Book of Good Love

ms. 2663 - Universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Libro de Buen Amor, Buch der guten Liebe, Livre de Bon Amour

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Alternate Titles

Libro de Buen Amor
Buch der guten Liebe
Livre de Bon Amour

Extent / Format

105 pages / 28.0 x 21.0 cm

Between the late 14th century and the early 15th century

Alfonso de Paradinas

Artist / School

Author: Juan Ruiz, Arcipreste de Hita

Short description

A mysterious author with the name Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, composed this gem of Spanish literature during the first half of the 14th century: the so-called Libro de buen amor, the Book of Good Love. In contrast to what was typical for the time, this book not only deals with the spiritual love of God, but also with profane love. The author presents stories of his amorous adventures, but also allegories and lyric tales. With the compendium at hand from Salamanca, Alfonso de Paradinas finally produced the best copy of the Libro de buen amor.

Facsimile editions available


Book of Good Love

The Book of Good Love, also known as Libro de los cantares, is the only known work by the mysterious author named Juan Ruiz de Cisneros, Archpriest of Hita (ca. 1283-1350). Juan Ruiz de Cisneros was a Spanish poet, who was particularly able to provoke spirituality with his Libro de buen amor. This was also probably the reason for his arrest and imprisonment by the Archbishop Gil Albornoz of Toledo.

A Potpourri of Profane Love

The Libro de buen amor appears in two editions from the years 1330 and 1343 – in an improved and revised form. In the field of research, this work by Juan Ruiz is considered to be a highpoint of Spanish literature and as one of the most entertaining books of the entire Middle Ages. Here, the author assembled wonderful testimonials to his narrative ability and satirical humor. There is a prayer at the beginning of the book, but what follows thereafter are not spiritual but rather profane themes. The entertaining tales from his amorous adventures were spiced up by the author with interspersed allegories, fables, and lyrical tales.

Entertainment with a Biting Deeper Meaning

This work did not merely pursue the aim of providing light entertainment for the reader, but simultaneously offered the author the opportunity for subtle criticism. In the so-called Ensiemplos (funny comments), Juan Ruiz chalked up the moral customs of his time and makes fun of the prevailing rules such as the ban on contact between clerics and women.

The Best Edition

This literary work was certainly highly revered by readers. Today it survives in three medieval specimens. The most comprehensive thereof was made for the library of the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomé in Salamanca at the end of 14th or beginning of the 15th century, where it is still stored today. The scribe was probably Alfonso de Paradinas (1395-1485), a Spanish cleric, bishop, and follower of the fresh thinking of the Renaissance. Paradinas had the Iglesia de Santiago de los Españoles erected as Spain’s national cathedral in Rome, the modern-day Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore, inter alia.

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