Vergara, Juan de

   Spanish humanist and priest, the most influential Spanish follower of the Dutch humanist Eras-mus, whom he met in the Netherlands in 1520. Born at Toledo and educated at the University of Alcalá, he attracted the attention of the university's patron, Cardinal Ximénes de Cisneros, and about 1514 was made a fellow of the College of San Ildefonso, the principal cen-ter of humanistic studies in Alcalá. Also in 1514 he received the M.A. degree, and during this period he participated in the editorial work on the Complutensian Polyglot Bible, a project sponsored by Cardinal Ximénes. Vergara was a skilled Hellenist and in addition to work on the biblical project produced new Latin translations of Aristotle. About 1516 he became secretary to the cardinal. In 1517 he com-pleted a doctorate in theology at Alcalá. He travelled with the impe-rial court to the Netherlands and Germany in 1520-1521 and entered the service of Guillaume de Croy, the successor to Ximénes as arch-bishop of Toledo.
   When Cardinal de Croy died in 1521, Vergara became chaplain to the Emperor Charles V. In 1523 he was offered the chair of rhetoric at Alcalá but declined it, and in 1524 he became secretary to the next archbishop of Toledo, Alonso de Fonseca. This position near to the center of ecclesiastical power in Spain made it possible for him to promote the growth of "Erasmianism" in Spain and also to influence the outcome of the Valladolid Conference of 1527, summoned to hear charges of heresy and impiety brought against the books of Erasmus by the mendicant friars. The conference adjourned without either condemning or endorsing Erasmus, an outcome that at the time ap-peared to be a great victory for the Erasmians.
   In 1533, however, Vergara was arrested on suspicion of having tried to bribe witnesses against his half-brother, who had been arrested by the Inquisition on charges of sharing the heresies of the mystical alumbrados ("the enlightened ones"). Vergara's connection with Erasmus became a basis for additional charges of promoting heresy, and even the efforts of his patron Archbishop Fonseca and his friend the inquisitor-general Alonso de Manrique could not secure his release. Vergara was imprisoned for two years, then tried and con-victed of holding heretical opinions, and forced to make public re-cantation. He was heavily fined and imprisoned for a year in a monastery to do penance. He was released in 1537, but his conviction and imprisonment had undermined both his health and his reputation, and he lived the rest of his life in retirement at Toledo. His fall from such a high position marks the radical turn of the Spanish church away from the reformist humanism of Erasmus and the rapid de-struction of the Erasmian movement in Spain.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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