BIOGRAFÍA DEL MARQUÉS DE SANTILLANA
Don Íñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana and Count of el Real de Manzanares was born in 1398 in Carrión de los Condes (Palencia, Spain). His father was Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, the Admiral of Castilla and Sir of Hita and Buitrago (both in Guadalajara, Spain), and his mother was a very important, rich and intelligent lady, doña Leonor de la Vega. His family, member of the high aristocracy of Spain, paid tribute to weapons and humanities at the same time, and don Íñigo was the best member of his family at representing the aristocrat, soldier, knight and poet, as it was normal during the Middle Ages. His father died when he was very young and don Íñigo was taken to his grandmother’s house. She was a very important lady, member of the highest Castilian aristocracy, doña Mencía de Cisneros, and in her house, during his long-staying periods, he used to read the Castilian Cancioneros. Even being very young, don Íñigo was taken under don Pedro López de Ayala’s protection, the Chancellor of Castilla. When he was only ten years old, his marriage with doña Catalina de Figueroa was arranged. In spite of this arrangement, they loved each other so much. He went to the Aragon and Naples Courts being very young, following the king, Alfonso el Magnánimo, always taking part of his retinue. His staying in Naples was a decisive factor for his own literary training: from Italy he took new themes and metres which would be very important in Spanish literature few years after, and in Italy he met some poets from Valencia and Cataluña who would be decisive in his carrier. When he went to the Castilian Court, coming from Aragon, under Juan II’s kingdom, he pleaded himself enemy of don Álvaro de Luna, the king’s protégée. Being in the Castilian Court, he fought against the Moors, but also for and against the current king, Juan II. His continuous helps to the Crown gave him very important titles for him and his own descendants: apart from Marquis of Santillana del Mar, Earl of el Real de Manzanares and Sir of Hita and Buitrago, his own descendants caused the important Spanish titles of the highest aristocracy, as the House of Medinaceli. His life continued living close to the Court, where he took part in one of the attempts of killing don Álvaro de Luna, being then Condestable of Castilla. Once don Álvaro had died due to the king’s orders and the national identity the Marquis wanted got, he continued taking part in the Court life and dedicating his time to weapons and humanities as his family used to do it.
Being also very young, the Marquis started his carrier in Humanities, especially in Literature. Until 1434 all his creations are written following the medieval pattern, this period is characterised by small and simple poems inspired in the troubadours’ world, they are represented by the famous Serranillas (where the Castilian and the Provencal lyrical influence is mixed, joined with the tribute to courtly love, which gave this kind of poems a very refined air).
In his following period, the Marquis abandoned the medieval influence and, after his staying in Naples, he got the Italian Renaissance one, which was appearing for the first time in Castilla, always full of references to the Greco-Latin literary world, an example of his erudition and his humanist training. His Decires narratives, the Comedieta de Ponza, the dialogue Bías contra Fortuna, the Proverbios, the Infierno de los Enamorados and his Sonetos fechos al itálico modo belonged to this period. He uses references and comparisons with the most important Greco-Latin heroes this kind of compositions in order to represent his own characters, in which he uses the work of Dante, the Italian poet, the author of the Divine Comedy. During all this period, most of the Castilian poets continued using the verse of eight syllables to compose his poems, but the Marquis prefers to start another kind of verse, the verse of twelve syllables (which has very remarked accents in the second, the fifth, the eighth and the eleventh syllables), and also the verse of eleven syllables (influenced by the Italian poets, and with this kind of verse, he is going to build his famous “sonnets”, although this kind of metric verse didn’t acclimatize in Spain until the sixteenth century, after being used by two of our most important Renaissance poets: Juan Boscán and Garcilaso de la Vega). The Carta-Prohemio al Condestable don Pedro de Portugal, one of his most important prose works, considered the first attempt of doing a History of the Spanish Literature, also belongs to this period.
His last period’s compositions always follow the same moral tone, and the Marquis uses his own vital experience to compose them. The Favor de Hércules contra Fortuna (in which the Marquis asks for a Spain released from its monsters and from the “harmful beast” which is devouring it, clearly alluding to don Álvaro de Luna), the Coplas contra don Álvaro de Luna (a non-very-reflexive poem in which the Marquis attacks don Álvaro, now defeated, and in which he analyses don Álvaro’s humble origins, contrasts them with the high power he has exerted and blames on him the ingratitude he has shown to the king; here we can see how the Marquis fights for the aristocracy’s rights) and the Doctrinal de privados (a vigorous and pathetic discourse pronounced by don Álvaro himself, who confesses his mortal sins, that’s why the instructive character of the protégée’s defeat is reinforced) belonged to this final period.
The last years of his life were spent on writing religious poems (maybe because he could feel his close death), and to this last two years belong the Gozos de Nuestra Señora, the Coplas a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and the Canonización de San Vicente Ferrer and fray Pedro de Villacreces. He dies in Guadalajara in 1458 after a life in which he joined several personalities: as a knight, he knew how the life in the Court was being carried out, but he was also a soldier, as he defended the Aragon border and fought against the Moors between Cordoba and Jaen’s borders; as a politic, he also defended his domains legally and his politic intervention made him influence on the king, don Álvaro de Luna or the Infants of Aragon’s decisions; but he always was a prolific writer whose poetic production was extraordinarily varied, always opened to experimentation, but without giving up a reflexive attitude towards the selection and the correction of his own works.
TEXTO REALIZADO POR LOS ALUMNOS DE 3º DE E.S.O. “C” DEL I. E. S. “JOSÉ HIERRO” DE SAN VICENTE DE LA BARQUERA