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Dum Diversas (English Translation)

I apologize for sitting on this for so long, but I was hoping to wait until I got a better translation. Last
summer I came across the Latin text of Dum Diversas of Pope Nicholas V (1452) in a book entitled
Bullarium Patronatus Portugalliae Regum which I found in the rare documents depository at the
University of Michigan. Since this encyclical is somewhat controversial, having been accused by some of
ushering in the entire West African slave trade (for example, here), I thought it would be helpful to get
this document translated into English and posted on the blog, especially since there are no other extant
English translations.

So, I turned it over to a friend, a distinguished professor of Latin with decades of experience, and asked
her to translate it for me. It was originally supposed to be done by last August, but a lot of things
happened and I didn't get it until shortly before Christmas. Even then I decided to sit on it, because the
translation was a very word for word literal translation and my professor friend said that it still needed to
be put into idiomatic English. Since I don't know when this will happen - and since some of my readers
have been asking about it - I decided to post it as is and just warn you about the "rough" nature of the

The Bull was issued to King Alfonso of Portugal in 1452 authorizing an expedition against the Saracens
of North Africa and granted a plenary indulgence to all who went on the campaign. It grants Alfonso the
right to confiscate all the lands and property of any Saracen rulers he might subjugate and authorizes him
to reduce such conquered persons to "perpetual servitude." Much has been made of this phrase "perpetual
servitude", though since the Bull comes in the late medieval period and not in the early modern period, I
am not sure the phrase "perpetual servitude" should be interpreted in the same light it would be if the Bull
was written in, say, 1650. I think we need to see it in a more "feudal" sense than a colonial one. At any
rate, it needs more study.

The sentences are very long with tons of sub-clauses, sometimes so many that the meaning is difficult to
decipher (there's a couple of sentences that just don't make sense as they stand); in a few places I had to
infer punctuation. If anybody wants to crosscheck this with the Latin, I encourage them to do so. The
Latin original is available here. Please do not use this translation for any scholarly purpose since it is so
rough; in places where there could be a differing interpretation, I have included other possible words in

I will be updating this post periodically as my translator and I hash out some of the phrases and get it into
a more readable, idiomatic form of English. But, until then, please enjoy Dum Diversas of Pope Nicholas
V, courtesy of Unam Sanctam Catholicam, the only place on the net where you can find an entire English
translation (albeit a sloppy one). God bless you.

Bishop Nicholas
Servant of the Servants of God. For the perpetual memory of this act:

To the dearest son in Christ Alfonse, illustrious King of Portugal and the Algarbians,Greetings and
Apostolic Blessing

While we turn over in our mind the diverse concerns of the office of Apostolic service entrusted to us
(although we do not deserve it) by celestial Providence, concerns by which we are every day urgently
pressed, we are also moved by a persistent encouragement: we chiefly carry in our heart that the well-
known anxiety, that the rage of the enemies of the name of Christ, always aggressive in contempt of the