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JUAN DE VALDES (c. 1500-1541)

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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 844 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JUAN DE VALDES (c. 1500-1541), Spanish religious writer, younger of twin sons of Fernando de Valdes, hereditary regidor of Cuenca in Castile, was born about 1500 at Cuenca. He has been confused with his twin-brother Alphonso (in the suite of Charles V. at his coronation in Aix-la-Chapelle, 1520; Latin secretary of state from 1524, died in 1532 at Vienna). Juan, who probably studied at the university of Alcala, first appears as the anonymous author of a politico-religious Didlogo de Mercurio y Caron, written and published about 1528. A passage in this work may have suggested Don Quixote's advice to Sancho Panza on appointment to his governorship. The Didlogo attacked the corruptions of the Roman Church; hence Valdes, in fear of the Spanish Inquisition, left Spain for Naples in 1530. In 1531 he removed to Rome, where his criticisms of papal policy were condoned, since in his Didlogo he had upheld the validity of Henry VIII.'s marriage with Catherine of Aragon. On the 12th of January 1533 he writes from Bologna, in attendance upon Pope Clement VII. From the autumn of 1533 he made Naples his permanent residence, his name being Italianized as Valdesso and Val d'Esso. Confusion with his brother may account for the statement (without evidence) of his appointment by Charles V. as secretary to the viceroy at Naples, Don Pedro de Toledo; there is no proof .of his holding any official position, though Curione (in 1544) writes of him as " cavalliere di Cesare." His house on the Chiaja was the centre of a literary and religious circle; his conversations and writings (circulated in manuscript) stimulated the desire for a spiritual reformation of the church. His first production at Naples was a philological treatise, Didlogo de la Lengua (1533)° His works entitle him to a foremost place among Spanish prose writers. His friends urged him to seek distinction as a humanist, but his bent was towards problems of Biblical interpretation in their bearing on the devout life. Vermigli (Peter Martyr) and Marcantonio Flaminio were leading spirits in his coterie, which included Vittoria Colonna and her sister-in-law, Giulia Gonzaga. On Ochino, for ' They even gave the Hansa a vote in the future election of the Danish kings.whose sermons he furnished themes, his influence was great. Carnesecchi, who had known Valdes at Rome as " a modest and well-bred courtier," found him at Naples (1540) " wholly intent upon the study of Holy Scripture," translating portions into Spanish from Hebrew and Greek, with comments and introductions. To him Carnesecchi ascribes his own adoption of the Evangelical doctrine of justification by faith, and at the same time his rejection of the policy of the Lutheran schism. Valdes died at Naples in May 1541° His death scattered his band of associates. Abandoning the hope of a regenerated Catholicism, Ochino and Vermigli left Italy. Some of Valdes's writings were by degrees published) in Italian translations. Showing much originality and penetration, they combine a delicate vein of semi-mystical spirituality with the personal charm attributed to their author in all contemporary notices. Llorente traces in Valdes the influence of Tauler; any such influence must have been at second hand. The Aviso on the interpretation of Scripture, based on Tauler, was probably the work of Alphonso. Valdes was in relations with Fra Benedetto of Mantua, the anonymous author of Del Benefizio di Gesit Cristo Crocefisso, revised by Flaminio (reprinted by Dr Babington, Cambridge, 1855). The suggestion that Valdes was unsound on the Trinity was first made in 1567 by the Transylvanian bishop, Francis David (see article Socrxus); it has been adopted by Sand (1684), Wallace (185o) and other anti-Trinitarian writers, and is countenanced by Bayle. To this view some colour is given by isolated expressions in his writings, and by the subsequent course of Ochino (whose heterodox repute rests, however, on the insight with which he presented objections). Valdes never treats of the Trinity (even when commenting on Matt. xxviii. 19), reserving it (in his Latte Spiritasale) as a topic for advanced Christians; yet he explicitly affirms the consubstantiality of the Son, whom he unites in doxologies with the Father and the Holy Spirit (Opusc. p. 145). Practical theology interested him more than speculative; his aim being the promotion of a healthy and personal piety. The following is a list of his writings (1) Didlogo de Mercurio y Caron (no date or place; 1528?). An Italian translation by Nicolo Franco, Venice (no date); reprinted, Venice, 1545. Bound with the original (and with the translation) will usually be found a Didlogo by Alphonso de Valdes on the sack of Rome in 1527; this is also ascribed to Juan in the reprint, Dos Didlogos (185o). (2) Dialogo de la Lengua (written, 1533; first printed, Madrid, 1737; reprinted, 186o, 1873). (3) Qual Maniera si devrebbe tenere a in"ormare . . . gli figliuoli de Christiani delle Cose delta Religione (no date or place; before 1545, as it was used by the Italian translator of Calvin's catechism, 1545)• No Spanish original is known. Reproduced as Latte Spirituale, Basel, 1549; Paris, 1550; in Latin, by Pierpaolo Vergerio, 1554; 1557; in Spanish, by Ed. Boehmer, 1882 ; in English, by' J. T. Betts, 1882 ; also in German (twice) and in Polish. (4) Trataditos, Bonn, 1881, from a manuscript in the Palatine Library, Vienna; in Italian, I Cinque Tratatelli Evarlgelici, Rome, 1545; reprinted, 1869; in English, by J. T. Betts, in XVII Opuscules, 1882. (5) Alfabeto Christiano (written about 1537), in Italian, Venice, 1545; in English, by 'B. B. Wiffen, 1861; no Spanish original is known. (6) Ciento i Diez Conrideraciones. all copies of the original edition suppressed by the Spanish Inquisition; thirty-nine of the Con-4ideraciones, published with the Trataditos, from a Vienna manuscript; in Italian, by Cclio Secondo Curione, Le Cento et Dieci Divine Consideratione, Basel, 1550; in French, by Claude de Kerquifinen, Lyons, 1563; Paris, 1565; in English, by Nicholas Ferrar (at the instance of George Herbert), Oxford, 1638; Cambridge, 1646; another version by J. T. Betts, 1865; in Spanish,' by Luis Usoz i Rio, 1855. (7) Seven Doctrinal Letters (original published with the Trataditos from Vienna manuscript), in English, by J. T. Betts, with the Opuscules. (8) Comentario Breve . . . sobre la Epistola de San Pablo a los Romanos, Venice, 1556 (with text; edited by Juan Perez de Pineda); reprinted, 1856; in English, by J. T. Betts, 1883. (9) Comentario Breve ... sabre la Primera Epistola de san Pablo a los Corintios, Venice, 1557 (edited, reprinted and translated as No. 8). (1o) El Evangelio de San Mateo (text arid commentary), 1881, from Vienna manuscript; in English, by J. 'T. Betts, 1883. (II) El Saiterio (the Psalms from Hebrew into Spanish), published with the Trotaditos from Vienna manuscript. (12) At Vienna is an unpublished commentary in Spanish on Psalms i.-xli. (13) Sand mentions a commentary on St John's Gospel, not known to exist. Notices of Valdes in Sand (Biblioth. Antitrinitar, 1684), Bayle and Wallace (Antitrin. Biog., 185o) are inadequate. Revival of interest in him is due to McCrie (Hist. Ref. in Italy, 1827 ; Hist. Ref. in Spain, 1829). Fuller knowledge of his career was opened up by Benjamin B. Wiffen, whose Life of Valdes is prefixed to Betts's translation of the Considerations, 1865. Discoveries have since been made in the Aulic Library, Vienna, by Dr Edward Boehmer; cf. his Span. Reformers of Two Centuries (1874), his Lives of J. and A. de Valdes (1882), and his article in, Realencyklopddie fur prat. Theol. and Kirche (1885). See also M. Young, Aonio Paleario (186o) ; K. Benrath, Bernardino Ochino (1875;) Menendez Pelayo, Los Heterodoxos Espauoles (188o) ; G. Bonet-Maury, Early Sources of Eng. Unit. Christ. (trans. E. P. Hall, 1884). (A. Go.*)
End of Article: JUAN DE VALDES (c. 1500-1541)
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