Published two years before Antonio de Nebrija' s splendid Diccionario latino-español, Alfonso Fernández de Palencia's Universal Vocabulario has not aroused among the critics the enthusiasm it deserves. This Spanish humanist's work has been frequently described as medieval. Furthermore, there is enough evidence to state unmistakably that Palencia's dictionary follows very closely Papias' Elementarium Doctrinae Durimentum. In fact, Palencia takes Papias' work as a starting point, whom he copies literally. But it is a reflexive and selective copy, not the kind of hurried plagiarism we are used to in lexicography. Palencia laboured over Papias' work until he turned his own Universal Vocabulario into the threshold of modern lexicography which starts definitely from Nebrija's dictionaries: a) As constrasted with other dictionaries of the same period, the Universal Vocabulario sometimes includes several meanings under a single entry. b) Palencia is different from other contemporary lexicographers because he tries to form small lexematic groupings. c) He resorts to drawings in order to illustrate the explanations given for the entries. The use of drawings reveals the pedagogical aim inspiring him in the planning of his work, rather than his unability to give definitions. This pedagogical aim is reflected in the many classical authors' quotations and examples included. All these features —except for the drawings which will not appear again until the XVth century with Francisco Rosal— can be found in the most successful and well-known dictionaries of the XVth and XVIth centuries: in Rodrigo Fernández de Santaella's Vocabularium ecclesiasticum (Sevilla, 1499) and in Diego Jiménez Arias' Lexicon ecclesiaticum (Salamanca, 1566). Therefore, the Universal Vocabulario arises in the history of Spanish lexicography as a perfect hinge between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also as the first link of a chain which goes without a break for centuries except for Nebrija, who steps out of line in points where his immediate predecessor had made important progress.
Lexicografía; Diccionarios; Universal Vocabulario en latín y romance; Fernández de Palencia, Alfonso