Spanish Golden Age

Spanish Golden Age

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The Spanish Golden Age is a period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain, coinciding with the political rise and decline of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. El Siglo de Oro does not imply precise dates and is usually considered to have lasted longer than an actual century. It begins no earlier than 1492, with the end of the Reconquista
Reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

(Reconquest), the sea voyages of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 to the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

, and the publication of Antonio de Nebrija
Antonio de Nebrija
Antonio de Lebrija , also known as Antonio de Nebrija, Elio Antonio de Lebrija, Antonius Nebrissensis, and Antonio of Lebrixa, was a Spanish scholar, known for writing a grammar of the Castilian language, credited as one of the first published grammars of a Romance language...

's Gramática de la lengua castellana
Gramática de la lengua castellana
Gramática de la lengua castellana is a book written by Antonio de Nebrija and published in 1492...

(Grammar of the Castilian Language). Politically, it ends no later than 1659, with the Treaty of the Pyrenees
Treaty of the Pyrenees
The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed to end the 1635 to 1659 war between France and Spain, a war that was initially a part of the wider Thirty Years' War. It was signed on Pheasant Island, a river island on the border between the two countries...

, ratified between France and Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

. The last great writer of the period, Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño usually referred as Pedro Calderón de la Barca , was a dramatist, poet and writer of the Spanish Golden Age. During certain periods of his life he was also a soldier and a Roman Catholic priest...

, died in 1681, and his death usually is considered the end of El Siglo de Oro in the arts and literature.

The Habsburgs, both in Spain
Habsburg Spain
Habsburg Spain refers to the history of Spain over the 16th and 17th centuries , when Spain was ruled by the major branch of the Habsburg dynasty...

 and Austria, were great patrons of art in their countries. El Escorial
El Escorial
The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and...

, the great royal monastery built by King Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

, invited the attention of some of Europe's greatest architects and painters. Diego Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

, regarded as one of the most influential painters of European history and a greatly respected artist in his own time, cultivated a relationship with King Philip IV and his chief minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares, leaving us several portraits that demonstrate his style and skill. El Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

, another respected artist from the period, infused Spanish art with the styles of the Italian renaissance and helped create a uniquely Spanish style of painting. Some of Spain's greatest music is regarded as having been written in the period. Such composers as Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria, sometimes Italianised as da Vittoria , was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation, along with Giovanni da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. Victoria was not only a composer, but also an...

, Francisco Guerrero
Francisco Guerrero
Francisco Guerrero was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance. He was born and died in Seville.Guerrero's early musical education was with his older brother Pedro. He must have been an astonishing prodigy, for at the age of 17 he was already appointed maestro de capilla at Jaén Cathedral...

, Luis de Milán
Luis de Milán
Luis de Milán was a Spanish Renaissance composer, vihuelist , and writer on music...

 and Alonso Lobo
Alonso Lobo
Alonso Lobo was a Spanish composer of the late Renaissance. Although not as famous as Tomás Luís de Victoria, he was highly regarded at the time, and Victoria himself considered him to be his equal....

 helped to shape Renaissance music
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 and the styles of counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 and polychoral music, and their influence lasted far into the Baroque period
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 which resulted in a revolution of music. Spanish literature blossomed as well, most famously demonstrated in the work of 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...

, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Spain's most prolific playwright, 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...

, wrote possibly as many as one thousand plays during his lifetime, of which over four hundred survive to the present day.

Painting


Spain, in the time of the 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...

, had seen few great artists come to its shores. The Italian holdings and relationships made by Queen Isabella's husband and later Spain's sole monarch, Ferdinand of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

, launched a steady traffic of intellectuals across the Mediterranean between Valencia
Valencia (city in Spain)
Valencia or València is the capital and most populous city of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city in Spain, with a population of 809,267 in 2010. It is the 15th-most populous municipality in the European Union...

, Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

, and Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. Luis de Morales
Luis de Morales
Luis de Morales was a Spanish painter born in Badajoz, Extremadura. Known as "El Divino", most of his work was of religious subjects, including many representations of the Madonna and Child and the Passion....

, one of the leading exponents of Spanish mannerist painting, retained a distinctly Spanish style in his work, reminiscent of medieval art. Spanish art, particularly that of Morales, contained a strong mark of mysticism and religion that was encouraged by the counter-reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 and the patronage of Spain's strongly Catholic monarchs and aristocracy.

"El Greco"


Universally known for his great impact in bringing the Italian Renaissance to Spain, "El Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

" (which means "The Greek") was not Spanish, having been born Domenikos Theotokopoulos in Crete. He studied the great Italian masters of his time - Titian, Tintoretto, and Michelangelo - when he lived in Italy from 1568 to 1577. According to legend, he asserted that he would paint a mural that would be as good as one of Michelangelo's, if one of the Italian artist's murals was demolished first. El Greco quickly fell out of favor in Italy, but soon found a new home in the city of Toledo, in central Spain. He was influential in creating a style based on impressions and emotion, featuring elongated fingers and vibrant color and brushwork. Uniquely, his works featured faces that captured expressions of sombre attitudes and withdrawal while still having his subjects bear witness to the terrestrial world. His paintings of the city of Toledo became models for a new European tradition in landscapes, and influenced the work of later Dutch masters. Spain at this time was an ideal environment for the Venetian-trained painter. Art was flourishing in the empire and Toledo was a great place to get commissions.

Diego Velázquez


He was born on June 6, 1599, in Seville. Both parents were from the minor nobility. He was the oldest of six children. Diego Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

 is widely regarded as one of Spain's most important and influential artists. He was a court painter for King Philip IV
Philip IV of Spain
Philip IV was King of Spain between 1621 and 1665, sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands, and King of Portugal until 1640...

 and found increasingly high demand for his portraits from statesmen, aristocrats, and clergymen across Europe. His portraits of the King, his chief minister, the Count-duke of Olivares, and the Pope himself demonstrated a belief in artistic realism and a style comparable to many of the Dutch masters. In the wake of the Thirty Years' War
Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....

, Velázquez met the Marqués de Spinola
Ambrosio Spinola, marqués de los Balbases
Don Ambrogio Spinola Doria, 1st Marquis of the Balbases was an Italian aristocrat, who, as a General in Spanish service, won a number of important battles for the Spanish crown...

 and painted his famous Surrender of Breda celebrating Spinola's earlier victory
Siege of Breda
The Siege of Breda is the name for two major sieges of the Eighty Years' War and Thirty Years' War. The Dutch fortress city of Breda fell to a Spanish army under Ambrosio Spinola in 1625; it was retaken by Frederick Henry of Orange in the 1637 Siege of Breda.-The Battle:Under Spinola's orders the...

.
Spinola was struck by his ability to express emotion through realism in both his portraits and landscapes; his work in the latter, in which he launched one of European art's first experiments in outdoor lighting, became another lasting influence on Western painting. Velázquez's friendship with Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Bartolomé Estéban Murillo
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was a Spanish Baroque painter. Although he is best known for his religious works, Murillo also produced a considerable number of paintings of contemporary women and children...

, a leading Spanish painter of the next generation, ensured the enduring influence of his artistic approach.

Velazquez's most famous painting, however, is the celebrated Las Meninas
Las Meninas
Las Meninas is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The work's complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures...

, in which the artist includes himself as one of the subjects.


Francisco de Zurbarán


The religious element in Spanish art, in many circles, grew in importance with the counter-reformation. The austere, ascetic, and severe work of Francisco de Zurbarán exemplified this thread in Spanish art, along with the work of composer Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria, sometimes Italianised as da Vittoria , was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation, along with Giovanni da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. Victoria was not only a composer, but also an...

. Philip IV actively patronized artists who agreed with his views on the counter-reformation and religion. The mysticism of Zurbarán's work - influenced by Saint Theresa of Avila - became a hallmark of Spanish art in later generations. Influenced by Caravaggio
Caravaggio
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian artist active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque...

 and the Italian masters, Zurbarán devoted himself to an artistic expression of religion and faith. His paintings of St. Francis of Assisi, the immaculate conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

, and the crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 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...

 reflected a third facet of Spanish culture in the seventeenth century, against the backdrop of religious war across Europe. Zurbarán broke from Velázquez's sharp realist interpretation of art and looked, to some extent, to the emotive content of El Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

 and the earlier mannerist painters for inspiration and technique, though Zurbarán respected and maintained the lighting and physical nuance of Velázquez.

It is unknown whether Zurbarán had the opportunity to copy the paintings of Michelangelo da Caravaggio; at any rate, he adopted Caravaggio's realistic use of chiaroscuro. The painter who may have had the greatest influence on his characteristically severe compositions was Juan Sánchez Cotán
Juan Sánchez Cotán
Juan Sánchez Cotán was a Spanish Baroque painter, a pioneer of realism in Spain. His still lifes, also called bodegones were painted in a strikingly austere style, especially when compared to similar works in Netherlands and Italy.- Life:Sánchez Cotán was born in the town of Orgaz, near Toledo, Spain...

. Polychrome sculpture—which by the time of Zurbarán's apprenticeship had reached a level of sophistication in Seville that surpassed that of the local painters—provided another important stylistic model for the young artist; the work of Juan Martínez Montañés
Juan Martínez Montañés
Juan Martínez Montañés , known as el Dios de la Madera , was a Spanish sculptor, born at Alcalá la Real, in the province of Jaén. He was one of the most important figures of the Sevillian school of sculpture.His master was Pablo de Roxas. His first known work, dating 1597, is the graceful St...

 is especially close to Zurbarán's in spirit.

He painted directly from nature, and he made great use of the lay-figure in the study of draperies, in which he was particularly proficient. He had a special gift for white draperies; as a consequence, the houses of the white-robed Carthusians are abundant in his paintings. To these rigid methods, Zurbarán is said to have adhered throughout his career, which was prosperous, wholly confined to Spain, and varied by few incidents beyond those of his daily labour. His subjects were mostly severe and ascetic religious vigils, the spirit chastising the flesh into subjection, the compositions often reduced to a single figure. The style is more reserved and chastened than Caravaggio's, the tone of color often quite bluish. Exceptional effects are attained by the precisely finished foregrounds, massed out largely in light and shade.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo


Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Bartolomé Estéban Murillo
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo was a Spanish Baroque painter. Although he is best known for his religious works, Murillo also produced a considerable number of paintings of contemporary women and children...

 began his art studies under Juan del Castillo
Juan del Castillo
Juan del Castillo was a Spanish Baroque painter.Del Castillo was the youngest brother of the painter Agustín. Both were trained in painting by Luis Fernández in Seville...

 in Seville. Murillo became familiar with Flemish painting
Flemish painting
Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century. Flanders delivered the leading painters in Northern Europe and attracted many promising young painters from neighbouring countries. These painters were invited to work at foreign courts and had a Europe-wide influence...

; the great commercial importance of Seville at the time ensured that he was also subject to influences from other regions. His first works were influenced by Zurbarán
Francisco Zurbarán
Francisco de Zurbarán was a Spanish painter. He is known primarily for his religious paintings depicting monks, nuns, and martyrs, and for his still-lifes...

, Jusepe de Ribera and Alonso Cano, and he shared their strongly realist approach. As his painting developed, his more important works evolved towards the polished style that suited the bourgeois and aristocratic tastes of the time, demonstrated especially in his Roman Catholic
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...

 religious works.

In 1642, at the age of 26 he moved to Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, where he most likely became familiar with the work of Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

, and would have seen the work of Venetian and Flemish masters in the royal collections; the rich colors and softly modeled forms of his subsequent work suggest these influences. He returned to Seville in 1645. In that year, he painted thirteen canvases for the monastery of St. Francisco el Grande in Seville which gave his reputation a well-deserved boost. Following the completion of a pair of pictures for the Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See , better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville . It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world....

, he began to specialise in the themes that brought him his greatest successes, the Virgin and Child, and the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

.

After another period in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, from 1658 to 1660, he returned to Seville, where he died. Here he was one of the founders of the Academia de Bellas Artes
Academia de Bellas Artes (Seville)
The Academia de Bellas Artes or Academy of Fine Arts of Seville was an institution for the instruction of students into the diverse arts. It was founded on January 1, 1660, upon the encouragement of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, its first president...

 (Academy of Art), sharing its direction, in 1660, with the architect, Francisco Herrera the Younger
Francisco Herrera the Younger
Francisco Herrera the Younger was a Spanish painter and architect.-Life:Born at Seville, he was the second son of Francisco Herrera the Elder , and began his career under his father's instruction; but the father's violent temper at last became so intolerable that the youth fled to Rome...

. This was his period of greatest activity, and he received numerous important commissions, among them the altarpieces for the Augustinian monastery, the paintings for Santa María la Blanca
Santa María la Blanca
300px|thumb|Interior of Santa María la Blanca.Santa María la Blanca is a museum and former synagogue in Toledo, Spain. Erected in 1180, it is disputably considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing...

 (completed in 1665), and others.

Other significant painters

  • Luis de Morales
    Luis de Morales
    Luis de Morales was a Spanish painter born in Badajoz, Extremadura. Known as "El Divino", most of his work was of religious subjects, including many representations of the Madonna and Child and the Passion....

  • José de Ribera
  • Juan Sánchez Cotán
    Juan Sánchez Cotán
    Juan Sánchez Cotán was a Spanish Baroque painter, a pioneer of realism in Spain. His still lifes, also called bodegones were painted in a strikingly austere style, especially when compared to similar works in Netherlands and Italy.- Life:Sánchez Cotán was born in the town of Orgaz, near Toledo, Spain...

  • Juan van der Hamen
    Juan van der Hamen
    Juan van der Hamen y ' León was a Spanish painter, a master of the still life paintings, also called bodegones. During his lifetime, he was prolific and versatile, painting allegories, landscapes, and large-scale works for churches and convents. However, today he is remembered mostly for his...

  • Francisco Ribalta
    Francisco Ribalta
    Francesc Ribalta , also known as Francisco Ribaltá or de Ribalta, was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period, mostly of religious subjects.He was born in Solsona, Lleida...

  • Juan de Valdés Leal
    Juan de Valdés Leal
    Juan de Valdés Leal was a Spanish painter of the Baroque era.He was born in Seville in 1622, and distinguished himself as a painter, sculptor, and architect. He worked for a time under Antonio del Castillo. Among his works are a History of the Prophet Elias for the church of the Carmelites; a...

  • Juan Carreño de Miranda
    Juan Carreño de Miranda
    Juan Carreño de Miranda was a Spanish painter of the Baroque period.Born in Avilés in Asturias, son of a painter with the same name, Juan Carreño de Miranda. His family moved to Madrid in 1623, and he trained in Madrid during the late 1620s as an apprentice to Pedro de Las Cuevas and Bartolomé Roman...

  • Claudio Coello
    Claudio Coello
    Claudio Coello was a Spanish Baroque painter. Influenced by many other artists, including Diego Velázquez who was also of Portuguese descent, Coello is considered the last great Spanish painter of the 17th century....


Architecture


Palace of Charles V


The Palace of Charles V
Palace of Charles V
The Palace of Charles V is a Renacentist construction in Granada, southern Spain, located on the top of the hill of the Assabica, inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra. It was commanded by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to establish his residence close to the Alhambra palaces...

 is a Renacentist
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...

 construction, located on the top of the hill of the Assabica, inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra
Alhambra
The Alhambra , the complete form of which was Calat Alhambra , is a palace and fortress complex located in the Granada, Andalusia, Spain...

. It was commanded by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
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...

, who wished to establish his residence close to the Alhambra palaces. Although 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...

 had already altered some rooms of the Alhambra after the conquest of the city in 1492, Charles V intended to construct a permanent residence befitting an emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

. The project was given to Pedro Machuca
Pedro Machuca
Pedro Machuca is mainly remembered as the Spanish architect responsible for the design of the Palace of Charles V adjacent to the Alcazar in Granada. The significance of this work is that it represents likely the first major classic Renaissance style building in Spain...

, an architect whose biography and influences are poorly understood. At the time, Spanish architecture was immersed in the Plateresque
Plateresque
Plateresque, meaning "in the manner of a silversmith" , was an artistic movement, especially architectural, traditionally held to be exclusive to Spain and its territories, which appeared between the late Gothic and early Renaissance in the late 15th century, and spread over the next two centuries...

 style, still with traces of Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 origin. Machuca built a palace corresponding stylistically to Mannerism
Mannerism
Mannerism is a period of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. It lasted until about 1580 in Italy, when a more Baroque style began to replace it, but Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century throughout much of Europe...

, a mode still in its infancy in Italy. Even if accounts that place Machuca in the atelier of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 are accepted, at the time of the construction of the palace in 1527 the latter had yet to design the majority of his architectural works.

El Escorial


El Escorial
El Escorial
The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and...

 is a historical residence of the king of Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites
Spanish royal sites
The royal sites are a set of palaces, monasteries, and convents built for and under the patronage of the Spanish monarchy. They are administered by Patrimonio Nacional , a Spanish state agency; most are open to the public, at least in part, except when they are needed for state or official...

 and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. It is located about 45 kilometres (28 mi) northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. El Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: El Real Monasterio de El Escorial itself and La Granjilla de La Fresneda
La Granjilla de La Fresneda de El Escorial, Madrid
La Fresneda is a park in El Escorial, Community of Madrid, Spain. Built between 1561 ad 1569, it was the prívate Royal Park of Philip II in the surroundings of the Monastery of El Escorial.-History:To symbolize the union and centralization of political power of the Hispanic Monarchy, in 1561...

, a royal hunting lodge and monastic retreat about five kilometres away. These sites have a dual nature; that is to say, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they were places in which the temporal power of the Spanish monarchy
Spanish monarchy
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and an historic office of Spain...

 and the ecclesiastical predominance of the Roman Catholic
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...

 religion in Spain found a common architectural manifestation. El Escorial was, at once, a monastery and a Spanish royal palace. Originally a property of the Hieronymite monks, it is now a monastery of the Order of Saint Augustine
Order of Saint Augustine
The Order of St. Augustine —historically Ordo Eremitarum Sancti Augustini", O.E.S.A.), generally called Augustinians is a Catholic Religious Order, which, although more ancient, was formally created in the thirteenth century and combined of several previous Augustinian eremetical Orders into one...

.
Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

, reacting to the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 sweeping through Europe during the sixteenth century, devoted much of his lengthy reign (1556–1598) and much of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 silver to stemming the Protestant tide sweeping through Europe, while simultaneously fighting the Islamic Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. His protracted efforts were, in the long run, partly successful. However, the same counter-reformational impulse had a much more benign expression, thirty years earlier, in Philip's decision to build the complex at El Escorial.

Philip engaged the Spanish architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo
Juan Bautista de Toledo
Juan Bautista de Toledo. Spanish architect educated in Italy, in the Italian High Renaissance. As many Italian renaissance architects, he had experience in both architecture and military and civil public works. Born, either in Toledo or in Madrid around 1515. Died May 19, 1567 in Madrid...

, to be his collaborator in the design of El Escorial. Juan Bautista had spent the greater part of his career in Rome, where he had worked on the basilica of St. Peter's
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

, and in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, where he had served the king's viceroy, whose recommendation brought him to the king's attention. Philip appointed him architect-royal in 1559, and together they designed El Escorial as a monument to Spain's role as a center of the Christian world.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid


The Plaza Mayor in Madrid was built during the Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 period is a central plaza
Plaza
Plaza is a Spanish word related to "field" which describes an open urban public space, such as a city square. All through Spanish America, the plaza mayor of each center of administration held three closely related institutions: the cathedral, the cabildo or administrative center, which might be...

 in the city of Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Spain. It is located only a few blocks away from another famous plaza, the Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol
The Puerta del Sol is one of the best known and busiest places in Madrid. This is the centre of the radial network of Spanish roads. The square also contains the famous clock whose bells mark the traditional eating of the Twelve Grapes and the beginning of a new year...

. The Plaza Mayor is rectangular in shape, measuring 129 by 94 meters, and is surrounded by three-story residential buildings having 237 balconies facing the Plaza. It has a total of nine entranceways. The Casa de la Panadería
Casa de la Panadería
The Casa de la Panadería is a municipal and cultural building on the north side of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. It is four stories high, the ground floor comprising porticos and the top floor in the form of an attic, with its sides crowned by angular towers....

, serving municipal and cultural functions, dominates the Plaza Mayor.

The origins of the Plaza go back to 1589 when Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 asked Juan de Herrera
Juan de Herrera
Juan de Herrera was a Spanish architect, mathematician and geometrician.One of the most outstanding Spanish architects in the 16th century, Herrera represents the peak of the Renaissance in Spain. His sober style was fully developed in buildings like the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial...

, a renowned 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...

 architect, to discuss a plan to remodel the busy and chaotic area of the old Plaza del Arrabal. Juan de Herrera was the architect who designed the first project in 1581 to remodel the old Plaza del Arrabal but construction didn't start until 1617, during Philip III
Philip III of Spain
Philip III , also known as Philip the Pious, was the King of Spain and King of Portugal and the Algarves, where he ruled as Philip II , from 1598 until his death...

's reign. The king asked Juan Gómez de Mora
Juan Gómez de Mora
Juan Gómez de Mora was a Spanish architect. His father, also Juan Gómez, was court painter to Philip II of Spain and brother to the architect Francisco de Mora....

 to continue with the project, and he finished the porticoes in 1619. Nevertheless, the Plaza Mayor as we know it today is the work of the architect Juan de Villanueva
Juan de Villanueva
Juan de Villanueva was a Spanish architect. Alongside Ventura Rodríguez, Villanueva is the best known architect of Spanish Neoclassicism....

 who was entrusted with its reconstruction in 1790 after a spate of big fires. Giambologna
Giambologna
Giambologna, born as Jean Boulogne, incorrectly known as Giovanni da Bologna and Giovanni Bologna , was a sculptor, known for his marble and bronze statuary in a late Renaissance or Mannerist style.- Biography :...

's equestrian statue of Philip III dates to 1616, but it was not placed in the center of the square until 1848. If you look around today you can still see the blood on the walls from some of the bull fights held in earlier years.

Granada Cathedral


Granada Cathedral
Granada Cathedral
Granada Cathedral is the cathedral in the city of Granada, capital of the province of the same name in the Autonomous Region of Andalusia, Spain.-History:...

 Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction of this cathedral had to await the acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492; while its very early plans had Gothic
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada
Royal Chapel of Granada
The Royal Chapel of Granada is a mausoleum located in the city of Granada in Andalusia, southern Spain.-Mausoleum:The mausoleum houses the remains of the Catholic Monarchs :...

 by Enrique Egas, the construction of the church in the main occurred at a time when 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...

 designs were supplanting the Gothic regnant in Spanish architecture of prior centuries. Foundations for the church were laid by the architect Egas starting from 1518 to 1523 atop the site of the city's main mosque; by 1529, Egas was replaced by Diego de Siloé who labored for nearly four decades on the structure from ground to cornice, planning the triforium
Triforium
A triforium is a shallow arched gallery within the thickness of inner wall, which stands above the nave of a church or cathedral. It may occur at the level of the clerestory windows, or it may be located as a separate level below the clerestory. It may itself have an outer wall of glass rather than...

 and five naves instead of the usual three. Most unusually, he created a circular capilla mayor rather than a semicircular apse, perhaps inspired by Italian ideas for circular 'perfect buildings' (e.g. in Alberti's works). Within its structure the cathedral combines other orders of architecture. It took 181 years for the cathedral to be built.

Subsequent architects included Juan de Maena (1563–1571), followed by Juan de Orea (1571–1590), and Ambrosio de Vico (1590-?). In 1667 Alonso Cano, working with Gaspar de la Peña, altered the initial plan for the main façade, introducing Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 elements. The magnificence of the building would be even greater, if the two large 81 meter towers foreseen in the plans had been built; however the project remained incomplete for various reasons, among them, financial.

The Cathedral had been intended to become the royal mausoleum by Charles I of Spain of Spain, but Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 moved the site for his father and subsequent kings to El Escorial
El Escorial
The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and...

 outside of Madrid.

The main chapel contains two kneeling effigies of the Catholic King and Queen, Isabel and Ferdinand
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

 by Pedro de Mena y Medrano. The busts of Adam and Eve were made by Alonso Cano. The Chapel of the Trinity has a marvelous retablo with paintings by El Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

, José Ribera
José Ribera
Jusepe de Ribera, probably an italianization of Josep de Ribera was a Spanish Tenebrist painter and printmaker, also known as José de Ribera in Spanish and as Giuseppe Ribera in Italian. He was also called by his contemporaries and early writers Lo Spagnoletto, or "the Little Spaniard"...

, Alonso Cano, and the Spanoleto.

Cathedral of Valladolid


The Cathedral of Valladolid
Cathedral of Valladolid
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Assumption , better known as Valladolid Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Valladolid, Spain...

, like all the buildings of the late Spanish Renaissance
Spanish Renaissance
The Spanish Renaissance refers to a movement in Spain, emerging from the Italian Renaissance in Italy during the 14th century, that spread to Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries...

 built by Herrera and his followers, is known for its purist and sober decoration, its style being the typical Spanish "clasicismo", also called "Herrerian
Herrerian
The Herrerian was developed in Spain during the last third of the 16th century under the reign of Philip II , and continued in force in the 17th century, but transformed by the Baroque current of the time...

". Using classical and renaissance decorative motives, Herrerian buildings are characterized by their extremely sober decorations, its formal austerity, and its like for monumentality.

The Cathedral has its origins in a late gothic Collegiate which was started during the late 15th century, for before becoming capital of Spain Valladolid was not a bishopry see, and thus it lacked the right of building a cathedral. However, soon enough the Collegiate became obsolete due to the changes of taste of the day, and thanks to the newly established episcopal see in the city, the Town Council decided to build a cathedral that would shade similar constructions in neighbouring capitals.

Had the building been finished, it would have been one of the biggest cathedrals in Spain. When the building was started, Valladolid was the de facto capital of Spain, housing king Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 and his court. However, due to strategical and geopolitical reasons, by the 1560s the capital was moved to Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, thus Valladolid losing its political and economical relevance. By the late sixteenth century, Valladolid's importance had been severely resented, and many of the monumental projects such as the Cathedreal, started during its former and glorious days, had to be modified due to the lack of proper financiation. Thus, the building that nowadays stands could not be finished in all its splendour, and because of several additions built during thh 17th and 18th centuries, it lacks the purported stylistical uniformity sought by Herrera. Indeed, although mainly faithful to the project of Juan de Herrera, the building would undergo many modifications, such as the addition to the top of the main façade, a work by Churriguera
Churriguera
The Churriguera family consisted of at least two generations of Spanish sculptors and architects, originally from Barcelona, but who had their greatest impact in Salamanca...

.

Tomás Luis de Victoria


Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria
Tomás Luis de Victoria, sometimes Italianised as da Vittoria , was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation, along with Giovanni da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. Victoria was not only a composer, but also an...

, a Spanish composer of the sixteenth century, mainly of choral music, is widely regarded as one of the greatest Spanish classical composers. He joined the cause of Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish knight from a Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus and was its first Superior General. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation...

 in the fight against the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 and in 1575 became a priest. He lived for a short time in Italy, where he became acquainted with the polyphonic work of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

. Like Zurbarán, Victoria mixed the technical qualities of Italian art with the religion and culture of his native Spain. He invigorated his work with emotional appeal and experimental, mystical rhythm and choruses. He broke from the dominant tendency among his contemporaries by avoiding complex counterpoint, preferring longer, simpler, less technical and more mysterious melodies, employing dissonance
Consonance and dissonance
In music, a consonance is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable, as opposed to a dissonance , which is considered to be unstable...

 in ways that the Italian members of the Roman School
Roman School
In music history, the Roman School was a group of composers of predominantly church music, in Rome, during the 16th and 17th centuries, therefore spanning the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. The term also refers to the music they produced...

 shunned. He demonstrated considerable invention in musical thought by connecting the tone and emotion of his music to those of his lyrics, particularly in his motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s. Like Velázquez, Victoria was employed by the monarch - in Victoria's case, in the service of the queen. The requiem
Requiem
A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead or Mass of the dead , is a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Missal...

 he wrote upon her death in 1603 is regarded as one of his most enduring and mature works.

Francisco Guerrero


Francisco Guerrero
Francisco Guerrero
Francisco Guerrero was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance. He was born and died in Seville.Guerrero's early musical education was with his older brother Pedro. He must have been an astonishing prodigy, for at the age of 17 he was already appointed maestro de capilla at Jaén Cathedral...

, a Spanish composer of the 16th century. He was second only to Victoria as a major Spanish composer of church music in the second half of the 16th century. Of all the Spanish Renaissance composers, he was the one who lived and worked the most in Spain. Others—for example Morales and Victoria—spent large portions of their careers in Italy. Guerrero's music was both sacred and secular, unlike that of Victoria and Morales, the two other Spanish 16th century composers of the first rank. He wrote numerous secular songs and instrumental pieces, in addition to masses, motets, and Passions. He was able to capture an astonishing variety of moods in his music, from ecstasy to despair, longing, joy, and devotional stillness; his music remained popular for hundreds of years, especially in cathedrals in Latin America. Stylistically he preferred homophonic textures, rather like his Spanish contemporaries, and he wrote memorable, singable lines. One interesting feature of his style is how he anticipated functional harmonic usage: there is a case of a Magnificat discovered in Lima, Peru, once thought to be an anonymous 18th century work, which turned out to be a work of his.

Alonso Lobo


Victoria's work was complemented by Alonso Lobo
Alonso Lobo
Alonso Lobo was a Spanish composer of the late Renaissance. Although not as famous as Tomás Luís de Victoria, he was highly regarded at the time, and Victoria himself considered him to be his equal....

 - a man Victoria respected as his equal. Lobo's work - also choral and religious in its content - stressed the austere, minimalist nature of religious music. Lobo sought out a medium between the emotional intensity of Victoria and the technical ability of Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

; the solution he found became the foundation of the baroque musical style in Spain.

Other significant musicians

  • Cristóbal de Morales
    Cristóbal de Morales
    Cristóbal de Morales was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance. He is generally considered to be the most influential Spanish composer before Victoria.- Life :...

  • Antonio de Cabezón
    Antonio de Cabezón
    Antonio de Cabezón was a Spanish Renaissance composer and organist. Blind from childhood, he quickly rose to prominence as performer and was eventually employed by the royal family...

  • Francisco Correa de Arauxo
    Francisco Correa de Arauxo
    Francisco Correa de Araujo was a notable Spanish organist, composer, and theorist of the late Renaissance.-Life:...

  • Juan Cabanilles
    Juan Cabanilles
    Juan Bautista José Cabanilles was a Spanish organist and composer at Valencia Cathedral...

  • 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...

  • Luis Milán
  • Luis de Narváez
    Luis de Narváez
    Luis de Narváez was a Spanish composer and vihuelist. Highly regarded during his lifetime, Narváez is known today for Los seys libros del delphín, a collection of polyphonic music for the vihuela which includes the earliest known variation sets...

  • Enríquez de Valderrábano
    Enríquez de Valderrábano
    Enríquez de Valderrábano was a Spanish vihuelist and composer. There is little biographical data on this composer of early music, but there is some from the prologue to his book of music, Libro de música de vihuela intitulado Silva de Sirenas, published in Valladolid, Spain in 1547...

  • Diego Pisador
    Diego Pisador
    Diego Pisador was a Spanish vihuelist and composer of the Renaissance.-Life:Little is known of the details of Pisador's life, not even the exact dates of his birth and death. It is known that he was born in Salamanca around the years 1509 or 10. He was the oldest son of Alonso Pisador and Isabel...

  • Alonso Mudarra
    Alonso Mudarra
    Alonso Mudarra was a Spanish composer and vihuelist of the Renaissance. He was an innovative composer of instrumental music as well as songs, and was the composer of the earliest surviving music for the guitar....

  • Pablo Bruna
    Pablo Bruna
    Pablo Bruna was a Spanish composer and organist notable for his blindness , which resulted in his being known as "El ciego de Daroca" . It is not known how Bruna received his musical training, but in 1631 he was appointed organist of the collegiate church of St...


Literature


The Spanish Golden Age was a time of great flourishing in poetry, prose and drama.

Cervantes and Don Quixote


Regarded by many as one of the finest works in any language, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha by 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...

 was one of the first novels published in Europe; it gave Cervantes a stature in the Spanish-speaking world comparable to his contemporary William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 in English. The novel, like Spain itself, was caught between the 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...

 and the modern world. A veteran of the Battle of Lepanto
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, a coalition of Catholic maritime states, decisively defeated the main fleet of the Ottoman Empire in five hours of fighting on the northern edge of the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece...

 (1571), Cervantes had fallen on hard times in the late 1590s and was imprisoned for debt in 1597, and some believe that during these years he began work on his best-remembered novel. The first part of the novel was published in 1605; the second in 1615, a year before the author's death. Don Quixote resembled both the medieval, chivalric romances of an earlier time and the novels of the early modern world. It parodied classical morality and chivalry, found comedy in knighthood, and criticized social structures and the perceived madness of Spain's rigid society. The work has endured to the present day as a landmark in world literary history, and it was an immediate international hit in its own time, interpreted variously as a satirical comedy, social commentary and forbearer of self-referential literature.

Lope de Vega and Spanish drama



A contemporary of Cervantes, 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...

 consolidated the essential genres and structures which would characterize the Spanish commercial drama, also known as the "Comedia", throughout the 17th century. While Lope de Vega wrote prose and poetry as well, he is best remembered for his plays, particularly those grounded in Spanish history. Like Cervantes, Lope de Vega served with the Spanish army and was fascinated with the Spanish nobility. In the hundreds of plays he wrote, with settings ranging from the Biblical times to legendary Spanish history to classical mythology to his own time, Lope de Vega frequently took a comical approach just as Cervantes did, taking a conventional moral play and dressing it up in good humor and cynicism. His stated goal was to entertain the public, much as Cervantes's was. In bringing morality, comedy, drama, and popular wit together, Lope de Vega is often compared to his English contemporary Shakespeare. Some have argued that as a social critic, Lope de Vega attacked, like Cervantes, many of the ancient institutions of his country - aristocracy, chivalry, and rigid morality, among others. Lope de Vega and Cervantes represented an alternative artistic perspective to the religious asceticism of Francisco Zurbarán. Lope de Vega's "cloak-and-sword" plays, which mingled intrigue, romance, and comedy together were carried on by his literary successor, Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño usually referred as Pedro Calderón de la Barca , was a dramatist, poet and writer of the Spanish Golden Age. During certain periods of his life he was also a soldier and a Roman Catholic priest...

, in the later seventeenth century. Other well-known playwrights of the period include: Tirso de Molina
Tirso de Molina
Tirso de Molina was a Spanish Baroque dramatist, poet and a Roman Catholic monk.Originally Gabriel Téllez, he was born in Madrid. He studied at Alcalá de Henares, joined the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy on November 4, 1600, and entered the Monastery of San Antolín at Guadalajara,...

; Agustín Moreto; Juan Pérez de Montalbán
Juan Pérez de Montalbán
Juan Pérez de Montalbán , Spanish Catholic priest, dramatist, poet and novelist, was born at Madrid.At the age of eighteen he became a licentiate in theology, was ordained priest in 1625 and appointed notary to the Inquisition...

; Juan Ruiz de Alarcón
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza , one of the greatest Novohispanic dramatists of the Golden Age, was born in New Spain .-Genealogy:...

; Guillén de Castro and Antonio Mira de Amescua
Antonio Mira de Amescua
Antonio Mira de Amescua , Spanish dramatist, was born at Guadix about 1578. He is said, but doubtfully, to have been the illegitimate son of one Juana Perez. He took orders, obtained a canonry at Guadix, and settled at Madrid early in the 17th century...

.

Poetry


This period also produced some of the most important Spanish works of poetry. The introduction and influence of Italian Renaissance verse is apparent perhaps most vividly in the works of Garcilaso de la Vega
Garcilaso de la Vega
Garcilaso de la Vega was a Spanish soldier and poet. He was the most influential poet to introduce Italian Renaissance verse forms, poetic techniques and themes to Spain.-Biography:...

 and illustrate a profound influence on later poets. Mystical literature in Spanish reached its summit with the works of San Juan de la Cruz and Teresa of Ávila.
Baroque poetry was dominated by the contrasting styles of Francisco de Quevedo
Francisco de Quevedo
Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas was a Spanish nobleman, politician and writer of the Baroque era. Along with his lifelong rival, Luis de Góngora, Quevedo was one of the most prominent Spanish poets of the age. His style is characterized by what was called conceptismo...

 and 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...

; both had a lasting influence on subsequent writers, and even on the Spanish language itself. 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...

 was a gifted poet of his own, and there were a vast quantity of remarkable poets at that time, though less known: Francisco de Rioja
Francisco de Rioja
Francisco de Rioja was a Spanish poet. Rioja was a canon of Seville Cathedral and a member of the Supreme Inquisition.-Works:...

, Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola
Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola
Bartolomé Leonardo de Argensola , Spanish poet and historian, was baptized at Barbastro on August 26, 1562.He studied at Huesca, took orders, and was presented to the rectory of Villahermosa in 1588. He was attached to the suite of the count de Lemos, viceroy of Naples, in 1610, and succeeded his...

, Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola
Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola
Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola was a Spanish dramatist and poet.-Biography:He was born in Barbastro. He was educated at the universities of Huesca and Zaragoza, becoming secretary to the duke de Villahermosa in 1585...

, Bernardino de Rebolledo
Bernardino de Rebolledo
Bernardino de Rebolledo y Villamizar, was a Spanish poet, soldier and diplomat , and one of the most original poets, of the 17th century in Spain...

, Rodrigo Caro
Rodrigo Caro
Rodrigo Caro was a Spanish historian, archeologist, lawyer, poet and writer....

, Andrés Rey de Artieda, etc.

Other significant authors


The picaresque genre flourished in this era, describing the life of pícaros, living by their wits in a decadent society. Distinguished examples are El buscón
El Buscón
El Buscón is a picaresque novel by Francisco de Quevedo...

, by Francisco de Quevedo
Francisco de Quevedo
Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas was a Spanish nobleman, politician and writer of the Baroque era. Along with his lifelong rival, Luis de Góngora, Quevedo was one of the most prominent Spanish poets of the age. His style is characterized by what was called conceptismo...

, Guzmán de Alfarache
Guzmán de Alfarache
Guzmán de Alfarache is a picaresque novel written by Mateo Alemán and published in two parts: the first in Madrid in 1599 with the title Primera parte de Guzmán de Alfarache, and the second in 1604, titled Segunda parte de la vida de Guzmán de Alfarache, atalaya de la vida humana.The works tells...

by Mateo Alemán
Mateo Alemán
Mateo Alemán y de Enero was a Spanish novelist and writer.He graduated at Seville University in 1564, studied later at Salamanca and Alcalá, and from 1571 to 1588 held a post in the treasury; in 1594 he was arrested on suspicion of malversation, but was speedily released...

, Estebanillo González
Estebanillo González
La vida y hechos de Estebanillo González, hombre de buen humor, Life and facts of Estebanillo González, man of good humour, is a Spanish picaresque novel, written as a genuine autobiography of a rogue , but for some scholars, it is a work of fiction...

and Lazarillo de Tormes
Lazarillo de Tormes
The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities is a Spanish novella, published anonymously because of its heretical content...

(1554), which created the genre.
  • Alonso de Ercilla
    Alonso de Ercilla
    Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga was a Spanish nobleman, soldier and epic poet from the Basque Country. While in Chile he fought against the Araucanians, and there he began the epic poem La Araucana, considered the greatest Spanish historical poem. This heroic work in 37 cantos is divided into three...

     wrote the epic poem, La Araucana
    La Araucana
    La Araucana is an epic poem in Spanish about the Spanish conquest of Chile, by Alonso de Ercilla; it is also known in English as The Araucaniad...

    , about the Spanish conquest of Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    .
  • Gil Vicente
    Gil Vicente
    Gil Vicente , called the Trobadour, was a Portuguese playwright and poet who acted in and directed his own plays. Considered the chief dramatist of Portugal he is sometimes called the "Portuguese Plautus,"[3] often referred to as the "Father of Portuguese drama" and as one of Western literature's...

     was Portuguese
    Portugal
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

     but his influence on Spanish playwriting was so wide that he is often considered part of the Spanish Golden Era.

See also

  • Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus
    Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

     (Golden Age of Islamic culture
    Islamic Golden Age
    During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

     in Spain)
  • Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain
    Golden age of Jewish culture in the Iberian Peninsula
    The golden age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.The nature and length of this...

     (during the earlier Islamic domination)
  • Spanish Renaissance
    Spanish Renaissance
    The Spanish Renaissance refers to a movement in Spain, emerging from the Italian Renaissance in Italy during the 14th century, that spread to Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries...

  • History of Spain
    History of Spain
    The history of Spain involves all the other peoples and nations within the Iberian peninsula formerly known as Hispania, and includes still today the nations of Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain...

  • School of Salamanca
    School of Salamanca
    The School of Salamanca is the renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish and Portuguese theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria...

  • Spanish Empire
    Spanish Empire
    The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....


Further reading

  • Edward H. Friedman and Catherine Larson, eds. Brave New Words: Studies in Spanish Golden Age Literature (1999)
  • Hugh Thomas. The Golden Age: The Spanish Empire of Charles V (2010)
  • Victor Stoichi, ed. Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art (1997)
  • Weller, Thomas: The "Spanish Century", European History Online
    European History Online
    European History Online is an academic website that publishes articles on the history of Europe between the period of 1450 and 1950 according to the principle of open access. EGO is issued by the Institute of European History in Mainz in cooperation with the Center for Digital Humanities in Trier ...

    , Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: November 11, 2011.