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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Drifted to the coast of Tosa province


statistics of 1595 showed that there were then in Japan 137 Jesuit fathers with 300,000 native converts, including seventeen feudal chiefs and not a few bonzes.


For ten years after the issue of his anti-Christian decree at Hakata, Hideyoshi maintained a tolerant demeanour. But in 1597, his forbearance was changed to a mood of uncompromising severity. Various explanations have been given of this change, but the reasons are obscure. "Up to 1593 the Portuguese had possessed a monopoly of religious propagandism and oversea commerce in Japan. The privilege was secured to them by agreement between Spain and Portugal and by a papal bull. But the Spaniards in Manila had long looked with somewhat jealous eyes on this Jesuit reservation, and when news of the anti-Christian decree of 1587 reached the Philippines, the Dominicans and Franciscans residing there were fired with zeal to enter an arena where the crown of martyrdom seemed to be the least reward within reach. The papal bull, however, demanded obedience, and to overcome that difficulty a ruse was necessary: the governor of Manila agreed to send a party of Franciscans as ambassadors to Hideyoshi. In that guise, the friars, being neither traders nor propagandists, considered that they did not violate either the treaty or the bull. It was a technical subterfuge very unworthy of the object contemplated, and the friars

supplemented it by swearing to Hideyoshi that the Philippines would submit to his sway. Thus they obtained permission to visit Kyoto, Osaka, and Fushimi, but with the explicit proviso that they must not preach."*

*Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by Brinkley.

How far they observed the terms and the spirit of this arrangement may be gathered from the facts that "very soon they had built a church in Kyoto, consecrated it with the utmost pomp, and were preaching sermons and chaunting litanies there in flagrant defiance of Hideyoshi's veto. Presently, their number received an access of three friars who came bearing gifts from the governor of Manila, and now they not only established a convent in Osaka, but also seized a Jesuit church in Nagasaki and converted the circumspect worship hitherto conducted there by the fathers into services of the most public character. Officially checked in Nagasaki, they charged the Jesuits in Kyoto with having intrigued to impede them, and they further vaunted the courageous openness of their own ministrations as compared with the clandestine timidity of the methods which wise prudence had induced the Jesuits to adopt. Retribution would have followed quickly had not Hideyoshi's attention been engrossed by an attempt to invade China through Korea. At this stage, however, a memorable incident occurred. Driven out of her course by a storm, a great and richly laden Spanish galleon, bound for Acapulco from Manila, drifted to the coast of Tosa province, and running--or being purposely run--on a sand-bank as she was towed into port by Japanese boats, broke her back. She carried goods to the value of some six hundred thousand crowns, and certain officials urged Hideyoshi to confiscate her as derelict, conveying to him, at the same time, a detailed account of the doings of the Franciscans and their open flouting of his orders. Hideyoshi, much incensed, commanded the arrest of the Franciscans and despatched officers to Tosa to confiscate the San Felipe. The pilot of the galleon sought to intimidate these officers by showing them, on a map of the world, the vast extent of Spain's dominions, and being asked how one country had acquired such wide sway, replied,* 'Our kings begin by sending into the countries they wish to conquer missionaries who induce the people to embrace our religion, and when they have made considerable progress, troops are sent who combine with the new Christians, and then our kings have not much trouble in accomplishing the rest.'"**

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