The Hutchinson Encyclopedia of the Renaissance

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Xavier, St Francis (1506-1552)

Spanish Jesuit missionary. He went to the Portuguese colonies in the East Indies, arriving at Goa in 1542. He was in Japan 1549-51, establishing a Christian mission that lasted for 100 years. He returned to Goa in 1552, and sailed for China, but died of fever there. He was canonized in 1622.

Xenophon (c. 428 BC-c. 354 BC)

Ancient Athenian soldier and writer. He was a follower of Socrates, whom he commemorated in his Memorabilia. Unhappy with Athenian democratic politics, he joined the army of Cyrus; after the king's death, Xenophon was made general and led the troops' retreat. His contact with Cyrus inspired Cyropedia, a work which later gained the praise of the Roman politician Cicero. Other works include Hiero (c. 403 BC), a discussion of the tribulations faced by a tyrant.

Xenophon's work was unknown in Western Europe before the 15th century; his earliest translator was leonardo Bruni. His version of the Hiero, which might be called a 'mirror for tyrants', was certainly the most popular of Xenophon's works in the 15th century, but the Cyropedia -- an idealized 'mirror for princes' text -- also enjoyed a wide circulation. It was translated (in an abridged form) into Latin by Poggio in 1446; his version was, in turn, translated into French by Vasco de Lucena ( 1470) and Italian by both Poggio's son Jacopo (c. 1476) and Boiardo (c. 1470). Poggio's translation received criticism from an unsurprising quarter: Francesco Filelfo, who produced his own version in 1467. While Poggio's proved successful in manuscript circulation, his rival's became the standard printed version, until revised by Henri Estienne in 1561.

The interest in Xenophon, then, can be characterized as mainly political, although other works, like his discussions of hunting, were rendered into Latin (by, among others, Lapo da Castiglionchio); the Memorabilia was translated by Cardinal Bessarion and part of this work -- the tale of Heracles at the crossroads where he chooses between virtue and vice -- became standard reading in the 16th century, with several Latin versions, including one by Philip Melanchthon.

Ximénes de Cisneros, Francisco (1436-1517)

Spanish churchman, politician, and scholar. He was an energetic church reformer, seeking a return to more austere standards of Christian life, and he encouraged the conversion of the Moors of Granada. In 1507 he became inquisitor-general. A noted scholar and patron of the arts, he patronized the project to produce the Complutensian Polyglot Bible; the work on this was carried out at the university of Alcalá which he founded in 1500.

A Castilian by birth, he studied at Salamanca, becoming doctor in both canon and civil law. In 1492 Isabella of Castile chose him as her confessor and in 1495 he became archbishop of Toledo. From January 1516 until his death in November 1517 at Valladolid, he was governor of Castile and consolidated the unification of Spain achieved by Ferdinand and Isabella.


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