Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta

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Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta
Archbishop of Tarragona, Spain
Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta.jpg
ChurchCatholic Church
Term endedOctober 17, 1575
PredecessorBartolomé Sebastián Valero de Arroítia
SuccessorAntonio Agustín y Albanell
Other postsCardinal-Priest of S. Vitale (1570)
Cardinal-Priest of S. Martino in Montibus (1570–1572)
Cardinal-Priest of S. Balbina (1572–1575)
Created cardinalMarch 10, 1570
Personal details
Birth nameGaspar de Gaeta Alonso
Bornca. 1511
Trujillo, Spain
DiedOctober 17, 1575 (aged 64)
Tarragona, Spain
BuriedTarragona Cathedral
ResidenceArchbishop's Palace of Tarragona
ParentsFrancisco de Gaeta
María Alonso de Cervantes
Previous postBishop of Messina, Italy (1561–1564)
Bishop of Salerno, Italy (1564–1568)
Alma materUniversity of Salamanca
University of Paris
Coat of armsGaspar Cervantes de Gaeta's coat of arms
Styles of
Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta (Trujillo, 1511[n. 1]Tarragona, October 17, 1575) was a Spanish cardinal of the 16th century. He was a relative of the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.

Early years[edit]

He was born in Trujillo to Francisco de Gaeta and María Alonso de Cervantes. He studied at the Santa Cruz de Cañizares College of the University of Salamanca and at the University of Paris, and later he was appointed councillor and delegate of the Grand Inquisitor of the Kingdom of Aragon.[1]

Early ecclesiastical career[edit]

Cervantes was vicar general of the diocese of León,[2] inquisitor and vicar general of the archdiocese of Seville, and inquisitor in Zaragoza and Naples.[1] In 1561 he was elected archbishop of Messina, and later, in 1566, archbishop of Salerno, where he organized several ecclesial synods.[2] Cervantes participated in the Council of Trent, where he stood out for his eloquence and wisdom,[1] thus winning Pope Pius IV's confidence. This Pope entrusted him ecclesiastical matters of high importance. In 1568 was appointed archbishop of Tarragona, but he did not arrive to Tarragona until 1572.[3]

Archbishop of Tarragona and cardinal[edit]

Being archbishop of Tarragona, he was appointed cardinal-priest of Saint Vitale by Pope Pius V in the consistory of May 17, 1570. On March 9 of that year, he changed to the titular church of Saint Martino in Montibus, and in 1572 to Santa Balbina.[1] For this reason, he spent four years in Italy since his appointment at the archdiocese of Tarragona. During his stay in Rome, he was Papal legate for the kingdoms of Spain.[1] Pope Puis V named him a member of the jury that had to try the archbishop of Toledo, Bartolomé Carranza.[2]

Cervantes went back to Tarragona in May 1572. That year he founded the University of Tarragona, to which he donated a total amount of twenty thousand Catalan pounds.[2]

On April 16 of 1573, he authorized the village of Almoster to own its own baptismal fonts in its church, which spared its inhabitants the inconvenience of going to Reus for this matter.[4]

In 1574, Cervantes got the suppression of the monastery of Escornalbou from Pius V. The money that he got out of it went to the creation of the Seminary of Tarragona, founded in 1575. This seminary is considered the first one in Spain, which later in 1577, it was combined with the University of Tarragona. In 1575 he also founded a novitiate of the Society of Jesus.[2] He also created a penitentiary canonry, founded a residence for Jesuit monks, a hospice for beggars, and invested on the orphanage. He considered that the inner side of the harbour of Tarragona could be assaulted easily, therefore he decided to extend the defenses adding a bastion to the Roman walls that took his name.[5]

He celebrated an ecumenical council from 1572 to 1574.[2] His auxiliary bishop was Joan Terès i Borrull.

In 1574, Tarragona underwent an episode of drought, and Cervantes tried to redirect a water channel from Puigdelfí. However, Cervantes died before he could finish this project, on October 17, 1575.[3]

In 1577, his remains were moved to a tomb between the chapel of Saint Michael and the chapel of the Eleven Thousand Virgins in the Tarragona Cathedral.[3]


In Trujillo he ordered to build the altar in Saint Martin’s Church, where the remains of his mother were placed. The altar is known as the “Altar of Gaeta”.[1] He gave at least sixteen 16th-century tapestries embroidered in Brussels to the Tarragona Cathedral[6] In his will, Cervantes gave thorough details about the administrative regulation and running of the University of Tarragona, which prevented that, years later, the university was abolished by King Philip V of Spain.[2]

Cervantes published a work titled Instruccions, y advertiments molt útils necessaris per les persones ecclesiàstiques y principalment per als qui tenen cura d’ànimes, així de com s’han de haver en les persones, com ensenyar e instruir a sos parroquians en públic y en lo secret de la Penitencia (Barcelona, 1575). This work was originally published in Italian, and when he moved to Tarragona, he ordered to translate it into Catalan. Previously he published in Rome, in 1568, the Constituzioni Sinodali della Chiesa di Salerno.[1]

Lope de Vega dedicated an epitaph to Cervantes in Epitaphios fúnebres a diversos sepulcros.[7]

Cardinal Cervantes street in Tarragona is named after him.


  1. ^ However, in the Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana, it is stated that he was born in 1512.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Archdiocese of Tarragona website". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Gaspar Cervantes de Gaeta at the Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana Online
  3. ^ a b c Del Arco y Molinero, Ángel (1920), "La Antigua Universidad de Tarragona.", Tipografía de Sugrañes (in Spanish): 118
  4. ^ "City Council of Almoster". Archived from the original on August 19, 2008. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  5. ^ Centre d'Interpretacions de las Fortificacions de Tarragona
  6. ^ "Museu Diocesà de l'Arquebisbat de Tarragona". Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  7. ^ Lope de Vega (1776), "Colección de las obras sueltas assí en prosa, como en verso de D. Frey Lope de Vega Carpio del Hábito de San Juan.", Antonio de Sancha (in Spanish), IV: 396
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Giovanni Andrea Mercurio
Archbishop of Messina

Succeeded by
Antonio Carcellaro
Preceded by
Girolamo Seripando
Archbishop of Salerno

Succeeded by
Marco Antonio Colonna
Preceded by
Bartolomé Sebastián Valero de Arroítia
Archbishop of Tarragona

Succeeded by
Antonio Agustín y Albanell
Preceded by
Luigi Cornaro
Cardinal-Priest of S. Vitale

Succeeded by
Piedonato Cesi
Preceded by
Girolamo di Corregio
Cardinal-Priest of S. Martino in Montibus

Succeeded by
Gabriele Paleotti
Preceded by
Lorenzo Strozzi
Cardinal-Priest of S. Balbina

Succeeded by
Gaspar de Quiroga y Vela