Agenda Cultural



Lope de Vega, one of the most important writers in the history of Spanish literature, was a rogue and a womanizer, a loving father and a devout priest, an inquisitor and a poet who lived to the age of 73.

Applauded and admired in his time, he cultivated nearly every genre of the day, including poetry and prose, but it is undoubtedly his plays that make up the bulk of his oeuvre. He claimed to have written 1.500 plays and approximately 500 are extant, although only 314 have been confirmed as his work. The theatrical pieces reveal Lope's most refreshing side. His poems and plays were nevertheless spectacularly successful among the general populace.

Lope de Vega was born in Madrid on November 25, the day of San Lope, in 1562. Fourth son of Félix de Vega Carpio y Francisca Fernández Flórez, he was baptized Lope de Vega Carpio on December 6, in San Miguel de los Octoes. There are some experts who believe he was born on December 2 of that same year.

The biographer and essayist Astrana Marín says Lope was born on the Costanilla de Santiago, very close to Milaneses.

The Church of San Miguel, where he was born, burned down. It was located next to the Puerta de Guadalajara and where the Mercado de San Miguel is located today.

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Su madre fue Francisca Fernández Flórez y su padre Félix de Vega Carpio, maestro bordador, ambos procedían de las montañas de Cantabria.

Lope tuvo cuatro hermanos: Francisco, Juliana, Luisa y Juan. El poeta pasó parte de su infancia en casa de su tío, don Miguel de Carpio, Inquisidor de Sevilla.

His mother was Francisca Fernández Floréz and his father Félix de Vega Carpio, master embroiderer, both from the northern mountains of Cantabria. Lope had four brothers and sisters: Francisco, Juliana, Luisa and Juan. The poet spent part of his childhood in the house of his uncle Miguel de Carpio, Inquisitor of Seville.
Lope wrote of his conception in several verses. As if it were any other of his comedies, the poet recounts in those stanzas that he was born a product of his mother’s jealousy and the later reconciliation with his father. The writer explained that his father escaped to Madrid after a love affair and that his mother, tracked him down and rescued him from his lover (“Siguiole hasta Madrid, de celos ciega, / su amorosa mujer, porque él quería / una española Elena, entonces griega.” The reality might have been more common and the true circumstances had more to do with his father’s profession. After working in Valladolid as a master embroiderer, they probably came to Madrid in 1561, which had recently become a city and court. Many of the gentry were moving there, which meant an increased demand for tapestries and curtains to be embroidered.

 “Días ha que falto desa gran ciudad (Sevilla), dónde pasé algunos de los primeros días de mi vida, en casa del inquisidor Don Miguel del Carpio, de buena y santa memoria, mi tío…” wrote Lope in the dedication of his play La hermosa Esther. There is no information about how old Lope was when he lived in Seville with his uncle, although specialists believe that it was before he began his studies in 1573 or 1574 in the School of the Teatinos, or the School of the Jesuitas, of which his uncle was a close friend.

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Su madre fue Francisca Fernández Flórez y su padre Félix de Vega Carpio, maestro bordador, ambos procedían de las montañas de Cantabria.

Lope tuvo cuatro hermanos: Francisco, Juliana, Luisa y Juan. El poeta pasó parte de su infancia en casa de su tío, don Miguel de Carpio, Inquisidor de Sevilla.

Lope married twice: in 1588 he married Isabel de Urbina, who then died, and ten years later, in 1598, Juana de Guardo.

In 1588 Lope was jailed, accused of being the author of a series of libelous pamphlets. Condemned to exile, before leaving he kidnapped (with the lady's consent)Isabel de UrbinaDaughter of Diego de Urbina y Alderete, painter for the royal chamber, Isabel de Urbina was Lope de Vega's first wife. Apparently, the poet kidnapped her, with her consent, before being exiled from Madrid. The abduction was an insult to honor, which led to new legal proceedings and another sentence. The lady's honor was restored with the proxy marriage in July 1589.
Isabel de Urbina then left with Lope for Valencia, in what was a happy period for both of them. They had two daughters, Antonio and Teodora, both of whom died in childhood. Isabel de Urbina died giving birth to Teodora, shortly before the exile penalty was lifted..
. They married by proxy three months later. The couple lived for six years in Valencia and Toledo, until Isabel de Urbina died giving birth to their second child in 1594. They had two daughters: Antonia (1589-1594) and Teodora (1594-1596).

In 1598, Lope marriedJuana de GuardoJuana de Guardo was the daughter of Antonio de Guardo and María Collantes, both from Guardo, in the Alto Carrión region of Palencia. A bourgeois and wealthy family, the father was the dealer or purveyor of meat and fish from the Markets in Madrid. He always said this was a marriage of convenience, but the truth is that Juana de Guardo's dowry never arrived because her parents were against the marriage. It was a union that Lope's literary enemies mocked, with anonymous verses and commentaries, as in "he married meat and fish," which was attributed to Quevedo; or signed, as in these verses in which Góngora mocks the noble shield of the name Carpio, even directly referencing the father-in-law's profession: "Si no es que ya, segunda vez casado, / Nos quiere hacer torres los torreznos."
The couple married in April 1598 in the Church of Santa Cruz. It was Lope's second marriage, and he was then thirty-five, which probably did not make his wife very happy. Juana de Guardo suffered through her husband's publicly known infidelities, especially with Micaela de Luján, with whom he had four children (although Fernando Lázaro Carreter only attributes five children to the couple). The poet lived during that time balancing his life between the two families.
His marriage to Juana de Guardo lasted until 1613, when she died giving birth to their daughter Feliciana. From that union three more children were born, Jacinta, Juana (who was stillborn) and Carlos Félix, born in 1605 and who died seven years later, filling his father with a tremendous sorrow.
Juana de Guardo and the poet's mother are the only two women who are not mentioned in his work..
, with whom he had four children: Jacinta (1599), Juana (possibly in 1604), Carlos Félix (1605) and Feliciana, (1613). We know of the second child thanks to a letter in which the poet refers to his wife's pregnancy in Toledo. His son Carlos was probably the favored child and his death at the very young age of seven caused the most pain: Juana de Guardo died giving birth to Feliciana in 1613.

Until finally settling in Madrid in the house on Calle de Francos (today Calle Cervantes), Lope lived divided between two homes: one with Micaela de LujánActress, she was married to the actor and representative Diego Díaz, who lived in Peru and with whom she already had two daughters when she met Lope in 1598. Their relationship lasted
nine years, until 1607, and they had four children, two of them when she was still married to Diego Díaz, and two more after she was widowed: Marcela and Lope Félix. Of all of them, Lope Félix, is the only one who is registered in the baptism records as son of Lope de Vega Carpio and Micaela de Luján. The actress lived first in Toledo and then in Seville (where Lope spent time between 1602 and 1604). However, she returned to Toledo where Marcela was born. She ended up living in Madrid. There, in 1607, the poet rented a house on Calle del Júcar, which was the family home. This was close to the house on Calle Francos (today Lope de Vega House Museum), where Juana de Guardo and his children later moved.

The affair with Micaela de Luján ended after the birth of Lope Félix and with it any reference to it in his work. The couple's last two children, Marcela and Lope Félix, took care of their father in 1614.

Micaela de Luján is present in Lope's work, where she appears with the name Camila Lucinda. Of extraordinary beauty, she was, nonetheless, uncivilized, too illiterate even to sign a document, so that the poet only had praise for her blue eyes, her hair, her white hands...

"Belleza singular, ingenio raro,
fuera del natural curso del cielo,
Etna de amor, que de tu mismo hielo
despides llamas, entre mármol Paro.
Sol de hermosura, entendimiento claro,
alma dichosa en cristalino velo,
norte del mar, admiración del suelo,
émula al sol, como a la luna el faro;
milagro del autor de cielo y tierra,
bien de naturaleza el más perfecto,
Lucinda hermosa en quien mi luz se
nieve en blancura y fuego en el efecto,
paz de los ojos y del alma guerra,
dame a escribir, como a penar, sujeto"
and the other with Juana de Guardo, his legitimate wife. He resided in Madrid until 1604, and in Toledo from 1604 to 1610. He then returned to Madrid and bought what was his last house, today the Lope de Vega House Museum.

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