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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Zuniga and Flores were burned alive


Throughout

the next four years, however, no other foreign missionary was capitally punished in Japan, though many arrived and continued their propagandism. During that interval, also, there occurred another incident calculated to fix upon the Christians still deeper suspicion of political designs. In a Portuguese ship, captured by the Dutch, a letter was found instigating Japanese converts to revolt, and promising that, when the number of disaffected became sufficient, men-of-war would be sent from Portugal to aid them. Another factor tending to invest the converts with political potentialities was the writing of pamphlets by apostates, attributing the zeal of foreign propagandists solely to traitorous motives. Further, the Spanish and Portuguese propagandists were indicted in a despatch addressed to the second Tokugawa shogun, in 1620, by the admiral in command of the British and Dutch fleet of defence, then cruising in Oriental waters. The admiral unreservedly charged the friars with treacherous machinations, and warned the shogun against the aggressive designs of Philip of Spain.

This cumulative evidence dispelled the last doubts of the Japanese, and a time of sharp suffering ensued for the fathers and their converts. There were many shocking episodes. Among them may be mentioned the case of Zufliga, son of the marquis of Villamanrica. He visited Japan as a Dominican in 1618, but the governor of Nagasaki persuaded him to withdraw. Yielding for the moment,

he returned two years later, accompanied by Father Flores. They travelled in a vessel commanded by a Japanese Christian, and off Formosa she was overhauled by an English warship, which took off the two priests and handed them over to the Dutch at Hirado. There they were tortured and held in prison for sixteen months, when an armed attempt made by some Japanese Christians to rescue them precipitated their fate. By order from Yedo, Zuniga, Flores, and the Japanese master of the vessel which had carried them, were roasted to death in Nagasaki on August 19, 1622. Thus the measures adopted against the missionaries are seen to have gradually increased in severity. The first two fathers put to death, De l'Assumpcion and Machado, were beheaded in 1617, not by the common executioner but by one of the principal officers of the daimyo. The next two, Navarette and Ayala, were decapitated by the executioner. Then, in 1618, Juan de Santa Martha was executed like a common criminal, his body being dismembered and his head exposed. Finally, in 1622, Zuniga and Flores were burned alive.

The same year was marked by the "great martyrdom" at Nagasaki, when nine foreign priests went to the stake together with nineteen Japanese converts. Apprehension of a foreign invasion seems to have greatly troubled the shogun at this time. He had sent an envoy to Europe who, after seven years abroad, returned on the eve of the "great martyrdom," and made a report thoroughly unfavourable to Christianity. Hidetada therefore refused to give audience to the Philippine embassy in 1624, and ordered that all Spaniards should be deported from Japan. It was further decreed that no Japanese Christians should thenceforth be allowed to go to sea in search of commerce, and that although non-Christians or men who had apostatized might travel freely, they must not visit the Philippines.

Thus ended all intercourse between Japan and Spain. The two countries had been on friendly terms for thirty-two years, and during that time a widespread conviction that Christianity was an instrument of Spanish aggression had been engendered. Iemitsu, son of Hidetada, now ruled in Yedo, though Hidetada himself remained "the power behind the throne." The year (1623) of the former's accession to the shogunate had seen the re-issue of anti-Christian decrees and the martyrdom of some five hundred Christians within the Tokugawa domains, whither the tide of persecution now flowed for the first time. From that period onwards official attempts to eradicate Christianity in Japan were unceasing. Conspicuously active in this cause were two governors of Nagasaki, by name Mizuno and Takenaka, and the feudal chief of Shimabara, by name Matsukura. To this last is to be credited the terrible device of throwing converts into the solfataras at Unzen, and under him, also, the punishment of the "fosse" was resorted to. It consisted in suspension by the feet, head downwards in a pit until death ensued. By many this latter torture was heroically endured to the end, but in the case of a few the pains proved unendurable.


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