Other Literary Forms

Francisco Martínez de la Rosa initiated his fruitful literary career with several poetic odes that quickly attracted his contemporaries’ attention. Furthermore, his participation in the Cádiz resistance against the French invasion during the War of 1808-1814 brought this young liberal into the political arena. Throughout his life, he contributed to Spanish affairs with several treatises and fundamental political statutes and documents. This political involvement naturally inclined him toward historical research, which inspired his historical novel, Doña Isabel de Solís, Reyna de Granada (1837-1846), and several historical treatises, among them the monumental El espíritu del siglo (1835-1851). His diverse literary interests also led him in 1829 to publish a translation of Horace Moratín’s Ars poetica (c. 17 b.c.e.; The Art of Poetry, 1567) called Traducción de la Epístola de Horacio a los Pisones sobre arte poética and to write his Poética (1831).


Although Francisco Martínez de la Rosa cultivated all literary genres, he regarded his writing merely as a substitute for political action during idle periods in prison or in exile. Nevertheless, he occupies a primary place in the Spanish Romantic drama because his La conjuración de Venecia año de 1310 was the first play with Romantic characteristics to be represented on a Spanish stage. Mariano José de Larra, the period’s sharpest and severest critic of the time, hailed the play as the best seen in Madrid, pointing out both the dramatic and the political achievements of Martínez de la Rosa. Indeed, in April, 1834, this successful first performance was contemporaneous with the publication of the Estatuto Real, the new constitution of the nation written by him, and by his signing of the Quadruple Alliance. Despite these successes, Martínez de la Rosa is remembered today by modern critics only for the historical significance of La conjuración de Venecia año de 1310.

Ironically, Martínez de la Rosa cannot be classified as a convinced Romantic, because in politics and literature alike, he was a moderate. This is a reflection of his transitional position between neoclassical and Romantic poetics. Russell P. Sebold considers Romantic poetics to be a consequence of the transformation of the poetic rules in the eighteenth century from mechanical and closed to organic and open. In those terms, Martínez de la Rosa stands as an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary figure, although he was the first Spanish dramatist to write a play that upheld the new spirit of liberty surrounding the Cádiz resistance against Napoleon. La viuda de Padilla, staged in the besieged city, contrasts with the neoclassical tragedies that exploited past national heroes for despotic objectives. Martínez de la Rosa’s tragedy incorporates the Romantic emphasis on freedom and antiabsolutism while nevertheless retaining many Enlightenment values.


Cook, John A. Neoclassic Drama in Spain: Theory and Practice. 1959. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1974. An analysis of neoclassical drama in Spain. Bibliography.

Geraldi, Robert. “Francisco Martínez de la Rosa: Literary Atrophy or Creative Sagacity?” Hispanófila 77 (1983): 11-19. Geraldi examines Martínez de la Rosa’s works in regard to their progressiveness.

Kosove, Joan Lynne Pataky. The “Comedia Lacrimosa” and Spanish Romantic Drama 1773-1865. London: Tamesis, 1977. A look at the relationship between sentimental comedy and Spanish Romantic drama.

Mayberry, Robert, and Nancy Mayberry. Francisco Martínez de la Rosa. Boston: Twayne, 1988. A general study of the life and work of Martínez de la Rosa. Bibliography and index.

Ojeda Escudero, Pedro. El justo medio: Neoclasicismo y romanticismo en la obra dramática de Martínez de la Rosa. Burgos, Spain: Universidad de Burgos, 1997. An examination of the neoclassicism and Romanticism found in the dramatic works of Martínez de la Rosa. Bibliography. In Spanish.

Pérez Magallón, Jesús. El teatro neoclásico. Madrid: Ediciones del Laberinto, 2001. Covers the neoclassical movement in Spanish theater. Bibliography. In Spanish.