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A Samurai’s Christening Affects Global Trade Routes


In Spain, samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga was baptized and christened Felipe Francisco Hasekura. This new identity for the Japanese ambassador would potentially unlock a new trade route between Japan and New Spain. However, King Philip III ultimately passed the responsibility for approving the trade route onto the Vatican, leaving Hasekura to seek the Pope’s approval.


(faint chanting) - [Narrator] Hasekura's request to be christened likely improves Sotelo's image and demonstrated to the royal court that there were Japanese wishing to practice Catholicism, providing additional incentive to have a strong relationship with the country.

Phillip III answered the Japanese ambassador.

- [Phillip] We are pleased by your request to become Christian and we are most pleased that the holy sacraments be celebrated in our presence.

(priest speaking Latin) (harmonious choral music) (priest speaking Latin) - [Narrator] At his baptism, he took on a new name.

Hasekura Tsunenaga would henceforth be called Felipe Francisco Hasekura.

It symbolized a stark change from all that he had ever known, his culture and identity.

Did Hasekura's conversion have any influence on Phillip and his decision regarding trade?

A great deal was at stake for Spain.

(speaking Italian) An agreement with Japan would increase the amount of silver Spain was able to import and sell.

It was a key resource, becoming more difficult to find in New Spain.

But the additional trade would also benefit new Spain substantially, raising concerns that its prosperity would lead to cries for independence.

(muffled battle cries and clashes of armor) The king of Spain avoided giving the diplomatic mission a definitive answer.

Instead, he passed the responsibility on to someone else.

If the Pope agreed, Phillip would then allow Japan to trade directly with New Spain.

(ominous music)


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