Saturday, February 05, 2011

Dum Diversas (English Translation)

I apologize for sitting on this for so long, but I was hoping to wait until I got a better translation. Last summer I came across the Latin text of Dum Diversas of Pope Nicholas V (1452) in a book entitled Bullarium Patronatus Portugalliae Regum which I found in the rare documents depository at the University of Michigan. Since this encyclical is somewhat controversial, having been accused by some of ushering in the entire West African slave trade (for example, here), I thought it would be helpful to get this document translated into English and posted on the blog, especially since there are no other extant English translations. 

So, I turned it over to a friend, a distinguished professor of Latin with decades of experience, and asked her to translate it for me. It was originally supposed to be done by last August, but a lot of things happened and I didn't get it until shortly before Christmas. Even then I decided to sit on it, because the translation was a very word for word literal translation and my professor friend said that it still needed to be put into idiomatic English. Since I don't know when this will happen - and since some of my readers have been asking about it - I decided to post it as is and just warn you about the "rough" nature of the translation.

The Bull was issued to King Alfonso of Portugal in 1452 authorizing an expedition against the Saracens of North Africa and granted a plenary indulgence to all who went on the campaign. It grants Alfonso the right to confiscate all the lands and property of any Saracen rulers he might subjugate and authorizes him to reduce such conquered persons to "perpetual servitude." Much has been made of this phrase "perpetual servitude", though since the Bull comes in the late medieval period and not in the early modern period, I am not sure the phrase "perpetual servitude" should be interpreted in the same light it would be if the Bull was written in, say, 1650. I think we need to see it in a more "feudal" sense than a colonial one. At any rate, it needs more study.

The sentences are very long with tons of sub-clauses, sometimes so many that the meaning is difficult to decipher (there's a couple of sentences that just don't make sense as they stand); in a few places I had to infer punctuation. If anybody wants to crosscheck this with the Latin, I encourage them to do so. The Latin original is available here. Please do not use this translation for any scholarly purpose since it is so rough; in places where there could be a differing interpretation, I have included other possible words in [brackets].

I will be updating this post periodically as my translator and I hash out some of the phrases and get it into a more readable, idiomatic form of English.  But, until then, please enjoy Dum Diversas of Pope Nicholas V, courtesy of Unam Sanctam Catholicam, the only place on the net where you can find an entire English translation (albeit a sloppy one). God bless you.

Bishop Nicholas
Servant of the Servants of God. For the perpetual memory of this act:

To the dearest son in Christ Alfonse, illustrious King of Portugal and the Algarbians,Greetings and Apostolic Blessing

While we turn over in our mind the diverse concerns of the office of Apostolic service entrusted to us (although we do not deserve it) by celestial Providence, concerns by which we are every day urgently pressed, we are also moved  by a persistent encouragement: we chiefly carry in our heart that the well-known anxiety, that the rage of the enemies of the name of Christ, always aggressive in contempt of the orthodox faith, could be restrained by the faithful of Christ and be subjugated to the Christian religion. To this purpose also, when the occasion of the matter demands it, we laboriously expend our free [desire/eagerness/devotion], and indeed remember to follow with fatherly affection all the faithful of Christ, especially dearest sons in Christ, illustrious Kings, professing Christ’s faith, who, for the glory of the Eternal King, eagerly defend the faith itself and with powerful arm fight its enemies. We also look attentively to labor at the defense and growing of the said Religion and all things pertaining to this healing work, should proceed from our undeserved provision, we invite, with spiritual duties and grace, the faithful of Christ and also individuals to rouse their [positions/duties?] in help/support of the faith.

1. As we indeed understand from your pious and Christian desire, you intend to subjugate the enemies of Christ, namely the Saracens, and bring [them] back, with powerful arm, to the faith of Christ, if the authority of Apostolic See supported you in this. Therefore we consider, that those rising against the Catholic faith and struggling to extinguish Christian Religion must be resisted by the faithful of Christ with courage and firmness, so that the faithful themselves, inflamed by the ardor of faith and armed with courage to be able to hate their intention, not only to go against the intention, if they prevent unjust attempts of force, but with the help of God whose soldiers they are, they stop the endeavors of the faithless, we, fortified with divine love, summoned by the charity of Christians and bound by the duty of our pastoral office, which concerns the integrity and spread of faith for which Christ our God shed his blood, wishing to encourage the vigor of the faithful and Your Royal Majesty in the most sacred intention of this kind, we grant to you full and free power, through the Apostolic authority by this edict, to invade, conquer, fight, subjugate the Saracens and pagans, and other infidels and other enemies of Christ, and wherever established their Kingdoms, Duchies, Royal Palaces, Principalities and other dominions, lands, places, estates, camps and any other possessions, mobile and immobile goods found in all these places and held in whatever name, and held and possessed by the same Saracens, Pagans, infidels, and the enemies of Christ, also realms, duchies, royal palaces, principalities and other dominions, lands, places, estates, camps, possessions of the king or prince or of the kings or princes, and to lead their persons in perpetual servitude, and to apply and appropriate realms, duchies, royal palaces, principalities and other dominions, possessions and goods of this kind to you and your use and your successors the Kings of Portugal.

We carefully ask, require, and encourage your same Royal Majesty, girded by the sword of virtue and fortified with strong courage, for the increase of the divine name and for the exaltation of faith and for the salvation of your soul, having God before your eyes, may you increase in this undertaking the power of your virtue so that the Catholic faith may, through your Royal Majesty, against the enemies of Christ, bring back triumph and that you earn more fully the crown of eternal glory, for which you must fight in lands, and which God promised to those who love Him, and our benediction of the See and grace.

2. For we, by the dignity of your sacrifice, grant that you undertake this work with more courage and fervent zeal, together with chosen sons, noblemen, dukes, princes, barons, soldiers, and other faithful of Christ, accompanying your Royal Serenity in this fight of faith, or contributing with their means, and that they undertake or contribute from their possession, or send, as said before, from which you and they hope to be able to pursue the salvation of their souls, and they hope, by the mercy of omnipotent God, and his apostles the blessed Peter and Paul, entrusted with authority, to you and indeed all individual faithful of Christ of either sex accompanying your Majesty in this work of faith. Indeed to those who did not want to accompany you personally, but will send help according to their means or exigency of allegiance, or they will reasonably contribute from those possessions assigned by God, we grant, by the power of your sacrifice, a plenary forgiveness of all and individual sins, crimes, trespasses, and digressions which you and they have confessed with contrite heart and by mouth, to you and to those who accompany you, as often as you and they happen to go into any war against the mentioned infidels, and indeed to those who do not accompany you but are sending and contributing, as mentioned before, to those who persist in sincerity of faith, in the unity of the Holy Roman Church, by our obedience and devotion and of our successors Roman Pontiffs entering canonically, to the remaining a suitable confessor whom you and anyone of them selected can forgive merely once at the moment of death. Thus, however, the confessor sees to matters in which there is an obligation to a third party and that you, those who accompany you, who send and contribute fulfill it if you and they survive or your heirs and their heirs if you and they perish, as mentioned before.

3. And nevertheless, if it should happen that you or others of those accompanying you against the Saracens and other infidels of this kind, on the way there, staying there, or on the way back, departed from this world, we restore you and those accompanying you, remaining in sincerity and unity, through the present letter, to pure innocence in which you and they existed after baptism..

4. But we demand that all and each thing which the faithful of Christ, who do not accompany you, contributed for your support to carry out this undertaking, be taken by the noblemen of individual places in which these contributions were given and as time permits at once be repaid and given to you through secure messengers, or letters of the bank, without any reduction, expenses, and salaries, merely reasonably reserved for those working in this undertaking, and that they are transmitted under authentic sum-total, and that if the noblemen themselves, or anybody else deducted, or transferred or seized for his own use from the sum sent for support of this undertaking anything except expenses and salaries, or if they allowed or conspired for money to be either fraudulently or deceitfully subtracted, transferred or seized, that they incur eo ipso the sentence of excommunication, from which they cannot be absolved except by the office of the Roman Pontificate if they are in articulo mortis (at the moment of death).

5. For the rest, since it would be difficult to carry this present letter to individual places where perhaps it would be doubted about its credibility, we want and decree with authority that to its transfer signed by the hand of Notary public and provided with seal of a bishop or High Court, same credibility is shown, as if the original letter were presented or shown.

6. Consequently, it is not allowed to any person to infringe this sheet of our granting, pardon, will, indulgence, and decree, or dare to oppose it rashly. If, however, anyone tried to tamper with it, he would incur the indignation of the Omnipotent God, and of blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

Given in Rome at St. Peter, in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1452 on June 18th, in the sixth year of our Pontificate.

11 comments:

Ben G said...

I’m sorry to act like the little fly that just won’t shoo no matter how many times you flick it away, but I really appreciate your uploading this! You see, I wanted the text for apologetic purposes…

Having read through it, I thought Gaudium et Spes was a waffly bloviation! Nicholas blows it out of the water! Those are, surely, some of the longest sentences ever written!

The main intention of the bull is to defend Christendom by declaring war on the Saracens. This is of course already what Innocent III and other popes ordered, and Nicholas clearly states that this is a defensive and just war against people who are trying to destroy Catholic civilisation: “fidem ipsam defendere”. The only real difficulty is the very brief and throwaway line about perpetual servitude.

So when the Holy Father writes “illorumque personas in perpetuam servitutem redigendi”, is this actually slavery? I think it might just mean submission and servitude to the royal authority of Afonso and his successors. There’s no mention of selling, buying or trade in slaves, and the Bull only ever really mentions conquering and subduing the Mohammedans. It seems to just be a repetition of this command: “Christi inimicos Sarracenos videlicet subjugare”. So servitus=state of subjection, not slavery or the slave trade. What do you think?

I guess we’d need some historical background about how Afonso V interpreted this line. Wikipedia says he was nicknamed “o Africano” because of his North African conquests after this Bull was issued in 1452: “In his grandfather's reign, Ceuta had been conquered from the king of Morocco, now the new king wanted to expand the conquests. The king's army conquered Alcácer Ceguer (1458), Tangiers (won and lost several times between 1460 and 1464) and Arzila (1471).” But there’s no mention of his work in the slave trade in Africans.

Ben G said...

I guess we can clarify this with Romanus Pontifex (http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Nichol05/index.htm), three years later. There is little mention of slavery in this also, except for: “Thence also many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been sent to the said kingdoms” and the same repetition of “perpetual servitude”. On the other hand, in Romanus Pontifex Nicholas V repeats Eugene IV and Martin V’s decrees on the subject, and Eugene IV said, “some Christians (we speak of this with sorrow), with fictitious reasoning and seizing and opportunity, have approached said islands by ship, and with armed forces taken captive and even carried off to lands overseas very many persons of both sexes, taking advantage of their simplicity… They have deprived the natives of the property, or turned it to their own use, and have subjected some of the inhabitants of said islands to perpetual slavery, sold them to other persons, and committed other various illicit and evil deeds against them,” (Sicut Dudum.)

Then again maybe they’re different kinds of slavery: one is just servitude for a crime; the other unjust and baseless slavery, just as the difference between abortion and capital punishment, killing the innocent and the guilty. Obviously brutality and cruelty are so, but is holding a permanent right to someone’s labour really a sin, or contrary to the dignity of man? This might be undesirable, like the basest poverty, but is it really contrary to Christianity?

BONIFACE said...

Ben, no problem about the fly...I needed to post this for awhile, but now that you have seen it, you see why it needs to be cleaned up. I think there is some inferred punctuation that I am missing or something, because I have a hard time believing that all his sentences were that long and wordy.

I think you are right about the interpretation - we have a tendency to interpret passages about slavery or servitude in light of what came afterward rather than how they were understood at the time. Then again, it does say lead their "persons" in servitude, meaning that the submission was an individual one, not some kind of collective obeisance (maybe). But then again, maybe not...more research is needed.

Seán said...

Wow, that's quite a read. I say thank God we don't have to defend such a document. It represents in my eyes the worst of the Church and State melding and power play which was reaching a fever pitch at that time. I am all for self-defense and just war. I think we should study the document and understand the real background, intent, and result, as much as we can. But I am not on board with the group that wants to gloss over the reality which took place under Catholic rulers for hundreds of years, who had no lack of Papal cheerleaders. I don't think I need to quote that saying about good intentions and hell ...

Ben G said...

I guess we can clarify this with Romanus Pontifex (http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Nichol05/index.htm), three years later. There is little mention of slavery in this also, except for: “Thence also many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been sent to the said kingdoms” and the same repetition of “perpetual servitude”. On the other hand, in Romanus Pontifex Nicholas V repeats Eugene IV and Martin V’s decrees on the subject, and Eugene IV said, “some Christians (we speak of this with sorrow), with fictitious reasoning and seizing and opportunity, have approached said islands by ship, and with armed forces taken captive and even carried off to lands overseas very many persons of both sexes, taking advantage of their simplicity… They have deprived the natives of the property, or turned it to their own use, and have subjected some of the inhabitants of said islands to perpetual slavery, sold them to other persons, and committed other various illicit and evil deeds against them,” (Sicut Dudum.)

Then again maybe they’re different kinds of slavery: one is just servitude for a crime; the other unjust and baseless slavery, just as the difference between abortion and capital punishment is between killing the innocent and the guilty. Obviously brutality and cruelty are sinful, but is holding a permanent right to someone’s labour really a sin, or contrary to the dignity of man? This might be undesirable, like base poverty, but is it really contrary to Christianity?

Seán said...

A punishment for a crime is one thing. Generally such serving would be to SOCIETY and not to an OWNER. Surely the buying and selling of humans is contrary to their dignity, and something which dreadfully still happens to this day. While there probably could have been instances of slaveowners which did not commit sins in owning their slaves, I would think that any Christian man would set his slaves free as soon as he could. As slavery became a set institution, this became more difficult to do because the economy was dependent on it. I am willing to be proven wrong, but I would think it sinful to hold a permanent right to someone’s labor and not try as soon as possible to relieve that person of that bind. If a man is a prisoner, then he should pay his debt to society. Humans are never chattel and never should have been.

Ben G said...

Sean,

Don't think I'm anything near certain on these points; I'm just speculating, so don't take these comments too seriously...

Buying and selling a man is contrary to his dignity, since his nature is free and rational; however, it's not contrary to his dignity to sell or buy his services, even permanently. If a man can sell his own skills and services for a period, he can do so permanently. Also, his right to sell his own services can be taken away if he diminishes his own dignity by serious crime, and so loses his right to self-determination. This happens with murderers, who can justly be obligated to work for the State in slavery until their deaths.

"Slavery consists in this, that a man is obliged, for his whole life, to devoted his labour and services to a master. Now as anybody may justly bind himself, for the sake of some anticipated reward, to give his entire services to a master for a year, and he would in justice be bound to fulfil this contract, why may not he bind himself in like manner for a longer period, even for his entire lifetime, an obligation which would constitute slavery?" (John de Lugo; http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14039a.htm)

St. Thomas also repeats Aristotle: “as regards human affairs, a son belongs to his father, since he is part of him somewhat, as stated in Ethic. viii, 12, and a slave belongs to his master, because he is his instrument, as stated in Polit. i, 2.” Again, “Reply to Objection 2. A son, as such, belongs to his father, and a slave, as such, belongs to his master; yet each, considered as a man, is something having separate existence and distinct from others. Hence in so far as each of them is a man, there is justice towards them in a way: and for this reason too there are certain laws regulating the relations of father to his son, and of a master to his slave; but in so far as each is something belonging to another, the perfect idea of "right" or "just" is wanting to them.”

Seán said...

"it's not contrary to his dignity to sell or buy his services, even permanently”

Selling his services would imply more of a employer/employee relationship.

"Also, his right to sell his own services can be taken away if he diminishes his own dignity by serious crime, and so loses his right to self-determination.”

We are certainly using one term to identify a variety of relationships. A relationship of a son to a father is wholly different from slave and master. And the relationship of a prisoner to the state is also different, at least in how we imagine prisoners in our society. (By the way, I am fully in favor of prisoners being worked.)

I have conceded that it is not sinful always, but probably most instances of it was/is sinful in one way or another. Obviously if the Pope was misunderstood, then they sinned in enslaving people whose only crimes were being conquered peoples. If he did intend to allow enslavement, then we can rightly place him as one of the causes of the slave trade which surely was almost completely sinful.

I maintain that a just slaveowner would always release his slave of his duty as soon as possible. This could have been de jure, or it could have been de facto.

While the Pope did not have the benefit of understanding the great degradation which the African peoples, and others, have been subjected to, and all the cancers to civil society it has bred, he certainly could be forgiven for, what seems, his carpetbombing zeal to utterly vanquish to Muslims.

Anonymous said...

On the issue of what kind of servitude this is, it seems clear in Romanus Pontifex that Nicholas did not have in mind a harsh chattel slavery. This is implied when he talks about what cannot be traded with the Saracens, infidels, pagans, etc (therefore there are things that CAN be traded with them). He says this with regard to conquest as is evident from the following quote. If the people subdued are being traded with, they are clearly not being possessed in the chattel slavery sense and even have a degree of financial independence

"...that they do not by any means presume to carry arms, iron, wood for construction, and other things prohibited by law from being in any way carried to the Saracens, to any of the provinces, islands, harbors, seas, and places whatsoever, acquired or possessed in the name of King Alfonso, or situated in this conquest or elsewhere, to the Saracens, infidels, or pagans; or even without special license from the said King Alfonso and his successors and the infante, to carry or cause to be carried merchandise and other things permitted by law..."

Anonymous said...

The problem with this bull is not the wording of the bull itself. The bull was actually a fairly reasonable response to the power and aggression of the Turkish Empire. However, the power it granted to the Iberian Empires was later greatly abused in their colonial expansions in the new world, north Africa, and the far east.

Anonymous said...

It is also important to keep in mind that slavery was a major focus and intent of the islamic depredations on Christianity. That all of what we think of as islamic nations today were prior to the 7th century, part of Christendom, and that these lands had been pillaged, enslaved, and converted at the point of a sword by the followers of mohammed. The mohammedan threat against Europe continued until the victory of Jan Sobieski at the siege of Vienna in 1683.

And if you think that perpetual servitude is a bit much, give it a decade or so and see what the "religion of peace" does to Europe in the coming years.

And, if anyone would further want to hold a religion hostage to ancient documents, please peruse the letters sent to the Holy Roman Emperor by Mehmet IV describing his intentions in bringing his forces against Vienna...

Paul