Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World$

Kate Peters, Alexandra Walsham, and Liesbeth Corens

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266250

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266250.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of
date: 26 May 2020

Knowledge, Oblivion, and Concealment in Early Modern Spain: The Ambiguous Agenda of the Archive of Simancas

Knowledge, Oblivion, and Concealment in Early Modern Spain: The Ambiguous Agenda of the Archive of Simancas

(p.131) 6 Knowledge, Oblivion, and Concealment in Early Modern Spain: The Ambiguous Agenda of the Archive of Simancas
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World

Arndt Brendecke

British Academy

Abstract and Keywords

As early as 1540, Spain established a central archive within the walls of the castle of Simancas. This archive would seem an ideal case of early and systematic accumulation of documents. A closer look, however, shows that the archive of Simancas had little impact on political decision-making in practice. This chapter argues that this should not be mistaken as simply a lack of efficiency: Simancas served conflicting purposes from its very beginning. It was used to organise knowledge, but at the same time pursued hidden agendas of oblivion and concealment. To shed light on these contradictions, the article discusses the archive’s peripheral location in Spain’s topography of knowledge; it explains the reasons of its rather limited functionality in terms of providing politically useful knowledge and concludes by discussing opposing functions of Simancas such as obstructing the circulation of papers.

Keywords:   empire, secrecy, Habsburg Spain, Simancas, political knowledge, archives, libraries

THE SPANISH EMPIRE built its administration relatively early upon writing.1 It developed a number of innovative techniques, such as printed questionnaires, to gather and process information systematically.2 It established not only the first central archive for Castile—the archive of Simancas—but also a graduated system of minor archives spread over its territories. Royal repositories also existed in Barcelona, Naples, and Rome,3 and every high court (audiencia), every city council, and the most important royal councils had their own archives.4 There are, thus, very good reasons for considering Spain a pioneering country in terms of a paper-based administration and an archival topography that enabled the bridging of both huge spaces and long periods of time. These techniques enabled the Spanish crown to rule for three hundred years over an empire on which the sun never set. They also generated an enormous body of archival records that has (p.132) come down to us. This mass of paper may be the reason why historians—once starting work in these archives and ploughing through these papers—still run the risk of becoming clandestine admirers of the Spanish Empire, or at least of its administrative and epistemic techniques.5

Spain’s mass of historical records, however, should not lead to the assumption that the archival material at our disposal today mirrors the epistemic situation of the kings and their councillors in the past. Such an interpretation is tempting but wrong. Complete knowledge was indeed idealised in the times of Philip II: according to Juan de Ovando, an important advisor and president of royal councils under Philip II, rule (governación) had to be based on complete knowledge (entera noticia).6 Moreover, royal letters are full of formulaic expressions (such as ex certa scientia and somos informados), which could lead the reader to assume that the king had made his decision based on such a fullness of knowledge. As it was hard to obtain sufficient information, especially about remote territories, it is not surprising that the king and his councillors made their decisions in practice often on the basis of a relatively low level of information. The surprise is that even the information that was available was frequently ignored or used very selectively for political reasons.7

Research on the role of knowledge in political procedures of the Spanish court has demonstrated that models of accumulation, which assume that a growing stock of paper implied both more knowledge and power for its owner, are far too simplistic. This raises the question about the functions of a growing central state archive such as that of Simancas. As we will see, the archive of Simancas appears, on the one hand, to be an ideal case of early and systematic accumulation of documents, while, on the other, tending to be relatively dark and idle in practice. I propose to take these contradictions seriously: my argument is that Simancas did not just serve the one single function of organising knowledge with a low degree of efficiency, somehow significant for early modern institutions. The significant aspect is rather that the archive served conflicting principles from its very beginning. Simancas was used to organise knowledge, but at the same time pursued hidden agendas of oblivion and concealment.

This chapter attempts to illuminate the archive’s ambiguous agenda by first discussing the peripheral location of the archive of Simancas in Spain’s topography of knowledge throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The second part of the chapter is dedicated to the archive’s rather limited functionality, and the third and concluding part to discussing the ambiguous agenda of the archive of Simancas. (p.133) Before starting, however, let me clarify a terminological issue: the ethnological metaphors that attempt to understand information ‘as the raw’ and knowledge as ‘the cooked’ are not very helpful in our case.8 On the contrary, the idea of ‘cooking’ is more in keeping with the semantics of the Latin term informatio and its vernacular versions like the Spanish información. For from late medieval times onwards, the lexical field informatio was associated with a body of knowledge that resulted from a formal procedure (performed by the church or secular institutions). This becomes obvious especially from the point at which informatio and its vernacular translations were used to designate several stages of empirical procedures: its very beginning (the gathering of information), the resulting document (the report), and finally the more abstract goal of ‘being informed’.9 Our modern concept of knowledge is too extensive to grasp the contemporary differences between ciencia, experiencia, noticia, conocimiento, and saber. Although I use it below for referring to the more abstract idea of knowledge, I will add Spanish source terms whenever necessary.

The Place of the Archive within Spain’s Topography of Knowledge

It is hardly surprising that historians are sympathetic to the idea that the archive is the central site of knowledge, for this idea bolsters their own epistemic situation. It is the place ‘in the midst’ of all available knowledge that is idealised in this way; an image of epistemic power which, in the 16th century, was reserved for the king. This attribution of power was performed very explicitly in 16th-century Spain and during the reign of the king who is also regarded as the actual founder of the archive of Simancas: Philip II.

Philip II, nicknamed ‘the paper king’ by his contemporaries, was later compared by Fernand Braudel to a spider sitting motionless in the centre of its web.10 And Leopold von Ranke was fascinated by what Philip did there: according to Ranke, the king ‘sat and read’.11 In these images, lack of physical activity becomes a requisite of epistemic power, and this happens because an apparatus is established to gather information and to keep it available in the centre. The thrill of this central availability and hence of a focal point for political knowledge (p.134) already gripped the king’s contemporaries. In 1632, for instance, Lorenzo Vander Hammen wrote accordingly about Philip II: ‘His body was active in only one place, but the activity of his soul stretched and expanded over both parts of the world and created as much with strokes of pen as all his ancestors had done with the tips of their swords.’12 The Venetian ambassadors to the Spanish court marvelled at the king’s ceaseless writing and reading, and his first biographer, Luis Cabrera de Córdoba, claimed in his Historia de Felipe II of 1619 that Philip II had moved ‘the world by means of papers’.13

There were several answers to the question of how he was able to do this. They usually revolve around the centralisation of knowledge. As early as 1555, when he was still a prince, Philip had been presented with a memorandum by the humanist and Jesuit Juan Páez de Castro, who recommended the establishment of a central site of knowledge in Valladolid. The proposed building was to consist of three halls—a library, a hall for maps and geographical works, and an archive. The latter was to form the most secret part of the collection and to contain all sorts of written documents, from valuable charters to an infinite variety of lists and reports on the territories of the empire.14 Philip II never constructed such a building with three halls. However, an echo of Páez’s three halls may be heard in three big endeavours of Philip’s reign: the El Escorial was equipped with a library of supreme quality; the archive founded by Charles V in the Castle of Simancas was systematically developed into the first central state archive of early modern Europe; and cosmographic knowledge had its place in Seville where the piloto mayor of the Casa de la Contratación had been gathering nautical and geographical knowledge since 1508.15 Even if we identify these three extraordinary sites of knowledge with the original project of Páez de Castro, its basic idea remained unrealised: these sites were neither assembled in one place nor situated at the court. Páez had imagined that the three halls would be located directly in the court and that the king would live and sleep close to them, just as the kings of Persia had once slept close to their treasures.16 Instead, Spain’s topography of knowledge (p.135) soon resembled an exploded drawing of Páez’s dream. It did so, paradoxically, after the decision of 1561 to choose Madrid, a town in the geographical centre of the Iberian Peninsula, as the permanent residence of the court. Although the court indeed settled in Madrid the three sites of knowledge did so elsewhere. The library at the El Escorial, which was under construction between 1563 and 1584, was built in one of the king’s favourite dwelling places. But it was still a day’s journey away from the court, which restricted its use in practice to the king, a group of Spanish humanists, and very few visitors,17 a fact already criticised by some contemporaries.18 The archive of Simancas was four times further away from the court (200 km), which at that time corresponded to a journey of several days on horseback and a postal run-time of approximately five days.19 The port of Seville and its Casa de la Contratación, finally, were more than 500 km away from Madrid. Hence, the epistemic situation of the King of Spain and his councillors was quite different from the one enjoyed, say, by the magistrates of Venice or by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who only had to take a short walk through the city to move from places of decision-making to places of knowledge.20

So why then did Spain build its royal archive in the periphery? The classic explanation holds that the idea to install an archive within the Castle of Simancas came up when Charles V restructured his governmental bodies in the aftermath of the Revolt of the Comuneros of 1520–1, during which many valuable charters had been destroyed: a future archive would have to be functional on the one hand and defensible on the other. Simancas thus seemed a good choice, all the more so as it was not too far away from Valladolid, back then one of the favoured royal residences.21 This interpretation, however, has been called into question by Luis Martínez García, who identified the severe financial crisis of 1538 as crucial. In the light of an urgent lack of royal finance it seemed expedient to gather all royal prerogatives in one place, everything that could prove the king’s titles and claims.22 The king’s most important secretary, Francisco de los Cobos, by then (p.136) had become castellan of Simancas and the architect Luis de Vega carried out the necessary modifications in the castle’s north tower.23 In 1543, when two of the three floors had been finished, the transfer of documents to Simancas started.24

But why was this original policy, initiated under Charles V, of a castle archive far away from court continued by his son? Philip II did not lack the opportunity to relocate and centralise the archive. In particular, it would have been possible to move the archive to Madrid in 1561, when the city became the permanent residence of the court, all the royal councils settled there, and its palace was remodelled. And although records had already been moved to Simancas, this had been done up to that moment on a rather modest scale. When Páez de Castro proposed to establish the three rooms of knowledge at court in 1555 he did not even mention Simancas as an established archive or as an obstacle to this plan.25 A closer and more accessible archive could also have been integrated with the palace of El Escorial whose construction began in 1561. But none of this happened. Instead, in 1561 Philip II appointed the archivist Diego de Ayala, who remained in charge until 1594 and launched the development of Simancas Castle into a central archive.26 The mass of documents began to grow in subsequent decades, in turn necessitating the continuous architectural adaptation of the castle to the papers that were deposited in it. In 1576 it still appeared possible to relocate the archive, but Philip II decided, as the archivist told the king’s secretary in a letter, to ‘continue here with his royal archives and that they establish themselves and grow through the big chambers that are in the making for the abundance of documents which are being collected’.27 Instead of carrying out more and more architectural modifications of the Castle of Simancas, the king’s secretary Gabriel de Zayas proposed in 1584 transferring the archive to Toledo, but the king rejected this as well.28 The course was set and even if the dysfunctional peripheral location (p.137) of Simancas was regretted and debated for centuries, the initiatives to either translate the archive or to found a complementary one at court petered out again and again.29 All this raises questions about the use of the archive and its relation to politics at court.

Simancas’ Limited Operability

Thanks to the works of the former director of the archive, José Luis Rodríguez de Diego, we have a relatively clear picture of the usage of Simancas as an archive in the 16th century.30 Rodríguez de Diego has shown that nearly 600 requests for documents reached the archive from 1548 onwards until the end of the 16th century. Only thirty-five came from the king, another seventy-seven from cities and villages, seventy-nine from officers, and 112 from nobles. Commoners (particulares) used this service more than any other group, requesting copies in 154 cases.31 This ‘private use’ of the archive, however, was controlled to a high degree by the king and his councils. Private supplicants seeking, for example, to obtain documents that would prove the privileges of their families, could not address themselves directly to the archive of Simancas. Instead, they had to turn to the royal Consejo de Cámara which would make a decision on whether a copy of the requested document ought to be produced. And the king explicitly kept for himself the right to decide whether such a copy would actually be handed over. He had already insisted on this in early letters to his archivist Diego de Ayala, and (p.138) later stated it clearly in the archival statutes of 1588.32 Even court orders could not break this royal prerogative. The act of royal decision matched both the logic of a specifically royal archive and the king’s desire to personally regulate issues of favour and privileges.33 However, the king’s will was not the only obstacle standing between the petitioner and the archived document: great importance was also attached to the principle that the documents themselves must remain physically inaccessible to the petitioners. For instance, the archival statutes of 1588 explicitly ordered that the persons who had requested a search for documents in the archive must not be present during this search and that they never be handed over an original, but only a copy.34 Other persons visiting the archive for business reasons were not supposed to enter halls in which documents were stored either; to this end, the statutes called for the establishment of a separate office where ‘not a single piece of paper or document, whether of great importance or not, ought to be found’.35 This physical separation of petitioners and papers ultimately made it impossible for the former to know with certainty whether a document existed or not, or to stumble across other relevant papers. In the light of these measures it is evident that the ‘archivist’ was not supposed to show the way to the documents.36 First of all he had to protect the documents and serve the king’s interests, which occasionally obliged him to frustrate petitioners and their search for information.37 This becomes very clear in an instruction of 1574, given by Philip II to his archivist Diego de Ayala. The instruction concerned an already approved search for documents for the Marqués de Sarriá. In his accompanying letter, Philip stressed the importance of not showing the Marqués any of the requested documents—not even if he presented a legal permission to do so, in which case he should be held back on the pretext that the search was still going on.38

Restrictive usage and visiting rules were further tightened in the course of the 17th century. In 1667, it was stated that archivists could discontinue the search for documents that had been requested from them, whenever they thought fit to do so. Moreover, they were repeatedly reminded that they must not permit the reading of (p.139) papers in the archive to anyone, and that neither visits nor enquiries were allowed without an explicit royal licence. Any archivist or archival clerk granting access to the archive to third persons was to be fined 50,000 maravedís and even to lose his office if he let somebody read (or showed somebody) a piece of paper.39

But it was not just the search that took place under restrictive conditions; copying did too. Only in a single, functionally specified chamber of the archive was the writing and copying of documents allowed at all.40 And both reading and writing proved difficult in this archive that lacked light and warmth: for the sake of fire protection, heating the archive or illuminating its rooms with candles had been forbidden.41 Although techniques of heating without lighting an open fire were already established and had actually been proposed to the king for the library of the El Escorial, the archive at Simancas remained cold.42 Francisco Aguado, a scribe who had spent four years working in the archive of Simancas towards the end of the 16th century, gave an account of the consequences:

due to the great cold that normally prevails for eight months of the year and because the originals are very old, their handwriting is hardly legible and they must not be taken out for copying, nor may any light be brought in, as has been ordered according to the instructions of His Majesty so that no calamity occurs, and due to other occupations and deficiencies, very little is written there.43

It has become obvious that use of the archive was severely limited by a number of circumstances. Simancas’s location, design, and statutes established a series of barriers between people and documents. Not only the vast plains of Castile and the thick walls of the castle lay between the potential user and the stored records. Once inside the archive, its floor plan and restrictive statutes kept visitors distant from documents and impeded or slowed down access to documents or their copying. All this, as research has shown, neither precluded individual, sporadic consultations of the archive, sometimes by historians provided with royal privileges, nor did it impede political use of the archive by royal councils and the king.44 But even if the crown and its bodies of government could count on the full (p.140) support of the archivist, they faced the same structural barriers of Spain’s specific archival setting: the distance of Simancas, its cold- and slowness, its lack of staff and permanent architectural adaptions.45

Before we turn to the question of how the king and his councils used the archive of Simancas it is necessary to point out an essential paradox in the political importance of archived documents. The paradox resides in the fact that the archiving of a document indicates, on the one hand, the importance of a document: someone has decided not to throw it away.46 On the other hand, however, archiving also indicates a certain loss of importance, as someone has decided to remove it from the sites of administrative routine and political decision-making. In Spain this paradox grew in force once the archive of Simancas had been established and served as a final repository. Henceforth the bodies of government at court were repeatedly asked to cede documents and thereby to distinguish actively between papers which were still politically hot and those which could be handed over to the archive.47 An incentive was thus given for keeping the papers still needed, for the time being, in the desks and houses of the councillors instead of handing them over to the archivist.48 The latter, instead, tried to requisition such material as soon and completely as possible and to put an end to its uncontrollable circulation.

The moment of truth came when the archivist showed up at court. From 1572 onwards, Diego de Ayala undertook several prolonged journeys with a view to acquiring documents for Simancas.49 Ayala soon reported to the king that this recogimiento de papeles, which should apply explicitly to ‘all kinds of papers’, had run into some opposition. Although his journey to Madrid in 1573 had yielded 120 chests for Simancas, for example, only the Councils of the Indies and the bookkeeping department of the Council of Finance had actually cooperated.50 In a long letter to the king, Ayala listed documents he had failed to collect and requested (p.141) that a minister at court ‘with more authority’ should perform further recogimientos.51 He, instead, needed money for rebuilding the archive even if he still could not clearly foresee its future subdivision which depended on the amount of papers coming in from different sources. Ayala wanted to know, for example, whether the Inquisition records were actually to be stored at Simancas. If so, a particular room must be prepared for them.52 The necessary adaptions of the castle’s interior architecture and order could hardly keep pace with the challenges each incoming load of papers entailed. And vice versa: after the 1573 recogimiento Ayala complained that as long as the rebuilding lasted a great amount of papers had to be kept in the castle’s garrets.53

The recogimiento went on during the following decades and even if conflicts of interest were inevitable they resulted, as far as we can see, in different scenarios. Some councils cooperated significantly better with Simancas than others. The huge variation in practice can probably be explained by the different nature of the respective business of each council and particular incentives to get rid of one’s own stocks of paper. The Council of the Indies, for example, had handed over first of all ‘a lot of records from fiscal cases’.54 And one of the reasons to do so might have been the very limited space it had available in Madrid’s Alcázar.55 The council’s own archive at first consisted probably of a few shelves and chests. Once moved into larger rooms in an eastern annex of the palace in 1612, it expanded in space and grew in importance but was still likely to overflow with paper soon. The new ordinances of 1636 declared what to do in these cases: ‘If the archive is loaded with papers some should be sent to Simancas.’56 The councillor in charge should thereby apply a criterion that reminds us of the paradox that archived documents suffer. He should sort out ‘those of the least importance’.57

Other councils, such as that of Italy, cooperated significantly less with Simancas if they cooperated at all. Having been hived off late from the Council of Aragon, the Council of Italy did not order a single copy from Simancas during the 16th century. In 1598 Antonio de Ayala, Diego’s son and successor in the office, (p.142) complained that the Council of Italy had by then established its own archive and archivist at court.58 Only three councils requested copies from the archive at all, namely the Royal Council, the Consejo de Cámara, and the Council of the Indies.59 And they did so referring to business that was neither urgent nor very important politically, concerning above all court cases or individual privileges or titles.60

Due to a number of circumstances the theory–practice gap could not be closed so that the archive remained only marginally integrated into everyday political business. In theory, for example, documents that had been handed over to the archive should continue to be at the disposal of the office that had turned them in. Telling in this regard are, on the one hand, the orders to keep inventories of the documents transferred to Simancas which sometimes state the exact shelf and box of each piece, and on the other hand early orders to store the documents at Simancas in chests that could be unlocked only with two keys. One of these two keys was to stay with the commander of the fortress, the other one with the secretary of the respective council.61 Geoffrey Parker discovered a case from 1586, in which the king ordered information from Simancas and could indicate the exact chest and box.62 In general, however, a certain insecurity about the holdings of Simancas seemed to remain in spite of all the orders to keep inventories. A letter of Francisco González de Heredia, secretary of the Consejo de Cámara, to Diego de Ayala in 1592, spelled it out: ‘the fact that Your Grace [Diego de Ayala] has the bulls and rights of the patronato there [at Simancas] in good order and shape means nothing to our daily business if we here [at court] don’t know which ones you have and how they are’.63 In 1609 the Council of the Indies had lost track, too, and asked the archivist at Simancas to completely list the archive’s holdings referring to the Indies.64 A couple of attempts by the court to survey the archive’s holdings followed. In 1622 Francisco de Hoyos was sent to Simancas together with his son Antonio to inventory the papers touching matters of state and the royal patronato.65 Four years later, in October 1626, León Pinelo, who dedicated years to the codification of the laws of the Indies, spent six days at Simancas (p.143) reporting later that he went through 17 chests with over 400 bundles of paper.66 He probably met Antonio de Hoyos who after his father’s death still kept working on a first inventory, finished in 1630.67

Taken as a whole, the arrangements that were supposed to link court and archive worked in a mediocre way if they worked at all. The court constantly lost sight of the archive’s holdings and its distant location rendered it implausible to check the archive for matters of daily business.68 A remedy occasionally recommended by Philip II himself consisted of keeping copies of important documents at court.69 All this, however, again brings up the question of why the king opted for storing these records so far away from court in the first place. Its distance must have handicapped him at least as much as it did others when dealing with urgent matters of high politics.

As far as we can tell, the king’s attempts to integrate archival records into high politics were frustrated repeatedly in practice. From 1578 onwards, for example, Philip II eagerly prepared his biggest success in foreign policy: the integration of the Portuguese territories into his composite monarchy. He commissioned copies from Lisbon’s archive as well as from Simancas. As Simancas could not deliver anything the king became ‘very furious’ and sent a second order, explicitly demanding ‘an abundance of papers’. But it was only based on documents copied in Lisbon’s Torre do Tombo that Philip could finally raise his claims to the throne of Portugal.70 Ten years later, Juan Vázquez de Salazar, a royal secretary at court, sought information on the title patriarca de Indias. Diego de Ayala, the archivist, at first was not sure if he had any documentation of the relevant years at Simancas at all. He recommended contacting another royal secretary who might possess the respective correspondence with Rome. Three days later, however, Ayala wrote a second letter telling Salazar that after undertaking an exhaustive but unsuccessful search he would now suggest contacting the heirs of the former ambassador.71 In December 1592, finally, the king’s secretary Francisco González de Heredias complained that the archivist had not answered his request at all.72

From the outset, too much depended on the personal performance and memory of the archivist. A major problem consisted in the fact that Ayala started with (p.144) non-inventoried stocks and soon had to undertake several prolonged journeys to Madrid due to the ongoing recogimiento.73 When the king demanded information about the briefs concerning the visitation of monks and nuns in 1577, Ayala thus had to put him off. In order to make the requested copies he would first have to travel back to Simancas. In exchange he enclosed some copies of documents that he had just requisitioned at court.74 Ayala used the opportunity to underline how necessary and beneficial the policy of a recogimiento de papeles appeared in general. One should not wait until the documents age in possession of the ministers. Incoming bulls as well as newly produced documents of some importance should rather be carried to the archive leaving only their copies at court. Otherwise the king’s budget would be harmed, as would the archivist’s authority to acquire documents.75

The royal order of 1633 to sidestep Simancas by creating an archive at court, finally, reflected not only one of the attempts of the Count Duke of Olivares to better control information, but several frustrated attempts to find records too, both at court and in the archive of Simancas.76 Moreover it refers explicitly to the archive’s poor performance in matters of politics: ‘the delay to get there searching [documents] spoils the occasion, all the more so if they have to search others [documents] quoted in the documents already brought’.77 The archive’s lack of political functionality became obvious again in regard to demographic data. When the Count Duke of Olivares resorted in 1646 to a rushed count of the Castilian population he overlooked a much more accurate survey of 1631 that lay forgotten at Simancas and was not rediscovered until the 20th century.78 To mention one last example: when a royal secretary requested information in 1662 about how the postal system of Genoa was established the archivist had to confess that he was unable to find a single relevant document after having revised seventy-five bundles of files and the inventory. Whilst continuing his quest in the archive the secretary should start searching at court.79

Taken as a whole, these conditions cast doubt on the performance of Simancas as a royal archive both in quantitative and in qualitative terms. The figure of nearly 600 copies requested during the second half of the 16th century must be considered (p.145) as relatively low, given that this comes down to an average of twelve copies per year and thus suggests a productivity presumably far below that of any institution at court. Although the number of requests to Simancas grew significantly in 1583, probably echoing Diego de Ayala’s achievements and Philip’s revived archival enthusiasm after his experiences with Lisbon’s Torre do Tombo archive, they went down rapidly again after Diego de Ayala’s death in 1593, to between three and zero requested copies per year.80 The statistics thus contradict the assumption that the archive steadily consolidated its role as a provider of information. Taking additionally into account that the information delivered related mostly to business of minor political importance, the question emerges again pointedly: why, as Luis Martínez García put it, did a king so fond of bureaucracy, so conscious of the importance of information, not become aware that an archive close to court and its bodies of government would render much better services?81

Simancas’ Ambiguous Agenda

The proposal for building a place of knowledge with three big halls that Páez de Castro had handed over to Philip II in 1555 included the interesting assurance that the documents stored there would behave like perfect courtiers: speaking only upon request and always saying the truth.82 Philip II surely loved this idea. He would have preferred such an environment of decision-making, keeping people at a distance, silencing their interests, and still holding full information at his disposal. His reality, though, was different. Reigning more than forty years, he visited the archive of Simancas for just two days, as an old man in 1591.83

However, the archive that kept growing during Philip’s reign in the Castle of Simancas differed from the learned man’s prospect of an ideal site of knowledge, too, and it did so significantly. A core problem was distance. Simancas was too far away from court for being sustainably integrated into politics and Philip II did not seize the opportunities to change that. This can be explained either by recalling the king’s reluctance to take crucial decisions or by turning the attention to incidental advantages of such a peripheral location.84 I will suggest the latter, especially as it brings us back to the question of how we can adequately conceptualise an archive in which inoperability prevailed. In particular, I would like to discuss two incidental functions of the archive that we tend to overlook when sticking to (p.146) the larger and more idealistic concept of ‘knowledge’: Simancas served to stop the circulation of documents on the one hand and to silence voices on the other.

A couple of 16th-century letters made explicit why papers should be kept in archives. According to them, it was considered a matter of duty to the crown to conserve these papers as well as to avoid their circulation. Simancas promised to comply with both requests. The fact that the two purposes complemented each other can best be shown by examining the problem of documents bequeathed by secretaries, councillors, and ministers. Once these individuals died, a stock of the papers that had accumulated during their careers usually came to light, and could potentially start to circulate at court. But it was not, as Diego de Ayala put it, ‘convenient that these papers are being located or moving outside of the archive’.85 It is telling that a general policy to archive such documents was usually pursued without concrete knowledge of the content at stake: in the case just quoted Diego de Ayala supposed rightly that the bequest of the deceased secretary of state Juan de Quintana contained the autograph version of Isabella the Catholic’s testament. In another case he reconstructed the dizzying trajectory of a book and proposed eventually to put an end to it:

The deceased secretary Juan de Galarza possessed a book on his majesty’s patronato which he lent to the archbishop of Seville, Don Fernando de Valdés. After the latter’s death it remained in possession of Valdés, his chamberlain, from whom it was received by the now defunct Antonio de Arriolo, who said he had given it to Cardinal Diego de Espinosa. After the latter’s death it remained in possession of the secretary of his majesty to whom it occurred that—given that the book relates the establishment of all churches of the realm of Granada—Martín de Gaztelú should see it, to extract what he needed for the daily business of the patronato and in the king’s service. When this will be done, and subject to permission, the book shall be taken and put into the Archive of Simancas.86

The archivist’s hunt for bequeathed documents was driven, of course, not by curiosity but rather by the hope to preserve them, and by a political concern resulting from the irony that the death of a courtier, paradoxically, endangered his discretion. The archivist had to seize what refused to die with him—his papers—and to control their afterlife. Simancas was perfectly suited to meet the demands of such a policy, which aimed above all at stopping the circulation of papers.

(p.147) This by no means denies that other objectives, like establishing inventories to retrieve information, coexisted with the one just discussed, but the duty to keep information available could be pursued with more sedateness and permanently ran the risk of becoming secondary. In practice precluding knowledge, thus, could even gain priority over its provision. At least for the case of Simancas, I would claim that it was used in the first place to stop the movement of papers, to suppress their reading and circulation. Even if the intentionality of such a policy is hard to prove, the practical ambiguity is striking, not at least for the fact Castle of Simancas also served as a prison at least from 1504 until the 1580s. It confined papers and people at the same time, a fact that we have to explore a little further as we decided to take contradictions seriously.

The first political prisoners were probably the Marquis Rodrigo de Mendoza and Pedro de Guevara.87 Another early case is that of Antonio Agustín, former vice-chancellor of Aragon, imprisoned by command of Ferdinand II the Catholic, allegedly for having courted the king’s second wife, Germana de Foix.88 Some captives died in the Castle of Simancas, others were executed. An early victim was Marshall Pedro de Navarra, arrested in 1516, who had refused to swear fidelity to Charles I after his unsuccessful battles for an independent kingdom of Navarre. At the peak of the revolt of the Comuneros and after several frustrated attempts by his family to free him, he was eventually found dead in his bed in 1523. The cuts in his neck and left arm were probably self-inflicted. According to reports about his death he had not got over the preceding execution of his fellow convict Pedro Maldonado Pimentel, once leader of the revolt of Salamanca, in Simancas’s plaza mayor.89 Another leading figure of the revolt of the Comuneros entered Simancas the same year: Antonio de Acuña, former Bishop of Zamora, had been transferred to Simancas after attempts to escape from the less safe Castle of Navarrete. His next attempt to escape came to a bloody end, for Acuña first killed the castle’s governor and was consequently garroted on the orders of Charles V.90 Other known convicts at Simancas were Rodrigo Pardo and Luis Colón,91 the grandson of Christopher Columbus. The latter was imprisoned around 1551, hence at a time when the castle had already started to serve partly (p.148) as an archive. As the convicts were usually kept in accordance with their ranks, some of them had servants at their disposal; others, such as Cristóbal Vaca de Castro, once commissioned by Charles V to restore order in Peru, spent their time of detention without any guards.92 A few prisoners still entered Simancas after the appointment of Diego de Ayala who protested repeatedly: ‘the papers, the works, the captives and the guards. Everything runs simultaneously and we all embarrass each other.’93 Ayala complained for good reasons, possibly remembering the case of Floris of Montmorency, Baron of Montigny and younger brother of the Count of Hornes. In 1566, Margret of Parma had sent Montmorency to Spain, where he was detained as news came up that Alba had arrested Egmont and Hornes in the Netherlands. Being sentenced in absentia to death for treason by the Council of Troubles, Montmorency was transferred from the Castle of Segovia to that of Simancas, not least because of the coming wedding with Anna of Austria in Segovia.94 Once having Montmorency in Simancas, Philip II gave orders both to garrote him and to spread the news of a fatal illness. To fake a natural death the corpse was posthumously dressed with a habit that covered the throat.95

As much as the king must have feared the leaking of such acts of dissimulation, the archivist feared the constant challenging of the archive’s institutional significance and of its physical integrity as well. It was immediately after an attempt of the convict Juan de Granada to spark a fire in his room in 1584 that Ayala wrote a letter to a secretary at court which spelled the alternatives out: ‘we either throw out the archive or it has to be ordered that we have no prisoners’.96

Simancas stopped being utilised as a prison and it shares this dark prehistory with other castle archives, such as the Tower of London and Rome’s Castle Sant’Angelo, which likewise served to lock away both documents and political prisoners. But however insignificant these early incidents might appear for the long history of the archive of Simancas as such, they still shed a little light on the hidden agenda of the archive’s first and constitutive phase. Both Charles V and his son considered Simancas an ideal place for keeping political prisoners and even for putting some of them to death. They could rely on the castle’s isolation and the small number of visitors. The remote location of the archive, which so greatly hindered communication with the court and city of Madrid, turned out to be advantageous or even essential for those ends. This brings us back to Spain’s topography of knowledge and Philip’s respective modification of Páez’s plan. The king apparently mistrusted the idea that documents would, as Páez had put it, (p.149) speak like perfect courtiers only upon request. The remote Castle of Simancas guaranteed instead, much better than any archive at court possibly could, that their voices remained unheard unless with his approval. In that regard space was not the Braudelian ‘enemy number one’ of the Spanish state but its accomplice.

All in all it can be stated that Simancas served for a long time as a place of concealment.97 It stored papers and it locked them away at the same time. This, of course, would have been of little surprise for many contemporaries given that the Spanish word archivo was used in literature to allude to an act of silencing or perennial locking-in: in Calderón de la Barca’s words this reads, for example: ‘Your chest, friend, has to be an archive, your heart, keep my secret inside, and never read the papers, that are in your possession, in your life.’98 Furthermore, strategies of concealment corresponded both to judicial concepts, which consider the keeping of silence (and oblivion) a precondition of social peace, and to religious concepts of secrecy that consider the containment of certain knowledges as salutary.99

All this is surprising, of course, only to those who try to assess the archive of Simancas against the benchmarks set by one single function, such as providing information. As I have tried to demonstrate, conflicting principles remained in force for a very long time. Simancas pursued an ambiguous agenda for centuries. Only after 1844 did it turn into what it is now: a fascinating place of knowledge serving the public. But this is a different story that started in 1844, the year of its first opening to the public.100 (p.150)


(1) R. I. Burns, Society and Documentation in Crusader Valencia (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1985); F. J. Bouza Álvarez, Comunicación, conocimiento y memoria en la España de los siglos XVI y XVII (Salamanca, Seminario de Estudios Medievales y Renacentistas, 1999); S. Sellers-García, Distance and Documents at the Spanish Empire’s Periphery (Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press, 2014).

(2) Cf. F. de Solano and P. Ponce Leiva (eds), Cuestionarios para la formación de las relaciones geográficas de Indias. Siglos XVI / XIX (Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1988).

(3) G. Parker, Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II (New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2014), p. 298.

(4) Archives were, of course, not only produced by political entities as such, but by nearly every corporation or noble family, in short, by everyone who used paper and had an interest in conserving their claims, legal titles, or memories. See D. Navarro Bonilla, La imagen del archivo. Representación y funciones en España (siglos XVI y XVII) (Gijón, Ediciones Trea, 2003). Concerning Spain’s medieval archives, see R. Conde y Delgado de Molina, ‘Archivos y archiveros en la Edad Media Peninsular’, in J. J. Generelo and Á. Moreno López (eds), Historia de los archivos y de la archivística en España (Valladolid, Universidad de Valladolid, 1998), pp. 13–28.

(5) Cf. J. H. Elliott, Spain and Its World, 1500–1700: Selected Essays (New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1989), p. xi.

(7) I discuss the fact that ‘full political knowledge’ was never achieved despite the fact that Spain took a series of remarkable measures including gathering nautical, geographical, and cultural knowledge systematically in my book The Empirical Empire: Spanish Colonial Rule and the Politics of Knowledge (Berlin, De Gruyter, 2016).

(8) P. Burke, A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2000), p. 6.

(9) A. Brendecke, M. Friedrich, and S. Friedrich, ‘Information als Kategorie historischer Forschung. Heuristik, Etymologie und Abgrenzung vom Wissensbegriff’, in A. Brendecke, M. Friedrich, and S. Friedrich (eds), Information in der Frühen Neuzeit. Status, Bestände, Strategien (Münster, Lit Verlag, 2008), pp. 11–44.

(10) F. Braudel, La Méditerranée et le Monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II (Paris, Colin, 1949), p. 523.

(11) L. v. Ranke, Die Osmanen und die spanische Monarchie im sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrhundert 3rd edn (Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1857), p. 150.

(12) ‘Las acciones de su cuerpo estavan solo en un lugar; pero las del alma se esparzian y dilatavan por ambos Orbes, obrando tanto con los rasgos de su pluma, como todos sus progenitores con la punta de su espada’, L. Vander Hammen y León, Don Filipe el prudente, segundo deste nombre, rey de las Españas y nuevo mundo (Madrid, 1632), fol. 129b.

(13) ‘Considerando la importancia de que son papeles, como quien por medio dellos meneaba el mundo desde su real asiento’, cf. L. Cabrera de Córdoba, Historia de Felipe II. Rey de España, ed. J. Martínez Millan and C. J. de Carlos Morales, 3 vols (Salamanca, Junta de Castilla y León: Consejería de Educación y Cultura, 1998), vol. 1, p. 368.

(14) Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial, Ms. &. II. 15, fols. 190a–195a.

(15) See A. D. Sandman, ‘Spanish Nautical Cartography in the Renaissance’, in D. Woodward (ed.), The History of Cartography, vol. III: Cartography in the European Renaissance. Part 1 (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2007), pp. 1095–142; M. M. Portuondo, Secret Science: Spanish Cosmography and the New World (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2009).

(16) Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial, Ms. &. II. 15, fols. 190a–195a; J. Páez de Castro, ‘Memorial al rey don Felipe II sobre la formación de una librería’, Revista de archivos, bibliotecas y museos, 9 (1883), 165–78, at 176.

(17) A. Alvar Ezquerra, ‘Les humanistes de l’Escorial et la révolution historiographique à la cour de Philippe II d’Espagne’, Dix-septième siècle, 266 (2015), 31–41.

(18) And later a topic of the leyenda negra, see Fernando Jesús Bouza Álvarez, ‘La biblioteca de El Escorial y el orden de los saberes en el siglo XVI’, in El Escorial. Arte, poder y cultura en la corte de Felipe II. Cursos de verano. El Escorial 1988 (Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 1988), pp. 81–99, at pp. 95–7.

(19) M.-A. Grebe, Akten, Archive, Absolutismus? Das Kronarchiv von Simancas im Herrschaftsgefüge der spanischen Habsburger (1540–1598) (Frankfurt am Main, Vervuert, 2012), p. 540. The political problem of large distances within the Spanish realm has been masterfully discussed by Braudel, La Méditerranée, pp. 541–6.

(20) Provided, of course, that these two places did not coincide entirely, e. g. when meetings took place in Colbert’s library; cf. J. Soll, The Information Master: Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s Secret State Intelligence System (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2009), p. 111.

(21) Instrucción para el gobierno del Archivo de Simancas (Año 1588). Estudio por J. L. Rodríguez de Diego (Valladolid, Ministerio de Cultura, 1989), pp. 30–2.

(22) L. Martínez García, ‘El Archivo de Simancas en el Antiguo Régimen. Secreto, patrimonio, justificación’, Boletín de la ANABAD, 49, no. 2 (1999), 77–116, at 89–90.

(23) E. Guerrero de Llanos, ‘Una fortaleza convertida en archivo de la Corona: Simancas en el siglo XVI, nuevos datos para su estudio’, Anales de Historia del Arte, 24 (2014), 87–105, at 91–2; L. Fernández González, ‘The Architecture of the Treasure-Archive. The Archive at Simancas Fortress 1540–1569’, in B. J. García García and V. de Cruz Medina (eds), Felix Austria. Lazos familiares, cultura politica y mecenazgo artistico entre las cortes de los Habsburgo (Madrid, Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 2013), pp. 1–41.

(24) Guía histórica y descriptiva del Archivo General de Simancas (Madrid, 1920), p. 9.

(25) Up to that moment, only two rooms of one tower were furnished for keeping records, the Torre de Obras y Bosques, cf. Grebe, Akten, p. 128. Páez de Castro did mention Simancas some years later, in 1562, in a letter. There he refers to the problems for historians to get access to the state papers in the archive. Cf. J. Fr. A. De Uztarroz and D. J. Dormer (eds), Progressos de la historia en el Reyno de Aragón (Saragossa, 1680), pp. 488–9.

(26) J. L. Rodríguez de Diego, ‘La formación del Archivo de Simancas en el siglo XVI. Función y orden interno’, in El libro antiguo español. Vol. IV: Coleccionismo y bibliotecas (siglos XV–XVIII) (Salamanca, Ed. de la Universidad de Salamanca, 1998), pp. 519–57, at p. 519.

(27) ‘como su M[ajestad] ha mandado perpetuar aquy sus archivos reales y que se funden y crezcan de aposentos anchurosos como se hazen por la gran copia de scripturas que se van recogiendo’, Diego de Ayala to Mateo Vázquez, 16 April 1576, Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 29, fol. 62r.

(28) [Fr. Romero Perosso], Apuntes Históricos Sobre el Archivo General de Simáncas (Madrid, Aribau y Compañía, 1873), p. 41.

(29) In 1588 the councillors of the Cámara de Castilla supported the archive’s translation to Madrid (L. Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, p. 86). In 1633 the Count Duke of Olivares launched a translation of the councils’ records to the royal palace in Madrid (Alcázar) (Fr. Tomás y Valiente, Francisco: ‘Los validos en la monarquía española del siglo XVII. Estudio institucional’, in Obras completas, 1 (Madrid, Centro de estudios políticos y constitucionales, 1997), 17–184, at 167). In 1666 a Junta which examined Simancas proposed to return a part of the documents (Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, p. 100). During the reign of Philip V an archive was established in a tower of the Alcázar. It contained mainly copies and burned down together with the whole palace in 1734 (Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, p. 104). The respective recommendation came from Santiago Agustín Riol in 1726 (Biblioteca Nacional de España, Ms. 10333, Ms. 10333: Informe de D. Santiago Agustin de Riol, dado al Rey Felipe 5º sobre consejos, tribunales, archivos, … [1726], fols. 195r–204r). A treatise of 1883 again demanded the archive’s translation to Madrid or Alcalá, cf. P. G. M. S. [attributed to Gumersindo Maveilla Sapela], Archivo de Simancas. Conveniencia de su traslación a la capital de Castilla y necesidad de inmediata inspección y arreglo. Exposición dirigida al Excmo. Sr. Ministro de Fomento (Madrid, 1883).

(30) R. de Diego, ‘La formación del Archivo de Simancas’; J. L. Rodríguez de Diego and J. T. Rodríguez de Diego, ‘Un archivo no solo para el Rey. Significado social del proyecto simanquino en el siglo XVI’, in J. Martínez Millán (ed.), Felipe II (1527–1598). Europa y la Monarquía Católica. Actas del congreso internacional: Felipe II (1598–1998). Europa divida: la Monarquía Católica de Felipe II. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 20–23 abril 1998. Tomo IV: Literatura, cultura y arte, coord. Virgilio Pinto Crespo (Madrid, Ed. Parteluz, 1998), pp. 463–75.

(32) J. L. Rodríguez de Diego, ‘Archivos del poder, archivos de la administración, archivos de la historia (s. XVI–XVII)’, in J. J. Generelo and Á. Moreno López (eds), Historia de los archivos y de la archivística en España (Valladolid, Universidad de Valladolid, 1998), pp. 29–42, at p. 34; R. de Diego, ‘La formación del Archivo de Simancas’, p. 535; Instrucción para el gobierno del Archivo de Simancas, p. 110.

(33) Cf. M. Friedrich, Die Geburt des Archivs. Eine Wissensgeschichte (Munich, Oldenbourg, 2013), pp. 242–52.

(37) Diego de Ayala: ‘my negocio es conservar papeles del govierno y derechos reales’, Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 31, fol. 64r.

(38) Rodríguez de Diego, ‘Archivos del poder’, p. 33; Grebe, Akten, pp. 222, 575–7. It seems that Philip II occasionally mistrusted even his own archivist. Romero de Castilla y Perosso refers to several cases in which the king sent locked iron chests to Simancas but kept the keys at court. Cf. [Fr. Romero Perosso], Apuntes, p. 148, n. 16.

(42) Juan Baptista Cardona, for example, in his treaty on the Library of the El Escorial recommends using a big brazier. He thereby refers to the Vatican library, which usually preheats the brazier outside of the building to further reduce the remaining fire risk. Cf. J. Bautista Cardona, ‘Traza de la librería de San Lorenzo el Real’, Revista de archivos, bibliotecas y museos, 2nd ser, 9 (1883), 364–77, at 372.

(43) ‘de causa de los grandes fríos que ordinariamente suelen ser los ocho meses del año y ser los originales muy antiguos, la letra mala de leer y no poderlos sacar fuera para copiarse ni entrar lumbre dentro porque no suceda desgracia, como por instrucción de su Magestad está mandado, y por otras occupaciones e inconventientes que allí a se escrive muy poco’, quoted in: F. J. Bouza Álvarez, Corre manuscrito. Una historia cultural del Siglo de Oro (Madrid, Marcial Pons, 2001), pp. 44–5.

(44) R. de Diego, ‘Archivos del poder’, pp. 41–2; R. L. Kagan, Clio and the Crown: The Politics of History in Medieval and Early Modern Spain (Baltimore, MD, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), p. 104. The failed attempt of the royal chronicler Francisco Diego de Sayas Rabanera y Ortubia to use the archive in 1653 resulted in a frustrated commentary: ‘era impossible penetrar los Archivos, hechandose a adivinar lo que se necessita de ellos’, see Biblioteca Nacional de España, Ms. 9094, p. 8. For more examples, see L. Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, p. 84, and F. Montcher, ‘Archives and Empire: Scholarly Archival Practices, Royal Historiographers and Historical Writing across the Iberian Empire (Late 16th and Early 17th Century)’, Storia della storiografia, 68 (2015), 21–35.

(45) Concerning the staff, see F. De Porras Huidobro, Disertación sobre archivos, y reglas de su coordinación (Madrid, Imprenta de León Amarita, 1830), p. 43; BNE, Ms. 10333, Riol, Informe [1726], fol. 177v; Rodríguez de Diego, ‘La formación del Archivo de Simancas’, pp. 539–43.

(46) Cf. F. J. Bouza Álvarez, ‘Guardar papeles—y quemarlos—en tiempos de Felipe II. La documentación de Juan de Zúñiga’, Reales sitios, 33 (1996), 2–15 and 34 (1997), 18–33.

(47) Cf. Grebe, Akten, p. 204, quoting Francisco de Idiáquez.

(48) On improvised minor archives (archivillos) see also D. Navarro Bonilla, Del corazón a la pluma. Archivos y papeles privados femeninos en la Edad Moderna (Salamanca, Ed. Universidad de Salamanca, 2004).

(49) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 27, fol. 58r. See also L. Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, p. 91.

(50) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 27 fol. 1r. Another transport involved carting roughly one and a half tons of documents from Madrid to Simancas had taken place in 1577, cf. 28. Juni 1577, IVDJ, envío 16, doc. 61.

(51) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 27, fol. 60r (copy, undated).

(52) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 27, fol. 59r. (copy, undated), concerning other storing problems, see A. de la Plaza Bores (ed.), Archivo General de Simancas. Guia del investigador (Valladolid, Ministerio de Cultura, 1992), p. 40.

(53) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 27, fol. 1r.

(54) ‘Del consejo de Indias se entrego aquel año mucha cantidad de proçesos fiscales, que conforme a la çedula de V. M. entreguen los demas que tocan a los libros y registros que conviene guardarse y las bullas y otra concessiones appostolicas de que ay en el dicho archivo algun numero.’ Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 59, fol. 3r. Concerning the later use of these documents, see J. L. Rodríguez de Diego and J. T. Rodríguez de Diego, ‘Un archivo no solo para el Rey’, p. 469.

(55) A. Brendecke, Imperio e información. Funciones del saber en el dominio colonial español (Madrid, Iberoamericana, and Frankfurt am Main, Vervuert, 2012), pp. 236–7.

(56) ‘Que quando el Archivo estuviere cargado de papeles, se embien algunos a Simancas’, Ordenanzas del consejo real de las Indias (Madrid, viuda de Juan González, 1636), p. 34.

(57) ‘los papeles menos importantes’, Ordenanzas del consejo real de las Indias (Madrid, viuda de Juan González, 1636), p. 35.

(60) Rodríguez de Diego and Rodríguez de Diego, ‘Un archivo no solo para el Rey’, pp. 467–73. The Council of the Indies requested information concerning indidivual claims (méritos y servicios etc.) relatively regularly between 1582 and 1609. In March 1609, for example, the Council of the Indies asked the archivist to send a copy of the relación de méritos de Luis del Puerto, citizen of Trujillo, cf. Archivo General de Indias, Indiferente: 449, L. A1, fol. 299r–299v.

(61) R. Magdaleno Redondo (ed.), Títulos de Indias (= Patronato Nacional de Archivos Historicos. Catálogo XX del Archivo General de Simancas) (Valladolid, Casa Martin, 1954), pp. VIII–IX; Archivo General de Indias, Indiferente 427, L. 30, fol. 18r–18v.

(62) G. Parker, Felipe II. La biografía definitiva (Barcelona, Editorial Planeta, 2013), p. 804.

(64) Archivo General de Indias, Indiferente 428, L. 33, fol. 89r, real cédula to Antonio de Ayala, 19 January 1609.

(65) BNE, Ms. 10333, Riol, Informe [1726], fol. 178r–178v.

(67) BNE, Ms. 10333, Riol, Informe [1726], fols. 180r–181r.

(69) ‘Y esto tambien y va firmada la carta y digaseles que aurian de hazer diligencia en buscar los papeles y cartas de marear que ay sobre esto y juntarlo todo y tenerlo en el Consejo a buen recado y aun los originales se abrian de poner en Simancas y traer copias autenticas en el Consejo. Yo creo que tengo algunos y los quise buscar en Madrid el otro dia porque si los tengo han destar alli. A la buelta yo los buscare y si se me acuerda y tengo tiempo que agora no le tube. Vos Eraso podria ser que tubiesedes algo desto. Bien sera que lo busqueys y se lo deis para que se guarde como digo y anden siempre en el consejo las copias’, vgl. AGI, Indif. 738, n. 82, fol. 1r.

(70) Instrucción para el gobierno del Archivo de Simancas, p. 55; F. J. Bouza Álvarez, Imagen y propaganda. Capítulos de historia cultural del reinado de Felipe II (Madrid, Akal, 1998), pp. 121–6.

(73) British Library, Add 28335, fols. 237r–238v, letter of Diego de Ayala to the king (26 May 1567).

(74) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 32, fol. 65r.

(75) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, envío 16, doc. 32, fol. 65r.

(77) ‘y aunque ay Archivo General en Simancas, donde se an acostumbrado llevar [los papeles], tengo entendido que en esto no a havido tampoco la puntualidad que fuera justo, y quando la aya, la dilación de irlos a buscar, pierde la saçón en los negocios, y más si se an de volver a buscar otros que los que se traen citan, y se juzgan ser menester’, Fr. Tomás y Valiente, Francisco: ‘Los validos’, 103.

(78) J. Casey, Early Modern Spain: A Social History (London and New York, Routledge, 1999), p. 20. The famous catasto of Florence is another example of demographical information which remained basically unused in its own time, cf. J. B. Given, Inquisition and Medieval Society: Power, Discipline, and Resistance in Languedoc (Ithaca, NY, and London, Cornell University Press, 1997), p. 34.

(79) Archivo General de Simancas, Consejo de Estado, leg. 3641, 107, letter of Pedro de Ayala to Blasco de Loyola, 15 July 1662, fol. 1r.

(82) Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial, Ms. &. II. 15, fol. 194r–194v.

(84) Geoffrey Parker interprets the king’s personal attitudes towards decision-making in a masterly fashion in his Imprudent King, passim.

(85) Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid: envío 16, Libro de papeles que estan en el archivo de Simancas, letter of Diego de Ayala (16 July 1574) concerning the residues of the secretario de estado Juan de Quintana.

(86) ‘El secretario Joan de galarça difuncto huvo un libro del Patronadgo de V. Mag[esta]d. destos Reynos y lo presto a don fernando de valdes Arçob[is]po de Sevilla y muerto el quedo en poder de Valdes su camarero del qual le huvo Antonio de Arriola difunto y el diz[e] que lo dio al cardenal Don Diego de Spinosa y (q[ue] despues de su falleçimiento quedo en poder del Secret[ari]o de V[uestra] Mag[esta]d (q[ue] parezca este libro porq[ue] diz[e] que que estan en el las erectiones de todas las yglessias del Reyno de granada y otras muchas cosas y que lo vea gaztelu para sacar la razon que convieniere del para las cosas y negoçios que se offreçen cada dia del Patronadgo y Servicio de V[uestra] Mag[esta]d, y que hecho esto si esta autorizado se lleve y ponga en el Archivo de Simancas’, cf. Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid, envío 16, D20, fol. 1r.

(87) For Mendoza see Archivo General de Simancas, Cámara de Castilla, Cédulas, 9, 192, 9 (15.09.1504), for Guevara: Guía histórica y descriptiva del Archivo General de Simancas, pp. 6–7.

(88) M. Bachiller de Pozo, Antigüedades y sucesos memorables sucedidos en esta muy noble y antigua villa de Simancas, zitiert nach: Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de España I (Madrid 1842), pp. 557–8.

(89) Archivo General de Simancas, Patronato, leg. 13, doc. 87, 88, 91; M. I. Ostolaza Elizondo, ‘Las desventuras del mariscal de Navarra: el libro como solaz y paliativo anímico en casos de privación de libertad’, Príncipe de Viana Año, 73 (2012), 565–85, at 578–80.

(90) M. Sangrador Vítores, Causa formada en 1526 a D. Antonio de Acuña, obispo de Zamora, por la muerte que dió a Mendo de Noguerol, Alcaide de la fortaleza de Simancas (Valladolid, Imprenta de D. M. Aparicio, 1849).

(91) Archivo General de Indias, Indiferente: 422, L.16, fol. 83r (3.4.1534); Archivo General de Indias, Patronato Real: 251, r. 27 (1531).

(92) Archivo General de Indias, Indiferente: 424, L.22, F.293v–294r, 22.4.1551.

(93) ‘los papeles, las obras y los presos y guardas todos andamos juntos y nos embarazamos los unos a los otros’: A. de la Plaza Bores, Archivo General de Simancas, p. 40.

(95) Parker, Imprudent King, pp. 198–9; G. Moreno Espinosa, Don Carlos. El príncipe de la Leyenda Negra (Madrid, Marcial Pons, 2006), p. 223. Some of the documents are edited in Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de España IV (Madrid, 1844), pp. 550–64.

(96) ‘o echemos de aquí este Archivo o se mande que no haya presos’, A. de la Plaza Bores, Archivo General de Simancas, p. 40.

(98) ‘archivo de tu discreción de mis mayores secretos’ (M. Alemán, Primera Parte de Guzmán de Alfarache (1599), p. 226), ‘tu pecho, amiga, ha de ser archivo, tu coraçón, guárdame secreto en él, y no leas, por tu vida, aunque en tu poder estén los papeles que te doy’ (P. Calderón de la Barca, Bien vengas mal, si vienes solo, p. 476); Lope de Vega used the expression ‘To be like writings in an archive’ as an equivalent of ‘to be worthless or dead’, see N. Bonilla, La imagen del archivo, p. 95.

(99) M. E. Albornoz Vázquez, ‘El mandato de silencio perpetuo. Existencia, escritura y olvido de conflictos cotidianos. Chile, 1720–1840’, in T. Cornejo and C. González (eds), Justicia, poder y sociedad. Recorridos históricos (Santiago de Chile, Universidad Diego Portales, 2007), pp. 17–56; S. Cabezas Fontanilla, ‘Nuevas aportaciones al estudio del archivo del consejo de la suprema inquisición’, Documenta & instrumenta, 5 (2007), 31–49, at 32–5. Concerning the developments after the Council of Trent, see Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, pp. 96–100.

(100) In 1788, the Scottish historian William Robertson still described the veil thrown by Spain over its archival records, cf. The works of William Robertson: A new edition in twelve volumes, vol. VIII (London, A. Strahan, 1817), X–XI. Concerning Simancas’s development towards an institution of research, see A. Brennecke, Archivkunde. Ein Beitrag zur Theorie und Geschichte des europäischen Archivwesens (Leipzig, Koehler & Amelang, 1953), pp. 201–3; E. Pedruelo Martín, ‘El Archivo General de Simancas. De archivo real a archivo público’, in S. Carnicer Arribas and A. Marcos Martín (eds), Valladolid, ciudad de archivos (Valladolid, Universidad de Valladolid, 2011), pp. 37–97, at pp. 54–8; Martínez García, ‘Archivo de Simancas’, p. 78.