Evangelization beyond Europe

  • Robert Bireley
Part of the European History in Perspective book series (EUROHIP)


The sixteenth-century expansion of Europe into Africa, Asia, and the hitherto unknown Americas introduced a period of European domination of the world that ended in the twentieth century. Inaugurating the era was the arrival of Columbus on the Bahamian island of San Salvador in 1492 and the disembarkment of the Portuguese Vasco da Gama in the Indian port of Calicut six years later. Both voyages followed decades-long European efforts to reach the lands beyond the Muslim Middle East and North Africa and the riches believed to lie there. The earth-encircling voyage of Ferdinand Magellan in the service of Spain from 1519 to 1522 showed that all the oceans of the world were interconnected, but only the advance into Mexico and then Peru alerted Europeans to the extent and significance of the Americas. For Europeans there gradually came into existence a much more extensive world than they had ever conceived. It was for this emerging world that Francisco de Vitoria in the 1530s sought to formulate the principles of an international law.


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  1. 1.
    The Latin original, along with an English translation of Sublimis Deus, is found in Francis Augustus MacNutt, Bartholomew de Las Casas: His Life, Apostolate, and Writings (Cleveland, OH: A. H. Clark, 1909), pp. 426–31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Bireley, SJ 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Bireley
    • 1
  1. 1.Loyola University ChicagoUSA

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