Fernando de Rojas: the author of laws

Ferdinand de Rojas

Fernando de Rojas (c. 1470-1541) is known for being the author of La Celestina (1499), universal classic of Spanish literature. However, its authorship has been highly questioned and the possibility that this work could be considered anonymous has been considered. Although there have been many doubts about the life of this author and about who wrote about the loves of Calisto and Melibea, it has become clear that Rojas is the true creator of La Celestina.

However, it has been impossible to attribute more literary works to him beyond this. The value of La Celestina has turned out to be more than enough to include the jurist Fernando de Rojas in the list of the most important writers of Spanish literature. And here we tell you a little more about this author.

Fernando de Rojas: context and life

Discussion about the Jewish origin of the author

Fernando de Rojas is thought to have Jewish origins. This hypothesis is given enough veracity, although it is not the only one. Likewise, Rojas would be far removed from his last Jewish relatives. And it is that the author reached heights of power in the public service impossible for a person from a recently converted family. Then it is estimated that he could have been a fourth generation Jew.

In 1492 the expulsion of the Jews from Spain was ordered by the Catholic Monarchs. Many families were forced to convert to the Christian faith, but even though they did, quite a few people were accused of Judaizing, or being crypto-Jews, and practicing the Jewish religion inside their homes. This suspicion also weighed on the family of Fernando de Rojas. Although there is also another version that says that his father was a hidalgo named García González Ponce de Rojas. In fact, there are requests from the family to prove their nobility.

Many other people were persecuted by the Christian citizens themselves who, at the slightest assumption, rushed to denounce their neighbors. It was also the case of the political family of Rojas. Because married Leonor Álvarez de Montalbán, who was the daughter of a convert accused of practicing the Jewish religion, Álvaro de Montalbán. This man tried to get his son-in-law, a renowned jurist, to help him. But Fernando de Rojas could do little for his mother-in-law.

This was the climate that was breathed in the author's time and, although as we have seen he was by no means alien to this context of religious intolerance, Fernando de Rojas managed to lead a comfortable life with his own family, participating in public life.

Justice Statue

author's life

Fernando de Rojas was born in La Puebla de Montalbán, in Toledo, between 1465 and 1470. About its origin there has been a lot of discussion about whether it was a family of hidalgos or converts. Very little is known about his childhood and adolescence.. To learn a little more about his training, or if the composition of the only work attributed to him even belongs to him, La Celestina, we must go to the reading and study of the documents of the time.

For example, he had a university degree, of course, because he was a lawyer and held different positions of public relevance, such as Mayor of Talavera de la Reina (Toledo). Also, in the text of La Celestina there is talk of the bachelor Fernando de Rojas, which today would be the title of graduate or graduate. Then it is also inferred that he finished his studies at the same time that he composed this work because he was already graduated approximately when it came out. La Celestina in 1499. Due to the content of this same work, it is believed that he studied at the University of Salamanca. Time later he would go to Talavera de la Reina.

He married in 1512 with Leonor Álvarez de Montalban. and before already had settled in Talavera de la Reina where he was able to enjoy professional recognition. Here there is a lot of documentation about the author who worked as a lawyer and mayor in this town, carrying out tasks of great social prestige. With his wife he had a total of seven children.

He maintained a large library, and his work on La Celestina demonstrate their love for letters and literature, beyond their performance in law. However, it is not linked to other texts or authors, printers or literary circles. He is curious how a single text has been able to elevate him in Spanish literature, having written his great work at a young age.

Fernando de Rojas died in 1541, emphasizing in his testament the Christian faith he professed.

Old books

Some considerations about La Celestina

Mentions of his person as the author of La Celestina they come especially from the people around them. In any case, no one else claimed ownership of the work, but not even the name of Fernando de Rojas appeared on the cover of the first editions of this book.

The work came out in a first version as Calisto and Melibea comedy and then in another with the title of Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea, perhaps as a direct consequence of the character of the work, and indirectly due to the spirit of Spanish society. In addition, the text underwent changes in structure and content because it increased from 16 acts to 21. Very few editions of all of them are preserved and opinions and judgments are diverse about them, including It is still questioned whether it was Fernando de Rojas who was really in charge of all these modifications; since there is talk of the existence of two more authors.

The word matchstick, which appears in the dictionary with the following definition: "pimp (woman who arranges a love relationship)", comes from this work that has gone down in history despite all the mysteries surrounding its author. It is a play in verse whose success is palpable from the beginning with its multiple translations and reissues. into Italian, German, English, French, Dutch and Latin.

It is an ultra-realistic and stark story, but accepted, which caused surprise at the time and motivated other sequels.. It also influenced other authors and works. La Celestina It has also had numerous adaptations in different artistic formats and survives as a universal work in life and culture more than 500 years after its publication.

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  1.   Luciano so much said

    The traditional Spanish stupidity about whether so-and-so or so-and-so, even protagonists of history, such as the author of La Celestina, were Jews...

    1.    Belen Martin said

      Yes, that's right, Luciano. Always repeating the same story. Thanks for comment!