Clavigero, Francisco Javier (1731–1787)

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Clavigero, Francisco Javier (1731–1787)

Francisco Javier Clavigero (Clavijero; b. 9 September 1731; d. 2 April 1787), historian and promoter of the Mexican Enlightenment. Clavigero, a native of Veracruz, is noted for his role in introducing modern philosophy into Mexico (a modified Aristotelian cosmology influenced by eighteenth-century sciences with an emphasis on empirically based critical analysis). He taught in the Jesuit colegios in Valladolid (modern-day Morelia) and in Guadalajara, where he was residing when the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish Empire in 1767. Exiled to Bologna in the Papal States, Clavigero turned to history to consolidate the record of pre-Hispanic Mexico and also to refute the so-called theory of American degeneracy that some European writers, like Corneille de Pauw, were propagating to the effect that America and her native inhabitants were far inferior to Europe because of America's wretched climate and other factors. The outcome was his Storia antica del Messico (1780–1781) that not only accomplished his purpose but also fostered a spirit of regionalism and neo-Aztecism among certain Mexican patriots which they used to justify their revolt against Spain. Noteworthy also is his posthumously published Storia della California (1789), written to counteract charges against the Jesuits and their California missions and to acquaint Europe with that peninsula and its inhabitants. He died in Bologna.

See alsoPhilosophy: Overview .


Antonello Gerbi, The Dispute of the New World: The History of a Polemic, 1750–1900, rev. and enl. ed., translated by Jeremy Moyle (1973), pp. 196-211.

Charles E. Ronan, S.J. Francisco Javier Clavigero (1731–1787) (1977).

Additional Bibliography

Ronan, Charles E. Francisco Javier Clavigero, S.J. (1731–1787): Figura de la ilustracíon mexicana, su vida y obras. Guadalajara: Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, Universidad de Guadalajara, 1993.

Villegas, Juan. El P. Francisco Javier Clavijero S.J.: Americano y novohispano ilustrado. Montevideo: Centro de Estudios de Historia Americana, 2004.

                                    Charles E. Ronan S.J.