Vives, Juan Luis 1492–1540 Spanish Humanist

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Vives, Juan Luis
Spanish humanist

The writings of Spanish humanist* Juan Luis Vives contributed to the study of language, education, and social reform. His works on education, in particular, had an influence on both Catholics and Protestants.

Vives grew up in a Jewish community in the Spanish city of Valencia. His parents and other relatives suffered under the Spanish Inquisition*, which executed his father by burning and removed his dead mother's body from its grave to burn it as well. Vives left Spain at the age of 17 and never returned. He eventually moved to Bruges in the Netherlands, where he met and worked with other humanists, such as Desiderius Erasmus. In the 1520s Vives divided his time between the Netherlands and England, where he taught at Oxford University. He became friendly with many English humanists, including Thomas More.

In 1522 Vives published a lengthy commentary on City of God, a theological* work by the ancient religious scholar Augustine of Hippo. In this text, Vives criticized the sinful behavior of church officials. Four years later he addressed the topic of social responsibility in On Aid to the Poor. This work urged city governments to treat the war victims spread throughout Europe like native citizens.

Several of Vives's most important works deal with education. In Education of the Christian Woman, for instance, Vives argued that the education of women was consistent with female virtue. He pointed to More's daughters as examples. Schools throughout Europe used translations of many of Vives's other educational writings, including Introduction to Knowledge and Latin Exercises. Vives's most powerful works combined educational, social, political, and moral issues. His Twenty Books on Education not only set out a revolutionary educational program but also reflected on the corruption in human culture as a whole and on how to reform it. His Three Books on the Soul and on Life has been viewed as giving rise to the modern science of psychology.

(See alsoEducation; Humanism; Inquisition. )

* humanist

Renaissance expert in the humanities (the languages, literature, history, and speech and writing techniques of ancient Greece and Rome)

* Spanish Inquisition

court established by the Spanish monarchs that investigated Christians accused of straying from the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly during the period 1480–1530

* theological

relating to theology, the study of the nature of God and of religion