Academic journal article Journal of Markets & Morality

Introduction: Martin De Azpilcueta: Biographical and Scientific Profile

Academic journal article Journal of Markets & Morality

Introduction: Martin De Azpilcueta: Biographical and Scientific Profile

Article excerpt

Martin de Azpilcueta y Jaureguizar (1492-1586), (1) known as Doctor Navarrus, earned a bachelor in theology degree at Alcala University. Later, he completed his training in Toulouse, the most renowned center for juridical studies in France, where he received the degree of doctor in canon law (1518) and gained his first teaching experiences.

As of 1524, he had served in several Canon law chairs at the University of Salamanca, and, together with Francisco de Vitoria, he renovated the juridical and theological thought of the day. (2) Some years later, in 1538, he was invited by the kings of Portugal and Spain to transfer to Coimbra University for a brief period, which extended until 1556 when he returned to Spain to devote himself entirely to his writings.

In June 1561, Martin was appointed defense counsel in the criminal proceedings brought against the Toledo archbishop Bartolome de Carranza, a case that took him to Rome in August 1567, where, together with his work as defense counsel, he was appointed advisor in the Supreme Penitentiary Tribunal then Major Penitentiary, on the initiative of Pius V and Carlos Borromeo. He died there at the age of ninety-three.

Although he worked in numerous disciplines, his most important doctrinal contribution was in the field of canon law and morality. Among his numerous written works the most important is the Manual de confesores y penitentes (3) because of its significance and influence with a complex writing process that originated in a chance happening (1549) and developed in consecutive stages until it achieved its final form (Salamanca, 1556). It was an immense publishing success: In the second half of the sixteenth century and first quarter of the seventeenth, it ran to eighty-one editions, with ninety-two more in revisions, versions, and abridgments. First written in Portuguese, then in Spanish, and finally in Latin, it was translated several times into Italian and French. (4)

As its title suggests, the Manual is a work directed to the pastoral aspect of penance. It deals with issues considered necessary for the administration of the sacrament. However, the most important work by Doctor Navarrus extends beyond the genre of the Sumas de penitencia, which originated at the end of the thirteenth century and was based on the precedent of the libri poenitentiales of the Late Middle Ages with few doctrinal developments and was organized alphabetically according to terms, much like a dictionary. Because of its systematic structure and doctrinal vigor, Azpilcueta's Manual de confesores is considered a milestone in the emergence of moral theology as an autonomous discipline (5) at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The Commentary on the Resolution of Money (CRM) is one of four appendixes to this Manual and as such belongs to Navarrus's group of moral writings. In them, the author recommends guiding criteria for pastors and penitents and indirectly offers acute observations and an analysis of the economic reality of his time, which has recently attracted the attention of economic historians.

The Scholastics and the Historiography of Economic Thought

The historiography of economic thought has become increasingly interested in the moral literature of the second Scholastic period, which looks into the economic practices of sixteenth-century commercial capitalism. Although such interest regards the whole of scholasticism, it especially considers the authors of the late Scholastic or second Scholastic period, which peaked during the Spanish Siglo de Oro (6) with the so-called School of Salamanca. (7)

During the sixteenth century, there was a theological renaissance driven by the changes that gave way to a new social and cultural life that put an end to the medieval model. Together with specifically theological matters--the need for renovation and the later Protestant reforms that were the immediate antecedents to the Council of Trent--other factors were the new idea of man and society; the demographic expansion in Europe; the surge of modern national states; and the discovery of the New World, with a massive affluence of precious metals and new markets in the Indies. …

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