The Poetics of Imitatio in Camões
The Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (SASMARS)
Luiz Vaz de Camões, born circa 1524, was educated at Coimbra University (transplanted from Lisbon in 1537) at a time when humanism was flourishing in Portugal. This efflorescence was in part a belated reaction to historical and cultural forces which had long since swept through Italy, France and other European countries. Ernst Curtius refers to Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz’s essay ‘España y Francia en la edad media’ (1923), which provides reasons for Spain’s cultural belatedness that apply equally well to Portugal (541). Visigothic and Gothic Spain inherited the machinery of Roman governance, and so maintained a continuity with the past not possible in the Merovingian kingdom, which developed new forms of governance that led to feudalism. Gothic Spain was not as adept at governance as its Visigothic predecessor and was in a state of crisis when the Arabs invaded. In the course of the reconquest, towns, strongholds and monasteries were established in the highlands north of the Douro. Feudalism was not able to develop here. There was no working population, no distinction in power between a military caste and a peasantry; rather there were groups of families who joined together to create land syndicates in which all the people played a decisive role.
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