Ximenes, Francis

, an eminent statesman and patron of literature, was born in 1437, at Torrelaguna, in Old Castille, and was the son of Alphonso de Cimeros de Ximenes, procurator of that city. He was educated for the church, at Alcala and Salamanca, and then went to Rome, but having been robbed on his journey home, brought nothing back with him, except a bull for the first prebend which should be vacant. This the archbishop of Toledo refused to grant, and confined him in the tower of Uceda, where it is said a priest, who had long been prisoner there, foretold to him that he should, one day, be archbishop of Toledo. Having recovered his liberty, he obtained a benefice in the


Fabric, Bibl. Grace. Brit. Crit. vol. X. Saxii Ouoinast.

| diocese of Siguenza, and cardinal Gonsalez de Mendoza, who was bishop there, made him his grand vicar. Ximenes entered soon after among the Franciscans of Toledo, and took the vows; but finding himself embarrassed by visits, he retired to a solitude called Castauel, where he studied the Oriental languages and divinity. On his return to Toledo, queen Isabella of Castille appointed him her confessor, and nominated him to the archbishopric of Toledo, 14.95, without his knowledge. When Ximenes received the bulls from the hand of this princess, he only kissed them, returned them to her, unopened, saying, “Madam, these letters are not addressed to me,” and went immediately back to his convent at Castanel, being determined not to accept the archbishopric. The queen was much pleased with this refusal; but when Ximenes still persisted in his refusal, an express command from the pope became necessary to overcome his resolution. Nor would he even then yield but upon the following conditions: “That he should never quit his church of Toledo; that no pension should be charged on his archbishopric (one of the richest in the world); and that no infringement of the privileges and immunities of his church should ever be attempted.” He took possession of it in 1498, being received with unusual magnificence at Toledo. This prelate’s first care was to provide for the poor, visit the churches and hospitals, and clear his diocese from usurers and licentious houses. Those judges who neglected their duty, he degraded, supplying their places with persons whose probity and disinterestedness were known to him. He held a synod afterwards at Alcala, and another at Talavera, where he made very prudent regulations for the clergy of his diocese, and laboured at the same time to reform the Franciscans throughout Castille and Arragon, in which he happily succeeded, notwithstanding the obstacles he had to encounter. Ximenes established a celebrated university at Alcala, and founded there in 1499, the famous college of St. Ildephonsus, built by Peter Gumiel, one of the best architects of that time. Three years after he undertook the great plan of a Polyglot Bible, for the execution of which he invited many learned men from Alcala to Toledo, who were skilled in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages necessary for the perfect understanding the holy scriptures. This Bible, though began in 1502, was not printed till 1517, 6 vols. folio, at Alcala. It contains | the Hebrew text of the Bible, the version of the LXX. with a literal translation, that of St. Jerome, and the Chaldee paraphrases of Onkelos on the Pentateuch only. In the original preface, addressed to pope Leo X. the learned archbishop says, “It is doing great service to the church to publish the scriptures in their original language, both because no translation cati give a perfect idea of the original, and because, according to the opinion of the holy fathers, we should refer to the Hebrew text for the Old Testament, and to the Greek for the New Testament.” The work was above fifteen years in finishing. Ximenes himself assisted in it with great assiduity, and paid the whole expence, which amounted to an immense sum. He purchased seven Hebrew copies, that cost four thousand crowns, and gave vast prices for ancient Mss. To the above-mentioned Bible, which is called the Polyglot of Ximenes, he added a dictionary of the Hebrew and Chaldee words in the Bible. In 1507 pope Julius II. gave him a cardinal’s hat; and Ferdinand the catholic entrusted him with the administration of state affairs, from which moment cardinal Ximenes became the soul of all that was done in Spain. He began his ministry by delivering the people from an oppressive tax, which had been continued on account of the war of Grenada; and he laboured so zealously and successfully in the conversion of the Mahometans, that he made near three thousand proselytes, among whom was the prince of the blood royal of Grenada. This great multitude he baptized in a spacious square, awd ordering all the copies of the Koran to be brought thither, set them on fire; which memorable day was afterwarda kept as a festival in Spain. Cardinal Ximenes extended Ferdinand’s dominion over the Moors, 1509, by the conquest of Oran, a city in the kingdom of Algiers. He undertook this conquest at his own expence, and marched himself at the head of the Spanish army in his pontifical habit, accompanied by a great number of ecclesiastics and monks, and at his return was met within four leagues of Seville by Ferdinand, who alighted to embrace him. Foreseeing afterwards an uncommon dearth, he ordered public granaries to be built at Toledo, Alcala, and Torrelaguna, and stored them with corn at his own cost; which made him so generally beloved, that his eulogy was engraved in the senate-house at Toledo, and in the public square, to perpetuate the memory of this noble action. King | Ferdinand dying in 1516, appointed him regent of his dominions, and the archduke Charles (afterwards the emperor Charles V.) confirmed this appointment. No sooner was cardinal Ximenes established in the regency, than he became intent on exerting his authority. He introduced a reformation among the officers of the supreme council, and those of the court, ordered the judges to repress all extortions of the rich and of the nobility, and dismissed prince Ferdinand’s two favourites. These changes excited murmurs among the grandees, and some officer’s asked the cardinal, by what authority he thus acted? Ximenes immediately showed them the soldiers who composed his common guard, and replied, that his power consisted in their strength; then shaking his cord of St. Francis, said, “This suffices me to quell my rebellious subjects.” At the same time he ordered the cannon, which he kept behind his palace, to be fired, and concluded with these words: “Haec est ratio ultima regis;” i. e. This is the decisive argument of kings. He opposed the reformation of the inquisition; devoted himself, with indefatigable ardour, to the affairs of the church and state; and omitted nothing that he thought could contribute to the glory of religion, and the advantage of his sovereigns. At length, after having governed Spain twenty -two years, in the reigns of Ferdinand, Isabella, Jane, Philip, and Charles of Austria, he died November 8, 1517, as some think, by poison, in the eighty-first year of his age. His remains were interred in the college of Ildephonsus, at Alcala, where his tomb may be seen. This cardinal had settled several excellent foundations; among others, two magnificent female convents; one for the religious education of a great many young ladies of high rank, but destitute of fortune the other to be an asylum; for such poor maidens as should be found to have a real call to the monastic life. He also founded a chapel in his cathedral for the performance of divine service according to the Mozarabic rites. If we add the fountain of springwater, which he conveyed to the town of Torrelaguna, for public use, to the other sums he expended there, it will appear that he laid out nearly a million in that one place.

Many anecdotes are related of the peculiar temper and virtues of this celebrated cardinal, by his, biographers M. FJechier and M. Marsollier, each of whom published a life of him in 2 vols. 12mo, and there is a third by Gomez in folio. His family is generally represented to have been in | a low situation; yet he is said, in the midst of his greatness, to have gone one summer to the village where he was born, to have visited his kindred, and to have treated them with all the marks of kindness and affection. His humility upon this head was very unaffected, and appeared sometimes very unexpectedly. He was present once when doctor Nicolas de Pax was explaining the philosophy of Raymund Lully; and, in speaking to the question, whether that famous man had the philosopher’s stone or not, he took notice of a passage in the Psalms which has been thought to look that way: “he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may set him with the princes, even with the princes of his people.” That portion of scripture, said the cardinal, may be much more naturally interpreted, for instance, in my own case; and then ran out in a long detail of his own meanness, and the wonderful manner in which he had been exalted.

He had a great contempt for what were styled the arts of a court, and would never use them. Don Pedro Porto Carrero, who was with king Charles in Flanders, wrote to him, that he had many enemies there, and advised him to make use of a cypher. He thanked him for his intelligence and friendship, but rejected the expedient: “1 have nothing,” said he, “that I desire to conceal; and, if I write any thing that is amiss, I will not deprive my enemies of their evidence.” He behaved sternly himself to the nobility; but he advised both Ferdinand and Charles not to treat them with rigour. “Ambition,” said he, “is their common crime; and you will do well to make submission their only punishment.” His coadjutor Adrian was miserably disturbed at the libels that flew about; but Ximenes, who was as little spared, bore them with great temper: “We act,” says he, “and we must give the others leave to speak; if what they say is false, we may laugh; if true, we ought to mend.” However, he sometimes searched the printers and booksellers shops; but, as he gave a previous notice, it may be presumed he did not often meet with things that could give offence.

The great object of his care was the revenue of his archbishopric; with which, however great, he did such things as could scarcely be expected from it, especially as one half of it was constantly distributed in alms, about which he was so circumspect, that no fraud could be committed. He was very plain in his habit and in his furniture; but he | knew the value of fine things, and would sometimes admire them. He once looked upon a rich jewel, and asked its price. The merchant told him. “It is a very fine thing,” said he, “and worth the money; but the army is just disbanded; there are many poor soldiers; and with the value or‘ it I can send two hundred of them home, with each a piece of gold in his pocket.” All his foundations, and other acts of generosity, were out of the other moiety. His regulations must have cost him at least as much thought as his buildings and endowments. He saw clearly that ignorance was the bane of religion, and the only thing that made the inquisition necessary; for, if men understood the Christian religion, there could be no need to fear either Judaism or Mohammedism. Upon the whole, we have great reason to believe that he spoke truth upon his deathbed, when he said, that, to the best of his knowledge, he had not misapplied a single crown of his revenue. Philip IV. was at great pains to have procured his canonization with the popes Innocent X. and Alexander Vij. but we know not why be did not succeed. 1


Chaufepie.Dict. Hist. Modern Univ. Hist. Robertson’s Hist, of Charles V