The Spanish Monarchy & The Thirty Years' War - A Mexican Panegyric

Rodríguez de León, Juan (1590-1644)

Panegyrico augusto, castellano latino. al serenissimo infante cardenal don Fernando de Austria : llanto funebre en las muertes de los catolicos monarcas, Filipo III y Margarita, repetido en la del infante don Carlos : alegria festiva en los casamientos de las magestades de Filipo IIII, el Grande, con doña Isabel de Borbon, Sol de Fracia, del christianissimo Lius XIII con doña Ana de Austria, estrella de España, y Fernando II ya Emperador con doña Maria, luzero de Madrid : celebridad del nacimiento del serenissimo don Baltazar Carlos, Principe de España : epitome de las guerras de Alemania y Flandes, rasgo de las navales de D. Antonio de Oquendo, y don Carlos de Ibarra, muerte de Gustavo Adolfo, Rey de Suecia, batalla de Norlingen, y entrada del infante D. Fernando victorioso en Flandes. dedicale a la S.C.R.M. de Filipo IIII, el Grande, el doctor Juan Rodriguez de Leon, Canonigo de la Santa Iglesia Catedral de Tlaxcala, en Nueua España

Mexico: Bernardo Calderon, 1639


Quarto: 23.3 x 16 cm. Woodcut additional title page, [19], 34 leaves. Collation: π4, a2, b-d4, A-I4


Bound in contemporary vellum, lightly stained and coming loose at the front. A nice, broad-margined copy with a few minor cosmetic faults: small area of burn (from the marca del fuego) on upper margin of opening leaves, lower margin of C2 cut away with no loss to text, dampstain in lower margin of final two signatures, old repair to title to remove a stamp. With an attractive, historiated woodcut title border, several historiated initials, and a few ornaments. Rare. I have located three copies in the U.S. (Berkeley, Newberry, UT Austin.) 

"Juan Rodríguez de León Pinelo was born in Lisbon in 1590 and died in Puebla de los Ángeles (Tlaxcala) in 1644. He was the eldest son of a family descended from Portuguese Jews, some of them prosecuted and executed by order of the Inquisition. To escape such persecutions, Juan Rodríguez's father, a young and entrepreneurial merchant, decided to move to America, where he arrived in 1594. Ten years later, with a license obtained thanks to a false "información" according to which they were all Christians, several members of his family came to join him, settling first in Córdoba de Tucumán, and then in Chuquisaca (Charcas). 

"Juan and his brothers Antonio (future royal chronicler of the Indies and author of the "Annals of Madrid") and Diego (future general protector of the Indians and rector of the University of San Marcos) studied at the nearby university of Lima. Juan, on the other hand, was inclined to an ecclesiastical career, and soon achieved fame as an orator. Already in 1615, as a chaplain in the Lima convent of the Incarnation, he preached the sermon of the feast of the Immaculate Conception before the viceroy, Francisco de Borja y Aragón (1581-1658).

"In 1622 Juan Rodríguez obtained a "carta de naturaleza" making him a "native of the Indies", with all the corresponding privileges. However, always intent on broadening his horizons, he left for Spain in 1627, and settled at Madrid. While there, he met Lope de Vega, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, José de Valdivielso, Tamayo de Vargas, Fray Hortensio Paravicino ..., and made contact with influential figures such as Lorenzo Ramírez de Arellano and Juan de Palafox. As a result of this networking, Juan Rodríguezobtained a prebend in the diocese of Puebla. He returned to Mexico in 1633 and resided there until his death. He achieved great renown for his preaching and was hailed as a new Demosthenes."(Marc Vitse)

The panegyric, written in Spanish prose augmented with Latin verse, includes encomia for the Queen consort Margaret of Austria (d. 1611), her husband King Philip III of Spain (d. 1621), and their child, the short-lived Infante Carlos (d. 1632). Other passages celebrate the weddings of Philip IV and Isabella of Bourbon (m. 1615), Anne of Austria and Louis XIII (m. 1615), Ferdinand III and Maria Anna of Spain (m. 1631); and the birth of Balthazar Charles, Prince of Asturias (b. 1629).

More than half of "Panegyrico" is an account of the "wars in Germany and Flanders", the ongoing conflict later known as the Thirty Years' War. Rodríguez highlights a number of significant moments, such as the death of King Gustav Adolphus of Sweden (d. 1632) at the Battle of Lützen, the naval exploits of Antonio de Oquendo (1570-1640) and Carlos de Ibarra (d. 1639), and the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand's triumphal entry into Flanders in 1635. It is interesting to note that in the same year that Rodríguez published his panegyric, Antonio de Oquendo would suffer a devastating defeat at the Battle of the Downs, and within a year war would break out in the Iberian Peninsula, where it would rage into the 1650s.

Medina, Mexico 513; Palau 274218; Sabin 40089