Garcilaso de la Vega

Garcilaso de la Vega

Ask a question about 'Garcilaso de la Vega'
Start a new discussion about 'Garcilaso de la Vega'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum

Garcilaso de la Vega was a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 soldier and poet. He was the most influential (though not the first or the only) poet to introduce Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 verse forms, poetic techniques and themes to Spain.


Garcilaso was born in the Spanish city of Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

. His exact birth date is unknown, but estimations by scholars put his year of birth between 1498 and 1503. His father, Pedro Suárez de Figueroa, was a noble in the royal court of the Catholic Monarchs
Catholic Monarchs
The Catholic Monarchs is the collective title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; they were given a papal dispensation to deal with...

. His mother's name was Sancha de Guzmán.

Garcilaso was the second son which meant he did not receive the mayorazgo (entitlement) to his father's estate. However, he spent his younger years receiving an extensive education, mastered five languages (Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, Latin, Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

), and learned how to play the zither
The zither is a musical string instrument, most commonly found in Slovenia, Austria, Hungary citera, northwestern Croatia, the southern regions of Germany, alpine Europe and East Asian cultures, including China...

, lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

 and the harp
The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

. After his schooling, he joined the military in hopes of joining the royal guard. He was named "contino" (imperial guard) of Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

  in 1520, and he was made a member of the Order of Santiago
Order of Santiago
The Order of Santiago was founded in the 12th century, and owes its name to the national patron of Galicia and Spain, Santiago , under whose banner the Christians of Galicia and Asturias began in the 9th century to combat and drive back the Muslims of the Iberian Peninsula.-History:Santiago de...

 in 1523.

There were a few women in the life of this poet. His first lover was Guiomar Carrillo with whom he had an illegitimate child. He had another suspected lover named Isabel Freire, who was a lady-in-waiting of Isabel of Portugal. In 1525, Garcilaso married Elena de Zúñiga who served as a lady-in-waiting for the King's favorite sister, Leonor. Their marriage took place in Garcilaso's hometown of Toledo in one of the family's estates. He had six children: Lorenzo, an illegitimate child with Guiomar Carrillo, Garcilaso, Íñigo de Zúñiga, Pedro de Guzmán, Sancha, and Francisco.

Garcilaso's military career meant that he took part in the numerous battles and campaigns conducted by Charles V across Europe. His duties took him to Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 and France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. In 1532 for a short period he was exiled to a Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 island where he was the guest of the Count György Cseszneky
György Cseszneky
Count György Cseszneky de Milvány et Csesznek was a Hungarian aristocrat in 16th century. Member of the Cseszneky family.In 1526 when the disastrous battle with the Turks happened and Louis II died in the battlefield, György Cseszneky was the chatelain of the Castles Tata and Komárom...

, royal court judge of Győr
-Climate:-Main sights:The ancient core of the city is Káptalan Hill at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, Rába and Rábca. Püspökvár, the residence of Győr’s bishops can be easily recognised by its incomplete tower. Győr’s oldest buildings are the 13th-century dwelling tower and the...

. Later in France, he would fight his last battle. The King desired to take control of Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 and eventually control of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, but this goal was never realized. Garcilaso de la Vega died on October 14, 1536 in Nice, after suffering 25 days from an injury sustained in a battle at Le Muy
Le Muy
Le Muy is a commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It was one of the first places to be liberated in the Allied invasion of Southern France in August 1944.It lies near Draguignan and Saint-Tropez....

. His body was first buried in the Church of St. Dominic in Nice, but two years later his wife had his body moved to the Church of San Pedro Martir in Toledo.


Garcilaso de la Vega is best known for his tragic love poetry that contrasts the playful poetry of his predecessors. He seemed to progress through three distinct episodes of his life which are reflected in his works. During his Spanish period, he wrote the majority of his eight-syllable poems; during his Italian or Petrarchan
The Petrarchan sonnet is a verse form that typically refers to a concept of unattainable love. It was first developed by the Italian humanist and writer, Francesco Petrarca. Conventionally Petrarchan sonnets depict the addressed lady in hyperbolic terms and present her as a model of perfection and...

 period, he wrote mostly sonnets and songs; and during his Neapolitan
Music of Naples
Naples has played an important and vibrant role over the centuries not just in the music of Italy, but in the general history of western European musical traditions. This influence extends from the early music conservatories in the 16th century through the music of Alessandro Scarlatti during the...

 or classicist period, he wrote his other more classical poems, including his elegies, letters, eclogues and odes. Influenced by many Italian Renaissance poets, Garcilaso adapted the eleven-syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

 line to the Spanish language in his sonetos (sonnets), mostly written in the 1520s, during his Petrarchan period. Increasing the number of syllables in the verse from eight to eleven allowed for greater flexibility. In addition to the sonetos, Garcilaso helped to introduce several other types of stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

s to the Spanish language. These include the estancia
Estância is a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Sergipe. Its population was 62,218 and its area is 642 km². The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Estância....

, formed by eleven- and seven-syllable lines; the "lira", formed by three seven-syllable and two eleven-syllable lines; and endecasílabos sueltos, formed by unrhymed eleven-syllable lines.

Throughout his life, Garcilaso de la Vega wrote various poems in each of these types. His works include: forty Sonetos (Sonnets), 22 Canciones (Songs), eight Coplas (Couplets), three Églogas (Eclogues), two Elegías (Elegies), and the Epístola a Bóscan (Letter to Bóscan). Allusions to classical myths and Greco-Latin figures, great musicality, alliteration, rhythm and an absence of religion characterize his poetry. It can be said that Spanish poetry was never the same after Garcilaso de la Vega. His works have influenced the majority of subsequent Spanish poets, including other major authors of the period like Jorge de Montemayor
Jorge de Montemayor
Jorge de Montemayor was a Portuguese novelist and poet, who wrote almost exclusively in Spanish.-Biography:He was born at Montemor-o-Velho , whence he derived his name, the Spanish form of which is Montemayor....

, Fray Luis de León, San Juan de la Cruz, Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered the first modern novel, is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written...

, Lope de Vega
Lope de Vega
Félix Arturo Lope de Vega y Carpio was a Spanish playwright and poet. He was one of the key figures in the Spanish Golden Century Baroque literature...

, Luis de Góngora
Luis de Góngora
Luis de Góngora y Argote was a Spanish Baroque lyric poet. Góngora and his lifelong rival, Francisco de Quevedo, are widely considered to be the most prominent Spanish poets of their age. His style is characterized by what was called culteranismo, also known as Gongorism...

 and Francisco Quevedo. He has also had a revival influence among 21st century pastoral poets such as Seamus Heaney, Dennis Nurkse, and Giannina Braschi.

For example: (égloga Tercera):
Más a las veces son mejor oídos
el puro ingenio y lengua casi muda,
testigos limpios de ánimo inocente,
que la curiosidad del elocuente.

He was very good at transmitting the sense of life into writing, in many poems including his «dolorido sentir»:
No me podrán quitar el dolorido
sentir, si ya del todo
primero no me quitan el sentido.

He believed in a Pagan afterlife rather than a Christian one (Égloga primera):
Contigo mano a mano
busquemos otros prados y otros ríos,
otros valles floridos y sombríos,
donde descanse, y siempre pueda verte
ante los ojos míos,
sin miedo y sobresalto de perderte. (Égloga primera)

Literary references

  • In the novel Of Love and Other Demons
    Of Love and Other Demons
    Of Love and Other Demons is a novel by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, first published in 1994....

    by Gabriel García Márquez
    Gabriel García Márquez
    Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in...

     one of the main characters, Father Cayetano Delaura, is an admirer of Garcilaso de la Vega. In this novel which takes place in 18th century colonial Colombia, Delaura is forced to give up being a priest because of his tragic love affair.

  • Spanish language poet Giannina Braschi
    Giannina Braschi
    Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican writer. She is credited with writing the first Spanglish novel YO-YO BOING! and the poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams , which chronicles the Latin American immigrant's experiences in the United States...

     wrote both a poetic treatise on Garcilaso de la Vega's Eclogues, as well as a book of poems in homage to the Spanish master, entitled "Empire of Dreams".

  • The title of Pedro Salinas
    Pedro Salinas
    Pedro Salinas y Serrano was a Spanish poet and member of the Generation of '27. He was also a scholar and critic of Spanish literature, teaching at universities in Spain, England, and the United States....

    's sequence of poems La voz a ti debida is taken from Garcilaso's third eclogue.

External links

Page about Garcilaso de la Vega "La Página de Garcilaso en Internet." 2006. La Asociación de Amigos de Garcilaso de la Vega (Toledo, España). .
  • "Multiculturalism Gone Wrong: Spain in the Renaissance", Alix Ingber, (adapted from a lecture). . [Last updated: January 19, 1998].
  • "Spanish Literature (Archived 2009-11-01)," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2006.