Translation from Spanish in the 16th Century
humanism in the last half of the sixteenth century was polyglottal, in
refreshing contrast to the monolingual tendencies of much present Renaissance
scholarship; indeed, it is difficult to envisage the remarkable creative
outpouring of English literature in the 1590s taking place without this
multilingual background. Of course,
some qualification is necessary: when mention is made of the rise of the vernaculars
in the 16th century, it is necessary to stress the importance of the
Romance vernaculars, namely the three
prestigious languages that were descended from camp Latin. England
entered the European mainstream of culture rather late, and therefore enjoyed an
advantage; it was in the position not merely to receive a transmitted classical
heritage, but to learn from the manner in which the major powers – Italy, France,
– had applied that heritage.
was periodical English interest in Spanish culture, generally when England had
a Spanish Queen (Catherine of Aragon, patroness of Lord Bernersf translations),
when the rise of Spain as an imperial power directly threatened England (the
Armada), or when a Spanish match looked likely (Charles I and the Infanta
María, daughter of Philip III).
Spanish does seem very much the third of the romance vernaculars in this
age; there was no continuity of association or contact with English, such as
the French language enjoyed,
and the learning of Castilian in the early 1590s was a process largely actuated
by the political situation: according to Richard Perceval in 1591, Spanish was
gthe toonge with which by reason of the troublesome times, thou arte like to
haue most acquaintance.h Following the Armada, there was a marked
increase in the number of books translated from Spanish, and more were
translated directly from the original. Even when it is asserted that Spanish
will come to be esteemed as highly as French and Italian, the claim in the
following clause – that Castilian is more necessary than Italian
– posits superiority to a language that was beginning to lose prestige, for it
was a language without a nation. This claim excludes French; even the
proponents of Spanish do not award it a leading position. Spain was a largely unknown land;
it received very few visitors, and few of those who made the journey knew the
language(s). The language itself
presents no major obstacles: Spanish is, as James Howell remarked, one of the
easiest languages for an Englishman to learn. One of the reasons he gave, more
relevant to his time than ours, is its proximity to Latin;
indeed, Spanish was usually taught through the Latin medium, and the Hispanist
Tudor translators, lexicographers and grammarians relied heavily on the more
familiar tongue. Knowledge of Spanish was a political
necessity, and the practical application is made obvious in Percevalfs eEpistle
Dedicatorief of his dictionary to the Earl of Essex: having praised Essexfs
learning of languages, a study beseeming his rank, the lexicographer continues:
gcand remembring that hauing emploied your self so honorablie against the
Spanyard in Flanders, Spayne & Portugal; you c might perhaps encounter with
them againe vpon like occasionch (A2v).
However, one cannot help wondering if the closeness of Castilian to
Latin, in conjunction with the growth of the Spanish empire, may have created
unwelcome associations in the English mind and given rise to an unexpressed
resistance to learning the Castilian tongue; indeed, borrowing Spanish words
and making them English could be regarded as a elinguistic victory.f In any case, Englandfs
attitude to Spain
was highly ambivalent, a curious mixture of fear and fascination. Many of the best-known English
translators from Spanish had either toured or lived in Spain,
and Bartholomew Yong believed that this experience would immeasurably help the
translator; then, as now, it seems
that Hispanists formed a dedicated minority.
Spanish influence had attained equality with that of Italian by the first
quarter of the 17th century. Recent studies may demonstrate that Spain provided
a model through its empire,
yet the feeling persists that the Spanish language
was never accorded the same prestige as Italian or French. Gabriel Harvey wondered why Boscán and
Garcilaso had never been translated into English;
the author who commented on this omission observed that the Spanish poets
should be read in the original: in translation, gthey would haue no grace.h However, there were few allusions to the
egracef of Castilian. The influence
of Spanish literature was notable in the Sidney
circle (Fulke Greville, Sir Edward Dyer, and Penelope Devereux), which
appreciated Garcilaso, Boscán and Montemayor;
outside of this group, however, it did not affect English literature in the way
that Petrarca and his imitators, or the Pléiade, had earlier in the
century. There was the belief, even
among the defenders of Castilian, that Spain did not possess as many
authoritative writers as Italy, France, or Britain: thus James Lea, in a
liminary poem to Percyvallfs dictionary, states that, gThough learned pens in
Italy and France do florish more,/ And in our happy Britaine, where are learned
men such store:/ Yet Spanish speech lists giue no groundch (ll.9-11).
figure at the heart of the English administration, William Cecil (Lord
Burghley; 1520-98), possessed possibly the largest library of Spanish books in England. Knowledge of Spanish was a political
necessity; it has been stated that Burghley (1520-98) managed to combine the
statesman and the scholar,
but it is difficult, in this instance, to separate the two functions. Significantly, Cecilfs collection
contains not only texts that were popular in Spain and so afforded an insight
into the Spanish mentality – Amadís and Celestina – but also
Spanish translations of Biblical and classical texts.  The most obvious explanation for this
would seem to be that these translations offer another entrance into the
Spanish mind; perusal of them would assist in learning the language, and
examining how the authors had interpreted the original texts would throw
comparative light on their mindset.
This intention is entirely in keeping with the concept of translation
that we glimpse in the dedication to Cecil by his kinsman Barnabe Googe of The Prouerbes of the Noble and Woorthy
Souldier, Sir Iames Lopez de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana (1579): he
knows that Burghley will be able to judge gcwhether I haue truly and faythfully
followed my paterne or noh (*2v-*3r).
Of course, the stated aim of Googefs translation is the transmission of
wisdom – the title-page announces that this work contains gwhatsoeuer is
necessarie to the leading of an honest and vertuous lifeh
– but the point is that, as the translatorfs comments make clear, Cecil expects
a translation to be efaithfulf.
Moving outside onefs own language and into an alien, even eenemyf target
culture – to translation from Latin into Spanish, for example – does rather
complicate the notion of efidelityf, but we may safely assume that the
pragmatic Cecil believed the Spanish translators to have aimed at a faithful
rendering of their source, whether he agreed with their interpretation or not.
from Spanish literature at this period consisted mainly of chivalric romances
– the texts that drove Don Quixote to madness were as popular in mercantile England as they had been in feudal Spain
– moral treatises and mystical works, and writings on war, navigation and
exploration. The utilitarian purpose behind these
texts is evident from both the dedications and the identity of the
translators. We may take the
merchant John Frampton as representative.
In the dedication to Edward Dyer of his Joyfull Newes out of the Newe Founde Worlde (1577), a translation
of Nicholas Monardes, Frampton declares that: gthe matter is of good
substaunce, and of muche value, and of me truely & faithfully translated
into Englisheh (*ii v). The mantra
of translating gtruely & faithfullyh – the very adverbs that Googe had
employed to describe his version of Santillana – is the consequence of the
nature of the original text; this fact is made more explicit in Framptonfs
translation of Martin Fernández de Enciso (d.1525), A briefe description of
the portescof the Weast India, where he observes that the Castilian text
was written around 1518, gcand after called in aboute twentie yeares past, for
that it reuealed secretes that the Spanish nation was loth to haue knowen to
the worldeh (Aii r). Such secrets
of navigation were especially pertinent to the dedicatee, Humphrey Gilbert,
gcthe firste man of our nation that gaue light to our people for the finding
out of the northwest straight,h who is now intending another voyage (Aii
r). Interestingly, Frampton posits
a readership of the seamen who will accompany Gilbert on his voyage and who,
unlike the dedicatee, have no knowledge of foreign tongues; the work will keep
them from idleness (a reason for translation usually given with reference to
the translator, not the audience) and encourage them, by way of example, to
note down the particulars of their journey, and so help their compatriots to
awake from the long sleep of ignorance in which they have lain (Aii v). On occasion, as in Framptonfs eEpistle
Dedicatorief to Dyer in his A discourse of the nauigation which the
Portugales doe make to theceast partes of the worlde (1579, from Bernardino
de Escalante, at the request of diverse people, including pilots and mariners),
the translatorfs transmission of knowledge is suffused with missionary purpose
(A2 r-v). At this period,
translation in general reflects the specialisation of knowledge that earlier
translations had helped to engender, and the translator sees it as his task to collect
the meaning of the original with the aim of redistribution. One of the roles of translation – which
is also one of the roles of poetry, but shifted and made more emphatic – is to
attempt to control the surplus of meaning that has resulted from (or given rise
to) manfs haphazard linguistic mapping of the world of thought. We may feel that wide and strong
arms are required to embrace polyvalency and the tectonic shift of semantic
plates, and wonder whether this diffusion does not react against specialising
tendencies, but we are thinking at the level of the word; translators such as
Frampton and Baker were working at the level of the text, for their sources
were informative rather than literary and they did not place a premium on
stylistic qualities. Moreover, if
they did find any eloquence in the original, it was associated with the source
language (Latin, Spanish, Italian, or French) and contrasted with the eplain
Englishf of the etruef translation. It is also the case that specialised
vocabulary tends to be calqued or be given a direct, one-to-one equivalent –
and so degenerates into the cold death of cliché and descends into the hermetic
Hell of jargon. Translation is one
of the acts of a busy life, and the translator is expected to be as reliable
and upright in his writing as in his actions: thus Baker (1576) names several
surgeons who gfaithfully dealeh in their profession (*iii r-*iv v) and Scévole
de Sainte-Marthe (1536-1623) describes the physician Duret as gToy c dfHypocrat
lfinterprete fidele.h There is little considered thought given
to exactly what the translator is to be faithful to; it is, on the majority of
occasions, simply taken from granted that he must display fidelity.
 Warren Boutcher, e gWho taught thee rhetoricke to deceive a maid?h:
Christopher Marlowefs Hero and Leander,
Juan Boscánfs Leandro, and
Renaissance vernacular Humanismf – Comp.
Lit. 52:1 (2000), pp. 11-52 (12-14).
Walter Raleghfs library contained books in the five languages one would
most expect to encounter: English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin.
(Details of the library are from Hillgarth, 2000, p. 374).
 In the 16th century, most English translations were from Italian,
instigated the Renaissance.
However, as the century progressed, French began to assume a dominant
role: the foreign nation with which England had the closest and longest contact
gradually became the leading power in Europe, and the combination of these two
factors explains the fact, noted by Paul Salzman, that 213 of the 450 new prose
works published in England in this century were translations, and 164 of these
were from French; 22 from Spanish; and 13 from Italian. –English Prose Fiction 1558-1700. A Critical History.
 From Richard Percevalfs (1550-1620) grammar and dictionary, Bibliotheca Hispanica (1591), eTo the
Readerf (A3r). This work was
enlarged to form John Minsheufs Dictionarie
in Spanish (1599).
 Randall (1963), p. 51.
 William Stepney, in eThe Epistle to the Readerf in his The Spanish School-master (1591). Stepney does however add, gcalbeit I
would not haue you suppose that I would magnifie the singularitie of the
Spanish tongue aboue all other languagesh (Aiv v). Frances Yates notes: gStepney was
apparently an Englishman, an unusual nationality for the author of a
modern-language manual.h –John Florio
(New York: Octagon Reprint, 1968 ), p. 146. In his First Fruits (1578), Florio complains of English reluctance to
learn foreign languages: gI see certaine Gentlemenc that begyn to learne to
spake Italian, French, and Spanish, and when they haue learned two woords of
Spanish, three words of French, and foure words of Italian, they thinke they
haue yenough, they wyll study no more.h –ibid,
 For instance, Sidney, in a letter to
his brother Robert, had described France
and Spain as powers
gneedefulle for us to markeh; Italy
was merely a land of silks and wines, where the men were given to gcounterfeit
lerning.h –The Prose Works of Sir Philip
Sidney, ed. Albert Feuillerat. 4 Vols. (Cambridge University Press, 1962
), III:126-7, Letter XXXVIII.
He does mention the practical use that Germanyfs gmany Princesh can
afford; it is therefore not the multiplicity of Italian states, but rather the
weakness of those states, in conjunction with their religious denomination,
that explains his low opinion.
 In Howellfs (?1594-1666) judgement, Spanish was gcthe easiest of
all Languages, by reason of the openesse, and fulnese of pronunciation, the
agreement ftwixt the Tongue and the Text, and the freedome from Apostrophes,
which are the knots of a Language, as also for the proximity it hath with
the Latine, for the Spanish is nought else but mere Latine,
take a few Morisco words awaych –Instructions
for forreine travell (1642), p. 91.
The 1650 edition of this text qualifies the initial statement: Spanish
is gcthe easiest of all Languages to him who hath Latin, by reason ofch
 Ungerer (1965), p. 179.
Mabbe, in The Rogue, will
occasionally translate into Latin and English: for example, ghijo de la tierrah
becomes gterrae filius, a son of the earthh (1924; p. xxii).
 Richard Carew remarks, in his essay eOn the Excellencie of the
English Tonguef, gYea euen wee seeke to make our good of our late Spanish
enymye, and feare as little the hurt of his tongue as the dinte of his sworde.h
(in G. Gregory Smith, 1937, II:290).
One is reminded of Philemon Hollandfs remark, in the preface to his
translation of Pliny (The Historie of the World, 1601), that Britain was conquering Rome
by the pen, as Rome had conquered Britain
by the sword. However, where the
relationship between language and culture is concerned, it is worth remembering
that Roger Ascham gave vent to his moral and doctrinal objections to Italy
but also admitted to liking and loving the Italian language above all others
save Greek and Latin (Wright ed. 1970, pp. 222-236; p. 223). Furthermore, Sidney
hated Spain – influenced by
Bartolomé de las Casasf biased Breuissima
relacion de la destruycion de las Indias (1552) – but admired its
culture. – Gustav Ungerer, Anglo-Spanish
Relations in Tudor England
(Bern: Francke Verlag, 1956), pp. 75-76.
 Of course, the Spanish empire itself provided a model to emulate.
–Frances Yates, Astraea: The Imperial
Theme in the Sixteenth Century (London: Pimlico, 1993). The first Emperor, Charles V (1519-1556;
abdicated), had a Flemish upbringing and could not speak Spanish.
 Lord Berners, Bartholomew Yong, Thomas Shelton, Leonard Digges,
James Mabbe, and Sir Richard Fanshawe. –Dale B.J. Randall, The Golden Tapestry. A Critical Survey of Non-chivalric Spanish Fiction
in English Translation 1543-1657 (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University
Press, 1963), p. 18. It is
interesting that Wyatt, whose time spent in Italy
proved so formative, did not respond to Spanish poetry.
 In his preface, he states that Edward Paston would have been an
ideal translator of Diana, because of
the time he had spent in Spain,
his knowledge of the language, and his general ability. –Kennedy ed. (1968), p.
 With Yong, a high regard for Spanish culture can be glimpsed also
in his marginal notes in Fiammetta:
on p. 192, mention is made of Spaniards first (gA description of Tilt and Giuoco di canne, much used of the Spaniards,
Italians and Moors)h; and on p. 213, in a clear addition to the original,
there is reference to Italian and Spanish
ladies (gThe uppermost attire of Italian
and Spanish Ladies and Gentlewomench). He also drew attention to Naples (p.
14), the Italian city in which Spanish influence was strongest: gc in Naples
Spanish influence was pervasive; towards the middle of the sixteenth century,
the city seemed, linguistically, half Spanish, and Spain and Spanish ideals
were accepted as models.h –Hillgarth (2000), p. 297. All references to Fiammetta are
from the 1926 edition.
 This was perhaps the only period in French history when French
gentlemen took the trouble to learn Spanish. –Hillgarth (2000), p. 346. Estrada (1962) lists six editions of
French translations of Diana, all
including the Spanish text, between 1611 and 1613 (p.xcv).
 Such as Yates (1993 ) and Boutcher (2000).
 Boutcher (2000), p. 48.
 John Eliot, Ortho-epia
Gallica Eliots fruits for the French (1593), fol. 31. The dialogue continues:
gWhy so? we find them almost all translated into
Latine Italian and French.
I beleeue it well, yet haue they more
grace in the Castillian, which is the purest Spanish dialect, in which the
learned write and speake ordinarily.h
In his A Report and discourse of the affaires and state of Germany (1570),
Roger Ascham forbears from rendering an Italian sonnet into English, for it
would glose the graceh (Wright ed. 1970, p. 136). Both scholars demonstrate allegiance to
the concepts that some languages are superior to others and that each language
has a purest form (if, indeed, this constitutes two concepts rather than being
two manifestations of the same one).
 Ungerer (1965), p. 182.
He remarks that, gNo English family was more open to Spanish influence
than the Sidneysh
(1956, p. 67). Ungererfs claims for
knowledge of Spanish language and literature occasionally make the frame exceed
the picture: Roger Ascham did know Spanish, but we know this only from one
brief reference in his writings to Gonzalo Perezfs translation of gVlissesh
(Wright ed. 1970; p. 291); and Surrey also
learned the language, but this fact is not evident from his poems.
 Lea does not praise Spanish for its egracef; he seems to regard it as
a emanlyf language, one that is closer in vigour to English than are Italian
and French. Compared to these last
two tongues, it is gcas stately and as sweete, or rather stately more:/ As full
of prety prouerbs, and most dainty priuie quips,/ Of graue aduices, bitter
taunts, and passing gawling nipsh (ll.6-8).
 Ungerer (1956), pp. 48-55.
 It is listed in Gustav Ungerer, eThe Printing of Spanish Books in
Elizabethan England,f The Library, 5th
Series, 20:3 (1965), pp. 177-229 (222-228; Appendix II). Items include Amadís de Gaula (No. 4), Celestina
(9), Amadís de Grecia (21), the poems
of Juan de Mena (32) and Spanish translations of Biblical texts (6, 7), Cicero
(2, 37), Lucian (33), Girolamo Garimberto (40) and Seneca (42, 51).
 The didactic intent is also apparent in the exemplary eLifef of the
Marquis that introduces the proverbs, the choice of broken fourteeners as
verse-form, and the translation of the pitilessly long paraphrases of gD. Peter
Diaz de Toledo.h
 Allison (1974) lists 11 Spanish Romances of Chivalry translated in
the 16th century. The
number is small; the volume of material is considerable. There existed a large audience who
eagerly consumed native adventures in this genre, romances such as Maloryfs Morte dfArthur, and William of Palerne, Huon of
Bordeaux, Bevis of Hampton, Sir
Eglamour, Guy of Warwick, Sir Isumbras, Sir Triamour, constituting the
favoured literature for the reading public for a century after the
establishment of printing in England.
–Kinghorn (1971), p. 146.
 Margaret Schlauch, Antecedents
of the English Novel. 1400-1600 (London: Oxford University Press, 1963) pp.
165-166. She describes them as
gstilted translations of stilted originalsh (p. 168). I write ghad beenh because the second
half of the 16th century witnessed an evolution in Spanish taste
from the chivalric romances to the pastoral. –T. Anthony Perry, eIdeal Love and
Human Reality in Montemayorfs La Dianaf
in PMLA 84 (1969), pp. 227-234 (230).
 Underhill (1899), p. 51.
He indulges in the tendency to associate a genre with one name, that of
chivalric romances being the exception: mystical treatises – Luis de Granada;
court life – Antonio de Guevara; pastoral – Montemayor; and the picaresque –
Mendoza (putative author of Lazarillo de
 Frampton decided to translate The arte of nauigation (1581),
also dedicated to Dyer, from Pedro de Medina (?1493-?1567), gforced by
friendshippe, and also mouued by persuasion of certaine pylottes, and Masters
of shippesh (÷2r).
 The image of collecting is taken from the chirurgeon George Bakerfs
(1540-1600) The Composition or making of
the moste excellent and pretious Oil called Oleum Magistrale (1574). The title-page declares that this text
has been gFaithfully gathered and translated into English.h
 For example, in Framptonfs The most
noble and famous trauels of Marco Polo (1579), he refers those who delight
in eloquence to the original, composed in Latin, Spanish, and Italian, while
readers with only English, and who gseeke oneleye for substaunce of matter,h
are directed gto my playne translationh (aii r-v).
 At l.61, fol. 94r, of his French translation of his own eDiscours
de la medecine en vers Latins,f from his Les premières œuvres of 1569
(the French title is given for the original, as for all works, in the Table of
Contents; in the actual text, fol. 91r, it is eCalexio Svof; in the text, the
translation is not titled, simply bearing the rubric eAv Seignevr de Belestat,
Medecin Lovdvnoisf fol. 93r), in which French doctors are praised through