Fray Luis de Leon - A Biographical Fragment
by James Fitzmaurice-Kelly
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A Biographical Fragment



With a Portrait from an engraving after Pacheco.




This biographical sketch is, in fact, a fragment of a book which will now never come into existence. This particular chapter has been snatched from the burning by an accident. The name of Luis de Leon deservedly ranks as high as that of any poet in the history of Spanish literature; but his reputation as a poet is mostly local, while he is known all the world over as the subject of a dubious anecdote. The attempt is now made to render him more familiar than he has hitherto been to English-speaking people, and to do this, to exhibit the man as he was, it proved necessary to analyse the two volumes of his first trial, the evidence of which is brought together in vols. X and XI of the Coleccion de Documentos ineditos para la Historia de Espana. Edited by Miguel Salva and Pedro Sainz de Baranda, these volumes appeared in 1847; their value is incontestable, but, though they give the evidence as it occurs in the register of the Inquisition, this evidence is not arranged in consistent chronological order, nor is it supplied with an index. The work, printed seventy-three years ago, is not within easy reach of every reader; and of those who have access to it not all are patient enough to read steadily through so large a mass of somewhat incoherent matter. Should any such readers be tempted to examine the record closely, it is hoped that this sketch will do something to make their task easier. An attempt is made here to picture the man as he was, full of fortitude, yet not exempt from human weakness. I trust that I have avoided the temptation to go to the opposite extreme, and lay the blame—as has been done—for the irregularities of the trial at Luis de Leon's own door.

In dealing with his Spanish poems, I have tried not to put his claims to consideration too high. Laboulaye, in La Liberte religieuse, calls Luis de Leon 'le premier lyrique de l'Europe moderne'. This phrase dates from 1859, and was addressed to a generation which delighted in arranging authors in something like the order of a class list. Though I have the highest opinion of Luis de Leon's genius, I have not felt tempted to follow Laboulaye's example; I have by preference discussed, so far as space allows, such points as the probable chronology of Luis de Leon's poems. Once more I repeat that this is a chapter of a book that will now never be written.

It may be as well to add at this point a few explanatory words concerning the plan of accentuation adopted here. There seems to be no valid reason for applying, in a book primarily intended for English readers, the modern Academic system to proper names borne in the sixteenth century by men who lived more than three hundred years before the current system was ever invented. Except of course in the case of quotations, that system is applied rigidly only to the names of those who have adopted it formally (as on pp. 114 n. and 191 n.). I have gone on the theory that accents should be sparingly used in a work of this kind, and that, as accents are almost needless for Spaniards they should be employed only when the needs of foreigners compel their use. It is a fundamental rule in Spanish that nearly all words ending in a consonant should be stressed on the last syllable. But since nobody, however slightly acquainted with Spanish, is tempted to pronounce such words as Velazquez (p. 79) or Gomez (p. 250) incorrectly, no graphic accent is employed in such cases. Names ending in s—such as Valbas—are accentuated, however, when the stress falls on the last syllable: this prevents all possibility of confusion with the pronunciation of ordinary plural forms. Place-names—such as Bejar (p. 58) and Cordoba (p. 184)—are accentuated; so are trisyllables and polysyllables such as Gongora (p. 209) and Zuniga (p. 57 and elsewhere). It will be seen that, in this matter, I have been guided by strictly utilitarian principles. Inconsistencies are perhaps unavoidable under any system. The plan followed here, while it tends to diminish the total number of accents, probably involves no more inconsistencies than any other. It is based on rational grounds, and is, it may be hoped, less offensive to the eye than the current system. Quotations, I repeat, are reproduced exactly as they stand in the sources from which they profess to be taken.

With these words, I close what I have to say here on this subject and commend these pages to the indulgent judgement of my readers.

The following works, or articles, may be usefully consulted by the student of Spanish.

EDITIONS. LUIS DE LEON: Obras, ed. A. Merino, Madrid, 1804-5-6-16. 6 vols. [reprinted with a preface, by C. Muinos Saenz, Madrid, 1885, 6 vols.]; Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles, vols. XXXV, XXXVII, LIII, LXI, and LXII; De los nombres de Cristo, ed. F. de Onis, Madrid, 1914-1917 [Clasicos castellanos, vols. XXVIII and XXXIII]; La perfecta casada, ed. E. Wallace, Chicago, 1903; La perfecta casada, ed. A. Bonilla y San Martin, Madrid, 1917; El perfecto predicador, ed. C. Muinos Saenz in La Ciudad de Dios (1886), vol. XI, pp. 340-348, 432-447, 527-537; (1886), vol. XII, pp. 15-25, 104-111, 211-218, 322-330, 420-427, 504-512; (1887), vol. XIII, pp. 32-38, 106-114, 213-222, 302-312; (1887), vol. XIV, pp. 9-17, 154-160, 305-315, 449-459, 581-591, 729-743; Exposition del Miserere [facsimile of the Barcelona ed. of 1632], ed. A.M. Huntington, New York, 1903.

WORKS OF REFERENCE: Proceso original que la Inquisicion de Valladolid hizo al maestro Fr. Luis de Leon, religioso del orden de S. Agustin, ed. M. Salva and P. Sainz de Baranda, in Coleccion de Documentos ineditos para la Historia de Espana (Madrid, 1847), vol. X, pp. 5-575, and vol. XI, pp. 5-358; J. Gonzalez de Tejada, Vida de Fray Luis de Leon (Madrid, 1863); C.A. Wilkens, Fray Luis de Leon (Halle, 1866); A. Arango y Escandon, Frai Luis de Leon, ensayo historico, 2 ed. (Mexico, 1866) [the first edition appeared in La Cruz (Mexico, 1855-56)]; F.H. Reusch, Luis de Leon und die spanische Inquisition (Bonn, 1873); M. Gutierrez, El misticismo ortodoxo (Valladolid, 1886); M. Gutierrez, Fray Luis de Leon y la filosofia espanola del siglo XVI, 2 ed. aumentada (Madrid, 1891) [Adiciones postumas in La Ciudad de Dios (1907), vol. LXXIII, pp. 391-399, 478-494, 662-667; vol. LXXIV, pp. 49-55, 303-414, 487-496, 628-643; in La Ciudad de Dios (1908), vol. LXXV, pp. 34-47, 215-221, 291-303, 472-486]; J.M. Guardia, Fray Luis de Leon ou la poesie dans le cloitre, in the Revue germanique (1863), vol. XXIV, pp. 307-342; M. Menendez y Pelayo, Horacio en Espana, Solaces bibliograficas 2 ed. (Madrid, 1885), vol. I, pp. 11-24, vol. II, pp. 26-36; M. Menendez y Pelayo, Estudios de critica literaria, 1 serie (Madrid, 1893), pp. 1-72; F. Blanco Garcia, Segundo proceso instruido por la Inquisicion de Valladolid contra Fray Luis de Leon (Madrid, 1896); F. Blanco Garcia, Fray Luis de Leon: rectificaciones biograficas, in the Homenaje a Menendez y Pelayo (Madrid, 1899), vol. I, pp. 153-160; J.D.M. Ford, Luis de Leon, the Spanish poet, humanist and mystic, in the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (Baltimore, 1899), vol. XIV, pp. 267-278; F. Blanco Garcia, Fr. Luis de Leon: estudio biografico del insigne poeta agustino (Madrid, 1904); Acta de la reposicion de Fray Luis de Leon en una catedra de la Universidad de Salamanca in the Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, Tercera epoca (1900), vol. IV, pp. 680-682; L.G. Alonso Getino, La Causa de Fr. Luis de Leon ante la critica y los nuevos documentos historicos, in the Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, Tercera epoca (1903), vol. IX, pp. 148-156, 268-279, 440-449; (1904), vol. XI, pp. 288-306, 380-397; C. Muinos Saenz, El 'Deciamos ayer' de Fray Luis de Leon, (Madrid, 1905); L. Alonso Getino, Vida y procesos del maestro Fr. Luis de Leon (Salamanca, 1907); C. Muinos Saenz El 'Deciamos ayer'... y otros excesos, in La Ciudad de Dios (1909), vol. LXXVIII, pp. 479-495, 544-560; vol. LXXIX, pp. 18-34, 107-124, 191-212, 353-374, 529-552; vol. LXXX pp. 99-125, 177-197; F. de Onis Sobre la trasmision de la obra literaria de Fray Luis de Leon, in the Revista de Filologia Espanola (Madrid, 1915), vol. II pp. 217-257; R. Menendez Pidal, Una poesia inedita de Fray Luis de Leon, in the Revista de Filologia Espanola (Madrid, 1917), vol. IV, pp. 389-390; C. Perez Pastor, Bibliografia madrilena (Madrid, 1891-1906-1907), parte ii, pp. 254-255, and parte iii, pp. 404-409; G. Vazquez Nunez, El padre Francisco Zumel, general de la Merced y catedratico de Salamanca (1540-1607), in Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, Tercera epoca (1918), vol. XXXVIII, pp. 1-19, 170-190; (1918), vol. XXXIX, pp. 53-67, 237-266; (1919), vol. XL, pp. 447-466, 562-594.

J. F-K.

PS. Had they reached me in time, the following two items would have been included in the respective sections of the foregoing summary bibliography: Poesias originales de Fray Luis de Leon, ed. F. de Onis, San Jose de Costa Rica, 1920; Ad. Coster, Notes pour une edition des poesies de Luis de Leon in the Revue hispanique (1919), vol. XLVI, pp. 193-248.


We are all of us familiar with the process of 'whitewashing' historical characters. We are past being surprised at finding Tiberius portrayed as an austere and melancholy recluse, Henry VIII pictured as a pietistic sentimentalist with a pedantic respect for the letter of the law, and Napoleon depicted as a romantic idealist, seeking to impose the Social Contract on an immature, reluctant Europe. Though the 'whitewashing' method is probably not less paradoxical than the opposite system, it makes a stronger and wider appeal, inasmuch as it implies a more amiable attitude towards life, and is more consonant with a flattering conception of the possibilities of human nature. A prosaic narrative of established facts does not immediately recommend itself to the average man. Possibly few have existed who were so good and so great that they can afford to have the whole truth told about them. At any rate, it is easier to convey a picturesque general impression than to collect all the available evidence with the untiring persistence of a model detective and to present it with the impartial acumen of a competent judge. Moreover, the inertia of pre-existing opinion has to be overcome. Once readers have been accustomed to accept as absolutely authentic an idealized conventional portrait of a man of genius, it is difficult to induce them to abandon it for a more realistic likeness. In the interest of historical truth, however, the attempt must be made. We are sometimes told that 'historical truth can afford to wait'. That may be true; but it has waited for nearly four centuries, and, if it be divulged in English now, the revelation lays us open to no reasonable charge of indiscretion or indecent haste.

It may be that the name of Luis de Leon is comparatively unknown outside the small group of those who are regarded as specialists. Luis de Leon is nothing like so famous as Cervantes, as Lope de Vega, as Tirso de Molina, as Ruiz de Alarcon, and as Calderon, whose names, if not their works, are familiar to the laity. This is one of chance's unjust caprices. With the single exception of Cervantes perhaps no figure in the annals of Spanish literature deserves to be more celebrated than Luis de Leon. He was great in verse, great in prose, great in mysticism, great in intellectual force and moral courage. Many may recall him as the hero of a story—possibly apocryphal—in which he figures as returning to his professorial chair after an absence of over four years (passed in the prison-cells of the Inquisition) and beginning his exordium to his students with the imperturbable remark: 'We were saying yesterday.' Mainly on this uncertain basis is constructed the current legend that Luis de Leon was a bloodless philosopher, incapable of resentment, and, indeed, without a touch of human weakness in his aloof and lofty nature. His works do not lend colour to this presentation of the man, nor do the ascertainable details of his chequered career. The conception of Luis de Leon as a meek spirit, an unresisting victim of malignant persecution, is not the sole view tenable of a complex character. However, the recorded facts may be trusted to speak for themselves.


What was Luis de Leon's full name? Was it Luis Ponce de Leon? So it would appear from the summarized results of P. Mendez printed in the Revista Agustiniana.[1] The point is not without interest, for Ponce de Leon is one of the great historic names of Spain. If Luis de Leon was entitled to use it, he appears not to have exercised his right, for in the report of his first trial[2] he consistently employs some such simple formula as:—'El maestro fray Luis de Leon... digo'.[3] The omission of the name 'Ponce' during proceedings extending over more than four years can scarcely be accidental. It may, however, have been due to monastic humility,[4] or to simple prudence: a desire not to provoke opponents who declared that Luis de Leon had Jewish blood in his veins.[5] Whether this assertion, a serious one in sixteenth-century Spain, had any foundation in fact is disputed. It is apparently certain that Luis de Leon's great-grandfather married a Leonor de Villanueva, who is reported to have confessed to practising Jewish rites and to have been duly condemned by the Inquisition in 1513 or thereabouts.[6] This does not go to the root of the matter, for Leonor de Villanueva is alleged to have been Lope de Leon's second wife. His first wife is stated to have been Leonor Sanchez de Olivares, a lady of unquestioned orthodoxy, and mother of Gomez de Leon,[7] the future grandfather of the Luis de Leon with whom we are concerned here. If this statement be correct,[8] obviously there can be no ground for asserting that Luis de Leon was of Jewish blood. But it must in candour be admitted that the point is not wholly clear from doubt.[9]

It is now established that Luis de Leon was born at Belmonte in the province of Cuenca: 'Belmonte de la Mancha de Aragon' as he calls it.[10] When was he born? On his tombstone, he was stated to be sixty-four years old when he died on August 23, 1591.[11] This is almost the only scrap of evidence available, for no baptismal registers dating back to the third decade of the sixteenth century are preserved at Belmonte.[12] Did the inscription on Luis de Leon's tomb mean that he had completed his sixty-fourth year, or did it mean that, at the time of his death, he had entered upon his sixty-fourth year? According to the answer given to these questions, the date of Luis de Leon's birth must be fixed either in 1527 or 1528.

Apart from the fact that Luis de Leon was taught singing,[13] as became the future friend of Salinas, we know next to nothing of his early youth. From himself we learn that he was taken from Belmonte to Madrid when he was five or six, that at the age of fourteen he was entered at Salamanca University, where one of his uncles—Francisco de Leon—was lecturer on Canon Law, and that shortly afterwards he resolved to enter a religious order.[14] The eldest son of a judge,[15] Luis de Leon renounced most of his share of the paternal estate,[16] and gave it up to one—or both—of his younger brothers Cristobal and Miguel, each of whom had been veinticuatro of Granada at some date previous to April 15, 1572.[17] On January 29, 1544, Luis de Leon was formally professed in the Augustinian order.[18] In his monastery we may plausibly conjecture that he led a solitary and bookish existence, poring over his texts and attending lectures assiduously. As early as 1546-1547 his name appears on the list of students of theology at Salamanca; the registers of theological students covering the years 1547-1548 to 1550-1551 are missing; Luis de Leon's name does not appear in the register for the academic year 1551-1552, but it recurs in the University books for the years 1552-1553 and 1554-1555. He there figures still as a student of theology.[19] He would seem, therefore, to have shown no amazing precocity in the schools; but his application, we may be sure, was intense, and there is nothing rash in assuming that during part of the two years that he was absent, as he tells us,[20] from Salamanca, he was lecturing at Soria. The remaining eighteen months he probably devoted to exegetical studies at Alcala de Henares, where he matriculated in 1556.[21] He was about thirty when he rather unexpectedly graduated as a bachelor of Arts at the University of Toledo.[22] Why he preferred to take his degree at Toledo instead of at Salamanca is not clear; it is plausibly conjectured that economy may have been his motive, as the obtaining of a bachelor's degree at Salamanca was an expensive business.[23] Confirmation of this conjecture is afforded by the fact that he speedily returned to his allegiance, was 'incorporated' as a bachelor at Salamanca in 1588, graduated there as a licentiate of theology in May 1560, and in the following month became a master of theology.[24] It soon became clear that he did not regard a University degree as a mere distinction. The retirement of Gregorio Gallo caused a vacancy in the chair of Biblical Exegesis at Salamanca. Luis de Leon, though but a master of a few months' standing, presented himself as a candidate for the post. He failed to obtain it, being defeated by Gaspar de Grajal, a future ally and fellow victim:[25] so far as can be ascertained, this was Luis de Leon's sole academic check. Manifestly he was not daunted. He claimed, and established, his right to take part in certain examinations in his faculty,[26] and 'con mucho exceso' thwarted the designs of the famous Domingo Banez, whom he afterwards described as 'enemigo capital'.[27] His combativeness did him no immediate harm, for, in December 1561, he was elected Professor of Theology at Salamanca.[28] He was obviously not disposed to hide his light under a bushel, nor to perform his academic duties in a spirit of humdrum routine. Whatever he did, he did with all his might, and his strenuous versatility made him conspicuous in University life. In 1565 he was transferred from the theological chair to the chair of Scholastic Theology and Biblical Criticism, in which he succeeded his old master Juan de Guevara.[29]

Such successes as Luis de Leon had hitherto won he owed mainly to his own talents.[30] Brilliant as he was, there is no reason to assume that he was personally popular in Salamanca.[31] It does not appear that he made any effort to win popularity; nor is it certain that he would have succeeded even if he had sought to win it. His temper was impulsive, his disposition was critical and independent; his tongue and pen were sharp and made enemies among members of his own order; moreover, he contrived to alienate the Dominicans, a powerful body in Salamanca, as in the rest of Spain. No doubt he had many admirers, especially among his own students. Yet the University, as a whole, stood slightly aloof from him, and before long in certain obscurantist circles cautious hints of latitudinarianism were murmured against him. For these mumblings there was absolutely no sort of foundation.[32] As might be inferred from the simple fact that he was afterwards chosen to be the first editor of St. Theresa's works, Luis de Leon was the most orthodox of men. His selection for this piece of work may have been due to the influence of the saint's friend and successor, Madre Ana de Jesus, who had the highest opinion of him.[33] But it was not often that he produced so favourable a personal impression; he had not mastered the gentle art of ingratiation; it is even conceivable that he did not strictly observe St. Paul's injunction to 'suffer fools gladly'.[34] Though fundamentally humble-minded, he was intolerant of what he thought to be nonsense: a quality which would perhaps not endear him to all his colleagues. He set a proper value on himself and his attainments; he was prone to sift the precious metal of truth from the dross of uninformed assertion; he had an incurable habit of choosing his friends from amongst those who shared his tastes. A good Hebrew scholar, he was on terms of special intimacy with Gaspar de Grajal and with Martin Martinez de Cantalapiedra,[35] respectively Professors of Biblical Exegesis and of Hebrew in the University of Salamanca. Frank to the verge of indiscretion and suspecting no evil, Luis de Leon scattered over Salamanca fagots each of which contained innumerable sticks that his opponents used later to beat him with. Lastly, he had the misfortune, as it proved later, to differ profoundly on exegetical points from a veteran Professor of Latin, Rhetoric, and Greek.[36] This was Leon de Castro, a man of considerable but unassimilated learning, an astute wire-puller and incorrigible reactionary whose name figures in the bibliographies as the author of a series of commentaries on Isaiah—a performance which has not been widely read since its tardy first appearance in 1571. The delay in publishing this work, and the contemporary neglect of it, were apparently ascribed by Castro to the personal hostility of Luis de Leon who, though he did not approve of the book, seems to have been perfectly innocent on both heads.[37]

The fires of these differences had smouldered for some years when, during the University course (as it appears) of 1568-1569, Luis de Leon gave a series of lectures wherein he discussed, with critical respect, the authority attaching to the Vulgate. The respect passed almost unnoticed; the criticism gave a handle to a group of vigilant foes. Since 1569 a good deal of water has flowed under the bridges which span the Tormes, and it is intrinsically likely that, were the objectionable lectures before us, Luis de Leon might appear to be an ultra-conservative in matters of Biblical criticism. But this is not the historical method. In judging the action of Leon de Castro and his allies we must endeavour to adjust ourselves to the sixteenth-century point of view. Matters would seem to have developed somewhat as follows. In 1569 a committee was formed at Salamanca for the purpose of revising Francois Vatable's version of the Bible; both Luis de Leon and Leon de Castro were members of this committee,[38] and as they represented different schools of thought, there were lively passages between the two. It is customary to lay at Castro's door all the blame for the sequel. Nothing is likelier than that Leon de Castro was incoherent in his recriminations and provocative in tone: it is further alleged that his commentaries on Isaiah contained gratuitous digs at the views on Scriptural interpretation ascribed to Luis de Leon. It may well be that Luis de Leon, who had in him something of the irritability of a poet, took umbrage at these indirect attacks, and entered upon the discussion in a fretful state of mind. According to Leon de Castro, whose testimony on this point is uncontradicted, the climax came about in connexion with the text: 'Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.' Castro obstinately maintained that Vatable's interpretation of this passage was an interpretation favoured by the Jews against whom he cherished an incorrigible prejudice. Luis de Leon is reported to have lost patience at this assertion, and to have said that he would cause Castro's Commentaria in Essaiam Prophetam to be burnt. Castro, whatever his faults, was not the man to be cowed by a threat, and he retorted with the remark that, by God's grace, this should not come to pass, and that if there were any burning it would be applied rather to Luis de Leon and his family.[39] Having fired his bolt, but conscious that he was in a minority on the committee, Castro concluded with the sulky declaration that he did not propose to attend any further meetings of that body. He would seem to have changed his mind later on this point, modestly alleging that he gave way to the insistence of others who deemed his presence indispensable, on account of his knowledge of languages.[40] Whatever his linguistic accomplishments, they did not produce the desired effect, for Vatable's version of the Bible was passed as revised by the committee of Salamancan theologians in 1571, though, for some unexplained reason, their revised text was not published till thirteen years later.

The quarrel between Castro and Luis de Leon soon became public property. Passions were ablaze in a moment. Parties were formed, and Castro found much support, especially among the body of undergraduates, of whom one at least ingenuously described himself as 'del bando de Jesucristo'.[41] There was almost as much tumult in the University of Salamanca as in Agramante's camp. Even if Castro thought that the hour of his triumph was at hand, he was too experienced and too Spanish to be precipitate. He may well have had an inkling that, if many were repelled by Luis de Leon's austerity and implacable righteousness, his own reputation as a pedant and reactionary did not mark him out for leadership. His lack of expository power may also have struck him as a disqualification.[42] Further, on tactical grounds, he may have argued that his notorious hostility to Luis de Leon made it advisable for him not to figure too prominently in the ranks of the attacking party. Whatever his motive may have been, Castro gave place to a younger and far abler man, the well-known Dominican, Bartolome de Medina, whose relations with Luis de Leon, never cordial, had grown strained, owing to various checks and disappointments. Medina honestly differed from Luis de Leon's views as regards Scriptural interpretation; he would have been a good deal more (or less) than human if he had not been galled by a series of small personal mortifications. He particularly resented, as well he might, being out-argued when he presented himself before Luis de Leon to be examined for his licentiateship of theology; the knowledge that this incident was talked over by mocking students did not improve matters.[43] Medina was, however, too wily to delate Luis de Leon directly; he reported to the Inquisition on the general situation at Salamanca, and in this document no names were mentioned. Luis de Leon was not in a position to counteract the manoeuvres of his opponents. It is not certain that he could have done so, had he been continuously in Salamanca at this time: as it happened, he was absent at Belmonte from the beginning of 1571 till the month of March, and on his return he fell ill. All this while, Medina and Castro were free to go about sowing tares, making damaging suggestions, and collecting such corroborative evidence as could be gleaned from ill-disposed colleagues and garrulous or slow-witted students.[44] It appears that Medina's statement, embodying seventeen propositions which (as he averred) were taught at Salamanca, reached the Supreme Inquisition in Madrid on December 2, 1571; on December 13 the Inquisitionary Commissary at Salamanca was instructed to ascertain the source of the statement,[45] and to report on the tenability of the views set forth in the seventeen propositions.[46] Evidently the matter was regarded as urgent: for, on December 17, the Inquisitionary Commissary opened his preliminary inquiry at Salamanca. The sole witness called at the first sitting was Medina,[47] who repeated his assertions, mentioning Luis de Leon, Grajal, and Martinez de Cantalapiedra as offenders. A committee of five persons was appointed to examine into the orthodoxy of the views alleged to be held by these three. As Leon de Castro was a member of this committee, and as none of the other four members was in sympathy with Luis de Leon, the general tenor of the committee's findings might readily be predicted. These findings were somewhat hastily adopted by the local Inquisition at Valladolid on January 26, 1572, when the arrest of Grajal and Martinez de Cantalapiedra was recommended.[48] Up to this point Luis de Leon would seem not to have been officially implicated by name, though he was clearly aimed at, especially by Castro who appeared before the Inquisitionary Commissary at Salamanca, and reiterated Medina's charges with some wealth of rancorous detail.[49]

With significant promptitude effect was given to the recommendation of the local Inquisition: Grajal was apprehended on March 1; shortly afterwards Martinez de Cantalapiedra was likewise apprehended; and, as these measures seemed to arouse no feeling more dangerous than surprise in Salamanca, it was conceivably thought safe to fly at higher game. Manifestly, Luis de Leon must have known that something perilous was afoot when he handed in a most respectfully-worded written statement on March 6, 1572.[50] By about this time there had arrived in Salamanca Diego Gonzalez—an experienced official, whose conduct of the Inquisitionary case against Bartolome de Carranza, the Archbishop of Toledo, has earned him an unenviable repute.[51] Under the presidency of Gonzalez, who might be trusted to keep the weaker brethren, if there were any, up to the mark, the local Inquisition on March 15 resolved to recommend the arrest of Luis de Leon. Apparently the gravity of this step was recognized. Another sitting was held on March 19, and a vote was taken with the result that the previous decision was confirmed by four votes to two. It should not, however, be assumed that the vote of the two implied any marked personal sympathy with Luis de Leon. On the contrary: the difference between the majority and the minority was concerned solely with a question of procedure. The minority suggested that it would cause less fuss and less scandal to seize Luis de Leon, Grajal, and Martinez de Cantalapiedra, to place each of them in solitary confinement for a short while in a Valladolid monastery, and thence to remove them, without trial, to the secret prison of the Inquisition.[52] It is difficult to detect the humanitarian motive of this alternative proposal.


[Footnote 1: Revista Agustiniana (Madrid, 1882), vol. III, p. 127. 'Lope Alvarez Ponce de Leon, Regidor de Segovia... caso dos veces: la primera con Dona Leonor Sanchez de Olivares, hija de Diez Sanchez de Olivares y hermana de aquel valiente caballero Don Pedro de Olivares, comendador del Olmo, del orden de Calatrava en tiempo del Maestro D. Rodrigo Tellez Giron. De este matrimonio tuvieron tres hijos. En segundas nupcias caso con Dona Leonor de Villanueva, y tuvieron dos hijos; pero no declaran quienes fueron del primer matrimonio, y quienes del segundo. Solo de D. Gomez consta que es del primer matrimonio.']

[Footnote 2: Proceso original que la Inquisicion de Valladolid hizo al maestro Fr. Luis de Leon, religioso del orden de S. Agustin. This proceso, edited by D. Miguel Salva and D. Pedro Sainz de Baranda, occupies the tenth volume and pp. 5-358 of the eleventh volume of the Coleccion de Documentos ineditos para la historia de Espana (Madrid, 1847).]

[Footnote 3: Ex. gr. Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 96-97, 184-185, 255-256; vol. XI, pp. 38, 131, 350.]

[Footnote 4: It is established beyond doubt, however, that some members of the family used the name Ponce. The works of Luis de Leon's eminent nephew, Basilio, an Augustinian like himself, bear on their title-pages the words 'Basilius Pontius Legionensis'.]

[Footnote 5: This assertion is made emphatically by Diego de Haedo, the prosecuting counsel on behalf of the Inquisition; he calls Luis de Leon a 'descendiente de generacion de judios' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 206). An echo of the charge is faintly audible in Luis de Leon's own testimony. It is repeated with violence by Leon de Castro: '...enojado de la porfia el dicho fray Luis, despues le dijo a este declarante que le habia de hacer quemar un libro que imprimia sobre Exsahias, y este declarante le respondio que con la gracia de Dios que ni el, ni su libro no prenderia fuego, ni podia; que primero prenderia en sus orejas y linaje; y queste declarante no queria ir mas a las juntas' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 12).]

[Footnote 6: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 157.]

[Footnote 7: See note 1.]

[Footnote 8: Luis de Leon apparently took no special interest in his family history. Before the Inquisitionary Tribunal at Valladolid on April 15, 1572, he traced his descent no further back than his grandparents, adding that, as he entered religion when he was fourteen years old, 'no tiene entera noticia de que casta vienen los dichos sus padres y agueelos, mas de haber oido decir que ciertos contrarios que tuvo su padre, le pusieron en su hidalguia que venia de casta de conversos.

E preguntado si sabe que alguno de los de su descendencia o trasversalia haya seido preso o peniado o condenado por este Santo Oficio; dijo que no lo sabe' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 182).

By May 14, 1573, Luis de Leon had recalled further particulars: 'Porque mi padre fue un hombre muy catolico y muy principal como conocio todo el reino, y su padre que se llamo Gomez de Leon lo fue no menos que el en su lugar, y este tuvo un hermano de padre y madre que se llamo el licenciado Pedro de Leon, que fue collegial en el collegio del Cardenal desta villa como se puede luego saber; y el padre de ambos, visagueelo mio, se llamo Lope de Leon muy catolico y de los mas honrados y principales de su lugar; y el padre de este y visagueelo mio, se llamo Pero Fernandez de Leon que le trujo el primer Senor de Belmonte consigo a aquel lugar, y fue alcaide en la fortaleza del todo el tiempo que vivio, y el mas principal y mas limpio que habia en el, desto que el mundo llama limpieza, como siendo necesario probare bastantemente' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 385-386). This challenge was never taken up.]

[Footnote 9: It is not free from doubt because, though some of the witnesses, whose testimony is given in Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 146-174, are doubtless in good faith in their evidence as to Luis de Leon's Jewish descent, they refer to events which happened long before; and their memories are apt to play them false and their narratives are muddled. Luis de Leon appears to point to these depositions when he says: 'Y no se hallara en memoria de hombres ni de escrituras ciertas, que nombrada y senaladamente alguno de todos mis antecesores se haya convertido a la fe de nuevo' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 386). In common fairness, it should be said that the statement of P. Mendez [see note 1] is more in the nature of assertion unsupported by full evidence.]

[Footnote 10: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 180.]

[Footnote 11: M.R.P. Francisco Blanco Garcia, Fr. Luis de Leon: estudio biografico del insigne poeta agustino, p. 254.]

[Footnote 12: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 23. On April 15, 1572, Luis de Leon stated that he was about forty-four (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 180): ' edad de cuarenta e cuatro anos, poco mas o menos tiempo'. This is perhaps too vague to furnish a basis for a conclusion.]

[Footnote 13: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 173.]

[Footnote 14: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 182. Luis de Leon states that he made up his mind as to his religious vocation within four or five months of reaching Salamanca.]

[Footnote 15: 'El licenciado Lope de Leon, oidor que fue de la Chancilleria de Granada, defunto, y Dona Ines de Alarcon su muger, que agora vive en Granada.' So Luis de Leon described his parents at the first sitting of the Inquisitionary Tribunal at Valladolid (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 180).]

[Footnote 16: 'Y en lo que toca a mi vida, aunque estoy lleno de faltas y pecados mas que otro alguno; pero esto es verdad que yo tome el habito de religion que tengo, de 14 anos de mi edad, y deje cuatro mill ducados de renta que mi padre tenia vinculados en mi cabeza como en el mayor de sus hijos' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 386).]

[Footnote 17: Luis de Leon seems to have arranged that his brother Miguel should pay him annually a small sum which was, apparently, to be spent on books. This is a fair inference from Luis de Leon's reply to a claim lodged against him by one Lucas Junta, a bookseller of Salamanca, on March 17, 1575 (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, pp. 51, 52). It seems doubtful whether Miguel reached Luis's standard of punctuality in the matter of payment (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, p. 196). Luis de Leon had two sisters, Mencia de Tapia and Maria de Alarcon. The latter had died before April, 1572. So had another brother, Antonio, who was a priest (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 182).]

[Footnote 18: Revista Agustiniana (Madrid, 1882), vol. I, p. 414.]

[Footnote 19: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., pp. 47-48.]

[Footnote 20: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 182.]

[Footnote 21: J. Gonzalez de Tejada, Vida de Fray Luis de Leon, Madrid, 1863, p. 10.]

[Footnote 22: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 59.]

[Footnote 23: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 59, note I.]

[Footnote 24: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 60.]

[Footnote 25: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 62, note 4. Grajal was so greatly struck with his opponent's ability that he supported Luis de Leon in all his subsequent candidatures. On this point we have an explicit statement from Luis de Leon: 'Es verdad que el maestro Grajal ha sido y es mi amigo, y querelle yo bien comenzo de que habiendo sido primero competidores en la catreda de Biblia que el llevo, en las demas oposiciones que yo hice, sin sabello yo, trato en mi favor con tanto cuidado y con tan gran encarecimiento de buenas palabras, que cuando lo supe quede obligado a tratalle, y del trato resulto conocer en el uno de los hombres de mas sanas y limpias entranas y mas sin doblez que yo he tratado; y ansi nuestra amistad fue siempre, no como de hombres de letras para comunicar y conferir nuestros estudios, sino como de dos hombres que trataban ambos de ser hombres de bien, y por conocer esto el uno del otro se querian bien' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 326-327).]

[Footnote 26: Gonzalez de Tejada, op. cit., pp. 21-22.]

[Footnote 27: Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, pp. 261-262.]

[Footnote 28: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 63.]

[Footnote 29: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 64.]

[Footnote 30: Not altogether, for though Luis de Leon had, in an eminent degree, the knack of success in all open competitions, the students took part in the elections of professors at Salamanca, and this element disturbed calculations.]

[Footnote 31: This is a fair inference from Luis de Leon's assertion: 'en aquella universidad yo tengo muchos enemigos por causa de mis pretendencias' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 574).]

[Footnote 32: On this head, Luis de Leon's acquittal by the Supreme Inquisition speaks for itself.]

[Footnote 33: 'Es muy santo... Tiene mucho caudal de Dios'. These encomiastic phrases of the pious nun's are quoted by Blanco Garcia (op. cit., p. 245) from Angel Manrique, Vida de la Venerable Ana de Jesus (Bruselas, 1632), p. 328. Manrique's biography is not within my reach.]

[Footnote 34: Luis de Leon's probity was not free from a touch of brusqueness. This is disclosed by his own description of his behaviour to a dullard who made his life at Salamanca a burden: 'Acerca del capitulo cuarto, demas de lo dicho digo que creo que este testigo es un bachiller Rodriguez, y por otro nombre el doctor Sutil que en Salamanca llaman por burla; y sospecholo de que dice en este capitulo que le deje sin respuesta, porque jamas deje de responder a ninguna persona de aquella universidad que me preguntase algo, sino a este que digo, con el cual por ser falto de juicio y preguntar algunas veces cosas desatinadas, y colligir disparates de lo que oia y no entendia, me enojaba y le decia que era tonto. Y otras veces por no enojarme ni desconcertarme con el no le respondia nada, sino huia del' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 357-358).]

[Footnote 35: This was the contention of the prosecuting counsel. Luis de Leon, however, declared that, highly as he thought of Martinez de Cantalapiedra's patristic learning, there was no marked intimacy between them, and that he often did not meet Martinez de Cantalapiedra for a year or two. 'Ni yo tenia con el trato ni conversacion ordinaria; antes se pasaba un ano y dos anos que no le veia ni hablaba.... Y siempre le tuve y tengo por el hombre mas leido en los sanctos de cuantos hay en aquella universidad' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 227).]

[Footnote 36: Leon de Castro's first appointment at Salamanca is dated March 28, 1549: he was 'jubilado' on July 5, 1561. See Vicente de la Fuente, Historia de las universidades, colegios y demas establecimientos en Espana (Madrid, 1884-1889), vol. II, p. 250.]

[Footnote 37: Francisco Sanchez, possibly El Brocense, testified to Castro's saying: 'isti judaei et judaizantes me han echado a perder, y por eso no se vende mi libro'. Sanchez bluntly told the Inquisitors that he did not believe this, and attributed the book's failure to its size and price (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, pp. 299-300). It is suggested by Vicente de la Fuente (op. cit., vol. II, p. 289, note 3) that there was some basis for Castro's opinion. Luis de Leon implicitly denied the charge, which he manifestly thought beneath contempt: 'Y si yo hubiera tratado como Leon cree de que la Inquisicion vedara su libro, yo hiciera que se advirtiera. Y aunque el doctor Valbas en Alcala a quien fue cometido por el Consejo Real, al principio le quito grandes pedazos adonde trataba a San Hieronimo como me trata a mi agora, no le pudo quitar esto que yo digo, por que era quitalle todo el libro,...' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 352). Luis de Leon tried in a friendly way to convince Castro about the errors in his book before it was published and as soon as the printing began (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 351). This intervention would nettle Castro, who seems to have had Jewry on the brain; he mentioned, apparently, that Vatable, St. Jerome, and St. John Chrysostom were all Jews or Judaizers (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 294). What probably nettled Castro still more was that Luis de Leon found fault with his knowledge of Latin and Greek: 'lo cual el sentia mucho porque tocaba en propio de su profesion.' Luis de Leon proposed to call five witnesses on this point (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, pp. 256-257), but this was ruled out as irrelevant (impertinente) by the Inquisitionary Tribunal.]

[Footnote 38: The Chairman of this Committee was Francisco Sancho, Dean of the Theological Faculty of Salamanca. The other members—at any rate those who signed Sancho's copy of Vatable (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 521-522)—were Juan de Almeida, Don Carlos, Garcia del Castillo, Diego Gonzalez, Grajal, Juan de Guevara, Martinez de Cantalapiedra, Bartolome de Medina, Muniz, and Juan Vique. As the names of Luis de Leon and Juan Gallo are omitted, the list cannot be thought exhaustive. So, also, are the names of Bravo and Munon absent from the list. These last two omissions are readily explained. Bravo and Munon had both died before December 26, 1571 (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 10).]

[Footnote 39: Castro's statement was: 'Porfio de tal manera [fray Luis de Leon] que no era el sentido este deste lugar, y despues de visto que era ansi, porfio... que tambien podia ser verdadero el sentido de los judios...; dijo este testigo que aunque viniesen todos los letrados del mundo, no podrian hacer que aquel sentido de los judios pudiese venir ni cuadrar con la letra griega, ni hebrea ni latina,... y enojado de la porfia el dicho fray Luis, despues le dijo a este declarante que le habia de hacer quemar un libro que imprimia sobre Exsahias, y este declarante le respondio que con la gracia de Dios que ni el, ni su libro no prenderia fuego, ni podia; que primero prenderia en sus orejas y linaje; y queste declarante no queria ir mas a las juntas' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 11-12). Though far from friendly to Luis de Leon, the Dominican Juan Gallo was provoked into saying that he would pare Castro's claws till the blood streamed from him: 'queriendo decir por las unas que era este declarante aspero porque les decia que era aquello de judaizantes, y que no lo decia por ellos, sino porque defendian las cosas de judios;...' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, P. 15).]

[Footnote 40: 'Y el colegio de teologos envio al maestro fray Juan de Guevara y a otro maestro, a pedirle y mandarle que no faltase de alli porque no podian hacer nada sin las lenguas.' This is Castro's version. (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 12.)]

[Footnote 41: Castro states (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 16) that this pious student was Bernardino de Mendoza, son of the Marques de Mondejar.]

[Footnote 42: Bartolome de Carranza mentions (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, p. 279) Castro's muddle-headed knack of misunderstanding what was said to him, and his propensity to argue points, imagining that his opponents had said the very reverse of what they had said. As to Castro's lack of expository power, Luis de Leon states, 'tiene falta de lengua' (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 327).]

[Footnote 43: This is established by the evidence of Mancio, a professor who came to Medina's rescue: '...vio este testigo quel dicho fray Luis de Leon arguyo al dicho fray Bartolome de Medina muy bien, e que no le concluyo, y ques verdad que tuvo el dicho fray Bartolome de Medina padrino en este testigo para ayudalle y le ayudo para los argumentos que se le ofrecieron; e que lo queste testigo conto a los estudiantes fue que tuvo necesidad el dicho fray Bartolome de Medina que le ayudase, aunque sin padrinos pudiera el responder' (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, p. 317). This must be dated before February, 1570, when Medina took his degree as Master of Theology (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, p. 340). In May-June, 1571, Luis de Leon and Medina had a squabble as to the distribution of lectures. The Rector of Salamanca decided in Medina's favour: Luis de Leon appealed to the Consejo Real at Madrid, and won his case on September 23, 1566 (Documentos ineditos, vol. XI, pp. 323-327).]

[Footnote 44: The evidence of Alonso Rejon (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 51) seems conclusive: '...preso ya el maestro Grajal, se llego a este declarante el maestro fray Luis de Leon... quejandose de algunos maestros de esta universidad y particularmente del maestro fray Juan Gallego, que admitian dichos de estudiantes, los cuales decian algunas cosas diferentemente de lo que las habian leido los maestros,...' As to Medina's action, Luis de Leon wrote (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 228): 'Tambien me acuerdo que vino un estudiante a mi, y tomandome palabra de secreto, me dijo que fray Bartolome de Medina andaba haciendo pesquisa de Grajal y Martinez, aunque no me los nombro, pero entendilo de las senas que dio; y que a el le habia preguntado, y el le habia dicho cinco o seis cosas que les habia oido, y acuerdome de dos dellas, porque me parecio que me tocaba a mi tambien. La una era de la Vulgata que se podria hacer otra mejor, y yo le dije riendo: pues quieren atar las manos a Dios que no pueda hacer un profeta en su iglesia. Y la otra era que los Cantares eran Carmen amatorium, y le dije: Carmen amatorium ni dice bien ni mal. Si dice Carmen amatorium carnale, eso es mal; pero si dice Carmen amatorium spirituale, eso verdad es. Y a lo demas que me dijo, me encogi, como cosa que oia entonces, y no entendia bien lo que queria decir, a todo cuanto me acuerdo;...']

[Footnote 45: These data, given by Blanco Garcia (op. cit., pp. 111-115), are derived from the record of Grajal's trial.]

[Footnote 46: The seventeen propositions are printed in Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 286-287; they are reproduced by Blanco Garcia (op. cit., p. 111). According to Bartolome de Medina (Documentos ineditos, vol. X, p. 66), the teaching of the doctrines embodied in the seventeen propositions scandalized the Salamancan students.]

[Footnote 47: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 5-7.]

[Footnote 48: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., p. 113.]

[Footnote 49: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 7-18.]

[Footnote 50: Documentos ineditos, vol. X, pp. 96-102.]

[Footnote 51: See Documentos ineditos, vol. LXVIII.]

[Footnote 52: Blanco Garcia, op. cit., pp. 114-115.]


Though, in accord with the customary procedure in such cases, each witness who appeared before Gonzalez was sworn to secrecy, it is evident that there was no mystery in Salamanca as to the intention of the Valladolid Inquisitors. On March 25, 1572, a day before the formal order for the arrest of Luis de Leon was actually signed, Diego de Valladolid was accepted as bail to the amount of two thousand ducats, that the said Luis de Leon would go quietly to prison in Valladolid without making any attempt at escape.[53] A document to this effect was drawn up and was duly signed by three witnesses, of whom one was a Familiar of the Inquisition, Francisco de Almansa. It seems likely that Almansa may have suspected that, for the time being, the hours of Luis de Leon's comparative freedom were already numbered; for, on the following day (March 26, 1572), Almansa was appointed alguacil of the Valladolid Inquisitionary court, was directed to arrest Luis de Leon wherever he might be—'in church, or monastery, or other hallowed place'—and was further ordered to sequestrate any arms, cash, jewels, or papers which the prisoner might have about him.[54] Almansa, to whom Luis de Leon was perfectly well known,[55] obeyed instructions, and reached the Valladolid jail with his captive at about six o'clock in the evening of Thursday, March 27, 1572.[56] After being carefully searched, Luis de Leon was lodged in the secret cells of the Inquisition, and there, except for his appearances in court, he was detained for over four years and eight months.[57]

Though he was notoriously in weak health, the prisoner does not seem to have received any special consideration. On the other hand, it cannot be maintained that, at the outset, his judges treated him with inhumanity. That Luis de Leon was nervous about himself, and that he believed it possible he might die without warning is the impression conveyed by a fervent act of faith which, though undated, was probably written almost as soon as his imprisonment began. On March 31, Luis de Leon asked for various things besides four books: one of them a box of powder with which he was usually provided by a nun named Ana de Espinosa to alleviate his heart-attacks.[58] This petition was granted. Luis de Leon's request for a knife to cut his food with was so clearly against all prison regulations that he can scarcely have expected a favourable reply.[59] The Inquisitors met him half-way by ordering that he should at once be supplied with a rounded spoon, sufficient for his purpose, though useless to a prisoner of suicidal tendencies.[60] At this stage, it cannot be said that Luis de Leon was treated with any want of lenity. There was no reason why he should be. He was arrested mainly on suspicion of being concerned in the (purely imaginary) Jewish propaganda imputed to his colleagues Grajal and Martinez de Cantalapiedra; the evidence against him was second-hand and meagre.

Before long matters began to take a graver aspect. A definite charge[61] emerged that some ten or eleven years earlier[62] Luis de Leon had translated from the Hebrew into Spanish the Song of Solomon, to which he appended a commentary, also in Spanish. This he did at the request of a nun whose name is incidentally revealed as 'Dona Isabel Osorio, monja de Sancti Espiritu de Salamanca'.[63] That Luis de Leon's proceeding was most imprudent is undeniable. With characteristic courage and candour, in his first confesion of March 6, he volunteered the admission that he had made such a rendering.[64] At this moment he was apparently unaware that the existence of this rendering had been already brought to the notice of the Inquisition by Medina.[65] Nobody questions Luis de Leon's good faith. Nevertheless one gets the impression that he felt this to be a weak point in his case. It was. He had committed a serious indiscretion by infringing the general prohibition of vernacular versions of any part of Scripture. No doubt it might be contended that his rendering of the Song of Solomon, and his commentary on it, were originally meant to be used by only one private person; that the prohibition referred to the circulation of vernacular versions; that this particular version, made for the exclusive use of Dona Isabel Osorio, did not amount to circulation (within the four corners of the general prohibition); and that such circulation as had taken place had occurred against the will of the translator. This is not mere sophistry. What seems to have happened was this. It appears that a lay brother, named Diego de Leon, part of whose business it was to tidy Luis de Leon's cell, stumbled one day upon the original manuscript of the vernacular version of the Song of Solomon, copied it without leave or licence, and allowed so many transcriptions of his copy to be made that it became absolutely impossible for the translator to control or recall them afterwards.[66] Manifestly Diego de Leon did not venture to remove the original manuscript from its resting-place; it was still in Luis de Leon's monastery-cell on November 7, 1573.[67] Search being made for it, the version was found, handed over to the Inquisitionary authorities, and retained by them when judgement was pronounced.[68] There is evidence to show that many manuscript copies of the vernacular Song of Solomon stole into existence and were widely distributed. On March 6, 1572, Luis de Leon, whose references to this matter are tinged with regret, uses words which seem to imply that a copy had reached Portugal; and an inquiry, opened at Cuzco in the autumn of 1575, revealed the fact that a transcription of the Cantares que llaman de fray Luis de Leon had been made by Fray Luis Alvarez and conveyed by him to South America. This transcription, after being recopied by a Lima graduate, who appears to have left for Spain to continue his studies at the University of Alcala de Henares, was deposited in the public library of Quito which was housed in the Augustinian monastery there.[69] This episode denotes a morbid curiosity which must have been revolting to Luis de Leon's austere nature. He candidly avowed doubts as to the prudence of facilitating the reading of the Song of Solomon in Spanish, and would have cancelled all manuscript copies if he could.[70] In this respect, however, he was powerless, and no better remedy occurred to him than to set to work on a Latin version which, when printed, should supplant the Spanish rendering. This he hoped to be able to disown. But fate was hostile to his design. Constant ill-health hindered him from making rapid headway with his projected Latin translation. He submitted himself to the Court which, naturally enough, vouchsafed no reply to his request for alternative suggestions as to how he could make amends for a preliminary error of judgement.[71]

If Luis de Leon's opponents expected to overwhelm him by the suddenness, vehemence, or volume of their attack, they must speedily have been disillusioned. The mystic poet proved to be a formidable fighting-man. Before very long it must have dawned upon the Inquisitionary deputies at Valladolid that they had caught a Tartar. Unversed in the ways of the world, Luis de Leon came of a legal stock, and was thoroughly at home in a law-court. A master of dialectics, he was always alert, always prompt to criticize the evidence, always ready to deal with every point as it arose, always prepared to furnish elaborate written or verbal explanations as to every detail concerning which the tribunal could harbour a reasonable doubt. The official secretaries of the Court—Celedon Gustin and the rest of them—must have grown to dread Luis de Leon's continual demands for sheets of paper on which to write his long, considered replies. It would be idle to attempt to summarize the technical arguments advanced by each side in support of conflicting views on doctrinal or exegetical problems. In this place, it will suffice to advert to points which help to illuminate the character of Luis de Leon, or to exemplify the attitude of the court towards him.

At the outset, as already stated, there seems to have existed no decided prejudice against Luis de Leon in the minds of his judges: they apparently administered the existing system in a not illiberal spirit. There are indications, however, that this position of relative impartiality was not maintained. That the court became gradually biased against the accused seems to follow from the small but eloquent fact of its rejecting Luis de Leon's petition that his University chair should not be declared vacant till the end of his trial.[72] It cannot be argued that the judges were concerned for the efficiency of the teaching in the University of Salamanca—a matter in which they took no sort of interest. The decision of the court in Luis de Leon's case was in direct conflict with the ruling of the same court as regards Barrientos, another Salamancan professor who was in custody of the Valladolid Inquisition on May 20, 1572.[73] It was then settled that Barrientos should not be disturbed, and that no successor to him should be appointed so long as he was imprisoned. Luis de Leon's chair was declared vacant as soon as his normal tenure of four years had expired; the ordinary course of unquestioned renewal was not followed; and, to make matters worse, his implacable opponent, Bartolome de Medina, was appointed to succeed Luis de Leon in his chair.[74] For this appointment, no doubt, the University of Salamanca is entitled to claim such credit as is due. But no such appointment would have been possible had the Valladolid Inquisitors been consistent. What caused the court to be more severe to Luis de Leon than to his colleague Barrientos?

This instance of inconsiderateness is not unique. As time went on the bias of the court against the accused waxed rather than waned. Luis de Leon's ill-health was notorious and, in fact, so obvious that it is recorded by the court in an official minute.[75] His state did not improve in jail. Suffering from fever—'como a sus mercedes les consta'—so he says plaintively—he had nobody to look after him in his secret cell save a sleepy-headed boy, a fellow-prisoner who was half a simpleton. Luis de Leon had fainted from lack of food, and, in the circumstances, it is not surprising that he should have asked to be allowed the companionship of a monk of his order—preferably Fray Alonso Siluente—or anybody else whom the court should think fit to name.[76] Somewhat later, while still suffering from fever, Luis de Leon begged that, on his providing satisfactory bail, he might be transferred from his prison-cell to some neighbouring monastery, where he could be detained till the end of his trial. So depressed was he at this moment that he even welcomed the idea of being placed in a Dominican monastery; it was true that the Dominicans were hostile to him, yet if he died among them, he should be dying like a Christian, surrounded by religious—not like a heathen with a blackamoor at his bedside.[77] The first of these two requests was made to the Valladolid judges, who passed it on to the Supreme Inquisition at Madrid; the reply of this body was discouraging, for, though the request was granted in principle, impossible conditions, tantamount to a refusal, were imposed.[78] Luis de Leon's second request was addressed direct to the Inquisitor-General: this petition was disregarded. In other matters, less urgent but not less important from an orthodox point of view, the Inquisitionary judges at Valladolid made no concession to the prisoner. He asked to be allowed to go to confession, and to say Mass once a fortnight in the hall where his case was heard.[79] Apparently a deaf ear was turned to his entreaties. A hostile critic might be tempted to say that a vindictive spirit prevailed in the deliberations of the Valladolid tribunal.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, as the case developed, the attitude of the Valladolid judges became less and less favourable to Luis de Leon. Judges are mortals and liable to error. The very pertinacity of the prisoner may have impressed them badly.[80] It is in the highest degree improbable that they attached any importance to his few slips. He speaks of having a naturally weak memory which, so he declares, had grown worse while he was in prison,[81] and he was frankly sceptical as to the possibility of any man's recalling every incident in squabbles that happened years before.[82] As it happens, his memory seems to have been excellent. No doubt it failed him now and then; but seldom did it mislead him on any essential point.[83] It is conceivable that Luis de Leon's judges at Valladolid thought him lacking in deference. Though perfectly respectful, his attitude to them was anything but subservient. The judges were accustomed to see prisoners who were brought before them crushed with awe and a sense of impending doom. Conscious of the baselessness of the charges against him, the accused seemed to take his acquittal as certain; and he stood so little in awe of his judges that he announced his intention of appealing over their heads to the members of the Supreme Inquisition.[84] Timidity was not among his failings. A priest of Astudillo, formerly a student at Salamanca, had occasionally strayed into Luis de Leon's densely-packed lecture-room, and retained an abiding impression of the professor's desenvoltura in his chair.[85] Luis de Leon had not become wholly subdued during the intervening years. He did not mince words in court, and indulged in sweeping denunciations of large groups of men; he branded all Dominicans as 'enemies';[86] he was scarcely more indulgent in speaking of the Jeromites (who resented his opposition to the candidature of their representative, Hector Pinto, for a chair at Salamanca);[87] and on general grounds, not unconnected with ancient academic rancours, he objected to the entire faculty of theology at the University of Alcala de Henares.[88] The evidence of such persons should, he suggested, be discounted in advance. Slow to think evil of his neighbours, Luis de Leon was apt, once his suspicions were aroused, to fling his net widely. He had some inkling that he and his had the fatal gift of rousing antagonism. His uncle had been a practising lawyer, and Luis de Leon argued that all who had suffered through the professional activities of his kinsman should be debarred from testifying in his case.[89] The unworldly man manifestly took it for granted that witnesses who harboured any such grudge against him would willingly admit it, if pressed on the point.

Outspoken as was Luis de Leon with regard to groups, he was not less outspoken with regard to individuals, and in this respect it must be admitted that he does not appear at his best. Vehemence of language had been the rule in the Salamancan juntas of professors, and much of this intemperate tone clung to Luis de Leon. No doubt large allowances should be made for him. He knew that his honour was at stake and that his life was in peril.[90] As he was persuaded—perhaps rightly—he had been brought to this pass mainly through the intrigues of an unscrupulous pair.[91] His provocation was extreme. It was almost to be expected that he should use plain words when referring to foes as malignant as Medina and Castro. These two men he accused of deliberately organizing a conspiracy against him;[92] he spoke bluntly of Medina's 'hatred', 'rage', 'trickery', and 'lying';[93] he was not mealy-mouthed in describing Castro's 'malice', 'deceit', 'calumnies', and 'perjury'.[94] Luis de Leon dealt no less faithfully with some members of his own order who were spiteful or cowardly—or both. As early as the beginning of August 1572 Fray Gabriel Montoya, Prior of the Augustinian Monastery at Toledo, stated to the Inquisitors at Valladolid that, in his opinion, certain remarks on the Vulgate, made by Luis de Leon in the course of a lecture, were of an heretical savour.[95] The value of this opinion is somewhat diminished by the fact that Montoya had a personal grudge against Luis de Leon who, some four or five years previously, had prevented Montoya's election as Provincial of the Augustinians in Spain.[96] This check seems to have galled Montoya, who gives the impression of being a rancorous gossip, and, before leaving the court, he repeated a malignant rumour—derived he knew not whence—to the effect that Luis de Leon's father had enjoined his son to be submissive to his superiors and to follow the current opinion in matters intellectual.[97] Luis de Leon indulges in no circuitous phrases when he comes to deal with Montoya, whom he describes as an enemy notorious for his untruthfulness.[98] It would appear that much of Montoya's second-hand information came from another Augustinian, Francisco de Arboleda,[99] who had once been a student of Luis de Leon's,[100] and had been entrusted by the prisoner with the delicate mission of collecting from certain theologians in Seville opinions favourable to Luis de Leon's views upon the Vulgate.[101] This very sensible precaution scandalized Montoya. It is open to criticism solely on the ground that Luis de Leon chose his agent badly. To this criticism the real answer is that Luis de Leon had to employ what agents he could, and that nobody but Arboleda, who was not above flattering his old master,[102] was available at the time of his mission to Seville. Arboleda's evidence was not damaging; it was ill-intentioned and impertinent, inasmuch as it repeated vague rumours of the Jewish descent of the accused;[103] the gravest fact the witness could allege was Luis de Leon's view that a friar, despite his vow of poverty, might spend a couple of coppers without mortal sin in buying an Agnus Dei.[104] Arboleda gives the impression of being a dullard, and this is pretty much the description of him by another member of the Augustinian order—Pedro de Rojas,[105] son of the Marques de Pozas and afterwards Bishop of Astorga and Osuna. Luis de Leon apparently agreed with Rojas in his estimate of Arboleda's ability, and this may account for his comparative leniency to the poor numbskull. More severe treatment is meted out to another Augustinian, Diego de Zuniga, whom Luis de Leon brands as a deliberate perjurer.[106] Who was this Zuniga? He has generally been identified with the Zuniga who was among the first in Spain to declare in favour of the Copernican theory;[107] this action needed courage and Zuniga has had his reward. As he is respectfully quoted by Galileo, he has attained something like immortality.[108] There is, however, no conclusive evidence to show that this enlightened writer is the Zuniga who came under Luis de Leon's lash. The correctness of the current identification is, at least, doubtful.

The fact that Diego de Zuniga is a frequent combination of names in Spain is an embarrassment to the investigator. It is noticeable that Luis de Leon's references seem to imply some doubt as to his opponent's real name; he is obviously uncertain whether his accuser should be called Zuniga or Rodriguez,[109] and in this uncertainty he is not alone.[110] It appears that there were at least two Augustinians known as Diego de Zuniga in Luis de Leon's time; it further appears that neither of the two inherited from his father the surname which he habitually used. Both men claimed relationship with the Duque de Bejar—it was to the seventh Duque de Bejar that Cervantes dedicated the First Part of Don Quixote in 1605—and both assumed the family name of that illustrious stock.[111] The original name of the more celebrated of these Zunigas was Diego Arias;[112] the original name of the less celebrated was Rodriguez.[113] This is not decisive, but it may well be one of those small facts which speak volumes. Chronology confirms the conclusion to be drawn from these considerations. The Zuniga who appeared against Luis de Leon at Valladolid was evidently professed as early as 1559 or 1560;[114] the more celebrated Zuniga was not professed till 1566.[115] General considerations point in the same direction. The views of Zuniga (alias Arias) were approximately those of Luis de Leon;[116] he viewed matters from the same standpoint, was himself a university professor,[117] and had something of Luis de Leon's fearlessness.[118] Zuniga (alias Rodriguez) was a man of a very different type: pedantically attached to the letter of the law, morbidly scrupulous on points of discipline. There seems to be no touch of burlesque intention in Luis de Leon's presentment of the man. According to Luis de Leon, Zuniga (alias Rodriguez) was half-crazed with vanity, much given to boasting of the esteem in which he was held at the Papal Court. On one occasion, the fatuous Zuniga produced a short treatise entitled Manera para aprender todas las ciencias, and, stating that he proposed sending this pamphlet to the Pope, made bold to ask what his interlocutor thought of it. Can he have been vain enough to expect a favourable verdict? If so, he did not know his man. Luis de Leon drily expressed his regret that a work destined for the Pope should be so slight and should contain a number of rather commonplace passages such as might be found in any current book of reference—though, as he added politely, he assumed that these passages were the fruit of independent reading. This courteous assumption, which Zuniga hastily assured Luis de Leon was exact,[119] could not alter the fact that the ambitious author had been severely snubbed, and this snub may well have rankled in the mind of a man who is described as 'vindictive'. Zuniga had another grievance against Luis de Leon, who had taken a severe view of his companion's insolence to an official superior at a Provincial Chapter, and had joined in making representations the upshot of which was that the culprit was publicly and ignominiously punished.[120] It is well-nigh incredible that the Zuniga who championed Copernicus, and displays vigilant self-restraint in his writings, should have been guilty of such flightiness as is brought home to his namesake; it is by no means inconceivable that the Zuniga who deposed against Luis de Leon should have been guilty of occasional lapses. He is said to have been impetuous as well as vindictive;[121] he had the dangerous gift of pulpit eloquence[122] and may have acquired the trick of saying rather more than he meant. His evidence against Luis de Leon, though fluent and clear, is not what we should expect from a man of talent, who recognized the gravity of the charges against the prisoner. His testimony, such as it is, has less intellectual substance than the testimony of Castro and Medina; it turns mainly on petty personal questions or on points of morbid scrupulousness. The more closely his evidence is scrutinized, the more difficult is it to avoid the suspicion that Zuniga was not a perfectly trustworthy witness. For instance, according to his sworn statement he was thirty-six years old when he deposed at Toledo on November 4, 1572.[123] The declaration is made positively without any of the qualifying phrases—'about', 'nearly', 'more or less'—so frequent on the part of witnesses. Nevertheless, it seems possible that this assertion is erroneous. Zuniga refers to a discussion respecting Arias Montano which he had with Luis de Leon in the latter's cell some thirteen years previously. At this time Zuniga would, on his own showing, be but twenty-three. From what we know of Luis de Leon, it seems improbable that he would admit to his confidential intimacy a man so much his junior. No doubt Zuniga (or Rodriguez) was young at the time—hardly old enough, by his own reckoning, to be an ordained priest—a mancebo, as he seemed to Luis de Leon's retrospicient eyes.[124] Yet it is very hard to believe that Zuniga was no more than twenty-three when he took it upon himself to cast doubts on the orthodoxy of Benito Arias Montano;[125] nor is it likely that Luis de Leon would discuss so delicate a topic with the most brilliant of youths. Let it not be said that the question of Zuniga's accuracy in stating his age is relatively unimportant. It is highly relevant; for, if Zuniga were capable of making a mistake on such a point, he was manifestly more liable to error when dealing with other matters on which he necessarily knew less. However, Zuniga's evidence is not weighty enough to call for detailed examination. He may be left to bear the burden of Luis de Leon's scorn. I am more concerned here to suggest that, on the facts before us, we are not compelled to identify the Zuniga who deposed against Luis de Leon with a namesake of a higher intellectual type. To us who read the testimony in cold blood, more than three centuries after it was given, it seems that Luis de Leon deals as impartially with his brethren as with members of other religious orders. This was not his intention, at any rate. He knew his fellow-Augustinians better than he could know the rest, and he himself tells us not obscurely that, out of consideration for his gown, he was silent on various matters which, if proclaimed aloud, would not make for edification.[126]

Members of the Valladolid Court could see for themselves that while Luis de Leon's opponents—Dominicans, Jeromites, and the rest—were banded solidly against him, the Augustinians were by no means unanimous in his favour. That he was difficult to deal with personally the Court had opportunities of knowing. His unbending fidelity to principle and his impetuosity probably produced on the tribunal an impression of obstinacy combined with caprice. On May 6, 1573, a certain Dr. Ortiz de Funes was, as is recorded, nominated counsel to the prisoner;[127] there is no reason to suppose that Ortiz de Funes was in ability below the average level of the bar, but he was no match for his client, and though he may have given valuable advice on purely legal points, when these arose, it soon became plain that Luis de Leon was the brain of the defence and that he meant to conduct that defence in his own way. Ortiz de Funes became a nullity or, at least, a mere figure-head whose main duty consisted in signing papers which the prisoner had drawn up. A time came when, according to the practice of the Inquisition, it became necessary for Luis de Leon to nominate patronos, and in this matter Ortiz de Funes intervened somewhat more prominently than was usual with him. A patrono has no exact counterpart in English ecclesiastical law; it was his business, within narrow limits, to defend the interests of the accused from the theological point of view. On June 26, 1574, Luis de Leon was brought into court, and was told that he was to choose two patronos out of four men whose names were given him.[128] He was obviously taken aback at this proposal, and replying that, since he did not know any of the four, he was ignorant as to their qualifications, added that he had already requested the appointment of Sebastian Perez, professor of Theology at Parraces, as patrono. He renewed his request, adding that either Dr. Cancer or the Dominican Hernando del Castillo could be appointed with Perez; but before any determination was taken, he begged leave to consult his legal adviser.[129] As might have been expected, Ortiz de Funes fell in with his client's view and two days later made a formal application to the Court that Perez be appointed patrono, with either Cancer or Castillo to help him.[130] No appointment was made at the moment and, as it turned out, this was perhaps just as well; for by June 30 Luis de Leon had changed his mind, and appeared in court to ask that Castillo's name be removed from the list of acceptable patronos.[131] On July 14 Ortiz de Funes announced his client's intention of appealing to the Inquisitor-General against the decision forcing him to select patronos from a list of persons unknown to him.[132] Neither Luis de Leon nor Ortiz de Funes seemed to have guessed that the Valladolid judges were acting on instructions from the Supreme Inquisition at Madrid.[133] For a moment the step taken by Ortiz de Funes and his client appeared to have some slight effect. Luis de Leon was informed that he would be allowed to appoint Perez as his patrono but on two conditions: (1) he must undertake to pay all the travelling expenses of his patrono, and (2) an inquiry must be held to establish the limpieza of Perez. This last proceeding, it was significantly added, would be slow.[134] Again Ortiz de Funes was consulted; but it is difficult to believe that he had more than a technical responsibility for the startling decision which he announced: the decision to accept as patronos Fray Mancio de Corpus Christi and either Bartolome de Medina or Dr. Cancer.[135] Mancio, whose pupil Luis de Leon had once been at Alcala, was a Dominican;[136] hence he would be suspect—perhaps doubly 'suspect'—in the prisoner's eyes. Medina, also a Dominican, was an overt foe; Cancer, of whom Luis de Leon knew nothing except that he was a professor at Salamanca, proved to be not over friendly. Luis de Leon may conceivably have thought that Mancio's undoubted learning would ensure his treading in the strict path of justice, and that Mancio's advanced age[137] would enable him to press his views on his coadjutor. It is more likely, however, that the three names were put forward in a paroxysm of impatience—at a moment when Luis de Leon was willing to fall in with any arrangement which might hasten a decision of his case.

Mancio was appointed patrono, and was duly sworn in at Valladolid on October 9, 1574;[138] on October 13 he made a report favourable to the accused.[139] The prisoner was not informed of this (as he should have been), and took umbrage at what he thought was an act of insolent remissness. He appeared in court on October 16, and protested against any of his papers being entrusted to Mancio, lest he should take them to his Dominican monastery where they ran the risk of being scanned by hostile eyes.[140] On October 22 the prisoner showed signs of increasing distrust, for he then requested the return of thirty-two sheets of paper, covered with notes for his defence, which he himself had handed to Mancio.[141] Luis de Leon's suspicions deepened rapidly. On October 25 he asked to be allowed to cancel his nomination of Mancio as patrono.[142] The local judges referred the application to the Supreme Inquisition, and were instructed to proceed as though nothing unusual had happened; Mancio, however, was to be told to stay away still further notice.[143] On December 7 Luis de Leon handed in a written explanation of his recent action. With regard to Mancio, he complained of his patrono's omission to confer with him, expressed some suspicion that Mancio might have become a party to Medina's plot, declined to accept as valid Mancio's excuse for not attending—that he had to lecture in Salamanca—and vehemently declared that Mancio's negligence amounted to very grave sin.[144] These phrases can scarcely have been used in their natural sense, for Luis de Leon concluded his written petition by stating that he was still willing to accept Mancio as his patrono, if Mancio were able to be present at Valladolid. Should this be impossible, the prisoner asked that Dr. Vadillo, Canon of Plasencia, and the Augustinian Fray Francisco Cueto should be assigned to him as patronos. A working arrangement thus became possible, and the General Inquisitor at Madrid ordered that Mancio should be given due facilities. These orders were received on December 13.[145] It appears that Mancio picked up the dropped threads of this business on December 23, and spent another day or two in reviewing the general situation.[146] Mancio's cautious policy was doubtless sound; but to Luis de Leon, who maintained that the matters on which his patrono had to pronounce were as simple as could be, these tactics seemed mistaken, and on January 13, 1575, he begged the Court to press Mancio to give an opinion without delay.[147] On March 6 Luis de Leon once more complained of being unable to confer with his patrono; but now, rather late in the day, he came nearer to putting the blame on the right shoulders. Hitherto he had been prone to ascribe all manner of evil motives to Mancio, whom he should have known better: at last it vaguely dawned on him that the obstacles might come (as, in fact, they did come) from the tribunal which was trying him.[148] On March 15 Mancio wrote a letter to the judges, promising to attend at Valladolid unless absolutely prevented from doing so.[149] Four days later the General Inquisition wrote to the same judges, hinting that a decision might be given shortly.[150] The Valladolid Court was stirred into temporary activity. A sitting was held on March 30; Mancio was present; a consultation took place between him and his client;[151] and henceforth we hear no more of difficulties in connexion with Luis de Leon's patrono. Nearly six months had been wasted owing to want of tact on the part of the Inquisitionary officials.

As the event proved, the prisoner's protests in this matter were thoroughly justified. It is easy to perceive this now. We cannot be sure that we should have taken the same view had we been contemporary spectators. If appearances were not actually against Luis de Leon, they combined to reveal him in his least attractive posture. His comparative promptitude in accepting Mancio as patrono, his unwillingness to abide by his choice, his sudden hostility to Mancio, his final acceptance of Mancio, are all explicable variations. Nevertheless they showed a disregard for superficial consistency which might easily be misinterpreted as caprice. The bias of the court had been veering away from the prisoner for some time. His series of actions with respect to Mancio lost him all judicial favour. His judges considered him as an unreasonable man, a gifted sophist fertile in inventing objections in and out of season, a hair-splitter perpetually arguing for argument's sake. Luis de Leon was, as a rule, so unaccommodating that some of his judges may have begun to think they understood why he was not universally popular with members of his own order. Nor did Luis de Leon's demeanour in court serve to dissipate the atmosphere of almost arrogant rectitude which enveloped him. He felt bound to criticize the machinery of the Inquisition. He may easily have seemed to be criticizing those engaged in working the machinery. At the best of times the procedure of the Court was not expeditious. For example, though Luis de Leon was arrested on March 27, 1572, the first hearing of his formal defence did not take place till April 14—more than a fortnight later. More than once Luis de Leon complained of the Court's delays without going into questions of motive.[152] In this he was clearly right, for, as we have seen, the Supreme Inquisition was not wholly satisfied with the progress made. At other times the prisoner stressed the fact that constant postponements were apt to do him injury, and he hinted rather plainly that there was an intention to wear him down by deliberately prolonging the proceedings.[153] In this conjecture he was almost certainly wrong. The Valladolid judges had no power to alter the system which they found in existence; possibly, becoming accustomed to it, they ended by thinking well of it. Its weak points were naturally more evident to Luis de Leon, and his torrent of critical remarks may have seemed to reflect on the intelligence and probity of the Court. Administrators, however exalted, are human, and even the lowliest of magistrates is prone to take offence, if given to understand that he is considered dull and dishonest. Luis de Leon never was betrayed into using disrespectful language; but his polite formulae could not conceal the fact that he had no very high opinion of those in whose hands his fate lay. Nor did the well-meant observance of established forms on the part of the Court do anything to modify his sentiments. It was in strict conformity with precedent that he should be adjured to make a clean breast of it and should be informed that, while truthfulness would meet with clemency, lying would be severely dealt with.[154] It is strange that it should have been thought necessary to use this formula in the case of Luis de Leon—a highly-strung, sensitive man, with an almost morbid passion for truth. The sole excuse for the Inquisitors is that this warning was given at the first sitting. But, at the second sitting, the warning was repeated in almost identical terms.[155] It seems scarcely possible to show less tact in the conduct of a difficult case. No doubt the explanation is that none of the Valladolid judges was sufficiently independent to set a precedent of his own.

Large allowances must be made for those unhappy men. They cannot reasonably be blamed for not taking it upon themselves to alter the established procedure of the Court in which they sat. Their position was always difficult, and it did not become easier as time went on. They had good reason to know that a vocal group of influential persons in Salamanca confidently expected them to condemn Luis de Leon; yet some of them, at least, were uncomfortably aware that the evidence before them would not warrant a conviction on the major charges. The most damaging witnesses—Medina, Castro, and Zuniga—had been called at a very early stage of the proceedings. These heavy guns had been fired without destroying the adversary. There was nothing for it now but to hope for the worst from the reports of the official calificadores, Dr. Cancer, Fray Nicolas Ramos, and Dr. Frechilla, who did their utmost to fulfil expectations.[156] Lest the pronouncements of this trio proved unconvincing, the precaution was taken of excluding evidence. At the beginning of the case, any sort of second-hand gossip was admitted as evidence on the chance that its cumulative effect might be damaging to the accused. At Murcia, on February 4, 1573, a hostile Augustinian, Fray Juan Ciguelo, a man of doubtful character, was permitted to retail idle chatter on the part of another Augustinian who averred that Luis de Leon was prone to saying Requiems too often, and was in the habit of reading Latin too quickly.[157] Ciguelo's testimony, though malignant, had done no harm; later on, it was thought more prudent to adopt the opposite policy and to prevent as many as possible of the witnesses for the defence from being heard. As late as July 7, 1576, no less than three interrogatories[158] by Luis de Leon were rejected on the ground that they were irrelevant (impertinentes).[159] It is difficult to reconcile these decisions, except on the hypothesis that the later ruling was thought to be more likely to damage Luis de Leon than the earlier one. In their despair, his adversaries trumped up an assertion which was easily disproved.[160]

Disorderly and incoherent as it is, the record of the case enables us to corroborate and, in one or two trifling particulars, to supplement the details reported by Francisco Pacheco who, in his youth, may easily have met Luis de Leon and must later have known many who had seen him. According to that painter's Libro de Descripcion de verdaderos Retratos de illustres y memorables varones, Luis de Leon was below the middle height; he had a large but shapely head, covered with thick and rather curly hair which grew densely on the crown; his brow was broad; his features were more blunt than aquiline; his complexion was darkish; his green eyes were bright; his aspect was grave; and, we may add, he was prone to walk quickly. Pacheco, indeed, regarded Luis de Leon as something of a universal genius: an expert in mathematics, in jurisprudence, in medicine—and, though self-taught as a painter—an artist of considerable skill. (This last was a compliment, coming as it did from the future father-in-law of Velazquez.) Evidently Pacheco was a whole-hearted admirer whose enthusiasm needs discounting. However, so far as we can check it, his account seems to be correct in the matter of direct observation. The fact that there is scarcely one flash of humour in the interminable record of the Valladolid trial confirms Pacheco's report of the prisoner's habitual gravity. No doubt the tragic circumstances in which he found himself were not conducive to displays of humour. When being tried for his life, the merriest of men does not dwell on the innate absurdity of things. Humour was, however, one of the few gifts which nature had denied to Luis de Leon. He was aware of this himself, to judge from his statement that he had nothing of the jester or scoffer in him.[161] But if Luis de Leon was relatively poor in humour, he had an abundant store of mordant sarcasm and a faculty for ironic banter, as Medina and Castro learned to their chagrin.[162] Pacheco's opinion of Luis de Leon's versatile talent is borne out by the scrap of evidence given at the trial by Francisco de Salinas—the sightless dedicatee of El aire se serena. Salinas bore witness that some of Luis de Leon's admirers were persuaded that he could carry any University chair against all competition.[163] Evidently to those who met him frequently Luis de Leon conveyed the impression of irresistible talent. Though students voted in professorial elections at Salamanca, and supported Luis de Leon loyally, he did nothing to conciliate them, and expressed his opinion of them with unquestionable candour. We gather that he was profoundly attached to the ancient order of things[164] and that, though accused of interpreting the Bible in a rabbinical sense, he had never read a rabbinical book.[165] We learn that among his teachers were Guevara, Mancio, Cipriano, and Melchor Cano;[166] of these he would seem most to have esteemed Cano.[167] With such masters, and being the man he was, Luis de Leon would naturally have got together a good theological library, and he was allowed to have some of his books in his prison-cell; it is but natural that most of his requests should be for theological works which would be of service in preparing his defence on technical points. Reading was his sole solace during his imprisonment, and it is noticeable that, whenever he asks for a book he speaks of it—not with the dry, meticulous precision of a bibliographer but—with all the caressing detail of a genuine book-lover. He indicates the sizes of the various works which he needs, describes their bindings, and mentions in what part of his monastery-cell they will be found. He wants a Vatable with gilt edges, bound in black; it should be found in a case for smaller volumes which lies on his writing-table. He asks for a Bible, printed by Plantin, bound in black leather and fastened with black silk ribbons. He demands a Biblical concordance which is in folio. This lies on a high shelf near the window.[168] He begs to have the works of St. Justin, which will be found in the shelves on the left as you enter his monastery-cell. But not all his requests are for theological works. A true son of the Renaissance, he finds entertainment or instruction in communing with the best of antiquity. When in this mood he asks for his Aristotle bound in sheep's-skin; it will be found in the shelves on the right as you enter the monastery-cell. He would like a Horace and a Virgil—of which there are a great many ('de que hay hartos'), so that he does not particularize. He wants his Homer (in Greek and Latin) bound in sheep's-skin, and with red edges; it will be found in the shelves where the works of St. Justin are.[169] Again, besides the works of St. Leo, bound in parchment, he asks for his Sophocles in black calf; for a Pindar (in Greek and Latin), bound partly in black leather, with gilt edges; and for Le prose dil Bembo, a volume in small quarto with a parchment binding.[170] This throws light on Luis de Leon's progress as a linguist. An imprisoned man who asks for an Italian book to becalm his fever may be safely presumed to know that language. In or about 1569 when Arias Montano read aloud the anonymous Italian work which disturbed Zuniga's scrupulous conscience, Luis de Leon, though of course able to catch the author's drift, did not really know Italian at that time.[171] This deficiency had been made good, as he gives us to understand, previous to March 12, 1573—twenty eight months, or more, before Luis de Leon asked that his copy of Le prose dil Bembo should be given to him in prison.

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