Life of liaisons,
Or priestly celibacy?
Come, torrid affairs!
Today on Playwright Week, we have Lope de Vega. (Thus finally fulfilling a request from my brother, which I was morally obligated to do, as he is the firstborn and heir.) We’re also three for three with jailbirds.
Lope de Vega was born in 1562 after his mom tracked his wayward dad down in Madrid after he ran off with a mistress. Wife and husband made up, baby resulted. Hurrah! His youth included Latin learnin’, playwriting, Jesuit school, and a military adventure.
He attended the University of Alcalá, but didn’t graduate because he discovered ladies. Suddenly, a supposedly sexless life as a priest didn’t appeal anymore. He turned to playwriting to make money. After an intermission in 1583 in the Spanish Navy, he came back to Madrid, intent on becoming a playwright superstar. And also sleeping with ladies.
Now, how did he wind up in the clink? You know the story: boy meets girl, boy and girl embark on five-year affair, girl finds another boy, first boy attacks girl and family so much, he’s charged with libel. Lope was exiled and took a new teenage wife with him.
Then he decided to go back to the Spanish Navy in 1588, just in time for the planned invasion of England. That went… badly. Not for Lope, though, as his was one of the few ships to make it back to Spain.
Then he proceeded to write at a rate that’d make Stephen King look like a slacker. All this while going through two wives (both dying of childbirth), and any number of mistresses. He entered the priesthood, but if you think that stopped the romance, ha! Sir, you do not know Lope de Vega.
Lope de Vega died of scarlet fever in Madrid in 1635, which would’ve been an awful year for him regardless. (A son died in a shipwreck and a daughter was abducted then abandoned.) He left behind a staggeringly large body of work, including 2200 plays and no, that’s not a typo. About 450 survive and this does NOT include his epic poems, novels, and sonnets.
I’m looking at my wrist and wincing.