Biography of Hernando de Aragón (1498-1575)

Religious reformer and Spanish politician, born in Zaragoza in 1498 and died in the same city from January 29, 1575. Hernando was the last member of the Aragonese Royal House that held the Archbishopric of Zaragoza (1539-1575), and was also the only one of them who felt the religious vocation and behaved as prelate in spiritual sense: its character, austere, prudent and committed, was the basis of the Tridentine reform in the Kingdom of Aragon. It was an extraordinary patrons who reinvigorated the education and the art of the Kingdom during his extensive Government of the diocese.

The religious way

He was the son of Alonso of Aragón, Archbishop of Zaragoza and, therefore, grandson of Fernando el Católico. He/She was raised in the Court of his grandfather, who, apparently, professed him a special affection. There he/she was educated in a chivalrous atmosphere, where Hernando was notable for his wit, his application to study and be an expert rider. At the behest of his grandfather, was named Knight of the order of Calatrava so only eight years, in the first part of a plan that was going to obtain the right to the succession in the largest of the aforementioned order parcel or, in absence thereof, of the Montesa. Access to the papal throne of Leo X caused that in 1513, Hernando already had the agreement of the Holy see to deal with the culmination of the order of Montesa, provided, of course, died their, at that moment, Commander, Bernat Despuig. In 1518, as deceased the Catholic King, don Hernando won the encomiendas of Alcañiz and Caracuel, with what appeared to be consolidating his future military career.

However, and although there are not too many details of why they came, in 1521 Hernando of Aragon decided to abandon the century and devote his life to God. After giving up their positions and donate their economic goods to his servants and relatives, took refuge in the monastery of our Lady of stone (Zaragoza), where he/she was received as a Cistercian Friar on October 25, 1523. Almost immediately, he/she took minor orders and the 27 January 1524, was already a priest. During the following years, Hernando lived as one monk in the monastery of stone, where he/she dedicated himself to monastic labors and, especially, to the reading of many volumes that engalanaban the library of the monastery. The comparison with the rest of his life, it seems beyond doubt that his conversion was, clearly, a true example of faith. Proof of this is that, despite the many reached ecclesiastical dignities, as we will see below, Hernando de Aragón never left the Cistercian habit, although it could do so given his range.

Of the monastery to the Archbishopric

In 1535, fourteen years after his entry into religion, Hernando de Aragón was summoned by his cousin, the Emperor Carlos V, to fill the post of Abbot of the monastery of Veruela. He/She took possession of it on February 23, 1535 and remained in the post until in 1539 it was, again, asked by Carlos V to occupy the vacant Diocese of Zaragoza. During his time as Abbot of Veruela befriended Lope Marco, which happen in the direction of the community; both men, religious, scholars and francs, honored the monastery with several works to expand and restore its core. As Abbot of Veruela, Hernando de Aragón was also elected Deputy by the arm of the Church to the general courts of the Kingdom, though he/she was about to resign since, unlike his father and his brother (former bishops of Saragossa), it wasn't too much friend of the political disquisitions. The high reliability and conscientiousness of Hernando de Aragón greatly please Guillaume VII Fauconnier, Abbot of Citeaux, who appointed him in 1536 visitador general of the order of the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre. Thus, at the end of the same year, don Hernando presided over the Provincial Chapter of the order, held in Zaragoza.

Its management of the financial resources of the monastery of Veruela capacity was highly valued by the Emperor, who had no hesitation in recommending him as Archbishop of Zaragoza. The proposition was accepted by the Pope Paul III from May 21, 1539. Hernando took possession of the bishopric on July 16 of the same year, after which he/she returned to his beloved monastery of Veruela, where was held the ceremony of consecration, officiated by Pedro Butrón, Bishop of Tunisia. In Zaragoza, he/she received the accrediting palio on November 10, at the hands of his counterpart Huesca, Martín de Gurrea. As was the custom of the Emperor, he/she chose a position of importance to a relative, and also made him thoroughly, since the abandonment of the diocese was large since before that Alonso of Aragón, father of don Hernando, agreed to it. Without saying that Zaragoza, dissatisfied until that moment with the imposition of castellanos for the posts of the Kingdom by the Emperor, as well as the former Archbishop (Fadrique of Portugal) absentee status, received the don Hernando with open arms, as his fame was already evident at the time.

The reformist prelate

From the same beginning of his Archbishop's office, don Hernando tried to implement with vigour the reformist principles that were discussed by Christianity in the Council of Trent. It established a new spirituality, maintained regular contact with the vicars, Abbots and pastors of the diocese, and also attempted to be severe, but persuasive, with deviant members of his Church traditions. Similarly, economic management, as had already happened in Veruela, was improved to the point of obtaining multiple surpluses that don Hernando destined to the construction of various improvements in the zaragozan Seo, especially two cloisters, offices and various works of improvement, as well as the building of the Cistercian monasteries of St. Lucia and St. Lambert, in the own capital mana. The reforms also arrived at the Archbishop's Palace, the place where he/she had resided the prelates from the time of his father, and also to the general Hospital. However, perhaps his most recognized work was the huge sum of money, some two hundred thousand crowns, destined to the reform of the Carthusian monastery of our Lady of Aula Dei (Zaragoza).

The most important reform, however, happened in education. The University of Zaragoza, plunged into a long sluggish since its original founding in 1474, began to have moments of glory, and that the provision of Hernando de Aragón on elementary and cathedral schools made that the legal basic education should be compulsory in all the churches of the diocese, by that, soon, from all corners of the Kingdom began students reach the University classroom. Hernando de Aragón, in addition, understood is perfection with the prior of the institution, Pedro Cerbuna, what made possible teaching of great prestige, as Gaspar Lax or Domingo Pérez, they accept to teach at the University of Zaragoza, with consequent increase in prestige. How great lover of readings of history and theology, made don Hernando provide the office of chronicler of the Kingdom in favor of Jerónimo Zurita in 1548; as proof of his taste for reading, should emphasize that it was the Archbishop himself who exercising corrector and censor in tests for the first part of the annals of Aragon. Aside from its reform figure, again being elected Deputy of the ecclesiastical arm in 1542 and 1564, in addition to appearing regularly while he/she was Archbishop in the courts against the abuses of authority of Regal actors, factor that increased his reputation as a righteous man among his acolytes. In relation to his political activity, as it was customary to the Archbishop of Zaragoza, was don Hernando commissioned to replicate the opening speech of the King in the courts held in 1542 (in which is was sworn in as heir to the future Felipe II), in 1547, 1552 and 1563. His work as Archbishop was, therefore, fully consolidated.

The Viceroyalty of Aragon

Both the Emperor Carlos and Felipe I continued harvesting troubles related to the Viceroys of Aragon, as against what was customary, they used to provide for the post Castilian Knights, as Beltrán de la Cueva or Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, count of Melito, who wanted to rule authoritatively the territory without paying attention to the jurisdictions. After the ultimate failure of the count of Melito, Felipe II thought that the Archbishop would be an ideal replacement, and took him to that effect in 1566, despite the advanced age of don Hernando de Aragón. His work at the head of the viceroyalty was practically twin to the one carried out in the palio, carried out also with a difficult situation, given the strained relations between Aragon and Felipe II who, finally, end up by exploding in 1591, now deceased don Hernando, with the incident of Antonio Pérez, Secretary of Felipe II. Thus, the Archbishop tried to mediate and bring calm in various conflicts between provincial, Inquisition and monarchy, although it is true that he/she received no collaboration by the bitter that relations were already. Proof of this was the rebellion of the inhabitants of Teruel against Captain Matías Moncayo, who, disobeying the instructions of Viceroy don Hernando, began a strong repression against the insurgents, with the consequent spiral of violence and protests by the viceroy of all the estates of the realm. He/She tried also to suppress banditry, endemic problem of the Kingdom of Aragon, and harshly suppressed an invasion of Huguenots from the neighbouring County of Béarn, in the year 1569.

His last worthy of highlight in the Aragonese political intervention was rales which, in Aragon, suffered as a result of the Moorish revolt in 1569. Amid fears of a widespread insurrection, the instructions of Felipe II and the Inquisition were the disarm all the Aragonese moriscos. Hernando de Aragón, knowing that according to the Aragonese Fueros decision corresponded to the feudal lords, tried to find a compromise, based on each Lord holds to its Moorish and used them. The quick resolution of the conflict prevented its expansion by the territory ruled by the virrey don Hernando. After that, his last years were the Palacio Arzobispal as maximum limit, overwhelmed by the weight of political office that certainly wasn't his mentality and character. After his death, the 29 January 1575, he/she left a large sum of money to build his tomb in the chapel of San Bernardo (founder of the Cistercian order who always professed to don Hernando), which can still be seen in la zaragozana Seo. The praises that picked up among his contemporaries can be seen in the literary works of Diego de Espés (author of a history of the archbishops of Zaragoza), or popular alterations of Zaragoza from Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola. Regardless of its political and administrative work, highlights the human trait that don Hernando, throughout his life, spent more than six hundred thousand shields in works of charity, alms and beneficial gestures.

Hernando of Aragon as a historian

Continuing the family tradition, many the missals, breviaries, constitutions of synods, ceremonial and various ecclesiastical manuals that are attributed to Archbishop don Hernando calamus, as well as a myriad of cards with instructions for his reformist ideal that is obvious to say so, are awash with historiographic value to know the extent of his Tridentine thought. Similarly, an epistolary private, with characters such as Alonso de Santa Cruz, Zurita and, especially, the censors of the work of the latter, they have a clear interest to learn about the difficulties and points of view that praised Aragonese chronicler had to suffer for the drafting of his magna work. But beyond these cultural aspects, and leaving aside also work of patronage, we must highlight to Hernando of Aragon as an author of several works of historiographic character that, despite its obvious interest, have remained unpublished and silenced until today.

The most important of them all is the history of the Serenisimos Kings of Aragon where retaza roughly a biography of each monarch until Felipe II. The work lacks originality, but it is sharp and rich in details on its three-quarters, and is limited to consolidate materials to (many of them of Zurita); However, to the reigns of Carlos I and Felipe II, Hernando writes, more than a few records, a true daily affairs in the Kingdom of Aragon, which is an invaluable source for the knowledge of these years. Other important historiographical works are stories and catalogues of secular and ecclesiastical dignities of Aragon, as well as the invaluable catalogue of bishops and arcobispos of Çaragoça from the year of 225 to the 1575, source that inspired any study that aims at the Diocese of Zaragoza between the 16th and 20th centuries. The scholar Félix Latassa Aragonese also points out among the works of Hernando de Aragón a Peerage of the main houses of Spain, as well as a draft catalogue of antiques in Zaragoza, to settle more erudite and cultured humanist who was Hernando de Aragón's profile.


COLÁS LATORRE, g., et al.: Don Hernando de Aragón: Archbishop of Saragossa and Viceroy of Aragon. (Zaragoza: box de Ahorros de la Inmaculada, 1998).

ORTIN and LATASSA, f.: Library old and new of Aragonese writers of Latassa increased and consolidated in the form of bibliografico-biografico dictionary by don Miguel Gómez Uriel. (Zaragoza: Ariño Calisto printing, 1884-1886, 3 vols.).