A briefe relation of the persecution lately made against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia, deuided into two bookes/The preface

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AMONGST other coũtryes which were vnknowne to vs of Europe vntill in this later age they were diſcouered by the Spaniardes & Portugalls, one is Iapone, vnder which name be conteyned diuers Ilandes lying in the eaſt Ocean of the great Kindome of China, a chiefe prouince of Aſia, from whence the neareſt of them is diſtant ſome nineſcore English miles, and about foure hundred and fifty from Noua Eſpaña a principall part of the Weſt Indies, conquered and inhabited by the Spainiſh Nation. Theſe Ilandes are deuided one from the other by litle crikes of armes of the ſea; and amongſt them there be three which do farre exceed the rest, vnto the which the others are ſubiect, and in a manner do adhere. The greateſt of theſe three, which is called Niphon, doth lye from Eaſt to Weſt, and is 700. miles in length and 180. in breadth, and it deuided into three & fifty little Kingdomes of Prouinces, and therein is the noble Citty of Meaco the chiefe and head of all Iapone. The ſecond called Ximo extendeth it ſelfe from North to South, and hath in it nine Kingdomes. The third Scicoco, is deiuded into four Prouinces, and lyeth Eaſtward from the ſecond. All theſe Ilandes be for the moſt part full of hilles and mountaines, much ſubiest vnto could and raine, whereupon it proceeedeth that for the moſt part they be nothing fertile, rather ſubiect vnto barrennes. They yeeld no wheate nor rye, nor any ſuch like graine, at least but very ſmall: the chiefe thinge they beare is rice, which they bring forth in great aboundance: they haue the ſame kind of birdes and beaſtes that we of Europe, both wild and tame, though the Inhabitantes ſeldome eate the fleſh of any vnleſſe at ſometimes it be of Veniſon. Theyr common fare is hearbes, and fiſh, and ryce, of the which they alſo make a kind of wine, although theyr ordinary drinke be warme water into the which in feaſtes and banquets they put a certaine ponder much eſteemed of them, the which is called Cha. Theyr buildinges for the moſt part be of wood, partly becauſe they haue but little ſtore of ſtone, and wood in great aboundance, eſpecially Cedar; and partly by reaſon the country is much ſubiect vnto earth-quakes, yet be there many goodly houſes and stately pallaces of excellent workemanſhippe and rare Architecture.

The people are more ſwarty of complexion then the Spaniardes be, almost like the tawny Mores, and ſomething leſſe of ſtature commonly then thoſe of our nation be. They are for the moſt part of pregnant liuely wittes, of exceeding memory, of stoute couragious mindes, and wonderfull patience in occaſions of aduerſity. Commonly they be haughty and high minded, very deſirous of honour and eſtimation. They do contemne all other Nations in the world in compariſon of themſelues, from whence proceedeth the ſmall account they make of any strangers that come into theyr country. Pouerty doth not with them diminiſh Nobility, nor Gentility nor wealth gaine or increaſe it. The better ſort do vſe great cerimonies of honour and courteſy one towardes another: yea the common people as tradeſmen and artificers muſt be vſed with reſpect, or elſe you ſhall obteyne nothing at theyr handes: neyther will they put vp iniury at any man without complete reuenge. They are very carefull not to ſhew feare or cowardize in any caſe: they stand much vpon theyr grauity, and therefore they carry thẽſelues alwaies very ſoberly & after a ſtayed manner: in ſo much that it is held a wondrous inciuility for any to make any great noyſe, as ſhouting, hollowing, or the like, whether it be in publike or priuate, at home or abroad. To bring vp theyr children to hardnes, as ſoone as they be new borne they waſh them in ſome riuer, and when they be weaned from the nurſe, they take them from theyr mothers, & bring them vp most commonly in exerciſe of hunting & the like: when they come to a certaine age they change the former & faſhion of their apparrel, vſing therein very many cerimonies.

They haue diuers faſhions very different from ours: with vs men weare hattes & women euer ſomethinge on theyr heades: they both men and women go bareheaded at all times, and in all occaſions, both in the heate and could, in ſunne and wind, in haile, in ſnow and raine: they mourne in white as we do in blacke, & blacke with them is worne in ſigne of ioy: we hould it good to haue white teeth, they thinke it otherwiſe, and therefore dye them black: we get on horſe blacke on the right ſide, they on the left: we when in meeting we ſalute put of our hattes, they put of theyr ſhoes. When they viſit one another, he that is viſited muſt not go out to meete the other that commeth to viſit him, nor riſe vp if he be ſet in any place, but rather contrary, if he be standing he ſittes downe to receiue him. Our manner of muſicke is not gratefull vnto them, our meates diſtaſtfull, our ſweet odoriferous ſmels odious and abominable. They cure their ſicke quite contrary to vs, giuing them raw meates, and ſalt and ſower thinges to eate. In ſteed of kniues and ſpoones they vſe two woodden ſtickes exceeding curiouſly, and after a farre neater faſhion then we they vſe to eate their meate. Whereas we write from one ſide of the paper to the other, they write form the toppe to the bottome of the leafe, making their lines downeward.

In all Iapone there is but one only language, the which yet is ſo exceeding copious, and of that variety, that it may ſeeme to be many, by reaſon that for almoſt euery thinge they haue very many wordes, whereof ſome do ſignify it when mention is made thereof in contemptible manner, others when in honorable faſhion; vome are to be vſed onely by the common people, others only by thoſe of Nobility or Gentry: ſome are only for men, others only for women: theyr manner of writing is very different alſo from their ſpeach; and theyr writing letters from theyr writing bookes: theyr characters or letters are of a faſhion farre different from ours, and of that nature that with one only letter they fignify ſometimes a whole word, ſometimes many words.

In times paſt there was but one only King in all Iapone who was Monarch therof, and obeyed and reuerenced exceedingly of all, and liued with wondrous ſtate and maieſty, and him they called the Dayri or Vo: but theſe Dayries giuing themſelues at length by occaſion of the great peace and quietneſſe they enioyed to ſloth and idlenes, and to all kind of voluptuous pleaſures and delightes, about 500. yeares ago were by two principall captaines that rebelled againſt them, diſpoſſeſſed of a great part of the Kingdome, they making themſelues kinges of all they could get and maintaine by force of armes, and afterwardes others moued by theyr example did the like: ſo that within ſhort time the Dayri, although he ſtill remayned with the title of vniuerſall Lord of all Iapone, yet had he ſmall or no iuriſdiction at all, only a power to giue titles of honour and dignity according vnto mens deſires or deſertes, the which he enioyeth to this day without any gouernement at all, ſcarce hauing meanes to maintaine himſelfe in honorable faſhion.

Since thoſe times to theſe, he hath euer beene accounted King our Emperor of Iapone that could by any meanes make himvelfe Lord of the Tenca, that is, of ſome few Kingdomes or Prouinces neere adioyning to Meaco, which is the principall Citty of all thoſe countreys, as London is in ours; and ſo in our dayes there haue beene three who haue had the name and authority of Emperour one after the other, not by any right or title of election or inheritance, but obteyned by maine force, or other wrongfull meanes. The firſt of them was called Nobunanga who conquered ſix and thirty Kingdomes. The ſecond Taycoſama, or Quambacù, who being a man very meanely borne, brought vnder his dominion fifty Kingdomes or Prouinces. The third is the Xogun who reygneth at the preſent, and hath rayſed the perſecution (whereof this booke intreateth) againſ the Chriſtians, and he as it ſeemeth is acknowledged as Lord of all the threeſcore and ſix Kingdomes of Iaponia.

Theſe Emperours as abſolute Lords and owners of all the country, do diſpoſe of al thinges as their pleaſure, and therefore for their owne greater ſecurity as ſoone as they haue gotten the gouerment by force or other meanes into their handes, they deuide the kingdomes or prouinces vnto diuers of their freinds, with obligation that they ſhall ſerue them in time of war with a certaine number of men, at their owne charges and expences: and theſe againe do deuide their prouinces amongst their freindes with the like obligation to be ready to ſerue them in all occaſions, reſeruing to themſelues ſufficient for the maintenance of their houſe and family: ſo that all the whole country doth in ſuch mãnner depend of the Emperour, that he giues and takes, rayſeth and pulleth downe, enricheth and impoueriſheth whome, and when, and how he pleaſeth. And it is the custom amongſt them when they take from any one their Prouince or Eſtate, or change them to another, that al the gentlemen and ſouldiers that did depẽd vpon that perſon, do leaue that prouince togither with him, and either go with him, or elſe ſeeke meanes to liue in ſome other place, the tradeſemen, artificers, husbandmen, and laborers onely remaining therein.

Thoſe that be the Lords or petty kinges of particular prouinces or kingdomes, as alſo all other principall perſonages, as gouernors of townes and Citties, beſides the obligation aboue mentioned, are bound at the begining of euery yere, betwixt the ninth & twentith day of the firſt moone (for their acount is by Moones, and after a different manner farre from ours) to go vnto the Emperors Court to do him homage, and acknowledge their obedience towards him, and togeather therwith they must alwaies offer him ſome thinge of good value by way of preſent, whereby he draweth to himſelfe the greatest part of all the wealth of the contry, & by meanes thereof, togeather with his owne reuenews (which amount to two milliõs or more euery yeare) he groweth in ſhort time to be exceeding rich potent, ſtrong, and ſo powerfull that none almost dare withstand or contradict him in anything, no though he make himſelf a God, as diuers of them haue procured to be accounted and esteemed.

And indeed moſt of theſe that be adored amongst them as Gods, were eyther kinges famous for their valour in warre, and feates of armes, or elſe Bonzos ſingularly noted for their learning and eloquence, or ſtrict rigorous courſe of life. Theſe laſt they call Totoques, the other Camis, of whom they aske only earthly goods, tẽporall bleſſings and benefittes, as of the Totoques they do onely the felicity of the future life. The principall or cheife of all theſe be two, the one named Xaca, the other Amida, whome they worſhip and inuoke with great reuerence and deuotion. Their Bonzos which be thoſe that teach and preach vnto them, as our preiſtes to vs, be deuided into ten or eleuen diuers Sectes, very contrary amongst themſelues, though the moſt of them do agree in denying the prouidence of God, and immortality of the ſoule, the which they do to the end they may liue with more liberty, and more freely giue thẽselues to al kind of lewd licentiousnes. Beſide theſe Gods ſom do adore the Heauens the Sunne and Stares, others Oxen, Stags and other baſe creatures. Not farre from Meaco they haue a ſumptuous Temple dedicated to the Liſard, which they reuerence as the God of learning, wiſdome and eloquence. Many there be that do adore the Diuel who doth appeare vnto them in ſundry formes and likeneſſes, and makes them confidently beleeue that all thinges do depend of him, and that they proſper or haue ill succeſſe according to the deuotion they beare and ſhew to him.

And in this mſerable blindnes was al that whole contry vntil the yeare of our Lord 1549. in which the Bleſſed Father Francis Xauier, a Preiſt of the Society of Ieſus, and one of the ten Companions of the holy Father Ignatius Loyola of happy memory, who was the firſt Founder of that worthy Religious Order, did enter thereinto to preach vnto them the Goſpel of our Sauiour Ieſus Chriſt; the which he did vpon this occaſion.

There was in a certeine port towne of Iapone called Cangoxima in the kingdome of Saxuma a wealthy ſubſtantial man named Angier, who in his youth had committed ſome enormous crime, and finding afterwardes his conſcience much burdened and tormented therewith, vſed all meanes poſſible he could inuent, or that the Bonzos could imagine to aduiſe him, to obteyne ſome remedy therefore, and procure the peace and quiet of his mind: but hauing after experience made of all the remedies that any of the Sectes of his country could affoard, foũd that his affliction did ſtill endure, he was euen almoſt out of hope of euer obteyning eaſe or remedy; vntill it happening afterwardes that the Portugalls comming with ſome ſhips vnto Cangoxima to traffique about merchandiſe, were an occaſion of rayſing a new hope in him; for he falling into familiar acquaintance with ſome of them, and after much other talk hauing had by theyr meanes ſome notice of Chriſtian religion as alſo of the great Sanctity and holineſſe of life of Father Francis Xauier, who at that time was famous in all the Eaſt Indies, thought with himſelfe, that perhaps by his meanes he might find ſome ſalue for the ſoare of his wounded and afflicted conſcience. And therupon reſoluing to go and ſecke him out, he left his houſe, wife and family, freinds kinſfolkes and country, and taking with him onely a ſeruant or two he wẽt with the Portugals, & after many dangers paſt at ſea of ſtormes, tempestes, foule weather, and the like, he arriued at length a Malaca, a towne of great trade and traffique in the Eaſt Indies, and there by good fortune to his great content he found the Father whom he ſought, and from thence went with him to Goa, the chiefe Citty that the Portugalls poſſeſſed in all thoſe countryes: where hauing found by following his direction as much eaſe and comfort of his mind as he did wiſh for and deſire, and being ſufficiently inſtructed in all the myſteries of Chriſtian Religion, he was baptized by him, and named Pablo de la ſanta fè that is, Paul of the holy Faith.

Hauing thus obteyned his deſire, and being after ſome time to retourn againe into his country, the Bleſſed Father Xaiuer, whoſe whole deſire was to propagate the fayth of Christ to the honor and glory of Almigty God, and for the ſaluation of mens ſoules, would needes accompany him, carrying with him other two of the Society, the one a Prieſt called Father Coſmo de Torres, the other a lay brother whoſe name was Iohn Fernandez both of them Spaniardes borne: and ſo they all departed from Goa in the moneth of April 1549. and at the end of May they came to Malaca, from whence they arriued at Cangoxima in Iapone about the middeſt of August: where being welcommed and well receiued of the freindes, kinred, and acquaintance of Paul the new conuerted Christian, and hauing with much labour and iudustry learned a little of the Iaponian language, they began to preach the Christian fayth publikely to all with the good leaue and liking of the Lord or Prince of the countrey, who hoping to haue ſome benefit by the comming of the Portugalls into his countrey was content to giue way to the Fathers, and let them preach: but afterwardes perceiuing that ſome of the Portugalls leauing his Porte went vnto another not farre off called Tirando in the Kingdome of Tigen, he withdrew his fauour from them, and by inſtigation of the Bonzos made a Proclamation, that vnder payne of death none of his ſubiects ſhould leaue their former Sectes to imbrace the Chriſtian religion. Whereupon Father Xauier after he had in vaine vſed all poſſible diligence to mollify the King, and ſuffered diuers incommodities and iniuries with exceeding patience, taking his leaue of thoſe Christians that were already made, which amounted to the number of an hundred or there aboutes, he went vnto Tirando together with his two companions, where being now ſomewhat more expert in the Iaponian tongue then they were before, ſetting themſelues to preach, partly thereby and partly by the rare example of their liues, they moued more in a few dayes to imbrace the fayth of Chriſt, and to receiue the holy Sacrament of baptiſme, then they had done in a yeare before at Cangoxima.

Father Xauier did perſwade himſelfe that if he could get vnto Meaco, which was the cheife Citty of Iapon, & the place where the Cuboſama, who was then the chiefe King of all the country, did keepe his Court, that there he might do more good, and ſooner come to giue notice of Christ and his religion to the principall perſons of the Kingdome, then in any other place: and therefore hauing commended the care of the new conuerted Chriſtians in Cangoxima to Paul the Iaponian, and thoſe of Tirando to Father Coſmo de Torres, he and brother Iohn Fernandez tooke their iourney towardes Meaco, and about the beginning of October they got vnto Amanguchi a goodly Citty at that time, for ſince it hath beene burned, ſacked, and deſtroyed, euen in the hart of all Iapone, almoſt three hundred miles diſtant from Tirando, whither being come, they were carried vnto the king or Prince thereof, vnto whom they declared in the beſt manner they could the principall myſteries of Christian religion, he neither ſhewing liking nor diſlike of any thing they ſayd: and afterwardes they did the like in the publike streets and marketplaces of the Citty, wherein by reaſon they were but meanely apparrelled according to the cuſtome of religious men, and ſpake the Iaponian language but very brokenly, they were not only derided and mocked of all, but alſo iniured and handled very hardly by ſome of the ruder ſort. From thence they went vnto Meaco, and in their iourney which endured well nigh two monethes, they ſuffered exceeding many miſeries. Firſt they went barefoote all the way, and then becauſe the wayes were very dangerous and full of theeues who murthered all they robbed, they were enforced to keep company with horſemen, to runne though the hard ſtony wayes, as faſt at the others did ride, to wade alſo ouer many great riuers and other deepe waters in the way, hauing afterwardes no meanes almost to dry, rest, or eaſe themſelues, no where finding any that would help or ſuccour them, take pitty, or compaſſion on them, but many almoſt euery where that egregiouſly abuſed and iniured them: ſo that had they not carried ſome little rice in ſachels on theyr backes for theyr ſuſtenance, it is very likely they had periſhed by the way for very want, and neceſſity.

Being now arriued at Meaco, they found all the Citty in vprore and armes, no diſpoſition at all for them to manifeſt the Christian fayth: whereupon they were enforced almoſt immediatly to retourne againe to Amanguchi the ſame way, and after the ſame faſhion that they came from thence before. And there Father Xauier did reſolue, notwithstanding all difficulties, to ſet and ſettle himſelfe to the preaching and planting of religion: and becauſe he had learned by experience that the Iaponians did neyther eſteeme of men nor of theyr wordes, vnleſſe they were in exterior good faſhion, and well apparreled, therefore to accommodate himſelfe vnto them for their greater good, he went vnto Tirando, and there at they charge of the king of Portugal he put himſelfe in good apparell, and taking with him letters of fauour frõ the viceroy of the Indies, and of the Biſhop of Goa, which he had procured vnto the Princes of Iapon, and certaine ſmall thinges brought out of Europe, ad clockes, and ſuch like curioſities, the which were giuen him by the Gouernor of Malaca to bestow in ſuch occaſions, he returned backe again to Amanguchi with Brother Iohn Fernandez, and two or three Iaponians in his company, where he made meanes to haue acceſſe vnto the King to whom by way of preſent he gaue thoſe thinges which he had brought with him thither to that purpoſe. The king accepted of them willingly, and though he wondred at them as being rare and neuer ſeene before in thoſe countryes, yet much more did he admire at the greatnes of the giuers minde, who did refuſe a great quantity of gold and ſiluer, and other thinges which he offered him in requitall thereof, and only required the he would giue him licence to preach the fayth of Chriſt to whome, and where he would: the which he graunted eaſily, and aſſigned him beſides a certaine houſe of good capacity, where he and his companions might remayne.

This licence being thus obteyned, the which was all the holy Father did deſire, he and the Brother his COmpanion did ſet themſelues immediatly to worke, preaching all the day time in the ſtreetes and middeſt of the marketplace, an innumerable number of people flocking about them, ſome to ſee and heare what they ſayd, others laugh at their manner of ſpeach, others to marke their actions and mocke at their behauiour: and in the night they did the ſame in the houſe where they lodged to thoſe that came thither to viſit them, as many did, ſome of courteſy but moſt of curioſity. And in this manner they ſpent diuers monethes without ſeing any fruit at all of all their labours, vntill at length one was conuerted vpon this occaſion. Brother Iohn Fernandez preaching one day in the ſtreet according to his wonted manner a Iaponian that paſſed by in a ſcornefull manner, did ſpit at him; and the flith fleame falling iuſt vpon his face, he wiping it of, without making any ſhew of the leaſt impatience in the world, with great ſerenity of mind went forward in his ſpeach: the which being well marked and obſerued by one of the ſtanders by, cauſed him within himſelfe to frame this conceipt: doubtleſſe this doctrine muſt needs be very good that cauſeth in the profeſſors thereof ſo great humility patience and conſtancy of mind, in ſuffering iniuries and indignities: and thereupon the Sermon being ended, he followed the brother to their houſe, where hauing learned the Creed, the ten Commaundementes, our Lords prayer, the Salutation of our B. Lady, and diuers other prayers, and being ſufficiently inſtructed in all the myſteries of Chriſtian religion, and ſorry for the ſinnes of his former life, he was the first in all that City that did receiue the holy Sacrament of baptiſme, and thereby was made a member of Chriſts holy Church and Congregation. Soone after him diuers others alſo were baptized, and within a ſhort tyme the number of Chriſtians there amounted to fiue hundred or there abouts, and all of them (as they well ſhewed in many occaſions that happened afterwardes) exceeding conſtant, vertuous, and perſeuerant.

Matters being come to this good paſſe, letters were brought vnto Father Xauier, in which was ſignified that it was preciſely neceſſary for him to returne in perſon to the Indies vpon vrgent buſines: leauing therefore behind him Father Coſmo de Torres, and Brother Iohn Fernandez to conſerue and increaſe the beſt they could that little flocke of Chriſt, which he had there begunne and gathered, he went backe to Malaca, and afterwardes to Goa, from whence he ſent ſome more of the Society vnto them to help towards the conuerſio of Iapone: the which they and others that ſucceded them did with ſuch diligent care and induſtry (God Almighty bleſſing their labours & concuring thereunto with many miracles wrought by them) that within the ſpace of twenty yeares of thereaboutes, there were in that country by their meanes and good endeauors more then an hundred and forty thouſand Chriſtians, and amongſt them many perſons of great worth & eſtimation, as the King of Bungo a very potent Prince, who for the deuotion and veneration he bare to Father Francis Xauier, when he was baptized, which was ſome yeares after the holy Fathers death, would needes by called Francis by his name. The King of Arima alſo name dDon Protaſio, and his brother Don Bartholomew Prince of Omura, a moſt pious and valerous Gentleman, diuers other Noble men; who all agreeing amongst themſelues to the end of the whole world might vnderſtand how ſincerely they did beleeue and imbrace the fayth of Chriſt, in the yeare 1583. they ſent from thence to Rome, which is well neere ten thouſand miles, four young Gentlemen, ſome of them very neere of kinred vnto the kinges before named, to render obedience in their names vnto the moſt pious Pope Gregory the thirteenth, who then liued, as vnto the vicar of our Bleſſed Sauiour there on earth and cheife head & paſtor of all the Chriſtians in the world.

After Father Xauier his death, which was in the yeare 1552. the Superiors of the Society of IESVS ſtill continued ſending ſome of their ſubiectes to Iapone, to procure the increaſe of Chriſtianity therein, and ſome yeares ago others of other holy Religious Orders, as of S. Dominicke, S. Frauncis and S. Auguſtine, haue gone thither alſo to the ſame intent, whereby their holy endeauours many thouſandes of ſoules haue beene deliuered out of the darknes of ſuperſtition and Idolatry, and brought vnto the light of Chriſtes onely true and Catholike Religion. And in ſuch proſperous manner did they go on aſſiſted by the help of God, and all of them in concord of hart, and vnity of faith, that there was no ſmal hope that the whole country would within a ſhort time haue beene eyther all or the moſt part thereof conuerted to the Chriſtian faith, vntill now of late the raiſing of the perſecution (whereof this enſuing relation doth intreat) hath been a great hinderance and impediment therunto, as you wil eaſily perceiue by peruſing thereof, from the which I will now no longer detayne you.

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.