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Ximenes (Jimenes) de Cisneros, Francisco

XIMENES (JIMENES) DE CISNEROS, FRANCISCO (originally Gonzales, 1436–1517), ecclesiastical statesman and regent of Castile from 1516 to 1517. After studying at Salamanca and Rome until 1465, Ximenes claimed the archpriesthood of Uceda, despite the archbishop of Toledo's wish that he resign; he was consequently imprisoned for six years. Inflexible resolution and personal austerity characterized his career. He joined the Franciscans, becoming Queen Isabella's confessor in 1492, archbishop of Toledo and chancellor of Castile in 1495, and grand inquisitor and cardinal under Ferdinand in 1507. He died hours after his dismissal by the youthful Charles V.

Ximenes, allegedly with the help of Jews, captured Oran in 1509 while crusading against the Moors of Africa. Although he was an unrelenting inquisitor of lapsed "New Christians" (2,500 were burned during his office), he strove to check inquisitional abuses (extortionism, immorality, etc.), but could not enforce central registration of "familiars" or gangs maintained by the inspectors. Since inquisitional charges without the naming of witnesses were preferred, defense was hampered; when the New Christians offered Charles (as they had earlier with Ferdinand) 800,000 crowns to reform the procedure, the monarch refused, dissuaded by Ximenes' intervention.

Conversos suffered no discrimination at the university founded in 1500 by Ximenes at Alcalá de Henares (Latin, "Complutum") – the site of his early schooling – unlike the situation at other Spanish universities. The "Complutensian Polyglot" Bible (6 vols., 1513–17), produced through Ximenes' personal initiative and patronage, was the first Bible with parallel Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and (for the Pentateuch) Aramaic texts; a Hebrew vocabulary was appended. For this work, significant manuscripts and competent editorship were sought, the latter from among converted Jews (Alfonso de *Zamora, Pablo Coronel, Alfonso de Alcalá). Four of the Hebrew codices utilized survived, but the form of the text presupposes also manuscripts from no later than the ninth century with the simpler Babylonian punctuation. These were apparently sold as waste to a fireworks maker in 1739, but their survival in Spain until the expulsion testifies to the strong Babylonian influence on medieval Spanish Jewry.


Alvaro Gomez de Castro, De rebus gestis Francisci Ximenii (1569); K.J. von Hefele, Der Cardinal Ximenes (1853); H.C. Lea, History of the Inquisition in Spain, 4 (1906), 618ff.; P.E. Kahle, The Cairo Genizah (19592), 124–129; M. Bataillon, Erasme et l'Espagne (1937), passim; Basil Hall, in: G.J. Cumin (ed.), Studies in Church History, 5 (1969), 114–46.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.