Gil Vicente

Vicente, Gil (Port. zhēl vēsĕntˈə, Span. hēl vēthĕnˈtā) [key], 1470?–1536?, Portuguese dramatist and poet, considered second only to Camões. Vicente was attached to the courts of the Portuguese kings Manuel I and John II, and he may have been identical with, or related to, an accomplished goldsmith of the same name at the court. He was a humanist, and his writings reveal the influence of Renaissance Italy, the thought of Erasmus, and, in his early plays, the works of Encina. Vicente's lyric plays and entertainments were created (c.1500–c.1536) for production at court, and they varied from slight, farcical interludes to full comedies and tragicomedies. They vividly portray the breadth of Portuguese society. Some are profoundly religious, some especially satirical; Vicente was antagonistic to the corrupt clergy and pretentious parvenus at the court, and he decried the superficial glory of empire that hid the increasing poverty in Portugal. His writing, in Portuguese, in Spanish, and in an arbitrary combination of the two, was important in shaping modern Spanish and Portuguese drama. An accomplished musician, he interspersed his plays with exquisite songs. Although his works were suppressed by the Inquisition and his fame waned, he is now recognized as one of the principal figures of the Iberian Renaissance.

See R. P. Garay, Gil Vicente and the Development of the Comedia (1989).

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