Jorge Manrique (mahn-REE-kay) is the last great poet of the Spanish Middle Ages, and he is Spain’s best representative of the courtly tradition of arms and letters. He was born into one of Castile’s oldest and most powerful families. Both his great-uncle, the marqués de Santillana, and his uncle, Gómez Manrique, were poets, and their works influenced the writings of Jorge Manrique. The death of Jorge’s father, Rodrigo Manrique, served as the inspiration for Jorge’s most famous poem, the ode Coplas on the Death of His Father.
Rodrigo Manrique was count of Paredes and Grand Master of the Order of Santiago. Jorge Manrique was a knight of the Order of Santiago, a comendador, and a captain. Manrique, his father, and his uncle all fought for Alfonso against Enrique IV in the struggle for the throne of Castile. After Alfonso’s death, Jorge became a supporter of Isabel; he died in 1479 at the castle of Garci-Muñoz serving her cause against the pretender Juana la Beltraneja. Manrique was buried in the church of the convent at Uclés.
Jorge Manrique had a quiet, sensitive temperament that was at variance with the ideal of heroic strength instilled in him by his father. This tension is apparent in his poetry. He married Guiomar de Castañeda, the sister of his father’s third wife, but after Jorge Manrique’s death, his wife asked for the return of her dowry, an indication that the marriage was not a happy one.
Manrique’s poetic production consists of about fifty compositions. Besides the famous ode and three short burlesque poems, he wrote love poems in the courtly style of the period; two of these poems are dedicated to his wife. In his poetry, Manrique treats love as a source of moral instruction and as a painful path toward perfection. He cherished the chivalric tradition and imitated it without, however, becoming a strictly academic...
(The entire section is 775 words.)