Immersed in this undulating landscape of vineyards and crops; these fields are such a splendid colourful melting pot, so that the painters say that they seem to be trapestries weaved by the angels in the sky.
The Spaniards have not jet discovered the Campo de Montiel in all its cultural, humanistic nor natural aspects. A trip to the 16th and 17th centuries, a walk along the streets of these villages, where the History of this country has been present in such an intensive way, takes you back in time, to a different aesthetic. It is not hard to recognise Miguel de Cervantes in the present landscape, the one who went along these ways and roads and who wrote with his skilful pen, don Quixote, the most human narration ever written in all literary times. We should not forget that to reproduce the route of some fiction characters, to get in touch with the soul of Alonso Quijano and his loyal squire, the best thing to do is to travel with them across the Campo de Montiel. The land where Quevedo’s voice and breath can still be felt; Quevedo, who since he counts on with the title of Señor (lord) of Torre de Juan Abad, tries by all means to spend his spare time in this land, especially when the Court starts being a problem for him. Quevedo loves simple life, as it shows the trend that was becoming topic at that time “Depict for the court life and praise for the life in a little village”. When asked for the real reason for being in this isolated village, he answered: “I left the Court/to live in peace with myself/because thirty three years is time enough/to serve others. I am in this sweet retiring place, and you will find me here/because I felt lost in Court”.
Miguel de Cervantes and Quevedo have always been permanent noblemen from la Mancha in the Campo de Montiel district; cultivated and noble land where Cervantes recovered his arm and Quevedo, his soul.
Now we get into Bartolomé Jiménez Patón. He was a prominent humanist from Almedina; upon the words of Menéndez Pelayo he is the “oracle of the people in La Mancha”. Jiménez Patón set connons and rules in Literature that were followed up by the colleges in La Mancha and Andalusia. Bartolomé and Francisco de Quevedo were firm supporters of Lope de Vega, in the frequent literary discussions they held at that time. It is very likely that Lope would discuss with our two erudite men, during his stays in La Mancha and that is the reason why he placed his famous comedy “El Galán de la Membrilla” in our district.
The painter Yañez was eager to study in order to improve his skills, looking for beauty concepts and ideals for immortalization. Who would had seen him in his rural atmosphere, sitting at the fire place of his humble home at Almedina, drawing ideas and sketches!.
The Campo de Montiel district was always a resting place for the soldier and poet Jorge Manrique, the author of one of the most splendid elegies ever written “verses to his father’s death”. He was the knight Commander at the Montizón Castle, a massive fortress that he turned into his shelter, the place to come back after the battle. His life passed through different riots and we often find him immersed in an intimate and deep fight: I fight on my own against myself/and it is a hard battle/and I do not find any who understand me/neither can I understand myself.
The spiritual track left by Santo Tomás de Villanueva is permanent in this district. Born in Fuenllana, he enhanced the village of Villanueva de los Infantes, where he grew up. The “venerabili magistro” was one of the most extraordinary preachers. The hagiographic tradition points out the saint’s concern about the poor people, to such extent that he was always known as the “father of the poor”. Throughout his life, he was devoted to the poor, as he understood that charity was a king of justice, but it was also alms and to be devoted to others.
With no doubt, the Campo de Montiel distric is one of the most interesting literary settings in the world.
Without doubt, the Campo de Montiel district is one of the most interesting literary settings in the world. Visiting it is a must. You have to cross its landscape and villages without hurrying; you have to read it slowly with your feet. When the Sun is the lord of the landscape, we could take a rest in a quiet and nice bar, where we will order some typical food from Don Quixote and a jug of red wine, as water for drinking is just a matter of ascetic and pious men. Delicious food from the renaissance that will be shared with the authors of the books that are beside us. And so, busy with the meal, taking into consideration the literary discussions held in an orderly and quiet way, calm and attentive, we will then enjoy the educated conversation. Before them, as well as before God, we will remain silent to listen. And we will read these texts that are marching past in an interesting and agile way through this web. These texts are simple and very descriptive, full of geographic, cultural, historical and literary accents. Texts that are based in the memories of good writers, memories that this land has carved in their minds. They are visions that help readers to unveil the heart stroke of the district whose reality is much wider than the beautiful land where it is embedded.
José María Lozano Cabezuelo