(c. 1456-1537)
Gil Vicente, a Portuguese dramatist, is a leading literary figure bridging the medieval and Renaissance traditions. A man of many talents, he was overseer of the gold and silver craft in Portugal, master of the royal mint, and a member of the Lisbon town council, as well as a musician, poet, and actor. His works were published for the first time by his son, Luis Vicente, as the Copilacam de toda las obras de Gil Vicente (Compilation, 1562).
Of Vicente's forty-four extant plays, sixteen are completely in Portuguese, eleven are completely in Spanish, and seventeen combine both languages. His early works are rather simple and are heavily derivative. Works written after 1520 reveal a greater originality as a definite artistic personality emerges. The later works reflect Vicente's mastery of style, language, and the stage and in­clude chivalric, allegorical, and popular plays. Vicente's first extant play is the Visitaçâo (The visitation, 1502), or Monologo do vaqueiro (Herdsman's Monologue). The Auto pastoril castelhano (Castilian Pastoral Play, 1502), the Auto dos Reis Magos (Play of the Magi, 1503), and the Auto de San Martinho (Play of St. Martin, 1504) reveal his debt to Juan del Encina, the Castilian playwright. The Auto da Sibilla Cassandra (The Play of the Sibyl Cassandra, 1513 or 1514) in particular is noted for its fine lyricism. Vicente's celebrated trilogy Trilogia de las barcas (The Three Ships, 1516-19) and the Auto da feira (The Festival Play, 1525) illustrate his capacity for the social and anticlerical satire of the Erasmian tradition. Vicente's later works reveal his gifts as a mature artist. The Comedia de Rubena (The Play of Rubena, 1521) is a fantastic comedy filled with lyricism and pageantry, drawing from popular and folkloric traditions. Vicente's two chivalric tragicomedies, Dom Duardos (1522 or 1525) and Amadis de Gaula (1523 or 1533), are both in Spanish and represent his most highly developed efforts. Vicente's farces make a major contribution to the development of the theatrical tradition. They combine learned and popular elements designed to entertain the audience with comic caricatures of social types and customs. They include Farsa de Ines Pereira (The Farce of Ines Pereira, 1523), O velho da horta (The Old Man of the Orchard, 1512), and Quem temfarelos? (Who has Bran? 1508 or 1515).
Vicente's finest achievement is the outstanding lyrical expression of popular themes. These transformations of anonymous folkloric motifs into splendid lyr­ical creations are unrivaled in the theater until the time of Lope de Vega.*
S. Reckert, Gil Vicente, espiritu y letra, 1977.
Deborah Compte

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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