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Juan del Encina

Born: 12-Jul-1469
Birthplace: Encinas, Spain
Died: 1529
Location of death: León, Spain
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Salamanca Cathedral, Salamanca, Spain

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Playwright

Nationality: Spain
Executive summary: Founder of Spanish drama

Juan del Encina, often called the founder of the Spanish drama, was born in 1469 near Salamanca probably at Encinas. On leaving the University of Salamanca he became a member of the household of the second Duke of Alva. In 1492 the poet entertained his patron with a dramatic piece, the Triunfo de la fama, written to commemorate the fall of Granada. In 1496 he published his Cancionero, a collection of dramatic and lyrical poems. Some years afterwards he visited Rome, attracted the attention of Pope Alexander VI by his skill in music, and was appointed choirmaster. About 1518 Encina took orders, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he said his first mass. Since 1509 he had held a lay canonry at Malaga; in 1519 he was appointed prior of Leon and is said to have died at Salamanca about 1529-33. His Cancionero is preceded by a prose treatise (Arte de trobar) on the condition of the poetic art in Spain. His fourteen dramatic pieces mark the transition from the purely ecclesiastical to the secular stage. The Aucto del Repelón and the Égloga de Fileno dramatize the adventures of shepherds; the latter, like Pládcida y Vitoriano, is strongly influenced by the Celestina. The intrinsic interest of Encina's plays is slight, but they are important from the historical point of view, for the lay pieces form a new departure, and the devout eclogues prepare the way for the autos of the 17th century. Moreover, Encina's lyrical poems are remarkable for their intense sincerity and devout grace.

    Religious Mission to Jerusalem (1518)
    Spanish Inquisition Index of Prohibited Books

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