The translations of French historian and politique Pierre Matthieu fostered the circulation of ideas on the best practices of government and stimulated the introduction of political theories such as reason of state, political prudence and sovereignty at a moment when all Europe struggled to reconcile the interests of state and religion. Matthieu´s Remarques d’Estat et d’histoire sur la vie et les services de Monsieur de Villeroi (1618) were translated in 1624 by Pedro van der Hammen, and adapted to the particular Spanish context. In this paper we study how the translation and the illustrations by van der Hammen combine the traditional humanistic political preoccupations problematized by the ideas of Machiavelli, the reactions of Bodin and Botero, and Lipsius’ interpretations of Tacitus’s histories.
Using the life and political career of the marquis of Villeroy as a frame of reference, van der Hammen, while defending a Christian ideal of the prince and the state drawing on Spanish thinkers such as Pedro de Rivadeneira, Juan de Mariana and Juan Márquez, uses his translation to advice on the limits of the king´s sovereignty, the election of ministers and counselors, the distribution of favors and rewards, the dangers of excessive taxation, he need of going to war and other relevant aspects related to the decline of the Spanish Imperial power at the time.
eHumanista, Monograph, Política y literatura. La razón de Estado en las letras del Siglo de Oro, ed. Enric Mallorquí-Rucalleda, 31 (2015): 390-410