Gil Vicente

Gil Vicente

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Gil Vicente (ˈʒiɫ viˈsẽtɨ; c.1465 – c. 1536), called the Trobadour, was a Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 playwright
Playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

 and poet who acted
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

 in and directed his own plays. Considered the chief dramatist of Portugal he is sometimes called the "Portuguese Plautus
Plautus
Titus Maccius Plautus , commonly known as "Plautus", was a Roman playwright of the Old Latin period. His comedies are the earliest surviving intact works in Latin literature. He wrote Palliata comoedia, the genre devised by the innovator of Latin literature, Livius Andronicus...

,"[3] often referred to as the "Father of Portuguese drama" and as one of Western literature's greatest playwrights.[1] Vicente worked in Portuguese as much as he worked in Spanish[3] and is thus, with Juan del Encina
Juan del Encina
Juan del Enzina – the spelling he used – or Juan del Encina – modern Spanish spelling – was a composer, poet and playwright, often called the founder of Spanish drama...

, considered joint-father of Spanish drama.

Vicente was attached to the courts of the Portuguese kings Manuel I
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

 and John III
John III of Portugal
John III , nicknamed o Piedoso , was the fifteenth King of Portugal and the Algarves. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile...

. He rose to prominence as a playwright largely on account of the influence of Queen Dowager
Queen Dowager
A queen dowager or dowager queen is a title or status generally held by the widow of a deceased king. In the case of the widow of a deceased emperor, the title of empress dowager is used...

 Leonor
Leonor of Viseu
Eleanor of Viseu was a Portuguese infanta and later queen consort of Portugal.To distinguish her from other infantas of the same name, she is commonly known as Eleanor of Viseu or Eleanor of Lancaster Eleanor of Viseu (2 May 1458–17 November 1525; ) was a Portuguese infanta (princess) and...

, who noticed him as he participated in court dramas and subsequently commissioned him to write his first theatrical work.

He may also have been identical to an accomplished goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

 of the same name,[2] creator of the famous monstrance
Monstrance
A monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Created in the medieval period for the public display of relics, the monstrance today is...

 of Belém
Santa Maria de Belém
Santa Maria de Belém, or just Belém , whose name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem, is a civil parish of the municipality of Lisbon, in central Portugal...

, and master of rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

 of King Manuel I.

His plays and poetry, written in both Portuguese and Spanish, were a reflection of the changing times during the transition from Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 to Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and created a balance between the former time of rigid mores
Mores
Mores, in sociology, are any given society's particular norms, virtues, or values. The word mores is a plurale tantum term borrowed from Latin, which has been used in the English language since the 1890s....

 and hierarchical
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

 social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 and the new society in which this order was undermined.

While many of Vicente's works were composed to celebrate religious
Religious festival
A religious festival is a time of special importance marked by adherents to that religion. Religious festivals are commonly celebrated on recurring cycles in a calendar year or lunar calendar...

 and national festivals or to commemorate events in the life of the royal family, others draw upon popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 to entertain, and often to critique, Portuguese society of his day.

Though some of his works were later suppressed by the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

, causing his fame to wane, he is now recognised as one of the principal figures of the Portuguese Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.[2]

Life


The year 1465, the date proposed by Queirós Veloso, is the commonly accepted year of Vicente's birth. However, Braamcamp Freire proposes the year 1460, while de Brito Rebelo proposes between 1470 and 1475. Vicente's own works indicate contradictory dates. The Velho da Horta ("Old Man of the [Vegetable] Garden"), the Floresta de Enganos ("Forest of Mistakes"), and the Auto da Festa ("Act
Auto (art)
Auto is a sub-genre of Dramatic Literature. It has its origin in the Middle Ages, in Spain, by the 12th century. In Portugal, in the 16th century, Gil Vicente is the main author of this type of dramatic genre. Luís de Camões and Dom Francisco Manuel de Mello also adopted this form of writing....

 of the Party") indicate 1452, 1470, and before 1467, respectively. Since 1965, when official festivities commemorating the 500th birthday of the writer were held, the date of 1465 has been almost universally accepted.

Though Frei Pedro de Poiares conjectured Barcelos
Barcelos, Portugal
Barcelos is a city in Barcelos Municipality in Braga District. The city has a population of 20,625.-History:Originally a Roman settlement, it expanded and became the seat of the First Duke of Bragança in the 15th century...

 was Vicente's birthplace, evidence for this is scarce. Pires de Lima, on the other hand, proposed Guimarães
Guimarães
Guimarães Municipality is located in northwestern Portugal in the province of Minho and in the Braga District. It contains the city of Guimarães.The present Mayor is António Magalhães Silva, elected by the Socialist Party.-Parishes:-Economy:...

, which better accounts for Vicente's identification as a jeweller. The people of Guimarães have embraced this theory; a municipal school in Urgezes is named after the playwright. There's some stories about Gil Vicente's father,that was from this parish in Guimarães, so, people believe that Gil Vicente have lived here too. Another conjecture places his birthplace at Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

. The Beira
Beira, Portugal
Beira was one of the six traditional provinces or "comarcas" of Portugal.-Administrative history:The medieval province of Beira was divided in 1832 into* Beira Alta Province* Beira Baixa ProvinceBeira Litoral...

 region is also a candidate because of various references to it in his plays, more exactly the location of Guimarães de Tavares, that has been mistaken with Guimarães
Guimarães
Guimarães Municipality is located in northwestern Portugal in the province of Minho and in the Braga District. It contains the city of Guimarães.The present Mayor is António Magalhães Silva, elected by the Socialist Party.-Parishes:-Economy:...

.

Gil Vicente married Branca Bezerra, who bore him two sons: Gaspar Vicente (died 1519) and Belchior Vicente (born 1505). After her death, he married Melícia or Milícia Rodrigues (abbreviated as Roiz), of whom were born Paula Vicente (1519–1576), Luís Vicente de Crasto (who organised the compilation of Vicente's works), married to Mór de Almeida and had issue, Joana de Pina (died 1584) (daughter of Diogo de Pina de Baião and wife Mécia Barreto, daughter of Francisco de Aguiar and wife Madalena Barreto) and had issue, and Isabel de Castro, without issue, and Valéria Borges (or Vicente), who was married firstly to Pero Machado, without issue, and secondly to Dom António de Meneses, son of Dom Luís de Meneses, of the bastards of the Lords de Cantanhede, and wife Brites de Aguiar, and had issue http://www.geneall.net/P/per_page.php?id=68989.

Vicente died in an unknown location, some say Évora
Évora
Évora is a municipality in Portugal. It has total area of with a population of 55,619 inhabitants. It is the seat of the Évora District and capital of the Alentejo region. The municipality is composed of 19 civil parishes, and is located in Évora District....

. The year of his death is commonly recorded as 1536, the year after which he ceased writing; no further reference to him is found in subsequent documents of the era. His place of burial is unknown. No surviving portraits of Gil Vicente remain.

Career


It is assumed that Vicente studied in Salamanca
Salamanca
Salamanca is a city in western Spain, in the community of Castile and León. Because it is known for its beautiful buildings and urban environment, the Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. It is the most important university city in Spain and is known for its contributions to...

. Though he initially studied law, he soon abandoned it for literature.[1]

As a writer



His first known work, O Monólogo do vaqueiro ("Monologue
Monologue
In theatre, a monologue is a speech presented by a single character, most often to express their thoughts aloud, though sometimes also to directly address another character or the audience. Monologues are common across the range of dramatic media...

 of the Cowherd"), was written in Spanish and acted in the rooms of Maria of Aragon
Maria of Aragon (1482-1517)
Maria of Aragon was a Spanish infanta and the second wife of Portuguese King Manuel I, thus queen consort of Portugal from her marriage on 30 October 1500 until her death.-Family:She was born at Córdoba on 29 June 1482 as the third surviving daughter of Isabella I of...

, wife of King Manuel
Manuel I of Portugal
Manuel I , the Fortunate , 14th king of Portugal and the Algarves was the son of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, , by his wife, Infanta Beatrice of Portugal...

, to celebrate the birth of Prince John (later John III of Portugal
John III of Portugal
John III , nicknamed o Piedoso , was the fifteenth King of Portugal and the Algarves. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile...

). The first performance, recited by the playwright himself, took place on the night of June 8, 1502, in the presence of the king; the queen; Leonor of Viseu
Leonor of Viseu
Eleanor of Viseu was a Portuguese infanta and later queen consort of Portugal.To distinguish her from other infantas of the same name, she is commonly known as Eleanor of Viseu or Eleanor of Lancaster Eleanor of Viseu (2 May 1458–17 November 1525; ) was a Portuguese infanta (princess) and...

, former Queen of Portugal and widow of John II
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

; and Beatriz of Portugal, mother of the King.

O Monólogo do vaqueiro contains several elements clearly inspired by the Adoration of the Shepherds
Adoration of the shepherds
The Adoration of the shepherds, in the Nativity of Jesus in art, is a scene in which shepherds are near witnesses to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. It is often combined with the Adoration of the Magi, in which case it is typically just referred to by the latter title...

 which takes place in accounts of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

's birth. Its staging included offerings of simple and rustic gifts, such as cheese, to the future king, from whom great achievements were expected.

Though Leonor asked him to give an encore performance of the play at the Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 matins
Matins
Matins is the early morning or night prayer service in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations to describe morning services.The name "Matins" originally referred to the morning office also...

, Vicente decided to write a new play for the occasion, the Auto Pastoril Castelhano ("Castilian Pastoral Act"). Because of the influence of Queen Leonor, who would become his greatest patron in the years to come, Gil Vicente realized that his talent would allow him to do much more than simply adapt his first work for similar occasions.

Vicente, who was in charge of organizing events in the palace, also directed the commemoration in honour of Eleanor of Spain
Eleanor of Spain
Eleanor of Austria , also called Eleanor of Castile, was born an Archduchess of Austria and Infanta of Castile from the House of Habsburg, and subsequently became Queen consort of Portugal and of France . She also held the Duchy of Touraine as dower...

, the third wife of Manuel I, in 1520. In 1521, he began serving John III of Portugal
John III of Portugal
John III , nicknamed o Piedoso , was the fifteenth King of Portugal and the Algarves. He was the son of King Manuel I and Maria of Aragon, the third daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile...

, and soon achieved the social status necessary to satirize
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 and nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 with impunity. His popularity even enabled him to contradict the opinions of the king, as he did in a 1531 letter defending the New Christian
New Christian
New Christian was a term used to refer to Iberian Jews and Muslims who converted to Roman Catholicism, and their known baptized descendants. The term was introduced by the Old Christians of Iberia who wanted to distinguish themselves from the conversos...

s.

As a goldsmith


Many works about Gil Vicente associate him with a goldsmith of the same name at the court of Évora
Évora
Évora is a municipality in Portugal. It has total area of with a population of 55,619 inhabitants. It is the seat of the Évora District and capital of the Alentejo region. The municipality is composed of 19 civil parishes, and is located in Évora District....

;[3] technical terms used by the playwright lend credibility to this identification.

In 1881, Camilo Castelo Branco
Camilo Castelo Branco
Camilo Ferreira Botelho Castelo-Branco,1st Viscount de Correia Botelho , was a prolific Portuguese writer of the 19th century, having authored over 260 books . His writing is, overall, considered original in that it combines the dramatic and sentimental spirit of Romanticism with a highly personal...

 wrote the letter "" ("Gil Vicente, Refutations of the Opinion of Mr. Teófilo Braga"), which argued that Gil Vicente the writer and Gil Vicente the goldsmith were two different people. Teófilo Braga, who initially believed them to be the same man, later adopted a different opinion after reading a study by Sanches de Baena which showed the different genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

 of two individuals named Gil Vicente. However, Brito Rebelo demonstrated the historical inconsistency of these two genealogies by the use of documents from the Portuguese national archive
Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo
The Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo is the Portuguese national archive established in 1378. It is located in Lisbon. It was renamed in 2009 as Instituto dos Arquivos Nacionais .-Significant collections:...

.

The masterpiece of Vicente the goldsmith's art was the monstrance
Monstrance
A monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Created in the medieval period for the public display of relics, the monstrance today is...

 of Belém
Santa Maria de Belém
Santa Maria de Belém, or just Belém , whose name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem, is a civil parish of the municipality of Lisbon, in central Portugal...

 made for the Jerónimos Monastery
Jerónimos Monastery
The Hieronymites Monastery is located near the shore of the parish of Belém, in the municipality of Lisbon, Portugal...

 in 1506, which was crafted from the first gold exported from Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

. The design of this monstrance resembles the decorations of the southern portal of the church Santa Maria de Belém of this monastery.

Three years later, he became overseer of the patrimonies of the Convento de Cristo in Tomar
Tomar
Tomar Municipality has a total area of 351.0 km² and a total population of 43,007 inhabitants.The municipality is composed of 16 parishes, and is located in Santarém District...

, Nossa Senhora de Belém, and the Hospital de Todos-os-Santos in Lisbon. In 1511, he was nominated vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 of the King, and a year later he was the representative jeweller in the Casa dos Vinte e Quatro. In 1513, as master of the balance of the Casa da Moeda, the Portuguese national mint
Mint (coin)
A mint is an industrial facility which manufactures coins for currency.The history of mints correlates closely with the history of coins. One difference is that the history of the mint is usually closely tied to the political situation of an era...

, Vicente the goldsmith was elected by the others masters to represent them in Lisbon.

Written works




Vicente's oeuvre spans the years between 1500 and 1536. Most of his plays were intended for performance at court
Noble court
The court of a monarch, or at some periods an important nobleman, is a term for the extended household and all those who regularly attended on the ruler or central figure...

, where he and the ladies and gentlemen of the court participated in their production. He wrote no fewer than forty-four pieces, ten of which are in Spanish, fourteen in Portuguese, and the remainder in mingled Portuguese and Spanish. His plays may be grouped into four main categories: acts, or devotional play
Liturgical drama
Liturgical drama or religious drama, in its various Christian contexts, originates from the mass itself, and usually presents a relatively complex ritual that includes theatrical elements...

s; comedies
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 tragicomedies
Tragicomedy
Tragicomedy is fictional work that blends aspects of the genres of tragedy and comedy. In English literature, from Shakespeare's time to the nineteenth century, tragicomedy referred to a serious play with either a happy ending or enough jokes throughout the play to lighten the mood.-Classical...

; and farce
Farce
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims at entertaining the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases,...

s.

Like Spain's classical dramas, his plays are often in verse form. In addition, they feature his own musical composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

s and well as popular lyrics and melodies of the time.[1]

He was also a noted lyric poet
Lyric poetry
Lyric poetry is a genre of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were those which were sung to the lyre. Lyric poems do not have to rhyme, and today do not need to be set to music or a beat...

 in both Portuguese and Spanish,[3] as represented by several poems in the Cancioneiro of Garcia de Resende
Garcia de Resende
Garcia de Resende was a Portuguese poet and editor. He served John II as a page and private secretary, and later became a knight in the Order of Christ...

.[1] He wrote a number of vilancetes and cantigas ("songs") which were influenced by a palatial style and the themes of the troubadours.

Some of his works are profoundly religious, while other are particularly satirical, particularly when commenting upon what Vicente perceived as the corruption of the clergy and the superficial glory of empire
Empire
The term empire derives from the Latin imperium . Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a monarch or an oligarchy....

 which concealed the increasing poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 of Portugal's lower classes.[2]

Characteristics


Vicente's works were partially influenced by the Iberian popular and religious theatre that was already being done. Pastoral themes present in the writings of Juan del Encina
Juan del Encina
Juan del Enzina – the spelling he used – or Juan del Encina – modern Spanish spelling – was a composer, poet and playwright, often called the founder of Spanish drama...

 strongly influenced Vicente's early works and continued to inform his later, more sophisticated plays. The humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 of Erasmus and of Renaissance Italy also impacted his work.[2]

Luís Vicente, his son, classified Vicente's sacred
Sacred
Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy or sacred...

 plays as acts and mysteries
Mystery play
Mystery plays and miracle plays are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song...

 and his secular plays as farces, comedies, and tragicomedies. His plays may be further divided into pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 acts, religious allegories
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

, biblical narrative
Bible story
Bible stories, Judeo-Christian parables retelling some portions of the Bible, have been used in family religious worship, spiritual instruction and literature in Christian and Jewish societies....

s, episodical farces, and narrative
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 acts. However, many of his works blend both secular and sacred elements; for example, Triologia das Barcas ("Trilogy of the Ships") contains both farcical and religious motifs.

Vicente is one of the most important satirical authors of the Portuguese language. His satires were severely critical, anticipating Santeuil
Santeuil
Santeuil may refer to the following places in France:* Santeuil, Eure-et-Loir, a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department* Santeuil, Val-d'Oise, a commune in the Val-d'Oise department...

's later epigram (often mistakenly attributed to Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

 or Molière
Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

), castigat ridendo mores ("[Comedy] criticises customs through humour"). He portrayed Portuguese society of the 16th century with perceptiveness and insight, using many characters inspired by Portuguese social stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

s of his time. In addition, rustic characters, such as sailors, Gypsies, and peasants, are common, as are more fantastical characters such as fairies and demons. Though he commonly referenced popular dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

s, Vicente maintained the lyricism of his words.

Positive aspects of Vicente's works include imagination, originality, and a proficiency in technical knowledge of theatre. Though spontaneous, sardonic, and emotive, his works maintain a directness and simplicity of dialogue which is lyrical without being florid or exaggerated. He expresses himself in an unexpected, Dionysian
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 way which does not always obey the aesthetic and artistic principles of balance. Vicente's works seem to show a spirit in conflict: his portrayals of the flaws of others appear almost rash and cruel, while his devotional and pastoral works, and those scenes in which he defends the oppressed, give an impression of tenderness, docility, and humaneness. In contrast, his works sometimes include a romanticism which combines eroticism
Eroticism
Eroticism is generally understood to refer to a state of sexual arousal or anticipation of such – an insistent sexual impulse, desire, or pattern of thoughts, as well as a philosophical contemplation concerning the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality and romantic love...

 and waggery with more erudite influences such as Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

.

Philosophical elements


The worlds presented in Vicente's works could be considered as representative of the duality of Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism
Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas,Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction...

. The first world is the abstract, an ideal place of serenity and divine love that leads to inner peace, quietness, and "resplendent glory", according to his letter to John III of Portugal. The second world, which he portrays in his farces, is the physical: a false world, tired, without order or remedy, and lacking in strength.

His satirical works depict the second world, in which human flaws are caricatured with little regard for actual or historical truth. Though critics call attention to these anachronism
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

s and narrative inconsistencies, it's possible that Vicente considered these errors trivial in his portrayals of an already false and imperfect world. In contrast, his representations of the mythic, symbolic, and religious aspects of Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, such as the figure of the Virgin Mother, the infant Jesus, and Christmas eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

, demonstrate a harmony and purity which is not present in his social commentary
Social commentary
Social commentary is the act of rebelling against an individual, or a group of people by rhetorical means, or commentary on social issues or society...

.

Unlike plays which echo Manichaeism
Manichaeism
Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

 by presenting the dichotomy of darkness and light, Vicente's work juxtaposes the two elements in order to illustrate the necessity of both. Christmas eve, one of his common motifs, is symbolic of his philosophical and religious views: the great darkness borders the divine glory of maternity, birth, forgiveness, serenity, and good will. The darkness is necessary to provide contrast with the light.

Though his patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

 is apparent in works such as Exortação da Guerra ("Exhortation of War") and Auto da Fama ("Act of Fame"), or Cortes de Júpiter ("Courts of Jupiter"), it doesn’t merely glorify the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

; instead, it is critical and ethically concerned, especially with the newly available vices which arose due to commerce with the East.

Religious plays


Many of Vicente's plays were composed in order to celebrate religious festivals; these seventeen plays are called his "Obras de devocao" ("Devotional works").[1] In these plays, also called "autos", or "acts", Vicente blended themes from Medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 morality plays with theatrical mumming and the liturgical drama
Liturgical drama
Liturgical drama or religious drama, in its various Christian contexts, originates from the mass itself, and usually presents a relatively complex ritual that includes theatrical elements...

s that were used in Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi (feast)
Corpus Christi is a Latin Rite solemnity, now designated the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ . It is also celebrated in some Anglican, Lutheran and Old Catholic Churches. Like Trinity Sunday and the Solemnity of Christ the King, it does not commemorate a particular event in...

 festival
Festival
A festival or gala is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival....

s.

One of his first devotional plays was Auto da Fé ("Act of Faith") in 1510. Like a morality play, it explores the journey of the Soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

 as it travels to the arms of the Mother Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. On its way, it is waylaid by the Devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

 and led to goodness by an Angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

.

His magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

 is considered to be the Triologia das Barcas ("Trilogy of the Ships"), which consists of the three plays Auto da Barca do Inferno ("Act of the Ship of Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

"), written 1516; Auto da Barca do Purgatório ("Act of the Ship of Purgatory
Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

"), written in 1518; and Auto da Barca da Glória ("Auto of the Ship of Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

"), written in 1519. These plays combine morality narratives with criticism of 16th-century Portuguese society by placing stereotypical characters on a dock to await the arrival of one of the ships which will take them to their eternal destination
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

. The characters are of a variety of social statuses; for example, in Auto da Barca do Inferno, those awaiting passage include a nobleman, a madam
Pimp
A pimp is an agent for prostitutes who collects part of their earnings. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing a location where she may engage clients...

, a corrupt judge and prosecutor, a dissolute friar, a dishonest shoemaker, a hanged man, and a Jew (who would have been considered bound for Hell
Persecution of Jews
Persecution of Jews has occurred on numerous occasions and at widely different geographical locations. As well as being a major component in Jewish history, it has significantly affected the general history and social development of the countries and societies in which the persecuted Jews...

 in Vicente's time).

His religious lyricism shows the influence of the Cantigas de Santa Maria ("Songs of Saint Mary") and is exemplified in such works as Auto de Mofina Mendes ("Act of Mofina Mendes", literally, in the Portuguese of that time, "Act of Disgrace [Mofina] It Self [Mendes]), Anunciação ("Annunciation
Annunciation
The Annunciation, also referred to as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary or Annunciation of the Lord, is the Christian celebration of the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Virgin Mary, that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her...

"), and in the prayer of Saint Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 in Auto da Alma ("Act of the Soul"). For this reason, Vicente is sometimes called the "Poet of the Virgin."

His other notable religious works include Auto Pastoril Castelhano ("Castilian Pastoral Act") written in 1502; Auto dos Reis Magos ("Act of the Magi
Biblical Magi
The Magi Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the Wise Men, Kings, Astrologers, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished foreigners who were said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh...

 Kings") written in 1503 for Christmas celebrations; and Auto da Sibila Cassandra ("Act of the Sibyl
Sibyl
The word Sibyl comes from the Greek word σίβυλλα sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earliest oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, "who admittedly are known only through legend" prophesied at certain holy sites, under the divine influence of a deity, originally— at Delphi and...

 Cassandra
Cassandra
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy...

") written in 1503, a play which announced the Renaissance ideals in Portugal.

Comedies and farces


Vicente's comedies and farces were likely influenced by indigenous popular entertainment. Contemporaneous Spaniards, like Lucas Fernandez
Lucas Fernández
Lucas Fernández was a Spanish dramatist and musician, writer in Leonese language.He was born and educated at Salamanca, and was a professor of music there from 1522.Lucas Fernández surviving work consists of six plays...

 and Torres Naharro, may also have influenced his style.[1]

Vicente's comedies blended slapstick
Slapstick
Slapstick is a type of comedy involving exaggerated violence and activities which may exceed the boundaries of common sense.- Origins :The phrase comes from the batacchio or bataccio — called the 'slap stick' in English — a club-like object composed of two wooden slats used in Commedia dell'arte...

 and satire; in addition, his use of dialect clearly delineated the social classes of his characters. The staging
Staging (theatre)
Staging is the process of selecting, designing, adapting to, or modifying the performance space for a play or film. This includes the use or absence of stagecraft elements as well as the structure of the stage and its components....

 of these plays maintained the simplicity of morality plays. For example, two simultaneous scene
Scene (fiction)
In fiction, a scene is a unit of drama. A sequel is what follows; an aftermath. Together, scene and sequel provide the building blocks of plot for short stories, novels, and other forms of fiction.-Characteristics of a scene:...

s might utilize a single curtain to divide them.

Auto da Índia ("Act of India"), written in 1509, was one of his first comedies. This play, which shows his proficiency with the form, is comparable to a modern bedroom farce
Bedroom farce
A bedroom farce or sex farce is a type of light comedy, centered on the sexual pairings and recombinations of characters as they move through improbable plots and slamming doors...

. Vicente wrote farces throughout the rest of his life; one notable example is Farsa de Inês Pereira ("Farce of Inês Pereira"), written in 1523.

Influence on Portuguese theatre


Prior to Vicente, few dramatic stagings had taken place in Portugal. However, a few notable performances had established theatrical precedence in courtly and religious contexts.

During the reign of Sancho I of Portugal
Sancho I of Portugal
Sancho I , nicknamed the Populator , second monarch of Portugal, was born on 11 November 1154 in Coimbra and died on 26 March 1212 in the same city. He was the second but only surviving legitimate son and fourth child of Afonso I of Portugal by his wife, Maud of Savoy. Sancho succeeded his father...

 (1185–1212), Bonamis and Acompaniado, the first recorded Portuguese actors, put on a show of arremedillo and were paid by the King with the donation of lands.

In a document dated 1281, Dom Frei Telo, Archbishop of Braga, refers to liturgical dramas which were performed during Catholic festivities.

In 1451, theatrical acts accompanied the festivities of the wedding of Infanta (Princess) Eleanor of Portugal
Eleanor of Portugal, Empress
Eleanor of Portugal was Empress of the Holy Roman Empire.She was a Portuguese infanta , daughter of King Edward of Portugal and his wife Leonor of Aragon...

 with Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 Frederick III of Habsburg
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick the Peaceful KG was Duke of Austria as Frederick V from 1424, the successor of Albert II as German King as Frederick IV from 1440, and Holy Roman Emperor as Frederick III from 1452...

.

According to the Portuguese chronicles of Fernão Lopes
Fernão Lopes
Fernão Lopes was a Portuguese chronicler appointed by King Edward of Portugal. Fernão Lopes wrote the history of Portugal, but only a part of his work remained....

, Gomes Eanes de Zurara, Rui de Pina
Rui de Pina
-Biography:Rui de Pina was a native of Guarda. He acted as secretary of the embassy sent by King John II of Portugal to Castile in the spring of 1482, and in the following September returned there as sole envoy. He was present at the execution of Fernando II, Duke of Braganza at Évora in 1483,...

, and Garcia Resende, spectacular stagings took place in the courts of John I of Portugal
John I of Portugal
John I KG , called the Good or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal the Bastard, was the tenth King of Portugal and the Algarve and the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta...

, Afonso V of Portugal
Afonso V of Portugal
Afonso V KG , called the African , was the twelfth King of Portugal and the Algarves. His sobriquet refers to his conquests in Northern Africa.-Early life:...

, and John II of Portugal
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

. For example, Rui de Pina refers to one instance in which King John II himself played the part of The Knight of the Swan in a production which included a scene constructed of fabric waves. During the action, a fleet of carrack
Carrack
A carrack or nau was a three- or four-masted sailing ship developed in 15th century Western Europe for use in the Atlantic Ocean. It had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle, forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. It was first used by the Portuguese , and later by the Spanish, to explore and...

s with a crew of spectacularly dressed actors entered the room accompanied by the sound of minstrels, trumpet
Natural trumpet
A natural trumpet is a valveless brass instrument that is able to play the notes of the harmonic series.-History:The natural trumpet was used as a military instrument to facilitate communication ....

s, kettledrum, and artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

.

Other significant Portuguese theatrical works include the eclogue
Eclogue
An eclogue is a poem in a classical style on a pastoral subject. Poems in the genre are sometimes also called bucolics.The form of the word in contemporary English is taken from French eclogue, from Old French, from Latin ecloga...

s of Bernardim Ribeiro
Bernardim Ribeiro
Bernardim Ribeiro was a Portuguese poet and writer. His father, Damião Ribeiro, was implicated in the conspiracy against John II of Portugal...

, Cristóvão Falcão, and Sá de Miranda, and the Pranto de Santa Maria (1435), an early liturgical drama by André Dias. Garcia de Resende, in his Cancioneiro Geral, designates a few other works, such as Entremez do Anjo by D. Francisco of Portugal, Count of Vimioso
Vimioso
Vimioso is a municipality in the northern part of Portugal with an area of approximately 481.6 km² and population of 5105 inhabitants.-Geography:The municipality is composed of 14 parishes and is located in the district of Bragança....

, and the lays of Anrique da Mota. Vicente likely assisted in the production of these works, which include comedic scenes.

Though Vicente did not invent Portuguese theatre, his works surpassed any done before that time. His writing in Portuguese and in Spanish shaped both modern Spanish and modern Portuguese drama.[2] His contribution to creating new forms, such as the farce, and raising the morality play to its apotheosis created the base upon which Portuguese and Spanish drama would be built. Though some of his works were later suppressed by the Inquisition, he is now recognized as one of the greatest dramatists of the Renaissance and the leading name in Portuguese theatre. According to Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo, Vicente is "the most important figure of the primitive peninsular
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 playwrights…[There was no one] who surpassed him in Europe in his time."

Publication and influence on other works


The first edition of Vicente's complete works was published in Lisbon in 1561-2 by his children Paula and Luís. In 1586, the second edition was published; however, many parts were heavily censored by the Inquisition
Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

. The third edition was not published until 1834 in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 by Barreto Feio, after which Vicente's work was finally rediscovered.

Since that time, various composers, such as Max Bruch
Max Bruch
Max Christian Friedrich Bruch , also known as Max Karl August Bruch, was a German Romantic composer and conductor who wrote over 200 works, including three violin concertos, the first of which has become a staple of the violin repertoire.-Life:Bruch was born in Cologne, Rhine Province, where he...

 (who made Von den Rosen komm' ich (Von dem Rosenbusch, o Mutter) from Vicente's De la rosa vengo my madre [from the rose I come my mother], which also had a version by Schumann) and Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

 (who made his Spanische Liebeslieder [Spanish Love Songs] no. 7. Weh, wie zornig ist das Mädchen from Vicente's Sañosa está la nina [Irritated is the little girl] and no. 3. Lied, op. 29 no. 2 from Vicente's Canción [Song]; and two of his Spanisches Liederspiel no. 1. Erste Begegnung, op. 74 no. 1 and no. 3. Intermezzo, op. 74 no. 2), have set Vicente's poetry to music in the form of lied
Lied
is a German word literally meaning "song", usually used to describe romantic songs setting German poems of reasonably high literary aspirations, especially during the nineteenth century, beginning with Carl Loewe, Heinrich Marschner, and Franz Schubert and culminating with Hugo Wolf...

er. Most of these were translated into German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 by Emanuel van Geibel.

A quote from one of Vicente's plays, "The pursuit of love is like falconry", appears in the epigraph of 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...

's novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novella by Gabriel García Márquez, published in 1981...

.

Works cited

  1. Ford, J.D.M. "Gil Vicente." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. v. 15.
  2. "Vicente, Gil." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press, 2006.
  3. "Vicente, Gil." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2006.

See also


  • Auto (art)
    Auto (art)
    Auto is a sub-genre of Dramatic Literature. It has its origin in the Middle Ages, in Spain, by the 12th century. In Portugal, in the 16th century, Gil Vicente is the main author of this type of dramatic genre. Luís de Camões and Dom Francisco Manuel de Mello also adopted this form of writing....

  • Portugal in the Age of Discovery
    Portugal in the Age of Discovery
    During the history of Portugal between 1415 and 1578, Portugal discovered an eastern route to India that rounded the Cape of Good Hope, discovered Brazil, established trading routes throughout most of southern Asia, colonized selected areas of Africa, and sent the first direct European maritime...

  • Portuguese Empire
    Portuguese Empire
    The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...


External links

  • Poems in Spanish
  • One poem in Spanish and its translation to Esperanto
  • This article incorporates text from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    article "Vicente, Gil" by J.D.M. Ford, a publication now in the public domain
    Public domain
    Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

    .