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Queen Isabel I of Castile

Queen Isabel I of Castile: Power, Patronage, Persona

Edited By Barbara F. Weissberger
Series: Monografías A
Volume: 253
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 262
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  • Book Info
    Queen Isabel I of Castile
    Book Description:

    This multidisciplinary volume was inspired by the quincentenary of the death of Queen Isabel I of Castile, early modern Europe's first powerful queen regnant. Comprising work by distinguished art historians, musicologists, historians, and literary scholars from England, Spain, and the United States, it begins with a theoretical examination of medieval queenship itself that argues - against the grain of the volume - for its inseparability from kingship. Several essays examine the complex ways in which the Queen and her advisers shaped the music, literature, architecture, and painting of fifteenth-century Spain and how these in turn shaped the sovereign's power and persona. Others analyze influences on Isabel's reign from Aragón, Portugal, and northern Europe. A third group deals with issues of periodization, arguing from a variety of perspectives for the modernity of Isabelline culture. The evolving construction of Isabel's image from the mid-fifteenth to the late-twentieth century is also studied. BARBARA WEISSBERGER is Associate Professor Emerita of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Minnesota. OTHER CONTRIBUTORS:Rafael Domínguez Casas, Theresa Earenfight, Michael Gerli, Chiyo Ishikawa, Tess Knighton, Kenneth Kreitner, Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt, Nancy F. Marino, William D. Phillips, Jr., Emilio Ros-Fábregas, Ronald E. Surtz.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-668-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxiv)

    Hasta la Reina Isabel baila el danzón is the title of a brief documentary made by Cuban filmmaker Luis Felipe Bernaza in 1991.¹ The striking title is actually the first line of the estribillo, or refrain, of a well-known danzón, a Cuban dance rhythm popular during the first half of the twentieth century: “Hasta la Reina Isabel baila el danzón, porque es un ritmo muy suave y sabrosón” [Even Queen Isabel dances the danzón, because it’s a very smooth and delicious rhythm].² Bernaza’s comic documentary is structured around a series of interviews, most extensively with Marta González Paret, a palm...

  6. Part 1. Influence:: Aragon, Portugal, and Northern Europe

    • “Two Bodies, One Spirit: Isabel and Fernando’s Construction of Monarchical Partnership”
      (pp. 3-18)

      How did Isabel the princess become Isabel the queen? I mean this not in the legal sense of “how”–that is, the problem of her inheritance of the Kingdom of Castile from her half brother Enrique and her successful fight to keep it, which has been often and well studied. What concerns me here is the more complex “become,” meaning the transformation of a young princess relatively unschooled in the arts of governance into a queen who ruled in her own right. When considering the process of becoming a queen, some scholars have focused on the impact that her mother,...

    • “Isabel of Castile’s Portuguese Connections and the Opening of the Atlantic”
      (pp. 19-28)

      All the aspects of the life and times of Queen Isabel I of Castile discussed in this volume would not have been quite so important in world history but for the overriding fact that Isabel was responsible for the projection of Castile into the Americas, thus creating a European connection with the western hemisphere. In this essay, I examine the role Isabel played in the opening of the Atlantic through the lens of her Portuguese connections.

      Castile might well have embarked on its American venture if Isabel had not become queen. Castile and Portugal had Atlantic interests that would probably...

    • “Isabel of Castile and Her Music Books: Franco-Flemish Song in Fifteenth-Century Spain”
      (pp. 29-52)

      In the late 1440s and early 1450s, Alfonso de Palencia (1423–92), a young Castilian scholar and prebendary of Burgos Cathedral who later served Queen Isabel as royal chronicler and adviser, traveled to Rome.¹ According to a route outlined in his Tratado de la perfección del triunfo militar, he traveled through Castile to Barcelona, north and east through southern France, across the Alps and down to Florence, continuing south to Siena, Perugia, Rimini, and Rome. He is much struck by what he sees and experiences on his travels, particularly by Florence, and has the opportunity both in that city and...

  7. Part 2. Patronage:: Reciprocal Relationships

    • “The Reciprocal Construction of Isabelline Book Patronage”
      (pp. 55-70)

      Although Fernando and Isabel funded the printing of many books whose authors expressed their gratitude in a dedication to both monarchs, this essay will examine a series of texts dedicated to Isabel alone and therefore presumably sponsored or commissioned by her. To the extent that I am interested in the public dimension of the Queen’s patronage, that is, the role of that patronage in crafting her self-image or in inspiring the images that others sought to impose upon her, I consider only works that she appears to have commissioned or whose printing she welcomed or funded, and thus I exclude...

    • “Hernando de Talavera and Isabelline Imagery”
      (pp. 71-82)

      The Retablo de Isabel la Católica is one of the best-known works of art produced in Castile during the late fifteenth century, notable not only for its exquisite artistic quality but for its reflection of the Castilian landscape, architecture, and multiethnic population as well. The placement of distant biblical narratives within a contemporary Spanish setting is evidence of Queen Isabel’s strong identification with the religious models of Christ and the Virgin Mary, which played an undeniable role in her public policy. In this paper, I shall suggest that the paintings’ visual relation to contemporary Spanish life goes beyond the popular...

    • “Melodies for Private Devotion at the Court of Queen Isabel”
      (pp. 83-107)

      This essay draws attention to a particular way of transforming secular melodies into works of piety and devotion for performance at the court of Queen Isabel. Curiously enough, we know about this kind of performance not from music sources, but from a collection of poetry written by the Franciscan friar Ambrosio Montesino (c. 1450–1514), preacher and confessor to the Catholic Monarchs. After reviewing some aspects of his life and works, I will turn to his sacred poems written for distinguished members of the clergy and the nobility–including Queen Isabel–and to the tunes that he indicated should be...

    • “The Queen at War: Shared Sovereignty and Gender in Representations of the Granada Campaign”
      (pp. 108-120)

      The recapture of the Islamic kingdom of Granada was one of the crowning achievements of the joint reign of Isabel of Castile (1451–1504) and Fernando of Aragon (1452–1516). They committed manpower, resources, money, and approximately ten years of their rule to the effort, finally achieving victory in 1492. As with all the other actions and decisions of their reign, however, it is necessary to set this achievement in the context of shared sovereignty. They prosecuted the war together, and a complete understanding of the endeavor requires a careful investigation of the roles played by each monarch in achieving...

  8. Part 3. Period:: From Medieval to Modern

    • “The Artistic Patronage of Isabel the Catholic: Medieval or Modern?”
      (pp. 123-148)

      One of the strategies used by Isabel to fashion her public image was artistic patronage. In this essay, I examine four aspects of her activity in this area: the creation and use of royal emblems; the construction, furnishing, and decoration of royal palaces; the sponsoring of paintings for a variety of uses; and the commissioning of religious architecture. In examining these aspects of the Queen’s patronage, I will address the question of whether she was guided by a medieval or modern vision. For purposes of this discussion, I define medieval patronage as consisting of the acquisition of works of art...

    • “Conflictive Subjectivity and the Politics of Truth and Justice in Cárcel de Amor”
      (pp. 149-168)

      With few exceptions (see Márquez Villanueva 1966, 1976; Weissberger 1992; and Rohland de langbehn 1989), most approaches to Diego de San Pedro’s Cárcel de Amor have dwelled on the work’s formal or generic aspects, its place in the emotive universe of courtly love and sentimental fiction, or questions regarding the identity and the possible religious affiliations of its author (see chiefly Whinnom 1974; and Rohland de langbehn 1989), often separating the work from the identifiable historical human context in which it was conceived. Yet Cárcel de Amor’s explicit portrayal of the enactment of justice at court, plus its mention of...

    • “Juan de Anchieta and the Rest of the World”
      (pp. 169-185)

      One of the best things that the age of Isabel and Fernando left behind is a repertory of sacred music. We have a fair amount of it–impossible to count accurately at the moment for all the question marks and asterisks, but certainly a couple of hundred pieces, including at least twenty Masses–and at its best it is very fine music indeed. I enthusiastically recommend this music to anyone who wants to listen. I also think it contains a story that can shed light on Isabel and her goals.¹

      To put it broadly and somewhat bluntly, at the time...

    • “Inventing the Catholic Queen: Images of Isabel I in History and Fiction”
      (pp. 186-200)

      In the five hundred years since her death in November 1504, the renown of Isabel I of Castile seems to have never waned. On the contrary, she is more universally recognized by different cultures worldwide in the twentyfirst century than she was in the fifteenth. As Isabel’s fame grew over the years, her story expanded with it, acquiring the attributes of myth or legend. The most common image of Isabel as queen regnant is based on a series of events that occurred during her reign, which saw the unification of Castile and Aragon into one nation, the successful conclusion of...

    (pp. 201-222)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 223-238)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. None)