Pope Alexander VI served as the pope from 1492 to 1503. Due to his involvement with several mistresses, Alexander is regarded as one of the most controversial popes of the Renaissance. However, during his papacy, a new architectural era surfaced in Rome as he encouraged the development of fine arts; famous personalities like Pinturicchio, Raphael, and Michelangelo worked for him.
Saint Dominic was a Castilian Catholic priest who is credited with founding the Dominican Order. Dominic is said to have abstained from meat throughout his life. He is also remembered for putting himself to undue hardship like traveling barefoot and rejecting the luxury of a bed. He is regarded as the patron saint of astronomers.
Saint Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Roman church serving Pope Sixtus II, who were executed by the Roman emperor Valerian during the persecution of the Christians. As a deacon, he was responsible for the distribution of alms to the poor. He was captured and martyred in 258 AD. His feast day is on 10 August.
John of the Cross was a Spanish Catholic priest, mystic, and Carmelite friar. One of the 36 Doctors of the Church, he is a major figure of the Counter-Reformation in Spain. He was a prolific writer and poet, and his writings are counted among the greatest works of all Spanish literature. He was beatified in 1675 by Pope Clement X.
Teresa of Ávila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish noblewoman who later turned into a Carmelite nun. She was posthumously named a Doctor of the Church. She co-established the Discalced Carmelite Order. Her written works include The Interior Castle and her own autobiography.
Spanish priest Diego de Landa was one of the most significant Mayan researchers. A Franciscan missionary to Mexico, he initially helped the Mayan people through his charitable efforts and conversions. However, he later inflicted a lot of torture and brutality on them and also burned most of the Mayan manuscripts.
Thirteenth-century Spanish rabbinical scholar Nahmanides had to flee from Spain after a public debate against the Christians, which he won. He later settled in Palestine and penned his iconic works, including a commentary on the Pentateuch. He re-established Jews in Jerusalem after their displacement by the Crusades earlier.
A Spanish rabbi and a noted kabbalist, Moses de León is believed to be the author of the Sefer ha-zohar, a foundational work on the Jewish mysticism written in Aramaic. However, to increase their acceptability, he credited ancient scholars as their authors. Apart from that, he also composed pseudepigrapha on ethics and the eschatology of the soul in Hebrew.
Moses ben Jacob Cordovero probably belonged to a family that had migrated from Spain to Israel during the Spanish Inquisition. Also known as Ramak, he grew up to be a Galilean rabbi who penned summarized versions of the Kabbalah, such as Elimah rabati. He also taught Kabbalist Isaac Luria.
Gil Sánchez Muñoz, or Antipope Clement VIII, was an advisor of Benedict XIII. During the Western Schism, Benedict chose Clement as a cardinal, even at the reluctance of others to accept this decision. Later, Clement had to let go of his titles, reconciled, and was made the bishop of Majorca.
Theodulf of Orléans had been the bishop of Orléans during the reign of Charlemagne and had later become his chief theological advisor. His iconic works, such as Ad Carolum regem, were inspired by Charlemagne. A prominent figure of the Carolingian Renaissance, he also built many churches.
Moses ibn Ezra, or Abū Hārūn Mūsā, was one of the best Spanish Jewish poets and a pioneer of secular verse. He had fallen in love with his niece, but she had been married off to someone else, inspiring him to write poetry which spoke of love and old age.
Born into a Spanish noble family, Juan de Padilla grew up to be an ace military leader who led the Castilian Comunidades in their rebellion against the Habsburg emperor Charles V, or Carlos I of Spain. He was eventually defeated and executed along with the other leaders of the revolt.
As a student of the Kabbalah, under Abraham Abulafia, at 26, Joseph Gikatilla penned his iconic work Ginnat eʾgoz, which inspired Moses de León, the author of the Zohar. His works showcase a merger of philosophy and mysticism. Shaʿareʾora remains another of his significant works.
Spanish Jewish rabbi, translator, and poet Yehuda Alharizi was one of the greatest scholars of 13th-century Spain. Fluent in multiple languages, such as French, Greek, and Latin, he also traveled widely across the world. His works include Tahkemoni and translations of Arabic works such as Guide to the Perplexed into Hebrew.
Born to a famous poet, Pedro González received an elite education and then served as a bishop and an archbishop, before finally being named cardinal. He helped Henry IV’s half-sister, Isabella, and her husband, Ferdinand, secure the throne after Henry’s death. He was also an art lover and a humanist.
Dominican theologian Bartolomé Carranza had also been the archbishop of Toledo. Known for works such as Summa conciliorum and Quattuor controversiae, he was charged with heresy and imprisoned for almost 17 years during the Spanish Inquisition. He died 18 days after being acquitted due to lack of proof.
One of most significant Hebrew grammarians of the 11th century, Jonah ibn Janah was initially a physician but later became a pioneer in the study of the Hebrew syntax. He is remembered for his works al-Mustalha and Kitāb at-tanqiḥ, and for his exegesis of religious texts.
Diego Gelmírez had been both the bishop and the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela. He is also remembered as a prominent historiographer of his era. He had major conflicts with Queen Urraca, the Reckless. He transformed Santiago into a pilgrimage site and also arranged a fleet to combat Moorish naval attacks.
Jewish rabbi, exegete, and grammarian Joseph Kimhi made significant contributions to Hebrew language, along with his sons, Moses and David. His notable works include Sefer ha-zikkaron and Sefer ha-Berit. He also classified Hebrew verbs, dividing them into 10 long and short vowels. He excelled in poetry and translations, too.
Jewish philosopher Joseph ibn Shem-Tov was also the court physician of Castile. He is best known for his attempt to find a middle ground between Aristotelian and Jewish philosophical thoughts, through his works such as Kevod Elohim. He is also remembered for his disputations with Christian scholars.
Spanish diplomat and Roman Catholic cardinal Alfonso de la Cueva, 1st Marquis of Bedmar had initially followed in his father’s footsteps, to step into a military career. He later became an ambassador to Venice, but was caught amid Venice’s plan to counter Spain’s growing influence and left Venice.