Pérez, Antonio

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Antonio Pérez (äntô´nyō pā´rĕth), b. 1534 or 1539, d. 1611, Spanish politician. Ambitious and unscrupulous, he became secretary to King Philip II and was, with the princesa de Éboli, a center of court intrigues. In 1578, Juan de Escobedo, secretary to Don John of Austria, then governor of the Netherlands, was assassinated, and the following year Pérez was arrested for the murder. What actually happened is a matter of historical speculation, but the most probable train of events is that Perez instigated the murder after Escobedo threatened to reveal Pérez's political intrigues (possibly the fact that he was negotiating with the Dutch rebels) to the king. The suspicious Philip was probably told by Pérez that Escobedo was plotting treason, and the king almost certainly approved the murder. Pérez was prosecuted on various charges until in 1590 he fled to Zaragoza, where he placed himself in the hands of the top authority of his native Aragón, the justiciero. He then openly accused Philip of having ordered Escobedo's murder. The king contested the right of the justiciero to protect him and ordered the Inquisition to claim jurisdiction, accusing Pérez of heresy. The case became a struggle between Philip and the people of Aragón, who, jealous of their privileges, sided with Pérez and revolted; the rising was ruthlessly suppressed (1591). Pérez fled (1591) to France and later England.

See biography by G. Marañón (tr. 1955).

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Pérez, Antonio

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