Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio de
HERRERA Y TORDESILLAS, ANTONIO DE
Royal chronicler of Spain; b. Cuéllar, Segovia (Spain), 1549?; d. Madrid, March 27, 1625. In Italy c. 1570 he entered the service of Vespasian Gonzaga (1532–91), Viceroy of Naples, Navarre, and Valencia, who probably recommended him to King philip ii of Spain. Herrera's account of Portugal and the conquest of the Azores in 1582–83 (Madrid 1591) was completed in 1586. Herrera translated Giovanni Minadoi's Historia della guerra fra Turchi e Persiani, 1576–85 (Venice 1588), and in 1589 he published a history of Scotland and England during the life of mary stuart. His translation (Barcelona 1599, Burgos 1603) of Giovanni Botero's anti-Machiavellian study of the State (Milan 1583) and of cities (Venice 1589) was done at the command of Philip II in 1592, and in 1612 Herrera published a work on the disturbances of 1592 in Aragon. His history of the Wars of Religion (see thirty years war) in France (1585–94), from a Spanish point of view, was suppressed on its appearance in 1598, the same year he published an account of the disputes over ecclesiastical and secular jurisdiction in Milan from 1594 to 1598. In 1624 he published a history of Italy from 1281 to 1599. His works, many of which are in MSS in Madrid, include a variety of translations, eulogies, and treatises, which an official might be called on to produce.
Herrera's major work, General History of the Spanish in the Indies in Eight Decades (4 v. Madrid 1601–15; 8 v., Madrid 1726–30; 10 v. Asuncion 1944–47), partially translated into French (1621, 1659–71) and English (1725–26, 1740), which caused a dispute with Juan de torquemada, established a long-lived apologia for Columbus and for Spanish rule in the New World in a detailed but disconnected chronicle of events from 1492 to the conquest of Peru in 1554. It was in great part taken from MSS and published works (some no longer extant) of B. de las casas, Bp. Juan Bernal y Díaz de Lugo (d.1566), Francisco Cervantes de Salazar (1514–75), and other authors, to which Herrera had access after he became royal chronicler, May 15, 1596. The Descripción of the Indies (Madrid 1601), which accompanied the History and has often been reprinted and translated, resembles a text of MS Madrid BN J-15 and has been attributed to Juan López de Velasco, Herrera's predecessor as chronicler.
farnese correspondence (ed. C. Pérez Bustamente, Santiago 1934) shows that Herrera c. 1607 extorted money from that family to suppress data about Alexander Farnese (1545–92), Governor of the Spanish Netherlands at the time of the 1588 Armada, in the 3d part of his history of the world of Philip II, 1559 to 1598 (3 v. Madrid 1601–12). This work for the most part depended on Italian historians. At this time Herrera translated two works on the spiritual life. In 16 letters or essays (Madrid 1804) Herrera reveals a critical concern about the basic approach of a historian, whose work encompasses geographical, social, chronological, and national (or genealogical) studies; Herrera would judiciously associate historical truth with the divine and ecclesiastical order. Herrera had financial ties in the New World and with the fugger bankers and in his last years spent much money in fruitless suits for debts. His imprisonment from 1609 to 1611 is shrouded in secrecy.
Bibliography: a. ballesteros y beretta and a. de altoguirre y duvale, annotated ed. of the Descripción and two Decades of the General History …, 5 v. (Madrid 1934–36), has a study of Herrera, b. sÁnchez alonso, Historia de la historiografía española, 3 v. (Madrid 1941–50) v.2.
[e. p. colbert]