Baena, Juan Alfonso de

views updated


BAENA, JUAN ALFONSO DE (c. 1445), Spanish poet and scribe to Juan ii of Castile. Most probably he was born a Jew and decided to convert. His conversion to Christianity enabled him to enter the court of Juan ii and become one of his high officials. The Cancionero de Baena, an anthology of 14th- and 15th-century poetry which he compiled and presented to the king in 1445 deals with the social and political life of the period and includes many references to Jews and conversos. Hostility toward the conversos is expressed in several poems by Alfonso Alvarez de Villasandino (nos. 140–2, 183). Two decires, or poetic compositions, of the monk Diego de Valencia (probably a converted Jew himself) deal with conversos; the text of the first (no. 501) contains a number of Hebrew words. The Cancionero also includes poems celebrating the birth in 1405 of the future King Juan ii. One of these (no. 230), the composition of a certain Don Mossé (described as surgeon to Henry iii), indicates the part played by the Jews in Spanish cultural life. Baena's poetry is very rich and harmonious in its rhymes. Another Juan de Baena (also known as Juan de Pineda) rose from obscurity as a tailor in Córdoba to eminence at the court of Toledo. A converso, he was brought to trial and condemned to death in 1486.


J.M. Azaceta (ed.), Cancionero de Juan de Baena (1966); A. Millares Carlo, Literatura española hasta fines del siglo xv (1950), 185–91; J. Amador de los Ríos, Estudios… Judíos de España (1848), 406–27; Baer, Spain, 2 (1966), 347ff. add. bibliography: B. Valverde, in: Cuadernos del idioma 9 (1968), 97–113; B. Blanco González, in: Cuadernos de filología (Mendoza, Argentina), 6 (1972), 29–75; J.M. Solá-Solé, in: Sobre árabes, judíos y marranos y su impacto en la lengua y literatura españolas (1983), 207–23.

[Kenneth R. Scholberg]