After four years, ill health forced him to retire to live in Toledo; ill health, however, often does not necessarily mean a short life, and Mariana lived to the then phenomenally ripe old age of Fortunately, Mariana's "retirement" was an active one, and his great learning and erudition drew numerous persons, from private citizens to state and ecclesiastical authorities, to ask for his advice and guidance. He was able to published two great and influential books. One was a history of Spain, written first in Latin and then in Spanish, which went into many volumes and many editions in both languages.
The Latin version was eventually published in 11 volumes, and the Spanish in The Spanish edition has long been considered one of the classics of Spanish style, and it went into many editions until the mid-nineteenth century. But monarchy did not fare well at the hands of the hard-hitting Mariana. A fervent opponent of the rising tide of absolutism in Europe, and of the doctrine of such as King James I of England that kings rule absolutely by divine right, Mariana converted the scholastic doctrine of tyranny from an abstract concept into a weapon with which to smite real monarchs of the past.
He denounced such ancient rulers as Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar as tyrants, who acquired their power by injustice and robbery. Previous scholastics, including Suarez, believed that the people could ratify such unjust usurpation by their consent after the fact, and thereby make their rule legitimate. But Mariana was not so quick to concede the consent of the people. In contrast to other scholastics, who placed the "ownership" of power in the king, he stressed that the people have a right to reclaim their political power whenever the king should abuse it.
Indeed Mariana held that, in transferring their original political power from a state of nature to the king, the people necessarily reserved important rights to themselves; in addition to the right to reclaim sovereignty, they retained such vital powers as taxation, the right to veto laws, and the right to determine succession if the king has no heir. It should already be clear that it was Mariana, rather than Suarez, who might be called the forebear of John Locke's theory of popular consent and the continuing superiority of the people to the government.
Furthermore, Mariana also anticipated Locke in holding that men leave the state of nature to form governments in order to preserve their rights of private property. Mariana also went far beyond Suarez in postulating a state of nature, a society, previous to the institution of government. But the most fascinating feature of the "extremism" of Mariana's political theory was his creative innovation in the scholastic theory of tyrannicide. That a tyrant might be justly killed by the people had long been standard doctrine; but Mariana broadened it greatly in two significant ways.
First, he expanded the definition of tyranny: a tyrant was any ruler who violated the laws of religion, who imposed taxes without the people's consent, or who prevented a meeting of a democratic parliament. All the other scholastics, in contrast, had located the sole power to tax in the ruler. Even more spectacularly, to Mariana any individual citizen can justly assassinate a tyrant and may do so by any means necessary. Assassination did not require some sort of collective decision by the entire people. To be sure, Mariana did not think that an individual should engage in assassination lightly.
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First, he should try to assemble the people to make this crucial decision. But if that is impossible, he should at least consult some "erudite and grave men," unless the cry of the people against the tyrant is so starkly manifest that consultation becomes unnecessary. Furthermore, Mariana added — in phrases anticipating Locke's and the Declaration of Independence's justification of the right of rebellion — that we need not worry about the public order being greatly disrupted by too many people taking up the practice of tyrannicide.
For this is a dangerous enterprise, Mariana sensibly pointed out, and very few are ever ready to risk their lives in that way. On the contrary, most tyrants have not died a violent death, and tyrannicides have almost always been greeted by the populace as heroes. In contrast to the common objections to tyrannicide, he concluded, it would be salutary for rulers to fear the people, and to realize that a lapse into tyranny might cause the people to call them to account for their crimes.
He seizes the property of individuals and squanders it, impelled as he is by the unkingly vices of lust, avarice, cruelty, and fraud…. Tyrants, indeed, try to injure and ruin everybody, but they direct their attack especially against rich and upright men throughout the realm. They consider the good more suspect than the evil; and the virtue which they themselves lack is most formidable to them… They expel the better men from the commonwealth on the principle that whatever is exalted in the kingdom should be laid low… They exhaust all the rest so that they can not unite by demanding new tributes from them daily, by stirring up quarrels among the citizens, and by joining war to war.
The work reaches deep into a complex past but points to the present and future, too. While generally hesitant to address contemporary issues directly, Mariana clearly considers the recent annexation of the kingdom of Portugal by Philip II a point of reference. Like his contemporary, the Italian ex-Jesuit Giovanni Botero in his Relationi Universali , though less explicitly, Mariana puts the Spain of Philip II in the vanguard of the defense and eventual triumph of universal Catholicism.
The successful completion of such a compendious work had a methodological price tag.
Fellow historians like Pedro Mantuano and Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas pointed out that Mariana had included historical conjecture such as the fabrications of Annius of Viterbo. Mariana in turn readily confessed to shortcomings of his work and the fact that it contained regrettable errors — not always corrected in his own later editions — as a result of the need to rely in several instances on the works of his predecessors. The work nonetheless enjoyed overall success at court and in scholarly circles, which led to royal support for the publication of a revised and extended Latin version as well as a translation into the vernacular by the author himself , further extended and republished in Historical exempla — some included already in De rege , even more in his history of Spain — showed how maxims of political prudence had actually worked in the political arena.
De rege anchors the discussion of many themes familiar from Renaissance and early modern mirrors-of-princes literature in the history of Spain. Alongside a host of classical and Christian authors, history and Spanish history in particular is the inspiration for a decidedly pragmatic political ethics for the preservation of the Spanish Habsburg monarchy and the Catholic faith in Spain. The treatise also includes strident critiques of what the author perceived as the ills of Spanish government and society as well as his proposals for moral and political reform. De rege is part of a wider European literature on reason of state as well as a Spanish debate on the state of Habsburg Spain at the turn of the century and her future under a young and inexperienced king.
Mariana approaches the moral predicaments and salient issues in political ethics in ways that are didactically and rhetorically effective as well as innovative with regard to the use of intellectual traditions. One example is the discussion of human nature and the origins of civil society that introduces and underpins the argument of De rege as a whole.
Mariana describes civil society — with private ownership and political power in its wake — as the result of the Fall of Adam and as invariably affected by human corruption. The Jesuit does not share the Thomist-Aristotelian view that secular authority is rooted in natural law largely unscathed by original sin. Another closely related example and hallmark of De rege is the blending of scholastic and humanist traditions, terminologies, and modes of reasoning.
The brief discussion of tyrannicide in book one of De rege — the part which has received most attention from historians of political thought — is one example. It is cast not in terms of natural or positive law but of prudence. A prince deaf to the precepts of political prudence and blind to the dangers of tyranny will always be able to bend or ignore the law.
Yet lack of respect for his subjects and the lessons from history might well lead to rebellion, foreign invasion, and violent removal from power, even assassination as in the case of Henry III of France.
Mariana is deeply aware of tyrannicide as a complex constitutional problem, and the argument is rich in references to scholastic legal concepts and formulae. Yet these are presented no longer as binding juridical principles but as maxims of political prudence. Mariana considers laws more of a menace to the liberty of subjects than a safeguard. The peace and protection of the commonwealth do not depend on legal-constitutional frameworks but on the prudence of the prince and his ability to handle major political stakeholders effectively.
Personal experience and historical reflection invested Mariana with doubts about the ability of monarchs, laws, and parliaments to preserve peace and stability. He is even more suspicious of the nobility, which he sees as a permanent threat to the internal balance of power. Mariana is generally acknowledged as the principal historian of the peninsular realms — the Americas hardly feature in any of his work — during the reigns of Philip II and Philip III of Spain.
The Latin edition and especially the vernacular edition were reprinted throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including translations into French and English. Considerably expanded versions of the Historia were published in Madrid and Barcelona as late as and , respectively. The most extensive study is still Cirot Kagan and Olds embed Mariana in the context of Spanish official historiography from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.
In Spain, the treatise became a frequent point of reference for authors participating in the wider debate on the reform of the monarchy until the nineteenth century. In France, on the other hand, Catholic and Calvinist politiques read it as a confirmation of Jesuit intentions to secure a Spanish succession to the French throne. Mariana was accused of propagating a radical doctrine of popular sovereignty including the right of any private individual to kill a legitimate king perceived as a tyrant, a way of thinking seemingly akin to that of the so-called French Monarchomachs.
Regardless, De rege continued to be a byword for regicide and anti-monarchical subversion and a liability to the reputation of the Society of Jesus well into the twentieth century. Gradually, the picture became more differentiated.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Juan Mariana
This is perhaps the area of Mariana studies in most urgent need of further attention. Arias Montano, Benito. Bellarmine, Robert.
Botero, Giovanni. Lipsius, Justus. Molina, Luis de. Princes and Rulers.
Reason of State. Ribadeneyra, Pedro. Salamanca, School of. Soto, Domingo de. Tacitus and Tacitism. Skip to main content Skip to table of contents. Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy Living Edition. Contents Search. Died : Toledo, Spain Living reference work entry First Online: 28 January To add entries to your own vocabulary , become a member of Reverso community or login if you are already a member. It's easy and only takes a few seconds:. Or sign up in the traditional way. See also: marijuana , marina , Martian , Mauritania.
Mariana helped prisoners escape to gibraltar. This is about Mariana embracing her cultural heritage. Loretta Bouwmeester, Veronica Choy and Mariana