Jesuit arguments for voluntary slavery in Japan and Brazil

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The present article analyzes how missionaries from the Society of Jesus argued in favor of the voluntary enslavement of Brazilians and Japanese in the sixteenth century. Although each case was defended with different arguments, a comparative analysis reveals that in both Brazil and Japan the Jesuits' defenses were based on similar premises - both were founded on readings of principles of natural law and discussed the limits to the conditions identified by Prierias regarding the legitimacy of voluntary slavery. The difference between the two cases derives from their historical contexts: in Brazil, the debate between Caxa and Nóbrega unfolded against the background of tutiorism, while the Japanese case was discussed during the hegemony of the doctrine of probabilism. This difference becomes crucial to explaining the reasons why the first case was impossible to defend, while elucidating the flexibility with which the second case was approached.




Ehalt, R. da S. (2019). Jesuit arguments for voluntary slavery in Japan and Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Historia, 39(80), 87–107.

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