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Bernie Cantens

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The nature of the Spanish Renaissance was very different from that in other parts of Europe, particularly insofar as it affected philosophical, political, and legal thought. In Spain, it was Catholicism, the Counter-Reformation, and the discovery of the New World that influenced the development of philosophy and moral-political thinking. The first part of this essay provides an overview of some of the most prominent issues and philosophical movements that arose during this period, focusing on the works of Domingo Báñez, O.P. (1528–1604), Luis Molina, S.J. (1535–1600), and Francisco Suárez, S.J. (1548–1617). It then moves to a consideration of mysticism, particularly the mystical practice of Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582), and its ramifications for philosophy. The second part of the essay provides an overview of Francisco de Vitoria, O.P.’s (1485–1546) legal thought and just war theory.

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Jeffrey Schrader

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Visual and literary records from the 16th and 17th centuries confirm Spain as a realm of enterprising artists and patrons. Artistic opportunities arose with changes in society as the Monarchy expanded its borders, consolidated power, and unified much of the Iberian Peninsula under its rule. International commerce and travel encouraged the taste for arts from European, American, and Asian lands. Even in periods of economic or political difficulty, painters and sculptors availed themselves of the potential to advance in new directions. Art historians have characterized this artistic period as the Siglo de Oro, or Golden Age, borrowing a term from the field of literature. While the chronological boundaries and even the length of this siglo remain loosely defined, its height of artistic quality coincides with internationally recognized figures like El Greco (ca. 1541–1614), Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682). This essay examines developments in painting and sculpture through major styles and periods, with special attention to the pluralism of the decades surrounding 1492. A separate section is devoted to plastic arts at the Habsburg courts.

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Ignacio Navarrete and Elizabeth Ashcroft Terry-Roisin

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In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Kings and Queens of Aragon and Castile consolidated their power, brought the nobility under their control, and established a new, royal court in Madrid. In the War for Castilian Succession, the War for Granada, and the Comuneros Revolt, nobles were a potent military and economic force. In some cases, they became patrons of art and literature. In the Spanish Empire of the 16th century, they would compete with lawyers and humanists for the most coveted positions at the royal court, or at viceregal courts from Naples to the New World. Administrative positions, personal proximity to the crown in courtier posts, and military and viceregal posts all enabled the nobility to serve the new empire. Within this context, a literature of courtiership developed, most exemplified by Castiglione’s The Courtier and its imitations, but also parodies, as represented by picaresque novels. Although by the 17th century the royal court was firmly established in Madrid, other significant courts existed throughout the Hispanic world.

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J.A. Garrido Ardila

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In the late 15th and the 16th centuries, the combination of Italian influences and burgeoning humanism rendered the gradual transformation of Spanish literature. Noblemen relished Petrarchan poetry and chivalric fiction, and the growing middle class demanded literature that told of their daily worries and pleasures. As a result, Spanish letters engendered a rich and affluent body of Renaissance literature characterized by classicism and Petrachanism, philosophical humanism, and many forms of social protorealism. This chapter explores the evolutions of the three main literary genres in Renaissance Spain, from the end of the Middle Ages to the rise of Baroquism. It traces the development of poetic trends from Santillana and Manrique in the 15th century to the popularization of Italianate forms by Boscán and Garcilaso, and the humanist and religious poetry of Luis de León and St John of the Cross. It continues with an account of the birth of secular theater with the courtly plays of Encina, the popular comedies of Torres Naharro and Sánchez de Badajoz, and the professionalization of theater with the proliferation of itinerant companies, like Rueda’s, and the opening of the corrales. Finally, a discussion of fiction distinguishes between romances and the new realistic fiction that developed from the dialogical novels Celestina and Lozana, leading to the picaresque novels and ultimately to Don Quixote.

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Harald E. Braun

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This chapter outlines the challenges of governing 15th-century Castile and Aragon. The analysis reaches from the reigns of Alfonso V el Magnánimo of Aragon (r. 1416–1458) and John II of Castile (r. 1406–1454) respectively to the union of the two crowns through the marriage of Isabella I of Castile (r. 1474–1504) and Ferdinand II of Aragon (r. 1479–1516). The chapter describes a trend towards gradual consolidation of royal authority which aligns the two kingdoms with developments elsewhere in Europe during the 15th century. The focus is on Iberian politics—dynastic conflict and the struggle to establish, maintain and expand monarchical authority in terms of jurisdiction, taxation and representation. Among 15th-century rulers of Castile and Aragon, Isabella and Ferdinand have received noticeably more scholarly attention than their predecessors. One reason is that Los Reyes Católicos—members of the same dynasty, the House of Trastámara, ruling over disparate kingdoms—by and large succeeded in their quest to strengthen royal authority and pacify their kingdoms. They appeared to have laid the foundations for the breathtaking pace of expansion overseas and involvement in European confessional politics under their Habsburg successors Charles I (Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor) and his son Philip II. Yet the period of uncertainty from the death of Isabella (1504) to the troubled accession of her grandson Charles I (1516) serves as a reminder of the continually precarious nature of late medieval and Early Modern monarchical government.

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Elizabeth Teresa Howe

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Renaissance Europe witnessed a flowering of learning based on a rising literacy rate and increasing access to written texts due to the appearance of the printing press in the late 15th-century. What began in Trecento Italy quickly spread to other European countries, not least among them Spain. While the advantages of literacy and publishing predominantly accrued to men, women were by no means excluded from advances introduced during the Renaissance.

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Lía Schwartz and Susan Byrne

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Since emerging as a field in the 1930s, intellectual history has been “fascinated with the Renaissance” (Hankins 2007, 338). Given the unparalleled artistic flourishing, philosophical exploration, intellectual, disciplinary, and cultural developments of that period in history, modern-day fascination with Early Modern mores is easily understood. Intellectual life in the Spanish Renaissance was driven by an over-riding desire for education, as well as its ever-increasing availability in universities old and new throughout Spain’s vast territorial holdings. Ancient and classical sources that had been lost were celebrated when rediscovered, then discussed and debated in economic, political, philosophical, theological, legal and creative spheres. Private and institutional library holdings show that readers avidly consumed newly available Latin translations of ancient and classical authors, and the openness of Spanish intellectual life during the Renaissance stands in direct contrast to later portrayals of a rigidly-Catholic, out-of-touch Spain that began to be painted by the beginning of the 18th century. This article reviews educational norms and deviations, as well as Court practices and creative expression to trace the dissemination of ideas and knowledge in the various cultural spheres listed above. Broadly, we provide an overview of 14th–15th century interactions among Aragonese, Castilian and Italian humanists, then examine the particular resonance of Neoplatonic and Neostoic thought in Renaissance Spanish letters.

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Edited by Hilaire Kallendorf

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Michael J. Levin

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This essay examines how modern historians have described European perceptions of Spain and Spaniards during the Early Modern period. The story begins with the development of the infamous “Black Legend of Spain.” Many Northern Europeans thought of Spaniards as being different, either because of their Catholicism or because of Spain’s Jewish and Muslim cultural heritage; thus formed the common stereotype of Spaniards as cruel, lazy, backwards, and fanatically religious. But the historiography of how Early Modern Europeans perceived Spain is also inextricably linked with the question of how Early Modern Spaniards perceived themselves, and this issue in turn is shaped by how modern historians think about Spain. The problem of how to define “Spain” and “Spanishness” is a vexed and fascinating one, which has provoked controversy since the 15th century, and shows no signs of abating.

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Edited by Hilaire Kallendorf