Corpus Lusitanorum de Pace: The Portuguese Contribution to the Peninsular School for Peace (XVI and XVII Centuries)

Principal Investigator:

Pedro Calafate

Funding Institution: FCT
Date: 2012-2015


FCT Project PTDC/FIL-ETI/119182/2010

The publication of Corpus Hispanorum De Pace (CHP) by CSIC proved the existence of very active relations in the 16th and 17th centuries between the peninsular universities of Salamanca, Coimbra and Evora, as strong as the existing ones between the Salamanca, Valladolid and Alcala, and also the part played in Portuguese universities by Portuguese and Spanish masters, in the systematization of the concept of human dignity, in the elaboration of modern international law, and thus, in the claim of the concept of international community. At stake were the philosophical and jurisdictional principles, assumed to regulate the relation between peoples of various cultures and civilizations.  Accordingly, professors in Coimbra and Evora clearly launched the theses on the initial sovereignty of the people, by considering the political power proper to human nature with scholastic jus naturalism. This was the basis of the need to respect the legitimacy of indigenous’ sovereignty, even if embryonary, by showing that the political power in pagan princes, by itself, was not inferior or naturally distinct from the power of Christian princes, and that the theoretical considerations about the foundations of power in natural reason are valid for all cultures and religions, since God created all men free. At stake was the co-relation between man’s freedom and international common good, and the subsequent conception of the human person as the foundation stone of the international community. Then, the legitimacy of political power, proper to human communities, did not depend on faith or charity, and accordingly, could not be considered dependent from a jurisdictional order of imperial nature. What mattered was to found both the thesis that the pope had no secular or spiritual authority over the peoples alien to the Christian world, and the thesis that the Roman-Germanic emperors or the peninsular kings could not judge themselves to be lords of the world. Neither could the pope define himself dominus orbis in temporalibus et spiritualisbus, nor did the imperial authority cover all the world’s peoples, taken as divine power, or natural law, or positive human law, and also in this last case, the right of war, the grounding pillar of the School for Peace. The empire would then be either a human designatum, thus morally impossible, or as a jurisdictional expectancy with preferential option. Even when the Empire asserts itself prophetically, in providential designatum, as in A. Vieira, the ethical-jurisdictional precepts, founding human dignity beyond color or creed, should be respected, or else, illegitamely occupied territories would have to be restored and compensated for. Accordingly, it also mattered to account the right of positive resistance of unjusticed sovereign peoples, even against Christians and Europeans, which would be the basis of the future right of self-determination. L. Pereña re-instated the importance of the constant interflow of ideas between the above mentioned universities for the progress of the School and its doctrine. The national archives (ANTT – AJCJ; TSO; BA; BNP; BPE; BUP) preserve collections of juridical-ethical reports that render possible the assessment of the weight of this school for decision-making in key-moments of our maritime Discoveries. The aim is now to study in texts, many still inedit, the path that since the early 16th century leads to A. Vieira’s text (1693), when he declares that in relevant issues – like sovereignty and freedom, the crown of feathers has the same value of the crown of gold, though without abdicating from the cultural superiority of Christianity and of ius praedicandi, within the respect for freedom of choice to guarantee human dignity.

Research Team

Pedro Calafate, Leonel Ribeiro dos Santos, António Rocha Martins, Javier García Medina.