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Cristobal de Castillejo

Cristóbal de Castillejo

Spanish poet, b. in Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca), 1491; d. in Vienna, 12 June, 1556. From the age of fifteen he was attached to the person of the younger brother of the Emperor Charles V, the Infante Ferdinand, who subsequently became King of Bohemia and Hungary, and eventually Emperor of Germany. He lived for many years in Austria as secretary to that prince, and late in life took ecclesiastical orders, retiring to a monastery near Vienna where he passed the remainder of his days. Castillego was the champion of the old school of Spanish verse as opposed to the Italian measures recently introduced by Boscan, seconded by Garcilasso de la Vega. He vigorously opposed the innovation, maintaining and demonstrating in his writings that the old metres were amply competent for the expression of all sentiments. When he did use the villancicos, canciones, and other measures of the new school, it was only to attack and ridicule the innovators.

As a poet he was distinguished for purity of language, grace, fluency, and humour, the latter quality abounding in his "Dialogue between Himself and His Pen". He used satire with simplicity and ease, and, at times, freely and boldly. Some of his satires, notable the "Sermon on Love" and the "Dialogue on the Condition of Women", were so offensive to the clergy that the Inquisition prohibited the publication of his poems until they had been expurgated. Among his other works are the fanciful "transformation of a Drunkard into a Mosquito" and a satire addressed "To those who give up the Castillian measures and follow the Italian". His poems are divided into three books devoted to love; conversation and pastime; moral and religious verses. In 1573 a collection of the "Works of Castillejo Expurgated by the Inquisition" was published in Madrid, which was one of the first books printed in that city. The most complete edition is that published by Ramón Fernandez (Madrid, 1792).


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