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Biography of Juan de Mariana: The Influence of the Spanish Scholastics (1536-1624)

March 29, 2013

An article by Jesus Huerta de Soto.

The prehistory the Austrian School of economics can be found in the works of the Spanish scholastics written in what is known as the “Spanish Golden Century,” which ran from the mid- sixteenth century through the seventeenth century.

Who were these Spanish intellectual forerunners of the Austrian School of economics? Most of them were scholastics teaching morals and theology at the University of Salamanca, in the medieval Spanish city located 150 miles northwest of Madrid, close to the border of Spain with Portugal. These scholastics, mainly Dominicans and Jesuits, articulated the subjectivist, dynamic, and libertarian tradition on which, two-hundred-and-fifty years later, Carl Menger and his followers would place so much importance. Perhaps the most libertarian of all the scholastics, particularly in his later works, was the Jesuit Father Juan de Mariana.

Mariana was born in the city of Talavera de la Reina, near Toledo. He appears to have been the illegitimate son of a canon of Talavera, and when he was sixteen, joined the Society of Jesus, which had just been created. At the age of twenty-four, he was summoned to Rome to teach theology, then transferred to the school the Jesuits ran in Sicily, and from there to the University of Paris. In 1574, he returned to Spain, living and studying in Toledo until his death at the age of eighty-seven.

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