Publicador de contenidos

Back to entrada_palafox_I

Palafox's personal relationships: correspondence with Gonzalo Bravo Grajera (I)

Photo /Palafox in front of his office, ready to write. Header of the first chapter of his Interior Life in volume I of his Collected Works of 1762.

One of the aspects that we financial aid to knowledge and contextualization of the historical characters, in their entrails, is that of their personal and institutional relationships, which we can redo thanks to documentation of different character and origin, highlighting the correspondence. In the words of the viceroy bishop, Juan de Palafox, in a missive to the father general of the Discalced Carmelites, in reference letter to his comments to the epistolary of St. Teresa, "in the family letters the soul and the condition of the author is poured more and is drawn with greater property and more vivid colors its interior and exterior".

We will stop, in this occasion, in what happened with a personage of first line of his time, like great part of those that it touched him to relate, through some unpublished letters. It is about don Gonzalo Bravo de Grajera (1605-1672), graduate in laws by Salamanca, advisor of Felipe IV in matters of state, counselor and prosecutor of the Inquisition, bishop of Palencia (1665-1671) and of Coria (1671-1672) and writer, of whom we hardly knew by father González de Rosende, biographer of Palafox, that he appeared in the last testamentary dispositions of the bishop of Osma, concretely with this clause: "To Mr. Don Gonzalo Bravo Gragera, of the committee of the Inquisition of whom I have been and am such an old servant, I have of course given for his lordship a holy Christ of ivory with an ebony box lined in velvet, with the exercise of the virtues and saints, which is the one I have next to my bedside, at whose feet I am to die and give the last breath of my life. And God give you his blessing and pray for me to his Divine Majesty. And to the Lord Inquisitor General I beg you, on my behalf, to commend me to Our Lord, as such an exemplary prelate". The text leaves no doubt about the deep friendship between the two, as well as the meaning of that image, united with the pious exercise of the virtues internship , in a union of word and image. Cristina de Arteaga mentions it for having witnessed one of the prodigies around the Child Jesus brought by Palafox from Flanders, when both were in prayer before the image, before Palafox left for the Indies, and the candle that illuminated the room was extinguished for lack of oil. The bishop asked the Child Jesus to remedy the situation, and the candle began to overflow with liquid "so that not only was it filled, but with hidden virtue it grew and rose upwards and spilled outwards, and a glass ampoule was filled with that oil".

The relationship between the two could have started, with great probability, in their student days, since both were contemporaries and had studied in Salamanca, although Bravo was a little younger. When listing his fellow students at that time, Father Argaiz, in the first Palafoxian biography, does not say anything, but he does mention other people who coincided with him in the classrooms of Salamanca.

What is certain is that both coincided in the court of the Felipes' room. The familiarity that is translated in five letters conserved of those that Bravo de Grajera sent to Palafox, is a clear indication of a coexistence and even of a harmony in spiritual life. From Palafox to Bravo de Grajera, we only preserve one letter, with the particularity that it is addressed to other confidants at a late date, in August 1647. Let us see those of the inquisitor to the bishop of Puebla.

The first is dated in Palermo on March 18, 1644 (file Infantado, Palafox, leg. 31, no. 45). In that city Bravo served as Inquisitor and presided together with two other inquisitors over the auto de fe of September 9, 1640 in front of the cathedral of Palermo, one of the largest celebrated there in the sixteenth century. In it he gives him account of how offensive was the memorial that the viceroy Escalona had written against Palafox, giving him news of Italy, Spain and Europe. If that writing displeased him because of its slanderous and malicious nature, upon receiving Palafox's letter he confesses that he was more envious than sorry for him, "because having acted with so much courage and fidelity, no slander can obscure the prudence and zeal with which Your Illustrious Lordship has behaved in the service of the king, and when this has been achieved, everything else is less in the eyes of those who know with how much hope, prudence and knowledge he has always acted".

Of special interest are the diverse news that he gives him of the Italian states, the papal court, Flanders and Naples, in a context of war. Regarding the pope he affirms: "The pontiff was said this month of January that he was very ill, of whose illness he has been left with his legs in tatters, but he is in bed, although with little hope of his life". Urban VIII barely had a few months to live, since he died in July of that year of 1644. Regarding Flanders, he tells him that the king's natural son, Don John of Austria, "to whom Your Most Illustrious Lordship spoke when we were coming from San Bernardino" was going to govern it. He informed him that he was waiting for licence to return to Spain, which he saw as a possibility with the appointment as General Inquisitor to his fellow Extremaduran Don Diego de Arce y Reinoso.

The second letter from Bravo Grajera is dated February 26, 1645 (file Infantado, Palafox, leg. 32) and is also written from Palermo. In the first paragraph he complains of not having precise news about his health, he goes on to give her an account of his desire to return to the peninsula with these words: "With the desire that I have to return to Spain for attend to my mother, mainly in time that suffers so much in Extremadura with the war of Portugal, I have begged to the committee andto Don Diego de Arce, general inquisitor that they passed me to Llerena and having made great diligences by the friends of the committee andby Don Bernardo de Ipeñarrieta that is in Orders, it has not been possible to be obtained or, because they do not believe in the cause, or because they are persuaded that it is melancholy, or because I do not abandon this Tribunal, the General Inquisitor having given to understand that he wishes to take me to committee and he even tells me by the archbishop of this city, that having died the prosecutor Salgado proposed me the committee for that occupation, to which the General Inquisitor answered that he would do it very willingly if he were not so far away and the prosecutor was not so necessary for some causes that they urged. With which it seems to me that they leave me in Sicily and slowly and although I am extremely sorry, I am content with the pleasure of these gentlemen because it must be the will of our Lord. Up to now I have no income other than my earnings and, although they are short, I spend it moderately and without care because I do not know whether it is better to be rich or poor".

To the memorial mentioned in the letter of 1644 he will refer again in this letter of February 1645, giving account of the death of the Marquis of Moya, son of the Marquis of Villena, viceroy of New Spain between 1640 and 1642, deposed with royal order by Palafox. Specifically he affirms in reference letter to father and son: "God has forgiven them and I would not want it to have been God's punishment against the authors of that memorial".

As for news of those Sicilian lands, he informed him that the Admiral had become viceroy of Naples in April 1644 and that the Velez de los Velez had arrived there, giving him to understand that he believed that he would not last long, because he had been named ayo and majordomo mayor of the Prince. He understood that the one from Chinchón would come as successor. And here he lets slip the favor he is asking of him, because he adds: "I believe he is a friend of your most illustrious lordship and would lose nothing if I wrote to him".

Regarding Italy, he lets him know that, in his opinion, everything was calming down after the death of Urban VIII, in the new pontificate of Innocent X, judging that election as "very much to the king's liking and even he confesses that he owes him everything and until now he has shown himself very favorable to Spain". He adds that the Barberini were very dejected: Antonio retired and Tadeo does not seem to be alone, remaining in Rome only Francisco "without much lucidity". Among the somewhat worrying news he relates what happened in Malta: "On the occasion of having taken these days those of Malta two ships in which a Private of the Turk was going on a pilgrimage to the house of Mecca so rich in money and jewels that they say that the prey was worth more than three or four million. The Grand Turk has become so angry that they say he is arming many ships and galleys to come to Malta, of which Naples and Sicily are very careful. Malta is supplying itself with provisions and ammunition in haste. And if the intention were only against Malta, there is no need to fear because it is unassailable according to those who have seen it and it would be God's providence to have spent, two years ago, many thousands of ducats in repairing it and to have increased many fortifications".

Finally, he informs him that with the viceroy, Marquis de los Vélez, Alejandro Vidal de Blanes had arrived, whom he recommends with this paragraph: "that gentleman that I hosted in Murcia and certain that he is very good and a very good friend of mine and so I try to serve him as much as I can as a relative of your illustrious lordship and I understand that if the marquis goes to Madrid it would be good that your illustrious lordship would give him his agency and I have even spoken to him about it because he will do as well as the good Don Antonio de Belvis and I assure your illustrious lordship that he can be trusted very well for his intelligence and authority that he is a comrade of the marquis and he esteems him very much".



ÁLVAREZ DE TOLEDO, C., Juan de Palafox, obispo y virrey, Madrid, Centro de programs of study Europa Hispánica-Marcial Pons, 2011.

ARTEAGA Y FALGUERA, C., Una mitra sobre dos mundos. La del Venerable don Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Seville, Gráficas Salesianas, 1985.

FERNÁNDEZ GRACIA, R., En las entrañas del atardecer en Puebla. Deberes y afectos encontrados, New York, Institute of Golden Age Studies / Instituto de programs of study Auriseculares, 2020.

ISRAEL, J. I., Razas, clases sociales y vida política en el México colonial 1610-1670, Mexico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996.

LOBATO FERNÁNDEZ, A., "Con mitra de obispo y alma de inquisidor. Estudio de la figura de don Gonzalo Bravo Grajera, prelado de Palencia (1665-1671) y de Coria (1671-1672)", Nuevas perspectivas de research en Historia Moderna: Economics, society, politics and culture in the Hispanic world, coords. M. A. Pérez Samper and J. L. Beltrán Moya, Madrid, Spanish Foundation and Modern History, 2018, pp. 378-387.