Skip to main content

Salamanca, School of

SALAMANCA, SCHOOL OF

SALAMANCA, SCHOOL OF. A group of sixteenth-century Spanish moral theologians, also sometimes called the Neoscholastics, centered at the universities of Salamanca and Alcalá de Henares. Largely members of the two most powerful religious orders, the Dominicans and the Jesuits, they were concerned with political rule, tyranny, morals, law, economics, and the justice of war and conquest. Their writings, though steeped in Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas of Aquinas, engaged directly with the imperial, political, and economic challenges of the sixteenth century. The outstanding Neoscholastics were the Dominicans Francisco de Vitoria (14921546), Domingo de Soto (14951560), and Melchor Cano (15091560), followed a few decades later by the Jesuits Luis de Molina (15351600), Francisco Suárez (15481617), and Juan de Mariana (1535?1624). Several of the movement's leading figures represented Spain at the Council of Trent.

The tension between the Gospel and the flow of silver and gold from America was important to the Dominicans, a mendicant order. Commerce seemed to be replacing land as the source of wealth, which some called ultimately impossible, and others called simply pernicious. The Dominicans believed economics was a human activity whose objective must be to satisfy needs without sacrificing morality. They were concerned not with how well the economy was running but with how fair it was, and some of their fiercest debates concerned price ceilings and the just price. Buying and selling, in short, were matters of justice and equality.

Vitoria, who taught in Paris, Valladolid, and Salamanca, is often considered to have established the foundations of international law, which later would be elaborated upon by Hugo Grotius (15831645). Vitoria's starting point was the conquest of America, a testing ground for dominium. In 1539, in lectures entitled De Indis and strongly influenced by Aristotle, Vitoria argued that the Indians were rational, and therefore the crown had no right of sovereignty or property rights over them. Vitoria further rejected the notion that Indians were what Aristotle called slaves by nature. A public debate on the matter with one of his contemporaries, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (Charles V's tutor and his generation's supreme authority on Aristotle), was held in Valladolid in 15501551. It was also attended by the Indians' great defender, Bartolomé de las Casas (14841566), who proclaimed the Indians' innocence and their eagerness to become Christians.

In the political realm, the Neoscholastics elaborated upon natural law theory, building upon Aquinas and Aristotle to construct a plausible and moral basis for human law. In particular, Soto, in his six-volume De la justicia y del derecho (1556), offered guidelines for ensuring that justice and the common good were the ultimate arbiters of rule. All the Salamanca thinkers believed a king was bound by the rule of law, and at one time or another considered such controversial issues as tyrannicide and popular representation.

The Jesuits were less bound than the Dominicans to the teachings of Aquinas, and the two orders sometimes clashed on theological issues, particularly about metaphysics, predestination, and will. Both Molina's work on grace (1588) and Suárez's Disputationes metaphysicae (1597) were highly influential throughout Europe.

See also Grotius, Hugo ; Las Casas, Bartolomé de ; Sepúlveda, Juan Ginés de ; Trent, Council of .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fernández-Santamaría, J. A. The State, War and Peace: Spanish Political Thought in the Renaissance. Cambridge, U.K., 1977.

Grice-Hutchinson, Marjorie. The School of Salamanca: Readings in Spanish Monetary Theory. Oxford, 1952.

Hamilton, Bernice. Political Thought in Sixteenth-Century Spain: A Study of the Political Ideas of Vitoria, De Soto, Suárez, and Molina. Oxford, 1963.

Hanke, Louis. Aristotle and the American Indians. Bloomington, Ind., 1959.

Pagden, Anthony. Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination. New Haven, 1990.

Ruth MacKay

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Salamanca, School of." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Salamanca, School of." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/salamanca-school

"Salamanca, School of." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved August 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/salamanca-school

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.