VIVES, Juan Luis

VIVES, Juan Luis
An important sixteenth-century humanist, the Spanish philosopher, scholar, and social reformer Juan Luis Vives also broke new ground in education and philosophy. Born in Valencia, Vives left Spain in 1509 because of the Inqui­sition. From 1509 to 1514 he lived in Paris and studied at Montaigu College. Here Vives learned about Renaissance humanism and its rejection of medieval Scholasticism, a subject he addresses in Adversus pseudodialecticos (Against the Pseudodialecticians, 1519).
Never returning to Spain, Vives moved to Bruges and became a tutor of Guillaume de Croy in 1517. As professor of humanities at Louvain by 1519, Vives met Desiderius Erasmus* and joined his international humanist circle. At Erasmus's behest, Vives published, in 1522, his commentary on Augustine's City of God, which criticized clergy and friars and perhaps unintentionally aided in promoting ideas central to the Reformation. Because Vives dedicated his commentary to Henry VIII,* he was invited to teach at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he lectured on philosophy. He also became court counsellor and secretary to Henry's Valencia-born queen Catherine of Aragon. Although he never tutored Henry and Catherine's daughter Mary,* Vives guided her parents about her education. In England, Vives met Thomas More,* involved himself in More's humanist circle, grew disinterested in theological reform, and became more interested in educational, social, and legal change. He spent summers in England and winters in Bruges until, in 1527, he lost Henry's favor when he opposed Henry's divorce and was impris­oned for six weeks. Henceforth he remained in Bruges and devoted himself to writing.
Vives was skilled in Latin, and his dialogues in Exercitatio linguae Latinae (School dialogues in Latin, 1538) were utilized in schools throughout Europe; his De tradendis disciplinis (The Transmission of Knowledge, 1531) argued for reforming the curriculum at all levels; and his De institutione feminae Christianae (On the Instruction of a Christian Woman, 1523) advocated expanding the scope of women's education. De subventione pauperum (Concerning the Relief of the Poor, 1526) explored ways to relieve the poor financed by secular au­thority, and Aedes legum (The Temple of the Law, 1519) mocked jargon used in legislation. Although he warned rulers to beware of Turkish aggression, Vives denounced the wars dividing Europe. In De anima et vita (The Soul and Life, 1538), he examined emotions and connected their control to order and peace. He also wrote De veritate fidei (The True Faith), an apology for Christianity (posthumously published in 1543). The issues Vives championed—rejecting Scholasticism, reforming education, relieving poverty, attaining world peace, and exploring human psychology and ways of learning, among others—all mark his place as a Renaissance humanist who influenced not only his times but ours as well.
C. G. Norena, Juan Luis Vives, 1970.
Al Geritz

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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