The Mendoza Family in the Spanish Renaissance 1350-1550

Helen Nader

To my mother
and to the memory of my father


[ix] The Mendoza and their admiring biographers have left us a wealth of archival and secondary materials for the study of intellectual and social history. The Mendoza's poetic works, which have long been considered classics (they have been included in Castilian anthologies ever since the early fifteenth century), are available in modern editions. Their prose works -- the histories, letters, essays, and translations on which modern Renaissance scholars depend -- have not fared as well. There are recent critical editions of Pedro López de Ayala's translation of the Moralia in Job by St. Gregory(1) and of Fernán Pérez de Guzmán's Generaciones y semblanzas.(2) But the other published histories, translations, and essays by the Mendoza appear in editions whose critical apparatus and editorial policies are less than satisfactory. For most of the Mendoza family, only a small sample of correspondence survives, mostly communications with the crown on diplomatic or administrative matters. For the family's Tendilla branch, which moved to Granada in 1492, we are fortunate to have the speeches and letters of the second count of Tendilla. The speeches, which are recorded in the Actas del Cabildo (city council minutes) of Granada during the years 1495 through 1506 and 1512 through 1513, are a fascinating record of Tendilla's political rhetoric.(3) The letters, which survive in his secretary's dictation books, are housed in two different locations in Madrid: one volume from the years 1508 through 1512, which has long been known to scholars, is deposited in the manuscripts section of the Biblioteca Nacional.(4) In 1967, I identified and transcribed two more volumes -- from the years 1504 through 1506 and 1513 through 1515 -- in the Sección Osuna of the Archivo Histórico Nacional.(5) There are over one thousand folios in [x] these three volumes, and the total number of letters is probably over six thousand -- by far the largest collection of letters written by a Spaniard before the seventeenth century. The attitudes toward the monarchy, religion, history, and the classics that Tendilla expresses in these letters are markedly different from the attitudes hispanists attribute to Castilians of his aristocratic and old Christian background. Tendilla was not part of the innovative generation in the Mendoza family -- that of the early fifteenth century -- nor is he the central figure of this book; but because he was loyal to the values of that earlier generation, his letters serve as a check upon my interpretation of Mendoza attitudes in the earlier period.

For the social and economic history of the Mendoza, there is copious material in the family papers, purchased by the Spanish state in the nineteenth century and housed in the Sección Osuna of the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Madrid. Cataloging of this monumental collection is still going on, and already there are over a thousand legajos (bundles) in the catalog, the earliest dated in 1315. The collection includes wills, dowry contracts, litigation, depositions, sales contracts, leasehold contracts, rent rolls, political alliances, letters, inventories, genealogies, and a wealth of other materials not available in archives of official state papers. A handful of scholars have utilized isolated documents from Osuna, but the documents have never been subjected to a systematic study. Another important group of documents, now lost, was copied in a history of the Mendoza family written by Gaspar Ibáñez de Segovia (d. 1709), married to the last of the Tendilla branch of the Mendoza family, who was one of Spain's most prolific historians. His "Historia de la Casa de Mondéjar"(6) utilizes hundreds of documents still extant in the family archives during his lifetime, though he laments that much had already been lost. Since he had a surprisingly modern taste for economic data, the documents he copied are especially valuable for the history of the Tendilla estate. Portions of about fifty more documents pertaining to the Mendoza family were copied by Ibáñez's friend, Luis de Salazar y Castro, royal secretary to Carlos II. These seventeenth-century copies are still available in the Salazar y Castro Collection of the Real Academia de Historia in Madrid.(7) A modern history of the Mendoza family, the Historia de Guadalajara y sus Mendozas by the provincial archivist of Guadalajara, utilizes and publishes the sixteenth-century notarial documents in the Guadalajara archives pertaining to the Mendoza family.(8)

On several points, the documentary evidence from the family archives does not agree with the standard interpretations of Spanish social history [xi] -- largely because of the very nature of the archival documents. During most of the period under discussion, the customer's copy of a notarial document constituted the legal, original document. It was not until 1502 that Castilian notaries were required to maintain protocols -- bound volumes of their copies, which were thenceforth legally the original documents. Consequently the principal source for the rich supporting and correcting evidence from notarial documents for fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Castile is the notarial documents preserved in family archives -- the Sección Osuna in the case of the Mendoza and several other families. Often the Osuna documents present a picture of Castilian society contradictory to that presented in histories based on the documents issued by the royal secretariat and chancery that are found in the state archives. Wherever there is enough documentary evidence from Osuna to support a variant interpretation, I have chosen to present the conclusion supported by the family papers. This is especially true in my interpretations of the relationship between crown and aristocracy, of inheritance practices, of the function of noble titles, and of the political motives and methods of the Mendoza during succession crises.

In transcribing the documents, I have been faithful to the original spelling and spacing, following the norms of the Escuela de Estudios Medievales of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.(9) For the sake of clarity in difficult passages, I add punctuation and capitalization, spell out abbreviations, and substitute modern b, u, and v for V, and modern c, s, and z for ç. Doubts and interpolations are bracketed.

In the bibliography, I have followed modern Spanish usage for all Spanish names in order to conform to modern cataloging and publishing practice. For example, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza will be listed as "Hurtado de Mendoza, Diego," and Fernán Pérez de Guzmán as "Pérez de Guzmán, Fernán." But in both the text and the index I have followed the usage of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. Typical of several other aspects of social and intellectual Spanish life, the Castilian name system in these three centuries was chaotic. The medieval practice had been for a man to be known by his first name and a patronymic -- his father's name with the suffix ez to signify "son of." When a man left his village or solar he added its name to his own with the preposition de. The founder of the Mendoza family fortune, for example, was Pedro González de Mendoza (d. 1385) -- Pedro, son of Gonzalo, from Mendoza. In the fourteenth century, however, this system broke down among the aristocracy, and the Trastámara revolution put an end to it completely. The use of the place name was inflexible among aristocratic families, even after they had been away from their [xii] solares for many generations, and thus the place name became firmly fixed as the family name.(10) The combination of first name and patronymic was discarded almost entirely in order to perpetuate the names of heroic ancestors.

Women's names followed this same system, and women neither changed their names upon marriage nor added their husbands' names in the modern Spanish usage. It was common for one or more children of a marriage to carry the mother's family name instead of the father's. For example, the most famous member of the Mendoza family, Iñigo López de Mendoza (1398-1458), marquis of Santillana, and his wife, Catalina Suárez de Figueroa, named their children Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Iñigo López de Mendoza, Pedro Hurtado de Mendoza, Pedro González de Mendoza, Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, Menda de Mendoza, María de Mendoza, Pedro Laso de la Vega, Leonor de la Vega, and Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa. Seven of them carried the father's family name of Mendoza; two carried the paternal grandmother's family name of la Vega; and one carried the mother's family name of Figueroa. It is some consolation to know that fifteenth-century Castilians were also confused by this jumble of names. In 1475, a royal scrivener referred to a brother of the duke of Infantado as "Lorenzo Suárez de Mendoza." In his will, the duke calls the same brother "Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa."(11)

This chaos, however, existed within certain limits during the fifteenth century. Within the family, certain first names were combined only with certain second names, e.g., always Iñigo López, never Iñigo González or Iñigo Hurtado; Pedro González or Pedro Hurtado, but never Pedro López de Mendoza; Garcilaso de la Vega, but never Garcilaso de Mendoza. By 1550, this small number of traditional names had been borne by more than four hundred members of the family, to the despair of the historian, who finds that for five generations without interruption the señor de Fresno de Torote was named Juan Hurtado de Mendoza.(12) In 1515, there were so many men named Iñigo López de Mendoza that they must be distinguished as Iñigo López de Mendozaa, Iñigo López de Mendozab, and so on through Iñigo López de Mendozag. In an attempt to break away from this system, the generation of Santillana's grandsons named their sons after French and Italian saints, but they all chose the same four names -- Luis, Bernardino, Antonio, and Francisco -- so that in the sixteenth century the problem becomes to distinguish from among four bishops named Francisco de Mendoza, or two military commanders and one ambassador named Bernardino de Mendoza.

It was the practice in the fifteenth century to sign letters and notarial records with the first two names only. Until 1492, one can be certain [xiii] that any aristocrat who signs with a traditional Mendoza name combination -- such as Iñigo López or Garcilaso -- is a member of this extended Mendoza family. After 1492, the problem was complicated by the practice of giving the names of baptismal sponsors to adult converts, so that in the sixteenth century a member of the Mendoza family was usually surrounded by numerous namesakes who were his secretary, his physician, his rent collector, and so on.

Thus, Tendilla -- Iñigo López de Mendoza (1442-1515) -- was the son of Iñigo López de Mendoza, count of Tendilla (d. 1479); the grandson of Iñigo López de Mendoza, marquis of Santillana (1398-1458); and the baptismal sponsor of his mayordomo, Iñigo López, and of his physician, Iñigo López. In an effort to keep confusion to a minimum in the text, I have used the full name, title, and dates in the first reference and the title alone or family name alone in subsequent references, although in many cases the titles are anachronisms. Thus I refer to Iñigo López de Mendoza (1398-1458) as Santillana throughout and to Iñigo López de Mendoza (1442-1515) as Tendilla throughout, although Santillana did not receive his title until 1445 and Tendilla did not inherit his title until 1479 and was elevated to the title marquis of Mondéjar in 1512. I hope that this scheme will help the reader keep the cast of characters straight. It may help to keep in mind that not every Mendoza was a member of this particular family, nor were all the members of the family named Mendoza. Membership in "la casa de los Mendoza" was determined by a subtle blend of common ancestry, property, action, and values.

This book would not have been possible without the expertise and encouragement of many others. The University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University provided faculty research grants at critical moments. A research fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies made it possible for me to spend a fruitful year exploring the documents in the Spanish archives. To all of these institutions I am grateful for their faith and generosity.

Archival research can be successful only when the archives themselves provide the researcher with access to their resources, and in this aspect of my investigation I have been particularly fortunate. Spanish archivists have given unstintingly of their expertise and time. I am indebted to the staffs of the Archivo Histórico Nacional and the Archivo Histórico de Protocolos in Madrid; the Archivo General de Simancas; the Archivo de la Real Chancillería de Granada; the Sección de Manuscritos of the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid; and the Biblioteca de la Real Academia [xiv] de Historia. I am most appreciative of the efforts in my behalf by Consuelo Gutiérrez del Arroyo and Ana Pardo, whose intimate knowledge of the Sección Osuna at the Archivo Histórico Nacional was invaluable in tracing the estate documents of the Mendoza family.

Through the years that the book has been developing, I have benefitted from the good advice of Arthur Askins, Anne Lee Gearhart, Herbert Kaplan, Robert Littman, M. Jeanne Peterson, Randolph Stam, Gerald Strauss, Andrew Villalon, William D. Phillips, Jr., and Donald Weinstein. Above all, I must express my appreciation to my teachers, William J. Bouwsma and Gene Brucker, whose wisdom and generosity of spirit have been a constant source of inspiration.

Notes for the Preface

1. Francesco Branciforti, ed., Las flores de los Morales de Job, Florence, 1963.

2. Robert B. Tate, ed., Colección Támesis, Series B, vol. 2, London, 1965.

3. Archivo del Ayuntamiento, Granada.

4. Registro.

5. Copiador.

6. Mondéjar.

7. Salazar.

8. Francisco Layna Serrano, Historia de Guadalajara y sus Mendozas en los siglos XV y XVI, 4 vols., Madrid, 1942.

9. Spain, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Escuela de Estudios Medievales, Normas de transcripción y edición de textos y documentos, Madrid, 1944.

10. A few families who claimed royal lineage used the name of their royal ancestor as the family name -- Manrique, Manuel, and Enríquez. This name system was systematically described by Liciniano Sáez, "Sobre el modo de tomar los apellidos o sobrenombres," in Demostración histórica del verdadero valor de todas las monedas que corrían en Castilla durante el reynado del señor don Enrique III, Madrid, 1796, pp. 315-320; and more recently Bonifacio del Carril, Los Mendoza en España y en América en el siglo XV y en la primera mitad del siglo XVI, Buenos Aires, 1954, pp. 35-36.

11. Cristina de Arteaga y Falguera, La Casa del Infantado, cabeza de los Mendoza, Madrid, 1940, I, 213; Osuna, Leg. 1.762.

12. See the problems this raises for Dámaso Alonso, Dos españoles del siglo de oro, Madrid, 1960, pp. 29-37.