Jiménez de Cisneros: On the Threshold of Spain's Golden Age

By Erika Rummel | Go to book overview

Individual aspects of the Cardinal’s career are also discussed in recent English literature. His foundation of the University of Alcalá 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-century biographies by Gómez 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 University of Alcalá 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 Bartolomé de las Casas, History of the Indies (trans. A. Collard, New York, 1971) are notable exceptions. My book is an attempt to fill an obvious gap and provide English readers with a concise account of Cisneros’ 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 Gonzálo, which he changed to Francisco after entering the Franciscan order. His last name appears in several Spanish variants: Ximénez, Ximénes, Jiménez, or Jiménes de Cisneros. The Latin form is: Franciscus Ximenius Cisnerius. Except in quotations, which reproduce the spelling of the source, I have used the form “Jiménez 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

-viii-

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