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Abstract

Known among scholars for his defense of the Spanish conquest, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (ca. 1490 – 1573) was also among the most vocal proponents of the Christian crusade against the Muslim Turks. Prior to his intervention in the debate over the justice of the Spanish conquest, Sepúlveda authored numerous writings in which he reflected on the relation between war and Christianity. This study seeks to contribute to existing scholarship of Sepúlveda’s writings on war by focusing on his "Exhortación a la guerra contra los Turcos," (Bologna, 1529), a crusading exhortation that the Spanish humanist offered to Charles V upon his papal coronation in Bologna in 1530. I demonstrate the ways in which medieval apocalyptic rhetoric and humanist discourse intermingle in Sepúlveda’s crusade exhortation. I identify how Sepúlveda draws on millenarian prophecies of the Last World emperor and on narratives of origin about the East and the West to articulate a theory of war the aim of which was to bring about Christian peace. In my final analysis, I argue that the ideas that Sepúlveda begins to develop in the "Exhortación" on the compatibility of war and religion ultimately contributed to normalizing the role of war in governance.

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