CORTE-REAL, JERONYMO (1533–1588), Portuguese epic poet, came of a noble Portuguese stock. Of the same family were Gaspar Corte-Real, who in 1500 and 1501 sailed to Labrador and the Arctic seas; and his brothers Miguel and Vasco. Their voyages opened the way for important Portuguese fisheries on the Newfoundland coast (see Henry Harrisse, Les Corte-Real et leurs voyages au Nouveau-Monde, and Gasper Corte-Real: la date exacte de sa dernière expédition au Nouveau-Monde, Paris, 1883). In his youth Jeronymo fought in Africa and Asia according to the custom of noblemen in that age. There is a tradition that he was present at the affair of Tangier on the 18th of May 1553, when D. Pedro de Menezes met his death. Returning home, it is supposed about 1570, he spent the rest of his days in retirement. In 1578 he placed his sword at the disposal of King Sebastian for the fatal expedition to Africa, but the monarch dispensed him from the journey (it is said) on account of his age, and in 1586 we find him acting as provedor of the Misericordia of Evora. He married D. Luiza da Silva, but left no legitimate issue. Corte-Real was painter as well as soldier and poet, and one of his pictures is still preserved in the church of S. Antão at Evora. His poetical works are believed to have been composed in his old age at the mansion on his estate near Evora, known as “Valle de Palma.” O Segundo cerco de Diu, an epic in 21 cantos, deals with the historic siege of that Indian island-fortress of the Portuguese. First printed in 1574, it had a second edition in 1783, while a Spanish version appeared at Alcalá in 1597. Austriada, an epic in 15 cantos celebrating the victory of Don John of Austria over the Turks at Lepanto, was written in Spanish and published in 1578. King Philip II. accepted the dedication in flattering terms and visited the poet when he came to Portugal. Naufragio de Sepulveda, an epic in 17 cantos, describes the tragic shipwreck on the South African coast and the death of D. Manoel de Sepulveda with his beautiful wife and young children, a disaster which drew some feeling stanzas from Camoens (Lusiads, v. 46). The poem was published four years after the death of Corte-Real by his heirs, and had two later editions, while a Spanish version appeared in Madrid in 1624 and a French in Paris in 1844. Auto dos quatro novissimos do homem is a short poem printed in 1768. Except the Naufragio de Sepulveda, which is highly considered in Portugal, Corte-Real’s poetry has hardly stood the test of time, and critics of later generations have refused to ratify the estimate formed by contemporaries, who considered him the equal, if not the superior, of Camoens. His lengthy epics suffer from a want of sustained inspiration, and are marred by an abuse of epithet, though they contain episodes of considerable merit, vigorous and well-coloured descriptive passages, and exhibit a pure diction.
See Subsidios para a biographia do poeta Jeronymo Corte-Real (Evora, 1899); also Ernesto do Canto’s Memoir on the family in Nos. 23 and 24 of the Archivo dos Azores, and Dr Sousa Viterbo’s Trabalhos nauticos dos Portuguezes, ii. 153 et seq. (E. Pr.)