Abstract Prof. em. Dr. Horst Pietschmann (Hamburg): The Spanish Conquista – traits in America as Crusades?

Although the Atlantic discoveries and conquests of the two Iberian Powers, Portugal and Castile, were supposed to conduct as justification and boundary of their respective requirements for the papacy the Iberian expansion traits overseas are not to declare as crusades. Even, if those two Powers declared their acting as a necessity of an undisturbed Christianisation of the original inhabitants of the country. The “Mundus Novus” neither was about recapture of sanctuaries nor about fight against faithless people. It was about the Christianisation of heathen who never before had heard something about the Good News of Christianity. Parallel to this the apprenticeship of Thomism which of the Dominican Order was the main organiser, regained power. This apprenticeship was preferably about non-violent promulgation of belief and Christianisation. Besides this the military appliance overseas was supposed to be restricted and the conversion was supposed to be peaceful and individual. After the end of council of Trent, Philip II of Spain prohibited every constitution of military Conquista. Expansions only were allowed after the model of antique city foundation through groups of colonists and with the agreement of the domiciled population. At the same time he dispatched the Order of Jesuits to America for proselytisation as the new “Militia Christi”. Thus he did to restrict the mendicant orders, who led the mission until then, to their cloistral life in the cities as it was specified in their rules of foundation. It remains to prove whether the, since the 17th century in Mexico wide spread theory of a pristine proselytisation of the Indios by Apostle Thomas, constitutes an attempt to legitimate the Conquista in the sense of the prospect of crusades.