Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Verbeke, Demmy

The English Vives: the first hundred years

The Valencian humanist Juan Luis Vives (1492/3-1540) is nowadays best known as an educational theorist and as the author of an influential treatise on public relief, entitled De subventione pauperum. The proposed paper questions whether this present-day image corresponds with Vives’s contemporary reputation by studying the reception of his (Neo-Latin) writings in England during the (more or less) first hundred years of their existence. The English reception of Vives is supposed to be problematic because of the contradiction between the undisputed importance of, especially, his pedagogical work (together with Erasmus’s) for early modern English culture on the one hand and, on the other, the expected opposition against Vives and his writings arising from the fact that he was a Roman Catholic author of Spanish descent who supported Catherine of Aragon against Henry VIII. The paper will focus, in particular, on the production of English translations of Vives’s work, allowing us to make some broader observations about the vernacularisation of Neo-Latin texts and the processes involved.