Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeNuméros9VariaMiguel de Luna as arbitrista

Abstract

This article deals with Miguel de Luna, a Morisco from Granada, who is most famous for his involvement in the Lead Books of Sacromonte affair. In the following pages I will, however, focus on a facet of his life that has been rather neglected. Rather than recount again his activities as translator for Arabic, I will shed light on his work as physician and claim that his medical paper on the benefits of bathing and the reopening of public baths in Granada may very well put him in league with the arbitristas, a group of intellectuals who advised the monarch in economic and financial matters.

Top of page

Author's notes

In this article I elaborate on an idea that I have first developed in my dissertation. Parts of this article have been taken from Zakrzewski, Tanja: Identity and Violence in Early Modern Granada. Conversos and Moriscos, Lanham, 2023.

Full text

  • 1 Henceforth abbreviated as Verdadera Historia.

1Miguel de Luna was an important figure in the Morisco elite in Granada and is best known for his involvement in the Lead Books affair and the forgery of La Verdadera Historia del Rey Don Rodrigo: En la qual se trata de la causa de la perdida de España, y la conquista que della hizo Miramamolin Almançor, Rey que fue del Africa, y de las Arabias, y vida del Rey Iacob Almançor1 (The true history of King Don Rodrigo: In which features the cause for the loss of Spain, the conquest made by Miramamolin Almançor, king from Africa and the Arabias, and the life of Iacob Almançor), a chronicle he wrote under the pseudonym of Tarif Abentarique.

  • 2 M. García-Arenal / F. M. Mediano, Orient in Spain…, p. 155.
  • 3 L. F. Bernabé Pons, Miguel de Luna…, p. x and E. Drayson, Lead Books…, pp. 68–69.
  • 4 E. Drayson, Lead Books…, p. 88.
  • 5 Cited and translated in: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, pp. 187–188, or (...)
  • 6 E. Drayson, Lead Books…, pp. 90–93.
  • 7 E. Drayson, Lead Books…, p. 90.

2We know fairly little about de Luna's early life other than that he was born in Granada around 1550 and that his family had hidalgo status which explains their continuous presence in Granada during the expulsions of 1570 and 1609.2 Later in life de Luna studied medicine at the university of Granada, worked as a physician and became translator for Arabic to Philipp II and Philipp III as well as the Inquisition.3 His service to the king put him in a privileged position that placed him almost beyond doubt and suspicion.4 There are, however, at least two sources that cast doubt on the narrative of the faithful Catholic translator. During the trial of Jerónimo de Rojas by the Inquisition in Toledo between 1601 and 1603 de Luna is accused of being Crypto-Muslim.5 Apparently, de Luna had been leading a secret second life as Crypto-Muslim and alfaquí of the Morisco community.6 This accusation, despite its severity, bore no consequences for de Luna. In contrast to this, when asked about the rumours concerning de Luna's faithfulness to Catholicism, Núñez de Valdivia y Mendoza reassured the king in a letter following de Luna's death in Granada in 1619 that de Luna had died a good Christian.7

  • 8 For the Lead Books of Sacromonte, a set of forged books concerning Islam's influence on early Chris (...)
  • 9 M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, p. 157. For the reprints and translation (...)

3His activities as a writer and his part in the Lead Book incident are well studied.8 In this context, the Verdadera Historia is the most prominent stand-alone text in de Luna's body of work. It was first published in Granada in 1592 and was reprinted along with its Segunda Parte de la Historia de la perdida de España y vida del Rey Iacob Almançor: en la qual el autor Tarif Abentarique prosigue la Primera parte (Second part of the History of the loss of Spain and the life of King Iacob Almançor, in which the author Tarif Abentarique continues the first part) in Granada, Saragossa, Valencia and Madrid throughout the 17th century.9

  • 10 Concerning Miguel de Luna's works see M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, pp (...)
  • 11 For medical publications as a specialised market see H. Baudry, “Medical Publishing in Portugal…”
  • 12 See most recently S. Rauschenbach / C. Windler, ed., Reforming Early Modern Monarchies…

4Miguel de Luna also wrote a short treatise on bath houses which has been overlooked for quite some time. Thanks to Mercedes García-Arenal and Fernando Rodríguez Mediano this short but enlightening source has been made known.10 The treatise was part of a letter de Luna sent to the king on May 25th, 1592. Whether this treatise was published,11 or intended for circulation remains unclear. Written between the prohibitions of Morisco traditions in 1567 and the expulsion of the Moriscos, the treatise should be read as part of the debate concerning the so-called Morisco problem. It is an incredibly dense text dealing with various topics and including several contemporary, sometimes opposing, trends, ranging from a shift in the perception of authority, a restructuring of the medical field and the phenomenon of the arbitristas.12

  • 13 Constance Carta categorised one of the different archetypes of learned men in 13th century Spain as (...)
  • 14 Frank Rexroth wrote a detailed paper on the evolution of the term in Medieval and Early Modern soci (...)
  • 15 N. G. Siraisi, “Medicine…”, pp. 493–496 and M. Stolberg, “Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise…”, pp.  (...)
  • 16 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, pp. 529–531.
  • 17 M. Stolberg, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst…”, esp. pp. 114–115.
  • 18 N. G. Siraisi, “Medicine…”, p. 514 and M. Stolberg, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst…”, p. 119.

5The treatise differs from his other works because it builds on his authority as a physician rather than that of a translator for Arabic or a member of the Morisco elite.13 It qualifies as an academic paper even though it lacks exposition and is only loosely structured into an untitled introduction to medicine and the status quo in knowledge concerning health and sickness, a paragraph titled vaños (baths) followed by two more paragraphs titled dificultades (difficulties) and remedios (remedies). De Luna draws on his medical training and expertise14 in order to speak out on the prohibitions of bath houses on the grounds of being inherently Muslim. It was not uncommon for physicians to involve themselves in fields and debates adjacent to medicine.15 With a reader base consisting of mostly laymen and only few physicians in mind, de Luna focuses less on the human body and the effects of illnesses but rather on questions of medical practice; how to prevent and treat diseases. De Luna cleverly anchors his treatise on the theories brought forth by Galen and Avicenna. Given the circumstances in which de Luna operates and his own Morisco background, the mention of Avicenna requires further analysis. Initially, their mention is unsurprising given they are considered the founders of medicine as a science and were considered authorities throughout the Early Modern period.16 As John McGinnis points out it was Avicenna's Canon of Medicine that became the primary source consulted by physicians, philosophers and theologians throughout the Middle Ages until as late as the 17th century. Michael Stolberg on the other hand claims that Avicenna, along with other Muslim/Middle Eastern physicians and philosophers, was abandoned at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century when many scholars returned to medical texts from Antiquity17 and the theories of Galen were partly replaced by Paracelsian concepts in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.18

  • 19 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 227–228. For the role of Aristotelian philosophy in Early Modern univers (...)
  • 20 For a recent article on the influence of the Toledo school of translators with a detailed bibliogra (...)
  • 21 C. Carta, Arquetipos de la Sabiduría…, p. 150.
  • 22 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 252–253.
  • 23 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 250–254.
  • 24 N. G. Siraisi, Knowledge and Practice…, p. 50.

6Avicenna's works are a fitting source to cite in the on-going debate about the so-called Morisco problem for one additional reason: In the Canon, Avicenna combined Graeco-Roman philosophy with Muslim philosophy.19 Claiming de Luna brought Avicenna to the forefront of his treatise because Avicenna was a Muslim scholar whom even Christians respected would be an over-interpretation. I do, however, believe it fair to say Avicenna's successful amalgamation of philosophies from different cultures is a striking counterpoint in the conflict at hand. De Luna finds himself in a debate that is characterised by the attempt to strictly separate Old Christians from New Christians and to differentiate between Christian and Muslim/Jewish ideas, a debate in which religion overshadows everything. De Luna, however, as a trained physician has read the great works of Galen and Avicenna and knows via their example and their influence in both the Christian West and the Muslim East that the separation propagated in Iberian society is new and artificial with regard to how knowledge from different cultures became intertwined via Arabic translations of Greek classics, specifically in 13th century Spain in the Toledo school of translators.20 The cultural division in the Iberian peninsula and the shunning of scholars such as Avicenna seem almost comical considering that Avicenna's texts were translated by Gherardo da Cremona, one of Toledo's most famous translators.21 The pragmática that sparked the Alpujarras rebellion prohibited baths claiming that bathing houses were inherently Muslim and thus posed a threat to Catholicism. Avicenna functions as proof that this cultural divide is new and that it had been bridged long ago by Christian scholars such as Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, whose two more distinctive doctrines (On Being and Essence and On the Eternity of the World) were informed by none other than Avicenna,22 and Duns Scotus.23 In fact, ancient Greek and Medieval Muslim medicine constituted the basis for any medical education in Medieval and Early Modern Europe.24 De Luna balances his criticism with an alternative separation: the distinction between the academic field of medicine and theology. De Luna thus removes the subject of baths from the debate about the so-called Morisco problem. The question is not whether the habit of bathing is a Muslim tradition or a religious ritual. The only question de Luna, as a physician, is interested in is whether bathing, sweating and inhaling steam are beneficial to one's health or not.

  • 25 For a concise summary of Avicenna's opinions on the relation between medicine and science see J. Mc (...)
  • 26 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 229–232.

7Rather than just adding to the conversation, de Luna uses the treatise as an opportunity to criticise the debate at hand and again Avicenna plays a pivotal role. Avicenna, very much like de Luna, faced the problem of placing medicine among the sciences.25 The Aristotelian tradition had established the general separation between practical and theoretical sciences which poses a serious problem with regard to medicine because medicine is practical where the preservation of health and creating cures for diseases are concerned. Avicenna regards medicine as one of the mixed sciences having a theoretical and a practical component.26

  • 27 Notably, Sabine Kalff claims that the Early Modern physician's performance solely focused on diagno (...)
  • 28 M. Stolberg, “Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise…”, pp. 177–178 and 185.

8De Luna was writing in a time of change in which medical authority was still derived from medical education but had also to be upheld by practical success.27 Needless to say that common and poor people had always trusted their local healers and wise women.28

  • 29 For the developments in anatomy see A. Cunningham, The Anatomical Renaissance…, passim, but especia (...)
  • 30 G. Pomata, “Observation Rising…”, esp. pp. 51–53 and p. 65.
  • 31 M. Stolberg, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst…”, pp. 118–126.

9De Luna's approach to and understanding of science and knowledge is rooted in his desire to be understood and respected by both laymen and trained physician. Therefore, he combined different sources and traditions and even valued practical knowledge and successful remedies even if they were not based on university education. This interest in practical medicine would place him in a development seen in an adjacent field: the anatomical renaissance which placed 'seeing-for-oneself' and 'learning-by-doing' over ancient Greek tradition.29 Even in the strictly medical field there was a shift towards practicality and epistemic observations were collected in a new genre of texts in the second half of the 16th century.30 This shift in the medical field also informed his choice of whom to criticise. Unlike many of his colleagues, de Luna does not strive to distinguish himself from healers, who would certainly know about the benefit of baths and inhaling herbal steams.31 His thinly veiled criticism, however, targeted Old Christian theologians who dabbled in medicine without any medical knowledge, practical or theoretical.

10After having laid the authoritative foundation of his paper, he carefully introduces his own focus:

  • 32 Escrito de Miguel de Luna sobre la conveniencia de restaurar los baños y estufas BNM, Mss. Miscelán (...)

Y aunque estos medicos antiguos, y con razon llamados Principes de la medicina, escriuieron muchos remedios para ayudar a naturaleza a euacuar estas enfermedades a las cuales esta sugeto nuestro cuerpo umano, sobre todas alabaron en primer grado las que preseruan la salud para no enfermar; y en 2. las que curan las enfremedades despues de auer caydo en ellas el ombre.32

  • 33 Translations are my own.

And even though these physicians, who for good reason are called founders of medicine, wrote many remedies in order to support health and rid our human body of these illnesses, above all they made their first priority those that preserve health to avoid illness; and to the second category those that cure illnesses after man has fallen to them.33

11De Luna's focus on the healthy body instead of the sick body will be of great importance once his argumentation gains momentum. Before he elaborates on that, however, he criticises remedies currently used by Spanish physicians:

  • 34 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 2 (...)

Tambien tienen el principado entre estas medicinas las que sacan del cuerpo los malos umores sin diminucion de la sustancia y umedo [sic] radical y no las que enflaquecen y gastan la virtud: por cuya causa aunque las sangrias y purgas que usan los medicos en nuestra España hazen prouecho al parecer de presente, son malas y dañosas por ser venenosas medicinas. Porque para sacar onça de mal umor sacan 2. de sustancia y quedan los cuerpos debilitados, que si no son de muy tierna edad (a los cuales fauorece mucho naturaleza) apenas se ve ombre sano perfetamente de enfermedad que aya padecido. Y es la causa principal la que auemos referido.
Ya que auemos tratado las causas de las enfermedades y cuales son los mas nobles remedios para no caer en ellas, es justo que tratemos cuales sean los que escriuen estos mesmos dotores y junto con ellos auer confirmado la biva esperiencia su autoridad y opinion.
En todos los capitulos de sus obras, y en el regimiento de la sanidad que escrivieron, por maravilla se halla ninguno que no apliquen vaños, estufas, y fomentaciones ora de aguas simples o mezcladas con algunas yeruas. Y en verdad que tienen razon: por que vsando los vaños y estufas se halla en ellos los provechos siguientes.
34

The principal among these remedies are those that take the bad humours from the body without diminishing its substance and lymphatic fluid and not those that weaken and take from strength: for this reason, even though blood letting and purges that the physicians in Spain use seem to have advantages at the moment, they are bad and damaging for being venous remedies. Because in order to suck one ounce of bad humour they suck two ounces of substance and leave the bodies debilitated, and if they are not children (who are much favoured by nature), rarely a man is seen perfectly cured of disease after having suffered from it [before; TZ]. And it is the principal cause to which we have referred previously.
And because we have already discussed the causes of illnesses and which are the most noble remedies for not falling to them, it is appropriate that we discuss which would be those [remedies; TZ] that these doctors write about and with them having confirmed the experience [of] their authority and opinion.
In all of the chapters of their works, and in the regiment of health they wrote, surprisingly there is not a single one that does not apply baths or steams of simple water or of water mixed with herbs. And truly they are right: using baths and steams has the following advantages.

  • 35 Hilit Surowitz establishes a link between the Conversos' focus on spilling blood during circumcisio (...)
  • 36 M. Stolberg, “Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise…”, pp. 188–193, especially p. 188. For a detailed a (...)

12De Luna politely points out that this practice of purging the body of illness and re-balancing the humours via bloodletting puts the patient in danger because the physician, no matter how experienced or well-trained, has no control over which humours leave the body and thus has no control over the process altogether. Lastly, when discussing purges and blood-letting de Luna touches upon another delicate matter. When talking about Early Modern medicine there is no way around the matter of blood. De Luna does not criticise the theory of the four humours in general, but he attacks the obsession with blood and he links that obsession, again in very polite words, specifically to Spanish doctors: […] por cuya causa aunque las sangrias y purgas que usan los medicos en nuestra España hazen prouecho al parecer de presente […]. He singles out Spanish physicians and this begs the question: in contrast to whom? If Spanish physicians rely so much on purges and bloodletting what alternatives are there? And who discovered and provides those alternatives? I believe what de Luna meant to write was that Spanish doctors negligently and mistakenly treat their patients with purges and bloodletting even though the procedure is immensely dangerous while showing little chance of success. Spanish doctors nonetheless continue this practice because it caters to their, very Spanish, obsession and, very Catholic, fetishization of human blood.35 Spanish Catholic doctors cling to this practice due to their cultural and religious background and upbringing and ignore any alternative. And indeed, if we look to the rest of Europe we notice that the most important medical practice in the 16th and 17th centuries was the uroscopy, often performed as public ritual.36 Obviously, de Luna could not voice his contempt for his Spanish colleagues openly, but we find it in the way he introduces his two most prominent sources. However, they are important in a different regard as well: De Luna strove to have his colleagues remember that Avicenna is revered as the founder of medicine despite being Persian and Muslim, that different traditions used to be combined for the benefit of medical advancement.

  • 37 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, p. 528.
  • 38 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, pp. 555–556.
  • 39 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, pp. 556–558.
  • 40 R. F. Iversen, “Discurso de la higiene…”, p. 897.

13Ultimately, for de Luna, basing medical decisions on religious convictions leads to the dangerous malpractice described above. All the while an alternative has been at hand: the baths and steams which have already been a part of Galen's and Avicenna's works. In his attempt to have bathing houses reinstated in the Peninsula, he omits the part of the academic debate in which bathing is discussed a little more critically. Since Antiquity scholars had been pointing out that while bathing may indeed be necessary to cure diseases or helpful in nurturing health, too much bathing may also be harmful. More conservative voices recommended that bathing be restricted to medical purposes and that recreational bathing be strictly limited if not forbidden.37 In a broader European context there were four main points of opposition to public bathing: 1. public bathing may spread certain diseases, 2. it may be contra-indicative to one's personal physical constitution, 3. a specific (natural) bath is believed to be ineffective to cure a particular disease and 4. public bathing might foster immorality.38 Even those physicians supportive of therapeutic bathing warned against it only when it constituted a public health hazard, for example during plague outbreaks.39 De Luna, however, is silent on the matter of how bathing might propagate the spread of contagious diseases.40

  • 41 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 2 (...)
  • 42 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 2 (...)
  • 43 M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 229.

14De Luna nonetheless discusses drawbacks of bathing and summarises in a paragraph title dificultades that bathing is contra-indicative to people who suffer from gout, asthma and rheumatism (Y aunque es opinion que el vaño es dañosos a los gotosos, y a los que padecen asma, y enfermedades de reumas).41 From here, de Luna begins to discuss his thoughts on who propagated the prohibition and how these individuals convinced the king to sign the pragmática. He suspects certain bad physicians, as he calls them, are targeting bath houses because the popularisation of bathing as a pre-emptive means to preserve health would mean a decrease in demand for intrusive procedures such as purges and bloodletting. If people relied on remedies that do not require the assistance of a trained professional, were sick less often, needed purges and blood-letting less often, then doctors specialising in these procedures would lose patient – and paying customers.42 Later on in the treatise he stresses that baths are an affordable remedy, accessible to rich and poor alike (Este es remedio muy facil y a poca costa: donde los pobres y ricos se podran curar sin ningun inconveniente y en todo tiempo).43

15Obviously, those bad physicians could not argue that public bathing hindered their medical business, so they hid their true agenda like this:

  • 44 M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 228.

[…] Y estos [malos medicos, TZ] creo engañaron al Rey D. Alfonso que mandó quitar los vaños y estufas artificiales de España, […] diziendo que deuilitaban las fuerças corporales, y hazian a los ombres efeminados y sin animo para la guerra. Y creo que le dieron este parecer por su prouecho y particular ynteres, para tener que curar: y no por el bien de los mortales. Y el que en esto dudare se engaña manifiestamente pues se ve muy claro que no por auer auido vaños en España dexaron los nuestros quando los vsauan de recuperalla de poder de los Moros que la tenian ocupada: ni los Turcos que los vsan para preseruar su salud, dexaron de conquistar y ensanchar sus estados, como los ensancharon por nuestros pecados, y ensanchan hasta oy, en tan daño de nuestra Cristiana religión. Y auerlos quitado de España ha sido causa que apenas le duele a un ombre la cabeça quando le mandan sangrar 5 y 6 vezes: por que no ay otro remedio en caso necessitado: y quedando tullido de los braços para no poder mandar las armas y tan flaco y debilitado el cuerpo que no es para seruirse asi en los dias de su vida. []44

And I believe those [bad physicians, TZ] tricked King D. Alfonso into prohibiting the baths and artificial steams in Spain, saying that they debilitate physical strength, and that they make men feminine and without will for war. And I believe that they told him this for their own benefit and personal interest, so that they have to cure, and not for the good of the mortals. And he who doubts this obviously tricks himself because we see very clearly that is was not because people used baths in Spain that we failed to take her [Spain; TZ] back from the power of the Muslims, who held her [Spain; TZ] occupied. Nor did the Turks who used them to preserve their health stop conquering and expanding their states, as they expanded due to our sins, and expand until today, much to the detriment of our Christian religion. And having prohibited them in Spain this is why when a man has a headache they order blood letting five or six times – there is no other remedy in such cases – and they leave [him; TZ] paralysed in the arms so that he cannot bear weapons and leave the body so weak and debilitated, which does not serve him in life.

  • 45 See most recently J. Gebke, (Fremd)Körper…, pp. 123–131 and pp. 165–234.
  • 46 J. Black, European Warfare 1494-1660, p. 196; F. Braudel, Mittelmeer und mediterrane Welt…, p. 677 (...)

16The trope of feminine men is a contemporary Anti-Jewish stereotype.45 The Anti-Morisco version claims that feminine weakness is transmitted through bathing thus making the Morisco bathing houses the root of the most pressing evil at the time: military misfortune.46 The argument that weak men cannot possibly be good soldiers must have instantly gained the king's undivided attention considering the international situation in the second half of the 16th century. The assumption that weakness is somehow achieved via bathing begs the question as to how cultures that fully embraced bathing such as the North African Muslims and the Ottomans managed to be successful.

  • 47 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 228

17De Luna elaborates on why civilisations that embed bathing in their cultural practices are as prosperous as they are and claims that the diseases that are most detrimental to individual and public health appear less frequently in regions where bathing is the cultural norm (afirman los ystoriadores que en las partes donde se vsan estos vaños y estufas, no se hallan canceres, fistolas, ni llagas viejas, ni esta enfermedad de bubas […]).47

  • 48 For an overview of medical and political responses to contagious diseases in the Early Modern perio (...)

18Even though de Luna overestimated the effects of bathing for the sake of his argument, the Ottoman army must have appeared as the pinnacle of health and hygiene in comparison to the rampant spread of contagious diseases in the Spanish and Italian military.48

  • 49 R. F. Iversen, “Discurso de la higiene…”, pp. 898–900.

19We, with the benefit of hindsight, see the link between bathing and syphilis, of course. Syphilis was commonly treated with mercury, which was either applied as a balm or ingested. Alternatively, the patients were given an infusion of guaiacwood (Guaiacum officinale) or sarsaparille roots (Smilax aspera or zarza morisca in Spanish). All three of these medicines cause the body to sweat – which is what ultimately alleviates the symptoms of syphilis.49 De Luna, then, was not wrong when he wrote that bathing has an effect on syphilis. However, his assessment that societies that regularly bathe are free of syphilis should probably have been amended to say that such societies lack the visible symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself.

20The threat of syphilis and its horrendous effect on the body in late stages weighed heavily on the contemporaries, especially in light of Spain's military struggles at the time. In the last paragraph, de Luna offers a course of action that could solve both problems. Not only does he advise the king to reverse his decision to close baths but even implores him to invest in new bathing facilities:

  • 50 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, pp. 22 (...)

[…] Vuestra Magestad deue mandar fabricar en las ciudades y lugares principales de España 500 vaños ó estufas artificiales que no costarán 250 mil ducados en la forma y traça que yo darè [] Y hara tanto beneficio con ellos a la republica y servicio a Dios Nuestro Señor como si mandara fabricar 500 ospitales que no serian de tanto prouecho a la salud umana. Y junto con esto rentaran a Vuestra Majestad cien mil ducados cada año […].50

Your Majesty must order 500 artificial baths and steams to be built in the cities and major places in Spain that should not cost 250 million ducados in the form and plan that I will provide […] And this will be of as much benefit to the state and service to God Our Lord as if you ordered 500 hospitals to be built which would not be as beneficial to human health. And additionally this will bring your Majesty 100 million ducados every year […].

21De Luna has one last trick up his sleeve and appeals to a topic every ruler without exceptions cares about: money. Preventing diseases, especially the contagious ones and those that require life-long treatment, is cheaper than curing them. In the long run, investing in public baths is cheaper than building hospitals, universities and generally sponsoring medical training.

  • 51 Thomas Hugh offers an accessible overview of Spain's economic and political difficulties during the (...)

22The idea that men are unfit to be soldiers, either because they are weakened by bathing or by debilitating illness, is threatening to any empire. In this those who advised the king on the pragmática played cleverly on the king's fears. But the prospect of money can neutralise that fear. After all, money can buy mercenaries to fill the gap that sickness (or weakness) creates in the ranks of the Spanish army. In proposing this, de Luna's treatise, which started off as theoretical, takes an unexpectedly pragmatic turn. This places de Luna in yet another circle: the arbitristas, the reformist thinkers of 16th and 17th century Spain. The first hint of this can be found in his comments on weakness. While he seamlessly shifts from medically induced weakness to racist stereotypes there is yet another layer to the topic of weakness. In light of Spain's military misfortune – the decline of Spain as other historians have called it51 – de Luna's contemporaries also hotly debated Spain's weak economy at home. And here de Luna connects the dots and paints a bleak picture. When explaining how bloodletting leaves the body too weak to bear arms, de Luna also says that the body remains too weak to serve in the days of a man’s life (tan flaco y debilitado el cuerpo que no es para seruirse asi en los dias de su vida). Not being able to fight in times of war, as was the case in de Luna's time, is bad enough but in the long term being too weak to bear arms translates to being too weak to work the fields, build houses – any form of physical labour.

  • 52 S. Rauschenbach and C. Windler, “Introduction”, p. 10.
  • 53 S. Rauschenbach and C. Windler, “Introduction”, p. 9.

23De Luna thus participates in a debate that is mainly led by arbitristas and their critics. The phenomenon of arbitrismo, the practice of advising the monarch – often unsolicited – on political and economic subjects, is usually split into three phases, the first lasting from 1598 to 1605, the second from 1608 to 1612 and the last from 1617 to 1620.52 Obviously, de Luna's treatise on baths does not fit into any of these phases, having been sent in 1592. It does, however, correspond with the second phase's context. The second wave of arbitrios coincides with the on-going expulsion of the Moriscos from all Spanish territories. The remedies proposed in that phase pertained to the socio-economic havoc caused by the Moriscos' expulsion. In short, the decision to expel the Moriscos meant that Valencia and Granada were robbed of a large portion of their population. Moriscos were traditionally farmers and craftsmen whose sudden departure brought regions with a high percentage of Moriscos to the brink of economic breakdown. The situation was worsened by a simultaneous increase in people who do not contribute to the economy such as courtiers and clergy.53 De Luna as a native of Granada had seen these large-scale effects on a smaller scale during the deportation of Moriscos from Granada in the wake of the Alpujarras rebellion. In this context, his advice is both a lesson learned from the Granada experience of the 1570s as well as a preventive measure voiced in a time of heightened Anti-Morisco argumentation. Of course, he could not have known for certain in 1592 that history would repeat itself in 1609 but considering the constant level of Anti-Morisco sentiment there is reason to believe that he thought the king might opt for a radical solution to the Morisco problem.

Top of page

Bibliography

Archival Sources

AHN, Inquisición, Toledo, leg. 197–5.

BNM, Mss. Misceláneo, 6149.

Literature/Printed Sources

ARNOLD, Thomas F., “War in Sixteenth-Century Europe. Revolution and Renaissance”, in: European Warfare 1453–1815, ed. Jeremy Black, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999, pp. 23–44.

BARRIOS AGUILERA, Manuel, ed., Los plomos del Sacromonte. Invención y tesoro, Valencia, Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza, 2006.

BAUDRY, Hervé, “Medical Publishing in Portugal in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century. A Good Business?”, in: A Maturing Market. The Iberian Book World in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century, ed. Alexander Samuel Wilkinson and Alejandra Ulla Lorenzo, Boston, Brill, 2017, pp. 225–240.

BENEDEK, Thomas G., “The Role of Therapeutic Bathing in the Sixteenth Century and its Contemporary Scientific Explanations”, in: Bodily and Spiritual Hygiene in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. Explorations of Textual Presentations of Filth and Water, ed. Albrecht Classen, Berlin/Boston, Brill, 2017, pp. 528–567.

BERNABÉ PONS, Luis F., Miguel de Luna. Historia verdadera del rey Don rodrigo, Granada, Editorial Universidad de Granada, 2001.

BLACK, Jeremy, European Warfare, 1494–1660, London, Routledge, 2002.

BRAUDEL, Fernand, Das Mittelmeer und die mediterrane Welt in der Epoche Philipps II, Vol. II, Frankfurt/Main, Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1992.

CARBANALES, Dario, “Cartas del Morisco Granadino Miguel de Luna”, Miscelánea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos XIV–XV (1965–1966), pp. 31–47.

CARTA, Constance, Arquetipos de la Sabiduría en el Siglo XIII Castellano: un encuentro literario entre Oriente y Occidente, San Millán de la Cogolla, Cilengua, 2018.

CUNNINGHAM, Andrew, The Anatomical Renaissance. The Resurrection of the Anatomical Projects of the Ancients, Aldershot, Scolar Press, 1997.

DOUBLEDAY, Simon R., The Wise King. A Christian Prince, Muslim Spain, and the Birth of the Renaissance, New York, Basic Books, 2015, pp. xvii–xxix.

DRAYSON, Elizabeth, The Lead Books of Granada, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

GARCÍA-ARENAL, Mercedes, and Rodríguez Mediano, Fernando, “Médico, Traductor, Inventor. Miguel de Luna, Cristiano Arábigo de Granada”, Chronica Nova 32 (2006), pp. 187–231.

GARCÍA-ARENAL, Mercedes, and Rodríguez Mediano, Fernando, The Orient in Spain. Converted Muslims, The Forged Lead Books of Granada, and the Rise of Orientalism, Leiden, Brill, 2013.

GEBKE, Julia, (Fremd)Körper. Die Stigmatisierung der Neuchristen im Spanien der Frühen Neuzeit, Wien, Böhlau, 2020.

GLETE, Jan, War and the State in Early Modern Europe. Spain, the Dutch Republic and Sweden as Fiscal-Military States, 1500–1660, London, Routledge, 2002.

HUGH, Thomas, World Without End. Spain, Philipp II, and the First Global Empire, London, Tantor and Blackstone, 2014.

IVERSEN, Reem F., “El discurso de la hygiene. Miguel de Luna y la medicina del siglo XVI”, in: Morada de la palabra. Homenaje a Luce y Mercedes López-Baralt, Vol. I, ed. William Mejías López, San Juan, Ed. de la Univ. de Puerto Rico, 2002, pp. 892–910.

KALFF, Sabine, “Eine zu elitäre Wissenschaft. Astrologische Verfahren als Ausweis medizinischer Gelehrsamkeit von Thomas Bodier bis Giovanni Antonio Magini”, in: Was als wissenschaftlich gelten darf. Praktiken der Grenzziehung in Gelehrtenmilieus der Vormoderne, ed. Martin Mulsow and Frank Rexroth, Frankfurt/Main, Campus, 2014, pp. 139–160.

MÁRQUEZ VILLANUEVA, Francsisco, El problema morisco (desde otras laderas), Madrid, Libertarias, 1991.

MCGINNIS, Jon, Avicenna, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.

POMATA, Gianna, “Observation Rising. The Birth of an Epistemic Genre, 1500–1650”, in: Histories of Scientific Observation, ed. Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2011, pp. 45–80.

RAUSCHENBACH, Sina, and Windler, Christian, “Introduction”, in: Reforming Early Modern Monarchies. The Castilian Arbitristas in Comparative European Perspectives, ed. Sina Rauschenbach and Christian Windler, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2016, pp. 9–18.

RAUSCHENBACH, Sina, and Windler, Christian, eds., Reforming Early Modern Monarchies. The Castilian Arbitristas in Comparative European Perspectives, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2016.

REXROTH, Frank, “Systemvertrauen und Expertenskepsis. Die Utopie vom maßgeschneiderten Wissen in den Kulturen des 12. bis 16. Jahrhunderts”, in Wissen, maßgeschneidert. Experten und Expertenkulturen im Europa der Vormoderne, ed. Björn Reich, Frank Rexroth, and Matthias Roick, München, Oldenbourg, 2012, pp. 12–44.

SARNOWSKY, Jürgen, “Die Rezeption der aristotelischen Naturphilosophie an den Universitäten des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts”, in: Innovation durch Wissenstransfer in der Frühen Neuzeit. Kultur- und geistesgeschichtliche Studien zu Austauschprozessen in Mitteleuropa, ed. Johann Anselm Steiger, Sandra Richter, and Marc Föcking, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 2010, pp. 309–342.

SIENA, Kevin, ed., Sins of the Flesh. Responding to Sexual Disease in Early Modern Europe, Toronto, Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2005.

SIRAISI, Nancy G., “Medicine and the Renaissance World of Learning”, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 78 (1) (Spring 2004), pp. 1–36.

SIRAISI, Nancy G., “Medicine, 1450–1620, and the History of Science”, Isis 103 (3) (September 2012), pp. 491–514.

SIRAISI, Nancy G., Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine. An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1990.

STOLBERG, Michael, “‘Do müßt ich Künst an wenden, wolt ich mich mit der Practice erneeren.’ Die Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise in der Frühen Neuzeit”, in Experten, Wissen, Symbole. Performanz und Medialität vormoderner Wissenskulturen, ed. Frank Rexroth and Teresa Schröder-Stapper, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2018, pp. 177–200.

STOLBERG, Michael, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst und ärztliche Autorität”, in Macht des Wissens. Die Entstehung der modernen Wissensgesellschaft, ed. Richard van Dülmen and Sina Rauschenbach, Köln, Böhlau, 2004, pp. 111–130.

STOLBERG, Michael, Die Harnschau. Eine Kultur- und Alltagsgeschichte, Köln, Böhlau, 2009.

SUROWITZ, Hilit, “The Symbolic Power of Blood-Letting. Bernard Picart's La circoncision des juifs portugais”, in Jewish Blood. Reality and Metaphor in History, Religion, and Culture, ed. Mitchell B. Hart, London, Routledge 2009, pp. 136–151.

VÉLEZ LEÓN, Paulo, “Sobre la noción, significado e importancia de la Escuela de Toledo”, Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 6 (7) (2017), pp. 537–579.

Top of page

Notes

1 Henceforth abbreviated as Verdadera Historia.

2 M. García-Arenal / F. M. Mediano, Orient in Spain…, p. 155.

3 L. F. Bernabé Pons, Miguel de Luna…, p. x and E. Drayson, Lead Books…, pp. 68–69.

4 E. Drayson, Lead Books…, p. 88.

5 Cited and translated in: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, pp. 187–188, original found in AHN, Inquisición, Toledo, leg. 197–5.

6 E. Drayson, Lead Books…, pp. 90–93.

7 E. Drayson, Lead Books…, p. 90.

8 For the Lead Books of Sacromonte, a set of forged books concerning Islam's influence on early Christian history in Iberia, see: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, Muslims, The Forges Lead Books of Granada, and the Rise of Orientalism, Leiden 2013 (2010); M. Barrios Aguilera, ed., Los plomos del Sacromonte… Invención y tesoro, Valencia 2006 and E. Drayson, Elizabeth: The Lead Books of Granada, Basingstoke 2014…

9 M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, p. 157. For the reprints and translations see also L. F. Bernabé Pons, Miguel de Luna…, pp. xxxiv–xxxvii.

10 Concerning Miguel de Luna's works see M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, Orient in Spain…, pp. 155–194 and for the bath houses pp. 165–170, M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, Inventor…” For earlier mention of Miguel de Luna see D. Carbanales, “Cartas del Morisco Granadino Miguel de Luna” and F. Márquez Villanueva, El problema morisco…, pp. 45–97.

11 For medical publications as a specialised market see H. Baudry, “Medical Publishing in Portugal…”

12 See most recently S. Rauschenbach / C. Windler, ed., Reforming Early Modern Monarchies…

13 Constance Carta categorised one of the different archetypes of learned men in 13th century Spain as el médico. It seems de Luna is at the verge of combining these archetypes. For the archetypes see C. Carta, Arquetipos de la Sabiduría…, pp. 107–171, for el médico see pp. 149–157.

14 Frank Rexroth wrote a detailed paper on the evolution of the term in Medieval and Early Modern societies; see F. Rexroth, “Systemvertrauen und Expertenskepsis…”

15 N. G. Siraisi, “Medicine…”, pp. 493–496 and M. Stolberg, “Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise…”, pp. 180–182. For the interdisciplinary networks in the Early Modern period see also N. G. Siraisi, “Medicine and the Renaissance World of Learning”.

16 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, pp. 529–531.

17 M. Stolberg, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst…”, esp. pp. 114–115.

18 N. G. Siraisi, “Medicine…”, p. 514 and M. Stolberg, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst…”, p. 119.

19 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 227–228. For the role of Aristotelian philosophy in Early Modern universities, see J. Sarnowsky, Jürgen: “Rezeption…”, esp. pp. 314–317 and pp. 321–323.

20 For a recent article on the influence of the Toledo school of translators with a detailed bibliography see P. Vélez León, “Sobre la noción…”. Simon Doubleday compares how Alfonso's contemporaries regarded al-Andalus to how American popculture is viewed in the 21st century. That is to say it was omnipresent and highly influential whether one liked it or not. See S. R. Doubleday, The Wise King…, pp. xvii–xxix.

21 C. Carta, Arquetipos de la Sabiduría…, p. 150.

22 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 252–253.

23 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 250–254.

24 N. G. Siraisi, Knowledge and Practice…, p. 50.

25 For a concise summary of Avicenna's opinions on the relation between medicine and science see J. McGinnis, Avicenna, chapter 9, for a more general overview on medicine as a science and its place in Early Modern universities see N. G. Siraisi, Knowledge and Practice…, pp. 48–77, esp. pp. 65–70.

26 J. McGinnis, Avicenna, pp. 229–232.

27 Notably, Sabine Kalff claims that the Early Modern physician's performance solely focused on diagnosis and prognosis rather than on actually treating patients. According to Kalff, the active treatment of patients marks modern medical practice. For this see S. Kalff, “Eine zu elitäre Wissenschaft…”, p. 139.

28 M. Stolberg, “Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise…”, pp. 177–178 and 185.

29 For the developments in anatomy see A. Cunningham, The Anatomical Renaissance…, passim, but especially pp. 3–36.

30 G. Pomata, “Observation Rising…”, esp. pp. 51–53 and p. 65.

31 M. Stolberg, “Frühneuzeitliche Heilkunst…”, pp. 118–126.

32 Escrito de Miguel de Luna sobre la conveniencia de restaurar los baños y estufas BNM, Mss. Misceláneo, 6149, fols. 292r–294v cited in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 226.

33 Translations are my own.

34 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 226.

35 Hilit Surowitz establishes a link between the Conversos' focus on spilling blood during circumcision that extended even to women partaking of a similar ritual of bloodletting as a rite of passage, and their socio-cultural background of Iberian Catholicism and limpieza de sangre. The premise being that Iberian Catholicism put a heavier emphasis on the purpose of blood in the theology of salvation than other Catholic societies. See H. Surowitz, “Symbolic Power…”, p. 138.

36 M. Stolberg, “Inszenierung ärztlicher Expertise…”, pp. 188–193, especially p. 188. For a detailed analysis of the historical significance of uroscopy in Early Modern medicine see M. Stolberg, Harnschau…

37 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, p. 528.

38 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, pp. 555–556.

39 T. G. Benedek, “Therapeutic Bathing…”, pp. 556–558.

40 R. F. Iversen, “Discurso de la higiene…”, p. 897.

41 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 227.

42 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 228.

43 M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 229.

44 M. García-Arenal and F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 228.

45 See most recently J. Gebke, (Fremd)Körper…, pp. 123–131 and pp. 165–234.

46 J. Black, European Warfare 1494-1660, p. 196; F. Braudel, Mittelmeer und mediterrane Welt…, p. 677 and J. Glete, War and the State…, p. 83; T. F. Arnold, “War in Sixteenth-Century Europe…”, 33.

47 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, p. 228.

48 For an overview of medical and political responses to contagious diseases in the Early Modern period see K. Siena, ed., Sins of the Flesh…

49 R. F. Iversen, “Discurso de la higiene…”, pp. 898–900.

50 De Luna: Baths, in: M. García-Arenal / F. Rodríguez Mediano, “Médico, Traductor, inventor…”, pp. 229–230.

51 Thomas Hugh offers an accessible overview of Spain's economic and political difficulties during the reign of Philipp II, see T. Hugh, World Without End… For a proponent of the overstretch approach see P. C. Allen, Philipp III and the Pax Hispanica…

52 S. Rauschenbach and C. Windler, “Introduction”, p. 10.

53 S. Rauschenbach and C. Windler, “Introduction”, p. 9.

Top of page

References

Electronic reference

Tanja Zakrzewski, Miguel de Luna as arbitristaHamsa [Online], 9 | 2023, Online since 19 November 2023, connection on 13 June 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/hamsa/4231; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/hamsa.4231

Top of page

About the author

Tanja Zakrzewski

Institute for Jewish Studies and Religious Studies, University of Potsdam

Top of page

Copyright

CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0

The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

Top of page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search