Vives, Juan Luis


Vives, Juan Luis
(1492-1540)
   Spanish humanist, born into a family of conversos. He was educated in his native city of Valencia and then at the University of Paris (1509-1512), where he disliked the traditional scholastic curriculum and eventually left without tak-ing a degree. He settled in Bruges, which became his principal home for the rest of his life. In 1517 he became tutor to Guillaume de Croy, the aristocratic cardinal and archbishop-elect of Toledo, and accom-panied his 19-year-old pupil to the University of Louvain. Vives was permitted to lecture at Louvain despite his lack of a formal university degree. He had attracted the favorable attention of the French hu-manist Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples at Paris and of the Dutch human-ist Erasmus, who settled in Louvain in 1517, about the same time that Vives arrived there. Both Erasmus and his friend Thomas More admired Vives' command of Latin. His treatise criticizing scholastic education, In pseudodialecticos, also attracted Erasmus and More to him. In 1522 he received an offer of the chair of rhetoric at the Uni-versity of Alcalá in his native Spain, in succession to the great Span-ish humanist Elio Antonio de Nebrija. Almost simultaneously, how-ever, he learned that the Spanish Inquisition had arrested his father on charges of relapsing into Jewish religious practices. The father was executed in 1524, and though the humanist's mother had died in 1509, she, too, was accused of apostasizing into Judaism, was tried in 1528, and her body was exhumed and burned. Prudently, Vives declined the offer from Alcalá and never again returned to his native country.
   In 1523 he visited England and accepted an offer from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to teach Greek at Oxford. In 1524 he returned to Bruges and married the daughter of a Spanish converso family settled there. His wife remained in Bruges when he returned to England, where he had formed friendships with influential persons such as Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher, and the royal physician Thomas Linacre. In 1527-1528 he served as tutor to Princess Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and his Spanish queen, Catherine of Aragon. His support for Queen Catherine during Henry's effort to secure a di-vorce cost him the king's favor, and for a time in 1528 he was held under house arrest but was eventally permitted to return to Bruges. Late in 1528 he briefly returned to England as adviser to Queen Catherine, but since she refused to follow his advice on how to con-duct her opposition to the divorce, he returned to the Netherlands, liv-ing mostly at Bruges.
   At the urging of Erasmus, Vives edited St. Augustine's City of God, accompanied by his own commentary (1522). He dedicated this work to Henry VIII but it did not interest the king. His De institutione feminae Christianae / On the Education of a Christian Woman (1524) was dedicated to Queen Catherine, who was more receptive, and he also gained the queen's interest with his De ratione studii puerilis / On the Method of Educating Children (1536), a guide to education written for Princess Mary. Later he wrote a work De officio mariti / On a Husband's Duties (1529), dedicated to the Spanish duke of Gandia. Vives wrote several textbooks that were widely used in schools, including Introductio ad sapientiam/Introduction to Learn-ing and a collection of dialogues designed to assist in the study of Latin (1538). Vives also made a major contribution to contemporary social theory with his De subventione pauperum / On Poor-Relief (1525), which addressed the much-debated issue of the relief of poverty, and he published two political tracts on resistance to the Turks and on issues of war and peace among Christians.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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