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  • A. Jorge Aguilera López

17th century Japan opened for trade?

Until Japan decided to ban and persecute Christianity and go full isolation, relations with both the Portuguese (first Europeans to arrive in 1543) and the Castilians were “quite good”. The document that I show you: «Letter from the universal lord of Japan Tokugawa Hidetada to the Duke of Lerma» (1610), is a good proof of that. Unfortunately, I don't know Japanese, but luckily the archive has a Spanish translation:


AGI, MP, Escritura y cifra, 31


Minamoto Hidetada, shogun of Japan.
Addressed to the Duke of Lerma, servant of the King of Spain.
The ex-governor of the Philippine Islands, Don Rodrigo de Vivero, asked me to grant a license to merchant ships from New Spain to this country [Japan] which they could sail and dock at any port in the territory of Japan. As a token of friendship, I send you five armour of the highest quality. Fathers Brother Alonso Muñoz and Brother Luis Sotelo will personally communicate the details of the commercial agreement.
May 4 of the year 15 of the Keicho Era.

I don’t know where the mentioned samurai armours are nowadays (if they have survived). I’m almost certain that they aren’t any of those exhibited in the Royal Armoury of the Royal Palace of Madrid or in the Oriental Museum of Valladolid.



Tags: #Japan #Asia #Tokugawa #Franciscans #samurai #17th

  • Aguilera López, A. J. (2020) "17th century Japan opened for trade?", in Rowing through History [online].

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