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

By Erika Rummel | Go to book overview

6 The Second Regency,
1516–1517

The 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,” Gómez 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

-79-

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