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Poetry at Court in Trastamaran Spain: 

From the Cancionero de Baena 

to the 

Cancionero General 

cneDievAL & ReMAissAMce 

TEXTS & STuOies 

Volume 181 

Poetry at Court in Trastamaran Spain: 

From the Cancionero de Baena 

to the 

Cancionero General 

edited by 

E. Michael Gerli & Julian Weiss 

CDe£)l6VA.L & ReMAlSSAMCe T6XTS & STuDies 

Tempe, Arizona 

A generous grant from The Program for Cultural Cooperation Between 
Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States' Universities has assisted in 
meeting the publication costs of this volume. 

© Copyright 1998 
Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Poetry at court in Trastamaran Spain : from the Cancionero de Baena to the 
Cancionero general / edited by E. Michael Gerli & Julian Weiss. 

p. cm. — (Medieval & Renaissance texts & studies ; v. 181) 
Papers from a conference held at Georgetown University, Washington, 
D.C., 11-14 Feb. 1993. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 
ISBN 0-86698-223-X (alk. paper) 

1. Spanish poetry — To 1500 — History and criticism — Congresses. 
2. Love poetry, Spanish — History and criticism — Congresses. 3. Civili- 
zation, Medieval, in literature — Congresses. 4. Courtly love in literature — 
Congresses. I. Gerli, E. Michael. II. Weiss, Julian, 1954- . III. Series. 
PQ6096.C3P64 1998 

861 '. 2093543— dc21 98-8302 



This book is made to last. 

It is set in Bembo, 

smythe-sewn and printed on acid-free paper 

to library specifications. 

Printed in the United States of America 

Table of Contents 

Acknowledgements vii 

Introduction (Julian Weiss) 1 

I. Cancioneros: Compilation and Cultural Meaning 

The Typology and Genesis of the Cancioneros: 19 

Compiling the Materials (Vicenf Beltran Pepio) 

In Praise of the Cancionero: Considerations on the Social Meaning 47 
of the Castilian Cancioneros (Michel Garcia) 

II. Traditions: Rupture and Renewal 

Francisco Imperial and the Issue of Poetic Genealogy 59 

(Marina S. Brownlee) 

Silent Subtexts and Cancionero Codes: On Garcilaso 79 

de la Vega's Revolutionary Love (Aurora Hermida Ruiz) 

III. Courtly Games 

The Game of Courtly Love: Letra, Divisa, and InuenciSn at the 95 

Court of the Catholic Monarchs (Ian Macpherson) 

Role Playing in the Amatory Poetry of the Cancioneros 111 

(Victoria A. Burrus) 

IV: Questions of Language 

Bilingualism in the Cancioneros and Its Implications 137 

(Alan Deyermond) 

Reading Cartagena: Blindness, Insight, and Modernity 171 

in a Cancionero Poet (E. Michael Gerli) 


V: Politics, Society, Culture 

Jews and Conversos in Fifteenth-Century Castilian Cancioneros: 187 

Texts and Contexts (Julio Rodriguez Puertolas) 

Power and Justice in Cancionero Verse 199 

(Regula Rohland de Langbehn) 

Male Sexual Anxieties in Carajicomedia: A Response 221 

to Female Sovereignty (Barbara F. Weissberger) 

Cultural Studies on the Gaya Ciencia 235 

(Mark D. Johnston) 

Bibhography 255 

Index 289 


The editors wish to thank the following institutions for sponsoring the confer- 
ence: the Program for Cultural Cooperation Between Spain's Ministry of 
Culture and United States' Universities, The Embassy of Spain in Washington, 
D.C., the Folger Institute of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Georgetown 
University. Final revisions to the majority of the essays were completed during 
1995; since then, it has been possible to update the bibliography only in a 
couple of instances. The editors are therefore deeply grateful for the forbear- 
ance of the contributors during the long editorial process. 


In memoriam Brian Dutton 

Poetry at Court in Trastamaran Spain: 

From the Cancionero de Baena 

to the 

Cancionero General 




The essays that make up this collection were originally presented at an inter- 
national research conference held at Georgetown University, Washington 
D.C., under the title "Poetry at Court in Trastamaran Spain: From the Can- 
cionero de Baena to the Cancionero general" (February 11-14, 1993). The con- 
ference, which now provides the title for this book, was, we believe, the first 
of its kind devoted exclusively to the late medieval Castilian poetry now com- 
monly known as cancionero verse. 

What kind of priority is claimed by this statement? "A beginning," accord- 
ing to Edward Said, "immediately estabUshes relationships with works already 
existing, relationships of either continuity or antagonism or some mixture of 
both" (1975, 3). For reasons that will become evident in the course of this 
introduction and the essays themselves, the relationships this book establishes 
with the past are complex and various. However, Said goes on to add that a 
beginning "generally involves also the designation of a consequent intention" 
(1975, 5). In organizing the conference, Michael Gerli and 1 did not ask the 
participants to prepare specific topics according to a preconceived scheme; 
neither the collection nor, a fortiori, the conference were intended to be nar- 
rowly programmatic. Hence, ours is not a beginning that leads to a specific set 
of clearly defined conclusions. Our intentions are more general and answer a 
more fundamental need: to create a forum in which readers can take stock of 
some of the major current approaches to cancionero studies and begin critical 
reflection upon past achievements and future possibilities in this field. 

And in some areas the achievements of the recent past have been consid- 
erable. Although the trend predates the 1980s, the last fifteen years have wit- 
nessed extraordinary advances in our empirical knowledge of the caruioneros} 

' The opening pages of Vicen^ Beltran's contribution provide ample bibliographical 


Brian Dutton's Catdlogo-indice (1982), itself a monument to bibliographic 
scholarship, has culminated in the staggering achievement of the multivolume 
series published in Salamanca (1990—91). This will be as essential a research 
tool for the twenty-first century as Foulche-Delbosc's Cancionero castellano has 
been (unfortunately in many respects) for the twentieth. Many others besides 
Dutton, however, have increased the sheer availability of cancionero verse and 
enhanced our ability to appreciate these anthologies from a wide range of 
social and literary perspectives. The last fifteen years have also seen a distinct 
improvement in accessible and high-quality editions of the complete oeuvres of 
single poets: the canonical triumvirate of Santillana, Mena, and Jorge Manrique 
are the ones to benefit most obviously firom the skill and downright dedication 
of such scholars as Miguel Angel Perez Priego, Angel Gomez Moreno, Maxim 
Kerkhof, Carla de Nigris, and Vicen? Beltran. But clearly, much more needs 
to be done in the editorial field, where progress has been sporadic and uneven. 

Other basic research tools have been created by Ana Maria Gomez Bravo, 
whose metrical catalogue of cancionero lyric will soon take its place on the 
scholar's shelves alongside Tavani's Repertorio metrico of the Galician-Portuguese 
lyric (1967) and Istvan Frank's catalogue of Provencal (1953—66). Equally 
indispensable documentation has been provided by Vicen^ Beltran's study 
(1988a) of the syntactic and metrical structures of the Castilian cancion? Two 
book-length studies oi^ cancionero verse by Casas Rigall (1995) and Crosas Lopez 
(1995) also provide valuable documentary evidence for understanding the po- 
etic use of rhetorical techniques and classical motifs respectively. 

The boundary between documentary and interpretative work (enshrined in 
the quaint distinction between "scholar" and "critic") is as we know a blurred 
one, but it seems to me that the main achievements of the past decade or so 
have lain in the former, rather than the latter category. Although there have 
been many fine articles on isolated topics, there is a relative scarcity of broad- 
based monographs that offer extended critical readings of poems, poets, 
themes, genres, or sociocultural issues. One has to go back over fifteen years 
to find the two books that (in my opinion) offer the most innovative attempts 
to conceptualize the poetics and cultural meaning of cancionero verse: Roger 
Boase's Troubadour Revival (1978) and Keith Whinnom's La poesia amatoria 
(1981, though his project began in the mid-1960s). 

My impression is that at least here in the United States, cancionero verse still 
labors under a certain stigma. Whinnom's pioneering work (1966) was a force- 
ful reminder that cancionero lyric has played, so to speak, a "negative function" 

^ The fruit of twenty years bbor, its methods are inspired by Russian Formalism and 
Structuralism and modulated by the "noble" science of statistics (the adjective is the author's). 
I hope it does not take another twenty years for Professor Beltran, or someone else, to take 
up the challenge of Russian Formalism and show how cancionero verse "might be said to de- 
famiharize, make strange or challenge certain dominant conceptions ... of the social world" 
(Bennett 1979, 21). 


in Spanish literary historiography. But in spite of his insights, much of the 
work done on the cancioneros is still rooted in largely unexamined assumptions 
about literary canons, esthetic, social, and political categories and values. This 
is poetry that since the early nineteenth century has occupied a liminal space 
in the minds of critics. It has been the terrain upon which critics have staked 
out the boundaries separating pairs of contrasting conceptual categories. Cul- 
turally, for example, it has been read to locate the difference between medieval 
and Renaissance (or early modern); esthetically, the "insincerity" and arti- 
ficiality of the court lyric has been invoked to demonstrate — or I should say 
create by contrast — the poetic authenticity of canonical texts (whether they be 
Santillana's serranillas, Manrique's Coplas, or Garcilaso's verse)? The history of 
cancionero studies is a measure of our evolving notions of "literature" and "cul- 
ture," since much of the interpretative criticism has been designed to vindicate 
or deny its status as "art." It would hardly be appropriate to say that cancionero 
verse has been neglected. Rather, as "literature's" Other, its uncomfortable yet 
necessary presence looms large in modern literary historiography, as "tradi- 
tional" in its alterity as the Traditional Lyric has been in its easy canonicity. 

To foster debate on cancionero verse, its poetics and cultural significance, we 
have tried to gather together a representative cross-section of current work, 
produced by scholars writing at different stages in their careers, some of them 
renowned specialists in medieval lyric, others publishing for the first time on 
the subject."* The contributors do not follow a homogeneous line, in theme 
or method. They write from different critical positions and work within (and 
in some cases across) an international range of academic institutions whose 
structures and conventions so often exert an unseen pressure upon the kinds of 
criticism we practice. In this sense, and without wishing to labor the point, 
this collection is a sample of the range of criticism practiced within contem- 
porary hispanomedievalism. The volume as a whole, therefore, can be used to 
explore not just cancioneros but the assumptions and methodologies we bring to 
the task of literary and historical criticism. 

However, although we stress diversity as a positive value of the book, the 
collection is not amorphous. The original submissions to the conference fell 
into fairly clear discussion groups based around the following research topics: 
codicological studies; literary traditions; questions of language; courtly love as 
play; and sociopolitical issues.^ With only slight modification, the book retains 

•^ For a single example that combines both these age-old critical maneuvres, see Di 
Camillo (1976, 69-106), which casts the nonlyrical, "unpoetic" cancionero esthetic as a back- 
drop, a medieval "other," against which he defined his Spanish Renaissance humanism. 

* This collection contains a considerable amount of work in progress. Many essays (e.g., 
those by Deyermond, Weissberger, Beltran, Macpherson, Hermida Ruiz, Burrus) are samples 
of more ambitious projects currently in preparation. 

^ Two issues not treated in this volume are music and textual criticism. The latter omis- 
sion is especially regrettable, because the past twenty-five years have witnessed a significant 


the conference grouping; and needless to say, within each area, each essay 
stands alone as an individual contribution in its own right. However, the sec- 
tions of the book are not watertight categories: they overlap, and therein lies 
much of the power of the book to generate further thinking about the field. 
For — like any anthology — whether this volume as a whole amounts to more 
than the sum of its parts depends upon the ability of its readers to make con- 
nections between the papers: to read the entire book not as a product but as 
a process. So rather than limiting myself to the usual introductory style of sum- 
marizing — too often in bland agreement — each of the papers, I shall attempt 
something less perfunctory, which is to offer a personal reading of the con- 
nections between the essays and to identify some areas for future thought and 
debate. I hardly need emphasize that the course I plot through these papers is 
shaped by my own critical concerns. I encourage other readers to follow the 
spirit of the collection and, by drawing their own intersections between the 
themes and methods outlined here, to pursue new lines of inquiry or renew 
their own research. 

Anthologies by their very nature select and arrange; in the process of se- 
lection and arrangement, they can — sometimes by accident, sometimes by 
design — create new ways of looking at the material. I hope that this anthology 
about anthologies will do the same. 

Cancioneros: Compilation and Cultural Meaning 

In a paper originally presented at the conference but now published separately, 
Dorothy Severin (1994) argued that the term cancionero ("songbook") is a 
misnomer for anthologies that include such a heterogeneous range of literary 
genres, in prose and verse, copied for a variety of private and public purposes. 
Whatever one thinks of the usefulness of this catch-all term, her arguments 
highlight the urgent need for an empirical survey of the available corpus. This 
is precisely the project undertaken by Viceng Beltran: as part of his continuing 
research on the organizational techniques of the anthologies, the present 
contribution studies their underlying processes of compilation, which are so 
often hidden from view when we consider the cancioneros merely as finished 
products. '' 

To classify, therefore, what he calls "their genetic typology," Beltran draws 
upon an impressive array of codicological evidence. Although we possess some 
manuscript studies of individual cancioneros (as Beltran's generous bibliography 

growth in critical editions of the major cancionero poets (Santillana, Mena, Jorge Manrique, 
San Pedro) and, to a lesser extent, of the cancioneros themselves. Although much remains to 
be done, these achievements have set the stage for a critical review of those problems that 
may be associated specifically with editing cancionero verse. The issue is all the more pressing 
given the recent advances in computerized editions (on which see Faulhaber 1991). 

'' The original conference also included an important paper on the compilatory process 
by Fiona Maguire. 


makes plain), this is a pioneering attempt at a broad-based survey of the Cas- 
tihan material. His essay is founded upon a rigorous accumulation of codico- 
logical data, and each piece of evidence seems to have its own singular tale to 
tell. Beltran reconstructs with special care the stories behind the structural 
components of each cancionero as well as those of the uniquely documented 
texts (in our quest for the canonical we usually esteem the poems that were 
most widely disseminated). However, the wealth of documentary detail so 
necessary for Beltran's project should not obscure the value and overall func- 
tion of the evidence adduced: this is to emphasize the preeminently social 
nature of these volumes. He shows what happens when a textual "nucleus" (a 
single work, group of poems, or prexisting cancionero) passes beyond its original 
readership and is reconfigured, whether by chance or design, to suit new 
needs. A significant group of cancioneros are then best seen as products of a 
cumulative process: diachronic collaborations of successive owners and literary 
circles. A crucial problem for the literary historian is how to relate seemingly 
anonymous cancioneros to specific centers of literary production. As Beltran 
emphasizes in his conclusion, this fundamental point (whose implications I 
explore below) cannot be appreciated unless we shift our gaze firom the 
contents of the anthologies to the manuscript "container" itself. 

Michel Garcia takes up the challenge to make the cancioneros themselves a 
primary object of study in an essay that complements and extends many of 
Beltran's conclusions. Speculating upon their sociological and literary impli- 
cations, he argues that cancioneros should be seen as "literary" objects in their 
own right. This insight is implicitly supported by recent critical approaches to 
the history of the manuscript and early printed book. Scholars such as Roger 
Chartier (1993) and Sylvia Huot (1987) have shown how the materiality of 
written works both generate and are reinforced by new literary concepts and 
categories. In this case, the physical form of the cancioneros and the essentially 
posthumous nature of their compilation (according to Garcia) signal the exis- 
tence in vernacular culture of those categories now enshrined in such terms as 
"book," "literature," and "literary tradition." Just how these categories give 
structure and meaning to a specific anthology is shown in Garcia's case study 
of the Cancionero de Onate, which seems to have been compiled as a coherent 
record of Castilian literary production. 

The importance of manuscript evidence for understanding the historical 
development of these categories is thrown into even greater relief when we set 
these two codicological studies side by side and reflect upon some of their 
common assumptions and different perspectives. Take, for example, the cate- 
gories "tradition" and "author." Beltran's study of cancioneros as a textual process 
provides a suggestive contrast with Garcia's emphasis on the essentially 
posthumous nature of their compilation. This difference in emphasis should 
not be resolved in favor of one or the other, because it shows how the re- 
markable intensity of compilation during the fifteenth century contributes to 
an emerging sense of "tradition," whose basic dynamic is renewable membership 
in a (selective) past. Thus, Beltran's research into the centers of literary pro- 


duction acquires a new relevance for a social reading of cancionero verse: who 
were the patrons of these emerging traditions, whose interests did they serve? 
The conclusions of both essays hinge implicitly and explicitly upon the 
category "author." Garcia views cancionero verse as a collective production in 
which the concept of originary "authorial" creation is something of an anach- 
ronism. Yet the validity of this concept is an unspoken assumption of Beltran's 
concluding argument that codicological and textual studies of cancionero verse 
should follow the work done on Renaissance manuscripts of Livy, which is 
predicated on recovering the original authorial intention. My point is not that 
Garcia is incorrect to downplay the category "author" (though some evidence 
suggests that it had a powerful appeal for some late medieval writers [Weiss 
1990, Minnis 1988]) or that Beltran is unwise to appropriate for cancionero 
verse the methods of textual criticism applicable to a Latin auctor (since courtly 
lyrics might more accurately be portrayed as existing in a state of mouvance 
antithetical to the notion of fixed authorial text). To render, rather than re- 
solve, the full complexity of the historical process {process being the key term) 
we need to recognize how the categories author, literature, literary tradition, 
or book are not ready-made interpretative templates to be forced back upon 
the historical data. They are historical constructs and for the period in question 
are not dominant but emergent ideas — or even what Raymond Williams has 
called "structures of feeling" that "exist on the edges of semantic availa- 
bility" — and as such are documented or articulated often in hesitant and 
contradictory fashion.^ The intersections between the studies of Beltran and 
Garcia open up a space in which to explore how codicological analysis sheds 
light on the historical development of those conceptual categories that provide 
the most common framework for our discussions of literature. Future research 
into these issues would need to be conducted on equally rigorous empirical 
and conceptual levels.^ 

' On the notions of the dominant and emergent, see Williams (1977, 121-27). WiUiams's 
concept of structure of feeling is more complex, but it is a theoretical category designed to 
identify "social experiences in solution, as distinct from other social semantic formations which 
have been precipitated and are more evidently and more immediately available" (see WiUiams 
1977, 128-35, at 133-34). 

" In this respect, Garcia's paper should stimulate discussion in the following two areas. 
Firsdy, he suggests that the earlier mester de clerecta provides — in the shape of the Rimado de 
palacio — a precedent for conceiving cancioneros in terms of a "book" (with its connotations of 
overarching unity). This view needs to be developed in the light of the arguments of 
Orduna (1988) and Dagenais (1994): the former compares the textus receptus of the LBA with 
a cancionero, while the latter argues against viewing the poem as a work informed by modem 
notions of textual and authorial coherence. However problematic, the comparison between 
the cancioneros and the two earlier cuadema via compilations is crucial for any historical under- 
standing of the methods and underlying assumptions of vernacular compilation during the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Castile. Equally crucial is to bring the Castilian evidence 
into much closer dialogue with the French and Italian material discussed by Huot (1987). 


Traditions: Rupture and Renewal 

Though with different emphases, both studies of cancioneros touch on the con- 
cept of hterary traditions. Their combined evidence shows how the act of 
recording verse roots the present in the past and simultaneously creates and 
satisfies a need for an authorizing tradition. However, Garcia also looks to the 
future and suggests that the continued popularity of cancionero verse well into 
the sixteenth century derives from the perceived "literary quality of the texts." 

The concept of tradition, therefore, creates a suggestive link with the 
studies by Marina Brownlee and Aurora Hermida Ruiz, who both adopt a 
diachronic perspective and examine the complex relations of cancionero poets 
with those who preceded and followed them. Brownlee's analysis of the poetic 
genealogy of Francisco Imperial's famous Dezir a las siete virtudes breaks new 
ground in the study of Castilian poets and their French and Italian predeces- 
sors. This is no conventional study of source and influence (the genetic criti- 
cism practiced by earlier generations of scholars has told us all it can). Brown- 
lee draws on Jacqueline Cerquiglini's theories of the French dit to argue that 
Imperial w^as trying to establish the Castilian dezir as a form of "second-degree 
literature": a metaliterary form, characterized by a self-conscious play upon 
previous texts and the primacy of the enunciating subject. Brownlee puts these 
ideas to work in a detailed explication of Imperial's reading of Dante, which, 
besides elucidating the complexities of the Castilian poem, shows how Im- 
perial fashioned the seemingly paradoxical authorial persona, poeta/ dezidor!^ 

How would following the injunctions of Beltran and Garcia to consider the 
poems in their manuscript context affect our understanding of Imperial's proj- 
ect? Setting the poem alongside the other visionary narratives in Baena's 
anthology would certainly put into sharper perspective Imperial's challenge to 
the contemporary horizon of expectations. It would also offer a practical op- 
portunity to test Steven Nichols's argument (1989) that the manuscript be 
viewed as a "matrix" of the competing interests of scribes, compilers, and 
poets. Moreover, Brownlee's methods could well be applied to other poets and 
not just those of the Cancionero de Baena. My hunch is that Santillana's narra- 
tive dezires (and not only his) will display characteristics similar to those found 
in Imperial's poem: and not necessarily, or even at all, because of putative 

Secondly, for the purposes of cultural analysis much more work needs to be done on the 
assumptions implicit in Garcia's conceptualization and use of the term "literature." I wonder 
how possible it will be to sustain "literature" as an autonmous category (as in "the specific 
values of literature"), unrelated to the ideological interests of the social formations and insti- 
tutions that produced it as such. I return to this problem below in my comments on Mark 
Johnston's paper; see also the concluding paragraphs to my study on Heman Nuiiez's com- 
mentary on Juan de Mena (1993). 

'^ The paradox rests on the conjunction of two hierarchically structured, though over- 
lapping, concepts of poetic creativity: poetry as philosophy (poeta), and poetry as rhetoric 
{dezidor). The opposition is articulated in the critical prefaces of Santillana and Encina but has 
its roots in antiquity; see Weiss (1990, 104, 190, 196) for discussion and bibliography. 


knowledge of French poetic practice (to assume this would merely replicate Le 
Gentil's fatuous dismissal of Spain as "fille spirituelle de la France"). A more 
probable working hypothesis is that the same social forces that produced the dit 
as defined by Cerquiligni — the move firom the psychodynamics of orality to 
those of written discourse — independently shape the development of the Cas- 
tilian dezir (and English, Italian, and Catalan . . . ). 

The long shift firom oral modes of composition and thought to those gener- 
ated by literacy provides, as Brownlee emphasizes, the essential context for 
Imperial's fascination with the dynamics of intertextuality, particularly his belief 
that (like Juan Ruiz) "intertextuality is inevitable." In making this point, 
Brownlee cites Zumthor's remark that "oralite et ecriture s'opposent comme 
le continu au discontinu." Leaving aside the problems associated with Zum- 
thor's binary formulation, the association between writing and discontinuity or 
distantiation suggests that there is a social dimension to Imperial's latent con- 
cern for "inevitable intertextuality." Perhaps the underlying consciousness that 
the written word is alienating entails a dialectical need to preserve the com- 
munity and continuity of orality by emphasizing open texts and a dialogue 
with future readers. At this social level, one could make thematic connections 
with the extraordinary urge to gather and preserve poetic writing, described by 
Beltran and Garcia, and with Michael Gerli's account of language and aliena- 
tion in the courtly lyrics of Cartagena (discussed below).''' 

Brownlee's primary concern is with intertextual relationships; in that sense 
literary traditions are, so to speak, "backformations," texts in dialogue with 
previous texts. Aurora Hermida Ruiz, on the other hand, is concerned pri- 
marily with the social meaning of literary traditions: texts in dialogue not so 
much with each other as with a world outside the text (for some, a ques- 
tionable notion). She asks what happens when new writers emerge and self- 
consciously proclaim a break with the past? How "revolutionary" was Garci- 
laso's love? Hermida Ruiz begins to answer these questions by surveying the 
w^ays Garcilaso's concepts of love and poetry have been thought to relate to 
cancionero verse. In spite of the work done on the relation between the 
Italianate forms and their cancionero predecessors, much still remains to be done 
on an ideological level (two recent books on Garcilaso, by Heiple [1994] and 
Navarrete [1994], leave the terrain free for exploration). Hermida Ruiz offers 
a preliminary case study into the ideology of love, by focussing on the way the 
courtly topos of secrecy is deployed in some coplas by Jorge Manrique and in 
Garcilaso's CanciSn V ("Ode ad florem Gnidi"). This topos is an ideological 
bridge across esthetic difference, since it provides both male writers with a 
strategy to confront and negotiate the feminine "other" and in the process to 
assert the supremacy of the masculine self 

As evidence for the historical construction of gender, with its asymmetrical 

'" For a useful overview of medieval ideas about the alienation produced by fallen 
human language, especially writing, see Jager (1993). 


distribution of power, Hermida Ruiz approaches the love lyric as a metonymy: 
as part of a whole social process (an idea explored from a different perspective 
in Barbara Weissberger's contribution). Detailed study of the textual strategies 
whereby the woman's voice is silenced is therefore an essential part of any 
attempt to tackle the complexities behind Joan Kelly-Gadol's lapidary question, 
"Did women have a Renaissance?" (1987 [1976]). While they are a necessary 
corrective to the idealism of formalist studies of style, or to approaches based 
on the history of ideas, literary studies that highlight the continuity of 
patriarchy need to be carefully formulated. As Hermida Ruiz herself points 
out, this continuity is not the result of monolithic and unchanging gender roles 
but the result of a continuous process of renegotiation: "masculinism" (the 
ideology of masculine dominance) is dynamic, not static. It is at this point that 
the formal study of the cancionero and Italianate styles needs to be reintroduced, 
because changing conventions and genres entail different ways of constructing 
the world, not simply different expressions of the same unchanging reality.'' 

Courtly Games 

Hermida Ruiz draws on the notion of love as a game, though one with serious 
ideological meanings. Yet the current state of scholarship is such that much 
practical work remains to be done on the primary texts themselves: to improve 
our basic understanding of the rules of the game, its language, and the very 
meaning of many poems, even on the most literal levels. In this respect, the 
essays by Ian Macpherson and Victoria Burrus make important contributions, 
and they do so in complementary fashion: the former offers microanalyses of 
specific texts and the latter a macroanalysis of a paradigm. Their work is 
exciting, not least because they are able to exploit recent bibliographical re- 
search and explore a far wider range of material than was hitherto available. 

This point is especially noticeable when one compares Burrus's essay on role 
playing in the courtly love lyric with the panoramic studies of courtly love by 
O.H. Green (1949) and Aguirre (1981), who also tried to construct a totalizing 
paradigm on the basis of motifs extracted from a range of poems. Burrus also 
goes beyond these earlier scholars by emphasizing the shaping influence of 
court society, the inescapable context of cancionero verse. Drawing on the 
studies of courtliness by Elias and Jaeger, she opens her account by stressing 
the importance of creating the "proper image" at court. This entailed negoti- 
ating the "sometimes subtle shifts in the dynamics of social power relation- 
ships" and in the process deliberately blurring the boundaries between litera- 
ture and life. In the bulk of her essay, Burrus sketches the principal features of 

" For further materialist perspectives on form, developed in large measure through a 
critique of the ahistorical abstractions of Russian Formalism, see Medvedev and Bakhtin 
(1978) and Williams (1977, 173-91). However, according to Bennett, "the lost heritage" of 
Russian Formalism is precisely the analysis of the relation between the ideological and cog- 
nitive properties of form and the changing social process (1979, 95-97; see also 18-36). 


this image and fleshes it out with much new evidence. Although she recog- 
nizes role playing as a means of gaining prestige at court, social competition is 
not her main concern. Rather, it is to bring out the basic conviviality of this 
form of social interaction between men, as well as between the sexes. For the 
duration of the game, the rivalries of the outside world are set aside in non- 
threatening entertainment. Implicitly extending Jaeger's basic thesis, therefore, 
she views this courtly role playing as part of the civilizing process of the 
warrior class. 

Macpherson approaches the game of courtly love through the perspective 
of the most obviously social of the lyric genres, the letras, divisas, and inven- 
ciones composed for that special arena of aristocratic wealth and power, the 
tournament. After salutary warnings against adopting a too generalized ap- 
proach to that "catch all" phrase courtly love, he encourages us to explore the 
historical specificity of each manifestation of the "genre" (though whether the 
notion of courtly love can usefully be regarded as a genre is not a problem to 
be addressed here). Like Burrus, he finds specificity in social context (in this 
case that of the "closed community" of the Isabeline court), where the ludic 
quality of courtly love acquired a peculiar and defining intensity. This ludic in- 
tensity betrays "a fascination with the multiple possibilities offered by words at 
work," an awareness of the "plasticity" of language and of "relationships be- 
tween objects and ideas which might hitherto have passed unnoticed." These 
conclusions, which flow logically from Macpherson's subtle analyses of selected 
invenciones, are developed within the conceptual framework of Huizinga's 
Homo ludens. This means that "these literary and sporting activities are part 
of the world of the imagination and are also related to real life: . . . interludes, 
designed to stand outside 'ordinary' life, interdependent games with their own 
rules and vocabulary, played for a fixed duration and within an agreed field of 

This is, by and large, similar to the position adopted by Burrus, who also 
comments on the blurring of boundaries between "reality" and "fiction" and 
regards the verse as an interlude from the real business of politics. From a per- 
sonal standpoint, I consider that this common ground — the relation between 
writing and "ordinary" life — poses the greatest challenge to cancionero studies, 
in terms of both conceptualization and practical analysis. It is a problem faced 
by anyone who wishes to understand cancionero verse as a social practice, and, 
as we shall see, it forms a connecting thread with other essays to be discussed 

Questions of Language 

Alan Deyermond addresses "Bilingualism in the cancioneros and its implica- 
tions." The title belies the bibliographical scope of the paper. Deyermond sets 
bi- and multilingual Castilian cancioneros within the much larger context of 
European poetic anthologies of the Middle Ages, with occasional side-glances 
at lyric traditions of other cultures and periods. The broad perspective adopted 
here opens up tremendous possibilities for detailed case studies of the use of 


different languages within specific anthologies, at specific courts, and by spe- 
cific poets. But above and beyond this invaluable bibliographic service, Deyer- 
mond's panoramic overview also suggests ways in which language use may 
further cultural, gender, and political analysis (one relevant study, by Menocal 
[1994], was published too late for it to be considered by the author). These 
broader interpretative issues, however, cannot according to Deyermond be 
adequately treated without a firm philological and bibliographical foundation. 
And in this area, much remains to be done; some of the tasks are listed in the 
final section of the essay. As Deyermond concludes, "Even though the percen- 
tages of bilingual poems, or poets, or candoneros are relatively low — for 
instance, about 10—12 percent of all late medieval poetic anthologies within a 
given linguistic tradition seem to be to some extent bilingual — they are high 
enough to make nonsense of any attempt to study the late medieval lyric 
tradition of any language in isolation." In other words, we need to estabUsh 
patterns of lyric traditions (even perhaps beyond the confines of Europe) and 
reconstruct the "web of relationships" between them. 

Deyermond's emphasis is fundamental and timely, given the scarcity of 
comparative studies of the late medieval court lyric and the conditions of its 
production within an international court culture. His call for more colla- 
borative work and his arguments in favor of a union catalogue of European 
lyric anthologies are utterly compelling. The only problem that intrigues me 
at this early stage is a procedural one (and I cannot answer it here): how far 
will our conclusions rest upon our definition of "bilingualism"? Will occa- 
sional references to other languages sustain that "web of relationships" envi- 
sioned by Deyermond? At what point in our research will we need to pause 
for critical reflection upon that key term "bilingual"? 

On one level, Deyermond's paper intersects with those of Macpherson and 
Burrus, since they all comment on the ways in which courtliness entails a 
fascination with different forms of Hnguistic display. A different perspective on 
the matter is offered by Michael Gerli, who explores the linguistic and epis- 
temological underpinnings of the verse by Pedro de Cartagena. In one respect, 
Gerli's study follows the pioneering work of Keith Whinnom as a vindication 
of a misunderstood poetic school through a close reading of its immanent 
poetics. Developing one of his own earlier observations (that cancionero poetics 
are characterized by "the view that truth resides solely in linguistic percep- 
tion"), Gerii tries to recover the lost significance that Cartagena's vene held for 
early modern readers. He locates it in the poet's "obsession with the contra- 
dictions of signification and the emptiness of language — the difficulty of estab- 
lishing an agreement between signs and their meaning — that seems to shape 
fifteenth-century Spanish courtly culture." The underlying aHenation that Gerli 
finds in Cartagena's verse speaks to our modern sensibilities as well as to those 
of the poet's early modern readers. He is thus a writer poised on the threshold 
of modernity, who forces us to reflect upon our own concerns over language. 

Gerli's attempt to map a broad cultural terrain through close textual analysis 
of specific poems has an interesting point of comparison with Brownlee's 


discussion of Imperial. The metaliterary concerns of both poets seem to be 
shaped by a heightened awareness of writing within a community of readers. 
Yet Cartagena seems less at ease than Imperial with the prospects of poly- 
valence: for him, the notions of the "primacy of the enunciating subject" and 
"second-degree literature of distantiation" would carry a much more existen- 
tial force. He distances himself from other readings of the world by with- 
drawing into the primacy of his own self. As Gerli puts it in his conclusion, 
Cartagena suggests that "in order to understand visual, spoken, and written 
images, the mind needs to reconstitute itself in the seclusion of its own lan- 
guage." Further research could show how this alienation from consensus is part 
of that dialectical process that produces the binarism "individual: society" on 
which early modern subjectivity is predicated. ^^ 

Further research might also construct as problems, on ideological grounds, 
the manner in which Cartagena dramatizes the rupture of sign and signified. If 
one denies the referentiality of language, one obscures the author's own role 
in the construction of "truth" as a category based on what Gerli calls "private 
perception lacking external guarantors." To see this, we need to look at what 
elements of the external world the author exploits to develop his linguistic and 
epistemological themes. The case is obvious in two poems ("No juzgueis por 
la color," and the one dedicated to "un loco llamado Baltanas"), in which 
Cartagena illustrates his ideas through the misperceptions of women and a 
madman. Put another way, "truth" is protected from the tainted gaze of the 
Other by being located in the "self," which is hypostasized as courtly, aristo- 
cratic, and masculine. 

Politics, Society, and Culture 

Through a series of anthologies and studies produced over the past thirty years, 
Julio Rodriguez Puertolas has encouraged us to confront fifteenth-century 
verse as both an overt and covert intervention in the changing sociopolitical 
structures of late feudalism. The present contribution, on Jews and converses in 
the cancioneros, continues that tradition. Recognizing the value of individual 
studies already done on these social groups in fifteenth-century Iberia, Rod- 
riguez Puertolas contends that we still lack an adequate broad-based treatment 
of cancionero poetry either by or about Jews and converses. Taken together, the 
available accounts fail both to explore the full thematic range of the subject 
and to situate it within "the larger historical coordinates of its production." 
His own essay does not set out to fill this gap but to survey the field and to 
clarify some issues for fiiture research. As a necessary prelude to his analysis of 
some poems by the converse poet-courtier Diego de Valera, Rodriguez 
Puertolas outlines the increasing anti-Semitism of late medieval Spain. Without 
this background in view, he argues, the full political significance of these 

'^ For an imporunt essay on subjectivity and fifteenth-century Castilian court literature 
(with ample references to cancionero verse), see Pereira Zazo (1994, 245-77). 


apparently innocuous j'ewx d' esprit would be invisible. The three poems chosen 
are related to the fall of Alvaro de Luna, and together they demonstrate the 
importance of exploring the ideological underpinnings of cancionero verse by 
situating it within its concrete historical moment. 

Rodriguez Puertolas has certainly identified an area where more work 
urgently needs to be done, and he rightly concludes his study by calling for 
interdisciplinary collaboration among literary critics, historians, and sociolo- 
gists. It seems to me that this collaboration would need to take place not just 
by sharing "findings" (though that is important) but by discussing methodo- 
logies of historical understanding. The present essay is structured upon the 
binarism "textrcontext," and this approach works well for the poems chosen. 
But in other cases it might be a drawback, since the literary text is usually 
posited as a secondary reflection of a pregiven reality, and in the process the 
potential of writing as a socially constitutive force is lost. In other words, other 
forms of historicism need exploring, which do not simplify the issue either by 
selecting obviously "propagandistic" works or by explaining everything as the 
by-product of an allegedly coherent world-view. Some possibilities are sug- 
gested below, in Mark Johnston's paper on cultural studies; but I would be 
particularly intrigued to see how cancionero scholars would respond to Regula 
Rohland de Langbehn's innovative attempt (1989) to use the concept of medi- 
ation developed by the Frankfiirt school to link the sentimental romance to 
the historical situation of the conuersos. 

Though best known, perhaps, for her work on the sentimental romances, 
Rohland de Langbehn is also a distinguished critic of fifteenth-century verse. 
Her present paper extends the boundaries of cancionero studies by exploring the 
political themes of power and justice. Although work has been done on poli- 
tical satire since Rodriguez Puertolas gathered the basic materials for the study 
of poes{a de protesta in the 1960s, the sharp political edge of this period's moral 
and didactic verse has remained largely unexamined. This explains the format 
of Rohland de Langbehn's study, which, like the contributions of Deyermond, 
Rodriguez Puertolas, and Burrus, serves the indispensable function of iden- 
tifying the raw material and formulating some basic questions for future re- 
search and debate. 

Drawing upon an impressive array of primary sources, including the ne- 
glected doctrinal verse of Fernan Perez de Guzman, Rohland de Langbehn 
brings together the most significant beliefs about power and justice and situates 
the resulting paradigm in the context of emerging monarchical absolutism. Her 
survey leads her to conclude that initially poets set their discussions of the 
subject within a shared (or "univocal") ethical framework, but that particularly 
from the reign of Enrique IV, they adopt a more critical posture. The critical 
tone, however, is largely a product of factional antagonism, which means that 
the basic rights and duties of the monarch were unchallenged (and in this sense 
the conceptuaUzation of power and justice was rather static in this period). In 
the course of her essay, Rohland de Langbehn confronts a number of crucial 
and delicate ideological problems (she argues, for example, against Helen 


Nader's thesis that the letrado and noble classes held clearly distinguishable poli- 
tical views). For me, however, the most stimulating ideological problem raised 
in this essay is the very concept of "ideology" itself, which is, as Jorge Larrain 
notes, "perhaps one of the most equivocal and elusive concepts one can find 
in the social sciences" (1979, 13). 

It is true that if one defines ideology as a system of beliefi characteristic of 
a specific class, the term will not help us uncover any latent subtleties in the 
apparently homogenous poetic treatments of power and justice during this 
period. But ideology has many (often contradictory) meanings, which could be 
fruitfully exploited at different levels of historical and cultural analysis. ^^ The 
notion, for example, does not simply cover the ideas used by certain factions 
to promote their own interests; it also "aims to disclose something of the rela- 
tion between an utterance and its material conditions of possibility" (Eagleton 
1991, 223). In this respect, we might ask why the categories power and justice 
were linked in the first place and why this pairing is such an obsessive theme 
in the transition from feudalism to absolutism. The beginnings of an answer 
may be found in Anderson's observation that "it is . . . necessary always to 
remember that mediaeval 'justice' factually included a much wider range of 
activities than modern justice, because it structurally occupied a far more 
pivotal position within the total political system. It was the ordinary name of 
power" (1974, 153). 

Implicit throughout Rohland de Langbehn's essay is a healthy skepticism 
towards reading all instances of the theme of power and justice as transparent 
expressions of self-interest and bad faith. (She suggests at one point that my 
reading [Weiss 1991b] of Perez de Guzman's rhetorical strategies of self-legi- 
timization may well be anachronistic.) Her skepticism is important, because it 
will force those of us who wish to pursue ideological criticism to confront the 
real complexities that underlie the concept and to support our theoretical posi- 
tions with convincing practical analyses of the ethical and political verse that 
this author encourages us to explore with fresh eyes. 

A different perspective on political and social power is offered by Barbara 
Weissberger, who has been at the forefront of feminist readings of medieval 
Spanish literature in this country. In "Male Sexual Anxieties in Carajicomedia: 
A Response to Female Sovereignty," Weissberger reopens the discussion of the 
literary representation of Isabel la Catolica begun over thirty years ago by R. 
O. Jones (1962). The conceptual framework of her study is twofold. On the 
one hand, she deploys a materialist feminism that explores how relationships of 
sex and gender are basic forms of political and social organization. On the 
other, she draws on the concepts of high and low culture and the Bakhtinian 
notion of the carnivalesque (as modified by the cultural historians Stallybrass 
and White), to elucidate the ideological meaning of the Carajicomedia s gro- 

'•* In addition to Larrain (1979), see Eagleton's survey (1991) and Williams (1977, 55- 
71). See also the final paper in this volume, by Mark Johnston, which contains some valuable 
suggestions about how canciotiero verse might be read as an ideological practice. 


tesque parody of Mena's Laberinto}^ These conceptual models, backed up 
with close textual analysis and historical documentation, enable her to demon- 
strate how the parody of male sexuality is predicated upon the demonization 
of the female potency embodied by Queen Isabel. In other words the carni- 
valesque mode of Carajicomedia does not subvert dominant patriarchal ideology; 
it is a way of negotiating the anomaly of a powerful woman who reasserted 
patriarchal values threatened by her allegedly feminized predecessor, Enrique 
IV, el impotente. 

Even the most cursory reading reveals the potential of Weissberger's paper 
as a model for further analyses of cancionero verse as a range of politically 
gendered discourses. Whether one follows her lead will, of course, depend on 
individual choice (rather than on arguments from within a common metho- 
dology): but the connections between her work and the issues of language and 
love explored by Burrus, Macpherson, Gerli, and Hermida Ruiz are there to 
be made. To pick up the thread of some of my earlier remarks, if one were to 
read Gerli's study alongside that of Weissberger, two mutually illuminating 
possibilities emerge: one, as I have mentioned, is that Gerli's paper could be 
extended to explore the asymmetrical and gendered power relations structuring 
Cartagena's reflections on language and the reading subject. The other is that 
the male anxieties identified by Weissberger are implicated in a much wider 
web of political and social change: male sexual anxieties mediate the anxieties 
of a "self emerging against an impersonal "society" — the former reified as an 
alienated (yet "private" and controlling) masculine self, the latter as an all- 
engulfing or castrating feminine Other. 

Mark Johnston's "Cultural Studies on the Gaya Ciencia" provides an 
appropriately open-ended conclusion to this collection. He investigates some 
of the ways in which the interdisciplinary methods of cultural studies can help 
us understand cancionero verse as a discourse of social, political, and economic 
power. In spite of its eclecticism, cultural studies "share a commitment to 
examining cultural practices from the point of view of their intrication with, 
and within, relations of power" (Bennett 1992, 23). Cancionero verse has, of 
course, been studied in connection with the political, economic, and social life 
of fifteenth-century Spain (Boase's The Troubadour Revival [1978] is still the 
boldest and best example). But cultural studies enables this connection to be 
discussed with greater conceptual refinement, avoiding simplistic formulations 
of "text and context" (where the literary text is secondary, a reflection of pre- 
given "reality") and reductive accounts of literature as a spontaneous reflex of 
a socioeconomic base.'"' 

'■^ The Carajicomedia first appeared in the Cancionero de obras de burlas (1519), which in its 
turn was originally the final section of the Cancionero general (1511). As Garcia and Beltran 
emphasized, the evolving structure and history of each cancionero offer vital evidence for 
cultural analysis: in this case, they mark the separation of high and low cultures, the very 
binarism that Weissberger deconstructs in this essay. 

' ^ At various points in his essay, Johnston refers to the crude reductionism of cultural 


Johnston outlines some of the ways in which power relations are inscribed 
in cancionero verse, and he draws practical illustrations from the Candonero de 
Baena. His essay covers a formidable range of issues — ^race, class, gender, ide- 
ology, subjectivity — and both his arguments and supporting bibliography sug- 
gest many new ways of looking at the Castilian material and relating it to 
work being done in French and English.''' 

In short, Johnston urges us to ask what cultural studies can do for cancionero 
studies. To avoid what is occasionally called "cookie-cutter criticism" and to 
establish a dialectical relationship between conceptual and practical inquiry, 
however, we also need to ask what the cancioneros can do for cultural studies. 
(A relevant question, given the emphasis of cultural studies on contemporary 
culture.) For example, as Johnston demonstrates, cultural studies reveals what 
we can learn when we deconstruct such modern categories as "literature" and 
"author," with their baggage of idealism. And yet, as I have mentioned in my 
comments on earlier papers, many features o£ cancionero verse indicate precisely 
how these categories began to emerge in the vernacular during the fifteenth 
century. I recognize that this is something that future research needs to explore 
more fully. However, at another level of inquiry I would reintroduce these 
categories as the grounds for a more sustained dialectical engagement between 
present methologies and the surviving record of past experience. 

The engagement between present and past provides the concluding theme 
for Johnston's essay, and it is an apt one for this book too. For the conjunction 
of cancionero and cultural studies requires us to examine our own relationship 
to the past (a similar point is raised by Gerli). As Johnston observes, cultural 
studies requires that we interrogate the "definitions of culture and literature in 
our academic institutions."'^ It would be wrong of me to co-opt the indi- 
vidual support of all the contributors for the particular endeavor described by 
Johnston. But collectively, the essays in this volume call attention to the po- 
tential of cancionero verse for understanding not just the past but our own 
modes of reading it. 

Uniuersity of Oregon 

materialism. It would be interesting to see this criticism substantiated; especially since the 
man who developed the notion of cultural materialism, Raymond Williams, was also one of 
the originators of the cultural studies movement. To my knowledge, no medieval hispanist 
has attempted to work with Williams's ideas, whether he is construed as a cultural materialist 
or cultural studies guru. 

"■ The collection of essays on early modem subjectivity edited by Pereira Zazo (1994) 
appeared too late to be consulted by Johnston. However, the former's own contribution to 
his volume complements Johnston's extended remarks on the processes of subjectification. 

'^ Deyermond's contribution intersects precisely at this point, since the linguistic variety 
of cancionero verse helps us to question Castilian hegemony in the "Spanish" national and 
cultural identity. 

I. Cancioneros: 
Compilation and Cultural Meaning 

The Typology and Genesis of the Cancioneros: 
Compiling the Materials 


After the Civil War, Spanish research into the cancioneros changed di- 
rection and left the path it had followed since the mid-nineteenth 
century. That is to say, it departed from the course that Romance studies in 
the rest of Europe would continue to follow in the edition and study of the 
medieval lyric. The initial impulse in the nineteenth century had come with 
the publication of the Cancionero de Baena by Pedro Jose Pidal (1851; reprinted 
1949).^ But after the Civil War, information, studies, and extracts from cancio- 
neros diminished in comparison with the earlier phase, in spite of the research 
of such scholars as Seris (1951, 318-20) and Azaceta (1954-55). From the 
1940s through the early 1970s it was thought that each cancionero represented 
a particular school, period, or compiler, and research was redirected into edit- 
ing them as an organic whole.^ The value of these publications is very 

' Francisque Michel (1860) revised the transcription but reproduced his preliminary study 
and notes. For a review of these early editions see Azaceta 1966, LII. Strictly speaking, it was 
Usoz y Rio who first started to reedit the cancioneros, with his edition of the Caruionero de 
obras de burlas in London, 1841. But his intentions — to lay bare and vindicate the other 
Spanish tradition, which had long laid buried and repressed — were to subvert from abroad 
the dominant intellectual tendencies at home. For this reason, I consider Pidal's edition to be 
the real starting point for scholarship on fifteenth-century poetry. 

^ This period saw the editions of O cancioneiro musical e poetico da Biblioteca Piiblica 
Hortinsia (ed. Joaquim 1940); II 'Cancionero' marciano (Str App. XXV) (partial ed. Cavaliere 
1943); Cancionero de Uppsala (ed. Mitjana and Bal y Gay 1944; Mitjana's text reproduced 
with new study by Querol Rosso 1980); Cancionero de Ramdn de Uavia (ed. Benitez Claros 
1945); El cancionero de Palacio (ed. Vendrell de Millas 1945); Cancionero musical de Palacio (ed. 
Angles 1947-51); Cancionero musical de la casa de Medinaceli (ed. Querol Gavalda 1949-50); 
Cancionero de Pedro del Pozo (ed. Rodriguez Moiiino 1949-50); Cancionero d'Herberay des 
Essarts (ed. Aubrun 1951); Espejo de enamorados; Guimalda esmaltada de galanes y eloquentes 


uneven; it depends, obviously, on their philological rigor, but it is also affected 
by other factors that have not always received due attention: the material 
structure of the codex, the analysis of hands, the process of compilation, the 
scribes' sources, and what they reveal about centers of literary production. 
Lastly, the significance of an edition was also judged almost exclusively by the 
quantity of previously unpublished works it contained, and these gradually 
diminished in number. 

These editions played a crucial role, and they continue to provide the basis 
of our own knowledge. In addition to making the texts available, they shed 
considerable light upon authors and often correctly evaluated the represen- 
tative nature of the cancionero and its date. Nonetheless, Spanish philology 
made the mistake of limiting itself almost exclusively to this kind of research. 
In the first place, it underestimated the value of critical editions of individual 
poets, which conditioned both the perspective and methods of analysis, which 
were more general than particular. Consequently, there was little literary study 
of individual cancionero authors.-^ 

Issues of textual criticism arrived late, and from abroad, firom the Italian 
school, starting with Varvaro (1964). It is true that editions of particular poets 
did have a rich tradition from the start of this century."* But after many 
decades of studying the cancioneros, in the 1970s, for the first time there was an 

dezires de diuersos autores (ed. Rodriguez Monino 1951); Cancionero dejuan Femdndez de hear 
(ed. Azaceta 1956); "El 'Pequeno cancionero" ' (ed. Azaceta 1957); Cancionero de Luz6n 
(1508) (ed. Rodriguez Monino 1959a); Cancionero de Gallardo (ed. Azaceta 1962); Cancionero 
de Euora (Askins 1965); Cancionero dejuan Alfonso de Baena (ed. Azaceta 1966); Cancioneiro de 
Carte e de Magnates (ed. Askins 1968); Cancionero musical de la Colombina (Querol Gavalda 
1971). Although it is much more recent, a project is now well under way to catalogue all 
the Golden Age cancioneros. Directed by J. J. Labrador Herraiz, this project will undoubtedly 
bring to light new data for the Renaissance reception of fifteenth-century lyrics. 

•* This does not mean, however, that they are not important. The most significant studies 
are by Lida de Malkiel on Juan de Mena (1950) and Juan Rodriguez del Padron (1952b, 
1954, and 1960); Lapesa on Santillana (1957); Marquez Villanueva on Alvarez Gato (1960; 
2nd ed. 1974); and Alvarez PeUitero on Montesino (1976). From a basically biographical 
perspective, there are various works by AvaUe-Arce (1945, 1967, 1972, 1974a-c). For a use- 
fiil bibliography of studies on Jewish and conuerso poets and themes, see Rodriguez Puertolas's 
essay in the present collection. 

'' The initiative was taken by Jose Amador de los Rios as early as 1852, when he 
pubUshed the works of Santillana. This was followed by the cancioneros of Pedro Manuel 
Ximenez de Urrea (ed. Villar y Garcia 1878; see also Asensio 1950); Gomez Manrique (ed. 
Paz y Melia 1885-86; facsmile reprint 1991); Juan Rodriguez del Padron (ed. Rennert 
1893); Anton de Montoro (ed. Cotarelo y Mori 1900); Macias (ed. Rennert 1900; partial ed. 
in Martinez-Barbeito 1951); Fernando de la Torre (ed. Paz y Melia 1907); Juan Alvarez Gato 
(ed. Artiles Rodriguez 1928); Pere Torroellas (ed. Bach y Rita 1930). See also editions of 
such major works as Manrique's Coplas (Foulche-Delbosc 1902, revised 1905; 1907, 1912), 
and Mena's Laberinto (Foulche-Delbosc 1904a, though it lacks critical apparatus). 


interest in editing the work of individual authors.^ Fortunately, the last few 
years have brought forth meticulous studies of textual transmission, although 
even in this field the balance is still poor/' Numerous editions have appeared, 
on the whole carefully prepared. Nor has there been a lack of literary studies, 
and alongside the edition of cancioneros there has been a continuous flow of 
information, extracts, and analysis of each of them. Brian Dutton's Catdlogo- 
indice (1982) and his Cancionero del sigh XF (1990— 91) crowned an extraordi- 
nary bibliographical and documentary project.^ Both works constitute our 
major reference tools for a considerable part of the poetic corpus. Perhaps the 
least active front in recent decades has been facsimile editions.^ After the 

^ Scoles (1967), de Nigris (1988, 1994), and Vozzo Mendia (1989), constitute a series of 
studies with similar objectives, methods, and texts. But these are not the only ones; the 
panorama also includes editions of satirical works, such as those by Ciceri (1975, 1977) and 
the edition of Montoro (Ciceri and Rodriguez Puertolas 1990). For another example of the 
Italian school, see Caravaggi et al. (1986). For obvious reasons, one would have to include 
in this tradition Perinan's edition of Suero de Ribera (1968). 

'' On the cancioneros of Baena, general, and British Museum (LBl), see, respectively, Alberto 
Blecua (1974-79), Dutton (1990), and C. Alvar (1991); on Mena, see Kerkhof (1983b and 
1984), Perez Priego (1986), de Nigris (1986), Kerkhof and le Pair (1989); on Santillana, see 
de Nigris and Sorvillo (1978), and Kerkhof (1990); on Jorge Manrique, see Beltran (1987, 
1991, and 1992). 

^ For progress reports published by Dutton and the members of his research team, see 
Dutton (1977-78, 1979-80) and Krogstadt (1979-80). Henceforth, I shaU use Dutton's siglae 
originally set forth in his Catdlogo-indice (1982) to identify the cancioneros. The history of this 
bibliographical project may be traced in the works of Mussafia (1902); Aubrun (1953); 
Simon Diaz (1963-65); Varvaro (1964); Norton (1977); Gonzalez Cuenca (1978); Steunou 
and Knapp (1978); Faulhaber et al. (1984); and various specialized bibliographies whose value 
has not always been fully appreciated, such as those by Foulche-Delbosc (1907) and Carrion 
Gutierrez (1979). Alongside these bibhographies, one has to mention lists of sources included 
in studies on specific manuscripts, such as those found in Azaceta's editions of the cancioneros 
of Juan Fernandez de Ixar (1956), Gallardo (1962), and Baena (1966). In addition to Simon 
Diaz's ongoing bibliography, there are of course the essential catalogues and bibliographical 
studies by Rodriguez Monino (1959b, 1965-66, 1970, 1973-77), which remain our most 
valuable source for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a period when cancioneros 
continue to anthologize fifteenth-century verse. Another related area that cannot be ignored 
is that of the frequently bilingual Catalan cancioneros, although Castilian bibhographies often 
include only the sections devoted to Castilian. While we await a complete bibUography, 
which I am currently preparing in collaboration with Gemma Avenoza, we have to fall back 
on the one by Masso Torrens (1923-24), which includes an index of catuioneros, whose siglae 
I shall adopt where necessary, and a systematic analysis of the poets. Even more useftil in this 
respect is the doctoral thesis by Ganges Garriga (defended 1992, currently in press). 

" I know of only the following: Cancionero de la Catedral de Segovia (1977), Cancionero de 
Uppsala (1983), and Cancionero del Marques de Santillana [B.U.S., Mss 2655] (ed. Catedra and 
Coca Senande 1990). I fail to understand why no one has yet published a facsimile of the 
magnificent Cancionero de Estufiiga. 


relative lack of interest in studies of this kind in the 1960s and early 1970s, the 
panorama has become considerably richer. Even so, recent research still bears 
the marks of a poor and occasionally ill-conceived tradition.'^ 

In general, it is clear that the most significant gap affects our knowledge of 
textual transmission: we scarcely know anything about the specific problems of 
the Italian (or rather the Aragonese or Catalan- Aragonese) family of cancioneros 
and the more particular case of the Marques de Santillana. So long as we lack 
careful editions of the majority of authors, or at least the most significant ones, 
with corresponding hterary study and appropriate analysis of transmission, it 
will be difficult to make headway towards a rigorous and thorough under- 
standing of this poetic school. The weakest area in our knowledge continues 
to be the compilation of the cancioneros, the relationship between them, and 
their modes of circulation. In this context, I believe it useful to focus my study 
on their genetic typology: the provenance of the materials they gathered, their 
organizational techniques, and the light they shed upon the diflfusion of poetry 
in the fifteenth century. 

We can start by returning to the well-known Cancionero de Herheray LB2 
(Aubrun 1951). In his prelimary study, Aubrun remarked upon the existence 
of four sections of anonymous poems. These he attributed to the compiler 
himself, whom he identified as the Navarrese nobleman Hugo de Urries be- 
cause of a reference to him in poem no. 43.^" I think it would be usefiil for 
our purposes to reconsider the structure of this cancionero, which typifies a 
model whose characteristics I shall now try to define. The first group of 
anonymous poems begins with no. 4.'^ According to Aubrun, it is headed by 

'^ I would like to have undertaken a detailed account of the goals and scope of studies 
published in the second half of this century. But the limits of the present study prevent me 
from doing this. For a review of the very positive developments in recent years, see the Bole- 
tin Bibliogrdfico de la AsociaciSn Hispdnica de Literatura Medieval. The published proceedings of 
this association are the most important forum for recent trends in fifteenth-century studies in 
general and the lyric in particular. Most of these studies and publications continue to focus 
on the same authors who attracted scholariy attention a hundred years ago: apart from the 
inevitable Manriques, SantiUana, and Mena, we again encounter Anton de Montoro, Juan 
Rodriguez del Padron, or Fernando de la Torre, while authors as innovative or culturally 
representative as Cartagena still he dormant in the cancioneros. Other lyric poets have attracted 
some attention because they cultivated other literary genres: Diego de San Pedro and Juan 
del Encina are typical. 

'*' "Les poemes anonymes sont a la suite et groupes: lo. de 26r a 72v, a I'exception d'un 
ditie, 55r (XLIII), signe comme malgre lui par Ugo de Urries, soit 44 pieces; 2o. de 85v a 
92v, soit 23 pieces; 3o. de 179r a 186v a I'exception de quelques chansons de poetes ara- 
gonais; 4o. de 194v a 205r, a I'exception de deux chansons de Juan de Valladohd" (Aubrun 
1951, xii). 

" It contains the following compositions (according to Aubrun [1951] and Dutton 
[1990-91]), with groups of poems separated by blank spaces: 

(26r) 3D Anonymous canciSn in praise of the infanta. Unique. 


a eulogy dedicated to the infanta Leonor de Navarra, the wife of the conde de 
Foix and governess of the kingdom in the name of Juan de Aragon, her father 
(no. 5). Suffice it to say that Dutton attributes this composition to the author 
of nos. 1—3, Diego de Sevilla, all of them dedicated to the same character.'^ 
And indeed, the rubrics of these poems are either imprecise (no. 4: "otra," no. 
5: "desfecha," no. 6: "cancion," no. 7, and 8: "otra") or missing (no. 3D); in 
the cancioneros, this arrangement can sometimes indicate that they belong to the 
same author. Nonetheless, it would be dangerous to attribute the first long 
series of anonymous poems in LB2 (up to and including no. 48) to the same 
author, whether it be Diego de Sevilla or Hugo de Urries, as Aubrun pro- 
poses. As I have said, the editor based his identification on the self-reference 
in no. 43; however, no. 6 also appears in PN13, where it is attributed to 
Sancho de Villegas, in the midst of a group in which compositions by this 
author are combined with those by Diego de Valera. This evidence leads us to 
doubt that we are faced with a compact group of poems attributable to a single 

Nor do I believe it possible to attribute to the compiler the second group 
of compositions.^^ Here, poem no. 66 repeats the earlier cancion no. 12; acci- 

4 Ditto. Unique. 

5 Anonymous. Unique. 

6 Anonymous but ascribed to Sancho de Villegas in PN13 (poem 30). In PN13, the text 
appears in the middle of a group of five poems by Diego de Valera, of which the MS. is 
almost always the sole textual witness. 

7-16 Anonymous and unique. 

17 Otra por la excelente senora infanta. Anonymous and unique. 

18-24 Anonymous and unique. 

25 De madama iMcrecia la napoletana (eulogy). Anonymous and unique. 

26-42D Anonymous and unique. 

43 [Hugo de Urries]. Unique. Unattributed. The author refers to himself in the text of 
the poem. 

(76v) 44-48 Anonymous and unique. 
'^ The cancionero opens with the following compositions: 

1 Diego de Sevilla, pregunta concerning Leonor, infanta of Navarre. Unique. 

2 Respuesta de Vayona. Unique. 

3 Diego de Sevilla: Loor de la infanta. Unique. 

Henceforth, I shall take into account the cancioneros in which each composition appears, 
since this can help us trace their origin. 

'^ It contains the following compositions: 

(85v) 63—65 Anonymous. Unique. 
66 = 12 Anonymous and unique. 
67-68 Anonymous and unique. 


dents of this kind are frequent in cancioneros and they can be explained both by 
the heterogeneity of the collected materials and by the incapacity of the com- 
piler to remember all the preceding texts. But how could he have forgotten 
that he had already copied out one of his own poems? Moreover, if compiler 
and author were one and the same, he probably resorted to this very same 
cancionero to gather his own compositions, which would have made repetition 

The third group is very problematic.''* In it, both attributed and anony- 
mous poems intermingle, although this situation can often be interpreted as a 
sign that poems belong to the last-named author. On the other hand, the 
coincidence between this section and the cancionero of the Biblioteca Estense de 
Modena (MEl) suggests that both go back to a common source. In any case, 

69 Anonymous. MP4a (poem 24) 
70—75 Anonymous and unique. 

76 Anonymous. MP4a (poem 20). 

77 Anonymous and unique. 

78 Anonymous. MP4a (poem 19). 

79 Anonymous and unique. 

80 Anonymous but attributed to Francisco Bocanegra in MHl (poem 179). Throughout 
this section, MHl differs from all other surviving witnesses. 

(92v) 81-86 Anonymous and unique. 

''* It contains the following works: 

(179r) 165 Anonymous (as in MEl). 

166 Anonymous but by Luis Bocanegra in MEl (poem 92). 

167 Mafuela 

168 Diego de Sandoval. 

169 Anonymous (as in MEl). 

170-175 Anonymous (as in MEl, poem 75). 
176-177 Carlos de Arellano (as in MEl). 
178-179 Anonymous (as in MEl). 

180 Pero Vaca (as in MEl). 

181 Anonymous (as in MEl) but by Francisco Bocanegra in SA7 (poem 11). In this 
cancionero it appears in the midst of a group of canciones that are documented only here, 
attributed to various authors. 

182 Anonymous (as in MEl) but by Rodrigo de Torres in SA7 (poem 19), where it 
appears in the midst of an unstructured group of canciones that are documented only here, 
by various authors (Garcia de Pedraza, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Garcia de Medina). 

183 Anonymous (as in MEl). 

184 Santa Fe (as in MEl), anonymous in SA7 (poem 348), where it appeals between two 
that survive only in SA7, and also included in an unsystematic group of poems. 

185 Infante don Enrique (as in MEl). 

186 Infante don Enrique (as in MEl and MHl). 

187 Anonymous (as in MEl). 

188 Pere Torrella (as in MEl). 

(186v) 189-190 Anonymous (as in ME17). 


as we shall see, MEl cannot have taken this section from LB2, so that the 
compiler of the latter candonero must have done nothing more than reproduce 
a separate booklet. As for the fourth group identified by Aubrun, it simply 
does not exist.'^ It is made up of an anonymous poem, followed by two by 
Juan de ValladoUd (all three in praise of Maria, daughter of the infanta Leonor) 
and by another two anonymous ones. In other words, it faithfiiUy continues 
the previous part of the candonero, a diverse group of works that do not con- 
stitute a cohesive whole. '^ 

In sum, although I disagree with Aubrun's hypothesis, we should not discard 
the possibility that at least some of the anonymous poems (especially from the 
first two groups, which are particularly compact and contain works linked to 
the Navarrese court) can be ascribed to authors who were so well known in 
their communities that it was considered unnecessary to cite their names. 
Their dual status as anonymous and unique poems within the corpus invites 
this hypothesis, alongside the fact that, as Aubrun says, "les poetes qui rompent 
a la fin ou au milieu I'anonymat de ces series, appartiennent ... a I'entourage 
immediat des princes" [of Navarre]. Whether these poems are by Hugo de 
Urries or not, everything indicates that the Candonero de Herberay was the most 
elaborate representative of a characteristic type: anthologies that combine well- 
known works with others that survive in single copies. I believe we are deal- 
ing with compositions from the compiler's own literary circle, probably by dif- 
ferent authors, whose identities are not made explicit precisely because they 
would have been obvious. 

In this regard, the relation between LB2 and other candoneros becomes 
especially significant, in particular the connection with MEl. Between no. 88 

'* This is the final section of the candonero, and Aubrun attributes its poems to the fourth 
group of anonymous works: 

(194v-195r) 197 Loores a la infanta [Maria], condesa de Foix. Anonymous and unique. 
(195r-v) 198-199 Ibid., by Juan de Valladolid. Unique. 
(196r-211v) 200-201 Anonymous and unique. 

Blank folio. 

Final folio (recto and verso) with the opening stanzas of the Trescientas. 
'^ Index as follows: 

191 Garcia de PadiUa MEl (poem 116), MHl (poem 144). 

192 Pere TorreUa BMl (20), MEl (10), MHl (189), COl (22), MN54 (162), MN6b 
(41), PN4 (38), PN8 (39), RCl (126), VMl (68), ZAl (5), NH2 (40), IICG (94r), 
14CG (72r), BAl (5 and 6), MN24 (36 and 37). 

193 Juan de Ma^uela MEl (117). 

194 Garcia de PadiUa MEl (118). 

195 Pere TorreUa BMl (11). MEl (11), MP2 (27), NH2 (28), 14CG (71r). 

196 Juan de Dueiias, Nao de amor GBl (21), MHl (201), MN54 (23), NH2 (80), PMl 
(13), PN4 (27). PN5 (26), PN8 (29), PN12 (24), PN13 (7), RCl (23), VMl (15). 


and no. 196 most of the compositions appear in both collections. Aubrun 
offers a convincing explanation for this: in 1466, the marques de Monferrato 
married Maria de Navarra, the same woman eulogized by Juan de Valladolid 
in the cancionero's final section (no. 197—199); and we know that MEl was 
already in the possession of the Monferrato household about 1500.'^ We can 
discount the hypothesis that LB2 might have been the archetype for the texts 
in MEl for two reasons. Firstly, if this were the case, we would not be able to 
explain the eulogy of the infanta Maria; secondly, poem 143, by Macias, is 
acephalous in LB2 but complete in MEl. As for the opposite hypothesis, the 
influence of MEl upon LB2, I consider it highly improbable, since LB2 is ar- 
ranged by author. It would make no sense for the works of Torrellas and Juan 
de Mena (which MEl places in this sequence at the head of the collection) to 
appear in LB2 at the very end and in no special order. '^ 

As has been pointed out, three poems dedicated to Maria, daughter of 
Leonor and Gaston de Foix, and two anonymous ones are copied at the end 
of the volume. The main body of the cancionero ends on folio 21 Iv, a large part 
of which is blank. Also left blank is folio 212r— v, but on the next (and last) leaf 
a later hand, which is much neater and with marked humanistic features, 
copied the start of Mena's Trescientas. Perhaps the scribe was interested in the 
dedicatory stanzas and invocation as a rhetorical model, since it was common 
for w^ell-known texts and school classics, either whole or excerpts, to be added 
to the final leaves of cancioneros so as not to waste blank folios.''^ 

In the light of these facts, how do we picture the genesis of the Cancionero 
de Herberay? My analysis is close to Aubrun's (1951, xvi-xxi) but with one 

'^ Aubrun (1951, xix). The only surprising thing is that the eulogies of Princess Maria, 
who caused the relationship between the two MSS, do not appear in MEl. 

'" Similar conclusions have been reached by those who have studied the transmission of 
the texts contained in these two cancioneros (Michaehs de Vasconcellos 1900; Varvaro 1964, 
76-89) and by the editors of Lope de Stuniga (Vozzo Mendia 1989, 47) and Juan de Mena 
(de Nigris 1988, 79-81). Their conclusions coincide with my own survey of the extant verse 
of SantUlana. The common errors in both witnesses and Perez Priego's critical apparatus for 
the "Querella de amor" (1983) reveal that whereas MEl reads "crueldad e gran tormento" 
in 1. 49 (= 1. 68 of the ed.), LB2 preserves the lectio dijftcilior "crueldat e troquamiento" found 
in the other textual witnesses. Therefore, one can reject the dependence of LB2 on MEl. 
In the text of the "Infiemo de los enamorados," the same situation frequendy occurs (11. 107, 
232, 240, 278, 285, 299, etc.), although the opposite situation is found in 1. 347: the correct 
reading (according to Perez Priego's ed.) is "e del taragon cubriendo"; MEl has "targon," 
but LB2 corrupts this even more with the variant "dargon"; in this case, the reading closest 
to the archetype belongs to MEl, which cannot derive from LB2. 

'^ At the end of the Catalan section of SA5 (an independent MS with the work of 
Ausias March) were copied some Hnes from the Vita Christi by Fray Inigo de Mendoza (fol. 
158v), and at the end of the Castilian section, Mena's "La flaca barquilla" (fol. 206v). Stanzas 
from the Vita Christi also appear in the final folios of BC3 (97v-98v), and in those of LB2 
the dedicatory stanzas of the Laberinto de Fortuna were copied out in a different hand. 


difference in interpretation. Whereas he thought he could detect the interven- 
tion of a single author/compiler, I maintain that we should envisage the colla- 
boration of a literary circle. This is to say, we cannot exclude the hypothesis 
that various individuals or even literary courts gradually left their mark in 
various parts of the cancionero. Consider how some of the material that makes 
up the second group of anonymous poems is common to the oldest section of 
the Cancionero musical de Palacio and that the third part influenced the 
Cancionero de la Biblioteca Estense de Modena and to a lesser extent SA7 (see the 
description of each of these sections in the relevant note). The material being 
circulated, as this example demonstrates, were groups of poems and not a large 
cancionero nor individual compositions. The compiler first gathered the poetic 
production of the Navarrese court, inspired probably by the desire to preserve 
the panegyrics of the princess Leonor. That was the source of the texts that 
Aubrun classified as the two groups of anonymous poems. In this phase, he 
must have already drawn on a booklet produced elsewhere and from which he 
took poems 49 to 62. He must have had at his disposal contributions of the 
highest quality, because in this section he also included a group of poems 
unknown to other textual witnesses, among which were preserved, for exam- 
ple, single copies of poems by Juan de Mena. Later, he would have laid his 
hands on a cancionero that provided at least some of the poems up to no. 196, 
perhaps the same archetype that provided the poems it shares with MEl. It 
was probably an excellent cancionero, though not very long, linked to the 
Aragonese family, which gave him the necessary material to convert that em- 
bryonic collection into something grander, something capable of combining 
the initial nucleus with a significant sampUng of fifteenth-century verse. Maria 
de Foix's connections with the House of Monferrato made it possible for this 
cancionero to reach northern Italy as well. Even later, a few compositions were 
added at the end; also unique, they are eulogies of this same princess from the 
court of Navarre. Finally, after a blank leaf, which was probably left free for 
further additions, a scribe copied the opening of the Laberinto de Fortuna. 
Moreover, this copy is of high quality and copied uniformly, which indicates 
that it was not the work of an amateur, but a more cultured product, attribut- 
able to the court of Navarre itself. 

In this type of cancionero, the compilers superimposed strata from different 
origins. On the one hand, there were poems that reached them through the 
usual channels of cancionero lyric (which are admittedly still to be studied in 
detail): generally classics (Mena, Santillana, Gomez Manrique, the Vita Christi, 
Fernan Perez de Guzman, Torrellas, and sometimes Villasandino or Macias) or 
booklets produced in the prestigious creative centers of the Castilian and 
Aragonese courts. On the other hand, they took advantage of works composed 
in their own circle, gathered by the author himself or his protege. These 
poems circulated either individally or already organized into cycles, groups, or 
booklets, and their authors did not always have to be named in writing since 
their works were destined for the private consumption of the compiler and his 


circle.^" This procedure did not create problems until these booklets began 
to circulate beyond their orginal locale without any adjustment to their 


We should not imagine that this was a frequent situation. On the whole, 
poems that survive in single copies are common only in certain major can- 
cioneros, which frequently share a high number of works that, judging by their 
sequence and readings, go back to a common source (as in the cases of PN8 
and PN12). Nevertheless, cancioneros are often structured around an initial core 
made up of texts preserved by a single or almost single witness and strongly 
influenced by the collector's taste and interests. The Cancionero del Marques de 
Barberd, now located in the Biblioteca del Monasterio de Montserrat (MS. 992 
= BMl, with the wrong sigla in Dutton since it is not in Barcelona), opens 
with a "Pregunta de don diego de Castre al principe don karles [de Viana] 
quando el S. R. su padre lo truxo presonero de la ciudat de Lerida en la qual 
fue tomado en Lanyo Lx°."^' No other copy of this composition is known, 
and surely it is closely linked to the origins of the cancionero, which is no doubt 
Catalan.^^ Better known is the Cancionero de Martinez de Burgos (MN33), 
which begins with a letter from Juan Martinez de Burgos to his son, Femand 
Martinez, continues with seven compositions by the former, and then develops 
into a broad selection of verse compiled in two phases, until it acquires the 
dimensions of a substantial anthology. ^^ 

A similar case occurs in the Cancionero de Egerton (British Library, Eg. 939 
= LB3), which opens with two prose consolatory epistles, of unknown author 
and destinatee. In the first (fols. 3r-5v), the author addresses a character he 
calls Count and uncle; his goal is to console him for the violent yet honorable 
death of his son, which occurred away from home. In the second (fols. 5v— 

^" The argument is not new. Aubrun uses it to justify his attribution of the anonymous 
poems to Hugo de Urries, but it has been applied in other contexts. Whinnom (1979), for 
example, believed that the brief sentimental romance that he published under the tide La 
coronaciSn de la senora Gracisla could be ascribed to the primitive compiler of Biblioteca 
Nacional, Madrid, MS. 22020 on the grounds that it appears anonymously in the same MS 
as other prose works by San Pedro and Juan de Flores, whose authorship is exphcit. 

^' The poem is easily dated: Carlos de Viana was arrested on 2 December 1460. On 25 
February 25 1461 the treaty of Vilafranca forced Juan II to recognize all his rights, in 
addition to conceding a large part of his claim to rule in Cataluna, and on 23 September of 
that year the prince died (Vicens Vives 1953, 222). 

^^ The remainder of the poems in the first part of this cancionero form a brief anthology 
of Mena's verse which, to judge by de Nigris's edition (1988), is closely related to other 
cancioneros of the Aragonese group: Herheray (LB2) and MSdena (MEl). 

'^ See the study and edition by Severin (1976), especially her description of the partial 
copy by Rafael Floranes and the extracts contained therein. 


lOv), he laments that after the loss of his son Gaston, he also witnessed the 
death of his wife, who was related to the dynastic houses of Castile, Aragon, 
Naples, and France. After these comes a cancionero that, like Herberay, blends 
w^idely known works with others that survive in single copies. It is, in short, 
a substantial cancionero: doctrinal verse predominates, but it also includes the 
central texts of the fifteenth-century poetic school, with no attempt at sys- 
tematic arrangement but with two general common traits: the connection of 
works and authors to the poUtical and literary circle of the Aragonese party, 
and its didactic character (discussed below), except for the final section de- 
voted to Anton de Montoro. 

Although beginning a cancionero with a group of unique poems was not the 
most common procedure, it was the most personal one. On other occasions, 
the initial inspiration was a preexisting poetic anthology. The perfect example 
of this is the Pequeno cancionero del Marques de la Romana (MN15), which opens 
with a selection firom the Cancionero de Baena.^^ Similarly, the first part of the 
Cancionero de San Martino delle Scale (PMl) is an anthology of Aragonese origin. 
Another typical example of this model — though an extraordinarily ambitious 
one — can be seen in COl, the bulk of which is made up of a generous selec- 
tion of poets from the first half of the fifteenth century: Santillana, Mena, Lope 
de Stuiiiga, etc. Although the current state of research does not always allow 
us to reconstruct the immediate model (the Pequeno cancionero is an exception), 
there is no doubt that this is the most frequent mode of compilation we 

Other cancioneros follow a simpler scheme. Many are the manuscripts that 
contain exclusively one or two long poems (and they are usually the same 
ones), such as Las siete edades del mundo, whose textual history has been traced 
by Sconza (1991). This poem appears alone (OCl) or was frequently followed 
either by Lafundacion de Espana (EM12, MN9 and MN42) or by other poems 
of a similar character: Fernan Perez de Guzman's elegy on the death of Alonso 
de Cartagena (EM3) or the same author's "Doctrina que dieron a Sara" 
(SA12). In another cancionero (MREl) it is preceded by Santillana's Prouerbios. 
This latter poem also appears singly (ML4), as do Mena's Laberinto de Fortuna 
(NHS, PN3), Fernan Perez de Guzman's Vicios y virtudes e himnos rimados 
(NH4), Pedro de Portugal's Sdtira de felice e infelice vida (for an account of 
the MSS, see da Fonseca 1975, x-xviii), as well as his Coplas del menosprecio e 
contempto del mundo (EMIO, MNll). In short, cancioneros structured around a 
single poetic unit are remarkably numerous. 

In MN39, the Siete edades del mundo is associated with the Tratado by Pedro 
de Veragiie {BOOST ID 4376), followed by the Infante Pitheus and a Tratado 
en metro (ID 4623) with its Desfecha (ID 4624). A later hand copied out a poem 
by Boscan. Thus, we can see how a small cancionero comes to be compiled 

^* It was edited and studied by Azaceta (1957). For its relations with the Cancionero de 
Baena, see Alberto Blecua (1974-79). 


around the usual nucleus. In the same way, Santillana's Bias contra Fortuna is 
associated with another common basic text, Fernan Perez de Guzman's Vicios 
y virtudes, to begin MNIO, and other poems by this author were later added to 
make up an anthology of quite healthy proportions. ML2 leads off with Mena's 
Coronacion, continues with a miscellaneous prose section, and closes with the 
Trescientas. A copy of the Vita Christi laid the basis for an extensive anthology 
of pious verse occupying up to one hundred and forty-three folios (MLl); to 
the Fundacion de Espaha was added a selection of Mena's verse, including the 
Laberinto and sections devoted to Gomez Manrique, Fernan Perez de Guzman, 
and other odd poems (MMl); a manuscript as open-ended and as complex as 
the Cancionero de Gallardo (MN17; Azaceta 1962) starts with a copy of one of 
those poems that often circulated individually: the Coplas de la Panadera, whose 
transmission has been studied by Elia (1982). In all these instances, cancioneros 
of quite distinct conception and scope seem to have been fabricated around an 
initial nucleus formed by a long work that circulated independently. 

The collected works of individual poets could also provide the core of a 
new cancionero. It is true that the works of Santillana or Gomez Manrique did 
not give rise to larger collections, perhaps because in the period 1460-1480 
collective cancioneros are scarce. Nevertheless, among those that gather the 
poetic production of the reign of Juan II it was not uncommon to begin with 
transcriptions of the verse of Fernan Perez de Guzman, as in the cases of PN5, 
PN6, MN6, MNIO, MMl, MM3, SA9b, and ZZl.^^ Similarly, LBl, a sub- 
stantial cancionero from the Isabeline period arranged by author, starts off with 
the verse of the then highly regarded Garci Sanchez de Badajoz. This system 
is also the norm in the anthologies of the Provencal troubadours and even the 
French trouveres (see Crespo 1991). 

I am not concerned here only with those cancioneros that bear the stamp of 
a particular identity. And of these, there is a group that characteristically starts 
w^ith an initial nucleus of texts to which new works are gradually added and 
which in large measure correspond to the two models described above: some 
augment an earlier anthology, such as the Cancionero de Herberay, or derive 
from a preexisting collection, sometimes through a selection as strict as the 
Cancionero de San Martino delle Scale; an individual cancionero can also fulfill this 
role. Others are elaborated on the basis of a longer work that is used as a foun- 
dation. These, in conclusion, are the most common procedures for starting to 
compile a new cancionero. Their subsequent growth could follow various paths. 

Finally, I should like to emphasize that what nowadays seems to be the 
initial nucleus of a cancionero can in fact be the product of later textual, or even 
codicological, additions. The Cancionero del Marques de Barberd (BMl) has on 
folio Ir-v a Catalan poem concerning the imprisonment of Carlos, principe de 

^^ The fact was noted by Garcia (1990, xvii) in his introduction to the Cancionero de 
Onate-Castaiieda. Merce Lopez Casas is about to present a doctoral thesis on Perez de 
Guzman that will shed further light on this kind of problem. 


Viana; on folios 2r-3r, a work by Diego de Castre dedicated to the same 
person, whose reply is also transcribed (the texts are in Castilian or Aragonese). 
Although the manuscript appears to be fairly uniform, and possibly the work 
of a single copyist, a more detailed study reveals certain changes, sometimes 
quite distinct ones, both in the tone of the ink and in the style of the hand, 
which might be explained as the result of sporadic work over a long period by 
the same person or possibly even be due to the intervention of two copyists. 
What is important to stress here is that the first folio is written in the same 
style of hand as folios 136v-150r and 164r-193r, while foUos 2r-3r, written 
out in a much neater and more humanistic hand, seem somewhat out of place. 
Since there are no flyleaves, I suspect that folio 1 was originally left blank and 
that it was later used to copy a poem concerning events relating to Carlos de 
Viana that linked the contents of the following two folios. 

Even more striking is the case of Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale MS. Esp. 
225, a fine Catalan cancionero. At the firont of this, were added two booklets 
foliated A-L and M-T. The first begins with a privilege of Fernando I de 
Aragon awarding forty florins to the Consistorio de la Gaya Ciencia; after two 
blank folios, there is a group of three works on the imprisonment of Carlos de 
Viana. The second booklet contains the manuscript's table of contents and a 
new composition. The cancionero properly speaking begins with the following 
booklet, which is foliated in continuous roman numerals throughout the 
whole collection. There is no doubt that this is a case of an expanded can- 
cionero, but it was surely not extemporaneous: the same watermarks recur 
throughout various parts of the cancionero}^' A similar case is the same library's 
MS. Esp. 228 (PN6), which begins with a booklet containing a table of con- 
tents, also independently foliated with the letters a-h, even though it leaves 
two folios blank. ^^ A third Parisian cancionero, MS. Esp. 229 (PN7), also has 
a new initial booklet, though it is made of different paper from the remainder 
of the codex. In each of these cases, the addition of a booklet to be used either 
partially or in whole as a table of contents left room for the insertion of all 
kinds of texts. 


^ The pliers, identical to those in Briquet (1907, no. 14089) and datable 1440-1460, 
reappear in the eleventh quire and elsewhere. A type of sword, which I have not been able 
to identify, is found in folio S of the second quire and in quires 6, 8, 10, as well as other 
odd folios. 

^' As in the previous case, the same watermark is found in the first twelve quires, as is 
this preliminary one: a human head with three rizos and a star. It is very similar to Briquet 
15685 (Bourg 1470 and Provence 1476), although the &ce has a much straighter profile, 
with a more prominent nose, and the eyelids are more horizontal. The measurements, how- 
ever, are identical. The MS, therefore, is constructed as a single unit, and the only reason for 
having left this section blank was simply to allow space for the index. 


The initial nucleus could be augmented in various ways that are not always 
easy to make out. There are manuscripts that indicate that they grew by simple 
means: by the addition of preexisting collections without any apparent 
selection of material in the strict sense. The Cancionero de Juan Fernandez de 
Hijar (MN6) combines two entire cancioneros, as its editor demonstrated (Aza- 
ceta 1956, xv-xviii). The compiler possibly tried to revise the material in such 
a way as to avoid duplicating texts, but as often happens, he inadvertently 
repeated some poems in the two sections. Both units are so long and complex 
that we can scarcely imagine the compiler setting himself any other task than 
to suppress repeated poems, even though he was unable to carry this out. The 
joining together of the two parts is perfectly visible both in the codicological 
structure and in the type of paper.^^ 

On other occasions, as in the case of LB2, the compilers seem to have 
opted for a more random selection. PN6, for instance, after a section devoted 
to Fernan Perez de Guzman, incorporates an anthology that combines works 
of this author with those of Mena and Santillana but continues with a strange 
hodgepotch in which Santillana rubs shoulders with Villasandino, the marquis 
of Astorga, and Juan Alvarez Gato. The Cancionero de Onate-Castafieda (HHl) 
juxtaposes Fernan Perez de Guzman with Santillana and is rounded off with a 
rich sample of Castilian verse from the age of Juan de Mena and Gomez 
Manrique to the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. PN5 also starts off with the 
work of Fernan Perez de Guzman but then combines verse by Gomez Manri- 
que, Juan de Mena, and other poets from the Aragonese court, some of which 
goes back to the archetype of the Italian family (Varvaro 1964, 73-76). The 
second section of BMl is made up of a selection of verse by Mena, Gomez 
Manrique, and Juan Rodriguez del Padron, which also (as far as the current 
state of textual criticism allows us to deduce) can be linked to this same family 
of cancioneros. 

A strikingly different case is LB3, which was extended by adding works that 
seem to have quite varied origins and textual traditions; next to these are 
works surviving in single copies. ^^ This also seems to be the case of the 

^^ I deal with this cancionero in greater detail in a study to be published in Cultura 

-^ Its contents are as follows: Manrique's Coplas in a version very close to the archetype 
(see Beltran 1991, 18-32), his uncle Gomez Manrique's Regimiento de principes, then another 
prose section, the Tratado del infante Epitus, plus four religious poems by Juan Alvarez Gato. 
Then follows another section of religious verse, all in single surviving anonymous copies 
(fols. 29r-32v, nos. 8-15), a section of pious episdes (fols. 33r-41v), and another uniquely 
documented poem (42r-43v). The remainder is an anthology of didactic verse which con- 
cludes with some poems by Montoro (fols. 43v-122v). The combination of unique texts, in 
prose and verse, and well-known and widely disseminated works recalls the Cancionero de 
Herberay. However, it possible that there existed a cancionero made up of Manrique's Coplas, 
Gomez Manrique's Regimiento de principes, and Fray Inigo de Mendoza's Coplas de Vita Christi 
(Beltran 1991, 30-31). 


second part of the Cancionero de San Martino delle Scale, which is formed out of 
two juxtaposed sections of separate origin. The first is an anthology of the Ara- 
gonese family (fols. l-69v) which, to judge by the paper and the texts 
themselves, was compiled between 1467 and 1470 and was closely connected 
to the Chancery of Palermo (Bartolini 1956, 147-87; and Varvaro 1964, 65- 
79). The second part contains a bundle of poems that were not widely circu- 
lated and are attributed to Roman, Juan Alvarez Gato, Fadrique Manrique, and 
Guevara.-"^ From what we know of these authors and the contents of the 
poems, this section may also be linked to the Aragonese court, perhaps in the 
period of the Castilian War of Succession.-^' MMl, which begins with La 

•^» 14 [Roman]. IICG (poem 112r), 14CG (poem 87r). 
14b U. A. Gato] LBl (363), MH2 (12), IICG (11 Iv). 14CG (86v). 

15 Fadrique Manrique a Johan poeta. MN6d (92), IICG (222v), 12*CP (2), 14CG 
(202r), 190B (4). 

16 Guiuara MN19 (205). 

17 Ropero al serenissimo Rey Anrique de Castilla MR2 (7). 

18 [A prophetic fragment in prose]. Unique. 

^' The poem by Montoro is a critique of Enrique IV, gentle in tone, as befits z juglar 
addressing a monarch, but it is a critique nonetheless. See the editions and notes of Ciceri 
and Rodriguez Puertolas (1990, no. 71) and Costa (1990, 405). With respect to Guevara, 
unfortunately we still lack a detailed study, in spite of his undoubted interest for the 
development of late fifteenth-century verse. The rubric of one of his poems seems to be 
datable to the end of 1466, when Prince Alfonso traveled from Arevalo to Ocaria (Suarez 
Fernandez 1964, 276): "Otras suyas a vna partida que el rey don Alfonso hizo de Areualo" 
(Foulche-Delbosc 1912-15, no. 904). This trip took place around the middle of December, 
since at that time King Enrique was in Madrid, according to Galindez de Carvajal (ed. 
Torres Fontes 1946, 283), and the latter is documented as being in that town from between 
15 December 1466 and 17 May 1467 (Torres Fontes 1946, 198). The tide of King given to 
Alfonso excludes the possibihty that the rubric refers to another stay in Arevalo the previous 
year (Torres Fontes 1946, 230). Guevara had probably been in the service of Enrique IV 
even earher, if the poem "O desastrada ventura" refers to the meeting held in Guadalupe in 
1464 between Enrique, Princess Isabel, and Alfonso V of Portugal. This meeting prompted 
poems by Guevara, Pinar, Florencia Pinar, and the Portuguese king (see Catedra 1989, 149; 
Boase 1978, 103-4). It is also probable that his Sepultura de amor was even earlier than this 
(Rennert 1895, no. 150; see Catedra 1989, 146). Finally, Fadrique Manrique was the fifth 
son of Rodrigo Manrique, Maestre de Santiago and first count of Paredes (Salazar y Castro 
1696, X, ch. I). Apart from knowing that in the Castihan civil wars this family always fought 
on the side of the Infantes de Aragon, we know that Pedro Manrique, the eldest son of the 
count of Paredes and Fadrique's elder brother, took part in the negotiations that led to the 
pardon of Juan de Cardona's rebellion by Juan II of Aragon, in Valencia, 1467 (Salazar y 
Castro 1696, X, ch. Ill; and Zurita 1988, hb. XVIII, ch. xiii). As regards Juan de ValladoUd, 
Menendez Pidal dates this composition 1470 (1991, 413-16; see also Levi 1925, 419-39). In 
principle, I accept this attribution (although not everyone does; see Aubrun 1951, Ixvii- 
Ixxii). We need to respect archival documents, which are the only nonliterary evidence we 
possess. Moreover, it was usual for those in service at the Neapolitan or Sicilian courts to be 


fundacion de Espana, continues with an anthology of Mena's verse, including the 
Laberinto de Fortuna, and concludes with sections devoted to Gomez Manrique 
and Fernan Perez de Guzman. 

Cancioneros also grow through the addition of material that, as in the cases 
of LB2 and LB3, could be unique, sometimes anonymous, texts that were 
probably the products of the compiler's own circle. The Pequeno cancionero of 
the Marques de la Romana selects verse from the Cancionero de Baena and then 
includes six poems by Beltran de la Cueva; this is his only known work, leav- 
ing aside the single inuencion found in LBl (no. 291). The Cancionero del 
marques de Barberd follows an anthology of Mena's verse and the Siete gozos de 
amor by Juan Rodriguez de Padron with three anonymous and unique poems 
on folio 22r— V, which are then followed by more of Mena's verse and one 
composition by Gomez Manrique. PMl, after extracting poems from the 
Aragonese archetype (usually known as the Italian family), continues with 
three anonymous unique poems (fols. 68r— 69v), plus another two of the same 
kind, though in a later hand (fol. 69v), and it concludes with compositions 
by Roman, Fadrique Manrique, and Guevara. More complex is the case of 
MN17, the Cancionero de Gallardo from the Biblioteca Nacional. After the 
Coplas de la Panadera and Petrarch's Triunfos translated by Alvar Gomez de 
Guadalajara, there is a group of anonymous poems that could be attributed to 
this same writer; then, folios 26r— 29r contain three works attributed to the 
bachiller De la Torre and a friend of his, followed by some stanzas by Sem Tob, 
one poem attributed to Soria (though not the one who figures in the Cancio- 
nero general), and a few more that might also be by him, among which may be 
found an anonymous poem under the rubric "Qelos de una dama a un cavalle- 
ro" (no. 36, fol. 45v), and the anthology then contains a selection of writers 
from the reign of Charles V. 

In aU these cases, the amplification of the cancionero entails the inclusion of 
unique, often anonymous, poems among texts that were widely disseminated. 
The compiler would gradually have strung together the pliegos (folios) as they 
came into his possession. Sometimes, they contained well-known works, cho- 
sen firom a large anthology, or even whole sections of one; at other times, we 
are probably dealing with booklets that derived firom the authors themselves or 
their dedicatees; in certain cases the compiler would have included works 
whose author is not specified, although he perhaps knew him. When we are 
dealing with texts that did not circulate widely, as in the case of the Cancionero 

paid from the customs; this was the case of even such a high-ranking figure in the service of 
Alfonso el Magnanimo as Antonio Beccadelli el Panormita, who ako started out with a 
position in customs (Ruiz y Calonja 1990, 307—42, especially 318). In fact, the only obstacle 
in the way of this attribution is the chronology: 1420 to 1470 is a considerable period but 
not inconceivable for a man who earned a living fi'om letters. 


de Herberay, we may suspect that they derive from the compiler's own circle, 
and so the study of them can provide us with valuable information. At the 
moment, I am not especially interested in whether or not the interpolations 
were made at the same time as the manuscript was copied, or if they were 
later additions on blank leaves, since in the final analysis both procedures 
enrich the collection with the owner's original contributions. 

This modus operandi can be reconstructed in the successive development of 
the anthologies printed in Zaragoza by Paulo Hums and Hans Planck, who 
started off from an edition of the Vita Christi by Fray Ifiigo de Mendoza. The 
first edition of this work (82IM) came out in Zamora, from Centenera's press, 
on 25 January 1482, accompanied by Diego de San Pedro's Sermon trobado (see 
Perez Gomez 1959, 30-41; Whinnom 1962). Apparently, some copies were 
bound with z pliego suelto containing Gomez Manrique's Regimiento de principes, 
published by Centenera himself that same year (82*GM). Pace Perez Gomez 
and Whinnom, I maintain that it was probably followed by Centenera's second 
edition (83*IM), perhaps from 1483.-^^ This added various works by Iriigo de 
Mendoza, Jorge Manrique's Coplas a la muerte de su padre, LamentaciSn de nuestra 
Senora en la quinta angustia, Mena's Coplas contra los pecados mortales with Gomez 
Manrique's continuation, Sancho de Rojas's Pregunta a un aragonh coupled with 
its reply, and Jorge Manrique's Coplas sobre que es amor. 

I argue that it is here that we have to situate the first edition of the Zara- 
goza printers, which is perhaps contemporary with the previous one (82*IM; 
facsimile ed. Perez Gomez 1975). Perez Gomez showed that it was an exact 
copy of Centenera's first edition (82IM) but with errors, the most serious of 
which was the loss of one page. Perhaps the Zaragoza printers had also seen 
the pliego of the Regimiento de principes, which they decided to add to that 
simple selection of Mendoza's work. When the copy was already at press, and 
at the moment of binding it, they altered the order of the booklets and inter- 
posed a terrible edition of Manrique's Coplas between the SermSn trobado and 
the Regimiento de principes. I believe this last-minute decision was inspired 
by Centenera's second edition (83*IM), which among other works also in- 
cluded the Coplas, although not Gomez Manrique's Regimiento?^ What for 
Centenera was an edition of Inigo de Mendoza, whose character he preserved 
with only shght modification in the second edition (83* IM), for the Zaragoza 

^^ See Beltran (1991, 24-25). The gradual expansion of the anthology is the only 
argument adduced by Perez Gomez (and subsequendy Whinnom) to identify the printers of 
the edition as Paulo Hurus and Hans Planck, Zaragoza, c. 1483 (based on the Escorial and 
Palermo copies). 

^■^ We now know that this edition had other imitations. For example, it was reprinted 
with many errors, perhaps by Friedrich Biel, Burgos, c. 1490, whose only extant copy does 
not specify the printer, nor place and date of publication, though it has been identified by 
Rivera and Trienens (1979-80, 22-28). I have studied its text of Manrique's Coplas and its 
relation to earlier editions (Beltran 1991, 18). 


printers was transformed into a small doctrinal cancionero, with four compo- 
sition by three different authors, and the quality of the published versions was 
substantially inferior. 

This was the basis of the first printed collective cancionero worthy of the 
name: the Cancionero de Ramon de Llavia, published by Juan Hums in Zaragoza 
between 1484 and 1488 (86*RL). So as to underscore its strikingly original 
character, he suppressed the Vita Christi, even though he preserved various 
compositions collected by Centenera: the Dechado and the Coplas a las mujeres 
by Fray liiigo, Mena's Coplas contra los pecados mortales with Gomez Manrique's 
continuation, Jorge Manrique's Que cosa es amor and his Coplas (although this 
time his text does not come from Centenera, who had published an excellent 
edition, but firom the same archetype of the earlier edition published by Paulo 
Hums and Hans Planck). This nucleus was expanded by another work by 
Gomez Manrique, half a dozen poems by Fernan Perez de Guzman divided 
into two sections, two by Juan Alvarez Gato, Mena's Lajlaca barquilla, a poem 
each by Ervias and Fernan Ruiz de Sevilla, two by Gonzalo Martinez de 
Medina, and one by Fernan Sanchez Calavera. This wide selection of pious 
and doctrinal verse concludes with a unique poem ascribed to Fray Gauberte, 
who can be identified as the Aragonese chronicler Fray Gauberte Fabricio de 
Vagad, the future collaborator of these editors (Romero Tobar 1989). 

Paulo Hurus published a new poetic anthology that drew on the editorial 
experience of earlier ones but which was enriched by numerous fine woodcuts 
and whose text was far more carefully produced, to judge by the attention 
given to Manrique's Coplas, of which he knew two editions, 1492 (92VC) and 
1495 (95 VC).-^'* In the first place, he took up the tradition of starting a can- 
cionero with a long work, liiigo de Mendoza's Vita Christi, and he preserved 
another four compositions previously published by Centenera: La cena de 
Nuestro Senor, the Coplas a la Veronica, the Siete gozos de Nuestra Senora, and the 
Justas de la razon contra la sensualidad, as well as the Coplas contra los pecados 
mortales by Mena, with its continuation by Gomez Manrique. From the earlier 
Cancionero de Llavia he took over Manrique's Coplas, in a new edition revised 
on the basis of the same Zaragoza archetype as the preceding ones, and the 
poem by Ervias, and he completed the volume with San Pedro's Pasion trouada 
and Siete angustias de Nuestra Senora and one new poem by Fray Juan de 
Ciudad Rodrigo, which would be frequently republished in the years to fol- 
low (ID 2899). Although the volume concluded with another popular work by 
Fernan Perez de Guzman (ID 197), he inserted four poems that were probably 
unique: the Resurreccidn de Nuestro Salvador by Pedro Jimenez (fols. 60v— 70v), 
the Ave maris Stella by Juan Guillardon (fols. 77v-78v), the Historia de la Virgen 
del Pilar de Zaragoza by Medina (fols. 78v— 81v), and the anonymous Dezir 
gracioso de la muerte. 

^* A copy of the 1492 edition is to be found in the library of D. Pedro Vindel and is all 
but unknown to scholars of this period. For flirther details, see my 1991 edition. 


In their three editions, the collaborators of Hurus and Planck have left us 
tangible evidence with which to strengthen some of my earlier hypotheses. A 
group of poems was gathered from preexisting cancioneros, most of which can 
be identified, and this initial nucleus would then be amphfied from a variety 
of sources. ^^ In some cases, we need to know more: for example, the text of 
"Seiiora muy linda, sabed que vos amo" by Ferran Sanchez Calavera is far 
superior to the one found in the Cancionero de Baena, but we lack any other 
textual witnesses that might belong, like this one, to an independent tra- 
dition.-'^ And the dezir "Dime quien eres tu, grande Anibal," ascribed to 
Gonzalo Martinez de Medina, is documented nowhere else. Quite possibly, 
this editorial team had at its disposal one or two fairly substantial cancioneros 
that provided them with the major part of the additions in Ramon de Llavia 
and the 1492 incunable. But the editors wove them together with unique 
witnesses that, according to the hypotheses developed for the manuscripts I 
discussed earlier, probably came from their immediate circle and never found 
their way into the more widely diffused large cancioneros. The author of the 
final poem in the Cancionero de RamSn de Llavia, Gauberte Fabricio de Vagad, 
and the theme of the Historia de la Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza, by Medina, 
included in 92VC and 95VC, confirm their dependence on the local culture 
of Zaragoza. 


Returning to the contributions of the copyists themselves, the evolution of 
the manuscript cancioneros was far from being as linear and simple as the earlier 
examples might suggest. The interpolations could derive from successive stages 
in the elaboration of the cancionero, which cannot always be reconstructed. The 
simplest example is when short texts are inserted onto the blank leaves of 
preexisting manuscripts, as in the case of SA4. It begins with a unique text but 
continues with well-known works: Gomez Manrique's Querella de la gobernaciSn 
and Santillana's Doctrinal de privados. Up to this point the hand is the same, but 
two different hands then share the partial transcription of the Vita Christi (fols. 
5v— 30r), after which three folios are left blank. Then a fourth hand copied an 
anonymous composition found only in this manuscript (fols. 34r— 37v, ID 
4685), and a later hand then added another unique text whose explicit attri- 

^^ The textual transmission of Diego de San Pedro's PassiSn Trobada does not help us, 
since according to Severin (1973, 17-38), the Cancionero de Onate-Castaneda records an earlier 
version than all the others, and these are bter than the one in question here. 

^ Aside from its dual readings and a final stanza not recorded in PNl, it contains 
obvious errors in Unes 16 and 39; 94RL also has errors that are not in PNl (e.g., in 1. 14). 
An exhaustive study of the transmission of Feman Perez de Guzman's verse would help us 
solve these problems, as would a textual comparison of the poems by Mena, Fray Inigo de 
Mendoza, and Gomez Manrique that occur in both cancioneros. 


butes it to Pero Gomez de Ferrol (ID 4686).^^ Another two anonymous and 
unique poems follow, and the manuscript rounds off with the longest known 
version of the Vita Christi (420 stanzas), an extensive collection of poetry by 
Fray liiigo de Mendoza (fols. 119r— 166r), and the Coplas que hizo el comendador 
Roman reprendiendo al mundo (ID 4276). 

This is far from being the only case. In the Cancionero de la Biblioteca Estense 
de Modena (MEl), on folio 22v, a later Italian hand made use of the blank leaf 
following a poem by Pedro Torrellas to insert a cancion by Manrique ("Quien 
no estuviere en presencia," although he does not identify its authorship). In 
PN9, a hand different from the one that actually transcribed the manuscript 
took advantage of a blank space to insert two poems by Pero Gonzalez de 
Mendoza, el gran cardenal (ID 151 and 152).-'^ 

The problem becomes considerably more complex when we do not have 
the original cancionero but a copy in which the different hands, periods, and 
styles, are obscured by the uniformity of the surviving copy. We should recall 
how the Cancionero de Baena was originally dated after the death of Queen 
Maria in February 1445 — in spite of her being mentioned in the dedication as 
alive — by the inclusion of two poems by Juan de Mena, no. 471 (after the 
battle of Olmedo, 19 May 1445) and no. 472, related to the events of 1449 
(Azaceta 1966, xxvi— xxxiii) . But subsequent research demonstrates that the 
extant exemplar is a copy (Tittmann 1968; Alberto Blecua 1974—79) and that 
Juan Alfonso de Baena died before 27 September 1435 (Nieto Cumplido 1979; 
1982). The conclusion is obvious: these are later interpolations, assimilated into 
the main body of the cancionero by the only copy we now possess. -^^ When the 
surviving manuscript is homogeneous in style and construction, it becomes 
highly problematic to assess the relation between the unique compositions it 
contains and the collection as a w^hole. Even so, we should never lose sight of 
its connections with a center of production, even though it may be that of an 
intermediate phase, prior to the surviving manuscript copy. 

We can see, therefore, how certain texts, often linked to the cancionero's 
center of production, could be inserted at the start or, more frequently, within 
the main body of the collection and become mixed up with the material that 
the compiler had gathered from contemporary written sources. We also know 
that these interpolations can also be the result of intermediate phases in the 

^' Six lines from this very poem had been transcribed on folio 33v, immediately after the 
Vita Christi. 

•*' Pero Gonzalez de Mendoza, son of the marques de Santillana, and successively bishop 
of Calahorra and archbishop of Toledo, should not be confused v^ith his grandfather of the 
same name, whose verse is recorded in the Cancionero de Baena. For fiirther details, see Nader 
(1979). He was the subject of a personal chronicle by P. Salazar de Mendoza (1625). 

^^ The cycle does not end here: as I said before, one or two hands copied (c. 1500) the 
text of Manrique's Coplas on the final folios, although it is obviously a later addition, incor- 
porated after the construction of the original MS. 


manuscript transmission. Nevertheless, the favored place for these additions are 
the leaves that were frequently left blank between the end of the composition 
about to be copied and the total number of booklets that had been used to 
make up the codex. A characteristic example is BC3, the Cancionero de don 
Pedro de Aragon.^^ Its original nucleus is made up of the Laberinto de Fortuna 
(fols. 2r— 52r), the Comedieta de Ponza (fols. 53r— 73r), "La Fortuna que no cesa" 
(73r-84r), and "O tu rey que estas leyendo" (84r-84v) by Mena, Santillana's 
Doctrinal de priuados (87r— 98r) and Mena's Razonamiento con la muerte (95v— 
98r).'*' The same hand that copied the rubric also put together an index on the 
back of the second flyleaf (fol. Iv) corresponding to this part of the 

Up to this point, it is a very neat copy, in large format (268 x 210 mm.), 
with the text written out within a large ruled space (172 x 96 mm.), in a 
single column of three stanzas per page. Whatever their length, the rubrics are 
copied in red ink within the spaces between the stanzas and do not disrupt this 
general pattern. The poem's initial letter (fol. 2r) is guilded, with vegetable 
ornamentation drawn in white over a blue and green background. The initial 
letter of the Laberinto and of the incipits of other poems have been drawn in 
blue (fols. 13r, 37v, 53r, 73r, and 87r), and those of each stanza in red. There 
are learned glosses in the margins, written by the scribe himself, though in a 
smaller and inferior script, and abundant reader's notes, commenting upon or 
emending the text (fol. 22v). The quires are remarkably regular: seven quires 
of six sheets, plus one of five, and a quaternion, from which the second part 
of the third bifolium has been torn out. There can be no doubt that this is a 
luxury manuscript, meticulously put together in every respect. 

But this did not prevent a series of clumsy interventions. After the texts 
listed above, four folios (current numeration 99-102) were left blank, plus 
folio 98v, all of them ruled. A second, very irregular cursive hand, with hu- 
manist features, copied the start of the Vita Christi by Fray liiigo de Mendoza 
in two columns on folios 98v-99v. The scribe arranged the first column in the 
wide margin to the left of the ruled space, and the second one within the 
space itself. But because the Trescientas are written in eight-line strophes and 
the Vita Christi in ten, he was forced to employ the blank spaces between the 
stanzas in the manuscript's original design. 

'"' For its move to the Biblioteca de Cataluna, see Bohigas (1966, 485); for a textual 
study, see Kerkhof (1979). The latter's account of the textual transmission of the poems it 
contains enabled him to propose a stemma for this codex and its closest relations, and he 
printed the unpublished texts by the comendador Estela. In addition to all this, my codico- 
logical study uncovers details that enable us to understand how a cancionero develops (in this 
case in a decidedly inorganic fashion). 

'" My fohation does not coincide with Kerkhof s because I follow only the modem one, 
written in pencil, which erroneously begins on the second flyleaf. Kerkhof s is the correct 
one, but mine allows for a more immediate verification of the textual data. 


A third very Gothic hand, but also cursive and quite careless, devoted the 
rest of the volume to a transcription of various Castilian poems by the comen- 
dador Estela."*^ He tried to follow the design of the Trescientas and write in a 
single column. In the first section, the original scribe had left the first line 
blank, but the later one, forced to squeeze ten-line strophes into a space ruled 
for eight, started to write on the first line and fitted the last line of verse 
within the blank space between the stanzas (fols. lOOv— lOlv). Paradoxically, 
when he came across texts actually written in octavas (fols. 102r— 102v), he 
completely abandoned the ruled lines, perhaps exhausted by his unaccustomed 
scribal labor. 

We can see how an amateur compiler had no scruples in expanding a 
luxury cancionero, altering its didactic character with poems of a different order 
and destroying its perfect formal composition. This is a common phenomenon: 
at the end of the second part of SA5, a luxury edition of the Trescientas, Mena's 
"La flaca barquilla" is added in a different hand; even in PNl, the extant copy 
of the Cancionero de Baena, one or two different hands copied around 1500 an 
excellent version of Manrique's Coplas on the final (probably blank) folios. 
Nonetheless, the cancioneros that interest us most are those that incorporate 
unique texts that come perhaps firom the very same environment where they 
were gathered, written possibly by the manuscript's owner or even the com- 
piler himself. 

The Cancionero de Salva (FN 13), now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 
is a luxury manuscript, exceptionally well copied in two columns per page, 
and with a strikingly uniform layout. Up to folio 192r it contains a generous 
anthology of verse from the first half of the fifteenth century, whose textual 
filiation is still to be determined.'*'* In the second column of folio 192r begins 
a series of eleven poems, all unique copies, attributed to Gomez de Rojas, 
whose work is not found in any other cancionero. Since the manuscript is muti- 
lated at the end, we cannot be sure whether or not it included more authors. 
On the other hand, cancionero MMl does seem complete (see above), and it 
concludes with the unique copy of a poem by Juan de Herrera on the canoni- 
zation of San Vicente Ferrer (1455). 

Perhaps the most interesting example is the Pequeno cancionero, whose com- 
pilation has several intriguing features. Beginning with compositions by Pero 
Gonzalez de Mendoza and Beltran de la Cueva, all in the same hand (fols. 
Ir— 2r), which are followed by a blank page (fol. 2v), it continues with selec- 
tions firom Macias, a poem by Suero de Ribera and another by Juana, Queen 

*^ In addition to Kerkhof s article on this cancionero, cited above, see Martinez Romero 

'••' On which, see Kerkhof (1983, 39-46), who argues that it is closely related to MNIO, 
although this MS contains only works by Santillana and Feman Perez de Guzman. Vozzo 
Mendia (1989, 54—55 and commentary on the relevant poems) believes it to be related to 
the Cancionero de Vindel (NH2). 


of Castile, plus one by Juan Rodriguez del Padron, which is thematically 
related, and then leaves another blank page (fol. 8v). Then it transcribes the 
Coplas de la Panadera and Mingo Revulgo, leaves another section blank (the 
second column on folio 13r and all of folio 13v), and reproduces a version of 
Rodrigo de Cota's Epitalamio burlesco that survives in no other manuscript.'*'* 
After leaving yet another folio almost blank (part of 16r and all of 16v), it ends 
up with the only extant copy of a poem ascribed to Arteaga de Salazar"*^ and 
an elegy on the death of Isabel la Catolica (26 November 1504). I should also 
point out that this cancionerillo, which was put together for strictly private use, 
has a strikingly learned character. It includes annotations and variants from the 
Candonero de Baena (fols. 6r— v and 8r), which Blecua has used to reconstruct 
readings from the lost original of this collection; observations drawn from 
Santillana's Carta Prohemio (fol. 4r); and a description of a candonero belonging 
to Pero Lasso de la Vega, which contained works by Fernan Perez de Guzman 
and a selection of poets from the reign of Enrique III (fol. 6r). Although small, 
it contains tw^o clearly defined sections, the first being devoted to courtly and 
the second to historical verse. In spite of this, it does not depart from the usual 
methods of compilation: an initial anthology, some new works inserted in the 
middle, and some unique texts at the end, with blank folios for further addi- 
tions appropriate for each section. 

When the candonero is copied out in a single hand or, like the Candonero de 
Herberay, is distinctly uniform in character, the unique texts were probably 
added at the end, at the very moment the manuscript was originally compiled; 
it is also possible that their presence is the result of several successive inter- 
ventions and that they were included in a subarchetype that no longer exists. 
However, when they are the product of a later hand, as in BC3, especially if 
it is the work of an amateur copyist, one can deduce that they were added by 
an owner and that the compilation was carried out in several phases. This situ- 
ation is frequent. 

I have already discussed MN39 from the Bibhoteca Nacional, Madrid. Its 
final section includes an anonymous poem documented by only one other wit- 
ness (BM3 no. 11), and it ends with a poem by Boscan copied out in a later 
hand. An especially interesting case is SAS.''^' This contains an edition of Au- 

'*'' The editor, Cantera Burgos, believes it to be an early version of the poem (1970, 74- 
81 and 112-29). 

*^ Dutton (1982) identifies it in MN65, an eighteenth-century copy of MN15. 

^'' This candonero was formed from two others. The first goes up to folio clvii(r) and 
contains the work of Ausias March. It is written in a semigothic hand, with little difference 
between the broad and thin strokes, and traces of the Catalan cursive book hand of the 
fourteenth century; large initials mark each stanza, and there are very few abbreviations, with 
early foliation in roman numerals. The second part begins on folio 159 (modern numbering; 
the early fohation does not continue from this point). It contains Mena's Trescientas in the 
Castilian semigothic usually found in the neatest cancioneros; the large initials for each new 
stanza are far more decorated than those in part one, and there is a greater use of abbre- 


sias March and concludes with a poem by Pere March, "Al punt c-om naix 
comenfa de morir," with both its tornadas, whose text begins on foho clv(v) 
and ends approximately halfway down folio clvii(r) (Pages 1934, 51—53; and 
Vidal Alcover 1987, 28-31). The second half of this folio has been left blank. 
On folio clvii(v) there is the sole surviving copy of an esparsa by Mosen Llois 
Pardo (Masso Torrens 1932), written in a more cursive and careless script than 
the previous one but that nevertheless still has Gothic features; the remainder 
of the folio is taken up by an "Oracio en strams feta ala santa creu / per don 
jordi centelles." On folio 158r (now numbered differently from the first part 
of the cancionero) there follows an esparsa, the first Castilian text in the col- 
lection, by "Don Jordi centelles / per dona blancha de rocaberti." Both works 
are written in the same legible, cursive hand. The rest of the folio is blank. 
There is yet another interpolation, occupying the top of folio 158v, which 
contains part of the opening stanza of the Vita Christi, though by now the 
cursive script is clearly humanistic. And finally, a scribal colophon in the same 
hand concludes this Catalan cancionero: "Quis escripsit escribat semper cum 
domino viuat dominicus vocatiue quis escripsit benedicatur." 

The case before us, therefore, is clear: at the very least, an owner added the 
two poems by Jordi Centelles, who was well known as a fractious man of 
letters (from 1456 until his death in Valencia in 1496); and he did so after this 
latter individual or another earlier owner had copied the composition by Llois 
Pardo. Jordi Centelles was the bastard son of the first count of Oliva, Francesc 
Gilabert de Centelles, and brother of the second count, Serafi Centelles, a pa- 
tron of poets and the dedicatee of Hernando del Castillo's Cancionero general ^^ 
The cancionero, either the first part alone or with both parts now assembled, 
passed through Valencia (the orthography of the atonic vowels in the poem by 
Lluis Pardo betrays a Valencian hand) where these additions would be made 
perhaps even in the court of the counts of Oliva or possibly in the broad liter- 
ary circle of the capital of Turia.**" 

viations. It continues with "La flaca barquilla" in a different hand, probably added by one of 
the readers og the MS. Everything suggests that these were two separate cancioneros that were 
bound together in an indeterminate moment in their history. For descriptions, see Dutton, 
El cancionero castellano del sigh XV (1990-91); Masso Torrens (1923-24, 151-54), and Pages 
(1912, 31-34). Its provenance can be traced back to the sixteenth century, when it was in 
Salamanca, Colegio de San Bartolome, though it was in the Biblioteca Real when Pages 
studied it. 

"•^ An occasional poet, he was judge in a Valencian poetic competition in 1456, and he 
also participated in those held there in 1474 and 1486. Two other poems by him survive, as 
well as the Catalan translation of Panormita's De dictis et factis Alphonsi regis Aragonum libri 
quattuor, see Masso Torrens (1923-24, 150 and 154) and Ferrando Frances (1983, 115-22), 
who publishes the two texts from SA5. The best study is Duran's introduction to A. Becca- 
delli el Panormita, Delsfets e dits del gran rey Alfonso, especially pp. 15-29. The bibliography 
of bihngual poets by Ganges Garriga (1992) should also be consulted. 

^^ This point could be clarified by codicological study. I have not personally inspected 


I could go on citing various cancioneros with the same characteristics, some- 
times copied by a single hand or with evidence of having been compiled in 
several phases but always with the addition of unique texts in the final section. 
PN6 closes a lengthy anthology with a couple of them, the first anonymous 
(ID 117), and the second (ID 118) attributed to the bachiller de la Torre. In a 
different hand was added yet another anonymous poem, found in two other 
cancioneros and cited by Diego de Mendoza in Garci Sanchez de Badajoz's 
Infierno de amores.'^'^ Finally, at the end of PN7 — another luxury manuscript of 
the Trescientas (although compiled differently from BC3) — a reader added two 
little-known Castilian compositions by the comendador Estela, another of his 
Catalan poems, and his prose gloss "Vive leda si podras," although in a far 
better hand than the reader who filled the final folios of BC3. 

On the other hand, PN7 offers a supreme instance of what this kind of 
amplification could entail. The text of the Trescientas ends on folio 76v, in the 
second part of quire nine, and the works of Estela occupy folios 77r-81v, the 
end of the ninth quire and the two first folios of the tenth. But then follow 
thirteen unnumbered folios in this quire (plus the last folio that must have 
been torn out) and then the fourteen folios of the eleventh quire. If a reader 
had carried on writing in the original quire, a copy of the Laberinto would 
have become the nucleus of a collective cancionero of quite respectable size. 

The study of the concluding sections of cancioneros already has a certain 
tradition behind it. R. O. Jones (1961), when he examined the poems that 
conclude the Cancionero del British Museum (partial ed. Rennert 1895), con- 
sidered the possibility that he was dealing with a collection compiled by Juan 
del Encina himself His arguments are plausible: no. 346 has the rubric "Vil- 
lancico del actor deste libro," and it appears in Encina's Cancionero of 1496 
with the no. 352; and another (British 352) is also attributed to Encina in the 
Cancionero musical de Palacio (ed. Asenjo Barbieri 1890; facsimile reprint 1987, 
no. 240). Consequently, this poet could have gathered the contemporary verse 
that he either had available or liked, and he closed the volume with some of 
his own compositions, from 347 to 352. More recently, Michel Garcia has 
suggested a similar explanation for the Cancionero de Onate-Castaneda, which 
would be the work of Pedro de Escavias whose compositions appear at the end 
of the codex (Garcia 1978-80, especially first volume; and 1990, 24-26). In 
both cases there are significant arguments in favor of this attribution, as regards 
the structure of both the volumes and its contents, as well as the circumstances 
and tastes of their supposed compilers. 

the MS, and so I have been unable to determine if these additions are all in the final folios 
of the first part (which seems most probable) or if they also extend into the initial fohos of 
the second. Since folio 158 (the last folio with interpolated texts) is not numbered, one 
should proceed with caution. 

"•'^ Gallagher (1968), stanza 19. Dutton (1982) attributes two more poems to him (ID 
5979 and ID 6223). 


I would even argue that a third cancionero shares these characteristics: SAlOa. 
It is well known that this volume (Salamanca University MS. 2763) is made up 
of two distinct parts (Wittstein 1907 and Moreno Hernandez 1989, 18-20). 
The first, which concerns us here, is usually dated c. 1520, and it contains an 
anthology of poets from the third quarter of the fifteenth century, with a high 
incidence of those who fought for the Catholic Monarchs and the Aragonese 
faction: Diego de Valera and Pero Guillen are the best represented, although 
there are also poems by others, such as Lope de Stuniga, Gomez Manrique, 
and even Villasandino. Written in a single hand, between folios 89r and 91r it 
includes seventeen poems by Hernando Colon, in the same hand as the rest of 
the cancionero. So that no space is wasted, these are followed by a series of four 
anonymous compositions, which begin in the second column of folio 91r and 
are copied in a different hand. All poems are attested only here.^° We still 
know nothing of the transmission of the texts in the collection except for the 
case of Lope de Stufiiga's work, and although the nature of its variants do not 
allow firm conclusions, there is a possible link with Cancioneros Vindel, Her- 
beray, and Modena.^' Given Hernando Colon's personality and his obsession 
with books, it is perfectly feasible to imagine that he was the patron of this 
manuscript and that at its conclusion the scribe included the w^ork of his pat- 
ron. Then, a subsequent reader or owner might have added on their own ac- 
count the anonymous poems, whose authorship I have not been able to ascer- 
tain. Nevertheless, the fact that poems deriving from this manuscript are in a 
single hand is not enough to prove it was compiled in a single phase. The 
poems by Hernando Colon appear at the end of an anthology whose contents 
seem to date it around 1460 or possibly a little later. The surviving copy could 
be a new collection ordered by Colon, at the end of which he added his own 
work, but it could equally be just a reproduction of an older cancionero copied 
at his behest. 

In view^ of this information, the final sections constitute a varied and com- 

^" Harrisse (1871, appendix F) published Hernando Colon's poems from a cancionero in 
the Biblioteca Real, which may be identified as the one under discussion here. Moreover, 
Harisse also reveals that in Colon's library was a book entided Ferdinandi Colon varii Rithtni 
et Cantilene manu et hispanico sertnone scripti, which in his opinion was probably dedicated 
entirely to to Colon's own work, though this MS could also be SAlOb. In fact, Varela iden- 
tifies this MS, cited in Abecedarium B, as the one that in Registrum B has the tide Cancionero 
de copies de mano echas pot diversos autores (1983, 185-201), although he does not point out 
that it could well be SAlOb, the very MS that provides the source for his own edition. Har- 
risse's information reappears in Serrano y Sanz (1932, clviii), and the poems have been re- 
pubhshed by Dutton in the Cancionero castellano del sigh XV. Nonetheless, I should also like 
to add that MS. Add. 13984 of the British Library (seventeeth century) has poems by Colon 
on fols. 44-45 (Gayangos 1875-91, 2:316), but Varela (1983, 192) affirms that it is simply a 
copy of SAlOb. 

*' Vozzo Mendia (1989, 55-56). This connection was limited to ten poems, to judge by 
the index in Ramirez de Arellano y Lynch (1976, 34). 


plex set of problems. Perhaps to a greater extent than in the middle of the can- 
cioneros, in the final sections poems that were inserted only at the very moment 
of compilation could exist alongside others that were added during the manu- 
script's circulation. And the latter probably originated in the same place as the 
cancionero, or even belonged to the compiler or an author very close to him. In 
any case, the final part of the manuscripts usually left free folios that would be 
the ideal place to add texts a posteriori, separated from their place of origin. ^^ 
Studying them, therefore, becomes a vitally important means of discovering 
the manuscript's evolution and history, but it requires utmost care if one is to 
avoid rash conclusions. 

We have seen, therefore, how the comparative analysis of manuscripts lays 
bare a series of characteristic features that shed light on the habits of the 
scribes, their methods of work, the function of their collections, and even the 
vanity of their owners. Among them stand out such notable features as the 
initial nuclei, the internal interpolations, and the concluding section.^^ And 
all these features can coexist in a single manuscript, as in the cases of the Can- 
cionero de Herberay or the Pequeno cancionero. All help us understand more fully 
the textual witness and reconstruct its history and owners. Sometimes we are 
confronted by collections that reflect the internal life of a Hterary court; if this 
were not the case, what could explain the organizational chaos of such high- 
quality anthologies as the Cancionero de Estiiniga and its related texts, where 
there is no noticeable attempt to be systematic? Like the Cancionero de Her- 
beray, they probably derive from open-ended miscellanies, in which, starting 
from an earlier compilation, the scribe noted down works as they were com- 
posed or were passed on to him but without any apparent organizational cri- 
teria. These are the very cases that might repay further study. 

Whatever the logic behind their inclusion, however, and whenever they 
were actually transcribed, we should pay close attention to as many poems as 
we can find in the cancioneros that exist in single or just a few copies. As I have 
already explained, almost all these compilations start in one way or another 
from preexisting volumes, be they personal cancioneros or more ambitious single 
works and anthologies. But most of them also display a significant innovative 
streak, which can take various forms: combining two or more cancioneros, judi- 
ciously selecting the material that comes down to them, and, especially, adding 
texts that were not widely circulated, which allows us to form the hypothesis 
that the centers of cancionero production disseminated originals alongside copies 

^^ The text of Manrique's Coplas, for example, was copied in the final folios of the 
Cancionero de Baena, at the very end of the fifteenth or the start of the sixteenth century 
(Beltran 1991. 28-30). 

^■^ In fact, exploiting the blank leaves, as well as the flyleaves, was a characteristic practice 
of MS readers in the Middle Ages, before the increasing availabiUty of books during the 
Early Modern period changed reading habits. See Bourgain's remarks concerning Latin MSS. 
of the High Middle Ages (1991, 71-72). 


of Other anthologies. Sometimes we can detect major centers of such activity: 
Hke the (as yet unidentified) place of origin of the Cancionero de Palacio (SA7) 
or the Trastamaran court that produced the archetype of what we commonly 
call the Italian family of cancioneros (though Aragonese is the more accurate 
term), which collect a set of major works destined to be widely circulated. On 
other occasions, the compilations have a more obviously local character: like 
the central nucleus that formed the basis of the Cancionero de Vindel (of possible 
Catalan origin; see Ramirez de Arellano y Lynch 1976) or that of the Cancio- 
nero de Pero Guillen de Segovia.^^ In any case, their study can often shed light 
on the literary circle from which they originated, its tastes, chronology, and 

In conclusion, studies on the fifteenth-century cancioneros currently betray 
certain weaknesses that, unless resolved, will prevent us firom advancing further 
in this field. In my own research, I have been hampered by the lack of infor- 
mation about one essential problem: what originals did the compiler have on 
hand, where did they come from, and how did he get them? In his magisterial 
book, Giuseppe Billanovich (1981) reconstructed the procedures adopted by 
Petrarch to edit Livy's Decades: what manuscripts he acquired, when, firom 
which library, what each contained, and how he handled them. It is true that 
many of Petrarch's autographs have survived, and among them his edition of 
Livy, with both his own marginal annotations and those of Lorenzo Valla. But 
it is also true that the identification, evaluation, and dating of these manu- 
scripts are the result of a long series of studies and cancionero scholars have 
scarcely begun to embark upon such a task. There is a group of works of con- 
siderable scope that recur in numerous cancioneros, like Mena's Laberinto, Fray 
Inigo de Mendoza's Vita Christi, Gomez Manrique's Regimiento de principes, and 
many more, whose analysis would enable us to make progress on this score. In 
only a few concrete cases, such as the works of Santillana that have been so 
thoroughly researched by Maxim Kerkhof, are we in a position to retrace the 
paths they have followed. Consequently, I would like to suggest a new direc- 
tion for our research: from the contents of the cancionero to its container, firom 
the poems to the scribes. Precisely because so few have followed it, it is this 
path that holds the greatest surprises in store. ^■'' 

Universitat de Barcelona 

^* The most relevant study of the origins of the MS is Cummins (1973); but see also 
Lang (1908), Marino (1978-79), and Beltran (1991, 39-42). 

■"'^ This study forms part of a broader research project on fifteenth-century cancioneros 
funded by the Direcci6n General de Investigaci6n, Ciencia y Tecnologia. 

In Praise of the Cancionero: 

Considerations on the Social Meaning of the 

Castilian Cancioneros 


Nothing could be more timely than this collection of studies, now that 
Brian Dutton's compilation of cancioneros (1990—91) is finally completed, 
and now that — thanks to him — we have an exceptional opportunity to make 
an in-depth study of the entire corpus of fifteenth-century court poetry. My 
intention here is not merely to pay personal tribute to our late colleague but 
to recognize an exceptional fact: it is rare that a scholar has an opportunity to 
review the whole of a literary corpus and to be able to develop theories with 
the confidence that they are based on utterly reliable material. 

Our debt to Brian Dutton for his monumental accomplishment is obvious, 
not only because of its great literary importance but because of the influence 
his catalogue will have on the way in which this and fiiture generations of 
scholars focus their studies of fifteenth-centry Castilian literature. By setting 
before us the complete panorama of surviving anthologies, Brian Dutton has 
opened up fields of study that we cannot afford to ignore.' I should like to 
point out the two most obvious: first, we are in a position to establish critical 
editions of the complete works of a much wider range of poets than ever be- 
fore. Even in the case of forgotten (and forgettable?) poets, it is hard for phi- 
lologists not to fulfill the obligation they owe to every author from the past 
whose works they happen to unearth.^ The second is to establish critical edi- 

' Some of the issues I discuss in this study have also been raised in a colloquium held in 
Liege, in 1989, whose proceedings have been edited by Tyssens (1991); see especially the 
opening paper by Roncaglia, to which I return below. 

^ I am currently preparing an edition of the complete works of Costana and a new 
edition of the verse of Pedro de Escavias. 


tions of the major poems. So far this has been done in only a few of the most 
significant cases, such as Mena's Laherinto de Fortuna, Santillana's Comedieta de 
Portfa and Bias contra Fortuna, Inigo de Mendoza's Vita Christi, Diego de San 
Pedro's Fusion Trobada, and Jorge Manrique's Coplas. These editions are the 
fruit of enormous labor, which previously could be justified only for the truly 
exceptional works; henceforth they will be possible even for poems of sec- 
ondary importance. 

The value of such projects cannot by any means be underestimated, and I 
consider them not just inevitable but essential, so long as they do not cause us 
to lose sight of our main objectives.-' In fact, I consider it more urgent to ask 
how we can exploit Dutton's new research tool to undertake a global study of 
cancionero production in particular and also to reassess our perceptions of fif- 
teenth-century literary life in general. To this end, I think it vital that we con- 
fine ourselves to the reality of the cancioneros or poetic anthologies, whatever 
one chooses to call them.'^ It is not my intention here to explore the ways in 
which we might classify the cancioneros (Viceng Beltran has broached this topic 
in his essay in the present volume) but rather to use this opportunity to open 
debate on their definition and raison d'etre within the literary and sociological 
context of fifteenth-century Castile. 

Before I begin, I should point out that in my opinion the cancioneros should 
be the primary object of our research and that we must avoid from the outset 
the danger of regarding them as mere collections of texts or a fortuitous gath- 
ering of preexisting works. This is a very real danger. It is obvious that nowa- 
days the existence of a poem in one of these cancioneros is not considered 
crucial information for the modern scholar or editor and that it has little or no 
influence on the definition of the text or its interpretation. Current editions 
usually relegate the codicological origin of the work to footnotes, where they 
also indicate the principal variants of the extant versions. But what interests 
them most is the text itself, whether published in isolation or included in a dif- 
ferent context, namely, the complete works of the poet who composed it. The 
presence of a poem in one of these collections has at best been used as evi- 
dence for assessing the work's initial popularity. According to this line of rea- 
soning, a cancionero is interesting only insofar as it includes unknown poems or 
the original version of a particular work. Thus we have the paradox that a 
cancionero is considered interesting only if it calls attention to itself by depart- 
ing from the norm in bringing to light previously unknown works or unusual 

Although I can make this point only in passing, our experience with these 

■* Roncaglia is of the same opinion: "Les problemes qui derivent de cette situation sont 
nombreux. Pour commencer: faudra-t-il viser a I'edition documentaire des chansonniers, ou 
plutot a la reconstruction critique des textes individuels? Voila un dilemme qui n'en est pas 
un. Pour des raisons difFerentes, les deux taches sont egalement necessaires" (1991, 23). 

* On the problems of the term cancionero, see Severin (1994). 


collections shows us that we have a natural tendency to attach less importance 
to the cancionero as such than to its contents. At best, candoneros are simply 
overlooked; at worst, they are considered obstacles to the interpretation of the 
poems and the establishment of the texts. By contrast, I would argue that it is 
necessary to examine the candoneros as literary objects in their own right. I shall 
advance several reasons for this view. 

The first is that fifteenth-century candoneros extend a long tradition of poetic 
anthologies compiled both within and beyond the frontiers of Castile. This in 
itself is significant.^ While Castilian collections began to appear only in the 
first half of the fifteenth century, the practice of gathering poems of different 
form and thematic content was a common practice elsewhere in the Peninsula. 
According to the invaluable evidence of his Prohemio e carta al Condestable de 
Portugal, Santillana recalls having seen a large anthology of Galician-Portuguese 
verse, owned by his grandmother, dona Mencia de Cisneros (the relevant pas- 
sage is quoted below). As Santillana's testimony suggests, it is most probable 
that the Castilians inherited the practice firom the Galician-Portuguese school 
and not the Provencal. ^ 

However, it is appropriate here to refer to another model that is genuinely 
Castilian, represented by the works of the mester de clerecia of the fourteenth 
century. The Libro de buen amor by Juan Ruiz and the Rimado de palado by 
Pedro Lopez de Ayala bear an undeniable similarity to the later anthologies, 
although in my opinion critics have pushed the analogy to unacceptable ex- 
tremes.^ To illustrate this, I would point to the frequent changes in register in 
the Libro de buen amor, the absence of certain poems announced by the poet 
himself, and the final gathering together of those pieces that apparently could 
not find a place in the main body of the book. For the work of Ayala, there 
is also ample proof of this organization: the autonomy of the Ditado sobre el 
Cisma and of the religious cancionero at the end of Part One of the Rimado 
(underscored by the inclusion of dates or transitional stanzas); Ayala's adap- 
tation of the Book of Job, where several versions of the same passage are 
combined alongside a series of unconnected sections, giving the Rimado its 

^ See Huot (1987). This book sheds considerable light on many issues that are crucial to 
our understanding of literary developments in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: e.g., 
the transition from oral to written Hterature, the increasing prestige of vernacular verse, and 
the gradual emergence of the concept "book." But the corpus that concerns me here belongs 
to a bter period, when vernacular literature enjoyed a different, more elevated status, which 
sets limits to the use I can make of Huot's arguments and conclusions. 

'' The rubrics to the poems in the Cancionero de Baena fulfill a role similar to the vidas 
and razos of the Provencal collections. However, as Weiss has pointed out (1990, 42), there 
are significant differences in content and length, which cast doubt on the conclusions drawn 
by Deyermond (1982) as to the influence on Baena of the Provencal models of compilation. 

' For example, I do not believe that the fragments of cuadema via included by Ayala in 
his Rimado de palado were composed continuously between the reign of Pedro I and the final 
years of the poet's life. For details, see Garcia (1982, 287-302). 


heterogeneous character. Despite this evident lack of unity, with good reason 
we consider these works to be coherent. In part, no doubt, because the work 
is by the same poet. But this explanation is not very convincing, because there 
are limits to the coherence of themes and forms in an author's work, par- 
ticularly when the book apparently includes his complete output in that genre. 
In fact, the principal characteristics of the two works in question — the artifice 
of the poetic whole, w^hich consists in the attempt to balance comprehensive 
scope with a sometimes forced quest for formal unity — suggest a poetic con- 
ception similar to that which inspired the candoneros, though with a much 
stronger sense of formal structure. 

These traits also define fifteenth-century candoneros, which strive to gather 
a maximum number of works and order them in such a way as to make the 
collection as a whole appear coherent.^ We must not lose sight of these 
fourteenth-century antecedents when we consider both the appearance and the 
characteristics o£ candoneros in the following century. 

In a way, the works by Juan Ruiz and Ayala illustrate, with far greater 
clarity than Galician-Portuguese anthologies, one of the major preoccupations 
of late medieval literati: the preservation of the texts, or, put more dramati- 
cally, the determination to prevent their disappearance. Their other charac- 
teristics do not diminish that sense of urgency. It is manifest in fifteenth-cen- 
tury candoneros right from the very start: the Cancionero de Baena takes its initial 
impulse and shape as a compilation of the works of Alfonso Alvarez de Villa- 
sandino. The same is true of several others, such as the Cancionero de Onate, 
w^hich, as I explain below, opens with the works of Fernan Perez de Guzman. 
In each instance, it is difficult to imagine that the operation does not entail the 
implicit desire to fix forever a body of poetry that is in danger of disappearing 
or, at least, of not acquiring the fame it deserves. The motives may evolve 
over time. In particular, the advent of the printing press could have influenced 
compilers to make the leap toward gathering together the complete works of 
given authors. But before the dissemination of printing, I see a desire to pre- 
serve a patrimony as the principal motivation, because the poets who merited 
such treatment had either died or stopped composing at the time their works 
were being compiled. The posthumous nature of the operation tells us much 
about its objectives.' 

* The criterion of length could be used to distinguish the candoneros. However, brevity 
was probably due more to an unexpected interruption than to the wishes of the compiler, 
and therefore, hypothetically speaking, the difference between the collections is not 
qualitative, only quantitative. 

^ This is a topic that would repay further study. By its very nature, the process of 
compilation can conceal a great variety of goals on the part of the compilers. Consider, for 
example, that not all compilers (like Baena or Castillo) envisaged a wide audience for their 
collections. Perhaps the majority wanted to preserve documents that had exerted a personal 
influence upon them. The range of attitudes (those of anonymous compilers, publicists like 


We know that the cancioneros did not compile works of certain authors 
merely to preserve them; yet the diversity of their materials, authorship, inspi- 
ration, and even language makes it difficult to give a simple account of the 
reasons for their formation. As Beltran argues in his contribution to this 
volume, we need a taxonomy of the criteria used for including the individual 
works or combination of works in a given context. In the meantime, however, 
I feel it safe to say that these criteria do not contradict but complement each 
other. How else could one explain, for example, the apparently random gath- 
ering of isolated pieces or short series of works alongside compilations that 
presume to be the complete work of a particular author? I would suggest that 
these smaller collections are not altogether in conflict with the more extensive 
ones. The principle is the same, except that their coherence does not stem 
from single authorship but is thematic, or chronological, or geographic, or fol- 
lows other possible criteria, some of them possibly being very personal.'^ 
Moreover, the presence of isolated pieces often illustrates the difficulties of 
obtaining certain texts, which can be included only if the compiler chances to 
have access to them. The criteria are complementary in that the preoccupation 
to preserve texts is (up to a certain point) quite in harmony with the desire to 
publish the entire production of the genre. To preserve and publish are, after 
all, the two facets of the very definition of the object "book," whether in the 
age of manuscript production or in the early days of the printing press and 
possibly even beyond. 

It is not by chance that these remarks on cancioneros lead toward their iden- 
tification with the concept "book." The idea I wish to set forth is that the 
cancionero is a book, with all that this concept implies: the demands of being 
both the vehicle and the object of literature. In other words, Hterature (and in 
our specific case, poetry) exists for and because of the book. This assertion is 
obvious, even when one grants due recognition to oral literature. A literature 
exists for posterity in the form of preserved texts, which not only testify to the 
existence of that literature but make it a reality and constitute its only possible 
field of study. Note the words of the Marques de Santillana when he speaks 
of the volume of Galician-Portuguese poems kept in the home of his grand- 

Acuerdome, seiior muy magnifico, syendo yo en hedad no provecta, mas 
asaz pequeiio mofo, en poder de mi avuela doiia Men^ia de Cisneros, 
entre otros libros, aver visto un grand volumen de cantigas, serranas e 
dezires Portugueses e gallegos; de los quales toda la mayor parte era del 

Baena, or "theorists" like Encina) may have in common the nostalgic desire to preserve 
more than a century of poetic activity that signaled Castile's cultural splendor. On the mo- 
tives of Encina and Castillo, see the brief but pertinent remarks of Weiss (1990, 237) and 
Andrews (1970). 

'" I develop these points in my introduction to the Cancionero de Onate-Castaheda 
(Severin et al. 1990, especially xix-xxii). 


Rey don Donis de Portugal — creo, seiior, sea vuestro visahuelo — , cuyas 
obras, aquellos que las leyan, loavan de inven^iones sotiles e de gra^iosas 
e dulses palabras. Avia otras de Johan Suares de Pavia, el qual se dize 
aver muerto en Galizia por amores de una infanta de Portogal e de otro, 
Fernand Gonzales de Senabria. (Gomez Moreno and Kerkhof 1988, 449) 

The marques recalled the names of the principal poets included in the volume, 
though not all are as well known as the Portuguese King Dinis, whom he feels 
obliged to emphasize given the identity of his interlocutor, the young don 
Pedro, condestable de Portugal. The details he provides about Suares de Pavia 
seem taken from the rubric that would have introduced his verse in that 
cancionero. What is striking is that after many years he was still able to describe 
the contents of a book that retained even its material form as "un grand 
volumen." While it was defined by the works it contained, the codex retained 
its personality as a book, which distinguished it from the other volumes in 
dona Mencia's library. 

That identification presupposes recognition of at least a minimum of 
elaboration, which is one of the defining qualities of the concept "book." In- 
advertedly, it passes from being a mere physical support for literary texts to 
being a real literary work in its own right. Is there anything in the cancioneros 
that would allow us to deny them these qualities inherent in a book? I think 
not. Moreover, in my opinion, they are the natural channel of fifteenth-cen- 
tury poetry. 

This verse survives only through the collections in which it has been in- 
cluded. If there is anything the cancioneros have in common, despite their di- 
versity, it is to have kept alive an entire production, that otherwise would have 
ceased to exist. Beyond this rather obvious fact, one can detect something else: 
a systematic desire to preserve it. To demonstrate this, one has only to take 
tw^o examples from opposite ends of the chronological chain. Without the 
Cancionero de Baena (c. 1425), the work of Alfonso Alvarez de Villasandino 
would be practically nonexistent. Without Hernando del Castillo's Cancionero 
general (first edition, 1511), over half the works of Jorge Manrique would have 
been lost: of the forty-nine poems attributed to him, thirty-two survive only 
in that collection. This documentary function was never lost firom view, de- 
spite the temporal distance between the two anthologies. 

But if the cancioneros had aspired only to preserve works that interested their 
compilers, they would have accomplished only half the purpose of the book. 
In reality, the existence of those collections contributes to the conceptual evo- 
lution of poetry itself How does one define the poetic production preserved 
in the cancioneros? Above all, as an art of composing poems that is related above 
all to a social context. For the aristocracy, it was as much a sign of nobility as 
the luxury of daily Ufe or the passion for the hunt.'' It displayed the poet's 

" In this respect, it is very significant that among the numerous pastimes of the "grandes 


adhesion to the cultural values that shaped the ideology of the governing class, 
with scarcely any concern for the specific values of literature. When Juan II or 
Alvaro de Luna composed their verses, they did not expect to be considered 
men of letters but only to share in and promote a social ritual of court life. For 
this reason, I feel it more appropriate to speak of production and not creation as 
such.^^ What is expressed through that medium is the social body itself, with 
a view to imposing from the top down social values and official norms. 

Critics who delight in emphasizing the recurrence of themes and forms in 
cancionero poetry are only recognizing the efficiency of this means of promoting 
an ideology; yet they do not realize that it is above all a sociocultural phe- 
nomenon, and they thereby fail to understand why this poetry survived well 
into the sixteenth century, clear proof that the phenomenon survives the cir- 
cumstances that brought it into being. This durability comes, I believe, from 
the literary quality of the texts, and I consider this to be the essential contri- 
bution of the cancionero compilers. 

There is no hiding that such an assertion clashes with some of the charac- 
teristics of the cancioneros that are apparently incompatible with what we now 
regard as a "literary work." How can we reconcile their heterogeneous con- 
tent, their frequent anonymity, and the occasional amateurishness of their 
authors with our expectations of "literature"? 

The apparent lack of unity in anthologies is a question that has been 
debated for a long time among scholars of Provencal poetry. But there is now 
a consensus that a unifying principle actually exists, and it has a name, "syl- 
loge" in French ("silogio" in Italian). It is thus recognized that while the con- 
tent of the collections may include a variety of pieces of different origin and 
authorship, they can still qualify as something more than mere anthologies. 
The unifying cement consists of two factors. The first concerns the socio- 
cultural reality that surrounds the production of such works. As Roncaglia 

Ce sont des conditions ou le sentiment d'une solidarite collective, 
enracinee dans un milieu socio-culturel polycentrique, mais typologique- 
ment homogene, I'emporte sur la personnalite individuelle des auteurs 
[qui pourtant] ne sont point interchangeables. (1991, 22) 

This is in short a tonal unity, and it cannot easily be denied the Castilian 
cancioneros, which so often have been condemned for monotony and repeti- 
tiveness in theme as well as in form and vocabulary. 

The second cohesive factor is the aim pursued by the compilers. Again I 
quote Roncaglia: 

senores" mentioned in Baena's prologue, he also refers to the art of poetry (ed. Azaceta 
1966, 1:12-13). 

'^ Production warrants an approach that is more sociological than literary, while creation 
presupposes a personal perspective on the work. 


J'ai dit que les chansonniers se definissent a la rencontre d'un projet — qui 
peut-etre un projet de choix, mais peut-etre aussi I'intention de produire 
tout ce que Ton connait — et d'autre part des conditions exterieures qui 
pouvaient limiter la disponibilite des modeles. Done il y a un aspect ma- 
teriel, mais aussi un certain aspect de choix. (1991, 22) 

Those two circumstances weigh heavily on any cancionero and help to 
strengthen the kinship that unites them. The more the compiler seeks to order 
his materials systematically, the more evident the principles that unite them 
become. In this case, perceptible discontinuities only illustrate the difficulties 
encountered in collecting the material and, by contrast, throw into relief the 
compiler's project. But I am not unaware that these two criteria define the can- 
cioneros only in a negative manner. We must therefore find more positive argu- 
ments in support of my proposal. 

The most convincing one would be to demonstrate that a collection could 
itself attain the status of a literary work. In this respect, we might find exam- 
ples in the fourteenth-century works of mester de clerecta to which I referred 
above. Despite their obvious artifice, no one would deny that the Libro de buen 
amor and the Rimado de palacio should be considered accomplished works from 
a literary standpoint. In medieval Castilian literature they stand out in three 
respects: history, esthetics, and the author's personality. To what extent can 
these qualities be found in a cancionero? It would be easy to prove that they 
exist in some cases, such as in the Cancionero de Baena, for which we possess an 
unusually large amount of information: the identity of the compiler, the cir- 
cumstances of compilation, esthetic criteria outlined in the prologue, and an 
obviously systematic ordering of the material. But it would be more interesting 
to take a lesser-known work in which the circumstances surrounding its com- 
pilation are not clearly defined, such as the Cancionero de Onate-Castaneda (ed. 
Severin et al. 1990). 

What strikes one most about this collection (c. 1485) is the keen awareness 
shown by the compiler for poetic developments that took place during the 
course of the whole century. This is illustrated by the way in which he gives 
prominence to the poets considered most representative of their generation. 
They are carefully selected and ordered in chronological sequence: Fernan 
Perez de Guzman, Juan de Mena, el marques de Santillana, Gomez Manrique, 
Fray Ifiigo de Mendoza, Diego de San Pedro, Fray Ambrosio Montesino, 
Anton de Montoro, and Jorge Manrique. Merely enumerating these poets 
gives a clear idea of his priorities. The Cancionero de Onate uses history as a 
structuring device, which means transforming the collection into something 
more than an anthology: a real historical manual of fifteenth-century poetry. 

The impression is heightened by the choice of forms and themes that turn 
out to be the most representative in each generation. The Cancionero opens 
with a section devoted to twenty-three works by Fernan Perez de Guzman, a 
substantial part of which possesses a distinct structure: the second poem is a 
matins prayer (Loores a maitines), and the twentieth, an ultdogo. This constitutes 


the whole of his reUgious poetry — and it is presented as such — and it is 
rounded off with four large-scale poems, one at the beginning, the others at 
the end: in short, this is a most complete reproduction of the serious verse of 
"el senor de Batres." He is the only poet who merits such treatment. It is as if 
the Cancionero had been placed under his authority, much as Villasandino was 
the authority for Baena's collection. Despite their high quality, in every way 
comparable to Perez de Guzman, and despite the compiler's obvious admira- 
tion, the inclusion of the other poets' works depends on other criteria. Mena 
and Santillana are seen as complementary to each other. Their works alternate 
in a sort of fictitious dialogue that ends with an exchange of preguntas y 
respuestas. This physical arrangement illustrates tw^o of the principal character- 
istics of poetry during the reign of Juan II: that it was a collective activity and 
that it developed in the royal court. The reign of Enrique IV is represented by 
an austere poem by Gomez Manrique and by the typically critical tone of 
Franciscan verse. Lastly, the beginning of the Catholic Monarchs' reign is cen- 
tered on one region, Andalusia, no doubt because of the compiler's own 
personal experiences. But even within these limits, the selection of works and 
poets shows an acute sense for the originality of that region's poetic produc- 
tion. The poet Montoro is an essential figure, and it is revealing that he is 
presented as a favor-seeking courtier, without resorting to the triviality of his 
minor verse. At the same time, the compiler brings to light the widespread 
patronage of Castilian nobles and the consequent composition of panegyric 
verse. Finally, the inclusion of Jorge Manrique indicates his ability to perceive 
new currents of quality. 

Seen in this light, the Cancionero does not have the limitations usually 
attributed to anthologies. Despite the difficulties inherent in the task, especially 
considering limitations imposed by contemporary modes of literary dissemina- 
tion, the compiler was not content merely to collect samples of the work of 
his own age, but he has provided clues that permit one to read and interpret 
not only the texts he himself gathers but also the entire corpus of fifteenth- 
century verse. It constitutes a literary work in the strict sense of the term. 

The second criterion of literariness mentioned earlier, esthetics, is also 
present in this cancionero. It is manifested in several ways, and it gives a good 
account of the compiler's tastes. I have already mentioned his ability to capture 
the dominant poetic trends of each era, which displays his keen critical sense 
and a capacity to evaluate the merits of the works. He also shows great care in 
ordering the poems. But this is not simply a didactic question. The volume 
comes across as a well-balanced construction, with subtle patterns that suggest 
that esthetic concerns as much (if not more) as didactic ones went into its 
compilation. A good example of this is the last part of the Cancionero, devoted 
to the works of Pedro de Escavias. This section reproduces in condensed form 
the chronology of fifteenth-century poetic creation, within the limits of one 
lifetime.'-^ This relationship between collective production and the poetic 

'•* The compiler tries not only to trace the various stages of Escavias's poetic career — ^not 


microcosm of a single author evokes a classic mise en abyme, which has evident 
esthetic intentions. 

Finally, even though the authorship of the Cancionero is not made explicit, 
the author's personality has certainly left its mark. It can be deduced from what 
I have just said about the anthology's organization. But clearly, whoever the 
compiler was — Pedro de Escavias, as I still believe — he obviously felt under no 
compunction to include this or that work for reasons other than his own. His 
control seems ever present, and any changes in his criteria for selecting works, 
whether due to objectively changing trends in contemporary verse or to his 
own literary evolution, are entirely deliberate and used to good advantage in 
the compilation of his cancionero. 

One might argue that not all cancioneros lend themselves to the sort of 
analysis appropriate to the Cancionero de Ohate. I do not believe this to be a 
valid point. Each cancionero has its own history and therefore deserves to be 
analyzed in that light. In any case, any taxonomic study worthy of the name 
presupposes detailed analysis of both the structure and the process of compi- 
lation of each surviving cancionero. 

I must emphasize once again the priority of this study over any other. 
Fifteenth-century poetry exists only because it was collected in the cancioneros, 
including that of Hernando del Castillo. A true understanding of that poetic 
production implies a prior understanding study of its original, almost exclusive 
medium. This position leads us to reflect on the concept of the poetic work 
itself When we identify the work with its author, we risk committing an 
anachronism by applying a modern concept that was foreign to the medieval 
period. At the very least, we should explain what we mean by this concept 
before applying it to such a remote epoch. Although I would not go so far as 
to deny that fifteenth-century poetry had a personal dimension (some of the 
cancioneros clearly suggest this), we should not overlook its collective aspect, 
which finds its best expression in the collections compiled in the same era as 
when the verse was first composed. The reception of that poetry took place 
through the cancioneros, and it is through them that the public became con- 
scious of poetic production and its underlying currents. I think this argument 
is more than enough to make us take careful note of those collections as a 
means of evaluating fifteenth-century Castilian poetry in its proper context. 

University Sorhonne Nouvelle (Paris III) 

hesitating to reject works that seem of little value — but also to illustrate the gradual evolution 
of Castilian verse during the same period. 

II. Traditions: 
Rupture and Renewal 

Francisco Imperial 
and the Issue of Poetic Genealogy 


Paradoxically, the Dezir a las siete virtudes (Dezir) remains the "best known" 
and "least understood" of the 588 poems in Baena's Candonero (Clarke 
1992, 77). The issue of its poetic genealogy continues to elicit considerable 
debate — primarily the extent of the Dantean subtext and its significance. How 
do we account for the apparent contradiction that the Dezir seems to rely 
extensively on the Dantean subtext while markedly diverging firom it in order 
to expose the degenerate condition of an unnamed Spanish city (probably 
Seville)? Moreover: "Why," as Dorothy Clotelle Clarke remarks, "did our 
poet have Dante, except for introductory and concluding remarks, do all the 
speaking, often even quoting himself from the Divine ComedyV (1992, 81). 
Critics continue to debate whether the echoes of Dante provide a coherent 
meaning or are merely a collection of fragments intended to endow Imperial's 
enterprise with a generalized aura of learnedness, a quality that was highly 
prized during this time (Post 1915, 181-82; Morreale 1967). 

These questions and others will, I believe, become clarified once we under- 
stand not only the programmatic treatment accorded by Imperial to Dante but 
also the generic developments of the late medieval French dit, which provides 
the discursive model for Imperial's dezir. Textual evidence makes it clear that 
Imperial was as conversant with the French tradition, evidenced by his selec- 
tive treatment of the Roman de la Rose, as he was with the Italian (Luquiens 

While scholars agree that the Dezir offers an elaborate mosaic of Dantean 

' The present study will not treat this most influential of French texts for Imperial's 
poem, although a future essay will show the Dezir s careful reworking of Guillaume de Lorris 
and Jean de Meun to be as sophisticated as its treatment of Dante. All quotations from 
Imperial's verse are taken from Nepaulsingh's edition (1977). 


references, -work remains to be done on its function. Giuseppe Sansone has 
used the term "programmatic" but, I beheve, in a different sense than mine. 
He writes: 

Imperial utilizza Dante programmaticamente, come documentano i suoi 
due poemi lunghi, in funzione di una scelta da compiere, in quella vasta 
construzione che e la Divina Commedia, di strutture allegoriche e di 
verita del sapere, garantite dalla grandezza del trecentista e awertite 
come congeniali in un'area di professione poetica e carattere tipicamente 
intellettualistico. (Sansone 1974, 102) 

Sansone, and others, assume that by inserting Dantean reminiscences into his 
text. Imperial is essentially borrowing Dante's authority to enhance his own 
poetic status. By contrast with this view, 1 hope to demonstrate that Imperial 
has strategically chosen seminal moments from the Commedia, remotivating 
them programmatically not simply to display his profound knowledge of the 
Italian master — the first self-proclaimed vernacular poeta, although that in itself 
is clearly demonstrated by the poem. Beyond Imperial's impressive understand- 
ing of Dante's text, however, he exploits the text in such a way as to figure 
himself as a unique kind of poeta — the poeta dezidor. I realize that this claim 
seems paradoxical, given the Marques de Santillana's well-known appraisal of 
him: "Yo no [lo] Uamaria dezidor o trobador, mas poeta" (ed. Gomez Moreno 
and Kerkhof 1988, 452). 

How can we speak of Imperial as both poeta (philosopher) and dezidor (rhe- 
torician)? We are authorized to do so because Imperial, unlike Santillana, was 
aware of the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century developments of the French dit. 
This claim is based on the conformity of the Dezir to all the features of the 
late medieval French dit as identified by Jacqueline Cerquiglini in her dazzling 
study of this poetic form (1980). 

Before turning to consider her remarks about the evolution of this impor- 
tant literary form, let us first consider the ways in which the dezir has been 
defined. Corominas, in his etymological dictionary, offers no entry at all for 
the term or its semantic field. By contrast, Pierre Le Gentil writes as follows 
about the dezir, especially in the case of Imperial: 

Les decires d'Imperial se distinguent des dits fran^ais en ce qu'ils conser- 
vent toujours la forme strophique et ne comportent pas normalement 
d'intermedes lyriques, si Ton met apart le poeme moral intitule Decir a las 
siete virtudes. Ces compositions ont un caractere didactique tres peu ac- 
centue; elles ne prennent jamais caractere d'allure et les proportions d'un 
traite, comme c'est le cas des dits de Machaut. Nous sommes d'ailleurs, 
a cet egard, plus loin encore de la Divine ComMie. Faut-il tellement 
s'etonner? Imperial commence a ecrire a un moment ou la poesie castil- 
lane est en pleine transformation. C'est alors que les notions de poesie 
dite et de poesie chantee tendent a s'opposer; mais cette evolution — qui 
rappelle exactement celle de la poesie fran^aise au cours du XlVe 


siecle — n'est pas entierement achevee au Sud des Pyrenees. Si les genres 
a forme fixe sont deja nettement definis, le decir est encore, a bien des 
titres, tres proche de la chanson, d'ou il est sorti. (1949, 1:240-41) 

While one may challenge various aspects of Le Gentil's definition of the dezir, 
it is nonetheless accurate in reflecting the form's as yet somewhat unexplored 
identity in fifteenth-century Castile in general. What can be said with certain- 
ty, however, is that Imperial reveals in the Dezir a degree of literary self- 
consciousness that is analogous to the form as it existed in France during the 
time in which he wrote. 

If we turn briefly to a consideration of the late medieval French dit, we 
find — as Cerquiglini observes — that "le dit est un genre qui se definit par son 
jeu au second degre; en d'autres termes, le dit est un genre qui travaille sur le 
discontinu" (1980, 158). In other words, it is not a particular subject that con- 
stitutes a dit but rather its configuration: "Ce n'est pas la nature des 'ingredients' 
qui fait le dit ... mais bien leur mode de mise en presence, leur montage" 
(1980, 158). It is its nature as "second-degree" literature (literature that com- 
ments on a preexisting text) that defines the dit. Hence it is a literature of self- 
conscious distantiation: 

Si la loi constitutive du dit est bien un jeu de distanciation, on comprend 
pourquoi sont appeles dits tons les textes dont le principe de composition 
est un principe exterieure, venant d'un allieurs. (1980, 159) 

For this reason one finds so many dits bearing numerological titles, for exam- 
ple, the Dit des douze mois, or the Dit des trois signes. (By virtue of its reference 
to the number seven. Imperial's Dezir obviously conforms to this feature of dit 
composition as well.) According to this same law of distantiation, we find 
numerous dits that contain intercalations of preexisting poetry or letters (1980, 

Cerquiglini further associates the distancing or discontinuity that lies at the 
heart of this literary form in the late Middle Ages with the shift that occurs 
between oral (continuous) and written (discontinuous) literature. Citing Paul 
Zumthor's observation that "oralite et ecriture s'opposent comme le continu 
au discontinu" (Zumthor 1972, 41), she distinguishes the thirteenth-century dit 
from the form's fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manifestations in a very 
interesting manner, namely, in terms of the new attitude towards literature 
evident in the late Middle Ages in France: 

Le dit marque done, pour nous, I'apparition d'un nouvel age pour le 
texte medieval, age ou celui-ci passe progressivement du statut d'objet 
auditif qu'il etait aux epoques anterieures a un statut d'objet visuel. On 
comprend alors la raison de la difference existant entre le dit du XIII 
siecle, court le plus souvent, proche encore d'une 'parole' possible: 'Ore 
escutez une dit creables' dit un tente du Xllle siecle, et les dits du XlVe 
et du XVe siecles qui, ayant decouvert toutes les possibilites de leur 
forme et en particulier son pouvoir integrateur — ^pouvoir de dire, grace 


a recriture, le decrochement, renchassement — ^peuvent s'allonger a 
rinfini. (1980, 159) 

In addition, Cerquiglini points out that the appearance of the word ditie in the 
thirteenth century is significant, stemming firom the verb ditier, which in turn 
comes from the Latin dictate, which means in Old French "to write" (ecrire, 
rediger, enseigner). As such, the term dit does not refer to a genre but, it seems, 
to a particular form of enunciation; it is a meta-discursive mode. This metadis- 
cursivity is facilitated by means of the third defining feature identified by 
Cerquiglini, namely, that "le dit est un discours qui met en scene un 'je', le dit 
est un discours dans lequel un 'je' est toujours represente" (1980, 160). As 
such, "le texte dit devient le mime d'une parole" (160). Even in the case of a 
text w^here the enunciating subject, the author, introduces the narrative proper, 
thereafter apparently forfeiting his primary role of author, he actually remains 
visible, figuring in an equally important way as the principal commentator on 
the text. (This observation also has bearing on Imperial's enterprise, for it may 
answer Clarke's question as to why Imperial has Dante "except for introducto- 
ry and concluding remarks, do all the speaking, often even quoting himself 
from the Divine Comedy" [1992, 81]. What at first seems perhaps to be a sur- 
prising reticence on Imperial's part should be considered instead in terms of 
the authorial metadiscursivity that the dit entails.) 

Hans Robert Jauss, in a classic study on allegory, charts the expansion 
undergone in the semantic field of the term dit, explaining that the word "etait 
a I'origine strictement limite dans son emploi: par opposition a la litterature 
profane nourrie de fictions, il servait a designer le nouveau modus dicendi alle- 
gorique" (1964, 120). It was thus intimately related with "truth" — ethical 
(rather than poetic) truth. This association had changed by the middle of the 
fourteenth century, however, as Cerquiglini illustrates by referring to the 
example of Guillaume de Machaut's celebrated Voir Dit. First, the title reflects 
that the dit was no longer construed as necessarily bearing religious or ethical 
truth. Second, the title communicates truth without the mediation of allegory, 
unlike the earlier thirteenth-century dit. The text's truth-status is guaranteed 
instead by the poet's own experience, and this constitutes a major development 
in the evolution of vernacular poetic identity. As Cerquiglini points out, "La 
verite ne pent plus etre garantie par son recours a une allegorie mais par appel 
a I'experience vecue" (1980, 167). (In the Dezir Imperial will, like Machaut, 
assert the primacy of the enunciating subject and of poetic truth at the expense 
of religious truth. While recalling, of course, a variety of religious consider- 
ations by means, primarily, of the seven virtues. Imperial puts in the fore- 
ground the importance of his primarily poetic — rather than religious — pilgrim- 
age. This is why readers looking for clear theological interpretations continue 
to be stymied. This is also why the seven serpents continue to be subject to so 
much debate and why the Celestial Rose is not revealed to Imperial at the end 
of his poem [v. 456].) 

Bearing in mind the three principles of the dit (discontinuity, its resultant 


metadiscursivity, and the primacy of the first-person subject), let us now con- 
sider Imperial's dezir. 

Having indicated that he fell asleep, the narrator (in w. 17 and 25) begins 
his rewriting of the Dantean journey in a way that signals to the reader his 
markedly different enterprise. More precisely, these two verses of the Spanish 
text reiterate the first and last invocations of the Paradiso. Their citation in 
stanzas three and four of the Spanish narrative serves, among other things, to 
collapse the daring Unguistic journey (firom Apollo to God) sequentially staged 
by Dante throughout the third canto of his poem. Dante writes: 

O buono AppoUo, a I'ultimo lavoro 

fammi del tuo valor si fatto vaso, 

come dimandi a dar I'amato alloro. 
Infino a qui I'un giogo di Pamaso 

assai mi fii; ma or con amendue 

m'e uopo intrar ne I'aringo rimaso. 
Entra nel petto mio, e spira tue 

si come quando Marsi'a traesti 

de la vagina de le membra sue. {Par. I, 13—21)^ 

[O good Apollo, for this last labor make me such a vessel of your 
worth as you require for granting your beloved laurel. Thus far 
the one peak of Parnassus has sufiiced me, but now I have need 
of both, as I enter the arena that remains. Enter into my breast 
and breathe there as when you drew Marsyas firom the sheath of 
his limbs.] 

This opening invocation involves a daring conflation of St. Paul and Ovid, 
as Robert Hollander has observed (1969, 205). The word "vaso" (v. 14) 
echoes the "vas d'elezione" which described St. Paul in Infemo II, 28. The 
subtext for both passages is Acts 9:15, where God speaks to Ananias regarding 
the blinded Saul whose sight (both physical and spiritual) will soon be restored: 
"Vade, quoniam vas electionis est mihi iste, ut portet nomen meum coram 
gentibus, et regibus, et filiis Israel" [Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine 
to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel].^ Dante 
requests the kind of vision granted by God to Paul. At the same time, Dante 
addresses himself to an Ovidian Apollo in terms of his poetic enterprise: the 
"amato alloro" of v. 15 refers to the transformation of Daphne (Met. I, 548- 
67) into the Apollonian tree from whose leaves the corona poetae is fashioned. 
In explaining this extraordinary conflation, Kevin Brownlee writes, "A Chris- 
tian request for Pauline inspiration is thus being made in Ovidian, poetic 

^ Dante (1970-76). All references, unless otherwise indicated, are to this edition. 
^ Biblia Sacra (1959). Latin citations refer to this edition. English citations are taken from 
Oxford Annotated Bible (1962). 


terms: the apostolic calling is presented as leading to the laurel crown of the 
poeta" (Brownlee 1991, 225). 

Imperial's rewritten invocation, by contrast, omits the Pauline allusion en- 
tirely; he will not attain an unmediated spiritual vision: 

Sumo Apolo, a ti me encomiendo, 

ayudame tu con suma sapien^ia, 

que en este sueno atiendo, 

del ver non sea al dezir defyren9ia; 

entra en mis pechos, espira tu ^iencia, 

commo en los pechos de Febo espiraste, 

quando a Mar^ia sus mienbros sacaste 

de la su vayna por su ex^elen^ia. (XVII, 17-24) 

The absence of the Pauline vision has far-reaching implications for Imperial, 
qua protagonist of the Dezir and qua author as well, in that it boldly separates 
him and his enterprise from his Italian predecessor, for whom St. Paul was so 
essential. For Dante-protagonist, the Paradiso involves experiences that are 
clearly beyond the bounds of human perception and articulation. Imperial 
would appear, thus, to be construing Dante's celestial voyage as a dream, not 
as the literal fact Dante claims it to be.'* In so doing. Imperial reduces the 
stature of the Commedia to that of one more dream vision — albeit the most 
exalted one. 

Not only is the Pauline register absent, but Imperial recalls Apollo's own 
(self-sufEcient) inspiration of himself in the contest with Marsyas in another 
highly significant recasting of the Commedia. We recall that Marsyas's punish- 
ment by Apollo {Met. VI, 385-91) was the result of his prideful presumption 
in challenging the divinity to a musical contest. What Imperial achieves by 
referring to Apollo both in the second person (as the universal source of poetic 
inspiration) and in the third person (as the punisher of Marsyas for a particular 
transgression) is a highly original split between Apollo-generalized poet figure 
and Apollo-protagonist. It is no accident that Dante figures as both in Imperi- 
al's text — as subtext and guide. 

Imperial not only has collapsed the essential linguistic progression whereby 
he relies initially upon Apollo, upon classical allusion to attain direct speech to 
God, he explicitly signals the hermeneutic distance separating him firom his 
poetic predecessor. Dante writes as follows: 

O somma luce che tanto ti levi 

^ Whereas Dante makes it clear that his vision was not a dream but an experience he 
underwent while entirely awake, Imperial purposely makes the physical condition in which 
he found himself for his analogous journey an ambiguous one. In w. 13-16 he writes: 
"vynome a essa ora/ un grave sueiio, maguer non dormia,/ mas contemplando la mi fantasia/ 
en lo que el alma dul^e assabora," and in v. 72, "non sse sy dormia o velava." Likewise (v. 
462), he concludes by saying, "acorde commo a fuerza despierto." 


da'concetti mortali, a la mia mente 

ripresta un poco di quel che parevi, 
e fa la lingua mia tanto possente, 

ch'una favilla sol de la tua gloria 

possa lasciare a la futura gente; 
che, per tornare alquanto a mia memoria 

e per sonare un poco in questi versi, 

piu si concepera di tua vittoria. {Par. XXXIII, 67—75) 

[O Light Supreme that art so far uplifted above mortal conceiv- 
ing, relend to my mind a little of what Thou didst appear, and 
give my tongue such power that it may leave only a single spark 
of Thy glory for the folk to come; for by returning somewhat to 
my memory and by sounding a little in these lines, more of Thy 
victory shall be conceived.] 

Imperial recalls this ninth and final invocation from Dante's third canto but 
with some notable alterations. First, rather than concluding his journey 
through Paradise with this invocation, he recasts the Dantean text in verses 
25—32, in the octave immediately following his recasting of Dante's first invo- 
cation in Paradise. The effect of this conflation is to cast Dante's spiritual and 
poetic voyage into the category of discontinuity of "second-degree literature," 
to use Cerquiglini's terminology, into that of a remotivated subtext. 

Beyond this significant repositioning of the ninth Dantean invocation, the 
particular verbal recasting is equally important: 

O suma luz que tanto te al^aste 
del concepto mortal, a mi memoria 
representa un poco lo que me mostraste, 
e faz mi lengua tanto meritoria, 
que una ^entella sol de la tu gloria, 
pueda mostrar al pueblo presente, 
e qui^a despues algunt grant prudente 
la en^endera en mas alta estoria. (vv. 25-32) 

The first five verses of the Spanish text reproduce nearly verbatim the Italian 
original. The remaining three verses of the octave, however, change the sub- 
text dramatically. Imperial, unlike Dante, is not thinking of hypothetical future 
readers of his poem, "la futura gente" (v. 72), but of his readers in the present 
time in which he writes. Concurrently, Imperial alludes to the venerable pro- 
cedure of emendacion by some future "grand prudente" who may improve his 
estoria} Dante, for his part, envisioned no such possibility of improvement. 

* Imperial's substitution of the Dantean rhyme word "vittoria" with "estoria" is particu- 
larly interesting here, given its semantic range at the time. Estoria was used to designate 


More than just another instance of the well-worn topos of the captatio benevolen- 
tiae. Imperial differentiates himself from his predecessor to underscore his belief 
in the dynamics of intertextuality and (somewhat playfully perhaps) in the 
recasting in his poem of the one text that presents itself as immune to subtex- 
tual refashioning. In this way Imperial clearly distinguishes his poetic enterprise 
from Dante's while laconically presenting the Commedia as his own reworked 
model, thus underscoring the inevitability of intertextuality. 

That Imperial's remotivation of Dante was very carefully wrought is also 
borne out by his inclusion of the two key mythological figures of Marsyas and 
Glaucus. Marsyas figures the problem of language for Dante-poet and Glaucus, 
the problem of vision for Dante-protagonist. 

We recall that Dante rewrites the flaying of Marsyas in bono since it is re- 
presented as a liberation from the body by means of divine inspiration {Par. I, 
13—21). Dante in the first person is asking to be metamorphosed like Marsyas. 
Brownlee incisively remarks that: 

Dante-poet is asking for a "martyrdom" that is nothing other than poetic 
inspiration. On the other hand, the extraordinary pridefulness of Dante's 
experiential claim and poetic request is explicitly acknowledged and, as 
it were, sublimated. This extraordinary act of self-justification involves 
once again the strategic conflation (and transformation) of Pauline and 
Ovidian models. (1991, 227) 

Dante transforms Marsyas's literal emancipation from his body through divine 
intervention. Yet this act ends not in death, as Ovid claims, but in Dante's 
life.'' This extraordinarily privileged linguistic accomplishment for the poet 
Dante finds its parallel in the privileged transformation of the protagonist 
Dante, a transformation effected by means of the Ovidian metamorphosis of 
Glaucus from a man to a sea god {Met. XIII, 904-59). 

This second transformation is triggered by Dante's gazing directly at Bea- 
trice: "Nel suo aspetto tal dentro mi fei,/ qual si fe Glauco nel gustar de 
I'erba/ che '1 fe consorto in mar de li altri dei" [Gazing upon her I became 
within me such as Glaucus became on tasting of the grass that made him a sea- 
fellow of the other Gods.] {Par. I, 67—69). What is most important in the 
Dezir's recollection of this Dantean moment is the notable absence of Dante's 
guide, Beatrice. Imperial is signaling the difference of his text (although he has 
no guide at this point, he does not need one), indicating in this way that he 
does not need the stimulus of an explicit guide to undergo the Ovidian trans- 
formation. This claim, of course, constitutes a remarkable transgression of the 

"allegory," "history," and "story," i.e., a fiction — which is clearly not what Dante had in 

'' Imperial seems to be rewriting Ovid as well as Dante in the reference to Marsyas. For 
while Marsyas challenged the master (Apollo) to a contest and lost. Imperial wins his contest 
with Dante. He is certainly not the loser. 


Dantean teleology, whereby first Virgil, then Beatrice and ultimately Saint 
Bernard painstakingly guide Dante-pilgrim on his unprecedented journey. Im- 
perial's transformation is motivated instead by his unmediated gazing into the 
stars themselves: 

En sueiios veya en el Oriente 

quatro f ercos que tres cruzes fa^ian, 

e non puedo dezir conplidamente 

commo los quatro e las tres luzian; 

enpero atanto que a mi movian, 

commo movio Glauco gustar la yerva 

por que fue fecho de una conserva 

con los dioses que las mares rregian. (vv. 41-48) 

Thus he underscores in yet another way his difference firom Dante as both 
poet and protagonist. We see from this passage as firom several others, the dis- 
continuity, metadiscursivity, and vivid portrayal of the first-person subject that 
define the dit operative in the deepest levels of the Dezir s conception and 

Evidence of the strategic choice of fi-agments made by Imperial is oflfered in 
this same octave (vv. 41-48) as we notice that the De^rir conflates Paradiso I, 39 
with Purgatorio I, 22-24. Imperial claims to see in a dream the four astronomi- 
cal signs that Dante saw in his vision (the four circles and three crosses). It is 
highly significant that Imperial does not claim to have experienced the celestial 
phenomena during a fully conscious state, as does Dante in his claim to extra- 
terrestrial transport. More precisely, Imperial at times claims to be dreaming, 
as is the case in v. 41 for example, but at other times he seems unsure as to 
whether this is in fact the case (e.g., v. 72, "non sse sy dormia o velava"). His 
vacillation again distances him markedly as pilgrim fi-om Dante's self-presenta- 
tion. We observe still further alterations of the model text, however. For 
Imperial compUcates his self-presentation as protagonist in the recasting of 
Purgatorio, I when he claims, unhke Dante, that the circles and crosses that 
make up the Southern Cross (representing as they did for Dante the four car- 
dinal and three theological virtues) are shining down not upon Cato's face but 
upon his own.^ 

This figuring of himself as Cato constitutes yet another seminal transforma- 
tion of the model text, one which is intimately linked with Imperial's specifi- 
cally Iberian concern: his desire to counter corruption at home by recalling for 

' "Vidi presso di me un veglio solo,/ degno di tanta reverenza in vista,/ che piu non dee 
a padre alcun figliuolo./ Lunga la barba e di pel bianco mista/ portava, a' suoi capelli 
simigliante,/ de' quai cadeva al petto doppia lista./ Li raggi de le quattro luci sante/ fregiavan 
si la sua faccia di lume,/ ch'i' '1 vedea come '1 sol fosse davante" {Purg. I, 31-39). 


his readers the Roman exemplar of civil integrity.^ In keeping with his 
interest in exposing civil corruption, it makes sense that Imperial would choose 
to associate himself with this symbol of civil integrity. He does not wish to 
retrace Dante-protagonist's footsteps, particularly his transhumanation, his 
literal spiritual raptus into the heavens. Imperial-protagonist exploits the 
Commedia instead for his own consummately literary terrestrial journey. 

In an unanticipated inversion, we note that Imperial relies heavily on Para- 
dise I to describe himself while outside the garden, whereas he refers to Inferno 
I after he has entered it. Indeed, once Imperial has met Dante, he cites the very 
first verse of the Commedia in Spanish: "En medio del camino" (v. 103), de- 
scribing the volume as being "escripto todo con oro muy fino" (v. 102). Thus 
the book itself is concretized, presented as a material object, again in keeping 
with the concept of "second-degree literature" that is so important to the 
extreme literary self-consciousness of the dit. 

Imperial is, moreover, casting Dante into the role of guide, just as Dante 
before him had cast Virgil. Here too, however, Imperial distinguishes his lit- 
erary project from that of his predecessor. For while Virgil was a pagan guide 
unable to accompany Dante on his celestial voyage, Dante remains by Imperi- 
al's side until the moment of his awakening with the Commedia open in his 
hands at the "Salve Regina" of the last canto of Paradiso (XXXIII, 1). Imperial 
is not only valorizing Dante as the consummate guide, he is endowing him 
with a truly novel attribute, namely, a passionate interest in Iberia. That is, it 
is he who will explain to Imperial why the seven virtues depicted as stars 
never appear in Iberia (vv. 280ff.). 

Dante's first appearance to Imperial is presented in reverential terms, leading 
the unsuspecting reader (unfamiliar with the marked differences that separate 
Dante's literary project from Imperial's) to think that we are witnessing a case 
of straightforward emulation. The Spanish poet registers his respect for the 
poeta in no uncertain terms, first by his action and subsequently by his speech: 
"faciendole devyda rreverencia,/ e dixele con toda obedien^ia:/ 'Afectuossa- 
mente a vos me ofresco/ e maguer tanto de vos non meresco,/ ssea mi guya 
vuestra alta cyen^ia" (w. 107-12). Dante takes his poetic disciple by the hand 
(v. 121) as the latter literally follows in his footsteps (v. 122). These indications 
of filial indebtedness are double edged. Imperial views Dante as being in a 
category by himself as far as western poetry is concerned, a point that few if 
any other readers would dispute. Imperial not only indicates this profound 

* In the Conuivio and in De Monardiia Dante praises Cato unreservedly in the following 
terms: "O most sacred breast of Cato, who shall presume to speak of thee? Assuredly there 
can be no greater speech about thee than to be silent. . . . We read of Cato that he thought 
of himself as bom, not for himself, but for his country and for all the world . . . that he 
might kindle the love of hberty in the world he showed of what worth it was, for he chose 
to go forth from Ufe free rather than remain in it without hberty." (Quoted from Sinclair's 
transbtion of Dante [1975], Purgatory commentary, 28-29.) 


admiration for Dante explicitly, he implicitly yet very visibly controls the 
details of the Commedia in a way that few other writers have. (Indeed, one is 
hard put to think of other texts that afford such an extensive and programmat- 
ic treatment of it in any language.) Nonetheless, the wealth of recontextuali- 
zations effected by Imperial belie his self-presentation as humble and faithful 
scribe of the Florentine maestro. 

In addition to the re writings already discussed, further corroboration of 
Imperial's flagrant tampering with his literary model is offered immediately 
after his self-presentation as literally following in Dante's footsteps, with bowed 
head ("los ojos baxos por no perder tino," 123). Just as Imperial had encapsu- 
lated the experience of Paradiso by including the first and last invocations at 
the beginning of the Dezir, he similarly minimizes the importance of the 
experience of Purgatorio. Whereas Dante-protagonist had had to undergo an 
educative process at the end of which the "P's" ('*peccati"/sins) visible on his 
forehead would be erased, signaling the successful completion of his course. 
Imperial has little interest in the experiential process of the master. So as to 
crystallize for the discerning reader his rewriting of the matter of Purgatory 
Imperial will, moreover, invert the order of two important figures from the 
Commedia: Leah and Metellus, who correspond to the entrance to the Dantean 
representation of the entrance into the Earthly Paradise and the exit from 
Purgatorio (cantos XXVII and IX respectively). 

In the third purgatorial dream, the prelude to the Earthly Paradise and its 
threshold, Leah appears making a garland of flowers. By means of paranomasia, 
Imperial recalls this moment: "^non oyes Lia con canto grafiosso/ que destas 
flores ssu guirlanda lya?" (w. 143-44). He is recalling this final purgatorial 
scene at the beginning of his own journey, thus altering the Dantean place- 
ment. Yet his alteration is even more far-reaching, aimed, once more, at 
Dante's claim to having experienced — not dreamed — his celestial voyage. 
Dante, immediately before his sighting of Leah, indicated that he fell asleep. In 
Imperial's text Dante assumes that Imperial too falls asleep: "Creo que duermes 
o estas ofiosso" (v. 141). Imperial, however, differentiates himself from his 
poetic predecessor by answering his guide, saying "non duermo" (v. 145). At 
this response Dante reproaches his charge: " 'ssy non duermes eres omme 
rudo./ <;Non ves que tu eres ya Uegado/ en medio del rrosal en verde prado?/ 
Mira adelante las ssyete estrellas'" (vv. 147-49). Imperial here conflates the 
figure of Leah with the beholding of the celestial bodies that occurs in Para- 
dise. The creative misreading of the Commedia extends even further as we note 
the reference made to the noble Metellus in verse 374. Exhorting the citizens 
of the city he castigates to act nobly. Imperial writes: 

'Ora te alegra, que fazes derecho, 
pues que triunphas con justi^ia e paz, 
e multiplica de trecho en trecho 
tanto el bien, que el uno al otro faz 
por el comun; cada uno mas faz 


que fizo en Roma Metilo tribune; 

mira e vee sy en ty ay uno 

que cate al fielo e colore su faz. (w. 369-76) 

Historically, Metellus achieved legendary status as a result of his courageous 
(although vain) attempt to defend the Roman treasury against Julius Caesar in 
49 B.C. In describing the opening of the door of the sacred portal of Purgato- 
ry, Dante draws upon a passage from Lucan {Pharsalia III, 153—57, 167—68), 
stating that: 

e quando fuor ne' cardini distorti 

li spigoli di quella regge sacra, 

che di metallo son sonanti e forti, 
non rugghio si ne mostro si acra 

Tarpea, come tolto le fu il buono 

Metello, per che poi rimase macra. (IX, 133-38) 

[when the pivots of that sacred portal, which are of metal re- 
sounding and strong, were turned within their hinges, Tarpea 
roared not so loud nor showed itself so stubborn, when the good 
Metellus was taken from it, leaving it lean thereafter.] 

Canto IX is further recalled by the Dezir by its association with Leah in 
terms of the music heard by Imperial-pilgrim as opposed to Dante-pilgrim. 
The Dezir grafts the description of voices singing in praise of God that follows 
immediately after the mention of Metellus onto Leah {Dezir 129-36). Canto 
IX reads: 

lo mi rivolsi attento al primo tuono, 

e Te Deum laudamus mi parea 

udire in voce mista al dolce suono. 
Tale imagine a punto mi rendea 

cio ch'io udiva, qual prender si suole 

quando a cantar con organi si stea; 
ch'or si or no s'intendon le parole, (vv. 139—46) 

[I turned attentive to the first note, and "te Deum laudamus" I 
seemed to hear in a voice mingled with sweet music. What I 
heard gave me the same impression we sometimes get when 
people are singing with an organ, and now the words are clear 
and now are not.] 

Similarly, Imperial writes: 

. . . oy bozes muy asonssegadas, 
angelicales e mussycado canto; 
mas eran lexos de mi aun tanto 
que las non entendi a las vegadas. 


'Manet in caritate, Deus manet in eo, 

et credo in Deum,' alii sse rrespondia, 

e a las vezes, 'Espera in Deo,' 

aquesto entendi en cuanto alii oya. (w. 125—32) 

The inversion effected by Imperial in the beginning and ending of Purgatorio 
with Leah and Metellus, like the encapsulation of the first and ninth invoca- 
tions of Paradiso, reminds us that Imperial is not interested in reproducing the 
empirical journey of Dante-pilgrim or Dante-poet. Instead he is interested in 
recalling the model text to treat it as a discontinuous and metacritical manner, 
in the manner of the late medieval dit. 

If we consider the eponymous seven virtues themselves, we see that here 
too Imperial has effected a notable transformation of his model text. In Pur- 
gatorio XXIX, that is, the virtues serve as Beatrice's handmaidens, while in the 
Dezir Beatrice is conspicuously absent as mediator between the earthly and 
divine spheres of existence. 

It is not simply a question of eliminating Dante's personal muse that Imperi- 
al effects by the erasure of Beatrice in his poem. For Beatrice (represented as 
Wisdom personified) is borne in a triumphal cart drawn by a griffin (first 
mentioned in XXIX, 108) who is Christ himself, described as "la fiera/ ch'e 
sola una persona in due nature" [the animal that is one person in two natures] 
(Purg. XXXI, 80-81) to Beatrice and the pilgrim Dante. Dante dwells on this 
unprecedented moment in literature (his viewing of Christ the Griffin) as 

Mille disiri piu che fiamma caldi 

strinsermi li occhi a li occhi rilucenti, 

che pur sopra '1 grifone stavan saldi. 
Come in lo specchio il sol, non altrimenti 

la doppia fiera dentro vi raggiava, 

or con altri, or con altri reggimenti. 
Pensa letter, s'io mi maravigliava, 

quando vedea la cosa in se star queta, 

e ne I'idolo suo si trasmutava. (vv. 118-26) 

[A thousand desires hotter than flame held my eyes on the shin- 
ing eyes that remained ever fixed on the griffin. As the sun in a 
mirror, so was the twofold animal gleaming there within, now 
with the one, now with the other bearing. Think, reader, if I 
marveled when I saw the thing stand still in itself, and in its 
image changing.] 

This type of vision — indeed any christological vision — is notably absent in 
the Dezir. We see here, as in prior details of the poem, that Imperial is not 
interested in replicating the religious journey of Dante-pilgrim or the poetic 
journey of Dante-poet. In recasting this most crucial moment in the Corn- 
media, Imperial diverges once again from his model. 


Not only is the privileged sighting of the Griffin and of Wisdom personified 
in the figure of Beatrice absent, the seven virtues are presented in an entirely 
different way. In the Commedia we are told by the Virtues that they are the 
handmaidens of Beatrice: "Pria che Beatrice discendesse al mondo,/ fiimmono 
ordinate a lei per sue ancelle" [Before Beatrice descended to the world we 
were ordained to her for her handmaids] (XXXI, 107-108). 

Imperial further distinguishes his Virtues firom the Dantean ones by his 
mode of description. In the Commedia they are introduced in a most undetailed 
manner. They are mentioned in connection with Dante's baptism in XXXI: 

Asperges me si dolcemente udissi, 

che nol so rimembrar, non ch'io lo scriva. 
La bella donna ne le braccia aprissi; 

abbracciommi la testa e mi sommersi 

ove convenne ch'io I'acqua inghiottissi. 
Indi mi tolse, e bagnato m'offerse 

dentro a la danza de le quattro belle; 

e ciascuna del braccio mi coperse. 
'Noi siam qui ninfe e nel ciel siamo stelle; 

pria che Beatrice discendesse al mondo, 

fummo ordinate a lei per sue ancelle. 
Merrenti a li occhi suoi; ma nel giocondo 

lume ch'e dentro aguzzeranno i tuoi 

le tre di la, che miran piu profondo.' (vv. 98—111) 

[I heard "Asperges me" sung so sweetly that I cannot remember 
it, far less write it. The fair lady opened her arms, clasped my 
head and dipped me under, where it behooved me to swallow of 
the water. Then she drew me forth and led me bathed into the 
dance of the four fair ones, and each of them covered me with 
her arm. "Here we are nymphs and in heaven we are stars: 
before Beatrice descended to the world we were ordained to her 
for her handmaids. We will bring you to her eyes; but in the 
joyous light that is within them the three on the other side, who 
look deeper, shall quicken yours."] 

Shortly thereafter (v. 131), the four cardinal Virtues refer to the three 
theological ones with equal brevity, as "I'altre tre" [the other three]. What is 
important in the Dantean text is not their description but their speech. He 
redefines these venerable fixtures of Christian allegory with their radically new 
identity as the handmaidens of Beatrice. 

By contrast, the Dezir offers elaborate descriptions of each of the Virtues. 
One hundred and nineteen verses of a total four hundred sixty-five, that is, 
over one-fourth of the entire poem, is devoted to the detailed descriptions of 
these extraordinary ladies. And, not only does Imperial rewrite the Dantean 
presentation by offering a plethora of precise details, he offers in addition an 


entourage of handmaidens for each Virtue. Again, his aim is to recall Dante 
contrastively. If we turn to the presentation of one of the Virtues for compari- 
son, we find, first of all, that Imperial recasts the Dantean Virtues's claim that 
in heaven they are stars, while in the Earthly Paradise they are nymphs 
(XXXI, 106—107). Imperial tells us that "fforma de duena en cada estrella/ se 
demostrava, e otrossy fazian/ en cada rrayo forma de doncella" (w. 153—55). 
He goes on to describe their geometric shapes and their respective colors, as 
well as the characteristic activity in which they are each engaged. There 
follows a list of each Virtue's handmaidens (ranging in number firom six to 
ten). These obvious differences are intended to remind the reader of the dis- 
tance separating Imperial's enterprise from that of his predecessor. The Virtues 
themselves, not their subservience to someone else, are important for Imperial. 
Clearly, the most commented departure from Dante is that of the seven 
personified serpents who occupy a total of fifty verses, or approximately one- 
ninth of the entire text. Since they are seven in number, critics have often 
been tempted to view the serpents (identified variously as serpientes, sierpes, or 
bestias) as the seven deadly sins designated by Christian belief Yet the textual 
details of the Dezir do not support such a reading. The theory advanced by 
Clarke, which views the serpents as historical heresies according to the Chris- 
tian church is, in my view, far more convincing. She writes: 

The explanation of the serpientes probably is that the accumulation of 
attacks on Christianity, and especially the contemporary attempts to 
splinter the Roman CathoUc Church, bringing or having brought about 
a (presumed) reversion to debauchery and heathenism via contempt for 
all morality, is ending (or will soon end) in the complete destruction of 
Christianity and all its beauties. (1992, 80) 

According to her interpretation, the first serpent (vv. 316-17) refers to the 
Roman emperor, Nero, who set Rome afire, blamed the Christians for it, and 
persecuted them as a consequence. The second (w. 318-20) refers to Arius 
(the first Christian heretic), who denied the equahty of Christ with God the 
Father. The third (vv. 321-26) is identified as Judas Escariot, who betrayed 
Christ and, more broadly, Judaism itself The fourth serpent is Alenxada (w. 
333—36), that is, Lexada, a reference to Pedro de Luna, otherwise known as 
Benedict XIII, who reigned as antipope during the Great Schism. Next is 
serpent five, the Sierpe Calixta (w. 337-40), whom Clarke identifies as John 
Huss, a priest who lived during the time of Benedict XIII and who was 
burned at the stake for advancing the belief that the communion calix should 
be given to laymen as well as priests. Asyssyna (vv. 341-44), the sixth serpent, 
refers to the Islamic sect of Assassins, founded in 1090, whose members were 
known for engaging in drugs and murder. The final serpent, Sardanapalas (vv. 
345-48), supposed king of Assyria is, as Clarke affirms, "virtually a synonym 
for complete moral and spiritual dissolution" (79). 

This historically based interpretation of the serpents is a compelling one, 
since the entire thrust of the Dezir is historical, given the timely poUtical, civil. 


and personal castigation leveled by Imperial against the Seville of his day.^ It 
recalls, moreover, Dante's extended castigation of Florence. 

Yet, here too the reference to the seven heresies and to the serpent as well 
finds a model in the Commedias longest canto (Purg. XXXII, 109-60). The fox 
that invades Beatrice's cart (and that she herself drives away) in this section 
represents the Christian heresies. In speaking of false teachers, Ezechiel writes: 
"Quasi vulpes in desertis prophetae tui" (13, 4) [Thy prophets are like the 
foxes in the desert]. The serpent (identified first as a dragon, XXXII, 131) 
represents the devil, "the old serpent" of the Book of Revelation (XII, 9). It 
is important to note, moreover, that when the dragon's invasion of the cart is 
referred to a second time (in XXXIII, 34), "serpente" is the term chosen by 

Beginning in verse 109, Dante represents, as Singleton explains: 

seven principal calamities that have successively befallen the Church and 
are an offense to God's justice as represented by the tree. Such calamities, 
affecting the tree and the Church which is reunited to it, are termed 
"blasphemies of act" in Purg. XXXIII, 58-59. (1970-76, 797) 

Dante depicts as the first heresy Nero's persecution of the Christians, and it is 
no accident that Imperial followed him in this regard. In the Commedia an 
eagle (the Imperial Eagle) attacks the tree, rending its trunk, dispersing its 
leaves, thereafter attacking the car as well with all its force, which is depicted 
as a foundering ship: 

E feri '1 carro di tutta sua forza; 

ond' el piego come nave in fortuna, 
vinta da I'onda, or da poggia, or da orza. 

(XXXII, 115-17) 

[And it struck the chariot with all its force, so that it reeled like 
a ship in a tempest, driven by the waves, now to starboard, now 
to larboard.] 

The second heresy depicted by Dante, using the invasion of the cart by the 
fox (vv. 118-23), is most likely that of Gnosticism. The third great threat to 
the Church (vv. 124-29) is that of materialism, that is, the acquisition of 
temporal riches resulting from the "Donation of Constantine." Dante depicts 
this situation by having the Imperial Eagle swoop down over the cart, leaving 
it covered with its feathers ("di se pennuta," v. 126). The fourth calamity is 
the heresy of Mohammedanism (vv. 130-35), depicted by the dragon that 
thrusts its envenomed tail through the cart's floor, dragging away part of the 

'' The fact that the seven-headed hydra is the emblem of Seville lends further authority 
to the historically specific interpretation of the beasts. 


floor as it departs. Thereafter Dante addresses the fifth disaster (w. 136-41), 
recaUing once again the danger of material wealth in a historical context. He 
effects this by presenting the cart as entirely choked by feathers — wheels and 
pole included. 

Of this scene of transformation Singleton remarks: 

This no doubt refers to the Donations of Pepin (A.D. 755) and Charles 
the Great (A.D. 775), and other similar and rapidly growing accessions 
of wealth and endowments to the Church. Dante graphically says the 
change was effected before his eyes in less time than a mouth remains 
open in uttering a sigh (v. 141). These possessions had now become so 
vast as to alter the whole aspect of the Church, and to bring about a 
complete transformation of its original character (v. 142). (1970-76, 803) 

The sixth threat alluded to by Dante is that of the seven deadly sins (vv. 142- 

Trasformato cosi '1 dificio santo 

mise fuor teste per le parti sue, 

tre sovra '1 temo e una ciascun canto. 
Le prime eran cornute come bue, 

ma le quattro un sol corno avean per fronte: 

simile mostro visto ancor non fue. (vv. 142—47) 

[Thus transformed, the holy structure put forth heads upon its 
parts, three on the pole and one on each corner: the three were 
like horned oxen, but the four had a single horn on the forehead. 
Such a monster was never seen before.] 

These hideously deformed beasts also serve as analogues for Imperial's bestias. 

The seventh and final danger depicted by Dante brings us back to history 
once more, indeed, to a historical moment contemporary with Dante's life- 
time. It refes to the Avignon captivity of 1305, the removal of the papal seat 
from Rome to Avignon under Clement V, represented in terms borrowed 
from the Apocalypse: the cart is no longer occupied by Beatrice or by the 
ideal papacy but by a harlot (vv. 148-60). Of this amazing passage, this seventh 
and final vicissitude, E. Moore observes: "This brings the panorama of the 
Church's history comparatively near to Dante's own time. Henceforth we have 
depicted contemporary troubles, and notably the Avignon captivity from 1305 
onwards. These form the seventh and last tribulations here figured" (1968, 

Dante writes as follows: 

Sicura, quasi rocca in alto monte, 

seder sovresso una puttana sciolta 

m'apparve con le ciglia intorno pronte; 
e come perche non li fosse tolta, 

vidi di costa a lei dritto un gigante; 


e basciavansi insieme alcuna volta. 
Ma perche I'occhio cupido e vagante 

a me rivolse, quel feroce drudo 

la flagello dal capo infin le piante; 
poi, di sospetto pieno e d'ira crudo, 

disciolse il mostro, e trassel per la selva, 

tanto che sol di lei mi fece scudo 
a la puttana e a la nova belva. (w. 148-60) 

[Secure, like a fortress on a high mountain, there appeared to me 
an ungirt harlot sitting upon it [the monster], with eyes quick to 
rove around; and, as if in order that she should not be taken 
from him, I saw standing at her side a giant, and they kissed each 
other again and again. But because she turned her lustful and 
wandering eye on me, that fierce paramour beat her from head 
to foot. Then, full of jealousy and fierce with rage, he loosed the 
monster and drew it through the wood so far that only of that he 
made a shield from me for the harlot and for the strange beast.] 

According to Moore, Philip the Fair is the principal monarch represented 
by the giant, who is also meant to recall other notorious members of the 
French royal family (cf. Purg. XX). Their occasional intrigues with various 
popes (e.g., Urban IV, Clement IV, Martin IV, Nicholas IV), which are 
depicted by Dante as the caresses exchanged by the giant and harlot (v. 153), 
were replaced by the enmity of Philip and Boniface VIII. The attacks on 
Boniface carried out by the myrmidons of Philip Nogaret and Sciarra at 
Anagni (see Purg. XX, 85ff.) are suggested by the giant's scourging of the har- 
lot, her former lover (vv. 155-56). In a wrathful rage, the giant unties the 
chariot from the tree, carrying it, along with the harlot, out of sight. This ac- 
tion signals the transfer of the papal seat from Rome to Avignon during the 
papacy of Clement V, in 1305 (Moore 1968, 209). 

In sum, the Dantean depiction of seven heresies by means of monstrous 
beasts offers another indisputable model for the Dezir, another textual nexus 
for Imperial to endow with his own metaliterary purpose. 

The final Dantean nexus I would like to address in terms of Imperial's poem 
is that of the Celestial Rose. This phenomenon, as Dante explains in Paradiso 
IV, 28-63, is not a literal but a metaphorical space — an accommodative meta- 
phor, an analogy by which the truth of God is made accessible to man. Of 
such metaphor in Paradiso Robert Hollander writes: 

As Beatrice explains in Canto IV: Paradise, that is, the actual place where 
God is, is the Empyrean. Thus the rest of Paradiso, that is, the poem, is 
not Paradise, but an accommodative metaphor {Par. IV, 28-63), actually 
a series of nine metaphors, in which the truth of Heaven is gradually 
made clear by the kind of analogy that Grace alone affords, as spirits who 
actually dwell in the Empyrean with God descend from their seats in the 


celestial stadium-rose to make the hierarchical structure and meaning of 
God's truth known to man. (1969, 192) 

Aware of this metaphorical function, and in keeping with the remotivation of 
Dante effected by Imperial for his own metaliterary purposes, Imperial offers 
us literal roses instead. In Paradiso XXX, 64—65 Dante describes the flowers 
into which living sparks (angels) descend: "Di tal fiumana uscian faville vive,/ 
e d'ogne parte si mettien ne'fiori" [From out of this river issued living sparks 
and dropped on every side into the blossoms]. There follows in verses 91—99 
the moment in which Dante has an unmediated vision of God, one that is 
effected by the angels in the flowers: 

Poi, come gente stata sotto larve, 

che pare altro che prima, se si sveste 

la sembianza non siia in che disparve, 
cosi mi si cambiaro in maggior feste 

li fiori e le faville, si ch'io vidi 

ambo le corti del ciel manifeste. 
O isplendor di Dio, per cu'io vidi 

I'alto triunfo del regno verace, 

dammi virtu a dir com' io il vidi! 

[Then, as folk who have been under masks seem other than 
before, if they do off the semblances not their own wherein they 
were hid, so into greater festival the flowers and the sparks did 
change before me that I saw both the courts of Heaven made 
manifest. O splendor of God whereby I saw the high triumph of 
the true kingdom, give to me power to tell how I beheld it!] 

This moment, where Dante begins to see God face to face (culminating in 
Par. XXXIII, 139-45), is clearly the culmination of Dante-pilgrim's and 
Dante-poet's experience. One cannot imagine a greater spiritual or poetic at- 
tainment. Precisely for this reason, and in keeping with his programmatic de- 
sacralizing in the Dezir, Imperial denies his pilgrim the same Dantean experi- 
ence. He writes: 

'E pues amansaste con el bever 

la mi grant sed, non se dezir quanto, 

dame, poeta, que yo non sse ver 

commo estas rossas canten este canto.' 

Dixome: 'Fijo, non tomes espanto, 

ca en estas rrosas estan Serafynes, 

Domina^iones, Tronos, Cherubines, 

mas non lo vedes, que te ocupa el manto.' (vv. 449-56) 

We see that the pilgrim of the Dezir is unable to experience the unmediated 
vision. This is, of course, in keeping with Imperial's recasting of the Cotnmedia 
as "second-degree literature." For, what he does is to turn Dante's metaphori- 


cal roses, which point to unmediated Hteral angels into Uteral roses and medi- 
ated angels, which he is unable to see. 

Thus he consistently turns the Commedia into a more limited form of 
allegoresis, representation and language. Although he is committed to the tenets 
of the Christian faith, he writes not a religious allegory but an "allegory of the 
book."^° It is interesting to note, in addition, that the reception of the Com- 
media in France had an analogous fortune during the same time period in 
Christine de Pizan's Chemin de longue estude (1403) (in this context, see Brown- 
lee 1993). 

Imperial crystallizes this mise-en-abyme of Dante's celestial journey by having 
the final two verses of the Dezir end with a curious reference to the first line 
oi Paradise XXXIII: "Vergine Madre, figlia del tuo figlio." Instead of referring 
to a canto or verso, however. Imperial speaks of "el capitulo que la Virgen 
salva" (v. 464). This prose marker, the chapter, is used to differentiate the 
second text from the first, to alert the reader in yet a different manner of the 
two vastly different literary projects constituted by the Commedia and the 
Dezir. Further proof of the Commedia s function as second-degree literature is 
made totally explicit and concretized by the fact that these last two lines pres- 
ent Imperial the protagonist as waking up with a copy of the Commedia — the 
book itself as object, not the vision or experience it depicts — in his hands. 

The Dezir boldly exploits the discontinuity, metadiscursivity, and primacy 
of the first-person subject at issue in the late medieval French dit. It is by 
means of a narratological analysis of the Commedia and the Dezir thsx Imperial's 
profound knowledge of Dante as well as his daring remotivation of this verna- 
cular fZMctor becomes visible. In this way may Imperial justifiably, without being 
contradictory, be termed a poeta dezidor. 

University of Pennsylvania 

'" Once again, it is the estoria created by Imperial, his fictional journey based on his 
"history of the intertext," that predominates. 

Silent Subtexts and Cancionero Codes: 
On Garcilaso de la Vega's Revolutionary Love 


The most specialized criticism of the sixteenth-century Spanish lyric has 
frequently regarded the literary transcendence of the Renaissance with 
a partial and subjective radicalism. Renaissance poetry has been taken to be an 
unprecedented cultural triumph, represented in rhetorical terms as the victory 
of progress over tradition, modernity over primitivism, or, simply, culture and 
civilization over poetic barbarism. For the history of Spanish poetry, the arrival 
of Petrarchism stands less for an alternative source of poetic imitation, or liter- 
ary fashion, than for a simple and definitive rupture with a most forgettable 
past. Thus Garcilaso de la Vega, reputed to be the first representative of Pet- 
rarchism in Spain, independently of all earlier Castilian poets, rises up to be- 
come "el fundador de nuestra lengua hrica, la cual, hoy mismo, esta en la 
misma cadena cuyo primer eslabon es el." Or so Lazaro Carreter would have 
us believe, but only after denouncing those critics who have defended fif- 
teenth-century Castilian poetics for their coarse "reproches nacionalistas" and 
their "valoracion mezquina, insuficiente y, por fortuna, superada desde hace 
aiios entre los mejores garcilasistas" (1986, 110-11). 

In the same way, Francisco Rico not only exposes the aggressive rhetoric of 
humanism but revives it to become one of its champions. Nor does he hide 
the fact: in the prologue to Nebrija contra los barbaros, Rico writes, "No puedo 
ocultar que aun manteniendo algunas trazas de objetividad yo mismo he 
tomado partido en la pelea de que cuento unos pocos lances. Por los humanis- 
tas, desde luego, contra los barbaros" (1978b, 9; my emphasis). With the same 
contemptuous rhetoric, Rico denigrates what he considers to be Castilian 
precursors to Garcilaso's Petrarchism (his "prehistoria 'a la castellana'" [1978a, 
338]) as so many "malditas coplas" (325) of one "pecador" or another (328).^ 

This humanist rhetoric can be traced even in the earliest revisionary judgments oi can- 


There have been studies, nevertheless, that have tried to tone down this 
combative rhetoric while attempting to account for the actual permanence of 
cancionero poetry in the Golden Age; the studies by Jose Manuel Blecua (1952), 
Rafael Lapesa (1967), and Antonio Prieto (1984) are the most notable.^ Ap- 
proaching the question as an urgent problem of literary historiography, Blecua 
proclaimed the need to include and consider fifteenth-century poetry in the 
literary histories of the Golden Age as fundamental for any understanding of 
"la profunda originalidad de la poesia barroca" (24).-^ In doing so, Blecua not 
only undermined the concept of struggle between ancients and moderns as a 
failed model of historical periodization but also discredited it as a simplistic 
overview of the poetic panorama of the Golden Age. After Blecua, Castilian 
poetry could not be seen anymore as the waning tradition of some reactionary 
traditionalists (Castillejo is the exemplary case) but as a "parallel" undercurrent 
to the Italianate fashion, still palpable in later generations of poets."* 

Even acknowledging the vitality of the cancionero tradition throughout the 
Golden Age, the concept of struggle between Castilian and Italian poetics re- 
mains a historiographical problem in Lapesa and Antonio Prieto, hidden under 
the guise of a debate over aesthetic value. Following a general tendency in 
Garcilaso studies (Rico 1978a), both critics tend to evaluate cancionero poetry 
for its lack of poetic ideals akin to Petrarchism and not on its own aesthetic 
terms. ^ The implied impartiality of the chapter heading, "El ayuntamiento de 
dos practicas poeticas" (Prieto 1984, 37-58), for example, does not prevent 
Prieto firom subsequently succumbing to the temptation to malign cancionero 
poetry as obsolete and unrefined, to which the Renaissance will ultimately 
"otorgar cultura," "salvar," and "ennoblecer" (43). Working back chronologi- 
cally from Prieto to the conclusions of Lapesa in his "Poesia de cancionero y 
poesia italianizante" (1967), one sees how little attitudes have changed after 
many years of debate and how central the establishment of this rigid hierarchi- 
cal opposition has been for Garcilaso studies: "En general, la orientacion italo- 
clasica Uevaba un concepto de la poesia mucho mas elevado que el de mere 

cionero poetry. Already in the "Justa poetica" in honor of San Isidro, Lope de Vega made the 
gesture of recognizing the wit of "aquellos ingenios maravillosos" but not without first par- 
doning them for the "grosera" and "barbara lengua de que usaban" (ed. Carreno 1984, 145- 

^Julian Weiss is currendy studying this problem of ruptures and continuities in his book 
in progress, Medieval Verse and Its Renaissance. 

^ Although the original study is from 1952, the references here are from the reprinted 
version of 1970. 

^ For a more specific example of this critical approach, see also Otis H. Green's study on 
courdy love in Quevedo (1952). 

^ It was Keith Whinnom who first proposed the need for an immanent approach towards 
the esthetics of cancionero poetry: "uno en el cual se pospone el ejercicio de apreciacion este- 
tica a la determinacion estadistica del ideal estetico contemporaneo" (1968-69, 369). 


entretenimiento o habilidad celebrada en la corte" (222; my emphasis).'' 

The radical view of the Renaissance has led not only to a disdain for 
cancionero poetry but also to an almost mythical regard for the place of Garci- 
laso in post-1526 Spanish literary history — what Rico, for example, boldly 
proclaims to be a "nuevo universo poetico" (1978b, 336), "revolucion poeti- 
ca," and "mutation brusque" (1976, 50). But this emphasis on the primacy and 
originality of Garcilaso may be misleading. On the one hand, the persistance 
of love as the subject matter of poetry "par excellence" could attenuate the 
supposed revolutionary status of Garcilaso. To solve the problem, idealist criti- 
cism offers what has become the classic answer: that Garcilaso brings to 
Spanish poetics not only a "true" understanding of Petrarch's poetic language 
(as Rico would have it) and a "higher" concept of poetry (as we have seen 
with Lapesa) but an entirely new idea of love: the concept of love proposed by 
neoplatonic philosophy and perceived in Petrarch's Canzoniere as its best ex- 
pression. Alexander Parker views the change as a "gradual modification" in 
which the cancionero's obsessive conflict with carnal desire (always unfulfilled, 
by his definition) is finally overcome, thus achieving the highest possible de- 
gree of idealization and glorification of human love (1985, 42—43).^ In the 
end, Garcilaso's assimilation of neoplatonic mysticism and Petrarchan style and 
concepts made poetry a much more worthy enterprise since, after all, it relates 
to a much higher human endeavor: the search for individual transcendence. It 
is this metaphysical status of Garcilaso's poetry that has finally exacerbated the 
tendency to trivialize the cancionero tradition as nothing more than an enter- 
taining "pastime" for amateurs with no vital commitment whatsoever to love, 
art, and posterity (see again Lapesa 1985). 

The struggle and distance between Italian and Castilian muses seems to be 
less radical, however, if we think of Petrarchism from a less idealistic point of 
view. Leonard Forster recommends that specialists of European Petrarchism 
should lower their expectations for profundity and originality from a move- 
ment that was so highly codified and fashionable. After all, Petrarchism became 
"le dernier cri" of poetic fashion around Europe for reasons that, according to 
Forster, were much more trivial than many critics are willing to accept: it 
seems unreasonable to reproach Petrarchist poets with imitating precisely those 

'* Although this study initially appeared in 1962, I refer to the version reproduced in the 
revised edition of Z^ trayectoria poetica de Garcilaso de la Vega (1985, 213-54). Lapesa's opinion 
is a direct though moderate inheritance of Menendez Pelayo's views on the traditional poetry 
of Boscan: ". . . coplas de cancionero, versos sin ningun genero de pasion, devaneos insulsos 
que parecen imaginarios, conceptos sutiles y alambicados, agudezas de sarao palaciego tan 
pronto dichas como olvidadas, burlas y motejos que no sacan sangre: algo, en suma, que 
recrea agradablemente el oido sin dejar ninguna impresion en el alma" (1908). 

' For Parker, the fifteenth-century poets were also in search of "some sort of aspiration 
or ideal" (1985, 17) which gave transcendental value to human love, while only managing 
to do so "in a confiised way" (43). By emphasizing this trascendental value of poetic activity, 
all poetry before Garcilaso appears to be, once again, a failed project. 


aspects of Petrarch's poetry that were imitable and with neglecting those that 
were not. Moreover, they had their reasons for wishing to imitate. These were 
first of all social; these poets were living in a society in which love was one of 
the most important subjects of conversation and consequently of poetry and 
song. Everybody was expected to participate, and poetry was mostly not so 
much the baring of the soul as a heightened kind of social small talk. Small 
talk, however heightened, can only operate within a conventional framework 
and with a conventional idiom, otherwise it ceases to be small (Forster 1969, 

Thinking more of the material connections between Garcilaso and cancionero 
poets, Garcilaso appears not only as another poet writing mainly about unre- 
quited love but as another member of the nobility writing love poetry at 
court, one of the many exercises in which a courtier traditionally proves 
himself (see specially Book I of £/ cortesano; Castiglione 1980). In this essay, I 
propose to challenge traditional literary historiography by reexamining the 
poetry of both Garcilaso and the cancionero tradition, not only as poetic con- 
ventions but as social ones as well. It seems to me that the notion of radical 
change and modernity that has traditionally marked the distance between 
Garcilaso and cancionero poets somehow becomes blurred if we explore and 
connect the idiomatic character of Garcilaso 's poetic diction with an equally 
conventional attitude towards love. This, of course, means sacrificing the 
romantic, idealized notion of Garcilaso as the first Spanish poet to contemplate 
the feeling of love in the intimate and solitary realm of his soul. It does not 
mean, however (as it seems to mean for Forster), that the love poetry of Gar- 
cilaso will begin to appear just as trivial or forgettable as cancionero ever was or 
was reputed to be. It is not my purpose here to elevate cancionero poetry to the 
poetic status of Garcilaso; after Whinnom (1968-69, 1981) it is hardly neces- 
sary to justify its aesthetic qualities. Nor do I wish to downgrade Garcilaso. 
What interests me at this point is to see whether the change of poetic lan- 
guage, that is, the change of literary conventions, entails a parallel and measur- 
able change in the social relations at court, and this issue is far from "small" 
and trivial. 

To begin answering these questions, I shall focus on one of the principal 
topoi o£ cancionero poetry — the "secreto amoroso" — as it appears in the work of 
one of the most representative and famous poets of the Cancionero general: Jorge 
Manrique.*^ Such noted critics as Otis H. Green (1970, 53—57), Keith Whin- 
nom (1968-69, 36), and Nicasio Salvador Miguel (1977, 286-87) have viewed 
the topos of secrecy as central to the idea of courtly love for the conspicuous 
position it occupies in the hierarchy of courtly values. It is the first require- 
ment of any noble lover, not only as an essential component of amorous ser- 

" Hernando del Castillo includes up to 46 compositions attributed to Jorge Manrique in 
the 1511 edition and, in spite of the disappearance of some after the second edition, the total 
number grows thanks to the inclusion of other, newer poems. 


vice but as the most faithful proof that such service exists in the first place. 
The entire edifice of love is based, as Diego de San Pedro tells us in his 
Sermon, on the foundation of the secret: "Pues luego conviene que lo que 
edificare el desseo en el cora^on cativo, sea sobre cimiento del secreto si quiere 
su labor sostener y acabar sin peligro de vergiienza."^ On the formation and 
meaning of the topos of amorous secrecy, Lapesa writes: 

Cualidad imprescindible del amador cortes era la reserva: recomendada 
por todos los manuales de preceptiva amorosa, Uego a constituir un to- 
pico literario. Se presenta, de una parte, como consecuencia de la timi- 
dez: el enamorado no se atreve a afrontar la posible repulsa y permanece 
callado, sin descubrir sus sentimientos ante la dama. Por otra parte, el 
buen nombre de esta exige que no se divulguen las pretensiones y menos 
aun, si los hay, los favores. (1985, 29) 

According to this opinion, the fifteenth-century cancionero poet, composing on 
the themes of the lover's secrecy and silence, does nothing but repeat a kind 
of song learned in courtly life, thus confirming a fundamental law of wooing. 
In contrast to the cancionero poet, the Petrarchist poet draws back completely 
the veil that covers the woman and dedicates his poetry to her glorification 
since, according to Lapesa, "es en el mas poderosa la creencia de estar llamado 
a publicar las excelencias de su amada" (1985, 30; my emphasis).^" We should 
not forget, however, that cancionero poetry is read, glossed, discussed and de- 
bated at court and is itself denounced as a form of publicity by Diego de San 
Pedro in his Sermdn: 

Donde . . . paresce que todo amador deve antes perder la vida, que 
escurescer la fama de la que sirviere. E lo que mas deve proveer, es que 
... no yerre con priessa lo que puede acertar con espacio; que le hara 
passar muchas vezes por donde no cunple, a buscar mensajeros que no le 
convienen, y embiar cartas que le dafien, y bordar invenciones que lo 
publiquen. (ed. Whinnom 1971, 1:174; my emphasis) 

This pubhc character is inherent in cancionero poetry, turning poetic activity 
into an ideal courtly medium for embellishing and divulging the image of 
lover that any young noble should know how to "affect," as Juan Alfonso de 
Baena puts it in the prologue to his own Cancionero: "E otrosy que sea amador, 
e que siempre se precie e se finja de ser enamorado" (ed. Azaceta 1966, 

' Quoted from Obras completas, ed. Whinnom (1971, 1:173-83, at 174). 

'** Though Lapesa insists on the discovery of female beauty as one of the main achieve- 
ments of Petrarchism, it is worth noting that, from a feminist perspective, Nancy J. Vickers 
points to the opposite direction: that Petrarch never allows a complete picture of Laura to 
emerge in the Canzoniere and that the resulting fragmented image is an emblematic way of 
suppressing her full presence and speech (265-79). 


1:15).^^ In principle, the topos of secrecy seems to be absolutely incompatible 
with this social aspect of cancionero poetry. In this sense, it becomes necessary 
to reconstruct the social meaning of these topoi, to understand both the reasons 
behind the fifteenth-century insistence upon using them, and the limits of the 
renovation brought on by Garcilaso's Petrarchism. 

Manrique's lyric verse provides an ideal model to analyze the application of 
the topos as a means of courtly propaganda. In two compositions, the poet 
explicitly declares himself keeper of the law of amorous secrecy. "De la pro- 
fession que hizo en la orden del amor" (17-19) sees the poet imagining himself 
inducted into the rank of lover, a position for which he must make a series of 
vows.'^ The fiction is a parody of the rituals characteristic of the military 
orders of caballeria, or the religious sacraments of holy orders, as Serrano de 
Haro and Beltran respectively have shown.'-' But the parody also functions 
inversely to distinguish the suitor as a caballero about to receive a title of no- 
bility. The terms of the parody suggest a contractual agreement in which are 
implied not only the lover's duties but also his rewards; in other words, the 
lady's duty to compensate for his service. Manrique promises to be secretive 
and "guardar toda verdad / que ha de guardar el amante" (11. 34-35) but only 
after promising his constancy in not complying with the famous vow of chas- 
tity, a promise presented as a personal act of will and not as a request for 
favors. With respect to the service this lover intends to provide, one could 
hardly be more indiscreetly plain: in this new "profession," what the poet pro- 
claims is his sexual ordination. The reference to secrecy only serves to confirm 
the existence of a now poetically revealed "truth." 

In the coplas, "Acordaos, por Dios, seiiora" (11. 48-51), the poet addresses 
the woman directly so as to remind her of all the vows and services that make 
him deserving of the prize. The allusion to the secret ensures that her feminine 
reward will not be made public ("Acordaos que soy secreto / acordaos de mi 
firmeza / y aficion"), while simultaneously reveaUng that such a reward has 
already been bestowed. Moreover, if the woman were not to grant what "en 
justicia" belongs to him, then there would no longer be any secret to keep. 
The woman comes under a severe threat of blame and defamation. In one 

" The idea of courtly love as a kind of "game" or "social fiction" has been studied by 
John Stevens in the case of the early Tudor court: 

Courtly love provided the aristocracy not only with a philosophy and a psychology of 
love but also with a code of social behaviour. It was a school of manners, of "pohte- 
ness," of "chere of court." . . . Even if you were not a lover, you must — at least in 
mixed company — act the lover. (1961, 151) 

For the case of Spanish poetry, see Roger Boase (1977, 103-107) and, in the present vol- 
ume, the articles by Victoria A. Burrus and Ian Macpherson. For a concise reading of the 
ideological impHcations of the game of courtly love, see Weiss (1991a). 

'- All references to Manrique's poetry are firom Vicente Beltran's 1988b edition. 

'3 See Beltran (1988b, 17) and Serrano de Haro (1966, 72). 


sense, she lacks any possibility of obtaining forgiveness, either divine or 

Acordaos que Uevareis 

un tal cargo sobre vos 

si me matais 

que nunca lo pagareis 

ante el mundo ni ante Dios, 

aunque querais. 

In another sense, there is no escape from this suitor's pursuit, and not only 
because he boasts of persisting to the death: there is also a "tribunal" or 
"police" that protects him, where he promises to seek revenge for any femi- 
nine injustice. Thus a collective masculine cause begins to take shape, a cause 
that has even God on its side and for which the woman has no defense: 

Y aunque yo sufra paciente 

la muerte y de voluntad 

mucho lo he hecho, 

no faltara algun pariente 

que de quexa a la Ennandad 

de tan mal hecho. (my emphasis) 

It is disquieting to find a reference to "la Santa Hermandad," a powerful fif- 
teenth-century police force, in a poem supposedly about love. Once again 
Manrique disguises as poetic metaphors real institutions of the times: military 
orders, police corporations — institutions that were marked by a sense of cohe- 
sion among their members and of obedience among their subordinates. 
Manrique identifies his poetic persona as a very special lover, as well as a very 
special member of those organizations, and by doing so, he inscribes love as an 
act of power and dominance over women, and as a violent act, if necessary.''* 
The secret leaves no doubt as to whether the woman offers her favor; on 
the contrary, the existence of the woman's favor is emphasized precisely by 
establishing it as something that in fact must remain hidden. Of particular 
interest is the poet's manipulation of the terms of the topos: it is no longer the 
evidence of feminine favors that condemns her to infamy and eternal fire but 
rather the lack of those favors.'^ While we still might think that the woman 

'^ Victoria Burrus has pointed out to me another metaphoric use of "la Ermandad" in 
a poem by Quiros, where it is aimed at threatening those women who forget their presup- 
posed loyalty in favor of newcomers: "Y en verdad, / aunque toda novedad / es a la vista 
plaziente, / serviros de mucha gente / sera caso d'Ermandad" (Dutton 1990-91, ID6733, 
llCG-951, 21 Ir). 

'^ Alfonso Martinez de Toledo, in one of the numerous occasions in which he acts as an 
advocate for women, also alludes to the threat of baseless defamation as a common masculine 
recourse for forcing the woman to yield her honesty: 


has a right to be even a Httle "unjust" or that the last word belongs to her, 
Manrique leaves her absolutely no capacity for decision-making. The end of 
the cancion is revealing enough: "Consentid que vuestro sea / pues que vuestro 
quiero ser / y lo sere" (my emphasis). There is only one will here that counts: 
the masculine one. Woman's only function is to "consent" to the power that 
this will wants to represent.'*' 

Clearly then, the poetic treatment of the secret transforms a formula, long 
considered by critics such as Green, Whinnom, and Lapesa to be one of re- 
spect for woman and social norms, into one that underscores masculine values. 
It is a dialectical game in which the achievements of the suitor are "revealed" 
through the idea of concealment and mystery, underlining masculine virility 
and silencing only what is of no interest: any decisive role whatsoever for the 
woman in the relationship.'^ 

Within this same pattern, it is fitting to consider those compositions in 
which Manrique sets about contriving conceptual games concerning the iden- 
tity of the beloved. Once again, Diego de San Pedro offers a valuable testimo- 
ny for interpreting the function of these poetic games: 

Guardaos, senores, de una erronia que en la ley enamorada tienen los 
galanes, comen^ando en la primera letra de los nombres de la que sirven 
sus invenciones o cimeras o bordaduras, porque semejante "gentileza" es 
un pregon con que se hace justicia de la infamia dellas. (1973, 176; my 

There can be no doubt of the social dimension of these poetic inventions 

Eso mismo digo de cavalleros burgeses e otras personas de estado o manera qualesquier 
que aman locamente. . . . E vienen ya en tal especie que a las vezes por fuer^a las 
mugeres e las fijas de los buenos fazen ser malas. Que, cuando non quieren las tales 
consentir a su voluntad, luego son las disfamaciones, los libellos difamatores puestos 
por puertas, las palabras injuriosas dichas de noche a altas horas a sus puertas . . . fasta 
que, o por fuer^a o por mal grado, se ha de fazer lo que a ellos pluguiere por sobervia 
pura e fuer^a, sin temor de Dios nin de la justicia e sin vergiien^a de las gentes. (ed. 
Gerli 1979, 127-28) 

'* Diego de San Pedro employs the same technique of divine threat and dissuasion in the 
third part of his SemtSn, aimed exclusively at women: 

Pues para comen^ar el proposito, solo por salud de vuestras animas devriades remediar 
los que penais, que incurris por el tormento que les dais en cuatro peccados mortales. 
E si esta razon no bastare sea por no cobrar mala estimacion. . . . Pues dexad, senoras, 
por Dios, usar a cada su officio, que para vosotras es el amor y la buena condicion y 
el redemir y el consolar. (ed. Whinnom 1971, 1:179-80) 

'^ See also Weiss (1991a) for a treatment of this dialectic of display and dissimulation in 
the game of courtly love as a medium for the aristocracy to construct powerful identities of 


when San Pedro declares them to be an infamous "pregon." But San Pedro's 
warning is still very ambivalent in its condemnation: the game seems to be fair 
enough when the favor of a woman can be read between lines, but when her 
name can be read, the game seems to have gone too far. Basically, what this 
means is that courtly poetry is a language of both competence and competi- 
tion. In other words, the courtier "acting the lover" needs to know how to 
negotiate the fine line between concealment and display to win the match and 
the prize. And since the favor of the woman is so implicitly presupposed in the 
code of secrecy, it seems to me that the real prize of this game is to show 
competence and control over it and over the other members of that masculine 
circle (whether they be "parientes" or member of "la Ermandad") who con- 
stitute the poem's primary public. Obviously, those who could not handle the 
subtleties of the game had a lot to lose by their exclusion firom this masculine 
courtly contest. 

But Manrique will use the feminine identity game to validate another set of 
interesting values that, while masculine, nevertheless avoid feminine defama- 
tion. In the cancion "jGuay de aquel que nunca atiende!" (20-22), Manrique 
employs the device or "invention" of the acrostic to reveal the name of one 
woman in particular: his wife. In "Segun el mal me siguio" (35—37), not only 
her name but those of the four lineages that contribute to it (Castaneda, Ayala, 
Silva, and Meneses) appear "hidden" inside the poem through the rhetorical 
device oiannominatio. Both compositions are guessing games that challenge the 
reader to reconstruct the name of the woman, who is herself now "reduced" 
to being a mere anecdote of her lineage. Once again the poet, now showing 
off his wife as if she were a recently acquired title of nobility, is the immediate 
beneficiary of this revelation in full presence of the assembled participants in 
the guessing game: "claro sera quien me tiene / contento por su cativo."'" If 
before Manrique revealed the secret as a means of accentuating his own manli- 
ness, now he does so to highUght his own heightened nobility. In this way, 
poetry functions as a means for creating or shaping his status at court. 

In "Castillo de Amor" (27-31), Manrique makes use of an allegory — the 
construction of a castle-fortress — to symboUze the unyielding steadfastness of 
his love. The standard atop the castle is, once again, a riddle concerning the 
name of the lady to whom he offers his service as vassal: 

En la torre de omenaje, 

esta puesto toda ora 

un estandarte que muestra, por vasallaje, 

el nombre de su seiiora 

a cada parte. 

'" Guiomar de Castaneda did, in fact, belong to a powerful Castilian family, and Don 
Jorge was not the only one to join this family by marriage. His father, Don Rodrigo, had 
married Guiomar's sister, Doiia Elvira, one year earlier. Thus we have the quite complicated 
picture of the stepmother / sister-in-law and the wife / aunt. 


que comienza como mas 

el nombre y como valer 

el apellido; 

a la cual nunca jamas 

yo podre desconocer 

aunque e perdido. (my emphasis) 

Both Beltran and Serrano de Haro have detected in this poem the woman's 
real name, which unfortunately is impossible for us to reconstruct today.'' 
Even had she really existed, it does not seem that Manrique's guessing game 
could be solved in this way alone. The lady to whom he pays homage is also 
part of the allegory; what the poet hopes to achieve with his vasallage is "valer 
mas": to acquire more of a name, more nobility, more virility, in a word, 
more symbolic power. This unnamed "senora" of the castle of love symboli- 
cally reveals how we are to understand the proper names of other women: like 
his wife, Guiomar de Castaiieda, Ayala, Silva y Meneses, they serve as a means 
to "mas valer." 

The topos of secrecy belongs to an amorous ideology that stresses an array of 
fundamentally masculine courtly values. In this context, love and poetry are 
the means through which Manrique emphasizes his merit, position, and status 
within the courtly setting. 

According to Lapesa, when Garcilaso and Boscan poeticize the themes of 
secrecy and self-restraint, they are merely harking back to a tradition already 
in its death throes, a tradition that after 1526 will begin to belong to the past. 
Of Boscan, particularly, Lapesa says that "despues de haber descubierto una 
concepcion artistica mas ambiciosa y exigente, pudo negar importancia a estas 
primeras creaciones considerandolas firuto de un juego sin trascendenda" (Lapesa 
1985, 44; my emphasis). Cancionero poetry has repeatedly been defined as a 
game, one of wit and skill, to be sure, but one that we can no longer continue 
thinking of as insignificant. As Julian Weiss puts it: "The love lyric can hardly 
be called 'minor' on an ideological level" (1991a, 244). Contrary to what we 
might suppose, even Garcilaso will never entirely distance his poetry from the 
ludic concept of verse, and his poetic games are also decidedly masculine. 

Even Lapesa himself seems to acknowledge that there is in Garcilaso a 
constant affirmation of virility that somehow might recall the Castilian tradi- 
tion. In the main, however, he sees it as Garcilaso's individual embodiment of 
the archetypal virility of the Spanish character: 

Pero en todo momento se mantienen dos notas de honda raigambre 
espanola: una es la contencion recatada, que de ser exigencia de la 

''^ Beltran contends that for Manrique's contemporaries, this particular case would 
amount to a "transparent" revelation of the lady's name (1988b, 15). Serrano de Haro is in- 
clined to think that the composition was also dedicated to his wife, Dona Guiomar (1966, 


cortesania, se convierte en norma artistica gracias a la cual quedan repu- 
diadas las lamentaciones sin nervio; otra es la altiva independencia con 
que el poeta defiende la autonomia de su espiritu y transforma en viril 
resolucion el abrazo con el destino adverso. (1985, 65) 

The choice of words is right, but for the wrong reasons. In no way can I 
accept Lapesa's "sympathetic" praise for Garcilaso's virility as an archetype of 
the Spanish national character (being a woman myself, I would never qualify 
properly as a Spaniard). If Lapesa is correct in calling attention to Garcilaso's 
"virile" concerns, his tendency to naturalize or "nationalize" Garcilaso's mas- 
culinity is obviously problematic. Lapesa seems to suggest that Garcilaso is just 
one more literary example of the Stoicism that since Amador de los Rios and 
Menendez Pelayo (among others) has been considered a distinctive feature of 
"Spanishness" already present in Seneca.^*^ This stoic affirmation of mascu- 
linity in Garcilaso is apparent not for the reasons signalled by Lapesa but rather 
due to issues of gender and class that cannot be so easily dissociated firom the 
historical period in which this poetry is written. An examination of "Cancion 
V" helps to determine how Garcilaso plays with poetry as a means to assert his 
own image of nobility and masculinity. 

The "Ode ad Florem Gnidi" or "Cancion V" (as Herrera more prosaically 
called it) has been considered since Menendez Pelayo to be a kind of poetic 
plaything, in which Garcilaso addresses the lady Violante Sanseverino to inter- 
vene on behalf of his friend, Mario Galeota.^' In the third book of El Corte- 
sano, Castiglione suggests the possibility of relieving the suitor's suffering 
through sharing his love secret to a male friend: "Y, demas destos provechos, 
es muy gran alivio decir vuestras congojas a quien las tome como propias; y asi 
mismo los placeres se hacen mayores comunicandose" (1980, 153). In "Can- 
cion V," Garcilaso takes advantage of that possibility, not so much as a means 

^" Manrique's "aunque yo sufra paciente la muerte" is an example of the Stoicism alluded 
to by Lapesa. 

^' In this sense, it is interesting to recall Lapesa's comments regarding Menendez Pelayo: 
"Menendez y Pelayo, en el magistral analisis que hizo de la oda, la califico de 'precioso 
juguete': en efecto, posee la gracia y la finura del puro juego" (1985, 146). Dunn (1981) 
accepts Menendez Pelayo's definition but attempts to explain how this "juguete" actually 
works. Lazaro Carreter also proposes to demonstrate that the ode is a grand example of imi- 
tation. Notwithstanding, it seems curious that after having achieved this, and upon beginning 
to perceive its "socarroneria latente," he takes a step back firom his initial objectives and ends 
by chiming the work a "joya menor" (1986, 126). The reason seems to be that "Cancion 
V" does not share the supposed "uniform gravity" that critics have imposed on Garcilaso. 
Prieto, for example, insists on the "gravita" of Garcilaso's verse and that his poetry never 
participated in the evidendy jocular vein of other Renaissance poets, such as Hurtado de 
Mendoza (1984, 90). This critical disquaUfication of pure poetic play with respect to Garci- 
laso reproduces the same attitude that traditionally has affected the appraisal of cancionero 
poetry. On this last point, see Whinnom (1981, chap. 1). 


of consoling his friend but so as to establish a powerful male bond. By the end 
of the poem, what began as a personal secret shared between friends has be- 
come a gender-based alliance in opposition to one woman. Garcilaso organizes 
a male poetic syndicate to threaten the "desdefiosa" Violante (1. 68), a kind of 
poetic "mafia" similar to the "Ermandad" that protected Manrique against 
cruel female indifference. 

Manrique initiated his threat by denying woman divine forgiveness. Garci- 
laso now makes use of a classical metamorphosis to reproduce the same refusal 
of pardon, albeit in a pagan setting: 

Hagate temerosa 

el caso de Anaxarate, y cobarde 

que de ser desdefiosa se arrepintio muy tarde; 

y asi, su alma con su marmol arde. 

(213; my emphasis)^^ 

The sexual blackmail continues in both poets with the threat of defamation; 
how^ever, Garcilaso's Petrarchism will produce a new type of threat: one that 
hinges upon the immortalizing value of poetry, and in which more than "la 
glorificacion de la amada" of which Lapesa writes, we are left instead with her 
eternal damnation. If the woman wishes to be a "musa inmortal," like Pet- 
rarch's Laura, she must submit to the will of the poet who pursues her. If not, 
then the very same poets (note how the plural proclaims a united masculine 
cause) who could immortalize her beauty will instead charge themselves with 
the task of defaming her: 

No quieras tu, sefiora, 

de Nemesis airada las saetas 

probar, por Dios, agora; 

^^ The myth of Anaxarate and Ifis has served poets since Ovid as a recourse for softening 
an overly hard woman. The motive behind Anaxarate's belated repentance seems, however, 
to be an original embellishment by Garcilaso (Lazaro Carreter 1986, 124), with less interest 
in enlisting Violante's compassion than in threatening her and pressing her to take the only 
out offered her. Castiglione's El Cortesano also deals with this tardy (and therefore useless) re- 
pentance: one of the interlocutors seeks to show how women's disdain comes not from their 
honesty but rather from some kind of sadistic nature that would have them take pleasure in 
the misfortunes of men, the more extreme the better: "Querrian si fuese posible, despues de 
quemados y hechos ceniza . . . resucitallos por volver a quemallos otra vez y otras ciento." 
When women finally relent and concede what is asked of them, they do so at such an inop- 
portune moment that "quedan ellas deshonradas, y el enamorado se halla haber perdido el 
tiempo y los trabajos, y haberse acortado la vida, trabajando sin frutos y sin placer ninguno, 
pues alcanzo lo que deseaba no cuando gustara tanto de ello que hubiera sido bienaventu- 
rado; mas cuando ya no lo preciaba de tener el corazon tan caido que, no tenia ya senti- 
miento de placer ni de contentamiento que se le ofireciese" (1980, 154-56). Garcilaso's por- 
trait of Mario Galeota conjures up the same image of extreme decline. 


baste que tus perfetas 

obras y hermosura a los poetas 

den inmortal materia, 

sin que tambien en verso lamentable 

celebren la miseria 

de algun caso notable 

que por ti pase triste y miserable. (215; my emphasis) 

The "Ode" uses the idea of a Laura immortalized by Petrarch to give a new 
spin to the usual form of sexual blackmail. The poet's power over his poetry 
translates into power over the poetic muse, that is, over the woman. Garcilaso 
threatens Violante with a metamorphosis that the poem has already carried out; 
from its very title, the woman has already become a statue: the Venus of 
Cnidus. The "verso miserable" that could condemn her is the very poem we 
are reading. Trapped forever in the eternal frame of mythology, the case of 
Violante Sanseverino serves to immortalize Garcilaso's poetry and also to 
immortalize the misogynistic discourse that traps her. Now, this discourse 
relies more on the idea of poetry as an eternal force and more openly on 
personal identity as a means to assert power. To quote Arthur Brittan: "What 
has changed is not male power as such, but its form, its presentation, its pack- 
aging. . . . However, what does not easily change is the justification and natur- 
alization of male power; that is, what remains relatively constant is the mascu- 
line ideology, masculinism or heterosexualism" (1989, 2—3). 

Garcilaso's ode plays extensively with the idea that gender roles are naturally 
justified. The hardness of Garcilaso's Venus is presented as a "contra natura" in- 
version of her proper role. While the "dureza" and "fuerza" with which she is 
"armada" turn her into the "fiero Marte" whose praises Garcilaso does not wish 
to sing, Galeota is shown disposessed of all his masculine attributes: he does not 
ride a horse, carry a sword, or fight. Furthermore, he does not even talk to his 
friends. On the contrary, he appears as an effeminate "viola," a flower, and, as 
a being without a will of his own, "a la concha de Venus amarrado" ("encon- 
chado" Lazaro Carreter puts it, a little more suggestively; 1986, 121). As Ignacio 
Navarrete has pointed out, this lack of courtly activity is an erotic code for 
Galeota's sexual inactivity (1994, 106—109). Inversely, Galeota's sexual solitude 
is represented as a complete withdrawal fi:om the public scene. What has to be 
read here is that Galeota's lack of sexual afiairs, his emasculation, is equivalent to 
a lack of public image and agency. In other words, love and gender are not a 
private matter between a man and a woman, but a public one. 

Obviously, woman continues to be a major means through which mascu- 
linism can exist; accordingly, only the woman who "loves" ratifies masculine 
ideology and deserves to be fittingly immortalized. Poetry, far from being an 
innocent game, in the hands of the poet becomes a weapon with which femi- 
nine will can be threatened, controlled, and undermined. ^"^ 

Here it is appropriate to recall Lope de Vega's free imitation of the "Ode," which he 


In no way does this analysis pretend to deny the stylistic change that occurs 
in sixteenth-century Spanish poetry as a result of the assimilation of Petrarch- 
ism; it has, on the other hand, sought to call into question a series of claims 
regarding the consideration of love in the poetry of Garcilaso and the nature 
of his poetic revolution. For in this new love and this new poetry, woman 
continues to function as a medium for the reaffirmation of masculinism, and 
her new status as poetic "muse" is inadequate grounds for postulating a femi- 
nist stance on the part of the poet. The inherited misogyny of Garcilaso's dis- 
course of courtly love, which neither Petrarchism nor neoplatonism do any- 
thing to abate, will continue to have poetic currency after him, especially in 
Quevedo. The male will continue to assert his central place in the scheme of 
things, and the glorification of the beloved is, like the breaching of secrecy 
before it, merely another means for the creation of a privileged group with an 
impeccable image of masculinity.^'* 

Unwersity of Richmond 

presents under the suggestive title, "Encarece su amor para obligar a su dama a que lo pre- 
mie." The poem in question is one of the burlesque sonnets written by Lope in the guise of 
Tome de Burguillos. In a spoof of the Petrarchism that was already evident in his model, 
Lope also "steals" Garcilaso's famous line, "en la concha de Venus amarrado" (ed. Carreno 
1984, 461). 

^* I am especially grateful to Professors Julian Weiss and Michael Gerli, from whose close 
reading and comments this essay has gready benefited. 

Ill: Courtly Games 

The Game of Courtly Love: 

Letra, Divisa, and Invencion at the 

Court of the Catholic Monarchs 


"Everybody has heard of Courtly Love, and everyone knows that it appears quite 
suddenly at the end of the eleventh century in Languedoc." 

These are the words of C. S. Lewis (1936, 2), writing in 1936. In The 
Allegory of Love Lewis, with recourse principally to the writings of 
Chretien de Troyes and Andreas Capellanus, felt confident enough to offer the 
world a definition of the nature of Courtly Love, establishing in the process 
four convenient boxes into which scholarly observations about the phenome- 
non could be tidily placed. Its defining and distinguishing characteristics were 
identifiable as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Rehgion of Love. For 
Lewis, Courtly Love, as it surfaced in Languedoc, depended on a misunder- 
standing of Ovid and was describable. 

A great deal of critical ink has flowed under proverbial bridges since the 
thirties, and there can be no doubt that the term Courtly Love is now firmly 
established amid the terminological baggage of modem scholarship. Although 
a thoughtful article by Joan Ferrante (1980) brought out the fact that the usage 
of the term was by no means as uncommon in Medieval Europe as had been 
earlier assumed by scholars such as D. W. Robertson (1968), John Benton 
(1968), and E. Talbot Donaldson (1970), their skeptical legacy is still with us. 
Whether or not we agree that the notion of amour courtois is Uttle more than a 
myth, a fictional invention, or reinvention of Gaston Paris and the late nine- 
teenth century, it would be perverse to deny that in the course of the last half 
century scholarship has moved inexorably, if not always profitably, towards a 
present situation in which its practitioners find themselves unable to agree on 


a definition or even an adequate description of the term.* We have come full 
circle to the view that "love" in the modern sense of the word (that is, as used 
in phrases such as "falling in love" or "being in love") was in no sense, as 
Ernst Curtius (1953, 586) had it in a lecture delivered in Colorado in 1949, 
"an emotional discovery of the French troubadours and their successors," but, 
in the w^ords of Peter Dronke sixteen years later, an experience "universally 
possible in any time or place and on any level of society," an experience "at 
least as old as Egypt of the second millennium B.C., and might indeed occur 
at any time or place" (1965—66, Irxvii). 

My present concern is not to reopen the great debate over nomenclature, 
nor to undertake another journey through the multitudinous theories of origin 
so far expounded. It is rather to attempt the more modest task of focussing on 
one single aspect of the phenomenon as it resurfaced in fifteenth-century Spain 
and was adopted with enthusiasm by the court poets of the fifteenth century, 
in particular by those of the court of the Catholic Monarchs.^ 

In this area one feature that must be of primary concern to the literary critic 
is context. It seems improbable that the phenomenon remained static: its char- 
acteristics did not remain unchanged over a period of three hundred years, nor 
did it survive intact either its journey over the Pyrenees or its translation, lit- 
erally, into another language and another culture at another time. Yet this 
fairly routine consideration has often escaped the attention of those who have 
written on courtly poetry in Spain. The temptation among literary historians 
not to read widely among English critics nor to dedicate themselves to close 
reading of the texts, to latch on to a set of generalizations designed by earlier 
scholars for France, and to text-hunt in Spain for specific illustrations to sup- 
port an accepted and acceptable theory, simply ignoring or dismissing as ec- 
centric aberration what does not fit, has proved irresistible in many cases.^ 

This is the background to the observations I now wish to make about the 
state of play in this field at the court of the Catholic Monarchs. The social 
context for the period is the court itself, a closed community, presided over by 

' This is brought out well by Kelly (1987). His conclusion is that "no attempt to restrict 
it [the phrase amour courtois] to any particular author or work, or to make it so vague as to 
be valid for a large number of works, can succeed, because of the promiscuous use it has re- 
ceived. We cannot hope to undo past errors and present inertia; we must cut our losses and 
start over" (324). 

^ For a comprehensive account of origin theories, see Boase (1977). 

■* Scholars tend to fall naturally into one or other of the categories defined by the 
historian Jack Hexter as "lumpers" or "splitters" (1979a, 241—42). The lumpers are those 
who examine their data for likenesses and connections, in search of systems and general rules; 
the splitters cannot abide the systems and the generalizations and delight in highlighting 
divergences, drawing distinctions, pinpointing differences. The lumpers who write of courtiy 
love have done so in terms of the features that can be alleged to be common to all its 
manifestations north and south of the Pyrenees and until recendy have tended to dominate 
courtly love criticism. My natural sympathies tend to be with the splitters. 


Isabel and peopled predominantly if not exclusively by an upwardly mobile 
lower nobility identified and brilliantly described by Jose Antonio Maravall in 
his study of Celestina (1979, 32-58). The literary context is the expression in 
the contemporary creative writing of a set of attitudes towards love. These 
attitudes made their presence felt in Languedoc at the end of the eleventh cen- 
tury and in the same or modified form had been enjoying a considerable vogue 
in Spain since the middle of the fifteenth century. The critical context is the 
terminology: "Courtly Love" is a lumper's box not unknown in the Middle 
Ages but principally inspired by nineteenth-century French scholars and since 
used by many as a catch-all to net the totality of its manifestations in Western 
Europe over a period of some five hundred years, or at least as many of those 
as have seemed at the time convenient or relevant to the lumper in question. 

Generalizations about the nature of the courtly experience designed to 
cover all individual performances in all geographical locations over five cen- 
turies are unlikely to be either accurate or helpful. Like all genres, this one 
developed and evolved, reaching what could well be regarded as its most 
imaginative manifestation in Spain towards the end of the fifteenth century and 
decUning rapidly thereafter. The play element — love is a game, poetry is a 
game — was there as a component from the outset, and became one of its most 
prominent features during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs. As early as the 
thirteenth century Alfonso el Sabio asserts that God intended mankind to 
enjoy itself by playing games. ** And for the later Middle Ages Pierre le Gentil 
reminds us that Courtly Love "n'est plus qu'un jeu, et, de fait, alors, c'est bien 
la forme d'un jeu que prend le service d'amour. On le joue, du reste, comme 
celui de la chevalerie dans les tournois, avec le plus grand serieux" (1949, 
1:92). It is my contention that this is the background against which we should 
be reading the Cancionero general of 1511, in which Hernando del Castillo 
offers his selection of the poetry of that time.'' 

Whatever one says about the nature of Courtly Love, the element of play 
was an important ingredient from the earUest times. There is a striking mis- 
match between what the historians and sociologists tell us about the behavior 
of the real-life human beings in the south of France and the set of assumptions 
on which their literary behavior is based. One way to account for the mis- 
match is the sublimation theory, as expressed eloquently by Alexander Parker 
(1985), which holds that all these writers longed for something more spiritual 
than the disgraceful social and sexual behaviour which they saw going on 

* "Por que toda manera de alegria quiso Dios que ouiessen los omnes en si naturalmente, 
por que pudiessen sof&ir las cueytas e los trabaios quando les uiniessen, por end los omnes 
buscaron muchas maneras por que esta alegria pudiessen auer complidamientre. Onde por 
esta razon fallaron e fizieron muchas maneras de iuegos e de trebeios con que se alegrassen," 
Lihros de acedrex, dados e tablas (1941, 4). 

^ The Cancionero general can now be most conveniendy consulted in Brian Dutton 
(1990-91, 5:117-538). 


around them, and they expressed their views in the ideahzed Uterary Avorld of 
what has come to be known as "Courtly Love" (see also Aguirre 1981; Gal- 
lagher 1968, 283-88). The problem, however, for the critic who is seeking to 
distinguish the philosophy that underpins the whole corpus of courtly writing 
is the need to assume, in order to justify the generalization, that more than a 
thousand poets felt uniformly constrained to express such sublimation, that all 
did so consistently in various languages over four centuries, and that anyone 
who did not do so should be set aside as an aberration. If, on the other hand, 
the critic is prepared to look at the literary exercise as a manifestation of the 
play phenomenon, this approach does account for and put into perspective a 
significant proportion of the observable data. 

Some of the outstanding formal characteristics of play have been identified 
by Johan Huizinga (1970), and four of them are particularly relevant to the 
present argument: 

1. Play stands outside "ordinary" life as a kind of interlude, but it nevertheless 
tends to absorb the player intensely and totally. There is the element of 
illusion: the player pretends he is not playing. Play is by definition "not 
serious," but the observation has to be made that the best game players take 
their games very seriously indeed, and play to win; although it is possible to 
adopt a more light-hearted approach, it is not easy for a player to excel at 
any game unless he takes the game totally seriously while it is in progress. 

2. Essential for the playing of a game are the field of play, and an agreed time 
span in which to play it. The players need a field, a board, a pitch, a court, 
within which the game proceeds within its predetermined boundaries of 
space and time. The game is finite: it has a beginning and an end, but of 
course it can be repeated as many times as the players please. Then there 
must be a return to real life. 

3. The game has rules. The rules are part of the mystique, joy, and pleasure of 
the game and have to be adhered to by all who take part for its duration, or 
the game is "spoiled." The individual players display their virtuosity by 
working within self-imposed restrictions. Any individual may cheat or bend 
the rules, and indeed many contestants derive much pleasure from the 
cheating or the rule-bending, but if one contestant consistently refuses to 
recognize that there are rules, he cannot be accommodated by the other 
players into the game — that player is a spoilsport. 

4. It follows that only those who are prepared to learn the rules can be wel- 
comed into the game. The rules may be learned from the book or more 
commonly by word of mouth or example from other, experienced, players. 
The closed community — the golf club, the tennis club, the bridge club — 
forms itself and by its very nature tends to build a defensive wall against 
outsiders. It very quickly develops a specialized language and vocabulary not 
readily intelligible to the uninitiated — "three double bogeys and an eagle," 
"a double-handed knicker-tucker," "stopped in 3N when the grand was 


cold" — and the players take pleasure in their recondite and secret language, 
which tends to provide a warm and reassuring feeling of belonging. 

The relevance of these observations to the game of Courtly Love should be 
immediately evident, and I resist the temptation of laboring the point by draw- 
ing the one-to-one parallels. The historical scenario, however, needs closer 

The play element in Courtly Love is evident from the beginning in Langue- 
doc, but it is taken very seriously indeed by a high proportion of the players, 
as is to be expected. The rules — not for life, but for the game — have their 
roots in the social context of the time. A selection of these is compiled by 
Andreas Capellanus (1892), whose twelfth-century De arte hones ti amandi 
nevertheless contains more than a touch of irony not always identified by later 
scholars.^ The court of play is the closed confine of the royal and noble courts 
of the time, the players are predominantly the upwardly mobile younger mem- 
bers of the nobility, the specialized language is developed, the outsiders are 
excluded. There is considerable evidence, as Joan Ferrante observed, that in 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries poets "seemed to be working with con- 
ventions that were common to all of them and familiar to their audiences, to 
such an extent that they could parody them and count on the audience to get 
the joke" (1980, 686). 

The revival of the genre in Castile during the reign of Juan II consisted 
very much in the first instance of a mastering of the base rules, and the early 
manuscript cancionero collections of the period amply demonstrate this: for 
example, the poets of the Cancionero de Baena (compiled by c. 1430) express a 
lively interest in moral and religious issues and not a great deal of concern for 
the business of Courtly Love. The comparatively small number of love poems 
included in Baena shows poets such as Macias and Villasandino amply demon- 
strating their skills as players in all seriousness but in a game whose rules have 
not materially altered since their first drafting north of the Pyrenees. Critical 
rules elaborated for Languedoc are reasonably appropriate for this period in 

This type of poetry was introduced, nevertheless, into a social context that 
differed considerably from the context of its origins. As Juan Alfonso de Baena 
observes in the prologue to his Cancionero: 

los rreyes e prin^ipes e grandes seiiores vsaron e vsan ver e oyr e tomar 
por otra manera otros muchos conportes e plaseres e gasajados, asi como 
ver justar e tornear e correr puntas e jugar caiias e lidiar toros e correr e 
luchar e saltar saltos peligrosos. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:12) 

This observation shows every indication of being based on the behavior of 
Juan II, a king who, according to Fernan Perez de Guzman, had little taste for 
the business of ruling, who delegated state affairs to his favorite Alvaro de 

Andreas's use of puns, humor and irony is elegantly brought out by Bowden (1979). 


Luna, and whose reputation depended almost exclusively on his love of the 
"conportes e plaseres e gasajados" to which Juan Alfonso de Baena refers/ 
Juan II cared passionately for tournaments, jousting, the ring and the quintain, 
pasos de armas, juegos de cams (mock tournaments fought with bulrushes), and 
celebrations and festivities of all kinds; he was himself an expert jouster who 
took part in tournaments from the age of eighteen; jousts accompanied his 
coronation in Zaragoza; his engagement to Maria of Aragon in 1428 was cele- 
brated with tournaments, jousting, and bullfights; it was during his reign that 
the Passaje Peligroso de la Fuerte Ventura took place in Valladolid and then per- 
haps the most famous of all the Spanish pasos de armas, the Passo Honroso, 
organized by Suero de Quiiiones on the bridge at Orbigo in 1434, which 
lasted thirty days and where one hundred and eighty lances were broken (the 
plan was to break three hundred lances, but disappointingly for the organizers 
the supply of willing adventurers dried up)." Juan II was a king who, accord- 
ing to Fernan Perez de Guzman: 

sabia fablar e entender latin, leia muy bien, plazianle muchos Ubros y es- 
torias, oia muy de grado los dizires rimados e conogia los vigios dellos, 
avia grant plazer en oir palabras alegres e bien apuntadas, e aun el mesmo 
las sabia bien dizir. (ed. Tate 1965, 39) 

In fact at least seven compositions attributed directly to him by early manu- 
script cancioneros have survived (Dutton 1990—91, 7:38). 

The nobility entertained itself, in the presence of its ladies, with these tour- 
naments, jousts, and pasos de armas, but the entertainment that forms the 
background for many of the poems preserved in the early cancioneros would 
have outraged a nobility accustomed to the violent melees of eleventh-century 
Provence. Lances were tipped with coronals to reduce the numbers of casual- 
ties; for major festivities the elaborately decorated ames real was generally pre- 
ferred to the more functional ames de guerra and became much more like spe- 

' "Nunca una ora sola quiso entender nin trabajar en el regimiento [de su reino] aunque 
en su tienpo fueron en Castilla tantas rebueltas e danos e males e peligros quantos no ovo en 
tienpo de reyes pasados por espacio de dozientos aiios," Fernan Perez de Guzman (ed. Tate 
1965, 39). The priuado, nevertheless, was still able to find ample time to indulge his sporting 
and artistic tastes: "Fue muy enamorado en todo tienpo: guardo gran secreto a sus amores. 
Fizo muy vivas e discretas can^iones de los sus amores, e muchas bezes declaraba en ellas 
misterios de otros grandes fechos. . . . Fue muy [inventivo e mucho dado a fallar invenciones, 
e sacar entremeses en fiestas, o en justas, o en guena; en las quales invenciones muy agu- 
damente significaba lo que queria. Fue muy] nonbrado cabalgador en ambas sillas, e grand 
bra^ero, e dio grand cuidado de tener buenos cauallos e ligeros" {Crdnica de don Alvaro de 
Luna, condestable de Castilla, maestre de Santiago 1940, 207). 

* The most detailed descriptions of these festivities can be found in Pedro Carrillo de 
Huete (1946, 20-22) and Lope Barrientos (1946, 59-62). For commentary, see especially 
MacKay (1985) and Ruiz (1988). The passo honroso is described by Pero Rodriguez de Lena 


cialized sports equipment; violence was kept in check by official judges. Stew- 
ards (often dressed as jesters) dealt with the problems of crowd control; the 
number of collisions and injuries was reduced with the introduction of a cen- 
tral barrier, the tela, to keep the jousters and the horses apart.*^ The decorative 
and theatrical aspects of these festivities came to predominate. Extravagant bla- 
zons and emblems adorned the pavilions, the standards, banners, clothing and 
armor of the knights, the tabards of the heralds and the trappings of the horses. 
Displays of riding at the ring and the quintain, pas d'armes,juegos de cartas, juegos 
de tablas (the hurling of spears at fixed wooden targets); jesters, dancers, singers, 
and mummers provided entertainment during the natural breaks. Scaffolding 
(cadalsos) was brought in at great expense to construct mock castles and towers 
richly decorated with drapes and cloth of gold; they provided a secure vantage 
point from which the ladies of the court could better see and be seen. 

What had in its earliest manifestations been a training ground for warriors 
became a festive occasion for courtiers. Banquets, dances, poetry readings, in- 
venciones, and entremeses filled the evenings. The letras came to be an indis- 
pensable part of the proceedings: they were composed to decorate the helms 
laid out before the tournaments to entertain, delight, and increasingly towards 
the end of the century to scandalize the ladies, and later collected in the six- 
teenth-century cancioneros (for example, Hernando del Castillo assembled in the 
Cancionero general of 1511 a section of more than a hundred letras and invenci- 
ones composed by jousters). The participants on these festive occasions were 
predominantly young and inventive, and life was full. There were love affairs, 
real or imagined, to be conducted; literary activity, along with song and dance, 
was encouraged by Isabel, but the participants were not erudite in any scholar- 
ly sense. The game of Courtly Love became the ideal vehicle for the literary 
after-dinner soirees and the post-tournament festivities: occasional poems, rid- 
dles, motes, letras, invenciones, preguntas, and respuestas became the staple diet of 
such reunions, because they particularly lent themselves to group activity, 
required no great depth of erudition or scholarship, and depended rather on 
native intelligence and quickness of wit in all its senses. 

Two characteristic examples of how the invencion grew out of and formed 
an integral part of the tournament are provided by Pedro Carrillo de Huete, 
the falconer of Juan II. The chronicler records that the Infante Henrique rode 
out to joust in Valladolid: 

'* The tela was almost certainly invented in Spain and used in the Passaje de la Fuerte 
Ventura in 1428: "E estava puesta vna tela de canas, e la tela comen^aba desde la fortale^a, 
e al otro cavo de la tela estavan otros dos torres e vn arco de puerta" (Carrillo de Huete 
1946, 21). Gutierre Diez de Games (1982, 237) comments on the backwardness of the 
French in these matters: "Los franzeses justan por otra guisa que non fa^en en Espana; justan 
sin tela, a manera de guerra, por el topar. . . . Conteze muchas vezes que topan vn cavallo 
con otro, e caen amos a dos, o cae el vno, o amos [a] dos. No ay alii mantenedor, ni justa 
uno con otro setialadamente, sino quien mas se atiene." The tela was rapidly to become a 
favourite source of erotic wordplay in cancionero poetry (see Macpherson and MacKay 1994). 


con vnos paramientos muy rricos, vordados de oro. La qual vordadura 
eran [peras], e vnos rrotulos con vnas letras en que dezia: Non es. (Carri- 
Uo de Huete 1946, 24) 

What is required of the lady to whom the message is directed is that she make 
the mental effort to juxtapose the messages received by word and image — non 
es and peras — in that order; her efforts will be rewarded by the discovery that 
she will not be kept waiting when the jousting is over: 

non es-peras. 

Two weeks later King John himself rode out to the lists in the apparel of God 
the Father, with a retinue of twelve knights decked out as the twelve apostles. 

E todas sus cubiertas de los cavallos de grana, e daragas bordadas, e vnos 
rretolos que dezian: Lardon. (Carrillo de Huete 1946, 25)^" 

Pedro Carrillo de Huete assumes that the solution is obvious: "Asi que bien 
entendida la ynuen^ion." It is, provided that this time we appreciate that the 
letra, the verbal message, makes no sense in itself and must be prefaced by the 
visual stimulus, the divisa. This time image (daraga) must precede word (lardon): 

dara ga-lardon. 

Francisco Rico (1965) neatly encapsulates the literary device: the invenciSn in 
this context aims at providing a harmonious combination of image and word 
{divisa and letra, mote), or body and soul (cuerpo and alma), which marks the 
thoughts or feelings of its composer. '^ The wordplay in Spain, as I have ar- 
gued elsewhere (1985), tended to be accompanied by innuendo, and a secret 
language, specific to practitioners of the genre, was developed. Who would be 
providing the reward? The king, to his courtiers, in financial terms? Or the 
lady, to the king, in kind? Pedro Carrillo de Huete, diplomatic as ever, does 
not record the social events of the evening in full. 

It is clear that the "traditional" and "serious" version of courtly composition 

'" As reflexes of Arabic darqa, daraqa, the forms daraga, daraga, adagara, adarga alternated 
freely in medieval Castilian. For example, as my colleague Fred Hodcroft kindly indicated, 
the so-called "Acto de Traso," which appears in late editions ofCelestina, begins "Las adargas 
y cora^as tengamos apercebidas" {Tragicomedia de Calixto y Melibea, ed. M. Criado de Val y 
G. D. Trotter [Madrid: CSIC, 1970]: 314), while the manuscript Celestina comentada (Act 19) 
has the reading "daragas." Given the medieval love of symbol, the &ct that this Moorish 
shield is heart-shaped is by no means irrelevant to the invenciSn. 

" In the first example, Pedro Carrillo de Huete's text reads: "La qual vordadura eran 
esperas," where the last word appears to be an erratum. Rico, however, suggests that the 
error may lie in the letra rather than the divisa: "La letra diria, en efecto, 'non as' [asi en 
Barrientos], pero lo bordado serian 'esperas,' es decir, 'esferas'. . . habra que comprender, 
segun ello, 'non as esperas,' 'no esperas,' referido a la dama por quien se saco la invencion o 
al corazon, a b pasion, del propio Infante." 


imported from north of the Pyrenees was introduced to a context very differ- 
ent from that of its origins, the very much less serious, often frivolous, context 
of the court of Juan II. It should come as no surprise that the Cancionero de 
Baena, compiled by a scribe in the service of Juan II, should contain a gener- 
ous selection of preguntas, respuestas, reqiiestas, debates, and adivinaciones — the 
products of group activity rather than of the solitary inspiration of the individ- 
ual poet. 

The Cancionero general of Hernando del Castillo contains a much higher pro- 
portion of love poetry than Baena but continues to demonstrate a comparable 
lively interest in the poetic production of group activity at court. Among the 
many "traditional" compositions (which nevertheless remain in the great ma- 
jority), and where the love experience continues to be articulated by poets 
who should, according to Baena, "siempre se precien e se finjan de ser enamo- 
rados" (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:15), a group stands out which is much less rever- 
ential, and which is characterized by its lack of respect for the traditions of the 
genre and an attitude towards love very much less spiritual. Particularly in the 
last tw^o decades of the century, when Isabel la Catolica gathered around 
herself a lively and energetic band of young courtiers, circumstances favored 
collective literary activity. These courtiers and their associates formed the 
prototypical closed community. Their numbers included Pedro de Cartagena, 
Juan Tellez-Giron, Antonio de Velasco, Fadrique Enriquez (the fourth admiral 
of Castile), Juan Manuel II, and Juan de Mendoza. Many were interrelated, 
and some were sufficiently wealthy and sufficiently interested to employ 
professional writers like Diego de San Pedro or professional musicians such as 
Gabriel Mena. This was a group that met regularly in "fields of play," which 
are readily identifiable: the court of the Catholic Monarchs, the manor houses 
and castles of the Peiiafiel-Valladolid-Rioseco triangle and the numerous 
jousts, tournaments, and bullfights that were regularly held on festive occasions 
throughout the country.'^ There are clear indications in the poetry of the 
period that the more "traditional" attitudes towards Courtly Love, although 
competently demonstrated from time to time by the courtiers of Isabel's en- 
tourage, had begun to lose their novelty value and their appeal. In the eighties 
and nineties we begin to find more variation and experimentation, both in 
content and in form. 

Increasingly, cancionero poetry of this period becomes, as Keith Whinnom 
observes, "el arte de la miniatura," and the way in which the interrelationship 
between divisa and letra developed and flourished as an art form is a graphic 
illustration of these new attitudes towards poetic composition at court. By 
means of a series of close personal readings, Whinnom (1981; 1994) has shown 
how the conscious restriction of both metrical forms and lexical items by the 
poets of the Cancionero general has led to the semantic enrichment of their 
writings. The result is a series of "difficult" poems that are suggestive, ambiva- 

'2 For more detail, see Avalle-Arce (1974a) and Macpherson (1984; 1986; 1989). 


lent, at times indecent, and prone to wordplay in which the vocabulary is 
sometimes to be taken at its face value and sometimes in its figurative and 
erotic sense. The invencion of one, two, or three octosyllables, occasionally sup- 
plemented by a line oi pie quebrado (half-line), aspired at its best to be a har- 
monious combination of divisa and letra and grew naturally from the tourna- 
ments of the fifteenth century.^-' In Spain the participants would ride into the 
lists with an elaborate crest (cimera), painted upon or affixed to their helms, or 
a striking emblem {divisa) embroidered on their clothing, the scabbard of their 
sword, or the trappings of their horse. ^'* This image was designed to be inter- 
preted in conjunction with the letra in verse composed to accompany it. The 
letras, inscribed on small wooden boards (rotulos), embroidered on the cloth 
draperies (paramentos) that decorated the hsts, laid out with the decorated helms 
for inspection in the pavilions, or passed around on scraps of paper to the par- 
ticipants and spectators during the tournament, were generally targeted specifi- 
cally at the current real or imagined object of the poet/jouster's afiections.'^ 
The object, as can be deduced from the recorded examples that have survived 
(there appear to be no surviving manuals of composition), was to express an 
idea, or an emotion, as concisely and economically as possible, ideally by 
drawing attention to a hitherto unsuspected relationship between image and 
word. Innuendo was an optional extra. Not all surviving invenciones are of 
equal literary merit: the one hundred and thirteen recorded by Hernando del 
Castillo in the Cancionero general (fols. 140r-143v) fully justify Juan de 
Valdes's laconic observation that "en las invenciones hay que tomar y que 
dexar" (1987, 244). They range from the simple-minded to the highly imagi- 
native but, perhaps most interestingly for the critic, illustrate a range of literary 
techniques that once understood, considerably facilitate our understanding of 
the poetry of the period. 

'•* The semantic range of invencion was wide in the fifteenth century, when the term is 
occasionally used to refer to the divisa alone, or alternatively in its most general sense to refer 
to any type of novelty or fashionable innovation, such as one of the dramatic improvisations 
often staged during the course of a major tournament. In the course of the sixteenth century, 
invenciSn in its specific sense of divisa + letra progressively gave way to the term empresa. 

'■* "E todos aquellos caualleros man^ebos hijosdalgo de la cassa del Condestable, e 
muchos otros, iban muy ricamente guarnidos. Ca unos llevaban diversas debisas pintadas en 
las cubiertas de los caballos e otros avia que llebaban tarjas pequeiias muy ricamente guami- 
das, con estranas figuras e ynben^iones. E non era poca la diversidad que llevaban en las 
9imeras, sobre las feladas e los almetes; ca unos llebaban tinbles de bestias salvajes, e otros 
penachos de diversos colores, e otros avia que llebaban algunas plumas, asi por ^imeras de sus 
^eladas, como de las testeras de sus caballos . . . Asi que en esta manera yba toda la gente del 
Condestable" {Cr6nica de don Alvaro de iMna 1940, 166). Some crests were so striking that 
they were incorporated into the family shields of the time (see Riquer 1936). 

'^ Leriano makes this clear in Carcel de Amor. "Por las mugeres se inventan los galanes 
entretales, las discretas bordaduras, las nuevas invenciones; de grandes bienes por cierto son 
causa" (San Pedro 1971, 164). 


When the Vizconde de Altamira appears on the Hsts with "Juana" inscribed 
on his scabbard, and composes the letra: 

Letras del nombre de vna 
que no tiene par ninguna (Dutton 1990—91, 5:348) 

we find ourselves at the elementary end of the spectrum. When the same 
nobleman rides on displaying "vna figura de san juan y en la palma vna .a.," 
and we learn that 

conesta letra demas 
de la figura en que vo 
si miras conosceras 
el nombre de cuyo so (Dutton 1990-91, 5:344) 

the effort required to identify the particular saint depicted and then combine 
"Juan" and "a" may reassure us about the Viscount's constancy in love but 
does little to stretch us intellectually or emotionally. A variation is produced 
by Juan de Mendoza, whose letra reads: 

Vida es esta 
ser el medio de su nombre 
principio de su respuesta. (Dutton 1990-91, 5:349) 

The rubric reveals that "su amiga se dezia Ana," and we deduce a negative 
response to Juan de Mendoza's advances on that particular occasion.^** An 
anonymous galdn offers a slightly more complex variation of the game with a 
letra, which reads: 

Diziendo ques y de que 
esta de quien cuyo so 
dize lo que hago yo. (Dutton 1990-91, 5:349) 

The accompanying divisa is "vna .a. de oro," and Hernando del Castillo's ru- 
bric reveals that the name of the lady in question is Aldonza. Correct identifi- 
cation of the lady, however, is not in this instance the primary objective of the 
invenciSn. What one must do is first look and see, to make a visual identifica- 
tion of the "a de oro," and then look and say — "adoro" — to elucidate the last 
line of the letra: "lo que hace este galan es adorar a doiia Aldonza." This type 
of invenciSn could conveniently be grouped under the heading of "find the 
lady": divisa and letra, taken together, offer the courtly circle a guessing game 
with possibly, as in the cases of Juan de Mendoza and the anonymous galdn, 
the bonus of a reflection on the present behavior of the object of the poet's 
affections or on his present state of mind. 

'^ External evidence suggests that the object of Juan's affections is Ana de Aragon, 
daughter of the count of Lerin, who was subsequently to respond in the affirmative and 
become Juan de Mendoza's second wife (see Macpherson 1989, 98-99). 


The "look and say" game may take a more ambitious form. At its most ele- 
mentary, the Conde de Haro sports a helm on which is depicted a prison. The 
eyes of the spectators observe, and the word cdrcel is generated. The letra picks 
this up in the first line, with routine sentiments: 

Enesta carcel que veys 
que no se halla sallida 
beuire mas ved que vida. (Dutton 1990—91, 5:344) 

Fadrique Enriquez, the fourth admiral of Castile, displaying his acquaintance 
with the colors of rhetoric, offers an example of traductio whereby the sound 
sequence generated by the divisa, in this case a deljtn or doljin, is repeated in 
the letra in a syntactical form, which now spans three parts of speech, 

La mejor vida es aquella 
dolfm es comien^o della. (Dutton 1990-91, 5:345) 

The principle is echoed in a three-line letra devised by Don Alvaro de Luna, 
w^here the first line is generated by Don Alvaro's choice of a/wenfe as his divisa. 
The internal and circumstantial evidence is that this letra is not the work of 
Juan II's priuado, the constable of Castile, but of his grandson, also called Al- 
varo de Luna, who was the first alcaide of Loja but also, and more immediately 
relevant to the the inuencion, the lord of Fuentidueiia. The invencion emerges as 
little more than a signature, a self-conscious reference to Don Alvaro's princi- 
pal title: 

Fuentendido mi querer 
antes que yo lo dixesse 
en mandarme cos siruiesse. (Dutton 1990—91, 5:344) 

The last two invenciones, it must be observed, are syntactically enterprising but 
remain intellectually superficial. Each marks a phonetic overlap between other- 
w^ise unconnected sound sequences, but neither seeks to develop the connec- 
tion in any meaningful way. 

A more elaborate version of traductio that appears frequently in this group of 
invenciones is that which brings together words of the same form but with 
different meanings. The Valencian Henrique de Monteagudo complements the 
heraldic device of the diamond-shaped lisonja (now more commonly losange) 
with the hyperbolic letra: 

No tocando en lo de dios 
no ay lisonja para vos. (Dutton 1990-91, 5:349) 

The Vizconde de Altamira adopts a feather as his divisa; the spectator's eye 
must see, consider, and generate not the obvious pluma but the neologism 
pena. The letra develops the wordplay on pena with a second layer of traductio, 
as the same form takes on a new syntactical function and then a different sense 
in the first octosyllable: 


Quien pena sepa mi pena 
y aura la suya por buena. (Dutton 1990-91, 5:348)*^ 

We are now clearly in the area of the agudeza, which so captivated Baltasar 
Gracian about cancionero poetry. "La primorosa equivocacion es como una 
palabra de dos cortes y un significar a dos luces. Consiste su artificio en usar de 
alguna palabra que tenga dos significaciones, de modo que deje en duda lo que 
quiso decir" (1969, 2:53). For good measure, Altamira here offers three-way, 
rather than two-way, wordplay. 

The conceptismo embodied in the invencion was to reach its most recondite 
and sophisticated form with a type that can be illustrated in the following letra 
attributed to Esteban de Guzman: 

En la vida la busque 
y en la muerte la halle. (Dutton 1990-91, 5:345) 

The alma literaria embodied in these two lines is totally obscure without its 
accompanying cuerpo visual, the divisa. The divisa is referred to twice but by the 
weak pronoun "la" on each occasion, so that the harmonious whole aimed at 
can only be achieved when the eyes of the recipient appreciate that the device 
embroidered on the clothing of the toumeyer represents the sesame plant. 
When the possible solution sesamo is set aside, alegria is selected and then 
applied, in its very different metaphorical sense, to the letra. The sentiments 
expressed then turn out to be of an unexceptional courtly nature, but this is 
not the point of the invencion: what matters is the imaginative juxtaposition of 
image and word, the surprise and pleasure of replacing, with a single leap of 
the imagination, confusion with clarity. 

Further examples of the same type, with all specific verbal reference to the 
divisa formally excluded, illustrate that the technique was well understood by 
the closed circle of jouster-poets who practiced the genre: 

Saquelas del cora^on 
por que las que salen puedan 
dar lugar a las que quedan. 

(Condestable de Castilla, Dutton 1990-91, 5:346) 

A todos da claridad 
sino a mi que la desseo 
que sin veros no la veo. 

(Juan de Lezcano, Dutton 1990-91, 5:345) 

Esta que veys que padesce 
es por que dio 
all uno lo que paresce 

'^ Francisco Rico (1966) was the first to draw attention to the wordplay on pena in his 
influential "Un penacho de penas." 


all otro lo quescondio. 

C'Un galan," Dutton 1990-91, 5:345) 

Lo que haze causa veros 
lo que dize conosceros. 

(Don Juan Manuel, Dutton 1990-91, 5:348) 

In the first of these the weak pronoun "las" of the letra picks up the penachos 
or penas of the divisa and develops the traductio over three lines. The w^it, as 
Francisco Rico has observed, depends upon the interpretation ofpena as pluma 
in the divisa and its necessary reinterpretation as sufrimiento, pesar, cuidado in the 
letra (Rico 1966/rpt. 1990, 194). The second is Juan de Lezcano's only known 
contribution to Spanish letters. For the key, since the letra is completely 
impenetrable without some indication of the unexpressed subject of the verb 
dar in the first octosyllable, the divisa reveals all: "Saco juan de lezcano vna 
luna seyendo seruidor de doiia maria de luna."'^ Possibly surprisingly, if his 
contemporaries Garcia de Astorga and Antonio de Velasco were right to 
dismiss Juan as a drunken old sodomite, an economical little poetic conceit 
emerges: the moon lights the whole world but not, in the absence of Maria de 
Luna, the world of Juan de Lezcano. The third letra is anonymous and refers 
to the divisa only by its first word, the demonstrative pronoun esta. In this case 
Hernando del Castillo records an elaborate device depicting "vn dragon con 
media dama tragada y el gesto y la meytad se mostraua de fuera" and the inven- 
cion now becomes instant innuendo: the mysterious esta, the galan publicly sug- 
gests, refers to the lady being consumed by the dragon as a punishment for 
reserving her top half for one lover and her lower half for another. 

I suggested earlier (1985, 58) that the last invencion of this group, by Juan 
Manuel II, might well be one of the most imaginative and suggestive of the 
period. Considered now in this wider context, the claim still seems valid.^' 
The unexpressed subject of the main verbs in the letra has to be supplied, as 
always, from the divisa, in this case embroidered on the clothing of the jouster 

'" Dutton (1990-91, 7:379) notes: "Segunda mitad del siglo XV. Garcia de Astorga en 
ID0837 se burla de Lezcano, el del rey, diciendo: 'hasta agora viejo an^iano . . . / de pro a 
popa borracho / y aun dizen que se hallo / en la fibdad de sodoma / desde mochacho'. 
Antonio de Velasco en ID0793 recuerda a Lezcano diciendo: 'Que cal^as de rraso verde/ 
dieron la muerte a Lezcano'." Velasco's composition forms part of a sequence in which a 
group of Castilian poets ridicule the new camlet breeches modeled by the Portuguese 
nobleman Manuel de Noronha at court in Zaragoza. 

''^ The lines that immediately follow represent essentially what I said then. For a slightly 
different emphasis, see Whinnom (1981, 104-105, n. 95). Whinnom accepts my interpreta- 
tion of the invenciSn but is less impressed by the conceit, which he sees as litde more than a 
sequence of courtly commonplaces. We coincide in our view of the artistic techniques 
employed: "De todas maneras, es evidente, sin que importe como interpretamos los versos, 
que el juego de palabras homofonas, 'suelta' (sustantivo) y 'suelta' (verbo), se hace a base de 
una palabra expresada solo en un dibujito bordado" (105). 


and depicting the hobble worn by the horses as they enter the hsts to prevent 
them from bolting. The key to the paradox is the stimulus "suelta." In the first 
Une "veros" has to be read as the subject of the main verb "causa": "Veros 
causa lo que haze (la suelta)." Since what the hobble does is to restrain, the 
sight of the lady causes the poet to become a prisoner of love, now the victim 
of his eyes, in metaphorical fetters and deprived of his former liberty. In the 
second line the context changes and we can impose sense on the line only by 
interpreting suelta as the imperative or present indicative of the verb "soltar" 
and by considering not "lo que haze," or what the fetter does (restrain), but 
"lo que dize," what its homophone says or means — and that is "loosen," "re- 
lease," or "set free." Thus "knowing you" (and this can be taken in its every- 
day, or in its biblical sense) "leads to release." This represents a remarkably 
condensed piece of wit. The key word suelta simultaneously involves both 
restriction and release, and the parallels with the effects of love (the tensions 
involved in holding back or coming forward) are now patently clear: the 
enigma is resolved, and the paradox is sharp and effective. Traductio and para- 
dox are all bound up in the six letters oi suelta, but suelta does not itself appear 
in the letra: the only clue is the visual stimulus of the embroidery on the 
knight's tunic. This invendon differs from the majority of those considered 
above in that the sense is as compelling as the technique. While the notion of 
love as a simultaneously restraining and impelling force is by no means a novel 
poetic concept in the late fifteenth century, the focus that Juan Manuel brings 
to it, deriving its inspiration from the tournament and depending on recently 
established poetic techniques, represents a considerable innovation. 

This is a way of writing that takes us some distance from the fin' amor of the 
standard histories of literature. Plasticity is the keynote: eye and ear, cuerpo and 
alma, ideally combine to produce a harmonious end product. Play, and word- 
play, come to the fore. In this public entertainment the poet-jouster plays his 
part before an audience of the gentlemen and ladies of the court, expressing 
sentiments that on the whole have been well tried and tested over the years 
but characteristically with recourse to a vocabulary that aims at stimulating the 
imagination, at focussing the attention of the intended audience on the rela- 
tionships between objects and ideas that might hitherto have passed unnoticed. 
In a composition that by tacit agreement among its practitioners may not 
exceed three and a half lines of verse, there is self-evidently little margin in 
which to develop any great depth of thought, but this is not in principle what 
one should be looking for in the invenciones of the late fifteenth century. The 
keynotes are wordplay, verbal ingenuity and context-switching, and the best 
of these invenciones demonstrate above all a fascination with the multiple 
possibilities offered by words at work. These compositions graphically illustrate 
the early peninsular origins of the kind of conceptismo, which was to entertain 
Juan de Valdes, captivate Gracian, and later be honed and polished by Luis de 
Gongora and Francisco de Quevedo.^** 

A full critical edition of the inuenciottes of the Cancionero general, along with an intro- 


The rapid rise to popularity of letras and inuenciones from the period of Juan 
II onwards by no means impUes that all cancionero poetry of the time depends 
on fiestas, tournaments, paradox, and wordplay, with the occasional spicing of 
innuendo. There is evidence, however, that the play element, always an im- 
portant ingredient from the earliest stages, became an increasingly influential 
factor during the last two decades of the century. As with all games, some of 
the players continued to take completely seriously the established principles 
governing courtly behavior, at least while taking part in the game. One finds 
poets of the period who write about a kind of love that is illicit and therefore 
necessarily secretive, about the quest of the male for his own spiritual ennoble- 
ment, and about the pain and suffering of parting or the anguish of unrequited 
love in much the same terms and with much the same terminology as their 
predecessors did four hundred years earlier. It may never be satisfactorily 
determined whether this is to be accounted for by the sublimation theory, the 
simple desire to excel at a literary genre currently held in high esteem, or even 
the unfashionable possibility that they really were suffering. 

Alongside these traditionalists, a new generation of Isabelline courtiers, less 
respectful of the rulebook handed down by their predecessors, interested in 
developing and refining the principles governing the verse form and the con- 
tent, fascinated by the multiple possibilites of language, exercised their skills 
above all through group activity in mixed gatherings at tournaments and at the 
royal court. Men and women have always tended to share a lively interest in 
words and in the relationships between the sexes, and that is what a significant 
proportion of Isabelline courtly poetry is about. The bawd's blandishments 
directed at the impressionable Parmeno in Act I of Celestina illustrate this 

La natura huye lo triste y apetece lo delectable. El deleyte es con los 
amigos en las cosas sensuales, y especial en recontar las cosas de amores, 
y comunicarlas. . . . jO que juegos! jO que besos! 'jVamos alia!' 'jBol- 
vamos aca!' 'jAnde la musical': 'pintemos los motes, [cantemos] canci- 
ones, [hagamos] invenciones, justemos.' (Fernando de Rojas 1991, 262) 

The justa that Celestina is recommending is of course the specialized version 
that takes place between two lovers — the justa de amores, with its accompany- 
ing games, caresses, dance, music, and words. These literary and sporting 
activities are part of the world of the imagination and are also related to real 
life: if we approach them as interludes, designed to stand outside "ordinary" 
life, interdependent games with their own rules and vocabulary, played for a 
fixed duration and within an agreed field of play, then what results is some- 
thing that approximates very closely to Huizinga's description of the play 

Queen Mary and Westfield College 

duction to Castillo's collection and an updated bibliography, can now be consulted in Mac- 
pherson 1998. 

Role Playing in the Amatory Poetry 
of the Cancioneros 


The role playing I shall discuss in the amatory poetry of the cancioneros can 
only be adequately understood in the context of the social world in 
which it was cultivated. Written for, and often by, the members of the courts 
of kings and magnates, this type of poetry served a valuable social function that 
must be taken into consideration in its appraisal. The fifteenth century in Spain 
was a period in which the nobles were becoming increasingly dependent upon 
the figure of the king for their continued survival as a privileged upper class in 
the face of the growing power of a bourgeoisie, which was itself making in- 
roads into the nobility by way of the royal concession of titles.' The need to 
maintain the prestige and privileges that distinguished their class drew ever- 
growing numbers of nobles to court, where they vied for the rewards that the 
attention of the powerful could bring. The close quarters of the court in turn 
created the need for restraint in their now much more complicated social deal- 
ings with each other, a restraint embodied in a courtly code of manners, of 
ceremony and etiquette, which gradually arose in court life.^ 

Life at court involved a high degree of role playing, of taking care to pre- 
sent the appropriate image at the proper time for the benefit of the proper 
people. One had to be ever sensitive to the sometimes subtle shifts in the dy- 
namics of social power relationships and adjust one's public image accord- 

' The gradual process by which, as Norbert Elias puts it, "a landed warrior nobility 
founded on a barter economy is supplanted by a court aristocracy founded on a money 
economy" (1983, 158) was taking place throughout Europe, but Spain, along with Italy, was 
in the forefront (1983, 241). 

^ This is essentiaUy the thesis of Elias, who sees the role of the court as a dual one, 
characterizing it as "an institution for taming and preserving the nobility" (1978-82, 2:269). 
As a sociologist, Elias is concerned with the underlying social and economic conditions that 
foster social change. For different perspectives, see Jaeger (1985) and Scaglione (1991). 


ingly.^ These role playing skills so vital to their survival at court were prac- 
ticed and refined during leisure activities, which were used primarily to pro- 
mote conviviality among its members.'* 

The importance of leisure was recognized in medieval medical and philo- 
sophical doctrine, allusions to which were frequently used to justify the leisure 
pursuits of the nobility.^ These activities were in fact vital to life at court, and 
we find Alfonso X of Castile establishing in his thirteenth-century Siete partidas 
a revealing distinction between corte and palacio. The corte was the place in 
which the official business of the kingdom was handled ("Que cosa es corte," 
II, ix, 27; 1807, 2:82-83). In contrast: 

Palacio es dicho aquel logar do el rey se ayunta paladinamente para fablar 
con los homes, et esto es en tres maneras, o para librar los pleytos, o para 
comer, o para fablar en gasajado. . . . Et quando es para fablar como en 
manera de gasajado, asi como para departir o para retraer, o para jugar de 
palabra, ninguna destas non se debe de facer sinon como conviene: ca el 
departir debe seer de manera que non mengiie el seso al home por el, asi 
como ensafiandose: ca esta es cosa que le saca mucho aina de su siesto. 
(II, ix, 29; 1807, 2:85) 

As a place to "fablar en gasajado," the palacio could provide a needed hiatus 
from more serious concerns, a place where one could relax and be Ught- 
hearted with one's fellows. 

In Alfonso's insistence on the separate and valued role of the palacio in the 
life of the court, we can better understand the nature of the activities one finds 
occurring in the social life at the palacio in Trastamaran Spain. Literature had 
always played an important role as courtly entertainment, but by the fifteenth 
century, after generations of being entertained at the palacio by romances of 
chivalry and the troubadour poetry of the Provencal, French, and Galician- 
Portuguese traditions, the notion of courtly love that ran through these works 
had clearly become the basis for a rather elaborate social fiction, a sort of role 
playing game played among the courtiers during the plentiful free time at the 
palacio.^ The roles were adopted in sociable conversation at court and en- 
hanced by the writing and performance of poetry as a means of portraying 

•^ Ellas comments: "Court aristocrats are often well aware that they wear a mask in their 
dealings with other people, even though they may not be aware that playing with masks has 
become second nature to them" (1983, 241). Jaeger concurs: "It is a truism of court life that 
all public acts and words are a mask" (1985, 62). 

"• Jaeger speaks of "that important law of court life: maintain unbroken cheerfulness and 
amicabiUty" (1985. 62). 

^ For a discussion, see Olson (1982). 

'' Ian Macpherson examines the playful qualities inherent in the concept of courdy love 
and the poetry that was based on it in his study in the present volume. The game of courtly 
love as played at court has a number of elements in common with the fantasy games such as 
"Dungeons and Dragons" that became popular in the late 1970s (on which see Fine 1983). 


oneself and others in these rolesJ In this game the boundaries between liter- 
ature and life were purposely confused, and the exploitation of the ambiguities 
created by this confusion was an essential part of the entertainment. 

The knightly lover in literature provided the role on which the courtiers 
modeled their behavior toward the ladies at the palacio. The fantasy to be 
played out required the knight to be in the grip of an obsessive passion for a 
lady who embodied all beauty and virtue, one whose perfection precluded his 
ever being truly worthy of her love. He would nonetheless strive to prove his 
worth to her in the hope that she might one day look favorably upon him. 
Love was a magnificent quest fraught with difficulty at every turn: the more 
arduous it was, the more seemingly impossible its successful completion, the 
more noteworthy it would be. The knight's love for his lady was of such 
monumental proportions that it deserved to become as legendary as the loves 
of the famous knights of the romances.*^ The true lover was willing to put his 
very life in jeopardy for his lady's love. Elaborate tournaments, jousts, and 
passages at arms afforded knights of all ranks the opportunity to play the valiant 
knight-errant engaged in a marvelous enterprise to prove his merit to his lady. 
Noblewomen readily accepted the role of the lady of unsurpassed beauty and 
unquestionable honor to whom a worthy knight had unconditionally surren- 
dered his heart. In the lists he would joust for her, while at the palacio he 
would do his best to demonstrate that his love, if unrequited, would surely be 
the cause of his death. An exceptional love such as this would needs be sung 
at court. Such works could be commissioned of the many court poets, but it 
was, of course, far preferable for one to participate actively oneself as poet, in- 
spired by a noble passion. 

' Spain is far firom unique in this phenomenon and, as often happened in Hterature, 
foreign patterns were adapted to its own particular circumstances. For a view of this game 
as played in the early Tudor court, see Stevens (1961, esp. chap. 9, "The 'Game of Love,'" 
154-202) and R. F. Green (1980, esp. chap. 4, 'The Court of Cupid," 101-34). For the 
court of late medieval France, see Poirion (1965). Aware of the critical controversy concern- 
ing the usefulness of the term "courdy love" (see Boase 1977, 111-14), Larry Benson insists: 
"Courtly love did exist, perhaps not in the twelfth century, but certainly in the fourteenth, 
fifteenth, and even sixteenth centuries" (1984, 239). He concedes: "Certainly not everyone 
was acting like courtly loven in the bte fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and even those 
who were probably did so on rare occasions. Yet these few set the fashion that grew stronger 
and more widespread in the generations that followed" (1984, 251). 

** The courtiers often compare themselves favorably with literary lovers. In a poem firom 
the Cancionero de palacio, Juan de Duenas, for example, claims to his lady "que por ^ierto si 
yo ftiera / en el tiempo d'Amadis, / segun vos amo y adoro / muy lealmente sin arte, / 
nuestra fuera la mas parte / de la Inssola del Ploro" (ID2606, SA7-233, fol. 101 v; Dutton 
1990-91, 4:140-41). Poems are identified by ID number and manuscript reference according 
to Dutton (1990-91). Texts are cited firom facsimile editions of the Cancionero de Baena 
(PNl) and the Cancionero general (IICG) and in other cases from their transcription in 
Dutton (1990-91), using my own punctuation. 


A certain amount of intrigue was required, as the lover by convention had 
to conceal the object of his passion, ostensibly in order to protect his lady's 
honor. "Secret" communication with the lady became a key to playing out the 
fantasy. The knight could not properly appear at a tournament or joust or 
enter into battle without vaunting a secret love in some symbolic fashion, 
often going so far as to wear his lady's colors or a token she had given him. 
The fanciful crest, or cimera, adorning the knight's helmet could be adopted as 
part of his armorial bearings, while sometimes enigmatic verses were composed 
to elucidate their meaning.^ The knight often adopted a motto (mote) that 
alluded to his role as lover and for which poetic glosses could be composed, 
such as Jorge Manrique's gloss of his mote "Siempre amar y amor seguir" 
(ID6405 M 4229, llCG-598, fols. 143v-44r).'» Elaborate devices (inuen- 
ciones) of all kinds were contrived to allude to aspects of one's love and verses 
inevitably composed to explain them. The lover truly wore his heart on his 
sleeve, as invettciones sometimes involving a rebus were embroidered on the 
clothing or on the caparison of a mount. A color system was used in invenciones 
and in the composition of one's costume to convey an emotional state.^* 

It was in sociable conversation w^ith the ladies at the palacio, how^ever, that 
the role of lover could be most elaborately developed.^^ There one need not 
yet be knighted to participate, and a ready wit was a more valued asset than 
skill at arms. The lover's ingenuity could be most impressively demonstrated by 
writing amorous poetry, which would be performed at court for the apprecia- 
tion of all. In terms of the fantasy, the verse supposedly inspired by this great 

'^ The Cancionero del British Museum contains a section of "Letras y ^imeras que sacaron 
^iertos justadores" (LB 1—232-308, fols. 77r-79v) including poetic commentary on some of 
them by Pedro de Cartagena. Many of these are reproduced in the section of "Invenciones 
y letras de justadores" in the Cancionero general (llCG-481-593, fols. 140r-43v). See Ian 
Macpherson's study in the present volume. 

'" The Cancionero general includes a section of "Glosas de motes" (IICG, 594-634, fols. 

" Matulka discusses erotic color symbolism in medieval Spanish courdy culture (1931, 
266-82, esp. 276-82). See also Kenyon (1915), and Battesti-Pelegrin (1982, 1:400-19). 
Goldberg has reviewed the system as it appears in the sentimental romance and shown in 
greater detail that "although at first glance it might seem that colour symbolism consisted in 
a straightforward system of fixed equivalences, . . . meaning varied not only according to hue, 
but also according to shade and intensity" (1992, 232). 

'^ Stevens discusses the importance of courtly conversation, or "commoning," particular- 
ly "luf-talkyng," in the early Tudor court: "The importance of talk in the aristocratic ideal 
world of courdy living can hardly be exaggerated" (1961, 159). " 'Luf-talkyng' could take 
many different forms. A good talker could coin maxims or aphorisms, devise riddles and 
jokes, develop 'themes,' formulate 'questions' concerning love, start a debate or a 'conten- 
tion,' take part in talking-games, and so on. Such talk is nearly always dramatic" (1961, 161). 
Poems like Puertocarrero's have recently been dubbed autos de amores and are discussed by 
Sirera (1992). 


love served as an important vehicle for "secret" communication and helped to 
foster an air of intrigue that further fueled the fantasy. '-^ The anonymous 
author of the Cronica de don Alvaro de Luna portrays Juan II's notorious Consta- 
ble of Castile as the very model of the perfect courtly knight, one who there- 
fore did not neglect to cultivate the role of lover in an admirable fashion: 

Fue muy medido e conpasado en las costunbres, desde la su juventud; 
sienpre amo e honrro mucho al linage de las mugeres. Fue muy enamo- 
rado en todo tienpo; guardo gran secreto a sus amores. Fizo muy vivas 
e discretas can^iones de los sus amores, e muchas bezes declaraba en ellas 
misterios de otros grandes fechos. (1940, 207) 

Although they provided a vehicle for sociable conversation and proved 
highly versatile in lending a dramatic dimension to many forms of courtly en- 
tertainment, these roles had a very important practical benefit as well. It is well 
known that the fifteenth century was a time of great strife and social upheaval 
among the nobility. If in the real world blood dictated social worth and 
established a hierarchy within the nobility itself, in the mixed company of the 
palacio all nobles were equal in the role of lover, be they nobles of ancient 
lineage or the most recent recipients of a concession of noble status. The lover 
had no official concern outside the love relationship: political rivalries, the 
obligations of rank, even duties to king and country were brought to nothing 
by the awesome power of love, for the duration of the game. Courtly love 
transformed all nobles into knightly lovers, each intent on proving himself the 
greatest lover ever born. Each would play the role as though, in the words of 
Guevara, "si d'amor s'escriue ystoria, / yo sere comien^o d'ella" (ID0858, 
IICG— 232, fol. 108r), and in a way, the writing of courtly love verse ensured 
that his story would indeed be told. Moreover, all the ladies of the court were 
potentially the unnamed lady of the poetry, which attributed to them a power 
over men and their own fates, belied by historical fact and unsupported by 
serious philosophy. Other men could be rivals, but more often, it would seem, 
theirs was the role of co-sufferers who listened sympathetically to the lover's 
plaint. The role of lover thus offered the noble a means for interacting socially 
in an unthreatening way with both male and female members of the court. 

'•^ In many cases the "secret" is clearly an open one, as is evident in many of the 
invenciones used to designate the lady. The letras de invendones of the Vizconde de Altamira 
and others cited by Ian Macpherson in the present volume are typical. Another only some- 
what less transparent device is the use of acrostics, such as in Jorge Manrique's poem, which 
spells out the name GUYOMAR by beginning each successive strophe with the appropriate 
letter. Despite the acrostic, Manrique can still declare: "jO si aquestas mis passiones, / o si la 
pena en qu'esto, / o si mis fliertes passiones / osasse descobrir yo! / jO si quien a mi las dio 
/ oyesse la quexa dellas!" (ID6147, llCG-194, fol. 98v). There is fiirther irony in that, as 
the audience well knew, Guiomar was the name not of Manrique's secret love but of his 
wife. Aurora Hermida discusses other acrostic poems by Jorge Manrique in her study in the 
present volume. 


The social fiction of courtly love contributed to patterns of thought and 
behavior that would form the basis for what has generally come to be regarded 
as civilized behavior. The formal show of deference toward women that 
became an essential part of polite social behavior, a sign of good breeding, may 
be seen as a cultural legacy from the days when "gentleman" (^entilhombre) was 
synonymous with "nobleman" and the game of courtly love was played in the 
courts of Europe. In Spain it is clear that by the time of the reign of the 
Catholic Monarchs these play concepts had already begun to crystallize into 
required formal gestures, as all forms of affection and reverence toward women 
came to be expressed in the mode of courtly love. Poetic praise of the queen 
and of the ladies present at court was also habitually rendered in amorous 
terms. ^"^ Pedro de Cartagena, for example, employs a cancionero technique that 
Maria Rosa Lida de Malkiel designates the "hiperbole sagrada" to praise not 
his own lady-love but rather Isabel herself 

Que loaros, a mi ver, 
en vuestra y agena patria, 
silencio deueys poner, 
que daros a conoscer 
haze la gente ydolatria. 

(ID6120, llCG-153, fol. 87v)^5 

Fernando and Isabel themselves led the way in playing the courtly lover to 
each other. Each adopted a personal device which, in the Provencal tradition 
of the poetic senhal, signified the other, as Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo ex- 

Muy acostumbrada cosa es en nuestra Espaiia, entre caualleros e sefiores, 
procurar que la invention comien^e su nombre en la primera letra del 
nombre de la senora por quien se inven^ iona, demas del atributo o sinifi- 
cagion de lo que quieren magnifestar o publicar con esas devisas. E guar- 
dando esta orden, el Catolico Rey don Fernando trahia vn yugo, porque 
la primera letra es Y, por Ysabel; y la Reyna Catolica trahia por diuisa 
las firechas, que la primera letra es F, por Fernando. (1983, 1:480) 

Even in their personal correspondence, one finds Fernando playing the role of 

''' Jones adduces evidence for "toda una tradicion amorosa a Isabel" (1962, 63). 

'^ For extensive examples of the convention of the lover calling his lady his God, see 
Lida de Malkiel (1946, 306-309 n.) and Gerli (1981). Le Gentil points out that in poems of 
this sort: "II ne faut pas, bien entendu, prendre a la lettre un tel langage . . . il faut penser 
que la terminologie courtoise tend alors a se transformer en un simple formulaire de 
pohtesse, aussi bien, I'amour etant la plus haute forme de I'admiration et du respect, dans la 
pensee des hommes du moyen age, il ne faut pas s'etonner du ton que prennent certaines 
cantigas de loores adressees a des souveraines. II s'agit la d'hyperboles poetiques, dont personne 
n'etait choque" (1949, 1:101). 


the unrequited lover who claims his death will be on the head of his belle dame 
sans mercy. Absent from court and having received no news from his queen, 
Fernando wrote her the following letter, written in Tordesillas, 16 May 1475: 

Mi seiiora. — A lo menos agora bien se pareze quien se adolesce mas 

dell otro quanto segiin vuestra senoria me escribe y aze saberme como 

esta da [sic] alegre, no puedo dormir, tantos son los mensajeros que alia 

tenemos que sin cartas se vienen no por mengua de papel ni de no saber 

escrebir, salvo de mengua de amor y de altiva, pues estais en Toledo y 

nosotros por aldeas. Pues algun dia tornaremos en el amor primero. Si 

por no lo yziese vuestra seiioria, por no ser omecida me debe escrebir y 

azerme saber como se halla vuestra senoria. (ed. Prieto Cantero 1970, 

Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo, who began his long career of service at the 
court of Fernando and Isabel, has left perhaps the most overt statement of the 
use of the role of lover as a model for proper courtly behavior: 

Costumbre es en Espaiia entre los seiiores de estado, que venidos a la 
corte, aunque no esten enamorados o que pasen de la mitad de la hedad, 
fmjir que aman, por servir y favorecer a alguna dama y gastar como 
quien son en fiestas y otras cosas que se ofrecen de tales pasatiempos y 
amores, sin que les de pena Cupido. (1983, 1:249)'^ 

The nobles, who must act "como quien son," adopted the role of lover as an 
essential part of social pastimes at court, for, as Hernando de Ludueiia, maestre- 
sala of Isabel la Catolica, puts it in his rhymed Doctrinal de j^entileza: "Los 
amores son el sello / que sellan la gentileza" (ID 1895, MP2-33, fol. 95r; 
Dutton 1990-91, 2:405). 

Poetry was a major vehicle for the dramatic expression of the play senti- 
ment of courtly love as well as for the elaboration of the nature of the con- 
cept. In the prologue to his cancionero, Juan Alfonso de Baena enumerates the 
qualities that the practitioner of "el arte de la poetrya & gaya fien^ia" (PNl 
3r) must possess: discretion, good judgment, erudition, worldly experience, 

finalmente, que sea noble fydalgo & cortes & mesurado & gentil & 
gra^ioso & polido & donoso. E que tenga miel & a^ ucar & sal & ayre & 
donayre en su rrazonar. E otrosy que sea amador & que siempre se 
premie & se finja de ser enamorado, porque es opynion de muchos sabyos 
que todo omne que sea enamorado, conuiene a saber, que ame a quien 

"• I am indebted to Peggy K. Liss for facilitating the citation of Femando's letter to 
Isabel. For a discussion, see Liss (1992, 110-12). 

" Roger Boase first drew attention to this passage (1977, v). 


deue & como deue & donde deue, afirman e dizen qu'el tal de todas 
buenas dotrinas es doctado. (1926, fol. 3v) 

The courtly poet should be both a "noble fydalgo" and an "amador." This 
second attribute is important because when he loves in the proper fashion ("a 
quien deue & como deue & donde deue"), he, by implication, possesses a set 
of concomitant virtues. It therefore behooved the courtier to feign love ("se 
finja de ser enamorado") if necessary, in order to be able to play the role by 
■which he could increase his prestige among his peers. 

Amatory poetry was enthusiastically cultivated by the nobility, who circu- 
lated it among themselves and had it performed before the court for the en- 
tertainment of all. The meticulous care with which this poetry was preserved 
in voluminous cancioneros bears witness to the high esteem in which it was 
held. The poems were considered displays of courtly skill, just as the feats of 
arms at joust and tournament were demonstrations of knightly prowess. The 
compilers of the cancioneros duly recorded for posterity the names of the noble 
poets along with their verses with the same diligence shown by the chroni- 
clers in registering the names of participants in knightly action, be it battle or 

While as a format for social etiquette all were expected to participate to 
some extent, as a real game, courtly love was one to which only the young 
could fully commit themselves. It was considered quite unseemly for a mature 
man to attempt to participate with the unbridled enthusiasm of youth. Her- 
nando de Ludueiia asserts: "El galan a de tener / lo primero tal hedad / que de 
treinta e seis no pase" (ID1895, MP2-33, fol. 82v; Dutton 1990-91, 2:395). 
Later in the same work he elaborates: 

Y amores de gentileza, 
no neguemos la verdad, 
huyen de la senetud, 
porque toda su firmeza, 
condifion e calidad 
son flores de juuentud. 
Y el que Uega a los finquenta, 
finquenta e ^inco, o sesenta, 
con mafias de enamorado, 
quanto deue ser culpado 
no tiene quento ni quenta. (fol. 89r; Dutton 1990-91, 2:400) 

The poet then ridicules at some length the sight of "vn biejo bordado, / 
estirado en la gran sala" (Dutton 1990-91, 2:401). Such behavior on the part 
of a mature man shows a complete lack of a sense of decorum in a society in 
which, as Luduena informs us, it is vital to "pensar en elegir / lo que se deue 
vestir, / segun cuerpo, tienpo, edad, / pues la no conformidad / es cosa para 
reyr" (fol. 83r; Dutton 1990-91, 2:395). 

There was certainly no want of willing participants in these activities. For 


a young man, the fantasy of being a knightly lover like those of the romances 
of chivalry was attractive indeed. In his autobiography, Saint Ignatius of Loyola 
recalls his own fantasies as a young knight who was "dado a las vanidades del 
mundo, y principalmente se deleitaba en ejercicio de armas, con un grande 
deseo de ganar honra" (1966, 27). In 1521 at the age of twenty-six he sus- 
tained serious leg wounds defending a fortress against the French at Pamplona. 
An operation to reset the bones, which had healed badly, left him bedridden 
for a period and, being "muy dado a leer libros mundanos y falsos que suelen 
Uamarse de caballerias" (1966, 30), he would often find his mind straying to 
idle thoughts: 

Y de muchas cosas vanas que se le ofirecian, una tenia tanto poseido su 
corazon, que se estaba luego embebido en pensar en ella dos y tres y 
cuatro horas sin sentirlo, imaginando lo que habia de hacer en servicio 
de una seiiora, los medios que tomaria para poder ir a la tierra donde ella 
estaba, los motes, las palabras que le diria, los hechos de armas que haria 
en su servicio. Y estaba con esto tan envanecido, que no miraba cuan 
imposible era poderlo alcanzar; porque la seiiora no era de vulgar nob- 
leza: no condesa, ni duquesa, mas era su estado mas alto que ninguno de 
estas. (1966, 31) 

Their heads filled with such fantasies, eager and lusty young knights and 
donceles must have arrived at court fully expecting to fall in love with a lady at 
first sight. The anonymous author of a short epistolary treatise found in the 
prose material at the beginning of the Cancionero de Herberay des Essarts (LB2) 
describes the phenomenon in explaining the Ley^^ '^^ amor to one young 
"mossen Ugo": 

Vos sabeys plazen a todos naturalmente e mas que ninguna otra cosa las 
donas, d'entre las quales si una bella e graciada qu'en estremo e presto se 
comprehende es vista por un man^ebo qui con la voluntat suelta con 
feruiente sangre e con gentil animo va buscando amor, fallado el pe- 
drenal dispuesto e la yesca fina, ninguna marauilla es que presto, con el 
golpe de solos oios, I'enamorado fuego s'en^ienda. (ed. Aubrun 1951, 24) 

Although this was certainly preferable, if none of the ladies happened to 
inspire any real attraction, all was not lost. The knight had merely to single out 
a lady who seemed worthy of the honor of receiving his attentions on occa- 
sions that called for a display of gallant servitude. She, in turn, would respond 
as she saw fit: purely honorific service would be graciously accepted, while 
those with pretensions of more would have to play the role with all the more 
zeal to prove that their love was indeed on a par with that of the knights who 
populated the romances. As there were always far more men than women at 
court, a comely lady would typically have several would-be suitors vying for 
her affection, with varying degrees of seriousness their part. Each would be 
expected to prove by word and deed that his love for her was true, while that 
of his rivals was base and false. Typically he would seek to accomplish this 


through the affirmation of the orthodoxy of his own love or the witty derision 
of his rivals and their goals. 

To be fully convincing in the role of courtly lover, one had to learn how 
to "fazer gestos / como los enamorados" (Pedro Gonzalez de Uzeda; IDOlll, 
PNl-343, fol. 126v). For this, a knowledge of the classic signs of lovesickness 
(the signa amoris of the medical manuals) was indispensable. Since these symp- 
toms served as testimony to the sincerity and strength of his love, the lover 
displayed them as a badge of honor for all to witness. It is for this reason that 
in his Coplas sobre la gala Suero de Ribera jocularly makes them a requirement 
of the galdn: "El galan flaco, amarillo, / deue ser y muy cortes" (ID0141, 
1 ICG— 88, fol. 51r). It is apparent from the medical literature of the day that 
passionate love (amor hereos, or simply el mal de amores) was recognized as a 
genuine disease that was capable of leading to madness and, in extreme 
circumstances, to death.'** The symptoms were commonly known. We find 
Alfonso Martinez de Toledo echoing them in a chapter of his Corbacho (1438) 
entitled: "De como muchos enloquecen por amores": 

^Quantos, di, amigo, viste o oiste dezir que en este mundo amaron que 
su vida fue dolor e enojo, pensamientos, sospiros e congojas, non dormir, 
mucho velar, non comer, mucho pensar? E, lo peor, mueren muchos de 
tal mal e otros son privados de su buen entendemiento; e si muere va su 
anima donde penas crueles le son aparejadas por siempre jamas, (ed. Gerli 
1979, 79) 

Pedro Mejia, in his Siha de varia leccion (1540), describes how Greek and 
Arab physicians counted "el aficion y pasion de los amores" among the other 
"enfermedades humanas" (1933-34, 2:74) and lists some of the signs: 

Muchas seiiales otras ponen para conocer cuando uno anda enamorado, 
como que tienen los ojos hundidos, y duermen y comen poco, que el 
pulso les anda apriesa, y hablando con ellos no responden a proposito al- 
gunas veces; y asi otras muchas que no quiero decir, porque ya los 
hombres se precian tanto de ello, que ellos tienen cuidado de publicallo 
y aun a las veces falsa y fingidamente. (1933-34, 2:75-76) 

Those who go to such extremes are obviously more involved in playing the 
role of lover than the courtier who takes on aspects of the role merely as part 

'" In a 1495 translation into Spanish of his Liliutn medicmae (1305), Bernardo Gordonio 
says that "devedes de saber que el amor que hereos se dize es propria passion del celebro e 
es por corrupcion de la imaginativa" (Bernardo Gordonio 1990, 109). He summarizes the 
seiiales of amor hereos: "Son que pierden el sueno e el comer e el bever e se enmagresce todo 
su cuerpo, salvo los ojos, e tienen pensamientos escondidos e fondos con sospiros llorosos" 
(1990, 108). He states unequivocally: "La pronosticacion es tal que si los hereos non son 
curados, caen en mania o se mueren" (1990, 108). For recent research into the subject, see 
Wack (1990) and Jacquart and Thomasett (1988). 


of courtly etiquette. Here we have a glimpse of the true players of the game, 
the ones without whom the notion of courtly love would have become no 
more than a stale stylistic affectation of literature. Furthermore, Mejia's state- 
ment reveals that he still believes that lovesickness was a real phenomenon, 
although he recognizes that the exaggerated display of symptoms has become 
a status symbol. That "a veces" one finds men displaying these signs "falsa y 
fingidamente" seems to refer to the motive of the display rather than to the 
display itself. It is not the player of a harmless game who plays "falsa y fingida- 
mente," but rather one who uses it for the base purpose of seduction.'^ 

In the context of the court, the role of lover was highly ambiguous, and in 
its ambiguity lay its attraction: although its conventions could be used as an 
adjunct to secular chivalry, for mere social amenity, or for flattery of the pow- 
erful, it is equally true that no less noble form could appropriately be em- 
ployed to express a real attraction or to honor an existing relationship, and — as 
moralists were quick to point out — no more effective form could be used for 
seduction. ^^ The knowledge that clandestine (and overt) affairs could really 
take place certainly added spice to the social banter. This flexibility and 
ambiguity in turn provided endless material for courtly entertainment, much 
of which was achieved through poetry. Because this love would always be 
presented as unrequited, it allowed virtuous ladies to participate in social acti- 

^'' Pedro de Cartagena, in a poem warning the ladies of "los enganos de los onbres," 
describes these lover/poets who are neither lovers nor poets, although they would "por estilo 
galan / contar cuentos de passion, / qu'estos sin ningiin afan / por dondequiera que van / 
dizen la misma razon" (ID6118, llCG-151, fol. 87r). Appended to his 1554 translation of 
the Amphitrion of Plautus, Francisco Lopez de Villalobos (1473P-1539), physician to Carlos 
V, includes a short treatise on love in which he similarly speaks of false lovers: "Lo sobre- 
dicho se entiende de los verdaderos amores. . . . Mas de los fingidos otra cosa sentimos; que 
ya hemos visto algunos grandes seiiores que toman los amores por su pasatiempo, y para 
dissimular con ellos los grandes negocios que andan urdiendo, sabenlo tan bien hacer, que 
quien los viere jurara que estan dentro; mas yo aviso a sus amigas que se guarden dellos, 
porque vienen a ellas en vestiduras de cordero, y ellos son lobos robadores" (1855, 489). 

-" The moralists, of course, took a dim view of the whole game. The anonymous author 
of the Libro de la consola(i6n de Espafia sees the path that the court had taken in following 
these customs as a perilous one indeed: "Ca lla[ma]mos a la Luxuria de la came e al adulterio 
'amores' e 'bienqueren^ias': e en cosa tan sucia e tan vil de^iamos tan altisymo nonbre e 
quitamosle el suyo, e tenemos por mejor al que mas vsa destos amores, e mas loado es por 
ello e mas honrra le fasen, ca es tenjdo por mas desenbuelto e por mas omne, e avn el se da 
mas fauor por ello, e quiere mas valer por nes^edat, e mucho syn seso es reputado oy el que 
non anda en tales amores, por cuyo trabto yo creo verdaderamente segund lo que veo trabtar 
que Dios non tyene parte, njn avn pequena parte en los manfebos nin avn en los de mas 
hedat que man^ebos, njn en las mujeres, ca tanto abran como complaseran e se agradaran 
vnos a otros en sus adulterios, asy ellos como ellas, que ^iegan a la parte de Dios e 
ofende[n]lo por myll maneras, solo por este trabto tan malo que trabtan" (ed. Rodriguez 
Puertolas 1972, 204-205). 


vities without compromising their reputations, while elevating mundane sexual 
liaisons by depicting them poetically as essentially chaste and noble. Specula- 
tion as to the identity of the poet's unnamed lady and the real nature of the re- 
lationship was a major source of amusement at the palacio. And of course, one 
need not have any particular lady in mind to write a poem of courtly love, in 
which the lady traditionally remains nameless. A poet could thus write poetry 
to a fictitious lady merely to display his poetic skills or to pique the interest of 
the court. One suspects as much when Pedro de Cartagena writes a poem, as 
the rubrics claim, "respondiendo a ciertas damas que le preguntaron quien era 
su amiga, si era dueha o donzella" (ID0914, IICG— 142, fol. 85v). 

In his Doctrinal de gentileza Hernando de Ludueiia emphasizes the essential 
harmlessness of the fiction as played at court: 

De palafio los amores 
son de tal constela^ion, 
que dessechan la victoria, 
porque los mas son fauores 
do pro^ede presunp^ion, 
qu'es el cabo de su gloria. 

(ID1895, MP2-33, fol. 89r; Dutton 1990-91, 2:400) 

He insists that those who do not respect this are in the minority: 

Y si algunos son agenos 
de lo bueno e no tan bueno 
que no guardan el conpas, 
no se condenen los mas 
por la culpa de los menos. 

(fol. 89r; Dutton 1990-91, 2:400) 

He reminds us that court life obliged the doncella to take part in the game: 

No es razon de se escusar 
la donzella de salir 
en palacio y ser mirada. 
Tanpoco puede dexar 
el festejar y reir, 
conforme donde es criada. 

(fol. 93r; Dutton, 1990-91, 2:404) 

He defends the maligned doncella firom detractors who do not understand the 
game and therefore judge her actions as suspect: 

Porque ay cien mill mugeres, 
festejadas, palan^ianas, 
en esta nuestra Castilla 
que sauen de mil plazeres 
sanas como las manzanas, 


sin punzada y sin manzilla. 
Y a las tales condenar 
o dexallas de loar, 
son malifias ynfernales, 
porque son tantas y tales, 
que no se podran contar. 

(fol. 93v; Dutton 1990-91, 2:404) 

The young doncella had to learn the unwritten rules of this courtly game at 
the palacio itself. There, if she paid attention, she would assimilate her role and 
eventually be able to begin to play herself She had to be made aware, howev- 
er, that it was really just a game. Overexuberance on her part would therefore 
be subtly chastised, as in a poem by Tapia to a young lady who evidently took 
to extremes her role as the belle dame sans mercy: "a vna dama, porque era altiua 
con quien la seruia. Dale consejo porque era muy mo^a" (ID6613, 1 ICG— 850, 
fol. 178r). In it he tells her that in her youthful ignorance she has erred in 
thinking that the "surtes esquiuos" with which she treats her admirers will 
bring her fame, "pues no se llama bondad / los respectos muy altiuos / a la 
dama" (fol. 178r). A "dama muy honesta / y de linaje" (fol. 178r) must give 
a "dul^e respuesta" to those who contemplate her with desire and adoration. 

The poetry that depicts the social banter between the aspiring lover and his 
would-be lady-love could be highly amusing.^' Witty poetic responses to a 
lady's challenge abound in the later cancioneros. Alonso de Cardona writes an 
esparsa, as the rubric explains, "porque estando delante vna senora, sospiro, y 
ella le dixo que no deuia sospirar pues que dezia que se tenia por dichoso de 
su passion" (ID6677, llCG-905, fol. 194r). The rubric to a poem by Geron- 
imo de Artes claims that he wrote it "porque le dixo vna sefiora que pensaua 
en que podelle enojar" (ID4360, llCG-941, fol. 206r). The courtly lady 
could be quite a coquette in this matter. Another poem in the Cancionero 
general was composed, according to the rubric, by "vn galan porque, estando 
con su amiga, ella le puso la mano sobre el cora^on, y hallo que estaua seguro 
y dixole que era de poco amor que le tenia" (ID6260, llCG-371, fol. 127v). 
Knowing that a racing pulse was a primary symptom of the mal de amores, the 
lady playfully chides her lover for not sufficiently fulfilling the expectations of 
the role. The young ^a/^« answers in his poetic defense that his heart has been 
mortally wounded by her unceasing disfavor. 

Keeping in mind the playful nature of the activity, it is not surprising to 
find courtiers actively seeking to pique the curiosity of the ladies. Pedro de 
Cartagena, for example, writes a poem "porque le dixeron vnas damas que por 
que dezia el y otros compaiieros suyos que estauan tristes, qu'en su vestir pub- 

^' What Stevens says of the hterature of the early Tudor court apphes to the late Tras- 
tamaran court as well: " 'Literature' in this period presents us with stylized talk, idealized 
talk" (1961, 160); "one cannot but be impressed by the closeness of literary to spoken 
forms" (1961, 161). 


licauan el contrario, porque yuan vestidos de grana" (ID0668, llCG-159, fol. 
88r). Well aware that scarlet garb symbolizes alegria, Cartagena has a ready (and 
standard) response: "c'a las veces ell amor / haze muestras d'alegria / con 
qu'encubre su dolor" (SSr)?^ Similarly, a young galan dressed in black fairly 
invited inquiries about the person for whom he mourns. ^-^ Costana accounts 
for his dress in the following poem, contrasting his lady's playfulness with his 
own professed sincerity: 

Vuestra merced me mando 
con vn officio fengido 
que dixesse por quien yo 
andaua tal qual me vio 
de xerga negra vestido. 
Mostrando con gran desden 
encobrir que sabeys cierto 
que soys mi mal y mi bien, 
ni menos saber por quien 
hago las onrras de muerto. 

(ID6109, llCG-135, fol. Sir) 

It is, of course, for himself that he mourns, as Guevara, in a similar poem, 
would explain: 

Que maguer me muestro biuo, 
en la verdad y razon 
ya muerto soy, 
pues con yra y mal esquiuo 
aueys muerto el gualardon 
tras quien voy. 
Que no teniendo esperan^a 
se cuenta muerto el que biue 
su [= sin?] dul^or, 
pues a mi con tal andan^a 
no mandeys que se me oluide 
mi dolor. 

(ID0869, llCG-219, fol. 104v) 

^ For a different perspective on this poem, see E. Michael Gerli's discussion in the 
present volume. 

-^ This was a favorite theme of Alonso de Cardona (ID6669, llCG-896, fol. 193r and 
ID6675. llCG-903, fol. 193v). See Boase (1977, 40). for a brief discussion of the fashion of 
wearing black among Alvaro de Luna and his contemporaries at the court of Juan II. 
Whinnom reminds us that in heraldry black symbolizes "la fidelidad y la lealtad" (1981, 53). 
In his Tratado de las annas Diego de Valera sutes that black stands for "la firmeza e honesud" 
(1959. 138). 


Guevara is not truly without hope, of course, and he even goes so far as to 
make the following suggestion to his lady: 

Mas si desto que buscastes 
vernie tal os dio pesar, 
perde crueza, 

que vos la que me matastes 
me podeys ressucitar 
de mi tristeza. (fol. 104v) 

Poems such as these may or may not be based on real exchanges of playful 
banter at court. The rendering of the lover's response in poetic form clearly 
fictionalizes the encounter, whether or not some semblance of it really took 
place. Although these poems are formally addressed to the lady, the intended 
audience is the entire court, which judges the ingenuity of the poet's response 
in terms of playing the game. From a social point of view, one of the main 
goals of this type of poetry may have been to illustrate how the social game 
should ideally be played: the ladies are both ^radosas and cuerdas, and the lovers 
are equally witty in their (presumably) vain attempts to seduce them into play- 
ing the game on their terms. 

The poet Puertocarrero creates a lengthy poetic dialogue between himself 
as a hapless ^fl/^n and a clever lady (ID0738, llCG-794, fols. 160v-63v). After 
some brief banter during a chance encounter in the street, she decides to invite 
him to come pay her a visit. She asks a companion (who is, according to the 
rubric, "tanbien tercera d'el") to send for him and tells her to hide and listen 
in on their conversation "si aueys gana de reyr" (fol. 161r): 

Ora le vereys venirse 
passeando y requebrarse; 
velle eys sin pena quexarse 
y con quexas despedirse. 

Velle eys mil vezes partirse 
sin que parta; 

Velle eys que nunca se aparta 
de la muerte sin morirse; 
vereys que no es de sufrirse. (fol. 161r) 

The unsuspecting galdn, however, plays his role in an orthodox fashion, using 
all the rhetoric of courtly love at his command, while the lady consistently 
calls its tenets and his sincerity into question: 

Nunca mas passion ni pena 

tenga yo 

que la que mi vista os dio, 

que yo la teme por buena. (fol. 161v) 

The conversation becomes a battle of wits: she willfully trying to exasperate 
him with common sense and he just as determined to play the lover to the 


end. Finally, having tired of the game, she cuts him short. To his plea that she 
not withhold at least some shred of hope, she responds: 

Ni la pedis, ni la niego, 
ni OS la do, ni la tomays, 
ni so yo la que buscays, 
aunque os he tenido juego. 
Assi que a las penas tristes 
y al engano, 

y a quien quexa vuestro daiio, 
y a quantas quexas me distes, 
ningun derecho touistes. 

Que si confessays verdad, 
no aura culpa ni dano, 
ni vos receleys engafio, 
ni vuestra liberalidad. 
A quitar ociosidad 
OS entrastes. 

Pues passatiempo buscastes, 
no finjays necessidad, 
qu'es tocar en liuiandad. 

Pero dexemos nos d'esto. 
^Vuestra muger esta buena? (fol. 163r) 

In this poem the interlocutors sustain a level of wit that real players of the 
social game could never hope to achieve in actual courtly conversation. It is 
for that very reason that the piece is so entertaining. It was also instructive to 
the younger members of the court, as it served as a reminder not to take the 
game too seriously or it would lose all its gaiety. 

It is important to keep in mind that in the context of the poetry all the 
personages are fictional entities, creations of the poet, including, and indeed 
especially, the "poetic I." Cancionero poetry dealing with courtly love tends to 
fall into two categories: (1) that which may properly be called "courtly love 
poetry," in which the poetic voice is that of the impassioned lover suffering 
the pangs of unrequited love, and (2) poetry in which the poetic voice is that 
of a courtier who is clearly a player in the social game of courtly love. In the 
first category, the poet creates his poetry to actively play the role of the ideal 
lover striving to gain his lady's favor. In the second category, he uses the 
poetry to comment on the social fiction. In this second category, the poet is 
at liberty to step out of the role of the ideal courtly lover to adopt other less 
well defined roles such as the disillusioned lover, the misogynist, or the jaded 
courtier. These deviant roles are not meant to reveal the "ugly truth" about 
courtly love but are, quite to the contrary, essentially festive in nature. Their 
existence served to spur the defense of the "orthodox" roles of the long-suf- 
fering noble lover and the perfect, unattainable lady, injecting new vigor into 
what would otherwise have become tired old formulas that ceased to amuse. 


In poetic debates, preguntas and respuestas, and the like, the courtiers examined 
the nuances of the concept of courtly love and its practice at court for the 
entertainment of all. 

These two categories of poetry are not ironclad, for a favorite ploy is for 
the poet to admit in a poem of the first type not to have believed, or to have 
ceased to believe, in love before laying eyes on the one who has stolen his 
heart. Juan de Mena confesses to having merely played along with the game 
for convenience in the past: 

De beuir sin dessear 
quantas vezes he memoria. 
Mi dolor es mayor gloria 
que la vida sin amar. 

Quando biuo sin pensar 
enfingendo d'amador, 
^que faria con fauor 
de la que amo sin par? 

(ID0335, llCG-59, fol. 30v) 

The existence of the social fiction as essentially a game is implicitly recognized, 
and yet the poet afFirms his own experience to be real. In this way Mena can 
play the game (by implying, at least, a current love interest) and still comment 
on the game and the way it is played. 

In examining a particular poem, in addition to establishing the nature of the 
poetic voice, one must consider for whom the poem is intended. The audi- 
ence of a poem dealing with courtly love must also be considered on various 
levels. In a classic courtly love poem, the poet addresses himself to an un- 
named lady, but, as we have seen, the private nature of the communication is 
a fiction, for indirectly the poet also addresses the entire court as his audience. 
This may be either from within the fiction in terms of their implicit roles as 
courtly lovers and their ladies or from without, as his fellow courtiers who are 
consciously playing these roles. When the lover confides his secret yearning to 
his lady in a poem, he speaks exclusively to her on one level and on another 
to the entire court, which listens in on this supposedly secret communication. 
Likewise, when the poet ostensibly addresses a confidant and tells him of his 
passionate love for a lady who refuses to believe the purity of his motives and 
the depth of his suffering, he may on another level be understood to be send- 
ing a message to his anonymous lady (who theoretically may be present among 
the courtiers listening to the poem as it is performed). Or of course, she may 
not exist at all. The fun is in the conjecture. The poet's complaints to Love or 
Fortune, the internal dialogues he creates within his fragmented self and the 
like are also quite obviously meant to be "overheard" by the courtly audience. 

Just as the poetic voice is not that of the poet speaking for himself as a man 
but rather that of the persona he wishes to portray, so the poet manipulates the 
image he presents of his lady. When he pictures her as perfection itself, he 


augments his own prestige as a lover equal to such a lady.^'* When he empha- 
sizes his monumental suffering, he often bewails her as indifferent or even 
cruel, the obvious strategy in terms of the game being to make the lady feel 
guilty for the suffering she has inflicted on him. The audience would under- 
stand the motives behind the lover's rhetoric not only in terms of the poetic 
description of his plight but as fellow players in the game, in terms of the per- 
suasion of the lady to take pity on him and yield to his suit. Rather than call 
her cruel to her face, the poet may address his poem to the general audience, 
which knows full well that his unnamed lady is likely to be in their midst: 

Yo como alcango lo digo, 
y en esta razon me fundo, 
qu'es la por quien me fatigo 
la mas hermosa del mundo. 

Es tal, que no tiene ygual 
su saber y discrecion; 
es tal, que fuera razon 

no nascer muger mortal. 
Y esta por quien digo yo, 
no tiene sino vna cosa, 
que quando Dios la crio, 
no la hizo piadosa. 

(ID6265, llCG-377, fols. 127v-28r) 

The lover/poet may, on occasion, dare to inform the lady of this single defect, 
as a sign of his despair: 

Hermosura tan hermosa 
que destruye todas las hermosas 
y enbara^a las discretas, 
si fuessedes amorosa, 
terniades todas las cosas 
mas altas y mas perfetas. 
Mas con vuestro desamor, 
quanto gana la belleza 
la crueza desconcierta. 
Yo lo se por mi dolor. 

^^ Maria Eugenia Lacarra explains the poets' use of the perfect lady as an "abstract 
construct" from a feminist point of view: "Only in that way could their poetry project male 
desires of perfection on the female beloved, and stiU preserve intact their mascuHne preroga- 
tive of superiority over women. Since masculine ideology defined women as naturally 
inferior to men, it was necessary that the beloved, the LMdy, be an exceptional woman in the 
literal sense of the word, that is to say, an exception to the rule. Only by being a unique 
specimen could a female be considered worthy of the love of a man" (1988, 19). 


que de Uoros y tristeza 
ya tengo la vida muerta. 

(Tapia; ID6596, llCG-827, fol. 174v) 

Occasionally, however, the poet may choose to subvert the game by taking 
a radically unorthodox stance. Juan Alvarez Gato, obviously eager for the op- 
portunity to use his glib tongue to defend his posture, makes bold to tell the 
ladies of the court: 

Las que os han mucho loado, 
nobles damas, hast'agora, 
dexa, dexa lo prestado, 
que sabe que con pecado 
se hurto desta senora. 
Tanbien las que yo serui 
n'os quexeys porque os desdeiio, 
que si con ficion menti, 
virtud es grande de mi 
tornar lo suyo a su dueno. 

Quexen las que quexaran, 
riiian y tengan baraja, 
que los ciegos lo veran 
como vos soys la ventaja. 
Y si alguna se atreuire [sic] 
en contra de lo hablado, 
sefiora, perded cuydado, 
mientra qu'el Gato biuiere. 

(ID3105, llCG-240, fol. llOv) 

He first insults the ladies of the court by demanding that they concede that his 
lady is the rightful owner of all the praise they have received in the past and 
then blatantly admits that his own past praise of them was a lie that must now 
be rectified. Knowing that this would be sure to cause a scandal, he gallantly 
tells his lady that she need not fear that others may be displeased with this 
statement as long as "el Gato" is alive to defend her.^^ 

^^ In light of this, one wonders if Pedro Torrellas, who seems to enjoy being at the 
center of controversy with the antifeminist stance he takes in poems such as the infamous 
"Coplas de maldezir de las mugeres" (ID0043) found in some fifteen different cancioneros, 
might not be deliberately trying to provoke similar reactions with a poem that begins: 
"Cessen ya de ser loadas, / si a osadas, / todas las donas presentes. / Oluidense las passadas, 
/ sin pensar en las vinientes. / A vos, mis nueuos amores, / se den los grandes renombres / 
y quiten los amadores / a sus amigas los nombres / de mejores, / que vos venida en el 
mundo, / fazeys su nombre segundo / en loores" (ID2232, llCG-173, fol. 94r). The indis- 
creet mention of his lady as "mis nueuos amores" would also seem to indicate a noncon- 


Even more shocking is the poet who presents himself as the sincere player 
and the lady as the one who brings into the courtly love situation unwanted 
elements from the real world. By manipulating her role in this way, he may 
create the illusion of being her moral superior. Peralvarez de Ayllon writes a 
poem "a vna muger que se le encarescio y despues vinolo a otorgar por vn du- 
cado, y el, antes de la tocar, embiole estas coplas": 

Con mi crescido cuydado 
he sabido de vos cierto 
c'os vence mas vn ducado 
qu'el mas lindo requebrado 
que anda por seruiros muerto. 
Y pues no valen sospiros, 
quiero, seiiora, deziros 
que abrays publica la tienda, 
porque no yerre la senda 
el que viniere a seruiros. 

Yo's pensaua d'agradar 
y andaua al reues la rueda. 
Yo's seruia con sospirar, 
con miisicas y trobar. 
Vos queriedeslo en moneda. 
Y pues que distes sefial, 
perdona si hablo mal, 
que yo cierto he sospechado 
c'aunque demandays ducado 
no desechays el real. 

Y siendo vos de tal trato, 
quanto me congoxo y mato, 
tanto es mayor menosprecio, 
y pues la cosa anda en precio, 
yo's espero a mas barato. 

(ID4120, llCG-1004, fol. 229r) 

Although the poet presents himself as the sincere player of the game, his 
representation of the lady breaks all the rules.^'' The utter unorthodoxy of the 

ventional approach that invites a response. Interestingly, the earlier Cancionero de Herberay has 
the more orthodox "mis tristes amores" (LB2-90, fol. 98v). 

-^' It is telling that in the rubric Castillo refers to the lady as "vna muger," not dignifying 
her with the designation of dama or senora. Within the poem the latter term is used ironical- 
ly, for though she may be a noblewoman, she is certainly no lady. 


poet's strategy is, of course, appreciated as such by the audience, and the poet 
is unhkely to be reprimanded poetically for what is obviously a joke. 

The foregoing poem is not an aberration, for presentations of a degraded 
version of the game essentially serve as a commentary on it. Hernando del 
Castillo tends (as above) to segregate such poems in the Obras de burlas section 
of his Cancionero general (fols. 219r-34r), but among the general works he 
includes a "Cancion que hizo vn gentil ombre a una dama que le prometio si 
la hallasse virgen de casarse con ella, y el, despues de auerla a su plazer, ge lo 
nego, segun muestra la cancion" (ID6253, llCG-360, fol. 126v). He explains 
that he would surely have complied had he not discovered that another had 
already merited the honor: 

Yo soy vuestro prisionero 
por la fe de grande amor, 
y otro es mas vuestro debdor 
que gozo de lo primero. 
El qual, pues, dama, Ueuo 
lo mas de lo que nos distes, 
haga lo que me pedistes, 
c'asi lo hiziera yo, 
ganando lo qu'el gano. (fol. 127r) 

While his complete lack of discretion in referring to this matter already marks 
him as most uncourtly, the poet uses the typical language of courtly love to 
imply that although under the circumstances he is not bound to the agree- 
ment, he gallantly remains her devoted courtly lover ("vuestro prisione- 
ro").^^ The men might have snickered at the gullibility of the lady and ad- 
mired the cavalier tone of the poet, but the poem may also have served as a 
cautionary tale for the inexperienced younger ladies of the court. It is immedi- 
ately followed by a poem in which the lady in question ruefully repUes that as 

^' The prospect of marriage is not part of the game of courtly love. A poem written by 
Juan Alvarez Gato "porque le dixo vna senora que siruie que se casase con ella" is often 
alluded to in this regard: "Deziz: 'casemos los dos, / porque d'este mal no muera.' / Senora, 
no plega a Dios, / syendo mi senora vos, / c'os haga mi compaiiera. / Que pues amor 
verdadero / no quiere premia ni fuer^a / avnque me vere que muero / nunca la querre ni 
quiero / que por mi parte se tuer^a. / Amamos amos a dos / con vna fe muy entera, / 
queramos esto los dos, / mas no que le plega a Dios, / siendo mi senora vos, / c'os haga mi 
compaiiera" (ID3094, MH2-27, fol. 12v; Dutton 1990-91, 1:549). This poem is often de- 
scribed in terms such as "Expresiva testificacion del caracter antimatrimonial de la experiencia 
cortes" (ed. Aguirre 1971, 161 n.). It is my contention that the game was not antimarriage 
but merely not concerned with marriage. The leading rubric suggests the possibility that the 
lady's proposition and the response of the lover comprise an idealized representation of a 
witty verbal exchange at court, the lady challenging the sincerity of the lover's claim to be 
dying of the mal de amores by offering him a solution not possible within the framework of 
the game. 


a result of his lie, he is responsible for the "cien mil muertes que muero / por 
lleuar vos lo mejor" and that "beuiran mis dias tristes, / pues vuestro querer 
falto / a quanto me prometio" (ID6254, 1 ICG— 361, fol. 127r). The entire 
episode is doubtless a fiction. The lady's respuesta, typically echoing the rhyme 
scheme of the original, was in all probability written by a male poet in re- 
sponse to the scandalous stance taken by the first. Indeed, there is no reason to 
rule out the possibility that they were one in the same person. 

A more subtle poet is Guevara, who creates delicious comic irony in the 
following esparsa: 

jQue noche tan mal dormida, 
que sueiio tan desuelado, 
que dama vos tan polida, 
que ombre yo tan penado! 

jQue gesto el vuestro de Dios, 
que mal el mio con vicio, 
que ley que tengo con vos, 
que fe con vuestro seruicio! 

(ID6168, llCG-220, fol. 105r) 

This appears to be quite standard fare until one notes that the rubric reads: 
"Esparsa a ssu amiga, estando con ella en la cama." As the De amore of Andreas 
Capellanus was known in Spain at this time, this may be an allusion to the 
extreme case of amor purus which "goes as far as kissing on the mouth, embrac- 
ing with the arms, and chaste contact with the unclothed lover, but the final 
consolation is avoided, for this practice is not permitted for those who wish to 
love chastely" (Andreas Capellanus 1982, 181). Be this the case or not, it is 
certain that in the courtly circles of fifteenth-century Spain no one would 
doubt that under those conditions the "final consolation" would indeed be at- 
tained. It is more likely, since the dama of the poem is described in the rubric 
as the poet's amiga, that we are dealing with a playful contraposition of the 
courtly love of theory and its practice at court, as the rubric gives the lie to 
what the words themselves say about the suffering of the poet.^^ 

In assessing a given poem, the importance of audience expectations cannot 
be overestimated. The poet knows exactly what the audience expects of him 
if he is to play the game according to the rules, but he also knows that it 

^ Keith Whinnom interprets the poem differently. In light of the su^estive rubric to 
this seemingly ideahstic poem, he detects sexual overtones in the references to "vicio" and 
"vuestro seruicio." Recalling that the most certain remedio for the tnal de amores suggested in 
the medical manuals was to have sex with the desired woman, he interprets: "Ha pasado b 
noche desvelado — ya nos figuramos como — ^y, a pesar de lo que dicen en los tratados 
medicos, ha quedado mas enamorado que nunca. . . . Aun con el 'vicio,' o sea, a pesar del 
supremo extasis del placer, su mal, su enfermedad, o sea, su amor sigue tan fiierte que resiste 
hasta al consagrado remedio de los teoricos" (1981, 32). 


thrives on jokes and intrigue. The type of poem he creates depends on how he 
wishes to affect his audience. The courtly audience rehshed this poetry because 
its very rules and conventions invited innovative poets to dare to break them 
in creative ways, to have fun with them. Thus, alongside serious poems that 
reflect the fiction of orthodox courtly love as reality, we find playful intima- 
tions that both the poet and his audience are conscious players of a social 
game, laughing at each other and at the game itself. 

In the preceding pages I hope to have shown that a just evaluation of the 
amatory poetry of the cancioneros cannot take place without considering the 
social context in which and for which it was produced. Because the social 
goals of the poet were often as important as (if not more important than) 
strictly literary ones, it should not be surprising that much of the amatory po- 
etry was preserved in the cancioneros not because of any intrinsic literary merit 
but because a prestigious name lent honor to the art and the practice of the art 
lent honor to a particular name. That a great deal of cancionero poetry seems 
derivative and uninspired is the result of those who composed vene merely to 
remain in the mainstream of court activities. These poets, however, form part 
of the game and cannot be dismissed from attention. As Keith Whinnom as- 
tutely observes, "Los versos malos nos pueden enseiiar tanto como los buenos" 
(1981, 14—15). The complexity and ambiguity o( cancionero poetry, while frus- 
trating to the modern reader unfamiliar with it, was the key to its longevity as 
a style. Amatory poetry not only allowed the poets to enhance the role they 
played in the social fiction at court, it also provided an ideal medium for play- 
ing with the concepts of the social fiction. The more daring poets made use of 
the same stock of commonplaces to achieve goals different from the ones 
sought by the merely social players. While the game could certainly be played 
"straight," skilled and playful poets were occasionally wont to subvert the role 
of the impassioned noble lover in sometimes subtly, sometimes outrageously, 
unorthodox fashions. This sort of mock threat is what kept the game fresh and 
interesting. The spirit and wit in many of these poems is readily discernible to 
anyone familiar enough with the social context of the palacio to understand 
that the poet could both play the social game and comment on it through the 
conscious manipulation of roles as a poetic strategy. ^'^ 

Vanderbih University 

^'' This study is drawn from a forthcoming book titled Cancionero Poets at Play: Love 
Poetry in Late Medieval Spain. 

IV: Questions of Language 

Bilingualism in the Cancioneros 
and Its Implications 


1. Bilingual Poetic Courts 

Throughout the Middle Ages there are examples of poetic courts — courts in 
which a monarch or a great noble is an active patron of poets (and often of 
musicians, prose writers, and artists) — where the poetry is in two or more 
languages. There are several causes of such bilingualism. The monarch and the 
higher aristocracy may speak a different language from the rest of the popula- 
tion; this may mean that the language of court culture is not that of the 
country, as was the case with the court of the French-speaking Hainault 
princes of Holland in the first half of the fourteenth century (Oostrom 1992, 
10-12; 1994, 32; see also Prevenier 1994), but it may generate an authentically 
bilingual or multilingual culture, especially if the language of the country has 
higher cultural prestige than that of the rulers.' This is the case with the fif- 
teenth-century Aragonese court at Naples, where the poets of Alfons V, el 
Magnanim, wrote not only in Catalan and Castilian but also in Italian and 
Latin (M. de Riquer 1960; Black 1983; M. Alvar 1984; Rovira 1990; Maguire 
1991; Turro 1992a; cf Atlas 1985). Other causes of a bilingual poetic court 
may be a genuinely bilingual kingdom (in the fifteenth century the Crown of 
Aragon not merely had a bilingual court but was, as a whole, a bilingual 
country), the marriage of the sovereign to a foreign consort (for instance, one 
Castilian king was married to an English princess and another to a Norwegian 
princess, and several had French wives; one Castilian princess and one Arago- 

' It is noteworthy that when Bavarian princes replaced the Hainault rulers in 1358, a 
bilingual poetic court soon developed, a Germanic koine ("in the late-fourteenth-century 
Hague court, the Dutch and Bavarian languages were fused into a practicable linguistic 
compromise," Oostrom 1992, 11) coexisting with the already well established and culturaUy 
prestigious French. 


nese married English kings), or the proximity of a country whose language had 
higher prestige (in central and western Europe the prestige of Latin was likely 
to sustain some element of bilingualism for several centuries after the emer- 
gence of cultured vernacular poetry) . 

The use of Hebrew as well as Arabic in the courts of Al-Andalus is well 
known; indeed, those courts became the home of the most brilliant Hebrew 
culture of medieval Europe, though Jewish poets faced problems when writing 
in and for a Muslim (or a Christian) court, as Ross Brann shows (1991). In the 
second half of the twelfth century, the courts of Henry II of England and 
Eleanor of Aquitaine can, in the light of recent research, be seen to have been 
visited, for longer or shorter periods, by many of the greatest poets of the 
time: Peter of Blois and Walter of Chatillon in Latin; Bernart de Ventadorn in 
Provencal; Marie de France, Benoit de Sainte-Maure, and Chretien de Troyes 
in French (for other names, see Dronke 1976).^ Frederick II, Holy Roman 
Emperor 1215-1250, was also king of Sicily, and so a German and Italian 
poetic court was to be expected, but it did not stop there: Peter Dronke (in 
press) has shown that Latin, Greek, and Provencal were used just as often by 
the court poets and that there was also some use of French and Hebrew. At 
the court of Alfonso el Sabio, a generation later, the diversity was almost as 
great: the dominant poetic language was Galician-Portuguese, in which the 
king composed at least some of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, but he was host 
and patron to many Provencal troubadours (Bertolucci Pizzorusso 1966 and 
1967, C. Alvar 1977) and to some Hebrew ones; Latin was used at least for the 
composition of hymns; and it may well be that Arabic and Castilian were also 
active poetic languages at the court (though there is no evidence that Castilian 
was used for lyrics). Such diversity raises problems, of course: when Todros 
Abulafia presented his Hebrew poems to Alfonso, was the manuscript merely 
admired for its visual beauty, or did the poet improvise translations of some of 
his work? (See Doron 1989, Brann 1991.) It would be hard to imagine anyone 
with the versatility needed to appreciate poetry across the full linguistic range, 
but there is evidence that poetry in one language may have influenced another 
and not just in the simple case of Provencal and Galician-Portuguese: Todros 
Abulafia may have been affected by the Provencal poets with whom he came 
into contact (Boreland 1976-77). 

The tradition of bilingual poetic courts continued in the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries, as we have already seen. The English courts of the period 
were a home of French as well as English poetry (see Robbins 1976; Doyle 
1983, 163; Wilkins 1983). In the fourteenth century, for example, the court 
of Edward III was of this kind, Jean Froissart being one of the French authors 

^ In the third quarter of the century, Eleanor and Henry traveled back and forth across 
the Channel with some frequency (Labande 1952, H. G. Richardson 1959). Thus these bi- 
lingual monarchs presided over bilingual or multilingual courts that moved from one lan- 
guage area to another. 


who spent time there (Wimsatt 1991), and that of Richard II followed a 
similar pattern (Mathew 1968). The ducal court of Brabant had a French and 
German poetic culture (see Willaert 1990), especially under Henri III. In the 
1380s and 1390s, the court of Joan I of Aragon and his French queen Violant 
de Bar was the home of poetry not only in Catalan that consciously continued 
the Provencal tradition (Boase 1978) but also in French and occasionally Latin: 
the Chansonnier de Chantilly, long thought to have been compiled in Italy, now 
seems to have been made for Joan (Scully 1990). I doubt whether Castilian 
was used by his court poets: these were the early years represented in the Can- 
cionero de Baena, when Castilian had not yet clearly asserted itself over Galician; 
perhaps, however, even the remote possibility that Joan I's poets used Castilian 
and/or Galician should be investigated. From the thirteenth century to the 
mid-fifteenth, the courts of both northern and southern Italy were frequently 
bilingual, and in the earlier part of that period Provencal, as well as Italian and 
French, was spoken there, in addition to some literary use of Latin. Thus 
Adam de la Halle wrote some of his poetry at the court of Naples, and many 
Italians wrote in French (Fallows 1989, 429). In the fifteenth century, French 
lyric was still familiar at the English court (Armstrong 1979, BofFey 1988), and 
French was still vigorous as a court language in northern Italy until about 1440 
(Fallows 1989). In the 1420s Queen Margarida de Prades maintained a court 
within a court in Barcelona, where Catalan and Castilian poets met (Jordi de 
Sant Jordi and the Marques de Santillana are the most famous). In 1416, in 
Perpignan, Margarida met the Tirolean poet Oswald von Wolkenstein (see n. 
32, below), who wrote in her honor an autobiographical poem in which he 
boasted of his linguistic and musical knowledge: 

Franzoisch, morisch, katlonisch und kastilian, teutsch, latein, windisch, 
lampertisch, reuschisch und roman, die zehen sprach hab ich gebraucht, 
wenn mir zerran. (M. de Riquer and Badia 1984, 325) 

The list of examples could easily be prolonged. 

Although I am chiefly concerned in this paper with central and western 
Europe, biHngual poetic courts are by no means confined to this area; the 
factors already mentioned could operate anywhere. The Islamic conquest of 
Persia displaced the ancient Iranian court literature for a couple of centuries, 
but poetry in Persian began to reassert itself at court around 900, though now 
with Arabic verse forms predominant, and coexisted for some time with poetry 
in Arabic (Danner 1975; Meisami 1987, chap. 1). Japanese court poetry flour- 
ished fi-om the mid-sixth century A.D. but was to some extent under the shad- 
ow of the much older Chinese court lyric: "China gave court poets their 
classical heritage" (Miner 1968, 144). From the seventh century onwards, the 
prestige of Chinese affected all aspects of court life in Japan, and in the early 
ninth century, Japanese was largely replaced by Chinese as the language of cul- 
ture, Chinese models being followed even by those writing in Japanese.^ 

^ There is one important and long-lasting exception. Women continued to write poems 


Bilingual courts were a natural setting for the compilation of bilingual can- 
cioneros (though we should not lose sight of the fact that, even in such a con- 
text, monolingual collections were likely to be the norm). It may be relevant 
that linguistic skill was one of the qualities expected at court, whether of the 
courtier in Germany in the eleventh and twelfth centuries (Jaeger 1985) or of 
the poet in Castile in the early fifteenth century (as Juan Alfonso de Baena 
says, in the prologue to his Cancionero, it is important that the poet "aya visto 
e oydo e leydo muchos e diverssos libros e escripturas e sepa de todos len- 
guajes"; see Weiss 1990, 51—53).'* It is to these cancioneros that we should now 
direct our attention. 

2. Cancioneros: A Working Definition 

Poetic anthologies, and not only in Western European languages, seem to be 
ubiquitous in the Middle Ages where there are courts with cultural tastes. The 
Arabic courts of Al-Andalus are famous for their diwans (see, for example, 
Bellamy and Steiner 1989).^ This is as true in Asia as in Europe: much medi- 
eval Sanskrit and Japanese poetry comes down to us in anthologies that had 
already attained classic status in their own times (Brough 1968, 14—19, Miner 
1968) and that may have continued to be copied and embellished for centuries 
(e.g., Pekarik 1991). Such anthologies are not a medieval invention: the 
Anthologia latina, which survives in the sixth to seventh-century Codex Salma- 
sianus, was compiled in North Africa in the early sixth century and combines 
poems of late classical Rome with the Latin poetry of Vandal-occupied North 
Africa. It may have served as a model for such early collections of medieval 
Latin lyric as the eleventh-century Cambridge Songs, and it may in its turn be 
modeled on one or more of the many Greek anthologies that were compiled 

in Japanese, and these often drew on a native popular tradition (Pekarik 1991, 14-16). 
Stephen Reckert observes that "the early Classical period in Japan (9th-llth c.) was the only 
'Golden Age' of any world literature in which women writers played the leading role" 
(1993, 100 n. 34). Earl Miner says that "the Japanese . . . never took over Chinese as a 
poetic language" (1968, 145), but he must, I think, have meant that they did not wholly or 
permanendy adopt it to the exclusion of Japanese. 

^ The same quality is singled out by Baena in the rubric to one of Francisco Imperial's 
poems (one that contains a Castilian/French dialogue between a man and a woman): "La 
qual era muy fermossa muger; era muy ssabia e bien rrazonada e sabia de todos lenguajes" 
(Nepaulsingh 1977, 51). For other aspects of the language problem in the Middle Ages, see 
Chaytor 1945, chap. 3; Schulze-Busacker 1987-88; and Paterson 1993. It is interesting to 
compare these medieval views of linguistic versatility with the reflections of Stephen Reckert 
(1993, 1-15). 

^ Kitab rayat al-mubarrizm wa-ghayat al-mumayyazin (Tfie Banners of the Champions), 
translated by Bellamy and Steiner, was compiled in 1243, but the great century of Hispano- 
Arabic anthologies is the twelfth, with Ibn Bassam's Dhaklura ft mahasin ahl al-jazira {Treasure 
of Beauties of the People of the Peninsula) and Ibn Khaqan's Martnah al-anfus {Goal to whidi Souls 


from the fourth century B.C. onwards. (These are lost, but their contents are 
preserved in the vast Palatine Anthology of the tenth century, with its thousands 
of lyrics. There is — though over a much longer period — a curious parallel here 
to the puzzling disappearance of all the smaller cancioneros that served Hernando 
del Castillo and Garcia de Resende as sources.'') Even before the earliest 
Greek anthologies, there were small papyrus collections of ancient Egyptian 
love songs (De Rachewiltz 1957), and it may well be that the Song of Songs, 
one of the most powerful influences on medieval European lyric (see Dronke 
1979, Hunt 1981, Astell 1990, and Matter 1990), had its origins in such an 
anthology (see Landy 1983). 

For the purposes of this paper, I take cancionero to have a more restricted 
meaning than "manuscript or early printed book containing lyric poetry." The 
boundary is hard to draw, and this consideration, as well as practical utility for 
users of his work, led Dutton (1982) to include a fair number of manuscripts 
that fall outside the category oi^ cancioneros. He later (1990-91) cast his net still 
wider. I do not wish to criticize that decision; indeed, as a frequent user of his 
books I welcome it. However, in sections 3 and 4 of this paper I confine my- 
self to formally organized anthologies, whether manuscript or printed, contain- 
ing the work of several poets, since statements that are true of them may not 
be true of a manuscript containing just one poem.^ Major collections contain- 
ing the work of a single poet, especially if prepared by that poet, often have a 
great deal in common with multipoet anthologies in terms of organization and 
presentation, and interesting research is now in progress on the characteristics 
of such collections (e.g., Bertolucci Pizzorusso 1991, Beltran 1992). But such 
collections do not, at least in my limited experience of the subject, have great 
importance for a study of bilingualism — unless, of course, the poet is bilingual. 

Much important work is now being done on the characteristics oi cancioneros 
in the strict sense and in particular on their compilation: I am thinking in par- 
ticular of Tavani (1969c and 1979), Ferrari (1979), Livermore (1988), and 
Gon^alves (1991) on Galician-Portuguese; Bourgain (1991) on Latin; Roncag- 
lia (1991) on Provencal; Maguire (1991) on Castilian (Severin and Maguire 
1 992 describe work on strict cancioneros as well as on other kinds of miscella- 
ny); and Cerquiglini (1987) and Ferrari (1991) on a wider range of Romance; 
as well as the splendid book by Julia Boffey (1985, supplemented by Boffey 

^' Dr. David Fallows, in a letter of 29 January 1993, does not find this puzzling. The 
same is true, he finds, of the exemplars of almost every surviving poetry or music manuscript 
that he has studied. 

' Severin 1994 argues for a drastic reduction in the use of the term cancionero, and her 
reasons are in line with the experience of specialists in other areas: Dr. Julia Boffey says that 
"there are really very few . . . anthologies of just lyrics (as opposed to anthologies with some 
lyrics)" (letter of 2 February 1993), and Professor Peter Dronke tells me that of the manu- 
scripts that he lists (Dronke 1965-66), only some thirty to forty could be described as can- 
cioneros, the remainder being compilations of prose and/or of nonlyric verse, with some 
lyrics, or perhaps only one (telephone call, 22 March 1993). 


and Thompson 1989) on fifteenth-century Enghsh manuscripts, and the com- 
parable one on French by Sylvia Huot (1987), which offer a wealth of infor- 
mation on anthologies, though they are not confined to them. The prehistory 
of Provencal chansonniers is the subject of two studies that point in different 
directions (Van Vleck 1991 on compilation firom oral sources, and Meneghetti 
1991 on the role ofjlorilegia), and there are of course many studies (A. Blecua 
1974-79 is an excellent example) on the history of individual cancioneros. 
Studies of this kind are important for our understanding of the ways in which 
bilingual cancioneros were compiled. 

3. The Compilation or Copying o£ Cancioneros 
Outside Their Linguistic Area 

In one sense, all medieval Latin poetic manuscripts were compiled and read 
outside their linguistic area. In this section, however, I shall be concerned with 
vernacular cancioneros compiled in a region where another vernacular was the 
normal speech. Two of the major traditions of court lyric, the Provengal and 
the Galician-Portuguese, are for the most part preserved in anthologies copied, 
and in some cases compiled, in other lands. J. H. Marshall observes that "a 
good proportion of the [Provencal] chansonniers were copied in Italy. And, if 
w^e allow for a few collections made in French-speaking or in Catalan-speaking 
territory, we are left with a very small number of extant MSS copied within 
the linguistic area which had been that of the original poetry itself (1975, 5; 
see also Avalle D'Arco 1961 and Folena 1976). The compilation o( chansonniers 
in Italy is a witness to a culture in exile (many troubadours took refuge there 
after the Albigensian Crusade: Marshall 1975, 5-6), but the copying there, just 
before or just after 1500, of the Cancioneiro da Vaticana and the Cancioneiro 
Colocci-Brancuti /da Biblioteca Nacional cannot, despite the strong presence of 
Castilian and Catalan lyric in Italy in the preceding few generations, indicate 
a surviving Galician-Portuguese tradition there: we owe these cancioneiros to 
the antiquarian interest of Angelo Colocci (Ferrari 1979). 

The Chansonnier de Chantilly was, as we saw in section 1, above, compiled 
for Joan I of Aragon: Scully (1990) has established that the date was between 
1392 and 1396 and that the scribe was Catalan speaking. In this case, the 
reason for compilation outside the linguistic area of the contents (all but two 
of the songs are French) was neither a culture in exile nor an antiquarian in- 
terest; it was a trilingual poetic court. That five major French chansonniers were 
compiled in Italy (Scully 1990, 509-10) had seemed puzzling, but David 
Fallows has shown, on the evidence of musical sources, that French "remained 
a vital courtly language in many parts of northern Italy at least until 1450," 
nearly a century later than had been supposed (Fallows 1989, 441). He finds 
that "virtually all the surviving sources of French song from 1415 to 1440 
were copied in northern Italy" (1989, 434). 

4. Bilingual Cancioneros 

Some cancioneros are bilingual only in appearance: two monolingual manuscripts 


may be bound into the same volume, as in the case of PN11=BN Paris esp. 
305 (Severin and Maguire 1992, 55), and there are some cases (e.g., PN4: see 
Black 1985) in which a second hand has added poems in another language to 
a previously monolingual anthology. Cases in which modern rebinding has 
created a bihngual volume should obviously be excluded from consideration, 
but the case is not so clear if a medieval librarian — still more, a medieval pri- 
vate owner — has chosen to have two or more poetic manuscripts bound to- 
gether. The case for exclusion is even less strong if one or more hands have, 
over a period of time, created a bilingual cancionero by copying poems in one 
language into blank spaces of a manuscript that originally contained only 
poems in another language, since this may imply a bilingual readership, even 
if only a small one.^ Another kind of doubt is raised by the cancioneros that 
include only one or two short poems in a second language: for example, the 
two Latin songs among the 110 French ones of the Chansonnier de Chantilly, or 
the single Franco-Italian poem among the 84 Castilian ones of SAlOa (quite 
possibly a late addition, since it is no. 74 of the 75 poems in the cancionero)!^ 
The Cancionero de Vindel, on the other hand, is authentically bilingual, even 
though its 87 poems include only four in Catalan.'" It was copied by a Cata- 
lan scribe, and three of the four Catalan poems are by Mossen Avinyo, a bilin- 
gual Catalan poet who also has Castilian poems in this cancionero (see section 5, 

" Professor Vicente Beltran asks, with good reason, "^y si lo conservaramos en una copia 
posterior, quiza despues de una seleccion de su contenido, de una sola letra?" He continues: 
"Mi impresion personal es que no puede separarse de la tradicion bilingiie. Al fin y al cabo, 
en un momento determinado cayo en manos de algun usuario a quien no importaba que lo 
fuera, o quiza, incluso, lo preferia" (letter of February 1993). Dr. Jane Whetnall draws a dif- 
ferent conclusion: "Most [cancioneros] are copies, either of selected sources or of exemplars 
which have had bits added. Which means you may find that the 'alien' components belong 
to some discrete stage in the composition or copying. (And therefore that evidence of quota- 
tions is a better index of hnguistic competence in the audience, as at least they are integral?)" 
(letter of February 1993). For quotations in Iberian cancioneros, see Dias (1978) and Whetnall 
(1986, chaps. 2-3). 

'^ There are many cases in which bilingualism is so tenuous that to include the cancioneros 
in this category would be stretching the term absurdly: for example, a single line in a second 
language, in just one of a hundred poems, does not in my opinion make a cancionero bilin- 
gual. Dr. Jane Whetnall coinments, in a Castilian context, that "if you were to count quo- 
tations and other kinds of lyric insertions, glosses, etc., you would be hard put to name a 
cancionero that wasn't at least trilingual. Latin is everywhere, with odd signs of pretty well 
everything including Arabic, Hebrew, French, Provencal, and English" (letter of February 

'" Ramirez de Arellano's list of contents has 84 poems (1976, 16-23), whereas Dutton 
lists 87 (1990-91, 3:1-49) — the total of 85 for Castihan poems given by him in VII.662 is 
clearly an error — and 87 is also the number given by Faulhaber (1983, 1:578-83). The 
difference is to be explained by this cancionero's idiosyncratic division between poems, which 
was interpreted in one way by Ramirez de Arellano and in another, more satisfactory, way 
by Dutton and Faulhaber. 


below). The multilingual culture of the Aragonese court at Naples (see section 
1, above) left its mark on the family of cancioneros compiled there or deriving 
from it, not just in the doubtful case of PN4 (Castilian and Catalan), discussed 
above, but in the clear case of the Cancionero de Estuhiga, which contains 
Italian and part-Italian poems by Carvajal. 

The bilingualism of these cancioneros is less intense than one might expect, 
given the culture of the court: there is no cancionero combining Catalan, Cas- 
tilian, Italian, and Latin in roughly equal proportions, even though many at the 
court must have been able to read aU three languages. But such a disparity is 
far from uncommon: the notably multilingual poetic court of Alfonso el Sabio, 
for example, produced little by way of bilingual cancioneros and had few bilin- 
gual poets. A curious late reflection of the Neapolitan dimension of the Crown 
of Aragon is found in the second edition of the Cancionero general printed in 
1514 in, like the first edition, Valencia. Not only does it contain poems in 
Catalan among its overwhelmingly Castilian contents, but it includes eighteen 
Italian sonnets by Bartolomeo Gentile, who, as one of a Genoese family settled 
in Seville, must have been bilingual in everyday life but who seems to have 
written poetry only in Italian (Chalon 1988). 

There are no bilingual Galician-Portuguese cancioneiros. Is this because of a 
"tradizione povera, tradizione sterile" (Tavani 1969c, 89-96)? Or could it be 
that a poetic koine (in this case, a literary language that seems to correspond 
neither to the Galician nor to the Portuguese of the time) may reduce the 
chances of bilingualism? A fair comparison is with Provencal, "a poetry whose 
linguistic medium was an Occitan pruned of most narrowly dialectal features — 
a linguistic blend or koine so subtle that modern scholarship has never entirely 
succeeded in locaHsing it" (Marshall 1975, 6; for some qualifications, see 
Zufferey 1987, 312-13). Provencal and French poems are found with relative 
frequency in the same chansonniers, but other types of bilingualism are rare or 
nonexistent in the Provencal lyric tradition. Classical literary Arabic is also a 
koine, and the compilers of its diwans normally exclude poems, like those of 
Ibn Quzman, that use Vulgar Arabic or foreign phrases. We should therefore 
consider the possibility that the poetic courts of medieval Europe normally 
surpassed the boundaries of a single language or dialect, either by bihngualism 
or by a koine, but not usually by both (for an exception, see n. 1, above). Of 
course, such a koine may become one of the languages in a multilingual poetic 
court outside its primary area: the two chief poetic languages at the court of 
Alfonso X were Galician-Portuguese and Provencal. 

Authentically bilingual (or multilingual) cancioneros are numerous. Vindel has 
already been mentioned. A well-known example is the Carmina Burana (Die- 
mer and Diemer 1987): though none of its 131 love songs is wholly written in 
the vernacular, 48 combine Latin with German (usually by ending with one or 
more German stanzas, though a few songs combine the languages in other 
ways; for an example, see section 6, below), one has a French refrain, and one 
combines Latin and French Unes in each stanza; thus 38 percent of the love 


songs are bilingual.^' Other examples are the Venetian songbook, c. 1463 
(Bodleian Canonici misc. 213), that has, besides sacred music, 25 Italian and 
239 French songs in the same hand (Fallows 1989, 435), and, among fifteenth- 
century Iberian cancioneros, Resende's Cancioneiro geral, the musical Cancionero 
de la Catedral de Segovia, and a group ofcartfoners in Barcelona libraries (Jardinet 
de orats and others). The vast Cancioneiro geral of 1516 — with nearly 1,200 
poems, it surpasses its thousand-poem model, Hernando del Castillo's Cancio- 
nero general of 1511 — has 157 Castilian poems, 71 of them freestanding and the 
rest in some relation (pregunta/respuesta, glosa, etc.) to another poem, sometimes 
Castilian, sometimes Portuguese. It is not only the number of Castilian poems 
in this Portuguese volume that makes it so clearly bilingual (though the 
number alone would suffice): their authors are usually Portuguese, and, as we 
have already seen, Castilian poems are linked with Portuguese ones on many 
occasions, and the Portuguese ones quote Castilian poets even more often than 
they quote in their own language.'^ 

The Cancionero de Baena is bilingual, as Lang (1902), Lapesa (1953-54), V. 
Richardson (1981, 31-35), and Polin (1994) have shown, but in a different 
sense, since the Galician poems that it contains are mostly from its early years. 
The long time span that it represents is one of change in the dominant lan- 
guage of court lyric, as we can see from the work of Villasandino and other 
poets (it has traces of other languages also: e.g., a stanza in French, see Deyer- 
mond in press; a line in Arabic, see Krotkoff 1974). 

In the eastern part of the Peninsula the situation is more complex. From the 
end of the fifteenth century, Castilian begins to replace Catalan as the language 
of court lyric in the Crown of Aragon, but the many bilingual canfoners (whose 
Castilian poems are edited by Catedra 1983) are not necessarily a reflection of 
that change. The first cancioneros to include both Castilian and Catalan lyrics 
are predominantly Castilian, and the chief reason for their bilingualism is the 
prominence of Catalan in the Aragonese court at Naples. The earliest manu- 
script to show this mixture is, I think, the Cancionero de palacio in the late 
1430s, which contains eight Catalan lyrics, all anonymous (though the authors 
of a couple may be identifiable). In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth cen- 
turies, there is a change: it is chiefly the predominantly Catalan canfoners that 
have this mixture. Max Cahner (1980) attributes this development to political 
pressure from the Trastamaran rulers in favor of Castilian. Pedro Catedra dis- 
sents (1983, v-x), arguing that the causes are the growing prestige of the 
innovatory late-medieval Castilian lyric and the rise of a new class of reader: 

" See Wachinger 1985. By contrast, only a few of the 40 drinking songs have a German 
element, and all 55 moral and satirical poems in the collection are exclusively in Latin. 

'^ See Dias 1978. My figures for the Cancioneiro geral and for some other cancioneros are 
derived firom Dutton's "Indice de lenguas" (1990-91, 7:590-97), one of the many indexes 
that make the final volume of Dutton's masterpiece an indispensable research tool for anyone 
working on fifteenth-century Spanish poetry. 


"Puede sugerirse . . . que estos cancioneros nacen en el ambiente ciudadano de 
los nuevos lectores, a los que no alcanza el codice de lujo" (1983, x). More 
recently, the bilingual nature of the Crown of Aragon itself has seemed a more 
satisfactory explanation, especially since most of the Castilian poems in these 
can^oners are anonymous, so that it would be rash to assume that they are the 
work of Catalan poets and that the parallel with the Cancioneiro geral is there- 
fore close. '^ From the end of the fifteenth century, it is indeed true that the 
use of Castilian by Catalan poets becomes more firequent, but Catalan poetry 
continues to be written >vell into the sixteenth century, and as late as 1562 a 
bilingual cancionero is printed: the Cancionero llamado Flor de enamorados, sacado 
de diversos autores agora nuevamente por muy linda orden copilado (Rodriguez- 
Mofiino and Devoto 1954; Romeu Figueras 1972). One of the cangoners 
studied by Catedra, the Cangoner del Ateneu Barcelones, has an Arabic estribillo 
and Castilian glosa: 

Di ley vi namxi, 
ay, mesqui, 
nafHa calbi. 

Quando vos veo, senyora, 
por la mi puerta pessar, 
lo corafon se me alegra; 
d'amores quiero finar. 
Quando vos veo, senyora, 
por la mi puerta venir, 
lo corafon se me alegra; 
d'amores quiero morir.''* 

The Canfoner del Ateneu also, presumably as a result of the Aragonese domina- 
tion of Naples, contains two Italian popular songs, the first Neapolitan and the 
second Sicilian (Aramon i Serra 1947-48). Another canfoner (ZAl; Baselga 
1896) has 187 Catalan poems and six Castilian, two of them with Latin words 
or lines; it includes 20 Catalan and three Castilian poems by Pere Torroella 
(Masso Torrents 1932, 20). One piece of special interest is a Catalan poem by 
Torroella that quotes Catalan, French, Provencal, and CastiHan poets (eight of 
the last: Dutton 1990-91, 4:376-77). 

'•* Dr. Lluis Cabre writes: "La Corona d'Arago era bilingiie, mes encara si es recorden les 
relacions amb Navarra durant bona part del segle XV. Abans d'especular amb fatalismes caldria 
posar en solfa: Uocs de composicio dels can^oners i dates, procedencia dels bilingiies, 
adscripcions a corts, etc. ... la llengua tapa la realitat cultural: la poesia navarresa i aragonesa 
pot estar escrita en castella pero pertany a la societat de la Corona d'Arago tambe (i te 
tendencies propies)" (letter of February 1993). 

'^ Catedra (1983, 43, 88), and Sola-Sole (1972). It was not at first apparent that the 
estribillo was in Arabic. Aramon i Serra referred to it merely as "tres dificils versos solts" 
(1947-48, 159 n. 2). Aramon i Serra (1961) edits and studies two Castilian and Latin poems, 
and two Catalan and Latin ones firom Catalan cattfoners. 


There are Castilian cancioneros that contain Portuguese poems, though not, 
with one exception, on the scale of the CastiUan representation in the Cancio- 
neiro geral. The exception is the Cancionero musical de Elvas, compiled circa 
1520, which has 17 Portuguese songs and 48 Castilian ones. Dutton's "Indice 
de lenguas" shows five other cancioneros with between one and five Portuguese 
poems. It is noteworthy that of the 30 Portuguese poems in Castilian cancio- 
neros, 26 are in musical ones: if a song is included primarily for its music, the 
language is less important, a factor that helps to explain the astonishing lin- 
guistic diversity of the Cancionero de la Catedral de Segovia. Previously thought 
to be of the late fifteenth century, and compiled for use by the musicians of 
Isabel la Catolica, it now seems, in the light of Victor de Lama's research, to 
be somewhat later and destined for the musicians of Felipe el Hermoso (Lama 
de la Cruz 1994, 122—30). It is made up of three parts, each apparently by a 
different copyist (the second part may have been begun by a fourth copyist: 
Lama de la Cruz 1994, 117); the first of these contains alternating sections 
of Latin religious pieces and vernacular secular songs, the second part is Casti- 
lian, and the small third part, Latin. '^ Gonzalez Cuenca (1980, 25-29) lists 
the French and Flemish songs but mentions the small Italian element only in 
passing."' This cancionero thus has songs in five languages. The number is 
equalled by the Pixerecourt, Escorial, and Mellon chansonniers (for the first, see 
Pease 1960; for the last, Perkins and Garey 1979), but in practice Segovia 
outdoes the others: o£ Mellon s 57 songs, for instance, 47 are in a single lan- 
guage, French, while the rest are made up of four songs in Italian, three in 
English, two in Latin, and one in Castilian.'^ The Cancionero musical de palacio 

'^ This raises the possibility that the manuscript might be a combination of several 
different repertoires. However, Dr. David Fallows is not convinced that several copyists were 
involved: "It will be hard to penuade me that this wasn't one musician's personal collection. 
And what seems most fascinating about it is that the scribe was plainly Spanish (as first 
established in [Baker 1978]) but had a flawless knowledge of Flemish" (letter of 29 January 

"■ Gonzalez Cuenca (1980, 38 n. 67). Scholars diflfer on the exact number of song? in 
this cancionero and on the number in each language, because some have only an incipit, 
which may not be a safe linguistic guide, and some are repetitions. The Italian component 
is an extreme case, since of the five Italian songs only one has a text, and that consists of 
only four lines. Dr. Fallows comments: "Since it's the most widely distributed Itahan song 
of the late 15th century, there are few simple conclusions to be drawn from it" (letter of 29 
January 1993). 

" The Escorial chansonnier, produced in Italy (probably Milan) in the second half of the 
fifteenth century (Southern 1981; see also Hanen 1983, who argues for a Neapohtan origin), 
is included by Dutton (1990-91, 1:65) as EM2, with three songs edited, but the first of them 
is French, the second is Italian (another cancionero has a lingua franca version), and the third is 
a song by Cornago, "Yerra con poco saber," that was left without a text, a later hand pro- 
viding as incipit the first three words of a poem that occurs in several cancioneros with attribu- 
tions to Juan de Mena or Pedro Torrella (Hanen 1983, 122-23; Dutton and Krogstad 1990- 


(MP4), overwhelmingly Castilian in its original form, and still primarily Cas- 
tilian after a series of additions, has thirteen Italian poems (Romeu Figueras 
1965, 124—28). Two of these include Latin, while one Latin song has some 
Italian. There is also a Basque song with some Castilian words and another that 
has a Basque estribillo and a Castihan ^/o5fl. One song mixes French, Italian, and 
Castilian, and another mixes French and Catalan. There are thus songs in four 
languages (Castilian, Italian, Latin, and Basque), and the number of languages 
used rises to seven when we take account of lines or phrases in Catalan, 
French, and Portuguese. Segovia, nevertheless, is outstanding because of its sub- 
stantial representation of four languages (Castilian, Flemish, French, and 
Latin). '« 

In these cases the musical fashion seems to have produced linguistic diversi- 
ty far above what might have been expected, and the special nature of musical 
cancioneros (see, for instance. Fallows 1992; also Gallo 1978) makes it desirable 
to treat them separately. I had at first intended to devote separate sections to 
the musical and the nonmusical cancioneros, since they raise different problems 
in a study of bilingualism (and in other contexts: e.g., the inclusion of nonlyric 
material), but not all of the summary listings of poetic anthologies that I con- 
sulted distinguish clearly between those that have musical notation and those 
that do not. I remain convinced that such a distinction is important in any ex- 
tensive consideration of the subject, though I have temporarily had to abandon 
it for practical reasons.''^ 

The mention of the Carmina Burana and the Mellon, Pixerecourt, and Escorial 
chansonniers serves as a reminder that bilingual or multilingual poetic antholo- 
gies are as frequent outside the Iberian Peninsula as within it, and bibliogra- 
phies for different languages (my scrutiny of these is far from complete) show 
the extent of the phenomenon. Boffey (1985, 187-200) lists for the fifteenth 
century six manuscripts that combine Latin and English in varying proportions; 
four with Latin, French, and English; two with English and French; one Latin, 
Welsh, and English; and the multilingual Mellon and Escorial. Of her list of 126 
manuscripts of the period 1400-1530 that contain English courtly love lyrics, 
15 are, in some sense, at least bilingual: a percentage of 11.9. Peter Dronke 

91, 7:58). There is thus, as with the single line of an English song, the minimum justification 
required for us to add Castihan and English to the French, Italian, Flemish, and Latin of this 
manuscript. Pixerecourt (PN15), copied in Florence c. 1484, has songs in Latin, Castilian, and 
what may be Provencal (most of the texts are garbled), as well as French. 

"* Dr. Fallows, commenting on "a few [cancioneros] that include surprising strange 
languages: a little French in the Schedelsches Liederbuch, Itahan songs in f fr. 1597, the exten- 
sively copied English in Mellon," says that "it is in that context that the flawless Flemish in 
Segovia seems remarkable (whereas the French and Italian text incipits are not)" (letter of 29 
January 1993). 

''^ For different aspects, see, as well as the studies already cited, the fundamental biblio- 
graphical tool Census (1979-88), and the books by Stevenson (1960) and Stevens (1961, 


lists some 140 manuscripts containing love poetry in medieval Latin (1965-66, 
II, 545-83). Of these, 16 (11.5 percent, a figure astonishingly close to that 
derived from BofFey's list) are bilingual: the Carmina Buratia has Latin, German, 
and French; five have Latin and German; four have Latin and French; three 
have English, Latin, and French; two have Latin and Czech; and one has Latin 
and English. In almost half of these cases, including the Carmina Burana and 
the Harley Lyrics, the manuscript is known to have been produced in the 
country whose vernacular accompanies the Latin texts, and in most of the 
other cases, as one would have expected, it is in a library of a region speaking 
that vernacular. The Chansonnier de Chantilly does not fit this pattern, but it 
has only two Latin texts, and so is not of great significance in this context. The 
listings given by Gaston Raynaud (1884) and Robert White Linker (1979), 
though they do not provide all the information that is needed, offer a usefiil 
impression of the occurrence of French and Provencal in the same chansonniers 
(see also Meyer 1890). Raynaud's inventory of 32 French chansonniers of the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (1884, I) includes five with such a mixture, 
or 15.6 percent of the total, but only three of these (9.4 percent) are thor- 
oughly bilingual. The percentage of French in Provencal chansonniers is higher: 
Linker (1979, 68—69) lists 19 such manuscripts, and since there are some 95 
Provencal chansonniers, those with French poems are 20 percent. To take an 
average from the information provided by Boffey, Dronke, Raynaud, and 
Linker is risky, since their methods of listing are different, and they cover 
different periods (all medieval poetic manuscripts for the language concerned 
in Dronke and Linker, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries only in Raynaud, 
fifteenth only in Boffey). Nevertheless, making all necessary reservations and 
recognizing the highly tentative nature of the calculation, it is interesting that 
the average of the four percentages is 13.2 percent and that if we take the 55 
bilingual anthologies listed by these four scholars as a percentage of their total 
listings of 533, the figure is 10.3 percent. It seems at present, therefore, that 
we may expect something between one-eighth and one-tenth o{ cancioneros to 
be bilingual. Among musical cancioneros the percentage is likely to be much 
higher: for example, Fallows finds that French polyphonic song established it- 
self in northern Italy about 1375 (1989, 431), with the result that "in the first 
years of the fifteenth century the surviving north Italian song manuscripts 
(most of them fragmentary) nearly all contain roughly equal quantities of 
French and Italian material" (433). 

5. Bilingual Poets 

The bilingualism of Alfonso Alvarez de Villasandino reflects the change from 
Galician-Portuguese to Castilian as the dominant language of court lyric in the 
center and western part of the Iberian Peninsula (see Lang 1902; Lapesa 1953- 
54; V. Richardson 1981; Deyermond 1982, and Polin 1994). 2" He is not the 

I have not yet been able to see Carlos Mota's Barcelona doctoral dissertation (reported 


only bilingual poet of the Cancionero de Baena, but he is the most prolific one. 
A sharp chronological division between the use of poetic languages, without 
any transitional linguistic forms, is represented by Villasandino's older contem- 
porary John Gower, who began in the 1370s with poems in the Anglo- 
Norman dialect of French that had been used in the English court since the 
Norman Conquest, but he was heading towards obsolescence: the religious 
allegory Mirour de I'Omme and perhaps the Cinkante balades. A few years later 
he wrote a long satirical poem in Latin, Vox clamantis, which deals with, 
among other subjects, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and that in turn was 
succeeded by the long poem that took up most of the rest of Gower's active 
life, the Confessio amantis, written in English despite its Latin title and Latin 
marginal glosses. The division is thus both chronological (if the Cinkante 
balades are indeed among the early poems) and generic.^' A purely generic 
division may be observed in Petrarch, who wrote love lyrics and allegories 
{Rime sparse and Trionji) in Italian but genres of Virgilian inspiration {Bucolicum 
carmen and the lost epic Africa) in Latin, and in the Comendador Estela, who 
wrote religious poetry in Catalan and love lyrics in Castilian (Martinez Ro- 
mero 1990). Chronological divisions in authors' use of languages may have a 
biographical rather than a generic basis: two well-known examples in fif- 
teenth-century prose are the use of Catalan by Enrique de Villena for the first 
version of the Doze trahajos de Hercules and of Portuguese by Dom Pedro de 
Portugal for the first version of the Sdtira de la infelice e felice vida, because of 
where they spent their youth; the circumstances of their later lives made it 
natural for them to use Castilian. 

These are interesting examples of bilingualism, but even more interesting 
are those w^riters who use two languages within the same poetic genre and at 
the same period of their lives. David Fallows has found that a high proportion 
of surviving French songs by named composers from the period 1340—1415 
(42 out of 194, or out of 118 if Guillaume de Machaut is excluded) are by 
Italians (1989, 432). Charles d'Orleans is such a poet: captured at Agincourt 
when he was only twenty (though already a poet), he spent twenty five years 
as a prisoner in England, continuing to write a great deal in French but also 

complete in 1992) or to obtain details of it. For the present, see, on Villasandino in the 
context of this change, Levi (1928-29) and Caravaggi (1969), as well as the general studies 
just cited. 

^' For the problems of dating the Cinkante balades, see Fisher (1965, 72-74). Gower may 
not be the only major English poet of his time to write in French. It is likely that Chaucer, 
who knew French poetry well (Wimsatt 1968, 1991), wrote it, at least in the early part of 
his career, and Wimsatt argues (1982) that he may have composed some French poems 
headed "Ch" in the manuscript (though, of course, the letters could stand not for Chaucer 
but for chanson). See also Robbins (1976). 


writing a substantial number of English poems. ^^ There is a different kind of 
biographical explanation for the two Italian and two part-Italian poems among 
the 47 Castilian ones by Carvajal (M. Alvar 1984): he spent years at the Ara- 
gonese court in Naples. 

Other Iberian parallels to Charles d'Orleans's bilingualism, though without 
such a strong biographical reason for it, are Catalans such as Romeu LluU, Pere 
Torroella, and Mossen Avinyo. Montserrat Ganges Garriga's inventory (1992) 
lists 25 poets who wrote in both languages. Some show a marked preference 
for Catalan: Francesc Alegre (Ganges Garriga 1992, 103-105) has ten poems in 
Catalan and only one in Castilian, Bernat FenoUar (129—36) has 24 and two, 
and Jaume GassuU (Cantavella and Jafer 1989; Ganges Garriga 1992, 139-42) 
eleven and two. In some the preference runs the other way: Francesc FenoUet 
(Ganges Garriga, 136-39) has one poem in Catalan but eight in Castilian, 
while for Francesc Moner (Cocozzella 1970, 1986, 1987, 1991; Quesada 1973; 
Ganges Garriga 1992, 152—62) the numbers are 16 and 66. In other cases, the 
two languages are evenly matched: Francesc de Castellvi has four Catalan and 
five Castilian poems, Miquel Estela six Catalan and four Castilian (Martinez 
Romero 1990, Ganges Garriga 1992, 126—29), and for Torroella the numbers 
are 34 and 36. Romeu Llull (Turro 1989, 1992b; Ganges Garriga 1992, 144- 
49), who has several Castilian poems in the Catalan misceWAny Jardinet de orats 
(Catedra 1983; Turro 1992c), wrote two replies, one in Catalan and the other 
in Castilian, to a poem by the Conde de Oliva. As well as LluU's nineteen 
Catalan and six Castilian poems, there are six in Italian (Turro 1992a, 1992b), 
and he wrote one quatrilingual poem. One other Catalan poet wrote also in 
Castilian and in Italian: Narcis Vinyoles, with eighteen poems in Catalan and 
two in each of the other languages (Ganges Garriga 1992, 190-94). A number 
of Catalan poets, from Jacme March in the 1370s to Torroella and Francesc 
Ferrer in the 1440s, incorporate into their poems lines and stanzas from Ber- 
nart de Ventadorn, Arnaut Daniel, and other Provencal troubadours (I. de 
Riquer 1993). Torroella and Avinyo are strongly represented in the Cancionero 
de Vindel (Ramirez de Arellano 1976), with over a fifth of this small but 
important cancionero' s texts. Torroella has been edited and studied (Bach i Rita 
1930) but is due for further attention in the light of the last sixty years' 
scholarship (see Cocozzella 1987; Ganges Garriga 1992, 166-87); Avinyo has 
at last received the extended treatment that he merits (Arques i Corominas 

22 Steele and Day (1970); see Am (1983). Some scholars (e.g., Poirion 1958, 1978) have 
queried his authorship of these poems, but the weight of recent evidence is against them (see 
Deborah Hubbard Nelson 1990 for an analytical account of scholarship; also BofFey 1988), 
and their doubts are surprising within a context of frequent poetic bilingualism. However, 
we should remember that Guillaume Dufay was resident in Italy for more than twenty years, 
but seems to have learned litde Italian. He composed songs for the d'Este family in French, 
though he set some Italian poems to music (Fallows 1989, 438-40, and letter of 29 January 


1992; see also Ganges Garriga 1992, 108-11). It is not only Catalan poets 
(those already named and others listed by Ganges Garriga 1992 and edited by 
Catedra 1983) who write both in that language and in Castilian: the same is 
true of Juan de Valtierra, who was probably Navarrese.^-^ 

At the western frontier of Castilian, there are many Portuguese poets of the 
Cancioneiro geral who write in both languages. We have seen some cases in sec- 
tion 4, above, and there are plenty of others. A striking example is that of Joao 
Manuel, who has 29 Portuguese poems and 12 Castilian ones in the Cancioneiro 
geral, and another 12 Castilian ones, under the name of Juan Manuel, in the 
1511 Cancionero general and the Cancionero del British Museum. Although it is 
possible that Juan and Joao were two different poets (Macpherson 1979), co- 
gent reasons have been given for believing that they were the same man (Botta 
1981; Gornall 1991). For Joao Manuel and Carvajal, for Avinyo and Fernam 
da Silveira, writing in a bilingual culture, it seems that either language would 
do for their lyrics. This impression is reinforced by the quoting poems in the 
Cancioneiro geral: the Portuguese poets quote Mena, Jorge Manrique, Anton de 
Montoro, and others just as readily as their Portuguese contemporaries. 

6. Bilingual Poems and Their Uses 

We all know that there are poems in more than one language that, though 
they demonstrate the poet's linguistic ability, provide no evidence of a bilin- 
gual or multilingual poetic culture, since their comic or bragging use of lan- 
guage implies an exception to normally monolingual poetry. I am thinking of 
modern cases such as A. D. Godley's macaronic poem about the motor bus 
("What is it that roareth thus? / Can it be a motor bus? / Yes, the smell and 
hideous hum / Indicat motorem bum! / [ . . . ] Domine, defende nos / Contra 
hos motores bos."), and medieval ones such as Raimbaut de Vaqueiras's descort, 
in which each of the five stanzas is in a different language and the tornada uses 
all five: 

Eras quan vey verdeyar 
pratz e vergiers e boscatges, 
vuelh un descort comensar 
d'amor, per qu'ieu vauc aratges; 

-^ See Lang (1909). It is, however, not certain that the Valtierra who wrote three Cas- 
tilian poems and the Vallterra who wrote one in Catalan were the same man: see Ganges 
Garriga (1992, 187-88 n.). There are, inevitably, other problems of identification: for in- 
stance, the Jeroni Artes who wrote a poem in Catalan may perhaps not be the Artes who 
wrote seven in Castihan (see Ganges Garriga 1992, 105-106 n.). The Aragonese Pedro de 
Santa Fe, who certainly wrote in Galician as well as Castilian (Tato 1994), also wrote a poem 
in Catabn, according to Lang (1909, 82-83, 86), though Cleofe Tato is more cautious 
(1994, 260). Tato's doctoral dissertation (Univ. de La Coruna) on Santa Fe, in which she 
deals also with his contacts with Italian poets, is now well advanced. 


5 q'una sol amar, 

mas camjatz I'es sos coratges, 
per qu'ieu fauc dezacordar 
los motz sos lenguatges. 
lo son quel que ben non aio 
10 ni jamai non I'avero, 

ni per april ni per maio, 
si per ma donna non I'o; 
certo que en so lengaio 
sa gran beuta dir non so, 

15 fhu firesca qe flor de glaio, 

per qe no m'en partiro. 
Belle douce dame chiere, 
a vos mi doin et m'otroi; 
je n'avrai mes joi' entiere 

20 si je n'ai vos e vos moi. 

Mot estes male guerriere 
si je muer per bone foi; 
mes ja per nuUe maniere 
no.m partrai de vostre loi. 

25 Dauna, io mi rent a bos, 

coar sotz la mes bob e bera 
q'anc fos, e gaillard e pros, 
ab que no.m hossetz tan hera. 
Mout abetz beras haisos 

30 e color hresc' e noera. 

Boste son, e agos 
no.m destrengora hiera. 
Mas tan temo vostro preito, 
todo.n son escarmentado. 

35 Por vos ei pen' e maltreito 

e meo corpo lazerado: 
la noit, can jatz en meu leito, 
so mochas vetz resperado; 
e car nonca m'aprofeito 

40 falid' ei en mon cuidado. 

Belhs Cavaliers, tant es car 
lo vostr' onratz senhoratges 
que cada jorna m'esglio. 
Oi me lasso! que faro 

45 si sele que j'ai plus chiere 

me tue, ne sai por quoi? 
Ma dauna, he que dey bos 
ni peu cap santa Quitera, 
mon corasso m'avetz treito 


50 e mot gen favlan furtado. 

(ed. Linskill 1964, 192-93)2'* 

This is an exercise in linguistic virtuosity (and perhaps has other aims too), 
though it is without any element of conscious exoticism, since the languages 
are all Romance, are contiguous, and would probably be accessible to an edu- 
cated speaker of any one of them: successive stanzas are in Provencal, Italian, 
French, Gascon, and Galician-Portuguese. Such poems are of limited interest 
in the context of our present discussion (unless, of course, it could be shown 
that Raimbaut de Vaqueiras composed his descort at a poetic court where all 
five languages were in use). 

Raimbaut, here as in the man-woman dialogue mentioned below, is an 
innovator. 2^ Three similar poems are written a few generations later, two of 
them by poets who have strong Iberian connections. The troubadour Bonifaci 
Calvo, born in Genoa, spent some years at the court of Alfonso el Sabio 
(C. Alvar 1977, 181—94), where he composed two cantigas de amor (see Piccat 
1989) as well as poems in Provencal, and where, c. 1254, he addressed a sir- 
ventes to Alfonso, inviting him to make war on the kings of Navarre and 

Un nou sirventes ses tardar 
voill al rei de Castella far, 
car no.m senbla, ni pes, ni crei, 
qu'el aia cor de guerreiar 
5 Navars ni I'aragones rei; 

mas pos dig n'aurai zo que dei, 
el faz'o que quiser fazer. 

2" See Crescini (1923-24); Brugnolo (1983, 67-100); Tavani (1986, 1989); Gaunt 
(1988); Segre (1993); Brea (1994); Fernandez Campo (1994). I have not yet been able to see 
Tavani (1969a). Brugnolo argues that Raimbaut is parodying the contemporary courtly lyric 
of the five languages. Gaunt says that 

in a poem which switches languages as this one does, any explicit reference to 
language such as that in the Itahan stanza ["certo que en so lengaio / sa gran beuta dir 
non so"] invites interpretation. Here Raimbaut seems to be aware of a fundamental 
barrier between the sexes and if the poem's multilingualism is seen as another meta- 
phor for sexual difference, the text surely becomes much richer. (1988, 313) 

I am not sure that the lines quoted will support such a conclusion, but Gaunt's suggestion is 
interesting, and it deserves further attention. The use of quotations in this section contrasts 
awkwardly with their almost total absence elsewhere in this paper, but unless I am to append 
a substantial anthology it is only bilingual poems — not bilingual poets or cancioneros — that can 
be thus illustrated. 

^^ His innovation is recognized by Elwert: "La mode a ete inauguree dans la poesie 
courtoise par Raimbaut de Vaqueiras" (1960, 424). I am not sure why Gaunt (1988, 307- 
308) accuses Elwert of saying the opposite. 


Mas eu oug'a muitos dizer 

que el non los quer cometer 
10 si non de menassas, e quen 

quer de guerr'onrrado seer, 

sei eu muy ben que Hi conven 

de meter hi cuidad' e sen, 

cuer e cors, aveir et amis. 
15 Per quoi ia diz au roi, se pris 

vuelt avoir de ce qu'a enpris, 

qu'el guerries sens menacier, 

que rien no mont', au mien avis; 

qe j'ai por voir oi comter 
20 que il puet tost au champ trover 

les doi rois, se talent en a. 

E se el aora non fa 

vezer en la terra de la 

sa tenda e son confalon 
25 a lo rei de Navarr'e a 

so sozer lo rei d'Arragon, 

a caniar averan razon 

tal que solon de lui ben dir. 

E comenzon a dire ia 
30 que mais quer lo reis de Leon 

cassar d'austor e de falcon 

c'ausberc ni sobrenseing vestir. 

(Fomiisano 1993, 140-41) 

Vicente Beltran (1985) has shown that political facton governed the choice of 
languages: Galician-Portuguese was the chief poetic language of Alfonso's 
court; French was that of the Navarrese court and the native language of its 
king, the trouvere Thibaut de Champagne, who had recently died; and Proven- 
cal was the poetic language of the Catalans, whose king, Jaume I, was waiting 
in Tarazona to resist the Castilian attack on Navarre. The use of language dif- 
fers from that of Raimbaut's descort, not merely in that there are three languag- 
es, not four but also in their distribution: Provencal is repeated, occupying the 
fourth stanza and the tornada (Raimbaut's tomada is multilingual), and although 
the sentence breaks come at the end of each stanza, the first two changes of 
language do not coincide with them (Provencal is replaced by Galician-Portu- 
guese in the last line of stanza 1, and Galician-Portuguese by French in the last 
hne of stanza 2)}^' Nevertheless, the debt to Raimbaut is clear (despite the 
hesitation of some scholars), just as it is in the cobla by Bonifaci's contempo- 

^' As well as Alvar, Beltran, and Formisano, see Branciforti (1955), Brea (1985), and 
Blasco (1987). 


rary, the Catalan troubadour Cerveri de Girona: 

Nunca querria eu achat 

ric'home con mal cora^on, 

mas volria seynor trobar 

que.m dones ses deman son jon; 

e voldroye touz les jors de nia vie 

dames trover o pris de tote jan; 

e si femna trobava ab enjan 

pel mio cap'io, misser, la pigliaria. 

Un esparver daria a I'Enfan 

de setembre, s'aytal cobla.m fazia.^^ 

The rubric says that this is a "cobla en .vi. lengatges," and scholars were at first 
inclined to accept this statement, identifying the languages as Provencal (with 
four lines), French (two lines), and Galician-Portuguese, Italian, and perhaps 
Gascon (one line each). Giuseppe Tavani, however, argues that there are only 
four languages: Provencal, French, Galician-Portuguese, and Italian. The last 
member of this group of texts is a 44-line trilingual poem attributed to Dante, 
which departs radically from the pattern of the others by changing the lan- 
guage with every line: 

Ai faux ris, pour quoi trai aves 
oculos meo? Et quid tibi feci, 
che fatta m'hai cosi spietata fraude? 
lam audivissent verba mea Greci. 
E selonch autres dames vous saves 
che 'ngannator non e degno di laude. 
(Brugnolo 1983, 107) 

Here the tradition deriving from Raimbaut's descort seems to end, with an even 
more conscious display of linguistic virtuosity. ^^ 

A different kind of interest attaches to what looks like a nonsense refirain, to 
be found in a number of medieval and later poems, refrains that may turn out 
to be a garbled form of another language, as in a mid-thirteenth-century cantiga 
de amigo by Pedro Annes Solaz: 

Eu velida non dormia, lelia doura, 
e meu amigo venia, edoy lelia doura. 
Non dormia e cuydava, lelia doura. 

^^ Tavani (1968, 76). As well as Tavani's study, see M. de Riquer (1947, 45-46), 
Monteverdi (1948), and Frank (1950). 

^^ The poem is studied by Crescini (1934) and at greater length by Brugnolo (1983, 
105-62). Brugnolo concludes, on stylistic and lexical grounds, that the attribution to Dante 
is "fortemente plausibile" (1983, 162). The poem is not, hovk'ever, accepted into Dante's 
lyric canon by Foster and Boyde (1967). 


e meu amigo chegava, edoy lelia doura. 

O meu amigo venia, lelia doura, 

e d'amor tan ben dizia, edoy lelia doura. 

O meu amigo chegava, lelia doura, 

e d'amor tan ben cantava, edoy lelia doura. 

Muito desejey amigo, lelia doura, 

que vos tevesse comigo, edoy lelia doura. 

Muito desejey amado, lelia doura, 

que vos tevess a meu lado, edoy lelia doura. 

Leli, leli, par Deus, lely, lelia doura, 
ben sey eu que non diz leli, edoy lelia doura. 
Ben ssey eu que non diz lely, lelia doura, 
demo e quen non diz lelia, edoy lelia doura. 
(Dutton 1964, 1) 

Brian Dutton concluded that the refrain was probably Arabic, and he suggested 
an interpretation ("The night [weighs] long [upon] me, / I languish, and the 
night [weighs] long [upon] me"). His article concludes: 

I am inclined to see in this poem by Pedro Annes Solaz an ironical 
comment on a liaison between a Muslim minstrel and a soldadera. . . . 
The first four stanzas are perhaps part of a song which the soldadera was 
fond of singing. . . . Similarly [I suspect that] the refrain in Arabic comes 
from the repertoire of her paramour. . . . We must see in the poem a 
blend of two . . . love lyrics that produce a fine piece of ironic satire. 
(Dutton 1964, 8-9) 

For a time, he explored the possibility that nonsense refrains in other European 
poems might similarly represent Arabic phrases garbled almost beyond recogni- 
tion (cf. Frank 1952), but the investigation petered out because of method- 
ological problems and because the evidence was tenuous. The form in which 
such refrains have survived does not, in any case, suggest that they are the 
products of bilingual poetic cultures, and for that reason I shall not be further 
concerned with them in this paper. 

The vexed question of biUngualism in the kharjas (see, for instance, Whin- 
nom 1982-83, Armistead and Monroe 1982-83) is also, though for other 
reasons, remote from our present topic, but the use of different languages (e.g., 
Hebrew/Spanish or Hebrew/Vulgar Arabic) for kharja and muwalidh, arising 
from the linguistic range of the Andalusian courts in the eleventh to thirteenth 
centuries, is directly analogous to the bilingualism of many fifteenth-century 
court lyrics and their social context. I am, however, aware of very few cases in 
which a woman replies in everyday language, in the kharja, to a man's elevated 
speech in Classical Arabic or Hebrew, in the main body of the rnuwalldh.^'^ 

^'^ It is thus not true that "what some of the complete poems [muwa^^ahas] now show us 


I can find only one case, among the eighty-one poems in Sola-Sole (1973), in 
which the poet addresses his beloved (in the fifth and final Classical Arabic 
stanza of the muwa^^dh) and she replies to him in the khatja (in Vulgar Arabic 
that may contain a couple of Romance words). This is an anonymous poem of 
unknown date (no. 48, Sola-Sole 1973, 289-91). In addition, two of the 
ninety-three Hebrew muwaslahs with kharjas (both of them couplets) in "a 
more or less colloquial form of Arabic," studied by James T. Monroe and 
David Swiatlo (1977), end with a bilingual dialogue between a woman and her 
lover. One of the muwa^Sahs is by Abraham ibn 'Ezra (c. 1092-1167), and the 
other is by another famous Hispano-Hebraic poet, Todros ben Yehudah ha- 
Levi Abu l-'Afia (1247-c. 1306). 

The interplay of languages, registers, and tones between courtly, man's- 
voice muwaS^ah and colloquial, woman's-voice kharja in these three cases (see 
Deyermond 1993) is to some extent parallelled in Carmina Burana no. 185, 
though here a woman's voice speaks throughout: the German lines present a 
romantic seduction, while the Latin lines that alternate with them show that 
it was a rape: 

Ich was ein chint so wolgetan, 

virgo dum florebam, 
do brist mich div werlt al, 

omnibus placebam. 

Hoy et oe! 

maledicantur thylie 

iuxta uiam posite! 
la wolde ih an die w^isen gan, 

flores adunare, 
dowolde mich ein ungetan 

ibi deflorare. . . . 
Er nam mich bi der wizen hant, 

sed non indecenter, 
er wist mich div wise lanch 

valde fraudulenter. . . . 
Er graif mir an daz wize gewant 

valde indecenter, 
er furte mih bi der hant 

multum violenter. . . . 

is a conventional situation in which a poet expresses his longing for a beautiful slave-girl in 
the language of culture, whereupon in the coda [kharja] the girl replies in the language of the 
people" (Forster 1970, 12). As is well known, the majority of Arabic and .Hebrew muwaSiahs 
that have Romance or Vulgar Arabic kharjas are panegyrics or homosexual love poems. 
Among the minority that are heterosexual love-poems, the norm is for the young woman 
to address her mother in the kharja, and/or for the poet to write about his love without 
directly addressing the beloved. 


Er sprach: "vrowe, gewir baz! 

nemus est remotum." 
dirre wech, der habe haz! 

planxi et hoc totum. . . . 
"Iz Stat ein linde wolgetan 

non procul a uia, 
da hab ich mine herphe Ian, 

timpanum cum lyra." . . . 
Do er zu der linden chom, 

dixit: "sedeamus," 
— dive minne twanch sere den man — 

"ludum faciamus!" . . . 
Er graif mir an den wizen lip, 

non absque timore, 
er sprah: "ich mache dich ein wip, 

dulcis es cum ore." . . . 
Er warf mir uf daz hemdelin 

corpore detecta, 
er rante mir in daz purgelin 

cuspide erecta. . . . 
Er nam den chocher unde den bogen, 

bene uenabatur! 
der selbe hete mich betrogen, 

ludus compleatur. . . .■^" 

Both the German and the Latin lines are in the same woman's voice. Why, 
then, do they carry different meanings? Anne Howland Schotter says that "the 
girl's narration of her seduction proceeds much more rapidly in Latin than in 
German, so that she appears either not to know what is happening to her, or 
else to willfully soften it with the idealistic diction of Minnesang" (1981, 24). 
Schotter decides in favor of the second possibility: the young woman "contin- 
ues to use German to romanticize what is in fact a rape" (25). I think she is 
probably right, but more study of this poem is needed.^' This is one of many 
songs in the Carmina Burana that combine Latin and German (as we have seen 
in section 4, above), but its skillful interweaving of the languages to establish 
an ironic counterpoint makes it much more interesting than those that use a 

^" Diemer and Diemer (1987, 588-92). See Schotter (1981, 24-25); see also Dronke 
(1965-66, 1:304, and 1975, 128); Plummet 1981, 141-42. It is interesting to compare a 
dialogue between a knight and a young woman in the Cambridge Songs, in which both 
parties use Latin and German. 

■^' I place it in the context of other (though not bilingual) poems about sexual initiation 
in Deyermond (1990). 


German stanza or stanzas to end a Latin poem, without the factors that make 
such a pattern fruitful in a muwaSSah and its kharja?^ 

A closer parallel to the muwal^ah/ kharja linguistic pattern — a much closer 
parallel to the three man-woman dialogues — is found in a poem written at the 
Aragonese court in Naples by Carvajal: the man speaks Castilian and the 
woman, ItaUan: 

"^Donde sois gentil galana?" 

Respondio manso e sin priessa 

"Mia matre e de Adversa 

io, micer, napolitana." 

Preguntel si era casada 

o si se queria casar: 

"Oime — disse — esventurata, 

hora fosse a maritar! 

Ma la bona voglia e vana, 

poi fortuna e adversa: 

che mia matre e de Adversa 

io, mecer, napolitana." (Scoles 1967, 186) 

Although the usual description of this poem as a serranilla rests on shaky 
ground (Marino 1987, 119-20), the implication is that the woman is of lower 
social status than the man, and this sociolinguistic differentiation contrasts 
sharply with the insistence of the Italian humanists that their culture is superior 
to the Castilian. 

There are several very interesting analogues to Carvajal's poem, in addition 
to the muwaHdhs already mentioned, and 1 am inclined to think that they form 
a subgenre of bilingual man- woman dialogues, perhaps inspired by the differ- 
ence in register often found in pastorelas, perhaps descended directly from a 
tenso (c. 1190) by Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, in which the man speaks Provencal 
and the woman, the Genoese dialect of Italian. ^-^ The other texts that I have 
found are the section of the Libro de Buen Amor in which Trotaconventos 
courts a young Moorish woman on the narrator-protagonist's behalf, and the 

^- The form of this poem, alternating lines in each bnguage within a quatrain, may be 
related to the early stages of the rondeau; see Beltran 1984. Professor Regula Rohland de 
Langbehn (letter of 24 February 1993) draws my attention to a thirteenth-century poem by 
Tannhauser, which combines two languages in a different way to produce an ironic result: 
single words from the French courdy lexicon are set within a German poem: "Von amure 
seit ich ir, / daz vergalt si dulze mir. ..." She also points out that two poems by Oswald 
von Wolkenstein (1377-1445) contain passages in several languages with German versions of 
these passages (Klein et al. 1962, nos. 69 and 119). Von Wolkenstein, as we have already 
seen, met Queen Margarida de Prades and wrote a poem in her honour (section 1, above). 

•^^ The text is in Linskill (1964, 99-101). Simon Gaunt suggests that the Italian stanzas 
may be the authentic work of an anonymous Genoese woman poet (1988, 302, 313). The 
suggestion had been made by earlier scholars, but Gaunt develops it fruitfully. 


woman replies in Arabic (not a lyric but an adaptation of a lyric pattern; 
Blecua 1992, 387-89, st. 1508-12); a Castilian-French dialogue by Francisco 
Imperial (Nepaulsingh 1977, 51-55; Dutton and Gonzalez Cuenca 1993, 303— 
304); a Welsh-English dialogue by Carvajal's contemporary Tudur Penllyn (D. 
Johnston 1991, 74—77); and a French-Basque dialogue written at the end of 
the fifteenth century by the Flemish musician and poet Josquin Desprez 
(Stevenson 1977, 218-19; Paden 1987, II, 522). These dialogues need much 
more discussion than could be accommodated in the present paper, and I have 
therefore dealt with them separately (Deyermond in press). 

There are many other kinds of bilingual poem, in various linguistic combi- 
nations. Some songs from the period 1340—1415 (much the same period as that 
covered by the Cancionero de Baena) mix Italian and French (Fallows 1989, 
432). A random sampling of sixty fifteenth-century English religious lyrics 
(Brown 1939, nos. 1—20, 81—100, and 141—60) reveals eleven, or nearly one- 
fifth of the total, that combine English and Latin in some way. The kind of 
combination varies: alternating Latin and English texts in nos. 1 and 90; a 
Latin refrain in 6, 85, 156, and 159; the fourth line of each stanza in Latin, 16; 
alternating Latin and English lines, 17 and 86; the first half of each of the first 
four lines in Latin and the second half in EngHsh, 18, 157. It could be objected 
that frequent use of the liturgical language is not surprising in religious lyrics, 
and indeed the equivalent sample of fourteenth to fifteenth-century secular 
lyrics (Robbins 1955) yields only five cases, but they are very interesting ones: 
a French refrain, no. 1; the second half of a few lines in French, 14; Latin last 
line(s), 89 and 90 (these should perhaps be eliminated from consideration, 
since they are colophons); and a short trilingual drinking song: 

Verbum caro factum est 

et habitavit in nobis. 

Fetys bel chere, 

drynk to thy fere, 

verse le bavere, 

and synge nouwell! (1955, 8, no. 10) 

A comparable earher case is no. 19 of the early fourteenth-century Harley 
Lyrics, a love poem whose first eighteen lines are a macaronic blend of Latin 
and Anglo-Norman, ending with two lines in English: 

Dum ludis floribus velud lacinia 
le dieu d'amour moi tient en tiel angustia, 
merour me tient de duel et de miseria 
si je ne la ay quam amo super omnia. 
5 Eius amor tantum me facit fervere 

qe je ne soi quid possum inde facere; 
pur ly covent hoc seculum relinquere 
si je ne pus I'amour de li perquirere. 
Ele est si bele e gente dame egregia 


10 cum ele fust imperatoris filia, 

de beal semblant e pulcra continencia, 

ele est la flur in omnia regis curia. 

Quant je la vey je su in tali gloria 

come est la lune celi inter sidera; 
15 Dieu la moi doint sua misericordia 

beyser e fere que secuntur alia. 

Scripsi hec carmina in tabulis; 

mon ostel est en mi la vile de Paris; 

may y sugge namore, so wel me is; 
20 3ef hi de3e for love of hire, duel hit ys. 

(Brook 1968, 55) 

Earlier still, and dividing the languages more sharply, are two thirteenth- 
century poems, a prisoner's poem whose parallel English and Anglo-Norman 
versions are arranged in alternating stanzas (Brown 1932, 10—13, no. 5), and a 
definition of love, whose three stanzas say the same thing in, successively, 
English, Latin, and French: 

Love is a selkud wodenesse 
J)at |5e idel mon ledeth by wildernesse, 
J)at |)urstes of wilfulscipe and drinket sorwenesse 
and with lomful sorwes menget his blithenesse. 
Amor est quedam mentis insania 
que vagum hominem ducit per deuia 
sitit delicias and bibit tristia 
crebris doloribus commiscens gaudia. 
Amur est une pensee enragee 
ke le udif humme meyne par veie deveye 
ke a soyf de delices e ne beyt ke tristesces 
and od souvens dolurs medle sa tristesce [sic]. 
(Brown 1932, 14-15, no. 9) 

The linguistic state of the secular lyrics thus reflects a trilingual poetic court — 
and other trilingual cultural contexts — in late medieval England. We should 
recall that the most famous of Scottish lyrics from the end of the Middle Ages, 
William Dunbar's Lament for the Makaris, uses a Latin refrain to great effect: 

I that in heill wes and gladnes. 
Am trublit now with gret seiknes. 
And feblit with infermite; 

Timor mortis conturbat me. . . . 
He hes done petuously devour 
The noble Chaucer, of makaris flour, 
The Monk of Bery, and Gower, all thre; 

Timor mortis conturbat me. . . . 
Sen he has all my brether tane, 


He will nocht lat me lif alane, 
On forse I man his nyxt pray be; 
Timor mortis conturbat me. . . . 

(Mackenzie 1933, 20-23) 

We should recall also that Juan Ruiz's contemporary Dafydd ap Gwilym wrote 
a nine-stanza meditation on a eucharistic sequence, in which each Latin phrase 
is glossed by a Welsh quatrain. 

In Iberian cancioneros, as in those of other countries, Latin and the vernacular 
are most likely to be found together in religious poems or in parodies of religi- 
ous texts. The misas de amor of Juan de Dueiias, Suero de Ribera, and Nicolas 
Nuiiez provide a good example (see Tillier 1985, chap. 2). In secular lyric the 
blend is much more likely to be of two vernaculars and to be found in two or 
more closely linked poems than within a single one. Thus in Resende's Cancio- 
neiro geral a Portuguese poem by Jorge da Silveira (Dutton ID 5240) begins a 
series of 74 poems, so closely linked that in Dutton 1982 they were given a 
single ID number. The first two of this series (the anonymous 2280 and Nuno 
Gon^alvez's 5241) are in Castilian, and all the rest are in Portuguese. A Por- 
tuguese pregunta by Fernam Brandam is answered in Castilian by Anrique de 
Saa (5143—44), and Fernam da Silveira replies in Castilian to his own Portu- 
guese pregunta (5459—60). Similarly, two Catalan canfoners include a demanda in 
hendecasyllables by Joan Rois de Corella to which the Principe de Viana re- 
pUes in Castilian, using the same rhyme scheme but in arte tnayor.^^ Only a 
few single poems by Castilian poets are bilingual or trilingual: Carlos Alvar's 
estimate is 12-15 (1991, 499). One by Carvajal, which uses language for gen- 
der and social differentiation, has already been quoted; in another, entirely 
man's-voice, he mixes Italian, Castilian, and Latin: a quotation from Scipio 
Afiricanus transposed to a love complaint (Scoles 1967, 192-93; see M. Alvar 
1984). 35 

Bilingual poems may be classified in a number of ways. One relates to the 
distribution of languages within the poem. If two are used in a single line, we 
have a macaronic poem (see the observations of Harvey 1978 for Anglo- 
Norman), and the same is true of some poems that change languages with 

•'^ For the difficult problem of defining the hendecasyllable according to the scansion 
conventions in different languages, see DufFell (1991). An exchange between poets of 
different languages was not always bilingual: the individual candonero of Gomez Manrique 
(MN24) includes a pregunta by a Portuguese identified only as Alvaro, to which Manrique 
replies in the same language (3369-70; texts in Dutton 1990-91, 2:217). Manrique's Portu- 
guese is slightly Castilianized, and Alvaro's pregunta includes three hnes of Castilian; this does 
not, however, invalidate the statement that I make in this note. 

•*' Another poem by Carvajal begins with a hne in Latin, the rest being in Castilian, but 
this hardly counts as bilingual, since the Latin is a well-known quotation from the Psalms 
(Scoles 1967, 192-93). An analogue is Rojas's use of a phrase from the Salve Regina to end 


every line (e.g., the descort attributed to Dante, though not "Ich was ein chint 
so wolgetan," from the Carmina Burana, with its antiphonal effect). The 
function of macaronic poems is hkely to be different from that of poems that 
have a final stanza or stanzas in a second language or that use a second lan- 
guage for one speaker in a dialogue. Much, however, depends on the languag- 
es used. If, as is usually the case in macaronic texts, one is Latin and the other 
is vernacular, and the subject matter is religious, we should need strong evi- 
dence before accepting that the purpose of this linguistic mixture is comic; it 
is far more likely to reflect the bilingual nature of popular worship in the 
medieval western Church: Latin liturgy, vernacular sermon. If, however, two 
vernaculars are mixed within a line, the most probable reason is that the poet 
wishes to exploit the comic possibilities of such a mixture. Vernacular-Latin 
bilingualism is in any case usually of a different nature from the mixture of two 
or more vernaculars: Paul Zumthor observes that "le bilinguisme roman est 
horizontal; le bilinguisme latin- vulgaire, vertical," and he dates the emergence 
of the former to the end of the twelfth century (1960, 588; 1963, 110). The 
same contrast is valid for any pair of liturgical and everyday languages: for 
example, the Hebrew muwaslahs with Vulgar Arabic kharjas studied by Monroe 
and Swiatlo (1977). This does not, of course, imply that the two vernaculars 
are necessarily on an equal footing. Another basis for classification is the num- 
ber of languages used: at one extreme, a wish to display linguistic virtuosity is 
likely to be the main, perhaps the sole, reason for using four or five languages 
in a single poem; at the other extreme, if only two languages are used, some 
other explanation should probably be sought. These, however, are probabili- 
ties, not immutable rules, and each case needs to be carefully considered: until 
Vicente Beltran (1985) showed the political significance of Bonifaci Calvo's 
trilingual sirventes, critics had assumed that it served the same purpose as its 
model, Raimbaut de Vaqueiras's descort. 

7. Implications for Readers 

In the preceding sections of this paper, I have raised, directly or indirectly, a 
number of important general questions. For example, when two languages are 
used in a man-woman dialogue, is there a hierarchical ranking of the lan- 
guages, and if so, how is it manifested? Is the hierarchy that of cultural prestige 
or of political and economic power? In Josquin Desprez's poem, where the 
male narrator-protagonist speaks French and the woman, Basque, the criteria 
converge. In Raimbaut de Vaqueiras's tenso, the man's language, Provencal, is 
that of high culture, while the woman's, the Genoese form of Italian, is the 
language of power, as she brutally reminds the man at the end. Two and a half 
centuries later, when another such dialogue is written in Italy, by Carvajal, the 
roles have changed: the man's Castihan is one of the languages of the Arago- 
nese conquerors of Naples, while the woman's Italian is one of the languages 
of culture (not ranked as high as the Latin of the humanists, but with the 
Divina commedia and Petrarch's lyrics at its back). In Carvajal's poem, however, 
these hierarchies are only implicit, as they are in its contemporary, Tudur 


Penllyn's dialogue (written in a lower register), where the language roles are 
comparable. In all the man-woman dialogues, the question of gender hierarchy 
is explicitly or implicitly present, sometimes coinciding with the hierarchy of 
culture, sometimes with that of national power, sometimes with both, some- 
times with neither (for the texts of these dialogues and discussion of the 
poems, see Deyermond in press). These often competing hierarchies remind us 
that Zumthor's image of vertical and horizontal bilingualisms is sometimes too 
restrictive: there are diagonal and even chiasmic hierarchical relationships. An- 
other context for language hierarchy is found in the bilingual poem from the 
Carmina Burana, quoted above, where a single speaker alternates the language 
of high culture with that of everyday life (albeit in a fairly high register). Here 
the two languages may reflect two levels of the speaker's awareness or two 
interpretations. There is no transferable set of hierarchical relationships, even 
when the same pair of languages is involved. Context is all important: the 
macaronic use of Latin and German in "Ich was ein chint so wolgetan" has 
little in common with that of a fifteenth-century Christmas carol: 

In dulci iubilo 

nun singet und seid froh! 

Unsers Herzens Wonne 

leit in praesepio 

und leuchtet vor die Sonne 

matris in gremio. 

Alpha es et O! . . . (Forster 1970, 10) 

The English version of the carol has even less in common with Godley's poem 
about the motor bus. 

Another question to be addressed — more, perhaps, by literary historians 
than by critics on this occasion — is whether the fi-equent use of one language 
in a cancionero written predominantly in another language reflects a shift in po- 
litical or economic power. The extensive use of German in the Cannina Burana 
is not due to any external shift but may possibly, when compared with largely 
monolingual Latin anthologies of an earlier period, indicate changing social 
patterns and the rise of vernacular literacy.-'^' The use of Castilian by many 
Portuguese poets in the Cancioneiro geral, on the other hand, is probably due in 
large measure to growing Castilian political hegemony, and the same explana- 
tion may apply to the increasing use of Castilian in Catalan can(oners of the 
same period (though more caution is needed here, for reasons discussed in sec- 
tion 4). 

A third question to be considered is the international and therefore multi- 
lingual culture of medieval royalty and aristocracy (for various aspects of that 

^ Peter Dronke's redating of the Cannina Burana to the early thirteenth century, on 
literary as well as art-historical and paleographic grounds (1962), against Otto Schumann's 
widely accepted date of c. 1300 (1926), would reduce the probability of the latter hypothesis. 


culture, see Prestage 1928 and Jaeger 1985). The traveling poets of the thir- 
teenth century (C. Alvar 1977) illustrate the fluidity of that culture in one 
way, the knights errant of the fifteenth century (M. de Riquer 1967, 1970) in 
another. Before the rise of the nation-state, the association between language 
and loyalty to one's country scarcely existed (Chaytor 1945, chap. 3). To at- 
tempt to study one lyric tradition in isolation is thus to distort sociohistorical 
as well as literary reality. 

All these questions, and more, arise from any attempt to study bilingualism 
in the medieval lyric. I can do no more than indicate paths that critics and lit- 
erary historians may wish to follow. Before they can do so satisfactorily, how- 
ever, a number of bibliographical and philological tasks must be undertaken. 

8. Implications for Action 

First, it is clear that as well as analyzing individual poems and studying individ- 
ual poets, we need to consider poetic anthologies as an object of research in 
themselves. Aurelio Roncaglia observed that "il faut en premier lieu develop- 
per systematiquement ce que j'appellerai un controle croise entre la stemma- 
tique generale des chansonniers et la stemmatique particuliere des compositions 
individuelles" (1991, 36). The possibility that a cancionero was influenced in its 
visual or conceptual design by another cancionero or group of them, with which 
it has nothing in common textually, needs more attention than it has so far 
received. Henry H. Carter argued, briefly but convincingly, that the Cancio- 
neiro da Ajuda was modeled on a royal scriptorium manuscript of the Cantigas 
de Santa Maria (Carter 1941, xii); it has even been suggested that Ajuda itself 
is a product of the Alfonsine scriptorium. I have given reasons for believing 
that the Cancionero de Baena's conceptual structure, though not its intellectual 
content, derived from the Provencal chansonniers (Deyermond 1982, 204— 
205).-^^ Similarly, Victor de Lama's work on the Cancionero de la Catedral de 

^'Julian Weiss disagrees on two grounds (1990, 40—42). First, he accepts that "the vidas 
are, in their basic conception, similar to the general rubrics preceding the work of the major 
poets in Baena's anthology," but, he adds, "they are far more elaborate than anything written 
by the Castilian" (42). Similarly: "The razos, which describe the circumstances of composi- 
tion, correspond in their basic function to the rubrics of the individual poems; yet as far as 
style and substance are concerned, they share nothing in common" (42). Weiss is right in his 
comparative judgment of length and quahty; I had said much the same: "The vidas and razos 
are usually much longer than Baena's rubrics . . . but the similarity is unmistakable, and is 
much too close to be coincidental" (1982, 205). I still believe that opinion to be correct. 
Weiss goes on: "The similarities in function between the Castilian rubrics and the vidas and 
razos stem from something much more simple: they both originate in the desire of compilers 
to sell their wares and at the same time to extol the literary and social merits of their 
patrons" (42). Yet these are fairly common motives in the compilation of poetic anthologies, 
and if Weiss were right, we should expect the vida plus razo pattern to be fairly widespread. 
It is not. Looking at such anthologies in a wide variety of languages, I have been struck by 
the scarcity of that pattern (Weiss's impression is different: "Baena structured his Cancionero 


Segouia has shown again that the stemma of musical relationships may be quite 
different from the textual one (Lama de la Cruz 1994), and an iconographic 
stemma may well be different from both (most of us are familiar with the work 
that has been done on woodcuts in early editions of Celestina). We are still 
only at the beginning of a serious study of medieval European poetic antholo- 
gies, though some important work has already been done, both in surveying 
a tradition (e.g., Gonzalez Cuenca 1978, Dutton 1979) and in tracing the 
relationships of a family of cancioneros (Fiona Maguire's codicological paper of 
1991 is a model here). And, of course, Julia Boffey's book (1985) stands as a 

in a way that was common in the European lyric tradition," 43). Moreover, Baena shows 
familiarity with Provencal precedent. As is well known, he uses the Provencal-derived term 
"la gaya ciencia." Second, Weiss believes that adequate precedent for Baena's pattern of 
rubrics is to be found in the textual tradition of the Galician-Portuguese cancioneiros. He says 
that "the basic arrangement of the three large cancioneiros is by genre, and within that by 
author; but internal evidence also proves that in smaller anthologies the opposite practice (by 
author, then genre) was also followed, and this was the system selected by Baena" (41). This 
statement is supported by a reference to Tavani (1969c), but Tavani's findings do not 
adequately support the opinion. Tavani's reconstruction of the manuscript tradition distin- 
guishes four stages: small manuscripts of individual poets (1969c, 153-67), then "raccolte 
poetiche dedicate ad un solo autore e di proporzioni maggiori" (167-72), then collections of 
medium size containing the work of a number of poets (172-75), and finally the big cancio- 
neiros. The evidence about the third stage is ambiguous: Tavani refers to "una serie di 
chierici-trovatori riuniti assieme nella stessa sezione del canzoniere, con poesie appartenenti 
ai generi piu disparati" (174; see also 178), but he does not mention arrangement by genre 
within the work of a single poet at this stage, and his study as a whole points firmly towards 
genre as the main basis for organization once the stage of single-poet manuscripts is past; the 
existence of a single-genre anthology, the Cancioneiro da Ajuda, is powerful evidence for this 
hypothesis. Even if that were not the case, we should still lack evidence for anything in the 
Galician-Portuguese textual tradition that resembled the Provencal vida plus razo system. 
Weiss (1990) says: 

These cancioneiros supply the additional precedent for Baena's anthology in the 
occasional use of rudimentary rubrics. These come down to us mainly in the section 
devoted to satiric verse in the two Italian collections (unfortunately, the scribes never 
filled in the spaces left for rubrics in the Canioneiro da Ajuda). (41) 

The rubrics that are found are, as Weiss says, rudimentary, though he finds one exception: 

where the compiler gives rare details about Martin [Soares]'s origins and his excellence 
as a poet. This may have reflected a wider practice, current in smaller anthologies 
now lost to us, whose purpose was to preserve and confer authority upon the work 
of an individual or local community of poets. (41) 

That is possible, but the hypothesis rests on slender evidence — much too slender, I think, to 
justify preferring it to the clear similarity between Baena's rubrics and the Provencal pattern 
of uida plus razo. Even the closest approximation in Galician-Portuguese to Baena's prac- 
tice — the razo-type rubrics in the Cantigas de Santa Maria, with an initial poem that to some 
extent corresponds to the vida — is not as close as the Proven^al-Baena resemblance. 


challenge and an inspiration to hispanomedievalists. We now, thanks to the 
monumental achievement of Brian Dutton and his collaborators (1982, 1990- 
91), have the equipment with which to respond to that challenge. ^^ 

In the wider European context, we need to bring together specialists in dif- 
ferent languages to pool information and to bounce ideas off each other. The 
1989 Liege conference {Lyrique 1991), at which two-thirds of the papers were 
concerned with topics wider than a single anthology, made an excellent start 
for the Romance languages, and the publication of the discussions as well as 
the papers adds to the value of the volume. I have for the last few years been 
thinking of a conference at which each of a dozen lyric languages of the Mid- 
dle Ages would be represented by a specialist, so that common problems in the 
study of candoneros as units could be identified and possible solutions discussed. 
The time has clearly come to pursue this idea. 

Second, we need, as a minimum, a union catalogue of poetic anthologies 
and other formally constituted poetic manuscripts and early printed texts com- 
piled in Europe between the fall of the Roman Empire in the West and about 
1600, in all languages (including Arabic and Hebrew). There would be ob- 
vious advantages in including all manuscripts and early printed texts containing 
lyrics, but these might be offset by delays in completing the project. The 
catalogue should, in addition to codicological details, history of the manu- 
script, and library location, list the poets (with number of poems — in each 
language, in the case of a bilingual poet), and give the number of anonymous 

■"* An announcement of a new collaborative project, "Intavulare: tavole di canzonieri 
romanzi (lirica delle origini)," directed by Anna Ferrari, is distributed with Lyrique 1991. It 
will provide for each major manuscript anthology a volume containing indexes of first lines 
and authors, with all relevant supplementary material. This will make comparative studies 
within the Romance field much easier, as wiU Anna M. Gudayol i Torrello's dissertation (in 
preparation). The practical reasons for the exclusion of English, German, Latin, and other 
languages from the Intavulare project are easy to understand, though the exclusion is regret- 
table. I also regret that the announcement makes no mention of Brian Dutton's work, 
though it is implicitly recognized by the absence of Castilian from the list of volumes in press 
and in preparation. The extent to which Dutton and his collaborators have surpassed the 
bibliographical tools available for the study of other lyric traditions may be gauged by com- 
paring Dutton and Krogstad 1990-91 with Tlie Index of Middle English Verse (Brown and 
Robbins 1943; Robbins and Cutler 1965). The Index, indispensable though it is, is relatively 
unsophisticated and inflexible and lacks the copious indexing of Dutton and Krogstad. Julia 
Boffey and two American collaborators have recently begun work on a replacement, which, 
it is to be hoped, will build on Dutton's technical achievements and conceptual structure, as 
well as on the vast quantity of information in the original Index. Information about the 
Intavulare project may be obtained firom Professor Ferrari, Facolta di Lettere, Dip. Studi 
Romanzi, Universita La Sapienza, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Roma, Italy, or firom Pro- 
fessor Madeleine Tyssens, Faculte de Philosophic et Lettres, Dep. d'Etudes Romanes, Uni- 
versite de Liege, Place Cockerill, 4000 Liege, Belgium. 


poems. A detailed inventory of each anthology would make the catalogue so 
extensive that only the wealthiest scholars could think of acquiring it (at least 
until the price of CD-ROMS and the necessary hardware falls sharply). Such 
inventories are best left to those working in a single language, either as a 
comprehensive Dutton-style inventory for all the material in that language or 
as a single-manuscript volume of the type mentioned in note 38. I do not 
think it is unreasonably optimistic to suppose that at least a tentative union 
catalogue could be produced fairly rapidly. Without it, those of us who are 
interested in comparative medieval lyric studies will be working in, at best, the 

Third, we need teams to work on editions of bilingual and multilingual 
cancioneros. Segovia is now much better known, thanks to Lama 1994, but a full 
edition and study would probably require the collaboration of specialists in the 
late medieval lyric of all five of the languages used and of at least one musicol- 
ogist. A similarly large team would be needed for a full study of the PixMcourt 
Chansonnier, though linguistically less varied anthologies could be covered by 
a smaller team, and those without music and confined to two languages might 
sometimes need only a single scholar. An adequate study of a multilingual po- 
etic court, though it could occasionally be carried out by one widely read and 
linguistically talented scholar, is in general another obvious case for teamwork. 

Fourth, editions and studies of the work of bilingual poets such as Avinyo, 
Nuno Gonzalez, Fernam da Silveira, and Torrellas, once rare, are now being 
undertaken with increasing and welcome frequency in Catalonia, and it is to 
be hoped that Portuguese scholars will follow this example. This task too 
could advantageously be done in collaboration, since there are not many schol- 
ars who are equally familiar with fifteenth-century Castilian and Catalan or 
with Castilian and Portuguese, lyric poetry and archival materials. (To avoid 
any misunderstanding I should add that many monolingual poets, indeed, the 
great majority, are also overdue for such monographic treatment and that 
where valuable contributions remain unpublished in theses and dissertations 
[e.g.. Foreman 1969 on Quiros, V. Richardson 1981 on five early Baena poets, 
and Tillier 1985, 124-27 on Juan Tallante] they should be made accessible in 
a way that would protect the authors firom plagiarism.) 

Fifth, even though the percentages of bilingual poems, or poets, or cancio- 
neros are relatively low — for instance, about 10-12 percent of all late medieval 
poetic anthologies within a given linguistic tradition seem to be to some ex- 
tent bilingual (see the evidence in section 4) — they are high enough to make 
nonsense of any attempt to study the late medieval lyric tradition of any lan- 
guage in isolation.'''^ My work, still obviously very tentative, on bilingualism 

•^^ The same is, of course, true in other areas of research: A. I. Doyle observes that "it 
has been a common mistake to suppose that one can reach any reliable conclusions about 
books and their users in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by confining one's view to 
books in one language only" (1983, 163). 


has reinforced a conviction that has grown on me since I planned, in the early 
1980s, the course on medieval lyric for the MA in Medieval Studies at Queen 
Mary and Westfield College. I do not claim any originality for this point of 
view: Peter Dronke and Stephen Reckert, in very different ways, have for 
many years been demonstrating with consistent brilliance the need for a 
multilingual approach to lyric (see Reckert 1993). Neither do I wish to join 
the depressingly long list of those who insist that before studying medieval 
literature one must first be familiar with some other subject. Of course it is 
possible to study many poems and many poets satisfactorily within the bounds 
of a single language. But if we want to study some poets, or any lyric tradition 
as a whole, a multilingual approach is inescapable. We cannot even, in most 
cases, confine ourselves to pairs of languages: as we have seen, Castilian exists 
side by side in cancioneros with Catalan, Italian, Latin, and Portuguese, in a 
different way with Galician, and occasionally with Arabic, Basque, English, 
Flemish, and French; French coexists with Basque, Castilian, English, Latin, 
and Provengal; English with Castilian, Flemish, French, Italian, Latin, and 
Welsh; Latin with Castilian, Czech, English, French, and German; and so on. 
The web of relationships in medieval European lyric cannot be cut at any 
point without distorting the pattern, and I am not sure that my restriction of 
that statement to Europe is justified."*" 

Queen Mary and Westfield College 

'"' I am grateful to Mr. John Gornall for a copy of his unpublished paper, to Dr. Victor 
de Lama for allowing me to use his dissertation (now pubUshed: Lama de la Cruz 1994) 
before its examination, and to Professor Jacques Joset and Mr. John Perivolaris for supplying 
me with elusive bibliographical items. Professor Vicente Beltran, Dr. Roger Boase, Dr. Juha 
BofFey, Dr. Lluis Cabre, Dr. David Fallows, Professor R. Geraint Gruffydd, Professor 
Thomas R. Hart, Professor David Hook, Dr. Tony Hunt, Dr. Linda Paterson, Dr. Silvia 
Ranawake, and Dr. Jane Whetnall very kindly commented on the first draft of this paper, 
correcting many errors and providing me with invaluable information and bibliographical 
references. I have also benefited from the discussion of the second draft at the Conference, 
and especially from the information provided by Professor Michael Gerli and Professor 
Regula Rohland de Langbehn. In the final stage of transforming successive drafts into the 
published version, I have been greatly helped by the detailed comments and suggestions of 
the editors, Professor Gerli and Professor Julian Weiss. Their confidence that I could, with 
a little help, realize their Platonic ideal of a paper on bilingualism in the cancioneros was ill- 
founded, but it led me to the solution of a number of problems. For all this assistance, my 
heartfelt thanks. 

Reading Cartagena: Blindness, Insight and Modernity 
in a Cancionero Poet 


Veritas est aedequatio verbi et ret 

Cancionero poetry's status as a philological phenomenon (e.g., the monu- 
mental textual work completed by Brian Dutton 1982, 1990-91), or 
simply as a social document recording the lyric musings of a declining medi- 
eval aristocracy (e.g., Boase 1978), has obscured the artistic merit, innova- 
tion, and intellectual complexity of many of the individual poets we find prac- 
ticing it. Worse still, it has conditioned a repudiation of many of these poets 
as objects of serious intellectual, literary, and cultural interest. Until very re- 
cently, with few exceptions (notably Whinnom 1981, Macpherson 1985, and 
Weiss 1990), the only critical responses directed toward the majority of can- 
cionero poets have been circumscribed to a negative, to a philological, or to a 
strictly sociohistorical one. When they are read, if they are read at all today, it 
seems that it is always as a duty. Seen only as the mouthpieces of an effete rul- 
ing class given over to the pursuit of abstract, mannered, verse, cancionero poets 
have been labeled little more than textual curiosities or practitioners of a 
"primitive" form of poetic discourse against which to measure the lyric flights 
taken by the revolutionary Boscan or the divine Garcilaso (Lapesa 1985), who 
boldly accommodated the themes and forms of the Italian Renaissance to 
Spanish letters. 

Despite the philological enterprise, the exploitation of cancionero poetry as 
the black backdrop by which to contrast and construct the splendors of the 
Renaissance, or its depiction as a microcosm of the decline and crisis of the 
medieval world, none of these gestures accounts for several disconcerting facts: 
(1) that cancionero poetry was perhaps the single most persistent cultural activity 
in Spain during a period spanning nearly one hundred and fifty years; (2) that 
it remained the staple form of Spanish poetry almost into the seventeenth cen- 


tury; and (3) that we persistently fail to appreciate its very status as an innova- 
tive art form, as literature, and as an intellectual pursuit. My purpose here is to 
illustrate the rich, unexplored literary and cultural possibilities offered by one 
of these poets, Cartagena, and to seek to articulate by way of this example the 
w^ealth of cerebral complexity, as well as the artistic, linguistic, and ideological 
significance of the poetry written by him and others at court during the reign 
of the Catholic Monarchs. By beginning with the fundamental premise that 
the prevailing models governing the discussion of cancionero poetry often fail to 
take note of the interpretive criteria offered by the texts themselves, and by 
appealing to the texts themselves, it is possible to discover cancionero poetry's 
allure for the thoughtful modern reader and vindicate its condition as a signifi- 
cant literary idiom worthy of our interest. 

Until very recently, despite the fact that Cartagena was one of the most 
copied poets in the various editions of the Cancionero general, we were not even 
assured of his identity. Indeed, as late as 1987 one leading contemporary spe- 
cialist on Renaissance Spanish poetry (in his annotations to Cristobal de Casti- 
Uejo's "Reprension contra los poetas que escriben en verso italiano") mistakes 
our poet for his maternal grandfather's brother, Alonso de Cartagena, the hu- 
manist bishop of Burgos (Rivers 1987, 52 n. 42). Yet during his short life 
(1456—86), and well into the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Pedro de 
Cartagena, our poet, was celebrated as one of the most inventive lyric voices 
of his age (see Avalle-Arce 1974a). Castillejo considered him one of the 
paradigmatic voices of the cancionero tradition, and he invokes him to counter 
the strange lyric heresies imported from Italy by Boscan and Garcilaso. At the 
same time Castillejo places Pedro de Cartagena in the company of Juan de 
Mena, Jorge Manrique, Bartolome de Torres Naharro, and Garci Sanchez de 
Badajoz (Rivers 1987, 52). Similarly, the poet Tapia, next to Santillana the 
single most copied poet of the entire cancionero corpus (Dutton 1982, 189—90, 
where he appears with 75 entries), pays lasting homage to the departed Car- 
tagena by declaring that it was the latter's example that compelled him to write 

Por vos el dulce trobar 
en mi mano titubea, 
y por vos, a mi pensar, 
mi trobar deve quedar 
baxo y de baxa ralea. 
Porque vuestras invenciones 
y nuevas coplas estraiias 
levantan lindas razones 
que a los duros coraf ones 
abren luego las entranas. 
Y con vuestro seso neto 
a mi seso le acaesce 
como al simple lo discrete 


como al bovo lo perfecto, 

qu'en mirallo s'embevesce. (IICG, fol. 152 r, vf 

Deferring to Cartagena's undisputed mastery of poetry, Tapia above all praises 
him for the novel inventiveness of his verse, the subtlety of his wit ("vuestro 
seso neto"), and the depth, novelty, and complexity of his thoughts. However, 
for Tapia this is not enough. In the same panegyric, he goes on to compare 
Cartagena to Santillana, just to conclude that as a poet Cartagena surpasses the 

Que yo he visto coplas vuestras 
y d'aquel gran trobador, 
el marques, que con sus muestras 
las mas diestras son siniestras, 
pero vos levais la flor. (fol. 152v) 

Later, Garcilaso de la Vega, Fernando de Herrera, and Baltasar Gracian also 
distinguish Cartagena as a touchstone of poetic wit and virtuosity.^ How can 
this be so? A brief look at one or two of Cartagena's compositions, I believe, 
will answer the question and oblige us to take more seriously Castillejo's, Ta- 
pia's, Garcilaso's, Herrera's, and Gracian's judgments. 

Like many cancionero poets, though perhaps more than most, Cartagena ex- 
emplifies a profound preoccupation with language and the paradoxes posed by 
its utterance and understanding. He illustrates this at the level not only of writ- 
ten and spoken language itself, as we shall see, but of language in its broadest 
sense, by perceiving the material world as a text challenging readers to decode 
it. In his poetry everything is seldom what it seems. For Cartagena, under- 
standing the meaning of visual and verbal texts implies intellectual effort, and 
as a result, ambiguous images and tropes of obfuscation are deliberately de- 
ployed in his compositions to illustrate the point and to test the wits and the 
linguistic acumen of his readers. Indeed, his preoccupation with interpretation 
and the possibility of misunderstanding is perhaps his major intellectual con- 
cern and certainly his most recurring and well-focused poetic motif In all this 
he betrays an obsession with the contradictions of signification and the empti- 
ness of language — the difficulty of establishing agreement between signs and 
their meaning — that seems to shape fifteenth-century Spanish courtly culture. 

' All citations from the Cancionero general (IICG) are taken from Dutton's edition (1990- 

^ Indeed, Herman Iventosch (1965, 221-27) ventures that Cartagena's "Entre el corazon 
y los ojos" (IICG fol. 86v-87r) may well have served as Garcilaso de la Vega's most imme- 
diate model for the composition of his Sonnet 10, "jOh dulces prendas por mi mal halladas!" 
In his 1580 Anotaciones to Garcilaso's poetry, Fernando Herrera cites Cartagena in his 
explanatory notes (see Gallego Morell 1972, 323); v^hile Gracian (1969, 1:238-39, 253), 
though mistaking him for his great uncle Alonso de Cartagena, uses his verse as prime exam- 
ples of poetic wit and conceit. 


As I have argued elsewhere, the view that truth resides solely in linguistic 
perception seems to underlie the poetics of cancionero verse (see Gerli 1990— 
91), w^here the craft of poetry is conceived essentially as a counterfeit art (Jingir 
and fingimiento are the terms most often used in formulating its theoretical 
definition) in both the allegorical as well as the constructive sense. Indeed, the 
notions of substitution, proxy, and counterfeit are so widespread in cancionero 
poetics that at certain moments the anxiety produced at the ersatz and surro- 
gate nature of gestures, words, and images conspicuously becomes the object 
of a poem itself, as in Cartagena's imaginative "No juzgueis por la color." In 
"No juzgueis por la color," Cartagena seeks to disabuse some ladies, explaining 
that the red he and his gentlemen friends are wearing fails to reflect their inner 

Otra suya porque le dixeron unas damas que por que dezia 

el y otros companeros suyos que estavan tristes, que en su 

vestir publicavan el contrario porque ivan vestidos 

de grana, y Cartagena responde por todos. 

No juzgueis por la color, 
sefioras, que nos cobria, 
qu'a las vezes el amor 
haze muestras d'alegria 
con qu'encubre su dolor. 
Por do nuestro Colorado 
en su ser sera muy cierto 
al sepulcro comparado, 
que de fuera esta dorado 
y de dentro el cuerpo muerto. 
(IICG, fol. 88r) 

In this composition, Cartagena plays not only with the idea of courtly love as 
a deceptive game but with the notion of the perils of interpreting texts that are 
seen, as well as written and spoken. Through his evocation of the essential 
duplicity of his brightly colored clothes, his ingenious verses insist that visual 
images and allegories must be uttered, as well as observed, in order to be more 
fully understood and that the red he displays, rather than a joyous mark of 
passion, is a red herring — an unstable emblem of a language in rebus, which 
fails to be mutually interchangeable with the language in verbis. 

In his essentially semiotic conception of words and plastic images Cartagena 
leads us to understand that perception may only be a form of habituation and 
to realize new meanings and the possibility of dichotomy and contradiction in 
all signs. His confrontation with the values traditionally apportioned to the 
symbols and the language of love provide, really, a challenge to the worn pic- 
torial tropes of medieval rhetoric (typos, schema, ftgura, paradeigma), which are 
implicitly shown here to be unreliably metaphoric, laborious, and essentially 


The ability of signs and language to mediate realities becomes dubious in 
Cartagena's poem, as both are perceived as unmetonymnic and seen to pose 
problems of perception and interpretation rather than to constitute a medium 
for knowledge, communication, and consensus. In its gallant measured verses, 
Cartagena's composition becomes a form of rhetorical, literary, and pictorial 
iconoclasm, which teaches us to distrust the logocentric and pictocentric un- 
derstanding of the universe. As he does this, he dramatizes the radical estrange- 
ment of the self from its visual and linguistic bonds to the world. Indeed, in 
his brief poem the world itself, no longer a mirror of divine truths and a re- 
pository of facts, becomes a fiction, and its portrayal now provokes anxieties 
in our desultory attempts to decipher it. The poem ends by fending off the 
surface enticements of visual perception and characterizing negatively what on 
the exterior seem to some as affirmative representations of joy and ardor. In 
one stroke, through this optical and verbal conceit, Cartagena seizes brilliantly 
the rhetorical, emotional, and intellectual feints, the perfidious role playing, at 
the heart of cancionero poetry and at the base of late medieval love theory and 
courtly ideology. 

The dichotomy of sign and sense in Cartagena's clothing may be read as a 
metaphor for his conception of love poetry itself, where the colors of speech, 
the colores rhetorici of the medieval arts of composition, are themselves inferred 
to be unstable, illusory, and deceptive substitutes for what they are intended to 
mean. The poet, as Juan Alfonso de Baena (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:15), Alvarez 
Gato (ed. Artiles Rodriguez 1928, 54), and others insist, traffics in amorous 
illusions and is best when he is a fabricator of the real-seeming lies of love, 
since poetry itself is an artifice, "un fmgimiento," in Santillana's words (ed. 
Gomez Moreno and Kerkhof 1988, 439). Cartagena understands this and, 
rather than conspire in the perjury of love and language, he prefers to rid us 
of their false representations by exposing their dangerous complicity. Language 
is thus employed to deconstruct not just the myth of the univocality of signs 
but that of the consubstantiality of love and eloquence. Cartagena introduces 
the problematics of perspective to the game of poetry as well as to the game 
of love, and he enacts the fundamental alienation of the linguistic self from its 
ties to the empirical world. Both visual and rhetorical colors, rather than clari- 
fying, lead us to stumble among blinding illusions of passion that continually 
tempt us to grasp for false hopes and false truths, just to end by defrauding us. 
Language and art fail now to imitate feeling and understanding, and they be- 
come the field where anxious losing battles for the truth are waged. 

Cartagena's "No juzgueis por la color" finds its origins in a discrete yet 
little-studied cancionero tradition, and doubtless stems from his meditation upon 
that tradition — the so-called courtly inuenciones, which combined visual and 
material elements named devisas with letras or motes (texts intended to gloss 
ingeniously a plastic, visual image, often an item of clothing). Tapia, as we saw 
above, reserved special praise for Cartagena's mastery o£ inuenciones . However, 
in "No juzgueis por la color" Cartagena boldly extends the art of the invencion 
beyond the clever, epigrammatic gloss of a material thing to explore not the 


analogous relationship between language and visual figures but the negation of 
one by the other and the contradictions posed by both. His poem leads to the 
realization that words and things belong to parallel but competing codes and 
that it is perhaps more possible to find ambiguity and juxtaposition in the 
reading of emblems than complementarity and understanding. Visual as well as 
verbal texts for Cartagena quite simply fail to be mimetic, as the meaning of 
his poem comes to rest upon the mutually contradictory relationship of images 
and their meanings — upon the inability of signs to embody the intentions we 
credit to them. In an astonishingly modern stroke, Cartagena's own self-por- 
trait, symbolized in the red he wears, when seen, or rather exegetically read by 
the poet, is virtually deprived of its external representational content. It is 
consequently given meaning only by the context the poem gives it. In "No 
juzgueis por la color," the key to enlightenment and understanding paradoxi- 
cally lies in withdrawing our gaze from the physical world. When we do so, 
we see the color in its correct referential perspective — he displays himself as a 
mere painted image offering only spurious insignias of love and cheer. His 
bright exterior in fact cloaks somber thoughts of pain, anguish, and visions of 
death. By denying visual perception its function, Cartagena constructs a view 
removed from the outer image but closer to the clarity of true vision, or 
revelation, which for him is essentially an emotional and intellectual enterprise. 
The need to grapple with the paradoxes and antitheses of perception runs 
throughout the rest of Cartagena's poetry. In another composition, for exam- 
ple, he explores further the tension between the need to see and understand 
and the perils of sight, leading us deeper into the dim labyrinth of texts, 
images, and interpretation he constructs. This poem plays ironically with the 
iconography of the white dove. Doubtless recognizing the flying dove as a 
symbol of reconciliation, thought, meditation, and language, Cartagena tam- 
pers with its message of hope, love, and understanding, which for the medieval 
Christian always lay in its pictorial representation (the dove is of course the 
explicit sign of faith and the Pentecost, where God bestows the gift of tongues 
and the understanding of the Word, where He restores linguistic unity and 
sense through His love and the promise of the gospel). Indeed, here the dove's 
traditional meaning is inverted and finds its correct, vexing, and confounding 
sense only in the vanishing point of the suffering soul of the lover: 

Otra suya porque su amiga le mostro una paloma hlanca 
que bolava, y il dlzele lo que significa. 

El ave que me mostrastes 
dos diferencias figura 
que me ponen division; 
que si bien vos la miraste, 
su blancura y mi tristura 
dos contrariedades son. 

Yet in this poem Cartagena is not content just with assigning a negative 


value to the traditionally auspicious Christian image of the flying dove. He 
then goes on to restore the white dove's positive epiphanic sense, but only 
because in its contrary mirroring of his dark sadness it signals the joy he feels 
upon suffering for his lady: 

Mas yo pierdo la querella 

de mi pues mi mal m'alegra, 

aunque mi ventura es negra 

no lo es la causa d'ella. (11 CG, fol. 88r) 

In this composition, Cartagena establishes the possibility of various perspectives 
and meanings and endows the white dove with an inescapable, dynamically 
changing, indeed manifold, sense whose multiple messages can only be ade- 
quately known within the context of his developing interpretation of it. His 
emphasis eschews sight and prior knowledge of symbolic meanings and shows 
the nature of understanding to be a process of unfolding revelation. Cartagena's 
poem on the drama of the dove thus stands independently as a monument to 
individual perception rather than as an example of a narrative sequence pre- 
supposing the flawless cooperation of image, text, and the reader that guides 
us along a firm course of easy comprehension to a universally understood con- 
clusion. It establishes that the truth may be, and often is, misread and that it 
emerges only from an arduous, changing process of private perception lacking 
external guarantors. In short, his poem alerts us to the persistent necessity of 

Cartagena's awareness of ambiguity, dichotomy, and contradiction leads to 
its almost consuming pursuit in his verse and becomes one of the distinguish- 
ing marks of his lyric idiom. In another poem by him dedicated to "Un loco 
Uamado Baltanas," for example, the composition's full malicious sense hinges 
not upon visual conundrums but entirely upon the equivocal aural homophony 
of "lo que os" and "locos": 

Loc'os haze her hazana, 
Baltanas mi buen amigo. 
Loc'os mata, loc'os daiia. 
loc'os dizen, loc'os digo, 
loc'os fuer^a, loc'os ciega, 
loc'os haze her tal obra, 
y loc'os el seso niega, 
y loc'os dexa os Uega, 
por loc'os falta y no sobra. 
Assi que loc'os diria, 
y loc'os quiero dezir, 
y loc'os escriviria, 
y loc'os quiero escrevir, 
es que deveys de comer 
cosas para la cabe^a, 


por qu'el seso que tropie^a 

no va lexos de caer. (14CG, fol. 210v) 

Here, Cartagena humorously probes the authority of spoken language, as the 
reader, depending on his temperament and inclination, is constantly challenged 
to succumb to, or deflect, the phonic enticement of fun at the expense of 
another — the irresistible allure of being interpretively mischievous and trans- 
gressive. Yet in all its flippancy and devilment, Cartagena's composition ad- 
dresses important issues of discursive and textual authority. The verbal play, 
though clever and fun, deepens our awareness of the irony of language and 
calls attention to the fact that understanding is always at risk in unexamined 
texts. The interpretive instability of this linguistically deranged poem does 
nothing less than raise the fundamental issue of the nature of the truth and the 
awareness of the recurring, easy possibility of misreading it and toppling into 

In another context, for Cartagena poetry and eloquence are themselves 
deceptive and embody a mendacious discourse whose sole end is not praise but 
self-indulgence. Responding to his lady's request to expose the dishonest 
words of men, he places himself in the position of revealing the hidden truths 
that move the fraudulent "art" of displaying masculine aficion: 

No creais que nadie pena 
si mucho lo ha encarescido, 
que dezir su razon buena, 
si bien mirais, se condena 
para ser menos creido. 

For Cartagena, eloquence and truth exist in inverse proportions; words of love 
and anguish constitute empty gestures which, though visibly and audibly real, 
do nothing more than conceal fickle desire: 

Fingen los deseperados, 
dizen lo que olvidan luego; 
estos son los bien librados, 
que pensais que van quemados, 
y ellos van libres de huego. 

Accomplished players in a performance, well-spoken suitors enact a simula- 
crum of love before the world in which the truth is falsehood and lies are 
offered up as the truth: 

Y por mas disimular 

en pla^a, donde ay mas gente, 

alii comien^an negar, 

un negar qu'es afirmar, 

lo que por ventura miente. 

Finally, in a notably wry reference to the deceitful measure of his own fluency. 


Cartagena subtly alludes to two of the three poems that we have examined 
above. He concludes that insincere lovers: 

. . . lo secreto 

tienen sobre falso armado; 

qu'el que mas cierto es sugeto 

ni troca bianco por prieto, 

ni prieto por Colorado. (11 CG, fol. 87v) 

In the end, for Cartagena the only reliable emblem of love remains linguistic 
confusion and the absence of eloquence, the inability to convey what the heart 
holds, made difficult by the desire to conceal emotion: 

Qu'el que tiene passion cierta 

no ha de saber dezir 

de que manera padesce, 

sin una ravia encubierta 

d'un morir por encubrir. (IICG, fol. 87r) 

Cartagena's poetry, then, becomes the locus for the formulation of a theory 
of the deceptions of the gestures both of love and of rhetoric. His poetic 
personality centers around the potential for hoax in language, passion, and 
even the images offered up by the material world. His verse becomes a point 
where the essential fraudulence of speech, image, and the visible displays of 
love meet, become one, and vanish into the distance. 

The value of Cartagena's poetry stems from the conscious and persistent 
exploration of the uncertain dynamic that he establishes between signs and 
their meaning. In his compositions there is a deliberate deployment of illusive 
images indicating that the semantic congruence between signans and sij^natum 
can never be taken for granted in either of the arts of love or poetry. There is 
a recurring questioning of the notion that language can be duplicative — that its 
thoughts and objects are essentially connected to the words and signs used to 
portray them. Cartagena's poetry thus enacts a drama of perception in which 
things as well as utterances are rendered conventional, but especially those 
words and objects that, when taken at face value, are judged as illustrations of 
passion. In his expressions of courtly love, signs become detached from their 
real meaning, and they constitute a questionable medium for the grasping of 
the truth. 

Cartagena's elegantly subtle verse shows a deep mistrust of all sense experi- 
ence, underlining the latter's ephemeral nature, while stressing that the net- 
work of correspondences between the language of imagery, the sounds of 
speech, and their referents may never be secured. Though on the surface 
Cartagena's poetry deals with the fifteenth-century conventions of courtly 
love, the acts of seeing, hearing, reading, and understanding in the poetry con- 
tinually strain within a widening gap in which the verbal, the visual, and the 
intellectual experience is estranged. In dramatizing this struggle of perception, 
his verse thus speaks eloquently to our contemporary sensibilities. 


While Cartagena's poetry was written over half a millennium ago, in read- 
ing it today, though we are far removed from the social triflings of love at 
court, we are ineluctably led to reflect self-consciously upon the limits of our 
own perception and to appreciate how precariously visual and verbal images 
still meet our eye and ear. The difficulties of perceiving the sense of things are 
repeatedly asserted in the poems we have examined in phrases like "no creais 
... si bien mirais," as Cartagena creates a world that is constantly in need of 
close scrutiny and translation as a result of the ongoing transformations of 
meaning in it. Each of his poems somehow concerns a form of language (oral, 
visual, gestural), its discursive conventions, and its failure to tell the truth in 
confrontation with the need to know it. In his "mannered" love poetry, Car- 
tagena speaks pointedly to the postmodern imagination by showing us how 
insight requires much more than simple seeing and believing and how it calls 
for judicious reflection on the demanding balance between the poles of the 
empirical and the spiritual world. Conjecture and interpretation, rather than 
representation, constitute the center and soul of the arts of love and poetry for 
Cartagena, and in them both, insight supplants vision as his verse becomes the 
setting for a conflict between signs and the thoughts and emotions they 
allegedly signify. As Patrick Gallagher remarks about Cartagena in his study of 
The Life and Works of Garci Sanchez de Badajoz, he was in the vanguard of a 
new, highly intellectualized and intense poetry that flourished at the end of the 
fifteenth and at the beginning of the sixteenth centuries "in which passion and 
poetic artifice were wedded: the school which refined the paradox and cul- 
tivated antithesis in order to express, ever more subtly, elegantly and ingeni- 
ously, the tensions of courtly love" (1968, 211). In reading him today, Carta- 
gena is still capable of enacting a fervent struggle in which the poet, the lover, 
and the reader are made to feel pulled in several directions simultaneously. 

The unmistakable self-conscious exploration of, and anxiety about, the me- 
diatory role of language and text in Cartagena's poetry is not an anachronism 
imposed upon his compositions by contemporary readers. Rather, it reflects 
one of the most profound, yet still unexplored, intellectual predicaments in 
late fifteenth-century Iberia and is at the heart of many of the early academic 
and humanistic attempts to describe and formulate linguistic norms for the ver- 
nacular. To be sure, Cartagena was not alone in his heightened preoccupation 
with truth, signification, and the authority of language. His concerns were 
shared by many of his contemporaries and criss-cross fifteenth-century Spanish 
culture. They may be found in authors as diverse as Nebrija, Fernando de 
Rojas, Cartagena's learned great uncle Alonso de Cartagena, and Fernan Perez 
de Guzman. The latter, for example, exhibits serious misgivings that even his- 
torical discourse, with its responsibility to the truth, may often be fallacious. 
Struggling distrustfully against what he believes to be a mendacious tradition 
of historiographical texts, Perez de Guzman begins his Generaciones y semblanzas 
with a note of interpretive cynicism that undermines history's textual authori- 
ty: "Muchas vezes acaes^e," he says, "que las coronicas e estorias que fablan de 
los poderosos reyes e notables prin^ipes e grandes fibdades, son avidas por 


sospechosas e in^iertas e les es dada poca fe e abtoridat" (ed. Tate 1965, 1). 

A reaction to the question of textual authority may also be found in the 
academy, where Nebrija, doubtless responding to an intellectual environment 
that openly began to challenge the broader notion of a logocentric universe, 
emphatically confronts the issue in his University of Salamanca repetitio, 
solemnly pronounced at the end of the academic year in 1486 (published in 
1503). Invoking first the judgment of Quintilian ("litterarum figurae ad hoc 
sint excogitatae 'ut custodiant uoces'" ["letters were invented so as to "safe- 
guard words"] Instituto oratoria I, vii, 31), Nebrija's orthodox dissertation goes 
on to portray the invention of words as a gift of Providence to humankind 
("atque munus hoc litterarum, quod nullum mains ab homine uel potius diuina 
quadam prouidentia est inuentum ..." ["and this gift of letters, the greatest 
invention of humankind, or rather of Divine Providence ..." 34-35]) and 
concludes by raising the specter of the moral and civic perils that would ensue 
if such a truth were to be denied: 

Primum disputationis nostrae fundamentum ab eo proficiscatur in quo 
plerique omnes facile consentiunt: litteras ea potissimum de causa fuisse 
excogityatas, ut per illas quasi per quaedam signa tum absentes uiui, turn 
posteros morituri certiores facere possemus iis de rebus quae ad priuatam 
publicamue utilitatem pertinerent. Nam quemadmodum Aristoteles tra- 
dit, eo modo litterae uerba humanis uocibus informata designant quo 
uerba ipsa res mente conceptas quae per ea significant. Quod si non 
quattuor haec ex ordine sibi inuincem consentirent — dico res conceptus 
uoces litterae — .interirent utique commercia et publica fides qua homi- 
num societas continetur, interirent omnes artes et scientiae quae uitam 
humanam cultiorem reddunt, interiret denique hie ipse sacrarum littera- 
rum splendor quibus ad christianam relligionem instituimur et docemur. 
(ed. Quilis and Usabel 1987, 36) 

[The basis of my disputation, which nearly all easily acknowledge, is this: 
that letters were invented above all so that we, the living, through them 
might be able to communicate with the dead and with posterity con- 
cerning those things that are both privately and publicly useful. Thus, as 
Aristotle teaches, letters signify the words uttered by the voice, the same 
way that words themselves signify the concepts that are expressed 
through them. However, if these four elements (i.e., things, concepts, 
sounds, and letters) did not concur, communication and public trust, 
which sustain human association, would collapse completely; the arts and 
sciences, which enrich cultural life, would collapse; and finally, the very 
splendor of Scripture, which equips and instructs us in the Christian 
religion, would collapse.] 

Clearly, Nebrija's emphatic affirmation of the providentially ordained nature of 
language constitutes resistance to an intellectual and cultural milieu that was 
rapidly contradicting the ancient sacred truths of his assertions. For Nebrija, 


the traditional bonds between words and things were undoubtedly being 

The latter half of the fifteenth century in Spain, as elsewhere, then, was 
haunted with questions of language and authority. This obsession was ex- 
pressed not only in scholarly polemic but in the production of grammars and 
vocabularies (e.g., of Nebrija and Alonso de Palencia), as well as in implicit 
articulations of the problem in belletristic texts like Cartagena's. As lay culture 
experienced a veritable explosion of vernacular literacy and textuality in the 
form of poetry, theology, historiography, rhetoric, and philosophy — not to 
mention the burgeoning bureaucracy devised to govern an increasingly pow- 
erful monarchy and centralized state — language became a locus of inquiry, 
meditation, and anxiety in the early modern intellectual life of Iberia (see Law- 
rance 1991). 

As Michel Foucault (1971) and Timothy Reiss (1982) have argued, the 
logocentric tradition of analogy that governed Western thought from ancient 
times until the beginning of the Renaissance was supplanted at the dawn of 
modernity by a system of conceptualization based on reason and individualized 
logical identity. Reiss describes an epistemological transformation involving the 
abandonment of an analogical discourse of associative patterning in favor of an 
order of thinking involving "the expression of knowledge as a reasoning prac- 
tice upon the world" (1982, 30) in which the mind seeks to understand the 
world from the vantage point of its own autonomy. At the center of this intel- 
lectual and cultural revolution, ultimately culminating in the emergence of the 
Cartesianism in the seventeenth century, lies, as Foucault asserts, the realization 
of the dissociative, conventional nature of language and a heightened aware- 
ness of difference (1971, 17). By the end of the fifteenth century, linguistic 
practices of any kind, but especially reading and writing, provided within this 
new cognitive paradigm occasions to explore dissimilarities rather than to 
affirm the essential likenesses between all things. 

Writers like Cartagena doubtless felt the heightened awareness of difference 
symptomatic of modernity, described by Reiss and Foucault, and came to ex- 
plore ambiguity, verbal dexterity, irony, and the perfidy of linguistic expres- 
sion in all their compositions. As we have seen, Cartagena in his courtly poetry 
actually explores the general problem of meaning or how intentions may be 
assigned to things that intrinsically do not possess them, reflecting in the con- 
text of courtly verse the broader intellectual question of language's ability to 
signify — the ineluctable enigma that lay at the heart of the new humanist ide- 
ology. In his ambitious, complicated verse, Cartagena always reverts to how 
initially beliefs, fears, hopes, passions, and desires — manifestations of subjectivi- 
ty — are directed at, and projected upon, the world in order to portray, inter- 
pret, and understand it. While he does this, he also uncovers the intricacies 
and contradictions in the problem of its representation. In a word, Cartagena's 
poetry leads us to discern in it a challenging intellectual program whose end is 
the investigation of the process of the embodiment of meaning and ultimately 
of the meaning of meaning itself The celebrity of Cartagena's verse in Spain 


during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and early seventeenth centuries doubtless stems 
firom his success in probing and integrating the enigmas of love, language, 
imagery, and communication, plus his explicit demonstration that in order to 
understand visual, spoken, and written images, the mind needs to reconstitute 
itself in the seclusion of its own language. 

If, after our brief examination of Cartagena's courtly verse — and by exten- 
sion the rich literary and cultural prospects offered by cancionero poetry in 
general — we feel obliged to abandon the idea that literature is a reflection of 
reality, then we might want to consider the notion that texts fabricate and ex- 
plore realities of their own. I feel certain that Cartagena himself would concur 
in this judgment, since the task of poetry for him, it would appear, was indeed 
just that: to underscore the errors that ensue from mistaking texts, reading, and 
experience for truth, actuality, and understanding, and the need to construct 
new intellectual realities grounded in the notion that all signs are speculative — 
despite the best evidence offered by our senses or our attempts to read them. 

I will close with a remark made by Paul De Man, from whom I have taken 
part of my title. De Man notes that 

prior to any generalization about literature, literary texts have to be read, 
and the possibility of reading can never be taken for granted. It is an act 
of understanding that can never be observed, nor in any way prescribed 
or verified. A literary text is not a phenomenal event that can be granted 
any form of positive existence, whether as a fact of nature or as an act of 
the mind. (1983, 107) 

Fifteenth-century Spanish culture, the same culture that produced Perez de 
Guzman, Nebrija, the cancioneros, and Cartagena, understood this well and 
through this intuition placed itself squarely at the threshold of modernity. 

Georgetoum University 

V: Politics, Society, Culture 

Jews and Converses 

in Fifteenth-Century Castilian Cancioneros: 

Texts and Contexts 


There now exists relatively abundant scholarship on the role of Jews and 
converses in fifteenth-century Castilian cancioneros, especially for the period 
extending from the Cancionero de Baena (c. 1426) to the appearance of the 
Cancionero general (1511). In it, one can find studies devoted to the larger phi- 
losophical and theological questions (which are a special feature in Baena) as 
well as to assorted doctrinal polemics in which Jews and converses seek to en- 
gage Old Christian authors. Similarly, there is a series of studies that purport 
to represent the real or imagined social and physical characteristics of these two 
groups, their problems, customs — even dietary habits and taboos — not to men- 
tion the persecutions, racial and reHgious discrimination, and even pogroms. 
The philosophical and theological themes of this poetry have been explored 
by Fraker (1966a, 1966b, 1966c, 1974) and by Ciceri (1991), and the bitter- 
even coarse — polemics and insults directed against Jews and converses have also 
been examined. There are also careful studies of one poet, a single cancionero, 
or a particular text relating to converse or judaic issues (some examples of such 
scholarship are cited below). Nonetheless, the greater part of this work can le- 
gitimately be characterized as fragmentary — in medias res — when measured 
against the larger historical context in which this poetry is found. That is to 
say, little effort has been made to place cancionero poetry within the larger his- 
torical coordinates of its production; to explore its thematic range (which 
extends fi-om serious religious and philosophical questions to the most brutal 
representations of the Other — the Jew and the converse) ; or to clarify its broad 
chronology, which parallels closely the contradictory events of history itself, 
taking us in the span of a century (1391-1492) from initial public persecutions 
to final expulsion from the Peninsula. Indeed, little has been done to take full 
measure of the connection between cancioneros and Jews and converses, which 


extends well beyond 1492 into the cultural and social history of the Golden 

It is imperative, therefore, to attempt to situate the problematic of Jews and 
conversos in the cancioneros within a broad historical framework and to follow 
closely the evolution of the ]&W\s\v/ converso question, that is, of anti-Semitism 
itself, during the social and political upheavals of the Trastamaran Dynasty. To 
be sure, upon close examination, it is easy to see that anti-Semitism may be 
traced as a latent theme as far back as the civil war between Pedro I of Castile 
and his half-brother, Enrique I of Trastamara (1360s). It is well known that 
during that struggle Trastamaran propaganda, intent upon proving Pedro's 
"illegitimacy," set in motion a defamatory campaign that proclaimed Pedro's 
Jewish origins and culminated in a series of popular ballads referring to the 
monarch by the contemptuous and allusive name of Pew Gil. Moreover, the 
Trastamaran rebels were not averse — with a helping hand from their French 
allies — to persecuting violently the Jewish population each time a town was 
taken during the civil war that brought them to power. This is the case, for 
example, with the city of Najera (1360), whose siege is narrated with chilling 
detachment by Pedro Lopez de Ayala, a turncoat and notable anti-Semite 
(traits that would later inform his Libra rimado de palacio) : 

Llegaron a Najara, e ficieron matar a los judios. E esta muerte de los ju- 
dios fizo facer el Conde Don Enrique [de Trastamara] porque las gentes 
lo facian de buena voluntad, e por el fecho mesmo tomaban miedo e 
recelo del Rey [Don Pedro], e se tenian con el Conde. (Lopez de Ayala 
1931, 106; for Jews and Castilian chronicles, see Gutwirth 1984) 

Pedro's assassination at the hands of his half-brother in 1369 is said to mark the 
end of that civil war with the ascension of the bastard Trastamaran Dynasty; 
yet it is also the harbinger of a conflict between nobility and monarchy, which 
was to endure until the crowning of the last Trastamaran monarch, Isabel I, in 
the next century. 

Leaving aside legal dispossession, brutal extorsion, and other similar mea- 
sures, institutionalized anti-Semitism, often bordering on terrorism, begins in 
Castile during the reigns of Enrique II (1369-79) and Juan I (1379-90), thanks 
to the preaching and actions of Ferran Martinez, archdeacon of Ecija and 
canon imd prouisor of the archbishopric of Seville (Amador de los Rios [1875] 
1960, 449-55). There was, hence, a long-standing cHmate of official, anti- 
Jewish sentiment that led directly to the events of 1391 (now in the reign of 
the third Trastamaran king, Enrique III), which was subsequently adopted in 
all the Christian kingdoms of the Peninsula. The pubhc anti-Semitic outcries 
of Fray Vicente Ferrer helped inflame the volatile atmosphere created by 
Ferran Martinez and his Trastamaran patrons: the former embarked upon an 
anti-Jewish campaign marked by dark Apocalyptic themes and intimidation. 
Indeed, the spectacular conversion of Selomo Ha-Levi, chief rabbi of Burgos, 
took place just in time, in 1390. Along with the rest of his family, he was 
transformed by the cleansing waters of baptism into the pious Pablo de Santa 


Maria, later the bishop of that city (Serrano 1942; Cantera Burgos 1952). All 
this occurs against the backdrop of the political and social conflicts of Enrique 
Ill's minority, provoked mainly by the personal ambitions of his tutors and the 
regents of the realm. 

In 1391, the Jewish communities (aljamas) of the Peninsula were bathed in 
blood and set afire by Christian mobs. The ancient mudijar custom of multi- 
ethnic living (convivencia) had been forever abjured. The pogroms of 1391 were 
followed by a string — a veritable rosary — of conversions; more sermons from 
Fray Vicente Ferrer; new anti-Semitic laws, such as the measures adopted by 
the Cortes de Valladolid in 1405; and by new pogroms (Cordoba, 1406). Add 
to this the alleged poisoning of Enrique III by his Jewish physician, Don Mayr, 
vividly evoked in later anti-Semitic literature (Amador de los Rios [1875] 
1960, 495), and the historical events framing the Jewish/ converso debates in the 
cancioneros become even more striking. 

During the regency of Fernando de Antequera and Catherine of Lancaster 
(1406—19), uncle and mother of Juan II, there was a series of events that 
dramatically aggravated the existing tensions betweens Christians, Jews, and 
conversos. In 1410, for example, the rabbis from one of the synagogues in Sego- 
via desecrated the Host. The guilty parties were hung, and their temple was 
expropriated and transformed into a Christian church: the Church of Corpus 
Christi. These events were followed by a failed attempt to poison the city's 
bishop, a plot said to be hatched by Segovian Jews to avenge the temple's 
confiscation (Amador de los Rios [1875] 1960, 560-61). Shortly after, there 
ensued a new round of sermons from the indefatigable Fray Vicente Ferrer, 
w^ho preached throughout the Kingdom of Castile (Catedra 1994). His pulpit 
was a platform both for the anti-Semitic statutes adopted by Murcia in 1411 
(Gutwirth 1984) and especially for the infamous Ordenamiento sobre el encerra- 
miento de los judios e de los mows (Valladolid, 1412), a veritable monument to 
legalized intolerance inspired by the Valencian friar and painstakingly drafted 
by the now bishop of Burgos, Pablo de Santa Maria (Amador de los Rios 
[1875] 1960, 532-37; Gutwirth 1984). 

In 1413, fast on the heels of all these events, the famous Disputa de Tortosa 
took place. In this public debate, under the supervision of Pope Benedict XIII 
(Pedro de Luna), fourteen learned rabbis and one converso, Jeronimo de Santa 
Fe (the pope's personal physician and a former rabbi), competed over the rela- 
tive superiority and eternal verities of Christianity and Judaism. As one might 
expect, the result was a spectacular triumph for Christian doctrine, which cul- 
minated with the conversion of a number of the debating rabbis (Pacios Lopez 
1957; Lasker 1977). Two years later, in 1415, Benedict promulgated a harshly 
anti-Semitic bull, while the following year Jeronimo de Santa Fe set in motion 
a campaign of flagrantly anti-Jewish literature with his Hebraeo Mastix (The 
Whip of the Jews). In time, and as a marvellous example of poetic justice, 
Micer Francisco de Santa Fe, one of Jeronimo's sons, was burned in effigy in 
Zaragoza after Micer Francisco's last-minute suicide in the cells of the In- 


quisition prevented him from being burned in vivo (Amador de los Rios [1875] 
1960, 837). 

Anti-Semitic pamphleteering was notably enriched in 1432 by the now- 
familiar converso, Pablo de Santa Maria, who pubhshed his Scrutinium Scriptura- 
rum (The Scrutiny of the Scriptures). Here, among other things, he explains and 
justifies the persecutions of 1391 on the grounds that 

Dios excito a la generosa muchedumbre [multitudo valida] a vengar la 
sangre de Cristo [Deo ultionem sanguinis Christi excitante], tomando por 
instrumento a un arcediano de Sevilla ignorante, mas de loable vida [in 
litteratura simplex et laudabilis vita], que predicaba contra los judios, en de- 
fensa de los sagrados canones. (Amador de los Rios [1875] 1960, 577; see 
also 578-83) 

It is significant to note that this text appeared in the reign ofjuan II (1419—53) 
and that anti-Semitism continued to be rampant even during the rule of this 
relatively tolerant monarch. Shortly after the appearance of Santa Maria's 
Scrutinium Scripturarum, in 1435, the library of Enrique de Villena was burned, 
an act charged with anti-Semitism as well as with the well-known allegations 
of Villena's sorcery (Gascon Vera 1979). 

All this, and much more, must be kept in mind to understand fiiUy the 
significance of the debates one finds in collections like the Cancionero de Baena. 
In the seasoned but still-relevant words of the Count of Puymaigre, Baena's 
"curieux recueil" (Puymaigre 1873, 1:121—22) 

fait profondement entrer dans la vie des Espagnols du XV^ siecle. . . . Ces 
chevaliers bardes de fer, ces moines dans leurs frocs, ces nobles dames 
avec leurs robes de brocard, ces juifs plus ou moins convertis, ces mede- 
cins arabes, ces professeurs de theologie, ces nonnes de Seville qui se 
pretendent plus belles que celles de Tolede, tout ce monde vit d'une vie 
qui se rapproche de la notre, s'amuse a de petits vers, celebre le roi de la 
feve, demande des etrennes, propose et devine des enigmes, s'agite dans 
tous ces details secondaires que neglige I'histoire et qui vous le montre 
sous un aspect vraiment humain. Dans le Cancionero de Baena tout se 
mele d'une etrange fa^on. 

In fact, when we read the Cancionero de Baena "muy lejos estamos del ahistori- 
cismo ... de la frescura primaveral, atemporal y universal de los trovadores 
galaico-portugueses" (Bianco-Gonzalez 1972, 40). This is because in many of 
the poems copied in Baena's collection we find ourselves "en la coyuntura 
exacta" of the moment (43); therefore, as Bianco-Gonzalez continues: 

Si se leen estos poemas sin sus conotaciones historicas, resultan aridos y 
vacios; si se los encarna en su tiempo, cobran el colorido de La Historia, 
el acido sabor de la medieval Castilla, su violencia, su incertidumbre, su 
feudalismo agresivo. (1972, 48) 


In spite of everything, the final harmonious vestiges of the Castile of three 
rehgions may still be found in the Cancionero de Baena (Cantera Burgos 1967, 
80—81). And paradoxically, at the same time, much of the evidence for this is 
found in the verses composed by converses, which are filled w^ith allusions to 
Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII), the antisemitic patron of the Disputa de Tortosa 
— maecenas also of Fray Vicente Ferrer — and the promulgator of the virulent 
bull of 1415 (Cantera Burgos 1967, 79-80). But the true meaning of these 
poems cry out for further study: poems by Villasandino, Ferran Manuel de 
Lando, and others that until now have been simply glossed over in silence. 
The question arises: just what do these allusive poems, some even dedicated to 
Luna and other brazenly anti-Semitic figures, tell us? 

From another perspective, poems by Jews on Jews, and by converses on con- 
versos, are as abundant as they are complex, and also call out for specific and 
detailed sociohistorical analysis and contextualization, above and beyond what 
has already been said about them by a variety of literary critics and historians.' 
Indeed, in addition to what has been revealed by these critics, it is imperative 
that we pay special attention, as Bianco-Gonzalez (1972) suggested, to occa- 
sional poems with clear historical settings; that is, compositions dedicated to 
kings, nobles, and various other characters and events. The same may be said 
for the material found in later cancioneros, right up to the General of 1511, all 
of which include poems of remarkable interest. 

The questions, therefore, arise: how can one relate all this material to 
discrete historical and social, to personal — and sometimes changing — attitudes 
that take shape during the internecine struggles of Castile during the second 
half of the fifteenth century; to the intensifying confrontation between nobility 
and monarchy; to the rise of anti-Semitism and the manifestation of an overt 
hostility toward Jews and conversos; to clan, family, and class interests? Also, 
how does it all relate to the constable of Castile, Alvaro de Luna, and what he 
represents? What does the sum of all this mean in terms of the progressive loss 
of traditional values; of the timid but significant gains of the bourgeoisie, a 
class of httle importance until then; of the material success, on the one hand, 
of conversos and merchants, and on the other, of the landed oligarchy? 

In conjunction with the questions just raised and the events already enu- 
merated, there is, too, a series of significant anti-Semitic as well as pro-converso 
events and texts that provide a notable backdrop for the poetry produced at 

' For more general treatments, see the survey of satirical verse by Scholberg (1971, 303- 
60), Fraker's study of Judaism in the Cancionero de Baena (1966a, 9-62), and the brief intro- 
ductory remarks of Rodriguez Puertolas (1968a, 50-51; 1981a, 18-20), and Gerii (1994, 24- 
26). For studies with a more specific focus, see Marquez Villanueva (1974, 1982), Cantera 
Burgos (1967), Rodriguez Puertolas (1986), Sola-Sole and Rose (1976), Rose (1983), Arbos 
(1983), Condor Orduna (1986), and Ciceri (1991). 


1449 The Toledo insurrection. Alonso de Cartagena, Defensorium uni- 
tatis christianae (favoring the conversos). The appearance of a viru- 
lent antisemitic pamphlet in the form of a putative letter from 
Juan II to a gentleman {hidalgo). 

1450 Pedro de la Caballeria's Tractatus Zelus Christi contra Judaeos. 
1453 The public execution of Alvaro de Luna. 

1459 Fray Alonso de Espina's Fortalitium Fidei contra Judaeos, Sarracenos. 

Just what can all this tell us about the civil war during the reign of Enrique IV 
(1454—74), in which the monarchy reaches the nadir of its disgrace, and the 
noble oligarchy achieves the peak of its power? The so-called Farsa de Auila 
(1465) recounted in the chronicles, in which Enrique is dethroned in effigy, 
signals the climax of this conflict, and it cannot be understood without recog- 
nizing the part played by Jews, conversos, and members of "new" aristocracy of 
obscure origins, such as the Giron and Davila families. Nor can we ignore the 
bitter satire of texts like the Coplas de la Panadera (1445), the Coplas de Mingo 
Revulgo (1464) by Fray liiigo de Mendoza, and the scandalous Coplas del Pro- 
vincial (1465—66). In addition to all this, we have to consider another set of 
historical coordinates: 

1465 The Hieronymite friar Alonso de Oropesa completes his pro- 

converso apology. Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plehis tuae 

1467 Racial and political riots in Toledo. 

1468 The "Ritual Crime" of Sepulveda. 

1473-74 Uprisings and pogroms against conversos in Cordoba, Valladolid, 
Segovia, and Jaen (where constable Miguel Lucas de Iranzo is 
murdered at the hands of "Old Christians"). 

It goes, too, without saying that in the world of the cancioneros, it is the 
Cordobese converso Anton de Montoro whose tragicomic verse most keenly re- 
veals his tormented personal life and the mistreatment of the ethnic and social 
group to which he belongs. The greater part of Montoro's verses is autobio- 
graphical; in it he speaks in equally explicit and ironic terms about himself as 
an object of discrimination and of scorn resulting from his converso condition. 
A painful case in point is the pathetic composition he dedicates to Isabel I, in 
which he summarizes his anguished life, asks for her protection from the 
violence occasioned by the persecutions in Cordoba during 1473-74, and 
concludes with a sinister note of humor, begging the queen to put off all 
futher mistreatment "hasta alia por Navidad, / quando save bien el fuego" (ed. 
Ciceri and Rodriguez Puertolas 1990, 76), a clear allusion to the fires of 
intolerance set by reactionary racist forces. In his poetry, Montoro provides a 
perfect illustration of what Baruch Spinoza was to say later in the seventeenth 
century when confronting the question of anti-Semitism: "One should neither 
laugh nor cry, but, rather, understand" (cited in Aubery 1962, 374). 


The year 1474 signals the beginning of the reign of Isabel I of Castile, after 
the death of her brother Enrique IV. Queen Isabel's succesion marked the 
outbreak of a new civil war (this time with Portuguese intervention), which 
contested the rights of her brother's heir, the unhappy princess Juana, called la 
Beltraneja (the daughter of Beltran) by her detractors who were determined to 
impugn her legitimacy and confirm the prerogatives of the dead king's sister. 
The Inquisition was established on Castilian soil in 1480. The war to take Gra- 
nada commenced in 1478, with the active assistance and participation of many 
Jews, who provided logistical support, medical assistance, and consultants to 
the Castilian Crown and its troops. Despite rendering these indispensable ser- 
vices, the gradual conquest of Moslem cities was accompanied by the sacking 
of their Jewish quarters (for example, Malaga in 1485 and Gibralfaro in 1487). 
In the meantime, an inflamatory inti-converso and anti-Semitic pamphlet, the 
so-called Libro del Alborayque, circulated in Castile and Andalusia (in which, to 
be sure, the only proper name to appear is that of Diego Arias Davila, conuerso, 
favorite, and chief accountant of Enrique IV, and an individual well known to 
readers of fifteenth-century Castilian literature, since he also surfaces in the 
Coplas de la Panadera, the Coplas del Prouincial, in the works of Gomez Manri- 
que, and in assorted cancioneros) . The year 1490 witnessed another of the so- 
called "Jewish ritual crimes," the infamous case of the Niiio de la Guardia (a 
case involving accusations against Jews of crucifying a Christian boy at Easter). 
Indeed, all levels of society were laying the basis for one of the most conse- 
quential events of the upcoming annus mirabilis: the royal edict commanding 
the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. In Portugal, this was followed by King 
Manuel I's wedding present to his bride, Isabel, daughter of the Catholic 
Monarchs: the expulsion of the Portuguese Jews in 1497. 

The rest of the story of Iberian anti-Semitism is well known and provides 
the crux for the so-called Black Legend. However, the historical, social, and 
literary events occuring after 1492 cannot be fijUy explained unless we under- 
stand the situation outlined above. And perhaps, as far as literary issues are 
concerned, cancioneros provide a fundamental point of departure. It is important 
to underscore the fact that, despite everything, the 1492 Edict of Expulsion 
failed to achieve the religious unification of the Peninsula; neither did the con- 
quest of Granada nor the mass "conversions" of Moslems and Jews. As I ex- 
plained elsewhere: 

The presence of an important middle-class converse group in Peninsular 
society and of an ever-increasing popular antisemitic sentiment which 
reached mythical proportions when it combined with an imagined 
Hispanic racial purity (purity of blood, honor, religion, anti-intellectual- 
ism, horror of commerce and the "mechanical" arts) produced an irratio- 
nal belief in the superiority of a class and caste within a divine History, 
economy, and culture. (Rodriguez Puertolas et al. 1981b, 1:135-36)^ 

I should add that in spite of popular stereotypes, Jews and converses were not uniquely 


Indeed, Americo Castro was able to speak ironically of the existence of 
a "porkophyllic and porkophobic" literature {tocinofila and tocinofoba) based 
on dietary prohibitions against pork present in texts throughout the Golden 
Age (Castro 1974, 25-32): that is, of a literary and historical meaning assigned 
to ham and bacon ("un sentido historico-literario del jamon y del tocino"), 
whose roots may be traced directly to the cancioneros. 


A minor yet instructive example of the importance of the larger historical 
setting for understanding cancionero verse is provided by Mosen Diego de 
Valera (c. 1412-88), son of Alonso Chirino, the renowned converse physician. 
Courtier, military man, emissary of kings, political theorist, chronicler, and 
conspirator, Valera was also a poet, although for Menendez Pelayo the latter 
activity produced, in accordance with this critic's overall appreciation of the 
cancioneros, "versos pocos y malos" (1944, 2:237). Here, I can do no more than 
sketch the historical importance of Valera's verse, and of the twenty-one 
surviving examples I shall mention only three. 

The first of these is the esparsa with the rubric "Al senor conde don Alvaro, 
fecha el domingo de Pascoa ante de la presion del maestre de Santiago" (Torre 
y Franco-Romero 1914, 254-55). The addressee of the poem is Alvaro de 
Estuniga, Valera's master at the time of the poem's composition, and Juan 11 's 
chief bailiff, though in spite of the rubric not yet count, but heir to his father 
Pedro de Estuniga. This poem is attested only in the Cancionero de Gallardo 
(MHl), which was compiled about 1454 and which contains several topical 
poems explicitly related to Luna and his recent downfall. Of interest here is 
that reference to Easter Sunday "before the imprisonment of the Master of 
Santiago" (i.e., Alvaro de Luna). The rubric seems to offer the prospect of an 
historical poem with political content: the arrest and downfall of Alvaro de 
Luna. However, it fails to keep that promise: it is little more than a eulogy of 
the Estuniga clan, along with the expression of good wishes for the future. 
Yet, the discrepancy between what the rubric says and insinuates and the text 
itself is significant. To be sure, that Easter Sunday in 1453, Alvaro de Estufiiga 
was waiting with his troops at Curiel for an order from Juan II to go to Bur- 
gos and arrest the king's hitherto favorite Alvaro de Luna. The order arrived 
while Estuniga and the members of his household were dining, and hence, 

an urban bourgeois group. Kamen, for example, points out that "there was a considerable 
variety in the social position of Jews in the peninsula" and that during the fifteenth century 
Jews moved out into the countryside; many were peasants, not just involved in small trades 
and minor professions. Thus, by the end of the fifteenth century they were "no longer a 
significant bourgeoisie" (1985, 10-11). 


a dos horas de la noche del domingo de Pascua, don Alvaro Destuniga 
partio de Curiel . . . e dio el cargo de la gente de armas a mosen Diego 
de Valera. (Cronica dejuan II, 678) 

The following day, Easter Monday, the conspirators arrived in Burgos; on 
Wednesday, Luna was taken prisoner by Estuniga and his band, in the fore- 
front of which was Diego de Valera. Don Alvaro was publically executed in 
Valladolid shortly thereafter.-^ 

Therefore, when Valera penned his brief and ostensibly innocuous lyrical 
felicitations to Estuniga in celebration of Easter Sunday, it is clear that both 
knew full well what lay in wait for them in the coming hours and days. 
Valera's brief, seemingly occasional, composition is, in fact, a text implicated 
in irony and in tragic rather than happy circumstances, circumstances in which 
conversos played a decisive role — especially those, like Valera, who were closely 
identified with the centers of power and the vested interests of the traditional 
aristocracy and unlike other members of the same caste, such as Juan de Mena, 
who were staunch supporters of the new "bourgeois" policy articulated by the 
slain constable. 

In light of all this, it is regrettable that Brian Dutton (1990-91, 1:478) gives 
1422 as the date of Valera's poem, a year when Valera would have been ap- 
proximately ten years old (though Dutton gave the correct date in his Catd- 
logo-indke, 1982; see ID0393, with 1253 as an obvious misprint). It is, of 
course, the later historical events of 1453 that endow the poem's apparent in- 
souciance with a certain sinister irony. Here is the complete poem: 

El qu'en este santo dia 

redimio el linage umano 

vos de, seiior, alegria 

e vos faga con su mano 

sienpre ser virtuoso 

dandovos luenga salud, 

pues vos fizo en juventud 

tan conplido de virtud, 

e vos faga tan famoso, 

seno de virtud e tenplo: 

de vuestra noble memoria 

quede a todos por exenplo 

ser por universa gloria. (MHl, fol. 383r) 

Once Luna had been sacrificed, mosen Diego de Valera had no misgivings 
about writing verse with an openly partisan political agenda. Just like other 
poets of the time, he therefore pens his Cancidn al maestre de Santiago, which 

^ The best account of these events and their political ramifications is by Round (1986). 
For Valera's role in the affair, see especiaUy 32, 36-37, 44, and 87-88. 


like the previous poem is found only the the Candonero de Gallardo. However, 
much to his credit, Valera was not so callous as, for example, Santillana or 
Fernando de la Torre, whose stern verses on the same subject are implacably 
partial, even smugly vindictive. Valera appropriates the well-known Boccac- 
cian motif of the fall of illustrious men (a topos that in contemporary Castile 
immediately conjured up images of Alvaro de Luna), as well as the ubi sunt 
theme, which had resonated earlier in the verses of poets like Ferran Sanchez 
de Calavera (upon the death of Ruy Diaz de Mendoza) and would later be 
taken up by Jorge Manrique in his elegant elegy written on the death of his 
father. However, if we recall Valera's direct role as an active minion of "capri- 
cious" Fortune, even the most clearly identifiable topoi take on a menacing and 
cynical cast: 

^Que fue de vuestro poder, 
grant condestable de Espana, 
pues ningun arte nin mafia 
non lo pudo sostener? 

^Que valio vuestro tener 
quando quiso la Fortuna 
derribar vuestra coluna 
sin poder vos sostener? 

(Torre y Franco-Romero 1914, 251-52). 

The third, and last, political composition by Valera I wish to explore is cast 
in the form of what is known as a por que and which glosses the ills and 
turmoil of contemporary Castile. The poem doubtless belongs to the reign of 
Enrique IV, although it is difficult to date in the absence of concrete historical 
references. The por que, or per que, is a curious poetic genre whose first mani- 
festation in Castile may be traced to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (died 1404) 
in the Candonero de Palado (SA7, compiled about 1440). Structured around a 
series of unanswered questions, the Dicdonario de Autoridades defines it as a "de- 
famatory libel" ("libelo infamatorio") and adds that similar compositions were 
called pasquinades in Rome, and "among us perques or provindales" (Periiian 
1979, 81-99). 

Several of the questions Valera raises are truly audacious, and viewed as a 
whole his poem paints a bleak picture of contemporary Castile, which coin- 
cides with many other texts from the period that have similar social and po- 
litical agendas: 

Y ^por que tanto vandero 
dicen qu'es nuestro senor? 

Y ^por que los malos caben 


donde no devien caber? 

Y ipor que menos valemos 
sienpre sirviendo mejor? 

Y ipor qu'es tanto cayda 
la virtud en nuestra Espana? 

It is interesting to note, too, that another por que, which was written in the 
1430s and which is also bitterly critical of the contemporary political situation, 
has also been attributed to another converse, Juan de Mena.'' But whatever our 
reading of this particular poem, the undisputed fact that Mena champions an 
antinoble policy and the cause of Alvaro de Luna contradicts the stereotypical 
image of the converses as a homogenous social group sharing a common poUti- 
cal ideology. 

In short, the poetry of mosen Diego de Valera provides a study in miniature 
of what still remains to be done as we consider the role played by Jews and 
converses in the Spanish cancioneros. Far from being a simple task, this enterprise 
will doubtless be full of contradictions, surprises, and ambiguities, as well as 
revelations. The work that remains to be done is well beyond the scope of any 
formalist or folkloric approach, and it is imperative that we begin now to 
establish the unique links of a vast number of cancionero compositions to 
concrete historical and social events, and thereby uncover the larger historical 
significance of this considerable body of poetry. To complete this task it will 
be necessary, as in any other form of literary study, to eschew abstractions and 
cliches and to lay bare the ideological and social postulates of the poems and 
their authors in their concrete historical moment. It is, to be sure, a task calling 
for interdisciplinary collaboration between literary critics, historians, and soci- 
ologists. Yet it is one that will doubtless produce inestimable, and even start- 
ling, results.^ 

Universidad Autonoma de Madrid 

^ The poem, "Por que tan sin trabajo" is attested only in the Cancionero de Gallardo 
(MHl). Its attribution has been placed in serious doubt by its recent editors, Perez Priego 
(1979, 262-67) and de Nigris (1988, 491-92), on both political and metrical grounds. How- 
ever, my reprint of Perez Priego's text and my defense of an attribution to Mena may be 
consulted in Rodriguez Puertolas 1981a, 171-79. 

' Since this essay was written, Netanyahu (1995) published his book on the origins of 
the Inquisition in Spain. Though controversial, it is packed with documentary evidence con- 
cerning the period and personalities surveyed here, and it would need to be taken into ac- 
count by any fliture research on Jewish and converso poets. 

Power and Justice in Cancionero Verse 


The King's Limits: Epistemological Considerations.' 

Many of the political principles expressed in proverbial ^on'/e^ia of the Middle 
Ages such as Flores defxlosojla and Libro de los den capitulos, reappear in numer- 
ous doctrinal works of the fifteenth century, especially in rhymed treatises like 
the collections of Prouerbios by Fernan Perez de Guzman and Ifiigo Lopez de 
Mendoza, the future marques de Santillana. As if his aim were to exhibit the 
conservative traditionalism of his thought, Perez de Guzman adapts the title of 
the initial chapter of the Libro de los den capitulos, "El capitulo que habla de la 
ley e del rey," as a rubric to one section of his Coplas de uidos y virtudes ("De 
buen rey e buena ley," stanzas 174—81).^ 

' The present paper deals with materials that have been treated only marginally by 
Rodriguez Puertolas (1968a, 185fF. and 206-48) and Nieto Soria (1988, 152-64). My thesis 
is that both poets and letrados drew on ethical theory in support of strong royal power; it thus 
differs from the thesis of both these scholars, and above all from Nader's conclusions (1979). 
My thesis is strengthened in theoretical terms by Waltz (1993), who distinguishes between 
an "old world," where individuals necessarily accept as an ethical model and obligation the 
social place they were bom into, and the "new world" of the modem era where mobility 
has became so great that our actions in the social game are what determine the role of each 
individual. The boundaries between these two worlds evolved throughout the fifteenth 
century. However, medieval schemes of thought still prevailed amongst the nobility of that 

^ On the literary and ethical traditions of the Prouerbios by Perez de Guzman and Santi- 
llana, and their links with popular refraneros, see Le Gentil (1949, 452) and Round (1979). In 
establishing a network of relevant texts, Round pointed to the precedence set by Sem Tob, 
and to his list I would add the Flores de ftlosojta (ed. Knust 1878); Lopez de Ayala's Rimado de 
palacio; and the Libro de los den capitulos (which I have consulted in a photocopy of Santander, 
Biblioteca de Menendez y Pelayo, MS. 78, fols. 52-100). Lopez de Guzman continued the 
sententiae tradition in Floresta de Phildsophos (ed. Foulche-Delbosc 1904b). For the most recent 
work on Santillana's Prouerbios, though with no reference to sources, see Perez Priego (1992) 
and (1993). Weiss (1991b) has studied Perez de Guzman's position, and concluded that his 


Although he starts from this traditional ideological base, however, Perez de 
Guzman introduces important innovations into the civic problems that form 
the subject of this study. While his thirteenth-century predecessors failed to 
inquire into the origin of the law, Perez de Guzman proceeds to discuss its 
roots and sources. To be sure, he examines numerous questions and, in the 
context of monarchy, postulates that the king is not only the interpreter of the 
law but that the law is in fact his work. In addition, he argues that royal power 
should be measured in terms of personal merit rather than inherited position 
or courtly propriety: "Yo do esta excelencia / del rey sobre los derechos, / si 
el rey por notables fechos / meresce tal preminencia" (Vicios, stanza 180).^ 

Here emerges a thought that could possibly justify absolute monarchy, al- 
though in essence Perez de Guzman is referring to the righteous exercise of 
power based on personal morality — a problem that always threatens hereditary 
monarchies."* This view holds that royal power should not depend on the 
exercise of sheer force sustained only by hereditary rights ("non por singular 
potencia nin por sangre generosa") but on personal merits related to the virtues 
inherent in the responsibilities of the royal condition, among them the capacity 
to make decisions: "E que sepa asi escoger / que en el quede la sentencia" 
(Vicios, stanza 181). 

Perez de Guzman's ideal is that of a prudent and circumspect monarch able 
to direct the fate of his kingdom, as is stressed again in the passage on "Quien 
deve regir e quien servir": "Aquel reino es bien reglado / en que los discretos 
mandan" (Vicios, stanza 197). This model is comparable to the one that 
Aristotle defends in his Politics (III, 14-18) and in more generalized terms in 
his Nichomachean Ethics (VI, 5-13; VIII, 10), a book that had a much wider 
circulation amongst the Castilian laity during the fifteenth century than the 

Fernan Perez himself never had the opportunity to live under the rule of a 
king who lived up to his ideal image. Only Fernando de Antequera, while 

metapoetic passages define his personal and national identity in such a way as to express his 
individual interest in the struggle for power. Weiss argues that he presents "his own voice as 
'natural' and 'eternal' rather than as the obvious product of an individual parti pris" (108). 
The ill faith that this evaluation presupposes is based on an ideological reading of the texts, 
which, according to Waltz's parameters, would be anachronistic for the fifteenth century. 

^ Quotations from Perez de Guzman's verse are taken from Candonero castellano, vol. 1, 
ed. Foulche-Delbosc 1912. For brevity of reference, I cite simply poem tide and stanza 
number. In all subsequent quotations, I regularize orthography according to modem usage. 

■* For an interesting excursus on the need to adapt the rigid codes of law and chivalry 
according to circumstances and personal discretion, see Fernando del Pulgar's portrait of San- 
tillana, in Claros uarones de Castilla (ed. Tate 1985, 99-100). See also Nieto Soria (1988, 157- 
59), whose examples, unlike the previous ones, come from authors who are not noblemen; 
this is an important difference, as we shall see. 

^ On the reception of Aristotelian ethics in later medieval Spain, see Pagden (1975) and 
Heusch (1991). 


acting as regent of Castile, and then later as king of Aragon, closely approxi- 
mated Perez de Guzman's paragon. Yet even King Fernando's character was 
not exempt from suspicion when, years later, Perez de Guzman composed the 
king's portrait in his Generaciones y semblanzas. In the intervening years, Fer- 
nando had been involved in the political tumult caused in Castile by his sons, 
the infantes de AragSn, and in his biography Fernan Perez voices doubts about 
the legitimacy of Fernando's conferral of riches and titles in Castile upon his 
heirs. Though he makes allowances for the fact that experience has shown 
how "cada uno de los grandes que alcan^an poder e privanga, toma para si 
quanto puede de dignidades, ofi^ios e vasallos" (ed. Tate 1965, 12), doubts, 
once stated, remain at the very heart of his likeness of Fernando de Aragon. 
Similarly, in his sketch of Juan II, prudently composed after the king's death, 
Perez de Guzman wonders if God had assigned the throne to one so inept as 
Juan in order to punish the people of Castile. This monarch, though intellec- 
tually capable of absorbing any doctrine or advice (ed. Tate 1965, 38-40), had 
treated the affairs of the state with manifest disinterest, leaving decisions in the 
hands of Don Alvaro de Luna, his favorite. Perez de Guzman's ambiguous por- 
trait of Juan II reflects this author's preoccupation with baronial insurgency and 
the process of social transformation that would lead the Castilian middle class 
to greater power in the fifteenth century. It also bears witness to his amaze- 
ment at the voluntary conveyance of power from the crown into the hands of 
favorites, as practiced by Juan II and his mother, Catherine of Lancaster. It is 
clear that Perez de Guzman's criticism of the monarch fails to match his the- 
oretical propositions on monarchy. 

In fact, on several occasions Perez de Guzman expresses the conviction that 
education is more important than genealogy in building character. In his Pro- 
uerbios, he declared in epigrammatic form that virtue is not hereditary (stanzas 
62—63, 70), just as he defends this idea in a more discursive fashion in his 
Coplas de vicios e virtudes, stanzas 265-70. Indeed, there he argues that "si de la 
sangre la virtud descendiese / esto bastava a ser buena la gente, / e necessario 
<e> non seria que escriviesse / el moral Seneca" {Vicios, stanza 269). It should 
be stressed that the author does not refer to some innate excellence but spe- 
cifically to the question of moral upbringing: the examples presented point not 
only to the fact that men and women from low or even illegitimate estate may 
become virtuous when brought up by good people but that he also knew of 
cases of nobles whom he saw "por desamparo o cura negligente / de sus ma- 
yores, venir entre tal gente / que resultaron torpes, nescios e viles" (Vicios, 
stanza 267). This point of view confirms that Perez de Guzman is convinced 
of the value of moral education and of the efficacy of ethical maxims to every 
person subject to divine rules "que honestad e virtuosas costumbres / todas 
descienden del padre de las lumbres / . . . / que del nos viene todo optimo 
don" (Vicios, stanza 270). 

Juan II received an excellent education and, according to the testimony of 
Perez de Guzman cited above, profited by it and was able to understand fully 
his counsellors' advice. In spite of this, however, the king's personality did not 


suit the responsibilities he inherited. He failed to perform his role as arbiter in 
the political and judicial arena when called upon to intervene in disputes that 
w^ere closely linked to the exercise of his power. King Juan was deficient in a 
way that was not provided for in the ethical education prescribed by Perez de 
Guzman. The contradiction between theory and observed reality in Perez de 
Guzman (Romero 1945, 126) allows us to perceive the contradiction between 
personal inclination and the moral duties life imposes on kings as well as on 
others. Perez de Guzman stresses a rift between social image and personal prac- 
tice. Political theory offered no remedy for this because success on the throne 
depended entirely on the personality of the heir himself 

During the late Middle Ages the difference between a virtuous personality 
and that of a good regent was not defined in texts devoted to the problem of 
royal education. Aristotle differentiates between prudence as the power of 
discrimination, and the virtues as the forces necessary to act honorably. How- 
ever, this is not reflected in the medieval system of virtues: in the Middle Ages 
prudence is in fact one of the virtues. This accounts for the reticence to de- 
scribe politics as a domain of the practical world as opposed to a system of 
moral values. Medieval authors deal only with the moral system, which ac- 
counts for every human action. Thus, the fourteenth-century collections of 
proverbs juxtapose chapters on monarchy with others devoted to the virtues 
and obligations of the common man, and they provide no ready synthesis for 
w^homever w^as burdened with royal responsibility. The king's role is seen only 
from the perspective of his function as ruler, and the moral system only from 
the perspective of free will, vice, and responsibility. There is no distinction be- 
tween the ethical character and the social condition of the king or the duties 
that concern him. 

Waltz proposes the fundamental difference between "Old World" socie- 
ties — whose individuals were determined by what he calls their "name" — 
which implies the existence of generalized and unquestioned rules of the social 
game (chess was a common image for feudal society), and "New World" 
societies, in which a radical mobility leads each individual to define himself in 
different simultaneous roles. Waltz's distinction leads us to believe that in the 
late-medieval nobility only an overqualified or neurotic person would reject 
the obligations inherent in his social station: "Okonomische und politische Be- 
ziehungen sind von derselben Art und sind immer zugleich auch moralische Be- 
ziehungen. Jeder Mensch-jedenfalls solange er in der 'Welt' lebt — hat einen ein- 
zigen Namen, den er mit dem Eintritt in das erwachsene Leben iibemimmt. 
AUe Namen, die er im Lauf seines Lebens erwerben oder verlieren kann, be- 
ruhen auf dieser Grundlage" (1993, 116, author's emphasis).^ We are dealing 

'' "Political and economic relationships are of the same kind and are always also moral 
relationships. Every person — at least in so far as he lives 'in this world' — has a single name that 
he receives in his adult life. All the names he can receive or lose throughout his Ufe are 
based on this foundation." 


with definite positions to which an individual has access by birth and that he 
has to learn to occupy — stations that, though they allow room for the develop- 
ment of individual personality, still require identification with the attitudes 
conventionally attributed to them. Each person was required to adjust to fixed 
social expectations, through concepts such as honor or virtue, which were in- 
strumental in helping the individual to occupy the social space he was assigned 
by Providence, or in the case of ineptitude, determined his exclusion from it. 
With reference to Enrique IV, Nicholas Round remarks: "Enrique, of 
course, was destined to have little choice; a grande del reino like Inigo Lopez 
had little enough" (1979, 228). The throne, coveted more than other honors 
due to the wealth and power that went with it, was liable to be occupied even 
by people who lacked appropriate qualifications since, as Perez de Guzman 
puts it in his Generaciones, "a los reyes menos seso e esfuer^o les basta para rigir 
que a otros omnes, porque de muchos sabios pueden aver consejo" (ed. Tate 
1965, 5). For Perez de Guzman, therefore, royal power depended on the dis- 
cretion and the decision-making ability of whoever wore the crown (see 
Vicios, stanza 181, quoted above). In this respect his portraits of Enrique III 
and Fernando de Antequera prove very valuable. It is essential that the king 
accept his role and want to arbitrate the many disputes he is called upon to 
resolve. Failure to do this, as in the case of all the fifteenth-century Castilian 
monarchs before Isabel la Catolica, meant rebelling against the only known 
and generally accepted rules within the power structure that determined the 
beliefs of that period. Therefore, before formulating the hypothesis that there 
were competing ideologies in Castilian politics of the fifteenth century, we 
need to gain a fuller conceptual understanding of monarchical power. To do 
this, we need to clarify exactly what beliefs were expressed and point out, as 
far as possible, the cracks and weaknesses within them. 

The Univocal Nature of Ethical Thought 

By definition, medieval justice in its public dimension is a royal and, to a 
certain extent, aristocratic attribute. This concept was disseminated amongst 
the laity by vernacular versions of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and various 
Senecan treatises translated by Alonso de Cartagena. It was further reinforced 
by treatises on government, moral tracts such as Fran^esc Eiximenis' De natura 
angelica (Castilian translation 1434), memoirs like Panormitano's Dichos y hechos 
del rey de Aragon (1450), as well as by some key passages in sentimental ro- 
mances.^ In the cancioneros this issue appears both in didactic verse and in the 

' The Llibre dels angels by Eiximenis was translated for Santillana by Miguel de Cuenca 
and Gonzalo de Ocana, BN Madrid MS. 10118. For relevant passages, see Book II, v, fol. 
31v-32r and V, ii, fol. 97v. For Panormitano's Didios y hedws I use the 1554 printing, fols. 
52r-53r. With regard to the sentimental romance, situations Uke those described in the trials 
in Cdrcel de Amor and Crisel y Mirabella echo concepts discussed by Pedro Diaz de Toledo in 
his glosses to Santillana's Proverbios 4 and 9. Justice, so far considered only theoretically, is 


prose glosses accompanying important poems or collections of proverbs. 
Among the most noteworthy examples are Pedro Diaz de Toledo's glosses to 
the collection of proverbs attributed to Seneca, Santillana's Proverbios, and 
Gomez Manrique's Querella de la govemacion^ Lesser known, but equally rele- 
vant, are Gonzalo de Santa Maria's later glosses to the Disticha Catonis? 

The political thought encountered in all these texts is ethically framed, ex- 
cept in those cases where it refen to concrete circumstances. Its theory never 
adapts pragmatically to actual circumstances, nor does it seek to devise politi- 
cally necessary measures.'" Political reflection in these works, when it does 
refer to facts, favors satire: the author opts for one or another side of the po- 
litical fence and mocks his adversaries or talks ill of them in his texts. Yet, an 
ethical reading reveals that deep down, regardless of the faction with which 
they are aligned, the political ideology of all these works is fundamentally 
rooted in one set of ideas. Usually, this fact is clearly and calmly expressed, so 
that this aspect of the message would seldom be misunderstood. Moreover, it 
forces modern scholars to argue that certain historical events coincide in ap- 
pearance but not in their deeper meaning. In his book on royalty, Nieto Soria 
refers to this elusive phenomenon, when he states that 

now put to the test and made an integral part of the plot in prose fiction. These fictional 
experiments emphasize that judgment depends on the discretion of those who carry it out. 
If the king does not perform the virtue "epiqueya" (discussed below) and adheres merely to 
the words of the law, he brings about harmful and unfair resolutions that will drive society 
to ever-growing violence. On this issue, I agree with LUlian von der Walde Moheno, Grisel 
y Mirahella de Juan de Flores, unpublished doctoral thesis, Mexico: El Colegio de Mexico, 
1994; see the chapter "Amor y ley." 

" For the Senecan proverbs, see especially Diaz de Toledo's glosses to "El irado haun el 
mal piensa que es consejo," (f LIIIv), "Muchos ha de temer a quien muchos temen" (f 
LXXXr), and "Desecha la crueldad e la ira que es madre de crueldad" (f LXXVIIIv). I 
quote fi-om the Prouerbios de Seneca con la glosa, Seville 1495 (BOOST 2129). For Diaz de 
Toledo's Glosas a la esclarnacion y querella de la govemacion de GSmez Manrique, see Cancionero 
castellano, ed. Foulche-Delbosc (1915, 130-47); the same author's Closas a los Prouerbios de 
Santillana has been consulted in the Cancionero del marquis de Santillana (B.U.S. MS. 2655), 
ed. Catedra and Coca Senande (1990). 

'^ Gonzalo Garcia de Santa Maria, Caton en latin e en romance, Zaragoza: Hurus [c. 1493], 
Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, Incunabulum 401. E.g., stanza 112: " 'ludicis Auxilium, sub 
inicua lege rogato': ... Ca las mismas leyes, segun se demuestra, codician ser con razon 
entendidas" (fol. dVv). 

'" Among the scholars who, as far as I could check, consider the question of different 
ethical models, Deyermond was the only one to locate clearly divergent patterns. He points 
to one model that corresponds to the alliance of the king with the bourgeoisie and the com- 
mon folk that is found in the Cronica de Domjoao I, by Femao Lopes (1443); and there is a 
glimpse of a third position, the "ideal of civic humanism" derived fi-om ItaUan models 
(Deyermond 1986, 181 and 189). Deyermond's sources belong to marginal social groups and 
represent new systems instead of competing aspects of traditional ones. 


es posible incluso la coexistencia — a partir de una misma imagen — de dos 
interpretaciones absolutamente enfrentadas, justificando, por tanto, el in- 
tento de materializacion de dos realidades politicas radicalmente opuestas. 
En este sentido conviene observar la presencia de lo que cabria valorar 
como una diferenciada vision estamental de cada una de estas imagenes, 
si bien hay que reconocer que se pueden encontrar excepciones en esta 
solidaridad estamental en la interpretacion de cada una de ellas. (1988, 

What Nieto Soria describes as images are, in fact, the objective correlatives 
of ideas of regal superiority, sovereignty, and related concepts. Nieto Soria's 
scheme may also be applied to ethical considerations: it appears that caste in- 
terests, doubtless present and in need of a spokesman, were not articulated in 
any systematic philosophical way but only through the images encountered in 
factional debate. 

It is in this light that we should reexamine the telling distinction made by 
Helen Nader (1979) between letrados and the nobility. She agrees with others 
in identifying an innovative and humanistic inclination among the nobility, as 
opposed to a continuation of scholastic erudition among certain letrados. ^^ 
However, this distinction cannot adequately explain the differences in the ethi- 
cal positions taken by individual members of each group. Nader suggests that 
the nobility may have considered historical change a consequence of the need 
to adapt to different circumstances, whereas for the letrados historical change 
was viewed as part of a providential design, as a righteous reward or punish- 
ment (1979, 130-31). '2 

Like all the forces and products of a decadent political world, the nobility, 
to preserve its position and privileges, was obliged to act as a conservative 
force. To do this it needed to vindicate acquired and intangible rights, to para- 
lyze the legislative activity of the state, and strictly defend common law against 
any new rights or claims that might emerge. However, according to my read- 

" Kohut (1982a) considers Santillana's generation as the socio-cultural summit of hu- 
manism. Perhaps one could apply to early fifteenth-century Castile the conclusions reached 
by Rico for fourteenth-century Catalonia, where the noble estate was more humanistic than 
the letrados (Rico 1983). Lawrance (1986) has argued for the existence of fifteenth-century 
Castilian vernacular humanism; in this respect he was perhaps anticipated by Romero's 
comments (1945, 136) on the timidly humanistic spirit that enlivened the patriotic ideals of 
Perez de Guzman. 

'^ This is similar to Penna's earlier argument that "como todas las fuerzas y los productos 
de fenomenos politicos en fase de decadencia, la nobleza, para conservar su posicion y sus 
privilegios debia actuar como ftierza conservadora y, para hacer esto, debia reivindicar de- 
rechos adquiridos e intangibles, parahzar la actividad legisladora del estado y defender rigida- 
mente el derecho consuetudinario en contra del derecho actual que tenia que desarrollarse" 
(1959, XIV). 


ing, the texts do not provide the necessary basis for estabhshing a distinction 
of this kind. Moreover, analysis of this distinction is hindered by the conflict- 
ing interests within the very groups identified by Nader. 

For example, in the case of Pedro Diaz de Toledo we have a letrado em- 
ployed in the service of the marques de Santillana; Fray Inigo de Mendoza, on 
the other hand, represents an alliance between members of the two groups. To 
complicate matters further, we find hybrids of both groups: there was also the 
category of learned knight (i.e., Enrique de Villena, who is usually viewed as 
a true scholar [e.g., Weiss 1990], although he in fact belonged to the royal 
family). At the other end of the spectrum there were also clergymen firom 
noble families, letrados by profession who, like Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de 
Mendoza, nevertheless did not receive rigororous university training. A great 
number of the poems that address questions of power and justice come, in fact, 
from the very social group that Nader terms the "Mendoza family." To be 
sure, many of the prose texts are also associated with this house, as they were 
written by their secretaries or friends. The widely connected Mendoza family, 
related to nearly half of noble Spain, did not constitute a closed clan but one 
whose members procreated outside marriage, adopted and brought up people 
who were not their kin, and entered into alliances that they subsequently 
broke because of inheritance disputes or simply because their political affilia- 
tions changed. However, the bonds of kinship often softened clashes, prevent- 
ing greater hostilities, and the ties of firiendship and affection often prevailed, 
in the case of the poets "in the family," over the interests of the groups in 

Ideas of Justice in the Cancioneros 

As before, during the fifteenth century the treatment of the theme of justice is 
linked to the goal of personal ethical development within a system of moral 
philosophy that encompasses the virtue of justice. Thus, Fernan Perez de 
Guzman (Confesion rimada, stanzas 92-101) considers choler as a private vice 
without relating it to the administration of justice. And even when he favors 
benevolence when passing judgment on the young (e.g., Vicios, stanzas 75—85), 
one could say that he is attempting to shape general attitudes toward youth 
and that he is not referring to the attitudes of a judge in the official sense. 

Nevertheless, justice constitutes the most important part of the precepts ad- 
dressed to a ruler in his public capacity, and it is this aspect of justice that most 
concerns key passages in a series of verse treatises written during the reigns of 
Juan II and Enrique IV. Moral and historical texts alike treat topics related to 
the exercise of power. For the purposes of this discussion, the most important 
poems are Perez de Guzman's Prouerbios (1425), the Coronacion de las cuatro 
virtudes cardinales, the Coplas de vicios y uirtudes, and ConfesiSn rimada; Santillana's 
Prouerbios (1437), and Doctrinal de privados (1453); Mena's Laberinto (1444), and 
his Pecados mortales, with the continuation by Gomez Manrique, and the latter's 
Querella de la governacion. To appreciate the role played by the theme of justice 
in them, the thematic panorama of these poems needs to be sketched; for the 


sake of brevity, however, my discussion will not take into consideration their 
chronology or textual and thematic relationship. 

All the passages I shall cite are simply a representative sample of themes 
found, with only slight modifications in all these works. It is possible that a de- 
tailed study of the differences between them would help to identify ideological 
fractures in the system that as yet I have been unable to discover. The roots of 
their ideas lie in the texts whose importance I have already emphasized: the 
paroemiologic collections and vernacular versions of Aristotle's Nichomachean 
Ethics and Politics. 

In all instances we are dealing with the public version of the concept of 
justice, a part of political philosophy, as Perez de Guzman puts it in his Coro- 
nacion de las cuatro uirtudes cardinales. In this poem, when Prudence speaks 
(stanzas 21—33) she says: 

Los decretos e las leyes 

de mi han el fundamiento; 

los principes e los reyes 

que govieman con buen tiento, 

si yo non so su fimiento 

en vano escriven doctores; 

por demas, emperadores 

usan de su regimiento. (Stanza 23) 

And Temperance (stanzas 48-61): 

Yo mezclo la rigorosa 

justicia con la clemencia; 

enfreno la impetuosa 

fortaleza con sufrencia; 

amonesto a la prudencia. (Stanza 48) 

As in the private sphere, justice in the ruler is easily affected by choleric 
inclinations; this is a commonplace cited by the three great poets of the reign 
of Juan II: Fernan Perez {Confesion rimada stanzas 92-101), Santillana (Prover- 
bios, stanza 28), and Juan de Mena {Contra los pecados mortales, stanzas 106- 
107).'^ However, when they deal with justice as a virtue of the ruler, the 
ideas of greed and favor also enter the picture. In Fernan Perez's Coronacion we 
read (stanzas 7-20): 

Afeccion de las personas 
non turbe tu egualan^a, 
por ^eptros nin per coronas 

'^ For Santillana's Proverbios, with the author's own prose glosses, I follow the edition of 
Gomez Moreno and Kerkhof (1988, 216-67, at 232); for Mena's Contra los pecados mortales 
I have had to rely on Foulche-Delbosc (1912, 120-33, at 132); since his edition does not 
number the stanzas, I shall also add page references. 


non se tuer^e tu balan^ a; 

nin pierdan su esperanf a 

los pobres, por ser menguados, 

ni se fazen mas osados 

los ricos por su abondan^a. (Stanza 9) 

In this aggregate of ideas, the concept of enforcing the law while seeking the 
just mean between rigor and clemency is often related to the question of 
advice or counsel. In some isolated cases, the issue of judicial temperance is 
determined by the source of the law itself. 

In this respect Perez de Guzman offers a very balanced view of the customs 
concerning the accused, both in the Proverbios and in Vicios. To cite just one 
example from the first text: 

Es virtud e muy loable 

la justicia executar 

mas de natura amigable 

no menos el perdonar. 

La justicia fasta el cabo 

todo el mundo asolaria 

luengo perdon non alabo 

que da del mal osadia. (Proverbios, stanzas 14-15)'^ 

In a similar, though less tempered fashion, Gomez Manrique's continuation 
of Mena's Pecados mortales views the administration of justice from the angle of 
clemency (stanzas 236-37): 

Pues no fieras con furor, 
por que sea tu castigo 
no ferida de enemigo, 
mas correcion de senor; 
otras vezes con amor 
amonestando perdona, 
por que sea tu persona 
digna de perdon mayor. '^ 

On the other hand, in De vicios y virtudes ("De reyes e juezes," stanzas 307-14) 
Perez de Guzman criticizes the common practice according to which honors 
were dispensed as favors by the ruler: 

Sino ya por qu' el miserable 
pueblo sea remediado, 

'* See also stanzas 18-19, 28, 31-33, 53, and 61-64. 

'^ Since I have not had access to the more recent edition by Gladys Rivera, I quote 
Gomez Manrique's continuation from Foulche-Delbosc (1912, 133-52, at 148). As before, 
stanza numbering is my own. 


mas por que remunerado 

sea el que a el es amado. (Stanza 312) 

In his continuation of Mena's Pecados mortales, Gomez Manrique characteriz- 
es the inherently disinterested nature of Justice through an allegory in which 
Prudence passes judgment on Reason and Will (stanzas 220-22; Foulche-Del- 
bosc 1912, 146). However, the profound social implications of not yielding to 
special ecomonic interests are best illustrated in the concluding stanzas (259- 
60), where he summarizes the advice he has given to the rulers of the state: 

Nunca dedes los oficios 

de justicia por dineros. 

Old con vuestros oidos 

de los pobres sus querellas, 

y mostrando pesar dellas 

consolad los afligidos; 

scan los malos punidos, 

los buenos remunerados; 

asi seres bien amados 

delos vuestros y temidos. (Foulche-Delbosc 1912, 151) 

In Santillana's Prouerbios, dedicated in 1437 to Prince Enrique, the heir to 
the throne, we find a detailed discussion of the question of Justice. As so often 
in the tradition o[ speculum principis, the work is primarily concerned with the 
development of the prince's personal virtue, and in no way does the author 
confine himself exclusively to the specific tasks concerning the political educa- 
tion of such a distinguished personage.'^' 

Within this panorama, justice is the only theme that takes up a large section 
of the Prouerbios since, because it also occurs in passages devoted to love, fear, 
prudence, wisdom, and patience, it exceeds the stanzas that were expressly de- 
voted to it (stanzas 24-27) and occupies a total of twenty-seven out of one 
hundred stanzas. This is a substantial proportion of the work, and its promi- 
nence is evidently related to the roles of judge and arbiter Don Enrique would 
later perform as a ruler. 

'^' His general moral system has been analyzed by Round (1979, 228), who chose to 
highlight only one of those passages (stanza 74) which impress us only when we remember 
that the poem was addressed to the heir to the throne. Although it is possible to detect 
references to specifically political events and motives, they are veiled in moral generalities. 
Still, Santillana goes beyond the usual scheme which, according to Lapesa (1957, 206-14) 
treats only the cardinal virtues. Santillana does not deal with certain other aspects of monar- 
chical power, such as the call to unify the Spanish states or conquer Granada, tasks which 
other writers recommend to the future Enrique IV roughly around the same period: see 
Fernando de la Torre (ed. Diez Garretas 1983, 360); Ruy Paez de la Ribera's poems in the 
Candonero de Baena (ed. Azaceta, 1966, nos. 295-97); and Gomez Manrique's Regimiento de 
principes, discussed by Le Gentil (1949, 1:449). 


In essence, Santillana advises a conscientious handling of justice on the part 
of the monarch to gamer the affection of his subjects. This notion is developed 
in Proverbios from the initial admonition "ama e seras amado" of the first 
stanza; it is subsequently amplified in stanza 5 and finally expanded in stanzas 
6-9 with specific recommendations concerning the amicable way subjects 
should be treated, including advice against paying heed to slanderers ("nove- 
Ueros," 1. 57) or judging rashly ("de continente," 1. 77). By contrast, Santillana 
recommends heeding good counsel and listening to the advice of the experi- 
enced. After an excursus on the importance of study (stanzas 13—23), he deals 
with the specific topic of justice (11. 185—86), in which he recommends dis- 
interested judgment (stanzas 24—25) and provides examples where a king or 
legislator himself has abided by the law (stanzas 26—27). Santillana warns 
against judgments passed in anger, and he counsels moderation in punishment 
(stanza 28). He recommends taking heed of a culprit's sincere contrition (stanza 
29) and counsels the exercise of clemency (defined as "amor / e caridad," and 
contrasted with the "cruelty" of a pardon "contrario a la razon / de humani- 
dad," stanzas 30—32). 

In this work, the theme of justice conforms to a very concise model, whose 
key elements would reappear years later in Santillana's sonnet 33 (discussed 
below), confirming that we are dealing with the one of the author's most 
deeply held convictions. Yet, while dear to Santillana, the ideas he develops 
are essentially topical and belong to a long tradition of which the opening 
stanzas of the Proverbios are but one more example. 

Juan de Mena also included numerous admonitions to the king in his LMbe- 
rinto de Fortuna (ed. de Nigris 1994, 65-185). Mena begins with an abstract 
definition followed by varied examples, disseminating his thoughts on justice 
throughout the work. His definition of justice is as follows: 

Justifia es un ^eptro qu'el ^ielo crio, 

que el grande universo nos faze seguro, 

habito rico del animo puro 

introduzido por publica pro, 

que por igual peso jamas conserve 

todos estados en sus ofi^ios; 

es mas: aqrote que pugne los vi^ios 

non corruptible por si nin por no. (Stanza 231) 

Concrete examples subsequently illustrate the point. For example, his flat- 
tering portrait of Juan II's sister. Queen Maria de Trastamara (Alfonso the 
Magnanimous's wife and regent in Aragon during his long sojourn in Sicily), 
places special emphasis on the quality of Justice: 

asi, con la mucha justif ia que muestra, 

mientra mas reinos conquiere el marido, 

mas ella zela el ya conquerido: 

jguarda que gloria de Espaiia la vuestra! (Stanza 77) 


While dealing with simony and rapaciousness in the Church, Mena's 
censure of adulation (stanzas 93-98) concludes with the following advice to 
Juan II: 

La vuestra sacra e real magestad 

faga en los subditos tal benefit io 

que cada cual use asi del ofifio 

que queden las leyes en integridad. (Stanza 98) 

Justice is mentioned in many of the stanzas that give moral weight to the 
work, as, for example, in the section devoted to peace-loving kings (stanzas 
214—18) or in the conclusion of the episode devoted to the Circle of Mars: 

Muy claro pringipe, rey escogido, 

de los que son fuertes por esta manera 

la vuestra corona magnifica quiera 

tener con los tales el reino regido; 

ca estos mas aman con justo sentido 

la recta justi^ia que non la ganan^ ia, 

e rigen e sirven con mucha constan^ia 

e con fortaleza en el tiempo devido. (Stanza 212) 

Despite their poetic context, in these words we hear the voice of the letrado 
par excellence, whose concepts match in every essential respect the ones of the 
authors considered above, all of whom were interrelated and formed part of a 
small stratum of the Castilian nobility. 

The most impassioned works by Gomez Manrique and Fray liiigo de Men- 
doza, both of whom may be considered Juan de Mena's successors, belong to 
a younger generation of poets. They make clear their disgust at the civil strife 
in Castile during the reign of Enrique IV. Works like Querella de lagovernacion, 
ethically glossed by Pedro Diaz de Toledo in his apologetic commentary, and 
the admonitions of Fray liiigo de Mendoza to Ferdinand the Catholic, mark 
a new dimension in the debate on justice. They begin by reacting explicitly 
against the turbulent status quo, which is the specific source of their criticism. 
Rodriguez Puertolas (1968a, chapter 7) has demonstrated this in relation to the 
Coplas de Vita Cristi, and it is possible to find similar arguments in Gomez 
Manrique's Querella, written according to Pedro Diaz at the beginning of his 
career.'^ Fray liiigo's criticism needs to be analyzed with care, because it is a 
clear instance of the "single image" that embraces contradictory facts described 
by Nieto Soria: it is directed against both the Montagues and the Capulets, as 

" On this poem, see Scholberg (1984, 31). I follow the edition of Foulche-Delbosc 
(1915, poem 415). Its early date is imphed when Pedro Diaz names as estabUshed poetic 
authorities Perez de Guzman and Santillana, and alleges that Gomez Manrique "sy el tienpo 
le da logar a continuar e continua, yra en el alcan^ e a los caualleros nonbrados e publicara su 
yngenio de buenas e fructuosas cosas" (Foulche-Delbosc 1915, 132). 


it were, because on no account does he ever support the king. To the con- 
trary, Enrique IV was the object of such harsh censure that the text was actu- 
ally redrafted, and a gloss was added about defamation and retraction (stanza 
109). In other words, if there were factional interests at work here, according 
to Nader's system it would be right to include Fray Inigo, at least at this point 
in his career, among the rebellious noblemen. 

A preoccupation with the concept of justice is found in many of Fray 
liiigo's poems. As presented in his Dechado del Regimiento de Pnncipes /echo a la 
senora reina de Castilla y Aragon (ed. Rodriguez Puertolas 1968b), it is perhaps 
best understood in terms of the well-known conventions of judicial rigor. 
Here, the author advises the queen not to hesitate: 

. . . con amor y pesar 

de degoUar 

la oveja inficionada 

por guarecer la manada. 

No piense vuestra excelencia 

que es clemencia 

perdonar la mala gente. (Stanzas 7—8) 

Fray Inigo 's counsel came to take on a more radical and explicit tone in his al- 
legorical exposition on King Fernando's heraldic device found in the Francis- 
can's Sermon trovado sobre el yugo y coyundas que su alteza true por devisa. In this 
•work explicit absolutism inspires Fray Ifiigo's plea to the monarchs to control 
the wayward Castilian aristocracy: "Tomad la lan^a en la mano, / sojuzgad 
vuestro reinado" (ed. Rodriguez Puertolas 1968b, stanza 18). And, arguing 
that the nobility needs to control and protect their own estates, he stresses that 
they also must subject themselves unconditionally to the power of the divinely 
ordained king: 

Y pues son tan obligados 
por derecho y por virtud 
a someter sus estados 
al yugo, mansos, domados 
de la real celsitud. (Stanza 21) 

Fray liiigo develops this theme through bovine imagery associated with the 
yoke in the king's heraldic device, and he presents the battle of Aljubarrota as 
an uprising of the nobles against royal power. He then proposes to replace 
seditious followers with new, trustworthy ones: 

arareis con los leales 

y a los ronceros cuitrales 

dadles tras los colodrillos 

pues teneys hartos novillos. (Stanza 24) 

In passages such as these, one can perceive what Nader argues was the posture 
taken by the letrados with regard to the subjugation of rebels. Finally Fray 


liiigo articulates an unsurprising defense of monarchical absolutism. His sup- 
port of centralized power opposed to feudalism is not tempered by his subse- 
quent admonitions to rule the kingdom with a steady and fair hand. According 
to Rodriguez Puertolas, that the Franciscan took sides at all is due to his place 
in society: "Mendoza no puede escapar a su condicionamiento sociologico e 
ideologico, pues les echa la culpa a los seiiores y no a los labradores . . . diri- 
giendose contra los revoltosos que apoyaron al principe Alonso" (1968b, bcx). 

Unfortunately, Nader does not mention this interesting member of the 
Mendoza clan in her book, nor does she define his place in society. Notw^ith- 
standing Rodriguez Puertolas' assertion, I personally doubt that it was Fray 
Inigo's place in society that ultimately determined his partisanship. On the 
contrary. Fray Inigo's ancestry is the same as that of those authors whose fac- 
tional interest he contradicts since, as Rodriguez Puertolas tells us, he was 
related to both the Mendozas and the Cartagenas. Rodriguez Puertolas (1968a, 
32) quotes a passage from Fernan Diaz de Toledo's El Relator, which asserted 
that by the middle of the fifteenth century even the most ancient families of 
the Castilian nobility descended from Jews. As Sicroff demonstrates (1960), 
many sources confirm the intermarriage o( converses and nobles which, as stated 
in Alonso de Cartagena's Dejensorium Unitatis Christianae, was not only con- 
sidered legitimate but was often admitted and used as evidence in discussions 
of ancient lineage. 

Nobles and scholars alike expose the need for the prudent exercise of royal 
power through justice. The virtue of clemency is evoked in poems not only by 
magnates but also by letrados like Juan de Mena and by the royal counselor 
Pedro Diaz de Toledo. Fray liiigo de Mendoza's position may be comparable 
to that of Pedro de Escavias, as described by Michel Garcia. Commenting on 
the Coplas sobre las diuisiones del reino, Garcia expresses amazement "por el 
hecho de que los dos campos enemigos sean igualmente condenados por 
Escavias. No quiere distinguirlos en su poema; por el contrario los reune en 
una sola jauria auUadora. . . . Juan II no es el unico bianco al que Escavias 
asesta sus ballestazos: todos sus contemporaneos resultan culpables a sus ojos, 
culpables de la ruina de Castilla por fxitiles motives" (1972, xcvi). Bearing in 
mind the possibility that single images may have multiple interpretations, this 
should not be surprising if we accept that there just might have been (or that 
in fact there were) sectors of society, even among the rich, for whom ethics 
was more than a mere pretext. It is also possible to view all of them as "mem- 
bers of the nobility or obedient officers in their service," as di Camillo does 
(1991, 161), or to see a letrado like Pero Diaz de Toledo as "literary propagan- 
dist" of the nobility (Weiss 1991b, 96). 

Although we have not dealt with actual censure of prevailing governmental 
practices, readers interested in social criticism may consult the various studies 
of Rodriguez Puertolas. Of course, the moral and political system sketched 
here appears also in poems that contain doctrinal matters as a secondary theme, 
among them those by Pedro de Escavias. 


Critical Attitudes Towards Political Thought 

Santillana's sonnet 33, addressed to Enrique IV and composed, according to 
the epigraph, when he was aheady in power, offers a miniature portrait of the 
prince as judge: 

Con vulto alegre, manso e reposado 
Old a todos, Hbrad e proved: 
fazed que ayades las gentes en grado, 
ca ninguno domina sin merged. 
Commoquiera que sea, comendemos 
estos dos actos vuestros por derecho. 

(ed. Gomez Moreno and Kerkhof 1988, 72). 

Santillana refers here to the administration of justice, which is commended "by 
right" to the lord, because it is a right, as the text says, to be governed by a 
just and kind ruler. Maria Rosa Lida (1952a, 277) sees the sonnet as a testi- 
mony of the magnate's self-interest, because such a weak king would assure 
Santillana greater personal domains within the feudal system. 

Lida's reading is based on her underestimation of Santillana's poetic work. 
She reproaches him for his lack of concern with fame, considered as a guaran- 
tor of ethical beliefs. Lida takes for granted Santillana's image of society, in 
which royal power is significantly diminished. The power of the monarch 
would be weakened by the arrogance of a small sector of society constituted 
by the powerful noble families with kinship ties to the king, or by the famiUes' 
function, who question de facto the monarch's right to rule to the detriment of 
its legitimate purpose. This view legitimizes a vision of absolutism according 
to which power is centered in the hands of the monarch and then subsequent- 
ly passed down to the lower strata of society. God, the supreme power, would 
delegate absolute authority to the king "from above," and the latter, in turn, 
delegates to his subjects only those powers that are necessary for the right 
administration of the res publica (Ullman 1961, chapter 1). This image corre- 
sponds to the one drawn by Nader (1979, 21-35 and chapter 6) and said to be 
present in the historiography of the letrados: Pablo de Santa Maria, Alonso de 
Cartagena, Rodrigo Sanchez de Arevalo, Alfonso de Palencia, and Andres Ber- 
naldez. The political theory of these learned authors was confirmed, according 
Nader, by a long-standing historical belief that legitimized centralist tenden- 
cies: "Thus the final object of the state to these writers became Hispania — the 
moral, political, and geographical recuperation of Spain under the leadership 
of the divinely inspired and appointed Castilian monarch" (Nader 1979, 24). 

In the general terms outlined by Ullman (1961), the image of royalty by 
divine imposition is rivaled by another notion, according to which power 
emanates from below. The king's subjects delegate to the ruler the functions 
considered necessary for the wellbeing of the state. Since the subjects are the 
source of power, they are also authorized to control how it is used. The ema- 
nation of power from the lower strata could exist as a possible variant in the 
second group of historians identified by Nader (1979, 25), namely, the warrior 


class, whose most notable exponents were Pedro Lopez de Ayala, Fernan Perez 
de Guzman, and Diego de Valera. Penna makes a statement that approximates 
Ullmann's vision and is similar to the restricted sense of Nader's model. He 
argues that the almost mystical respect for the law among the military and 
ecclesiastical oligarchies had a practical function, since it theoretically limited 
monarchical power (1959, xiv). 

The noble historians, however, are neglected by Deyermond, who reinforc- 
es the centralist argument in his account of Mena's and Santillana's verse (1986, 
178-80). Beceiro Pita (1986, 320) goes even further and implicitly contradicts 
Nader when she quotes a passage from the Espejo de la nobleza by Diego de 
Valera to illustrate the latter's autocratic concept of power. My own sources, 
however, suggest that Deyermond is correct in not distinguishing between 
them; perhaps Ullmann's second model may only be realized in the Iberian 
Peninsula in marginal texts such as the Cronica de Domjodo I, to which Deyer- 
mond alludes. This is supported by Di Camillo's recent conclusion that the 
satirical compositions of the fifteenth century "parecen ser obras de eruditos 
ocasionadas por rivalidades de bandos y, por tanto, no son mas que ataques 
personales entre los mismos detentores del poder" (1991, 168). 

The noble historians, according to Nader, consider royal authority only 
firom within the framework of the moment, and they rank moral and specifi- 
cally political needs higher than loyalties or hierarchies, making personal ac- 
tions and attitudes prevail over the king's position. The prevaiHng notion of 
justice provides important insight into the possible existence of these factions, 
if indeed they actually existed. 

The issue has been extensively treated in Nieto Soria's book. He shows how 
Spain shares with rest of Europe traditional theories of monarchy, and he offers 
various illustrations of legal and hterary texts where the figure of the annointed 
king is explicitly mentioned. In addition, Nieto Soria includes many examples 
like Fray liiigo de Mendoza's verses that deal with the annointment of the 
Catholic Monarchs ("fuestes sefiores ungidos, / ungidos y prometidos / de 
aquesta mano de Dios" [ed. Rodriguez Puertolas 1968b, 318-46, stanza 11]). 
This image confirms the righteous independence of the united Castilian and 
Aragonese monarchies vis-a-vis their European rivals. The book shows how, 
because of its very nature, the image of the king ordained by God may be 
related to the legislator's or judge's. There are many passages in Nieto Soria's 
book where he adduces evidence against the positive construction of the king's 
image, but his study fails to track any sustained opposition to royalty, which 
might have confirmed Nader's thesis. Still, Nieto Soria provides one reason 
why such an opposition may be possible, since the formulation of certain facets 
of the the king's image, specifically the one defined as "poderio real absolute" 
(1988, 124-27), appears only in documents concerning Juan II and Enrique 
IV. That is to say, the emphasis on "poderio real absoluto" appears precisely 
at the moment when royal power is weakest and always leads to new political 
revolts. The emphasis on "poderio real absoluto" must be regarded as a gesture 
more indicative of intention than fact, a detail that corroborates perfectly 


Suarez Fernandez's thesis (1964) that the Trastamaras furthered centralism. At 
the same time there emerges a rich prose literature on the subject, and we 
witness the flourishing of the moral and pohtical treatises in the doctrinal 
poetry collected in the cancioneros, where the uncertainties arising from ineffi- 
cient government continue to be treated. It is, of course, fair to wonder if 
these works were destined to improve the institution of monarchy or, as my 
renowned Argentine colleague suggests, to undermine its foundations. 

If one wishes to locate Perez de Guzman's or Santillana's natural place in 
one of the two categories postulated by Nader, there is no doubt that they 
each belong to the second. At the same time, we must wonder about the ex- 
tent to which their ideas on kingship were meant to provide a basis for a func- 
tional use of the monarchy, as Nieto Soria maintains (1988, 55, 110, 111), 
rather than constituting a challenge against absolutism. In such a case we 
would find that ethical conduct and political pragmatism would take priority 
over dynastic or ideological considerations. As one of the most powerful 
nobles in the realm, Santillana belongs to the king's entourage in addition to 
being a relative, albeit a distant one without a claim to the throne. Santillana's 
function as counselor, assumed in sonnet 33, allows him to measure closely the 
relation between the king's deeds and his attitudes. He thus determines that to 
have a king who "listens to everyone" and treats them "with mercy" is the 
"right of every subject." 

The same ideas may be seen in contemporary texts, like the letters of Diego 
de Valera to three generations of monarchs or in the "Carta de Fernando de 
la Torre al rey nuestro seiior, al rey don Enrique IV de este nombre."'^ Al- 
though de la Torre was a nobleman of a lower rank than Santillana, his epistle 
is similar to sonnet 33 in that his own stance proves as critical as Santillana's 
when he refers to "aquella osada, enojosa e desvariada letra, a quien Dios de 
su gracia, que al muy alto e muy poderoso principe rey e Senor . . . escrevi e 
presente" (ed. Diez Garretas 1983, 340). To be sure, similar statements can be 
found in many previous and later texts. The justification of those exhortations 
is often rather implicit. On this subject it is worth quoting the "Exhortacion 
a los reyes nuestros seiiores sobre el caso acaescido" (c. 1497) composed by 
Diego de Muros "III," one of Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mondoza's secre- 
taries.^'^ The "caso acaescido" refers to the attempt against the life of Ferdi- 
nand the Catholic in Barcelona in 1492 (see Suarez Fernandez 1992, 139), 
which provides the occasion to remind the monarchs of the necessary qualities 
of a good ruler. The chief functions of the monarch are, according Muros, to 

'*• Valera's letters may be consulted in Penna (1959), especially numbers 1, 2, 4, and 9. 
For de la Torre's epistle, see Diez Garretas (1983, 343-60). For an example of their common 
audacity towards monarchy see Valera's letter 3. 

" On Muros, see Nader (1979, 184); Gonzalez Novalin (1972, 1975-76); and Garcia 
Oro (1976). Although the last two scholars publish his treatise, I quote directly from BN 
Madrid I-1321bis (BOOST 2095). My own edition is forthcoming in Atalaya 6. 


rule fairly and always look to "la comun utilidad, libertad e virtud, e non la 
vuestra propia" (folio alVv). Here we are dealing with a person without a 
noble title, a scholar and a theologian who was to become bishop of Mondo- 
nedo (1505—11) and Oviedo (1511—24). He defends the conventional position 
in that he devotes the second chapter of the "Exhortacion" to religion and 
justice, reserving the last three pages for counseling the use of moderate 
judgement (folios bllv-bVr). Muros uses the technical term "virtud epiqueya," 
rooted in a philosophical-judicial discussion dating back to the prologue of 
Cartagena's translation of Seneca's De Clementia}''^ 

Muros' disquisition is compatible with the notion of a royalty ordained by 
the grace of God (see Muros c. 1497, folio alVv): this is Ullmann's first model 
that, as Nieto Soria demonstrates, was ubiquitous in medieval Spain. We find 
that within such a conception of monarchy it is possible to think of civic life 
as a process regulated by the will of the sovereign and that the king's free will 
is likely to be influenced by others. The possibility of bringing influence to 
bear upon the monarch inspires the authors to offer their ideas about the king's 
role in the social order and to admonish him when he fails to respond to the 
requirements of equity, opulence, liberty, and the virtue of his subjects (e.g., 
Muros c. 1497, foho bVIv). 

Justice and Pow^er in Glosses and Commentaries 

The text of the Prouerbios addressed to the future Enrique IV includes two 
commentaries or glosses, one of which belongs to Inigo Lopez de Mendoza 
and the other to Pedro Diaz de Toledo. The author's glosses elucidate the 
learned allusions in his verse and explicate his literary and historical sources. In 
some instances, such as the case of Assuerus, they clarify the sense of the exem- 
plum, while in others they reinforce the moral, as in the example of Lentus 
(stanza 26), whose gloss states that "non poco enxienplo es o deve ser a todos 
aquellos que de la vara de la justi^ia han cargo" (ed. Gomez Moreno and 
Kerkhof 1988, 231). 

Pedro de Diaz's glosses are much more thorough, erudite, and explicit. For 
instance, he recasts the gloss on Assuerus, neatly narrating the biblical story and 
adding a moral where formerly readers had to find one between the lines. ^' 
Moreover, he enriches the conceptual dimension of the subject with technical 

^^ Cartagena glosses epiqueya in the following terms: "quando esta se fase con buena 
intension e donde e como se deve faser, tenprando las leys positivas e amansando su rigor 
con razonable eguaUdad, es acto de epiqueya, mas cresentar las penas allende de quanto la ley 
scripta disc, non es aquello epiqueya, ca la inclination del que tiene abito desta virtud es 
dado a menguar e ablandar las penas" (Cartagena BN Madrid, MS. 10139, folio 48r). 

^' We lack a critical edition of this important text; my quotations, cited by gloss number, 
are from Catedra and Coca Senande's transcription (1990) of Salamanca, Universidad MS. 
2655 (Dutton SA8). This is the most authoritative cancionero of Santillana's work, possibly 
compiled under his supervision for his nephew Gomez Manrique about 1456. 


terms and notions such as "ley natural," "razon natural" (gloss 2), "experi- 
encia" (gloss 4), and "las leyes positivas" (e.g., glosses to 63, 69, 93). In 
addition, he frequently adds ideas of his own, as in the case of the right to 
resist the exercise of force, even if it implies refusing to abide by an unjust 
legal ruling (gloss 4): 

A todo hombre segund ley natural esta cosa solicita e permissa de de- 
fender su vida de defender su azienda e de defender su honra por quantas 
vias e maneras el podra, con ^iertas modifica^iones que los derechos 
ponen . . . que, si algund juez injustamente me condepna a pades^er en 
mi persona alguna lision e dafio e quisiere esecutar en mi persona la sen- 
tenfia que sin pena alguna mis parientes e amigos me pueden ayudar a 
resistir al juez e buscar manera de como yo libre mi persona e estado. 

In this context it is important to recall the extensive passages narrating the 
w^ell-known episode of Esther and Assuerus, which concludes with the asser- 
tion "como dize vna ley ^ euil: Mas santa cosa es dexar por penar el pecado del 
culpado que penar al ino^ente e sin culpa" (gloss to stanza 9). 

Pedro Diaz de Toledo also defends Gomez Manrique's forceful criticism in 
the Querella de la govemacion. I quote only two passages among the many de- 
voted to judicial concepts. They answer in similar fashion the question posed 
by the magnates: "^Qual era cosa mas conviniente al reino e a las comuni- 
dades, que se rigiesen por buen rey o por buena ley?" 

Segund dizen los juristas, los reyes son sujebtos a la ley natural e a la ley 
divina; e aunque en algunos casos las puedan modificar e limitar, del 
todo non las pueden quitar; e aunque sean libres e sueltos de sujeb^ion 
quanto a las leyes positivas, honesta cosa faran de ser sujebtos, de se saver 
regir e governar por ellas. (ed. Foulche-Delbosc 1915, 139) 

And Diaz de Toledo concludes that 

aquesta ley general ha menester, para ser justa, que aya executor pru- 
dente e derecho e justo que aplique la ley a la yntengion del que la fizo; 
e a tal executor como aqueste llama Aristotiles epieques, que es palabra 
griega que quiere dezir templador de la ley; e la virtud por donde se faze 
este tenplamiento se llama epiquexa, que quiere decir tenpran^a e ygual- 
dad de ley. (ed. Foulche-Delbosc 1915, 145) 

The first of these examples confirms that the monarch is the one person who 
has the power to change the legal system, an observation found in an earlier 
author like Fernan Perez de Guzman. 


Power and justice, as they are dealt with in some poetic treatises and other 
compositions found in Castilian cancioneros, form part of a broad-ranging dis- 
cussion manifested in nearly every literary genre cultivated in fifteenth-century 
Spain. Questions regarding the legitimate scope of monarchical power and the 


righteous administration of justice are constantly brought forth, yet no new 
ideas are formulated, because in no case is royal power or the right of the king 
to his position ever questioned. However, due to both the number of texts in 
which these themes are elaborated and the critical treatment to which the 
monarch is exposed, we can observe a generalized concern among writers not 
to abolish the institution but to improve it. 

Perhaps these authors, whose works were widely disseminated in cancioneros, 
did not write these texts solely moved by artistic inspiration but in the hope 
that their kings, often more fond of poetry than of the study of political trea- 
tises, would be better disposed to their reasoning if it was couched in works 
more closely suited to their inclinations. Poetry was, as Santillana put it in his 
Prohemio e carta, a vehicle "de mayor perfection e mas auctoridad que la soluta 
prosa" (ed. Gomez Moreno and Kerkhof 1988, 440). It can be seen that the 
themes of power and justice, considered in the first half of the century as 
integral parts of a moral system, are treated in more concretely political terms 
from the reign of Enrique IV onward. In addition, the explanatory glosses, 
composed mostly by Pedro Diaz de Toledo, reinforce the role played by 
poetry in the discussion of political ethics, by clarifying its themes with newly 
adopted technical terms. 

Universidad de Buenos Aires 

Male Sexual Anxieties in Carajicomedia: 
A Response to Female Sovereignty 


In their 1986 book, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression, cultural historians 
Peter Stallybrass and Allon White lament the tendency to devalue popular 
or comic works, arguing that it distorts Uterary history. They reaffirm Bakhtin's 
contribution to cultural studies of the Middle Ages, namely, the notion that 
popular, carnivalesque culture is inseparable from official, high culture, the two 
being in fact mutually structuring and invading. But they recognize that appli- 
cation of Bakhtin has become mired in a debate among practictioners of New 
Historicism and cultural materialism over the political significance of carnival, 
that is, whether it is truly subversive of or ultimately contained by the status 
quo.^ Stallybrass and White attempt to overcome the stalemate of the subver- 
sion-containment debate and render Bakhtin's insights more analytically pow- 
erful by insisting that a binary extremism has been fundamental to the entire 
process of cultural signification and organization in Europe since the Middle 
Ages (1986, 6-15). They focus on four cultural spheres in which a high/low 
hierarchy operates: geographical space, the social order, psychic forms, and the 
human body, but they pay special attention to the last one, insisting that dis- 
course about the grotesque human body — multiple, bulging, over- or under- 
sized, protuberant and incomplete, its openings and orifices emphasized — has 
a privileged role in social classification (2-3). 

The Cancionero de obras de burlas is a veritable treasure trove of grotesque 
realist discourse about the body, from the "Aposento en Juvera," in which a 
grossly fat man provides lodging for the entourage of the papal legation on its 
1472 visit to Castile, to the "Pleyto del Manto," an account of a lawsuit to 

' For critiques of reductive Bakhtinian readings see chapter 6 of Gurevich (1988). Booth 
(1982) and Bauer and McKinstry (1991) provide feminist critiques of various aspects of 
Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque. 


determine the preeminence of the cono or the carajo, to the longest poem in 
the collection and the subject of this essay, "Carajicomedia." It is, however, a 
treasure trove that remains largely unexplored, despite a spate of editions in the 
last two decades: two of the entire collection and two more of "Carajicome- 
dia" alone. ^ 

Cancionero studies have given us a vivid example of scholarly resistance to 
taking seriously "low" genres and styles in a recent reenactment of the hun- 
dred-year-old debate on "the meaning of courtly love." In The Philosophy of 
Love in Spanish Literature, Alexander Parker attributed the modern depreciation 
of Spain's medieval love lyrics not to any defective artistry of the works 
themselves but to the pervasive and pernicious influence of materialism in 
modern times (1985, 2). In Lapoesia amatoria, Keith Whinnom countered with 
a defense of cancionero poetry's merits by insisting on the validity of the very 
aspects Parker rejected, that is, the extent to which its idealized and ideaUzing 
language of love is rife with erotic double entendres.^ Where Parker wanted 
to see a religious longing to unite with the divine, albeit misplaced onto a less 
worthy human beloved, Whinnom pointed to a lightly veiled desire to "yager 
con fembra plagentera." Whinnom's spirited defense of the cancioneros led him 
to a general criticism of hispanomedievalists: "No creo que los medievalistas 
corramos el riesgo de infravalorar el idealismo de la Edad Media. Al contrario, 
me parece muy probable que lo hayamos sobrevalorado" (1981, 24). 

Whinnom's groundbreaking work on the pervasive amphibologia obscena of 
fifteenth-century amatory verse, which began nearly thirty years ago (1966, 
1968—69), has encouraged much-needed close readings of individual cancionero 
poems (see Deyermond 1978, Macpherson 1985, and Fulks 1989, to cite just 
three representative examples). But the resistance to its bawdiness is still very 
much in evidence, for example, in Macpherson's stated preference for poems 
in which the obscenity is less directly expressed, those in his view "designed 
not to offend, but to compliment the lady and to rejoice in an event of signifi- 
cance to both" (1985, 62). Both in its masculinist assumption that the cancionero 
poets represent women's experience in any way, much less equally with men's, 
and in its valorization of gentility over obscenity, Macpherson upholds the cul- 
tural superiority of idealism over materialism, of the "high" over the "low," 
and perpetuates the notion that the characteristic ambiguity of courtly love 
lyric is just good clean fian. 

It would seem then that the obscenity of the cancioneros has been neglected 
not only out of scholarly jjM^or but also because it exposes the "ungentleman- 

^ For modern editions of the entire Cancionero see Jauralde Pou and Bellon Cazaban 
(1974), and the more accessible one by Dominguez (1978). The "Carajicomedia" alone is 
contained (without glosses) in Diez Borque (1977); the edition by Varo (1981) is the most 

•* Although published in 1981, five years before Parker's, Whinnom's book was written 
with knowledge of that work. 


ly " basis of courtly longing and lays to rest once and for all the traditional esti- 
mation of this literature as "pro-feminist.'"* Only recently have critics begun 
to examine the serious cultural function underlying the playfulness of Spanish 
courtly love lyrics.^ Lacarra (1988), for example, notes the way in which the 
court poet's idealization of the dama actually upholds the ideology of masculine 
superiority even as it appears to overturn it. And Weiss (1991a) has skillfully 
analyzed the central role such verse played in the male courtier's creation and 
affirmation of his masculine identity before his peers and superiors, a social 
transaction in which females function as sexual and symbolic objects of 

The premise that the higher the value of the exchange object, the greater 
the status accrued to the courtier poet who puts it into circulation, puts into 
sharper focus the other perspective of this essay: namely. Queen Isabel and the 
representation of her power and gender in the literary creations of her aristo- 
cratic subjects. Very little has been written on this subject. R. O.Jones's 1962 
essay "Isabel la Catolica y el amor cortes" is useful for its overview of the nu- 
merous cancionero poets who encomiastically addressed the queen as the courtly 
beloved.^ One common feature of such paeans is the sacrilegiously gendered 
maternal comparison of Isabel to the Virgin, as in the following verses of 
Anton de Montoro, written shortly after her accession to the throne: "Alta 
reyna soberana / si fuerades antes vos / que la hija de Santana / de vos el hijo 
de Dios / recibiera carne humana" (ed. Cantera Burgos and Carrete Parrondo 
1984, 131). But Jones does not comment on the equal frequency with which 
the queen inspires paternal fear in the poets. Thus Alvarez Gato complains that 
the inequality of virtue and status between him and his beloved causes him to 
tremble in her presence "si quiero hablar no oso / si quiero callar no puedo; 
/ como hijo temeroso / ante el padre rrencilloso / me cubro de vuestro 
miedo" (cited in Jones 1962, 61). Cartagena represents his courtly goddess as 
double-gendered, as simultaneously paternal and maternal: "Una cosa es de 

^ Classic formulations of this view can be found in Onate (1938) and Omstein (1941); 
it persists in recent scholarship, e.g., Dominguez (1988, 31-45). 

^ The discussion of the mascuhnist ideology conditioning courdy lyrics is more devel- 
oped for other European Hteratures, notably Provencal and Old French. See, for example. 
Bums (1985), Kay (1990, especially chap. 3), and Finke (1992). 

'' For feminist readings of individual female cancionero poets, see Fulks (1989) and 
Whetnall (1992). 

' For documentation on the influence of chivalric literary and visual representations on 
Isabel's poUtical formation, see Michael (1989). His approach does not take gender into 
account and assumes a naive conflation of art and life as well as an uncritical absorption of 
the masculinist chivalric ideology on the part of the queen: "Like the lives of their Trasta- 
maran predecessors and Burgundian and Hapsburg successors, the hves Isabel and Fernando 
led were the books they read — and the tapestries they viewed — in which they splendidly 
acted out the roles that the literary chivalric code assigned to them" (110). 


notar / que mucho tarde contesce / hazer que temer y amar / esten juntos sin 
rifar / porque esto a Dios pertenesce" (cited in Jones 1962, 57). 

Clearly, these cannot be dismissed as mere courtly topoi, given Isabel's real 
as opposed to ascribed power. The converse Montoro makes pathetically clear 
the power the queen and her policies wield over one particular group in a 
poem Kenneth Scholberg has called "una de las protestas poeticas mas impre- 
sionantes del siglo XV" (1971, 319). Here again, but more urgently, we find 
the construction of the monarch as feminine and forgiving, accomplished by 
assimilating her to the tradition of "Jesus as mother": 

Pues, reyna de gran estado, 
hija de angelica madre, 
aquel Dios crucificado, 
muy abierto su costado 
e ynclinado, 

dixo: "Perdonalos, Padre." 
Pues reyna de auctoridad, 
esta muerte sin sosiego 
cese ya por tu piedad 
y bondad 

hasta alia por Navidad, 
quando saue bien el fuego. 

(ed. Cantera Burgos and Carrete Parrondo 
1984, 134) 

"Carajicomedia" also takes pains to construct Isabel's power in terms of 
gender and sexuality, albeit in a very different tone. I will base my analysis of 
this ambitious w^ork on two theoretical propositions: first, that the critical 
separation of "high" and "low" culture and the accompanying devaluation of 
the latter distorts literary history (though not quite in the sense suggested by 
Whinnom [1966]); and second, that feminist criticism, premised on the in- 
evitable association of gender and power, is uniquely qualified to address if not 
correct that distortion. To do so, I will confront "Carajicomedia" with the 
work it parodies, Juan de Mena's Laberinto de Fortuna. The two poems neatly 
frame the life of Isabel, since Mena addressed his to Juan II two years before 
the birth of the daughter who would inherit his kingdom, and the anonymous 
parody, first appearing in the 1519 Cancionero general, was probably composed 
near the end of her life (Varo 1981, 80). Placing a text whose obscenity exem- 
plifies the "low" style on an equal footing with Mena's epic, the epitome of 
the "high," reveals that they are both examples of the highly sexualized po- 
litical discourse that was wielded alike by supporters and opponents of Isabel. 

Carlos Varo's view that "Carajicomedia" is a libertarian defense of pleasure 
and a critique of political and moral repression in Isabelline Spain is undeniable 
(1981, 49). But it is possible to go beyond this formulation to show that in this 
case the carnivalesque critique, what Arthur Stamm calls "the radical opposi- 
tion to the illegitimately powerful" (quoted in Stallybrass and White 1986, 19), 


is profoundly affected by the gender of the illegitimately powerful one. The 
poem's marked anxiety about masculine sexual inadequacy becomes a response 
to female sovereignty, in itself an anomalous condition that inverts the entire 
medieval gender hierarchy. Finally, reading "backwards" and "upwards," I will 
argue that the sexual terms of "Carajicomedia" 's parody uncover the extent to 
which Laberinto's own authorization of male sovereignty depends on more con- 
cealed, but no less urgent, anxieties about female sexuality and marriage. Thus 
the opposite poles of this poetic hierarchy together will be seen to affirm two 
primary tenets of feminist theory: first, as Gayle Rubin formulated in a now- 
classic essay (1975), that control of and traffic in women lie at the heart of so- 
cial organization and political institutions; second, that relationships of gender 
and power in the family are elementary political forms (Bristol 1985, 178). 

My reading of "Carajicomedia" is admittedly paradoxical, for on the face of 
it we might well expect a carnivalesque text like "Carajicomedia" to celebrate 
Isabelline power as an instance of the "women on top."*^ As I later suggest, a 
possible answer to the paradox lies in Isabel's own self-fashioning as the re- 
storer of patriarchal religious, moral, and social values to Spain. 

"Carajicomedia" is a fine example of the carnivalesque style in almost every 
sense. On a most fundamental level it accomplishes a thoroughgoing inversion 
of the hierarchy of upper body over lower body. This is all the more striking 
because of the remarkable care taken to preserve the sonorous metrical regu- 
larity and rhyme scheme of the original arte mayor, even as every "high" ele- 
ment of the original's content is debased. Thus, Mena's majestic first line, "Al 
muy prepotente Don Juan el segundo" (stanza 1) becomes the equally impres- 
sive "Al muy impotente carajo profundo" (p. 150).'^ Only after letting the 
metrical identification of Juan II with a flaccid penis sink in does the poet go 
on in the second verse to assign the member to its rightfiil owner, the poem's 
protagonist, Diego Fajardo. 

The classical allusions so prominent in Mena's poetics are similarly debased. 
Thus, in the second stanza, Mena's Virgilian evocation "Tus casos falaces, For- 
tuna, cantamos" (stanza 2) is altered but shghtly to read "Tus casos falaces, 
Carajo, cantamos" (p. 152). Similarly, Mena's proud affirmation that the deeds 
of the Cid and Castile's other martial heroes are equal to those of the Romans, 
but are forgotten "por falta de auctores" (stanza 4), allows the parodist to insist 
that Diego Fajardo's heroism "en amores" matches that of the Cid "en bata- 
Uas" and that his fame is "daiiada . . . por ser de sus obras los coiios autores" (p. 
153). This is not, alas, a recognition of female auctoritas, of some early modern 

* The phrase "woman on top" is a term used by Davis (1975) in her discussion of fes- 
tival gender inversions in late medieval France. 

'^ All references to Laherinto in the text are to stanza numbers; I quote from Vasvari 
Fainberg's edition (1976). References to "Carajicomedia" are to page numbers in the Varo 
edition (1981). The exact stanza-to-stanza correspondence between the two works breaks 
down in stanza 48 of the parody. 


"ecriture feminine." It is a mock-lament over the inadequacy of the phallus, 
not as pen, but as penis. Generically, then, the "Carajicomedia" inverts a clas- 
sic epic into an elegy, a lament for the death from old age of Diego Fajardo's 
penis (although, as we shall see, it does have a mock-epic ending). 

The transcodings characteristic of carnival are also in evidence in this text. 
The poet in Laherinto has a vision of the allegorical wheels of time past, pres- 
ent, and future containing seven astrological circles that reveal to him the cure 
to Castile's moral and political ills. Diego Fajardo's search for a cure for his 
"carajo cansado" begins with a similar vision of three "wheels," two round and 
still and one long and motile, that suddenly appear between his legs. But his 
visionary journey through the seven astrological circles takes place on a purely 
spatial plane, specifically, Castile and Aragon, beginning with stanza 58, "La 
orden primera de la Luna, aplicada a Valladolid" (p. 193). Guiding him on his 
tour is a grotesque counterpart to Mena's beautiful young Providencia: "una 
puta vieja, alcahueta, y hechicera" (p. 155; the influence of Celestina obviously 
extends beyond the work's title). Fajardo's urgent plea to this senexa makes 
explicit the sexual disorder that will inform the entire work: 

Dame remedio, pues tu sola una 

eres a quien pedirle me atrevo, 

pues resucitas y hazes de nuevo 

lo muerto, lo viejo, sin dubda ninguna. 

Pon mi potencia en cuemo de luna, 

las venas del miembro estiendan, engorden, 

vayan mis hechos en tanta desorden, 

que no dexe casa que no tenga cuna. (p. 155) 

As will become clear when we turn to Laberinto, Diego Fajardo's elusive goal 
is to accomplish exactly what Mena exhorts Juan II to prevent: the bastardiza- 
tion of Castilian bloodlines. Thus Mena's urgent "e los viles actos del libidi- 
noso / fuego de Venus del todo se maten" (stanza 114) is turned upside down 
in Fajardo's libertine "Hodamos de forma que fama tengamos" (p. 226).^° 

On a material level "Carajicomedia" debases the status of Laberinto as equal 
in wisdom and philosophical auctoritas to the classical epics, a status created in 
part by the poem's medieval and Golden Age commentators like Heman 
Nuiiez and El Brocense.'^ "Carajicomedia" comes with its own version of 
the famous Hernan Niifiez glosses, complete with Latin quotations from the 
Putas Patrum (p. 155), biblical references ("Inter natus muherum non surrexit 
maior puta vieja que Maria la Buy^a" [p. 163]), and citations of auctores hke 
"Putarco en la Coronica de las illustrisimas Bagassas" (p. 193). 

The heroes and heroines of ancient Greece and Rome and contemporary 

'" I address the issue of genealogy at greater length below. 

" See Weiss (1990, chap. 4), for discussion of the role of commentary in the creation of 
an "intellectual nobility" in the late Middle Ages. 


Castile that Mena views in the House of Fortune are replaced in "Caraji- 
comedia" by a horde of Spanish /jwr^s. The awed protagonist's task is to relate 
their virtues, to individualize and immortalize them. So we meet the miracle 
worker Ana de Medina, "en cuyo coiio se pruevan Uegar / carajos elados, s'en- 
cienden de fuego" (p. 180). And Gracia, of whom the gloss says "Publica su 
coiio ser ospital de carajos, o ostal de cojones" (p. 180). In all, sixty-six whores 
are named in the poem, an entire "estirpe de putas atan luxuriosa" (p. 179) 
that mocks the Gothic "stirpe de reyes atan gloriosa" (p. 43) Mena proudly 
claims for Spain. 

Fajardo's attitude toward his Celestinesque guide and the horde of whores 
she leads him to is, however, profoundly ambivalent. As such it exemplifies an 
aspect of carnival that undermines the essentialist view of festivity as populist 
and subversive. This aspect is that, as Stallybrass and White note, "carnival 
often violently abuses and demonizes weaker, not stronger, social groups — 
women, ethnic and religious minorities, those who don't belong — in a process 
of displaced abjection" (1986, 19). On the face of it, certainly, many of Fajardo's 
"vidas putescas" seem to celebrate female sexual appetite. An example is the 
story of Francisca de Saldana, who marries a certain Arab named Catamaymon. 
When her family objects, she answers with a saucy "mas quiero asno que me 
llene que cavallo que me derrueque" (p. 186), a bawdy take on the proverb 
"mas quiero asno que me lleve que cavallo que me derrueque" (p. 186). But 
the joke also betrays a simultaneous masculinist projection of the primacy of 
the penis and the corresponding fear of its inabiUty to fill the void of the 
vagina. The reiterated allusions to the menacing size of the whore's vagina and 
its engulfing capacity makes this clear; for example, Francisca de Laguna bears 
the telling moniker Rabo d'Azero [Iron Ass] (p. 170) and La Napolitana is 
similarly noted for her "rabadilla, que tenia muy hundida y tan grande como 
una gran canal de agua" (p. 171). And several of the anecdotes are darker in 
tone. There is, for example, the comeuppance Mariflores gets when she insults 
two stablehands: 

Pues travando d'ella los dos, la metieron en casa del Almirante . . . y me- 
tida en una camara cavallar, convocaron toda la famiUa de casa, y luego 
de presente se hallaron por cuenta veynte y cinco ombres de todos es- 
tados, bien apercibidos; y, prestamente desatacados, comen^aron a des- 
barrigar con ella hasta que la asolaron por tierra y le hicieron todo el 
coiio lagunajo d'esperma. (194) 

The story ends with the leader of the group calling in two black stableboys, at 
which point the panicked Mariflores runs off, to the merriment of all. Al- 
though both tales are racist as well as racy, the former puts the extraordinary 
sexual prowess attributed to the Arab at the service of female pleasure, while 
the latter uses the similar prowess attributed to blacks to enhance the sadistic 
humor of a gang rape. 

I am aware that the "horizon of expectations" for humor among the early 
sixteenth-century audience of "Carajicomedia" may have made no such dis- 


tinction between these two jokes. But the degree of exphcit misogyny in the 
work is beside the point I wish to make, which is the inadequacy of Fajardo's 
erection to deal with so many aggressively insatiable females. As he whines to 
his guide: 

Pues do ay tantas putas, ninguna obedece 

carajo ninguno que no sea muy loco; 

para esto te llamo, sefiora, y invoco, 

qu'el triste del mio de cuerdo padece. (p. 165) 

The old whore provides a temporary solution by taking Fajardo firmly (and 
literally) in hand, but it is a losing battle. Before accepting his forced retire- 
ment, however, the hero summons up the strength for one more fight. In an 
hilarious mock-epic battle between the "carajos" and the "coiios" reminiscent 
of the battle of Carnal and Cuaresma in Libro de buen amor, the poet parodies 
stanza by stanza Mena's stirring account of the battle between Christians and 
Moors at Gibraltar, led by the ill-fated Conde de Niebla. The well-armed 
warrior and his troops charge forward "dando empuxones, a modo de guerra" 
(p. 227), but the soldiers are met not with fear but with delight: 

Los coiios, veyendo crecer los rabafios, 
y viendo carajos de diversas partes 
venir tan arrechos con sus estandartes, 
holgaron de vello con gozos estraiios. (p. 227) 

Fajardo's forces do not exactly die from drowning, as Niebla's did, but they are 
engulfed when "los floxos carajos a entrar se tornaron, / los cofios hambrientos 
asi los tragaron, / que ninguno d'ellos ni canta ni llora" (p. 229). This debacle 
brings to an obvious climax the poem's accumulated references to the all-de- 
vouring vagina. It also strengthens the parallel, made explicitly in the opening 
invocation, between Fortuna and Carajo. As Niebla's military power is subject 
to the unpredictability of the seas, so Fajardo's sexual power is subject specifi- 
cally to the insatiability of the vagina and more broadly to the instability of 
sexual roles. The array of libidinous women who populate the hapless Fajardo's 
vision, be they compliant whores ("Madalenica ... la qual nunca dio esquiva 
respuesta" [p. 214]), or savvy procuresses ("Mas la sabia mano de quien me 
guiava / viendo mi floxo carajo perplexo, / le sova, le flota le estira el pellejo" 
[p. 168]), express not a "metafisica del placer" (Varo 1981, 47) but a fear of 
the uncontrollability of the feminine: "Pues do ay tantas putas, ninguna obe- 
dece / carajo ninguno que no sea muy loco; / para esto te llamo, sefiora, y 
invoco, / qu'el triste del mio de cuerdo padece" (p. 165). As I will show in 
what follows, this fear of the uncontrollable, unstable power of the feminine — 
the ever-present threat of the erica to the carajo — is a response to the absolute 
power of one particular female, represented as "the mother of all whores" ("la 
prima de todas las putas del universo" [p. 198]).'^ 

'^ I am indebted to Julian Weiss for pointing out the importance of the "Carajicomedia" 


The first scholar to connect the demise of Diego Fajardo's pixa and the 
pohtics of the Cathohc Queen was Alfonso Canales, who in 1974, by a stroke 
of scholarly fortune, was able to identify the protagonist of the parody. He was 
the son of Alonso Fajardo, a priest and a hero of the Reconquest of Granada. 
In 1486, in recognition of his assault on Ronda, Isabel and Ferdinand granted 
Alonso a privilege "para que pudiese establecer mancebias en todos los pueblos 
conquistados y que se conquistasen."'^ Soon he owned brothels throughout 
the former Kingdom of Granada, including a particularly lucrative one of one 
hundred prostitutes located in Malaga (p. 74). In 1492 that city initiated a pro- 
tracted legal fight against the abuses o{ the putero Fajardo and his henchmen.''* 
Upon his death Alonso bequeathed this valuable property to the son who had 
accompanied him on his military missions, Diego Fajardo. 

It was left to Carlos Varo to note that of the some five dozen prostitutes 
who parade through "Carajicomedia" no fewer than eight are tocayas (name- 
sakes) of Isabel. Each of them furthermore bears an epithet that associates her 
with the queen, for example, the "ramera cortesana" Ysabel de Leon (189), or 
Ysabel la Guerrera "amiga de Fajardo" (172). This plethora of Isabelline prosti- 
tutes could be coincidental, but their coinciding on at least two occasions with 
explicit references to the queen is not. Varo suggests that these are in fact 
"guifios de complicidad" directed at Isabel and that if proven, "las implica- 
ciones politicas de la 'Carajicomedia' darian a la parodia un sesgo y una inten- 
cion en los que hasta ahora las ediciones anteriores del Cancionero de burlas no 
habian reparado" (p. 172).'^ But the editor cannot fully accept his own con- 

poet's use of the Conde de Niebla episode and of the Carajo/Fortuna parallelism. Mena 
develops the comparison between the "desordenan^a" of fortune and the unpredictability of 
the seas in stanzas 11-12. 

'^ Cited by Canales (1976, 74) from a document in a nineteenth-century lawsuit to 
recover the property for the Fajardo family. After Diego Fajardo's death, his devout widow, 
Leonor de Mendoza, convinced her son Luis to cede her the brothel. When she obtained 
Papal bulls to convert the mancebia into a beaterio, her son objected and enUsted the help of 
the Mercederian Friars to oppose the plan. So great was the scandal that followed that in 
1519 (the date "Carajicomedia" first appeared in print) Charles V intervened, ordering the 
"beaterio de Magdalenas Arrepentidas" to be placed under royal protection. 

^* Galan Sanchez and Lopez Beltran (1984) study this litigation and later Fajardo family 
lawsuits over the property. 

'■' Some of these implications have been noted by Marquez Villanueva (1987). First, the 
Catholic Monarchs, in spite of their reputation as highly moralistic rulers, did not face 
squarely the problem of unchaste clergy (the ascribed author of "Carajicomedia" is Fray 
Bugeo Montesino, an obvious allusion to Isabel's favorite preacher, Ambrosio Montesino). 
Secondly, Isabel and Ferdinand's "progressive" pohcy toward prostitution treated it as another 
source of royal revenues and a reward for the loyal service of their courtiers (446). Lacarra 
discusses ways in which royal officials profited from prostitution during this period, e.g., from 
the "derecho de perdices," a tribute exacted from all prostitutes by decree of the monarchs 
in 1476 and 1498. In her opinion, it was Fernando who was largely responsible for these 


elusion, namely, that the poet really does call the queen "la prima de todas las 
putas del universo ... la fragua de los carajos ... la diosa de la luxuria, la 
madre de los huerfanos cojones" (p. 198). He hastens to reassure his readers 

la acusacion, no exenta de desvergonzado atrevimiento, no tiene la mas 
remota justificacion historica, pues, al contrario, la reina castellana fue 
modelo como mujer y como esposa. El primer testimonio en este sentido 
nos lo ofrece el historiador oficial de los Reyes Catolicos, Hernando del 
Pulgar, con nobles y energicas palabras: "dio de si un gran exemplo de 
casada, que durante el tiempo de su matrimonio e reinar, nunca ovo en 
su corte privados en quien pusiese el amar, sino ella del Rey, y el Rey 
della." (p. 74) 

The mention of Pulgar here is particularly apposite if we keep in mind what 
New Historicism has demonstrated, that historical texts are no less construc- 
tions than fictional texts. '^ From this perspective, Varo's own apologia for the 
queen belongs to the simultaneous and contradictory historiographical con- 
struction of Isabel as "perfecta casada" and "mujer viril" that Pulgar, Alonso de 
Palencia, and other cronistas initiated as part of a campaign to discredit her 
rival's claim to the throne and justify her own accession.^^ 

Isabel's disputed succession to the Castilian throne and the subsequent 
difficult consolidation of her power are intimately associated with the manipu- 
lation of what might be called a "discourse of impotence." Enrique IV's ru- 
mored homosexuality, his putative inability to control the sexual appetites of 
his wife, and the resulting supposed illegitimacy of their daughter are issues 
that have been debated by historians for more than five hundred years. ^*^ This 
is not the place to delve into the many ways that Isabel's propagandists — we 
must assume with her full approval, if not instigation — took political advantage 
of these unproven sexual deviances. Here I can only reiterate what I have 
suggested elsewhere, that one of the new queen's most pressing tasks, at least 
in the early years of her reign, was the reassertion of patriarchal values in 

"normas impositivas y represivas," since they were identical to ones that had been in effect 
in Aragon for a century (1993, 39-40). For a feminist treatment of prostitution in early 
modem Spain, see Perry (1990). 

"^ Montrose in particular skillfully analyzes New Historicism's acknowledgment of the 
"historicity of texts" and the "textuality of history" (1986, 305). His work on the literary 
construction and reproduction of the power of Ehzabeth I of England in the historical docu- 
ments of her reign provides a stimulating model for similar much-needed studies on the 
CathoUc queen. 

" At the same time, as Tate (1994) demonstrates in the case of Palencia, the official 
chroniclers were ambivalent about Isabel's "prurito de dominar" (as well as that of other 
noblewomen, hke Beatriz de Bobadilla and Leonor de Pimentel). 

'" See Eisenberg (1976). For the most balanced modem view of these matters, see 
Azcona (1964). 


Castile, values that had been allegedly inverted by the impotence (figurative or 
literal) of her father and half-brother.''^ But how was she to achieve these 
goals, which had to include the restoration of legitimacy and male dominance 
in the royal family and by extension in the nation, while claiming absolute 
pow^er for herself?^^ 

One answer, perhaps the crucial one, is that she had to marry. Impossible 
for her was the strategy adopted by the other Elizabeth, who successfully 
propagated the belief that the inviolability of the English body politic depend- 
ed on the inviolability of her physical body. Elizabeth I skillfully replaced the 
queenly obligation to insure the monarchic succession with the princely ob- 
ligation to nurture the state. ^' Isabel chose a less impregnable position in 
marrying Ferdinand, presenting herself simultaneously as queen consort and 
queen regnant. Her very public insistence on the equal status of the two 
monarchs, as evidenced by the "capitulaciones de matrimonio,""^^ was due 
not only to the long-standing Castilian-Aragonese rivalry but also to the tradi- 
tional inferiority of woman in marriage. 

Another strategy used by Isabel to forge a nation-state and impose her 
power on it was her extirpation, through the Inquisition and her much- 
vaunted religious reform movement, of contaminating feminine or effeminate 
elements in Spain: Jews, witches, homosexuals, or Muslims. Diego Fajardo's 
ambivalence toward the carnivalesque heroines of "Carajicomedia" — he 
admires, despises, but mostly feels threatened by their libidinal energy — is 
more than a criticism of the hypocrisy of the clergy and nobles who profit 
sexually and financially from the traffic in women, more than a critique of the 
queen's complicity in it. It is a continuation of a discourse that Isabel and her 
supporters so effectively used against Enrique IV and Juana of Castile. But in 
"Carajicomedia" it is her ally rather than her rival who is accused of impo- 
tence. This comic turning of the tables is an attack on Isabel's perceived mas- 
culinity, manifested in her anomalous status as female sovereign and in her 
unauthorized assumption of the virile, authoritarian role Mena tried to fashion 
for her father in Laberinto de Fortuna. 

''^ I explore this further in my "La construccion de la femineidad de Isabel la Catolica," 
presented at the XI Congress of the Asociacion Intemacional de Hispanistas, Irvine, Calif., 
August, 1992; submitted for publication. 

^" See Jordan (1987), for sixteenth-century British political writers' rejection of 
gynecocracy as an inversion of the traditional, divinely sanctioned gender/power hierarchy. 

^' Marcus describes the various strategies Elizabeth used to reinforce the sense of her 
"body pohtic" as male by, e.g., dwelling on her virginity; referring to herself as prince rather 
than queen; appealing to her composite nature — the frailty of her female "body natural" com- 
bined with the strength of her "body pohtic"; giving her famous Armada speech in martial 
costume (1986, 138-39). The effects of this self-fashioning on contemporary writers, princi- 
pally Shakespeare, have been studied extensively. 

" The document is reproduced in Puyol (1934, 80-84); Ferdinand reneged on it. 


The influence of Mena's poem on Isabel's moral and political education is 
a commonplace of Spanish literary history. Menendez y Pelayo saw Isabel's 
reign as the fulfillment of Mena's utopic vision: "[Mena] puso sus suefios, 
sueiios de poeta al fin, en el debil y pusilanime D. Juan II; pero aun en esto 
£que hacia sino adelantarse con fatidica voz al curso de los tiempos, esperando 
del padre lo que habia de realizar la hija?" (quoted in Clarke 1973, 9). In her 
study of Las Trescientas as classic epic, Clarke romantically concurs: 

Isabel la Catolica could hardly have failed to know well and from her 
earliest years the most important poem of her century. . . . She could 
hardly have failed to be impressed by the poet's vision of an expanded 
and unified Spain, a vision that may have been instrumental in moving 
her to the generosity and the courage necessary for the national expan- 
sion that took place under her reign. (9) 

There were, however, significant obstacles to the daughter's fulfillment of 
her father's destiny. Not the least of these was her gender. As Constance 
Jordan has noted, women, whose domestic and political subordination was 
considered divinely ordained, were not deemed fit to rule in the early modern 
period (1987, 421—22). We find evidence of the inconceivability of female 
sovereignty in the Laberinto itself, in the Circle of the Moon. Although Mena 
praises the virtues of Juan II's first wife, Maria of Castile, he can only conceive 
of her ruling "si fuesse trocada su umanidat, / segund que se lee de la de 
Ceneo" (stanza 76). 

Circumstances made it possible for Isabel to achieve the inconceivable, to 
assume the throne of Castile as a woman. As I have discussed, those circum- 
stances had much to do with the perceived sexual laxity Mena decries in his 
poem. In the space remaining I will use the transgressive perspective of "Cara- 
jicomedia" to briefly examine what has gone unremarked in Laberinto: its per- 
vasive preoccupation with chastity, or more precisely, with male control of a 
female sexuality perceived as threatening to the sociopolitical order. 

It is no accident that two out of the seven circles in Fortune's wheels are 
dedicated to the virtue of chastity. Mena's praise for the second exemplary 
w^oman in the Circle of the Moon, Maria of Aragon, wife of Alfonso V el 
magndnimo, is telling. He acknowledges her success as guardian of the realm 
while her husband was engaged in the conquest of Naples, but he reserves his 
real enthusiasm for the rare female virtue of sexual self-control: 

Muy pocas reinas de Grecia se falla, 

que limpios oviessen guardado los lechos 

a sus maridos demientra los fechos 

de Troya non ivan en fin por batalla 

mas una Esiona es esta sin falla, 

nueva Penelope aquesta por suerte. (Stanza 78) 

More problematically praiseworthy, at least for the modern reader, is the 
masochism of the third and final woman placed in the circle, the famous Maria 


Coronel, who rather than sully her husband's bed "quiso con fuego veneer sus 
fogueras" (stanza 79) by thrusting a firebrand in her vagina. 

The political motivation for the extensive treatment of chastity becomes 
clear in the final stanzas of the circle. There the poet exhorts Juan II to "la 
vida politica siempre zelar, / por que pudi^i^ia se pueda guardar" (stanza 81), 
and calls for the nobility to live chastely so that "en vilipendio de muchos lin- 
ages, / viles deleites non vi^ien la gente" (stanza 83). While it is true that 
Mena goes on to define castidat as the avoidance of any vice, it is equally clear 
that he finds female adultery particularly disturbing. The necessary link be- 
tween monogamy, patrilinear inheritance, and monarchy studied by Georges 
Duby (1983) for medieval France is clearly drawn here for Castile as well.^-^ 
In this way the most important political poem of the Trastamaran dynasty 
attributes the interruption of Castile's national mission and the disorder of the 
state to the weakening of feudal patriarchy. Mena's gendered agenda becomes 
even more obvious in the Circle of Venus, which complements the first circle 
in its praise of those who "en el fuego de su juventud" (stanza 100) turn vice 
into virtue through the sacrament of marriage. But the third circle is mostly 
concerned with attacking those responsible for the "muchos linatges caidos en 
mengua" (stanza 100): the adulterers, fornicators, committers of incest, and 
especially, homosexuals (stanza 101). 

Mena's preoccupation with "el amor ilicito" is not confined to the appro- 
priate circles of Diana and Venus but obtrudes at other moments as well. In 
the Circle of Apollo, for example, after extolling the prudence of ancient phi- 
losophers, prophets, and astrologers, he condemns their negative counterparts, 
the necromancers and witches. Figured here is the infamous Medea (stanza 
130) but also the less well known Licinia and Publicia, Roman adulteresses 
who murdered their husbands with poisoned brews. Their crimes provoke an 
outburst that, as Maria Rosa Lida notes (1950, 290), is a grotesque misapplica- 
tion of the Sermon on the Mount. Christ's injunction not to let one's left hand 
know what one's right hand is doing when giving alms becomes an admoni- 
tion to husbands to apply a swift and secret remedy should they even suspect 
their wives of sexual misdeeds (stanza 132). We can only guess what kind of 
remedy is implied. 

^ Of the movement toward centralization and consolidation of power within the family 
unit in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a movement that benefited the church and the 
monarchy, Aronstein notes that "the move to patrilinear descent both obscured and 
strengthened the woman's role in the generation of the family; while it effectively reduced 
her to the mere conduit through which one male passed on his name and his inheritance to 
another, it also produced an increased anxiety about chastity and potential betrayal. A man 
could not choose his heir, by law that right fell to the oldest born within his marriage. What 
if his wife, sold by her family and purchased by himself, claimed the right to traffic in 
henelf?" (1991, 119). 


That Mena views the family as a microcosm of the state becomes clear in 
the advice he gives the king as patriarch at the end of this circle: 

Magnifico principe, non lo demande 
la grand honestad de los vuestros siglos 
sufrir que se crien mortales vestiglios 
que matan la gente con poca vianda; 
la mucha clemencia, la ley mucho blanda 
del vuestro tiempo non cause malicias 
de nuevas Medeas e nuevas Publi^ias; 
baste la otra miseria que anda. (Stanza 135) 

As a husband must control his unruly wife, so a king must control his disor- 
derly subjects. 

The foregoing has shown the extent to which Mena connects the decline 
of Castile's noble families, the stagnation of the Reconquest, and the general 
civil unrest of the times to a loss of pudigia, "virtud nes9esaria de ser en la 
fembra" (stanza 131). No doubt I might have posited the interrelatedness of 
power, gender, and sex in Laberinto without the carnivalesque aid of "Caraji- 
comedia," but my point here is that the existence and popularity of the "low" 
text absolutely compels such a reading of the "high": the politics of impotence 
and sexual license expose the politics of virility and sexual control. 

At the same time, it is necessary to reiterate that "Carajicomedia" 's trans- 
gression of "high" culture is profoundly contradictory. True, the parodist 
mocks the masculine, authoritarian, repressive values that Mena urged on the 
weak king. But he simultaneously attacks the dangerous appropriation of those 
same values by Isabel, both in her anomalous status as female sovereign and in 
her virile self-fashioning. In this sense, the poem's contestatory aim is deeply 

I will conclude by recalling the image that graces the cover of Carlos Varo's 
excellent edition of "Carajicomedia": an Iberian ithyphallic bronze. Whether 
expressive of the post-censorship euphoria after the death of Franco or intend- 
ed to encourage idle bookstore browsers to part with their money, is not this 
statuette of a man with an erection nearly as long as he is tall also an ironic 
overcompensation, an unwitting admission of the enduring cultural power of 

Old Dominion University 

Cultural Studies on the Gaya Ciencia 


Few students or teachen in the humanities can be unaware that an interdis- 
cipHnary conglomeration known as "cultural studies" has lately come to 
the forefront of current humanistic scholarship, especially in the study of 
contemporary culture. The arrival of cultural studies in the wake of so many 
other critical models — semiotics, structuralism, reader-response, post-structur- 
alism, the French Freud, deconstruction, New Historicism, and so forth — 
might incline the more cynical (or the overworked) among us to dismiss this 
new methodology as another seasonal change in theoretical wardrobe decreed 
by the designers of academic fashion. However, the development of cultural 
studies in fact antedated these later trends and the field had produced a very 
extensive body of scholarship well before its ascendency in the United States. 
Consequently, it would be hard to deny its increasing importance and even 
harder to find nothing of value or interest in its diverse range of concerns. 
Indeed, for anyone curious about fifteenth-century Castilian literature, cultural 
studies may offer some particularly useful perspectives for analyzing the poetic 
craft known in that era as the gaya ciencia and usually called today the "cando- 
nero lyric." In this essay I want to review some of those perspectives, describe 
their value for understanding the gaya ciencia, and suggest in conclusion how 
their application encourages us to rethink our own involvement in the teach- 
ing and study of Castilian literature. Obviously, this brief survey can only deal 
very generally with two fields as broad as cultural studies and the gaya ciencia. 
For that reason I have avoided firequent references to theorists of cultural stud- 
ies and will discuss in detail only a few passages from the Cancionero de Baena 
for purposes of illustration. The other essays in this volume offer excellent 
detailed guidance for readers new to study of the cancionero lyric; to those 
interested in exploring scholarship from cultural studies, the works cited by 
During (1993), Easthope (1991), Hall (1980), Johnson (1987), and C. Nelson 
(1991) offer excellent points of departure. 

Gaya Ciencia and Multidisciplinary "History" 

The claim that cultural studies can help understand fifteenth-century Castilian 


gaya ciencia may seem implausible to anyone familiar with the focus on con- 
temporary questions that characterizes most cultural studies. Engagement with 
current affairs — either in the lived experience of real subjects or in actual exer- 
cises of social and political power — is virtually a defining feature of this field. 
Studying the past certainly limits this engagement, but I suspect that insistence 
on this distinction indicates the still evolving theorization of cultural studies 
and must change as the field considers arguments from the philosophy of his- 
tory or the methods of social history. Cultural studies of nineteenth- and 
twentieth-century medievalism already face the methodological problem of 
understanding the historical alterity of the Middle Ages, which scholars like 
Jauss (1977) and Patterson (1987) have explored for medieval studies. My 
conclusion will suggest some specific ways that application of cultural studies 
to the gaya ciencia engages current academic, political, or social questions, thus 
fulfilling the obligation to analyze cancionero lyric "then and now, there and 

As it happens, works from cultural studies do regularly appeal to "history," 
but they use this term to mean contemporary context rather than past events. 
Cultural studies characteristically gives close attention to the particularity, 
complexity, and specificity of culture. This concern for context has fostered an 
aggressively interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and even antidisciplinary per- 
spective. Its objects and techniques of investigation borrow freely from all 
fields of the humanities, arts, and social sciences. This eclecticism is clearly a 
virtue for many scholars in cultural studies, who prefer to resist dogmatic the- 
orizing in favor of employing whatever disciplinary methodologies are neces- 
sary to produce knowledge. At the same time, it promotes careful critical anal- 
ysis of the social, political, or economic conditions involved in any discipline's 
definition of its objects and procedures. The deliberately interdisciplinary scope 
of cultural studies thus reinforces awareness of the field's engagement with 
contemporary society. This interdisciplinary concern for historical context 
seems imperative to developing our understanding o£t\\Q gaya ciencia. The need 
to consider the larger social, political, or economic implications of the cancio- 
nero lyric ought to be patent from Juan Alfonso de Baena's well-known char- 
acterization of this art in the prologue to his great anthology: 

Es vna escryptura e conpusycion muy sotil e byen graciosa, e es dulce e 
muy agradable a todos los oponientes e rrespondientes d'ella e conpone- 
dores e oyentes; la qual ^ien^ia e avisa^ion e dotrina que d'ella depende 
e es avida e rre^ebida e alcan^ada por gratia infusa del senor Dios que la 
da e la enbya e influye en aquel o aquellos que byen e sabya e sotyl e 
derechamente la saben fazer e ordenar e conponer e limar e escandir e 
medir por sus pies e pausas, e por sus consonantes e sylabas e acentos, e 
por artes sotiles e de muy diuersas e syngulares nonbrangas, e avn asy- 
mismo es arte de tan eleuado entendimiento e de tan sotil engeno que la 
non puede aprender, nin aver, nin alcan^ar, nin saber bien nin como 
deue, saluo todo omme que sea de muy altas e sotiles inuenfiones, e de 


muy eleuada e pura discretion, e de muy sano e derecho juysio, e tal que 
aya visto e oydo e leydo muchos e diuersos libros e escripturas e sepa de 
todos lenguajes, e avn que aya cursado cortes de rreyes e con grandes 
sefiores, e que aya visto e platicado muchos fechos del mundo, e, final- 
mente, que sea noble fydalgo e cortes e mesurado e gentil e gra^ioso e 
polido e donoso e que tenga miel e a^ucar e sal e ayre en su rrasonar, e 
otrosy que sea amador, e que siempre se pregie e se finja de ser enamo- 
rado; porque es opynion de muchos sabyos, que todo omme que sea 
enamorado, conuiene a saber, que ame a quien deue e como deue e 
donde deue, afirman e disen qu'el tal de todas buenas dotrinas es doc- 
tado. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:14-15) 

Baena's characterization of gaya ciencia requires us to relate poetic composition 
to a very wide range of nonpoetic skills. Some very useful historical scholar- 
ship already provides the ground for understanding this relationship. Historians 
since Huizinga (1970) and Elias (1983) have recognized that courtly literature 
somehow depends on the social or political conditions of court society. Hexter 
(1979b) argued in a well-known essay that fifteenth-century nobles already 
appreciated the importance of education, especially literary training, as an in- 
strument of social influence and "means whereby men nobly born should win 
a place in the service of the princely commonwealth" (64). Hexter's article, 
originally published forty years ago, includes terms that anticipate those of cur- 
rent cultural studies. For example, he suggests that if we believe "knowledge 
in some measure is power," then we are obliged to examine very carefully the 
"social appropriation and distribution of these very valuable scarce goods" (45), 
which late medieval courtiers produced and consumed. The issues identified 
by Hexter in this way anticipate arguments suggested more recently by social 
theorists such as Giddens (1979), Bourdieu (1991), and Chartier (1985, 1993). 
Refinements to Hexter's basic argument appear in studies by Bumke (1991), 
R. F. Green (1980), Jaeger (1985), Oostrom (1992), and other scholars. Many 
of their arguments probably apply broadly to all the aristocratic courts of later 
medieval Europe. So Aldo Scaghone concludes his survey. Knights at Court 
(1991), with the claim that progressive refinement of all courtly skills resulted 
from "knight/courtiers constantly operating under the creative stress of a need 
to justify their social function by serving the power structures at the same time 
that they were seeking their own personal ennoblement by rising to a privi- 
leged status of free, refined agents" (1991, 310). 

To understand how those functions, structures, or agents contributed to the 
gaya ciencia described by Baena, we clearly need much more extensive informa- 
tion regarding the social, poUtical, and economic conditions of the fifteenth- 
century Castilian court. Cultural studies has often adapted ethnographic meth- 
ods for acquiring such information; any useful attempt to create a cultural 
perspective on the cancionero lyric will undoubtedly require us to undertake an 
"ethnography of the gaya ciencia." 


Gaya Ciencia as Relationality 

Simply amassing more historical evidence about the poets or audiences of can- 
cionero lyric does not in itself, however, constitute cultural studies of the 
gaya ciencia. The fundamental concern for context requires as well a scrupulous 
attention to social relationality, that is, to all the manifold dependencies, intri- 
cacies, hierarchies, alignments, divisions, overlappings, or articulations that 
exist among the culture of individuals or groups. Race, class, ethnicity, gender, 
sexuality, and age are among the most basic relations, but their organization in 
a particular culture is always complexly specific. Exponents of cultural studies 
typically refuse any reduction of these multifarious relations, whether by deter- 
ministic formulas of cultural materialism (such as the economic determinism 
fostered by "vulgar Marxism") or by expressive summations of an entire era 
(such as the idealizations of Geist nourished by German Idealism). All relations 
are interactive, mediating one another as cause or effect while retaining their 
specificity and irreducibility. Hence cultural studies strives to demonstrate or 
at least to question the heterogeneous, diverse, and "decentered" relations that 
organize the apparent "unities" in a culture. 

Analyzing the manifold social, political, or economic relations involved in 
the gaya ciencia obviously requires investigations that go well beyond the limits 
of conventional literary history or criticism. Most importantly, this relational 
analysis requires us to abandon an exclusive focus on the literary text as center 
of our interests and to consider instead with equal (if not greater) attention all 
those nonliterary practices mentioned in Baena's characterization of the gaya 
ciencia. In short, we must be willing to investigate poetry on a par with other 
social, political, or economic activity. Adherence to a strictly literary perspec- 
tive has led some scholars to question the propriety of Baena's attention to 
courtly pastimes (e.g., Weiss 1990, 48-50) or to compare his prologue dis- 
paragingly with descriptive texts such as the Cronica de Don Pero Nino (Kohut 
1982b, 126—27). At best isolating objects of literary analysis in this way allows 
very limited conclusions. At worst, it leads us to regard the composition of so 
many canciones, dezires, or coplas simply as an end in itself. This perspective 
inevitably generates paradox, as when Azaceta claims that chance must have 
played a major role in the composition of most cancioneros because each one 
seems to be the fruit of its own circumstances rather than a product of identifi- 
able literary principles (1966, l:xxxiv). A strictly literary conception of the 
activities of Baena or his contemporaries ultimately leads to rejection of their 
social, political, or economic function. Thus, Moreno Hernandez exhaustively 
studies the poetry produced by writers associated with Archbishop Alonso 
Carrillo but concludes that these lyrics were merely "an ephemeral ideological 
prop" for the prelate's political intrigues (1985, 19). This characterization of 
these texts as unimportant and association of their transience with political 
ideology neatly illustrate the complete subordination of nonliterary to literary 
relations. Cultural studies of the gaya ciencia must reject this perspective to 
understand how composing lyrics was a "signifying practice" whose "meaning" 
was not limited to literary values but included the whole inventory of "sym- 


bolic capital" suggested in Baena's inventory of courtly skills and virtues. 

Finally, we should recognize that all these relations apply to Baena's pro- 
logue itself. His comments on the gaya ciencia were not only an objective de- 
scription but a motivated, contingent attempt to represent activities that were 
likewise motivated and contingent. Potvin has cogently argued for the need to 
re-insert the cancionero lyrics into their historical context (1989, 9). The kind 
of relational analysis advocated in cultural studies not only decenters literary 
texts as objects of investigation but also resists reading those texts (or any rep- 
resentations) as mere expressions of other social, political, or economic activity. 
Texts and other representations are no less specific, irreducible, or factitious 
than other cultural products or practices. Reading them chiefly as expressions 
of other ideas or activities not only limits our understanding of those ideas or 
activities but may even lead us to treat the texts as expressions of our own 
interests. For example, the principles of organization that Azaceta finds in 
Baena's anthology are remarkably coincident with those of modem philology: 
chronology, esthetic merit, theme, content, genre, stylistic "school," and rhe- 
torical intention (ed. Azaceta 1966, l:xxxiv). Certainly it is optimistic to ima- 
gine that the authors of cancionero lyrics were especially concerned to represent 
their thoughts or circumstances as documents for study by modem scholars. A 
utilitarian attitude toward these texts as "evidence" is comparable to the atti- 
tudes of early twentieth-century anthropologists toward "primitive" cultures. 
Cultural studies can help us to regard the gaya ciencia instead as a complex 
practice involving diverse interests, causes, and effects, which we engage from 
our own equally complex circumstances. Our objects of inquiry thus never 
come to us fixed, transcending time and space thanks to some force such as 
"tradition," but become immanent in our investigations through the ongoing 
production and reproduction of those objects. 

Gaya Ciencia as Practice, Discourse, and Form 

The attention to contextual relations and refusal to accept any representations 
simply as expressions of that context allow cultural studies a very wide domain 
of investigation: "culture" includes virtually the whole range of a society's 
customs, arts, values, beliefs, institutions, and so forth, in all their symbolic and 
material manifestations. The correspondingly broad terms "practice," "dis- 
course," and "form" commonly serve to name these objects of study in 
cultural studies. The unexamined epistemological or ontological status of these 
objects might trouble theorists (like deconstructionists) more accustomed to 
arguments based closely on speculative philosophy, but the wide application of 
terms such as "practice," "discourse," and "form" aptly serves the interdisci- 
plinary scope of cultural studies. Moreover, each term involves some funda- 
mental assumptions about culture as a field of inquiry. First, the category of 
practice adopts a broadly anthropological view of culture as any activity, firom 
individual behaviors, associations, and representations to collective customs, 
institutions, and languages. This concern for praxis obviates evaluating the 
truth or adequacy of an activity in favor of asking what it does or how it 


functions. It helps resist reliance on texts or other representations and instead 
maintains attention to the active relations that constitute the cultural experi- 
ence of human subjects. Second, the characterization of some activities as 
"signifying practices" or "discourses" (a term especially promoted by the the- 
ories of Michel Foucault) helps avoid dichotomous divisions between word 
and deed or form and content and favors description of behaviors as systems of 
meaning without relying on literary terms such as "style," "imagery," or "rhe- 
toric." Third, the term "forms" — applied to objects ranging from language, 
texts, and media to modes of experience, ideologies, and myths — discourages 
regarding these objects only as signs. Even when they result from signifying 
practices, it treats them as levels, structures, or patterns — "formations," as it 
were — that are immanent in practice or discourse. While paying attention to 
cultural forms, one must not, however, forget that they always exist thanks to 
diverse causes and effects; forms do not act on their own, apart from their 
conditions of existence. Consequently, analysis of any cultural form always in- 
volves a certain abstraction, an operation that demands methodological self- 
awareness to avoid the facile reductions of cultural materialism or the insupera- 
ble structuralist dichotomies of signifier and signified. 

Discussion of the gaya ciencia in terms of practice, discourse, or form hardly 
seems problematic. After all, it is obvious that composition of court poetry was 
a practical activity and a mode of discourse that involved manipulation of 
conventional forms. Scholars working from Marxist perspectives have long 
insisted on the practical import of this poetic craft. For example, Julio Rodri- 
guez Puertolas suggested in 1968, in his first anthology of social poetry 
(1968c), that this lyric served as a means of "intervention" in contemporary 
affairs. Nonetheless, his explanation of this engagement did not go much 
beyond asserting a meaningful relationship between contemporary conditions 
and cultural representations. He observes only that political and social events 
notably influence the thought of intellectuals and writers in the fifteenth cen- 
tury (1968c, 48). This seems clear in specific situations such as the death of the 
Castilian heir Prince Juan in 1497, which many court poets lamented in verse 
(Mazzochi 1988). Less obvious are the wider relations that enabled, fostered, 
or required the "influence" of social and political events on particular literary 
acts. Roger Boase's 1978 monograph. The Troubadour Revival, marks a major 
advance in efforts to treat the cancionero lyric as a mode of social and political 
practice. Boase's ultimate argument is that the gaya ciencia was an exercise in 
archaism, adopted as "a response by the dominant minority to the disintegra- 
tion of medieval values and institutions" (1978, 151). The functional purpose 
of this response remains somewhat unclear, however: did it actually serve to 
resist disintegration? to construct alternative values and institutions? to address 
a subordinated majority? The correlation of Hterary with social or political 
practices and forms needs at the very least to differentiate explanations based 
on the "expression" of subjects' "interests" from those based on a "response" 
to structural social tensions (Geertz 1973). 

Still, these hesitations do not alter the fundamental value of Boase's attempt 


to analyze the nonliterary functions of the cancionero lyric. Indeed, he empha- 
sizes the practical character of this discourse more generally in observing that 
"the composition of love poetry was a sign of good breeding, a means of 
contending for favours and one of the most popular forms of entertainment. It 
was essentially a non-professional activity in which all those who attended the 
court were encouraged to participate" (1978, 152-53). Weiss has extended 
even further this argument regarding the practical function o£t\\Q gaya ciencia; 
he concludes that the aristocracy's enthusiasm for literary composition "was 
encouraged by a blend of social and political factors: not just literary fashion, 
but also by the spread of lay literacy amongst a baronial class anxious to use 
the written word as a means of enhancing social status and gaining political in- 
fluence" (1990, 233). Cultural studies is designed to analyze the production of 
that status or influence, as well as all the other collective relations that might 
be involved in these lyrics. 

Gaya Ciencia as Production and Transformation 

Boase's analysis of the gaya ciencia as a revival of earlier literary discourse also 
suggests another fundamental concern of cultural studies: the conditions of 
production, circulation, transformation, appropriation, representation, recep- 
tion, assimilation, or self-production through which culture exists. As it hap- 
pens, Boase's explanation of these conditions for the cancionero lyric relies 
heavily on appeal to "tradition" which operates as a virtually autonomous 
force for maintaining that discourse. That is, his argument assumes that some 
functions, value, or conception of the original troubadour lyric necessarily 
remained available to later users. Scholars of cultural studies would Ukely decry 
this assumption as an instance of the "productivism" often found in the work 
of cultural materialists. That is, it presumes that conditions of production de- 
termine subsequent use of a product. If the sense of particular poetic forms, 
styles, or vocabulary remains constant, this involves cultural production; it does 
not occur automatically. As it happens, analysis of the arts de frotar suggests that 
fourteenth- and fifteenth-century poets did not recognize the linguistic or 
hterary "traditions" that we identify today (see M. D. Johnston 1977, 1981). 
Cultural studies on the gaya ciencia will always seek to explain its production 
(including apparent revivals or repetitions) as an effect of determinate condi- 
tions in every time and place that the product appears. 

Moreover, this explanation would treat a text like Baena's cancionero not 
only as a literary "product" but as a moment in the "production" of the gaya 
ciencia. This productive character is probably easier to appreciate in the royal 
clerk's anthology than in an individual poem, since this kind of compilation so 
readily displays its constructed nature. Baena evidently compiled his collection 
over a period of years, an exercise in Uterary "processing" that modern scholars 
might consider less satisfactory than a single, neatly dehmited act of composi- 
tion, Baena's dedication to his volume suggests the intersection of cultural 
practices responsible for this somewhat diffuse process. His cancionero presents 


escriptas e puestas e asentadas todas las cantigas muy dulses e graciosa- 
mente assonadas de muchas e diuerssas artes, e todas las preguntas de 
muy sotiles inuenciones, fundadas e respondidas, e todos los otros muy 
gentiles dezires, muy lymados e bien escandidos, e todos los otros muy 
agradables e fundados pro^essos e requestas que en todos los tiempos 
passados fasta aqui fisieron e ordenaron e composieron e metrificaron el 
muy esmerado e famoso poeta, maestro e patron de la dicha arte, Alfonso 
Aluares de Villasandino, e todos los otros poetas, frayles e religiosos, 
maestros en theologia, e cavalleros e escuderos, e otras muchas e diuerssas 
personas sotiles, que fueron e son muy grandes desidores e ommes muy 
discretos e bien entendidos en la dicha gra^iosa arte. De los quales poetas 
e dezidores aqui adelante por su orden en este dicho libro seran decla- 
rados sus nonbres de todos ellos, e relatadas sus obras de cada vno bien 
por estenso. El qual dicho libro, con la gratia e ayuda e bendi^ion e es- 
fuerfo del muy soberano bien, que es Dios nuestro Seiior, fiso e ordeno 
e conpusso e acopilo el indino Johan Alfonso de BAENA, escriuano e 
seruidor del muy alto e muy noble rey de Castilla Don Johan, nuestro 
senor, con muy grandes afanes e trabajos e con mucha diligen^ia e afec- 
tion e grand deseo de agradar e conplaser, e alegrar e seruir a la su grand 
Realesa e muy alta Sefioria. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:3-4) 

The compilation of so many individual lyrics associated with this general 
"art" reminds us that the gay a ciencia is already an organized cultural practice, 
whose ongoing production Baena selectively represents through an anthology 
of its products. His endeavor also illustrates how cultural production typically 
involves some transformation in the products circulated. At the very least, 
Baena's great anthology requires a certain operation of "abstraction" that mani- 
pulates time and space by collating so many poems composed in different 
circumstances. More importantly, he performs this task as a royal clerk render- 
ing a service to his monarch, a complex act of production whose results de- 
pend on various relations of duty, patronage, favor, reward, and authority. 
Equally complex relations determine the transformations that occur at every 
level of circulation, from private acts among individuals (such as the direct 
exchange of poems) to public acts among larger groups (such as the jochs Jlorals 
or publication of the Cancionero general). Even reading Baena's anthology in- 
volves some degree of private or public transformation in the products that it 
circulates, insofar as any reading submits them to new uses as entertainment, 
models of courtly skill, and so forth. 

This view of culture as a process of continuous transformation rejects the 
kind of self-sufficient unity that literary criticism often assumes in texts, auth- 
orial intentions, traditions, styles, genres, or themes. Cultural studies instead 
fosters attention to all those features of repetition, adaptation, assimilation, 
hybridization, negotiation, and so forth that literary analysis may well regard 
as "mis-readings" or even "mis-takes." Attention to these concrete transforma- 
tions allows a fuller understanding of the gaya ciencia than do broad categories 


like "humanism," "scholasticism," "medieval," "Renaissance," or "Pre-Ren- 
aissance," since these categories allow little diversification. There is in fact 
scant "explanation" in the claim that any literary practice in this era "supone 
un estudio, inseparable de la tradicion retorica y filosofico-teologico que enlaza 
lo clasico pagano a lo judeo-cristiano a lo largo de la Edad Media" (Moreno 
Hernandez 1985, 45). Rather than admiring the longevity of the cultural forms 
inherited firom antiquity, cultural studies would seek to analyze the significance 
and conditions of that inheritance for the practitioners of the gaya dencia. The 
circulation of cultural forms may undergo abrupt alterations according to 
diverse circumstances of class, gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, age, and so 
forth. The need to understand these alterations has popularized concepts like 
Roger Chartier's principle of "appropriation," which focuses attention on how 
diverse sectors of a society use the "same" cultural products in different ways. 
This perspective w^ould certainly apply to the relationships between gaya dencia 
and other uses of vernacular literacy in religion, commerce, or political affairs. 
Especially interesting would be consideration of the seemingly paradoxical 
ways in which candonero lyrics use discourses of love and spirituality. The social 
significance of this usage is probably much more complex than a simple 
devotion to courtly love as a kind of "secular religion" (see the arguments of 
Gerli 1981). 

Gaya Ciencia as Power 

Cultural practices, discourses, or forms do not appear, circulate, and change 
thanks to some transcendent "will to culture." Rather, they exist dynamically 
thanks to manifold, particular relations, such as order, regulation, domination, 
or subordination, which we commonly regard as exercises of power. These 
relations are perhaps most obvious when they involve the unequal distribution 
of cultural products among different groups or individuals, but cultural studies 
assumes that any practice, discourse, or form arises firom and generates relations 
of power. Potvin has recently analyzed the strictly textual relations through 
which poets accomplish "une affirmation de son pouvoir par la prise en charge 
de son propre texte a travers le processus dorenavant renverse de I'ecriture/ 
lecture" (1989, 61). 

However, understanding the social production and circulation of the gaya 
detida requires a much wider-ranging study of the relations of power that it 
involves. Literary histories of the candonero lyric typically describe its place in 
fifteenth-century Castile by invoking a broad dichotomy like "popular" and 
"learned," which defines cultural levels that somehow "interact" or "interfere" 
with one another (e.g., Deyermond 1981 or Marcos 1986). This dichotomy is 
probably not very satisfying to any of us today, especially when fifteenth- 
century authors already found it difficult to construct social models based on 
only three estates. Cultural studies excels in analyzing how societies organize 
their practices, discourses, and forms of culture. For example, a large body of 
scholarship applies Mikhail Bakhtin's arguments regarding heteroglossia, the 
dialogic imagination or carnival. His model seems particularly applicable to 


scurrilous or parodic lyrics such as the rimas cazurras (Cano Ballesta 1986). Still, 
the Russian theorist's analyses rely on some very reductive distinctions between 
popular and official culture (see the discussions by Flannigan 1990 and Gure- 
vich 1988, 176-94). It seems necessary to recognize that variable distinctions 
between the "popular" and the "learned" are themselves cultural forms that 
occur through relations of power in specific contexts and must undergo con- 
tinuous reproduction. Much work in cultural studies has investigated how 
differences in race, gender, class, ethnicity, or sexuality organize that produc- 
tion in particular contexts. The role of these differences in the gay a ciencia is 
obvious in several respects. First, a fundamental distinction of class obviously 
sustains the association of the gaya ciencia with the court and aristocratic 
society. Baena's dedication and prologue assume that association. He specifical- 
ly invokes the social order of the court when characterizing the audience for 
his cancionero: 

Ca sin dubda alguna, si la su merged [i.e., the king] en este dicho libro 
leyere en sus tienpos deuidos, con el se agradara e deleytara e folgara e 
tomara muchos conportes e plaseres e gasajados. E avn otrosi con las niuy 
agradables e gra^iosas e muy singulares cosas que en el son escriptas e 
contenidas, la su muy redutable e real persona auerra rreposo e descansso 
en los trabajos e afanes e enojos; e otrosi desechara e oluidara e apartara 
e tirara de sy todas tristesas e pesares e pensamientos e afligiones del 
spiritu, que muchas de uezes atraen e causan e acarrean a los prin^ipes los 
sus muchos e arduos nego^ios rreales. E assi mesmo se agradara la realesa 
e grand seiioria de la muy alta e muy noble e muy esclare^ida reyna de 
Castilla doiia Maria nuestra seiiora, su muger, e duenas e donsellas de su 
casa. E avn se agradara e folgara con este dicho libro el muy illustrado e 
muy gra^ioso e muy generoso prin^ipe don Enrrique, su fijo, e final- 
mente en general se agradaran con este dicho libro todos los grandes 
seiiores de sus reynos e senorios, asy los perlados, infantes, duques, 
condes, adelantados, almirantes, como los maestres, pryores, mariscales, 
dottores, caualleros e escuderos, e todos los otros fidalgos e gentiles 
ommes, sus donseles e cryados e ofi^iales de la su casa real, que lo ver e 
oyr e leer e entender bien quisieren. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:4—5) 

This passage offers an excellent opportunity to contrast the emphases of 
literary history or criticism and of cultural studies. Literary analysis of this pas- 
sage readily recognizes its use of rhetorical gradatio and congeries, adherence to 
commonplaces of exordial decorum, or allusion to conventional doctrines of 
literature as recreation for the spirit (well analyzed by Olson 1982). None- 
theless, the effect of gradatio only occurs through representation of real or 
imagined distinctions in social, political, and economic status. Baena's represen- 
tation tells us little unless we also investigate the advantage, interests, or con- 
trol — in short, the power — involved in identifying ^<jyfl ciencia with these levels 
of court society. Inflections of power by class appear in many cancionero lyrics 
that include personal invective regarding social origins. These works contribute 


to a voluble discourse of nobility, lineage, and virtue among fifteenth-century 
Castilian aristocrats. In several cases, class distinction attaches itself literally to 
a writer: the artisan origins of Anton de Montoro earned him the sobriquet of 
"el Ropero" (see Lope 1990; Gerii 1994-95); similarly, the humble back- 
ground of the minstrel Juan de Valladolid evidently induced the derisively 
ironic identity of "Juan Poeta" from his contemporaries (analyzed by Battesti- 
Pelegrin 1990 and Rubio Gonzalez 1983-84). The condensation of these dis- 
tinctions into nicknames perhaps shows how these differences required con- 
stant reproduction in a context where they might otherwise disappear, thanks 
to the opportunities for social, economic, and political mobility available at 

These nicknames and invective were only a few of the practices available to 
social agents engaged in constant efforts to break, realign, reorganize, and 
advance their groups, interests, or status. Models for analyzing these efforts 
already exist in recent literary scholarship: perhaps cancionero invectives contrib- 
ute along with heraldry or marriage rituals to the "symbolic production" of 
aristocratic alliances (Bloch 1983, 75-76); or perhaps these alliances are the 
narratological "Subject" of the invectives, just as family appears to be in some 
romances (Vitz 1989, 103-4). Cultural studies can extend these insights re- 
garding literary representation into broader analyses of all the discourses and 
forms of power involved in invective. 

Struggle involving racial difference is another area where Castile seems to 
excel — if that is the right word — compared to other societies of later medieval 
Europe, thanks to the dual circumstances of the ongoing Reconquest and 
anti-Semitism. Invective involving race occurs throughout the cancioneros, espe- 
cially in verses denouncing the perversion and perversity of Jews (Rose 1983). 
A relationship between literary culture and race most notably appears in lyrics 
that identify racial origins with inept poetic talent. However, these identifica- 
tions do not merely show that converses or moriscos were considered poor poets 
but also implies some social, political, or economic disadvantage for them. 
That is, the act of denouncing others as conversos or moriscos does not by itself 
damn them: rather it makes them and their writing subject to evaluation 
according to the relations of power organized by those racial distinctions. An 
obvious but important aspect of this discourse is the writers' own acceptance 
of those relations and distinctions: very few of them write in defense of being 
a converse or morisco. This agreement enables their mutual invective, which thus 
functions both as a means of reinforcing their group identity and of disputing 
their relative status within that group. Studying the racial insults in cancionero 
literature could contribute substantially to cultural studies on anti-Semitism in 
fifteenth-century Castile, especially because these texts would diversify the 
narrow focus on theological literature usually found in historical studies of the 
subject (e.g., Cohen 1982). At the very least, investigating these issues regard- 
ing the gaya ciencia could help advance our understanding of the converse ques- 
tion beyond the point where Americo Castro left it. 

Finally, distinctions in gender must have played a fundamental role in the 


relations of power that define production of the gaya ciencia, to judge from the 
very Umited number of women who contributed to the cancioneros (about half 
a dozen in Perez Priego's anthology, 1989). The virtual absence of courtly 
women poets desperately needs further investigation and explanation, as 
Whetnall argues (1992). We probably will not learn much about the organiza- 
tion and performance of gender in Castilian court culture by scrutinizing the 
few extant texts of women writers for more bio-bibliographical data. Florencia 
Pinar has told us all she is going to tell (Fulks 1989; Snow 1984). On the other 
hand, a wide range of very suggestive theories concerning gender in courtly 
love and culture offer some new perspectives on this limited material. Argu- 
ments by Bloch (1991), Diamond (1989), or Finke (1992) could readily apply 
to cultural studies of cancionero verse. Finke suggests, for example, that the 
feminine roles defined in the literature of courtly love effectively excluded the 
intervention of female poets because courtly love constituted an "euphemeri- 
zation" of the economic power that only men contested (1992, 42). 

At the same time, cultural studies offers an opportunity to advance investi- 
gation of the practices and discourses called "courtly love" beyond their 
literary forms. For example, Bratosevich (1984) explains well how Santillana's 
serranilla to the Mo^uela de Bores organizes fictions of social difference but still 
concludes that the Marques's poem ultimately closes upon itself as a self-refer- 
ential artifact, insofar as its entire perspective is courtly. However, as soon as 
we ask whether this closure applies to the fictions of difference in gender, we 
recognize an opening for analyzing both the ideology of courtly love in the 
poem and the relations of power that in fact enable Santillana's representation. 
Thus, it becomes possible to ask how the sexual conflict represented in the 
poem was already a social relationship, which the text reproduces and trans- 
forms in its representation. What circumstances made it possible for a noble 
like the Marques to write such a characterization of an encounter with a 
peasant girl? The question seems almost naive. Yet, answering it involves 
much more than simply defining the structures of representation in one lyric; 
it leads us to consider the relations of power that were conditions of this rep- 
resentation as well. 

Ultimately, analyzing how class, race, or gender organize relations of power 
in the gaya ciencia can help us to escape a reductive definition of its practitio- 
ners as autonomous "authors." Even in cases where we possess substantial bio- 
graphical information about an individual's other endeavors — or perhaps espe- 
cially in those cases — literary history and criticism typically treat any individual 
who writes as an "author" and then, if possible or necessary, adds qualifying 
categories Uke letrado, converso, petty noble, aristocratic, plebeian, and so forth. 
Even Potvin's excellent attempt to study the exercise of power in the cancio- 
neros maintains this essentialized ideal of the "poet" (1989, 29). Cultural studies 
can help us avoid this reduction, which tends to obscure the particular condi- 
tions involved in any exercise of the gaya ciencia, especially in the production 
of "occasional" poetry. This reduction not only effaces the differences between 
kinds of literary actors, it assumes the fact of their agency, as though they were 


completely self-motivating subjects. Lingering Romantic notions of the poet 
as individual creative genius perhaps encourage this view. In any case, its 
difficulties become obvious when we consider categories of authors that did 
not exist at all — or scarcely existed, such as "women writers," "peasant poets," 
or morisco troubadours. These nearly oxymoronic categories force us to consid- 
er what social, political, or economic relations were powerful enough to 
exclude them. At the same time, we must also ask what relations were pow^er- 
ful enough to sustain those practitioners of the ^aya ciencia who did exercise its 

Gaya Ciencia as Ideology 

The discourse, practices, or forms that enable individuals to make sense of 
experience, explain their material conditions, or "give meaning to life" typical- 
ly receive the label "ideology" in cultural studies. Theories of ideology are as 
diverse as the interests of the field and often emphasize different functions or 
relations. Some focus on the complex ways that ideologies relate social agents 
to their conditions of existence. In working with Hterary materials from the 
gaya ciencia, we might find useful the definition offered by a literary scholar 
such as Easthope, who characterizes ideology as "the degree to which a text 
carries out a particular ideological maneuvre, namely, the transformation of a 
sense of social being into a version of personal consciousness" and thus con- 
centrate our analysis on this "strategy for reworking social and 'objective' 
modes as personal and subjective" (1991, 132). Baena's anthology performs an 
ideological maneuvre of this sort in its presentation of Alfonso Alvarez de 
Villasandino. The rubrics that introduce the selection of Villasandino's writings 
identify him and his work as the epitome of the gaya ciencia: 

Aqui se comien^an las cantigas muy escandidas e grafiosamente asonadas, 
las preguntas e rrespuestas sotiles e bien ordenadas, e los desires muy 
limados e bien fechos, e de infinitas inuen^iones que fiso e ordeno en su 
tienpo el muy sabio e discreto varon, e muy syngular conponedor en esta 
muy graf iosa arte de la poetria e gaya ciencia, Alfonso Aluares de Villa- 
sandino, el qual, por gratia infusa que Dios en el puso, fue esmalte e lus 
e espejo e corona e monarca de todos los poetas e trobadores que fasta 
oy fueron en toda Espaiia. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:171) 

It is interesting to notice that this maneuvre consists in equating Villasandino 
and his work with the perfection of the gaya ciencia. The other poems that 
Baena compiles presumably offer less accomplished examples of this art. This 
implicit hierarchy of achievement is expHcit in the courtly poetic contests, 
such as the jochs florals, which Enrique de Villena describes in his Arte de trobar 
(ed. Sanchez Canton 1919). This zeal to define preeminence in the gaya ciencia 
and to celebrate perfection with ceremonial awards suggests that both this 
literary activity and courtly protocol help sustain a common ideology. Hence, 
we might ask, for example, whether homologous relations governed the ex- 
change of verse invectives and the letras de batalla that arranged armed duels. 


These relations remain largely unexplored, but we might assume that the com- 
position of courtly lyric involved competition for a status above and beyond 
the benefits gained from the exercise of literacy alone. 

From a strictly literary perspective, Baena's celebration of Villasandino seems 
an overt exercise in "canon formation." Considered as an ideological ma- 
neuvre, this celebration also uses the individual figure of Villasandino to "per- 
sonify" all the general differences in class, gender, and race involved in defin- 
ing a courtly poet. Through this personification, Baena's anthology and many 
subsequent Castilian cancioneros are able to represent the gaya ciencia as a per- 
sonal practice undertaken by individual subjects endowed with particular 
talents and status. Thus Villasandino's preeminence is not due to his invention 
of the gaya ciencia or some other aetiological fiction that we might regard as a 
function of literary "tradition." Rather, this "monarch" of poets serves chiefly 
as an ideological hat rack for displaying the "crown" that all his subjects covet. 
Later pretenders include Imperial, Mena, Santillana, or Perez de Guzman, who 
seize the throne of literary preeminence thanks to their own efforts and to the 
industry of interested supporters like Pero Diaz de Toledo (Weiss 1990, 129- 
30). These poets and their admirers successfully intervene in the production of 
the gaya ciencia through glosses, cancioneros, commentaries, and other resources 
of literary re-production. The celebration of Villasandino by Baena or of San- 
tillana by the dutiful letrado Diaz de Toledo perhaps illustrates an argument 
from Pierre Bourdieu: professionals who administer delegated power — like 
clerics or intellectuals — tend to idealize the practices that they themselves exer- 
cise, thus setting these practices into social or political positions above their 
own (1991, 196). The circulation of these idealizations provide experiential 
depth in time and space for their group identity. Finally, the elevation of these 
vernacular auctoritates drawn from the nobility coincides with the demise of the 
juglares from lower social levels. We recognize broadly that by the early fif- 
teenth century the letrados and other literate courtiers were dispossessing the 
juglares of the moral, cultural, and economic distinctions that previously legi- 
timated them as poetic artisans in courtly society. The career of Juan de Valla- 
dolid offers a late, but virtual paradigm of the relations and conditions involved 
in this struggle between the juglares and the new practitioners oi gaya ciencia. 

In short, Baena's celebration of Villasandino should inspire us to consider 
more carefully and broadly how the cancioneros contributed to the circulation 
of courtly ideology. The great anthologies produced relations of cultural power 
that enabled some social agents to advance while compelling others to retreat. 
They especially achieved this by promoting individual practice o{ the gaya cien- 
cia and recognition of this discourse as a worthwhile courtly achievement. 
These two aspects are not identical: indeed, recognizing the ideological con- 
struction of these lyrics requires us to distinguish the value of each compo- 
sitional product from the value recognized for their production in general. 
These two aspects mutually reinforce one another: writing lyrics manifests 
courtliness, and courtliness is a prerequisite of lyric virtuosity. This conjuncture 
would seem circular were it not for the diversely constructed relations of 


power that each element involves. The ideological strength of this identifica- 
tion evidently displays the "dual structuration" identified by Anthony Giddens 
(1979, 69) as a fiandamental principle of social systems: practicing the gaya 
ciencia reproduces (indeed, fortifies) the very relations that sustain the practice. 

Gaya Ciencia as Subjectivation 

Finally, much w^ork in cultural studies has explored the complex and funda- 
mental question of "subjectivation," that is, the conditions and relations in 
which individual subjects attain their practical identities. Many analyses espe- 
cially stress how relations of power and configurations of ideology affect indi- 
vidual experience, rather than discuss power and ideology as collective "struc- 
tures of domination" or "value systems." Studies based on the theories of 
Louis Althusser (1971) particularly emphasize how the production of ideology 
in consciousness constitutes "subjects." This subjectivity may be as contradic- 
tory, divided, or conflicted as the practices, discourses, or forms involved in 
that ideology. Even analyses that do not follow Althusser still reject traditional 
conceptions of an unchanging "human nature" or of a radically autonomous 
individual subject in favor of arguments that treat "subject positions" as both 
consequences of self-production and effects of social production. Hence, cul- 
tural studies is broadly concerned with the subjective function of all practices, 
discourses, or forms and their interrelations. Literary texts rarely enjoy a central 
or self-contained place in these relations but more often contribute to the 
circulation of culture, including forms of subjectivity, that occurs in all social 

Cultural studies on cancionero literature would therefore require investigating 
a much wider range of subjectivating forms in language, signs, ideologies, 
discourses, myths, and so forth. Many forms of this kind circulated in the his- 
torical context of the gaya ciencia, where they constantly recombined and 
modified one another. Surely one of the most difficult fonns to understand is 
the broad circumstance that subjects themselves regard as their "experience," 
since this typically involves a myriad of coincident relations functioning at 
many different levels. Somewhat easier to recognize are the practices, discours- 
es, or forms that allow subjects to position themselves in specific relations of 
power. It is not difficult to see that many cancionero lyrics perform the kind of 
"self- fashioning" that Greenblatt (1980) studied for sixteenth-century England. 
Weiss examined how cancionero love lyric manifests the "self-conscious use of 
poetry to create and ceremoniously act out an identity" (1991a, 254). Green- 
blatt's "New Historicist" arguments emphasize the fiindamentally oppositional 
character of this discourse, beginning with the basic distinction of self from 
other. Cultural studies offers even broader perspectives for analyzing the 
diverse and complex relations that inform this positioning. Baena's anthology 
includes many diverse examples: Claudine Potvin has calculated that roughly 
one third of all the pieces in his cancionero involve one poet writing against 
another (1989, 53). The correlation of literary distinction with other econom- 
ic, social, or political distinctions presumably creates status, authority, or pres- 


tige — in other words, positions a subject to advantage — but these correlations 
are scarcely easy for us to recognize five hundred years later. We readily imag- 
ine that differences in race, gender, or class will involve major disparities in the 
relative power of any subject's position, as noted above. The contribution of 
other distinctions to positioning a cultural subject remains less obvious. For 
example, the various claims regarding certain poets' divinely endowed poetic 
skill, gracia, and schooling continue to prompt scholarly debate (see Fraker 
1966a, 63-90; Lange 1971, 94-103; Weiss 1990, 25-40). The interrelations of 
these very particular forms all require much broader investigation for us to 
understand the "subject of poetry" produced by the^^jy^j ciencia. 

The cancioneros certainly offer much useful material for pursuing such 
inquiries, especially in their occasional lyrics. Each of these texts gives a 
particular construction of its historical context, along with its contingent rela- 
tions of power, configurations of ideology, and subject positions. In effect, 
every occasional poem provides us with a point of departure for exploring the 
coincidences of its construction with other relations, configurations, or posi- 
tions. As an example, we might consider three related poems by ViUasandino 
and Francisco de Baena. Their rubrics represent their occasional context thus: 

[No. 104] Este dezir a manera de disfama^ion fyzo e ordeno el dicho 
Alfonso Aluares de ViUasandino contra vna dueiia deste reyno por 
manera de la afear e deshonrrar por rruego de vn cauallero que gelo rogo 
muy afyncadamente, por quanto la dicha dueiia non quisso a^eptar sus 
amores del dicho cauallero. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:210) 

[No. 105] Este dezir de rrespuesta fizo e ordeno por la dicha duena 
Francisco de Baena, escriuano del adelantado Diego de Ryuera, al dicho 
Alfonso Aluares de ViUasandino a la sobredicha rrequesta de deshonores 
que fizo a la dicha duefia, la qual respuesta va por los consonantes del 
dicho Alfonso Aluarez. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:213) 

[No. 106] Este de rreplica^ion fizo e ordeno el dicho Alfonso Aluarez de 
ViUasandino contra el dicho Francisco de Baena a la su respusta que le 
dio al su dezir primero qu'el fyzo contra la dicha dueiia; la qual repli- 
cation va muy bien fecha e muy bien ordenada e por los mismos conso- 
nantes que primero comen^o en su dezir. (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1:216) 

This exchange of poems illustrates well how exercise of the gaya ciencia in- 
volves positioning a subject according to multiple levels and types of relations. 
First, the text presents the first two lyrics as courtly services rendered by 
ViUasandino and Francisco de Baena on behalf of others. Such service was evi- 
dently a common practice, but the relationship involved remains unclear. 
Should we regard the unnamed lady and gentleman as patrons of ViUasandino 
and Francisco de Baena? Did the poets gain any remuneration beyond an 
opportunity to display their courtly skills? What ideology explained this prac- 
tice? ViUasandino 's reply especially leads us to consider the value of his perfor- 
mance as a servant. Francisco de Baena 's response on behalf of the lady 


includes several lines evidently directed to Villasandino himself: a reference in 
line 16 to rustic dalliances in lUescas (Villasandino's home town) and various 
allusions to poor speaking. Consequently, Villasandino replies directly to 
Francisco de Baena, denouncing the latter's versifying skills. In this way, the 
surrogates in this exchange (Villasandino and Baena) position themselves as 
literary antagonists, thereby mimicking the sexually antagonistic relationship 
between the principals whom they serve (the spumed gentleman and offended 
lady). This positioning involves not only a homologous relationship but similar 
terminology: Baena and Villasandino direct toward one another the same kind 
of scurrilous insults that they craft for their patrons. Thus, this exchange recalls 
Pierre Bourdieu's arguments regarding the "political mimesis" practiced by 
subordinates, in which "by pursuing the satisfaction of the specific interests 
imposed on them by competition within the field, [they] satisfy in addition the 
interests of those who delegate them" (1991, 181). This competition typically 
involves symbolic strategies that range from outright insult to the award of 
official names or titles (ed. Azaceta 1966, 1: 238—42). Through these strategies, 
competitors in a field distinguish themselves legitimately and work to restrict 
the number and scope of their competition at any moment. The exchange 
between Villasandino and Baena evidently involves this sort of strategy for 
positioning themselves as literary servants. At the same time, their poems pre- 
sumably provide strategies for the gentleman and lady whom they defend to 
satisfy their interests as well, although understanding the relations involved in 
their duel by poetic proxy certainly requires investigating the specific condi- 
tions of many other courtly practices (such as the conduct of rivalries) that 
remain little known. 

However, we can broadly appreciate the contribution of ideology to these 
strategies in the ways that these poets or rivals attempt to represent their indi- 
vidual opponents according to general social types ("easy woman," "bad poet," 
"rustic squire," "uncouth courtier" and so forth). The "positioning" accom- 
plished through this strategy is one of the most obvious features in cancionero 
polemical lyrics. Careful study of this "positioning" can useflilly connect tex- 
tual forms (such as genre, style, or wordplay) with the intersections in their 
authors' and readers' subjectivities and identify their function as devices for cre- 
ating relations of subordination, domination, respect, submission, and so forth. 
This function implies a much larger field of practice in which this kind of 
"personalizing" invective operated to represent class conflicts or sexual aggres- 
sion as well-known types or norms of individual behavior. These types or 
norms called into play by the text would be the object of "cultural studies" on 
courtly love or politics in the gaya ciencia. In short, texts like these offer one 
kind of evidence for studying the formation of collective and individual iden- 
tities, by abstracting the social forms through which individuals sustain them- 
selves subjectively. Careful analysis of this "in-formation" helps us to recognize 
the contending relations involved in their distinctive subject positions. 

Ultimately, however, the difficulty in understanding the burlesque allusions, 
sexual euphemisms, and indecent slang in these three poems also reminds us 


that their texts do not allow us direct access to a unitary, transcendent level of 
meaning, which we can recognize just as easily in other texts or objects. 
Rather, meaning always occurs through diverse signifying practices, which we 
must labor to understand as well. Reducing those practices to the general 
Bakhtinian function of "carnival" and then differentiating them by types of 
insult (as proposed by Potvin 1989, 47-64) does not really acknowledge that 
diversity. This kind of reduction especially tends to obscure how subjects posi- 
tion themselves through the reproduction of their forms: each poem may offer 
a further transformation of the stylistic devices, allusions, and even discursive 
positions involved in their polemics. 


The issues reviewed in this essay at best name only some basic points of de- 
parture for exploring much broader and more complex problems of fifteenth- 
century Castilian society. The difficulty of investigating these historical prob- 
lems is, as noted already, a common objection to pursuing cultural studies 
about the more distant past. This difficulty prevents, some scholars would 
argue, fulfilling the engagement with contemporary issues that cultural studies 
ought to include. However, I think that it is fairly easy to see how the investi- 
gation ofgaya ciencia proposed here involves us in two related and highly con- 
tested contemporary problems: the first is the struggle over definitions of 
culture and literature in our academic institutions; the second is the reorgani- 
zation of national culture in the Spanish state since Franco. Engagement in 
these two areas "here and now" almost inevitably results, I would argue (or 
hope), from undertaking cultural studies on the gay a ciencia "there and then." 
First, cultural studies as an academic discipline is already deeply engaged in 
current debates over multiculturalism, the value of mass or "popular" culture, 
and the preeminence of the literary canon (or "high" culture generally) in the 
United States. This engagement is likely to affect anyone attempting serious 
work in cultural studies, even on medieval Castilian court lyric. For academic 
scholars, the gaya ciencia epitomizes all the difficulties now recognized in 
teaching and studying a body of "literature" understood normatively as "great 
books." Simply put, how does one explain teaching or studying the Cancionero 
de Baena in the company of classics such as the Poema de Mio Cid, Don Quixote, 
or La casa de Bemarda Alba? Even the simplest explanation based on "universal 
human values," "importance for development of a tradition," or "representa- 
tion of its era" must confront precisely the questions that cultural studies put 
in the foreground, such as the social distribution of "low" or "high" culture 
and the production of cultural ideology necessary to produce categories like 
"literature," "tradition," or "representation." Of course these questions extend 
to the works of Per Abbat, Miguel de Cervantes, and Federico Garcia Lorca 
as well. Exactly how do we explain the immanence of human values, tradition, 
or historical information in any texts circulated among different audiences over 
many centuries? Perhaps we can safely ignore these questions in teaching 
literature to our students; after all, they must accept our syllabi and curricula 


almost wholly "structured in dominance," to use the famous phrase of British 
cultural studies pioneer Stuart Hall. However, addressing these questions 
becomes more urgent w^hen w^e must offer our scholarly work to potential 
publishers or to institutional promotion and tenure committees. Medieval His- 
panists tempted to pursue cultural studies on the cancionero lyric must be 
prepared to defend their work to colleagues who insist on defining their dis- 
ciplinary enterprise as the study of literature. Even academic scholars whose 
teaching duties include courses on "culture or civilization" may find that this 
traditional pedagogical category does not readily accommodate cultural studies. 

Second, cultural studies on the gaya ciencia certainly demands as well some 
critical assessment of the assumption that Castilian remains the national lan- 
guage and literature of Spain since the death of Franco. Most North American 
foreign language pedagogy has failed almost completely to consider the impli- 
cations of the reorganization of the Spanish state into autonomias. As it hap- 
pens, the Cancionero de Baena is not a monolingual text. When we spare our 
students the labor of reading its Galician lyrics, how do we justify this arbitrary 
construction of "literature" to colleagues from Santiago de Compostela? At the 
very least, Baena's preference for Galician over Catalan precendents o( the gaya 
ciencia should compel us to analyze our own construction of "Spanish literary 
tradition" for the Iberian Peninsula. More broadly, the perspectives of cultural 
studies can help maintain awareness of how our professional interests depend 
upon, resist, or benefit firom the contemporary struggle to reorganize cultural 
power in the Spanish state. Ultimately, our study of the cancioneros as cultural 
products should draw us to examine our own ideological construction of "na- 
tional languages," if not the categories of "nation" and "language" themselves. 

The gaya ciencia is certainly not the only historical problem that lends itself 
to analysis through cultural studies. Its explicit definition according to class 
differences, evident function as an exercise of social power, and apparent 
claims to literary value do make it an especially tempting object for study for 
investigations of this kind. Moreover, Alan Deyermond has suggested that the 
extant corpus of cancionero verse may well exceed the combined corpus of 
similar English, French, and German lyric (1980, 96). If this is so, then this 
situation alone should inspire our curiosity about the circumstances of such 
copious production, circulation, and reproduction. The interdisciplinary scope 
of cultural studies ensures that any conclusions about the cancioneros will proba- 
bly have considerable value for scholarship beyond the field of later medieval 
Castilian lyric. Indeed, the match of cultural studies with the gaya ciencia may 
offer Hispanists a felicitous opportunity, as the poets might have said, to guide 
the wheel of scholarly fortune in medieval studies. 

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absolutism 13, 14, 212, 213, 214, 215, 

216, 231 
Abulafia, Todros 138 
agudeza 107 

see also wit 
Alfonso X, el Sabio 97, 138, 144, 154- 

his Siete partidas 112 
allegory 62, 78, 87, 174 
Altamira, Vizconde de 105-106, 115 
Althusser, Louis 249 
Alvarez Gato, Juan 32, 33, 36, 129, 

131, 175, 223 
ambiguity 104, 121, 132, 173, 176, 

177, 182, 222, 251-52 
anti-Semitism 12, 188, 189, 190, 191, 

192, 193, 245 
Andreas Capellanus 95, 99, 131-32 
Arabic verse 138, 139, 140, 144, 146, 

157, 158, 161 
Aristotle 200, 202, 203, 207 
Aubrun, Charles 22, 25, 26 
author, concept of 5-6, 16, 62, 246 

see also dezidor, poeta 
Avinyo, Mossen 143, 151, 152, 169 
Ayllon, Peralvarez de 130 
Azaceta, Jose Maria 238, 239 

Baena, Francisco de 250—51 
Baena, Juan Alfonso de 38, 50, 83, 99, 
103, 117-18, 140, 166-67, 175, 
236-37, 238, 241-42, 244, 247- 
48, 253 
see also Cancionero de Baena 
Bakhrin, Mikhail 14, 221, 243-44, 252 

see also carnival 
ballads 188 

Beltran, Vicente [Vicen9 Beltran] 4-6, 

7, 143, 155 
Bernaldez, Andres 214 
bihngualism 10-11, 137-70, 253 

bilingual cancioneros 142—49 

bilingual poets 149-52 

its poetic uses 152—64 

percentage of 148-49, 169 

see also cancioneros, bilingual; maca- 
ronic verse 
Blecua, Jose Manuel 80 
Boase, Roger 2, 15, 240-41 
Boffey,Juha 141, 148, 167 
Bonifaci Calvo 154-55, 164 
book, concept of 5, 49, 51-52 
Boscan, Juan 81, 88, 171, 172 
Bourdieu, Pierre 237, 248, 251 
bourgeoisie 111, 191, 193-94, 195, 
201, 204 

see also class 
Brownlee, Kevin 63—64, 66 
Brownlee, Marina S. 7-8, 11-12 
Burrus, Victoria 9-10, 15 

Cancioneiro Colocci-Brancuti 142 
Cancioneiro da Ajuda 166, 167 
Cancioneiro da Vaticana 142 
Cancioneiro geral {\6KE) 145, 147, 152, 

Cancionero COl (Coimbra, Universi- 

taria 1011) 29 
Cancionero PN4 (Paris, Nationale, esp. 

226) 143, 144 
Cancionero PN6 (Paris, Nationale, esp. 

228) 30, 31, 32, 43 

Cancionero PN7 (Paris, Nationale, esp. 

229) 31, 43 



Cancionero PN8 (Paris, Nationale, esp. 

230) 28 
Cancionero PNl 1 (Paris, Nationale, esp. 

305) 143 
Cancionero PNl 2 (Paris, Nationale, esp. 

313) 28 
Cancionero SA4 (Salamanca, Universi- 

taria 2139) 37 
Cancionero SA5 (Salamanca, Univer- 

sitaria 2244) 40, 41-42 
Cancionero SAlOa (Salamanca, Universi- 

taria 2763) 44 
Cancionero de Baena (PNl) 16, 19, 29, 
34, 37, 41, 48, 52, 54, 59, 99, 
103, 139, 145, 150, 187, 191, 
235, 236-38, 239, 241-42, 244, 
247-48, 249-50, 252-53 

as historical document 190 

its compilarion 40, 50, 241-42 

its conceptual structure 166—67 

its date 38 

see also Baena, Juan Alfonso de 
Cancionero de don Pedro de Aragon (BC3) 

Cancionero de Egerton (LB3) 28, 32, 34 
Cancionero de Estuniga (MN54) 45, 144 
Cancionero de Gallardo (MN17) 30, 34, 

194, 196, 197 
Cancionero de Herberay des Essarts (LB2) 

22-27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 41, 44, 

45, 119 
Cancionero de Juan Fernandez de Hijar 

(MN6) 30, 32 
Cancionero de la Catedral de Segovia 

(SGI) 145, 147, 148, 166-67, 169 
Cancionero de Martinez de Burgos 

(MN33) 28 
Cancionero de MSdena (MEl) 24-25, 27, 

28, 38, 44 
Cancionero de obras de burlas (190B) 15, 

130, 221-22, 229 
Cancionero de Oiiate-Castaneda (HHl) 
32, 43, 50 

its compilation 54—56 

Cancionero de Palacio (SA7) 27, 46, 145, 

Cancionero de Pero Guillen de Segovia 

(MN12) 46 
Cancionero de Ramon de Llavia (94RL) 

36, 37 
Cancionero de Salvd (PNl 3) 40 
Cancionero de San Martino delle Scale 

(PMl) 29, 30, 33, 34 
Cancionero de Vindel (NH2) 44, 46, 

143, 151 
Cancionero del British Museum (LBl) 30, 

34, 43, 152 
Cancionero del marques de Barberd (BMl) 

28, 30, 34 
Cancionero general (IICG, 14GC, etc) 
15, 42, 52, 56, 82, 97, 101, 103, 
104, 131, 144, 145, 152, 187, 
191, 224, 242 

see also Castillo, Hernando de 
Cancionero llamado Flor de enamorados 

Cancionero musical de Elvas (EHl) 147 
Cancionero musical de Palacio (MP4) 27, 

43, 147-48 
cancionero verse 

and Golden Age 7, 53, 80, 104, 
109, 171, 173, 182-83, 226 

approaches to 1-3, 16, 79-81, 88, 
89, 168, 171, 197, 222 

as ideology 238, 247-48 

as power 85, 91, 164, 243-47, 253 

as relationality 238—39 

as signifying practice 238, 239-41 

court funcrion 82, 83, 87-88, 96, 
111, 115, 124, 132, 241, 244, 
248, 249-50 

defined by Baena 236—37 

in the academy 252—53 

its audience 12, 87, 99, 109, 124, 
126-27, 132, 244 

its pubUc character 83-84, 109 

poetics of 174 




as "literary" objects 5, 52, 166 

bilingual 142-49 

compilation of 4-6, 22-46, 50, 54- 
56, 141, 142, 166 

formal unity 50, 51, 53-54 

function of 50— 51 

meaning of term 4, 48, 140-42 

musical 147, 148, 149 

origins of 49 

printed 35-37 

publication history 18—22 

their textual transmission 22, 24—27, 
39, 46, 166, 167 

see also book, concept of; chanson- 
niers; individual candoneros 
Cartfoner del Ateneu Barcelones 146 
Carajicomedia 14—15, 221—34 
Cardona, Alonso de 123 
Carmina Burana 144, 148, 149, 158, 

159, 164, 165 
carnival 14, 221, 225, 227, 231, 234, 

243, 252 
Carrillo de Huete, Pedro 101-102 
Cartagena, Alonso de 172, 173, 180, 

192, 203, 213, 214, 217 
Cartagena, Pedro de 8, 11-12, 15, 103, 
114, 116, 121, 122, 123, 171-83, 

his popularity 172-73, 182-83 
Carvajal 144, 151, 152, 160, 163, 164 
Castaiieda, Guiomar de (wife of Jorge 

Manrique) 87-88, 115 
Castiglione, Baldessare 82, 89, 90 
CastiUejo, Cristobal de 80, 172, 173 
Castillo, Hernando de 50, 51, 97, 101, 

104, 105, 108, 131, 141 
Castro, Americo 194, 245 
Catalan verse 8, 31, 41-43, 137, 139, 
142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 148, 
150, 151, 163, 165, 169, 253 

see also individual authors 
Catedra, Pedro 145 
Catherine of Lancaster 149, 201 

Catholic Monarchs 96, 215, 229 

as courtly lovers 116—17, 223 

see also Fernando de Aragon; Isabel 
Celestina see Rojas, Fernando de 
Cerquiligni, JacqueUne 7, 8, 60, 61, 

62, 65 
Cerveri de Girona 156 
Chansonnier de Charttilly 139, 142, 143, 

Chansonnier Escorial {EM2) 147, 148 
Chansonnier Mellon (YBl) 147, 148 
Chansonnier Pixhecourt (PN15) 147, 

148, 169 
chansonniers 142, 144, 149, 166 
Chartier, Roger 5, 237, 243 
chastity 84, 122, 232-34 
chivalric romance 112, 113, 119 
chivalry 84, 121, 200, 223 
chronicles 115, 180, 192, 195, 230 
Clarke, Dorothy Clotelle 59, 62, 73, 

class 89, 111, 160, 191, 238, 243, 244- 
45, 248, 250, 251, 253 

see also bourgeoisie; nobility 
codicology 4-5, 6, 48 

see also candoneros, compilation of 
Colon, Hernando 44 
color symbolism 114, 123, 174, 176 
conversos 12, 13, 187-97, 213, 224, 
245, 246 

see also anti-Semitism; Jews 
convivenda 189, 191 
Coplas de la Panadera 30, 41, 192, 193 
Coplas de Mingo Revulgo 41, 192 
Coplas del Provindal 192, 193 
Costana 124 
court of Aragon (Naples) 27, 33, 137, 

144, 146, 151, 160, 164 
court of Navarre 25, 27, 155 
courtUness 9-10, 82-83, 84, 111, 116, 
117-18, 237, 248 

see also courtly love, as game; 
courts, life at 



courtly love 9-10, 92, 175-77, 178- 
79, 180, 222, 223, 243, 246, 251 
and secrecy 8, 82-92, 114-15, 127 
and youth 118 
as game 84, 86-87, 91-92, 98-110, 

112-33, 174, 175 
moralists' disapproval 121 
problem of defining 95—97, 113, 

see also lovesickness; marriage; 
women, role in courtly love 

defined by Alfonso X 112 
life at 111-13 
literary 27, 137-40 
see also candonero verse, court func- 
tion; courtliness; courtly love, as 
cultural materialism 15-16, 221, 238, 

240, 241 
cultural studies 15-16, 221, 235—53 

and multidisciplinary history 235-37 
culture, concept of 239, 242, 252 
"high" and "low" 15, 164, 165, 
221, 222, 224, 234, 243-44, 252 

Dante Alighieri 7, 156, 164 

his Divina commedia 59—78, 164 
Davila, Diego Arias 193 
De amore, see Andreas Capellanus 
De Man, Paul 183 
Deyermond, Alan 10-11, 204, 215, 

dezidor, concept of 7, 60, 78 

see also author; poeta 
dezir (genre) 7, 8, 60-61 

see also dit 
Dezir a las siete virtudes, see Imperial, 

Diaz de Toledo, Pedro 203, 204, 206, 

211, 213, 217-18, 219, 248 
Disputa de Tortosa 189, 191 
dit (French genre) 7, 59-62, 67, 71, 78 

as mode 62 

etymology of 62 
Divina Commedia, see Dante Alighieri 
diuisas (emblems) 10, 102-109, 116, 

d'Orleans, Charles 150—51 
Dronke, Peter 96, 138, 148, 170 
Dutton, Brian 2, 21, 23, 47, 108, 141, 

157, 168, 195 

Eagleton, Terry 14 

Easthope, Anthony 247 

kriture fiminine 225 

Eiximenis, Francesc 203 

Elias, Norbert 111, 112, 237 

Ehzabeth I (of England) 230, 231 

Encina, Juan del 43, 51 

English verse 8, 138, 147, 149, 161- 

62, 165, 253 
Enrique IV (of Castile) 13, 15, 33, 192, 

193, 196, 203, 206, 209, 211-12, 

214, 215, 216, 230, 231 
Enriquez, Fadrique 103, 106 
Escavias, Pedro de 43, 55—56, 213 
Estuniga, Alvaro de 194, 195 

Fajardo, Alonso 229 

Fajardo, Diego 225, 226, 227, 228, 

229, 231 
Fallows, David 141, 148, 149, 150 
feminist criticism 14, 83, 127, 221, 

223, 224, 230 
Fernandez de Oviedo, Gonzalo 116, 

Fernando de Antequera 31, 189, 200— 

201, 203 
Fernando de Aragon, el Catolico 116— 
17, 221, 212, 216, 223, 229, 231 

see also Catholic Monarchs 
Ferrer, Fray Vicente 188, 189, 191 
feudalism 14, 213, 214, 233 
Finke, Laurie 246 
Flores deftlosofia 199 
Foucault, Michel 182, 240 
Foulche-Delbosc, Raymond 2 



French verse 8, 112, 138, 139, 142, 
143, 144, 145, 146, 148, 149, 
150, 154, 155, 156, 161, 253 
see also dit; individual authors 

Galician-Portuguese verse 2, 49, 50, 
51-52, 112, 138, 139, 141, 142, 
144, 145, 149, 154, 155, 156, 167, 

Gallagher, Patrick 180 

game theory 98—99 

Garcia, Michel 5-6, 7, 43, 213 

Garcilaso de la Vega 3, 8, 79-82, 84, 
88-89, 171, 172, 173 
his Cancion V 89-92 

Gaunt, Simon 154, 160 

gender 8-9, 12, 14-15, 89, 90, 91, 
165, 238, 243, 244, 248, 250 
and power 224-34, 245-46 
see also masculinism; masculinity; 

Gerh, E. Michael 8, 11-12, 15, 16 

German verse 139, 144, 158, 159, 160, 
165, 253 

Gongora, Luis de 109 

Gonzalez de Mendoza, Pedro (Cardi- 
nal) 38, 40, 206, 216 

Gower, John 150 

Gracian, Baltasar 107, 109, 173 

Guevara 33, 34, 115, 124, 132 

Harley Lyrics 149, 161 
Hebrew verse 138, 157-58, 164 
Hermida Ruiz, Aurora 7, 8-9, 15 
Herrera, Fernando de 89, 173 
homosexuality 158, 230, 231, 233 
Huizinga, Johan 10, 98-99, 110, 237 
humanism 79, 160, 180, 182, 204, 205, 

Huot, Sylvia 5, 8, 49, 142 
Hurtado de Mendoza, Diego 196 
Hurus, Juan 36 
Hurus, Paulo 35, 36, 37 

ideology 8, 9, 13, 14, 54, 84, 88, 91, 
127, 175, 182, 197, 200, 204, 
207, 216, 223, 237, 246, 247-49, 
250, 251, 252, 253 
see also masculinism 
Imperial, Francisco 12, 140, 248 

his Dezir a las siete uirtudes 7, 59—78 
inuencidn (genre) 10, 83, 86, 101-10, 

114, 115, 116, 175 
liiigo Lopez de Mendoza, see Santi- 

llana, marques de 
Inquisition 193, 231 
intertextuahty 8, 66, 78 
Isabel I (of Castile) 14-15, 41, 97, 101, 
103, 116, 147, 188, 192, 193, 
203, 223-25, 229-32, 234 
see also Catholic Monarchs 
Italian verse 8, 80-81, 137, 139, 144, 
145, 146, 147, 148, 141, 154, 
156, 160, 161, 163, 164 
see also individual authors 

Jauss, Hans Robert 62, 236 

Jews 12, 138, 187-97, 213, 231, 245 

expulsion of 193 

see also anti-Semitism; conuersos; 
Hebrew verse 
Johnston, Mark 13, 15-16 
Jones, R. O. 43, 223 
Juan II of Castile 53, 99, 100, 101- 

102, 103, 189, 190, 192, 194, 201- 

202, 206, 211, 213, 215, 224, 225, 

226, 232, 233 
Juan Manuel II (poet) 103, 108-109, 

Juan Poeta, see ValladoUd, Juan de 
Juana, Queen of Castile 40 
juglares 157, 248 
justice, theme of 206-14, 217-19 

Kerkhof, Maxim 2, 39, 46 
kharjas 157-58, 160, 164 



Laberinto de Fortuna, see Mena, Juan de 
Lacarra, Maria Eugenia 128, 223, 229 
Lando, Ferran Manuel de 191 
language, fascination with 10, 11—12, 
15, 109-10, 173-83 

see also bilingualism; invencion; 
logocentrism; rhetoric; wit; 
Lapesa, Rafael 80, 81, 83, 86, 88-89 
Latin verse 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 

142, 144, 147, 148, 149, 150, 158, 

159, 161, 162, 163, 165 
Le Gentil, Pierre 8, 60-61, 97, 116 
Leonor de Navarra 23, 25, 26, 27 
letra (genre) 10, 101-10, 175 
letrados 14, 199, 205, 206, 211, 212, 

213, 214, 246, 248 
Lewis, C. S. 95 

Libro de buen amor, see Ruiz, Juan 
Libro de los den capitulos 199 
Lida de Malkiel, Maria Rosa 116, 214, 

literacy 165, 182, 241, 248 

as recreation 112, 242, 244 

concept of 5, 7, 16, 53, 183, 252- 

"second degree" 12, 61, 65, 68, 77, 
logocentrism 175, 182 
Lopez de Ayala, Pedro 188, 215 

his Rimado de Palacio 6, 49-50, 54, 
188, 199 
Lopez de Villalobos, Francisco 121 
lovesickness 120-21, 123, 131, 132 
Lucan 70 

Luduena, Hernando de 117, 118, 122 
Luna, Alvaro de 13, 53, 99-100, 104, 

106, 115, 123, 191, 192, 194-96, 197 

macaronic verse 163, 164, 165 
Machaut, Guillaume de 60, 62, 150 
Macias 26, 27, 40, 99 
Macpherson, Ian 9-10, 15, 222 
Manrique, Gomez 27, 30, 32, 34, 35, 

36, 37, 44, 46, 54, 55, 163, 193, 
204, 206, 208, 209, 211, 218 
Manrique, Jorge 2, 52, 54, 55, 82, 152, 
his Coplas por la muerte de su padre 3, 

35, 36, 40, 45, 48, 196 
his love lyric 8, 35, 36, 84-88, 114, 
March, Ausias 42 
Maria de Navarra, condesa de Foix 25, 

26, 27 
Maria, Queen of Aragon (sister of Juan 

II) 210, 232 
Maria, Queen of Castile (wife of Juan 

II) 38, 100, 232 
marriage 225, 231, 233, 245 

and courtly love 131 
Martinez de Toledo, Alfonso 85, 120 
Marxism 238, 240 

masculinism 9, 91, 92, 127, 223, 227 
mascuhnity 8, 12, 15, 85, 86, 87, 88- 
89, 92, 223 
see also gender; virility 
Mejia, Pedro 120-21 
Mena, Juan de 2, 27, 29, 32, 38, 39, 
54, 55, 127, 152, 172, 195, 197, 
213, 215, 248 
his Coplas contra los siete pecados mor- 

tales 35, 36, 207 
his Laberinto de Fortuna (Tresdentas) 
15, 26, 27, 29, 30, 34, 39, 40, 43, 
46, 48, 210-11, 224-28, 231-34 
Mendoza, Inigo de 54, 192, 206, 212- 
his Vita Christi 27, 30, 35, 36, 38, 
39, 42, 46, 48, 211, 215 
Mendoza, Juan de 103, 105 
Menendez Pelayo, Marcelino 81, 89, 

194, 232 
Meun, Jeun de 

his Roman de la Rose 59 
Michael, Ian 223 
minstrel, see juglares 
misogyny 85-86, 91, 92, 126, 129, 



monarchy, nature of 199-203, 214-17, 

female 221-34 

see also absolutism; justice; power 
Montesino, Fray Ambrosio 54, 229 
Montoro, Anton de 29, 33, 54, 55, 

152, 192, 223, 224 
moriscos 245, 247 
Muros, Diego de 216-17 
music 142, 147-48 
muwalM 157-58, 160, 164 

Nader, Helen 14, 205-206, 212, 213, 

Nebrija, Antonio de 180, 181, 182, 

neoplatonism 81, 92 
New Historicism 221, 230, 235, 249 
Nichols, Steven 7 
Nieto Soria, Manuel 204-205, 211, 

nobility 14, 52-53, 88, 89, 97, 111, 

115, 191, 205, 212, 213, 237, 241, 

Nunez, Hernan 7, 226 

obscenity 222, 251 
orality 8, 49, 51, 61 
Ovid 63, 66, 90, 95 

Palencia, Alonso de 182, 214, 230 
Panormita, el (Antonio Becadelli) 43, 

42, 203 
Parker, Alexander A. 81, 97, 222 
patriarchy 15, 225, 233-34 
Pedro I (of Castile) 188 
Pequeno cancionero del marques de la 

Romana (MN15) 29, 34, 40, 45 
Perez de Guzman, Fernan 13, 14, 27, 
29, 32, 34, 36, 41, 50, 54, 55, 
183, 199, 202, 206, 207-208, 
215, 216, 218, 248 
his Coplas de vicios e virtudes 29, 30, 
199-200, 201, 206, 208-209 

his Generaciones y semblanzas 99- 
100, 180, 201, 203 
Petrarca, Francesco 46, 81, 83, 90, 91, 

150, 164 
Petrarchism 79-82, 83, 84, 90, 92 
Pinar, Florencia 33, 246 
Pizan, Christine de 78 
poeta, concept of 7, 60, 68, 78, 246, 

see also author; dezidor 
Poeta, Juan, see Valladolid, Juan 
Portugal, Pedro de 29, 52, 150 
Portuguese verse 145, 147, 152, 163, 

see also Candoneiro geral 
Potvin, Claudine 239, 243, 246, 249 
power, theme of 13, 86, 199-219 

see also cancionero verse, as power; 

gender and power 
Prieto, Antonio 80 
prostitution 226-30 
Provencal verse 112, 138, 139, 141, 
144, 146, 149, 151, 152-54, 155, 
156, 164 

see also individual poets 
Puertocarrero 114, 125-26 
Pulgar, Fernando de 200, 230 

Quevedo, Francisco de 92, 109 
Quintilian 181 

race 193, 227, 238, 243, 244, 245, 
248, 250 

see also conversos; Jews; moriscos 
Rambaut de Vaqueiras 152-54, 155, 

156, 160, 164 
Reconquest 209, 214, 229, 234 
Reiss, Timothy 182 
Resende, Garcia de 141 
rhetoric 7, 174, 175, 179, 244 
Ribera, Suero de 40, 120, 163 
Rico, Francisco 79, 81, 102, 108 
Rimado de Palacio, see Lopez de Ayala, 




Rodriguez Puertolas, Julio 12-13, 211, 

213, 140 
Rohland de Langbehn, Regula 13—14 
Rojas, Fernando de 110, 163, 180 
Roman de la Rose see Meun, Jean de 
Roncaglia, Aurelio 48, 53-54, 166 
Ropero de Cordoba, see Montoro, Anton 

Rubin, Gayle 225 
Ruiz, Juan 8 

his Libra de buen amor 6, 49—50, 54, 
160, 228 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola 119 

Saint Paul 63, 64, 66 

San Pedro, Diego de 36, 48, 54, 83, 

86-87, 103, 104 
Sanchez de Arevalo, Rodrigo 214 
Sanchez de Badajoz, Garci 30, 43, 172 
Sanchez de Calavera, Ferran 37, 196 
Sanchez de las Brozas, Francisco (El 

Brocense) 226 
Sanseverino, Violante (dedicatee of 

Garcilaso's Cancion V) 89—91 
Sansone, Giuseppe 60 
Santa Maria, Gonzalo de 204 
Santa Maria, Pablo de 188-89, 190, 

his Siete edades del mundo 29 
Santillana, marques de 2, 7, 22, 27, 29, 
30, 32, 37, 39, 48, 54, 55, 139, 
172, 173, 196, 203, 206, 215, 
216, 248 

his Carta Prohemio 41, 49, 51-52, 
60, 175, 219 

his Prouerbios 29, 199, 203, 204, 
206, 209-10, 217-18 

his serranillas 3, 246 

his sonnet XXXIII 214 
satire 157, 192, 215 
Selomo Ha-Levi, see Santa Maria, 

Pablo de 
Seneca 89, 201, 203, 204, 217 
sentimental romance 13, 28, 114, 203— 


Severin, Dorothy 4, 141 
Solaz, Pedro Annes 156—57 
Stallybrass, Peter 221, 227 
Stuniga, Lope de 44 
subjectivity 12, 15, 182, 249-52 

Tapia 123, 172-73, 175 
textual criticism 6, 20-21, 48 
Torre, Fernando de la 196, 216 
Torrellas, Pedro 26, 27, 38, 129, 146, 

151, 169 
Torres Naharro, Bartolome de 172 
Torroellas, Pere, see Torrellas, Pedro 
tournaments 10, 100-101, 103, 104, 

110, 113, 114 
tradition, concept of 5, 239, 241, 248, 

Trastamaran dynasty 145, 188, 216, 

Trescientas, see Mena, Laberinto de 


Urries, Hugo de 22, 23, 25 

Valdes,Juan de 109 

Valera, Diego de 12, 23, 44, 124, 194- 

99, 215, 216 
Valladohd, Juan de 25, 26, 33, 245, 

Varo, Carios 224, 229-30 
Vega, Lope de 80, 92 
vidas and razos 49, 166—67 
Villasandino, Alfonso Alvarez de 27, 

32, 44, 50, 52, 55, 99, 145, 149-50, 

191, 247, 248, 250-51 
Villena, Enrique de 150, 190, 206, 247 
Virgil 67, 225 

virility 86, 88, 89, 91, 231, 234 
Vita Christi, see Mendoza, Iriigo de 

Waltz, Mathias 199-200, 203 

Weiss, Julian 49, 51, 86, 88, 166-67, 

199-200, 213, 223, 241, 249 
Weissberger, Barbara 14—15 
Whetnall.Jane 143, 246 



Whinnom. Keith 2-3, 11, 28, 80, 86, 
103, 108, 133, 222 

White, AUon 221, 227 

Williams, Raymond 6 

wit 88, 101, 109, 114, 122-23, 125, 
133, 173 
examples of 102-109 
see also invenciSn; wordplay 

Wolkenstein, Oswald von 139, 160 

women 12, 87, 90-92, 105, 116, 157- 
61, 164, 221-34, 251 
and rape 158-59, 227 
as courtly fiction 122, 127 
as objects of exchange 223, 225, 

as patrons 138, 139, 178, 250-51 
concept of 8, 15, 130 
poets 131, 139-40, 246, 247 
role in courtly love 83, 84-86, 91- 

92, 113-15, 119, 121-31, 246 
silenced 9, 83, 86 
their sexuaUty 225, 227-28 
see also gender; misogyny; monar- 
chy, female; patriarchy; prosti- 
wordplay 101, 102, 103-104, 109, 110, 

Zumthor, Paul 8, 61, 164, 165 


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