Biography of Antonio Perrenot de Granvela (1517-1586)

Cardinal and Burgundian politician born in Besançon (capital of the Franche-Comté, in the French Department of Doubs) August 20, 1517, and died in Madrid September 21, 1586.

Biographical synthesis

Bishop of Arras, Archbishop of Mechelen and Besançon and Cardinal, was an important man of State Carlos V and Felipe II; various diplomatic work during his youth, he/she made for the first and the second was Advisor to Margaret of Parma in the Netherlands and had some charges related to Italy (viceroy of Naples and President of the Council of Italy). Between 1580 and 1581 he/she became regent of Spain.

Youth and training of Antonio Perrenot

It was the fourth child (the first live male) of an important Adviser of the Emperor Carlos V, Nicolás Perrenot de Granvelle, and Nicole Bonvalot. Had several brothers, among them Tomás and Federico Perrenot, who, like him, played important posts for Spain. His father prepared to detail his career as ecclesiastical and courtly, and himself gave him his early education. Soon showing signs of great intelligence, he/she quickly learned with his tutor Juan Sachet, Canon of Saint-Anatole de Salins. In 1523, only six years old, he/she left his hometown to reside and pursue studies in Dole. In 1529, with twelve, was named by the Pope Clement VII waiter and Protonotary participant (i.e. that it allowed him to opt to prelatures of importance and also his family, including ancestors, was ennobled).

Shortly after went abroad, to the University of Leuven, where he/she acquired philosophical and theological knowledge (important in the context of religious reform, who then lived in Europe) and had relationship with followers of Erasmus of Rotterdam as Adriano Amerot and teachers as Miguel Bayo. He/She then went on to the University of Padua, which was devoted to the study of law, essential for any political race, and enriched the circle of relations (for example, met the cardinal Pietro Bembo). He/She perfected studies, later at the University of Paris, although nothing is known of his stay there. It was during this stay in College when you purchased your air of cultured man.

Bishop of Arras and first missions in the service of Carlos V

On the other hand, his first ecclesiastical dignity, granted in 1529, was followed by many others, including that of Provost of Saint - Rombaut (Mechelen) and Notre - Dame (Utrecht), Archdeacon and first Cantor in Besançon and Cambrai, and Abbot of Saint-Vincent de Besançon. Finally, in 1538 was promoted, with just 21 years, Bishop of Arras (although he/she was not ordained a priest until 1540, consecrated Bishop at Valladolid to 1543, and not entered as such in Arras to 1545). This election, supported by the emperor himself, meant her entry into politics, guided by his father Nicolás, which by then was already imperial Chancellor and one of the main collaborators of Carlos V. Residente almost always in Brussels, was named Administrator of his diocese the Bishop of Selivrie, Pascasio. In 1539-1540, he/she was also elected Canon of Saint-Lambert of Liège.

I used to exercise at this time as master of ceremonies of the imperial court, helped by his nice physique, good manners and titles. He/She also was faithful collaborator of the House of Habsburg, attending or participating thereafter in various diplomatic missions: the negotiations of Nice between Carlos V and the French King Francisco I (1538, by which Pope Paul III tried to reconcile both sovereigns to establish a common front against Protestant and Muslim Turks); the Colloquy of Worms with German Protestants, that was conciliatory, perhaps by his erasmismo (1540); the diet of Regensburg (1541); the peace of Crépy with France (1544). He/She represented the emperor at the opening of the Council of Trent in 1545. Then he/she went on with his diplomatic activities in relation to Germany, France or England, sometimes at risk to his person, as when he/she was on the verge of being captured in Innsbruck in the company of Carlos V by the Protestant Prince Mauricio of Saxony (1552).She was present at the signing of the peace after the battle of Mühlberg (1547), time in which his father I leave all the political prominence at the imperial court, though he/she would still live up to 1550; then replace him in the imperial favor and as Minister of Justice. He/She was also in the diet of Augsburg that year, was established where the Interim (religious truce), received the Prince Felipe in the Netherlands (1549) and attended the peace of Passau (1554). He/She conducted the marriage negotiations between Prince Felipe and the English Queen María Tudor and participated in the peace of Augsburg between Catholics and Protestants (1555). This year it was reported the abdication of Carlos V to the General States of Flanders.

Counsellor of Felipe II, Archbishop of Mechelen and Cardinal: the Netherlands

At the suggestion of the Emperor and King Felipe II in a secret instruction, Granvelle maintained his influential position at the beginning of the new reign. It would maintain correspondence with Carlos V until the latter's death in 1558. With France, Member of the Council of State of the King, prepared important peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559. In recent years he/she had always resided in the Netherlands, so it was not strange that after the signing of the aforementioned peace, when Felipe II moved to Spain and left the Government in these provinces to her sister Margarita of Parma, Granvelle remain counselor this. This meant a limitation of their influence and powers, because up to that time had occupied all kinds of issues.

If until then had behaved fairly liberally, now his defense of the monarchy against the Dutch and Flemish self-determination (headed by Guillermo de Orange and the counts of Egmont and Horn) I push him to more authoritarian positions. This resulted in accusations such as the Spanish garrisons, the desire of w new tribunals of the Inquisition or the economic protectionism that harms trade with England, originated you the deep enmity of the nobility. A real campaign of pressure by means of pamphlets and cartoons started against him. Also added that, once created the Archbishopric of Mechelen, which itself comprised all the dioceses of Dutch and Flemish (also restructured), had occupied this seat in 1560.

The following year he/she was also raised to the cardinalship, but did not pressure towards him but increase: Orange and Egmont resigned from their posts as advisers, accusing Granvelle's do not count on them to govern, and finally earned the enmity of the own Margarita of Parma by consider this that Felipe II had denied the return of the Duchy of Piacenza to his family by his influence. So, on the recommendation of the King who sacrificed him to save the situation, in 1564 he/she retired temporarily to his homeland, in Besançon. The exile would be definitive, being replaced by Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba: in fact, fearing to return, an enraged crowd came to plunder his palace in Brussels. It took advantage of their stay in the Franche-Comté to reinforce his personal clientele, while paying attention to the Affairs of the Netherlands.

Viceroy of Naples, President of the Council of Italy and Regent of Spain

He soon moved to Rome to participate in the conclave of 1565 he/she was elected Pope Pius V, and later recovered the favor of Felipe II. In Rome he/she resumed his contacts with Italian humanists who had met during their university studies. To 1570 took part in the negotiations which would constitute the Holy League (Spain, Venice and the Holy See) against the Turks. In 1571 he/she was appointed viceroy of Naples instead of the deceased Per Afán de Rivera, Duke of Alcalá. He/She was in the South of Italy more moderate than in the Netherlands; from this position he/she prepared the equipment of the fleet of the Holy League, which would be winning that year in the Gulf of Lepanto.

Following the election of a new Pope, Gregory XIII, in 1572, he/she defended the rights of Spain of Naples against this same Pontiff. In 1575 he/she was replaced in this realm by Iñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis of Mondéjar, and returned to Rome to assist the Spanish Ambassador, Juan de Zúñiga. In 1578 Felipe II offered him a return to the Netherlands together with Margarita of Parma, but although he/she had always been aware of the March of political affairs in the province, this time not considered appropriate to do so.

The following year, before the disappearance or fall from grace some of the most important Royal advisers, he/she was called to Spain, where would no longer move. He/She was appointed President of the Council of Italy, though without neglecting the Netherlands or internal affairs as the reorganization of the finance or to create a military and civilian fleet that gave Spain the absolute mastery of the seas, essential for ensuring control of the extensive Hispanic domains.

During the war of succession of Portugal (1580-1581), Felipe II moved to this country, Granvelle received the responsibility to govern in Spain as Regent, which meant the culmination of his career few years before his death. He/She proposed the King to Lisbon the capital of his domain, without being heard. In 1584 he/she was elected Archbishop of Besançon, but never came to reside in it as such, and must instead send vicars. Two years later, he/she died in 1586, being buried her remains in the chapel of the Carmelites of Besançon, where were his parents and some of his brothers; There they remained until they were lost during the French Revolution. Juan Thomas, son of his brother Thomas inherited his titles.

The personality of Cardinal Granvelle

Characteristic Renaissance statesman rather than a church man, had good presence and a broad culture, including knowledge of seven languages (to his native French, added the Spanish, the language of politics then, the latin and Greek languages of culture, Italian, Dutch, German and English; it was also excellent speaker) and natural history. To this he/she added political skill, prudence while dynamism, character, knowledge of people and above all a great perseverance.

He was one of the most important statesmen of century XVI, by more than its policy to the German Protestants, the Dutch rebels, the English and the French only obtained partial successes. It protected to various artists and scientists, including his Secretary scholar Justus Lipsius or the printer Christophe Plantin, which by its patronage and Felipe II printed the Antwerp Polyglot Bible. He/She possessed a considerable library, valuables and numerous pictures (which in the s. XVII would be the basis of the first library and Museum of France). Many books were dedicated to him and he/she was portrayed by the painters Titian and Antonio Moro. He/She left also numerous correspondence, valuable source of information for the political history of century XVI.


DE JONGE, k. and JANSSENS, G. Les Granvelle et les anciens Pays-Bas. (Leuven, Universitaire Pers Leuven: 2000).

DINARD. S P. Le cardinal de Granvelle et la Franche-Comte. The correspond comme instrument de gouvernement. (Paris, École National des Chartes: 2000).

Van DURME, m. Cardinal Granvelle (1517-1586). Edition facisimil. (Madrid, Sociedad Estatal para the commemoration of the centenary of Felipe II and Carlos v: 2000). ELLIOTT, J.H. The imperial Spain. (Barcelona, Vicens Vives: 1996).

FERNÁNDEZ ALVAREZ, M. "The cardinal Granvela and memories of Carlos V", in III Congress of intellectual cooperation. (Madrid, Institute of Hispanic culture: 1958).

JONNEKIN, G. Le cardinal de Granvelle: a destin Européen au XVI siècle. (Versailles, Imprimerie Chazelle: 1989).

Les Granvelle et L'italie au XVI siècle: le mecenat d'une famille. (Besançon, Cetre: 1996).POULLET, e. & PIOT, Ch. The correspondence du cardinal Granvelle. (Brussels: 1878).

WEISS, C. Papiers d' État du cardinal de Granvelle. (Paris: Imprimerie National: 1841-1852).

Links on the Internet ; Page with the portrait of Cardinal Granvela painted by Antonio Moro. ; Page with information on the cardinal Granvela (in French).