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Castellanos, Juan de (1522–1607)

Castellanos, Juan de (1522–1607)

Juan de Castellanos (b. 9 March 1522; d. 27 November 1607), Spanish poet-chronicler, soldier, and priest. Born to farmers in Alanís (Seville province), Spain, as a teenager with some command of Latin, Castellanos went to Puerto Rico, where he continued his studies. In 1540, he traveled to Cubagua, an island off the Venezuelan coast, to work as a pearl fisherman, then joined the army and traveled to New Granada and Venezuela (1541–1545). From 1545 to 1554 he campaigned in the Bogotá and Pamplona regions, before being ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Cartagena (ca. 1554). Castellanos was curate and diocesan treasurer of Cartagena from 1557 to 1558, when he became curate of Riohacha, a position he served in until 1560. He moved to Tunja, in the highlands, as an assistant curate sometime after 1561; in 1568 he became curate. In Tunja, Castellanos devoted much of his time to writing. His Elegías y elogios de varones ilustres de Indias was composed between 1570 and 1590. Its nearly 114,000 verses narrate the discovery, conquest, and settlement of Spanish America, especially New Granada and Venezuela.

See alsoNew Granada, Viceroyalty of; Venezuela: The Colonial Era.


Ulíses Rojas, Juan de Castellanos: Biografía (1958).

Mario Germán Romero, Juan de Castellanos (1964).

Additional Bibliography

Pardo, Isaac. Juan de Castellanos: Estudio de las elegías de varones ilustres de Indias. Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia, 1991.

Restrepo, Luis Fernando, ed. Antología crítica de Juan de Castellanos: Elegías de varones ilustres de Indias. Bogotá: Editorial Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 2004.

                                          J. LeÓn Helguera

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