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Twilight of the Renaissance

Twilight of the Renaissance: The Life of Juan de Valdes

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Twilight of the Renaissance
    Book Description:

    Crews focuses on Valdés's service as an imperial courtier and how his employments in Italy influenced both Spanish diplomacy and his own religious thought.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8952-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Maps
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    After spending a day with Giulia Gonzaga, Juan de Valdés gushed: ‘It is the greatest sin that she is not lord over the whole world. God would thus have provided that we poor beggars benefit from her divine conversation, gentility, and, not an inferior point, her beauty.’¹ That ethereal encounter in 1535 would ensure Valdés’s status as one of the most renowned courtiers in Italy. Within a month he would become Giulia’s solicitor, and within six months she became the focus of his humanist circle in Naples. Henceforth Giulia’s fame and Valdés’s influence were inextricable. She was, according to contemporary...

  6. 1 Rebellion’s Child
    (pp. 8-26)

    La Mancha, a land of windmills and arid plains, provides the colourful if impoverished setting for the misadventures of Don Quixote. But La Mancha was more than the realistic reference point for Miguel Cervantes Saavedra’s fictional masterpiece; it bordered the spiritual heart of Castile. Toledo, capital of the ancient Visigothic kingdom and primal see of the Spanish Church, proudly looked down upon the Tajo River and across the plain of La Mancha. In the early sixteenth century, amanchegocould easily envision himself/herself at the epicentre of a great political and spiritual transformation. Toledo was the heart of Castile, and...

  7. 2 Reform School
    (pp. 27-46)

    Trouble stalked Juan de Valdés. He had survived the turbulent waters of comunero-era La Mancha only to be thrown into the perilous sea of Charles V’s reformation diplomacy. Though Charles had condemned Martin Luther’s doctrines at the Diet of Worms in 1521, he could not enforce the diet’s edict because of the Franco-Turkish threat to his territories. Francis I, fearful of Charles’s encirclement of France, tried to take advantage of the Comunero Revolt by attacking Spain and the Spanish vice-royalty of Naples. Francis’s imprisonment following his capture at the Battle of Pavia (1525) was only a temporary setback. After his...

  8. 3 Italian Design
    (pp. 47-72)

    Juan de Valdés needed all the wit and charm he could muster to survive the enmity of the Cobos faction. He endured by gaining the trust of friends and patrons at the papal court useful to the maintenance of Charles’s Italian alliance system. Historians reviewing Charles V’s diplomacy in the 1530s have focused primarily on conciliar negotiations and Charles’s crusade against the Turks, but he did not pursue either of these goals consistently.¹ They were secondary and indeed dependent upon Charles’s ability to maintain his dominion in Italy. In 1529 Charles and his Italian allies had defeated Francis I and...

  9. 4 Cardinal Relations
    (pp. 73-90)

    In Clement VII’s Rome, Juan de Valdés achieved success as a courtier, not as a religious reformer. At the time he left Rome for Naples, he served three ambitious cardinals: Benedetto Accolti, the Cardinal of Ravenna, Ercole Gonzaga, the Cardinal of Mantua, and Cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici, the pope’s nephew. These associations provide insight into Valdés’s career shift from Roman curialist and imperial agent to leader of his own humanist sodality in Naples. As a Secret Chamberlain, Valdés was a member of the papalfamilia, the most important social circle for Roman humanists. Thefamiliaof cardinals ranked second in...

  10. 5 The Valdesian Sodality
    (pp. 91-112)

    Juan de Valdés would never have gained the notoriety and influence he sought without his famous sodality. It began as an informal group seeking advancement at the Neapolitan and imperial courts. By 1536 it gained formal sponsorship from, of all people, Francisco de los Cobos, who became Valdés’s direct supervisor after 1538. It is this official sponsorship that makes Valdés’s sodality a unique example of the cultural and political dialectic between Italy and Spain in the development of the Spanish global empire. As with sodalities in Rome and at other Italian courts, a display of beauty and comfort facilitated linguistic...

  11. 6 Offices and Audits
    (pp. 113-134)

    When Grand Chancellor Gattinara audited the Neapolitan administration in 1521 he wrote, ‘I lost my mind on it.’¹ Gattinara went on to develop a blueprint for reform in Naples. He advised that officials become more concerned with local conditions, especially the administration of justice, which, if unreformed, would lead to ‘perdition and ruin and total destruction.’² Unfortunately, persistent warfare prevented any change. The rebellious barons were bitterly divided into pro-French and pro-Spanish factions who had free rein to indulge their murderous contest when the French invaded the kingdom in 1528. By 1530 conditions in Naples had reached their nadir. Pirates...

  12. 7 Regensburg Justification
    (pp. 135-159)

    The Diet of Regensburg was the nearest Charles V ever came to a religious settlement between his Lutheran and Catholic vassals in Germany, yet historians have almost universally dismissed it as an exercise in futility, a meeting ‘significant only for what it failed to accomplish.’¹ Because it came close to a religious compromise, its objectives have been elevated beyond contemporary expectations. Charles’s immediate goal was to re-establish religious peace in Germany in order to marshal his resources for defence against another massive Turkish invasion. After significant theological concessions from both sides, the diet agreed to supply Charles’s brother Ferdinand with...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 160-168)

    The adjectives that best describe Juan de Valdés are brilliant, spiritual, sensual, earnest, ambitious, deceptive, and egotistical. This odd mixture of conflicting qualities simply reflects the numerous contradictions between Valdés’s writings and his actions. He frequently condemned the Church’s materialism while living ‘like a king’ from the proceeds of absentee prebends. He repeatedly advised Giulia Gonzaga to ignore the loss of a family fortune even though he threatened Cardinal Ravenna over a debt of 3,000 ducats. He constantly extolled Christian humility, but represented himself as the Socratic master in two dialogues. He deprecated ‘worldly honour,’ yet his political ambition surprised...

  14. Appendices
    (pp. 169-190)
  15. Abbreviations
    (pp. 191-192)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 193-252)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-272)
  18. Index
    (pp. 273-282)