This article presents the first reconstruction of the relationship between conscience and empire in the Portuguese World between 1500 and 1650. It shows to what extent the foundation of the Mesa da Consciência (“Board of Conscience”), a royal council of theologians devoted to issues like war, commerce, conversion, and slavery, shaped the imperial ideology. In this context, “conscience” emerged as a keyword in the political vocabulary, reflecting the importance of moral theology for the political language in which the empire was conceived. It not only bolstered the hegemony of theologians but also encouraged the emergence of a missionary casuistry, which became increasingly independent of the central authorities in the kingdom and in Rome. Under the Habsburg domination (1580-1640) this system was dismantled and theologians lost their centrality at court. After the Restoration of 1640 some of the old institutions were recovered in name, but the old interconnection between politics and moral theology was not re-installed.
João Francisco Marques“Os jesuítas confessores da corte portuguesa na época barroca, 1550-1700,”Revista da Faculdade de Letras (Universidade do Porto)s. 2 12 (1995): 231-270; José Pedro Paiva Os bispos de Portugal e do Império 1495-1777 (Coimbra 2006); Idem “El Estado en la Iglesia y la Iglesia en el Estado: Contaminaciones dependencias y disidencia entre la monarquía y la Iglesia del reino de Portugal 1495-1640” Manuscrits 25 (2007): 45-57; Angel Santos Hernández Las misiones bajo el patronato portugués (Madrid 1977).
Gerta Calmann“The Picture of Nobody: An Iconographical Study,”Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes23 (1960): 60-104; Anthony Archdeacon “The Publication of No-body and Some-body: Humanism History and Economics in the Early Jacobean Public Theatre” Early Modern Literary Studies 16 (2012) available online: http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/16-1/archnobo.htm (07/04/2012). This theatrical tradition was influenced by the English morality play The Somonyng of Everyman (late fifteenth-century).