Agenda Cultural



Yes. Lope fell in love with Marta de NevaresMarta de Nevares met Lope before she was 25 years old and he was in his sixties and had been ordained a priest. Married since the age of 13 to Roque Hernández, a very crude and much older trader and businessman, she had two children from this marriage.
The couple met at a poet’s party, in a garden in Madrid, where apparently, the poet surrendered before the lady’s overwhelming beauty. (“Sus ojos verdes, la perfecta nariz, las manos y pies pequeñitos, cejas y pestañas negras, cabellos rizos y copiosos, boca que pone en cuidado los que la miran cuando ríe, gentileza de cuerpo, inteligencia viva, ingenio, habilidad en tañer instrumentos musicales y en escribir con facilidad literatura...”). That encounter marked the beginning of a lasting and very passionate, although complicated and painful relationship. Their love remained strong until 1632, when Marta died. The story of this love affair is marked by the decision of the lovers to confront the cruel and evil words of the court. They were surrounded by the unfriendly gossip regarding their difference in age, Marta’s marriage and Lope’s priesthood. Of course, the birth of the child Antonia Clara was the cause of rumors, but she was finally registered as the legitimate daughter of Marta de Nevares’ husband.
In 1621, Marta, who lived with Lope in the house on the today-named Calle Cervantes (Lope de Vega House Museum) became gravely ill. She first went blind and then went crazy. The poet, destroyed, cared for her until the last moment in 1632. She was his great love and he dedicated many verses of his work to her. Marta de Nevares, given the nicknames Marcia Leonarda and Amarilis, appeared in eclogues and plays, where Lope de Vega made his love known. (“No quedó sin llorar pájaro en nido, / pez en el agua ni en el monte fiera, /...y es la locura de mi amor tan fuerte, / que pienso que lloró también la muerte”).
, who was married, when he was apriest “…It must be understood in the context of the priestly profession, as in the 17th century, this was detached from the vocational sense that it carries today. It was reached by many different paths: to enjoy, for example, some cathedral prebendas (Góngora); as second son (‘the followers’) of a family of nobles; as to way to insure honor, social positions, income…” (Antonio Carreño)
Often the priests accompanied a lover, a custom that extended even to the Inquisitors, despite the efforts made to control these habits. The figure of the ‘soliciting cleric’ was punished by the Holy Office, who between 1540 and 1700, processed more than three hundred cases. In one of them, in 1608, the cleric Marco Antonio Ávila was processed for having ‘solicited’ from the confession booth sexual relationships with thirty women.
. Not only was it an adulterous relationship, from which his daughter (Antonia Clara) was born, but it also, to the dismay of many, developed publically, in plain sight. Lope and Marta lived in the house on Calle de Francos. Despite their age difference -the poet was almost forty years her senior-, Lope cared for Marta when she became ill until her death.
Lope oscillated between the religious fervor of the Rimas Sacras and the passion of being in love, and in this constant fluctuation, he was the subject of many contemporary criticisms and jokes, witticisms due more to his age than his moral obligations as a priest. In fact, the priesthood was seen more as a career path, and also, the clergy was not free of social customs when it came to love and sexual relations.

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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 contributions were decisive in the change that the theater underwent in the second half of the 16th century, in which it became a solid public social event that generated money and created work. The success he had with his comedies and plays and the money he earned from them was, nevertheless, not enough to maintain two families (something he had to do at many points in his life) or to survive the long periods of time that, by order of the King, the theaters closed. So, Lope de Vega searched for a livelihood as a secretary to the nobles. He worked in the service of the Bishop of Avila, the Duke of Alba de Tormes, the Marquis of Malpica, the Marquis of Sarría, the Count of Lemos... until August of 1605 when he met Luis Fernández de Córdoba and Aragón, the sixthDuke of SessaThe Epistolario de Lope de Vega clearly documents the relationship that existed between the poet and the Duke of Sessa. Lope did any type of work for the nobleman, he was his secretary and, at times, his servant. For years he wrote the letters that the Duke sent to his lovers, a task he abandoned in 1614, when he became a priest and his confessor prohibited him to continue.
Luis Fernández de Córdoba y de Aragón admired Lope's literary creations and in 1611 he began to gather together his works, manuscripts and printings. He protected the poet and got him different positions, like that of the fiscal attorney of the Apostolic Chamber of the archbishopric of Toledo, and a prestamera (pension) in the diocese of Cordoba. Furthermore, the Duke facilitated Lope's presence at events at Court, like the marriage ceremony of the Princess Ana de Austria with Luis the XIII of France in Burgos.
The protection that the sixth Duke of Sessa gave him marked his life and his work, but despite his generosity, it was not the only one he sought, something that is known from his own letters. In a missive sent in 1620 to the Count of Lemos, Lope wrote:
"Yo he estado un año sin ser poeta de pane lucrando: milagro del señor Duque de Ossuna, que me envió quinientos escudos desde Napoles, que, ayudados de mi beneficio, pusieron la olla a estos muchachos, entre los quales hay quince años de una doncella, virtuosos y no sin gracias. Passo, Señor Exc.º, entre librillos y flores de un huerto lo que ya queda de la vida, que no debe de ser mucho, compitiendo en enredos con Mesqua y Don Guillen de Castro, sobre cuál los hace mejores en sus Comedias. Qualquiera destos dos ingenios pudiera servir mejor a Vex.ª en esta ocasión." (Amezúa: Epistolario de Lope de Vega)
whose relationship of service and friendship lasted his whole life.

The eagerness of the artists of the time to seek a patron, a protector, is more than understandable in the case of the dramatists, who faced long periods of the theaters being closed, and they could not earn a livelihood with the performance of their works. They were also prohibited from printing their plays. So, they aspired to have a direct guardianship from the royal house or the custody of a noble, a patron that gave them economic and social stability.

"... the theater patronage of the nobility has two sides: one, more evident, of the specific engagement of theater pieces for specific circumstances. The other, less visible, has to do with the desire to obtain the protection of the nobility by the artist, an aspiration that could lead the playwright to see his own works as a cultural object with a bartering value in the courtier social market, a useful means to achieve the desirable status of protégé of someone, but also to achieve in-kind benefits, positions in court, chaplaincies, positions, income, gifts..." (Teresa Ferre Valls)

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Yes, and he must be the only one. In the literary universe, there is no other body of work as abundant as Lope de Vega's. He began to write in his childhood, when he was only ten or twelve years old and continued, non-stop, until his death. Nevertheless, it is impossible to know the exact number of plays he wrote, partly because in order to amortize the prestige they attributed to him throughout his life, many plays were attributed to him that were not his. Lope himself took care of blowing his own horn and proclaimed his literary fertility. "And more than a hundred in twenty four hours, moved from the muses to the theater"

His biographer Juan Pérez de Montalbán attributed the amazing number of 1,800 plays and 400 autos to Lope de Vega, but Lope himself stated 1,500 in the Égloga a Claudio.

To this monumental theatrical production, we must add the composition of hundreds of lyrical poems, more than a half dozen extensive epic poems or epic-narratives and the creation of three long novels, four short novels and the 'action in prose' (as in La Celestina) La Dorotea, in addition to an abundant epistolary.

Lope had a disconcerting ease in writing texts and works of theater, however, as evidenced in two of the three codex manuscripts preserved by the poet, poetry did not come so easily to him. To write a sonnet (fourteen hendecasyllabic verses) the author wrote and crossed out 58 lines, according to Códice Pidal, which, by the way, includes close to forty unpublished poems.

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Yes, Lope de Vega earned money from the performances of his plays and from his books. As a matter of fact, he earned quite a bit of money, to the point where what he earned reached unprecedented sums in the theater.

Despite the fact that he earned a decent sum, it was not enough for him. The closure of the theaters during long stretches of time by order of the King, and the two families that he had to maintain over many years forced him to seek other income, which he did putting himself at the service of noblemen as a secretary.

There are several documents that show the amount that Lope earned for his works. Here we find the settlements from Pedro Valdes' company, the receipts from the Royal Palace, from the Gaspar Porres' company, Pedro Jiménez Valenzuela's... for each play that he submitted to be performed, Lope earned around 500 reales, but there are also rewarding exceptions, as shown in the receipt of the Queen's order in the amount of 150 ducats for the "service of the comedy El vellocino dorado".

The patrons, people or institutions that protected the creators, were the great aspiration of the baroque writers and other artists. All of them sought a noble or regal patronage. Lope, in his last years, between 1627 and 1635, worked to gain the protection of the Crown and struggled as an artist between adulation and deception in order to achieve that stable patronage.

"He was the wealthiest and poorest poet of our times. Richest because the gifts of the nobles and individuals reach ten thousand ducats; what they valued the comedies counted at five hundred reales, eighty thousand ducats; the autos, six thousand, the earning from the printings, one thousand six hundred." (Juan Pérez de Montalbán).

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