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Screech, Timon (2012) 'The English and the Control of Christianity in Early Edo Japan.' Japan Review, 24. pp. 3-40.

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The history of Japan’s de-Christianization in the early seventeenth century has often been told, but is here re-examined using new data, much of it previously unknown. The turn against Catholicism is variously attributed to fear of invasion or cultural difference, but most scholars agree the Dutch played little role, seldom engaging with theological issues. Neglected has been the activities of the English, whose East India Company was in Japan 1613–1626. Investigation of its records reveals that effort was expended on promoting England as Christian, yet non-papal. Moreover, England was anti- Jesuit, having recently expelled the order. The head of the English station was Richard Cocks, regarded as a poor merchant. But it has been little recognised that he had a prior career as a spy, employed to counter Catholic interests: he was likely sent to Japan for that reason. Then, in 1616, English ships arrived bearing quantities of painted and printed imagery, including anti-Catholic propaganda. Some was conveyed to Edo and given out to senior shogunal officials. To words were now added visual statements about England’s independence from Rome. Their distribution exactly coincides with the final expulsion of the missionaries.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History of Art and Archaeology
Regional Centres and Institutes > SOAS Japan Research Centre
ISSN: 09150986
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2015 11:29

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