Critical Editions of Spanish Artistic Ballads (romanceros Artisticos) 1580-1650

Author: Mortenson, Barbara J.
Gabriel Lobo Lasso de la Vega (1558-1616?) was one of the major composers of ballads of his generation. However, while Lope de Vega and his followers were creating a “New Ballad” oriented towards the lyric, Lasso, a traditionalist, cultivated the heroic. Indeed, he wrote an epic poem he dictated to Hernan Cortes, generally known as La Mexicana (1588 and 1594), and in 1601 he published his Eulogies to three Spanish heroes, one of whom was again Cortes. An inveterate patriot, he favored a strong, centralized monarchy. His tragedy, The Destruction of Constantinople, the second of two in this collection, was a warning to the West with regard to the continued threat of Islam, and was aimed specifically at the problem of the moriscos of Spain (the descendants of Moors).

The collection consists of 76 selections devoted principally to the history of Spain, with a final tribute to King Philip II. Lasso also cultivated themes from antiquity and the pastoral genre, then in vogue. The historical subjects naturally required a style more eloquent than emotional, more Renaissance than Baroque.

Many of the poems were repeated with abundant variants in the two ballad collections which followed in 1601 and 1603, titled Manojuelo de romances (literally, “A Small Bundle of Ballads”). They are characterized by their introduction of a large number of satirical selections, a genre in which Lasso proved to be a master. Herein he was able to mock not only the foibles of contemporary society, but also his personal trials and tribulations.

Lasso de la Vega, like Cervantes, was at one and the same time an idealist and a realist – an advocate of strong moral fiber, but, without rancor, ever cognizant of its rarity.


“He [Lasso de la Vega] was especially gifted in the art of narration. In general, his works eschew the refrain and the desecha, lyrical devices associated with the 'new ballad.' This collection is very exceptional in its employ of the latter.” - from the Preface

Table of Contents

Parte A Primera Parte del Romancero y Tragedias (1587) de Gabriel Lasso de la Vega
I. Introducción de la Editora
II. Poesías de Lasso
III. Índices

Parte B La Honra de Dido Restaurada
I. Introducción de la Editora
II. Tragedia de Lasso
III. Índices