Mariana, Juan de (1535–1624)

views updated


Juan de Mariana, the neo-Scholastic political philosopher, was born at Talavera de la Reina, Spain, and died at Toledo. Entering the Society of Jesus at eighteen, he completed the Jesuit course of studies in philosophy and theology and taught theology in Rome from 1561 to 1569 and at Paris from 1569 to 1574. He then retired to Toledo to work on his "History" and other writings in practical philosophy. Mariana's Historiae de Rebus Hispaniae (Toledo, 1952; also published in elegant Spanish by the author, Toledo, 1601) was one of the first general histories of Spain. Also influential were his treatises De Rege et Regis Institutione (Toledo, 1599, translated by G. A. Moore as The King and the Education of the King, Washington, DC, 1948) and De Mutatione Monetae (On Changing the Value of Money), one of the Tractatus Septem (Cologne, 1609).

Accused of attacking the sovereign power of Spain in his criticism of its fiscal policies, Mariana was tried in 1609 by the Spanish Inquisition and acquitted. His philosophy is important for its handling of political, social, and economic problems. A strong advocate of the power of the people, Mariana argued that the citizens as a whole (communitas civium ) are superior in power to the monarch. Men lived originally in an unorganized "state of nature," not needing political institutions to maintain justice; all possessions were held in common, and men naturally cooperated for their common welfare (De Rege, Chs. 8 and 13). With advances in arts and sciences, a division of goods developed into private possession; thus arose jealousy, pride, and strife among men. Tired of the struggle for domination, men then made a pact, delegating the ruling power to certain leaders. (Note that Mariana antedates both Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.) The basic enactments of law can be changed only by the manifest will of the people. If the king fails to rule in accord with the law, he may be deposed by the people using prudent judgment; physical force may be employed for this purpose. Mariana was accused of trying to justify tyrannicide; his views did not endear him to the Spanish monarchists.

See also Hobbes, Thomas; Political Philosophy, History of; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques; Scotism; Thomism.


Laures, J. The Political Economy of Juan de Mariana. New York: Fordham University Press, 1928. Contains Latin text of De Mutatione Monetae.

Lewy, Guenter. Constitutionalism and Statecraft during the Golden Age of Spain: A Study of the Political Philosophy of Juan de Mariana, S.J. Geneva: Droz, 1960.

Tallmadge, G. K. "Juan de Mariana." In Jesuit Thinkers of the Renaissance, edited by Gerard Smith, 157192. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1939.

Ullastres Calvo, A. "La teoria de la mutación monetaria del Mariana." Anales de economia (15) (1944): 273304; (20) (1945): 437471.

Vernon J. Bourke (1967)

Bibliography updated by Philip Reed (2005)

About this article

Mariana, Juan de (1535–1624)

Updated About content Print Article