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Son of the Alhambra

Son of the Alhambra
Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, 1504—1575

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.

January 1970
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476 pages | 6 x 9 | b&w illus. |
ISBN: 
978-0-292-74180-5
Description: 

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.

Contents: 
  • 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
Author: 

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.