Juan de Mariana


Juan de Mariana was a theologian and historian, a member of the Society of Jesus. He lived between the 16th and 17th centuries, in the middle of the Spanish Golden Age. Teaching was his true vocation, to which he dedicated himself body and soul in France, Italy and Spain.

His character and honesty led him to maintain compromised philosophical and political positions, since he questioned the divine origin of authority and the economic policies of the moment. However, his intellectual prestige and his many contacts allowed him to overcome difficulties.

Juan de Mariana was born in Talavera de la Reina in 1536. He was the son of a dean of this city. A humble and illegitimate origin, which would mark his life. At the age of seventeen, he went to Alcalá de Henares to study Arts and Theology. In that environment he received the influence of Renaissance Humanism. There he entered the Society of Jesus, tutored by San Francisco de Borja until he professed in 1554.

From Alcalá he moved to the Jesuit college in Rome to complete his priestly training. From 1561 he worked as a teacher and stood out for his intellectual capacity and his oratory. With a resentful health, he went to Loreto and Messina, where he continued teaching. In 1569 he was sent to the Clermont College in Paris, where he obtained his doctorate and dedicated himself to the teaching of Thomist theology.

During his stay in France, in 1572, he experienced an important historical episode that shocked him: the massacre of Saint Bartholomew. This event meant the mass murder of the Huguenots, a Calvinist Christian trend, declared heresy, within the framework of the wars of religion in 16th century France.

After this episode, he requested to return to Spain, alleging health reasons, a request that was granted in 1574. He settled in a Jesuit convent in Toledo, the city in which he dedicated himself.
to the priestly ministry and to write commissioned works. For a decade he carried out a silent investigative work on numerous historical, political and economic issues, on which he would not publish anything until fifteen years later. Work that he made compatible with the exercise of the priesthood.

The absolution of the royal Bible

Four years after returning to Spain, he was commissioned to report on the possible heterodoxy of the royal Bible. This polyglot work was published between 1568 and 1572 by the humanist Benito Arias Montano, in the Flemish city of Antwerp.

After two years of intense study, de Mariana issued a favorable report, thereby exonerating him from such accusation. Although it surprised many, this decision could be linked to the impact caused by the slaughter of French Huguenots. The argumentative capacity and the deep knowledge that he demonstrated in this work earned him a general respect.

From this moment he devoted himself to the herculean task of writing his Historiae de rebus Hispaniae, whose publication began in 1592. In 1601 his own translation was published in Castilian, with the title General History of Spain. The work covers the period between antiquity until the death of Ferdinand the Catholic.

Finally, in 1624, at the age of eighty-seven, death reached him in Toledo. Death came to him while working on some Scholia to the Old and New Testaments, a work of biblical exegesis that was based on the text of the Vulgate.

Thought of Juan de Mariana

Juan de Mariana was interested in very diverse subjects, but in all of them he showed a strong ethical commitment and deep knowledge. He was concerned with theological, historical, political, and economic issues.

Civil society as a source of legitimation of power

On De rege et regis institutione, In 1599, he presented the fundamental axes for the education of the prince. This work was the result of their friendship Loaysa, who assumed the responsibility of educating the future king.

Unlike Machiavelli or Bodino, he defended the need to establish clear limits to political power. This position draws on the artistotelicotomist tradition, according to which society is prior to political power. Consequently, he affirmed that society is entitled to recover its original rights, if the Government is not useful to it.

In addition, he developed the doctrine of tyranny, accepted among scholastic authors, and theorized about the right to kill a tyrant.

Criticism of monetary policy and inflation

In 1609 he published Septem tractatus, where he presented his ideas on monetary policy. In the fourth part, From Monetae mutatione (On the alteration of the currency), he spoke out against the monetary policy followed by the Hispanic Monarchy, which had as its objective
finance the growing expenses incurred by the State, such as those caused by the constant wars in which it was involved. This was based on reducing the amount of metal in the coins, which caused their devaluation. In Juan de Mariana's opinion, all of this meant subjecting the people to widespread robbery.

With the publication of the work, at the age of 73, Father Mariana was denounced and locked up. The king himself and his valid, the Duke of Lerma promoted this trial. In the process, he had to defend himself against the fourteen crimes attributed to him by the prosecutor Gil de Mota. His deep feeling of justice made him not recant, despite the serious accusations made against him. Finally, Juan de Mariana was released, without, despite this, any resolution being known in this regard.

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