1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vega, Garcilaso de la (soldier and poet)
VEGA, GARCILASO DE LA (1503–1536), Spanish soldier and poet, was born at Toledo on the 6th of February 1503. His father, Garcilaso (Garcias Laso or Garcilasso) de la Vega, was counsellor of state to Ferdinand and Isabella, and, for some time their ambassador at the, court of Rome; by his mother he was descended from the illustrious house of Guzman. At the age of seventeen he was attached to the bodyguard of Charles V., and fought against the insurgent comuneros, being wounded at the battle of Olias near Toledo. He afterwards served in the north of Italy, and gained great distinction by his bravery at the battle of Pavia in 1525. In the following year he married a lady-in-waiting to Queen Eleanor. He took part, in the repulse of the Turks from Vienna in 1529, was present at the coronation of the emperor at Bologna in 1530, and was charged with a secret mission to Paris in the autumn of the same year. In 1531 he accompanied the duke of Alva to Vienna, where, for conniving at the clandestine marriage of his nephew to a maid-of-honour, he was imprisoned on an island in the Danube. During this captivity he composed the fine canciou, “Con un manso ruido de agua corriente y clara.” Released and restored to favour in June, 1532, he went to Naples on the staff of Don Pedro de Toledo, the newly appointed viceroy, by whom he was twice sent on public business of importance to Barcelona, in 1533 and 1534. After having accompanied the emperor on the expedition to Tunis (1535), where he received two, severe wounds, he was employed as a confidential agent at Milan and Genoa in negotiations connected with the proposed invasion of Provence, and joined the expedition when it took the field. Being with Charles in the neighbourhood of Fréjus during the retreat from Marseilles, Garcilaso de la Vega was ordered to storm a fort at Muy, which had checked the advance of the arrny. In the successful discharge of this duty he was mortally wounded and died twenty-one days afterwards, at Nice, (14th of October 1536). His poems were entrusted to his friend Boscan, who was preparing them for publication along with his own when death overtook him in 1540. The volume ultimately appeared at Barcelona in 1543, and has often been reprinted. Garcilaso’s share in it consists principally of three eglogas or pastorals, which the Spaniards regard as among the finest works of the kind in their language, and which for sweetness of versification and delicacy of expression take a high rank in modern European literature. In addition to the pastorals, there are thirty-seven sonnets, five canciones, two elegies and a blank verse epistle, all influenced by Italian models. The poems rapidly gained a wide popularity; and with in a century of their appearance they were edited as classics by Francisco Sanchez (1577), Herrera (1580) and Tamayo de Vargas (1622). An English translation of his works was published by Wiffen in 1823. Garcilaso’s delicate charm has survived all changes of taste, and by universal consent he ranks among the. most accomplished and artistic of Spanish poets.
See E. Fernández de Navarrete, “Vida de Garcilaso de la Vega,” in the Documentos inéditos para la historia de España, vol. xvi.; Francesco Flamini, “Imitazioni italiani in Garcilaso de la Vega,” in the, Biblioteca delle scuole italiane (Milano 1899).