What is the Doctrine of Discovery?

The Doctrine of Discovery

In 1452, Pope Nicholas V wrote the following words in a Papal Bull:

“…invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit”

This Bull was the first in a series of Papal Bulls written in the 15th century that became known as the Doctrine of Discovery. Essentially, the Doctrine of Discovery was the Church in Europe saying to the Nations of Europe, “whatever land you find that are not ruled by Christian Rulers, those people are less than human and the lands are yours for the taking.”

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