Juan Nicasio Gallego

Juan Nicasio Gallego

Juan Nicasoi Gallego was a Spanish priest and poet; born in Zamora, Spain, 14 December, 1777, he died in Madrid, 9 January, 1853.

He received his training at Salamanca; entering into Holy orders, he soon went to Madrid, where he was given a post in the royal palace, being made director of the royal pages. His feelings as a patriot and his love for pseudo-classicism led him to associate himself with the coterie about the poet Manuel José Quintana, and to imitate the latter's metres. It is by virtue of only seven odes and elegies that Gallego is known. Of these the first was the ode, "A la defensa de Buenos Ayres" (1807), directed against the British invasions of the Río de la Plata. Another was his elegy on the death of the Duchess of Frias.

With intensified liberal tendencies, Gallego presented himself for election and was returned a deputy to the Cortes Generales. He had consistently opposed Napoleon's invasion of Spain, with both pen and voice, yet the despotic Ferdinand VII, after his return in 1814, imprisoned him because of his liberalism. During the second constitutional period, now free again, he was appointed Archdeacon of Valencia. The Royal Spanish Academy took him into its membership, and made him its perpetual secretary. The most famous of the few compositions left by Gallego is the elegy "El Dos de Mayo", which commemorates the events of 2 May, 1808, when the opposition presented to the French troops by three hundred (aprox.) Spaniards (both civilians and militarymen) commanded by artillery captains Daoiz and Velarde, and infantery lieutenant Ruiz, inspired a general rising in Spain against Napoleon. Gallego's words, urging his countrymen to resist unto death, are said to have had a major effect.

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