Agenda Cultural



Lope de Vega lived in six cities: Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Salamanca, Alcalá de Henares and Toledo.
Madrid is, without a doubt, Lope's city, as he was born and died there, and lived there for a large part of his life. Many of his works take place in this city. There is a Lope's Madrid, of the streets, buildings, corners... connected to his life and his work.
Seville took him in as a child, when he was in the house of his uncle the Inquisitor, but it was also where the poet resided during his years of plenty as a playwright. He lived there with his lover Micaela de Luján. The city then was rich and vital, with people everywhere, people of all types, attracted by the treasures that arrived from the Indies. The "Southern Babylon" is present in many of Lope's plays, who collected and performed the most popular Sevillian-themed songs: "River of Seville/ how fine you seem / with white galleys / and green branches!"
Exiled from the kingdom of Castile, upon his return from the military, from the Great Armada, he lived in Valencia with his wife Isabel de Urbina. The city left Lope with beautiful memories, he made good friends, like Guillén de Castro. It can also be seen in his work. Lope de Vega studied for four years of his youth in Alcalá de Henares, and several more at the University of Salamanca, a time when he resided in Alba de Tormes. In some of his texts he discusses both university cities.
Among the Castilian cities where he lived, Toledo stands out. Here they performed many of his plays. Furthermore, Toledo is the scene of some of his theatrical works.

Lope de Vega traveled a great deal, despite how long and complicated travelling between cities at that time was. His trips were mainly for work. Denia, Granada, Segovia, Valladolid, Avila, Burgos and Lerma were some of his destinations. The journey between two points in the Spain of that time was a true adventure. For instance, in 1660, it took Phillip IV a month to reach Irún from the capital, and cost a million ducats. In the 16th century, a team of mules could cover six or eight leagues a day. The first stagecoach was not used until 17th century. These were six-wheeled calashes pulled by twenty horses that could carry up to forty people.

Some texts and their geographic location:

  • El mejor Alcalde el rey was developed in Galicia and Leon
  • Fuenteovejuna, in Cordoba
  • Peribañez y el Comendador de Ocaña, in Toledo
  • El caballero de Olmedo, throughout the Castilian lands of Valladolid
  • La Estrella de Sevilla, in Seville
  • Porfiar hasta morir, surroundings of Cordoba
  • El peregrino en su patria, in Barcelona
  • Los Ponces de Barcelona, in Barcelona and other Catalan cities
  • La viuda valenciana, in Valencia
  • Los locos de Valencia, in Valencia
  • El bobo del Colegio, in Salamanca
  • El Arenal de Sevilla, in Seville

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For breakfast, Lope had rashers of bacon and bacon fat, and a preserve made of orange rind soaked in honey and liqueur.
At mid-day, his normal meal was the nutritious olla podrida (Spanish stew), the Golden Age's famous dish, made from different vegetables and all types of meats, from lamb to partridge, including different types of beef and pork.
For dinner, Lope picked asparagus from his own garden, cooked them, and ate them drizzled with lemon and paprika, accompanied by poached eggs.

Gastronomy appears often in the literature of the Golden Age. The authors of plays, comedies and picaresque novels, like Cervantes, Góngora, Tirso, Calderón, Quevedo and, of course, Lope de Vega, made continual references to food, wine, fruits or sweets in their works. The different kitchen-related trades also gave these authors much to talk about.

Somebody's social importance and economic situation could be discerned by their knowledge of food and wine.

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In Lope de Vega's time, no house, not even the best equipped, had a bathroom or a toilet. The people who lived there used chamber pots. At night, they threw the contents out the window, warning first with the shout of "agua va!" ("water coming down!").

  • The streets of Madrid then were landfills of the waste and excrement of the people. In 1639 they tried to 'regulate' this problem and in a proclamation requesting "That no person empty through the windows and drain pipes, filth or other things, but rather do so from the door to the street; in the summer at 11 o'clock at night, and in the winter at 10 o'clock; penalty of four years of exile and 20 ducats to the masters who allows it, and 100 lashes and six years of exile to the servants who perform the act in addition to paying for damages incurred."

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Lope was in the Inquisition. He had the position of familiar of the Holy OfficeThe Holy Office is a hierarchical institution. At the top were the Inquisitors, who had many subordinates, among them were the familiar, which were the base of the organization. Since he was in Madrid, Lope was not very active, since there were many familiares of the Holy Office in the Villa and in the court. Other subordinates of the Inquisitors were notaries, treasurers, doctors, prison employees and directors, vicars, etc., which was the lowest level in the organization. In the 17th century, when Lope took on the position, the feared Holy Office, the inhumane Inquisition, was not as feared nor as cruel, it was no longer the vicious institution that instilled terror.

Lope's only participation in the process of the Inquisition was against a Franciscan monkAccording to the story of that auto-da-fé, Lope de Vega managed and presided over the Confraternity of the Familiares and Commissioners of the Holy Office in the processing of Benito Ferrer, condemned to be burned for his crime of sacrilege against the heavenly host of Catalonia.
In 1612, on the deed of his house on Calle de Francos, he appears as Familiar of the Holy Office, a mention that appears alongside his name in the printed programs from the plays under his supervision.

Almost none of the biographies written about Lope de Vega mention anything other than the position he held in the Holy Office. There is no documentation about his activity in the Inquisition, except for his participation in a procession that took place in Madrid. Amércio Castro is one of the few who reference his participation in a process of the Inquisition.

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