Selecciona una palabra y presiona la tecla d para obtener su definición.
Indice Abajo

Ideology, Liturgy, and Image in the «Cancionero» of Pedro Marcuello

Alan Deyermond

The Cancionero

It is not my intention to present Pedro Marcuello's Cancionero as a major but inexplicably neglected literary work, a strong candidate for inclusion in the series of Los Clásicos Olvidados. Yet we often find a discrepancy between literary quality and literary or historical interest, and despite its modest quality, the Cancionero is a text of considerable interest. One reason for this is that the unique manuscript (now in the Musée Condé de Chantilly) is not only illustrated -very frequent in manuscripts with illuminated initials, and common enough with immatures- but is written, at least in its final redaction, in conjunction with the miniatures1. As Michel Garcia says, «Texto e ilustraciones constituyen un todo indisociable, que pierde mucho de su valor si se le considera desde un solo punto de vista»2. This may not, however, be as straightforward as Garcia suggests, since there is some evidence that the order of folios in the manuscript as we now have it may not be the original order3.

Marcuello calls his book «este tratado ystoriado», and refers to a miniature as «esta devissa acertada»4. This is far from being the only point of interest: the poet interweaves devout lines with a strong ideological programme, and some political exhortations are in religious terms (a combination familiar in British and American politics today, as well as in Zionist and radical Islamic writing and oratory).

The Cancionero was probably composed in four stages, between 1482 and 15025. The work (by which Marcuello means, I think, the greater part of it) «fue trobado, / ystoriado y ordenado / mientra duró la tan santa guerra echa a la Granada (10.3-6). It is listed by Brian Dutton as a single poem of 545 stanzas, but consists of seventy-eight compositions of varying length: the shortest has four lines and the longest has 751 (its closest rival has 452)6. By far the most frequent length is twenty lines (this is the length of thirty-five poems, almost half of the total), and all are octosyllabic, except for poem 67, which is hexasyllabic. The stanza form is the décima, except for the short poems that form part of, or appear on the same page as, the miniatures7.

There is a wide range of speakers and addressees -a feature that instantly distances this text from the Devocionario announced by the title-page: «Devocionario de la Reyna doña Juana, a quien llamaron la Loca». But the title-page is in an eighteenth-century or early-nineteenth-century hand. Cancionero is of equal antiquity, being used in Félix Latassa y Ortín's extensive account, written in 1775 but not published until 1899, when Toribio del Campillo included it in his article. And Cancionero makes sense, given the diversity of content. Marcuello himself uses the term tratado on several occasions but, as Keith Whinnom showed in 1982, tratado is a term used to cover a wide variety of literary and paraliterary works (medieval generic terminology, even at the very end of the Middle Ages, is notoriously vague and unreliable)8. So Cancionero, although it lacks authorial support, is clearly the best way of describing the text, which does not have the unity that tratado implies. Yet this is not a collection of separate poems: as Michel Garcia says, it is «un libro edificado en torno a una idea central» (p. 55).

Speakers and addressees are, as I have said, numerous and diverse. Many of the seventy-eight poems do not have an identifiable authorial voice; for instance, 13, 54-65 (the long section that glosses the Apostles' Creed), and 72-78. Many others are in Marcuello's own voice, though this is usually not announced explicitly (no. 1 is an exception: «grandes Reyes, invocando / este señal [the Cross], yo, Marcuello [...]»). The first twelve poems are fairly obviously in Marcuello's voice, as are 14, 17-25, 32, and 45-47. The last of these is especially interesting, since the author offers his tratado to Princess Juana, introducing his daughter: «suplicando encomendada / tengáys quien le está rezando» (47.9-10). From this point onwards the voice is increasingly that of his daughter ('la donzella'). She has appeared already in poems 27, 30, 33, 35, 43, and 44, and now she is the speaker in 48, 49, 52, 54, 68, 69, 71, and 73. In poem 29 the speaker is either Marcuello or his daughter, and in 19 and 26 they share the speaking voice. I do not suggest that these poems are the work of Isabel Marcuello (even bearing in mind Jane Whetnall's warning about the danger of assuming male authorship for woman's-voice cancionero lyric)9. This is, I think, a mimetic function: Marcuello adopts the persona of his daughter. There is, after all, plenty of mimetic speech in the text: Jesus speaks in poem 16, the Virgin in 51, the Catholic Monarchs in 39 and 41, an angel in 38, 40, and 42, St Isidore in 28, St Peter in 36, St Elizabeth in 34, Santiago in 15 and 78 (with St George in 70), St Bernard in 40, the evangelists John and Matthew in 31, and a personified Faith in 37.

This diversity is due in large measure to Marcuello's technique of writing a poem in the voice of the previous poem's addressee: 16 replies to 15, 28 to 27, 31 to 30, 34 to 33, 36 and 37 to 35, 50 to 49, and, most strikingly, there is a five-poem interchange between an angel and the Catholic Monarchs: 42 answers 41, which answers 40, which answers 39, which answers 38.

It would hardly be surprising if the section to which the title Devocionario can properly be applied -poems 53-67, comprising glosses on the Lord's prayer, the Apostles' Creed, and the Salve Regina, plus other poems such as the glossed Ave Maria, no. 48- were addressed to God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, or the Virgin Mary. This is what we find in the Devocionario of doña Constanza, granddaughter of King Pedro and prioress of the convent of Santo Domingo el Real in Madrid, c. 1416-6510. In fact addressees are relatively uncommon in the liturgical core of the Cancionero (because much of this is the Creed), but God the Father is addressed in 53, 74, 76, and 77, Jesus in 71, the Holy Ghost in 26, and the Trinity in 75 (a total of seven poems), while another nine are addressed to the Virgin (15, 23-25, 48, 52, 66, 67, and 78).

Neither is it surprising, given the presentation of the book to the Catholic Monarchs and Marcuello's wish to dedicate it to Princess Juana and her husband, that they should be frequent addressees: the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel alone, or Juana in twenty-one poems.

Thus sixteen poems (20%) are addressed to God or the Virgin, and twenty-one (27%) to the Catholic Monarchs or their daughter. This accounts for almost half of the poems. If we exclude the seventeen with no addressee (most of these form the Creed sequence) and the seven addressed mimetically to the Donzella, these two groups, sacred and secular, account for 67% of the poems. The other addressees are, with one exception (the phoenix, poem, 43), associated with the heavenly or earthly rulers: fifteen are saints, angels, the Cross, or a personified Faith, and two are courtiers (the Conde de Haro and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza). Thus 55.5% of the poems with an addressee are directed to the heavenly, and 42.5% to the earthly court.

It may seem that I have spent too much time on these statistics, but they provide a measurable and objective test for the overall impression that Marcuello's Cancionero is religious and political in almost equal measure. But this is not a polarity (the next world and this, God and Caesar), it is a symbiosis. The religious poems contain many political lines, and the political ones have a strong religious element. For Marcuello religion and politics are one: faith means a crusade, political action is there for a religious reason. In this -though the comparison would horrify both- he is like Ernesto Cardenal and other poets of liberation theology.

Pedro Marcuello

Marcuello tells us something about himself in the poems, and until the indefatigable archival research of Manuel Serrano y Sanz produced abundant information the poet's own words were the only source for scholars11. Félix Latassa y Ortín's pioneering study of the Cancionero, made in 1775, draws on them. It would be tedious to cite all the lines in which Marcuello tells us about himself, his relations with the Catholic Monarchs, and his work. A few examples must suffice.

He names himself («yo, Marcuello») in line 7 of the first poem, and tells us that he met the King in Talavera (6.127). This was in 1482, when «al rey en Teruel serví / y a la Reyna en Talavera» (6.140-41)12. Now, twenty years later (6.136-38), he is presenting his book to them. We learn later, in the prologue that is followed by poem 17, that

enpués de aver servido vuestras muy mucho reales coronas en el anyo mill y quatrocientos ochenta y dos anyos en las vuestras ciudat de Teruel y villa de Talavera, de aquellos mis dos pobrezitos tratados acerca esta tan sanctíssima conquista deste reyno de Granada, me dispuse, con el adiutorio divino, en azer algunas obras trobadas con ellas [...] he acordado azer de todas las obras y devociones el presente volumen [...]

(p. 79)13                

Again, «he trobado, / por servir a Hemanuel, / para mi Rey un tratado / contra Granada ditado, / el qual ofrecí en Teruel, / y otro para la luzida / su reyna» (25.11-17). It seems, then, that Marcuello prepared one manuscript for the King and another for the Queen, bringing these together and adding to them in the extant manuscript. He does not tell us how the Monarchs received these preliminary offerings.

A final piece of autobiographical information is that Marcuello was «alcaide [...] de Calatorau» (35.37-38), and this time there is documentary confirmation: a document of 17 April 1475 calls him «scudero, alcayde del lugar de Calatorau»14.

What Marcuello says about his poems is equally interesting: «Señor, tengo otro tratado / que aprisa hize escrivir» suggests a lost work (there is a reference to «otro [tratado]» (25.16), but we hear no more of this), and shows that he used scribes; the presentation manuscript will, therefore, not be in his own hand. He tells us again that this is a tratado (6.147), and goes on «os ofrecer tal tratado / por metro contra Granada» (6.157-58), begging the Queen to consider its good intention «y no su gordeza» (162-63). The modesty topos recurs: «mi gruesa pluma» (8.161), «metros llanos» (11.58), and «no se cate mi gordeza» (8.451). The few scholars who have studied the Cancionero have, in general, concurred with Marcuello's view (quite possibly a merely rhetorical one) of his poetic quality: «insulsas, amaneradas y pedestres» is more vigorously expressed than later judgments, but it is fairly representative15.

Serrano y Sanz's research in the Saragossa archives yielded much more information than we are given in the poems. Several documents show that the Marcuellos were a long-established Saragossa family. The most sulking discovery, however, concerns the circumstances of the poet's marriage in 1471 to Gracia Marco, whose outraged parents took legal proceedings against the couple after Gracia's elopement (it was bad luck for Marcuello that his lover's father was a notary). The Capitulaciones that settle the dispute record that

la dita Gracia Marquo por amor del dito Pedro Marcuello, e a causa suya, sinse licencia e voluntat de los ditos sus padre e madre, antes contra su voluntat, acordadament, a hora captada se ha sallido de casa de los ditos padre e madre suyos, e ýdose escondidament a poder del dito Pedro Marcuello, en grant danyo e vergüença suya e de sus parientes, e el dito Pedro Marcuello haver receptado e tomado la dita Gracia Marcho, e haverse casado con ella e el dito matrimonio por carnal cópula consumado sinse voluntad e consentimiento de los ditos padre e madre de la dita Gracia, ni de otros parientes suyos [...]

(p. 27)                

The result was that

no es dupdo que los ditos Pedro Marcuello e Gracia Marquo han incurrido en grandes penas contra tales, por los fueros, usos, costumbres e observancias del Regno de Aragón statuýdas e ordenadas. E ya sea que por las causas sobreditas los ditos Joan Marcho e doña María Ximénez de Sant Martín, cóniuges, pudiessen proceýr contra los ditos Pedro Marcuello e Gracia Marquo, assí por la justicia como en otra manera. Empero, querientes usar más de misericordia que de justicia, pues los ditos Pedro e Gracia conoscen su peccado, [...] les plaze perdonar, absolver, remeter e relaxar [...] a los ditos Pedro Marcuello e Gracia Marquo [...] servando empero las condiciones e qualidades dius scriptas.

(pp. 27-28)                

The conditions were that the couple should marry in church, and promptly; that they should not live in Saragossa for five years; that they agree not to ask for a dowry; and that Gracia waive her right to the thousand sueldos left to her by her maternal grandfather for her wedding.

There was at least one child of this marriage, Isabel. Marcuello gives her a prominent role in the Cancionero, making her the speaker of thirty poems and the co-speaker of two more, presenting her to Juana, and hoping that this will gain her a position at court. There is, of course, no hint that this maiden, shown at prayer in both text and miniatures, is the fruit of a premarital relationship «de carnal cópula consumado». It is always dangerous to speculate about the motives of an author, especially one separated from us by more than five hundred years, but I wonder whether the memory of those early days may not have instilled in Marcuello a special tenderness for his daughter.



As we have seen one of the titles given to this book in the eighteenth century, Devocionario, covers only part of it, and while the other, Cancionero, will do, it is not wholly satisfactory. This is not a unified sequence of poems on the Granada war, comparable with Juan Barba's verse history, the Consolatoria de Castilla, written in 1487, a few years after the earliest of Marcuello's poems, and Marcuello's references to it as a tratado, even allowing for the vagueness of the term, overstate its unity16. But neither is it as diverse as other cancioneros compiled by, or at the direction of, a poet17. The closest that we can get to an overall description is that this is, very approximately, a sequence of panegyric poems followed by a sequence of liturgical ones, though many of the poems will not fit tidily into such a structure. The book's unity is to be found not in structure or genre, but in ideology.

This remains true when we take into account the plentiful illustrations, almost all of which are included in Blecua's edition (some of them in colour). This is not a narrative cycle of illustrations, an art form frequent in the Middle Ages (the best known example is the Bayeux Tapestry)18. Indeed, while the illustrations in the Devocionario section generally correspond in some way to the content of the following poem, those in the early part of the book include no battle scenes but are often concerned with the presentation of the Cancionero to its royal dedicatees19.

Although the book as a whole cannot be convincingly assigned to any genre, its parts do have a generic context. We have already seen that the latter part may usefully be compared with the Devocionario of Constanza de Castilla, though it is less personal than Constanza's work. Manuel Alvar sets the earlier part in the tradition of panegyrics and, less predictably, compares it with the crusade songs of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries20. A further generic context is that of petitionary poetry, frequent in the cancioneros of the fifteenth century, Alfonso Álvarez de Villasandino being its most notable practitioner21. Marcuello is eager to gain preferment at court and, increasingly, to secure for his daughter Isabel the favour of Princess Juana. This motive does not conflict with the political-religious programme of the Cancionero, since it is the Catholic Monarchs whose favour Marcuello seeks, and who are encouraged by the poet to complete the Reconquest, are praised for doing so, and are reminded that their purpose will not be complete until Jerusalem is once again a Christian city.


There are, as we have seen, some references in the text to dates. Thus,

La sancta guerra emprendieron
en l'anyo mil quatrocientos
ochenta y dos, donde dieron
con ffe prissa e concluyeran
nueve años ante quinientos;
çagueramente velando
sobre Baça toda hora
estuvo el rey don Fernando,
ocho meses porfiando
la Regna, nuestra senyora.


The beginning and end of the Granada war are dated:

dende el año ochenta y dos,
que la guerra principiaron
los grandes siervos de Dios,
Reyes, quales amáys vós,
y os plaze y plugo ganaron
todo el reyno y la ciudat
el l'año dos y noventa [...]

(14. 171-77)                

and there are others to events that enable us to put dates to some poems22. For example, the cortes held at Tarazona in 1484 are referred to in 48.229 and 234, and a stanza of poem 32 mentions the capture of several towns:

y a Baça les ha ganado
y a Guadix con su tratado
y con ello a d'Almería
enpués, en la conclusión,
no lexos de Montefrío,
tuvo fuerte su pendón [...]


Of these, Montefrío was taken in 1486 and Baza in 1489 (and with it the bloodless surrender of Almería and Guadix).

All literary works are, in varying degrees, of their time. Marcuello's Cancionero is, to an unusual extent, defined by its time: it shapes contemporaneous events -present as allusion rather than narrative- into an ideological structure. That structure is, however, almost wholly detached from earlier Spanish history; its historical context is, rather, that of sacred history. It is true that figures from Spain's past are mentioned, but with one exception they are from the ecclesiastical past, e. g. «san Braulio y siete hermanos» (27.37), and, a few lines later, «Ysidero» (l. 53)23. The work is rooted in its own time, it is related to eternity, and there is little in between.


Thirty-six toponyms, excluding names of countries, are mentioned in the Cancionero, with a total of 172 occurrences. One of these, Granada, dominates the text, with 74 occurrences (43%). In a collection designed to encourage the final war against the Moorish kingdom (1482-92), and then to celebrate its success, frequent mention is to be expected, but perhaps not on this scale. It is also to be expected that other places prominent in the campaign should be mentioned with some frequency. There are 19 such names, with 44 occurrences, the most frequent being Loja (reconquered 1486; 8 occurrences), Alhama (1482; 7), Málaga (1487; 6), and Ronda (1485; 4)24. This takes the number of toponyms linked to the Granada war to 20 (54%), with 118 occurrences (68%). The statistics confirm the impression of a Cancionero (in its religious as well as its panegyric poems) focussed on the war. The only other group of Spanish toponyms is much smaller, and consists of places linked to the poet's origins (Saragossa) and to his service to the Catholic Monarchs (Calatorau, Talavera, and Teruel), with 17 mentions (10%)25. There are, of course, other toponyms that occur in passing: eight of them, with 25 mentions (15%): Valencia, Seville, Toledo, London, and so on, but they do not form a coherent group. Such a group is, however, found when we look outside the Peninsula: three places in the Holy Land (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Calvary), Rome, and Constantinople. The last of these is not mentioned by name, but the reference is clear: for instance,

[...] son dinos
rezar en Santa Sofía,
a pesar del vil, no pulcro,


and «bolverán / yglesia Santa Sufía» (16.19-20). The conversion into a mosque of the Cathedral of St Sophia, one of the glories of Constantinople, was only some thirty years in the past when Marcuello wrote, and was still bitterly resented26.

The pervasive insistence on the religious mission of the Catholic Monarchs in the Granada war means that its familiar toponyms are set within a wider Christendom, and that in rum within the regions of the next world (Paraýso, 25.57, 28.87, etc.; Linbo, 23.27, 48.140, etc.; Infierno, 36.7, etc.). The spatial as well as the temporal context of the Cancionero is thus firmly tied to its ideological programme.


The unique manuscript of the Cancionero has fifty-eight miniatures, almost all occupying a whole page27. On average there is one for every 1.35 poems (this does not take into account the widely varying lengths of the poems) and for every 2.5 folios. They are much more frequent in the later part of the book than at the beginning. The article by Carmen Bernis says almost everything that needs to be said about them, and I shall confine myself to three observations.

First, the combination of text and icon, most familiar to us in Books of Hours, is not uncommon in literary manuscripts of this period28. It is instructive to compare them with the splendid selection of roughly contemporary Italian examples exhibited in London in 1994-95 and in New York a few months later, and permanently accessible in the catalogue29. Earlier in the fifteenth century, a manuscript of the Suma de virtuoso deseo (Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, MS 1518, fols 27-118v) was even more profusely illustrated, though in a different manner: it has 219 illustrations, described by Rafael Bertrán as «dibujos»30.

Secondly, Marcuello's manuscript differs from the great majority of illustrated manuscripts from medieval Spain in that, at least in its final phase, the text and the illustrations were conceived together (as in the rapidly lost historiated manuscript of El Conde Lucanor). It is surprising that this did not produce a closer correspondence between the two. In a few cases a poem glosses its illustration (I shall return to these), but in many the connection is merely one of subject. For instance, poem 69 is addressed to St George, who is shown just after he has killed the dragon (p. 270). The Donzella asks the saint to watch over the Catholic Monarchs and defend them, but Marcuello does not take the obvious opportunity to present Moorish Granada as a dragon to be slain. There is repetition, most notably on pp. 146-52, in the four illustrations to poems 38-42, the exchange between an angel and the Monarchs. These are very similar, and consist of two virtually identical pairs. This suggests a lack of care that is at odds with the quality of the miniatures, and with Marcuello's evident desire to construct a harmonious whole of text and icon. Marín Piña (p. 169) says that

La repetición estrófica, temática y pictórica apreciada en muchos puntos del códice obedece en parte a la génesis de la obra, a ser un trabajo compilatorio en el que viejas y nuevas composiciones poéticas se han sumado, sin ningún proceso previo de reelaboración ni acomodo, a la nueva estructura en la que se incluyen.

This explains how it happened, but not why. It is extraordinary that Marcuello did not notice this obvious defect, yet it is even harder to believe that he did not care.

Thirdly, I have said that in a few cases a poem glosses its illustration; these deserve to be looked at more closely. A pair of miniatures, illustrating poems 13 and 22 (pp. 61 and 90), have at their centre a bunch of fennel, surmounting a helmet in the first case (it is flanked by the letters F and Y, each surmounted by a crown) and being held aloft by the Monarchs in the second. In both cases the point of the illustration is to introduce a play on the Castilian and Aragonese words for fennel:

Deste yelmo la cimera
trahe dos sinifficados
destos Reyes prosperados:
llámala Castilla ynojo,
ques su letra de Ysabel
y de Ihesus Hemanuel;
llámala Aragón ffenojo,
ques su letra de Fernando [...]


and again:

Éste tal en Aragón
ffenojo llaman, señores,
su primera letra es flores.
Y eso mesmo acá en Castilla
ynojo llaman, nombralda
su letra fina esmeralda.


This is followed by a ten-stanza gloss (which does not elucidate the reference to the emerald). We are here in the world of the invención, much used in tournaments at the end of the fifteenth century. It consists of visual and verbal elements, divisa and letra, both being necessary to a full understanding of the meaning. Ian Macpherson explains:

The divisa formed the basic element, and was presented to the spectator in the form of a crest (cimera) surmounting the helm of a knight, a symbolically-coloured item of clothing or jewellery, or a device embroidered on tunic or surcoat or displayed on the caparisons of a horse. A pictorial representation thus provided a visual stimulus, which might have an immediate impact or possibly, at first sight, prove difficult to interpret. This appeal to sight was complemented by the stimulus of sound, in the form of the letra, a short piece of octosyllabic verse ranging from one to five lines. The letra provided the razón, in which the theme of the divisa was illuminated, developed, or illustrated in words, sometimes routinely, sometimes, depending on the creative imagination of the author, in an extravagant, mysterious, or paradoxical way31.

The helmet from which the fennel is sprouting in the first illustration reveals Marcuello's acquaintance with the use of invenciones in tournaments, and he shows his familiarity with the terminology by the use of divisas (in the rubric to poem 22 and in two lines of the text) to refer to the illustration,

In poem 45 we move from the world of the invención to that of the bestiary (they overlap in some invenciones of the Cancionero general of 1511, but not in Marcuello's poem):

Al fénix y al pelícano, por la donzella

Tú, fénix, eres nombrada
de solo nombre jocundo,
mas más mi Reyna es dotada
de la virtut y loada
por el universo mundo,  5
y es una muy clara estrella
sobre todas relunbrada,
la qual yzo el rey con ella
en Ronda, Loxa y Marbella
yglesias, y ará en Granada.  10
   Si a ty sola entre las aves
hizo sin par el Senyor
a mi Reyna dio las llaves
de las arcas de bondades,
yo afirmo ser la mejor;  15
y el pellícano es mi rey,
según demuestra en sus echos,
que por la ffe y santa ley
ofrece la vida y grey
y la sangre de sus pechos.  20

The miniature (p. 156) is headed «Ffénix y Pellícano», and depicts twin hills surmounted by, to the left, a pelican feeding its young with its blood, and to the right, a phoenix in its burning nest. In front of the hills is the Donzella holding a phylactery with the words «Tú fénix eres nombrada»32.

The main purpose of «ty sola entre las aves / hizo sin par el Senyor» (vv. 11-12) is, of course, to indicate Isabel la Católica's uniqueness and supremacy (the first half of each of the two stanzas is taken up by the equivalence between the phoenix and Isabel), but Marcuello's words also reflect the first point that the bestiary makes about this bird; «It is unique; it is unparalleled in the whole world»33. This is, indeed, the only one of the attributes of the phoenix that Marcuello uses, because it is the only one that is relevant to his purpose. The others -the self-immolation followed by rebirth in three days (the phoenix as a symbol of the Resurrection), the long life, the asexual method of reproduction (the phoenix as a symbol of virginity, and thus of the Virgin Mary)- do not fit what he wants to say about the Queen, and most are incongruous in this context.

The phoenix and the pelican are close neighbours in both the Physiologus and its descendants, the bestiaries of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It seems likely, therefore, that Marcuello knew a bestiary text or one of the Iberian translations of Brunetto Latini (whose Livres dou Tresor incorporates a version of the Physiologus) directly, rather than taking his knowledge of the phoenix and the pelican from sermons or some other intermediate source, and that he owes to the bestiary or to Latini not only the content of what he says about these birds but also the idea of bringing them into conjunction. They are linked, however, only at the level of political symbolism -the phoenix is Isabel, the pelican is Fernando-, and there is no conceptual fusion. This failure to make the imaginative leap from conjunction to fusion makes it difficult to disagree with José Manuel Blecua's judgment that Marcuello's work is «de muy escaso vuelo poético» (p. 12). Fernando el Católico, risking his life for his people in the Granada campaign, is ready to shed his blood to assure their life34.


The Devocionario section of Marcuello's book - glosses on the Lord's prayer, the Apostles' Creed (a twelve-poem sequence), the Salve Regina, and the Ave Maria- does not, as we have seen, have the strong personal tone of Constanza de Castilla's work. It has more in common with the glossing and adaptation of liturgical texts that is frequent in the cancioneros of his time35. But while such adaptations are usually amorous (exploiting, for example, the ambiguity of «Passion», Marcuello's serve his crusading purpose36. Thus in poem 58, glossing a line of the Creed, «Descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis», he adds the Harrowing of Hell (58.3-10), and establishes a figural relationship with the Reconquest:

trayendo Jhesús en mente
por su servicio an sacado
de Ronda, Loxa y librado
mis Reyes la pobre gente,
procúrales tú [Santo Thomás] del trino
que libró los padres santos
que les adrece el camino
para que libren contino
otras vezes muchas tantos.


and in the glossed Salve regina Mary is asked for help in the war:

Pues ya tú, nuestra advogada,
sey del real luminera
y en esta santa jornada
desta más ciega Granada
dales gracia placentera [...]


It would be easy to cite more examples, but I think that the point has been sufficiently made.


Marcuello makes it clear from the outset that for him the primary aim of the Granada war is not political but religious. He detests Islam and Judaism, and their places of worship are an affront to him; he views with horror the turning of churches into mosques or synagogues:

sino que les quebró soga
Ihesús con su gran poder,
ellos quisieron azer
en cada yglesia synoga.


and the conversion into a mosque of the Cathedral of St Sophia in Constantinople is an outrage to be avenged and reversed. Conversion of mosques and synagogues into churches or their demolition, on the contrary, is a sacred duty:

porque a vós, reyes, consello
dieron sacro sancto y bello
para quitar las mezquitas.



la sancta guerra han traýdo,
en ella preseverando
con muy mucha devoción
y las mezquitas tornando
yglesias, muchas nonbrando
de la sancta Encarnación.


and again, at the end of the book, a few lines after the poet foresees the restoration of St Sophia by the Catholic Monarchs,

que en los que conquistarán
estos Reyes de los moros
el Alcorán quitarán
y en mezquitas labrarán
yglesias y muchos choros.


This institutional conversion is to be paralleled, on an individual level, by baptisms: «que destragaráis heregías / y batizáys morerías» (2.4-5), and Isabel is «la gran batizadera Reyna» (5.32-33)38. The expulsion of the Jews is celebrated as part of the programme:

Estos Reyes tan cristianos
complacieron a Ihesús
en batizar los paganos,
en desterrar a los vanos
judíos sirvieron cruz.


Marcuello usually distinguishes between Muslims and Jews, while condemning both39. Occasionally, however, he uses «paganos» or «ereges» loosely to mean non-Christians. Oddly, on the one occasion on which a real heretic is mentioned, «erege» is not used, and the blindness of Synagoga is ascribed to the Arians:

con la qual cobró vitoria
Atanasio y grande gloria
de Arrio y su ceguedat.


The blindness of the Jews is a recurring theme:

I los necios de judíos
no lo ovieron conocido,
los tristes desconocidos
cerrados ojos, huydos,
oy niegan el ya venido.


This is found time and again in medieval Christian iconography: Judaism is represented by the allegorical figure of Synagoga, a blindfolded woman who embodies the wilful refusal of the Jews to accept that the Messiah has been born40. Marcuello extends the image of blindness to the Muslims: «el dañado Alcorán ciego» (6.46-47) and «desta más ciega Granada» (66.84). But in the medieval iconographic tradition, the blindness need not be permanent: in the motif of Concordia the blindfold becomes transparent, or God removes it, as Judaism begins to see the light of Christian revelation, and Marcuello writes of the Monarchs: «quitarés velo / de muchos ojos cegados» (18.19-20).

The Granada war was, in the official propaganda of the time, seen as a crusade, part of a wider enterprise that would culminate in the restoration of Jerusalem to Christendom. Marcuello sees the task of the Catholic Monarchs as

anichilar, y está visto,
a Mahoma y su pregón
y asentar cruz y el guión
donde nació Jhesu Christo.


The idea is found not only in the work of the royal chroniclers but also in a ballad, the Romance del cerco de Setenil, composed in 1484:

pues no creas que se aparten [los Reyes Católicos]          de lo que han comenzado,
y destruyan la morisma          todo de cabo a cabo,
y ganen la Casa Santa          según es profetizado,
y pongan al Santo Sepulcro          su real pendón cruzado41.

This is, of course, part of a still wider belief in Castile's, then Spain's, manifest destiny. Her rule would expand by conquest or discovery, and language and the Faith with it (in the famous words of the prologue to Nebrija's Gramática, «siempre la lengua fue compañera del imperio»). Columbus saw his voyage not only as expansion of empire but also as part of the Jerusalem mission: J. S. Cummins says that

the only city he wanted to build was Jerusalem. In his mind, the whole empresa de Indias was only a means to that pre-destined end: the New World was to redeem the old City42.

Even the conquest of other Christian lands was seen as part of God's purpose: Antonio de Nebrija presents the invasion of Navarre, in 1512, in religious terms, with plentiful allusions to the Bible43. Of course, not all authors were interested in all aspects of this vast project: even Nebrija would have found it hard to present the conquest of Navarre as a stage on the road to Jerusalem, and Marcuello is not interested in language.

This Messianic mission is proclaimed in various ways, one of the most frequent being the use, or invention, of prophecy, a powerful force in late-medieval culture44. Marcuello adopts this tactic enthusiastically, so much so that Pedro M. Cátedra says that

el punto de partida mesiánico y profético es una monomanía de Marcuello, como de tantos otros sus contemporáneos. Gusta de recordar las profecías del Pseudo-Isidoro sobre España, propias de la tradición joaquinita y milenarista45.

He refers to poem 27, in which the Donzella addresses St Isidore:

vós ovistes profetado
desta reyna de Castilla
donde dixiste quen l'anyo
mil quatrocientos ochenta
sería contra este danyo
dell eregía enganyo
una duenya a Dios firvienta.


One other quotation will suffice to show the eagerness with which Marcuello took up the idea of prophecy:

Ya les dixe ay profecía
de antigos libros sacada
que Fernando se diría
aquel que conquistaría
Jherusalén y Granada.



I said at the outset that it was not my intention to present the Cancionero as a major literary work, yet it is full of interest, both for the history of illustrated books in the late Middle Ages and as an idiosyncratic part of the widespread propaganda effort that accompanied the Granada war. Its individuality is shown in two main ways: the vehemence of Marcuello's denunciations -«esta vil seta» (8.331)- is not unprecedented, but it is unusual. And his advocacy of a politico-religious programme is intertwined with his attempt to secure preferment for himself and, increasingly, a secure position at court for his daughter. In so far as one can judge such matters, he seems equally eager, equally sincere, in both aspects46.

Appendix. The Contents

José Manuel Blecua's edition of the unique MS (Chantilly, Musée de Condé, 1339) does not give numbers to the poems, but these may be deduced from his line-numbering. The numbers in the following list, with a few exceptions, correspond to Blecua's arrangement. An asterisk indicates that the poem is accompanied by a miniature (usually facing the beginning of the text, but occasionally at the end; a few short poems form part of the miniatures). I give the first and last lines of each poem, the number of lines, the folio number, the page-number in Blecua 1987, the number in Michel Garcia's inventory of the texts (1989) with, where necessary and within braces, the number in his inventory of the miniatures, and, finally, any comments. Garcia's inventory includes the text of the poems that form part of the miniatures. B = Blecua, G = Garcia, and TC = Blecua's table of contents.

This list is intended to give only the basic information needed to locate the poem and to follow the argument. Other important information, notably rubrics and details of miniatures, may be found in Blecua, Garcia, and/or Bernis.

  • 1. Viváys, áncoras de ffe // hoy quede desta tristura. 25 lines. 1v. B p. 18. G 1, {1}. Problematic because poems 1 and 2 share the first two lines, which are above a cross. The text of poem 1 is to the left of the cross, with poem 2 to the right. G treats them as a single poem, and lists the cross in his inventory of illustrations.
  • 2. Viváys, áncoras de ffe // y la gran restitución. 25 lines. 1v. B p. 18. G 1, {1}. See comment on poem 1.
  • 3. Pues que se fue el cardenal // almas encaminan, es visto. 85 lines. 2r. B p. 19. G 2, 3.
  • 4. Príncipes, blanco color // por la paz cristiana entera. 42 lines. 3r. B p. 21. G 4, 5.
  • 5*. Desta devissa acertada // a creher credo y la cruz. 40 lines. 4r. B p. 23. G 6.
  • 6*. Deste tratado ystoriado // se cate, y no su gordeza. 163 lines. 5r. B p. 25. G 7, {3}.
  • 7. Con ell arco de la ffe // ganarán la casa santa. 48 lines. 7r B p. 31 G 8, 9.
  • 8*. A la gran batizadera // lo suplico a su grandeza. 452 lines. 7v. B p. 32. G 10, {4}.
  • 9*. Don Felipe y doña Juana // Reyes por la sucesión. 4 lines. 13v. B p. 44. G {5}. In the miniature only, but listed separately in TC. B may not, however, be responsible for TC (see comment on poem 54, below).
  • 10* Muy altos, sy en el tratado // los Reyes de cristiandat. 120 lines. 14r. B p. 45. G 11.
  • 11. Fállase por profecía // donde nació Jhesu Christo. 120 lines. 17r. B p. 51. G 12, 13.
  • 12*. Por servicio de los Reyes // a Dios cierto no agradable. 83 lines. 20r. B p. 57. G 14, 15. Unusually, the miniature (p. 61), which contains a separate text (poem 13, below) comes at the end. The link between poem 12 and the miniature is established by «Estas letras coronadas» (l. 64): the miniature is a helmet crested with fennel (see poem 13), with elaborate F and Y, surmounted by crowns, to left and right.
  • 13*. Deste yelmo la cimera // y de ffe las dos de un vando. 9 lines. 22r. B p. 61. G {6}. Above and below the miniature for poem 12. B does not print it in his edition, though it is listed in TC.
  • 14*. Y enpués lo ha en cardenal // las vidas les acreciente. 243 lines. 23r. B p. 62. G 16, {7}. B numbers the lines of the gloss from 1 onwards, and there is a rubric («Muy grande y linpio perlado») between the estribillo and the gloss. TC ignores the estribillo. Nevertheless, this seems to be a single poem.
  • 15. Pues libran rey don Fernando // seyles guía y fuerte manta. 20 lines. 29r. B p. 74. G 17.
  • 16*. Santïago y convertidos // yglesia santa Sufía. 20 lines. 30r. B p. 77. G 18.
  • 17*. En este santo servicio // alla lo dacá la escoria. 10 lines. 31v. B p. 80 (preceded by prose). G 19 (describes the whole as prose).
  • 18. Altos Reyes poderosos // de la ffe las calçaderas. 100 lines. 32r. B p. 81. G 20.
  • 19*. Pues tu señal por adarga // el lenyo de la salud. 20 lines. 35r. B p. 87. G 21.
  • 20*. Sólo por representar // presto ganen de Granada. 20 lines. 36r. B p. 89. G 22.
  • 21*. Este tal en Aragón // la gran Reyna de Castilla. 103 lines. 36v. B p. 90. G 23, {12}. A case similar to 14, above, except that TC lists the estribillo and the gloss as separate poems.
  • 22*. Estas divisas, mis Reyes // que ganés más que Granada. 23 lines. 39v. B p. 96. G 24, {13}. A case identical to 21, above.
  • 23*. Virgen, estando encerrada // con mi yja presentar. 63 lines. 40v. B p. 98. G 25 (omits lines 1-3). Similar to 14, 21, and 22, above, but TC (like G) overlooks the estribillo.
  • 24*. Madre de Dios que lamar // siendo de mis Reyes guía. 5 lines. 42v. B p. 102. G {15}. In miniature only; not printed in B's text. TC lists this and poem 25 as separate poems. They could, however, be seen as a single poem, since line 5 of 24 is repeated as line 1 of 25.
  • 25*. Siendo de mis Reyes guía // por te servir ciertamente. 100 lines. 43v. B p. 103. G 26. See comment on poem 24.
  • 26*. Tu gracia l'Espíritu santo // a Jhesús puesto en la mente. 20 lines. 46r. B p. 109. G 27.
  • 27*. Isidoro, iluminado // les acreciente la vida. 60 lines. 47r. B p. 111. G 28. G reads «Isidoro», and rubric to the miniature has «Ysidoro», but B insists (1987: 317) that the MS reads «Isidero». The miniature is repeated, with only minor differences, for poem 28 -one of a number of cases of repeated miniatures.
  • 28*. Donzella, pues que lo veyes // por principiar en Castilla. 100 lines. 49r. B p. 115. G 29. See comment on poem 27.
  • 29*. Pues catá como librados // más ganarán que Granada. 20 lines. 52r. B p. 121. G 30.
  • 30*. A tú, Ffe, gran fundamento // dellos bien sabéis quál es. 20 lines. 53r. B p. 123. G 31.
  • 31*. Los recuerdos de la ffe // gran Reyna, os será pagado. 29 lines. 53v. B p. 124. G 32, 33, {21}. TC lists this as three poems: the two lines above the miniature, the two below, and the gloss. G treats the estribillo and the gloss as separate poems, and prints the lines above and below the miniature as {21}.
  • 32*. Deme licencia, eccelente // ázeles ganar l'infierno. 201 lines. 55r. B p. 127. G 34.
  • 33. Señora doña Ysabel // en la alda lindas rosas. 20 lines. 60r. B p. 137. G 35 (reads «santa Ysabel»).
  • 34*. La tu rogaria, donzella // tú sigue continamente. 20 lines. 61r. B p. 139. G 36.
  • 35*. Éstas y las principales // presto el rincón de Granada. 20 lines. 62r. B p. 141. G 37.
  • 36*. Donzella, di que a Jhesús // salvo si restituyere. 40 lines. 63r. B p. 143. G 38.
  • 37. Isabel, del divinal // con cristianos paz queriendo. 20 lines. 64r. B p. 145. G 39.
  • 38*. Rey y Reyna, mi embaxada // vos las tiene a maravilla. 20 lines. 65r. B p. 147. G 40.
  • 39*. Ángel bien aventurado // tal te jurando en verdat. 20 lines. 66r. B p. 149. G 41.
  • 40*. Grandes Reyes, sí se ofrece // su negrerura y manzilla. 20 lines. 67r. B p. 151. G 42.
  • 41*. Ángel de Dios singular // Santïago dell espada. 40 lines. 68r. B p. 155. G 43.
  • 42. Porque soys Reyes cristianos // de lo echo y por ganar. 20 lines. 69r. B p. 155. G 44.
  • 43*. Tú, fénix, eres nombrada // y la sangre de sus pechos. 20 lines. 70r. B p. 157. G 45.
  • 44*. Estas armas ha juntado // de la ffe, que es su vandera. 20 ll. 71r. B p. 159. G 46.
  • 45*. Deme licencia ecelente // sea la favorecida. 60 lines. 72r. B p. 161. G 47.
  • 46*. Alta, más esclarecida // quitarán y sus porfías. 40 lines. 74r. B p. 165. G 48.
  • 47. Infanta merecedora // el fin dél sea catado. 60 lines. 75r. B p. 167. G 49.
  • 48*. Ave, Virgen glorïosa // hizieron por te servir. 751 lines. 77r. B p. 171. G 50.
  • 49. Bernardo, sey mediador // les dé consigo y coronas. 20 lines. 95r. B p. 207. G 51.
  • 50*. Isabel, yo soy contento // deste reyno de paganos. 20 lines. 96r. B p. 209. G 52.
  • 51*. Soy contento de rogar // que fue inventor Mahoma. 20 lines. 97r. B p. 211. G 53.
  • 52*. Con el tu favor, Señora // de tu mucha piadat. 20 lines. 98r. B p. 213. G 54. B numbers the lines as if the two stanzas were separate poems, but this is clearly inadvertent: a sentence carries over from one stanza to the next. TC treats them as a single poem.
  • 53*. Padre Nuestro, quen el cielo // con el Rey y enperadora. 100 lines. 99r. B p. 215. G 55.
  • 54*. Creo en Dios omnipotente // líbralos de todo mal. 20 lines. 102r. B p. 221. G 56. TC treats this and the next eleven poems as a single poem, but the placing of the miniatures shows that they are separate, though forming a series (glosses on phrases of the Apostles' Creed). G, like B, treats them as separate. This suggests that B may not have been responsible for TC (there is no reference to the problem in his endnotes).
  • 55*. I en Jhesucristo su hijo // todo de cristiana gente. 20 lines. 103v. B p. 223. G 57.
  • 56*. Io creo ques concebido // devéys ser por su bivir. 20 lines. 104r. B p. 225. G 58.
  • 57*. Sufrió so Poncio Pilato // destraguen, y su simiente. 20 lines. 105r. B. p. 227. G 59.
  • 58*. Que descendió a los infiernos // otras vezes muchas tantos. 20. 106r. B p. 229. G 60. G adds [sic], B does not comment in his endnotes.
  • 59*. Creo que subió a los cielos // Jayme, les procura ayuda. 20 lines. 107r. B p. 231. G 61.
  • 60*. D'aquí vendrá poderoso // tú, Felipe, ten su vando. 20 lines. 108r. B p. 233. G 62.
  • 61*. Creo en ell Espíritu santo // la vitoria de Granada. 20 lines. 109r. B p. 235. G 63.
  • 62*. En la santa yglesia católica // de Jhesús vitoria presto. 20 lines. 110r. B p. 237. G 64.
  • 63*. En remisión de los pecados // Jhesús y comportó tanto. 20 lines. 111r. B p. 239. G 65.
  • 64*. En la ressurección de la carne // no tengas, ni a mi señor. 20 lines. 112r. B p. 241. G 66.
  • 65*. En la vida eterna sin fin // Esto arés en mi memoria. 60 lines. 113r. B p. 243. G 67.
  • 66*. Salve, Regina, sagrada // muéstrate ser madre nuestra. 220 lines. 115r. B p. 247. G 68.
  • 67*. Muéstrate ser madre // caten Trinidat. 180 lines. 121r. B p. 259. G 69. The only hexasyllabic poem in the Cancionero. First line echoes last line of 66.
  • 68*. Santïago glorioso // la qual viste en el Pilar. 20 lines. 126r. B p. 269. G 70.
  • 69*. San Jorge, como libraste // al que padeció en la cruz. 20 lines. 127r. B p. 271. G 71.
  • 70*. ¡O que nos pides, donzella! // nuestros nonbres memorando. 20 lines. 128r. B p. 273. G 72.
  • 71*. Buen Jhesús, como sufriste // en cruz sin culpa ninguna. 100 lines. 129r. B p. 275. G 73.
  • 72*. Pues tu señal por adarga // victoria muy presta i neta. 5 lines. 131v. B p. 280. G {57}. At head of miniature. Not printed in the edition, but is listed in TC.
  • 73*. Santas Catalina y Gracia // vuestras beldades y vidas. 20 lines. 132r. B p. 281. G 74. The miniature follows the text (fol. 132v).
  • 74. Io, Señor, niña inocente // ante tu faz de contino. 40 lines. 133r. B p. 283. G 75.
  • 75. ¡O inmensa Trinidat // a cada qual con sus manos. 100 lines. 134r. B p. 285. G 76.
  • 76. Asý, Señor, comunica // y el vejez y enpués la gloria. 33 lines. 136v. B p. 290. G 77, 78.
  • 77*. Gracias te dan, poderoso // con la tu gracia, gran Dios. 165 lines. 138r. B p. 293. G 79.
  • 78. Con los siete convertidos // y muy grandes aderencias. 260 lines. 142r. B p. 301. G 80.