1 French Confessional Experience through Converso Lenses
During a visit to his native city of Bragança in northeastern Portugal, the converso Baltazar Fernandes informed his friends and relatives that: “In France there is no Inquisition, and men live according to the Law as they wish, because there is no justice which constrains them; and it will be a good thing if everybody will go there.”1 Fernandes was right. Ever since the Inquisition of Coimbra began to systematically investigate the religious behavior of Bragança’s New Christian population, particularly after 1585, local conversos had lived with a growing sense of besiegement and suffocation. This led many of them, including Fernandes, to leave the city for safer places such as France, even if Judaism had been officially forbidden there since the medieval expulsions of the Jews.2 In fact, from the sixteenth century onward, France was a major spot for converso immigration, whether as a temporary sojourn or as a final destination. During the seventeenth century, it was one of the most attractive Sephardic diasporas for New Christian Judaizers, skeptics, and even for converso committed Catholics.3 On the one hand, the geographical contiguity of France to Spain and Portugal, as well as its strategic position between southern and northern Europe bordering the Atlantic, offered unique economic and networking advantages for converso merchants, smugglers, entrepreneurs, and other travelers and adventurers.4 Especially in the seventeenth century, when it emerged as a contesting power to hegemonic Habsburg Spain, France became an appealing pole of attraction. Nonetheless, for mostly economic-mercantile reasons, from 1550 on, Portuguese New Christians were legally permitted to live in southwestern France as a group of merchants protected by the Crown.5 No wonder if during an inquisitorial interrogation, another late sixteenth-century Bragança converso, Martim Rodrigues, nicknamed “o Ciabrés,” confessed that when he was living with his family in Saint-Jean-de-Luz: “they praised God for dwelling in a land where they could live freely according to the Law of Moses, without fearing the thieves of the Portuguese Inquisitions.”6 From other inquisitorial files and historical sources, we learn that in these geographical spaces, New Christian Judaizers could practice at ease their “Marrano” traditions without being molested by any local Inquisition, as in their motherland.7 This enabled some of them, like Francisco Mendes, to meet for the first time: “a Jewish rabbi who came there to convert and teach them the belief of the Law of Moses.”8 He was taking part in a gradual process of rabbinic indoctrination which ultimately led to an official acknowledgement of open Portuguese Jewish communities in the eighteenth century.9
Late sixteenth-century Bragança conversos seemed to believe that God blessed those who left inquisitorial Lusitania for a Jewish permissive Gallia. And when Isabel Rodrigues and Luis Nunes happened to meet Manuel Fernandes in Bragança, after he was smuggled into the city bringing money and letters from relatives and siblings living on the other side of the Pyrenees, “they said [to] him that these were good relatives and since they lived in the good Law, God helped them.”10 This episode echoed a widespread converso equation between Judaism and wealth, which aimed to demonstrate that the children of Israel were still God’s most cherished people, despite religious coercion and inquisitorial persecution.11 If this rationale relied on the premise that the better the Law of Moses is fulfilled the more its followers will be rewarded by Providence, it appears that France was perceived as a paradise for enrichment, due to the religious freedom enjoyed by the converso immigrants and their offspring. At the same time, the inquisitorial data clearly indicates that Bragança’s New Christians were aware of the limitations of such liberty. Thus, Belchior Álvares, who had visited a group of New Christians established in Saint-Esprit-lès-Bayonne, remembered that even if nobody there feared denunciation, they still concealed their Judaic proclivities from their neighbors: “keeping them hidden from the French.”12 According to another Bragança New Christian named Diogo Guerreiro, what characterized the French religious landscape he personally knew was that everyone, whether converso Judaizers or Protestant Huguenots, could live side by side with their Catholics neighbors, provided their religious practices were kept indoors: “portas adentro.”13
These few examples, taken from more than five hundred trials of the Coimbra Inquisition against late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century New Christians living in Bragança I studied years ago, of a city called by Israël Salvator Révah “métropole de crypto-judaïsme” for the impressive numbers of convicted Judaizers by the Holy Office, addresses an idealized portrait of Iberian conversos living under the early modern French confessional umbrella.14 In these sources, one finds no mention of those numerous moments of tension, hostility, and incertitude experienced by converso emigres, including local expulsions and circumscribed violence.15 Moreover, there is no word concerning the brutal persecutions and bloody massacres suffered by the Huguenot minority during the wars of religion, such as around the St. Bartholomew’s Day of 1572. At the same time, nothing is said regarding the rights granted by the French monarchy to the Huguenot minority in the Edict of Nantes of 1598, which included freedom of public worship in specific geographic areas, as well as safe havens, which were military strongholds, such as La Rochelle.16 In the above-mentioned inquisitorial files, there is no echo of the tensions found in rabbinic and Sephardic communal sources between those converso emigres who were satisfied with the minimalistic, concealed, and informal forms of Judaism they could practice in France, and those ex-converso “New Jews” who, living in official Sephardic communities, argued that the Law of Moses is inherently maximalist and could only be properly practiced in “lands of Judaism” (terras de Judesmo) such as Amsterdam.17 Moreover, New Christians who continued to live in France as committed Catholics, as well as those who discovered outside the Iberian Peninsula that they were not only “potential Jews” but also “potential Catholics” inculcated with Iberian-Catholic values, left no written traces in the vast inquisitorial data I consulted.18 Beyond an epistemic explanation for these omissions related to the inquisitorial-bureaucratic notarial writing genre and the juridical-procedural method of rhetorical bargaining that took place between the inquisitor and the inquired, I argue that such incomplete and distorted ways of perceiving the early modern French confessional model reflect two pervasive historical realities. On the broader level, it echoes the intermediary stages between the violent wars of religion in the sixteenth century and the imposition of “enlightened” confessional policies in eighteenth-century Western and Central Europe. At such times, different confessional communities beyond the Alps and the Pyrenees managed to negotiate a certain modus vivendi.19 The result was the relatively peaceful, albeit fragile religious coexistence, which late-sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century Bragança conversos met in southwestern France, a region densely populated by a vibrant Huguenot community.20 More specifically, it is worth remembering that for Portuguese New Christians, whether crypto-Jewish or not, Gallicanism was an extremely appealing alternative to Iberian Catholicism. I refer here neither only to the special privileges New Christians enjoyed in early modern France as a protected group of merchants and then as members of a Portuguese “nation,” from the “lettres patentes” issued in 1550 by Henri II and expanded by subsequent monarchs nor to the fact that men of immense power, such as the minister of King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, welcomed the conversos, supported the New Christian Judaizer sub-group, and employed them as an economic, political, and logistical means to weaken the Spanish-Habsburg hegemony.21 No wonder if from 1627 Rouen, the exiled Portuguese converso writer João Pinto Delgado dedicated his “Poema de la Reina Ester” along with other biblical works to Cardinal Richelieu, for protecting “wanderers” (peregrinos) like himself. Pinto Delgado’s noble and generous portrait of Louis XIII’s minister was close to the image of Ahasuerus’s most devoted minister, Mordecai, in times when the figure of Haman was evoked in political discourses to criticize the employment of ministers and favorites by European princes.22 Rather, in this paper, I aim to show that for many early modern conversos and pro-converso elements, the French-Gallican confessional model was an attractive, alternative way of combining the political and the religious domains in order to solve the persistent “converso problem” in the Iberian Peninsula, without altering the Catholic and corporate character of the society. This phenomenon of converso and pro-converso political agency, which I call “Richelieu in Marrano garb,” became tangible at a very specific historical moment: between Portugal’s dynastic independence from the Spanish Habsburgs on 1 December 1640 and the Peace of the Pyrenees of 7 November 1659, which ended warfare between France and Spain. More precisely, “Richelieu in Marrano garb” crystallized when the newly “restored” Portuguese dynasty of Braganza under John IV desperately sought diplomatic support and military assistance from France to avoid Spanish-Habsburg retaliation.23 Under these historical circumstances, two conversos living in France, the Portuguese diplomat Manuel Fernandes Vila Real (1608–1652) and the Spanish-born and partly converso writer Antonio Enríquez Gómez (1600–1661), were propelled to join that ephemeral Portuguese-French alliance by offering the Gallican confessional model to meet Portugal’s pressing needs. Both writers have been exhaustively studied by leading scholars. Initially, the affinities of Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez were explored vis-à-vis their support for the Franco-Portuguese alliance,24 their common opposition against the Iberian Inquisitions,25 and the more controversial question of their crypto-Jewish allegiances.26 More recently, they have been investigated through the prism of hybridity. Enríquez Gómez is now portrayed as a half-converso-Castilian-pro-Portuguese-Francophile-libertine, whereas Vila Real is viewed as the embodiment of interstitiality, the converso as “productive intermediary” between different religions, cultures, social classes, and family networks.27 In this article, I seek to show that beyond these circumstantial and biographical considerations, conversos and their allies longed to impart to the Iberian Peninsula two intertwined traits they found in early modern France: a dose of freedom of conscience and a more assertive way to govern a centrifugal corporate society. While I endorse Joseph Bergin’s dynamic and variegated portrait of early modern French politics and religion, I argue that seen from the Iberian Peninsula, the question of whether the French confessional model evolved from a “church in the state” to “the state in the church” is not an “otiose matter.”28 Whereas the latter option countered the political and religious foundations of the early modern Iberian Peninsula, the former was a more feasible way to incorporate the French confessional model into Iberian society, without undermining its traditional basis. Precisely for this reason, those who promoted “Richelieu in Marrano garb” stressed their commitment to the first option, while accusing the Spanish Habsburgs and the Portuguese Inquisition of employing the latter in a disguised and hypocritical manner.
2 The Public versus the Private
But why the French confessional model? More than in any other early modern Catholic country, in France there existed a clear distinction between religious crimes committed publicly, in foro externo, and those committed discreetly, in foro interno.29 According to a “caesaro-papistic” interpretation of the verse: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:20–22), in early modern France the monarch was perceived as the ultimate instance to judge crimes committed in foro externo, including heresy. Unreserved heresy, after all, was a “scandal” (scandale) openly committed against the political order and thus was considered after the Roman law an act of treason against the king and the state (“crimen lesae maiestatis”). In 1540, Francis I established an extraordinary court of justice to deal with such public “scandals,” called “the Burning Chamber” (la Chambre ardente). The Burning Chamber was attached by the king to the Parliament in collaboration with the Faculty of Theology of Paris. The methods and outcomes of this institution were harsher than the more “pedagogic” and confessional-reconciling aims of the Inquisition.30 At the same time, only a limited number of individuals was prosecuted by the Burning Chamber, especially after the Edict of Nantes, which was an exceptional political compromise made by the French sovereign with his Huguenot “heretic” subjects to obtain civil appeasement. Crimes perpetrated discreetly in foro interno traditionally belonged to the sphere of conscience (foro conscienciae) and were considered by Christian lawyers and theologians as the domain of God and His Church.31 In inquisitorial lands, such as early modern Iberia and Italy, a priest-confessor was not able to acquit in the name of God a crime of heresy committed in foro interno, because it also deserved Church excommunication. Therefore, it had first to be absolved by the confessional-penitential ecclesiastical instance for heretical crimes, which was the Holy Office.32 In early modern France, however, such secret misdeeds were basically absolved by the traditional spiritual guardian and shepherd of the Christian flock, namely, the bishop. Following a failed attempt in 1550 to introduce in France an inquisition after the Iberian model by Henry II, the Edict of Chateaubriand of 1551 stressed that every punishable crime should fall under the jurisdiction of the French Parliament. According to Ellena Brambilla, the consequence was that heresies committed in foro interno ceased to be prosecuted by the bishops, because they lost any effective means of dissuasion.33 These measures of juridical secularization and monopolization by the merging state were often coupled with an elaboration upon the traditional Capetian idea that the French monarch was divinely chosen by God. Having a sacral dimension, French monarchs could claim secular rights or regalia concerning the Church and appeared as the most committed supporters of the Gallican bishopric autonomies vis-à-vis the Pope.34 Early modern French state-building thus combined political centralistic inclinations, religious autonomy from the Pope, and a certain freedom of conscience, while publicly remaining Catholic. These traits enabled Portuguese conversos established in France to live indoors unmolested, provided they behaved as Catholics in foro externo by attending church, being baptized and buried as Catholics, and avoiding public “scandals” (e.g., public acts of Judaism). From the first “lettres patentes” of naturalization of 1550, New Christian merchants were considered by Henry II as his “good and loyal subjects” (bons et loyaulx subiectz), deserving the same rights and privileges enjoyed by their French neighbors (“de tous et chacuns les privileges, franchises et libertés dont ont accoustumé joy et user nos propres subiects et mesmes habitans des villes où se seront retirez lesdits Portugais”), including in criminal domains.35 In the royal privilege of 1574 issued by Henry III on behalf of the New Christians living in Bordeaux, it was stated that conversos should live in the city peacefully in full liberty: “without having their lives or other aspects inquired into” (sans estre recherchés en leur vie ni autrement).36 I will argue that this explicit mention must be understood as a reaction to some “calumnious denunciations” mentioned in the document, which aimed to expel the conversos from the city on the basis of crypto-Jewish behavior. However, like the failed attempt of Marie of Medicis in 1615 to expel the “Jews” and “disguised Jews” from France and the sui generis “auto-da-fé” held against conversos in Toulouse in 1685,37 these exceptional initiatives stemmed from efforts to ban discreet forms of “Judaism” from the unpunishable domain of the foro interno after the Iberian confessional model. In this respect, freedom of conscience in early modern France was open to different interpretations: whether in lato sensu, as internal religious behavior, or in stricto sensu, as mere freedom of opinion and belief. However, such freedom had little to do with broader forms of freedom of conscience practiced by ex-converso “New Jews” in “terras de judesmo,” such as in Amsterdam or Livorno, in which they could legally live as practicing Jews, as well as regarding the circumscribed religious liberties exceptionally conceded by French monarchs to the Huguenot minority.38
This French or Gallican separation of the public from the private domain was promoted by Manuel Fernandes Vila Real, in his del eminentíssimo cardenal Duque de Richelieu (1641) and António Enríquez Gómez, especially in his Política angélica (1647).39
3 Two Pro-French Converso Writings
Scholarship has awarded these tracts a certain amount of comparative attention.40 For our purposes, I will simply mention that both were presented as tributes to French authorities. The Epítome genealógico was dedicated to Cardinal Richelieu, while the first part of the Política angélica was offered to Jean Louis Faucon, president of Normandy’s Parliament and counselor of Louis XIII.41 Vila Real’s laudatory biography of Richelieu, later known as El político cristianísimo (1642), almost coincided with the death of Louis XIII’s minister on 4 December 1642. Perhaps for this reason, it became a tool of French propaganda and was translated into French and Italian. In glossing Richelieu’s life and deeds, Vila Real praised the way he combined Catholic values with successful politics. And when he was imprisoned by the Inquisition of Lisbon in 1649 on grounds of crypto-Judaism, Vila Real argued that the book was reviewed by Cardinal Mazarin and by members attached to Portugal’s embassy in Paris, such as Friar Francisco de Santo Agostinho. Since he did not have any intention to harm Portugal’s Holy Office, but only to praise Richelieu’s Catholic policies, the Epítome genealógico is not to be seen as a heretical book.42 Enríquez Gómez’s Política angélica was less concerned with Richelieu’s life. Rather, it celebrated the way France promoted “angelic politics” and most particularly, it criticized Iberian “diabolic politics” epitomized by the Inquisition. According to Israël Salvator Révah, the second part was written with Iberian authorities in mind, although formally dedicated to every Catholic sovereign (“dedicado a todos los Principes Christianos, Columnas de la Militante Iglesia de Roma”) to suggest a more appropriate way to deal with converted subjects and heretics (“sobre el govierno, que se deve tener con los Reduzidos a la Fe Catholica, y con los que se apartaron della”), than the rigor employed in “some kingdoms” (“[d]eseando con piadoso celo dar un medio sobre el gobierno riguroso que se ejecuta en algunos Reinos sobre los delitos de religion”).43 Presented as a sort of Catholic confessional guide, the second part of the Política angélica dealt specifically with the Inquisition. It was no wonder that the book was immediately condemned in Iberia and its second part banned in France through the intervention of Portugal’s ambassador in Paris, the Marquis of Niza. Vila Real informed the inquisitors that he had tried to dissuade his friend from publishing the second part, because it overtly questioned the Holy Office, an institution supported by the papacy.44 The Epítome genealógico and the Política angélica were written as Catholic tracts by two Iberian New Christians who opted for the Gallican confessional model over the Iberian. They expressed similar views, although they employed different emphases and rhetorical devices. The former glorified Richelieu’s life and deeds, while making comments in the form of morals inferred from the Cardinal’s actions. The latter was straightforward in its condemnation of Spain and Portugal, but much more laconic regarding Richelieu’s achievements.
In the introduction of the Epítome genealógico, Vila Real explained his decision to write a biography of Louis XIII’s favorite: because Richelieu’s political wisdom deserved to be known by Spanish readers, until now ignored because of linguistic and political estrangement.45 Following Plutarch’s biographic-didactic historiography, Vila Real portrayed the Cardinal, mostly to underscore how he successfully managed religion in France’s political life. After reminding the reader of Richelieu’s noble ascendancy and upbringing by stressing his virtuous personality and ecclesiastical probity, he concluded: “[s]omeone who rightly observes the divine laws, cannot err in human (laws); nor could be a bad counselor to a prince who is a good minister of God.”46 Accordingly, Richelieu’s political wisdom emanated from theological knowledge and pious behavior and not from aleatory savoir faire. This comment was intended to contrast Richelieu’s successful government with the by-then failing ministry of his Spanish rival, the favorite of King Philip IV, the Count-Duke of Olivares.47 That said, only occasionally did Vila Real censure the Spanish monarch (e.g., for living idly at court hidden from his subjects) and critique Olivares (e.g., because his centralist policy of “Unión de Armas” exacerbated civil antagonism instead of support).48 For the most part, Epítome genealógico strove to celebrate Richelieu’s policies as a model to be emulated. Something similar could be said regarding Enríquez Gómez, in his criticism of Iberia. In the introduction to Part One of the Política angélica, he mentioned en passant the name of Virgilio Malvezzi, the author of an acclaimed biography of Olivares: “Il ritratto del privato politico Cristiano” (1635). This work probably prompted Vila Real to write his biography of Richelieu,49 and it was one of Enríquez Gómez’s possible sources of inspiration in comparing monarchs with God, ministers with angels, and a virtuous government with “angelic politics.”50 However, here again Philip IV and Olivares were occasionally attacked as such.51 On a theoretical level, the Política angélica dismissed Niccoló Machiavelli for supporting cunning and fraud as a legitime political means of government, and Jean Bodin for enabling envy between the prince’s ministers to avoid intrigues against the sovereign according to the unethical (“non-angelical”) principle of “divide and rule.”52 In spite of the efforts made by the Spanish translator of Bodin’s Six Books of the Republic (1590), to disassociate the book from the bête noire of early modern political thought, Machiavelli (by stressing Bodin’s personal commitment to Christian values and by removing or modifying from the original some equivocal excerpts),53 the book was included in the Spanish Index of Prohibited Books in 1612. Moreover, several Iberian writers, from Pedro de Ribadeneyra to Francisco de Quevedo, accused Bodin of being the main muse for Machiavelli’s followers.54 Enríquez Gómez praised the more accepted neo-stoic and “Tacitian” views of Justus Lipsius as an alternative to Machiavelli and Bodin. This was mostly done without mentioning Lipsius, by quoting his elaborations on the Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus.55 Lipsius aimed to conciliate Christian moral values with political efficacy and his “Tacitism” saluted strong political regimes and respected freedom of belief.56 Lipsius’s advice to princes to rule with virtue and prudence, while asking his subjects to remain obedient, departed from a fundamental anthropological division between an external or political and an internal non-political self, which was very appealing to conversos.57 Being overtly anti-Bodinian because anti-Machiavellian, Enríquez Gómez endorsed Bodin’s notion of “sovereignty” limited by Lipsius’s prudence and constancy.58 As we shall see, Enríquez Gómez supported absolutist, albeit self-restrained regimes, because only these could fulfill his ideal of “angelic politics” by safeguarding the autonomy of inner conscience from an intrusion of the external sphere. That said, the main personal target of Política angélica was an anonymous churchman called “politico bastardo,” who blurred the boundaries of the inner and outer spheres through the cunning cruelty of the Inquisition. This unnamed clergyman was depicted by Enríquez Gómez as an ambitious anti-French Spanish author, who sought to reinforce converso segregation.59 Accordingly, “[t]he apostles honored nations by means of baptism and this political author (Estadista) seeks to dishonor sons of the Church who already received baptism. The apostles bound together the Christian community in a mystical body, and this author wishes to disunite them through division and envy.”60 One of Enríquez Gómez’s fictional characters named “Theogonio,” revealed that he personally knew the man who disguised his own debased origins by attacking the converso group, thus following the popular dictum: “from the mountains comes he who burns it.”61 From information gathered from the book, I will suggest that Enríquez Gómez was referring to the General Inquisitor Juan Adam de La Parra: author of a fierce anti-converso tract (1630), a condemnation of Richelieu’s “heretical” alliances with Protestant princes (1634), and a refutation of Braganza’s dynastic legitimacy over the Portuguese Crown (1642).62 Reasons related to personal prudence might explain such omission. That said, the way Enríquez Gómez addressed the most tangible Iberian counter-example of “angelic politics,” the Holy Office, shows that he was less interested in attacking concrete inquisitors than in castigating the institution itself. Moreover, by comparing the ecclesiastical estate with the angelic sphere (the nobility with the sublunary sphere and the plebeians with the elements of earth), we can infer that by “angelic politics” he particularly meant the proper relationship of the religious vis-à-vis the political. In this sense, both the Epítome genealógico and Política angélica shared a proclivity to implicitly compare two competing Catholic confessional models, the French versus the Iberian.63
4 Confessional Comparisons
Unsurprisingly, Vila Real invoked Richelieu’s successful policies with the Huguenot minority and celebrated his peaceful advancement of Catholicism in a religiously divided country.64 He reminded his readers that the Cardinal founded a chair of polemics to lead disputations with Protestant leaders and theologians, on grounds that, “[t]he smoothest means to establish the true religion in a kingdom suffering from a disgraceful division is debate.”65 While supporting Catholic education for adults and children, he rewarded leading converted Huguenots to Catholicism with public charges and honors.66 For Enríquez Gómez, this integrative policy contrasted with the stagnant situation of the conversos in Iberian lands. Accordingly, whereas Richelieu was consistent with Christian values, the segregation of New Christians according to “laws of purity of blood” was unchristian, because it contravened the hospitality of the Bible (e.g., Exodus 11:22), the call to enforce Judaeo-Gentile fraternity in Paul’s Epistles, and the positive papal attitude vis-à-vis converted neophytes (such as Nicholas V’s condemnation of converso segregation in Toledo in 1499).67 Gallicanism thus appears as more authentically Catholic than its Iberian counterpart. Moreover, a comparison of the French and the Iberian experiences not only show that, “to try to reduce the faith of the subjects with violence or severity, even by vanquishing and subjecting them, cannot suppress their opinions […].” Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez opined that such abuse at the hands of religious power is self-injurious, since “[w]hen a subject knows that he is subdued by taking from him his belongings, he understands that this behavior proceeds from greed and not from charity.”68 The Holy Office and the “laws of purity of blood” appear in both books as the worst enemies of the Gospel, for being antithetic, useless, and noxious. In other words, not only was the biased Inquisition a paradoxical “factory of Jews” for pressing many innocent New Christians to confess heretical Jewish behavior to escape harsher punishment, as claimed the Jesuit pro-converso Father António Vieira.69 It also teaches actual and potential victims to regard Catholic institutions with cynical contempt and disenchanted eyes. In light of these observations, Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez called for the adoption in Iberia of a minimal dose of freedom of conscience after the example of Richelieu’s success in multi-confessional France, since, “[n]ot all the human hearts are tied by one religion, one loyalty or one faith. Provided only the religion of the prince will be kept and observed in public; families should not be ruined only by signs of envy.”70
Let us note, however, that the analogy between French Huguenots and Iberian conversos was not accurate. It is true that much like Iberian New Christians, Huguenots became a disarmed community after the Peace of Alais of 1629, in which they lost their military force and strongholds granted by the Edict of Nantes (as a consequence of Richelieu’s successful besiegement of La Rochelle in repression of a Protestant rebellion). At the same time, neither Vila Real nor Enríquez Gómez mentioned the fact that French Protestants retained the right of public worship in many regions, contrasting with the humbler demands to grant freedom of private belief to the New Christian Iberian population.71 Hence, the depiction of a tolerated hidden religious community better fitted the actual situation of conversos living in France. It must be borne in mind, however, that such comparison was not new. Already in 1619, the Spanish pro-converso arbitrista Martín González de Cellorigo did much the same.72 I think that a contrived analogy between Iberian conversos and French Huguenots aimed to stress the urgency of a full integration for the former, in order to avoid the explosive unrest caused by the latter in France’s recent past. Without speaking of civil war, Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez still argued that converso bashing profoundly damaged the socio-economic structures of Iberia, especially Portugal. For, instead of rewarding the ablest among them and reinforcing international commerce and the navy, as Richelieu did in France, the persecution and exclusion of the converso “men of the nation” was economically and demographically disastrous for the country.73 Furthermore, the catastrophic consequences of the recent expulsion of the hard-working Morisco minority from Spain, was invoked by Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez as a warning.74 Perhaps, paraphrasing the converso arbitrista Duarte Nunes Solis, Vila Real declared that since “[c]ommerce is one of the nerves of the Republic,” companies of commerce should be supported by the Iberian monarchs.75 That said, whereas by the 1620s Nunes Solis asked the Habsburg kings to restore Portugal’s lost imperial grandeur of the time of King Manuel 1st, by reinvesting in Indian trade with the help of converso merchants,76 and Father Vieira was claiming that Portugal’s imperial and missionizing vocation would be restored under the new Braganza’s monarchs provided they call converso entrepreneurs to invest in the Company of Commerce of Brazil,77 Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez argued that this awaited revival would be implemented by adopting Richelieu’s meritocratic Mercantilism.78 For the Cardinal understood that meritocracy was one of the main pillars of every enduring regime.79 Looking at both books from a converso apologetic perspective, it turns out that both the Epítome genealógico and the Política angélica were innovative in invoking the French model and conservative in elaborating on traditional Paulinian and Mercantilist pro-converso leitmotifs.80
5 Confessional Aspirations
Scholars who have studied Vila Real’s and Enríquez Gómez’s political views have rightly identified in their writings a political proclivity for French absolutism.81 I will argue that these centralistic penchants are intimately intertwined with their confessional aspirations. As mentioned before, Enríquez Gómez claimed an affinity between God’s government and the king’s politics, in terms of analogy (e.g., God governs the angelical, celestial, and material domains, whereas the king rules over his three Estates: the Church, the Nobility, and the People), emanation (e.g., of the spiritual into the earthly spheres), legitimation (i.e., monarchs are designed by God and are only responsible before Him), and imitation (e.g., monarchs must follow God’s teachings and example).82 At the same time, a fundamental split occurs in the created world between matter and spirit, leading to a separation between the domain of Caesar and that of God. As a consequence of this duality, the political sphere is separated from the spiritual domain located in human conscience. Therefore, “as human beings, kings have the power over actions of life, by punishing bodies; but they did not receive from the Creator any right upon the souls and freedom of will.”83 The same hold true with respect to the Church. Being God’s representatives on earth, members of the clergy must be released from any material consideration.84 For, when each member of the mystical body is satisfied with its deserved role (“cada uno esta contento con su imperio”), the king as the head and the Church as the soul, a harmonious “angelical politics” is established.85 Elaborating upon Augustine’s City of God, Enríquez Gómez explained that the original sin happened when Adam, “the first statesman and politician of grace lost it, for turning religion into [a matter of] State.”86 Other episodes of the Bible supported the claim that (d)evil emerges on earth when the primordial division between the political and the spiritual is transgressed. Thus, the sin committed by the sons of Aaron the priest, Nadav and Avihu, by offering a “strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not” (Leviticus 10:1), was interpreted as the intrusion of non-spiritual considerations into the divine.87 By adducing these examples, Enríquez Gómez argued against the opinion held by “many political thinkers” (muchos politicos) such as Machiavelli, “who claim that the prince can make of religion a matter of state […] in order to preserve his dominion.” At the same time, this intrusion is precisely what characterizes the “diabolical politics” in the Iberian Peninsula.88 This theological and juridical infringement led Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez to recall the basic Christian right of freedom of conscience, for being the domain of God, while asking conversos to publicly conform to the policies endorsed by the prince, including in religion. By claiming that such principles were inferred from Richelieu’s political wisdom, Vila Real was referring to that Gallican juridical tradition of separating the foro externo from the foro interno. That said, I will argue that Vila Real’s and Enríquez Gómez’s main literary and ideological source was probably Lipsius’s Six Books of Politics, or Political Instruction (Politica sive civilis doctrinae libri VI qui ad principatum maxime spectant, 1589). Addressed to “the Emperor, the Kings and the Princes,” this book of governance was translated into several languages, including Spanish and French. In Book 4 (of which, predictably, chapters 3, 4, and 13, were deleted by the Spanish “Index of Forbidden Books” of 1612), Lipsius treated the two types of civic prudence of the Prince: human and religious.89 Concerning the latter, he argued that social peace and political unity is achieved by allowing in public only the prince’s religion. Overt religious diversity will necessarily lead to civil strife, as shown in the religious bloodshed in Europe. Having no juridical rights over sacred matters, the prince should also take in mind the words of the Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus: “no King can control hearts as much as he can control tongues.” The intrusion of the political into the domain of conscience is both illegal and chimeric.90 Therefore, Lipsius distinguished two sorts of religious dissenters: the overt and the hidden.91 On the one hand, public heretics deserved to be severely punished by the prince for harming civic unity. On the other hand, in chapters 3 and 4, he suggested that those who keep their “erroneous” beliefs within the private domain of conscience, while externally conform to the prince’s religion, should be tolerated. They will progressively change their minds through patient admonition and education. By comparing the Prince to a music player—which was an early modern methaphoric leit-motif—Lipsius reminded that: “[i]f strings are out of tune, you don’t tear them out of anger, but step by step bring them back in harmony.” Only in this way the Prince will fulfill the Gospel: to make “the multitude of believers have one heart and one mind” (Acts 4:32).92 In chapter 13 Lipsius even approved the fact that the Prince should use “a bit of the sediment of deceit” to virtuously rule his subjects, since human beings are often cunning and bad. Therefore, a seeming policy of religious toleration employed as a deceitful means to obtain gradual religious homogeneity appeared to Lipsius as honorable and useful.93 Following Lipsius, Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez acknowledged the political harm caused by public religious deviance, but commended the help given by Richelieu to “heretical” Protestants outside France, on grounds that international alliances belonged to the political domain of the “Law of Nations” (Ius Gentium).94 For the same reason, Vila Real endorsed Richelieu’s prohibition of Roberto Bellarmino’s Tractatus de potestate Summi Pontificis in rebus temporalibus, adversus Gulielmum Barclay (1610), for granting the Pope indirect power (“potestas indirecta”) over secular affairs, thus encouraging sedition and political unrest.95 French absolutism was one of Janus’s faces of Gallican confessionalism.
In fact, these views were also related to a well-established tradition of French skepticism promoted by Michel de Montaigne on the necessity of adhering to norms dictated by the public sphere (au dehors) while maintaining freedom of thinking within the inner-self (au dedans).96 Pierre Charron’s Of Wisdom (De la sagesse, 1601), a committed follower of Montaigne and an enthusiastic reader of Lipsius, further elaborated on this distinction. Accordingly, political obeisance must never be confused with inner truth or justice, even if public accommodation stems from the simple wish to live wisely in peace.97 Charron’s views contributed to the development of concealed forms of doubt and unbelief and the crystallization of erudite forms of libertinism in seventeenth-century France.98 One of these libertine savants was François de La Mothe Le Vayer, a supporter of Richelieu and a notorious anti-Spaniard.99 In his De la contrariété d’humeurs qui se trouve entre certaines nations, et singulièrement entre la Française et l’Espagnole, ou De l’antipathie des Français et des Espagnols (1636), he responded to Spanish criticism against France’s toleration of Huguenots and political alliances made with Protestant princes by arguing that these were more appropriate ways to advance Catholicism than the Iberian hypocritical mode. He recalled Machiavelli’s explanation of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 in chapter 21 of The Prince. Purportedly grounded on religious zeal, it stemmed from purely political motivations (“ne pouvoient pas avoir d’autre fondement que la consideration d’Estat”). As proof of this ruse, he noted that many Catholic princes, including the Pope, accepted Jews in their domains.100 Moreover, he labelled the Spanish Inquisition an impious mockery against God and men (“[…] c’est vouloir avec impieté prendre Dieu pour crédule aussi bien que les hommes”) which was inefficacious, for everybody knows that converso Judaizers, Moriscos, as well as heterodox alumbrados still prosper in Iberia (sic!)101 Quoting Lactance’s Divine Institutes (book 5, chapter 19), La Mothe Le Vayer encapsulated the reason for Spain’s confessional failure: “when religion is imposed it ceases to be religious.”102 Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez were probably acquainted with such libertine voices. However, it ought to be kept in mind that almost every early modern political thinker was aware that religion was (also) a serious political matter. Thus, the Spanish diplomat and writer Diego de Saavedra Fajardo grounded his defense of Spain’s religious homogeneity on such premises.103 Moreover, according to Giovanni Botero’s The Reason of State (1589), an extremely influential book in Iberia, Christianity is the best means to govern, because through this specific religion the prince has access to his subjects’ inner consciences.104 However, Saavedra Fajardo and Botero never intended to transform religion into a mere political tool, nor did Lipsius, Montaigne, or Charron. Richelieu, who was deeply influenced by these writers, promoted religious unity in his country while upholding Catholic truth.105 By adhering to the idea that faith depends upon personal conviction, he masterfully leveraged the political sphere as a way of indirectly influencing the inner sphere of his subjects’ consciences. Richelieu was the very embodiment of the Gallican politique, and Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez followed closely in his footsteps. The former acknowledged that: “[t]here is no more harmful thing in a republic than religious diversity,” because: “one always lives with suspicion, having the enemy inside (teniendo de las puertas adentro el enemigo). Many think that it is impossible to preserve the State in such diversity,” he added, since: “this way of believing differently is a continuous reason to make rebellion […].”106 Acutely aware of the dangerous potential of freedom of conscience, Richelieu appears as a model to be followed. Whereas the Cardinal violently suppressed the military power of the rebellious Huguenots in La Rochelle, he was lenient with his docile unarmed “heretical” subjects and advanced “sweet” means to convert the pacified Huguenot community. Without abrogating the Edict of Nantes, Richelieu aimed to progressively obtain the unity of the Catholic faith, so crucial to political stability and spiritual salvation. Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez probably paraphrased Lipsius, personally experienced the foro interno/foro externo juridical tradition when living in France, and perhaps they were acquainted with libertine views, but they openly embraced Richelieu’s Catholic-politique sense of confessional “prudence.”
6 “Richelieu in Marrano Garb”: Meaning and Implication
Moreover, both Enriquez Gómez and Vila Real followed almost verbatim the anti-Spanish propaganda then propagated by Richelieu and his advocates, in which the cruelties and corruption of the Inquisition represented a perfidious way of using religious piety to obtain political and economic gains. “In my opinion,” repeated Enríquez Gómez ad nauseam, “the worse crimes are committed under the cloak of religion.”107 Therefore, the real Machiavellians are not the French politiques, as the Spanish claimed, but the Spaniard devotees. In the words of Paul Hay Du Chastelet, one of Richelieu’s partisan writers, in Spain: “the religious appearance greatly serves the case of the princes” (L’apparence de religion sert grandement aux affaires des Princes).108 Seventeenth-century French political discourse was polemically constructed vis-à-vis the Spanish and vice versa.109 Attacks against the Iberian Inquisitions, then, were neither solely a converso obsession nor mere episodic outbursts of anti-Spanish feeling. Such belligerence was one of the major ways of distinguishing the French from the Iberians. Paradoxically, then, when the time came to offer concrete solutions, neither Enríquez Goméz nor Vila Real asked for the complete abrogation of the Holy Office. Rather, they sought to transform this well-established Iberian institution, while insisting on friendlier ways to correct and convert heretics.110 Even if they were inspired by an idealized image of Richelieu’s Catholic evangelization of the Huguenots, Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez called to implement the peaceful missionary methods employed by Jesuits with “heathens” in distant colonial lands for the New Christians living in Portugal, much as Father Vieira was then striving to do.111 In doing so, they propagated an old pro-converso aspiration: that New Christians should be converted by the word and not by the sword. Enríquez Gómez suggested that tribunals of the Holy Office will be led by three members of the clergy (a Jesuit, a Capuchin, and a secular priest) carefully chosen by the king. Only after being secretly admonished and pardoned twice, “stubborn heretics” will be judged publicly, without employing anymore anonymous denunciations, confiscation of property, or secret and unlimited stays in prison. Those found hopelessly guilty will be punished to death without mercy (only the king could exceptionally change the sentence with exile).112 During the Habsburg dynastical period (1578–1640) pro-converso elements in Portugal sought to reform the biased Inquisition after the more reliable Castilian model and under Braganza’s dynastical “restoration,” this was permuted by invoking the Roman Holy Office.113 Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez called to combine the French confessional experience (e.g., the “Burning Chamber”) and the old evangelical tradition of “fraternal emendation” (correctio fraterna) after Matthew 18:15, with the Iberian overseas ideal of evangelization (e.g., the Jesuits).114 Such creative adaptations wonderfully encapsulate what I meant by “Richelieu in Marrano garb.”
Finally, I will briefly argue against those scholars who insist on the hierocratic-sacred character of the French monarchy, as portrayed by Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez. It is true that in the latter’s Luis dado de Dios (1645), the French king was depicted as the embodiment of the ideal biblical monarch.115 The title of Política angélica is highly telling in this respect. However, like most French political thinkers, at least until Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, the divine nature of kings served more as a juridical starting point than as a modus operandi.116 Already in Luis dado de Dios, the good monarch was defined as a prince who firmly governs his kingdom with justice and disinterested piety. Whereas a strong and unrestrained government is a tyranny, a weak prince who is led by a divided Court and disobedient society cannot ensure those moral and religious values. A limited idea of sovereignty can be detected throughout Vila Real’s and Enríquez Gómez’s writings, as a means to solve the converso problem of integration. It is unsurprising if Enríquez Gómez commented on the same emblem of “Alliances” from Andrea Alciato’s Book of Emblems (first edition, 1531), which was previously invoked by the pro-converso Cellorigo.117 Both authors chose to illustrate Bodin’s sense of royal sovereignty by using Alciato’s image of the prince as a lute-player and the strings as the different estates of the kingdom.118 That said, whereas Cellorigo claimed that the string of the plebeian “third estate” artificially created a New Christian string-less estate from hatred and envy, Enríquez Gomez argued that the too-dominant and intruding string of the clergy destroyed the entire musical instrument.119 In order to solve the converso problem in a disharmonious society, the king must firmly intervene: as a lute player, according to Cellorigo, and as a lute-maker, according to Enríquez Gómez.120 I think that such differences in diagnosis and prognosis did not solely stem from a different interpretation of sovereignty after the political models employed by the two authors (the corporatist Habsburg model of Cellorigo vs. the more centralistic French of Enríquez Gómez). The rise of the Braganza royal dynasty, instead of the Habsburgs, aroused initial enthusiasm and expectation among pro-converso elements, including Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez. These believed that by adapting the French confessional model into the Iberian contexts the converso problem would finally be solved. Being “liberated” from the “tyrannical” Habsburgs, the Portuguese Braganza dynasty would receive from the powerful French military, economic, and diplomatic assistance and political inspiration. However, whereas French concrete help was insufficient, brief, and disappointing, the new, weak Portuguese monarchs could not overcome the power of the Holy Office and the anti-converso elements within the kingdom. Despite the protestations of the Inquisition and the clergy, the Luso-Dutch treaty (of 12 June 1641) enabled Dutchmen staying in Portugal to practice religious worship on the ships and in the homes of official emissaries and ambassadors, thus enlarging the inquisitorial immunity obtained by English traders in 1630.121 None of Vila Real’s and Enríquez Gómez’s suggestions could be fulfilled, despite support given by King John IV to obtain the integration of the New Christian group for economic and state-building reasons. Portugal’s Holy Office was a powerful institution supported by most of the nobility, the clergy, and the “people” represented in the Parliament, because it was perceived as the ultimate defender of its most traditional socio-political and religious institutions.122 Mostly through Father Vieira’s and Jesuit efforts, from 1649 to 1656, the Inquisition temporarily suspended the confiscation of the detainee’s belongings.123 However, no concession was given to conversos’ rights of freedom of conscience as was pleaded by Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez. As I have tried to show, “Richelieu in Marrano garb” required a major transformation of Iberian political structures and confessional policies. Without a “Portuguese Richelieu,” a Gallican adaptation could never be implemented on Iberian soil.
In his edition of the second part of Enríquez Gómez’s Política angélica, Révah argued that only questions related to “purity of blood” and the Inquisition “revealed an essential aspect of Marrano thought.”124 Such a view accounts for his decision to privilege this section over the first part of the Política angélica and Vila Real’s Epítome genealógico. Burning questions, such as the confiscation of the detainee’s belongings by the Holy Office, did stand at the center of pro-converso political agency at those historical moments. Even Vila Real confessed to the inquisitors to have written a tract on the subject.125 In this sense, Vila Real, Enríquez Gómez, Father Vieira, and other Jesuits and converso “men of the nation” living in Iberia or in the French Sephardic diaspora, were intimately interrelated.126 In this article, however, I aimed to reassess what the Portuguese writer Francisco Manuel de Melo ironically meant in his Hospital das Letras (1657), by calling Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez “two Portuguese grafted as French” (esses dous Portugueses enxertados em Galos) and “Gallicized political writers” (politicos franceses), through the fictional characters of “Quevedo,” “Lipsius,” and himself.127 I suggested that, along with other converso and pro-converso elements, such as New Christians living in late-sixteenth-century Bragança, Vila Real and Enríquez Gómez were highly selective, creative, and sophisticated thinkers of French and Iberian confessionalism.128 At the same time, their broad French-Gallican experiences and European confessional knowledge emerge as a major converso concern. Not satisfied to be merely “victims” of Iberian confessionalism, they became creative “agents” of French Gallicanism in the Iberian Peninsula. In doing so, they sought to contribute, in their own particular ways, to political and religious modernity.
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