Lecture Series

Cisneros: the man and the politician. Biographical project "Eminent Spaniards"

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Confessor of the queen Isabel since 1492, archbishop of Toledo in 1495, general inquisitor for Castilla, two times governor of the kingdom, Cisneros was the strong man of his time. Ecclesiastic, convinced about the urgency to reform the discipline, traditions, and the education of the clergy. He spends a good part of the archbishopric's incomes in the foundation in Alcalá de Henares of the university that is needed in the new times, favoring the new paths of spirituality.

Cisneros presents other faces that show him as a statesman. He foreshadows the interventionism of the modern State in economical questions. For him, the State should look for the common good and have its place over the factions and the parties. With the creation of permanent militia he attempts creating a troop permanently in service of the monarch. The noble landowners objected to the project. The Spain dreamed by Cisneros would have been very different of the one configured by the emperor Carlos V. Unfortunately for Spain, the time of Cisneros arrived late and he failed in the struggle to reform the administration and the way of government. His attempts of mercantilist sign to develop a national industry, limiting exportations, could not be of the likes of a sovereign ruling at the same time in Castilla and Flanders: the Flemish needed the wool of Castilla, the key of their prosperity; and at the same time the aristocrats of Castilla, owners of the flocks and pastures, as well as the merchants of Burgos, were interested in the exportation of this wool. The comuneros in 1520 did collect some of the guiding ideas of Cisneros, but the also bumped into the power of the nobility.

Joseph Pérez