Frandsco Ximenes Or Ximenez (De Cisneros) cardinal, a Spanish statesman, born at Torrelaguna, New Castile, in 1436, died at Roa, on the Douro, Nov. 8, 1517. He graduated in both civil and canon law at the university of Salamanca in 1456. In 1459 he went to Rome, where for six years he was advocate in the consistorial courts. He was appointed by the pope to the living of Uzeda, near his native place, but his claim was resisted by the archbishop of Toledo, who imprisoned him in the tower of Santorcaz for six years. He was released in 1480, and soon after exchanged his benefice for a chaplainship in the diocese of Siguenza. Here he devoted himself to theological studies, and mastered Hebrew and Chaldee. In 1482 he resigned all his employments, and entered a Franciscan convent in Toledo. After three years spent in rigid selfmortification and devotions, a part of the time in a mountain retreat, in a little cell built with his own hands, he became superior of the convent of Salzeda. In 1492 he was appointed confessor to Queen Isabella, which office he accepted only on condition that he should be allowed to conform to the vows of his order, and to retain his monastic habits and residence when not required at court. By this time Ximenes had become known throughout Spain, and was everywhere reverenced for his sanctity.

In 1494 he was appointed provincial of his order in Castile; he made his official journeys invariably on foot, subsisting on alms. In the next year he was nominated by the queen archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, which office he accepted only at the command of the pope. Its vast revenues he dispensed mostly in charities, retaining his simple habits and severe monastic observances. Hardly had he been installed in office before he began a vigorous scheme of reform among the Spanish clergy; but his inflexible severity met with much opposition, and upward of 1,000 Franciscan friars, it is said, took refuge in Barbary. The queen sustained the primate, and a permanent amendment was effected in the morals and discipline of the religious orders. He next determined to compel the Moors of the conquered province of Granada to receive baptism; but those of the city rose in open rebellion and besieged him in his palace, and to his persistent efforts in this direction is attributed the rising in the Alpujarras in 1500. One of the least creditable acts in the life of Ximenes was the destruction at this time of a collection of Arabic manuscripts, amounting to many thousands, the loss of which was the immediate cause of the decay of Arabian literature and scholarship in the Spanish peninsula.

But he made some amends by founding (1500-'10) the famous university of Alcalá de Henares, and by his celebrated polyglot Bible, usually called the Complutensian polyglot, from Complutum, the Latin name of Alcala, where it was printed. (See Polyglot.) On the death of Queen Isabella in 1504, Ximenes became the mediator between the rival claimants of the regency of Castile, King Ferdinand and the archduke Philip, the husband of Joanna, heiress of,the crown; and upon the death of Philip, two years later, he assumed, during the absence of Ferdinand in Italy, the presidency of a provisional council or regency which carried on the government of Castile. Owing to the insanity of Joanna, the affairs of the kingdom were for more than a year in a critical condition; but the vigorous counsels and conduct of Ximenes preserved order until the return of Ferdinand and the assumption by him of the regency. In 1507 Ximenes received a cardinal's hat from Julius II., and was appointed inquisitor general of Castile. In 1509, chiefly at his own expense, he conducted an expedition against Oran, a noted resort of pirates, and secured to the crown large spoils and a rich possession on the African continent.

Ferdinand at his death, Jan. 23,1516, by the unanimous advice of his counsellors, left Ximenes regent of the kingdom until the arrival of his grandson Charles I. of Spain, afterward Charles V. of Germany. Fortified in this appointment (nominally shared by Adrian of Utrecht, afterward Pope Adrian VI.) by a confirmatory letter from Charles, the octogenarian cardinal entered upon the duties of his office with vigor. One of his first acts was the enrollment of the burgesses in military corps, which proved a powerful agent in overthrowing the feudal system in Spain, and in preserving his own authority against the pretensions of the grandees. "With the aid of this force he proclaimed Charles king of Castile, notwithstanding the fact that Joanna, though in a state of hopeless insanity, was the legal queen. The opposition of the grandees he completely quelled. Jean d'Albret, the dispossessed king of Navarre, aided by several powerful grandees, made an attempt to recover his kingdom, but was signally defeated.

The cardinal also equipped a large armament against the Barbary corsairs; attempted to ameliorate the condition of the natives in the American colonies, the introduction of negro slavery into which he earnestly but ineffectually opposed; extended the inquisition into all parts of the Spanish dominions, confirming and greatly enlarging its powers; and instituted many important domestic reforms by which the royal revenues were greatly increased. At length, on Sept. 17, 1517, the young king landed at Villaviciosa, in Asturias, and addressed to the aged primate a letter in which, after formally thanking him for past services, he granted him permission to retire to his diocese. Ximenes received the letter while lying ill at Roa, whither he had been removed from the Franciscan convent of Aguillera, near Aranda; his exhausted frame yielded to a return of fever, of which he died within a few hours. - The most authentic account of his life is the biography by Alvaro Gomez de Castro, who was specially appointed by the university of Alcala to undertake the task.

See also Hefele, Der Cardinal Ximenes und die Tcirchlichen Zustände Spaniens im 15. Jahrhundert (2 vols., Tubingen, 1844; 2d ed., 1851; English translation by Canon Dalton, London, 1860).