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Vitoria, Francisco de (c.1486–1546)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S084-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 21, 2021, from

Article Summary

Francisco de Vitoria, who spent most of his working life as Prime Professor of Theology at Salamanca, Spain, was one of the most influential political theorists in sixteenth-century Catholic Europe. By profession he was a theologian, but like all theologians of the period he regarded theology as the ’mother of sciences’, whose domain covered everything governed by divine or natural, rather than human, law; everything, that is, which belonged to what we would describe as jurisprudence. Vitoria’s writings covered a wide variety of topics, from the possibility of magic to the acceptability of suicide. But it is on those which deal with the most contentious juridical issues of the period – the nature of civil power and of kingship, the power of the papacy and, above all, the legitimacy of the Spanish conquest of America – that his fame chiefly rests.

Citing this article:
Pagden, Anthony. Vitoria, Francisco de (c.1486–1546), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S084-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

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