González Dávila, Gil

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Historian of Spain and the New World; b. Avila, c. 1570; d. there, April 25, 1658. He was the son of Agustín González and María Morales. While still a boy, he went to Rome in the service of Cardinal Pedro de Deza and studied there. In 1592 he returned to Spain with the papal appointment as prebendary of the cathedral of Salamanca. He was appointed archivist of the cathedral chapter in 1607 and was given the task of writing books or registers about the houses and estates of the cathedral. He published De la antigüedad del Toro de piedra de la puente de Salamanca y de otros que se hallan en otras ciudades y lugares de Castillo (Salamanca 1596), Historia de las antigüedades de la ciudad de Salamanca (1606), and Vida de Don Alonso Tostado de Madrigal (1611). He then began working on his principal work, an ecclesiastical history of Spain. He published the volume on Salamanca in 1617, the year in which he was appointed chronicler of the kingdoms of Castile. This work was also contained in the first volume of the Teatro eclesiástico de las ciudades e iglesias catedrales de España: Vida de sus obispos y cosas memorables de sus obispados (1618). Later he went to the court, and there in 1623 he published Teatro de las grandezas de la villa de Madrid, then gradually published sections of his Teatro eclesiástico (1643, 1647, 1650), the last volume of which did not appear until 1700. In 1643 he had been named chief chronicler of the Indies "to write the ecclesiastical history of those areas and what the Gospel and its ministers have done to augment the honor of the Holy Catholic Faith and the number of those it had saved by religious instruction." As part of his work on Spain he had had to work on the New World, since it was impossible to study one independently of the other, and this background enabled him to finish the study on the Church in Michoacán by 1644. In 1649 appeared the first volume of the Teatro eclesiástico de la primitiva iglesia de las Indias Occidentales, vida de sus arzobispos, obispos y cosas memorables de sus sedes, and in 1655 the second volume. By then, González Dávila, almost 90, was deaf and blind; in April 1656 he suffered an attack of paralysis that left him unable to speak.

Bibliography: a. millares carlo, Tres estudios biobibliográficos (Maracaibo 1961). f. esteve barba, Historiografía Indiana (Madrid 1964).

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González Dávila, Gil

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González Dávila, Gil