[Marxism] An Old World Converso

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Sun Nov 23 00:22:44 MST 2003

{this is an overlap/insurance mailing sent previously just before the

Conversos were Jews forced to convert to Christianity rather than leave
the lands of the united crowns of the so-called “Catholic Kings”
Ferdinand and Isabella in the Annus Mirabilis, Anno Domini 1492.  1492
(C.E.) was called the miracle year not because of the “Discovery” of the

New World by Columbus.  It was distinguished as the year the infidels
were expelled from Christian Spain; it was the year Erasmus of Rotterdam

was invested as a priest by the Holy Mother Church; and it was the year
of birth for Juan Luis Vives.

The distinguished Valencian Humanist Juan Luis Vives was one of the then

much-heralded “Triumvirate of Letters” of the sixteenth century.   The
other two were Erasmus of Rotterdam and Budaeus of Paris.  Vives was an
assimilated Jew, the son of Converso parents.

Vives’ most lasting and important innovation was his break with the
Scholastic notion of the presupposition of universal ideas.  Vives
maintained that true understanding came from the observation of nature,
and the logical development of ideas grounded in facts gathered by
experience.  “The senses are the first teachers,” announced Vives in De
Anima et Vita, “in whose home the mind is enclosed.”  Considering the
context of the time, our contemporary reader may be astounded at this
statement’s materialism.

Vives became known not only for his intelligence but as a great
teacher.  Noting the most effective route for ideas’ transferal to the
minds of his pupils, Vives advocated the use of the vernacular languages

over Latin in the important task for teachers to communicate with their
students.  Some of Vives’ greatest contributions were his works on
education.  He accompanied Anne of Aragon to England when she married
King Henry VIII, and became the tutor for their daughters, Elizabeth and

Mary.  In yet another advance, Vives argued that girls should get an
education as well as boys, and developed formal programs of study in On
the Right Method of Instruction for Girls and On the Education of a
Christian Woman.

Vives turned education and the gathering of knowledge from deduction to
induction.  Indeed, Vives informed the empiricism of Francis Bacon.
Then Henry VIII got rid of Anne of Aragon.  Along with his patroness,
Vives was expelled from England.  He died in northern Europe, his renown

dwindling as England’s rose.  Francis Bacon remains known as the
originator the scientific method.

 During his travels, Vives’s parents remained in Valencia.  The Spanish
Inquisition decided Vives’ father and mother guilty of reversion to the
rites of Judaism and burned them at the stake.

Foster Watson, Introduction to Vives: On Education (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman

& Littlefield, 1971; orig. ed. 1913) xxiv; Juan Luis Vives, ibid., De
Anima et Vita, 8.

More information about the Marxism mailing list