Antonio De Guevara - Encyclopedia




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ANTONIO DE GUEVARA (c. 149 0 -1544), Spanish chronicler and moralist, was a native of the province of Alava, and passed some of his earlier years at the court of Isabella, queen of Castile. In 1528 he entered the Franciscan order, and afterwards accompanied the emperor Charles V. during his journeys to Italy and other parts of Europe. After having held successively the offices of court preacher, court historiographer, bishop of Guadix and bishop of Mondonedo, he died in 1544. His earliest work, entitled Reloj de principes, published at Valladolid in 1529, and, according to its author, the fruit of eleven years' labour, is a didactic novel, designed, after the manner of Xenophon's Cyropaedia, to delineate, in a somewhat ideal way for the benefit of modern sovereigns, the life and character of an ancient prince, Marcus Aurelius, distinguished for wisdom and virtue. It was often reprinted in Spanish; and before the close of the century had also been translated into Latin, Italian, French and English, an English translation being by J. Bourchier (London, 1546) and another being by T. North. It is difficult now to account for its extraordinary popularity, its thought being neither just nor profound, while its style is stiff and affected. It gave rise to a literary controversy, however, of great bitterness and violence, the author having ventured without warrant to claim for it an historical character, appealing to an imaginary "manuscript in Florence." Other works of Guevara are the Decada de los Cesares (Valladolid, 1539), or "Lives of the Ten Roman Emperors," in imitation of the manner of Plutarch and Suetonius; and the Epistolas familiares (Valladolid, 1 5391 545), sometimes called "The Golden Letters," often printed in Spain, and translated into all the principal languages of Europe. They are in reality a collection of stiff and formal essays which have long ago fallen into merited oblivion. Guevara, whose influence upon the Spanish prose of the 16th century was considerable, also wrote Libro de los inventores del arte de marear (Valladolid, 1539, and Madrid, 1895).

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