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ENRIQUE DE VILLENA (1384-1434)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 81 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ENRIQUE DE VILLENA (1384-1434), Spanish author, was born in 1384. Through his grandfather, Alphonso de Aragon, count de Denia y Ribagorza, he traced his descent from Jaime II. of Aragon and Blanche of Naples. He is commonly known as the marquess de Villena; but, although a marquessate was at one time in the family, the title was revoked and annulled by Henry III. Villena's father, Don Pedro de Villena, was killed at Aljubarrota; the boy was educated by his grand-father, showed great capacity for learning and was reputed to be a wizard. About 1402 he married Maria de Albornoz, senora del Infantado, who speedily became the recognized mistress of Henry III.; the complaisant husband was rewarded by being appointed master of the military order of Calatrava in 1404, but on the death of Henry at the end of 1406 the knights of the order refused to accept the nomination, which, after a long contest, was rescinded in 1415. He was present at the coronation of Ferdinand of Aragon at Saragossa in 1414, retired to Valencia till 1417, when he moved to Castile to claim compensation for the loss of his mastership. He obtained in return the lordship *Florio) of Miesta, and, conscious of his unsuitability for warfare or political life, dedicated himself to literature. He died of fever at Madrid on the 15th of December 1434. He is represented by a fragment of his Arte de trobar (1414), an indigestible treatise composed for the Barcelona Consistory of Gay Science; by Los Trabajos de Hercules (1417), a pedantic and unreadable allegory; by his Tratado de la Consolation and his handbook to the pleasures and fashions of the table, the Arte cisoria, both written in 1423; by a commentary on Psalm viii. ver. 4, which dates from 1424; by the Libre de Aojamiento (1425), a ponderous dissertation on the evil eye and its effects; and by a translation of the Aeneid, the first ever made, which was finished on the loth of October 1428. His treatise on leprosy exists but has not been published. Villena's writings do not justify his extraordinary fame; his subjects are devoid of charm, and his style is so uncouth as to be almost unintelligible. Yet he has an assured place in the history of Spanish literature; he was a generous patron of letters, his translation of Virgil marks him out as a pioneer of the Renaissance, and he set a splendid example of intellectual curiosity. Moreover, there is an abiding dramatic interest in the baffling personality of the solitary high-born student whom Lope de Vega introduces in Porfiar hasta morir, whom Ruiz de Alarcon presents in La Cueva de Salamanca, and who reappears in the i9th century in Larra's Macias and in Hartzenbusch's play La Redcma encantada. (J. F.-K.)
End of Article: ENRIQUE DE VILLENA (1384-1434)
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