The School of Salamanca
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University of Salamanca website]
The University of Salamanca, one of the
oldest universities in the world (founded 1218), was a prominent Dominican bastion
in the late Scholastic period. It was one of
the homes of Thomistic theology, even after the doctrines of St. Thomas
Aquinas were disintegrating elsewhere in Europe first under the Scotist and Nominalist onslaughts, and then from the Reformation.
The "School of Salamanca" was initiated by Francisco de
Vitoria around 1536 and counted Navarrus and de
Soto as its most prominent theoreticians. The Jesuit trio, Lessius,
de Lugo and the remarkable Luis Molina adhered
to and further developed the Salamanca position.
During the inflationary 16th century, theologians were appealed to repeatedly on
economic affairs, particularly the status of contracts in those confusing economic
times. In an effort to lay down guidelines for commercial practice and
focusing on practical notions of the public good, they moved away from past
dogma and approached their questions in the spirit of natural law
philosophy. The result was reversal of centuries of Scholastic
thinking on economic matters. It was the Salamanca school that defined the
just price as no more and no less than the naturally exchange-established
price. Their analysis led them to trace a scarcity
theory of value and employed supply-and-demand with dexterity. They
rejected Duns Scotus's "cost of
production" conception of the just price, arguing that there was no
objective way of determining price.
Before Bodin, but after Copernicus,
the Salamanca School independently uncovered the essential properties of the Quantity Theory of Money, using it to explain the
inflation of the 1500s arising from the influx of precious metals from Spanish America.
They also providing a resounding defense of usury.
The accomplishments of the
Salamanca theorists have led scholars such as Friedrich von Hayek to note that, contrary to Max Weber's thesis, it is the religion of the Jesuits and not
the Calvinists, that set the grounds for capitalism.
[See also the our pages on the Ancients and Scholastics, the
First Economists, Mercantilism and
- Francisco de Vitoria, 1485-1546. -
- De potestate cilvili, 1528
- Del Homicidio, 1530
- De matrimonio, 1531
- De potestate ecclesiae I and II, 1532
- De Jure belli
Hispanorum in barbaros, 1532
- De potestate papae et concilii, 1534
- Relectiones Theologicae, 1557
- Summa sacramentorum Ecclesiae, 1561
- Spanish Dominican jurist, educated at the College Saint-Jacques in
Paris, Vitoria was appointed to the all-important chair of theology at
the University of Salamanca in 1526. A deep admirer of Erasmus
(whom he defended in Paris). Vitoria is widely regarded as the founder of the
Salamanca School, particularly its marriage of "natural
law" philosophy with Catholic doctrine. Although he
published nothing in his lifetime, his 1527-40 lectures (Relectiones)
were assiduously recorded by his students. His 1532 De Indis
lecture was an eloquent defense of Indian rights and against enslavement, which led
them to be eventually placed under the protection of Spanish crown. It
was here that the concept and principles of international law were first
articulated. In his De Jure belli he articulated the laws
of war. He was much consulted by Emperor Charles V.
Domingo de Soto, 1494-1560 - (1)
- Summulae, 1529
- De natura et gratia
- De ratione tegendi et detegendi secretum, 1541
- In dialecticam Aristotelis commentarii, 1544
- In VIII libros physicorum, 1545
- De natura et gratia libri III, 1547
- Comment. in Ep. ad Romanos, 1550
- De justitia et jure, 1553.
- In IV sent. libros comment. 1555-6.
- De justitia et jure libri X, 1556
- Dominican theologian, born in Segovia and trained in Alcala and Paris.
De Soto was a professor at Salamanca from 1532, contemporaneously with Vitoria,
and thus regarded as the second pillar of the Salamanca School. Confessor of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the emperor's
representative at the Council of Trent. Defended the price differential in usury as
compatible with "just price"
- Juan de Medina, 1490-1546. - (1)
- De justitia et jure,
- Spanish Jesuit, early promoter of scarcity theory of value.
- Martin de Azpilcueta (Navarrus),
1493-1586. - portrait
- Comentario resulutorio de usuras, 1556
- De Usuras y Simonía,
- De redditibus beneficiorum Ecclesiasticorum,
- Comentario resolutorio de cambios.
- Spanish Dominican priest and leading scholar at Salamanca and Coimbra. Early expositor of the
Quantity Theory of Money (he studied at Toulouse almost
simultaneously with Jean Bodin).
As he wrote, "Other things being equal in countries where there is a great scarcity of money, all other
saleable goods, and even the hands and labor of men, are given for less
money than where it is abundant." Extended this to a more general
scarcity theory of value, arguing that "all merchandise
becomes dearer when it is in strong demand and short supply".
Explicitly denounced price controls and defended money-changing and
- Diego de Covarrubias y Leiva,
- Vararium, 1554
- Opera omnia, 1568
- Student of Navarrus, reformer of Salamanca, chancellor of Castile, and,
eventually, bishop of Segovia. Provided the an explicit statement of a
subjective theory of value: "The value of an article does not depend on its essential nature but on the estimation of men, even if that
estimation is foolish." (1554).
- Tomas de Mercado, 1530-1576.
- Tratos y contratos de mercedores, 1569
- Popularizer of Navarrus's theories.
- Luis Molina (Molineus), 1535-1600. - (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) - Portrait
- Deliberacion en la causa de los pobres, 1545
- Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, 1588
- Commentaria in primum partem D. Thomæ, 1592.
- De justitia et jure, 1593-1614.
- Spanish Jesuit scholar at Coimbra, but followed Dominicans of Salamanca.
Rejected Duns Scotus's
cost theory of "just price" because of the incentives to raise expenses
artificially. Discussed competition and condemned "monopolies" as another
way of artificially raising price. Argued that the "just
price" is the natural exchange-established price. Also held that the value of money "arises from circumstances".
Molina is well-known in Catholic theology for his "Concordia", an attempt to
reconcile the freedom of the will with the grace of God - what is known as
"Molinism" in theological circles.
- Cardinal Juan de Lugo, 1583-1660. - (1), Portrait
- De justitia et jure, 1642
- Spanish Jesuit scholar who, like Molina, followed Salamanca line on value and quantity theory of money.
He was perhaps the first to combine scarcity and utility in a single
theory of value. Also defined profits as "wages" for
- Leonard de Leys (Lessius), 1554-1623 - (1), Portrait
- De justitia et jure, 1605.
- De gratia eficare, 1610.
- Belgian Jesuit scholar who followed Molina's line on value and money. Highly influential in his day upon merchants and kings.
Resources on the School of Salamanca