Pródiga de la vida, y anticipadora de la muerte

Lovely phrase, something along the lines of “lavish in life, eager in death”, used here to describe the Spanish, although you will doubtless recall similar elsewhere. It’s from the discourse by the Count of Portalegre which rounds off the BBG edition of Guerra de Granada, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza‘s chronicle of the disastrous rural uprisings of nominally Christianised Moors in 1569-70 which ended in their wholesale slaughter, enslavement, deportation. Mendoza’s literary style and his combination of anecdote and cool historical judgement recall the best Roman historians, and his work waited almost 40 years before finding a publisher. Echoes of the motto are to be found in Mendoza’s letter debating the circumcision apparently demanded of him by a Venetian Jewess, the most sought-after courtesan in Italy (hence, perhaps, arcimarrano, arch-Jew/pig); and in the story of some leader calling for his trumpeter, Santiago, and the sleepy militia, taking this for the Reconquista battlecry, rushing the Moors pell mell, fortunately putting them to flight. More some other time on how the Moriscos of the Alpujarras poison-tipped their arrows. I don’t think DHdeM is online anywhere, but you can buy it in facsimile or in a recent edition in Spain, and another early account, by Luis del Mármol Carvajal, is on GBS.

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