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AN EARLY LIFE OF FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ DE CISNEROS The town of Torrelaguna is located on the Castiüan meseta, in the province of Madrid, some thirty miles north of the capital. Its major claim to fame is that it was the birthplace and childhood home of Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros (1436-1517), perhaps the outstanding figure in a period of Spanish history that was hardly lacking in eminent men and women. The magnitude and variety of his accomplishments were such as to defy summary. A Franciscan who was renowned for the austerity and rectitude of his personal life, he enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for personal integrity in a tumultuous and grasping age, and this in spite of the fact that he held the most powerful secular and ecclesiastical posts in the land. Confessor and chief advisor of Queen Isabel, he became Archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, Cardinal, Grand Inquisitor, and, near the end of his life, Regent of the Realms. He was an indefatigable administrator and monastic reformer who nevertheless found time to excel in yet other areas. As a miUtary planner he directed the eminently successful expedition against the MusUm city of Oran that gained for Spain a valuable outpost on the coast of North Africa. As a scholar he encouraged the growth of Spanish humanism, estabUshing the university at Alcalá de Henares (later moved to Madrid) which quickly became and has remained the foremost institution of higher learning in Spain. Here he established the press which raised Spanish letters to new heights, leading the way with his own project, the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. In addition to all this, he was constantly involved with endowing and overseeing the foundations of numerous charitable and ecclesiastical establishments. Among these was the monastery of La Madre de Dios in Torrelaguna, founded by Cisneros in memory of his birthplace. Needless to say, such a career has inspired many biographers, chief among them Alvaro Gómez de Castro, whose De rebus gestis a Francisco Ximenio Cisnerio... libri octo (Alcalá, 1560? and 1569; An Early Life of Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros157 Frankfurt, 1581 and 1603-08) has been called the "fons et origo" of later studies. It would be impossible in the confines of this communication to present even the broadest outUne of this scholarly tradition, but it would not be inappropriate to mention the works of Eugenio de Robles, Compendio de la vida y hazañas del Cardenal... Cisneros... (Toledo, 1604) ; Michel Baudier, Histoire de l'administration du Cardinal Ximenes (Paris, 1635); and Pedro de Quintanilla y Mendoza, Archetype de virtudes, espexo de prelados, el venerable padre... Fr. Francisco Ximenez de Cisneros (Palermo, 1653) as setting the high standard of scholarship that has prevailed among Cisneros' biographers down to the present. Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros was an extraordinary man in extraordinary times, and it is unlikely that this long tradition of biographical studies will soon end. In 1974 the Kenneth Spencer Research Library of the University of Kansas acquired a small volume, measuring some 210 ? 150 mm, which it has catalogued as MS C238 under the title of "The Manuscript of Torrelaguna." The codex is comprised of fourteen gatherings of varying numbers of leaves, containing a number of items, dating from 1521 to 1809, relating to the monastery of La Madre de Dios of Torrelaguna. Although all of the material is of interest, the most exceptional feature of this collection is that it commences with six folia devoted to a brief biography of the founder of the community. The possible antiquity of this account makes it worthwhile to establish the date of its composition. The terminus post quern is a relatively clear matter established by internal evidence. On folio 5r the author refers to "el enperador don carlos." Given that Charles did not succeed to the title until 1519, it follows that the account must have been written in or after that year. There is no such internal evidence, however, to establish a firm terminus ante quern, although a strong presumptive case may be made on the place of this particular gathering in the structure of the volume as a whole. The biography is written in a typical...


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