Did Lope earn money from his works? Could he live off of it?

Yes, Lope de Vega earned money from the performances of his plays and from his books. As a matter of fact, he earned quite a bit of money, to the point where what he earned reached unprecedented sums in the theater.

Despite the fact that he earned a decent sum, it was not enough for him. The closure of the theaters during long stretches of time by order of the King, and the two families that he had to maintain over many years forced him to seek other income, which he did putting himself at the service of noblemen as a secretary.

There are several documents that show the amount that Lope earned for his works. Here we find the settlements from Pedro Valdes' company, the receipts from the Royal Palace, from the Gaspar Porres' company, Pedro Jiménez Valenzuela's... for each play that he submitted to be performed, Lope earned around 500 reales, but there are also rewarding exceptions, as shown in the receipt of the Queen's order in the amount of 150 ducats for the "service of the comedy El vellocino dorado".

The patrons, people or institutions that protected the creators, were the great aspiration of the baroque writers and other artists. All of them sought a noble or regal patronage. Lope, in his last years, between 1627 and 1635, worked to gain the protection of the Crown and struggled as an artist between adulation and deception in order to achieve that stable patronage.

"He was the wealthiest and poorest poet of our times. Richest because the gifts of the nobles and individuals reach ten thousand ducats; what they valued the comedies counted at five hundred reales, eighty thousand ducats; the autos, six thousand, the earning from the printings, one thousand six hundred." (Juan Pérez de Montalbán).

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