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Majesty and Humanity

Majesty and Humanity: Kings and Their Doubles in the Political Drama of the Spanish Golden Age

Alban K. Forcione
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Majesty and Humanity
    Book Description:

    In the Golden Age of Spanish Theater, an age of highly dramatized coronations and regal spectacles, Alban Forcione has discovered a surprising but persistent preoccupation with the disrobing of the king. In both the celebrations of majesty and the enthrallment with its unveiling, he finds the chilling recesses in which a culture struggled to reconcile the public and the private, society and the individual, the monarch and the man.

    In brilliantly reinterpreting two of Lope de Vega's plays, long regarded as conventional royalist propaganda, Forcione places his texts in the context of political and institutional history, philosophy, theology, and art history. In so doing he shows how Spanish theater anticipated the decisive changes in human consciousness that characterized the ascendance of the absolutist state and its threat to the cultivation of individuality, authenticity, and humanity.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15330-9
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: Removing the Royal Frame: Ghostly Images or Stately Illusions?
    (pp. 1-23)

    Historians routinely designate the seventeenth century the Age of Absolutism, the greatest age of kings. It was a period of grandiose expansions of the royal figure—splendid palaces, courts, and royal stages for his display; monumental statues and paintings depicting his royal image and regalia; epics, panegyrics, and dramas celebrating his achievements and the providential movement of history toward the establishment of his glorious rule; and voluminous political theories reasserting in the most elaborate terms traditional conceptions of his suprahuman, even divine, identity. This study aims at identifying a countercurrent in the political and literary culture of the period and...

  5. 1 King and Philosopher: El villano en su rincón
    (pp. 24-100)

    The various studies that exist on Lope de Vega’sEl villano en su rincón, one of his most puzzling political plays, have focused on its confrontation of king and peasant-philosopher in a way that fails to do justice to the complexity of its engagement with the problematics of royal power. They have seen the play as a kind of ritual, a static enactment of power, or, in Marcel Bataillon’s words, a “political mass”—“a Mass of power that is a court ceremonial”—a “morality play dedicated to the glory of the monarchy,” and a “lesson in monarchical devotion.”¹ They have...

  6. 2 King and Warrior: El Rey Don Pedro en Madrid o El Infanzón de Illescas
    (pp. 101-182)

    The most striking of the numerous oddities presented by the strange playEl Rey Don Pedro en Madrid o El Infanzón de Illescasis its seemingly contradictory determination to break apart the fundamental reconciliation of two persons in the monarch and present them in an opposition of what appear to be irreconcilable extremes. From the doubleness insinuated in the title itself—king/infanzón, rey/don—to the tragic undertones that remain audible in the spectacular comic triumph of its conclusion—falling crowns and daggers; the king’s threatening madness and senseless movements, which seem to coil about the momentarily statuesque, fixed image of...

  7. Epilogue: Refractions and Disintegrations of the Majesty: The King as Statesman and Martyr
    (pp. 183-200)

    In 1685 Bernini’s equestrian statue honoring Louis XIV was presented at Versailles. It had been commissioned by the king’s minister of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, who wanted it to resemble the sculptor’s recent statue of Constantine’s vision of the Cross—a moment of interruption and rapture in which the rider spiritually rises above a frightened and agitated creature that he will presumably subdue and command with aid from on high. The king was displeased with the work, refused to let it be displayed at Versailles, and suggested that it be destroyed. A ruler, it would seem, must be displayed only in...

  8. Appendix 1: Synopsis of El villano en su rincón
    (pp. 201-204)
  9. Appendix 2: Synopsis of El Rey Don Pedro en Madrid o El Infanzón de Illescas
    (pp. 205-208)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 209-278)
  11. Index
    (pp. 279-286)