Antonio Perez, a Spanish statesman, born at Monreal de Ariza, Aragon, about 1539, died in Paris, Nov. 3, 1611. He was a natural son of Gonzalo Perez, minister for 40 years to Charles V. and Philip II., was legitimated in his infancy, and educated at Louvain, Venice, and Madrid. On his father's death he became one of the two chief secretaries of state, and was soon the depositary of Philip's most intimate confidences. When the king wished to put out of the way Juan de Escovedo, Perez was employed to have him assassinated (1578). Escovedo was stabbed in the street by hired bravos, but it is now believed that Perez had a personal motive in causing his death, because Escovedo was acquainted with the minister's intrigue with the princess of Eboli, the king's mistress. Perez and the princess were arrested two months afterward, ostensibly to satisfy the demands of Escovedo's relatives, and the former was condemned to two years' imprisonment, eight years' exile from court, and a heavy fine. At first Philip appeared anxious to make his punishment as light as possible, but after he had obtained all the papers which might prove his own share in the murder, he sent the ex-minister to the fortress of Turreguano, and extorted from him on the rack a confession that he had killed Escovedo, coupled however with the declaration that he did it by the royal command.
In July, 1590, his wife procured him the means of escape to Saragossa, where he placed himself under the protection of the fueros or independent jurisdiction of Aragon. The king, in violation of these constitutional privileges, ordered him to be seized, but the people forcibly released him. Philip then caused him to be transferred to the prison of the inquisition on a charge of heresy. The populace again restored him to liberty, and the consequence was an armed revolt which gave Philip a long desired opportunity to extinguish the fueros for ever. In the mean time Perez escaped to France, and was sent by Henry IV. on a secret mission to England, during which he published a narrative of the occurrences in which he had been concerned; but he expressed himself in a guarded and enigmatical way, which has rendered the whole affair one of the most mysterious romances of history. After the accession of Philip III. his wife and children, who had been kept in prison, were liberated (1599), but all his efforts to be recalled to Spain were in vain. Besides his Eelaciones already mentioned, he wrote Cartas familiares, several political works, and a life of Philip II. which has never been printed. He wrote in remarkably idiomatic Castilian, and many of his pointed sayings have become proverbial.
Much light has been thrown upon his career by M. Mignet in his Antonio Perez et Philippe II. (Paris, 1845; translated into English in 1846).