islands. Also, on one of the chief
of these aforesaid islands the said Christopher has already caused to be
put together and built a fortress fairly equipped, wherein he has stationed
as garrison certain Christians, companions of his, who are to make search
for other remote and unknown islands and mainlands. In the islands and
countries already discovered are found gold, spices, and very many other
precious things of divers kinds and qualities. Wherefore, as becomes
Catholic kings and princes, after earnest consideration of all matters,
especially of the rise and spread of the Catholic faith, as was the
fashion of your ancestors, kings of renowned memory, you have purposed
with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them
to the Catholic faith. Hence, heartily commending in the Lord this your
holy and praiseworthy purpose, and desirous that it be duly accomplished,
and that the name of our Savior be carried into those regions, we exhort
you very earnestly in the Lord and by your reception of holy baptism,
whereby you are bound to our apostolic commands, and by the bowels of
the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, enjoy strictly, that inasmuch as
with eager zeal for the true faith you design to equip and despatch
this expedition, you purpose also, as is your duty, to lead the peoples
dwelling in those islands and countries to embrace the Christian religion; nor at any time let dangers or hardships deter you therefrom, with
the stout hope and trust in your hearts that Almighty God will further
your undertakings. And, in order that you may enter upon so great an
undertaking with greater readiness and heartiness endowed with benefit
of our apostolic favor, we, of our own accord, not at your instance nor
the request of anyone else in your regard, but out of our own sole largess
and certain knowledge and out of the fullness of our apostolic power, by
the authority of Almighty God conferred upon us in blessed Peter and of
the vicarship of Jesus Christ, which we hold on earth, do by tenor of
these presents, should any of said islands have been found by your envoys
and captains, give, grant, and assign to you and your heirs and successors,
kings of Castile and Leon, forever, together with all their dominions,
cities, camps, places, and villages, and all rights, jurisdictions, and
appurtenances, all islands and mainlands found and to be found, discovered
and to be discovered towards the west and south, by drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole, namely the north, to the Antarctic pole,
namely the south, no matter whether the said mainlands and islands are
found and to be found in the direction of India or towards any other
quarter, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the
west and south from any of the islands commonly known as the Azores and
Cape Verde. With this proviso however that none of the islands and mainlands, found and to be found, discovered and to be discovered, beyond
that said line towards the west and south, be in the actual possession of
any Christian king or prince up to the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ
just past from which the present year one thousand four hundred ninety-three begins. And we make, appoint, and depute you and your said heirs
and successors lords of them with full and free power, authority, and
jurisdiction of every kind; with this proviso however, that by this our
gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince,
who may be in actual possesssion of said islands and mainlands prior to
the said birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, is hereby to be understood
to be withdrawn or taking away. Moreover we command you in virtue of
holy obedience that, employing all due diligence in the premises, as
you also promise--nor do we doubt your compliance therein in accordance
with your loyalty and royal greatness of spirit--you should appoint to
the aforesaid mainlands and islands worthy, God-fearing, learned,
skilled, and expeienced men, in order to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents in the Catholic faith and train them in good morals.
Furthermore, under penalty of excommunication "late sententie" to be
incurred "ipso facto," should anyone thus contravene, we strictly forbid
all persons of whatsoever rank, even imperial and royal, or of whatsoever
estate, degree, order, or condition, to dare without your special permit
or that of your aforesaid heirs and successors, to go for the purpose of
trade or any other reason to the islands or mainlands, found and to be
found, discovered and to be discovered, towards the west and south, by
drawing and establishing a line from the Arctic pole to the Antarctic
pole, no matter whether the mainlands and islands, found and to be
found, lie in the direction of India or toward any other quarter whatsoever, the said line to be distant one hundred leagues towards the
west and south, as is aforesaid, from any of the islands commonly known
as the Azores and Cape Verde; apostolic constitutions and ordinances
and other decrees whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding. We trust
in Him from whom empires and governments and all good things proceed,
that, should you, with the Lord's guidance, pursue this holy and praiseworthy undertaking, in a short while your hardships and endeavors will
attain the most felicitious result, to the happiness and glory of all
Christendom. But inasmuch as it would be difficult to have these present
letters sent to all places where desirable, we wish, and with similar
accord and knowledge do decree, that to? copies of them, signed by the
hand of a public notary commissioned therefor, and sealed with the seal
of any ecclesiastical officer or ecclesiastical court, the same respect
is to be shown in court and outside as well as anywhere else as would
be given to these presents should they thus be exhibited or shown. Let
no one, therefore, infringe, or with rash boldness contravene, this our
recommendation, exhortation, requisition, gift, grant, assignment, constitution, deputation, decree, mandate, prohibition, and will. Should
anyone presume to attempt this, be it known to him that he will incur
the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the incarnation of our
Lord one thousand four hundred and ninety-three, the fourth of May,
and the first year of our pontificate.
REVOKE THE BULLS! WITH RESPECT FOR ALL LIFE, WE THANK YOU.