Week 19

Juan Ruiz's extraordinary Book of Good Love is a great example of the strange and distorted world of Fourteenth Century Europe. All over Europe, the post-Black Death period produced amazing and very worldly works of literature with lots of sex and lots of scandal. (Chaucer, Boccaccio)


Juan Ruiz (ca. 1283 to ca. 1350), known as the Archpriest of Hita (Arcipreste de Hita), was a medieval Spanish poet. He is best known for his ribald, earthy poem, Libro de buen amor (The Book of Good Love). He was born either in Alcalá de Henares, or perhaps Alcalá la Real, a village of Jaén, then part of al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain. Little is known about him today, save that he was a cleric and probably studied in Toledo. Though his birth name is known to be Juan Ruiz, he is widely referred to by his title of "archpriest of Hita." According to his own book, he was imprisoned for years, thought to be between 1337 to 1350, as punishment for some of his deeds (if the poem is any guide, they were quite inconsistent with his position as priest). However, the poem has long been considered as pseudo-autobiography and the verses that mention his imprisonment appear at the end of the book and are generally thought to have been added after the fact. One of his poems states that he was imprisoned on the order of Gil Albornoz, archbishop of Toledo. It is not known whether he was sentenced for his irregularities of conduct, or on account of his satirical reflections on his ecclesiastical superiors. Nor is it possible to fix the precise date of his imprisonment. Albornoz nominally occupied the see of Toledo from 1337 to 1368, but he fell into disgrace in 1351 and fled to Avignon. A consideration of these circumstances points to the probable conclusion that Ruiz was in prison from 1337 to 1350.(Wikipedia)


Chris Lowney, Chapter 17. "A Common Life Shared Among Three Faiths"

Chris Lowney,

A Vanished World: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Spain,

Oxford University Press (2006),

ISBN 0195311914