Fernando de Rojas


Fernando de Rojas was probably born about 1473-1476 in La Puebla de Montalban (Toledo). His forefathers were Jews until one of them -maybe his grandfather’s father- became a Christian. Therefore Fernando belonged to a converted family.

About 1488 he went to Salamanca. At the university he studied Latin, philosophy and other Subjects for at least six years, in order to get his Bachelor of Law degree. Meanwhile, he wrote the fifteen last acts of his only known play which was printed in 1499 as Comedy of Calixto and Melibea. After that, he admitted he continued little more than the first act of this work, an act that he attributed to Juan de Mena or Rodrigo de Cota. In the years to follow, he added a further five acts to the already written 16 of the original play, and entitled it Tragicomedy of Calixto and Melibea.

In 1507, because of an economical incident against one of his neighbors, he settled in Talavera de la Reina, where he worked as a lawyer until the end of his days. There he married Leonor Álvarez de Montalbán, daughter, as he himself, of Jewish converts. She gave him seven sons and daughters who survived to adulthood. His first son chose his father’s career. Fernando could not succeed in 1525, when he tried to represent his father-in-law because of his “converted” status. About 1538 he was Talavera’s mayor if he had not been before.

He died in 1541 without special mention to his work -that was going to be known soon as La Celestina-. It has been discussed whether his situation was a really that of a convert, that is, of someone chased away by a cruel society. His testament shows the image of a respected man who owned a vast amount of goods.

D.Miguel Pérez Rosado.
Ph. D. in Hispanic Philology.