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Pulgar, Hernando De

PULGAR, HERNANDO DE (1436-c.1492), a celebrated Spanish historian, was probably born at Pulgar, a village close to Toledo, about 1436. When still young he entered the household of John II., king of Castile, and was educated as one of his pages. After the death of that monarch, Pulgar was appointed secretary to Henry IV., his son and successor, by whom he was entrusted with various confidential affairs. He retained his place on the accession of Isabella, who, in 1482, named him to the vacant office of national historiographer. From this period Pulgar remained near the royal person, accompanying the queen in her various progresses through the kingdom, as well as in her military expeditions into the Moorish territory. He was consequently an eyewitness of many of the warlike scenes which he describes, and from his situation at the court must have had access to the most ample and accredited sources of information. That portion of his Chronicle containing a retrospective survey of events previous to 1482, may be charged with gross inaccuracy: but this cannot be said of the remaining part, which may be received as perfectly authentic, and has all the character of impartiality. Pulgar's style of narration, though rather too prolix, is sufficiently perspicuous, and may be favourably contrasted with that of contemporary writers. His Chronicle was first printed at Valladolid, in 1565, when it appeared under the name of Antonio do Lebrixa, among whose papers it was found by his grandson the editor. Two years later (1567), another edition was published at Saragossa, with the real name of the author. The last and most elegant edition of Pulgar's Chronicle was printed at Valencia, in 1780, by Benito Montfort, in large folio.

Pulgar left some other works, of which his Commentary on the ' Coplas de Mingo Revulgo,' an antient satire, in the form of a dialogue between two shepherds, describing the court of John II., his ' Letters,' and his ' Claros Vat-ones,' or sketches of illustrious men, have alone been published. The last contains forty-six biographical articles of the most distinguished individuals of the court of Henry IV., which, although too indiscriminately encomiastic, contain much valuable information on the principal actors of that period. Fourteen of the Letters were first printed at Seville, towards the close of the fifteenth century; the whole number— thirty-two—were afterwards printed at the same city, together with the ' Claros Varones,' 1500, 4to. Several editions of the same two works were subsequently published, Alcala, 1524 and 1528; Zamora, 1543; Valladolid, 1545; Antwerp, 1632; all in 41o. The Letters only were afterwards translated into Latin by Julian Magon, and published with the Spanish text, at the end of Peter Martyr's ' Epistles,' Arastelodami, apud Elz., 1670. There are also three modern editions, Mad., 1747, 1775, and 1789, 4to. The two last are valuable on account of some excellent notes and their having a biographical account of Pulgar prefixed to them.

Nicolas Antonio (Bib. Nov., vol. ii., p. 388), attributes to him a Chronicle of Henry IV., and a history of the Moorish kings of Granadn. Other bibliographers have confounded this Pulgar with Hernan Perez del Pulgar, a distinguished officer, who gained great renown in the war of Granada, and who is supposed to be the author of a Chronicle of Gonzalo de Cordova, Alcala, 1584, fol, as well as of a translation of a French historical work, entitled 'La Mer des Histoires,' which appeared at Valladolid, in 1512, fol., under the title of 'Mar de Historias.'

The year of Pulgar's death has not been ascertained: it is probable that he did not survive the capture of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella, as his history falls somewhat short of that event, and we cannot suppose that he would have failed to commemorate the most important occurrence in the reign of his royal masters. Besides, from some remarks in his Letters, all of which were written after 1482, it would appear that he was already at that time much advanced in years. It is however quite clear that Pulgar was still living some years after 1486, the epoch which (lie 'Biographie Universelle' has erroneously assigned for his death. (Nicolas Antonio, Bib. Nov., vol. ii., p. 387.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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