Francisco De Vitoria Summary

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Francisco de Vitoria is often painted as the more logical and more fair jurist when compared to Juan López Palacios Rubios. Vitoria, however, is no bleeding heart. Rather, he evades the outright imperial rhetoric employed by Palacios Rubios and chooses instead to hide colonialism under the guise of religion. By first refuting Palacios Rubios’s claims that the pope could give Spain jurisdiction over the so-called “New World,” and that the natives needed to be stopped from committing crimes against the law of nature, Vitoria creates a better persona for himself. But immediately after his initial rebuttal of Palacios Rubios’s justification for Spanish colonialism in the New World, Vitoria gives his own justification. He lists a myriad of conditions…show more content…
Thomas Aquinas and his theory of natural rights. Vitoria uses just and unjust titles to outline the conditions under which the subjection of natives can take place; just titles detail under which pretenses the natives can be subjected by the Spanish and unjust titles detail under which pretenses the natives cannot be subjected. His fifth unjust title, the sins of the barbarians, explains why he does not believe that the natives can be subjected because of their lack of Catholic faith and the sins they commit against natural law, the order Catholic Europeans believe to be universal to all peoples. Vitoria states, “Christian princes, even on the authority of the pope, may not compel the barbarians to give up their sins against the law of nature, nor punish them for such sins,” (Vitoria, 273). Vitoria uses Aquinas’ assertion that only those who subject themselves to the faith are bound to the pope and the church to support his statement. While this may sound reasonable, and certainly more plausible than Palacios Rubios’ belief that the pope can just allow Spain to can take over the natives’ empires, Vitoria will later circle back to this point and essentially destroy it in his search for reasons to subject the
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