From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 9.2 (1989): 43-60.
Copyright © 1989, The Cervantes Society of America

Spanish Guides to Princes and the Political Theories in Don Quijote


HUMANISTS and writers of religious literature in Spain during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries produced a number of political treatises called guías (guides), relojes (dials), or advertencias and consejos (advice) for princes: in Latin, Speculum principis and De regimine principum. In essence, these were more than mere political tracts, since they were written to offer advice either to one particular prince (Charles V) and future king, or to all rulers in general on the proper way to govern, both in relation to God and to his/her subjects. These political treatises contain much more than advice or counsel. The Spanish guides include political, ethical as well as moral precepts, discussions on war and peace, expositions on the principles of decorum and moderation, the means to counteract corruption, and more importantly, the practice of the Christian theological and cardinal virtues. At least one contains a discussion on the Golden Age.1 The Spanish

     1 This work is Antonio de Guevara's Reloj de príncipes (1529). It became very popular in England after being translated into English in 1557 by Thomas North. There were twelve editions published in that country in less than fifty years. Besides, it was a very influential work in that it had an impact on John Lyly's Euphues, and it also influenced Sir Thomas Elyot's The Governour.


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guides are most probably a product of the conflict between Medieval and Renaissance political, economic and religious conditions, and, in particular, they were mostly produced as a reaction to Machiavelli's ragion di stato.2 The writers of these works also offered their solutions to the abuses as well as the corruption of the modern European states.3 These works were written by humanists, royal counselors, former soldiers, writers of religious literature, and authors of secular literature such as Gracián and Quevedo.4 First and foremost, they promote the concept of the prince as the representative and upholder of Roman Catholicism. Several treatises combine the concept of the ideal Christian prince with the practical advice garnered through the writer's own experiences in court and in the battlefield.5 As a rule, these guides support the ideal of a prince who will embody and reflect the Christian virtues, and, thus, enable him to be a model for his subjects. In this capacity, he/she may direct

     2 In the Utopia we read: “There are a great many noblemen who live idly like drones off the labors of others, their tenants whom they bleed white by constantly raising their rents” (12). Jacob Burckhardt comments: “The feudal system which from the days of the Normans had survived in the form of a territorial supremacy of the barons, gave a distinctive colour to the political constitution of Naples, while elsewhere in Italy a direct tenure of land prevailed, and no hereditary powers were permitted by law” (The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy 43). Competition grew in the powerful states and in their commercial dealings they shrank from no measures however extreme which might damage their competitors (Burckhardt 82).
     3 The powerful European states held their weaker neighbors in a condition of helpless dependence; in short, they all fancied that they could get on by themselves without assistance of the rest, and thus, paved the way for the future usurpation. The usurper was forthcoming when long conflicts between different factions of the nobility had awakened the desire for a strong government, and when bands of mercenaries, ready and willing to sell their aid to the highest bidder, had superseded the general levy of the citizens. The tyrants destroyed the freedom of the cities (Burckhardt 82). These were the political conditions in Italy in Machiavelli's time.
     4 See Francisco de Quevedo, Política de Dios y gobierno de Cristo Nuestro Señor, Part I, which is dedicated to Felipe IV. See also Baltasar Gracián's El político, who is Fernando el Católico.
     5 This was the case with the Valencian Fadrique Furió Ceriol. Professor Donald Bleznick in his article “Spanish Reaction to Machiavelli in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” writes: “He based his observations and recommendations upon the lesson of historical knowledge supplemented by his own broad personal contacts with important figures of the day” (547). Furió Ceriol served in the Spanish court for seventeen years and he had also been a soldier.

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the reform of Christian society.6 Lastly, there is an admonition to assist the poor and the needy.
     Outside of the Iberian peninsula there were three seminal and influential political treatises published during the first quarter of the sixteenth century: Machiavelli's Principe (1513), Erasmus's Institutio Principis Christiani (Education of a Christian Prince) (1516), and Thomas More's Utopia (1516), the last of which is not a guide as such but it does contain commentaries on the role of princes. Much like the Spanish guides, the latter two posit a conception of the ideal prince which is diametrically opposed to the one offered by Machiavelli. The ideas put forth by Erasmus and More as well as those of the Spanish political treatises and guides are part of a long tradition in the West that begins in ancient Greece of which Plato's Republic, Laws and the Statesman, Aristotle's Politics, and Plutarch's Moralia are prime examples.7 In the classical exposition of the prince's role, it is established that, “he should be kind, independent, frugal, serious, free from interest in worldly pleasures, self-controlled, an assiduous worker, simple, dignified, uncorrupted, just, gracious, God-fearing, brave and philosophic” (Education 79). Moreover, justice is always given supreme importance. In the Politics Aristotle writes “that without justice and valour, no state can be supported” (ch. 12; 106).
     Already within the Christian and Neoplatonic tradition, St. Augustine writes in the City of God that the state cannot be governed without justice (II, ch. 21). We read in Book II: “A true commonwealth reflects the weal of the people when it is sightly and justly administered whether by one monarch or by a few

     6 As early as the time of John of Salisbury the prince was to seek the welfare of others, be father and husband to his subjects; correct the errors of his subjects, punish wrongs and injuries with even-handed equity, protect the weak and the innocent, protect widows and orphans, provide for the welfare of the lower classes, not close his ears to the cries of the poor, and protect the Church against sacrilege (Born, “Perfect Prince”, 472-73). Juan de Avila in his “Del buen gobierno del Estado” writes that it is indeed a fortunate king who not only reforms his own person, but that of the entire court and country (Tratados de reforma: Memorial primero al Concilio de Trento 207).
     7 In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries writers of political tracts and guides considered the real in terms of the ideal, and were interested in nothing less than the pattern of the perfect prince (Born 470). Writers of the Middle Ages followed the precepts established by Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, whose ideas on governance were also incorporated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

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men of rank, or by all the people” (ch. 21). Augustine goes on to explain that if “the prince is unjust, then the commonwealth is not merely lost, but it is not a commonwealth at all” (ch. 21). Augustine makes the statement in Book IV which Thomas More paraphrases in the Utopia: “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized brigandage (ripoff)?” Again in Book IV Augustine emphasizes that the prince must reflect the Christian virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance” (ch. 20). He adds: “We call those Christian emperors happy who govern with justice, who are not puffed up by the tongues of flatterers or the services of sycophants, but remember that they are men” (IV; ch. 24).
     Erasmus's Education of a Christian Prince and More's Utopia both reflect a blending of Christian principles with Platonic precepts just as many Spanish guides do, and they can all be considered to be direct or indirect responses to Machiavelli's ragion di stato. In Erasmus's guide the Dutch humanist outlines the qualities of the Christian prince as “wisdom, justice, moderation, foresight, and zeal for the common welfare” (140). Moreover, he stresses that the prince should be taught that the teachings of Christ apply to no one more than to himself (140). Erasmus adds that the model in government is to be God Himself, as well as Christ. He places emphasis on the virtues and on the moral qualities that the ideal prince must possess in addition to Christian goodness, since he visualizes the prince as a potential father to his people (197-98).
     In Utopia, which in format and exposition is not a guide for princes, More compares the prince to a shepherd who takes seriously the calling to tend to the care of his sheep before himself (27). In essence, the development of Utopia's political, ethical, moral, economic, and religious organization is in many ways a response to the political, military, and social conditions prevailing in Europe at that time.8 Raphael Hythlodaeus remarks: “. . . a people's welfare or misery flows in a stream from their prince as from a never-failing spring” (10). Hence, a prince cannot abuse his position either in peace or in war. More's conception of utopian society also includes the classical topos of the golden

     8 Robbin S. John in his study More's Utopia: Ideal and Illusion (New Haven: Yale UP, 1969) writes: “More, as the poet of Utopia, faces a different problem; how to balance social wisdom not only against the foolish and corrupt practices of men in real life but also against the tantalizing urge to retreat into the illusory world of theoretical perfection” (22).

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age viewed from a Christian perspective; the Garden of Eden and the communion of saints or the New Jerusalem (Introduction, Utopia, 95-96). To reiterate, More's Utopia, Erasmus's Education of a Christian Prince and the Spanish guides are all sharp deviations from Machiavelli's position on the role of the prince. Friederich Meinicke in his classic study on Machiavelli's political theories defines ragion di stato as “the pursuit of political ends, especially power, by all necessary means, even the most immoral one” (xxxii). Most significantly, ragion di stato repudiates the importance of Christian morality.9 In other words, temperance, moderation, charity, prudence are all irrelevant in bringing about a united Italy which would be free from internal strife as well as foreign domination. Machiavelli explains: “The healthy state is not concerned with the good of its single components, nor does it need to strive for a superior or ulterior good, only if this good is a condition of survival” (Prince 12).
     Political conditions in Spain, however, were very different from those in Italy. First, the nation had been united by what Spaniards and Machiavelli himself considered to be model princes, Ferdinand and Isabell; second, the monarchy and the Church consolidated their power and influence with the introduction of the Inquisition; third, there was no internal strife in Spain except for that represented by the Moriscos; fourth, foreign powers did not vie for control of Spain as was the case in Italy.10 Another model prince, Charles V, increased the power of the monarchy and expanded its empire. In addition, Machiavelli's political theories threatened Spain's hegemony in Italy. As a result, the Spanish guides form part of the tradition that runs

     9 Giuseppe Prezzolini in his book on Machiavelli writes: “He repudiates the relevance of Christian morality, the basis upon which the Western World was founded. And he even denies the values of life, except for pride, and presents a vast universal panorama that offers no reward to valor, no justice to innocent victims, and only partial victory over adverse forces to those who know how to make use of guile and power” (13). Prezzolini adds: “His prince's concern is only the good of the state. Machiavelli never fails to say that only the evil committed to create and maintain a state and to continue its existence is justified. He never says this of evil committed for personal gain” (Machiavelli. New York: Farrar, 1967).
     10 Bleznick explains: “Spain of the 16th and 17th centuries cannot be properly understood without taking into account the intense religious fervor manifest in all phases of its life” (“Spanish Reaction” 543). Machiavellian ideas constituted a threat to the welfare of Spain and its dominions according to Spanish theorists, especially the Jesuits, who hastened to write book after book to counteract the Italian's injurious doctrines (545).

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from Plato through Augustine and St. Thomas and on to the political literature produced in the rest of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Erasmus, More, and the Italian Neoplatonists such as Pico all reflect this tradition. Spanish writers such as Antonio de Guevara (Reloj de príncipes 1529), Fadrique Furió Ceriol (El consejo y consejeros del príncipe 1559), Diego Saavedra Fajardo (Empresas políticas o Idea de un príncipe cristiano 1640), Baltasar Gracián (El político 1646), Quevedo (Política de Dios y gobierno de Cristo 1626), Pedro de Rivadeneyra (El tratado del príncipe cristiano contra Maquiavelo 1603 in Latin), Cerdán de Tallada (Verdadero govierno desta monarchia 1581), Felipe de la Torre (Institución de un rey Christiano 1556), Bartolomé Felipe (Tratado del consejo 1589), can all be included in the rich and long Christian-Platonic tradition in the area of political thought. Important humanists such as Juan de Valdés, Juan Luis Vives and Arias Montano included the roles of princes in longer, more all-inclusive works.11 In addition, all of the above presented points of view that were decisively anti-Machiavellian.
     José Antonio Marvall writes: “En el segundo cuarto, aproximadamente del siglo XVI, hay en España, como en el resto de Europa, una agudización de la preocupación moral en la política tal vez debida a la necesidad de no presentar un flanco de fácil ataque en las querellas religiosas que la Reforma ha desencadenado” (44). Renaissance political ideas penetrated to a large extent the political thought of the Catholic Reform and this Antimachiavellism resulted from the widespread triumph of Machiavelli's ideas in Western Europe.12 George Uscatescu in his De Maquiavelo a la Razón de Estado writes: “La preocupación para establecer las condiciones morales, intelectuales, humanas y sociales del Príncipe atraviesa todo el pensamiento medieval español y sigue intacta desde el punto de vista formal en la época renacentista y contrarreformistá” (171). Fadrique Furió Ceriol, the Valencian counselor of Phillip II of Spain writes in his

     11 Sebastián Fox Morcillo wrote his treatise in Latin: De regni regisque institutione.
     12 George Uscatescu in his De Maquiavelo a la Razón de Estado (Madrid: Cosano, 1951) writes: “Las ideas políticas renacentistas penetran gran parte del pensamiento político de la Contrarreforma y su antimaquiavelismo representa, en la medida en que serpea todo residuo medieval, el triunfo definitivo de la moderna doctrina de la razón de Estado, que, según nuestro modo de ver, nace en la pragmática política española, adquiere formas doctrinales en Italia y vuelve como ideología entre los pensadores españoles del siglo XVII” (169-70).

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guide that the purely materialistic and practical ideas of the prince must be tempered with Christian charity and love for the needy, widows, and orphans (El consejo 28). Furió adds: “. . . lo digo que la mejor pieza de arnés en el Principe, la más señalada, i aquella en que más ha de poner toda su esperanza, es la bondad” (97). He also describes the prince as the prototype of the people whose actions must reflect his (Bleznick, Los conceptos 28). Like the Christian and Platonic conception of the political entity, the prince is a composite of soul and body, and, thus, shares the attributes both of God and the people (El consejo 95). Furió believed, as did the other Spanish theorists, that the prince must reflect God's ideas and that he is ultimately responsible to Him (Bleznick, Los conceptos 30). He writes: “. . . ambos, digo el Príncipe i su Concejo son tenientes de Dios acá en la tierra; i los dos, digo el Príncipe i su Concejo, son buenos i reales ministros de Dios” (El consejo 108). Furió does not only refer to the prince as a representative of God, but also to his advisors.
     Antonio de Guevara wrote another important guide called Reloj de príncipes. Maravall informs us that Guevara was read in all of Europe at that time and adds: “. . . hace la defensa de las virtudes naturales del buen salvaje, dando base a la visión utópica de la sociedad americana originaria” (44). Thomas North in the introduction to his English translation of the Reloj describes the work as “a farrago of dissertations, with copious anecdotes and quotations concerning the role of princes” (Diall of Princes xxiv). The work is in effect a loose connection of essays and all pretext of historical accuracy is missing; there is no central line of argument. However, even though these are the very defects that Cervantes criticizes in the prologue to Quijote I, there is according to North “good sense sometimes obscured under a mountain of citations” (xxvi).13 In essence, Guevara advocates benevolent aristocracy, he abhors the evils of wars of conquest, and he outlines the responsibilities of those in high places (Diall xxvi). As we read in North's translation Marcus Aurelius speaking to Faustine says: “To the end the prince be good, he ought not to be covetous of tributes, neither proud in commandments, nor unthankful

     13 In the prologue to Quijote I Cervantes is in reality referring to Guevara's Epístolas familiares. As Martín de Riquer states in his footnote to this particular reference to Guevara as Bishop of Mondoñedo: “Adviértase la ironía al decir que su ‘anotación’ . . . dará gran crédito”, pues era cosa sabida y demostrada que los libros de fray Antonio de Guevara estaban plagados de supercherías y falsedades” (Prólogo I, 23).

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of services . . . he ought not to be deaf to hear griefs, complaints, and quarrels, nor cruel to orphans, nor yet negligent in affairs” (Book II; 52). Guevara has Marcus Aurelius stress the importance of being virtuous because honor is the praise of virtue, and infamy is the pain of vice (II, 59). Guevara takes a strictly pacifistic stance in an age of increasing imperialism and recurrent warfare. He believes that the role of the prince is to maintain the people in the state of peace. In his Reloj one will find a section called “El elogio de la paz”, and another section entitled “De la Edad Dorada.”
     In his praise of the Golden Age he compares that earliest of times with “la miseria humana que tenemos ahora” (Reloj 29). In addition, he recalls that age when all persons lived in peace and harmony, and tended their fields for each one lived free of prejudices. In Don Quijote's praise of the Golden Age, there is the added notion of communal property which he shares with Moré s Utopians. Guevara's evocation of the Golden Age is, as is Don Quijote's, a lament of the prevailing conditions where treachery, corruption, wars, deceit, violence, injustice, immorality, and the abuse and abandonment of true Catholic practices are commonplace: “¡Oh malicia humana! ¡Oh, mundo traidor y maldito, que jamás dejas las cosas permanecer en un estado!” (33). He comments in reference to his times: “los arados tornaron en armas, los bueyes en caballos, las aguijadas en lanzas, las rejas en saetas, el picote en malla, las hondas en ballestas, la simplicidad en malicia, el trabajo en ociosidad, el reposo en bullicio, la paz en la guerra, el amor en odio, la caridad en crueldad, la justicia en tiranía, el provecho en daño, la limosna en robo, y sobre todo, la fe en idolatría” (19). It is interesting to note that Guevara's “Elogio de la Paz” also contains a short discussion of arms and letters; however, Guevara enthusiastically and eloquently defends “letras”, and he praises the superiority of the pen over that of the sword: “¡Cuánta diferencia vaya de mojar la péñola de la tinta a teñir la lanza en la sangre, y estar rodeados de libros o estar cargados de armas, de estudiar cómo cada uno ha de vivir o andar a saltear en la guerra para a su prójimo matar!” (109).
     Cervantes evidently was familiar with Guevara's work, and it is not inconceivable that Don Quijote's own discussion of arms and letters may be a direct or indirect response on the part of his creator to the position taken by writers such as Guevara. Don Quijote maintains his solidarity with the soldier, and he defends

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war when it is used to bring about peace. Contrary to Guevara, Cervantes has Don Quijote highlight the superior function of the soldier's role in preserving the peace. In sum, we have seen how there are various points on proper governance which the Spanish guides to princes, Erasmus, Italian Neoplatonists, and Thomas More share: the prince as reflecting God's attributes, the moral responsibility of princes to safeguard the welfare of all the people including the poor, orphans, widows, the working class, and even the indigenous peoples of the American continents; the prince must reflect the Christian virtues both in public and in private; he should constantly seek and maintain his realm in peace, be a father to his people, and direct the reform of the political, economic, and religious segments of the society. As we shall note, Cervantes reflects a number of these views in the Quijote.
     In the very first page of Part II while Don Quijote is recuperating from his second sally, we read:

y en el discurso de su plática vinieron a tratar en en esto que llaman razón de estado y modos de gobierno, enmendando este abuso y condenando aquel, reformando una costumbre y desterrando otra, haciéndose cada uno de los tres un nuevo legislador, un nuevo Licurgo moderno, o un Solón flamante; y de tal manera renovaron la república que no pareció sino que la habían puesto en una fragua, y sacado otra de la que pusieron (II, ch. 1; 541-42).

The narrator than adds: “. . . y habló don Quijote con tanta discreción en todas las materias que se tocaron, que los dos examinadores creyeron indubitadamente que estaba del todo bueno y en su entero jucio” (II, ch. 1; 542). Maese Nicolás, realizing moments later that Don Quijote persists in his insane thought, asks the knight if he wants to add his own “advertencias” to the list of “advertimientos” that were proffered to the king by the many “arbitrios” in the realm.14 Maese Nicolás is making reference to the sad state of affairs in Spain where a plethora of totally incompetent and unqualified counselors are constantly offering useless advice to the monarch. These “arbitrios” are completely oblivious to the decadence, corruption, and the almost total collapse

     14 The dictionary of the Real Academia Española defines “arbitrista” as: “Persona que inventa planes para aliviar la hacienda pública o remediar males politicos” (131). In Cervantes's time these became a veritable plague in Spain as can be attested to by other writers such as Quevedo.

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of what had been the greatest military power in Europe. The barber here is implying the need for good and valid counselors from which the realm could benefit. It seems that Don Quijote's advice on how to proceed to defend the realm from the Turkish threat would not be as injurious to the realm as the others being offered by the numerous “arbitrios.” Not only is the monarchy in need of competent, useful, and much needed good advice, but also the landed aristocracy.
     Further in Part II, while at the Duke's estate, the knight angrily chastizes an ecclesiastic criticizing the latter's role as counselor and spiritual advisor to the Duke and Duchess: “¿No hay más sino a troche moche entrarse por las casas ajenas a gobernar sus dueños, y habiéndose criado algunos en la estrecheza de algún pupilaje, sin haber visto más mundo que el que puede contenerse en veinte o treinta leguas de distrito, meterse de rondón a dar leyes a la caballería y a juzgar de los caballeros andantes?” (770). Don Quijote adds that some people are driven solely by “la ambición soberbia. “He is critical of the ecclesiastic's isolation from the problems of the real world outside of his lavish surroundings. He is indeed a person who has not experienced “las asperezas por donde los Buenos suben al asiento de la inmortalidad.” In addition, he is not sufficiently prepared to counsel persons of high position (770). A “letrado” or ecclesiastic who has not undergone the vicissitudes and harshness of the world outside of his private study can never be a worthy counselor or spiritual advisor to princes, kings or dukes.
     Then, before Sancho sets out for Barataria, Don Quijote advises him on the proper way to govern. Although on the surface this is a farcical scene, the knight is outlining for his squire all of the Christian virtues which will make him a good, just, and equitable ruler. It is in effect a speculum principis in miniature. It is interesting to note that on Clavileño Sancho learns a lesson on how insignificant the earth is compared to the vastness of the universe when he perceives it to be no larger than a mustard seed: “¿Qué grandeza es mandar a un grano de mostaza, o qué dignidad o imperio el gobernar a media docena de hombres tamaños como avellanas que, a mi parecer, no había más en toda la tierra?” (838). Soon after this episode, there follows Don Quijote's advice: “Primeramente, oh hijo, has de temer a Dios, porque en el temerle está la sabiduría, y siendo sabio no podrás errar en nada” (840). Fear of God engenders wisdom which is essential to proper governing. Don Quijote continues: “Segundo, has de poner los ojos en quien eres, procurando conocerte

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a ti mismo, que es el más dificil conocimiento que puede imaginarse” (840). As a result of knowing oneself comes humility and the acknowledgement of one's own place in the scheme of things. He also advises Sancho to exercise gentleness or kindness guided by wisdom, charity and humility of lineage. He goes on: “. . . y préciate más de humilde virtuoso que pecador soberbio” (840). The knight continues counseling Sancho not to have scorn of laboring men, for he must not forget his own origins.
     Don Quijote then explains to Sancho the role of virtue in one who is to govern: “Mira, Sancho, si tomas por medio la virtud, y to precias de hacer hechos virtuosos, no hay para qué tener envidia a los que tienen príncipes y señores” (841). He adds that blood is inherited, but virtue is acquired: “. . . y la virtud vale por sí sola lo que la sangre no vale” (841). Don Quijote continues his advice with a discussion on justice and its relationship with compassion. He counsels Sancho not to fall into the mistake of being an arbitrary judge: “Nunca te guíes por la ley del encaje” (841). Don Quijote even discourses on economic justice: “Procura descubrir la verdad por entre las promesas y dádivas del rico como por entre los sollozos e importunidades del pobre” (841). The knight adds that if true equity is to take place, Sancho should not lay all the vigor of the law against the delinquent, for he believes that the fame of a rigorous judge is never better than that of the compassionate one: “Si acaso doblares la vara de la justicia, no sea con el peso de la dádiva, sino con el de la misericordia” (841-42). He admonishes Sancho not to be blinded by passion. Then, Don Quijote reminds his squire that when a guilty man is brought before him, he should consider his human condition, which is always “sujeta a las condiciones de la depravada naturaleza nuestra” (842). He proposes to Sancho that he show mercy and clemency, for humans are all equal before God.
     In chapter 43 Don Quijote continues his advice to Sancho by outlining the importance of those virtues which pertain to the physical aspects of a person. He advises Sancho to take proper care of his appearance. He then counsels Sancho on the virtues of temperance (moderation), decorum and prudence: “Anda despacio, habla con reposo, pero no de manera que parezca que te escuchas a ti mismo, que toda afectación es mala. Come poco y cena más poco . . .  Sé templado en el beber, considerando que el vino demasiado ni guarda secreto, ni cumple palabra” (843). Sancho in his own right replies with insights into the proper way to govern: “. . . y así me sustentaré Sancho a secas con pan

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y cebolla, como gobernador con perdices y capones; y más, que mientras se duerme, todos son iguales, los grandes y los menores, los pobres y los ricos . . .” (847). It is well to note Don Quijote's concern for justice, economic and social equity, concern for the working classes, and the tempering of justice with compassion.
     In Don Quijote's own discussion of the Golden Age, one may observe some of the same concerns that Guevara expresses in his “De la Edad Dorada”, one of which is the classical idea of the return to a bucolic or agricultural society: “Cada uno curaba sus tierras, plantaba sus olivos, cogía sus frutas, vendimiaba sus viñas, segaba sus panes y criaba sus hijos” (Reloj 33). In Don Quijote's discourse we may notice the same thing, but with the added feature of communal property when he says:

Dichosa edad y siglos dichosos aquellos a quien los antiguos pusieron nombre de dorados, y no porque en ellos el oro, que en esta nuestra edad de hierro tanto se estima, se alcanzase en aquella venturosa sin fatiga alguna, sino porque entonces los que en ella vivían ignoraban estas dos palabras de tuyo y mío. Eran en aquella santa edad todas las cosas comunes (I, ch. 11, 104).

Don Quijote's discourse, just as the theories put forth in various political tracts, is a blend of Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman perceptions and beliefs in the Golden Age and the Garden of Eden respectively. Yet, in this discourse we will note a reference to greed and corruption (desire for gold), modern warfare (the age of iron), and communal property which was common in the primitive Christian communities as it was later with More's Utopians.
     Don Quijote also stresses that peace, amity and concord were commonplace in that “santa edad”: “Todo era paz, todo amistad, todo concordia” (105). The knight, similar to the Utopians, disparages excessive, ornamental attire, as does the Spanish reformer Juan de Avila in his Advertencia necesarias para los reyes.15
     Don Quijote also condemns deceit and malice placing stress on the fact that justice was at that time in its proper place: “No había la fraude, el engaño ni la malicia mezcládose con verdad y llaneza. La justicia se estaba en sus propios términos, sin que la

     15 Avila discusses the “lujo excesivo y males que de él nacen . . .” (188). He adds: “ . . . exceso de vestidos, camas, casas, y atavíos de ellos, en joyas y, en fin, gastos supérfluos” (Tratados de reforma 180).

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osasen turbar no ofender los del favor y los del interese, que tanto ahora la menoscaban, turban y persiguen” (105). He mentions ten or more years prior to his advice to Sancho “la ley del encaje”, alluding to the same arbitrary decisions of corrupt judges. Both Don Quijote and Guevara decry the lamentable conditions in Europe at that time. However, Cervantes' knight is more critical and specific reminding his listeners (and subsequent readers) of the rampant corruption, improper respect for a just profit, the taking of bribes, and the knight's concern for the safety of women. Guevara has his mouthpiece, the philosopher Bías (who gives the discourses to the emperor Marcus Aurelius), in the praise of peace make similar points but in sweeping generalities and with beautiful comparisons such as the plows turning into weapons, oxen into horses, simplicity into maliciousness, peace into war, charity into cruelty, justice into tyranny, etc. (33). However, Don Quijote proposes knighthood as a means to reform a society much like the one which Marcus Aurelius's counselor describes to him. Both discourses are a bitter indictment against the political, judicial, social, economic, and military conditions in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe, and in particular, Spain.
     Guevara's “De la Edad de Oro” also includes a discussion of war and peace. In contrast, Don Quijote saves his comments on war and peace until his discourse on arms and letters. Whereas Guevara's philosopher promotes exchanging arms for ploughs, Don Quijote defends the role of a just war. Part of his discourse on human letters has a reform minded premise: “Hablo de las letras humanas, que es su fin poner en su punto la justicia distributiva y dar a cada uno lo que es suyo, y entender y hacer que las buenas leyes se guarden” (I, ch. 37, 389); that is, economic and legal justice. In short, in the Quijote Cervantes seems to blend the divine mission of the monarchy, the preservation of the Medieval characteristics of political and religious institutions, the compatibility of private virtues with an interest in the public welfare, and the reform of some of the modern abuses of the political, economic, judicial and ecclesiastical powers of the time.16 Through Don Quijote's discourses and conversations

     16 In the introduction to the Utopia Robert Adams writes about the example of the early Christian communities: “Later, after its triumph when the church turned to pride and worldliness, legalism and formalism, the example of the first apostles was invoked in behalf of a return to a community with more spiritual fervor and greater economic equality” (100). Adams [p. 56] discusses other problems such as the predatory and decadent feudal aristocracy, the illicit violence of lordship, the excesses of the rich, and the problems with fraud, oppression, debauchery, waste, rapine, and unnecessary death (174-76).

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Cervantes expresses a longing for a more simple social, ethical, moral, religious and political commonwealth with a keen sense of justice, coupled with the need to reform the abuses and corruption of church and state.
     In his discussion of arms Don Quijote once again deviates from Guevara's and Erasmus's views. Following his discussion on the goals of human learning, the knight adds: “Fin, por cierto, generoso y alto y digno de grande alabanza; pero no de tanta como merece aquel a que las armas atienden, las cuales tienen por objeto y fin la paz, que es el mayor bien que los hombres pueden desear en esta vida” (389). He continues: “Esta paz es el verdadero fin de la guerra; que to mesmo es decir armas que guerra” (390). Don Quijote defends the need to go to war in order to preserve the peace as he exalts the role of the footsoldier. For Guevara's mouthpiece learning is more important to the welfare of the commonwealth than going to war. Thus, the man of letters is more important to him than the soldier: “. . . mas yo loo y nunca acabaré de loar, no a los que hallaron armas para emprender guerra, sino a los que buscaron letras para defender sciencia” (109). Guevara's philosopher-counselor goes on to explain to the emperor how it is so much better to be surrounded by books than to go out into the world killing one's fellow human beings (109). Don Quijote seems to be responding to this type of statement when he says: “Quítense de delante los que dijeren que las letras hacen ventaja a las armas; que les diré, y sean quien se fueren, que no saben lo que dicen. Porque la razón que los tales suelen decir y a lo que ellos más se atienen, es que los trabajos del espíritu exceden a los del cuerpo . . .” (I, ch. 37; 389). In short, the role of the soldier is more important for the preservation of peace than that of the lettered man.
     Nevertheless, Don Quijote also disparages the way that war is waged in contemporary Europe where by 1605, and even more in 1615, much of the continent had been ravaged and many Spanish soldiers had been killed. He says: “Bien hayan aquellos benditos siglos que carecieron de la espantable furia de aquellos endemoniados instrumentos de la artillería, a cuyo inventor tengo para mí que en el infierno se le está dando el premio de su diabólica invención . . .” (393). He finishes this discussion by

9.2 (1989) Spanish Guides to Princes 57

bemoaning the fact that he has taken up arms in this “edad tan detestable como es esta que ahora vivimos” (394). Yet, it is in the seemingly farcical scene where the knight positions himself between the bands of men representing two communities who are at the point of armed conflict in order to settle the question of which community's citizens can best imitate a donkey's braying that we are given some insight into Cervantes's real views on warfare. Sitting astride Rocinante, Don Quijote shares with them his reasons for going to war:

Los varones prudentes y las repúblicas bien concertadas, por cuatro cosas han de tomar las armas y desenvainar las espadas, y poner a riesgo sus personas, vidas y haciendas; la primera, por defender la fe católica; la segunda, por defender su vida, que es de ley natural y divina; la tercera, en defensa de su honra, de su familia y hacienda; la cuarta, en servicio de su rey, en la guerra justa; y si le quisiésemos añadir la quinta, que se puede contar por segunda, es en defensa de la patria (742).

Fadrique Furió Ceriol and Sebastián Fox Morcillo, another writer of political tracts, sanctioned war to insure peace, and to enlarge the republic.17 With the possible exception of enlargening the republic, Don Quijote subscribes to the moral, ethical, religious, and, yet, practical ideas offered by Spanish political theorists such as the two mentioned above.
     In conclusion, Baltasar Gracián in El politico, who in effect is Ferdinand of Aragón, writes: “Opongo un rey a todos los pasados; propongo un rey a todos los venideros, don Fernando el Católico, aquel gran maestro del arte de reinar, el oráculo mayor de la razón de Estado” (Político 37). Ferdinand in fact inspired to some extent Machiavelli's Prince. However, according to Gracián, “Críese un príncipe mirando siempre al lucimiento, a los brillantes rayos de la virtud” (41). In other words, ragion di stato as perceived by Gracián and the other Spanish political theorists rests on the virtues. Cervantes, we affirm, believed in the principles on the proper training of princes and on the proper way to govern outlined by the Spanish guides to princes and those put forth by Erasmus, More and the Italian Neoplatonists. These guides stipulated what the education of princes should include,

     17 Bleznick explains that Sebastián Fox Morcillo sanctioned war to insure peace, to enlarge the republic, rid the country of enemies and avenge wrongdoings. This was in effect much akin to the medieval attempts to justify war (548).

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and what role the prince should play in war and peace, in addition to what virtues they should possess. One of the most popular of these guides was Antonio de Guevara's Reloj de príncipes. This guide contains an “Elogio de la Paz” which contrasts with Don Quijote's own point of view concerning war and peace. The section in the same guide called “De la Edad Dorada” is also worth comparing to Cervantes's knight's perception of the Golden Age. Cervantes knew Guevara's work and he criticized the Franciscan who became bishop of Mondoñedo for his literary style and for his careless and indiscriminate use of citations and references. It is possible that Cervantes was also critical of the strictly pacifistic views held by writers such as Guevara who de fended, in his Reloj at least, the men of letters above the soldier. We could conclude that Cervantes, based on what Don Quijote advises Sancho, also believed that the prince should reflect the Christian virtues as well as demonstrating humility, so that he might know his own place in the cosmos. Furthermore, it is the prince who should above all uphold justice, but at the same time show compassion. Juan de Avila in one of his memoriales or briefs to the Council of Trent writes that the king should personally direct the reform of both the civil and religious institutions in this way stamping out corruption, deceit, fraud, economic abuses, and injustices.l8 By reflecting the Christian virtues and at the same time being humble, the king will show that he is indeed the link between God and his subjects. Lastly, Cervantes believed that the king should not send young men to all points of the globe to die in vain; warfare should be waged in a just and lawful war. Again, Juan de Avila in a section of one of his Tratados de reforma advises the king of Spain on the equitable distribution of wealth, the avoidance of excessive waste and unnecessary luxuries, and on the importance of maintaining justice, all of which were also important to Cervantes.


     18 Avila writes: “este respecto a la voluntad de Dios, este cuidado de qué quiere Dios, y, por consiguiente, el celo de quitar sus ofensas ha de poseer al príncipe cristiano y regirlo en todas sus obras, pidiendo a Dios lumbre del cielo para acertar con to que a él contenta . . .” He goes on to write: 'Bieventurado será en la tierra y en el cielo el rey que con esta lumbre anduviere y reformare su persona, casa, corte, y reino conforme a la sabiduría del cielo, que enseña lo que Dios quiere, y da fuerza para cumplirlo” (Memorial primero al Concilio de Trento 207).


Aristotle. The Politics and Economics of Aristotle. Trans. Edward Walford. London: Bell, 1908.

Augustine. The City of God. Trans. Marcus Dos. New York: Random House, 1950.

Avila, Juan de. Tratados de reforma. Obras completas VI. Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. Ed. Luis Sala Balust. Madrid: Ed. Católica, 1952-53.

Bleznick, Donald W. “Los consejos políticos de Furió Ceriol.” Revista de Estudios Politicos 49 (1966), 25-46.

——. “Spanish Reaction to Machiavelli in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.” Journal of History of Ideas 19 (1958), 5425-50.

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Machiavelli, Nicolò. The Prince. London: Dent, 1908.

——. Il Principe. Ed. Ugo Dotti. Milano: Feltrinelli, 1984.


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Maravall, José Antonio. Maquiavelo y Maquiavelismo en España. Estudios de Historia del pensamiento. Serie Tercera XVII. Madrid: Ed. Cultural Hispánica, 1975.

Meinicke, Friedrich. Machiavellism: The Doctrine of Raison d'etat and Its Place in Modern History. Trans. Douglas Scott. New Haven: Yale UP, 1957.

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Digitized with the help of Kendall Sydnor
Fred Jehle Publications of the CSA HCervantes