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Live fast, die young, make a pretty corpse.

May 26, 2024

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About Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza

Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503 - 1575), Spanish novelist, poet, diplomat and historian, a younger son of the count of Tendillas, governor of Granada, was born in that city in 1503. The marquis of Santillana was his great-grandfather.

On leaving the University of Salamanca, Mendoza abandoned his intention of taking orders, served under Charles V in Italy, and attended lectures at the universities of Bologna, Padua and Rome. In 1537 he was sent to England to arrange a marriage between Henry VIII and the duchess of Milan, as well as a marriage between Prince Louis of Portugal and Mary Tudor. Despite the failure of his mission, he retained the confidence of the emperor, and in 1539 was appointed ambassador at Venice; there he patronized the Aldi, procured copies of the Greek manuscripts belonging to Cardinal Bessarion, and acquired other rare codices from the monastery of Mount Athos. The first printed Greek edition of the works of Josephus, based on texts from Mendoza's colletion, was edited by the Flemish humanist Arnoldus Arlenius, who worked in Mendoza's library, and published in Basle by Hieronymus Froben in 1544.

He acted for some time as military governor of Siena, represented Spain diplomatically at the Council of Trent, and in 1547 was nominated special plenipotentiary at Rome, where he remained till 1554. He was never a favourite of Philip II, and a quarrel with a courtier resulted in his banishment from court in June 1568. The remaining years of his life, which were spent at Granada, he devoted to the study of Arabic, to poetry, and to his history of the Moorish insurrection of 1568 - 1570. He died in 1575.

His Guerra de Granada was published in Madrid in 1610 and in Lisbon by Luis Tribaldos de Toledo in 1627; the delay was doubtless due to Mendoza's severe criticism of contemporaries who survived him. A complete edition was not published until 1730. In some passages the author deliberately imitates Sallust and Tacitus; his style is, on the whole, vivid and trenchant, his information is exact, and in critical insight he is not inferior to Mariana.

The attribution to Mendoza of Lazarillo de Tormes is rejected by all competent scholars, but that he excelled in picaresque malice is proved by his indecorous verses written in the old Castilian metres and in the more elaborate measures imported from Italy. Mendoza is believed to be the author of the letters to Feliciano de Silva and to Captain Salazar, published by Antonio Paz y Melia in Sales Espanolas (Madrid, 1900).

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