Martin de Azpilcueta, by many known as the Navarrese Doctor, was a theologian, priest, and economist who lived well in the early modern era, the same year America was trampled by Cristóbal Columbus.
As a witness to the important importation of precious metals into the peninsula, he also witnessed how the massive influx of gold and silver led to a radical change in the local and European economy, this which allowed him to evoke various theories which, over time, would be the basis of basic economics.
Below we will examine the life and work of this thinker through a biography of Martin de Azpilcueta, Highlighting especially its economic theses, really innovative for the time.
Brief biography of Martín de Azpilcueta
Martin de Azpilcueta, also known as the Navarrese doctor, he was an important figure in the history of Spain, especially for his innovative ideas on economic theory. He was, like many men of his time, very versatile: a priest, a theologian, a philosopher and an economist. He taught in various institutions in France, Spain and Portugal and was part of the School of Salamanca, which allowed him to have a great intellectual impact on the cultural landscape of the time.
Martin de Azpilcueta was born in Barásoain, Kingdom of Navarre, on December 13, 1492 in a family belonging to the Navarre nobility. He came to the world at a really important time for the history of Spain, at the time the crown of Castile, that of Aragon and the kingdom of Navarre. The Middle Ages ended with the exploration of a new world, and with its end a new era began with new ideas, ideological currents and new visions of how society should organize itself.
In 1509 he entered the University of Alcalá to study theology. Once completed, he followed in the footsteps of many of his contemporaries, developing his doctoral studies as canons in France. In this country, he also began his career as a university professor, going first to the University of Cahors and then to the University of Toulouse. In the city of Toulouse he was ordained a priest and began to work as a professor of canon law.
Navarrese doctor, teacher in Salamanca
Due to his Navarrese origin, Martin de Azpilcueta was also known as Doctor Navarrus or Doctor Navarrus Azpilcueta, and was a productive man in much of the knowledge and intellectual arts of the time. He worked not only as a teacher, but also as a prolific counselor, essayist and writer. The theme of his writings focuses on the concerns of the time and, above all, those of the authors of the famous School of Salamanca, also called late scholasticism.
In 1524, at only 32 years old, Martín de Azpilcueta He began his stage as an educationalist at the University of Salamanca, occupying the chair of Premium in Canons. He remained in Tormes until 1537 and, during his time in this city, Azpilcueta became one of the great professors of the University of Salamanca. His classes and lessons greatly influenced the ideas of later thinkers, such as Diego de Covarrubias and Leyva.
After living in Tormes and teaching in Salamanca, he moved to the University of Coimbra, occupying the same chair he taught at his old university. In 1556 he returned to Spain but, after ten years, undertook a new journey, this time to Rome. Its mission was to take care of the defense of the Archbishop of Toledo Bartholomew de Carranza, who had been accused of heresy. The Oratory of Martin de Azpilcueta attracted a lot of attention to the court, which ultimately resulted in it gaining the trust of papal power.
After this event succeeded in carrying out an important task by being counselor to Popes Pius V, Gregory XIII and Sixto V, In addition to being widely recognized as a great canonist in his time. He was also a trusted man of nobles, including Charles I of Spain himself, although he had more than one disagreement with his successor Philip II, a monarch who actually vetoed his appointment. as cardinal.
He resided in Rome until the day of his death on June 21, 1586, at the age of 93., An important step for anyone of their time. He was buried in this same city, as he wanted, more precisely in the church of San Antonio dels Portuguesos.
Reflection, work and contributions to economic theories
The theme of the writings of the Doctor of Navarre responds to the concerns of the time, a society which had just passed the Middle Ages and discovered all kinds of new resources outside the Old Continent, focusing fully on the issues addressed by the authors of the School of Salamanca.
Among his most important works, we can highlight as the most important the following:
- Manuel CONFESSORS y penitents (1553) and pig Adittiones.
- Review the analysis of interests (1556).
- Income benefits (1566).
- BRIEFS Navarrians all these works (1598).
One of the most striking subjects of Martín de Azpilcueta’s work is how exposes the idea of fair price and the theory of scarcity of value. Speaking of these subjects, very advanced by his time, the Navarrese physician is considered by many to be the father of the quantitative theory of money, a theory which indicates that the value of money varies in inverse relation to its supply or the quantity of money. change. available, ideas also processed by the French Jean Bodin in 1568.
The historical context in which he had to live made him see this phenomenon firsthand. In the 16th century, the Hispanic monarchy and Portugal were expanding all over the world. The conquest and exploitation of new territories created a vast trade network between distant territories, increasing resources in Europe through their importation from the Americas, including precious metals. This affected the availability and prices of things.
In his 1556 book “Resolute Commentary on Usury”, he analyzed how the arrival of precious metals in the Iberian Peninsula pushed up prices.. In this book, he argues that prices correspond to the amount of money in circulation in a country. Therefore, the more precious metals there are, the higher the prices, and also this situation occurs in reverse, that is, if there are few minerals, the prices tend to be low.
Arriving en masse in Europe, the amount of precious metals increased faster than other commodities. This caused metals to depreciate in value against them, resulting in high inflation. Then Azpilcueta himself pointed out that prices are also affected by the speed of money flow. According to his theory, the speed of economic movements influences the rise in prices
One of Martín de Azpilcueta’s most advanced and surprising ideas is his defense of the legitimacy of the application of interest in lending operations. This view was based on his idea that money could be one more commodity to exchange with, ideas he championed both in his “Resolute Commentary on Changes” and in “De Usuris”. This vision clashed with that of the Church of previous centuries, which considered the application of interests to be an act of usury.
Azpilcueta argued that the price of currency, that is, interest, was easily determined if financial transactions were carried out in a single country.. Since money within a state was nothing more than another commodity, its price was based on the law of supply and demand. However, it was more complicated if the transaction was an international operation. If the money supply was different between the two countries, so was its price.
- Arigita and Lhasa, M. (1998) The Navarrese doctor don Martín de Azpilcueta and his works: critical historical study. Editorial Analecta. Pamplona.
- Martinez Tapia, R. (1997) Political philosophy and right in the thought of century XVI: the canonist Martin de Azpilcueta. Granada Notarial College. Grenade.
- Muñoz de Juana, R. (1998) Morals and economics in the work of Martin de Azpilcueta. Eunsa. Publishing University of Navarre, SA Barañáin.
- Olóriz Azparren, H. (1998) New biography of Navarrese doctor D. Martín de Azpilcueta and list of his works. Editorial Analecta. Pamplona.
- Pardo Fernández, R. (2011) Martín de Azpilcueta and his time. Pamplona, Government of Navarre.