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Son of the Alhambra

[ History ]

Son of the Alhambra

Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, 1504—1575

By Erika Spivakovsky

Last of the Spanish Renaissance men, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1504—1575) was a master of the humanist disciplines as well as an active diplomat whose correspondence provides insight into the workings of power politics in the first post-Machiavellian decades.

1970

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Paperback

6 x 9 | 476 pp. | 0 illustrated

ISBN: 978-0-292-74180-5

Last of the Spanish Renaissance men, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1504–1575) was a master of the humanist disciplines as well as an active diplomat whose correspondence provides insight into the workings of power politics in the first post-Machiavellian decades.

This account of Mendoza's diplomatic career is a living commentary on the mid-sixteenth century, the time of the Spanish Inquisition and the Reformation, with its upheavals in the European balance of power. Mendoza served as ambassador of Charles V to Venice and Rome and as governor of Siena. His political life complements the reign of the Emperor whose ambition was to become a universal monarch.

An interesting contradiction in Mendoza's thought—his humanist theories versus personal ambition—prevented him from successful implemention of tyrannical imperial policies. His role in the government of the Holy Roman Empire shows how the exertion of imperialist power, humanist ethics notwithstanding, inevitably entails corruption, hypocrisy, greed, and imbalance in the one who tries to wield this power.

Gifted to the point of universal genius, Mendoza was perhaps the foremost representative of the splendid but little-known epoch of Spanish humanism, the era between the death of Queen Isabel (1504) and the abdication of her grandson Charles V (1556). Spain's short-lived Renaissance came to an abrupt end with the accession of Philip II and the almost simultaneous onset of the Counter Reformation. To this changed Spain, under monolithic thought control now exacted and enforced by monarch and Inquisition, Mendoza returned to live the last third of his life, mostly in obscurity, and in the last few years in royal disgrace.

Based on primary sources, this first biography of Mendoza in English also examines the relevance of some of Don Diego's disputed literary works to the legend that grew up around him as a spokesman for latent unorthodox opinion.

Preface

1. Background
Mendozas and Pachecos
Childhood in Granada

2. Formative Years, to 1529
Educational Climate
Intermittent Appearances in Spain and Italy
Student in Italy

3. In the Emperor’s Service, 1532–1538
The New Vassal of His King
Tunis
First Official Appointment
Mission to England

4. Venice, 1539–1540
Arrival in Venice
The Palazzo near San Barnaba
The Holy League
The Venetian Government
The Visit of the Marquis of Vasto
Shady Dealings

5. Growing Spanish-French Hostility, 1540–1544
Conquistador or Pope?
A Jewess in Venice
An International Incident
Revelation of French Treason
New French-Spanish War

6. Trent, 1545–1546
The Ecumenical Council Convenes
Mendoza versus De Soto
On the Threshold of Maturity

7. Imperialism in Action, 1547–1549
The Political Situation in 1547
Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici
The “Piombino Affair.”

8. Rome, 1547
First Relations with the Farneses
Madama
The Pier Luigi Farnese Case

9. Spiritual War, 1547–1548
The Last Chance
The Protest
Freedom of Conscience

10. Change in the Papacy, 1549–1550
The Death of Pope Paul III
The Conclave
The New Pope Astonishes

11. The Castle of Siena, 1547–1551

12. The War of Parma, 1550–1552

13. The Debacle, 1552
Too Little—and Too Late
A Fair-Weather Friend

14. Honor Saved, 1553
“Hidalgo de España” and His King
Renunciation of Fame

15. A Splendid Era Ends, 1554–1559
Outfitter of Philip’s Armadas
Changes in the Latter 1550s
The Carranza Case

16. At the Court of Philip II, 1559–1568
The Old Bachelor
The Day of Truth

17. The War of Granada, 1569–1571
The Native Returns
Place of Banishment
Don Diego and the War

18. Benefactor of His King, to 1575
Epilogue
Appendix
Bibliography
Index

Erika Spivakovsky (1909–1998) became interested in Mendoza while researching a book on the expulsion in 1492 of the Jews from Spain. Under the auspices of the Radcliffe Institute she traveled extensively in Spain and Italy, visiting places connected with Mendoza's life and gathering material from local archives.