Marqués de Santillana


Íñigo López de Mendoza (1398-1458) was the son of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, occasional poet and Leonor de la Vega, from a noble family, made rich by the Trastámara King and Queen. After a number of fights to keep his title of Admiral, which he inherited from his father, and other priviledges, in 1412 he married Catalina de Figueroa, daughter of grand master of Santiago.

He served the future King Fernando of Aragón and had dealings with the great peninsular authors of the time, such as Enrique de Villena. He read the Italian poets – Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio – and from a book of his grandmother´s he read Mencía de Cisneros to the Gallego-Portuguese troubadours. He also read French literature of the time as well as the classic writers.

In 1420 he supported the Infante don Enrique in his rising in Tordesillas until 1427. Two years later, the invasion of Castilla by Aragonese troops put him at his King´s side, for which he was rewarded in 1434. Between 1431and 1436 he fought in battles against the Moors until an action against him by one of the nobles of Las Asturias de Santillana forced him to settle in Guadalajara, once again at the side of Infante don Enrique.

Threat from Navarra forced Juan II to ask for help from our poet again, promising him the manor of Santillana in return. His participation in the battle of Olmedo gave him the title Marqués de Santillana and Conde del Real de Manzanares, from 1445.

He participated in the beheading of royal favourite Álvaro de Luna, in 1453, in new battles against the kingdom of Granada and in peace between Castilla and Aragón.

After the death of his wife and his favourite son, he went into seclusion in his palace in Guadalajara until the end of his days.

His literary work is extensive and varied. He is the author of learned poems of moral or allegoric character, along the lines of Italian poetry, and of the first sonnets in Castilian.

His verse form is considered to be the most happy and funny of medieval times. He wrote the first prose history of Spanish literature in his “Prohemio e carta al Condestable de Portugal” offering a manuscript with his works. On top of that, he obtained the richest library of the epoch and promoted the translation of Greek and Latin classics.

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