Proemio and Letter to the Constable Don Pedro de Portugal

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The Proemio and Letter to the Constable Don Pedro de Portugal (Proemio y carta al condestable don Pedro de Portugal), by the Marquis of Santillana, is a significant reference in the history of Spanish and European literary criticism. This work represents the first sketch of history of literature or literary criticism written by a Castilian author, positioning itself as an essential document that contributes to the understanding of the literary work of the Marquis and the evolution of literary thought during the pre-Renaissance.
In this document, the Marquis of Santillana presents his vision of literature as a sublime art, but also utilitarian, the result of a rhetorical embellishment. According to his conception, the lyric rises above the prose, embodying a longing for the highest and most sublime. This consideration of poetry as a superior art form becomes an essential feature of his literary thought.
In this way, the Proemio and letter to the Constable Don Pedro de Portugal fulfills at the same time the function of pre-Renaissance poetics, literary preceptive and history of European literature of its time. Thus, it not only offers us a look at the development of European literature, but also demonstrates the importance of the Marquis of Santillana as a pioneering figure in the critical study and analysis of literature.

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