Domingo de Soto


Domingo de Soto (1494 – 15 November 1560) was a Spanish Dominican priest and Scholastic theologian born in Segovia (Spain), and died in Salamanca (Spain), at the age of 66. He is best known as one of the founders of international law and of the Spanish Thomistic philosophical and theological movement known as the School of Salamanca. He is also known for his contributions to Mechanical Physics.

De iustitia et iure, 1568.
Libri decem de iustitia & iure


De Soto was born in Segovia. Trained in Alcalá, Spain, and Paris, France, before being made professor of philosophy at Alcalá in 1520, he left academia in 1524 to join the Dominicans and returned to take the chair of theology at Salamanca University in 1532.[1] He is best known in economic theory and theological circles for his writings defending the price differential in usury as compatible with "just price" from the perspective of the Thomists.

He held powerful positions, including Confessor of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the emperor's representative at the Council of Trent. He died in Salamanca.



De Soto was concerned about the complexity that had emerged from unclear moral standards of usury. He complained that the merchants had invented convoluted schemes in order to meet the conflicting demands of church leaders.[2][3] His position should be seen within the background of his Franciscan background and historical context.[4] De Soto was involved in an active debate in the medieval era on the sterility of money and the requirements of natural law given this sterility.[5][6] His rationale on interest is explained by Langholm.[7] Woods and D'Emic characterize de Soto's attitude toward usury in significantly different ways. D'Emic reports that De Soto thought voluntary contributions given from borrower to lender in gratitude were acceptable, but strictly forbid the lender from pressuring the borrower.[8] He also asserts that De Soto thought permitted lenders to hope for such contributions along with other motives of benevolence and friendship, but regarded the sole motivation of financial gain as immoral "mental usury".[8] Woods, on the other hand, reports that De Soto did not believe Christ had declared usury to be sinful at all, and did not believe that Luke 6:35 had anything to do with lending at interest.[9]


In 1551, Domingo de Soto became the first to state that a body in free fall accelerates uniformly.[10] This key concept in physics was essential for the posterior studies of the gravity laws by Galileo and Newton. In the 20th century, Pierre Duhem credited him with important achievements in dynamics and viewed his work as a forerunner of modern mechanics.[11][12]


In 1556, Soto published a treatise on law, De Justitia and Jure (Justice and the Law), that is considered a foundational text in the general theory of international law. Like his teacher Francisco de Vitoria, Soto helped to provide a modern insight to the Spanish conquests in the New World, helping to build the concept of people's rights, including the right to private property of the native Americans.[13]


  • Summulae, 1529. (A manual of logic.)
  • De ratione tegendi et detegendi secretum, 1541
  • In dialecticam Aristotelis commentarii, 1544
  • In VIII libros physicorum, 1545 (An influential commentary on Aristotle's Physics.)
  • Deliberacion en la causa de los pobres, 1545
  • De natura et gratia libri III, 1547 (A treatise on original sin and grace, written from a Thomistic point of view.)
  • Comment. in Ep. ad Romanos, 1550
  • In IV sent. libros comment. 1555-6.
  • De justitia et jure libri X, 1556 (A treatise on law.)
  • Jaime Brufau Prats and Sixto Sanchez-Lauro, eds. Domingo de Soto, OP., Relecciones y opúsculos (Salamanca, Editorial San Esteban, 2011).


  1. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Dominic Soto" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ Poitras 2016, p. 75.
  3. ^ Poitras 2000, p. 81.
  4. ^ Todeschini 2009, p. 186.
  5. ^ Garcia 1985, p. 75-77.
  6. ^ Doe 2017, p. 13.
  7. ^ Langholm 1998, p. 73-74.
  8. ^ a b D'Emic 2014, p. 16.
  9. ^ Woods 2015, p. 111.
  10. ^ Wallace, William A. (2018) [2004]. Domingo de Soto and the Early Galileo: Essays on Intellectual History. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-351-15959-3.
  11. ^ Duhem, Pierre (1913). Etudes sur Léonard de Vinci (in French). Vol. 3. Hermann. OCLC 612509355.
  12. ^ Wallace, William A. (2004). Domingo de Soto and the Early Galileo. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-86078-964-0.
  13. ^ Sebastián Contreras. (2013) 'La determinación del Derecho en Domingo de Soto y Francisco Suárez'.


  • History of Economic Thought "Salamanca School"
  • D'Emic, M.T. (2014). Justice in the Marketplace in Early Modern Spain: Saravia, Villalon and the Religious Origins of Economic Analysis. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-8129-4.
  • Decock, W. (2016), Domingo de Soto: De iustitia et iure (1553-1554). In: S. Dauchy et al. (eds.), The Formation and Transmission of Western Legal Culture. 150 Books that Made the Law in the Age of Printing, 2016, 84-86.
  • Doe, N. (2017). Christianity and Natural Law: An Introduction. Law and Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-316-94956-6.
  • Garcia, Jose B. (1985). Un Siglo de moral economica en Salamanca, 1526-1629: Francisco de Vitoria y Domingo de Soto (in Spanish). Salamanca: Ediciones Universidad Salamanca.
  • Langholm, O. (1998). The Legacy of Scholasticism in Economic Thought: Antecedents of Choice and Power. Historical Perspectives on Mod. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-62159-5.
  • Poitras, G. (2000). The Early History of Financial Economics, 1478-1776: From Commercial Arithmetic to Life Annuities and Joint Stocks. Edward Elgar. ISBN 978-1-84064-455-5.
  • Poitras, G. (2016). Equity Capital: From Ancient Partnerships to Modern Exchange Traded Funds. Routledge International Studies in Business History. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-59103-0.
  • Todeschini, Giacomo (2009). Franciscan Wealth: From Voluntary Poverty to Market Society. Espiritualidad y religion. Franciscan Institute, Saint Bonaventure University. ISBN 978-1-57659-153-6.
  • Woods, T.E. (2015). The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. Studies in ethics and economics. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-8801-9.
  • Contreras, Sebastián. La determinación del Derecho en Domingo de Soto y Francisco Suárez.

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