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Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists

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Report No. t241

Franciscus Arias

fl. c. 1533


Alternative Names

Francisco Arias de Valderas



Little is known of F’s life, and much that is said about him is demonstrably wrong or questionable. Italian edit16 says that he was born at the end of the 16th century, and dates him to second half of that century. The first statement cannot be right because the first edition of his only known work, Libellus de belli iustitia iniustitiaue, was printed in Roma in 1533. (Edit16 also spells the first word of the title as ‘Lbellus’, followed by an exclamation point, but, as can be seen from online version of the work, that is a mistranscription, although it is found in many places on the internet.) That F. was born at the end of the 15th century is possible but not confirmed. He himself says in the first edition of the Libellus that he comes from León and that he is doctor in utroque. His toponym suggests the town of Valderas (prov. León). That he studied in the seminary there, as is sometimes said, seems impossible if we accept the standard accounts of that seminary which say that it was founded in 1738 (Spanish Wikipedia). With so much out there that is wrong about F., we hesitate to repeat two items reported by the 17th-century bibliographer Nicolás Antonio that are plausible but unconfirmed: that F. studied at the Collegio di Spagna in Bologna and that he was a member of the Dicastery of Santa Clara in Napoli.

The Libellus is dedicated to Estaban Gabriel Merino, a prelate long associated with León and with Carlo I (V). Merino became cardinal-priest of San Vitale in 1533, but died in 1535 (online biography). The dedication suggests, though it does not quite say, that F. wrote the work in response to a consultation. That F. thought that the cardinal needed this advice is possible if we consider how deeply the latter was involved in war.

Interest in F’s work revived in the mid-20th century. B. Fernández y Medina published an edition and translation of it in 1932 (La guerra y de su justicia e injusticia). M. A. Espinar López claimed in 1949 that F's ideas anticipated those of Vitoria (Un precursor del padre Vitoria. Francisco Arias de Valderas y el Derecho de la guerra). There were those, however, who had their doubts (review of Espinar by: L. G. A., in Revista Española de Derecho Internacional, 2 [1949] 285-286). It may be time to revisit the question.

Source: Not in DBE. CERL Thesaurus.

TUI database