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Treacherous Foundations

Treacherous Foundations: Betrayal and Collective Identity in Early Spanish Epic, Chronicle, and Drama

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    Treacherous Foundations
    Book Description:

    Treacherous Foundations is the first sustained study of the theme of treachery in the founding myths of the Iberian Peninsula. It considers literary versions, in epic, chronicle and theatre, of the legends of Fernán González, Bernardo del Carpio and King Sancho II from medieval and early modern Spain and compares the representation of treachery across two critical periods in Spanish history, assessing its political, ideological, and cultural function. This book explores the role played by representations of treachery in foundational texts in highlighting the ideological tensions that arise from movements toward the creation of collective identities. It discusses in particular visions of nationhood and the monarchical state in the thirteenth and late sixteenth centuries. The theme of treachery is expanded to cover all aspects of treason and political disloyalty and, engaging with loyalty, trust and the nature of kingship, the volume sheds new light on aspects of Spanish cultural and political history, and provides insight into the nature of myth and collective memory, historical change and the collective response to crisis. GERALDINE COATES lectures in Medieval Spanish Literature at the University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-772-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-37)

    The rise and fall of states was a source of fascination for the classical world. For some writers, the succession of growth and demise was inevitable and predestined: Orosius (385-420) imagined the empire in perpetual rise and fall like the movement of the sea, whilst Polybius (c. 204-122 BC) spoke of constitutional forms of society experiencing cycles of growth, decay, and lapse.¹ Theories of decline, however, often imputed the downfall of a community to a single, treacherous act. One of the darkest theories comes from theEpodesof Horace (65 BC -8 BC), in which the origins of civil strife...

  5. 2 Trauma and Triumph in the Poema de Fernán González
    (pp. 38-75)

    The waves of unification and expansion that shaped the geography of thirteenth-century Iberia created an imaginative setting for its literature.The Poema de Fernán González, whether written at the end of the triumphant phase of reconquest by Ferdinand III, or during the reign of his son Alfonso X, foregrounds the theme of growth and conquest.¹ Announcing its business as that of telling ‘commo cobro s’la tierra toda de mar a mar’ (2d), the poem concedes that a tale of loss must come first, ‘Contar vos primero de commo la perdieron’ (3a).² Implicit in this caveat is that the ideology of...

  6. 3 ‘Et si desto menguas’: Imperial Decline in the Estoria de España
    (pp. 76-112)

    The connection between father and son is at the foundations of theEstoria de España(1252-84). One of the final chapters of the chronicle describes the words of King Ferdinand, on his deathbed in 1252, to his eldest son Alfonso X, outlining the responsibilities and objectives awaiting the new King of Castile and Leon:

    fijo, rico fincas de tierra et de muchos buenos vasallos, mas que rey que en la cristiandat sea; punna en fazer bien et ser bueno, ca bien as con que [. . .] Ssennor te dexo de toda la tierra de la mar aca, que los...

  7. 4 ¿Traición tan provada? Treachery Refashioned in Juan de la Cueva
    (pp. 113-152)

    As we move from the medieval world to the Golden Age, the chronicler Florián de Ocampo provides a bridge in literary and historiographical terms. HisCrónica general de Españaof 1541, which revived the heroic genealogy of Spain and its foundational epic tales when Spain was at the height of success in its overseas conquests, was the principal literary source for the historical theatre of the playwright Juan de la Cueva (1543-1612).¹ Both Ocampo and Cueva interpret history in a way that will showcase its meaning for the wider group but whereas Ocampo concentrates upon the glorious nature of the...

  8. 5 The Historical Vision of Lope de Vega: Castile and Castidad
    (pp. 153-195)

    The final stage of this diachronic analysis explores Lope de Vega’s development of foundational legends in four plays dating from the late sixteenth century to the early seventeenth:El casamiento en la muerte(1595-97),Las mocedades de Bernardo del Carpio(1599-1608),El conde Fernán González(1606-12), andLas almenas de Toro(1610-19).¹ Like Juan de la Cueva, Lope uses Florián de Ocampo’sCrónica generalfor source material, but retains more verbal and thematic links with the chronicle than Cueva, illustrating his sensitivity toward its literary qualities and poetic traits, and his awareness of their power in inspiring and exciting the...

  9. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 196-202)

    This diachronic study has focused on the way in which treachery—understood as foundational violation, juridical category, and complex literary motif—invites us to consider tensions inherent in the processes of collective identity formation at two compelling points in Iberian history, and to think about these tensions as integral to the production of that identity. The sheer malleability of the concept of treachery has been a constant theme of this enquiry, throughout both medieval and early modern contexts, building up a picture of the complex relationship between central authority and marginal identities, and challenging myths of political hegemony.

    The medieval...

    (pp. 203-228)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 229-237)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 238-238)