Iñigo Lopez de Mendoza, marqués de Santillana (August 19, 1398 - March 25, 1458), Castilian poet, was born at Carrión de los Condes in Old Castile.
His father, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, grand admiral of Castile, having died in 1405, the boy was educated under the eye of his mother, Doña Leonor de la Vega, a woman of great strength of character. From his eighteenth year onwards he became an increasingly prominent figure at the court of Juan II of Castile, distinguishing himself in both civil and military service; he was created marqués de Santillana and conde del Real de Manzanares for the part he took in the battle of Olmedo (May 19, 1455). In the struggle of the Castilian nobles against the influence of the constable Álvaro de Luna he showed great moderation, but in 1452 he joined the combination which effected the fall of the favourite in the following year. From the death of Juan II in 1454 Mendoza took little part in public affairs, devoting himself mainly to the pursuits of literature and to pious meditation. He died at Guadalajara on the 25th of March 1458.
Mendoza shares with Juan de Villalpando the distinction of introducing the sonnet into Castile, but his productions in this class are conventional metrical exercises. He was much more successful in the serranilla and vaqueira--highland pastorals after the Provençal manner. His rhymed collection of Proverbios de gloriosa doctrina y fructuosa enseñanza was prepared for the use of Don Enrique, the heir-apparent. To the same didactic category belong the hundred and eighty stanzas entitled Diálogo de Bías contra Fortuna, while the Doctrinal de Privados is a bitter denunciation of Álvaro de Luna. The Comedieta de Pouza is a Dantesque dream-dialogue, in octave stanzas (de arte mayor), founded on the disastrous sea-fight off Ponza in 1425, when the kings of Aragon and Navarre and the Infante Enrique were taken prisoners by the Genoese. The three last-named compositions are the best of Santillana's more ambitious poems, but they are deficient in the elegant simplicity of the serranillas. These unpretentious songs are in every Spanish anthology, and are familiar even to uneducated Spaniards.