Gonzalo De Berceo
spain naples french gran march
GONZALO DE BERCEO, mystic and didactic poet, and one of the earliest names in Castilian literature, was parish priest at Berceo, near San Domingo de la Calzada, in the province of Burgos, and lived, it is believed, during the first sixty years of the 13th century. His works, which are reprinted in the Poesias Castellanas Anteriores al Siglo XV. of Sanchez, amount to upwards of 13,000 lines of verse, chiefly in rhymed quatrains. The subjects chosen for treatment are the Lives of San Domingo de Silos, Santa Oria, and San Milian ; the Sacrifice of the Mass ; the Miracles, Glories, and Pains of the Blessed Virgin ; the Signs of the Day of Judgment ; and the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo. Apart from the interest which attaches to them in the eyes of the literary and ecclesiastical archaeologist, they have little to attract the modern reader. The monotony of their " sermo pedestris " is but seldom relieved by any touches of poetical genius ; in some places, however, as Ticknor remarks, there is a simple-hearted piety that is very attractive, and in others a power in story-telling that is very striking. The poem on the Miracles of the Virgin, which is the largest, is also the most curious ; but that upon the Signs of the Last Day is often very solemn, while the Mourning of Mary at the Cross breathes such a childlike spirit of gentle, faithful, credulous devotion as enables one to realize with some vividness many of the best characteristics of the religious life of the time.
See Ticknor, History of Spanish Literature; and Carus, Darstel- lung der Spanischen Literalur (1846); also Dunham's ilistory of Spain and Portugal, vol. iv. (1832).
GONZALO FERNANDEZ Y AGUILAR (14531515), commonly known as Gonsalvo de Cordova, El Gran Capital] (" The Great Captain "), was born at Montilla on the 16th of March 1453, and in his fifteenth year was presented to Queen Isabella at Segovia, where his manly beauty, his graceful manners, and his soldierly accomplishments speedily made him conspicuous in the court. He first saw active military service in Portugal under Alonzo de Cardenas, and gained special praise for his conduct on the battlefield of Albuera in 1479. In the protracted Moorish war begun in 1481, he served with distinction in various capacities, and was finally employed to conduct the peace negotiations with Abdallah. For his efficient services in this business he was rewarded with a pension and a grant out of the conquered territory (1492). When, in consequence of the advance of Charles VIII. into Italy, a Spanish expedition was decided upon in 1495, Gonzalo was selected for the chief command ; and although at Seminara near Reggie, through the interference of the friendly Forth-nand of Naples, he lost the battle (it was the only occasion on which he ever was defeated), he gained in reputation both for prudence and for bravery. In spite of his subsequent successes in Lower Calabria, the campaign of this year closed with indecisive results ; but in the opening of the following season, he still further increased his fame by his brilliant surprise and capture of Laino, and by his junction with the Neapolitan forces before Atella, after an arduous march through hostile territory. It is most commonly, and with most probability, said to have been on this occasion that he received the honourable title of El Gran Capitan, by which the Spaniards still delight to designate him. The conquest of Calabria having been thus rapidly achieved, he, at the pope's invitation, proceeded to clear Ostia of the French garrison by which it had been held, and shortly afterwards entered Rome itself, where he was greeted by the populace as "deliverer of the city." The object of his expedition, the total expulsion of the French from Neapolitan territory, having been fully attained, he, in August 1498, returned to Spain, where he was received with the utmost enthusiasm by all classes, the king publicly declaring that the reduction of Naples, and the humiliation inflicted on the French, reflected more lustre on his crown than the conquest of Granada. After having, early in 1500, efficiently cooperated with Tendilla in putting down the Moorish insurrection in the Alpujarras, Gonzalo, in May of the same year, took command of an armada designed to operate on the coast of Sicily and in the Levant, and generally to uphold the influence of Spain. In conjunction with the Venetian admiral he stormed St George in Cephalonia, in January 1501 ; and soon afterwards returning to Sicily, commenced operations against Frederick in accordance with the treaty concluded between France and Spain for the partition of Naples. The whole of Calabria was occupied in less than a month, with the exception of Tarento, which did not surrender until March 1502. On the outbreak of hostilities between France and Spain in July of the same year, Gonzalo was compelled to fall back upon Barletta, whence, after having sustained a memorable siege of nearly ten months, he sallied in April 1503, and coming upon the French troops at Cerignola, inflicted on them a disastrous defeat, which at once made him master of the city of Naples and of the greater part of the kingdom. A subsequent victory at the bridge of Garigliano (29th December 1503) gave him Gaeta, and terminated the war. For more than three years he continued to act with popularity and efficiency at Naples as Ferdinand's viceroy ; but the jealousy and distrust of that somewhat narrow-minded monarch led to his recall in 1507, and to his subsequent retirement from court shortly afterwards. The remainder of his days were passed on his estate at Loja, where, in the midst of preparations for a voyage to Flanders, he was seized with a fever, of which he died, 2d December 1515.
The life of " the great captain" has been rather a favourite subject with literary men, having been treated by Giovio in his Vita Illustriunt Vil'OMM, and by Quintana in his Espaiioles Caebres, as well as by Florian (Gonsalve de Cordoue, ou Grenade Reeonguise, 1791), Duponeet (Histoire de Gonsalve de Cordoue, 1714), and an anonymous author, sometimes supposed to be Pulgar (Crdnica del Gran Capitan, 1584). A skilful and judicious use of all these sources has been made by Prescott in his History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, where the purity, generosity, and loyalty of the private character of Gonzalo, as well as the coolness, sobriety, and energy of his military genius, are very fully and vividly illustrated.