P15, 1605
Thomae Ludovici de Victoria, Abulensis, sacrae Caesare Maiestatis Capellani. Officium Defunctorum, sex vocibus. In obitu et obsequiis Sacrae Imperatricis. Nunc primum in lucem aeditum. Cum permissu superiorum. Matriti, ex Tipographia Regia.


30 sheets: 2 without pagination, and another 28 paginated. 40 x 27 cm.


Dedicated to: Princess Margarita


For the serene highness Princess and Lady Margaret, daughter of the Emperor Maximilian and the Empress Maria,

who took vows in the Royal Monastery of God’s mother.

Tomás Luis de Victoria, from Avila, her most humble chaplain, asks for health and protection.


It was very common among our ancestors, high princess, to offer sacrifices and gifts to their gods, in the same way they had got talents from them; such as they used to offer sheep to Pan, fruit to Ceres, grapes to Bacchus, fruit to Pomona and bows and arrows to Apollo as proofs of their grateful souls, in the same way they decided to show everybody the power and the goodness of their gods, as well as their manners and behavior. Actually, for me, who am focused on how to compensate the benefits I got from you, nothing is more convenient than to give you some presents as I was lucky to get them from your and the Austria family good will; present which are not others but music and harmony. And, since these pieces have been composed with your support, favourable to my person, and their results will belong only to you, I give them up to you with a cheerful and happy face, the same as wine to Bacchus o pearls to Anfitrite. It is a very humble and poor present, not worth of a so great and high ancestry heroine. What is the value of something offered to the Austria family, since they already shine with perpetual glory for so many centuries due to their kings, Emperors and Princes, well known all over  the world, owning such a high lineage which takes them to the best position ever seen in fortune and power, in such a way that not only their vassals honour them with loyalty and their enemies fear and beg them but also envy, wanted or not, put them in front of all the rest of families in the earth? This is the one who, following the Escipions’ example, do not grow soldiers but so powerful generals that, not being able to bear the menial yoke, they can not obey or fight against inferiors; or, imitating eagles and lions which suffer discredit for killing sparrows or rabbits; or following Alexander the Great who, in Olympic Games, did not accept to compete except with kings; in this way the Austrias act, they do not feel like soldiers carrying swords but heroes with swords and crowns. They are not either as Ottomans who, wishing power greedily, go and fetch it by parricides or destroy themselves by killing one another, they wait for the time of power living in peace and then they show themselves as they really are. What else can I say? I will add only the following: the family tried to get the most powerful empire in the world with the same skills used to preserve and lead it which are not others than mercy and rightful manners. So, why is it necessary to count those innumerable heroes, distinguished in war as well as in peace arts, who were born in this family? To be brief, here Charles V is, unbeaten terror of the world, who, as a new sun, started to shine in the west setting face to the eastern one, daring even to overpass Hercule’s columns, being even bolder than Alexander, using the motto PLUS ULTRA instead of NON ULTRA. Is it necessary to speak about the magnanimous Philip, who reigned and increased his grandfather’s empire, not with HOPE OR FEAR, but with arms and his decision? Eventually, what shall I say about Philip III who carries as a standard the highest wish of his father and grandfather’s fortune and courage? What can I say about those distinguished heroines, the moist serene MARIA, the empress, your mother, whose illustrious nobility can not be left behind anybody else, although it is higher due to the fact she was born from very ancient Caesars’ blood, being emperors’ daughter, granddaughter, daughter-in-law, wife and mother, and the most powerful kings’ sister and mother-in-law, and who, in spite of her great desire for piety and religion (which always endowed your family) overtook and increased her stock’s glory. She is also well known everywhere, not only for the name of her family but also for her lineage, since she gave birth to four sons, alive at this time, who represent the light all over the world; one of whom is an Emperor, others are as Kings in authority; since she has seen her daughters married to the most powerful kings and one of her daughter’s grandsons as a maximum king. In fact, this is important but we can sing another better praise of you being actually the first in fame and wealth in your family, disdaining the gift of beauty for Christ, refusing weddings with the most important Princes and rejecting the pleasures and the luxury of the Court, you decided to marry Christ, choosing a monastic life (though I will not say a word of your precious virtues, because the Sun does not need the light of torches to be brighter, the same as the sea does not need the rivers flowing towards it to be bigger; your virtues do not need any praise to be patent because they are greater themselves. And, since for long I had the idea of thanking you for this purpose of yours, there is nothing more proper than to check that work I composed for your most serene mother’s funeral and which, as a swan song, would see the light under your name’s support. So, please, accept (very serene princess) this poor harvest which comes from your farmer. Please, receive it with the same spirit the Persian Artaxerxes got the water a peasant gave him. The peasant, seeing the king had already power over the full world and he had achieved many land victories, did not have other chance than to offer him the Sea Empire and, as a present, he gave him a sample of water. I, seeing a big part of land and sea conquered by the Austrias, do not have other chance than offering you the sacred music and heavenly harmony in order to reach eventually the last crown in heaven. You, seeing not the present, but the spirit of the one who is giving it and the modest gift for your very serene dead mother, for you and for your relations, favour this enterprise, waiting for greater gifts in a future time if God gives me long living. With my best wishes concerning your very serene Princess’ health. In Madrid, on June Ides, in the year of the renewed salvation 1605.


Translation: Carmen Jerez Cid


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Image from the facsimile published by the Caja de Ahorros de Ávila in 2000.

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Preserved specimens (Cramer/RISM)