Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Lia Schwartz

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | History


Historiography, Juan Pablo Mártir Rizo, Lorenzo Van der Hammen, Neostoicism, Pierre Matthieu, Translation studies


This Dissertation studies how history is construed in the 17th century through the reception, translation and adaptation in Spain of French historiographer Pierre Matthieu's historical writings, and particularly, the use of biography as a means to illustrate the political landscape of 17th-century France and Spain. We demonstrate how the biographical tradition inherited from the classics and the early Italian Renaissance is adapted to Counter-Reformation Catholicism to produce a political biography intended not only to advise kings and ministers on the dangers of political power, but also to warn those in power about their current excesses.

The appeal of Matthieu's biographies in Europe was immense. His narratives depict models of vices and virtues that stand as the prototypes of the Neostoic ethics systematized by Lipsius, drawing mainly on Tacitus and Seneca. We study how, through the use of translation and adaptation, Matthieu's Spanish translators Juan Pablo Mártir Rizo and Lorenzo Van der Hammen followed a particular ideological and political agenda. Pierre Matthieu and his European imitators can be seen to share a perspective on historiography and political thought with a number of other contemporary writers who use rhetoric and the passions to unveil the states of mind that move the kings and ministers to action. Matthieu's original texts and translations are thus studied in relation to the issues of style, skepticism, reason of State, Tacitism, and Senequism fostered in the aftermath of the Machiavellian "moment."