CASTILLEJO, Cristobal de

(c. 1490-1550)
Cristobal de Castillejo, a poet of the Spanish Renaissance, led the poets of the traditional school in opposition to Italian innovations favored by their con­temporaries. Born in Ciudad Rodrigo, Spain, Castillejo dedicated his life to the service of the Habsburgs. He became a page to Emperor Charles V's* brother, Archduke Ferdinand, at the age of fifteen. He later became a Cistercian priest, a fact that apparently did not diminish the importance of love and women in his life, nor did it prevent him from fathering a child by one of these women. In 1539 he traveled to Venice to join the household of the Spanish ambassador Diego Hurtado de Mendoza. When Ferdinand, his former patron, became king of Austria, Castillejo returned to serve him in Vienna. However, this patronage apparently reaped no personal benefits for Castillejo.
Castillejo's principal contribution is to be found in the realm of poetry. He defended and produced traditional Spanish verse forms, such as the ballad and the villancico, at a time when Italian meters were gaining in popularity. Because of his belief that the Italian meters did not represent the Spanish spirit, Castillejo's meter of preference remained the traditional octosyllabic. In his collection Contra los que dejan los metros castellanos y siguen los italianos (Against those who leave Castilian meters and follow the Italian ones) he also inserted several Italianate sonnets in order to mock the new style. Ironically, critics have noted his clever use of the Italian meter as an instrument to critique that very form. Although he did not succeed at rendering the Italian meters less popular, he probably did contribute to the conservation of traditional Spanish meters.
Thematically, one might divide his works into the following three categories: moral and devotional (e.g., Dialogo entre la verdad y la lisonja [Dialogue be­tween truth and flattery]), courtly love poetry (e.g., his poem to Ana de Aragon), and his more conversational or informal writings (e.g., Dialogo que habla de las condiciones de las mugeres [Dialogue on the qualities of women]). Castillejo also completed various classical translations, all of which demonstrate the depth of his humanistic culture.
The complete works of Castillejo were first edited and published by J. Lopez de Velasco in a censored version dated 1573. His well-known works include Dialogo de la vida de corte, Contra los que dejan los metros castellanos, and Sermon de amores. Recently, a manuscript of thirty-three additional composi­tions was discovered in Spain. Bibliography dealing with Castillejo has been fairly limited in recent years. In particular, very few comprehensive studies have appeared.
C. Guzman, "Antifeminism in the Cantigas de Santa Maria and the Dialogo de mujeres of Cristobal de Castillejo," in Studies on the Cantigas de Santa Maria: Art, Music, and Poetry, 1987: 279-86.
Lydia Bernstein

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

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