Almost all the poets of the 16th and 17th centuries tried their powers in both kinds of versification. Thus Lope de Vega, first of all, who wrote La Dragontea (1598), La Hermosura de Angelica (1602), La Jerusalem conquistada (1609), in Italian verses and in octaves, composed his long narrative poem on Isidore, the patron of Madrid (1599), in quintillas of octosyllabic verse, not to mention a great number of romances. The 17th century is characterized by a superabundance of lyric poetry. Gongora in troduced into Castilian poetry the baroque style, characterized by sonorous diction, artificial arrangements of phrase and a system of inversions based on Latin syntax; but Gongora, a poet of really great powers, had begun with romances in which he found true poetic accents, ingenious ideas and felicitous expressions. Quevedo, much greater in prose than in verse, displays real power only in satire, epigram and parody. There is in some of his serious pieces the stuff of a Juvenal, and his satiric and burlesque romances, of which several are written in slang (germania), are in their way little masterpieces. Tasso's epic was inspired by Gerusalemme; when the author happens to have taken part in the events he narrates, it has a genuine historical interest. Alonso de Ercilla's Araucana was written less with a pen than with a pike. La Gatomaquia of Lope de Vega, and La Moschea of Villaviciosa (d. 1658) show witty invention.
style of Mateo Aleman is eloquent, full, with long and learned periods, sometimes diffuse. (See PICARESQUE NovEL.) By degrees the picaresque romance was combined with the novel of Italian origin and gave rise to a new type—half novel of manners, half romance of adventure—of which the character istic example appears to be the Marcos de Obregon (1618) of Vicente Martinez Espinel, one of the best written works of the 17th century. To the same class belong almost all the novels of Alonso Jeronimo de Salas Barbadillo, Luiz Velez de Guevara and Francisco Santos's popular pictures of life in Madrid, Dia y noche de Madrid (1663), Periquillo, el de las gallineras, etc. On the other hand, the novels of Tirso de Molina (Los Cigarrales de Toledo, 1624), Perez de Montalban (Para todos, 1632), Maria de Zayas (Novelas, 1635-1647), are more in the manner of the Novelas exemplares of Cervantes, and consequently of the Italian type. Among the so-called historical romances may be mentioned the Guerras civiles de Granada (1595-1604) by Gines Perez de Hita, which describes the last years of the kingdom of Granada.
Don Quixote (1605-15), the masterpiece of Cervantes (q.v.), is too great a work to be treated with others. It is the social romance of 16th and 17th century Spain. The purpose was not to ridicule the books of chivalry, which were already out of fashion by his time, but to show by an example pushed to absurdity the danger of those prejudices of pure blood and nobler race with which three-fourths of the nation were imbued, and which, by the scorn of all useful labour which they involved, were destined to bring Spain to ruin. The lesson is all the more effective, as Cervantes's hidalgo, although ridiculous, wins our sympathy.