Was Lope a good student?


In Lope's time, only a handful of privileged people had access to a good education. The rest of the people, that is to say, the majority of the population, were illiterate. With his humble origins, Lope de Vega was destined to a manual trade, just as his father (master embroiderer). Nevertheless, the effort he put into his studies as a young boy encouraged his family to give him an education.
It is believed that the writer and musician Vicente Espinel taught him to read and write in Spanish and translate Latin, something Lope was able to do since the age of ten. And it was his uncle, the Inquisitor of Seville and friend of the Jesuits who helped his parents get the boy into the Imperial School of Madrid in 1572 or 1573. He remained there until 1576.

In the Compañía de Jesús schools, the students performed plays on religious holidays. So it would be logical to think that when Lope mentioned the plays he wrote when he was eleven or twelve, he was referring to these school plays. He also studied Grammar and Latin and he received classes in Geography, History, Mathematics, Philosophy and Rhetoric in Latin. All of this as a boarding student.

Later, Lope went to the Alcalá de Henares University, where all classes were also in Latin and where the studies were difficult: he studied up to nine hours a day, under strict disciplinary rules. After Alcalá, Lope studied for a short time at the University of Salamanca.

At the age of twenty-four, he began to study Mathematics and Astrology with Juan Bautista Labaña, Philip II's chief cosmographer and founder of the Mathematics Academy of Madrid. He also studied liberal arts with the master Father Juan de Córdoba.

Untiringly studious his whole life, Lope studied reading and writing in the mornings, and it is very possible that in the library of the study in the house on Francos he had Polianteas, mythologies and an edition of Ravisius Textor's Officina, a prestigious reference book of the time with mythological and astrological references, quotes and information, allegories and other oddities.

Lope was very interested in painting and was friends with some painters of the time,
Pantoja de la Cruz, his father-in-law Diego de Urbina, Vincenzo Cardoso, Pedro de Guzmán and Francisco Ribalta. It is also well know that he admired Rubens. "Two things awoke my cravings,

"Que no es hombre el que no hace bien a nadie
Dos cosas despertaron mis antojos,
extrajeras, no al alma, a los sentidos;
Marino, gran pintor de los oídos,
y Rubens, gran poeta de los ojos.
Marino, fénix ya de sus despojos,
yace en Italia resistiendo olvidos;
Rubens, los héroes del pincel vencidos,
da gloria a Flandes y a la envidia enojos.
Mas ni de aquél la pluma, o la destreza
déste con el pincel pintar pudieran
un hombre que, pudiendo, a nadie ayuda.
Porque es tan desigual naturaleza,
que cuando a retratalle se atrevieran,
ser hombre o fiera, les pusiera en duda.

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