In this winner of the Premio Nacional de Narrativa, Spain’s most prestigious literary prize, Miguel Delibes takes us into the heart of sixteenth-century Spain. At the very moment Martin Luther nails his ninety-five theses to a church door and launches the movement that will divide the Roman Catholic Church, a child is born, his fate marked by the political and religious upheaval taking root in Europe. His mother having perished in childbirth, his father alienated and disconnected, Cipriano Salcedo’s only source of affection is his wet nurse and foster mother, Minerva. He grows up to become a prosperous merchant and joins the Reformation movement, which is secretly advancing on the Iberian Peninsula, the historical bastion of the Catholic church. But before long, the Spanish Inquisition will drive the Reformers to put their lives at stake. Through the story of Cipriano Salcedo, Delibes paints a masterful portrait of the time of Spain’s Charles V and recreates with uncanny accuracy and unparalleled artistry the social and intellectual atmosphere of Europe at one of history’s most pivotal moments.
Winner of the 1999 Spanish literary prize, the Premio Nacional de Narrative, Delibes's assured historical novel takes place in the Spanish city of Valladolid, where Cipriano Salcedo is born on October 31, 1517, the same day Martin Luther nails his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Deprived of his mother, who dies shortly after childbirth, and alienated from his self-absorbed father, Cipriano grows up a wealthy bourgeois tormented by an overly acute conscience. He marries Teodomira, an earthy daughter of a sheep farmer who ultimately suffers a pitiful fate. After meeting theologians Agust n, Pedro Cazalla and Don Carlos de Seso, Cipriano converts to Lutheranism and quickly becomes a leading member of the local underground Protestant Reformation, working to win other converts and even traveling to Germany for the movement. When the Inquisition arrests a sect member, the entire group including Cipriano is exposed and all are arrested. Delibes (The Hedge, etc.) weaves an engrossing tapestry of historical and theological minutiae, but the character of Cipriano is an allegorical, everyman figure. The real protagonist of this novel is the 16th-century incarnation of the author's hometown, Valladolid, which he recreates in lucid detail.