Olavide y Jauregui, Pablo de

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Peruvian scholar and Catholic apologist; b. Lima, 1725; d. Baeza, Spain, 1803. He was a symbol of the century of the Enlightenment, a leader in the movement against traditionalism, and one of those who prepared Spain to adjust to the modern world and come closer to the European intellectual current. In 1752 he went to Spain, occupying there a high position, owing to his intellectual compatibility with the Enlightened ministers of Charles III. Between 1757 and 1764 he spent long periods of time in France and Italy. In 1767 he was unexpectedly appointed chief officer of justice of Seville, intendant of Andalucía, and later superintendent of the colonization of Sierra Morena, an ambitious project for the conversion of vast desert areas into arable lands inhabited by a model rural society. In those positions Olavide's work had two facets: (1) the reform of the cultural regulations of the University of Seville through changing its scholastic orientation and secularizing the teaching system; and (2) the reform of the economic order through agrarian reform. These ideas aroused great opposition. In 1776 he became involved in an inquisitorial trial because of his imprudence in religious matters. In 1780 he escaped to France, where he remained for 18 years.

As a friend of the Encyclopedists (he translated various dramatic works, among them, Voltaire's Zayre ), he was well received there, especially by Marmontel and by Diderot, who wrote a biographical sketch of him. While in exile he recovered his lost faith and piety after having survived Jacobine imprisonment. He became an apologist of the Catholic faith against the secular Enlightenment. He returned to Spain (1798) and remained there until his death. His most important work is El evangelio en triunfo o historia de un filósofo desengañado (1798). Autobiographical in nature, it reports the psychological drama in the conversion of an unbeliever and defends the divinity of Jesus and the authenticity of the sacred books. According to Menéndez y Pelayo, it was a precursor of Le génie du christianisme of Chateaubriand.

Bibliography: m. defourneaux, Pablo de Olavide ou l'Afrancesado (Paris 1959).

[g. lohmann villena]