As a priest, did Lope live with his lover?


Yes. Lope fell in love with Marta de NevaresMarta de Nevares met Lope before she was 25 years old and he was 54 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.

Back to quiz


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.