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Jimenez de Cisneros: 

On the Threshold of 
Spain's Golden Age 

Medieval and Renaissance 
Texts and Studies 

Volume 212 

Renaissance Masters 3 

Richard J. Schoeck 
General Editor 

Jimenez de Cisneros: 

On the Threshold of 
Spain's Golden Age 


Erika Rummel 

Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies 

Tempe, Arizona 


A generous grant from 

The Program for Cultural Cooperation Between 

Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States' Universities 

has assisted in meeting the publication costs of this volume. 

® Copyright 1999 
Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Rummel, Erika, 1942- 

Jimenez de Cisneros : on the threshold of Spain's Golden Age / by 
Erika Rummel. 

p. cm. — (Medieval & Renaissance texts & studies; v. 212. Renais- 
sance masters ; 3) 

Includes bibliographical references. 

ISBN 0-86698-254-X (alk. paper) 

1. Jimanez de Cisneros, Francisco, 1436.^-1517. 2. Spain — History — 
Ferdinand and Isabella, 1479-1516. 3. Statesmen— Spain— Biography. 4. Car- 
dinals— Spain— Biography. I. Title, n. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & 
Studies (Series) ; v. 212. HI. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies 
(Series). Renaissance masters ; 3. 
DP166.X5 R86 1999 
946.03~dc21 99-054901 


This book is made to last. 

It is set in Garamond, 

smythe-sewn, and printed on acid-free paper 

to library specifications. 

Printed in the United States of America 

Table of Contents 

Preface vii 

Chapter One 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 1 

Chapter Two 

Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 18 

Chapter Three 

Crusader, Missionary, and Guardian of the Faith 29 

Chapter Four 

The University of Alcala and the Complutensian Polyglot 53 
Chapter Five 

Cisneros and the Politics of Spain, 1492-1516 66 

Chapter Six 

The Second Regency, 1516-1517 79 

Chapter Seven 

The Final Months 95 

Chapter Eight 

The Image of the Cardinal 108 

Literature Cited 119 

Appendix 1 

The Constitution of San Ildefonso College 125 

Appendix 2 

An Anonymous Life of Cardinal Cisneros 137 

Index 145 


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it is indicative of the dearth of English Hterature on Cisneros' life 
that a recent publication cites as "the most judicious account" a 
chapter in a Spanish book on Erasmus (M. Bataillon's Erasmo y Es- 
pana, Mexico 1966, cited by Bentley, p. 70). Similarly, an entry on 
Cisneros in a biographical dictionary [Contemporaries of Erasmus: A 
Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation, Toronto 1986) 
lists three biographies, respeaively dating from 1851 (by Hefele, written 
in German, available in English translation), 1914 (by Lyell, in English), 
and 1930 (by Fernandez de Retana, in Spanish). The most recent bi- 
ography in English is W. Starkie's Grand Inquisitor: Being an Account of 
Cardinal Ximenez de Cisneros and His Times (London, 1940). Clearly, 
there is a lack of biographies for English readers. In Spanish litera- 
ture, by contrast, Cisneros has received a great deal of attention. A 
plethora of books and articles has appeared in the last twenty years, 
ranging from Cruz Martinez Esteruelas' popular paperback, Cisne- 
ros, de presidario a rey (Barcelona, 1992) to Jose Garcia Oro's schol- 
arly study, El Cardenal Cisneros (2 volumes, Madrid, 1992-93). The 
majority of these publications are, however, meant for specialists. 
Garcia Oro's book provides an account that covers the full scope of 
Cisneros' activities, but it assumes a thorough knowledge of the peri- 
od and is burdened with minute detail. For an undergraduate reader- 
ship it is labyrinthine. Other Spanish accounts deal with specific as- 
pects of Cisneros' career, most often related to his activities as a 
churchman. In an earlier work, Cisneros y la reforma del clero espanol 
. . . (Madrid, 1971) Garcia Oro addresses Cisneros' reform pro- 
gramme; P. Sainz Rodriguez treats of the same subject, with particu- 
lar attention to Cisneros' inclination to mysticism, in La siembra mis- 
tica del Cardenal Cisneros y las reformas en la iglesia (Madrid, 1979). 
The most recent collection of papers dedicated exclusively to Cis- 
neros is La hora de Cisneros, edited by Joseph Perez (Madrid, 1995). 

viii Preface 

Individual aspects of the Cardinal's career are also discussed in 
recent English literature. His foundation of the University of Alcala 
and his patronage of learning are the subject of chapters in Jeremy 
Bentley's Humanists and Holy Writ (Princeton, 1983) and Basil Hall's 
Humanists and Protestants, 1500-1900 (Edinburgh, 1990). His religious 
zeal and his missionary spirit are discussed by L. Harvey in Islamic 
Spain: 1250-1500 (Chicago, 1990) and by A. Hamilton in Heresy and 
Mysticism in Sixteenth-Century Spain: The alumbrados (Toronto, 1993). 

As for original sources documenting Cisneros' career, English 
readers are left almost without recourse. Neither the sixteenth-cen- 
tury biographies by Gomez and Vallejo, nor the correspondence of 
Cisneros and his secretaries, nor the numerous documents relating to 
his office as Inquisitor General and to his foundation of the Univer- 
sity of Alcala have been translated into English. John Olin's English 
version of Cisneros' preface to the Complutensian Polyglot (in 
Catholic Reformation from Cardinal Ximenes to the Council of Trent, 
1495-1563, New York, 1990) and the references to Cisneros in Barto- 
lome de las Casas, History of the Indies (trans. A. Collard, New York, 
1971) are notable exceptions. My book is an attempt to fill an obvi- 
ous gap and provide English readers with a concise account of Cisne- 
ros' life, acquainting them with the principal aspects of his career as 
a statesman, reformer, missionary, and patron of learning. 

The spelling of Cisneros' name needs a brief explanation. In the 
sources and in modern literature we find several variants. Cisneros' 
baptismal name was Gonzalo, which he changed to Francisco after 
entering the Franciscan order. His last name appears in several Span- 
ish variants: Ximenez, Ximenes, Jimenez, or Jimenes de Cisneros. 
The Latin form is: Franciscus Ximenius Cisnerius. Except in quota- 
tions, which reproduce the spelling of the source, I have used the 
form "]'\mtnez de Cisneros", the choice of the majority of modern 
Spanish scholars. 

I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Wilfrid Laurier 
University, which allowed me to consult the holdings of libraries and 
archives in Madrid and London. I also wish to thank Prof. Jocelyn 
Hillgarth, who read an early draft of the manuscript and from whose 
advice I have greatly benefited, to the readers of MRTS, and to the 
copyeditor. Dr. Leslie S. B. MacCoull. 

Erika Rummel 
Wilfrid Laurier University 


Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

v_>ardinal Cisneros' life coincided with a dynamic period in Spanish 
history, the reign of Ferdinand and Isabel. The rule of the "Catholic 
Monarchs," as they were entitled, ushered in a golden age, a period 
of consolidation and expansion that saw the emergence of powerful 
economic and cultural forces. Modern historians regard Cisneros as 
one of the chief agents in this process. "There was as much of acci- 
dent as of design," John Elliott writes of the emerging Spanish em- 
pire, "but in so far as it can be attributed to any particular policies, 
they were those of Ferdinand and of Cardinal Cisneros" (Elliott, 
Spain, 130). 

Territorial Expansion 

The Iberian peninsula, bordered on three sides by the sea and 
separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, is a well-defined 
geographic unit. In Roman times, it was an administrative unit as 
well. Conquered in the third century B.C., it was eventually incorpo- 
rated into the Roman Empire as a province, called "Hispania". Medi- 
eval authors continued to refer to the peninsula by this name al- 
though it was by the thirteenth century divided into several political 
units: Portugal on the west coast, Castile occupying a broad swath in 
the centre, the Crown of Aragon on the east coast, the small king- 
dom of Navarre in the mountainous north, and Muslim Granada in 
the south. 

Castile occupied by far the largest and most densely populated 
area, commanding four times the territory and six times the popula- 
tion of its nearest competitor, neighbouring Aragon. The two king- 
doms were ruled by two branches of the house of Trastamara. In 
1464 Henry IV of Castile, who had no legitimate heir, designated his 
half-sister Isabel as successor to the throne. The eighteen-year-old 
princess immediately became the centre of dynastic speculations. The 

2 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

princes of Portugal, France, and Aragon vied for her hand. After pro- 
longed negotiations in an atmosphere of court intrigue, she was mar- 
ried to Ferdinand, crown prince of Aragon. The marriage contract, 
signed in 1469, united the two branches of the house and paved the 
way for expansion. The dynastic marriages arranged in the next gen- 
eration resulted in an association of Castile and Aragon with the 
Habsburgs in Austria and Burgundy. The royal couple's grandson, 
Charles V, united a vast empire in his person as Archduke of Bur- 
gundy, King of Spain, and from 1519 German Emperor. Spanish 
power also extended to Italy. Sardinia and Sicily had for some time 
been in the hands of the house of Aragon, and military conquest 
added to these the kingdom of Naples. Portugal, also linked by mar- 
riage with the Spanish crown, was annexed by Charles' son, Philip II. 
Much of the territorial expansion that took place from 1469 to 
1580 under the Catholic Monarchs and their successors Charles V (as 
Spanish King, Charles I) and Philip II was due to marriage politics; 
the remainder was the result of military exploits. On the Spanish 
peninsula itself, a successful expedition against Granada resulted in 
the fall of this last Muslim enclave. The victorious campaign (1482- 
92), which had the character of a crusade and was part of the historic 
reconquista ("reconquest"), ended eight centuries of Muslim occupa- 
tion. Soon, however, Spanish ambitions reached beyond Europe. The 
exploration and aggressive colonization of the Americas made Spain 
a world power. There was a sense of imperial mission and a belief in 
Spanish superiority, not only over the natives in the newly discov- 
ered territories, but also over other European states. The pride and 
the political aspirations of Spain are expressed by Elio Antonio Ne- 
brija, royal historian under Ferdinand and Isabel. "Though the title 
of 'Empire' belongs to Germany, real power is in the hands of the 
Spanish monarchs who, masters of a large part of Italy and the 
Mediterranean, carry war to Africa and send out their ships, follow- 
ing the course of the stars, to the isles of the Indies and the New 
World" (Kamen, Spain, 9). Spain's political ambitions did not go 
unchallenged, however, and prompted complaints that the Castilians, 
in particular, thought "they alone were descended from heaven and 
the rest of mankind was mud" (Elliott, World, 8-9). For a time, at 
any rate, Spanish aggression remained unchecked. The overthrow of 
the Aztecs and Incas by the conquistadores and the colonization of 
the "Indies" relieved the pressing need at home for more land and 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 3 

resources and brought enormous wealth to Spain in the form of 
precious metals and other commodities that were scarce in Europe. 

The achievements of the Catholic Monarchs have lost some of 
their lustre in the eyes of modern historians, who question the ethics 
of colonization, the imposition of European cultural values on the 
native population in the Americas, and the religious intolerance and 
racial discrimination that led to the persecution, forcible conversion, 
and expulsion of Jews and Muslims at home. In their own time, 
however, Ferdinand and Isabel were national icons and, being associ- 
ated with an era of glory in Spain, have remained heroes of popular 
history. As noted by the distinguished Spanish historian Ramon 
Menendez Pidal, the rule of the Catholic Monarchs "represents for 
all Spaniards a happy golden age, remembered nostalgically as incom- 
parable" (Menendez Pidal, Spain, 402). Similarly the nineteenth-cen- 
tury American historian William Prescott observes that Spaniards in 
his day "seem willing to draw a veil over [Isabel's] errors or to ex- 
cuse them by charging them to the age in which she lived" (Prescott, 
Ferdinand and Isabella, I:248n). Indeed Angel Rodriguez Sanchez, 
the author of the standard handbook, Historia de Espana (111:403), 
minimizes criticism of Ferdinand and Isabel, reducing it to a question 
of ideology. In weighing the merit of their policies, he says, histori- 
ans tend to choose the interpretation best suited to their own intel- 
lectual leanings. 

Consolidation of Authority 

The authority of the monarchs, described as podeno real absoluto, 
"absolute royal power," in Isabel's will, was shored up by a number 
of important administrative and constitutional changes. The royal 
couple had inherited a loose confederation of regions with their own 
assemblies {cortes), laws, military forces, and systems of taxation. The 
crown's interests were represented in each region by a viceroy, often 
a member of the royal family, who was advised by regional councils. 
The monarch thus was "the sovereign of each [country] rather than 
king of all," as Solorzano Pereira, the seventeenth-century jurist and 
historian, observed {CMH, 322). The Catholic Kings worked toward 
centralizing the system of government. In many ways Spain is a text- 
book case for the political developments that characterize the Renais- 
sance, illustrating the gradual substitution of the sovereign state for 
the feudal monarchy that dominated the Middle Ages. Although the 

4 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

authority of the Spanish monarchs fluctuated and encountered spo- 
radic aristocratic resistance, the tide ran in their favour. They consol- 
idated their authority first of all by creating an effective system of 
taxation. Once they had established a solid financial base, they no 
longer needed the endorsement of the cortes at every step. Equally 
important was the policy of administrative centralization pursued by 
the monarchs. The independent spirit of municipal councils was 
curbed, and their actions monitored by corregidores, officials appoint- 
ed by the Crown. The revival and adaptation of medieval brother- 
hoods (hermandades) did much to restore peace and order to the 
countryside. Maintained by local taxes, the hermandades combined 
the functions of a police force and a tribunal and had the power to 
quell rebellion, prosecute serious crimes such as rape, murder, arson, 
and robbery, and administer speedy justice. Commerce and trade 
benefited from these security measures. The monarchs also tightened 
control over the administration by assigning posts and magistracies 
to civil servants, often drawn from the legal profession. Unlike mem- 
bers of the nobility, these jurists (letrados) had no resources of their 
own and were dependent on the favour of the crown. The monarchs 
increased their income significantly by revoking grants made to the 
nobility, by assuming control of the wealthy military orders of 
Alcantara, Calatrava, and Santiago, and using the newly acquired 
power and resources to further their own mercantilist policies. 

A significant characteristic of Ferdinand's and Isabel's rule was 
their personal involvement in the process of government. They 
supervised projects initiated by them and followed their progress 
from inception to completion, ensuring the implementation of the 
proposed measures. They were ever present to their subjects, an ac- 
tive and visible force injecting meaning into the traditional concept 
of a divinely instituted monarchy. 

Crown and Church 

The Catholic Kings derived considerable benefit also from their 
carefully negotiated relationship with the Church. Their concern was 
to achieve national control over ecclesiastical appointments and 
jurisdiction and effectively restrict the taxes paid to Rome. The 
church in the fifteenth century was a state within a state. The privi- 
leges of the clergy were far-reaching. They were exempt from taxes 
and from secular jurisdiction. The prelates of the church controlled 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 5 

enormous wealth and in many cases exploited their temporal power. 
The church thus posed a serious challenge to the Crown's rights and 
prerogatives. It was a major diplomatic success when Pope Sixtus IV 
gave Spain a say in the appointment of prelates. In 1482 the Crown 
obtained the right of "supplicating" or petitioning in favour of its 
candidate. Another opportunity to bargain for power arose after the 
reconquest of Granada. In 1486 the Crown was rewarded for return- 
ing the province to the Christian fold by a papal bull granting it the 
right of appointing candidates to ecclesiastical office in Granada. This 
was also the model and precedent that shaped the Crown's role with 
respect to the Church in the New World. Pope Alexander VI, 
himself a Spaniard, formally divided the Americas between Portugal 
and Spain, granting them political authority over the designated areas 
and delegating to them the task of Christianizing the inhabitants, 
collecting tithes, and nominating candidates for ecclesiastical offices. 
These privileges were confirmed and expanded by Pope Julius II, 
who needed Spain's military aid against the French invaders. It is a 
measure of the control the Crown had achieved over the church that 
in 1514 it was able to pass a decree forbidding publication of any 
papal bull in Spain without royal approval. 

Although the negotiations between the Crown and the Holy See 
were no doubt motivated by political and economic considerations, 
the interest of the monarchs was not confined to them. Isabel, in 
particular, was a devout Christian and solicitous for the spiritual 
welfare of the Church. Calls for reform had become increasingly 
more prominent in Europe during the fifteenth century, and in 1494 
the pope gave the Catholic Kings full powers to reform the religious 
orders in Spain. It was a difficult task both on account of the number 
of monasteries involved and the entrenched nature of the abuses to 
be corrected. As we shall see, Cisneros emerged as one of the leaders 
of monastic reform. His energetic pursuit of the matter was instru- 
mental in implementing the royal plans. 

The endeavours of the monarchs to reform the church were soon 
extended beyond the religious orders to the secular clergy and the 
population at large. The Inquisition played an important role in 
efforts to purge the realm of unorthodox thought. The institution 
itself was not new, but its direction was. Medieval boards of inquisi- 
tion had been subject to the authority of the local bishop, but a papal 
bull issued by Sixtus IV in 1478 put the monarchs at the head of the 

6 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

Inquisition. Concerned at first with the enforcement of CathoHc 
practices among converted Jews and MusHms, the Suprema, as the 
Spanish Inquisition was called, soon turned into a powerful instru- 
ment of state control. The line between political and religious 
spheres was blurred in a society in which religious practices dominat- 
ed every aspect of life and in which a common religion to some 
extent substituted for political unity. The Crown was not slow to 
exploit the obvious advantages of the interaction between the two 
spheres. The Spanish Inquisition, then, became an ecclesiastical 
institution controlled by a secular agency. The Crown supervised the 
appointment of inquisitors (Cisneros among them) and ensured that 
the confiscated property of those condemned by the Inquisition went 
toward the financing of its bureaucracy. This was an unhealthy state 
of things, as noted in the petition of a converse pleading with Charles 
V in 1538: "Your Majesty should provide that the expenses of the 
Holy Office do not come from the property of the condemned 
because it is a repugnant thing that the inquisitors cannot eat unless 
they burn." Other aspects of the Inquisition were similarly question- 
able by today's legal standards. Denunciations, which were encour- 
aged and indeed portrayed as a moral obligation, were not a matter 
of public record. The accused were not confronted with the allega- 
tions brought against them but expected to produce confessions on 
their own accord. Torture, a common expedient in the judicial sys- 
tem of the time, was applied during interrogation to elicit confes- 
sions. The stated aim was to reconcile the sinner with the church. 
Such reconciliations were always accompanied by a penance, which 
ranged from the obligation to wear garments stigmatizing the sinner 
to the loss of professional privileges, from confiscation of property to 
imprisonment and exile. Capital punishment was rare, however, 
given the large number of cases prosecuted. 

The royal policy of enforcing religious conformity put an end to 
centuries of mutually profitable convivencia, the largely peaceful 
coexistence of Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Tensions between the 
groups had issued in pogroms before, but not on a national scale or 
as a national policy which produced, in 1492, an edict expelling all 
Jews from Spain. The short period allowed them to dispose of their 
goods and settle their finances added economic hardship to the injury 
and distress of the forced emigrants. Religious intolerance was the 
norm, however; freedom of conscience was relegated to the realm of 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 7 

"Utopia", the fictitious state created by Thomas More. Spanish 
Muslims suffered a fate similar to that of the Jews. The generous 
terms granted them on the conquest of Granada were soon revoked 
and their conversion enforced. In 1502 they were given a choice in 
Castile between conversion or emigration, with the proviso that in 
the latter case male children under fifteen and girls under thirteen 
had to be left behind. Aragon followed suit. Modern historians differ 
in their interpretations of the motives behind the persecution and 
expulsion of religious minorities in Spain, Although the effects of 
their policies are universally deplored, it remains a matter of specula- 
tion whether the monarchs adopted these policies primarily because 
of religious concerns, or for the sake of financial profit, or from a 
desire to centralize the state and establish an absolute rule. 

Dynastic Speculation 

The marriage politics of the Catholic Monarchs and the resulting 
territorial gains have already been mentioned. Although the union of 
the Spanish Crown with the Habsburgs greatly increased the power 
and prestige of Spain and her rulers, the efforts of Ferdinand and 
Isabel at shoring up power through political marriages were not 
always accompanied by success. Juan, the only son of the couple, 
married Margaret of Burgundy, the daughter of Emperor Maximilian, 
but the prince died in 1497 and his wife was delivered of a stillborn 
child. Isabel, the oldest daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, was 
married to Manuel of Portugal, but died in childbirth in 1500. The 
child, a son, died in infancy. Manuel's subsequent marriage to Maria, 
Isabel's sister, produced a number of offspring, whose marriages with 
their Spanish cousins eventually (but only temporarily) united the 
two crowns. Another daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, Catherine, 
married Henry VIII of England, but the marriage failed to produce 
the hoped-for male heir and resulted in one of the most notorious 
divorce cases in European history. The youngest daughter Juana, 
whose mental instability earned her the byname "The Mad", married 
Philip, the son of Emperor Maximilian. After Queen Isabel's death 
in 1504, the succession passed to this last surviving child and her 
husband. Philip's untimely death in 1506, however, and the absence 
of Ferdinand from Spain, necessitated a period of regency by Cis- 
neros. Recalled from Naples, Ferdinand assumed power until his 
grandson Charles, born in 1500 and raised in the Netherlands, would 

8 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

come of age. Ferdinand's own death in 1516 occasioned another brief 
regency by Cisneros, until the arrival in Spain of the precocious 
Charles, whose destiny it was to preside over European politics for 
the next forty years. 

Foreign Affairs 

The foreign policy of the Catholic Monarchs, characterized by 
the historian Jean-H. Mariejol as "quite unscrupulous but ever a- 
droit" (Mariejol, Spain, 335), was largely shaped by Ferdinand. 
Relations with neighbouring Portugal were friendly and the alliance 
was strengthened through the bonds of marriage. Relations with 
France were more volatile. Two Catalan counties, which had been 
seized by the French, were recovered through diplomatic means in 
1493, when the King, Charles VIII, wished to secure the home front 
before invading Italy. However, the unexpectedly smooth progress of 
Charles' expedition and his arrival in 1495 in Naples, an Aragonese 
possession, renewed the conflict between the two crowns. The fate of 
the kingdom took many twists and turns, but in the end the French 
were ousted and the Spanish claim to Naples recognized. Ferdinand 
was confirmed in its possession by Pope Julius II in 1510. 

The conquest of Moorish Granada rounded off Castilian posses- 
sions on the Iberian peninsula. Fear that African Muslims might en- 
courage a rebellion and provide military aid prompted an extension 
of the crusading effort into North Africa. This initiative was strongly 
promoted and actively supported by Cisneros and resulted in the 
conquest of Oran. Ferdinand was reluctant to commit troops and 
money to follow up on the initial successes. His policy of limited 
occupation was a realistic response to financial and political exigen- 
cies, but meant the loss of an opportunity. Failure to secure the 
North African coast deprived Spain of valuable strategic support in 
the struggle for control over the Mediterranean during the second 
half of the sixteenth century. 

Patronage and the Arts 

The cultural life of Spain flourished under the patronage of the 
Crown, nobility, and representatives of the church, among them 
Cisneros. The Spanish taste ran to lavish and intricate decoration 
inspired by Moorish art. A profusion of decorative elements charac- 
terized the "Flamboyant Gothic" of Spanish cathedrals. Plateresque 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 9 

or "Isabelline" relief — a common feature in the architecture of the 
time — was named after the Queen who sponsored the chief architect 
of the period, Juan Guas. The monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in 
Toledo and the Infantado Palace in Guadalajara are two examples of 
this sumptuous and decorative style. It was only toward the end of 
the century that art and architecture became more Italianate and 
began to show the features generally associated with the High Renais- 
sance. Isabel herself continued to favour more traditional northern 
art. Her preference is reflected in her collection of more than 200 
paintings, including works of Van der Weyden, Memling, and Bosch. 

Cisneros' foundation, the University of Alcala, was frugally de- 
signed, but shone as a centre of learning. Under his auspices one of 
the most significant scholarly projects of his time took shape: a 
critical edition of the Bible, the Complutensian Polyglot, so called 
after the Latin name of Alcala. As in the rest of Europe, however, 
secular writings in the vernacular played an increasingly more impor- 
tant role. Nebrija's Spanish grammar, published in 1492, and his 
Spanish-Latin dictionary issued three years later, were milestones in 
this development. Fernando de Roja's dramatic novel La Celestina 
(1499) was the most popular work of fiction. The social criticism of 
the satirical Corbacho (printed 1498) of Alfonso Martinez and the 
romance of Amadis de Gaula composed by Garcia Rodrigez (1508) 
prepared the ground for the more sophisticated literary landscape of 
Villalon and Cervantes. Drama and historiography flourished. Native 
historians like Hernando del Pulgar and Elio Antonio Nebrija and 
Italian emigres like Marineo Siculo and Pietro Martire found support 
at the royal court since their works helped to build national pride 
and lent stature to the monarchy. 

It is against this background of political, cultural, and economic 
developments that Cisneros' life and career unfolded. Spain was 
entering the age of the Renaissance, and Cisneros was a man for the 
times. Standing on the threshold of a new era, he combined in his 
person the old and the new. His promotion of monasticism in its 
pristine form, his personal asceticism, and his inclination toward 
mysticism reflected medieval ideals, but also savoured of the spirit of 
the Reformation movement, now gathering strength. Allowing him- 
self to be drawn from a life of seclusion and meditation as a monk to 
an active life at the royal court, Cisneros became a Renaissance 
prelate: a soldier, a statesman, a leader of the church, a patron of 

10 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

learning. He excelled as an organizer and administrator. As a power 
broker, he weathered many political storms. He had a collector's 
curiosity, a humanist's interest in languages, a scholar's zest for dispu- 
tation. He was, in a word, a Renaissance Man. Describing Cisneros 
as one of the key figures marking the transition of Spain from the 
Middle Ages to the Renaissance, Joseph Perez remarks that he lacked 
none of the features of the "modern personality". "Anticipating 
Luther, he understood the necessity of a true reformation of church 
and religion. A contemporary of Erasmus, he promoted the humani- 
ties with the aim of reforming university studies. A supporter of the 
Catholic Monarchs, he continued their programme of building a 
modern state" (Perez, Cisneros, 7). Cisneros' impressive career at 
court began as confessor to the Queen and evolved as he was ap- 
pointed successively Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain, 
Inquisitor General, and Cardinal. His career placed him at the centre 
of military campaigns, political intrigues, and ecclesiastical conflicts. 
He served as regent of Castile in times of crisis, following the death 
of Philip I in 1506 and that of Ferdinand in 1516. His own death 
coincided with the arrival in Spain of the young monarch, Charles I, 
bringing to an end a long career of loyal service to the Crown and a 
life of uncompromising zeal for the Christian faith. 

Cisneros' Earliest Biographers 

The earliest descriptions of the life and career of the Cardinal 
have the character of eulogies rather than historical accounts. They 
contain much anecdotal evidence of doubtful authenticity that cannot 
be corroborated by external evidence. The Cardinal's first biographer 
was his secretary and confidant, Juan de Vallejo, who left manuscript 
notes, published by the modern editor under the title Memorial de la 
vida de Fray Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros (Memoir of the life of Fr. 
Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros). The humanist Juan Vergara, another 
of Cisneros' secretaries, also collected documents relevant to the 
Cardinal's career, but died in 1557 before he could arrange the 
material into a coherent narrative. His papers passed to a close friend, 
Alvar Gomez de Castro, a native of Toledo and alumnus of Alcala. 
Gomez drew on both Vallejo's and Vergara's writings, incorporating 
them into his effusive account of Cisneros' life in De rebus gestis a 
Francisco Ximenio Cisnerio, Archiepiscopo Toletano (The deeds of 
Franciscus Ximenius Cisnerius, archbishop of Toledo), published at 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 11 

Alcala in 1569. He explained the genesis of the work in his prologue: 

There [in Toledo] I had occasion to enjoy the frequent compa- 
ny of Juan Vergara, who had been made secretary to Jimenez 
on account of his knowledge and his personal worth. We often 
talked of the prudence and magnanimity of Jimenez and of his 
other virtues. In the end I kindled the enthusiasm of Vergara, 
who was already an old man and plagued by grave illnesses, so 
that he decided to write about the deeds of Jimenez. In the first 
heat of passion he gave an excellent account of the origin and 
childhood of this exemplary man. And although he wrote only 
a few pages, we owe Vergara a great debt nevertheless, for he 
diligently rescued from obscurity many little-known details that 
set the pattern for Jimenez' private life. . . . But once the first 
ardour cooled, Vergara wrote nothing more during the remain- 
ing three years of his life as his health deteriorated. Not that he 
lacked the will, but the mental vigour essential to the task of 
writing evaporated as death drew near. Once this man, who was 
worthy of a longer life, had died, the University of Alcala fi- 
nally decided to take an interest in an enterprise that promised 
such glory to the institution and its alumni, and entrusted to me 
the laborious task of writing the biography. They realized that 
my collaboration with Vergara made me as knowledgeable of 
the business as one could be, although I am in no way compara- 
ble to him. And so I received the memoirs and the other docu- 
ments which Vergara had prepared for the purpose. (24-5) 

The circumstances in which Gomez composed the biography explain 
why we cannot expect from the author a critical analysis of Cisneros' 
actions. Commissioned by the university to commemorate its found- 
er and relying on the memoirs of men who were devotees of the 
Cardinal, Gomez was bound to give a heroic tint to his narrative and 
present matters in the best possible light. 

Upbringing and Education 

We have no documentary evidence for the Cardinal's date of 
birth, but according to his biographers, Gonzalo Jimenez de Cis- 
neros was born in 1436 at Torrelaguna, a small town some fifty 
kilometers northeast of Madrid. He was the oldest son of Alfonso 
Cisneros, a receiver of tithes, and Maria de Astudillo de la Torre. 

12 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

Both were descendants of well-established families. As a boy Gonzalo 
received instruction from an uncle, his father's brother Alvaro, a 
cleric who held a benefice in the vicinity of Torrelaguna. It is not 
clear whether he continued his education at Salamanca, where he 
eventually attended university, or at the estudio general attached to 
the Franciscan monastery in Alcala. 

He appears to have been a high-spirited young man, ending up 
behind bars on one occasion for playing his guitar late at night and 
disturbing the peace of his neighbours. We have little information 
about his academic pursuits. His biographers are vague about the 
courses he took and the year in which he graduated. Vallejo, in his 
usual hagiographic style, reports that Cisneros' parents observed the 
young man's talents, "his great nobility and dignity and the zealous 
interest he took in his studies and his commitment to excellence and 
service to God our Lord, and saw to it that he was sent to the Uni- 
versity of Salamanca where ... he became a great scholar and took 
the degree of bachelor of law" (Vallejo, Memorial, 2). According to 
Gomez {De rebus gestis, 32), Cisneros also attended lectures in theol- 
ogy given by "Maestro Roa" who is documented at the university 
from 1463 to 1480. If this information is correct, it supplies us with 
a rough time frame for his studies. Cisneros does not appear to have 
held a bursary. If he was supported entirely by his family, he no 
doubt experienced hardships. Hunger, cold, and quartan fever were 
the constant companions of poor students. They were in the habit of 
stamping their feet in class, "for two reasons," as a contemporary 
explained: "to interrupt the professor [whose lectures ran overtime] 
and to keep their feet warm" (Retana, Cisneros, 1:44). 


After his graduation, Cisneros pursued a career in the church. To 
further his chances for promotion he travelled to Rome. His journey 
there and his stay in the city have been much embroidered by his 
biographers. We are told that Cisneros had the misfortune of falling 
prey to robbers twice. Left destitute, he was rescued by a former 
schoolmate whose generous help enabled him to reach his desti- 
nation. Cisneros' biographers further tell us that his stay in Rome 
was interrupted by the death of his father and that he returned to the 
city a second time. Both claims are doubtful, however, and present 
chronological difficulties. 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 13 

Rome was a propitious place for Spaniards in the fifteenth centu- 
ry. Pope Calixtus III (1455-8), a native of Valencia, had brought a 
Spanish retinue to Rome and raised his nephews Alexander and 
Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI) to positions of power. His 
nepotism — excessive even by the standards of the time — made him 
enemies. After his death in 1458, hostilities broke out against the 
pope's "Catalan" proteges, but they were not easily dislodged, and 
Cisneros likely benefited from the residual influence of his compatri- 
ots. Calixtus' successor, Pius II (1458-64), pursued a policy of friend- 
ship with Spain as a matter of self-interest, supporting Ferrante, the 
natural son of Alfonso V of Aragon, against the claims to the Nea- 
politan throne of the French. 

Cisneros travelled to Rome some time before 1471 under Pius' 
successor Paul II (1464-71) and returned with an expectativa, a papal 
brief giving him title to the next vacant benefice in the diocese of 
Toledo. The selling of expectativae as a means of filling the papal 
coffers was a common, if illegitimate, practice. Condemned as cor- 
rupt and simoniacal, the practice was expressly forbidden by the 
Third Lateran Council in the twelfth century. It was too well estab- 
lished, however, to be suppressed at once and was eliminated only in 
the sixteenth century by the Council of Trent. The buyer of an 
expectativa, much like a modern investor in futures, ran a certain risk 
and had to be patient. When the hoped-for benefice fell vacant, he 
often had to defend his right against other contenders. His main dif- 
ficulty was to secure endorsement by the local bishop, who was 
usually inclined to promote the interests of his own candidate. This 
was also Cisneros' experience. 

When a benefice became vacant in Uceda, to which Cisneros' 
native town was attached, he put forward his claim. A legal wrangle 
ensued with Alfonso Carrillo, the archbishop of Toledo, whose privi- 
lege it was to make the appointment and who had reserved the bene- 
fice for one of his retainers. According to Cisneros' early biogra- 
phers, who may have dramatized the account, he was imprisoned for 
a time, but swore that "having just title to the office he was not 
going to forfeit it; and he would die rather than obey His Lordship 
[the archbishop]" (Gomez, De rebus gestis, quoted Retana, Cisneros, 
1:63). In the end he succeeded in his quest and became archpriest of 
Uceda. Here, finally, we are on solid historical ground. 

A papal document, dated 3 December 1471, confirms Cisneros' 

14 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

appointment (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:30). The brief sheds additional 
Hght on the affair. We learn that the benefice at Uceda was not va- 
cated by death; rather the incumbent was removed because he had 
released a member of the clergy to the secular court. The circum- 
stances surrounding the case are rather curious. The papal document 
reveals that a certain Pedro Encina, a member of the clergy who 
"lived in marriage with a young woman, was accused of theft. To 
escape the death penalty ... he sought asylum in St. Magdalene at 
Torrelaguna, which was in the jurisdiction of the archpriest [of 
Uceda, Pedro Garcia de Guaza]." The archpriest, however, disre- 
garded the clerical privilege of the refugee and handed him over to a 
secular judge, who condemned him to death and had him decapitat- 
ed. The irregular conduct of the archpriest was reported to the Holy 
See by none other than Cisneros, who had of course a personal inter- 
est in seeing the priest prosecuted and relieved of his office. The 
papal document states: "The said Pedro Garcia has shown himself 
unworthy of the office of archpriest which he held. . . . Wishing to 
bestow a special favour on the aforementioned Gonzalo [Cisneros], 
in view of his aforesaid gifts and merits ... we relieve Pedro Garcia 
of his benefice by way of judgment and confer it on Cisneros" (Re- 
tana, Cisneros, 1:61-2). The dubious role Cisneros played in the affair 
may well explain why his first biographers chose to omit the details 
of Garcia's dismissal from their account and instead stressed Cisne- 
ros' heroic resistance to the archbishop. 

It is uncertain whether Cisneros was ordained before his journey 
to Rome or during his stay there. Nor do we know whether he felt 
a genuine vocation for the church at this stage in his life or, like 
many of his contemporaries, merely chose a career that would pro- 
vide him with a respectable living. His later actions at any rate reveal 
him as a man committed to the Church and, in the eyes of some, a 
religious zealot. 


Cisneros is documented as archpriest in the records of Uceda until 
1476, when he exchanged his benefice for a first chaplaincy in Si- 
giienza in the diocese of Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza. It was a pru- 
dent move, coinciding with the decline of Carrillo's fortunes and po- 
litical ascent of Mendoza, from whose power at court Cisneros was 
to benefit in later years. Cisneros' name appears repeatedly in the 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 15 

administrative records of Sigiienza. In 1477 and 1481, for example, he 
acted in lawsuits for the chapter. His organizational talents impressed 
the archbishop, who made him his vicar-general, that is, administra- 
tor of Sigiienza — an office that brought with it a number of privi- 
leges and benefices. In 1484, however, Cisneros abruptly relinquished 
his duties as vicar-general and entered the Franciscan order. It was at 
this time that he changed his first name to "Francisco", a common 
gesture that identified the bearer with the ideals of St. Francis, the 
founder of the order. We know little about Cisneros' motives for 
leaving his position at Sigiienza or his spiritual state at that time. His 
biographer, Juan de Vallejo, piously declares: "Inspired by the Holy 
Spirit, he freely left his office to a man of dignity, learning, and 
integrity and his benefices to other well-deserving persons, whom he 
thought likely to discharge their duties conscientiously, and left the 
world" (Vallejo, Memorial, 4). 

Cisneros' movements over the next years are uncertain. He may 
have stayed at the convent of San Juan de los Reyes, recently found- 
ed by Queen Isabel. He may have spent some time at the hermitage 
of El Castanar and from there moved to Salceda, another rustic 
retreat, the spiritual heritage of Pedro de Villaneces. His administra- 
tive talents at any rate were not overlooked in the new surroundings, 
and he soon rose to become guardian of the house at Salceda. 

Confessor of Queen Isabel 

1492, the annus mirabilis of Spanish history, in which the "In- 
dies" were discovered and Granada conquered, was also a significant 
year in Cisneros' life. On the recommendation of Gonzalez de Men- 
doza he was chosen confessor of Queen Isabel. It seems that he had 
to be coaxed from his retreat. The conditions under which he reluc- 
tantly accepted the honour included the request that one or two 
companions from Salceda accompany him, that he be permitted to go 
on retreats from time to time, stay at a Franciscan hermitage of his 
choice, and administer the sacraments without having to obtain spe- 
cial permission from local church authorities (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 
1:45). In his new position Cisneros wielded considerable power. His 
tasks involved not only guiding the conscience of the pious queen 
but also counselling her in her political decisions. However, Vallejo's 
assertion that Cisneros "initiated" the expulsion of the Jews is 
implausible. The royal decree of March 1492 which expelled all Jews 

16 Spain in the Time of Cisneros 

from the realm was obviously the culmination of an antisemitic poli- 
cy that had issued in pogroms before. Cisneros' influence over the 
Queen was, initially at least, primarily of a spiritual nature. Pietro 
Martire, one of the royal historians, describes her as becoming 
increasingly "closed off in sadness" (quoted Liss, Isabel, 312). The 
circumstances in her own life — her age, deaths in the family, and a 
sense of loss of control — predisposed her perhaps to embrace the 
contemplative life that was Cisneros' own ideal. The royal historian 
Marineo Siculo reported that she led the life of a nun, exerting 
herself in prayer and spiritual readings. No doubt she found comfort 
and inspiration in a confessor who shared her outlook. 

Cisneros was fifty-six years old at the time of his appointment, a 
slim, tall man of upright bearing, with well-proportioned limbs. The 
eyes in his large angular face were deep-set and lively, his nose 
aquiline, his voice deep and resonant. By all accounts he had an air of 
great dignity. Pietro Martire, a shrewd observer of the court scene, 
describes the first impression Cisneros made and the reputation that 
preceded him: 

They say he is called Francisco Ximenez and lives under the 
rule and habit of Saint Francis. They report that he was at some 
time a dignitary of the Cathedral of Siguenza, enjoying honour, 
fat rents, and great prestige among the clergy. Putting aside all 
human concerns and fearing the treacherous tides of the world 
and the snares of the devil, he abandoned it all so as not to 
become enmeshed in the pernicious desires and temptations of 
the secular world. Thus he passed from great liberty to a life of 
much constraint and to strictest solitude, not because he had 
scant means (like many people), or for lack of spirit and confi- 
dence in himself (like the majority), nor to grow plump in indo- 
lence (like others), nor for fear of being condemned for crimes 
(like certain people). They say he is industrious, full of good- 
ness, and a man of singular learning. According to reports, he 
equals Saint Augustine in wisdom. Saint Jerome in austerity of 
life, Saint Ambrose in zeal for those less fortunate than himself. 
He avoids human contact and prefers the solitude of the forests. 
He walks barefoot through the silent woods, dressed in sack- 
cloth, content with little, sleeping on straw. In private he pun- 
ishes his flesh with vigils and castigations ... A number of friars 
of his order have given testimony that on many occasions they 

Spain in the Time of Cisneros 17 

have seen him in a state of ecstasy, just as one reads in Saint 
Paul. These and other things are said of the man. It will be a 
pity if, in the usual course, the courtiers will succeed in chang- 
ing his character and if some day he will become puffed up with 
privilege and carried away by ambition, (Ep. 107, 19 May 1492) 

When Archbishop Mendoza died in 1495 and Cisneros was designat- 
ed as his successor, he was still considered an enigma by Martire: 
"People say he is exceptional, not in learning, but in holiness. I have 
not yet formed an impression of his true nature. So far he has not 
had much contact with the court, which generally corrupts the inner 
man" (Ep. 160, 11 June 1495). A few months later Martire had had 
a taste of Cisneros' influence and determination, "This is the man," 
he wrote, "by whose counsel Spain is now governed. Because of his 
lively intellect, his gravity and wisdom, and his holiness which sur- 
passes all cenobites, hermits, and anchorites, he has such authority 
with my monarchs as no one has had before" (Ep. 163, 5 August 1495). 
Marineo Siculo was similarly unprepared for Cisneros' rise to 
power. His Eulogy of Spain, presented to the monarchs in the four- 
teen-nineties, contained biographical notes on leading churchmen. 
Cisneros was not among them. Realizing his faux pas, he later wrote 
a fawning letter to Cisneros, promising to include him in a revised 
edition: "I have in mind, wisest of prelates, to add some things to my 
book in praise of Spain, which I omitted when I wrote about the 
affairs in Spain in summary form. I omitted them, not out of negli- 
gence or forgetfulness, but because the number of illustrious men and 
deeds in Spain was so infinite that I could not include them all." He 
shores up this limp excuse with further explanations. He had com- 
posed his Eulogy shortly after his arrival from Sicily, when he was 
unfamiliar with the subject matter and pressed for time because of 
teaching duties at the University of Salamanca. Now that he was 
attached to the royal court he had made the acquaintance of many 
more praiseworthy individuals, "And as I was contemplating whom 
to commemorate first, Your Excellence came to mind before anyone 
else, rightly to be preferred to them all. The sanctity of your life, the 
excellence of your character, your singular learning, your fervent 
love and worship of God, and your other innumerable virtues 
seemed to me worthy of being celebrated in Latin so that they might 
become better known in future to everyone" (Marineo Siculo, Episto- 
larum lihri, 1.17), 


Cisneros' Programme of 
Church Reform 

Xlnjoying the favour of the court, Cisneros advanced rapidly. He 
became Provincial of the Franciscans in Castile in 1494 and was 
elevated to the archbishopric of Toledo on the death of Gonzales de 
Mendoza in 1495. It was in these years that he began to take on an 
active role as reformer. Three tasks occupied his attention: the re- 
form of the religious orders, especially that of the Franciscans; the 
reform of the archdiocese of Toledo; and an ambitious educational 
programme that culminated in the foundation of the University of 
Alcala (see chapter 4). 

In the nineteenth century German historians championed what is 
now called the "Spanish Thesis". Protagonists of the thesis noted 
that the Catholic reform movement was not merely a "Counter- 
Reformation", that is, a reaction to the rise of Protestantism. The 
drive to purify the church and to promote spiritual fervour preceded 
Luther's rise to prominence and had its roots in the fifteenth centu- 
ry. This reforming spirit was more particularly associated with Spain 
and the efforts of Cisneros. More recently, however, historians have 
pointed out that Italy and the Low Countries — the heartland of the 
Devotio Modema — played an equally significant role in the early 
stages of religious reform. More importantly, scholars today empha- 
size the complexity of religious currents in early modern Europe. 
The ideas propagated, the practices observed, the motivation driving 
them, and their philosophical underpinnings are too diverse to be 
associated with one region or one man's initiatives. The prominent 
role Cisneros played as a protagonist of church reform remains un- 
contested, however. 

The Reform of the Religious Orders: 
Conventuals versus Observants 

One of Cisneros' first documented acts as provincial was the con- 

Cisneros' Programme of church Reform 19 

vocation of a chapter synod in Aguilera in 1494. According to the 
records, Cisneros ordered that "the old constitutions and regulations 
established by the founders should be observed to the letter" and that 
those contravening them be severely punished {AIA 10 [1950]: 223). 

The Franciscan Order was at the time in the grip of a bitter con- 
flict between Conventual and Observant houses. The latter preserved 
the rules of their founder; the former had diverged considerably from 
the austere regulations of St. Francis and had become feudal lords 
with vassals and a substantial income from rents. The friars lived a 
secular life, displayed the trappings of wealth, indulged in worldly 
pleasures, and were at liberty to inherit money and spend it as they 
pleased. What had originally been a movement to reform the whole 
order led to a division which was acknowledged by the Council of 
Constance in 1415. Over the next century efforts to reach a compro- 
mise failed. A final attempt at reunion at a general chapter meeting 
in Rome in 1506 was unsuccessful. In 1517, Pope Leo X formally 
separated the two groups. Paradoxically, his bull "Ite vos" is referred 
to as the "unity bull", because it was hoped at the time that the 
Conventuals would join the Observants, but it merely united the re- 
formed splinter groups and removed the Conventuals into a separate 
order (Moorman, Franciscan Order, 585; Telechea, La reforma, 51-3). 

In Spain the Observants enjoyed the approbation of Cisneros and 
the court. A considerable number of Conventual houses turned Ob- 
servant, some voluntarily, others under pressure. Such tactics were 
not always successful, however. In a well-documented Catalan case 
Ferdinand tried to pressure the Conventual monastery at Calatayud 
into converting to Observantism. An exchange of letters in 1495 
between Ferdinand and the guardian of the house, Juan Vergara, 
shows the latter's reluctance to accede to Ferdinand's request. A 
move by the King to go over his head and cite the provincial of 
Aragon, Pedro Castrobol, before the court, was similarly unsuccess- 
ful. The provincial refused to cooperate, and Ferdinand was forced to 
abandon the project for the time being. 

In Castile Cisneros' attempts at reform were similarly met with 
resistance from those whose living standard was affected. He also en- 
countered resistance from laymen, local grandees who had endowed 
chapels and feared that the necessary rites would not be performed 
by a reformed order. There was also opposition from Francesco 
Nanni, the Minister General of the Order in Rome, who agreed with 

20 Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 

the complainants that some of Cisneros' procedures were illegal. 
According to his biographer Gomez de Castro, he had been using 
every means at his disposal: "It was his goal to place the Conventual 
houses under the jurisdiction of the Observants by praying or paying 
or any other clever ruse" {De rebus gestis, 44). 

In 1500 Francesco Nanni died and was succeeded by Giles Delfini, 
a man determined to reform the Conventuals but to keep the order 
united. His moderate stand pleased neither party. The Observants, in 
particular, feared for their independence. Trying to make his policy 
palatable, he visited Spain twice. In Castile he found Cisneros recalci- 
trant. In 1503 he protested the archbishop's attitude to Rome and 
asked that he be forced to cooperate. A planned general chapter 
meeting which was to resolve the issue was delayed when Pope Alex- 
ander died. The chapter finally convened under Julius II in 1506, but 
Delfini was too ill to plead his case. He died shortly afterwards. A 
papal bull forbidding the taking over of Conventual houses by Ob- 
servants remained ineffectual and was ignored by Cisneros in Spain. 

By the end of the fifteenth century, the Observants were in the 
ascendancy throughout Europe. Historians have credited Cisneros 
with the success of the reform movement in Spain. His determined 
resistance to Delfini and his unwavering pursuit of a more austere 
monastic ideal in the face of considerable resistance from the Spanish 
Conventuals earned him a conspicuous place in history among 
Catholic reformers. 

The Poor Clares 

Founded by St. Francis' disciple St. Clare, the Poor Clares (or 
Clarisses) were bound closely to the friars by their rule and formally 
associated with the Franciscan Order by Pope Gregory IX in 1227. 
They were founded as a mendicant order, but like the Franciscans 
had gradually abandoned the ideal of poverty. In the fifteenth centu- 
ry many convents offered a comfortable life. They attracted young 
noblewomen and wealthy widows, who had their own private 
fortune, and continued to live in the style to which they were accus- 
tomed. Few of them had the sense of vocation or spiritual commit- 
ment envisaged by St. Clare. In Spain the Catholic monarchs includ- 
ed the Poor Clares in their reform programme. They wrote to the 
Franciscan provincial of Aragon in 1497: "One of the principal issues 
and concerns in the reform of the convents of Santa Clara is the 

Cisneros' Programme of church Reform 21 

assignment of confessors. They should be old and godfearing and 
chosen only by the men who carry out visitations" (ACA Reg. 3611, 
fol. 143r; Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 2:209). Visitations in subsequent 
years aimed to correct the most common abuses. They curtailed the 
nuns' contacts with the outside world, enforced the rules governing 
dress and food, and generally fostered spiritual renewal. In 1494 the 
monarchs put Cisneros in charge of the reforms in Castile. Cisneros 
pursued the matter with his customary zeal. In 1497 the convents 
were placed under the supervision of the Observants. Those affected 
by the reform turned to the papal court, but found little support. 

Cisneros' examiners wrangled not only with recalcitrant convents 
but also with local authorities who resented their interference. Ber- 
nardino de Guaza, a canon of Toledo, complained in a report to the 
papal court of the indignities he suffered at the hands of Cisneros' 
examiners. They had "put their sickle into another man's corn . . . 
had him taken prisoner and thrown into jail and did not scruple to 
detain him there. Some of these sons of iniquity, trusting in the pro- 
tection of the Archbishop [Cisneros], seized the convents belonging 
to the Poor Clares by force, detained the nuns and are still detaining 
them" (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, I'.m). At the general chapter meeting 
which took place in Rome in 1506 under the auspices of Julius II, the 
pope formally placed the Poor Clares under Observant control. 
Disputes continued in some areas. In 1512 one of Cisneros' deputees 
complained of the dogged resistance of the nuns at Palencia and 
proposed to have the rebels transferred, but on the whole the reform 
proceeded as planned. 

Reforms in Toledo 

The year 1495 brought Cisneros' elevation to the archbishopric of 
Toledo and the primacy of Spain, a position of great power and 
prestige. His appointment caused surprise, because this honour was 
normally bestowed on men of wealth and lineage. Cisneros had 
neither. The choice of the monarchs was no doubt motivated by 
political and economic considerations as much as by considerations 
for Cisneros' personal worth. Time was of the essence. A drawn-out 
interregnum was undesirable since it afforded local authorities an 
opportunity to flex their muscle and make appointments at will. Cis- 
neros was seen by Ferdinand and Isabel as a loyal servant and a com- 
petent manager of their interests. Contemporary historians imply 

22 Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 

that financial negotiations took place. Zurita alleges that an agree- 
ment was reached that part of the episcopal income would finance 
royal projects. Juan Vallejo speaks of an understanding that Cisneros' 
personal expenses would be looked after, but that "the remainder of 
his income would subsidize the monarchs." They would furthermore 
retain control over the fortified places in his diocese (Vallejo, Memori- 
al, 13). Whatever the details of the agreement, it is clear that the 
appointment was calculated to strengthen the Crown's position and 
to benefit the monarchs financially. Indeed one of the first acts of the 
new archbishop was the negotiation of a tithe to be collected by the 
Crown, a privilege granted them by the Pope in May of 1495. 

The archbishop's control over appointments and funds did not go 
unchallenged. During the interregnum, the cathedral chapter made a 
concerted effort to safeguard its autonomy. They were met by 
equally determined efforts on the part of the monarchs to protect the 
episcopal authority which during a vacancy devolved on them. The 
chapter yielded in the face of threats and pressure, but their initial 
relationship with Cisneros was predictably difficult. It began with a 
memorandum from the archbishop expressing concern over the 
problem of concubinage. This was followed up with visitations, given 
force by a papal directive "to lead the diocese back on the straight 
path and recall them to the religious observance and moral rectitude 
to which they are in duty bound" (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:72). By 
March 1496, there were rumours of a planned insurrection, involving 
not only Toledo but other chapters as well. The reports alarmed the 
monarchs who instructed the corregidor of Toledo, Pedro de Castilla, 
to investigate the matter. He discovered that the capelldn mayor 
Alfonso de Albornoz had been sent to Rome at the head of a delega- 
tion to complain — as one of the witnesses said — that the chapter 
"did not get along well with that archbishop, that he made them eat 
in the refectory and that they had to take all their orders from the 
said archbishop. He himself [the witness] had heard them boast . . . 
that the chapter of Toledo had on other occasions removed one 
archbishop and appointed another and that this was easily accom- 
plished" (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:75-6). Albornoz' initiative was cut 
short when the Spanish ambassador to the papal court detained the 
delegation in April 1496. Albornoz, according to Cisneros' biogra- 
pher Gomez de Castro, spent some time in confinement. It appears, 
however, that the Pope was not amenable to the Spanish ambassa- 

Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 23 

dor's request that Albornoz be removed from his post. He remained 
capelldn mayor. Cisneros himself acquiesced, considering it politic to 
appease the chapter. 

The question has been raised by historians whether Cisneros' 
reforms had the formal endorsement of the Holy See. Documentary 
evidence confirms that he acted with authorization. The monarchs 
had sought and obtained permission to initiate reforms. In March 
1493 a brief from Alexander VI ("Exposuerunt nobis") authorized 
them to "appoint suitable prelates and men of holiness, conscience, 
and integrity," to examine, correct, and reform "some monasteries 
and nunneries . . . whose life falls short of the requirements of the 
rules of their institution." They entrusted the task to Cisneros. In 
December 1494 the pope confirmed Cisneros' authority to reform 
the Poor Clares; and on December 1496, in the brief "Ut ea" 
(Garcia Oro, Reforma, 376), he commissioned Cisneros and Diego 
Deza to reform the houses of the Franciscan and Dominican Orders 
respectively. Subsequent briefs refer to the two men as "papal com- 
missaries for the reform" (in the brief "Ut imponatur finis" issued 
by Alexander VI, November 1497) and to Cisneros as "the reformer 
of all monasteries and houses" (in the brief "Alias ex vobis", 1501). 
Pope Julius II confirmed Cisneros' powers to reform the monasteries 
and orders and renewed the mission in a brief of 1503 (Retana, Cis- 
neros, 1:129). It is certain therefore that Cisneros was acting on prop- 
er authority in initiating the reforms. However, his uncompromising 
attitude led a group of Conventual Franciscans to take their case to 
the pope and resulted in a temporary suspension of his powers. Ob- 
liging the lobbyists, Alexander wrote in 1496: "To put an end to the 
complaints which are brought before us continually, especially by the 
Minors of St. Francis, on account of the reform which we had under- 
taken in your realms and dominions ... it has been decreed that the 
reform process be stopped and the business be totally suspended until 
the whole truth has been found and we decide on a suitable course of 
action" (quoted Retana, Cisneros, 1:143). 

Duties at court prevented Cisneros for two years after his ap- 
pointment as archbishop from visiting his diocese in person. When 
he formally entered Toledo in 1497, his austere apparel stood in stark 
contrast to the sumptuous dress of the dignitaries receiving him. 
While they displayed their wealth, he was riding a mule, as usual, 
and wore sandals with straps "through which one could see his bare 

24 Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 

toes" (Vallejo, Memorial, 16-17). His excessive modesty was reported 
to the Pope, who wrote to admonish him to adopt a manner more in 
keeping with the dignity of God and the Church. The hierarchy in 
the Church, he wrote, was marked by certain external honours. "As 
you well know, one may sin by default just as one may sin by excess. 
Observing the hierarchy and order of the Church was pleasing to 
God. Therefore everyone, but especially the prelates, ought to be 
concerned, not only about their spiritual lives and character, but also 
about their deportment, so that they be faulted neither for proud and 
pompous display nor for excessive and superstitious modesty." As 
archbishop, the Pope continued, Cisneros "ought to observe the cus- 
tomary standard of dress and retinue, to cultivate an external image 
appropriate to [his] rank . . . and the dignity of [his] office" (Retana, 
Cisneros, 1:179). Cisneros complied with the wishes of the pope and 
adopted an appearance appropriate to his station, but could not be 
persuaded to wear shoes or boots, keeping the Franciscan rule of 
wearing sandals. 

Just as he had admonished the members of his order to return to 
the practices of their founder, he spoke to the canons of Toledo of 
the need for spiritual renewal. The speech, quoted by Gomez, al- 
though perhaps not Cisneros' exact words, reflects his general atti- 
tude. "You are aware, beloved brethren, that I was elevated to this 
position against my will," he said. "And no one knows better than 
I how unworthy I am of this honour, for I have already begun to 
groan under the burden and to doubt my abilities, although I trust in 
the goodness of the Lord and in the help you are bound to provide, 
giving me your support and prayers. Certainly you must help me to 
improve the divine service in this diocese, to reform customs, and to 
restore a vigorous discipline. For this purpose I wish to see in you, 
first of all, manifestations of splendid ecclesiastical virtue, so that you 
may take first place in virtue as you now take first place in honour 
and wealth in this diocese" {De rebus gestis, 672). 

A good picture of Cisneros' reform programme for the secular 
clergy and the concern he showed for his diocese and their pastoral 
care emerges from the proceedings of the synods of Toledo and 
Talavera he called in 1497 and 1498. He asked priests to encourage 
their congregation to go to confession and take communion and ad- 
monished the clergy to provide spiritual leadership. Concerned about 
the parishioners' knowledge of the articles of faith, he instructed 

Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 25 

priests to provide doctrinal lessons for children every Sunday. In the 
published Constituciones del arzobispado de Toledo (Salamanca, 1498) 
he castigated parish priests for neglecting this part of their duty "so 
that parishioners do not know what is essential to their salvation and 
what constitutes the foundation of our faith, such as making the sign 
of the cross, saying the Our Father and Hail Mary, the Creed, the 
Salve Regina, and the Ten Commandments of the Church" (Garcia 
Oro, Reforma, 337). He therefore published in the appendix of the 
Constitutiones a brief catechism to be used in the instruction of the 
congregation. He also admonished the parish priests to explain the 
gospel readings to their congregation and attached a penalty of two 
reales for non-compliance with this mandate. To ensure that priests 
were available to their parishioners, residence was enforced and 
failure to keep residence made subject to penalty. Cisneros also con- 
cerned himself with external expressions of respect for the Church. 
He emphasized that parishioners ought to be taught to cross them- 
selves on entering the church and to turn with deference toward the 
place where the Eucharist was kept. The Eucharist itself and the 
vessel in which it was kept were to be maintained fresh and clean. 
Cisneros furthermore abolished the practice of charging for such 
services as extreme unction, to ensure that poverty did not deprive 
parishioners of the spiritual comfort of sacraments. Two regulations 
enforced by Cisneros were of administrative importance and at the 
same time functioned as checks on the compliance of the parish with 
Catholic practices: parish priests were instructed to keep a scrupulous 
record of baptisms and to take an annual census of parishioners who 
had fulfilled their Easter duty, that is, gone to confession and taken 
the Eucharist. The decrees of the synods manifest Cisneros' concern 
for the spiritual welfare of the congregation and support Wadding's 
assessment (Wadding, Annales Minorum, 1497, #8) that "he trans- 
formed the diocese to such an extent that the people seemed to have 
been reborn in grace." 

The episcopal records document not only Cisneros' pastoral care 
but also his work as administrator. Here the shrewd steward of 
resources and protector of rights and privileges is in evidence. The 
case of Bernardino de Mendoza serves as an illustration of this facet. 
Cisneros, who had nominated Pietro Martire to the vacant arch- 
deanery of Guadalajara, found his nomination challenged by Bernar- 
dino de Mendoza on the strength of a papal expectativa. One is, of 

26 Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 

course, Immediately reminded of the contest involving Cisneros' own 
claim to the archpriesthood of Uceda. The similarity between the 
two cases was immediately pointed out, but the archbishop denied 
that the same rules applied in his and Bernardino's case. He insisted 
that the latter's claim had expired because the pope who had granted 
the expectativa was no longer alive. He furthermore reminded his 
challenger that "he had a heart of adamant and an arm of steel" 
(Retana, Cisneros, 1:271). Bernardino apparently abandoned his claim. 

The archbishopric of Toledo made Cisneros a wealthy seigneur. 
It was one of the richest sees. While the average income of bishops 
was between eight and twenty thousand ducats, Toledo yielded 
eighty thousand ducats. The administrative records inform us that 
Cisneros spent about a quarter of his enormous income on house- 
hold expenses, another quarter on building projects and military 
ventures, and half on alms. The latter went to support religious 
houses who in turn were expected to distribute the alms among the 
local poor, but sums were also allocated to specific purposes such as 
the support of poor students, the provision of dowries for the daugh- 
ters of the poor, the support of widows and children who had been 
abandoned. Cisneros' record is relatively free of the crass nepotism 
prevalent in his time. His proteges were, on the whole, worthy men. 
The exception is the favour he showed to his brother Bernardino, for 
which he was ill compensated. Bernardino, likewise a Franciscan, 
joined the malcontents protesting Cisneros' reforms. His part in the 
plotting led to his imprisonment, but he soon obtained pardon from 
his brother. On one occasion a disagreement led to a violent encoun- 
ter in which Bernardino throttled his brother and left him for dead. 
He was apprehended but through his brother's leniency escaped the 
death penalty customary for a crime of this magnitude. He did not 
reform, however. Some years after the death of Cisneros, we read 
that his successor transferred Bernardino to the Franciscan monastery 
in Torrelaguna and placed him under guard "because he does not live 
as he ought to" (quoted Retana, Cisneros, 1:199). 

Cisneros continued to lead an exemplary life of work and prayer. 
Gomez de Castro gives us an account of the archbishop's daily rou- 
tine. He arose early, sometimes before dawn. From daybreak until 
noon he was in his office receiving petitioners. They invariably 
found him pacing up and down behind his desk, Bible in hand. Un- 

Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 27 

less the visitor was a member of the nobility, the archbishop con- 
ducted the interview in ambulatory fashion, terminating it as soon as 
possible by returning his attention to the Bible. At noon Cisneros 
gathered around him the household pages and personally inspected 
the progress they had made in their studies, ascertaining at the same 
time the competence of the instructors, to whom he had entrusted 
their education. 

His meals were eaten in public and attended by a number of 
scholars invited to discuss subjects of interest. Among the partici- 
pants in these learned conversations were the humanist Juan de 
Vergara, the philologists Antonio Nebrija and Pablo Coronel, and 
the theologians Pedro de Lerma and Nicolas de Paz. One of the 
guests (quoted Retana, Cisneros, 1:188) described the experience: 

In a twelve-months period I defended three or four theological 
or philosophical conclusions per day. And because the disputa- 
tions offered such an admirable display of learning, many schol- 
ars attended them as well as [nobles]. . . . Doctors of theology 
continually came forward on all sides to propose questions and 
ascertain the truth . . . and the disputations never stopped except 
when the troop of soldiers stationed in the place came with 
their captain to present themselves before my Lord the Cardinal 
(for he was an aficionado of arms as much as letters and virtue), 
and when they had given their salute, the captain went up to 
the table to kiss the hands of my Lord the Cardinal, and he 
dismissed them graciously. Then we theologians returned to our 
intellectual exercises. 

After lunch Cisneros returned to his office and spent the after- 
noon in consultation with royal councillors, conferring with them 
about matters of government and administration. 

When this business had been concluded, Cisneros retired to his 
room and for his recreation and relief from work he frequently 
studied passages in St. Thomas and other holy books. At six 
o'clock sharp we doctors of theology and his household were 
summoned to his study and there we spent two hours and 
sometimes more until dinner in intellectual pursuits, proposing 
questions of importance and giving our several opinions about 
it and attempting resolutions; and in matters pertaining to Holy 

28 Cisneros' Programme of Church Reform 

Writ, he spoke with great authority, for he was very learned 
and well versed in it. (ibidem) 

Dinner was a frugal affair, often consisting of a sort of gruel made 
of bread, milk, honey, and nuts. Cisneros then retired for the night, 
ending his day examining his conscience and reading the breviary. 


Crusader, Missionary , and 
Guardian of the Faith 

In 1507 Cisneros was made Inquisitor General of Castile and acted 
as Inquisitor General of Aragon until 1513, when the Bishop of 
Tortosa, Luis Mercader, assumed the office (Perez, Cisneros, 84). Cis- 
neros' predecessor, Diego de Deza, had opposed the appointment. 
His letter on the subject addressed to Ferdinand was full of dire 
warnings: "Your Highness knows full well that this appointment 
would be an offense against God and mean the destruction of the In- 
quisition" (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:180). Others, by contrast, saw 
Cisneros as the only man capable of restoring order to a corrupt 
institution. Deza had resigned under a cloud. He cited old age and 
poor health, but other reasons had entered on his decision. He had 
made the political error of supporting Philip the Handsome against 
Ferdinand (see below, chapter 5) and his office had been compro- 
mised by the discreditable conduct of his lieutenants. The most 
infamous of his officials was Diego Rodriguez Lucero, who had been 
appointed Inquisitor of Cordoba in 1499. He instituted a reign of 
terror, practising fraud and extortion. Pietro Martire reported that he 
fabricated evidence and treated the accused with unwarranted cruelty. 
Lucero (nicknamed "Tenebrero") had brought trumped-up charges 
against young converso women. Although they had led, according to 
the testimony of their neighbours, a closely guarded life in their par- 
ents' home, they were accused of such unlikely activities as preaching 
Judaism and engaging in bacchanalia. Martire expressed surprise that 
anyone could have believed such "fairy tales or rather such infernal 
tales" (Ep. 385). According to another contemporary chronicler, 
Lucero's motive was greed and ambition. "To gain credit as a zealous 
minister of faith and to gain higher dignities, he began to treat the 
accused prisoners with extreme severity, forcing them to reveal the 
names of their accomplices, which resulted in denunciations against 
so great a number of people, both converses and Old Christians, that 

30 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

the city [Cordoba] was scandalized and came close to rioting" (Kam- 
en, Spain, 51). There was outrage when Lucero arrested Hernando de 
Talavera, Archbishop of Granada, a saintly man, who had treated the 
Moors in his diocese with leniency. Talavera was of Jewish extraction 
and, on the strength of a denunciation obtained from a servant under 
torture, was accused of judaizing and keeping a synagogue in his pal- 
ace. The case was appealed to the pope, who acquitted Talavera of 
the charges. After Cisneros' appointment as Inquisitor General, a 
commission convoked at Burgos in June 1508 reviewed Lucero's ac- 
tivities. He was arrested and relieved of his post. His innocent vic- 
tims were released from prison, penalties revoked, and reputations 
restored. But, as Pietro Martire commented, Lucero's conviction 
could not compensate them for their suffering and disgrace. He 
escaped punishment, moreover, through the intervention of powerful 
friends, and was allowed to retire to Seville. 

Cisneros as Inquisitor General 

The letters and memoranda documenting Cisneros' tenure as 
Inquisitor General show his concern for the integrity of the inquisi- 
torial process. He inquired about the conditions of jails, dealt with 
accusations that fiscals (prosecutors) were embezzling the property of 
prisoners, and examined the nature of the evidence brought against 
the accused. In one case he directed officials not to imprison men on 
vague evidence, for example, "if they had no other suspicion or 
indication to go by than partial circumcision . . . for there were no 
definite rules in such cases, and it seems to me one must proceed 
with discretion" (Meseguer, "Documentos," 58; the following quota- 
tions come from the same source). Among the documents relating to 
his tenure are numerous privileges granted to relatives of condemned 
persons, restoring their right to practice their profession, which a 
strict interpretation of the law had taken from them. Thus "Maestro 
Juan, physician and surgeon . . . legally prohibited from holding 
public office by reason of being the son of a man condemned for 
heresy" was rehabilitated and "shall not be inconvenienced or have 
his peace disturbed for this reason now or ever" (100). Similarly 
Gonzalo Diaz of Seville was permitted to cure boils (but no other 
disease), although his father and uncle had been condemned for het- 
erodoxy (106, sim.78, 79). A group of young people aged between fif- 
teen and twenty years were acquitted of practising Jewish ceremonies 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 31 

because they had been under age (108). Others were shown clemency 
in special circumstances. A woman's jail sentence was converted 
because she was ill, "so that she may seek treatment and recover her 
health and be able to do the exercises necessary for her cure" (120). 
In another case, two Moriscos, who had been imprisoned by the In- 
quisition, had their property returned to them "because its value was 
insignificant and they are hard pressed" (156). Cisneros also con- 
cerned himself with procedures. A letter to officials at Toledo ad- 
monished them to attend the required meetings of the inquisitorial 
board. Cisneros had been informed "that some do not fulfil their 
duty and come to the meetings very late and are often absent, so that 
cases are delayed" (119). In future those guilty of lateness or absentee- 
ism were to be fined a third of their salary. By tightly controlling 
new appointments, monitoring documentation, and diligently super- 
vising the inquisitorial process Cisneros restored discipline and order 
to the institution. 

The question of reforming the Inquisition was raised officially by 
the cortes of Monzon in 1510 and again in 1512. Agreements were 
signed between the Inquisition and individual provinces that put 
limits on the number of officials and their competency and eased 
regulations governing the confiscation of goods and the trade restric- 
tions placed on conversos. Complaints against the Inquisition contin- 
ued, however. After Ferdinand's death in 1516, Cisneros alleged that 
conversos lobbying the court of Charles, the young heir to the 
throne, were using bribery in an effort to obtain their goal. He noted 
that in Ferdinand's reign they had offered to subsidize a war against 
Navarre, but the King had declined the bribe, "for he wished to 
place devotion and observance of the Christian religion . . . above 
whatever riches and gold there was in the world." He implored 
Charles "to keep before his eyes this singular and recent example of 
his grandfather and not allow that the court procedure of the Inquisi- 
tion be changed" (Cart. Xim. 262). In particular, the practice of keep- 
ing the names of witnesses secret was vigorously defended by Cisne- 
ros. He argued that disclosure would endanger the lives of witnesses. 
He related the story of a convicted Judaizer, who "discovered who 
was the witness that had denounced him. He sought him out, con- 
fronted him in a laneway and ran him through with a lance. . . . No 
one will come forward to denounce a person at the risk of losing his 
life. That spells ruin to the tribunal and leaves the divine cause 

32 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

without defense" (Cart. Xim. 263). The regulation remained in place. 
Cisneros declared himself satisfied that faults in the procedures had 
been corrected and abuses stopped. He envisaged no further need for 
reform. On the contrary, he said, "it would be sinful to introduce 
changes" (Cart. Xim. 261). 

Not everyone shared the Cardinal's view. When King Charles 
held his first cortes in 1518, he was deluged with petitions asking him 
to ensure that the Suprema observe due process. Plans for a reform 
were thwarted, however, by Cisneros' successor, Adrian of Utrecht, 
who, like Cisneros, was content with the status quo. 

The Moorish Question 

One aspect of the Inquisition, the Moorish question, had already 
occupied Cisneros before he became Inquisitor General. In January 
1492 the Spanish monarchs accepted the surrender of Granada, thus 
completing the reconquista. Arabs had invaded the Spanish peninsula 
in the eighth century. From the eleventh century on there were at- 
tempts to regain these territories. By the thirteenth century some 
advances had been made toward this goal, but eventually the pace of 
the reconquista was slackened by dynastic crises. In the fifteenth 
century, however, especially in the aftermath of the fall of Constanti- 
nople, the crusading spirit in Europe revived, and the reconquista was 
carried on once again under a religious banner. Six incursions into 
Granada in the 1450s brought few concrete results, but popular 
enthusiasm for the enterprise remained undiminished. The Catholic 
monarchs found the reconquista a convenient means of rallying their 
subjects behind the Crown. Their campaign, begun in 1482, success- 
fully detached outlying regions until in 1489 only the central region 
immediately surrounding the city of Granada remained in Arab 
hands. The final conquest came as a result of diplomatic as much as 
of military activity. A feud among members of the ruling clan made 
Granada vulnerable and allowed the Spaniards to make separate 
treaties with disgruntled regional rulers. The city of Granada was 
besieged during the spring of 1490. In the fall of 1491, as preparations 
for an assault went forward and morale in the Moorish camp deterio- 
rated, negotiations led to a surrender of the city. 

The terms were liberal: there were to be no confiscations of prop- 
erty. The inhabitants were guaranteed freedom of religion, and local 
administration and government was left untouched. The new prov- 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 33 

ince was ruled by a triumvirate: the royal secretary Fernando de 
Zafra, the military commander Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, Count of 
Tendilla, and the newly created Archbishop of Granada, Hernando 
de Talavera. The archbishop, an enlightened man, was scrupulous in 
his adherence to the terms of the treaty, hoping that conversion 
could be achieved by persuasion and assimilation. It was his policy to 
meet with Muslim leaders {alfaquies) and to encourage the Christian 
clergy to learn Arabic and convert the Muslim population by preach- 
ing and instruction. He saw to it that portions of Scripture and other 
devotional works were translated into Arabic, a practice disapproved 
by Cisneros who commented that he "did not want to cast pearls 
before swine, that is, give up Holy Writ to those who are not yet 
well confirmed in their religion to laugh at and disdain." More 
broadly speaking, he was not convinced of the usefulness of vernacu- 
lar translations and of giving Scripture into the hands of ordinary 
people, let alone recent converts. In this he demonstrated a decidedly 
conservative attitude, not at all in keeping with the character of a 
"pre-reformer", the role in which he is often cast by historians. 
While reform-minded contemporaries like Lefevre d'Etaples, Eras- 
mus, and in later years Luther promoted the idea that every Chris- 
tian should be able to read the Bible, Cisneros protested that "in this 
disastrous and deplorable era, in a decadent world in which the 
minds of the common people have declined from the old standard of 
purity prevailing in St. Paul's time, there could be no worse sugges- 
tion than to publish in the vernacular tongues the sacred words that 
were to be heard only by pure and holy men" (Gomez, De rebus 
gestis, 105). 

Talavera's method yielded results only slowly, too slowly for the 
monarchs, who visited Granada in 1499, accompanied by Cisneros. 
The royal couple departed after four months, but Cisneros stayed on 
and actively pursued the Christianization of the Moors. His interfer- 
ence may have been sanctioned by the royal couple, but it is not 
entirely clear whether Talavera cooperated as willingly as Cisneros 
claimed. The monarchs commented at any rate that they "sensed cer- 
tain differences of opinion between the Archbishop of Granada and 
the Archbishop of Toledo" (Ladero Quesada, Mudejares, 233). While 
in Granada, Cisneros focused his inquisitorial activities on the so- 
called helches, Christians who had lived under Muslim rule and con- 
verted to their faith or had been forced to adopt Muslim customs. 

34 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

Among the cases dealt with by Cisneros was that of Juan de la 
Palencia, who had been tortured and imprisoned until he renounced 
the Christian faith; the case of a man by name of Andrea, who 
related that he had fallen into Turkish hands in Tripoli and was 
obliged to live like a Muslim for five years; and that of a citizen of 
Granada, who asked for absolution because he had lived in the 
Muslim faith for about forty years, although he was born of Chris- 
tian parents (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 2:510-11). Most of Cisneros' 
personal initiatives were missionary, however. Vallejo tells us that, 
like Talavera, he privately summoned the leaders of the community 
to persuade them to adopt the Christian faith and by their example 
and personal influence to facilitate the conversion of others. For their 
persuasion he relied on more than words; he made them splendid 
gifts of purple and silk garments, according to their rank. If he did 
not succeed in this manner, however, he used coercion. His biogra- 
phers relate the cruelties committed in his name and on his orders. 
Vallejo {Memorial, 34) tells us, for example, of the treatment received 
by a certain Zegri Azaator, a "great noble" and man of consequence 
in the Muslim community. "The chaplain [Pedro Ponce de] Leon 
kept him for more than twenty days in chains, made him sleep at 
night on the floor of the prison where he was kept, made him sweep 
the brick floor, and physically maltreated him." Eventually the pris- 
oner yielded to the authorities and declared "that he was willing to be- 
come a Christian because Allah had revealed to him at night that he 
should do so; and if His Lordship wanted everyone converted to Chris- 
tianity he should commit them to that Lion [a pun on Leon] of his." 
With the fervour of a zealot, Cisneros now forced mass baptisms. 
He reported to Pope Alexander VI in December 1499 that some 
three thousand Muslims had been converted. Individual baptism was 
not possible for such a number, and so water was sprinkled in pass- 
ing over the kneeling crowd to initiate them into the Christian faith. 
It is also alleged that Cisneros had thousands of Arab books publicly 
burned, excepting only books of medicine, philosophy, and history. 
The Koran was in his view merely "the chief book of their supersti- 
tion" (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 99). His precipitate actions led to a 
riot in the city. Three of Cisneros' deputees who had orders to arrest 
a young girl, allegedly a relapsed Muslim, were attacked by Muslim 
sympathizers, and the confrontation sparked three days of uncon- 
trolled rioting, including an attack on Cisneros' house. Revolts on a 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 35 

larger scale broke out in the Alpujarra mountains in 1500/1501, but 
the lack of concerted and coordinated effort on the part of the rebels 
allowed royal troops to seize control with relative ease. A more 
serious revolt in the Sierra Bermeja resulted in savage battles and was 
put down with greater difficulty. The royal couple was dismayed at 
Cisneros' lack of diplomacy and its disastrous results. Once the 
revolt was quelled, however, Cisneros regained royal favour. The 
forced conversion of Moors continued. Among the few who ac- 
knowledged the attendant hypocrisy and bigotry was Pietro Martire 
who commented on the mass baptisms: "There are good grounds to 
suspect that they will continue living in the spirit of Mohammed. It 
is of course hard to abandon the traditions of one's forefathers. I at 
any rate believe that it would have been more to the point to accept 
their petitions and to impose the new discipline on them gradually" 
(Ep. 215). 

Cisneros' legal argument was that the rebellion had nullified the 
treaty of Granada and entitled the Crown to adopt coercive mea- 
sures. In 1502, finally, a decree was passed, expelling all adult Moors 
unwilling to convert to Christianity. The options of the exiles were 
restricted, moreover, for they were prohibited from going to parts of 
the North African coast. Cisneros felt that by preventing their settle- 
ment there "the country would remain forever secure, whereas if 
they are on the coast or close to it and considering that they are 
strong in numbers, they can do much damage, if conditions change" 
(Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 24). 

The Expedition of Oran 

Cisneros' missionary spirit and militant fervour against the Mus- 
lims culminated in the expedition of Oran, a venture which he him- 
self financed and organized and which carried his crusade against the 
Muslims into Africa. Cisneros' efforts to organize an international 
campaign and proposals to this effect made to the Kings of England 
and Portugal generated warm responses but no practical help. Manuel 
of Portugal replied to his invitation: "I shall with great pleasure link 
my arms with those of the Catholic King and I hope that God will 
bless our arms and hear the prayers of so great an archbishop, who 
considers no other cause so dear to his heart as the destruction of 
the sect of Mahomed," but nothing came of a cooperative venture. 
Consultations concerning a joint campaign against the infidel by the 

36 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

rulers of Spain, England, and France in 1507 (Bergenroth, Letters and 
Papers, #528) were similarly without issue. 

Cisneros' own plan was to conduct a preliminary campaign against 
Mazalquivir (today Mers-el-Kebir) and Cazaza on the North African 
coast opposite the Spanish port of Cartagena. Once established, these 
garrisons would serve as bases to proceed against the nearby town of 
Oran. The political situation in Spain was not conducive to Cisneros' 
plans, however. Queen Isabel died in 1504. In her will she expressed 
the wish that her husband should devote himself "unremittingly to 
the conquest of Africa and the fight against the Muslims for the sake 
of faith", but he had to attend to more pressing matters. After Isa- 
bel's death the crown passed to her mentally unstable daughter Juana 
and her Burgundian husband Philip, leaving Ferdinand in a political- 
ly vulnerable position. The relationship between Ferdinand and the 
royal couple remained problematic. An agreement to rule jointly 
with them was abandoned. In the end he was obliged to relinquish all 
powers to his son-in-law. In the wake of his diplomatic defeat he left 
for Naples. Within days of his departure, however, Philip died and 
Ferdinand's presence was required once more. Until his return in 
1507, a regency council under the direction of Cisneros was set up. 
The events of 1506/7 will concern us in more detail later. 

In the circumstances Cisneros' plan for a campaign against Oran 
were delayed. He did, however, successfully complete the first phase. 
Under the leadership of Diego Fernandez de Cordoba, and the com- 
mand of Ramon de Cardona, an army outfitted by Cisneros estab- 
lished a beachhead on the North African shore. Mazalquivir fell in 
December 1505, and Cazaza was taken in April 1506. It was clear 
that the posts could not be held indefinitely unless the grander plan 
of taking Oran was successful as well. Keeping the supply lines to an 
isolated garrison was too difficult otherwise. Sporadic Moorish at- 
tacks on foraging detachments and on the fort itself soon made an 
attack on Oran imperative. 

In July 1508 Cisneros and Ferdinand discussed the funding of the 
military venture and came to an agreement. Cisneros would be ap- 
pointed Capitan General of the campaign. The mayors of Mazalqui- 
vir and Cartagena would report to him for the duration of the cam- 
paign. Cisneros would bear the cost of maintaining the fleet, would 
be responsible for the pay of the soldiers and crew, and would fi- 
nance the cost of the campaign itself. Ferdinand would provision the 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 3i7 

ships. A complex scheme was drawn up to compensate Cisneros for 
his expenses, primarily out of income from tithes. Conquered territo- 
ry was to remain under Cisneros' administration until the debt was 
paid off. It was to remain under his ecclesiastical authority perma- 
nently and be attached to the diocese of Toledo. The agreement was 
ratified by both parties, and Pedro Navarro, Count of Oliveto, was 
appointed to the military command. 

Cisneros personally supervised the provisioning of the army. A 
memorandum (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 2:542) lists the quantities of 
dry biscuit, barley, salt pork, cheese, fried fish, beans, salt, vinegar, 
oil, and water that had been supplied by the King. Cisneros' close 
interest in every detail of the expedition caused ill feelings between 
him and the military commander, who felt that the cardinal was 
infringing on his area of competence. Soldiers, too, commented that 
"the world was turned upside down": generals were praying and 
prelates preparing for war (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 259). After hectic 
preparations over the winter, the fleet was outfitted and ready to 
leave from Cartagena in February 1509. There was, however, a muti- 
ny over pay, issuing in raucous calls of "The monk is rich, let him 
pay," Obliged to yield to blackmail, Cisneros had an advance paid to 
the soldiers. The fleet finally set sail in May and reached the coast of 
Africa without incident. 

We have a brief account of the march on Oran by Maestro Ca- 
zalla. Bishop of Troy, who accompanied Cisneros on the expedition. 
The fleet set out on Wednesday, March 16, sailed through the night, 
and landed at Mazalquivir. Moorish troops observed the landing, but 
apparently did not think that the Spanish troops would be capable of 
beginning their operation the following day. The forced march 
on which the Spaniards embarked on Thursday morning therefore 
caught them by surprise. According to Cazalla, "the infantry was 
drawn up on land in four very beautiful squadrons of more than two 
thousand men each; the cavalry, however, could not disembark as 
quickly or in as organized a fashion, although they too made haste" 
(Cart. Xim. 243). The Cardinal and his secretary Francisco Ruiz dis- 
embarked, mounted mules, and gave orders for the infantry to engage 
in battle, since the enemy was now mobilizing their infantry and cav- 
alry "and every hour more soldiers arrived, not counting the aid 
they expected from Tremecen [modern Tlemcen]" (244). In the en- 
suing engagement, the Spaniards were able to put the Moors to flight. 

38 Crusader y Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

and "our men followed them without order or direction, as each was 
able to run, and therefore they appeared more numerous than they 
were." They arrived at Oran, "took all the gates and fought in the 
city, especially in the mosques and certain fortified houses where 
they encountered resistance. Some, not content with the city, pro- 
ceeded without order to the suburbs, catching up with those who 
were fleeing with their families and possessions. The Moors now 
turned on them and, because they were in disarray, inflicted some 
damage, but not a great deal. When that part of the city was occu- 
pied, the fleet reached the harbour and there was an exchange of fire 
between the city and the fleet, but finally a well-aimed shot de- 
stroyed the major cannon with which the Moors were operating, and 
a great many people from the ships entered the harbour. Thus they 
took the whole city. And before night was over, we were in full 
command" (244-5). 

Cazalla's letter provides only a rough sketch, but is more realistic 
than the highly rhetorical rendition given by Cisneros' biographer, 
Gomez de Castro. When the battle lines had been drawn up, he 
writes, the archbishop — now almost seventy years old — presented 
himself in his ecclesiastical robes and addressed the troops. The 
speech cited by Gomez may not be an accurate record of what was 
said, but no doubt expresses Cisneros' sentiments: 

Knowing your zeal to engage in this holy war, in which both 
the glory of God and the welfare of our country are at stake, I 
wish to be a witness to your bravery and noble spirit now that 
the die is cast, as the proverbial phrase goes. Fpr many years 
you have heard the message over and over again: The Moors are 
ravaging our coasts; they are dragging our children into slavery; 
they are disgracing our wives and daughters; they are insulting 
the name of Christ. For a long time now you have longed to 
avenge these evils and crimes . . . the mothers of Spain, prostrate 
before the altars of God, have entreated the Most High to bless 
our undertaking. They are now anxious to see you return in 
triumph. In the eye of the mind they see us breaking the chains 
of their captive children, and restoring them once more to their 
loving arms. The longed-for day has at length arrived. Soldier, 
behold before you the accursed land, behold the proud enemy 
who insults you, and is now thirsting for your blood. Prove to 
the world this day, that it has not been lack of courage on your 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 39 

part, but only the want of a fitting opportunity to avenge the 
wrongs of your country. As for myself, I wish to be the first in 
facing every danger; for I have come here with the resolution to 
conquer or to die with you, which God forbid. After all, is 
there a better place for the priests of God than the battle-field, 
where soldiers are fighting for their country and religion? {De 
rebus gestis, 179-%Q) 

Gomez, like Cazalla, reports that Oran was taken within hours. 
Their accounts also agree in the description of the massacre of the 
inhabitants and the looting of their possessions. Cazalla writes that 
between four and five thousand Moors, male and female, died, and 
many were taken prisoner. "If the cavalry had all disembarked and 
followed the advancing infantry in order, all of the Arabs would 
have been lost and spoils of infinite value would have been taken, 
but even as it was, the booty taken by the soldiers is worth more 
than fifteen thousand ducats. . . . On our side some fifteen or twenty 
persons died, but one could not walk in the streets of the city, which 
is twice as large as Guadalajara, because of the corpses and broken 
lances. The harbour as well and the gardens and the houses were full 
of corpses — you would not believe it unless you had seen it with 
your own eyes" (Cart. Xim. 245). 

The following day Cisneros made his solemn entry into the city. 
One of his first acts was to release three hundred Christian captives 
from the prisons of the city. He obliged them to make a pilgrimage 
to Guadalupe in gratitude for having recovered their freedom; and 
indeed the chapter proceedings of that church record that in June 
1509 "up to 150" came to pay their respects to the shrine. Cisneros 
remained in Oran to see that the bodies of the dead were buried 
speedily as a safeguard against epidemics. He furthermore ordered 
that the two mosques in the city be converted into churches. He also 
made provisions for two monasteries and for the establishment of a 
tribunal of the Inquisition to ensure that converted Jews would not 
use the opportunity to emigrate and renounce their new religion. It 
appears from Gomez' account that Cisneros was going to take a 
hand also in further plans but found that Navarro was unwilling "to 
receive orders from a monk". 

Letters written by Cisneros on his return to Spain tell of his tense 
relationship with Pedro Navarro. Writing from Cartagena on 24 May 
1509, Cisneros asked Lopez de Ayala to combat "lies" circulating at 

40 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

court that he had left Oran without paying the army: "Never has an 
army been paid so well or provisioned so generously" (Cart. Xim. 
41). Another letter, written at Alcala on 12 June 1509, serves the 
same purpose. It is addressed to an unnamed "Venerable Father" at 
court, perhaps Juan Cazalla, and is meant to be conveyed to Ferdi- 
nand. In this letter Cisneros explains that he and Pedro Navarro 
"from the time when we joined up in Cartagena until now, have 
never seen eye to eye concerning the command" (Cart. Xim. 50). His 
captains behaved "like bandits, proceeding along the coast, seizing 
and plundering whatever came their way" (51). The two men also 
disagreed over the method of payment. Cisneros wanted the money 
paid to the soldiers directly rather than their captains "because of the 
fraud they usually commit" (51), but his instructions were disregard- 
ed by Navarro. The riots preceding the departure of the fleet for 
Oran were the result of Navarro's mismanagement of funds. Once 
they arrived in Africa, there were more disagreements. "[Navarro] 
said that it was on my account that the soldiers refused him obedi- 
ence . . . and if I had left matters to him and departed, he would have 
conquered all of Africa from there. And so you see that I did what 
he wanted me to do. I left him with the command and authorization 
he requested and the supplies for which he asked, and I gave him all 
the provisions in my posession, worth more than ten thousand 
dohles. All the infantry and cavalry was paid and provisioned for 
three months" (53). 

Cazalla's account of the Oran expedition makes no mention of 
Navarro's lack of cooperation as a factor in Cisneros' return to 
Spain. He speaks instead of the archbishop's desire to ensure that 
supplies would reach the newly established garrison and to widen the 
scope of the expedition as motives that hastened his return to Spain. 
"All of Africa could be ours," Cazalla writes. "And that is the 
reason why the Cardinal our lord made such haste to return and 
discuss this with His Highness. . . . We have heard that they tremble 
in Tremecen. The fear of the Moors is so great that they have fled as 
far as Fez. I hope that within twenty days we shall hear more good 
news, of other forts taken" (247). Cazalla's optimism was not quite 
justified by the events. Further advances on the African coast had to 
wait until 1510. 

The winds obliged Cisneros both on crossing into Africa and 
returning to Spain, so that it became a common saying that Cisneros 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 41 

"had the wind in his sleeves" (Cart. Sec. 44-48; Cart. Xim. 245). 
Over the summer a number of directions were issued by the court 
concerning the conquered territory. Diego Fernandez de Cordoba 
was designated Capitan General of Oran. Cisneros' expenses were 
repaid in 1511 after some haggling with the royal accountants. 

On his return from the campaign, Cisneros entered Alcala in the 
triumphal style of ancient conquerors, preceded by Moorish captives 
leading camels loaded with booty destined for the king (Gomez, De 
rebus gestis, 305). For himself Cisneros had reserved Arabic manu- 
scripts to be deposited in the library of his newly inaugurated univer- 
sity at Alcala, and works of art, taken from mosques in Oran, some 
of which he distributed to churches in his see. To commemorate the 
expedition he had an inscription placed in the cathedral of Toledo 
which read in part: 

Franciscus Cisneros de Cisneros, Cardinal of Spain and Arch- 
bishop of Toledo, advanced from the port of Cartagena with a 
huge fleet equipped with troops, military equipment, and sup- 
plies. Within two days he reached Mazalquivir, arriving on the 
18th day of May, and having spent the night on board ship, the 
army disembarked the following day and fought a battle with 
the enemy, whom they drove back past the city of Oran. They 
arrived at the gates of the city in order and using their pikes to 
scale the walls the first soldiers entered the city, planted the 
colours of the Christians on the walls, opened the gates on all 
sides, so that all the faithful entered together. Some four thou- 
sand enemies were slain, the city was captured within four 
hours. Thirty men fell on our side, by the will of God, who 
lives in the Trinity and reigns for ever and ever, (cf . Hefele 426) 

It is difficult to assess the extent of Ferdinand's commitment to a 
campaign in North Africa. Pietro Martire, a well-informed source, 
was under the impression that "the conquest of Africa constitutes an 
obsession with him" (Ep. 435). Ferdinand himself declared piously 
that he felt impelled by God to undertake the conquest of North 
Africa. Indeed the cortes of Monzon (1510) discussed a crusade into 
Egypt and Jerusalem and on this occasion, too, the King declared 
that "the conquest of Jerusalem belongs to Us and We have the title 
of that kingdom" (Hillgarth, Spanish Kingdoms, 3:571). Such plans, 
however, had to be weighed against the importance of securing terri- 

42 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

tory in Italy or Navarre. Ferdinand continued to support military 
operations against ports in North Africa after Cisneros' return to 
Spain, but it appears that his commitment was limited. His principal 
goal was the suppression of piracy in the Mediterranean, not territo- 
rial expansion. In 1510 Bugia (Bougie), Tripoli, Tenes, and Algiers 
were captured under Navarro's command. Navarro also defended 
Bougie against Barbarossa in 1515 and was willing to renew the 
attack on Djerba, which had eluded him in the campagin of 1510. On 
the whole, however, Ferdinand made no concerted effort to conquer 
the hinterland and was content to put garrisons into key maritime 
points. Cisneros, by contrast, had advocated a more ambitious cam- 
paign in the spirit of a crusade. Ferdinand's policy of limited occupa- 
tion, though realistic in the circumstances, turned out to be untena- 
ble in the long run, and Spain was unable to secure real dominance 
over the area. More pressing problems in Europe occupied its mon- 
archs over the next two generations, so that the territory was even- 
tually lost. 

Cisneros and the Beatas 

While Cisneros was pressing for the conversion of the Moors, he 
was exceptionally lenient in another area traditionally subject to 
investigations by the Inquisition: visions and prophecies. The age was 
receptive to mysticism with its Utopian vision of a church trium- 
phant and the world converted by great spiritual leaders. Meditation 
was, moreover, the centrepiece of the Franciscan reform movement 
in the fifteenth century. There is also evidence that mysticism and 
meditation were ideas cherished by Cisneros personally. Among the 
monasteries devoted to meditation (recolectorios) was Salceda, the 
retreat chosen by Cisneros before he was called to attend the court. 
Cisneros' cousin Garcia Jimenez de Cisneros, abbot of the monas- 
tery of Montserrat, was among the champions of mysticism and the 
author of Ejercicios based on the ideals of the Devotio Modema. The 
Cardinal himself promoted the publication of mystical writings. He 
commissioned a Spanish translation of St. John Climacus' Spiritual 
Ladder, a compendium of mysticism; of the works of Catherine of 
Siena and Angela of Foligno; as well as of Landulf's Meditations on 
the Life of Christ and Pseudo-Dionysius' Mystical Theology. He also 
sponsored an edition of the Treatise on Spiritual Life of the fourteenth 
century mystic San Vicente Ferrer, who recommended meditation as 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 43 

a means of overcoming temptations. Interestingly, however, he re- 
moved from the edition passages that cautioned readers and urged 
them to exercise discretion in accepting the claims of individuals that 
they had experienced ecstasy and been subject to visions. 

In view of the Cardinal's inclinations, it is not surprising that he 
gave his wholehearted support to the famous mystic, Maria de Santo 
Domingo, known as La Beata de Piedrahita. He sided with the terti- 
ary nun in her battle for reform against the provincial of the Domin- 
ican order. Her zeal had made her persona non grata and the object 
of an investigation by the papal nuncio Juan Ruffo. Cisneros defend- 
ed her claim to divine inspiration and succeeded in having her acquit- 
ted. Her apologists, including her confessor Fray Diego de Vitoria, 
described her ascetic practices, her ecstasies, and her visions. They 
brushed aside accusations of moral impropriety as misinterpretations 
of enthusiastic manifestations of affection. Miracles were attributed 
to her: she was supposed to have answered theological questions in 
trance and borne stigmata during Holy Week. 

A somewhat more sceptical account is provided by Martire in a 
letter to the Marquis de los Velez in 1512 (Ep. 489): 

You may have heard talk about a certain woman from Pie- 
drahita, who survives on an infinitesimal quantity of food. She 
has been brought to the court. The King, the Cardinal-Primate 
of Spain, and the rest of the nobility have visited her. She is the 
centre of attention. They call her La Beata. She is carried away 
by ecstasies. Her limbs become stiff, you could think her body, 
shoulders, legs, and fingers were made of wood, without nerves 
or joints, without living colour. She is stretched out stiffly, in a 
swoon, inspired in the manner recorded of the Sibyl. She ad- 
dresses Christ as if he were present as her friend and bride- 
groom; sometimes she addresses the Virgin Mother of God. 
And if she has to pass through a narrow door, she asks the Vir- 
gin to go ahead and pretends that the Virgin wants her — the 
bride of her son — to go first. Then the little Beata says in the 
hearing of everyone that she could not be the bride of Christ if 
"you. Virgin Mary, had not borne him for me, therefore you 
must go first." With these and other conversations (I was about 
to say, nonsense) of this sort, she has the court mesmerized. 
Then she speaks familiarly with Christ, and appears to dwell 
with him as his bride, whereas those who are in her presence 

44 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

see nothing. The Cardinal, who is the Inquisitor General, and 
others who have this responsibility, have examined her and 
seem to approve of what she does. Thus she was acquitted and 
let go. Many Dominicans (to whose institution she belongs and 
whose habit she is wearing) have decried this; others follow the 
Beata and praise her holy life to the stars. They are bitterly 
divided over this matter. On one side they call for an end to 
this superstition; on the other they argue in her support. Their 
disagreement amuses the people. The authority of King and 
Cardinal, who have examined the woman's character and have 
refused to condemn her, increases the number of her followers 
who believe that she is divinely inspired. 

Many of her followers asked the Beata to wear articles belonging to 
them to share in her inspiration. The Cardinal himself requested that 
she wear a Franciscan scapular on his behalf. What may have en- 
deared her particularly to him was her vision of his success at Oran. 
"At the time when the Lord Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo was in 
Africa and at the head of the army," her confessor reported, "this hand- 
maiden of God saw the image of Christ crucified among the army 
and prophesied many things" (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:245, n. 142). 

Similar prophecies were supposedly made by another beata who 
enjoyed Cisneros' support, Marta de la Cruz, also of Toledo. She, 
however, "made a solemn vow not to tell him until [what she had 
seen in a vision] had happened" (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:249). She 
corresponded with Cisneros during the years 1511-12 and shared 
with him her views, or rather visions, about the political develop- 
ments in Italy and assured him of her prayers. Cisneros also corre- 
sponded with Santa Juana de la Cruz, a tertiary Franciscan from 
Cubas. Because of the Cardinal's connection with her, the superior 
of the Franciscan monastery of Ocafia felt it his duty to report to 
him that the beata had received a proposition from one of his 
monks, who "in his prayers had received a command from God to 
impregnate her with a son, a saint". Apparently incarceration made 
the monk see the error of his ways (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 1:255). 

Some mystics promoted the idea of a crusade that would transfer 
the papacy to Jerusalem and initiate a reform of the world. Maria de 
Santo Domingo in particular saw Cisneros in the role of the reform- 
ing pope. Similarly, the French philosopher Charles de Bovelles, a 
disciple of Lefevre and like him inclined to mysticism, was made 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 45 

welcome by the Cardinal in 1506, He predicted a reconquest of the 
Holy Land within twelve years and the imminent conversion of the 
world to Christianity. After Cisneros' victory at Oran he encouraged 
him to extend his crusade to Jerusalem. Another visionary in Cis- 
neros' circle was Fray Melchor, a wandering spirit who, disappointed 
with regular orders, had turned for inspiration to the beatas Maria 
de Santo Domingo and Marta de la Cruz. He too foretold the con- 
version of the Moors within a twelve-year period. Protected during 
Cisneros' lifetime by the Cardinal's solid belief in their prophetic 
powers and the patronage of the court, these visionaries escaped the 
scrutiny of the Inquisition. Soon after the Cardinal's death, however, 
their claims to divine inspiration were probed and in some cases 
revealed as fraud, in others ascribed to diabolical influences and thus 
subjected to the due process of ecclesiastical laws. Many of the mysti- 
cal tracts, moreover, that were published with the approval and sup- 
port of Cisneros ended up on the Index of Prohibited Books. 

Cisneros and the Missions in the New World 

Cisneros' missionary zeal led him to take an active interest in the 
Christianization of the indigenous population in the Americas. His 
first involvement was through his secretary and confidant, Francisco 
Ruiz, who joined a group of Franciscans leaving for Espanola in July 
1500. In 1493 the Observant Franciscans had been holding a chapter 
meeting at Florenzac in southern France, when they heard of Colum- 
bus' return from his first voyage and his report to the court, then at 
Barcelona. The news of the discovery of a "new world" was greeted 
with missionary enthusiasm by the friars, as Nicolas Glassberger, the 
Franciscan chronicler, reported (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 2:598-9; cf. 
Tibesar, "Franciscan Province," 378): 

[In 1493] certain experienced merchants and sailors, with the 
financial support of the King, and after great and serious diffi- 
culties and risks, discovered in the most remote parts of the 
ocean verging toward India certain new islands inhabited by 
barbarian tribes, as naked as animals and completely ignorant of 
the Christian faith. When these news came to the notice of cer- 
tain mature and zealous Brothers of our Observant Order in the 
Province of France, they were incensed like an elephant who 
has seen blood, and they were moved to seek an interview with 
the Vicar General, Olivier Maillard, who had just concluded the 

46 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

general ultramontane chapter meeting in Florenzac and to ask 
him for permission to sail to the new lands, for they were eager 
to give witness as martyrs. The lay brothers Juan de La Deule 
and Juan Cosin, two men in excellent health and disposed to 
suffer for God anything required of them [were chosen]. . . . 
They knew that a fleet was departing for the newly discovered 
lands. They offered to accompany the sailors, who received 
them gladly, when they saw that they were of good health, 
honest and devout, for they thought they would be a great help 
during the voyage, both because of their bodily strength and 
their spiritual fervour. 

When they arrived at the new islands, they encountered a 
problem: They did not know the language of the people. How- 
ever, they persevered in their work for five years with great 
difficulty and finally succeeded in learning to speak the language 
of those tribes. In the meantime the clothes they had brought 
were beginning to rot. One of them therefore undertook to spin 
silk and make tunics or habits so that they would not have to 
go around naked. After five years of work, when they saw that 
the natives were well disposed to accepting the Catholic faith, 
they decided to turn to Spain in search of priests, for they 
themselves were lay brothers. 

The two Franciscans accordingly returned to Spain in 1500. Among 
their recruits were three associates of Cisneros, Juan de Trastierra, 
Juan de Robles, and his confidant and mayordomo, Francisco Ruiz. 
In October 1500 Deule and Robles informed Cisneros of the success 
of the new mission, but reported — not surprisingly — that the new 
recruits were prostrated with heat. A memorandum to Cisneros, 
probably authored by Trastierra, describes the objectives of the 
mission and asks for Cisneros' help in reaching them. There was a 
need for financial support and for priests, the author of the memo- 
randum wrote. He also suggested the creation of a bishop to whose 
spiritual care the islanders could be entrusted. Concubinage between 
Spaniards and native women received special attention in the memo- 
randum, particularly the cases of married men with families in Spain 
who had fathered children in the colonies. Ruiz, too, wrote a num- 
ber of letters to the Cardinal. Both Ruiz and Trastierra had an oppor- 
tunity to follow up on their reports in person, Ruiz in 1503 when an 
illness forced him to return and Trastierra in 1504 when he came to 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 47 

Spain to lobby for an enlarged mission. As a result of Trastierra's 
representations and Cisneros' efforts, it was decided at the general 
chapter of Laval (1505) to establish a separate province in Espanola. 
It was named the Franciscan Observant Province of the Holy Cross 
of the Indies. There is evidence that Juan de Trastierra himself was 
the first vicar general, followed by Alonso de Espinar and Pablo de 
Solis. Their successor, Pedro Mexia, regarded himself a disciple of 
Cisneros and received the Cardinal's personal support when he 
requested that more friars be sent to Espanola (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 
2:660). Cisneros was no doubt also behind the generous material 
support given by the Crown to the next group of missionaries setting 
out for Espanola. The establishment of a school, a project fostered by 
Espinar and Mexia, also had Cisneros' approval and support. In the 
fifteen-twenties, however, the new province began to decline, as a 
considerable number of missionaries left Espanola for new colonies 
on the mainland. In spite of Mexia's efforts to revive the province, 
the trend proved irreversible, and by 1559 the island had lost its 
status as a province. 

The Franciscans became involved in the discussion over native 
rights in 1512, when a dispute broke out between the colonists on 
Espaiiola and newly arrived Dominican missionaries. The vicar of a 
recently founded Dominican monastery, Antonio Montesinos, a 
powerful speaker, vigorously attacked the treatment of natives by the 
colonists. As a result hearings were held in Spain, in which Mon- 
tesinos was the complainant and the Franciscan provincial Espinar 
represented the views of the colonists. For this he earned the con- 
tempt of the "Apostle of the Indies", Bartolome de las Casas, who 
accused him of "furthering the cause of servitude." He left it open 
whether the provincial was naive or truckling to the interests of the 
colonists. In any case, he noted sarcastically, the court treated Espi- 
nar "like a canonized saint" {History of the Indies, III. 5). 

Royal directives concerning the treatment of the native popula- 
tion had gone out to individual colonies on Queen Isabel's initiative, 
but her provisions, designed to give a measure of protection to in- 
digenous workers, were rarely enforced. The Laws of Burgos (1512/ 
13) constituted a first effort at drawing up general regulations govern- 
ing the social and political relationship between conquerors and con- 
quered. They rested on the assumption of the cultural superiority of 
Europeans and their right to impose control, by force if necessary. 

48 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

on a people perceived as morally inferior. The laws were only mod- 
erately successful as an instrument of curtailing existing abuses or 
protecting the indigenous population from ruthless exploitation by 
colonists. The system of encomiendas, which had institutionalized 
forced labour, was economically profitable to those in control and 
therefore not easily modified, let alone abolished. 

Bartolome de Las Casas 

Not everyone in Spain or in the Indies shared the views embodied 
in the Laws of Burgos which stamped the indigenous population as 
"idle and vicious." They found an eloquent spokesman in the Do- 
minican Bartolome de las Casas, who came to the Spain in 1516 to 
present their case to King Ferdinand. 

Las Casas, the son of a merchant from Seville, had gone to the 
Indies in 1502 to take part in the family business of farming and 
trading. He became the owner of two encomiendas, instructing the 
Indians entrusted to him in the Catholic faith, as stipulated by the 
charter, and treating them humanely. However, he could not fail to 
observe the cruelty of other settlers. In 1506 he travelled to Rome 
and entered the priesthood. After his return to the Indies, he came 
under the influence of Antonio de Montesinos. The sermons of the 
Dominican preacher are quoted in Las Casas' History of the Indies: 

By what right or justice do you hold these Indians in such a 
cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged 
such detestable wars against these peoples, who dwelt quietly and 
peacefully on their own lands? . . . Why do you keep them so 
oppressed and exhausted, without giving them enough to eat or 
curing them of the sicknesses they incur from the excessive la- 
bour you give them, and they die, or rather you kill them, in 
order to extract and acquire gold every day? And what care do 
you take that they should be instructed in religion, so that they 
may know their God and creator, may be baptized, may hear 
Mass, and may keep Sundays and feast days? Are they not men? 
Do they not have rational souls? {Witness, 67) 

Responding to Montesinos' appeal, Las Casas divested himself of his 
encomiendas, and began a vigorous campaign against the institution. 
In his History of the Indies (11.13) he also reflected on the activity of 
the Franciscans in Espanola. In his opinion, no more thought was 

Crusader, Missionaryy Guardian of the Faith 49 

given to the Indians than if they had been "sticks or stones, cats or 
dogs". And that was the attitude not only of the governor himself 
and the colonists to whom the Indians were committed, but even of 
the Franciscans "who were good people," Las Casas conceded, but 
who did nothing about this matter and had no aspirations other than 
"to live a life of devotion in [the governor's] house in the city and in 
another which they built in La Vega." He admitted, however, that 
they lived exemplary lives and may have impressed the native popu- 
lation in this indirect but no less effective manner. "They asked per- 
mission to have with them the sons of some caciques (few of them, 
to be sure), perhaps four, whom they taught to read and write. 
Beyond that I do not know what they learned from them in matters 
of Christian doctrine and good habits, other than by good example, 
for they were good men and lived a good life" (ibid.). 

In 1515 Las Casas travelled to Spain and sought an audience with 
King Ferdinand, lobbying for stronger legislation to protect the In- 
dians. According to his own account, he "made known to him the 
destruction of these lands and the violent deaths of their native 
peoples; how the Spaniards, by their avarice, were killing them, how 
all were perishing without faith and without sacraments, and that if 
His Highness did not assist shortly with a remedy, all the lands 
would soon become wilderness" {Witness, 80). His endeavours were 
blocked, however, by the royal secretary Lope Conchillos and the 
Bishop of Burgos, Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, who was in charge of 
affairs in the Indies. Both were encomenderos and had reason to pre- 
vent Las Casas from gaining the King's ear. Conchillos tried to bribe 
him to withdraw; the bishop ridiculed his concerns. "Behold, what 
a witty fool!" he said, according to Las Casas, when told of the suf- 
ferings of the Indians. "What is that to me, and what is that to the 
King?" {Witness, 82). Las Casas was not deterred, however, and, after 
Ferdinand's death in January 1516, took his case to Cisneros, then 
regent of Castile, and to Charles' representative, Adrian of Utrecht. 
He addressed memoranda to them, in which he described the impact 
of the harsh working conditions in mines on the health and welfare 
of the workers, many of them children. At a subsequent meeting 
with the regent, he noted that the Laws of Burgos were not observed 
and, to make his point, asked that they be read aloud. He describes 
the encounter: 

50 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

A servant and official of Secretary Conchillos read the laws. 
And when he arrived at the law ordering Indians who worked 
on estates or farms to be given a pound of meat every eight 
days or on feast days, he wanted to conceal that, perhaps be- 
cause it affected him or his friends, and he read it in a different 
way from the way it was written. But [Las Casas] who had 
studied it carefully and knew it by heart, said at once there in 
the presence of all: "That law doesn't say any such thing." The 
cardinal ordered the reader to go back and read it again. He 
read it in the same way. [Las Casas] said: "That law doesn't say 
any such thing." The cardinal, as if angry at the cleric and sup- 
porting the reader said: "Be quiet, or consider what you are say- 
ing." [Las Casas] replied: "May your most reverend lordship 
order my head struck off if what notary so-and-so recites is 
truly what that law says." 

Cisneros then took the book from the reader's hands and confirmed 
the truth of Las Casas' protestations. As a result, he ordered an inves- 
tigation, delegating the task jointly to Las Casas, Montesinos, and the 
jurist Lopes de Palacios Rubios. Their submission, which recom- 
mended the elimination of encomiendas and an end to forced labour, 
was accepted in principle and Las Casas entrusted with its execution. 
In this task he was to be aided by three members of the Jeronimite 
order: Alonso de Santo Domingo, prior of San Juan de Ortega near 
Burgos, Luis de Figueroa, prior of the monastery La Mejorada, and 
Bernaldino de Manzanedo, prior of Monta-Marta near Zamora. In 
September 1516, Cisneros and Adrian signed papers giving Las Casas 
authority "to reform the Indies and advise other people in charge of 
the same task about the freedom, good treatment, the spiritual and 
physical health of the Indians." The document granted Las Casas 
"full powers, including contingencies, dependencies, emergencies, 
annexations and associations attendant thereon" and appointed him 
"procurator and universal protector of all Indians in the Indies, with 
a salary of 100 gold pesos per year" {History of the Indies, III.90). 

Cisneros reported on his initiative to King Charles. "Concerning 
the Indies," he wrote to Brussels, "I was informed about the bad gov- 
ernment prevailing there, and about the aggravations and maltreat- 
ment the Indians have received. I have therefore agreed to send there 
certain religious from the Order of St. Jerome, who are persons of 
prudence and complete devotion. I have given them certain instruc- 

Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 51 

tions to examine matters and make provisions, as necessary to the 
service of God and Your Highnesses" (Cart. Xim. 188). The instruc- 
tions to the Jeronimites had a general preamble outlining their 
powers which were followed by a detailed and specific list of mea- 
sures to be taken. They were to "investigate the situation by request- 
ing information, under oath if necessary, from the settlers and other 
sources; to study the means by which to preserve the natives and the 
land; ... to stop oppression, punish wrongdoers, and see to it that 
from now on Indians are treated as the Christian free men they are 
in reality. Therefore, the caciques must inform their people and hold 
meetings discussing what should be done to remedy their situation, 
and solutions found amenable to both Indians and Spaniards will 
be taken into account . . . When the Fathers report their findings to 
the Indian population, they must be accompanied by religious men 
known to those Indians as trustworthy people in order to win their 
confidence and interpret their language" {History of the Indies, III. 88). 
Las Casas envisaged the establishment of Indian communities that 
would fully provide for their own welfare. In spite of its Utopian 
cast, however, his grand plan perpetuated Spanish control. The vil- 
lages, although headed by their native caciques, were to be supervised 
by a Spanish administrator whose task it was to "cooperate with the 
priest to see that Indians dress properly, sleep in beds, take care of 
their tools and are satisfied with their wives. A husband should not 
abandon his wife and the wife must be chaste" (ibid.). It was hoped 
that even the ranks of caciques would eventually be filled by Span- 
iards. They were encouraged to marry the daughters of Indian cac- 
iques, so that they might "become the town cacique and enjoy the 
same rights and privileges as other caciques. This way, it is hoped 
that all caciques will soon be Spaniards" (ibid.). Nor was the concept 
of forced labour entirely abandoned, although the workers were now 
assured a share of the profit: "Men between the ages of 20 and 50 
will be forced to work in the mines in three shifts, rotating every 
two months or whatever period of time the cacique shall establish. 
When an individual is sick or kept away from work, he will be re- 
placed by another from another shift. They will leave for work at 
about sunrise, take three hours for mealtime at home, and will return 
to work until sunset. No woman shall be forced to go to the mines 
unless she so wishes, in which case she is to be counted as a man in 
the making up of a shift . . . When not working in the mines, Indians 

52 Crusader, Missionary, Guardian of the Faith 

will work their own land within sight of the priest or the administra- 
tor . . . Indians must work their land when not on their shifts and be 
helped in this by women and children" (ibid.). 

Cisneros also wished to see the justice system reformed. For this 
purpose he appointed the jurist Alonso Zuazo, a competent and prin- 
cipled man, but his departure was delayed for some time by those 
who stood to lose from his investigation. In the end Cisneros himself 
intervened to expedite his mission. According to Las Casas, he sum- 
moned the responsible individuals, "asking them to produce the 
documents [authorizing Zuazo] and sign them on the spot, which 
they did, making their signatures in such a way as to be able to prove 
to the King that they had done this against their will. Thus Zuazo 
now had official authority, much to the sorrow of those who had 
private interests in the Indies" {History of the Indies, III.90). 

Las Casas and the Jeronimite commissioners departed for the 
Indies in December 1516; Zuazo followed in April 1517. Official cor- 
respondence between Cisneros and the Casa de Contratacion show 
that he was concerned with the financial and administrative details 
facilitating their mission (Cedillo, Cisneros, 290-1). He furthermore 
sent out fourteen Franciscan missionaries, asking that they stay in 
contact with the Jeronimites and rely on their support. His office 
was also petitioned by individuals seeking redress in cases involving 
grants of indigenous labourers, but these were referred to the Jeroni- 
mite commissioners. Their efforts to implement the measures listed 
in their authorization was naturally met with hostility and deter- 
mined resistance. Ironically the commissioners suggested that black 
slaves be imported to supplant indigenous labour, an idea to which 
Cisneros objected. After Cisneros' death, however, they successfully 
petitioned Charles for a licence to import African slaves into Espa- 
nola, because the number of indigenous workers was insufficient to 
sustain the colonists' efforts. The Jeronimites, then, were swayed by 
considerations for the interests of the colonists, and the idealistic 
plans of Las Casas remained largely unimplemented. In 1519/1520, 
finally, their mandate was ended. On Charles' orders, the commis- 
sioners returned to Spain. Zuazo 's mission was similarly terminated. 


The University of Alcald and 
the Complutensian Polyglot 

1 he foundation of the university of Alcala, more than any other 
enterprise, establishes Cisneros' credentials as a figure of the Renais- 
sance. The will to sponsor a cultural institution of this magnitude 
speaks of the Archbishop's commitment to learning. The financial 
and organizational difficulties surrounding the building project itself 
and the efforts to secure official status for the institution further 
attest to Cisneros' cultural concerns. It is his support for language 
studies, however, that give Alcala a place in the history of human- 
ism. Although it is perhaps an exaggeration to speak of the homo 
complutensis, the "Alcala scholar", as a unique type representing 
Spanish Renaissance humanism (Andres, Teologia espanola, 40), the 
significance of the university is undisputed. The focus on language 
studies and the philological approach to biblical scholarship practised 
at Alcala were innovative and, at the time, regarded as controversial. 
In conservative circles the application of philological principles to an 
inspired text met with indignation. The first biblical humanists — 
Lorenzo Valla in Italy, Jacques Lefevre in France, and Desiderius 
Erasmus in the Low Countries — were targets of numerous polemics. 
Cisneros, by contrast, welcomed humanists at his university and sup- 
ported their philological and textual researches. He did, however, 
retain a measure of control over the publication of their findings, as 
we shall presently see. 

The College of San Ildefonso, where the three biblical languages, 
Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, were taught, was the heart of the new 
university (a separate Collegium Trilingue was built after the Cardi- 
nal's death, in 1528). Alcala has been compared with similar founda- 
tions providing for instruction in the biblical languages at Louvain 
and Paris. There are, however, significant differences in institutional 
character between Alcala and the North European foundations. The 
Collegium Trilingue at Louvain, privately financed out of the legacy 

54 The University ofAlcald 

of Jerome de Busleiden, and the college founded under the patronage 
of the French King Francis I (eventually named College royal, and 
known from the nineteenth century on as College de France), were 
institutions run parallel to or separate from the old-established uni- 
versities at Louvain and Paris. The lecturers found themselves in 
competition, and at times in conflict, with the Faculties of Theology 
at those universities. At Alcala instruction in the three languages was 
an integral part of the university curriculum (Ezquerra, "Le mo- 
dele," 232). A harmonious relationship normally prevailed between 
the holders of the chairs in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin and other 
faculty members. The focus at Alcala was on the training of clerics, 
and it was for this purpose primarily that the biblical languages were 
taught. According to the constitution, language studies "must be the 
principal object of theologians," for it was through Hebrew, Greek, 
and Latin that God's Word was disseminated (de la Torre, "Univer- 
sidad de Alcala," 51). While the Faculties of Theology at Paris and 
Louvain rejected the idea that language studies were a necessary pre- 
requisite for theological studies, Cisneros was convinced of their 
merit and gave them a central place in the curriculum. 

The foundation of the university was not only an act of cultural 
patronage but can also be seen as an extension of Cisneros' pro- 
gramme of religious reform and his quest for a better-educated clergy. 
A papal bull of 1497 ("Inter caetera") commissioned Cisneros and 
the inquisitor Diego de Deza to undertake visitations of academies 
[estudios generates) and universities. The papal brief makes specific 
mention of Salamanca and Valladolid, but more generally directs the 
two men to visit whatever other academies and universities might be 
in need of reform, empowers them "to correct and change their stat- 
utes and regulations" and envisages the foundation of new institu- 
tions {Archivum Secretum Vaticanum, Reg. Vat. 873, fol. 446 verso). 
Conditions at Valladolid and Salamanca were accordingly scrutinized 
in 1500 and 150L Cisneros furthermore made plans for two new 
universities in Seville and in Alcala. Only the second project was 
realized during his lifetime. Predictably, Cisneros' design met with 
resistance from the old-established University of Salamanca, which 
feared competition, but his plans had the support of the Crown. 
Cisneros persuaded the royal couple to assume patronage and to 
sponsor his foundation with an annual subvention, guaranteeing its 

The University o/Alcald 55 

Alcala, the ancient Roman Complutum, obtained its modern 
name under its Muslim rulers. Al-Qul'aya, "the little castle", was 
recaptured in 1114 by the Spaniards under King Alfonso VI and at- 
tached to the archbishopric of Toledo. An Estudio General was estab- 
lished in the city in 1293, and in 1479 St. Justus and Pastor became 
its collegiate church. A first step toward raising the estudio general in 
Alcala to the level of a university was taken by Archbishop Alfonso 
Carillo, who approached Pope Innocent VIII and in 1487 obtained 
his approval for a foundation in Alcala that would consist not only 
of a faculty of Arts, but also have chairs in theology and canon law. 
The following year the pope approved the necessary benefices for the 
support of professors (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 2:258). Cisneros revived 
the project and obtained another privilege from Pope Alexander in 
1499. He had, however, more ambitious plans and applied further- 
more for permission to establish a "doctoral church", that is, one 
whose canons all had doctorates and taught at the university — an 
honour to be shared only with Louvain. This privilege, however, was 
granted only after his death in a papal bull of 1519. 

Cisneros began assembling properties earmarked in the accounts 
"for the construction of a college" (Meseguer, "Documentos," 36-7) 
in the mid-nineties. In 1498 he made the protonotary Alfonso de 
Herrera his agent in Rome and set in motion the process of arranging 
the necessary finances, linking benefices with university posts, and 
obtaining the privilege of conferring academic degrees. The corner- 
stone for the first building, the College of San Ildefonso, was laid in 
the spring of 1499 by Cisneros himself, who blessed the structure and 
placed into the foundation commemorative gold and silver coins. 
The plans for the university had been drawn up by the celebrated 
Spanish architect Pedro Gumiel. He faced technical difficulties as the 
designated place was low-lying and had to be drained. In spite of 
Gumiel's measures and renewed efforts in the 1530s to sanitize the 
town, the site remained a breeding ground for malaria. The architect 
had instructions to sacrifice beauty to efficiency, and tradition has it 
that King Ferdinand, on a visit to Alcala, commented on the utilita- 
rian brick buildings, chaffing the archbishop that the structure did 
not seem "very durable for an institution which you want to be eter- 
nal." Cisneros is said to have answered complacently that he would 
leave it to future generations to "dress in marble and stone what I 
have built in brick" (Quintano, Historia, 144). Construction proceed- 

56 The University ofAlcald 

ed over the next years and Cisneros himself resided in the city as 
often as health and government business permitted. 

The major college was that of San Ildefonso, named after the 
patron saint of Toledo. In addition there were seven minor colleges 
and a hospice for poor students. Several monastic orders also estab- 
lished houses of their own to give their young religious an oppor- 
tunity of studying at Alcala. There was, moreover, a residence for 
young women, attached to San Juan de la Penitencia. The "Colegio 
para doncellas," as Gomez calls it, offered instruction to daughters of 
poor families. Although the institution has been touted by some 
scholars as "revolutionary" and a significant step in the history of 
the education of women, there is no hard evidence that the pupils 
received any training beyond basic instruction in reading and writing 
and in the traditional skills of sewing, weaving, and other household 
tasks (Escandell Bonet, Estudios Cisnerianos, 206-16). 

The new university opened its doors in 1508 with five hundred 
new students and seven professors from Salamanca, a university with 
which it was soon engaged in active competition. By 1509 it was 
fully operational. The academic community expanded rapidly. A 
number of lecturers were recruited, or rather repatriated, from Paris. 
Sources from the sixteenth century differ on the number of chairs 
founded by Cisneros, listing between 42 and 48. The twelve chairs 
mentioned by his biographer Gomez de Castro are the most notable 
ones. He lists the following subjects: theology, logic and philosophy, 
medicine, Greek, Hebrew, rhetoric, and canon law. The constitution 
of the university (article 45) firmly established the hierarchy of disci- 
plines: "Theology uses the remaining arts and sciences as hand- 
maids." While the hierarchy was traditional, the theological pro- 
gramme was not. Cisneros added a chair in Scotism to the traditional 
chairs in Thomism and Nominalism. It was the first Scotist chair in 
Spain. No doubt Cisneros, being a Franciscan, wanted to honour the 
Franciscan doctor. Duns Scotus, whose teachings were well estab- 
lished in Northern Europe. The innovation caused the university of 
Salamanca some alarm, but eventually resulted in its following suit. 
The constitutions of the university specifically prohibited the teach- 
ing of "sophisms" and "calculations", but logic and science contin- 
ued to be taught side by side with language studies. 

Cisneros continued to take an active interest in the operations of 
his university. From time to time he deposited in the university 

The University ofAlcald 57 

books and articles of museal interest. When he confiscated Arabic 
books in Granada, he had the medical books (about "thirty or forty 
volumes," according to Vallejo, Memorial, 35) set aside and sent to 
Alcala; on another occasion he was given a number of idols aban- 
doned by American Indians converted to the Christian faith: "hor- 
rible shapes of evil spirits, with eyes and teeth made of fishbone and 
. . . legs and ears of cotton" (ibid., 45). At another time he sent to 
Alcala a staff of exotic wood belonging to a Muslim kadi, seized in 
North Africa (ibid., 84). We also know from correspondence directed 
to him by university officials that Cisneros was consulted on the 
question of granting special leave to professors, and asked to read 
recommendations concerning new appointments and consider re- 
quests for remuneration above the regular salary. He was also kept 
informed about the quality of teaching and the number of students 
enrolled in certain courses. One letter written in 1512 supplies figures 
for students attending theology courses that year. There were slightly 
more Scotists (15) than Thomists (13). Overall attendance figures 
show that the university was still primarily an undergraduate institu- 
tion, with more than two hundred enrolled in the basic Summulae 
course (de la Torre, "Universidad de Alcala," 414-17). 

Significantly, the history of scholarly publications at Alcala is in- 
tricately linked with Cisneros' initiative. Earlier publications issuing 
from the local printer Stanislas Polono were exclusively in the ver- 
nacular. In 1510 Cisneros invited Arnao Guillen de Brocar of Lo- 
grono to establish a branch office in Alcala. Although religious 
tracts, in Spanish and Latin, were its staple, the firm also issued nu- 
merous works of classical Greek and Roman authors, most of them 
critical editions by professors of the University of Alcala. Among 
those produced between 1514 and 1530 were: Persius, Cicero, Plau- 
tus, Seneca, Curtius Rufus, Demosthenes, Isocrates, Xenophon, Liba- 
nius, Lucian, Cornelius Nepos, Valerius Flaccus, Quintilian, Caesar, 
and Plutarch. However, the most important work published by the 
firm of Guillen de Brocar was the Polyglot Bible. 

The Complutensian Polyglot 

A by-product of Cisneros' promotion of the three biblical lan- 
guages was the preparation of a polyglot edition of the Bible. Accord- 
ing to Vallejo, the Cardinal first conceived of this ambitious project 
in 1502. It fit in well with his programme of religious reform, which 

58 The University ofAlcald 

included efforts to redirect and focus theology on the sources of 
Christian faith. Known by the Latin name for Alcala as the "Com- 
plutensian Polyglot", the edition continued in the tradition of 
Origen's famous Hexapla, a multilingual version of the Old Testa- 
ment. The Complutensian edition supplied, in parallel columns, the 
text of the complete Bible. It consisted of six folio volumes. The first 
four contained the Old Testament in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as 
well as the Chaldaic (Syriac) text for the Pentateuch. The fifth vol- 
ume, which was printed first and bears a colophon of 10 January 
1514, contained the Greek and Latin texts of the New Testament. 
Small reference letters denoted corresponding phrases in the Old 
Testament Hebrew and the Latin translation. The same practice was 
observed in the fifth volume, marking corresponding phrases in the 
New Testament Greek and the Latin translation. The ordinary He- 
brew diacritics were omitted in print, as were the usual Greek ac- 
cents and breathing marks. The sixth volume provided Hebrew and 
Chaldaic lexica and other study aids, such as a Hebrew grammar and 
interpretations of proper names. The printing was completed in 1517 
(Volume Four bears the latest colophon date, 10 July 1517), but the 
editors delayed publication while awaiting papal authorization. This 
was obtained in March 1520. Shortly thereafter distribution of the 
books finally began. 

Although Cisneros may have planned the project as early as 
Vallejo indicates, work does not seem to have begun in earnest until 
after Arnao Guillen de Brocar established his printing press in Al- 
cala. Guillen de Brocar, who had first set up shop in Pamplona and 
begun printing in 1490, had moved his press to Logrono in 1502. 
There he printed a number of works by Antonio Nebrija. The well- 
known philologist, who was also one of the collaborators on the 
Polyglot, may well have recommended Guillen de Brocar to the 
Cardinal. Although the printer already possessed a Greek type, it 
appears that he acquired in preparation for the new project (and per- 
haps with the financial aid of the Cardinal) two new Greek founts, 
as well as a new Roman and two Hebrew founts. 

In the meantime Cisneros had assembled a group of distinguished 
scholars and was actively engaged in collecting and purchasing manu- 
script texts. According to his biographer, Gomez, he spent 4000 duc- 
ats on seven Hebrew manuscripts. The Prologue of the Polyglot 
states that the Greek and Latin manuscripts used were "neither of 

The University of Alcald 59 

the common type or brought together without thought, but were the 
oldest and most correct exemplars, which our most holy lord, Pope 
Leo X, who favoured our enterprise, sent to us from the papal li- 
brary. They were of such integrity that if one cannot fully trust 
them, there are seemingly no others worth consulting. We also used 
in addition a considerable number of other manuscripts, some of 
them copied with the greatest care from Bessarion's most correct 
codex and sent to us by the illustrious senate of Venice, others ac- 
quired by ourselves with great effort and at great expense from di- 
verse places, so that we might have correct codices in abundance." 
For the Latin text the editors used manuscripts "of venerable age, 
but mostly those that are in the public library of our university at 
Alcala, written more than eight hundred years ago in Gothic letters" 
{Historical Catalogue, 3). Unfortunately, only a few of the manu- 
scripts used by the editors have been identified (Bentley, Humanists, 

The distribution of labour among the editors of the Polyglot 
remains a matter of some discussion (Bentley, Humanists, 74-91). It 
appears that the Hebrew text was the responsibility of the converses 
Pablo Coronel and Alfonso de Zamora. The preparation of the 
Greek text was most likely entrusted to Hernan Nunez de Guzman 
and Demetrios Ducas, the latter a native Cretan who had worked as 
an editor for the famous Aldine Press in Venice and more recently 
for Guillen de Brocar. Ducas was the only non-Spaniard on the edi- 
torial team. It was no doubt his experience and the quality of his 
work that recommended him to Cisneros. Other collaborators 
mentioned in the sources are Juan de Vergara and Diego Lopez de 
Ziiniga, who may have worked on the preparation of the Vulgate. 
Vergara obtained his doctorate in theology at the university of 
Alcala in 1517. As previously mentioned, he was Cisneros' secretary 
during the last two years of his life and was given canonries at Alcala 
and Toledo. After Cisneros' death he remained in the service of his 
successor, Guillaume de Croy. Lopez de Ziiniga, a graduate of Sala- 
manca and a competent scholar in the biblical languages, became em- 
broiled in controversies with the biblical humanists Jacques Lefevre 
and Desiderius Erasmus, in whose translations and annotations he 
discovered "heresies". He pursued these polemics contrary to Cis- 
neros' advice. After the Cardinal's death he moved to Rome and 
published his criticism in spite of prohibitions by the College of 

60 The University ofAlcala 

Cardinals, making use of the confusion reigning after the death of 
Pope Adrian VI in 1523. 

Best known among the editors was the philologist Elio Antonio 
de Nebrija, who moved to the University of Alcala in 1513 from 
Salamanca, where he had occupied the chair of grammar. Nebrija (c. 
1444-1522) had been exposed to humanism during his studies in Italy 
in the 1460s and brought a breath of the New Learning to Salamanca 
on his return. He emphasized that he had gone to Italy, not to fur- 
ther his career, but to further learning, "not to obtain a benefice or 
learn the formulae of civil and canon law, or do business, but ... to 
restore the long lost authors of Latin, who have now been exiled 
from Spain for many centuries." Nebrija championed not only a 
revival of classical Latin, but also the purification of the vernacular. 
He did important studies on Spanish grammar, publishing a Latin- 
Spanish dictionary in 1492, and was accepted as an authority on phi- 
lological questions. When he applied his knowledge to biblical stud- 
ies, however, he aroused the suspicions of the Inquisitor-General, 
Diego de Deza, who confiscated his papers. Fortunately for Nebrija, 
Cisneros, who admired his scholarship, succeeded Deza in 1507. He 
released the papers to the author, who published them under the title 
of Tenia Quinquagena, that is, fifty annotations concerning biblical 
usage and the etymology of biblical names. 

In an Apologia addressed to Cisneros, Nebrija defends himself 
against the accusation that he had dared to touch on theological mat- 
ters, although he had no formal training in theology. He found it 
ironic that he could have chosen to write about literary trifles and 
enjoyed popularity, whereas choosing to write about serious matters 
close to every Christian's heart he had exposed himself to obloquy, 
was depicted as "a bold and sacrilegious falsifier" and came close to 
"being charged with impiety, shackled, and forced to defend [him- 
self] in court." Nebrija insisted on the value of philology in establish- 
ing the correct text of the Bible: "Whenever there are variants in the 
Latin text of the New Testament, we must have recourse to the 
Greek manuscripts; whenever there is a disagreement among diverse 
Latin manuscripts or between the Latin and Greek manuscripts of 
the Old Testament, we must apply the standard of the Hebrew origi- 
nal" (Nebrija, Apologia, al verso-a2 verso). 

In 1513 Cisneros invited Nebrija to join the team of biblical 
scholars working on the Polyglot edition of the Bible. He did not 

The University o/Alcald 61 

remain a member of the team for very long, however, since he could 
not agree with fellow editors on matters of editorial policy. In a 
letter tendering his resignation Nebrija explained that he disagreed 
with the decision to include Remigius' etymological lexicon of 
names, which he did not consider philologically adequate. More im- 
portantly, he rejected the practice followed by the team of estab- 
lishing the Latin text by collating Latin manuscripts only rather than 
correcting them against the original Greek. It had been his under- 
standing, Nebrija wrote, that he "was to take part in the correction 
of the Latin which is commonly corrupted in all the Latin Bibles, by 
comparing it with the Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Greek" {Revista de 
Archives, Bibliotecas y Museos 8 [1903], 495). Nebrija's remarks imply 
that the team followed (and the Cardinal endorsed) a policy of keep- 
ing the language traditions separate, that is, of collating only same- 
language manuscripts. The published text of the Complutensian Bible 
does not entirely support Nebrija's complaint, as we shall see. 

Cisneros also attempted to attract Desiderius Erasmus, the most 
renowned biblical humanist north of the Alps. In November 1516 
the abbot of Husillos wrote to Cisneros, praising Erasmus' edition of 
the New Testament, which had just appeared from the Froben press. 
The author, he said, was a good theologian, knowledgeable in Greek 
and Hebrew (in the latter he was mistaken), and an elegant Latin 
stylist. He suggested that his experience might benefit the editors of 
the Complutensian Polyglot: "Given that he has anticipated Your 
Reverence with his publication, I believe that he could be of assis- 
tance in making your work appear somewhat more polished ... I 
believe that Your Reverence should not deprive yourself of a person 
like Erasmus. You should avail yourself of his assistance in the cor- 
rection of the whole publication and hire his services for a certain 
period" (Bataillon, Erasmo, 72, n. 1). 

Erasmus mentions an invitation from the Cardinal, but says that 
he declined it [Epistolae, ed. Allen, 582:9). Cisneros appears to have 
persisted, and in May 1517 Erasmus laconically states the reason for 
a second refusal: "The Cardinal of Toledo has invited me again, but 
I do not like Spain" (Ep. 598:47-8). In 1527 Juan Vergara refers to 
the matter in a letter to Erasmus, recalling that "Cardinal Cisneros, 
the founder of the Complutensian university, . . . had the most won- 
derful esteem for you and was keen on enjoying your company" (Ep. 
1814:459-61). Perhaps Erasmus was wise not to accept the invitation. 

62 The University of Alcald 

It is likely that his relationship with colleagues on the project would 
not have been smooth. We have already mentioned Lopez de Ziini- 
ga's criticism of Erasmus' work, which resulted in a prolonged po- 
lemic between the two scholars. Nebrija, too, found fault with the 
annotations in Erasmus' New Testament edition. Of this, however, 
Erasmus did not become aware until after Nebrija's death, when the 
imperial secretary Guy Morillon sent him a critical note in Nebrija's 
hand. Erasmus was clearly annoyed. "I would have thought Nebrija 
was more open-minded ... it is a quarrel over goat's wool," was his 
miffed reply (Gilly, El Erasmismo en Espana, 195-218). 

Cisneros saw the completion of the work under his direction, but 
not its publication. Modern scholars speculate that the editors de- 
layed publication because Pope Leo had granted Erasmus' publisher, 
Johann Froben, an exclusive privilege for four years. Waiting for the 
papal imprimatur, however, had more than legal significance. It 
provided the work with much-needed protection against critics of the 
enterprise. The application of philology to biblical studies was suffer- 
ing from the stigma of heterodoxy. Several factors had contributed to 
this perception. First of all, textual criticism of the Bible, which in 
turn led to reinterpretations of some passages, was seen as part of a 
reform movement which under Luther's leadership was developing 
into a schismatic movement. Secondly, edition and translation was 
claimed by humanists as their task proper, whereas theologians in- 
sisted on the exclusive right to deal with biblical texts. The interfer- 
ence of "theologizing humanists", especially their efforts to translate 
the Bible into vernacular languages, was considered a violation of the 
teaching authority of the church. Thirdly, traditionalists saw any 
revision of the biblical text as tampering with the Word of God and 
a challenge to the principle of inspiration. Yet, as the medieval tri- 
vium gave way to more comprehensive humanistic studies and phi- 
lology became a focal point of the curriculum, scholars became 
increasingly aware of the fact that the Bible, like other texts, had 
been corrupted over time through the negligence of scribes. In Italy 
Lorenzo Valla and in northern Europe Erasmus and Lefevre attempt- 
ed to rescue the original text, but their textual criticism met with stiff 
resistance from more traditional elements in the church. Their work 
was seen as an inspirational source of the reformers and thus, in the 
eyes of adherents to the old faith, was connected with heterodoxy. 

In the preface to the Polyglot, addressed to Pope Leo X, Cisneros 

The University ofAlcald 63 

therefore justified his enterprise and explained his motives for pro- 
ducing the edition: 

There are many reasons, Holy Father, that impel us to print the 
text of Holy Scripture in the original languages. These are the 
principal ones. Words have their own unique character, and no 
translation of them, however complete, can entirely express 
their full meaning . . . they are laden with a variety of sublime 
truths which cannot be understood from any source other than 
the original language. Moreover, wherever there is diversity in 
the Latin manuscripts or the suspicion of a corrupted reading 
(we know how frequently this occurs because of the ignorance 
and negligence of copyists), it is necessary to go back to the 
original source of Scripture, as St. Jerome and St. Augustine and 
other ecclesiastical writers advise us to do, to examine the auth- 
enticity of the books of the Old Testament in light of the 
original Hebrew text and of the New Testament in light of the 
Greek copies. And so that every student of Holy Scripture 
might have at hand the original texts themselves and be able to 
quench his thirst at the very fountainhead of the water that 
flows unto life everlasting and not have to content himself with 
rivulets alone, we ordered the original languages of Holy Scrip- 
ture with their translations adjoined to be printed. (Olin, Catho- 
lic Reformation, 62-3) 

Cisneros' dedicatory letter contains a remarkable number of paral- 
lels with Erasmus' prolegomena to his New Testament edition. Eras- 
mus likewise deplored the negligence of scribes and emphasized the 
care and effort involved in obtaining and collating "old and very cor- 
rect" manuscripts. He, too, cited Augustine and Jerome for the need 
to consult the original texts, "the actual sources, rather than pools 
and runnels" to discover the hidden meaning of the divine words 
{CWE, Epp. 384, 373). Chronological considerations would suggest 
that Cisneros was inspired by Erasmus' words, but there is no need 
to postulate a dependence since both men faced the same potential 
criticism and were bound to offer similar justifications. Their argu- 
ments can, moreover, be traced to the letters and prefaces of Jerome, 
who had to defend his philological work against much the same criti- 
cism (Rummel, Humanist-Scholastic Debate, 100-102). 

Nebrija's letter of resignation implied that Cisneros' team kept 

64 The University of Alcald 

the language traditions separate. The Cardinal's preface says nothing 
about his editorial principles but clearly states that he expected read- 
ers to compare the translation with the original. An inspection of the 
text shows, moreover, that it was not consistently based on a colla- 
tion of same-language manuscripts. Jerry Bentley, who examined the 
Polyglot text of the New Testament in some detail, noted that the 
Latin Vulgate was occasionally emended on the basis of the Greek 
text. More typically, however, the editors chose among the Greek 
variants those that agreed with the Latin Vulgate. In one notorious 
case, they supplied the Greek for 1 John 5:7 (the "Comma Johan- 
neum"), for which they could find no manuscript evidence, by re- 
translating the Latin Vulgate. Bentley concluded that "anarchy 
reigned over principle in the editing of the Polyglot edition" (Bentley, 
Humanists, 107). It should be added, however, that anarchy reigned 
in many editions at a time when textual criticism was in its infancy. 

The practice of inserting a passage for which there was no manu- 
script evidence, for example, strikes the modern scholar as inexcusa- 
ble. Yet Erasmus, the most admired textual critic of his time, 
resorted to the same practice and nonchalantly observed: "Since I 
found at the end of this book [of Revelation] a few words in our 
Vulgate which were missing in the Greek manuscripts, I added them 
out of the Latin" {Novum Instrumentum [1516], II, 625). His candid 
admission implies that he saw nothing wrong with this practice. 
Bentley observes that the Polyglot edition did not manifest "careful, 
professional editorial scholarship" {BenxlGy, Humanists, 110); Erasmus 
has likewise been accused of shoddy editorial practices. Nevertheless 
modern scholars agree that the two editions are hallmarks in the 
history of biblical scholarship and recognize that the editors cannot 
be held to the standards of modern textual criticism. They were 
hampered by limited access to manuscripts, by the novelty of the 
task, which they learned by doing, and by a culture that regarded 
any challenge to tradition as inherently evil. No doubt, biblical hu- 
manists had to overcome scruples, in themselves and in their readers, 
when their findings contradicted traditional exegesis. 

It is for this reason that Cisneros' editors did not consistently 
emend the Vulgate and Erasmus refrained from radical changes to the 
Latin text in his first edition of the New Testament, commenting: "I 
did it sparingly, fearing that some people would not tolerate such 
innovation" {Novum Testamentum [1519], B4 recto). Erasmus sought 

The University of Alcald 65 

to protect his reputation by adding copious annotations explaining 
his editorial decisions. They did not produce the intended effect, 
however. On the contrary, far from justifying the editor in the eyes 
of the readers, the annotations involved Erasmus in a series of 
polemics. His work was investigated by the Spanish Inquisition and 
formally condemned by the Faculty of Theology at Paris. The edi- 
tors of the Polyglot, by contrast, supplied only brief marginal notes, 
providing mostly biblical cross-references and defining unusual 
words. Only a handful of marginal notes addressed textual problems. 
In light of Erasmus' experience, the restraint of the Polyglot editors 
appears prudent. 

From a commercial point of view the Polyglot was not a success, 
but then Cisneros had not looked for material profit, as the executors 
of his estate explained. The price was set, "not counting the ex- 
penses, which were practically endless, but the benefit derived from 
reading the text" {Historical Catalogue, 3). According to estimates 
Cisneros had expended some 50,000 gold ducats on printing and 
research costs. Of the six hundred sets printed, a considerable num- 
ber was lost in a shipwreck; the remainder were sold for six and a 
half ducats each. About 150 sets survive today. The rise of humanism 
had generated a lively interest in polyglot editions, but the Basel 
printer Johann Froben had anticipated the Complutensian Polyglot 
with the bilingual edition of the New Testament prepared and anno- 
tated by Erasmus. Published in 1516, the Erasmian text had gained a 
strong foothold in the market place long before the Polyglot reached 
the stage of publication. The Erasmian New Testament retained its 
hold on the readership. Unlike the comprehensive Complutensian 
Polyglot, it went through five editions between 1516 and 1535, and 
proved an eminently "saleable commodity" {CWE, Ep. 1010). 


Cisneros and the Politics 
of Spain, 1492-1516 

V-/isneros' political influence developed with his appointment as the 
Queen's confessor and his elevation shortly thereafter to the arch- 
bishopric of Toledo, a position that entailed the primacy of Spain. 
He was present and no doubt played a role in the negotiations pre- 
ceding the marriage alliances between the Spanish Crown and the 
Habsburgs which provided for the double union of Margaret and 
Philip the Handsome, the children of Emperor Maximilian, with 
Juan and Juana, the children of the Catholic Monarchs. 

The homeland of the Habsburgs was the Upper Rhine region and 
Austria, but the focus of Habsburg politics changed in 1477, when 
Maximilian secured the hand of Mary, the heiress of Burgundy. As 
regent of Burgundy on his wife's behalf, Maximilian held fiefs from 
both the French Crown and the German Empire. On the accidental 
death of his wife, their son Philip the Handsome inherited the title 
to Burgundy. He was declared of age in 1494 and invested as Duke. 
Shortly afterwards the marriage contracts linking the Habsburgs with 
the Spanish crown were signed. 

In 1496 Cisneros accompanied the Queen to Burgos to make 
arrangements for the departure of Princess Juana for Burgundy, 
where her marriage to Philip was celebrated on 21 October. In 1497 
he performed the marriage ceremony uniting the crown prince Juan 
with Margaret of Austria. The same year saw the marriage of another 
of the royal princesses, Isabel, to Manuel I of Portugal. Negotiations 
also continued for the marriage of Princess Catherine to Arthur, 
crown prince of England, and after his death, to his brother Henry 
(later Henry VIII). 

When Juan, the only son and designated heir of the Monarchs, 
died unexpectedly in October 1497 at the age of nineteen, the scale of 
the funeral was proportionate to the sense of loss experienced by his 
parents. The Burgundian historian Philippe de Commines, who de- 

The Politics of Spain 67 

voted a chapter in his Memoirs (8.24) to the misfortunes of the 
Spanish royal family, commented that he had never heard of such 
intense manifestations of public grief. "For forty days all commerce 
came to a stop . . . everyone wore coarse black cloth, and the nobility 
and men of stature had their mules decked out completely in black 
down to their knees — only the eyes were visible — and black ban- 
ners covered the doors of houses in the cities." National grief was 
also given expression in the famous musical setting of "Triste Espafia 
sin Ventura" by Juan del Encina. 

The carefully laid plans for the Spanish succession were further 
disturbed, when Margaret's pregnancy ended in a stillbirth later that 
year. The succession now devolved on Isabel, the oldest daughter of 
the Catholic Monarchs, but with her death the following year and 
that of her infant son in 1500, the right of succession passed to Juana 
and Philip the Handsome. The couple had been residing in Brussels 
and Ghent, where Juana had given birth to two daughters, Eleanor 
and Isabel, and to a son, Charles. Her husband's philandering and her 
own violently jealous reactions had marred the marital peace during 
these years, however. 

The couple arrived in Spain in January 1502 to formalize their 
right of succession. On this occasion, too, Cisneros was in atten- 
dance, presiding over their installation in a solemn ceremony at the 
cathedral of Toledo and remaining with the royal family during the 
following five months, "without however paying much attention to 
the court festivities", as Gomez duly notes (Retana, Cisneros, 114). 
The pageant with which the couple was received is described in detail 
in a panegyric addressed to the Duke by one of his Burgundian sub- 
jects, the humanist Desiderius Erasmus: "In the cathedral of Toledo, 
which is dedicated to the Virgin, before a congregation formed of the 
flower of the Spanish nobility, witnessed by every high dignitary of 
the ecclesiastical order, by the grace of God, in the presence of the 
king and queen surrounded by a vast crowd of civil officials and 
magistrates, you were installed and crowned with solemn ceremony 
as ruler of Castile; and allegiance was sworn to you with wonderful 
unanimity and an enthusiasm never known before . . . Thus you 
filled Spain to overflowing with an accumulation of joy" {CWE 27, 
pp. 24-5). 

This was the official version; in reality Philip and his Flemish 
advisors were highly unpopular. He spoke no Spanish and had no 

68 The Politics of Spain 

understanding of Spanish tradition, giving offense to many with his 
cavalier behaviour. It was, moreover, interpreted as a lack of commit- 
ment that he could not be persuaded to remain in Spain, either to 
accommodate his pregnant wife whose condition did not allow her 
to return to Flanders, or to become better acquainted with the cus- 
toms of the people he was to rule. There was also unease about 
Philip's relations with France. King Louis XII had given him a 
magnificent reception on his journey through France, which included 
a ceremonial session with the Paris Parlement, a gesture welcomed 
by the francophile Flemish party accompanying the Duke. Such 
demonstrations of friendship flew in the face of Spanish sentiments. 
In a candid letter to his ambassador in London Ferdinand gave vent 
to his anger about Philip's attitude. "I spoke at length with [Philip], 
advising him not to leave the country. There were many reasons: 
first, in case of my wife's, the Queen's, death, my daughter, the 
princess, and he must immediately take peaceful possession of these 
realms; secondly ... in spite of the advice and counter to the wishes 
expressed by myself and my wife the Queen he departed, travelling 
right through the territory of the French King — his and my enemy 
— putting himself into his hands." Subsequently Philip joined in an 
alliance with France, which was clearly not in the interest of Spain: 
"He made the French allies his allies and the French enemies his 
enemies, without including or excepting us and our realm, thus put- 
ting at risk my rights in Naples and favouring those of the French 
king in this treaty of friendship" (Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 50). 
Similarly the English ambassadors in Spain reported in 1506 that "the 
people were sorry that [Philip] was so much ruled by the Council of 
France" (Bergenroth, Letters and Papers, I #437). 

It was on less than cordial terms, then, that Philip departed for 
Flanders at the end of February 1503. His wife Juana remained in 
Toledo, where she gave birth one month later to a son, Ferdinand. 
Cisneros baptized the child and, taking advantage of the fact that the 
prince was born in his diocese, obtained from the Queen a tax 
exemption for Toledo (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 135). 

The Death of Queen Isabel (1504) 

In the following year Queen Isabel died at the age of fifty-three. 
Although Cisneros was not present at her death in November 1504, 
he was one of the executors of the will, which made Juana Queen of 

The Politics of Spain 69 

Castile and Leon. Cisneros' biographer, Gomez de Castro, notes that 
Juana's husband was all but excluded from power, "whether the 
Queen [Isabel] harboured hostile feelings on account of his unworthy 
treatment of her daughter or because she really thought that he was 
ill prepared to govern Spain" (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 153). In her 
will Isabel merely noted that obedience was owed to Philip by 
Juana's subjects "as her husband" (Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 
40). However, she also acknowledged the need for contingency plans, 
taking into consideration Juana's mental imbalance. In case she 
proved incapable of exercising government, the will provided that 
Ferdinand was to assume the regency until his oldest grandson (Char- 
les, then four years old) had reached the age of twenty. The Queen 
carefully noted that she had taken the advice of the cortes as well as 
of "some prelates and grandees of my kingdom" and that "all had 
been in agreement" on this point (ibid.). The provisions of Isabel's 
will were promulgated at the cortes of Toro in March 1505 and 
confirmed at Salamanca in November of that year. Philip, however, 
did not accept the passive role envisaged for him, and the interpre- 
tation of the will became the subject of prolonged and tenacious 
negotiations with his father-in-law. 

Philip's bid for power was supported by Castilian nobles who 
were willing to intrigue on his behalf against the "old Catalan", as 
the unpopular Ferdinand was dubbed. In the words of Pietro Martire 
"the nobles grunt and sharpen their teeth like wild boars with the 
desire and hope of a great change" (Ep. 277). Similarly, the English 
ambassadors in Spain reported to their king, Henry VII, that factions 
existed and "there is fear of troubles ensuing". At the same time they 
noted that Ferdinand's position in Aragon was secure and that he 
was de facto in control of Castile: "All the nobles and commons [in 
Aragon] are very obedient, loving him for the good justice he minis- 
ters to them . . . Immediately on his Queen's decease he had pro- 
claimed himself Governor and Administrator of Castile on behalf of 
his daughter, . . . and received all the revenues for his own use" 
(Bergenroth, Letters and Papers^ I #437, July 1505). Ferdinand had, 
moreover, scored a diplomatic victory by concluding peace with 
France (Blois, October 1505) and marrying Germaine de Foix, niece 
of the French King Louis XII (cf. Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana^ 50- 
1). The marriage contract provided that the crown of Aragon would 
pass to the heirs of Germaine and Ferdinand, and that parts of 

70 The Politics of Spain 

Naples should be handed over to Germaine and were to revert to 
France if she died childless. Ferdinand explained the diplomatic im- 
port of his actions: "The Archduke, my son, . . . has made demon- 
strations of desiring to come to Spain with an army and a fleet. I, 
therefore, seeing that he had made a league with the King of France 
so greatly to my prejudice, and in order that no inconvenience might 
ensue to me from the said league, also that I might the better provide 
for the preservation of these kingdoms, and of my honour and my 
rights, have agreed to a treaty of peace and amity and brotherhood 
with the King of France for the preservation of our realms ... I have 
now sent to beg and request [Philip] to study and determine who is 
entitled to rule these kingdoms, in order that peace may not be dis- 
turbed. For though the government of them belongs to me, and they 
have sworn fealty and obedience to me, and are at peace, yet he pre- 
tends that the said government belongs to him" (Bergenroth, Letters 
and Papers, I #450, December 1505). 

A compromise was eventually reached and a treaty signed at Sala- 
manca (26 December 1505), which provided for a tripartite govern- 
ment of Castile, dividing authority between Juana, Philip, and Ferdi- 
nand. Documents were to be signed "Don Fernando, Don Felipe, 
Dona Juana, by the grace of God Kings and princes of Castile, Leon, 
Aragon, the two Sicilies, Jerusalem, Granada, etc., Archdukes of 
Austria, Dukes of Burgundy". The signatories were to be referred to 
as "Their Highnesses," a title until then reserved for Queen Juana 
(Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 52-3). 

A second round of negotiations took place in the spring of 1506, 
however, after Philip's arrival in Spain with an army of three thous- 
and Flemish and German soldiers. During these negotiations, Cisne- 
ros acted as Ferdinand's liaison. He had advised Ferdinand to rely on 
military force in turn (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 150), but the King's 
weak position in Castile obliged him to negotiate. On 2 June Ferdi- 
nand sent Cisneros to a meeting with Philip, giving the Archbishop 
plenary powers to act on his behalf and, as the document stated, "to 
sign in my name and in my absence any agreement with the Most 
Serene King Philip, my very dear and dearly beloved son, in all mat- 
ters necessary for the true and perpetual union and concord between 
him and myself." He declared his desire to remove any reason for 
distrust, "for they say, among other things, that the said Most Serene 
King, my son, fears that I shall conspire against him with the Most 

The Politics of Spain 71 

Serene Queen, my daughter, his wife". He protested that he had "no 
desire to act against him or to his prejudice, but rather to collaborate 
with them [Philip and Juana] in love and peace and agreement" 
(Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 55-6). 

There was, however, little room for maneuvering since Philip en- 
joyed the support of a great part of the Castilian nobility. Ferdinand 
was therefore obliged on 28 June 1506 to sign the agreement of 
Villafafila, handing over the government of Castile to his "beloved 
children" and promising to retire to Aragon. In the agreement he 
emphasized that he was relinquishing his power voluntarily to avoid 
war and dissension, because he "wished to put peace and the com- 
mon weal of the kingdom before his private interest" (ibid., 57). The 
document also contained a mutual defense pact between Philip and 
Ferdinand. According to Cisneros' biographer Gomez de Castro, the 
archbishop was apologetic about his inability to bring about a set- 
tlement more favourable to Ferdinand. In a letter to the regent, he 
said "that although the agreement was not to be despised, it did not 
satisfy him, but since he could not obtain more, he accepted the 
conditions which weren't all that bad" (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 170). 
Ferdinand himself protested that the treaty was prejudicial to him, 
but acknowledged that he was forced to accept the conditions be- 
cause Philip had "assembled the grandees [of Castile] and united a 
powerful and strong army, so that my royal person is in notorious 
and manifest danger . . . thus from fear and apprehension of what has 
been stated and, . . . since the said King, my son-in-law, is determined 
entirely to usurp, as in fact he does, the administration of these king- 
doms, despoiling me of the administration which on many accounts 
belongs to me by right ... I am obliged to sign" (Bergenroth, Letters 
and Papers, II, 1509-1525, #12, 27 June 1506). 

Letters to his ambassadors in England and Venice project the 
image Ferdinand wanted to present to the world: the unselfish and 
loving father, who was doing everything to foster peace and whose 
intentions were misinterpreted or misrepresented by a grasping son- 
in-law. To the English court he wrote: "Having found that the peace 
and tranquillity of these kingdoms could not otherwise be suffi- 
ciently provided for, I have entered into a treaty with the Archduke 
[Philip]. For I always desire the welfare of my children on account of 
the love I bear them" (Bergenroth, Letters and Papers, I, #471, sum- 
mer 1506). To his ambassador in Venice he wrote in a similar vein. 

72 The Politics of Spain 

He had always cherished fatherly feelings toward Philip, but "ene- 
mies whispered into Juana's ears that he intended to retain for him- 
self the royal prerogatives of the crown of Castile." He noted that he 
was in fact "entitled to do so by the will of the late Queen, but 
never had the desire to make use of that right during the lifetime of 
Philip and Juana." He complained, moreover, that Philip had acted 
like an enemy. On his arrival in Spain, "instead of hastening to see 
their father, they sent messengers to him and asked him to appoint 
a formal meeting . . . Philip even thought it proper to come to the 
meeting with an armed guard" (Bergenroth, Letters and Papers, I, 
#470, 1 July 1506). English documents meanwhile tell a different 
story, showing Ferdinand intriguing against Philip and encouraging 
French support for the rebellious Duke of Guelders in the hope that 
his operations in Burgundy would oblige Philip to leave Spain and 
return home (ibid., #477, July 1506). 

In the event, Ferdinand did not retire to Aragon, as he had 
announced, but instead departed for Naples, to secure his position 
there. The kingdom had been conquered in 1443 by Ferdinand's 
uncle, Alfonso I, who became joint ruler of Naples and Sicily. After 
his death in 1458, Sicily passed into the hands of Ferdinand's father 
and subsequently to himself. Naples, which was claimed by France, 
was retained, after a long struggle, by Ferrante, Alfonso's illegitimate 
son and Ferdinand's brother-in-law. He repeatedly received military 
aid from Ferdinand, who maintained the alliance in his own interest, 
for the protection of Sicily. After Ferrante's death, the French king 
Charles Vm revived claims to the kingdom. He invaded Italy in 1494 
and briefly occupied Naples, which was, however, recovered by Ferran- 
tino, Ferrante's grandson, with the help of the Spanish Gran Capitan 
Gonzalo de Cordoba. Ferrantino enjoyed his victory only briefly, dy- 
ing unexpectedly in 1496 and leaving the kingdom in the hands of his 
uncle Frederick. In these circumstances both France and Spain pressed 
their respective claims and found it convenient to unite their forces. 
They jointly invaded Naples and partitioned it in 1501. Very soon, 
however, a dispute arose between Ferdinand and Charles' successor, 
Louis XII. Spanish troops drove out the French and made Ferdinand 
the sole ruler of Naples in 1504. Subsequently it was governed by 
viceroys appointed by the Spanish Crown. The terms of Ferdinand's 
marriage contract with Germaine de Foix, which allowed for a hypo- 
thetical reversal of Naples to France, represented a rapprochement. 

The Politics of Spain 73 

On arrival in Naples in 1506, Ferdinand's first act was to relieve 
the viceroy, Gonzalo de Cordoba, whose loyalty he suspected, and 
take over the reins of government himself. Fortune then took a rapid 
turn in his favour: Philip fell ill and died in September 1506, leaving 
a power vacuum. 

Cisneros' First Regency (1506/7) 

Already during the last days of Philip's illness, Cisneros' house 
became a meeting place for power brokers. After Philip's death a has- 
tily formed interim council, presided over by Cisneros, proposed 
recalling Ferdinand but also expressed fear of his resentment. Accord- 
ing to Gomez, Pimentel, Senor de Benavente, voiced his concern: 
"Are you not aware that, remembering the recent confrontation, he 
will treat all of us with insolence? And being a master of dissimulat- 
ing his innermost feelings, he will be full of benevolence on the 
outside and smile sweetly at first and will punish us severely later?" 
(Gomez, De rebus gestis, 185) The chronicler Pero Mexia reports that 
among the alternatives discussed was the suggestion that "the 
kingdom be governed by the council in the name of Juana" (Mexia, 
Cronica, 41). Others advanced the idea that the Emperor Maximilian 
be approached and made regent on behalf of his grandson Charles. 
Cisneros, however, spoke against calling in a stranger and reminded 
them that Ferdinand was an experienced and competent ruler. 

The hectic nature of the negotiations in the days following 
Philip's death is illustrated by an anecdote related by Cisneros' bio- 
grapher, Juan Vallejo. After an interminable meeting, the archbishop 
ordered dinner to be served, but was reminded by his valet that it 
was now past midnight and by eating at this time he would be in 
technical violation of the church law requiring abstinence from food 
before morning mass. According to Vallejo, the archbishop demon- 
strated his quick mind and diplomatic skills by insisting: "Have 
dinner served. It cannot possibly be more than eleven o'clock." No 
one contradicted the archbishop. 

Cisneros' proposal to recall Ferdinand was accepted by the coun- 
cil in the end. He was formally appointed guardian of the Queen and 
representative of crown prince Charles' interests until Ferdinand's 
return. The Queen had formally been asked her opinion, but after 
Philip's death she had abandoned herself to grief and was unwilling 
or unable to make political decisions. The disconcerting behaviour of 

74 The Politics of Spain 

the widow is reported in some detail by Pietro Martire. The Queen, 
seeking solace in a convent at Tordesillas, wished to take her hus- 
band's corpse with her. 

The Archbishop of Burgos met with her and explained to the 
Queen that this was forbidden . . . She had a fit of anger and 
obstinately persisted in her wish. She ordered her servants to 
open the grave and take out the coffin. None of the nobles or 
prelates could make her desist from her purpose. All were of 
the opinion that one must not put pressure on her for fear that 
another fit of anger might cause her to abort the fetus she was 
carrying in her uterus. Thus they disinterred the corpse of her 
husband on December 20. We saw it placed into a container of 
lead, covered with another of wood, in the presence of all the 
ambassadors. . . . We made the journey with the corpse being 
transported in a carriage and four, escorting the coffin, covered 
with a royal cloth of silk and gold. We stopped in Torquemada 
. . . armed soldiers guarded the corpse in the parish church, as if 
enemies were on the point of assaulting the walls. Women were 
strictly forbidden to enter. She was plagued by the same jeal- 
ousy as during her husband's lifetime. 

The following day the company proceeded toward the village of 
Hornillos. On the way they encountered a convent. 

Thinking that it was the house of friars, the Queen ordered sud- 
denly to halt the cortege and lower the coffin to the ground in 
open country. But when she realized that it was a women's con- 
vent, she immediately gave orders to transport the coffin else- 
where. On the open road, at night, she commanded that the 
bearers take the corpse out of the coffin by the uncertain light 
of torches, which could barely be kept ablaze because of a 
strong wind. Some carpenters, fetched for this purpose, opened 
the wooden and lead containers. After contemplating the corpse 
of her husband and calling on the nobles as witnesses, she or- 
dered them to close it anew and transport it to Hornillos on 
their shoulders, (quoted Diaz Plaja, Historia de Espana, 60) 

The monastery at Tordesillas became the final resting place for 
the corpse, and Juana remained there in a state of deep melancholy 
until her own death in 1555. 

The Politics of Spain 75 

The bizarre behaviour of the disturbed Queen on this and other 
occasions soon made clear that Ferdinand's plans for her future, 
which included remarriage, were unrealistic. As soon as she was 
widowed, the English king, Henry VII, showed interest in a dynastic 
union. According to a letter from Ferdinand to his councillor and 
secretary, Miguel Perez Almazan, the English did not mind her de- 
rangement "as long as it did not prevent her from bearing children" 
(Bergenroth, Letters and Papers, Vol. 1, #511, April 1507). Ferdinand 
warned Henry, however, that the subject must be broached to her by 
none but himself. Only he knew how to handle her. At one point 
Henry suggested to use the services of Cisneros and asked his 
daugher-in-law, Catherine, to write a letter to this effect. She had a 
direct interest in the affair, since her marriage to the English crown 
prince was held up by Ferdinand's reluctance to pay the remainder 
of her dowry. If the marriage between Juana and the king could be 
brought about, he was willing to make concessions regarding her 
dowry. Catherine, however, was uncertain about taking the initiative 
in such a delicate matter and asked her father for further directions 
(ibid., #541, 7 Sept 1507). Henry also held out hopes of financing an 
expedition against Africa jointly with Ferdinand and the King of Por- 
tugal, once the marriage to Juana was concluded (ibid., #552, October 
1507). On his return to Spain, Ferdinand did in fact broach the sub- 
ject to Juana. He reported to his ambassador at the English court that 
her mental state was still precarious, that she assured him of her filial 
devotion but asked him not to force her into a new marriage. He de- 
sisted from importuning her further because he was convinced his 
efforts would be in vain. It is unclear to what extent, if any, Cisneros 
was personally involved in attempts to obtain the Queen's agree- 
ment. Shortly afterwards the English king refocused his marriage 
plans on Juan's widow, Margaret, with a similar lack of success. 

To return to the year 1506: the unpredictability of the Queen and 
her unwillingness to involve herself in matters of government created 
considerable difficulties for Cisneros. His executive power rested on 
uncertain legal grounds, and insurrection was a distinct danger. An 
accord signed on October 1 by the archbishop and council members 
reflects their fear of civil war. They agreed to refrain from the fol- 
lowing actions: interference with the established norms of adminis- 
tration; the recruiting of military forces; efforts to gain power over 
the persons of Juana or her son Ferdinand. They furthermore agreed 

76 The Politics of Spain 

to abide by majority decisions made by the council. Cisneros had 
been delegated to write to Ferdinand asking him to return and once 
more take over the regency of the country until Charles, the heir to 
the throne, would come of age. According to Vallejo, he asked Ferdi- 
nand "not to think of the past and of the passions of the nobility, 
but putting all aside, to come as quickly as possible and take over the 
government like a true Lord and Father . . . for there was no other, 
besides God, to remedy this great loss and misfortune" (resume of 
letter in Gomez, De rehus gestis, 188-9). It appears that Cisneros had 
hoped to obtain plenipotentiary powers from Juana for himself. A 
document to this effect was drawn up (Garcia Oro, Cisneros, 160, n. 
16), but remained unsigned. 

While Ferdinand attended to his affairs in Naples, Spain sank into 
civil war and was convulsed by rebellion. The Duke of Medina Sido- 
nia attempted to regain Gibraltar, which had been taken from him 
by the Crown in 1502; the Count of Lemos, similarly deprived, 
briefly retook Ponferrada in Galicia; feuds broke out in Segovia, To- 
ledo, and Madrid. In Granada the soldiers mutinied, and in Cordoba 
the prisoners of the Inquisition were released. An outbreak of the 
plague added to the chaos. Pietro Martire predicted that "everything 
will collapse" (Ep. 354). 

After Ferdinand's return to Spain in August 1507, order was re- 
stored, as he reported with great satisfaction to his daughter Cather- 
ine: "They told me . . . that my arrival was necessary for the welfare 
and restoration of the Most Serene Queen my dearly beloved daugh- 
ter and your dear sister, and for the good of this realm, which, before 
my arrival, was without order and in great upheaval and tumult" 
(Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 62). The cortes officially delegated 
authority to Ferdinand. He in turn brought with him from Italy pa- 
pal briefs making Cisneros a cardinal and naming him Inquisitor 
General of Spain. 

Spain under Ferdinand, 1507-1516 

The following years saw the expedition to Oran, which has al- 
ready been discussed in the context of Cisneros' missionary efforts. 
The Cardinal retained his position of authority at court and re- 
peatedly acted as Ferdinand's representative during periods of ab- 
sence: in 1510, when Ferdinand attended the cortes of Aragon, he left 
Cisneros in charge of his daughter and grandson Ferdinand; in 1511 

The Politics of Spain 77 

and 1512 he called for his presence to discuss diplomatic negotiations 
and military preparations in connection with the Holy League con- 
cluded between Spain, England, the Empire, and the Pope against 
France. The year 1512 also saw the invasion and annexation of Navarre. 

The Conquest of Navarre 

Navarre, wedged between France and Aragon, had once been the 
possession of Ferdinand's father, John II of Aragon, through his 
marriage with Blanche, Queen of Navarre. On his death it passed 
through his daughter first to the family of Foix and, when that line 
had no male issue, to the family of Albret. However, in a series of 
treaties between 1476 and 1500 Navarre became effectively a Spanish 
protectorate and thus was destined to be annexed. The final steps in 
that direction were taken in July 1512, when Ferdinand used the 
rivalry between the Foix and Albret families to put in a claim on 
behalf of his wife, Germaine de Foix. Alleging that there existed a 
secret French plan to invade Aragon through Navarre, he ventured 
a pre-emptive strike in July 1512. He was aided by both the English 
king and the pope. Henry VII was persuaded to send an army to 
Guienne to recover ancient English possessions, thus preventing 
France from coming to the aid of Navarre. Pope Julius II, allied with 
Ferdinand in the Holy League, excommunicated the Navarrese King, 
Jean d'Albret, because he had supported the schismatic Council of 
Pisa. Within a few months Navarre was conquered by Spanish troops 
under the command of the Duke of Alba and annexed to Aragon. 
This arrangement was changed in 1515, when Navarre was incorpo- 
rated in Castile, while retaining a certain amount of autonomy in its 
administration and coinage. 

According to Gomez, Cisneros' presence at the deliberations lead- 
ing up to the conquest lent legitimacy to the proceedings: "In August 
he once again was at the side of the king, who was in Logroiio, 
occupied with the problems of Navarre. His interest in what is good 
and just was always so strong, his consideration for religion so great, 
that by the mere presence of such a man the war could seem just" 
[De rebus gestis, 354). Cisneros' exact role or involvement in Ferdi- 
nand's plans are, however, difficult to assess. 

The military and diplomatic success in Navarre did not suffice to 
improve Ferdinand's relations with the Castilian nobility. They con- 
tinued to intrigue against him. The malcontents found receptive ears 

78 The Politics of Spain 

at the Burgundian court. Ferdinand's position in Castile was there- 
fore still precarious when he died in January 1516. For some time he 
had wrestled with the question of succession. Personally he inclined 
toward his younger grandson and namesake Ferdinand, with whom 
he had a closer relationship than with Charles who was brought up 
in Burgundy. In the end, however, he made Charles the heir. Gomez 
second-guessed his motives: "He was easily persuaded not to put 
Ferdinand in charge of the kingdom because he was convinced that 
Charles, educated in the Belgian tradition, would never come to 
Spain" (De rebus gestis, 370), 


The Second Regency, 

1 he immediate problem confronting the advisors assembled at 
Ferdinand's deathbed was the appointment of a regent. Ferdinand's 
natural son, Alonso, Archbishop of Zaragoza, was to assume that 
function in Aragon. With regard to Castile, however, "the choice 
was difficult and critical," Gomez writes. 

It was not recommendable to name one of the nobles on ac- 
count of their old established and deep rivalries, nor someone of 
modest situation and fortune, for it was a characteristic of the 
Spaniards not to accept as ruler anyone who was not a grandee. 
It was difficult, moreover, for a man accustomed to deal with 
small matters to speedily grow into his new role and be equal to 
such an important task. . . . [When Cisneros' name was put 
forward], the King turned his head in a manner that indicated 
his misgivings and gave them to understand that the proposal 
did not please him. And his words confirmed his thoughts. "Do 
you not know Cisneros' character?" [he asked]. "He is not 
equal to dealing with men of such diverse conditions," But 
when he noticed that all remained silent at his question, he 
changed, it seems, as if by divine inspiration, and said: "If I 
could design for myself a man equal to the task, I would prefer 
Cisneros to be more manageable and reasonable. Customs have 
changed for the worse; to demand that men conform with the 
old rigorous standards of honour, which Cisneros himself up- 
holds, will cause great problems in the realm. On the other 
hand I am inclined to accept your proposal because I know his 
integrity, his spirit, and his mind which is always desirous of 
that which is right and just; I also know that he is not related to 
any nobleman and will not be constrained by private causes and 
friendships. Moreover, the favours granted him by Isabel and 
myself have put him under an obligation and made him our 

80 The Second Regency 

partisan. Or, to put it another way, he is much obliged to us, of 
which he has given clear proof in many instances." Those pres- 
ent applauded the king's words and thanked him for choosing 
Cisneros. (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 371-2) 

Ferdinand's will accordingly named as his successor Charles, who 
was "to govern and administrate the realm on behalf of the Most 
Serene Queen, the Lady Juana, his mother and our most dear and 
beloved daughter." Cisneros was appointed regent of Castile in the 
absence of Charles, so "that the said Cardinal might do what we 
would do or have the authority or obligation to do, until Charles 
decides on a course of action, . , . trusting in his conscience, religion, 
rectitude and good will" (will, quoted Retana, Cisneros, 2:20-1). 
Ferdinand died on 23 January 1516 in Madrigalejo near Guadalupe, 
at an inn where he had taken lodging. When the Royal Council 
communicated the provisions of the will to Charles' representative, 
Adrian of Utrecht, the clause "until Prince Charles decides on a 
course of action" was suppressed. The cardinal's regency was to re- 
main in place until Charles could come to Spain in person. 

Charles had grown up at the court of his aunt Margaret, Regent 
of the Netherlands. When his parents, Philip and Juana, departed for 
Spain in 1506, to claim Juana's inheritance, they left the six-year old 
Charles and his sisters Eleanor, Mary, and Isabel in the care of Phil- 
ip's sister, Margaret. She conducted affairs from her castle in Meche- 
len near Brussels, where the royal offspring received a careful educa- 
tion and were groomed for their future tasks. Each of the children 
was destined to play a role in the politics of Europe: Charles was to 
inherit the realms of his grandparents and succeed Maximilian as 
emperor; Eleanor was to become Queen of Portugal and, through 
her second marriage, of France; Mary and Isabel were to become 
Queens of Hungary and Denmark respectively. The siblings were 
brought up in the Burgundian tradition. By contrast, the two young- 
est children, Ferdinand and Catherine, were born and raised in Spain. 

At the time of King Ferdinand's death, Cisneros was at Alcala. A 
letter from the royal secretary, Juan Ruiz de Calcena, informed him 
of his appointment as regent. The letter requested that he take the 
reins of government as soon as possible. Ferdinand had appointed the 
Cardinal (and the secretary emphasized: "him alone") because he had 
confidence in his upright character and his ability to maintain peace 
and order in the realm. The Cardinal's firm hand was now necessary, 

The Second Regency 81 

he said, "because so far there is uncertainty everywhere whom to 
obey and follow. And the Infante [Ferdinand] is here and also the 
Queen of Aragon [Germaine de Foix], who are unable to decide 
where to go and by what means. There are also the delegates and am- 
bassadors; and precautions have to be taken with respect to Navarre 
and other parts, where problems will arise in your absence, for in 
truth there is no one to give instructions, and everyone speaks in his 
own interest" (Cart. Sec. 250). 

The misgivings Ferdinand had expressed on his deathbed about 
Cisneros' social status were not without foundation. It proved diffi- 
cult for Cisneros to hold his own against the nobility, as Gomez tells 
us: "Just as the power of the Spanish nobility often threatened the 
monarchs, so Cisneros had to make a determined effort to represent 
the majesty of the office he held and get the better of the pride and 
arrogance of our nobles. And a man who had no noble lineage and 
was not supported by numerous and illustrious members of a noble 
family, could not do so without displaying the greatest prudence, 
supreme courage, and an extraordinary greatness of mind" {De rebus 
gestis, 377). Indeed Cisneros' stature as a self-made man was pointed 
out and his authority called into question by the Condestable Inigo 
de Velasco. The words attributed to him by Gomez characterize the 
attitude of the Castilian nobility. "The nobles had suffered enough 
slavery during Ferdinand's lifetime," the Condestable reportedly said. 
It was intolerable to take orders now from a "monk in a cowl" and 
a homo novus {De rebus gestis, 395). This sentiment is confirmed by 
Pietro Martire, who observed: "Spain does not like to obey those 
who are not Kings." Cisneros' rule was suffered with impatience. In 
Martire's view his mission was "to build and to be a patron of letters 
rather than to command" (Ep. 573). 

In the event, however, Cisneros was able to come to terms with 
the most powerful nobles, among them the Condestable who 
represented the Velasco family, the Duque del Infantado who was the 
head of the Mendozas, and the Almirante who was the spokesman of 
the Enriquez family. In March 1516 Alonso Manrique, then resident 
at the Burgundian court, wrote admiringly of the Cardinal's shrewd 
maneuvers after Ferdinand's death: "He worked wonders: he made 
provisions to safeguard the borders and looked after external affairs 
and planned for all contingencies and furthermore allied himself with 
the grandees. Of this everyone here is informed" (Cart. Sec. 264). 

82 The Second Regency 

The Cardinal's secretary, Jorge Varacaldo, confirmed in December 
1516 that Cisneros had found a modus vivendi and a "great league 
and brotherhood with many assurances had been formed with the 
Cardinal" (Cart. Sec. 71-2). 

Cisneros' liaison at the Burgundian court in the months following 
Ferdinand's death was Alonso Manrique de Lara, Bishop of Badajoz 
and later of Cordoba. Manrique's political fortunes were on the rise. 
Active on Prince Philip's behalf in the power struggle with Ferdi- 
nand, he was obliged to leave Spain for Burgundy, where he was 
rewarded for his efforts with a seat on the Council of Flanders. At 
the time of Ferdinand's death, he was Charles' chaplain. In March 
1516 he wrote a confidential report to Cisneros concerning the situ- 
ation at Charles' court. He advised the Cardinal to send a personal 
representative to Brussels, preferably "a jurist, old, prudent, experi- 
enced, and conscientious." The man sent by Cisneros was Diego 
Lopez de Ayala, whose subsequent despatches paint a lively picture 
of the negotiations and intrigues that characterized the period be- 
tween Ferdinand's death in 1516 and Charles' arrival in Spain the 
following year. Ayala was well connected. He belonged to the old 
Castilian aristocracy. His cousin Pedro Lopez de Ayala was the third 
Conde de Fuensalida; another cousin held the post of ambassador at 
the English court. Little is known of Diego Ayala's life other than 
that he was a canon of Toledo and had translated a number of Italian 
authors (among them, Boccaccio) into Spanish. In 1508 he became 
Cisneros' Provisioner and Vicar general, that is, his chief administra- 
tor and right-hand man in Toledo, and looked after affairs in the 
Cardinal's absence. Unlike others at the court of Brussels, he made 
no effort to benefit personally from his new appointment. Indeed he 
wanted to set an example in what he saw as a mercenary court. His 
integrity was recognized by Cisneros, who praised him as a man of 
principles in a letter to Charles: "Be assured that he is a person of 
great nobility and comes from a long line of gentlemen, so that all 
his actions and words are straightforward" (Cart. Xim. 217). 

Both of Cisneros' correspondents at the court of Brussels reported 
in some detail on the personal characteristics of the heir to the 
throne. Manrique described Charles as a talented young man "with 
good inclinations and natural greatness". Unfortunately, he wrote, 
"he speaks not a word of Spanish, and if he understands anything, it 
is very little. . . . He is very much controlled [by others], and does 

The Second Regency 83 

and says nothing that is not suggested and told to him. He very 
much follows his council and is subject to it. We could wish that he 
would speak up and take charge in some form and would not leave 
his council to speak and act for him. After all he is almost 17 years 
old" (Cart. Sec, March 1516, pp. 254-5). In his letter Manrique also 
pointed out the principal powers at court: Jean Le Sauvage and 
Guillaume de Croy, Lord of Chievres. Le Sauvage had made a stellar 
political career. He was appointed councillor in 1490, became Chan- 
cellor of Brabant in 1509, and Grand Chancellor of Burgundy in 
1515. On Ferdinand's death he was appointed Chancellor of Castile 
in absentia. Guillaume de Croy, later Marquis of Aarschot, had been 
made Charles' chamberlain and mentor in 1509 and was the chief 
policy-maker after Charles had been declared of age in 1515. In his 
letter, Manrique noted that Chievres was "a native Frenchman on 
both his father's and mother's side, ... he is much beholden to the 
King of France and writes to him often, saluting him as 'Your 
humble servant and vassal' " (Cart. Sec. 258). Chievres was at the 
time involved in negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Noyon 
(1517) and was indeed the chief architect of the peace between France 
and Burgundy, securing the duchy's borders in preparation for Char- 
les' departure for Spain. Chievres' francophile policy was no doubt 
a matter of Realpolitik. Charles could not safely depart for Spain 
until the treaty with France was concluded. Manrique furthermore 
warned Cisneros that the Flemish court was controlled by money: 
"Greed rules among the people here, in all social classes, for however 
religious they are, greed is not considered a sin or an evil . . . every- 
thing is bought and sold" (Cart. Sec. 255-6). 

Charles' liaison with Cisneros was Adrian of Utrecht, the future 
Pope Adrian VI, Adrian, a theologian at the University of Louvain, 
had become Charles' tutor in 1507 and a member of his council in 
1512. In October 1515 he had been sent to Spain to secure Ferdi- 
nand's agreement to Charles' succession. Martire describes his deli- 
cate negotiations with Ferdinand in some detail. The King had a 
personal bias in favour of his younger grandson, Ferdinand, but 
Adrian drew an attractive picture of Prince Charles as entirely de- 
voted to his grandfather and obedient to his wishes. He prudently 
agreed to all conditions set by Ferdinand, knowing that they could 
be disregarded with impunity after his death. 

For Cisneros the continued presence of Adrian in Spain was 

84 The Second Regency 

awkward. It presented a certain challenge to his authority as regent. 
The Cardinal rested his authority on the legal argument that Isabel 
had made Ferdinand regent until Charles reached the age of twenty, 
and Ferdinand had appointed Cisneros his successor. "And above all, 
according to the laws of Spain and the customs of our forefathers, no 
foreigner — and Adrian was a Belgian — could be appointed" 
(Gomez, De rebus gestis, 379). He cooperated to a certain extent with 
Adrian, but according to one contemporary source the ambassador 
complained that he was de facto shut out from making decisions, 
"that he could do nothing, because the Cardinal was doing every- 
thing and did not let him share equitably in the task of governing" 
(Retana, Cisneros, 39). Ayala (Cart. Sec. 204-5) commented on the 
tug of war in January 1516. He advised Cisneros to keep control of 
the situation by lodging Adrian in his own palace and treating him 
with such marked honour that no one could allege that he was keep- 
ing him under surveillance. Indeed, letters from Charles to Cisneros 
indicate that Adrian was made Bishop of Tortosa and Inquisitor of 
Aragon on the Cardinal's request (Bergenroth, Letters and Papers, 
#23). It is significant, moreover, that Charles' letter ratifying Cis- 
neros' position as regent refers to Adrian merely as his "ambassador" 
(Diaz-Plaja, Historia de Espana, 97). 

Cisneros' authority as regent had been confirmed by Charles in a 
letter of 14 February 1516, in which he was given an exclusive man- 
date "to govern and administer justice in the Kingdom of Castile" in 
Charles' absence and asked to advise and counsel the heir to the 
throne, which counsel he promised to respect "as if I had received it 
from my father, for I see your good intentions and holy zeal in 
God's service and in ours, and for the universal good, justice and 
peace in our realms, and for all of Christendom" (Diaz-Plaja, Histo- 
ria de Espana, 97). But Cisneros felt that he needed a more specific 
document giving him power to constitute tribunals, appoint corregi- 
dores and members of the Royal Council, and establish fiscal control. 
Accordingly, he directed Ayala, his agent at the Flemish court, to 
obtain from Charles plenary powers that would enable him to main- 
tain peace and order: "Request from his Highness, now the King, to 
send me plenary power for the time until His Highness comes to 
these territories," he wrote on 3 April 1516 (Cart. Xim. 102). "And 
this power should cover all matters concerning the administration of 
justice and finance, and the authority, when necessary, to dismiss 

The Second Regency 85 

those holding office, whatever the office be, and replace them with 
others. Although this power will be used only when necessary and to 
keep up the pressure, it is important that this power be far-reaching 
and come by the first mail, for there are always arguments about 
authority." He was careful to avoid any semblance of personal ambi- 
tion: "God knows, I have hesitated a great deal and for a long time 
to request this power. I hate nothing so much as making requests 
that smack of ambition, but it is required in the service of God and 
of His Highness and in the interest of peace in these realms." 

The desired reply to Cisneros' request for plenipotentiary powers 
was given by Charles in a missive of 4 June 1516: "I send you the 
power to govern; it was not done earlier because it seemed that the 
previous provision was sufficient; considering your person, dignity, 
knowledge, spirit, prudence, and life, any power I give you is small. 
I entrust and recommend to your care the state and conscience of my 
lady the Queen and of myself, our honour, justice, peace, and the 
kingdom" (Retana, Cisneros, 104). 

Queen Juana and the Royal Title 

In spite of the censored version of Ferdinand's will and its impli- 
cation that Charles was not to come into his grandparents' heritage 
until a future date, the young prince almost immediately claimed for 
himself the title of "King", disregarding the protests of the Royal 
Council that this was inappropriate during his mother's lifetime. 
They despatched a letter to Charles, remonstrating with him: "In our 
opinion Your Highness should not take this step. It is not in accor- 
dance with divine or secular law. Your Highness is in peaceful pos- 
session of this kingdom; no one denies that it is yours to govern 
henceforth as you please and give orders high and low, so that there 
is no need to use the title of King during the lifetime of our lady, the 
Queen" (Retana, Cisneros, 92-3). This opinion is also reflected in a 
letter from Martire to Marliano, one of Charles' privy councillors: 
"He is of course the heir. Everyone admits that. But they say it is 
not customary to give the title of King to anyone while the holder of 
that title is still alive . . . You will say, but he governs on behalf of his 
mother, who is ill. This, too, the people grant, but they say he may 
do so with the legitimate title of Prince. To avoid unpopularity 
[Ferdinand] relinquished the title of King of Castile on the death of 
his wife, since it was not his by right. You would make the young 

86 The Second Regency 

man unpopular if you, who are entrusted with his education, would 
act in this manner. . . . [The Aragonese] say they will deny authoriza- 
tion, if it is requested from them" (Ep. 568). It appears, however, 
that Charles was fond of the royal title and was not discouraged by 
his advisors from usurping it. The Bishop of Badajoz reported to Cis- 
neros: "He smiles and is pleased when they call him King. It's the 
same with the title Emperor. He puts 'King of the Romans' in his 
letters and signs in this fashion, but everyone calls him and writes to 
him by the title 'Emperor' " (Cart. Sec. 264). In the end the Council 
under Cisneros acquiesced and issued the necessary proclamation. 
There was no adverse reaction from the people, as had been feared. 
Cisneros reported to Diego Lopez de Ayala, his deputee at the Flem- 
ish court, that the proclamation on 12 April 1516 was duly cele- 
brated in Toledo and Madrid and greeted with shouts (unprompted, 
Cisneros insisted) of "Castile, Castile! For the Queen and King Char- 
les, our lords" (Cart. Xim. 109). 

In the meantime, Queen Juana's condition had worsened. She 
refused to leave her room, insisted on sleeping on the floor rather 
than in her bed, rejected warm clothes to protect her against the 
cold, and let "her dinner rot, so that there was a repugnant smell 
about" (Gomez, De rebus gestis, 429). The only company she appre- 
ciated was that of her cats, who did not return her affection. Her face 
was reportedly disfigured with scratches. The Queen had been for 
some years in the care of the corregidor of Toledo, Mosen Luis 
Ferrer. Cisneros now recommended to Charles that he be removed 
from the post. Ferrer protested the dismissal. In his letter to Cisneros 
he confirmed that the Queen had been ill treated, but declined re- 
sponsibility. He had merely been following orders. His enemies had 
maligned him, saying that it was his fault "that the Queen our Lady 
was not restored to health, and that she had been a prisoner while 
the King her father lived ... I see from Your Lordship's orders, you 
believe their tales, and think that I am as they depict me. Your 
Lordship has amidst your great occupations forgotten to consider 
that so wise a King and one whom Your Lordship knew and loved 
so much, would not have shown me such confidence if I really were 
so evil . . . But if God created her such as she is, it is impossible to 
effect more than His Divine Majesty permits and vouchsafes, and the 
King her father could never do more until, to prevent her from de- 
stroying herself by refusing to eat if she did not get her will, he had 

The Second Regency 87 

to give orders that force be applied to preserve her life. Was that my 
fault? It was not in my hands nor in my power to avoid it" (Bergen- 
roth, Letters and Papers, Supplement vol. II, #23). Ferrer's protests 
were of no avail. By September 1516 he had been relieved of his 
responsibilities, as Cisneros' letter to the King indicates. "Concerning 
the guard for our Lady the Queen, your mother, the situation has 
been remedied and is now well in hand ... I have sent in [Ferrer's] 
place a gentleman by name of Hernan Duque d'Estrada, who has 
long been in charge of important affairs and since he is a prudent and 
experienced man, she is in good hands" (Cart. Xim. 144-5). Accord- 
ing to Gomez, the new governor of the Queen's household showed 
great sensitivity in his treatment of Juana and persuaded the dis- 
turbed woman to adopt healthier practices and "abandon the difficult 
and inhuman life" she had led so far {De rebus gestis, 429). Cisneros' 
secretary, Jorge Varacaldo, is more matter-of-fact in accounting for 
the changing of the guards: the Duke was "a good man and deserved 
a favour" (Cart. Sec. Ep, 20). 

The Cardinal's Militia 

An anecdote related by Gomez de Castro reflects the politically 
volatile situation encountered by Cisneros. Asked to show his letters 
of authorization, Cisneros paraded his armed guard and told his 
challengers "to communicate to their followers that he had received 
no other authorization from Charles than the one they had seen 
themselves" {De re bus gestis, 396-7). The story, although apocryphal, 
shows Cisneros' determination. Faced with the threat of revolt, he 
resorted to organizing a citizen militia. His initiative was immedi- 
ately denounced as being, not a security measure, but a covert move 
against the nobility and an effort to build up his personal rule. What- 
ever Cisneros' motives, his actions were of questionable legality since 
he had proceeded without awaiting Charles' approval of his plan. 
Royal assent was given eventually, however (letter of 30 April, 
quoted by Retana, Cisneros, II: 155). Recruits were attracted by spe- 
cial privileges and tax exemptions in return for voluntary service. A 
report by General Gil Rengifo sets out the incentives and penalties 
for members of the militia (Retana, Cisneros, 11:158-9): They were to 
be rewarded with pay in advance, tax advantages, exemption from 
local jurisdiction for the duration of the campaign, and the right to 
bear arms. When setting out for a campaign, they were to "go to 

88 The Second Regency 

confession and communion and swear the following oath: to serve 
Your Highness well and loyally; to guard the churches, which con- 
tain the Holy Sacrament, against robbery and dishonest acts ... to 
guard the honour of women ... to die with their comrades in arms 
and let no danger make turncoats of them. If they desert, their com- 
rades must kill them" (quoted by Retana, Cisneros, 11:158). Cisneros' 
biographer, Gomez de Castro, praised the moral advantages of offer- 
ing employment of this sort: "Young men, if they are not employed 
in honest ways, dissipate their life with pleasures, which are more 
dangerous than arms." Military training, by contrast, was a most use- 
ful occupation. "With organized militias such as these, powerful 
nations have been defeated" {De rebus gestis, 402). More concretely, 
"the formation of this militia meant trouble for the seditious element 
that was fond of upheaval. It did away with opportunities to instigate 
revolt and uprisings; and with the organization of the militia 
disappeared the licence they took during the absence of the King" 
(ibid., 403). 

Cisneros recruited men between the ages of twenty and forty and 
supplied them with arms. The bailiff {alguacit) of the town served as 
the captain of the troop, supervised their training on the first Sunday 
of every month, and was their paymaster. The reponse to Cisneros' 
recruiting efforts was overwhelming. By September 1516 he had a 
troop of more than 30,000 men; and he maintained the militia in the 
face of considerable resistance from the nobility, who regarded his 
action an infringement on their privileges, and of towns who found 
the militia troublesome and sometimes paid not to have them within 
their walls. They lodged complaints at Charles' court, but Cisneros 
defended his initiative (letter from Varacaldo to Ayala, 14 Oct. 1516): 
"The militia does not cost the King one maravedi. They are local 
people and of modest means. There are captains in each city to train 
them well in matters of ordinance and to drill them each week, and 
there are few ruffians and criminals among them . . . They will 
protect justice, make the King powerful, both inside the realm and 
outside, and in all the world" (Cart. Sec. 39-40; cf. also p. 76). The 
argument was repeated in another urgent letter to Ayala: "Tell the 
King that he ought to give [Cisneros] freedom to act and that he 
must not listen to talk. [Cisneros] knows more about the realm than 
the rest and has the best intentions. We are surprised that in his letter 
he gave instruction to disband the armed troop. We cannot under- 

The Second Regency 89 

stand how that can be, for if the troops now in Castile are disbanded, 
it won't be long before the whole kingdom is ablaze" (Cart. Sec. 53; 
cf. Cart. Xim. 169-70). Similar cautions appear also in letters written 
in September and October 1516. The Cardinal warned Charles to 
beware of the nobility, insisted that the recruits in the militia were 
honest men, and emphasized that they did not burden the King 
financially. Cisneros' arguments failed to win the day, however. An 
investigation by Charles' emissary, Charles de la Chaulx, sent to 
Spain in December, resulted in recruiting being suspended. The fol- 
lowing October Cisneros was still recommending his troop to the 
King. The mercenaries now stationed in Italy were expensive to 
maintain and "commit crimes and acts of robbery wherever they 
are." It would be better to deploy the militia of 25,000 honest men, 
"who are not practiced criminals and if they do anything illegal can 
be punished and cost nothing until the day they are called up to 
serve" (Cart. Xim. 257). 

In his chronicle of Charles' reign, Pero Mexia offers this evalua- 
tion of Cisneros' project: "The Cardinal-regent regarded it useful for 
the defense of the realm to have an armed corps of able and trained 
men. He ordered that each city, town, and settlement in Castile have 
a certain number of infantry and cavalry, ... to whom he conceded 
certain tax exemptions, privileges, and other honours. At first this 
was regarded by many as good instruction and government, but after- 
wards there were reports to the contrary and many disadvantages 
ensued. Tumult and discontent arose because some did not have the 
arms the authorities were obliged to provide, others walked around 
armed, left their work and assignments to do drills and exercises, and 
. . . committed crimes." For this reason cities such as Salamanca, 
Burgos, Leon, and Valladolid refused to comply with the order. 
"And so the new order never had any beneficial effect or was not 
reinforced, and afterwards, when the King's arrival was imminent, it 
was decided that this kind of militia served no purpose and it was 
disbanded" (Mexia, Cronica, 74). 

External Threats: Navarre, North Africa, Sicily 

Cisneros had to deal, not only with resistance from within, but 
also with external threats to peace. Navarre had been annexed to Cas- 
tile in 1515, but now Jean d'Albret, who had been dispossessed, saw 
his chance to recapture his position. The matter had been drawn to 

90 The Second Regency 

Cisneros' attention by Charles who, in confirming his regency, had 
instructed him to ensure peace in the kingdom of Navarre: "We 
commission you to make the necessary provisions and take measures, 
as you see fit and serves our best interest and ensures the pacification 
and security of the said kingdom" (Cart. Sec. 226). Cisneros, well 
aware of the dangerous situation in Navarre, attempted a negotiated 
settlement, as letters exchanged between the two parties show. Jean 
d'Albret, however, decided on the military option and invaded 
Navarre in March 1516, supported by a French troop. He found the 
border fortress, San Juan de Pie del Puerto, well defended. The small 
garrison there was, moreover, reinforced by a Spanish force under 
Fernando de Villalba. Martire gives a dramatic account of their 
forced march: "They crossed the Pyrenees by difficult paths, through 
deep ravines and along steep banks that were barely passable. They 
were up to their knees in snow and had practically nothing to eat. 
Nevertheless they overcame all obstacles and suffered all hardship. 
Without boots, treading on thorns and pointed rocks covered with 
snow, with their leggings and soldier's cloaks torn, they advanced 
toward the enemy in forced marches" (Cart. Xim. 101). D'Albret 
was forced to retreat and died a few months later. To secure the 
region Cisneros ordered a number of fortifications razed, reasoning 
that they might fall into enemy hands (Cart. Xim. 109). At the same 
time, D'Albret's sympathizers were removed from key positions in 
Navarre and deported. Cisneros nominated Antonio Manrique de 
Lara y Castro, the Duke of Najera, to the position of viceroy and 
saw his candidate confirmed by Charles. 

Cisneros then turned his attention to securing the southern coast 
of Spain and defending her influence in North Africa. Spanish pos- 
sessions were threatened by the pirate Chair-ed-Din (Barbarossa). His 
attack on Bougie was fought off with difficulty; the king of Tenes 
suffered death at his hands, and his heirs turned for support to Spain. 
On 25 April 1516 Cisneros sent news to Brussels that Algiers had 
been taken: "A Turkish pirate called Barbarossa appeared in Algiers 
and through plots and treason captured the place. This has caused 
great discord and dissension among the Moors themselves, which is 
bound to lead to their ruin" (Cart. Xim. 112). 

Spanish plans to recoup Algiers and deal a blow to Barbarossa had 
appeared successful at first. An encounter between Spanish and Turk- 
ish ships at Alicante ended in victory for the former. Ruiz reported 

The Second Regency 91 

jubilantly that "our men destroyed the whole armada of the enemy 
and killed four hundred and took prisoners, although only a few, for 
they defended themselves with determination, preferring to die rather 
than be taken prisoners . . . and we know that they were on their 
way to bring relief to Algiers" (Cart. Xim. 126). Cisneros had al- 
lotted funds to the maintainance and expansion of the fleet, an ex- 
penditure unpopular with the court of Brussels, and now hoped that 
this victory would justify his military policy in Charles' eyes. "His 
Highness will see what advantage came of repairing and equipping 
the galleys," he wrote (ibid.). 

Diego de Vera, whom Cisneros had put in charge of the opera- 
tion, appears to have been a poor choice, however. Pietro Martire 
reported on the situation to Marliani: "Barbarossa has used the same 
astute arguments that Mohammed once used against the Romans. He 
has convinced the people [of Bougie and Algiers] to abandon the 
Christian faith, saying it was unjust that the blessed and saintly fol- 
lowers of Mohammed should obey and be subject to Christians, the 
enemies of their religion. He promises, if they make him their King, 
to free them (in accordance with the Moslem law) of the yoke of the 
Christians and guarantee their safety. . . . On being informed of this, 
our Cardinal-regent assembled an army of some eight thousand sol- 
diers, who are now ready for the campaign. I shall make no predic- 
tions about the outcome of this venture. In my opinion, he has not 
chosen a general who is capable of leading this expedition. It is a cer- 
tain Diego de Vera, a captain of the artillery. May God bless his ven- 
ture. The man is more blustering and vainglorious than brave" (Ep. 
574, July 1516). Vera's personal qualities may have been a factor in 
the subsequent failure of the campaign, but there were other contri- 
buting factors. He had difficulties obtaining the necessary provisions 
and he set out with a poorly equipped and manned fleet. According 
to Mosen Quint, the alcalde of Peiion del Argel, the crew consisted 
of "monks and farmhands, who had never carried arms." The expe- 
dition went ahead on 29 September, with disastrous results. In the 
battle with Barbarossa some 3000 Spaniards were killed, but the im- 
pact of the unfortunate campaign was minimized in official corres- 
pondence. In October Cisneros' secretary, Jorge Varacaldo, wrote to 
Ayala, asking him to control rumours: "His Majesty must be advised 
. . . that Diego de Vera went to Algiers, as we informed His Majesty, 
and since the Turks there had had advance warning, they obtained 

92 The Second Regency 

assistance from their allies and relatives and neighbours, so that they 
could not have been better prepared. Diego de Vera was a little care- 
less in putting a few people ashore and suffered some reverses. Some 
were killed, but fewer than reported, and he was on the point of cor- 
recting the situation. It was a small matter and deserved no attention. 
Our information is unconfirmed, but even assuming that something 
[adverse] happened, it is nothing much, and those who bear us a 
grudge could magnify it at will" (Cart. Sec. 41-2). Cisneros himself 
wrote to Ayala that "the business of Algiers was much less signifi- 
cant than they would have you believe, for the number of prisoners 
and dead did not exceed one thousand, and the cause of the loss was 
the greed and disorganization of the infantry." The footsoldiers were 
"vagabonds and wretches, fugitives from justice and criminals, who 
wherever they go commit a thousand robberies in the villages 
through which they pass." He took the opportunity once again to 
recommend his militia, whose recruits were honest men and re- 
specters of the law (Cart. Xim. 186-7). 

Cisneros also revived plans of a crusade in the Eastern Mediter- 
ranean. In the summer of 1516 he sought a renewal of the papal 
privilege allowing the collection of a cruzada, a crusade tax. This sys- 
tem of selling indulgences to finance military action against infidels 
had developed into a regular crown revenue and was exacted with 
unwarranted severity. The Castilian cortes of 1512 described the ex- 
tortion practised by the preachers: "They keep men two or three 
days in the churches from morning to evening and oblige the people 
to listen to their sermons. Thus they prevent them from earning 
their daily bread; and when they find that they cannot induce them 
to accept the said [papal] Bull, they parade through the streets, asking 
everyone they meet if they know their Our Father and Hail Mary; 
and if by chance they find anyone who does not, they force him to 
accept the said Bull as a penance; and if any one fails to do so, they 
drag him along in shackles, making him listen to their preachings, 
and thus force him at last by compulsion and intimidation to do 
their will" (quoted by Merriman, Spanish Empire, II: 132-3). 

Cisneros was keen on having the papal privilege renewed in order 
to finance the planned campaign in the Mediterranean. He noted in 
October 1516 that France had obtained preferential treatment (he 
was referring to the Concordat of Bologna), whereas he was still 
waiting for permission to collect the crusade tax (Cart. Xim. 165). In 

The Second Regency 93 

December he returned to this subject: "The King of France has been 
given the right to make church appointments and to levy crusade tax 
even though he has never fought a war against the infidels as did 
Spain, and has never shed blood for the faith" (Cart. Xim. 185). It 
was only in response to his protests that Pope Leo X promised, in a 
brief of December 1516, to renew the privilege of the Spanish 
Crown. Negotiations with the pope continued during spring of 1517. 
The minutes of a memorandum written by Cisneros in March 1517 
read: "In view of the great damage that has been and is being done 
by the Turks and other infidels in the maritime areas of Spain and in 
other realms, to the detriment of Your Highness [Charles] and Chris- 
tendom, and desiring a remedy, it is my opinion that they cannot be 
remedied in any other way but by requesting the crusade tax from 
the Holy Father . . . and since His Holiness saw that this was neces- 
sary he wrote to me a brief in which he effectively conceded the said 
crusade tax" (Cart. Xim. 264-5). But he could not proceed without 
a bull officially granting him the privilege of levying the tax. This 
was not the only factor causing a delay. It was also necessary to wait 
for Charles' arrival in Spain, for only then could matters be expe- 
dited. At present, he said in a candid letter to his secretary Varacaldo, 
the motivation was lacking. "Even if the [bull granting the] crusade 
tax arrives — if His Highness does not come to his realm, what has 
been done will be of little benefit, for those who must serve in such 
expeditions, want to put their king and lord under obligation and be 
rewarded for their labour with prizes and titles" (Cart. Xim. 270). 

During Cisneros' regency troubles also erupted in Sicily, where 
the people rose in revolt against the unpopular viceroy, Hugo de 
Moncada. Pero Mexia describes the circumstances: "When the 
people of the city of Palermo heard that the Catholic King had died, 
they claimed that the power of the viceroy had lapsed with his death. 
They refused obedience and discussed the appointment of governors. 
Certain counts and barons hostile toward Moncada because he had 
brought them to justice were reportedly the moving force behind the 
rebellion" (Mexia, Cronica, 69). They incited the people to storm 
the Palace of the Inquisition and attack the viceroy's seaside mansion. 
According to Pietro Martire, the rebel's fury was directed at Mon- 
cada personally. In the end, Moncada accepted the inevitable and 
departed for Naples. Cisneros first reported on the situation in Sicily 
in a letter of 25 April 1516 (Cart. Xim. 112). In August and in De- 

94 The Second Regency 

cember he advised once again that "Naples and Sicily are in great 
danger" (Cart. Xim. 127, 186). In Naples the viceroy Ramon de 
Cardona was able to maintain control; the Sicilian uprising was 
contained with difficulty. In 1518 Charles replaced Moncada with 
Hector Pignatelli, Count of Monteleone. Thereafter an uneasy peace 


The Final Months 

iVluch of the information on the diplomatic whirl preceding Char- 
les' arrival comes from letters exchanged between Cisneros' represen- 
tative in Brussels, Diego Lopez de Ayala, and the two men who 
looked after Cisneros' correspondence: the jurist Jorge Varacaldo and 
Francisco Ruiz, Bishop of Avila. Ruiz, a native of Toledo, had en- 
tered Cisneros' service when he was a young man of eighteen, as has 
been mentioned. He became his confidant and was a loyal follower, 
but lacked sophistication and displayed little talent for diplomacy. 
The letters he sent to Ayala during the frequent illnesses of the Car- 
dinal are written in a crude style and contain many colloquialisms. 
He was, moreover, unrealistic in his estimate of Cisneros' power and 
correspondingly insensitive to the power play at the Burgundian court. 
The jurist Jorge Varacaldo, by contrast, was entirely realistic. He 
had been in Cisneros' service since 1509, and in January 1516 was 
despatched to Brussels for two months as the Cardinal's personal 
emissary (Cart. Xim. 196). While not disloyal to the Cardinal, he 
kept a sharp lookout for his own interests. The Cardinal had ap- 
pointed him Secretary of the Military Orders, but the appointment 
needed royal assent, and he frequently importuned Ayala to obtain 
ratification of the document. He finally achieved his object, but his 
pleasure was short-lived. The King reversed his position, as a letter 
from Cisneros to Ayala indicates. "You knew how to obtain for 
Secretary Varacaldo the secretaryship of the Orders of Santiago, Cala- 
trava, and Alcantara in the name of His Highness," he wrote. "... I 
have now been told that His Highness had not been well informed 
about this matter and wishes to appoint another person to this office. 
Since the change is not in his interest and no one but the said secre- 
tary should have the post, you must speak about it to His Highness" 
(Cart. Xim. 120). Nothing could be done, however, and Varacaldo 
had to relinquish the post. 

96 The Final Months 

Letters exchanged between Cisneros and representatives at the 
court in Brussels show that the question of his own authority re- 
mained on the agenda. Cisneros felt that he must have more discre- 
tion over patronage appointments, for "to have the authority to take 
away but not to give is the devil of a job and makes him enemies 
everywhere," Varacaldo wrote candidly (Cart. Sec. 44) in October 
1516. He returned to this subject in another letter to Ayala, asking 
him to make clear to Charles that Cisneros had "to govern and satis- 
fy many people, so that it is imperative that he give them something 
and to bestow favours on them or else he cannot but encounter 
difficulties" (Cart. Sec. 56). 

The appointment of foreigners or expatriates to prestigious posi- 
tions created much resentment. The general opinion was that Spanish 
wealth was being funnelled into foreign coffers, as decisions were 
being made by an absentee court. Many complained of Charles' ad- 
visors at the Burgundian court, Martire wrote. "It is unjust that the 
affairs of Spain should be subject to the dictates of the Flemish in the 
North. Their mentality and upbringing is very different from the 
Spanish custom" (Ep. 580). Widespread corruption was alleged. Cis- 
neros' secretary requested Ayala to discuss the matter of patronage 
appointments for courtiers in Brussels: "Let those gentlemen protect 
their honour. The custom in Spain is different from the custom in 
Flanders. Here we do not allow that anyone does things other than 
in a clean-cut fashion and as they ought to be done" (Cart. Sec. 18). 
Alonso Manrique, another of Cisneros' correspondents, confirmed 
that the Burgundian court was rife with corruption. He used the 
occasion to assure the Cardinal of his own integrity. He had delibe- 
rately refrained from asking any favour for himself, to demonstrate 
that not all Spaniards were self-seeking (Cart. Sec. 269). 

Conversely, Cisneros was accused at the court in Brussels of 
acting from motives of personal ambition and without regard for 
Charles' interests. Adrian of Utrecht appears to have been one of the 
accusers. The Cardinal asked Ayala to counter his allegations and 
convince Charles that he was the King's greatest asset in Spain (Cart. 
Sec. 19). Ruiz wrote in a similar vein, defending his patron in a letter 
to Charles, but it appears that Ayala, whom he used as go-between, 
did not think it advisable to convey Ruiz' outspoken letter to the 
King. Reacting to allegations that Cisneros had been critical of the 
Burgundian court and was not acting in good faith, Ruiz wrote: 

The Final Months 97 

If Your Highness knew the work that is being done in your 
interest, you would have given instruction to write us a friend- 
lier letter than this one, to give strength and courage to your 
servants to undertake such great burdens, especially to myself, 
because with all the illness that afflicted the Cardinal, the great- 
er part of the labour rested on my shoulders, and the labour is 
so great that since the death of the Catholic King of blessed 
memory, the Cardinal and I have each been sick twice and we 
expect to die in this labour, unless Your Highness rescues us 
with his hoped-for arrival ... let it be known to Your Highness 
who are your true servants . . . [Far from acting in bad faith], we 
have, because of our loyalty and services to Your Highness, 
made enemies of the people in many ways, both here and there 
[in Burgundy], because we do not wish to do anything for them 
that is a disservice to God and Your Highness . . . [Cisneros' 
enemies] frequently visited the ambassador [Adrian]. We have 
no suspicions of him — he is a person of integrity and of angelic 
character — but under the pretext that it is for the good and in 
the service of Your Highness, these people make him [Adrian] 
write some of those things, for the purpose I have indicated, 
and they blame it all on me, because, as I have said, they don't 
dare to blame the Cardinal. (Cart. Sec. 23-4) 

In August 1516, when the Cardinal was still entertaining hopes 
that Charles would arrive in Spain later that year, he begged the King 
to delay making further appointments until that date. "For at that 
time Your Highness will be able to obtain information of what needs 
to be done and who is best suited for the said offices. It would be in 
your interest not to make provisions about anything and to make no 
promises of any kind until you are here in your kingdoms. You will 
be able to make much better decisions concerning everything after 
some consultation and deliberation. And as soon as a decision has 
been made regarding your journey, it is imperative that you take care 
to advise me of it, for I intend to go to Burgos to join Your Highness 
on your disembarkation" (Cart. Xim. 130). 

Charles' journey was delayed for another year, however, while 
negotiations with France continued in an effort to secure the borders 
of the Netherlands during his absence. The treaty of Noyon, which 
provided the guarantees needed for Charles' departure, was con- 
cluded too late in the year to allow him to set out. His departure 

98 The Final Months 

accordingly had to be delayed until the next spring. In the meantime, 
two new representatives arrived from the Burgundian court: Amers- 
torff and La Chaulx. The latter may have come in the capacity of a 
judge (cf. Cart. Xim. 183). Pero Mexia speaks of his mission in vague 
terms. He was to "explain the reasons for the delay in Charles' de- 
parture and other important matters" (Mexia, Cronica, 78). Cisneros 
was naturally protective of his powers, which he did not wish to see 
curtailed by the King's delegates. A diplomatic war ensued about 
points of etiquette. Cisneros refused to pay La Chaulx the courtesy 
of riding out to meet him on his arrival; on seeing his signature on 
official documents, he had them torn up and rewritten over his own 
signature. On Cisneros' instructions, his secretary, Varacaldo, pro- 
tested inroads on the Cardinal's authority: "According to the instruc- 
tions sent to the ambassador [Adrian]," he noted defensively, "all 
matters pertaining to jurisdiction have been left in the Cardinal's 
hands. The matter of appointing judges [La Chaulx.^] is an important 
one. I cannot understand that they would not realize the inappropri- 
ateness of this new development" (7 Dec. 1516, Ep. 16, Cart. Sec. 91). 
According to Gomez, the Cardinal himself wrote to Charles out- 
lining his position: "Only he, and no Belgian, nor indeed the King 
himself until he reached majority, had the right to appoint judges in 
the royal tribunals, . . . city prefects, treasury officials [etc]; . . . and it 
was he whose business it was to look after the garrisons and their 
prefects . . . and the ministers in the Privy Council" {De rebus gestis, 
470). Not surprisingly, the Burgundians judged that Cisneros "had 
written with great clarity but not enough prudence and astuteness" 
(471). A follow-up letter written in the name of Cisneros and the 
Royal Council was more respectful but once again requested in so 
many words that important offices not be entrusted to foreigners. 
The request was couched in diplomatic terms: "In former days no 
one was entrusted with more elevated tasks unless he had previously 
passed through lower offices and given proof of his valour and integ- 
rity" (475). Burgundians continued to enjoy the King's favour, how- 
ever, and receive important posts, to the frustration of the Spanish 
nobles, who accused the foreigners of despoiling their country. 

In 1517 Cisneros saw his competitor for the governmental auth- 
ority, Adrian of Utrecht, elevated to the cardinalate. He had been 
aware of the plan for some time, but did not know the details. In 
October 1516, he asked Ayala to investigate a rumour concerning 

The Final Months 99 

negotiations with the Pope that "someone be made cardinal this 
Christmas on Charles' request. But we do not know for whom he re- 
quests the honour." He instructed Ayala to pursue the matter and 
see "that it be delayed and that nothing more be said of it until the 
King comes to this realm" (Cart. Sec. 43-4). Adrian was one of 
thirty-one cardinals created by Leo X in June 1517, an act that gener- 
ated much ill will. Reform-minded Christians everywhere deplored 
the appointments as simoniacal and cheapening the dignity of the 
office. Martire's reaction was typical. He took a dim view of the 
events: "The Pope has . . . created thirty-one cardinals in one month, 
going against the opinion of the incumbent cardinals. Everyone is 
biting their lips in anger. The general opinion is that it was done to 
collect money. The status of the cardinals has been lowered" (Ep. 
596). Cisneros shared Martire's feelings about the wholesale appoint- 
ments, but his specific objection was, no doubt, to yet another pa- 
tronage appointment for a non-Spaniard. 

In the meantime preparations for Charles' departure for Spain 
began in earnest. On 7 September the royal party embarked on the 
journey. While Cisneros was making preparations to meet Charles, 
he fell ill. There were rumours that he had been poisoned. Gomez 
reports that the Cardinal received a warning not to eat trout pre- 
pared for him because it contained a powerful poison. Cisneros, how- 
ever, ignored the warning. The person who served and pretasted the 
trout was reported to have taken ill as well. Martire offers a less sen- 
sational explanation for Cisneros' illness: old age and the raw climate 
of northern Spain. "He was born and raised in the protected south- 
ern part of the mountains of Segovia. The northern air harms him 
quite a bit. The physicians predict that his days are numbered. He is 
more than eighty years old" (Ep. 598). Cisneros recovered, however, 
and set out to meet the king. 

On 19 September 1517 the royal fleet reached the coast of Spain. 
Charles and his retinue made an unplanned landing at Villaviciosa 
between Gijon and Santander. Martire tells us that they were caught 
in a violent storm and driven off course. Charles and his sister Elea- 
nor reportedly weathered the situation, but the rest suffered from 
seasickness. There were anxious moments, moreover, when the royal 
party was given what appeared to be a hostile reception: 

When the people [of Villaviciosa] saw an unknown fleet 
approach, they assumed that it was a French maneuver. They 

100 The Final Months 

hurriedly took up arms and evacuated the women, children, and 
old people to the safety of the mountains. Everyone capable of 
bearing arms . . . occupied the hills looking out on the sea and 
they took their stand determined to offer resistance. A fair 
spectacle! From the royal ship a cry arose: Spain! Spain! Our 
Catholic King, our King! When they heard the cry, they 
dropped [their weapons] . . . Unarmed, they thronged the beach. 
They saluted the King with all due respect and fetched back 
their families and household goods from the mountains. With 
apparent signs of joy they received the King into their midst. 
(Ep. 599) 

Charles and his retinue now proceeded inland toward Valladolid. 
The Cardinal's health was still precarious, but he advanced to meet 
the King. As soon as he was informed of the King's arrival, 
moreover, he took measures to dispatch Prince Ferdinand to the 

Cisneros and the Infante Ferdinand 

In the wake of King Ferdinand's death there had been concern 
that rebellious nobles would seize on Charles' younger brother, Fer- 
dinand, as their pretender. At the time Cisneros preempted any such 
action by having the Infante brought to Castile and keeping him 
under close supervision. In a letter to Ayala the Cardinal describes 
the situation (Cart. Xim. 62, p. 104): "After the death of the Catholic 
King I went to Guadalupe with the sole purpose of looking after the 
affairs of Prince Ferdinand and to avoid revolts and upheavals in the 
realm such as occurred at other times in like situations. And after- 
wards I did not risk being apart from him for one single day." His 
purpose was to minimize the risk of plotting. He feared that the 
fourteen-year-old prince, disappointed by the provisions of his grand- 
father's will, would be open to suggestions of asserting his claims to 
Aragon. He therefore advised Charles to "appoint two persons to 
take charge of the Infante — trusted men, for those in charge now are 
not at all suitable" (Cart. Xim. 104). He was referring to Ferdinand's 
guardian, the Commendador Mayor Pedro Niifies de Guzman, and 
his tutor, the Dominican Alvaro Osorio, bishop of Astorga. By April 
1517 Cisneros was convinced that there was a conspiracy among 
Aragonese nobles favouring the succession of Prince Ferdinand. In 
September Ayala was requested to inform Charles that a "diabolical" 

The Final Months 101 

plot had been discovered, whose instigator was the Bishop of Astorga 
(Cart. Sec. 151). Cisneros himself wrote to ask again that the Prince's 
retinue be dismissed and his guardians be replaced with "two men 
who are not from Spain" (Cart. Xim. 154, Sept. 1516). It was advisa- 
ble to remove the Prince from the country, he said, but not until 
Charles himself had arrived. The following month he again asked for 
directions in this matter. At the same time the Bishop of Astorga 
departed for Brussels, "supposedly to take care of matters concerning 
the Infante entrusted to him by the Catholic King," as Varacaldo 
reported. He requested Ayala to watch the Bishop closely: "He is the 
most devious and unmanageable creature ever born, a master of evil 
arts and evil tongue and, so help me God, I fear if he obtains access 
to our liege, the King, he will poison him" (Cart. Sec. 60). In Octo- 
ber Varacaldo wrote another letter to Ayala, requesting him to re- 
mind the King of the urgency of the situation. "As far as the business 
of the Infante is concerned," he wrote in code, "His Majesty must 
act, for it is more necessary than ever. Make sure that there is no 
delay about this, but the King must make every effort to come [to 
Spain]" (Cart. Sec. 41). He offered to give the King proof of the con- 
spiracy on his arrival. 

Shortly thereafter Cisneros took action, dismissing and replacing 
Ferdinand's retainers. The move came as a surprise to many. Ob- 
viously the plans had been well concealed. The young prince, who 
had formed strong attachments to some members of his retinue, was 
shaken. He remonstrated with Cisneros, but the cardinal persisted in 
his plans, which he said originated with Charles. An awkward inter- 
view took place: 

Ferdinand, almost crying, complained to Cisneros that he, whom 
he thought to be his friend, was treating him badly by depriving 
him, for no reason, of his attendants, who had been with him 
for a long time and were good and loyal men. . . . Cisneros tried 
to calm the anxious prince with friendly words and promises of 
great things and a high position at the court of his brother, if he 
showed himself obedient . . . Cisneros' words had no effect and 
did not convince the prince, and he replied: "So far I have 
experienced your love toward me, but now that I need it most 
I don't know where it has flown to. You have decided to ruin 
me and my friends, although you could help us. I have to find 
means to ensure that they come to no harm." At this Cisneros 

102 The Final Months 

was vexed and said somewhat more harshly: "Do as you please, 
Ferdinand, but I swear to you on your brother's head that, even 
if all of Spain worked against it, the orders of the King must be 
executed before tomorrow evening, and you more than anyone 
else must obey him." 

This is the account given by Gomez. Martire, too, related the events 
in a letter dated 15 September 1517, concluding: "The whole Court 
was astounded by this sudden change. The cause is still unknown" 
(Ep. 600). 

Although Gomez' dramatic version details a personal encounter 
between Ferdinand and the Cardinal, it was in fact Francisco Ruiz 
who took charge of the matter on behalf of his ailing master. Taking 
pride in his personal involvement he asked Ayala to report to the 
King: "I have fulfilled the royal command to dismiss the Commenda- 
dor Mayor and the Bishop of Astorga and Gonzalo de Guzman 
from the company of the Infante. The Cardinal was, as I said, indis- 
posed, but I acted with such great diligence that the matter was trans- 
acted within a day. The whole world was astonished at such daring. 
Since His Highness at present has no other heir or successor but 
[Ferdinand], no one dared to do what we did, and to displease him in 
this manner; especially since people, for the most part, thought that 
His Highness would not come [to Spain]." Even after it was known 
that the royal party had embarked, there was speculation that they 
might perish at sea and fate might play into the hands of Ferdinand. 
He indicated, moreover, that he faced opposition from Adrian of 
Utrecht. "The Dean of Tortosa [Adrian] gave us so much trouble 
. . . for he and they were very close, so that not much was missing 
and the whole realm would have risen in rebellion, and the fact is 
that all correspondence came to him [Adrian] and, without saying 
anything to the Cardinal, he opened it, and then advised the Infante 
of everything . . . We entrusted the Infante to the Marques de Aguilar 
. . . and may it please His Highness not to make any changes . . . and 
tell Your Highness that in [the Cardinal's] opinion he should under 
no circumstances admit the Infante to his presence, for if they are 
together, it could happen that they destroy each other, for as soon as 
he has access to him, he will beg him to do what would give the 
whole realm much satisfaction, that is, not to send him away, poor 
and hopeless as he was. But in that respect he suffers no hardship, 
since our liege has given him a rich inheritance and will give him 

The Final Months 103 

more" (Cart. Sec. 137-9). On 20 October Ruiz reported to Ayala 
that the Prince had resigned himself to the facts and made the best of 
the situation. "To show that he was complying with the wishes of 
our liege the King in all things, he dismissed twenty-seven persons 
who had been put at his service by the men who used to take care of 
him. His Highness ought to write him a gracious letter to thank him 
for everything" (Cart. Sec. 172). 

The question has been raised whether Cisneros dismissed Ferdi- 
nand's retinue on his own authority or on orders from Charles. 
Much of the evidence points to the conclusion that he was acting on 
instruction. Ruiz at any rate refers (in the letter just quoted) to a 
"royal injunction" {rreal mandamiento) . Instructions to this effect are 
not extant but are cited by Cisneros' biographer Gomez and by Pero 
Mexia in his Cronica ("ansi lo embio a mandar el Rey," p. 82). 
Finally there is a letter from Charles praising Cisneros' course of 
action: "As you know, I have written to the Most Illustrious Prince 
Ferdinand, my dear and much beloved brother, that I consider your 
actions well done" (quoted by Retana, Cisneros, II: 388). No doubt 
Ferdinand was a political liability and was dispatched to the Nether- 
lands on Charles' arrival in Spain "for the greater peace of Castile," 
as Mexia explained {Cronica, 82). 

Charles' Inland Journey 

Charles' first concern was to proceed to Tordesillas and meet his 
mother, whom he had not seen for eleven years. Ruiz suggested that 
her state of mind was such that "Charles could well be pardoned for 
not paying her this courtesy visit" (153). The visit was not merely a 
matter of courtesy, however. Protocol, and indeed reasons of state, 
demanded that Charles meet with his mother to procure for himself 
the authorization to assume royal power. The meeting went well, as 
Pietro Martire reported: "The Queen put on clean clothes, which she 
rarely does, because she thinks that widowhood must manifest itself 
in a dirty appearance. And on her own initiative she gave them 
[Charles and his sister Eleanor] presents. But she has not the least 
concern for her realm. It's all the same to her whether Spain is 
ruined or prospers" (Ep. 602). 

The next step was to meet with Cisneros and to hold cortes to 
formally receive their oath of fealty. Valladolid was the most suitable 
meeting place, as Cisneros informed the King. It offered a healthy 

104 The Final Months 

location and had the necessary facilities to provide food and lodging 
for so large a gathering (Cart. Xim. 222). The Cardinal himself had 
advanced as far as Aranda, but poor health impeded further progress. 
Because of rumours of an outbreak of the plague he took refuge in 
the nearby Monastery of Aguilera. There was fear also for the health 
of the royal party and talk of moving the cortes to Segovia or even 
Toledo. In the meantime the members of the Regency Council had 
been chafing at the bit. Cisneros complained in a letter of 28 Septem- 
ber that they had defied orders: "Your Highness wrote that the 
Infante and the ambassador and the council and the whole court 
should remain where they are and not move until Your Highness has 
sent instructions on where we were to meet His Majesty. . . . The 
members of the council ignored this and left Aranda and advanced to 
a place some five leagues from here and have ruined the business of 
the suppliers of this court. It is unbelievable that the members of the 
council would dare shamelessly to disobey the command of Your 
Highness" (Cart. Xim. 225). Apparently the king supported Cisneros 
and rebuked the council for its insubordination. They returned to 
Aranda and sent a letter of apology to the Cardinal (Cart. Sec. 150). 
In October Cisneros was still holding on to his authority as re- 
gent. Ruiz informed an unidentified addressee that Charles "did not 
intend to make any decisions until he had met [with Cisneros] ... it 
was not at all in the interest of [the King] to act until he had seen the 
Cardinal, for he will inform him of everything and give him an 
account of all persons and tell him everything that concerns the 
interests of his realm" (Cart. Xim. 256). By the end of the month the 
Cardinal's health had taken a turn for the worse, however, A mes- 
sage arrived from the King at the beginning of November, citing the 
Cardinal to a meeting in Mojados, some 75 kilometers from Aranda. 
This was to be Cisneros' final act as regent: "Once public concerns 
and specific problems had been discussed and [Cisneros'] suggestions 
for the organization of the service at court had been received, he 
could retire to his house and rest. He may then trust that he would 
receive from God the reward for the labours he had undertaken on 
behalf of the realm, since no mortal could give him the thanks he 
deserved. As long as he lived, the King would remember him and 
have for him the same esteem and consideration as an obedient son 
toward his good parents." Gomez noted that two versions con- 
cerning the King's message were circulating in his time. According to 

The Final Months 105 

one, Cisneros read the letter, "felt rejected and repulsed, and had a 
fatal attack of fever." According to the other, Cisneros was already 
gravely ill the evening before the message arrived, and the letter "was 
not given to the Cardinal but sent on to the Royal Council" {De 
rebus gestis, 523). The first variant, that a tersely worded letter citing 
him to Mojados hastened Cisneros' death, is no doubt romantic 
embroidery. We have Ruiz' letter to Ayala confirming that the in- 
structions to go to Mojados never reached Cisneros. "The Cardinal 
of Tortosa [Adrian] today sent to the Cardinal the letters that came 
for the Council concerning the matter of the departure. And in my 
opinion it was not advisable to give them to him, for it could be that 
in view of the unfortunate condition of the Cardinal His Highness 
[King Charles] might change his proposal concerning the journey to 
Mojados." In a postscript he noted that the Cardinal's health was fail- 
ing rapidly and had entered a critical phase. The following day, 8 
November, Cisneros died, comforted by the sacraments. 

According to custom, his body was dressed in clerical robes and 
laid out, so that the people might file past and kiss his hand. As 
usual, an indulgence was granted on the occasion. His body was then 
embalmed and transported to Alcala, where he was buried. A monu- 
ment of white marble was erected in his honour, bearing an inscrip- 
tion composed by the humanist Juan Vergara: 

I, Franciscus, founded a great school for the Muses; I myself am 
laid to rest in a narrow coffin. I combined the purple with sack- 
cloth, the bishop's hat with the helmet. I was a monk and a 
general, a bishop and a cardinal. My valour united the monk's 
hood with the crown, when Spain obeyed me as its regent. 
(Gomez, De rebus gestis, 527) 

Gomez concludes his account of Cisneros' life with a eulogy of 
his character and habits: 

He expressed his views with brevity, his replies were pertinent 
and without digressions; indeed he was very sparing with words, 
even when he was angry. When he promised to return a favour 
received, he gave more than he had promised. He rarely spoke 
about matters that were insignificant. He frequently quoted 
the saying of Cicero: "Nature has created us, not that we give 
ourselves over to diversions and pastimes, but that we might 

106 The Final Months 

engage in serious matters and worthy enterprises." {De rebus 
gestis, 530) 

According to Gomez, the Cardinal was subject to bouts of depres- 
sion, and on those occasions sought soHtude. Otherwise, he had a 
strong will and much determination, quoting Sallust's "If you have 
made a decision, carry it out at once." He was devoted to scholarship 
and "during dinner was in the habit of having questions put to him 
on certain subjects, especially sacred subjects, and listen to the dispu- 
tations of learned men who were always present at his table. He 
often attended the dialectical disputations of young students, for as 
he said, the good farmer makes use of short sprouts as much as of 
branches laden with fruit" {De rebus gestis, 531). Although generally 
an austere man, he took great pleasure in a jester, Francesillo by name, 
whose wit he appreciated. As was the custom of the time, he kept for 
his amusement a dwarf, Sanchez Pumilion, and a simpleton who 
entertained him with confused recitations of passages from the Bible. 
Gomez provides this detailed description of the Cardinal's ap- 

He was tall, vigorous, and well proportioned. He walked with 
a quiet, natural dignity. His voice was strong and even like that 
of the heroes celebrated by the poet. His face was long and lean, 
his forehead wide and smooth. His eyes small, sunk rather than 
protruding, but penetrating and lively and moist like those of 
people who cry often. His nose was large and curved — like the 
beak of an eagle, as the Greeks say. The holes of his nose were 
big and wide. His teeth narrowly spaced, but with the canine 
teeth protruding so that jokers called him "The Elephant". His 
lips were quite thick and somewhat open, his upper lip being 
raised a little, but not excessively. His ears were small, not 
drooping, but attached along the whole line to the end of the 
jaw. His upper body was a third larger than his lower body. {De 
rebus gestis, 529-30) 

The archbishopric of Toledo, vacated by Cisneros' death, was 
conferred on Chievres' nephew. The appointment caused much 
resentment. The recipient was a teenager and — perhaps an even 
greater affront to Spanish sensibilities — a foreigner. "There was 
some muttering in the country," Mexia reports, "when they said 
that so great a dignity was conferred on a foreigner . . . but in these 

The Final Months 107 

as in other matters the fault was not the King's but of those who, 
instead of giving him advice concerning the appointment, requested 
it for themselves" {Cronica, 83-4). Martire similarly noted that the 
appointment was "against the laws and customs of the kingdom" and 
expressed the fear, moreover, that it "opened the door through 
which untold quantities of money could leave the country" (Ep. 602, 
pp. 286-7). 


The Image of the Cardinal 

vJomez de Castro gives this account of the Cardinal's reputation in 
his time: 

Many people thought that Cisneros had a mania for building; 
others that he had more of a mania for warfare than was proper 
for a bishop. Many thought that he was a champion of letters 
and patron of scholars on a grand scale . . . The diversity of 
verdicts stemmed from no other cause but from the fact that 
once he entered on a task, he devoted all his energies to it, so 
that it seemed as if he was born for it and a natural disposition 
had driven him to this undertaking. {De rebus gestis, 365) 

Gomez put his finger on a trait that was a predominant and striking 
aspect of the Cardinal's character. He was compulsive in all his ac- 
tions. Once he had decided on a course of action, he was fanatical in 
its pursuit. Fanaticism governed his reforms and his missionary ac- 
tivities; singlemindedness characterized his political actions; uncom- 
promising self-discipline his private life. An inability to delegate may 
have been his weak point. For the sake of keeping charge of affairs, 
he surrounded himself with mediocre men, whom he could control, 
who were his devoted servants but never rose to be his disciples or 
carry on his life's work. 

In the seventeenth century the image of the Cardinal became 
polarized. Some saw in him a saint; others a shrewd politician. Two 
groups of sources are of particular interest in this context: tracts from 
the 1650s and '60s supporting the canonization of Cisneros; and a 
clutch of biographies comparing him with Cardinal Richelieu. 

Among the first is Pedro de Quintanilla y Mendoza's /I rc^et^^o de 
Virtudes, Espexo de Prelados: El Venerable Padre y Siervo de Dios F. 
Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros (Archetype of Virtues and Mirror of 
Prelates: The Venerable Father and Servant of God, Fray Francisco 

The Image of the Cardinal 109 

Ximenes de Cisneros; Palermo, 1653). This eulogy is prefaced by a 
letter to Pope Innocent X, dated at the College of San Ildefonso, 
1650, and asking for the beatification of the founder, A first applica- 
tion had been prepared in 1633 but went no further. Another at- 
tempt in 1650 received the support of the University of Alcala, but 
the efforts of Cisneros' admirers remained without issue and were 
abandoned in the eighteenth century. The evidence collected did not 
fulfil its designated purpose but it assured Cisneros a saintly reputa- 
tion. Quintanilla had read widely on his subject in prepration for the 
task at hand. He drew on archival material in the University of 
Alcala and on the accounts of the royal historians as well as on 
Gomez de Castro's Life. It is evident that he approached his sources 
with certain historiographical and research skills. Indeed he made 
some factual corrections to the material, but he cannot be called an 
objective observer. His purpose and his official commission was to 
portray Cisneros as a saint. As can be expected, he minimized nega- 
tive aspects, focused on Cisneros' religious reforms and missionary 
activities, and capitalized on his "miracles". According to Quintanilla 
(and earlier biographers) Cisneros fed his companions with bread 
from heaven in the wilderness and produced a sparkling stream of 
water to quench their thirst; on another journey he and his compan- 
ions miraculously survived a shipwreck; a cross appeared in the sky 
when he conquered Oran; he "had the wind in his sleeves" when 
crossing between Spain and North Africa; heavenly crows pecked out 
the eyes of his Moorish enemies; he extinguished a blaze by praying; 
he levitated and prayed with such fervor that a "supernatural sweat" 
appeared on his brow. 

An undated Responsio ad animadversiones Reverendissimi D. Pro- 
mothoris Fidei super dubio an constet de virtutibus theologalibus . . . 
(Response to the queries of the Most Reverend Promoter of Faith 
about doubts regarding [Cisneros'] theological virtues . . .) provides 
information supplementary to the application for beatification and 
canonization. It answers questions raised by the authorities concern- 
ing the number and character of witnesses cited and addresses con- 
cerns about the hearsay nature and dubious historical value of some 
of the testimony given. Bound with this volume are Decreta sacra 
rituum congregationis infavorem causae beatificationis et canonizationis 
. . . Francisci Ximenez de Cisneros .. . a sanctissimis pontificibus . . . 
concessa (Sacred Decrees of the Congregation of Rites in favour of the 

110 The Image of the Cardinal 

application for the beatification and canonization of Franciscus Xi- 
menez de Cisneros and issued by the most sacred popes; last item 
dated 1671), which cites briefs from Popes Urban VII, Innocent X, 
Alexander VII, and Clement IX and X, that is, character references 
from the highest authorities dating from the sixteenth to the eigh- 
teenth century. Another biographical account, Vida y motivos de la 
comun aclamacion de . . . Cisneros (Madrid, 1673), compiled by Pedro 
Fernandez de Pulgar, canon of Palencia, was dedicated to the Arch- 
bishop of Toledo, Pasqual Cardinal of Aragon. Designed to supply 
information to the archbishop, "for it is Your Eminence who must 
receive the communication from the Holy See in order to establish 
a public cult for the Venerable Servant of God [Cisneros]," it was 
kept brief "to relieve Your Eminence from reading the rather 
lengthy documentation." In spite of a promise "to tell some new 
things unpublished until now," Fernandez de Pulgar presents a well 
rehearsed story. He does, however, add to the list of miracles, which 
now includes the fact that Cisneros had control over natural phe- 
nomena ("the sun stopped, the winds dropped, the clouds moved, 
birds descended — the Servant of God ruled them by divine dispensa- 
tion," p. 28). Another notable feature of this Life is an appendix of 
"authors which in published works . . . have celebrated the virtues, 
miracles, or deeds of . . . Ximenez de Cisneros" — a list containing 
some 450 entries and spanning two centuries. 

Perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most extraordinary 
testimony to the Cardinal's enduring fame as a saintly man is an 
anonymous play published in Madrid, 1740. It is ascribed to "a talent 
at this court" and bears the florid title Pluma, Purpura, y Espada solo 
en Cisneros se halla (Pen, Purple, and Sword are only united in 
Cisneros). Although the Cardinal's conquest of Oran is the main 
subject of the play, there is a parallel romantic plot, which justifies 
its designation as a "new comedy". The action is further lightened 
by the words and deeds of one "Fray Giropa" (modelled on Francis- 
co Ruiz), who plays Sancho Panza to Cisneros' Don Quijote-like 
character. The actions and thoughts ascribed to Cisneros are largely 
historical; the peripheral anecdotes, especially the miracles, closely 
follow Quintanilla's Archetypo. The dramatizations skilfully evoke 
the Cardinal's character, as described by his early biographers. One 
scene elaborates on his reluctance to become Isabel's confessor and, 
later, to accept the arbishopric of Toledo. 

The Image of the Cardinal 



Giropa: Is it possible that you can be ungrateful for the zeal 
shown on your behalf by the Queen in making you 
archbishop of Toledo, and that you should flee from 

I am unworthy of such a position. 
Are you not confessor of Her Highness? 
Out of obedience. 

Well, then, you know what I think. Father? Don't 
you know that the archbishopric is worth three 
hundred thousand ducats or more? 

Cisneros: And of what importance is that, brother? 

Giropa: Of what importance? If they gave me two hundred, 
I'd accept the mitre, and if it were of Morocco! 

Reflecting on Cisneros' reputation at court, Girope cites Martire's 
description, also quoted by Quintanilla: "You are a second Ambrose 
of Milan." To convince Cisneros to accept the archbishopric, he 
launches into a rehearsal of his accomplishments, supplying the 
audience with the necessary biographical background information. 
Giropa's eulogy is in effect a summary of the first two chapters of 
Quintanilla's book and closely adheres to some of the formulations 
found there. 

Cisneros' strict observance of the Franciscan rule offers another 
occasion for comic relief. In accordance with the rules, he rejects a 
carriage ride and, to the consternation of his tired companion, insists 
on walking. He prefers solitude to the temptations of the world, ex- 

In the desert one may enjoy more readily the pres- 
ence of God. 

True. But even more so, if one doesn't have to walk 
on foot. 

How, then, would you like to be conveyed? 
In a carriage . . . 
This is a rare form of madness. You would like a 







Giropa: I would take even a hired donkey. 

Cisneros insists on walking, however. Crossing the wilderness with 
his companion, he works several miracles. Here the playwright is 
partly following Quintanilla's account (the miraculous production of 

112 The Image of the Cardinal 

bread and water), partly introducing new scenarios (an encounter with 
robbers). The action of the play eventually moves to Oran which, as 
Cisneros explains, was captured by human strategy as well as divine 
dispensation. In this context the narrator tells of the miraculous 
attack of the birds pecking out the eyes of the Moors, as well as of 
the appearance of a cross in the sky, and the stalling of the sun to 
lengthen the day and allow the Spaniards to complete their victory. 
The Cardinal's religious fervour provides material for another 
comic scene. While praying rapturously, he is elevated from the 

Giropa (joining in his prayer): Father, thanks be to God, thanks 

be to God — but where are you going in this fashion? 
Cisneros: What is this you are saying, brother? What are you 

Giropa: I'm holding on to your belt to go with you. We're 

already two and a half yards off the ground. 
Cisneros: What are you talking about? 
Giropa: It's as I say. Your Excellency. I am telling Your 

Cisneros: Are you dreaming? 
Giropa: I would say so, if I weren't so hungry. But when I'm 

hungry I can't sleep. 

Although Cisneros' actions and attitudes supply material for hu- 
morous scenes, he himself is not the butt of the humour, but is de- 
picted as a man of honour and principle, frustrated and impeded by 
smaller minds. The play is more romance than historical drama, and 
the audience is asked to suspend belief and enter into the imaginary 
action on stage, but Cisneros remains substantially the historical fig- 
ure we know: the man of God, the defender of the faith, the patriot, 
the conquerer of Oran. 

No less flattering is the portrait emerging from a group of books 
in which we find Cisneros' career compared with that of Cardinal 
Richelieu, chief minister to Louis XIII. The earliest such comparison 
appeared some fifty years after Richelieu's death in Marsollier's His- 
toire de ministere du Cardinal Ximenez (Toulouse, 1694). In the auth- 
or's opinion, "there are parallels between their character, their for- 
tune, their policies, their maxims, their enterprises, their successes. 
Both were magnanimous and had a character that was exalted, proud, 

The Image of the Cardinal 113 

impenetrable, and naturally grand. Their emotions complemented 
their character. They were noble, intrepid, capable of undertaking 
the most difficult tasks." Both men were patrons on a grand scale: 
"They both fostered the sciences, the arts, and men of letters. This, 
no less than their actions, contributed to the reputation they acquired 
so that even today they are regarded the greatest men that France 
and Spain has ever brought forth." There were, however, these dif- 
ferences: Cisneros had something in his manner "that occasionally 
degenerated into rudeness," whereas Richelieu was polite and refined 
and knew how to accommodate himself to any persons or circum- 
stances. On the other hand, Cisneros was incorruptible, a man of 
integrity, who loved his people — "a rare, yet necessary quality, in 
those who want to govern" (avertissement, n. p.) 

A decade later, I'abbe Richard published Parallele du Cardinal Xi- 
menes, Premier Ministre d'Espagne, etdu Cardinal de Richelieu, Premier 
Ministre de France (Rotterdam, 1705). He concentrated on the differ- 
ences between the two statesmen. Religion was the basis for Cis- 
neros' decisions and governed his conduct. This could not be said of 
Richelieu, who acted purely from political motives. Cisneros lived a 
chaste life and had no dealings with women, whereas Richelieu was 
not scrupulous in his conduct. According to Richard, Cisneros was 
respected, Richelieu feared. "If Richelieu surpassed Cardinal Ximenes 
in politics, Cardinal Ximenes was more famous for his piety. . . . 
Every day in France one encountered satires aimed at the actions of 
Cardinal Richelieu, whereas in Spain . . . one can read the application 
made for the canonization of Ximenes. . . . Richelieu has always been 
regarded as a statesman who subordinated religion to politics; Xime- 
nes as a great prelate, who as governor of the Spanish realm, based 
his decision, not on politics, but on piety and religion" (211-12). 

The similarities and discrepancies between the two statesmen 
remained a fascination with biographers. The subject is discussed in 
the concluding chapter of the standard nineteenth-century biography 
by Carl Joseph Hefele, a Catholic theologian at the University of 
Tubingen. The book, entitled Der Kardinal Ximenes und die kirch- 
lichen Zustdnde Spaniens am Ende des 15. undAnfange des 16. Jahrhun- 
derts (Cardinal Ximenes and the Conditions of the Church in Spain 
at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century) 
was first published in 1851, went through a number of editions, and 
was translated into French (1856), English (1860), and Spanish (1869, 

114 The Image of the Cardinal 

1879). Hefele focuses his comparison between Cisneros and Richelieu 
on three aspects: life, policies, and character. He dramatizes the 
events after the two men's return from their respective journeys to 
Rome: Richelieu, who had already been elevated to a bishopric, was 
welcomed back with honours; Cisneros was "thrown into prison by 
his bishop" {Ximenez, 536). Both left their diocese, one seeking se- 
clusion, the other success in the world. Hefele notes that Cisneros 
advanced steadily in his career, whereas Richelieu suffered temporary 
reverses but triumphed over adversity in the end. Both received the 
cardinalate in recognition of their services to the crown, but while 
Richelieu actively pursued power, Cisneros accepted responsibility 
reluctantly. He states that "Cisneros forgave those who wanted to 
cast him down and did not avenge personal insults; Richelieu, by 
contrast, had his enemies executed and spilled the blood of practically 
everyone who opposed him or plotted against him" (ibid., 540). Like 
earlier biographers, Hefele is not an unbiased observer, but uses 
Richelieu as a dark foil, against which Cisneros' qualities shine more 
brightly. He perpetuates the melodramatic story of Charles' letter 
reaching Cisneros' house on the eve of his death. He observes that 
neither minister was cherished by his sovereign, that both were kept 
for their usefulness, but "Louis showed outward respect and consid- 
eration for his minister and visited him repeatedly when he fell ill, so 
that Richelieu almost literally died in the arms of his sovereign, 
whereas Charles avoided meeting Cisneros after landing in Spain, and 
insulted this meritorious man on his deathbed, even signing his 
dismissal" (ibid., 541). In keeping with the saintly portrait of Cis- 
neros is the assertion that "Richelieu was always looking for an ad- 
vantage in the misfortunes of his neighbours — Cisneros knew 
nothing of such arts" (ibid., 546). More perceptive is Hefele's obser- 
vation that both cardinals combined genius with industry. Hefele 
furthermore agreed with Marsollier that both Cisneros and Richelieu 
showed an unshakeable will in the execution of their plans. He is 
also correct in pointing out that Cisneros served capable and energet- 
ic rulers, whereas Richelieu's king was weak and left him correspond- 
ingly more room for maneuvering. In their religious observances, 
finally, they adopted different standards: Richelieu acted like a "re- 
spectable man of the world, Cisneros like a saintly ascete" (ibid., 549). 
Although the comparisons with Richelieu are ahistorical and, in 
the case of Marsollier and Richard, exercises in rhetoric rather than 

The Image of the Cardinal 115 

historiography, they are indicative of a general perception. They 
reflect the heroic image of Cardinal Cisneros, which was already well 
established at the turn of the seventeenth century. They continue to 
train the spotlight on Cisneros' moral qualities, but also represent a 
slight shift in emphasis from the image of a saintly man to that of a 
man loyal to God and King. 

Turning to the twentieth century, I have already mentioned in 
my preface the dearth of modern English literature on Cisneros. In 
Spanish literature, by contrast, the cardinal has always attracted and 
continues to receive a great deal of scholarly attention. Numerous 
books and articles have appeared in the last twenty years, culminat- 
ing in Jose Garcia Oro's painstakingly researched biography El Car- 
denal Cisneros: vida y empresos (Madrid, 1992/93). In many of these 
works the Cardinal retains a saintly aura. It is telling that Garcia 
Oro accepts the account of Alvar Gomez de Castro with complacen- 
cy. Gomez has painted a masterly portrait, he says. "One may study 
some facet more closely, clarify some points or obscure circumstanc- 
es .. . but one always has the impression that the outline of his per- 
sonality remains basically as depicted by Gomez de Castro in his 
richly coloured pages" {Cisneros I: 493). To the present day, then, the 
Cardinal is accorded by his biographers an unusual measure of con- 
sideration. They appear to be reluctant to explore the darker recesses 
of his life or, if they do, fail to include his flaws in a general reckon- 
ing. The lone exception is L. P. Harvey {Islamic Spain, 1250-1500 
[Chicago, 1990]), whose account of Cisneros' attitude to Muslims 
bristles with indignation, and who calls the brutal treatment they 
received at his hands "utterly indefensible" (331). 

On balance, the Cardinal appears strong-minded, principled, ener- 
getic and, like his famous contemporary Thomas More, a "man for 
all seasons". Stepping from the threshold of the Middle Ages, Cis- 
neros cannot be called a trailblazer; he did, however, march in the 
vanguard of the political and cultural forces shaping the Renaissance. 
His promotion from homo novus to the position of trusted advisor of 
monarchs was characteristic of a trend in the political organization of 
early modern Europe. Renaissance rulers typically consolidated their 
sovereign power by passing over the landed aristocracy in favour of 
individuals who were tied to them by personal loyalty and would act 
as their instruments of power. Cisneros clearly believed in the virtue 
of a centralized government, and as regent used a pragmatic mixture 

116 The Image of the Cardinal 

of dictatorial moves and strategic retreats to maintain the prerogative 
of the crown wherever possible. This included a religious policy pro- 
moting national interests and based on the ideal of "one faith, one 
king". Thus Cisneros played a supportive role in the efforts of the 
Spanish monarchs to transform their realm from a feudal into a sov- 
ereign territorial state — a development that carried the day in the 

As a patron of learning, he recognized the importance of the 
newly developed art of printing and promoted textual criticism, 
which underpins the transformation from manuscript to print cul- 
ture. The University of Alcala continued the scholastic curriculum 
(as did all new foundations in the sixteenth century), but also includ- 
ed studies in the three biblical languages. It was one of the earliest 
institutions to incorporate them into the regular curriculum. Anto- 
nio Alvar Ezquerra, author of the most recent study of Cisneros' 
foundation, offers this enthusiastic assessment: 

"Instruction at the new University of Alcala de Henares dif- 
fered in many points from that given at Salamanca, its principal 
rival. The reason is this: It did not routinely adopt the Univer- 
sity of Paris as its model . . . Cisneros, with absolute conviction, 
had, from the inception of the University, planned a new and 
accurate edition of the Bible based on the premises of humanis- 
tic philology, although it was a humanism closer to the spirit of 
Erasmus than to the paganizing Italians. Consequently, the 
study of theology at Alcala, enriched by the studia humanitatis, 
was free of scholastic dogmatism and enlivened by the spirit of 
tolerance [!] ... Perhaps there was no great substantive differ- 
ence between the instruction offered at Salamanca and Alcala, 
but there was in spirit. It is significant in this sense that the Cis- 
. nerian university contacted Erasmus and Vives, inviting them to 
come and teach there. In effect, the university preferred the meth- 
od of rhetorical exegesis, a humanistic heritage, to the method 
of dogmatic exposition in the scholastic tradition. ("Le mo- 
dele," 245-6) 

As a church leader Cisneros likewise foreshadowed developments 
that were soon to dominate Europe: the call for spiritual renewal and 
for a new approach to theology, focusing on biblical studies. Antici- 
pating a movement that gathered momentum during the Counter- 

The Image of the Cardinal 117 

Reformation, he called for pastoral responsibility, for a sober life re- 
flecting the vows of chastity and poverty, and for the study of bib- 
lical texts in their original languages. His support for the Beatas, 
which strikes the modern reader as bordering on superstition, should 
be regarded in the context of the pious yearning which characterized 
pre-Reformation Europe. It found expression in the mysticism of 
German Schwdrmer and Italian spirituali. Spain, more than any other 
country, provided a fertile ground for religious enthusiasm. Although 
some of the Spanish alumhrados and dejados were accused of hetero- 
doxy because they appeared to challenge the hierarchy of the church, 
mysticism also attracted distinguished Catholic reformers like Loyola 
and Teresa of Avila. Rooted in medieval sensitivities, mystics re- 
mained a feature of the religious landscape in the Counter-Reforma- 
tion. Both in his mystical leanings and in the intolerance Cisneros 
showed toward non-Christians, he manifested the cultural bias of his 
time. His "crusade" in North Africa and his inquisitorial proceedings 
in Granada leave modern readers with a feeling of distaste. His mili- 
tant spirit especially, and his desire to lay down his life for God and 
win a martyr's crown, which was heroic in the eyes of his early bio- 
graphers, appears today as a facet of cultural and religious imperialism. 
In spite of such flaws, Cisneros was remarkable for his versatility. 
In his recent biography, Cruz Martinez Esteruelas describes Cisneros 
as excelling in the three principal aspects of human nature: he was a 
homo religiosus, homo politicus, and homo oeconomicus, that is, a spiri- 
tual, political, and practical man [Cisneros, 178-9). It cannot be de- 
nied that Cisneros played a pivotal role in Spanish history. If there is 
a perception today that he does not belong to the select circle of 
those who changed the course of history, it is because his political 
ideas, his zeal for reform, and his interest in print culture and philol- 
ogy, progressive at the time, became mainstream within a decade of 
his death. Thus time caught up with Cisneros. His thought merged 
with the Zeitgeist and became invisible in the broad currents of the 

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H. Kamen, Inquisition and Society in Spain (Bloom- 
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Menendez Pidal R. Menendez Pidal, "The Significance of the 
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ed. R. Highfield (London, 1972), 380-404 


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(Alcala, 1973) 

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prelados (Palermo, 1653) 

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para su historia," Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y 
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Cisneros y las reformas en la iglesia (Madrid, 1979) 

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Parlement de Paris a I'epoque de la Renaissance et de 
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Appendix 1: The Constitution of 
San Ildefonso College 

1 he conduct of college residents was regulated by a constitution, 
drawn up in 1510. The following chapters, translated from the edi- 
tion of Ramon Gonzales Navarro, Universidad Complutense, Consti- 
tutiones originates cisnerianas (Alcala, 1984), 180-347, give a picture 
of life in the college and the regulations governing it. A concise 
descriptive account can be found in Antonio Alvar Ezquerra's "Le 
modele universitaire d'Alcala de Henares dans la premiere moitie 
du XVIe siecle," in Les origines du College de France (1500-1560)^ ed. 
M. Fumaroli (Paris, 1998), 209-56. 

The head of the college was the rector, who was elected annually 
by and from among the members of the college {collegiales) . He was 
aided in his decisions by three councillors elected in the same fash- 
ion. The college also had twelve chaplains, whose duties included the 
administration of the college and who remained in office four years. 
Apart from the thirty-three regular members of the college, there 
were also porcionistas, laymen who paid for their board, and cameris- 
tas, who participated in the government of the college in their special 
area of expertise. A dozen servants, responsible for the household 
tasks, also lived in the college. 

Chapter 1: The Members of the College 

First of all, it has been our decision that in the College which we 
[Cisneros] have had constructed from the foundations within the 
walls of our city of Alcala de Henares, with divine aid and under the 
name and protection of Saint Ildefonso, there will be thirty-three 
prebendaries [holders of stipendiary positions] in perpetuity. One of 
them will be the Head and Rector of the whole College and Univer- 
sity. Apart from the aforesaid prebendaries, there will be in the same 
College twelve secular priests serving as chaplains ... In addition 
there will be in the same College twelve familiares [housekeeping 

126 Appendix 1 

personnel]. One of them will be in charge of provisions, another will 
be the cook; the remaining ten will assume general household tasks. 

Chapter 2: The Rector and Councillors of the College 

We ordain that each year on the eve of St Luke the Evangelist a 
Rector and three Councillors be elected from among the thirty-three 
prebendaries, whose task it will be to govern the College and keep 
order in it. In this election, the chaplains have the right neither to 
vote nor to stand for election, for we do not wish them to be includ- 
ed under the term collegiales [Fellows]. 

Chapter 6: Vacant Prebends and the Election of Fellows 

If a prebend in our College falls vacant, the Rector must announce 
the vacancy within three days in the dining hall, after dinner. Failure 
to do so will result in his being penalized by the loss of his dinner 
portions for one month. He may pay the College for his portion to 
avoid being absent from dinner. Once the vacancy has been an- 
nounced, none of the Fellows is allowed to leave the College until 
the vacancy is filled. Failure to comply will result in the loss of one 
outfit or the equivalent value in cash. An exception can be made in 
an urgent case, with the permission of the Rector, but the vote can- 
not be assigned to a proxy. On the day of the announcement the 
Rector must call and conduct a closed meeting to decide whether it 
is expedient or not to send notices to other universities. If it is 
thought to be expedient ... let the notices be affixed to the doors of 
the universities, so that those who wish to enter the competition 
may come and do so . . . [Next, the Rector and Fellows will] diligent- 
ly inquire into the character and qualifications of the candidates and 
examine them . . . [Fifteen days later] a mass of the Holy Spirit is 
celebrated. The Rector calls a closed meeting, asks each and everyone 
of the Fellows present for an oath that he will in the presence of 
God, without any bias, inclination, or favour, elect the man who is 
best qualified and most suitable, principally taking into consideration 
his academic qualifications, his integrity, and his cooperation; and the 
Rector similarly swears an oath to this effect. This done, a sheet of 
paper is given to each and every one of the Fellows, on which the 
full names of the candidates are written . . . [candidates are forbidden 
to influence the Fellows; similarly the Fellows are forbidden to] 
reveal their choice through words, signs, gestures, or letters. [The 

Constitution of San Ildefonso College 127 

election itself follows the same pattern as the election of the Rector; 
the complex procedure is described in detail in chapter 3]. 

Chapter 7: The Qualifications of Fellows and the Duration 
of Fellowships 

The minimum age [for Fellows] is twenty, and the candidate must 
have completed the Summulae [basic course in logic], so that he may 
be competent in logic. He must be poor, that is, at the time of elec- 
tion his income from benefices or an inheritance must not exceed 
twenty-five Aragonese gold florins. . . . His major should not be in 
canon law or medicine . . . for we have founded the College primarily 
for the benefit of studies in the Arts and in Sacred Theology . . . We 
do not wish them to be natives of the town of Alcala, . . . for they 
can attend lectures and disputations without having prebends in the 
College. Nor do we wish that two or three closely related persons be 
elected Fellows . . . nor anyone who is engaged to a woman or has 
entered a religious order . . . Those who have been elected have the 
right to hold the fellowship continuously for eight years. For the 
duration of their stay in College each Fellow and chaplain will re- 
ceive a room with his own key, food, clothing as detailed below, 
medicine and the services of a physician, candles (one each night, ten 
of them weighing a pound), the services of a barber and laundress; a 
wooden bed, equipped; also a table, chair, and bench ... It is forbid- 
den to keep kindling in the bedrooms or anywhere else in the Col- 
lege, to prevent any risk of fire and other inconveniences. 

Chapter 8: Dress and Deportment 

[Once a year members of the College were issued a hooded cloak, 
which was to be worn whenever they went outside the College pre- 
cincts.] No one is to go outside the College dressed otherwise or 
without being accompanied by one of his colleagues or without the 
express permission of the rector . . . we further wish that none of the 
aforesaid persons grow a beard or long hair; rather they should re- 
semble respectable secular priests in their appearance. None of them 
is permitted to go into town to have lunch or dinner there, unless by 
permission of the rector, which should not be easily obtained . . . Let 
no one presume to bear arms either openly or concealed, or have 
arms in their own rooms on penalty of being deprived of their por- 
tion for a month and having the weapon confiscated. Let them 

128 Appendix 1 

beware of all seditious talk or scandal, especially in the dining hall. 
Anyone in violation of this shall be punished harshly by the rector, 
depending on the social status of the person and other circumstances. 

No one is allowed to play dice or cards, and we strictly forbid 
any kind of musical instrument in our College, with the exception of 
monochord or cembalo {monochordium, clavicimbalum). Let them 
not spend too much time on music or impose on others. On feast 
days, and with the express permission of the rector, regents and 
members of the College are permitted to take part in games among 
themselves or with students, such as the game of pile, saxi, ferri, and 
other such physical exercises, with the proviso that they do not 
interfere with lectures and other exercises, should these be scheduled 
for those days; provided also that they play these games in the 
interior part of the building or patio or other place where they can- 
not be observed from the outside. And let the rector not grant such 
permission lightly, but only when he sees that the work must be 
lightened with these kinds of respectable pastimes. If anyone pre- 
sumes to do these things contrary to our constitution, he shall be 
deprived, on the first offense, of his portion for a day, on the second 
offense, of his portion for a week, on the third, of his portion for a 
month. . . . 

We furthermore forbid that any women be given access to the 
College at any time, except by permission of the rector, who must 
not grant such permission without consideration for the social status 
and dignity of the person and the justice of the cause. And in that 
case, let him appoint a person of integrity to be her guide and show 
her the buildings of the College. 

Chapter 10: Absence from the College 

If any of the prebendaries or chaplains wish to absent themselves, 
they may take two months after personally seeking the permission of 
the rector. He must give permission, unless there is just cause for 
believing that the permission should be denied or delayed. For this 
reason we wish that any chaplain or prebendary seek the said permis- 
sion at least one day before his departure. If, however, there is an 
urgent need for his departure and delaying it by one day would mean 
some risk, the rector must give him the required permission immedi- 
ately, after the applicant has confirmed the said urgency by an oath. 
No chaplain or prebendary is allowed to leave the College before giv- 

Constitution of San Ildefonso College 129 

ing surety for his debts and fulfilling any obligations to the College. 
Nor is he permitted to be absent for more than two months, except 
when there is an urgent reason, [in which case he may be allowed to 
be absent for another term of two months]. . . . When this second 
term has elapsed and the absent chaplain or member of the College 
has not returned, he loses his prebend or chaplaincy. ... If anyone 
has lost his prebend or chaplaincy on account of absence or another 
reason, he may not stand for a competition again, because we do not 
wish that a person who has once been deprived of his prebend or 
chaplaincy be admitted to it again. However, if someone was de- 
tained by a grave illness or undeserved incarceration he will not lose 
his residence. He must show an authentic, notarized document to 
prove that he was detained and cite four witnesses who can testify to 
it under oath before a judge. One of the witnesses must be a physi- 
cian, if he was detained by illness. Once the said four months have 
elapsed, the prebend must not be declared vacant immediately, but 
there must be a waiting period of fifteen days to give the person in 
question an opportunity to prove that he was detained by incar- 
ceration or illness, as we have said. 

Chapter 15: Dining Arrangements 

Tablecloths, serviettes or napkins should be changed every week. 
Every day silver cups . . . which we have given to the College, are to 
be distributed among the rector, the chaplains, and members of the 
College, so that beverages may be served to the members in a becom- 
ing fashion . . . Each of them will also be given a knife, a salt shaker, 
and a jar of water . . . and everyone will eat the same quantity of 
food, prepared in the same manner. The hour of lunch and dinner 
varies according to the time of the year and will be established by the 
rector and the councillors, unless a majority disagrees with them. No 
one is to be served any food outside the dining hall . . . We further 
provide that during lunch and dinner in the dining hall spiritual 
readings shall not be neglected. Ordinarily the Bible shall be read at 
lunch; at dinner other books of saints or doctors may be read, as 
long as they are approved by the church, and according to the judg- 
ment of the rector and the councillors. . . . Since it may happen that 
a reader at table pronounces the words in an incongruous or un- 
learned fashion, the mistakes of the reader should be corrected by a 
senior regent of theology in attendance, and if the theologians are ab- 

130 Appendix 1 

sent, by a senior regent of arts, or a baccalarius formatus in theology, 
or other masters according to seniority, or someone else to whom 
the rector has entrusted this task. But let all beware of seditious 
mumbling and scandal and noise, so that the reader may be heard at- 
tentively by all — on threat of a harsh penalty according to the seri- 
ousness of the matter and the social status of the person. The penalty 
is to be set and executed by the rector. 

No one who resides in our College is allowed to enter the kitchen 
or the cellar except those whose business it is to be in the cellars or 
in the kitchen to prepare or season the food. The said employees 
must keep their workplace locked on penalty to be determined by 
the rector. Anyone other than an employee found entering these 
places . . . will be deprived of his portion of wine for the day, or if 
the rector so decides, of the whole food portion of the day. To allow 
them to keep warm, we do permit, however, that during the winter 
a fire be lit shortly before lunch and dinner in some respectable 
place, and with the rules of modesty being observed. In the dining 
hall, however, there shall be no open fire. 

Chapter 18: Security 

We decree, moreover, that all gates of the College be locked in the 
following order by a servant designated for this task. The main gate 
pointing north shall always be locked at dusk. The gate pointing 
south which leads to the patio of the servants shall be locked at 
different times according to the season: from the feastday of St. Luke 
to the feast of the Purification of the Virgin at seven p.m.; from the 
feast of the Purification until Pentecost at eight; from Pentecost until 
the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin at nine; from the Assump- 
tion until the feastday of St. Luke again at eight. Fifteen minutes 
before the gate is locked the large bell shall be rung and shortly 
before it is locked the bell shall be rung nine times to warn the 
visitors, that those living outside the College may leave ... a janitor 
shall stand by the gate to watch those entering and leaving. If he ob- 
serves anything detrimental to the reputation of the College, he is 
bound to report it to the rector immediately. . . . When all the gates 
are shut, the aforesaid janitor shall give the keys to the junior coun- 
cillor. Non-compliance will be punished with incarceration by 
sentence of the rector. The said councillor is under obligation to 
examine the locks of the gates after he has received the keys, on 

Constitution of San Ildefonso College 131 

penalty of losing his portion for a week. If by chance a visitor re- 
mains in the building after the gates are shut, he is under no circum- 
stances allowed to spend the night in the College. Nor shall a gate be 
opened to allow him to leave, but he shall be lowered by a rope from 
a window. However, should an emergency arise after all gates of the 
building are shut, for example, the need for a physician or for medi- 
cation or a similar matter that is too dangerous to neglect or delay — 
in that case the gate of the servants, that is, the one pointing west or 
the other gate of the College pointing south may be opened in the 
presence of the rector and councillors. Anyone who attempts to 
unlock one of the gates under other circumstances, shall immediately 
be expelled from the College and never again be admitted. 

Chapter 23: The College Library 

We decree that the books in the library which we have built in the 
College and which we have supplied with a sufficient quantity of 
books, shall at all times be chained by their individual chains in their 
proper place, so that they may not easily be taken away; and we 
forbid that they be lent to anyone. That all who want to use the li- 
brary may have easy access and without difficulty may take advan- 
tage of its facilities, we wish that the said library be open throughout 
the year for four hours every day, in this manner: from the feast day 
of St. Luke until the Resurrection every day in the morning from 
eight to ten and in the afternoon from two to four. And from the 
Resurrection to the feastday of St. Luke, mornings from seven to 
nine and afternoons from three to five. . . . Fellows and chaplains 
shall have their private keys to the library but shall not be permitted 
to leave the door to the library unlocked. If anyone has been negli- 
gent in this matter, he shall be deprived of his portion for one day 
each time this happens; if a visitor to the College comes to the li- 
brary at an hour other than the normal opening hours, the person 
who unlocks the door for him must wait and watch at the door until 
the visitor leaves. Anyone . . . taking a book from the library will be 
deprived of his ordinary portion and kept from the table for 15 days 
on the first infraction; on the second the penalty will be doubled; on 
the third he shall be expelled from the College. If the person is a visi- 
tor, he incurs automatically a sentence of excommunication, from 
which he can only be absolved by the rector after giving satisfaction. 
The books in the library must be dusted and cleaned in turn by one 

132 Appendix 1 

of the junior chaplains or Fellows together with a servant, at least 
once a month. And one of the servants must clean the floor of the 
library in their presence. Anyone negligent in this task shall be pun- 
ished by a penalty to be determined by the Rector. The Rector and 
the regents [holders of Chairs] as well as the magistri in theology are 
exempted from this labour. 

Chapter 35: The Appointment of Professors and Lecturers: 
The Summulist [teacher of basic logic] 

The Rector and councillors of the College and university shall ap- 
point one or two days on which the candidates will lecture, one after 
the other. And they shall assign them lecture topics from the Sum- 
mulae, topics which the students who have a vote will best under- 
stand. Each candidate shall lecture on these texts, including the prop- 
er questions and replies in the Parisian manner, as outlined below. If 
a candidate presents himself who is not a graduate or member of this 
university, he must give ten lectures within the stipulated period (to 
avoid delaying the appointment), so that his scholarship and aptitude 
can be determined. The magistri of theology and arts, who are not 
lecturing at that time, are to be present together with the Rector and 
the councillors and the students who will have to take the course in 
Summulae that year. When the candidates have given their lectures, 
the Rector together with the councillors shall call a closed meeting 
and there admonish the students to give due consideration to their 
choice of candidates, since they will have to take the course in Sum- 
mulae and everything else required for completion of the M.A. in 
four years from him exclusively. The Rector should point out these 
and other such things that will allow them to make a better and 
more independent choice. Next, he shall take from each of them an 
oath confirmed by the sign of the cross and the holy Gospels of God, 
that they will put out of minds all hatred, favour, or inclination and 
shall have before their eyes only God and the advantage of the Col- 
lege and university and their own progress, and will vote in consider- 
ation of this for the better and more capable man, from whom they 
expect to benefit more as far as scholarship is concerned. They 
further swear that they expect to attend for the full academic year 
the lectures of the person appointed to the chair by the Rector and 
the councillors. Once this oath is taken, the Rector shall give each 
student sheets with the first and last names of each candidate so that 

Constitution of San Ildefonso College 133 

they may elect whom they prefer and place the paper [with his 
name] in the place designated for that purpose. The candidates whom 
they reject must be clearly separated and placed in a place designated 
for this purpose, so that any occasion for fraud be removed. When 
the votes have been gathered in this manner, the Rector and council- 
lors swear an oath that they shall not disclose the votes obtained by 
each of the candidates, count the votes, and appoint to the chair the 
person whom they find to have the most votes, without regard for 
his social status or that of the voters. And the new appointee swears 
an oath [of office] and shall lecture for the following four years. . . . 
[Two examiners shall be appointed to determine questions of 
professional conduct] and how many or how few students a lecturer 
has. They must give to the Rector and councillors a detailed confi- 
dential report on the information they have gathered. ... If they 
decide that one of the professors or of the students significantly com- 
promises the reputation of the College and university through their 
behaviour or their carelessness, neglect, and incompetence, they will 
take the necessary steps. If the majority so decides, the professor or 
lecturer will be deprived of his chair or lectureship without hearing 
or appeal. . . . and if a lecturer is found to have no students or only 
a few, the Rector may, after due consideration for the time and 
quality of the lecture, combine it with another one given by the same 
lecturer or in another faculty, as he thinks best. 

Chapter 39: The Examination for the Bachelor of Arts 

The student to be examined shall sit before the examiners in a lower 
seat, bareheaded in the Parisian manner. And the first examiner shall 
ask a true-or-false question based on the Summulae. And when the 
candidate has given his answer, three examiners will argue against his 
response by attacking each premise. Next, the first examiner asks the 
candidate to recite a chapter from the Liber praedicabilium of Por- 
phyry . . . and the candidate must reply from memory and that ex- 
aminer alone argues against his reply concerning one premise. Then 
the second examiner shall ask and argue in the same manner concern- 
ing the Liber predicamentorum; and the third concerning the Liber 
peri hermenias. Then it is the first examiner's turn again to ask ques- 
tions about [Aristotle's] Prior Analytics and so forth according to the 
sequence of books and instructors. . . . Once the questions concerning 
logic are finished, they go on to [Aristotle's] Physics, although the 

134 Appendix 1 

examination need not be as rigorous as in logic. There shall be only 
one question or proposition concerning the Physics and none con- 
cerning De caelo or the other books up to the preface of De anima. 
Here the examination ends. That done, the examiners withdraw and 
discuss whether the candidate's answers were satisfactory and wheth- 
er he should be awarded the degree. If all or the majority agree that 
he qualifies, they sign the form which the student has been given by 
his professor confirming that the requirements have been fulfilled. 
They then go on to the next candidate, but there shall not be more 
than two examinations per day. . . . Each bachelor must pay one flo- 
rin into the common account of the College, one florin to the facul- 
ty, two florins to his professor, another florin to be divided equally 
between the examiners, half a florin for the notary, and half a florin 
for the beadles, the total sum for the B.A. not to exceed six florins. 
We furthermore prohibit that the aforesaid examination for the B.A. 
and any other degree take place in private or in secret. Rather it is to 
take place publicly in the halls of the College. Otherwise the exami- 
nation is null and void. 

Chapter 58: Extraordinary Chairs 

So that everything relevant to the knowledge of letters be available 
at our College and university, we decree that there should be a chair 
in Greek, to be held by a regular professor who is sufficiently knowl- 
edgable in that language. He is to lecture on regular days within the 
College for two hours and supervise exercises for one hour. His 
salary will be fifty florins per year . . . but since men in orders and 
other persons zealous for the faith and burning with the love of God 
may wish to learn [other] languages to enable them better to dissemi- 
nate the word of God, we decree, if there happen to be interested 
persons in the College, that the Rector and councillors together with 
a number of faculty called together for this purpose may institute 
chairs in accordance with their pious and honest wish . . . but if there 
is a shortage of suitably qualified students, payment will cease. But 
because Greek is the fountain and origin of the Latin language and of 
the other sciences, any number of students who could benefit from 
this language will be considered a sufficient number. If there are 
none, payment for the chair will cease. 

Constitution of San Ildefonso College 135 

Chapter 62: The Compulsory Use of Latin within the College 

We decree that everyone — Rector, professors, chaplains. Fellows, 
servants, associates, and all others, regardless of whether they are 
graduates of this university or not, must speak Latin when they are 
within the College. This includes the chapel, dormitories, dining hall, 
lecture halls, gardens, library and all other official areas within the 
precinct of the College. They must speak Latin in their conclusions, 
disputations, as well as in familiar and daily conversation, in whatev- 
er manner and concerning whatever subject they are conversing. If 
anyone is caught speaking a language other than Latin ... he shall be 
deprived of his portion of wine at the next meal on the first offense, 
the whole portion at the next meal on the second offence, and a daily 
ration on the third offense. If he is found in continuous violation for 
eight days, he shall have to pay for the value of his clothing for that 
year. And if he appears to be incorrigible and insists that he does not 
wish to speak Latin, he shall be expelled from the College ... if those 
who commit these infractions are under age, they shall be adminis- 
tered the strap or whipped, depending on the frequency of their 
infraction, for there is no purpose in making rules, unless they are 
also enforced. 

Chapter 66: Respectability 

We have decreed moreover that no one in the university may pre- 
sume to carry arms publicly, inside or outside the College. Those 
who act to the contrary forfeit the arms . . . Furthermore, if anyone 
in the university is found to have publicly taken a concubine, he 
shall lose his chair or lectureship or office, if he is a regular professor, 
lecturer, or official of the College or university; and any other 
member of the university, whatever his social standing or eminence, 
shall be expelled. We also prohibit that anyone of the preceding per- 
sons have in his house women of ill repute. Anyone who acts to the 
contrary will be warned in the name of the Rector, and if he does 
not expel her from his house, will be punished according to the judg- 
ment of the Rector. Furthermore, since lack of physical hygiene indi- 
cates a corresponding mental quality, it behooves those who labour 
in the study of letters to give evidence of their profession in their be- 
haviour and external appearance. Therefore we exhort every one in 
this university to behave respectably and in all other things act with 

136 Appendix 1 

Chapter 71: The Reading of the Regulations 

To make our constitutions known to all and so that no one may 
pretend ignorance of the contents, we decree that a copy of these 
rules be on display in the library of the College, chained in a place 
where everyone has easy access to it . . , and in addition we wish to 
have these rules read once a year immediately after the feast of St. 
Luke in the dining hall at lunch and dinner so that it may come to 
the full attention of each and every person living in the College. 

Appendix 2: An Anonymous Life 
of Cardinal Cisneros 

1 he following translation is based on the Spanish text printed in 
"An Early Life of Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros," ed. L. Nelson 
and A. Weiss in Franciscan Studies 42 (1982): 156-65. The text is 
transcribed from a manuscript in the Kenneth Spencer Research Li- 
brary of the University of Kansas (MS C238), which contains a 
number of items dated 1524-1541 and relating to the monastery of 
La Madre de Dios in Cisneros' birthplace, Tordelaguna. A reference 
on fol. 5r referring to Charles as "emperor" provides a terminus post 
quern of 1519. The editors suggest that the Life is in the same hand 
as another document with the date "1524". Thus the present bio- 
graphical sketch probably dates from the mid-twenties. From internal 
evidence we know that the author of the Life was, like Cisneros, a 
Franciscan and may have been present at the opening ceremony of 
the University of Alcala. He writes in a sober style and without flat- 
tery. In fact, as the modern editors note, "the absence of hyperbole 
is one of the oustanding characteristics of the work" (p. 159). The 
text is also remarkable for its precision in establishing the date and 
location of the events mentioned. In the following translation, I have 
retained the spelling of proper names as found in the manuscript. 


In the name of God. Amen. 

This is the history of the founder of this convent and the house 
of La Madre de Dios in the village of Torrelaguna. He was an out- 
standing man, called Brother Francisco Ximenez de ^isneros, a native 
of this place, Torrelaguna, of respectable and honest parents. And in 
his youth he decided to adopt clerical status in preference to leading 
a secular life. And in proportion to his maturity, capacity, and learn- 
ing. Our Lord raised him to diverse positions of honour, one after 
another, such as we have never seen in any mortal before. 

138 Appendix 2 

At first, after he had studied law at Salamanca and was already an 
established scholar, he came to this village of Torrelaguna and was 
given, in view of his learning and virtues, the archpriesthood of 
Uzeda. And from this position he rose to become Capellan Mayor of 
Siguenca and chief judge in spiritual and temporal matters in the 
whole archbishopric. 

And, not content with this state of things, since he thought it was 
mingled with worldly matters, he decided to go to the city of Tole- 
do. And he was at the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and there, 
with much effort and importunity, begged and besought a reverend 
father by name of Fray Juan de Tolosa, who was provincial of Cas- 
tile, to allow him to wear the habit of our father St. Francis. And the 
said provincial, seeing his humility and zeal, gave him permission, ac- 
ceding to his wishes. And after having been accepted, he made his 
profession to which he adhered until his death. 

After he had taken the habit, he wanted to live a stricter life of 
rigorous penance and stayed at Nuestra Senora del Castanar, which 
is six leagues outside of Toledo, and he remained there for some 
years. And later, they made him Guardian of the same house of 
Castanar. And while he was there, he led a very strict life of rigorous 
penance, mortifying his body with prayer, abstinence, and discipline. 

And at that time the powerful and Catholic Kings, Don Fernando 
IV [sic] and his wife Dona Ysabel, daughter of the King Don Juan of 
illustrious memory, were reigning in our realms of Castile. The 
Queen determined to make the said Father, who was Guardian of 
Castanar, her confessor, for her ears had been filled with good report 
and praise for his life. 

And then, at one time, when he was Guardian of La Salzeda, near 
Tendilla, a provincial chapter was held for the province of Castile in 
a House and monastery called Sant Istevan, a league outside of Bur- 
gos. At this general assembly [Cisneros] was elected Vicar Provincial 
of Castile in absentia. The outgoing provincial was a religious, who 
was a scholar and a Professor of Theology, called Maestro Manuel. 

At that time Our Lord took from this life the illustrious and 
noble Sefior called Don Pero Goncalez de Mendoza, of illustrious 
memory, Archbishop of the Church of Toledo and Cardinal of 
Spain. He died in the city of Gualdaljara on 10 January 1495, and his 
body was taken to the cathedral of Toledo. And the said Catholic 
Kings decided, since the said Father [Cisneros] was Provincial, to 

Anonymous Life of Cardinal Cisneros 139 

choose him for the position of Archbishop of the Holy Church of 
Toledo, for they believed that he had the qualities required for the 
position. And so he was ordained and invested with the power of the 
archbishop in Tara^ona in the church of the Franciscans on 11 
October, a week after the feastday of our Father St. Francis, in the 
year of the Lord 1495. 

And not much later the aforementioned King Fernando, on his 
return from Italy, brought him the cardinal hat, which put him in 
charge of all of the Spanish realms, and his title was Cardinal of 
Santa Balbina. And when he was Archbishop, the Queen of illustri- 
ous memory, the Senora Dona Ysabel passed from this life. And her 
death fell on a Tuesday, the day after St. Catherine's Day, which is 
the 26 of November in the year of the Lord 1504. It took place at 
Medina del Campo, and afterwards her body was taken for burial to 
the city of Granada. 

The said lord and reverend Archbishop for many years shoul- 
dered the task and office of the Inquisitor General against heretical 
pravity in all the realms of the Catholic Kings. And he converted to 
the Christian faith all the Moors in the city of Granada and baptized 
many with his own hands. And he was instrumental in the conver- 
sion to Christianity of all the Moors of the realm of Granada. They 
were countless in number, for the city was then very populous and 
had many inhabitants. And the same goes for the whole realm. And 
that was in the year 1497. And a little later all the Moors in the 
realm of Castile converted to Christianity, and that was in the year 
of Our Lord, 1502. 

Furthermore, [Cisneros] had such fervour and zeal for the faith 
that he decided to expose his life to the danger of death and risk 
everything he had. And he set in train an expedition for the regions 
of the infidels in Africa to gain as much territory as he could and to 
subject the infidels to the holy Catholic faith. And he brought to- 
gether as many troops as he could, both cavalry and peasants as 
footsoldiers, and went to the port of Cartajena, for he thought that 
this port was most convenient to advance his good project. And he 
embarked on 18 May in the year of the Lord 1509. And Our Lord 
gave him such good fortune and victory that by divine dispensation 
and benevolence he took in combat the city of Oran on the follow- 
ing Friday, which was the day after the Lord's Ascension. More than 
eight thousand Moors were taken captive and more than four thou- 

140 Appendix 2 

sand killed. And the booty taken there, according to the report of 
those present, was worth more than fifteen [my correction of "five 
hundred"] thousand ducats. Over three hundred Christian captives 
were freed, who had been held in the city's dungeon. And shortly after- 
wards he turned all mosques into churches and consecrated them. 

Furthermore, in the year of the Lord 1516, on the day of St. Al- 
fonso, which is 23 January, the most excellent and powerful Catholic 
King Don Fernando of illustrious memory passed away. And this 
happened in a place called Madrigalejo, a village in Trugillo, which is 
between Guadalupe and Medellin. And his body was taken to the 
city of Granada to be buried by the side of his wife, the said Queen 
Dona Ysabel, for he had given orders to be buried there. And before 
God took him from this life, he made the said Archbishop Governor 
General of the realms of Castile and Aragon, for his only daughter 
and heiress of Castile, called Dona Juana, the wife of King Don 
Filipe of illustrious memory, lived at that time a retired life at Torde- 
silla. On account of a certain impediment she could not be entrusted 
with the government. And with the consent of the grandees whom 
he was able to assemble there, [Cisneros], as stated, became governor. 
And he ruled these realms in great peace and concord and justice. 
And he greatly favoured the common people and was popular, both 
among the dependents of his archbishopric and all the realms which 
he had under his rule. And the Archbishop governed these realms 
from the death of King Don Filipe [1506] until King Don Fernando 
came from Italy, and after the death of King Don Fernando [1516] 
until the arrival of his grandson and Emperor Don Carlos, son of the 
said Senora Dona Juana and King Filipe. Thus, from the time when 
he was ordained Archbishop until his demise he lived twenty-two 
years and one month in a most praiseworthy manner, holding these 
offices and positions of honour. 

Furthermore the lord and Archbishop, returning from the con- 
quest of Oran, which was a great and memorable undertaking, did 
many other notable things both in the Cathedral of Toledo and in 
the whole of his see. He favoured especially and had much zeal for 
the study of divinity. He built at his own cost an imposing and 
sumptuous college in Alcala de Henares in which lectures are given 
in all the liberal arts and in canon law and theology, in Greek, He- 
brew and medicine, by as many great doctors as he was able to bring 
together. And he gave to the college great income and permanent 

Anonymous Life of Cardinal Cisneros 141 

rents and grants and obtained for it many prebends and livings and 
was much involved in regulating and arranging all of those things. 
Thus many are graduating from the college and have graduated who 
are great men of learning, and there is no longer any need to go to 
other academies or colleges outside the realm. And the first year in 
which they began lectures in the disciplines was the year of the Lord 
1508, on the day of Santiago, on which the students walked in pro- 
cession from the college to the church, called Santiago, and there 
were then about five hundred students. And every day the number 
of teachers and students grew, and today the university is established 
and will be everlasting. 

Also, he built beside the college in Alcala a monastery which is 
called Sant Juan de la Penitencia. It is meant for nuns and young 
women, so that those who want to take vows may stay there, and 
those who intend to marry may be helped with their marriage plans. 

He also built at his cost a monastery in Toledo that is also called 
San Juan de la Penitencia, in the same form and manner as the one at 
Alcala. And to both he gave endowments and rents which were quite 
sufficient for the maintenance of those who lived there as well as for 
assisting with the marriages of those who wanted to be married. 

He built another monastery in the village of Yllescas for nuns, 
and there too he left rents for their maintenance. He also built the 
Church of St. luste in Alcala and attached to it 17 canonries and 12 
prebends. And the canons were professors of holy theology of the 
graduates in the said college, and if one canonry should become 
vacant it would be taken over by the oldest one in the college, who 
would then also be professor of theology. And the canonries were 
worth fifty thousand maravedis and the prebends fifteen thousand. 
Furthermore he stored in Toledo twenty thousand ^neg^5 [a measure 
of 55 litres] of wheat in the granary of the said city that the city 
might have provisions in times of need and famine, and that the price 
of bread would not rise. He did this out of love for the poor. And all 
this he did at his own cost. Likewise he stored in the village of Alcala 
de Henares ten thousand y^neg^5 of wheat. And in this village of Tor- 
relaguna, in which he was born, he stored five thousand fanegas. 

Finally, considering that God had bestowed on him such posi- 
tions of honour and shown him such grace and given him possessions 
in this world for the purpose of doing good, and since he had bene- 
fited other places, there was no reason why his birthplace should be 

142 Appendix 2 

left without any benefit, a place where he had been born and spent 
his childhood. He therefore decided to show his benevolence by 
building at his cost there in Torrelaguna, which was his native 
village, that sumptuous and regal monastery and marvellous choir of 
the observant order of the glorious and seraphic father of ours, St. 
Francis. It is, from first to last, built of stone. And for the sake of 
vocations, he instituted the said monastery which is called La Madre 
de Dios. And he donated all the necessary furnishings, both for the 
church and for saying mass at the altars and the equipment of the 
sacristy, although not so grand as he had wished, for death overtook 
him. And he supplied all the other things which were necessary for 
the offices within the house. And he piped water to the house which 
cost him a quantity of maravedis. And the first year in which he 
began to build the said monastery was at the beginning of June of the 
year of the Lord 1510. And since Our Lord wanted to give him his 
reward and recognition for his work and good deeds, he took him 
from this present life in a place which is called Roa, in the county of 
Sirvela, at the time when he still had the government of the said 
realms. It happened on 8 November, the week after All Saints, in the 
year of the Lord 1517, and his body was taken for burial to the 
collegiate church of Alcala which he built for the honour and glory 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Saint Alfonso. 

In addition to the aforesaid actions of the reverend prelate and 
cardinal, there were others worthwhile reporting, to be remembered 
and to serve as a model for future generations: 

Firstly, that being the Guardian of Castafiar, he was fervent in his 
faith and the desire to become a martyr, and the spirit gave him 
strength, and he took the path toward shedding his blood for Christ, but 
he was held back by God so that he could serve him in another way. 

Secondly, he never departed from the rules governing the life of 
an observant monk in his manner of dress or sleeping arrangements, 
in spite of the rank of dignity and office to which God raised him. 

Also, after he had been made archbishop and until his death he 
never allowed at his table idle or profane talk; and he always engaged 
in learned disputations in the various disciplines, especially theology. 
And because this was known, there were always famous scholars at 
his table who had come to participate in the disputations. 

Also: He built in the Cathedral of Toledo the Mozarabic chapel 
and had the mass celebrated according to the Mozarabic rite, which 

Anonymous Life of Cardinal Cisneros 143 

is the oldest rite in the Latin church and differs from the Roman 
church, but with its authorization. 

Also: He took great care to find scholars proficient in the various 
languages to translate the whole [Bible]. They had to have knowledge 
in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, and Chaldean. 

Also: He instituted reform in the divine office in the See of To- 
ledo, which was much corrupted both as far as the words and the 
singing was concerned. 

Also: He printed diverse books that contained much learning but 
were little known, for the public benefit, and he made financial pro- 
visions for printing them all, because of his lasting love of learning. 



Adrian of Utrecht (Pope Adrian 

VI), 31, 32, 49, 60, 80, 83, 84, 

96, 97, 98, 99, 102, 105 
Africa. See North Africa; Oran 
Aguilar, Marquis de, 102 
Aguilera, 19, 104 
Al-Qul'aya, 55 
Albornoz, Alfonso de, 22, 23 
Albret, Jean d', 77, 89, 90 
Alcala, viii, 9, 11, 12, 18, 40, 41, 

53-60, 80, 105, 109, 116 
Aldine Press, 59 
Alexander VI, Pope, 5, 13, 20, 23, 

Alexander VII, Pope, 110 
Alfonso V of Aragon, 13 
Algiers, 42, 90, 91, 92 
Ahcante, 90 
Alonso (natural son of Ferdinand 

of Aragon), 79 
Alumbrados, 117 
Alvar Ezquerra, Antonio, 116 
Ambrose, St., 16 
America(s). See Indies 
Angela of Foligno, 42 
Arab(s). See Muslims 
Aragon, 1, 2, 7, 8, 13, 14, 19, 20, 

69, 70, 71, 72, 76, 77, 79, 81, 

84, 86, 100, 110 
Aranda, 104 
Argel, Penon del, 91 
Arthur (crown prince of Englanc^, 


Astorga, 100, 101 

Astudillo de la Torre, Maria de, 1 1 

Augustine, St., 16, 63 

Austria, 2, 66 

Avila, 95, 117 

Azaator, Zegri, 34 

Aztecs, 2 

Barbarossa, 42, 90, 91 

Barcelona, 45 

Basel, 65 

Beatas, 42, 43, 44, 45, 117 

Belgium, 78, 84, 98 

Bible, viii, 26, 27, 53, 57, 58, 59, 

60,61,62,64,65, 106, 116. 5ee 

also Complutensian Polyglot; 

Boccaccio, Giovanni, 82 
Bologna, 92 
Bougie, 42, 90, 91 
Bovelles, Charles de, 44 
Brabant, 83 
Brussels, 50, 67, 80, 82, 90, 91, 95, 

96, 101 
Bugia. See Bougie 
Burgos, 30, 47, 49, 50, 66, 74, 89, 

Burgundy, 2, 36, 66, 67, 72, 78, 80, 

81, 82, 83, 95, 96, 97, 98 
Busleiden, Jerome de, 54 

Calatayud, 19 
Callixtus in. Pope, 13 



Cardona, Ramon de, 36, 94 

Carillo, Alfonso, 13, 14, 55, 67 

Cartagena, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41 

Casas, Bartolome de las, viii, 47, 
48, 49, 50, 51, 52 

Castile, 1, 4, 7, 10, 19, 20, 21, 49, 
67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 77, 78, 79, 
80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 89, 
92, 100, 103 

Castilla, Pedro de, 22 

Castrobol, Pedro, 19 

Catherine (daughter of Ferdinand 
and Isabel), 7, 66, 75, 76 

Catherine (daughter of Philip the 
Handsome and Juana), 80 

Catherine of Siena, 42 

Catholic Kings (or: Catholic Mon- 
archs), 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 35, 
66, 93, 97, 100, 101. See also 
Ferdinand of Aragon; Isabel of 

Cazalla, Juan, 37-40 

Cazaza, 36 

Chair-ed-Din. See Barbarossa 

Chaldaic, 58, 61 

Charles I (King of Spain; Emperor 
Charles V), 2, 6, 7, 31, 32, 67, 
69, 73, 76, 78, 80, 82, 82, 84, 
86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 
95, 96, 97, 99, 100, 101, 103, 
104, 105, 114 

Charles Vm (ECing of France), 8, 72 

Chaulx, Charles de la, 89, 98 

Chievres. See Croy, Guillaume de 


Alfonso, 11 
Alvaro, 12 

Cardinal. See Jimenez de Cis- 
neros, Gonzales (Francisco) 

Clarisses. See Poor Clares 

Clement IX, Pope, 110 

Clement X, Pope, 110 

Climacus, John, St., 42 

College de France (or: College 

royal), 54 
College of San Ddefonso, 53, 55, 

56, 109 
Collegium Trilingue, 53 
Commines, Philippe de, 66 
Complutensian Polyglot, viii, 9, 

57-65. See also Bible; Vulgate 
Complutum. See Alcala 
Conchillos, Lope, 49, 50 
Concordat of Bologna, 92 
Constantinople, 32 
Conventuals. See Franciscans 
converso(s), 6, 29, 31 
Cordoba, Gonzalo de, 72, 73 
Coronel, Pablo, 27, 59 
corregidorfes), 4, 22 
cones, 3, 4, 31, 32, 41, 69, 76, 92, 

103, 104 

of Constance, 19 

of Pisa, 77 

of Trent, 13 
Croy, Guillaume de. Lord of 

Chievres, 59, 83, 106 
Cruz, Marta de la, 44, 45 

dejados, 117 

Delfini, Giles, 20 

Denmark, 80 

Deule, Juan de la, 46 

Devotio Modema, 18, 42 

Deza, Diego de, 29, 54, 60 

Diaz, Gonzalo, 30 

Djerba, 42 

Dominican(s), 23, 43, 44, 47, 48, 

Ducas, Demetrios, 59 



Egypt, 41 

El Castafiar, 15 

Eleanor (daughter of Philip the 

Handsome and Juana), 67, 80, 

99, 103 
Encina, Juan del, 67 
Encino, Pedro, 14 
encomiendas, 48-50 
English, England, vii, viii, 7, 35, 

36, 66, 68, 69, 71, 72, 75, 77, 

82, 113, 115 
Erasmus, Desiderius, vii, 10, 33, 53, 

59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 116 
Espafiola, 45, 47, 48, 52 
expectativa, 13, 25 

Ferdinand (son of Philip the 
Handsome and Juana; Infante), 
68, 75, 77, 78, 80, 81, 100, 101, 
102, 103 
Ferdinand of Aragon (King of 

and Philip the Handsome, 

and Naples, 72-3 
and Navarre, 77-8 
and North Africa, 35-6, 

his regency on behalf of 

Juana, 76-8 
also mentioned: 1, 2, 3, 4, 
7, 8, 10, 19, 21, 29, 31, 
36, 40, 41, 42, 48, 49, 
55, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 
73, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 
80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 100 
Fernandez de Cordoba, Diego, 36, 

Fernandez de Pulgar, Pedro, 110 
Ferrer, Luis, 86, 87 
Fez, 40 

Figueroa, Luis de, 50 

Flanders, Flemish, 67, 68, 70, 82, 

83, 84, 86, 96 
Florenzac, 45, 46 
Foix, Germaine de, 69, 72, 77, 81 
France, 2, 5, 8, 44, 45, 53, 54, 66, 

68, 69, 70, 72, 97, 99, 113 
Francis, St., 15, 16, 19, 20 
Francis I (King of France), 54 
Franciscan(s), 12, 15, 18, 19, 20, 

23, 24, 26, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 

48, 52, 56, 111 
Froben, Johann, 61, 66 

Galicia, 76 

Garcia de Guaza, Pedro, 14 

German Empire. See Germany 

Germany, vii, 2, 18, 66, 70, 77 

Ghent, 67 

Gibraltar, 76 

Gigon, 99 

Glassberger, Nicolas, 45 

Gomez de Castro, Alvar, viii, 10, 
11, 12, 20, 22, 24, 26, 38, 39, 
56, 58, 67, 69, 71, 73, 77, 78, 
79, 81, 87, 88, 98, 99, 102, 103, 
104, 105, 106, 108, 109, 115 

Gonzalez de Mendoza, Pedro, 14, 
15, 17 

Granada, 1, 2, 5, 7, 15, 30, 32, 33, 
35, 57, 70, 76 

Greek(s), 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 
61, 63, 64, 106 

Gregory DC, Pope, 20 

Guadalajara, 9, 25, 39 

Guadalupe, 39, 80, 100 

Guas, Juan, 9 

Guaza, Bernardino de, 21 

Guelders, 72 

Guillen de Brocar, Amao, 57, 58, 




Gumiel, Pedro, 55 
Guzman, Gonzalo de, 102 

Habsburg(s), 2, 7, 66 

Hebrew, 53, 54, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 

belches, 33 

Henry IV of Castile, 1 
Henry VII (King of England), 69, 

Henry VEI (King of England), 7, 66 
hermandades, 4 
Herrara, Alfonso de, 55 
Holy League, 77 
Hornillos, 74 
Hungary, 80 
Husillos, 61 

Incas, 2 

Index of Prohibited Books, 45 

Indies, 2, 3, 5, 15, 45, 49, 50, 51, 

Innocent VIII, Pope, 55 
Innocent X, Pope, 109, 110 
Inquisition, 5, 6, 29, 31, 32, 39, 42, 

45, 76, 93 
Isabel of Castile, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 

15, 21, 36, 47, 68, 69, 84, 110 
Isabel (daughter of Ferdinand and 

Isabel), 7, 66, 67 
Isabel (daughter of Philip the 

Handsome and Juana), 67, 80 
Italy, 2, 8, 9, 18, 42, 44, 53, 60, 62, 

72, 76, 82, 89, 116. See also 

Naples, Sicily 

Jerome, St., 16, 63 
Jeronimite(s), 50, 51, 52 
Jerusalem, 41, 44, 45, 70 
Jewish, Judaism, Jews, 3, 6, 7, 15, 
29, 30, 31, 39 

Jimenez de Cisneros 
Garcia, 42 
Gonzales (Francisco), Cardinal 

and ecclesiastical reforms, 

and missions in the New 
World, 45-52 

and the court in Brussels, 
82-5, 95-7 

and the foundation of the 
University of Alcala, 

and the Infante Ferdinand, 

and the Oran expedition, 

as Archbishop of Toledo, 

as confessor of Queen Isa- 
bel, 15-6 

as Inquisitor General, 29- 

as Provincial of Francis- 
cans in Castile, 18-21 

early biographies of, 10-11 

his appearance, 16, 106 

his first regency, 73-6 

his organization of a mili- 
tia, 87-9 

his second regency, 79-94 

his upbringing and educa- 
tion, 11-2 

in modern literature, vii- 
viii, 112-5 

plans for his canonization, 

publications sponsored by 
him, 42-3, 57-65 
Juan (son of Ferdinand and Isa- 
bel), 7, 66, 75 
Juana (daughter of Ferdinand and 
Isabel; "The Mad"), 7, 36, 66, 




67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 

75, 76, 80, 85, 86 
Juana de la Cruz, Santa, 44 
Julius II, Pope, 5, 8, 20, 21, 23, 77 

La Beata de Piedrahita, 43 
Latin, 9, 17, 53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 

61. See also Roman(s), Rome 
Latin Bible. See Vulgate 
Laws of Burgos, 47, 48, 49 
Lefevre d'Etaples, Jacques, 33, 53, 

Leo X, Pope, 19, 59, 62, 93, 99 
Lerma, Pedro de, 27 
Le Sauvage, Jean, 83 
Logroiio, 57, 58, 77 
Lopez de Ayala 

Diego, 39, 82, 84, 86, 88, 91, 
92, 95, 96, 98, 99, 100, 101, 
102, 103, 105 

Pedro, 82 
Lopez de Mendoza, Inigo, 33 
Lopez de Zuniga, Diego, 59, 62 
Louis XII (King of France), 68, 69, 

Louis Xni (King of France), 112, 

Louvain, 53, 54, 55, 83 
Low Countries 18, 53. See also 

Loyola, Ignatius, St., 117 
Luther, Martin, 10, 18, 62 

Maria (daughter of Isabel of Cas- 
tile), 7 

Maria de Santo Domingo, 43, 44, 
45. See also La Beata de Pie- 

Martire, Pietro, 9, 16, 17, 25, 29, 
30, 35, 41, 43, 69, 74, 76, 81, 
83, 85, 90, 91, 93, 96, 99, 102, 
103, 107, 111 

Mary (wife of Emperor Maximil- 
ian), 66 

Maximilian (Emperor), 7, 66, 73, 

Mazalquivir (Mers-el-Kebir), 36, 

Mechelen, 80 

Mendoza, Bernardino de, 25, 26 

Mercader, Luis, 29 

Mers-el-Kebir. See Mazalquivir 

Mexia, Pe(d)ro, 47, 73, 89, 93, 
103, 103, 106 

Military Orders, 4, 95 

Moncado, Hugo de, 93 

Montesinos, Antonio, 47, 48, 50 

Montserrat, 42 

Moorish, Moors, Moriscos. See 

More, Thomas, 7, 115 

Morocco, 111 

Morillon, Guy, 62 

Muslim(s), 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 31-42, 45, 
55,57,90,91, 109, 112, 115 

Madrid, 11,76, 86 
Madrigalejo, 80 
Manrique, Alonso, 81, 82, 96 
Manuel I (King of Portugal), 6, 7, 

Manzanedo, Bernaldino de, 50 
Margaret of Burgundy (daughter 

of Emperor Maximilian), 7, 66, 


Najera, 90 

Nanni, Francesco, 19, 20 

Naples, 2, 8, 36, 68, 70, 72, 73, 76, 

Navarrese, Navarre, 1, 31, 42, 77, 

Navarro, Pedro, 37, 39, 40, 42 
Nebrija, Antonio Elio de, 2, 9, 27, 

58, 60, 61, 62, 63 




Netherlands, 7, 80, 97, 100, 103. 

See also Low Countries 
New Learning, 60 
North Africa, 8, 35, 36, 41, 42, 57, 

89, 90, 109, 117. See also Oran 
Noyon, 83 
Nunez de Guzman, Hernan, 59, 


Observant(s). See Franciscans 

Ocana, 44 

Old Christians, 29 

Oran, 8, 35-41, 44, 45, 76, 109, 
110, 112. See also North Africa 

Order of 

Alcantara. See Military Orders 
Calatrava. See Military Orders 
Santiago. See Military Orders 

Osorio, Alvaro, 100 

Palacios Rubios, Lopes de, 50 

Palencia, 21, 110 

Palencia, Juan de la, 44, 45 

Palermo, 93 

Pamplona, 58 

Paris, 53, 54, 56, 65, 68, 116 

Paul, St., 16, 33 

Paul II, Pope, 13 

Perez Almazan, Miguel, 75 

Philip II (King of Spain), 2 

Philip the Handsome (son of Em- 
peror Maximilian), 7, 8, 36, 25, 
66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 
80, 82 

Pius II, Pope, 13 

Ponce de Leon, Pedro, 34 

Poor Clares, 20, 21, 23 

Portugese, Portugal, 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 
36, 66, 75, 80 

Protestantism, 18 

Pseudo-Dionysius, 42 

Pumilion, Sanchez, 106 

Quint, Mosen, 91 

reconquista, 2, 32 

Reformation, 9, 117 

Rengifo, Gil, 87 

Rodriguez Lucero, Diego, 29, 30 

Roja, Fernando de, 9 

Roman(s), Rome, 1, 4, 12, 13, 14, 

19, 20, 22, 48, 55, 57, 58, 59, 

86,91, 114 
Ruffo, Juan, 43 
Ruiz de Calcena, Juan, 80, 90 
Ruiz, Francisco, 37, 45, 46, 95, 96, 

102, 103, 104, 105 

Salamanca, 12, 17, 54, 56, 59, 60, 
69, 70, 89, 116 

Salceda, 15, 42 

San Juan de la Penitencia, 56 

San Juan de los Reyes, 9, 15 

San Juan de Pie del Puerto, 90 

Santander, 99 

Santo Domingo, Alonso de, 50 

Sardinia, 2 

Schwdrmer, 117 

Scotism, Scotist(s), 56, 57 

Scotus, Duns, 56 

Segovia, 76, 99, 104 

Seville, 30, 48, 54 

Sicily, 2, 17, 70, 72, 89, 93, 94 

Siculo, Marineo, 9, 16, 17 

Sigiienza, 14, 15 

Sixtus IV, Pope, 5 

Solis, Pablo de, 47 


constitutional development, 3-4 
Crown and Church, 4-6 
Crown and marriage politics, 
7-8, 66-7 



patronage of the arts, 8-10 
racial discrimination. See Jews; 

Muslims; Inquisition 
territorial expansion, 1-3, 32 

Spanish Thesis, 18 

studia humanitatis, 116 

Suprema. See Inquisition 

Syriac, 58 

Talavera, Hernando de, 30, 33, 34 

Tenes, 42, 90 

Teresa of Avila, 117 

Thomas, St., 27 

Tlemcen (Tremecen), 37, 40 

Toledo, 9, 10, 11, 13, 18, 21, 22, 
23, 24, 26, 33, 37, 41, 44, 55, 
56, 59, 61, 65, 66, 67, 68, 76, 
82,86,95, 104, 106, 110, 111 

Tordesillas, 74, 103 

Torrelaguna, 11, 12, 14, 26 

Trastamara, 1 

Treaty of Noyon, 83 

Tremecen. See Tlemcen 

Tripoli, 34, 42 

Uceda, 12, 13, 14, 25 
Urban VII, Pope, 110 

Utrecht, 32, 49, 80, 83, 96, 98, 102 

Valencia, 13 
Valla, Lorenzo, 53, 62 
Valladolid, 54, 89, 100, 103 
Vallejo, Juan de, viii, 10, 12, 15, 

22, 34, 57, 58, 82, 87, 91, 93 
Varacaldo, Jorge, 95, 96, 98, 101 
Velasco, Ifiigo de, 81 
Venice, 59, 71 
Vera, Diego de, 91, 92 
Vergara, Juan de, 10, 11, 19, 27, 

59, 61, 105 
Villafafila, 71 
Villalba, Fernando de, 90 
Villaneces, Pedro de, 15 
Villaviciosa, 99 
Vincente Ferrer, San, 42 
Vives, Juan Luis, 116 
Vulgate 59, 61, 64. See also Bible 

Zafra, Fernando de, 33 
Zamora, 50 

Zamora, Alfonso de, 59 
Zaragoza, 79 
Zuazo, Alonso, 52