University of Valencia logo Logo Libraries and Documentation Service Logo del portal

Joan Lluís Vives (Valencia, 1493-Brujas, 1540)

Estàtua de Lluís Vives

Lluís Vives was one of the most prominent humanists and philosophers of the Renaissance. He was born in Valencia in a well-off family of converted Jews. At the age of 15, he went to study at the Universitat de València-Estudi General.

In 1509 he went to Paris to improve and extend his knowledge at the Sorbonne University, which gathered many students from Aragon and Catalonia, and where many Spanish professors taught. He achieved a doctoral degree in 1512 and moved to Bruges, in Belgium, home to many Valencian merchant families.

In the summer of 1523 he moved to England, where he was appointed lecturer at the Corpus Christi College by Cardinal Wosley, which resulted in his appointment as Chancellor of King Henry VIII, hence fulfilling Vives’ wish to become part of a court, the only place where humanists could carry out properly their research tasks and teach the findings of their studies. There he found the great friendship of Thomas More.

From May 1526 to April 1527, Vives remained in Bruges, where he spent his last years perfecting the humanistic culture of the Dukes of Mencia. He never returned to Valencia or any Spanish university.

His wrote around sixty works, all in Latin. The variety of his work and its innovative value reveals the great humanist worth of Lluís Vives, who focused on methodological problems, so he is mainly a pedagogue and a psychologist. In his treatise De anima et vita (On the soul and life), though following Aristotle and defending the immortality of the soul, he attributes to psychology the empirical study of spiritual processes. Because he studies the theory of affects, memory and association of ideas, he is considered as a precursor of the seventeenth-century anthropology and modern psychology.