Two
 Edicts
 against the Practice of Christianity (1587) 

Dublin Core

Title

Two
 Edicts
 against the Practice of Christianity (1587) 

Subject

Excerpt 
from 
Limitation 
on
 the 
Propagation
 of
 Christianity,
 1587

1. Whether
 one
 desires
 to
 become
 a
 follower
 of
 the
 padre
 is
 up
 to
 that
 person’s
 own
 conscience.

2. If
 one
 receives
 a
 province, 
a
 district, 
or
 a
 village
 as
 his
 fief, 
 and
 forces
 farmers
 in
 his
 domain
 who
 are
 properly
 registered
 under
 certain
 temples
 to
 become
 followers
 of
 the
 padre
 against 
their
 wishes,
 then 
he
 has 
committed 
a 
most 
unreasonable 
illegal 
act.

3. When
 a
 vassal 
(kyūnin) 
receives 
a 
grant 
of 
a
 province 
or 
a 
district, 
he 
must
 consider
 it 
as
 property
 entrusted
 to
 him
 on
 a
 temporary
 basis. 
 A
 vassal
 may
 be
 moved
 from
 one
 place
 to
 another, 
 but
 farmers 
remain
 in 
the 
same
 place. 
 Thus
 if 
an
 unreasonable
 illegal 
act 
is 
committed
 [as
 described
 above], 
 the
 vassal
 will
 be
 called
 upon
 to
 account
 for
 his
 culpable
 offense. 
 The
 intent
 of
 this
 provision
 must 
be 
observed.

4. Anyone
 whose 
fief 
is 
over 
200
 chō 
and 
who 
can expect 
two 
to 
three 
thousand
 kan 
of 
rice
 harvest
 each
 year 
must
 receive 
permission
 from
 the 
authorities 
before
 becoming 
a
 follower 
of
 the 
padre.

5. Anyone
 whose
 fief
 is
 smaller
 than
 the
 one
 described
 above
 may, 
 as
 his
 conscience
 dictates, 
 select
 for
 himself 
from 
between
 eight
 or
 nine
 religions

. …

8. If
 a
 daimyō
 who 
has 
a 
fief 
over 
a 
province, 
a 
district, 
or 
a 
village, 
forces 
his
 retainers 
to
 become
 followers 
of 
the
 padre, 
he 
is 
committing
 a 
crime 
worse 
than 
the 
followers 
of 
Honganji
 who 
assembled
 in
 their 
temple 
[to 
engage 
in 
the 
Ikkō
 riot]. 
This
 will
 have
 an 
adverse
 effect 
on
 [the
 welfare
 of]
 the
 nation. 
 Anyone
 who
 cannot
 use
 good
 judgment
 in
 this
 matter
 will
 be
 punished.
…

Fifteenth 
year 
of 
Tenshō
 [1587], 
 sixth
 month, 
 18th 
day Vermilion
 Seal

 
Excerpts 
from 
Expulsion
 of
 Missionaries, 
1587

1. Japan
 is
 the
 country
 of
 gods, 
 but
 has
 been
 receiving
 false
 teachings
 from
 Christian
 countries. 
 This 
cannot 
be 
tolerated
 any 
further.

2. The
 [missionaries]
 approach
 people
 in
 provinces
 and
 districts
 to
 make
 them
 their
 followers, 
 and
 let
 them
 destroy
 shrines
 and
 temples. 
 This
 is
 an
 unheard
 of
 outrage. 
 When
 a
 vassal 
receives
 a 
province, 
a 
district, 
a 
village, 
or 
another 
form
 of
 a
 fief, 
 he 
must 
consider 
it 
as 
a
 property 
entrusted
 to 
him
 on 
a
 temporary 
basis. 
He 
must 
follow
 the
 laws 
of
 this 
country, 
and
 abide
 by
 their
 intent. 
 However, 
 some
 vassals
 illegally
 [commend
 part
 of
 their
 fiefs
 to
 the
 church]. 
 This
 is 
a 
culpable 
offense.

3. The
 padres,
 by
 their
 special
 knowledge
[in 
the 
sciences 
and
 medicine],
 feel
 that 
they 
can
 at
 will
 entice
 people
 to
 become
 their
 believers.
 In
 doing
 so
 they
 commit
 the
 illegal
 act
 of
 destroying
 the
 teachings
 of
 Buddha
 prevailing 
in
 Japan. 
These
 padres
 cannot
 be
 permitted
 to
 remain
 in 
Japan.
 They 
must 
prepare 
to 
leave 
the 
country 
within 
twenty 
days 
of 
the 
issuance
 of
  this
 notice.

4. The
 black
 [Portuguese
 and
 Spanish]
 ships
 come
 to
 Japan
 to
 engage 
in
 trade.
 Thus
 the
 matter
 is 
a
 separate
 one.
They
 can
 continue
 to
 engage
 in 
trade.

5. Hereafter,
 anyone
 who
 does
 not
 hinder
 the
 teachings
 of
 the
 Buddha,
 whether
 he
 be
 a
 merchant
 or 
not,
 may
 come
 and
 go 
freely
 from
 Christian
 countries 
to 
Japan. Fifteenth 
year 
of
 Tenshō
 [1587], 
sixth
 month, 
19th
 day

Description

These sources are excerpts from decrees issued by the Japanese government; they are attempting to reduce the effect and influence of Catholicism in Japan. The Japanese Emperor Hideyoshi issued them both in the year 1587. They aim to minimize the spread of Christianity in Japan and thus expel the Christian missionaries, who were spreading it. Also, limiting some aspects of Christian practice for the Japanese was done in hopes to discourage the religion in Japan.

These edicts were issued before the events of the film Silencebut they explain why the Japanese in the film were forced to practice Christianity in secrecy. With all the missionaries expelled, Fr. Rodrigues and Fr. Garupe in the film become very important figures for the Japanese Christians because they are their only avenue to receiving the sacraments and thus securing their salvation. The “padres” that can be seen in the film represented Christianity and thus a threat to the Japanese government, who wanted to uphold Buddhism as the practiced religion. In the film, the price for giving up one of the priests is 300 silver coins, a reference to the 30 silver coins Judas received for betraying Jesus. The Christian faith also represented Western values and attempts to colonize, which according to Hideyoshi would have harmed Japanese culture—thus he wanted to prevent its spread before it was too late. As is seen in the film, the villagers were afraid to discuss Christianity to those in other villages, and kept to themselves and worshipped in secret, which reflects how firm these regulations were.

Another aspect of these edicts, which also appears in the film in some form, is the extensive investigation of Christian merchants’ goods to ensure that they were not smuggling in Christian materials. This can be seen in the film, when Fr. Ferreira and Fr. Rodrigues are engaging in this forbidden practice. Martin Scorsese seemed to have intended to be faithful to the history of this period, focusing on a fictional character’s perspective, to portray the struggle that many underwent for their faith.   

Creator

Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi

Source

Peter von Sivers, Charles A Desnoyers and George B Stow. Patterns of World History, Brief Edition: Volume Two: Since 1400. "Edicts of Toyetomi Hideyoshi," p. 367.

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Date

c. 1587

Contributor

Joseph Romano

Rights

Oxford University Press

Language

Japanese

Type

Primary Source Text

Collection

Citation

Toyotomi 
Hideyoshi, “Two
 Edicts
 against the Practice of Christianity (1587) ,” Medieval Hollywood, accessed August 20, 2019, http://medievalhollywood.ace.fordham.edu/items/show/109.