The date and place of birth of Jorge Manrique is very controversial, since there is no specific document that certifies his birth. Although it has been maintained that he was born in Paredes de Nava (Palencia) in 1440, where his father, Don Rodrigo Manrique de Lara, was a count, there are reputed historians of the Middle Ages, such as Domingo Henares, professor at the UNED in Albacete, where in his work Letters from Don Rodrigo Manrique to his son Don Jorge (Diputación Provincial de Albacete, 2001), which argue that he could have been born in Jaén, specifically in Segura de la Sierra in 1434.
This assertion is based on the fact that Don Rodrigo Manrique conquered Plaza de Huéscar in 1434, which caused the then Master of Santiago, the Infante Enrique de Aragón, to hand him the command of Segura de la Sierra, the most important of the Order of Santiago (of which he would become Master), with the title of Commander. Some “military gains” that Jorge Manrique himself refers to in Copla XXIX:
He left no weighty chests of treasure,
Nor ever unto wealth attained
Nor store excelling;
To fight the Moors was all his pleasure
And thus his fortresses he gained,
Demesne, and dwelling.
Amid the lists where he prevailed
Fell knights and steeds into his hands
Through fierce compression,
Whereby he came to be regaled
With vassals and with feudal lands
In fair possession.
On the other hand, there is evidence that confirms that the Manrique family, at the time, was installed in a palace in the town of Segureño (a house that is still preserved) and that his mother already had three young children. So, Domingo Henares asks himself:
“Was she going to leave them alone, venturing, eight months pregnant to Paredes de Nava along the roads of that time, leaving the rest of her family in Segura de la Sierra?”
Whether or not he was born in Segura de la Sierra, what is evident is that a large part of his life was spent in the territories of the current province of Jaén (it must be remembered that the current division into provinces and regions was not made until 1833). Firstly, in Segura de la Sierra, where he would spend his childhood as the head of the Commission that his father administered. Don Rodrigo himself points out in his will regarding his stay in Segura:
“I spent most of my time there depending on the jobs I did”
Later in Chiclana de Segura, where the poet was commander, lived long periods and where his son Luis was born. In this town he lived both in the castle and in a house that is still preserved (Palacio de la Encomienda) on Calle Real. He even had an important connection with Baeza, where his daughter Luisa married Manuel, one of Benavides’ sons, owners of the Jabalquinto palace. This, in turn, led him to participate in 1477 in the struggles that took place in Baeza between Juan de Benavides, to whom the lineage was linked by the marriage between their respective children, against Diego Fernández de Córdoba, Marshal of Baena and son of the Count de Cabra, for the bad government in this city. Jorge Manrique was defeated and sentenced for contempt of the monarchy, as the chronicler
“Jorge Manrique, a hard-working warrior, an expert in military science and very fortunate in fighting (…) he carried a note of perfidy (..) to come to the end to attempt against the honor and life of his old friends, moved by the new relationship with Juan de Benavides (…) The latter (ie, Jorge Manrique) alleged some inadmissible excuses, but, in consideration of the merits of his father, was better treated than the other prisoners. (Palencia, Chronicle of Enrique IV, III, pp. 34-35).
This period of imprisonment is vital, because it is estimated that during this period of inactivity and with his father’s recent death (1476), is when the gestation of the Coplas at the Death of His Father must be dated. The prison barely lasted a few months, since Jorge Manrique, in the traditional chivalric way, drew up a poster of defiance to all those who dared to accuse him of guilty. After the period of thirty days, as no one appeared to the challenge, the kings declared him free and he was publicly excused from such an ungrateful act. After reconciliation with the Catholic Monarchs, he was appointed one of the eight captains of the Brotherhood, specifically the captaincy of Toledo.
On the other hand, Jorge Manrique was more a man of arms than a poet (in many occasions he is referred to as “the warrior poet”), employed from a very young age in the tasks of a Castilian military, although without neglecting his training in letters, as expected from a member of one of the oldest noble families of Castile, the Manrique de Lara. This fact made him a character who has gone down in the history of Spain as the first poet of the Pre-Renaissance.
In his political, religious and military aspects, he was a Santiaguista Knight, Commander of Montizón and Thirteen of the Order. In other words, one of the thirteen knights who attended the general chapters, which took place in Uclés (Cuenca), head of the Order. At the age of 24 he participated in the fighting of the siege of Montizón Castle (Villamanrique, Ciudad Real), where he gained fame and prestige as a warrior. He also fought in Alcázar de San Juan, Ciudad Real (1470), in Sabiote, Jaén (1473), at the site of Canales, León (1474), in the conquest of Alcaraz, Albacete, in the capture of Ciudad Real (1475) and in the battle of Uclés (1476).
After participating in the capture of Baeza in 1477 and later being freed, he served with the troops of Isabel and Fernando’s side in the war against the supporters of Juana la Beltraneja. As lieutenant of the queen in Ciudad Real, together with his father Rodrigo, he raised the siege that Juan Pacheco and the archbishop of Toledo, Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña, had placed on Uclés. In that war, during a skirmish near the Garcimuñoz castle in Cuenca, defended by the Marqués de Villena, he was mortally wounded in 1479 in Santa María del Campo Rus (Cuenca) and is buried in the church of the monastery of Uclés, head of the Order of Santiago. When he died, it is said that the bloody premonitory verses of his poem were found among his clothes: “Oh world, then you kill us …”
Finally, it is necessary to highlight the motto that Jorge Manrique carried as his flag “neither lie, nor regret” and that he expresses in the following Gloss:
II neither lie nor regret it,
neither say nor deny it,
neither am I sad nor happy,
neither claim nor consent,
neither trust nor distrust;
I neither live nor die well,
neither am I alien nor belong,
nor do I conquer nor strive,
neither hope nor despair. (…)
Literary production of Jorge Manrique
Probably due to his main role as a man at arms, administrator of the Montizón Commission and his early death, Jorge Manrique’s literary production is not very extensive, of only forty-nine compositions, although it may be that he still wrote more and are lost. Most of his works are love themes, some burlesque and others, like the Coplas, with a moral background (Elegies and doctrines). This literary excellence is not accidental, since poetry was a courtly activity and Manrique came from a family of Arts. His mother, Doña Mencia de Figueroa Laso de Vega, was a first cousin of the Marqués de Santillana, one of the most important poets of the time; Gómez Manrique was his uncle, a fact that greatly influenced his work. Even from his father, Don Rodrigo Manrique, some poetry is preserved.
In Jorge Manrique’s work, eight-syllable verses predominate, mastering the broken-foot couplet, which he uses frequently and in various metric combinations. In fact, it is often called a broken foot or “manriqueña” couplet. As a man of arms, he develops love poems as if the taking of a square was involved.
Castle of love
so well has,
milady, your memory defended me
from moving on,
that never, never, has been able
to achieve my victory’s
because you are in possession
of all my firmness in such a way,
that my fortress
cannot be taken
neither by force
nor by treason. (…)
Some love poems were dedicated to his wife Doña Guiomar de Castañeda, whose name appears in acrostic, that is, by means of a letter that begins each verse in a stanza (Gvyomar according to the spelling of that time).
Verses(…) God have mercy of the one who never attains (…)
(…)Veracious love and sorrow (…)
(…) Yonder evils I have told, (…)
(…) Oh, if these are my passions, (…)
(…) My life with sorrow be filled (…)
(…) And now that I am already loose, (…)
(.. .) Rage afflicts me terribly, (…)
Despite his sparse work, Jorge Manrique occupies a prominent place in the history of Spanish literature, especially for “Verses at the death of His Father”, undoubtedly his most important work and one of the first poems published by the Spanish press. (Zaragoza, 1480). A complex work in which the most relevant thing is that the author uses the topics that existed about death in the tradition of the time, but he pours them into a completely new form of expression, prelude to the Renaissance lyric. Written in a simple language, without falling into vulgarism or rhetoricism -as was the fashion of the time-, inaugurating the style of the Renaissance, of writing as it is spoken.
In the “Verses at the death of His Father”, made up of a collection of 40 double verses of broken foot, the poet expresses the equalizing power of death that does not respect anything or anyone. He collects the religious sense of his time on the shortness of life in the world and passes it on to later Spanish poetry. In these poems there is no despair, but quite the opposite: serenity, dignity of expression and simplicity, which give the poem great emotion. Without a doubt, Jorge Manrique is one of the most relevant figures in Spanish Pre-Renaissance poetry (transition period between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, around the 15th century), as evidenced by the influence he has had on other authors such as Lope de Vega, who went so far as to say that the “Verses at the death of His Father” deserved “to be written in golden letters.”
Jorge Manrique is praised by other authors, such as Antonio Machado himself, who gives his muse (Pilar de Valderrama, known as Guiomar in her epistolary relationship with Antonio Machado) the name of Jorge Manrique’s wife (Guiomar de Castañeda) and which also pays homage by taking a fragment of the famous Verses and offering its own interpretation:
“Our lives are the rivers,
travelling to the sea,
which is death. Great singing!
Among poets of mine
Manrique has an altar.
Sweet joy of living:
bad science of passing,
blind flee to the sea.
After the dread of dying
comes the pleasure of arriving.
But what about the horror of coming back
– “Of Don Jorge Manrique complaining about the God of love and how they reason with each other”
– “Castle of love”
– “To fortune”
– “Because while he was sleeping, his friend kissed him”
– “Saying what love is”
– “From the profession he made in the Order of Love”
– “Scale of love”,
“With the great evil that I have left over”
– “In a mortal sore”
– “Remember, for God’s sake, lady”
– “See this distresses of mine”
– “Neither live wants me to live”
– “The fires that they lit in me”
– “Being absent from his friend to a messenger sent there”
– “Memorial he made to his heart, which leaves from the ignorance of his friend where he has all his senses”
– “Others in which he puts the name of a lady; and it begins and ends in the first letters of all the verses, and says: “
- “Another work of his in which he put the name of his wife, and also named the lineages of the four sides of her, which are: Castañeda, Ayala, Silva and Meneses.
- -” Whoever was not in the presence “
- -” I don’t know why I bother “
- – “He who wants to see you so much”
- – “It is a hidden death”
- – “Because of your great merit”
- – “With painful care”
- – “The more I think to serve you”
- – “Just was my downfall”
- – “Every time my memory”
- – “Do not delay, Death, I am dying”
- – “I find that no power”
- – “I kept silent suffering ills” –
- “Thinking, lady, of you”
- – “I kept silent because of much fear”
- – “What an unfortunate lover”
- – ” My fear has been such “
- -” It is my shame to wish “
- -” His nickname that says: “I neither lie nor regret it” “
- -” Always love and love to continue “
- -” Without God and without you and me “
- – “To Juan Álvarez Gato”
- – “Between two fires thrown”
- – “Between good and badly folded”
- – “To Guevara”
– “To Guevara”
- “To Gómez Manrique”
- – “A cousin of hers who was getting in the way of some love affairs “
- -” Coplas to a drunkard who had pawned a kilt in the tavern “
- -” A treat he made to his stepmother, Mrs. Elvira de Castañeda
“Elegies and works of doctrine:
- – “Coplas for the death of his father”
- – “Oh world! Then you kill us”