Folio (285 x 210 mm), ff. 92, 2; occasional light spotting; old marbled paper wrappers, slightly chipped.
US $1185 €967
First edition. A defence of archbishop Pardo of Manila in his dispute with the governor of that city, Juan de Vargas, written by his most trusted adviser Berart, a Dominican priest, who was a central figure in the controversy. Retana notes that this was the last work to be published on the ecclesiastical disputes which occurred in the Philippines during the 1580s. It is illustrative of the growing struggle for power within the Spanish empire between the various religious orders and the secular authorities in parts of the world distant from the influence of the central government in Madrid.
Disputes developed in the Philippines from existing ill-feeling between the chapter and Pardo, whose origins as a friar convinced the cathedral priests that he was biased against them in favour of his fellow friars. The situation was further aggravated by Pardo’s insistence on employing Berart as his chief adviser. The cathedral priests considered Berart ‘the “grey eminence” behind the archbishop’s proceedings’. They demanded his dismissal but ‘Pardo replied with an equally vigorous pastoral letter in which he summoned the capitulars to submit, sharply reminding them that the only “head of the clergy” in the archdiocese was the archbishop’ (De la Costa, The Jesuits in the Philippines 1581–1768 p. 491). The chapter refused to comply, and, when Pardo applied to the audiencia, who also disliked Berart, it issued two injunctions. The first to Pardo to dismiss Berart, the second to the Dominican provincial, Santa Cruz, to send him to the missions. ‘Pardo flatly asserted that the improvements which Berart was introducing into the functioning of the ecclesiastical tribunal made him indispensible’ (ibid.). Berart did not leave the Philippines until Charles II, in July 1685, instructed the governor to return Dean Miguel Ortiz [dean of the cathedral chapter and an enemy of Pardo’s] and Fray Ramón Berart, to Spain ‘ “this being necessary to my service and the peace and tranquility of those islands” ’ (ibid. p. 501). In Madrid, Berart, as is demonstrated by this work, continued to defend Pardo.
‘Ecclesiastical problems in the Philippines produced a spate of controversial literature in Spain during the 1680’s. Most of the issues revolved about the person of the Dominican archbishop of Manila, Felipe Fernández de Pardo (1610–89) . . . . secular priests lashed out against the friars, Jesuits criticized Dominicans, and the civil authorities ended up in 1683 by banishing Archbishop Pardo from Luzon to one of the smaller islands. Naturally a controversy of such proportions in the Philippines produced reactions in Spain, Rome, and elsewhere in Europe. Pardo’s sentence was reviewed in Madrid; the king ruled in his favor and restored him to his office in 1687. After his return to Manila, the archbishop proceeded to root out his enemies mercilessly’ (Lach III p. 361–2). Juan de Vargas lost his position as governor and, along with the oidores and the attorney-general, was publicly excommunicated by Pardo.
‘Pardo demanded as a condition for his [Vargas] being absolved that he should expose himself to the public gaze at the entrance to the cathedral, dressed in penitential garb and with a halter around his neck, every Sunday and holyday for a month; and for a month each thereafter, in the same manner, outside the churches of Santo Domingo, Binondo, and San Gabriel. Vargas not only refused to submit to this humiliation, but acted as though he had not been excommunicated at all. His conscience, he said, was clear; he had merely done his duty as he saw it. As for the archiepiscopal censure, he had appealed it to the Holy See; besides, he could produce two distinct papal documents exempting a knight of the Order of Saint James like himself from excommunication by any ecclesiastic inferior to a papal legate. Thus he retired with every appearance of contentment to the sumptuous residence he had built for himself on Isleta, the little island in the middle of the Pasig River, sallying forth occasionally to take the air, stopping to engage people in affable conversation as he crossed the bridge or even under the very windows of the archbishop’s chambers; and in all his comings and goings his private and personal trumpeter sounded a trumpet before him, while the guards at the city gates presented arms for all the world as though he were still governor. Despite the fulminations hurled at him from the city pulpits, he continued to attend bullfights and theatrical presentations, to receive visitors, and even to hold trumpet concerts (he apparently had more than one trumpeter) in his house’ (De la Costa pp. 499–500).
The exhumed body to which Berart refers is that of the oidor Grimaldos, who, because he received the last sacraments from Dean Ortiz, was considered by Pardo not to have been absolved at all. As a result Pardo closed the church of the College of Manila on the grounds that it had been desecrated and demanded that Grimaldos’s body be exhumed. The remains, however, ‘could no longer be distinguished from other bones turned up by the clumsy searchers [hence why Berart refers to two bodies in the title], and Pardo had perforce to desist and reopen the church to the faithful’ (ibid. p. 501).
Medina, Islas Filipinas 380; Palau 27670; Retana 208; Streit V 962. OCLC locates one copy, at Newberry Library.
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