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Open Access The Best Laid Plans…: Jesuit Counsel, Peacebuilding, and Disaster on the Chilean Frontier; The Martyrs of Elicura, 1612

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The Best Laid Plans…: Jesuit Counsel, Peacebuilding, and Disaster on the Chilean Frontier; The Martyrs of Elicura, 1612

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In a context of ongoing warfare on the Chilean frontier in the first decades of the seventeenth-century, the Society of Jesus and, in particular, Luis de Valdivia (d.1642) labored as both missionaries and peace-brokers between the warring sides. Making peace was an act of mercy highlighted in the Constitutions as well as a necessary pre-condition for evangelization. Nevertheless, in order to develop, champion, and sustain a viable peace process, it was necessary for Valdivia to not just give counsel to the king and the king’s representatives, but effectively become a crown agent with the power to make strategic and highly political decisions. This, of course, flew in the face of the Society’s own prohibitions on engaging in “reason of state” and also antagonized many whose interests lay in the prolongation of war. The following article charts Valdivia’s attempts to balance these spiritual and temporal obligations in the context of the disastrous chain of events that led to the slaughter and enslavement of hundreds of indigenous allies and the killing of three Jesuits at Elicura in 1612. Counsel failed, and the fragile peace-process teetered on the brink of collapse.

Affiliations: 1: University of Liverpool, A.Redden@liverpool.ac.uk

In a context of ongoing warfare on the Chilean frontier in the first decades of the seventeenth-century, the Society of Jesus and, in particular, Luis de Valdivia (d.1642) labored as both missionaries and peace-brokers between the warring sides. Making peace was an act of mercy highlighted in the Constitutions as well as a necessary pre-condition for evangelization. Nevertheless, in order to develop, champion, and sustain a viable peace process, it was necessary for Valdivia to not just give counsel to the king and the king’s representatives, but effectively become a crown agent with the power to make strategic and highly political decisions. This, of course, flew in the face of the Society’s own prohibitions on engaging in “reason of state” and also antagonized many whose interests lay in the prolongation of war. The following article charts Valdivia’s attempts to balance these spiritual and temporal obligations in the context of the disastrous chain of events that led to the slaughter and enslavement of hundreds of indigenous allies and the killing of three Jesuits at Elicura in 1612. Counsel failed, and the fragile peace-process teetered on the brink of collapse.

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2017-03-10
2018-11-17

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