Juan de Mariana
This document presents biographical information about Juan de Mariana that seems generally pertinent to the Measure for Measure argument. There are already short biographies of Mariana available on the internet, including one at http://www.mises.org/content/juandemariana.asp and one at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09659b.htm.
Mariana was born around 1536, and thus was over 65 by the
time Measure for Measure was published, and, one would think, at the height of
his fame. Up until the age of 38 (1574),
he had traveled widely, becoming ordained to the priesthood in
He returned to
“During this time [the 1570s] he
was appointed synodal examiner and counsel for the Holy Tribunal of the
Inquisition. His fame waxed greatly, and
by 1580, when he was forty four years old, he was recognised everywhere as one
of the highest authorities in matters of theology." Returning to
The remainder of his long life seems to have been devoted primarily to literary endeavors. He published the first 20 books of his Latin History of the Matters of Spain in 1592, with the idea of making Spain’s glorious history known to the world at large, and published an expanded version of that work in 1595. Spanish versions of the History came out in 1601 and 1606.
In 1598-99, he published “On the King and His Education”
(“De Rege et Regis Institutione”) which he claimed he wrote at the behest of
Philip II – who had just died – although it is doubtful that Philip II was
would have endorsed the chapter in which Mariana justified tyrannicide, much
less his contention that the defeat of the Spanish Armada was attributable to
Divine rage at the “vile lusts of a certain prince” (i.e. Philip II). This work also contains Mariana’s suggestion
that the Spanish crown authorize and reward privateers for harassing shipping
De Rege might have attracted the attention of Shakespeare as well as King James, both of whom had thoughts on the divine right of kings as well as tyrannicide:
“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed;
All murdered . . . .”
(Richard II, 3.2.155-60)
There is a disagreement among Mariana’s biographers as to whether Mariana’s later treatise on debasement appeared as a chapter in the 1599 De Rege. The only English translation, by G.A. Moore, does not contain the debasement chapter, and neither does the 1854 Spanish translation of the work, but this is as far as I have pursued the question.
In 1599, Mariana published De Ponderibus et Mensuris (and
indeed, it was bound with some volumes of De Rege), which detailed the history
of the very important topic of weights and measures from ancient times to the
“A flurry of anti-Mariana
publications followed in the same year. This included calls from the Sorbonne
to imprison Mariana, which were printed in
From a summary of Roussel, Michel, L'Antimariana ou refutation des propositions
de Mariana (
The above paragraph refers to the attention that Mariana’s
writings on tyrannicide attracted after the assassination of Henry IV of
The “antimariana” by Roussel was not the first book to take Mariana to task for his writings, however. In 1603, Juan Fernandez de Velasco, Constable of Castile (who held about a dozen other titles, and who was to be the leading Spanish Ambassador at the 1604 peace conference between Spain and England) directed his secretary, Pedro Mantuan(o), to write a critique of Mariana’s History of Spain. I have been unable to ascertain whether Mantuan (who was about 27 years old at the time, and who went on to become a historian of some repute) attended the Peace Conference with his employer, but it is widely believed that Shakespeare himself was there for eighteen days, along with the other King’s Men.
In 1605, Mariana published, in
In 1609, he published Seven Treatises in a single volume. The volume included De Mutatione Monetae, which, as above, got him imprisoned at the age of 74.
Mariana died in 1624, aged 87 or 88.