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Will of Miguel Mañara (1679)

Will of Miguel Mañara. ACA, Colecciones, Reserva, no. 13

Miguel Mañara

Salto de línea Miguel Mañara was born in 1627 into a comfortably-off family. His parents were Tomás de Mañara, a trader who had come from Calvi in Corsica and who made his fortune as a shipper to Spain’s overseas territories, and Jerónima Anfriano Vicentelo, native of Seville and also of Corsican descent.

Mañara inherited the family fortune upon the death of his elder brothers. After a decadent youth, his life underwent a radical change upon the death of his wife Jerónima Carrillo in 1661. He joined Seville’s religious brotherhood, the “Hermandad de la Caridad” (=Charity brotherhood) and became “Hermano Mayor” (=Senior brother), an honour that remained with him until his death. He founded the Charity Hospital, which served the many beggars and sick of the city. He arranged to be buried beneath the portico of his church of the Santa Trinidad, under a stone engraved with the well-known epithet, “here lie the ashes and bones of the worst of men to have lived on this earth”.

His death resounded throughout Seville. The city, wishing to place him on a pedestal, promoted the legend of his dissolute youth. This legend was a source of inspiration for the French Romantic movement. There, his name was changed to Juan and he was linked to the character Tenorio in the work of Tirso de Molina. Antonio Machado, the Seville poet of world renown, refers to his reputation as a seducer in his verses “ni un seductor Mañara ni un Bradomín he sido, ya conocéis mi torpe aliño indumentario”(= Neither a Bradomin nor Mañara seducer, I, a man known to all for my scruffy garb).

The will

Miguel Mañara drew up his last will and testament in Seville on 17 March 1679 and delivered it, signed and sealed by his own hand, to the notary, Francisco Fernández, who read it in public on 9 May, the day of his death.

In essence, the will is typical of those of its days: an initial invocation, a lengthy profession of faith, then a preface (“I, Don Miguel Mañara, ashes and dust, a poor sinner”). In the body of the document are an explanatory memorandum - including the essential clause confirming that he is of sound mind - and his last wishes. Here, he specifies how he wants to be buried, commits his everlasting soul to heaven and leaves funds for masses and prayers in his name, plus requests and bequests to his servants. In conclusion, the document specifies the appointment of executors and the renouncing of any previous wills, ending with the date and Mañara‘s signature.

Throughout, the text’s literary style is considerably richer than the basic requirements for such a document: “All except what the Almighty has ordained is vanity and held by me to be merely dung, refuse and the mere fantasy of vain and ridiculous men. Woe is me! Who is drop dead before the end of these lines and, because they are bathed with my tears, they were accompanied with the last breath of my life!”; dire threats to his executors if they fail to carry out instructions for his funeral and burial “…because their ears were open to the voices of the arrogance and illusion of this world… vain arguments, replete with vanity and illusory splendour… in the vain ritual of giving burial to a decaying body”; the heartfelt petition and offer of forgiveness to any “that I may have offended and outraged” before the date.

The copy held by the ACA

The document belonging to the Archives of the Crown of Aragon is a simple copy made at the time. It bears the preface “Last Will and Testament of the Venerable Servant of God, Don Miguel de Mañara, Knight of the Order of Calatrava, Native of the City of Seville and Restorer of the reputed Casa de la Caridad (House of Charity) in the said city.”

The copy is a bifolio acquired by the Archive in 1955 together with other documents of varied origin and content and purchased from the bibliophile and bookseller, José Porter. These were incorporated into the Collection of Curious and Noteworthy documents, catalogued as ACA, Colecciones, Reserva, no. 13.