Spanish Treatises on Government, Society, and Religion in the Time of Philipp II: The "De Regimine Principum" and Associated Traditions

Spanish Treatises on Government, Society, and Religion in the Time of Philipp II: The "De Regimine Principum" and Associated Traditions

Spanish Treatises on Government, Society, and Religion in the Time of Philipp II: The "De Regimine Principum" and Associated Traditions

Spanish Treatises on Government, Society, and Religion in the Time of Philipp II: The "De Regimine Principum" and Associated Traditions

Synopsis

Ronald W. Truman, D.Phil. is a Fellow and Tutor of Christ Church, Oxford, and University Lecturer in Spanish.

Excerpt

This study is presented in the conviction, first, that a good deal remains to be established about Spanish intellectual history in the time of Philip II, and secondly, that Spanish treatises of that period related—some closely, some less so—to the centuries-old 'Mirrors of Princes' or 'Rule of Princes' tradition of writing off er a useful way into further investigation of the issue.

The very importance of this period in Spanish history lends interest to the question. It is a period that has generally been seen as having determined much in the religious and intellectual life of Spain, and in its relations with Europe outside the Peninsula, that would remain largely unchanged until the mid-eighteenth century and later, and to have established self-perceptions and responses in the collective Spanish mind that would retain their power and importance in a social and political sense down to our own times. But these recent times have seen a great renewal of scholarly interest in the examination and re-examination of what the character and conditions of Spanish intellectual and religious life in fact were in a period of Spanish history so important for what followed—the more than forty years of Philip II's reign—and a wide variety of positions have been adopted as regards the issues arising. Work is very much in progress.

Philip's reign began with a religious crisis. In 1557 and 1558 there were discovered at Valladolid, then capital of Spain, and at Seville, the country's largest city and chief commercial centre, groups of individuals who were bound together by a common attachment to a view of Christianity that owed a good deal to the theological emphases of the Protestant Reformers. These groups included persons of social and intellectual consequence: cathedral canons, preachers, former royal chaplains, holders of public office, even some of the nobility. The discovery of such groups—organized, proselytizing, self-confident— greatly troubled the authorities and brought a swift and violent response. From his retirement in Extremadura, Charles V, patron of Erasmus thirty years earlier, now wrote to his daughter Juana, in her capacity as Regent while Philip was still in the Low Countries . . .

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