We use cookies to improve the user experience of our website. Cookie Get More Information

Home » Language Resources » Spanish Literature » History of Spanish Literature » The Middle Ages » Arcipreste de Hita

History of Spanish literature

Reading Spanish Literature

Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, and The Book of Good Love

In the 14th century appeared a mysterious author called Juan Ruiz, who was Archpriest of Hita, which is only known because of some scattered dates in his only book “El Libro de Buen Amor” (The Book of Good Love).

It is generally considered that he probably wrote the book whilst in prison, or at least wrote one of his versions there (according to research there are two composition dates mentioned, one in 1330 and the other in 1343), because of the continuous allusions he makes to God freeing him from the prison in which he has found himself. It is likely that he was incarcerated there by Gil Albornoz, Archbishop of Toldeo, one of the archbishops who dedicated themselves to the popes of Avignon.

Ruiz can be considered as the true father of contemporary poetry. Previous literature had been full of external influences, whereas Ruiz moved away from these, instead filling his poetry with lyricism and rejecting the prevailing epic genre. He created a wide variety of meters and was also the first to introduce satirical humor. He mocked the religious customs of his time, and the laws that prevented the clergy from living with women.

In his books he also includes a wide variety of “ensiemplos” (witty comments) which he uses to criticize the moral customs. He writes sarcastically about secular love, making his book one of the most entertaining of the medieval era.

The book was not given its title by the author, but by Ramón Menéndez Pilar, who took it from one of the passages in the text.