Review of Lynn, Kimberly and Erin Kathleen Rowe, eds. The Early Modern Hispanic World: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Approaches

Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, Dec 2017

J. B. Owens

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Review of Lynn, Kimberly and Erin Kathleen Rowe, eds. The Early Modern Hispanic World: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Approaches

Journal of the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies Review of Lynn, Kimberly and Erin K athleen Rowe, eds. The Early Modern Hispanic World: Transnational and Interdisciplinar y Approaches J. B. Owens 0 1 0 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies. It has been accepted for inclusion in Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies by an authorized editor of Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies. For more information , please contact 1 Idaho State University , USA - Somehow, Robert Kingdon discovered me, a student he had never met, in the University of Wisconsin’s badly overcrowded Bascom Hall, and he invited me to a reception for graduate students in his large Reformation History seminar. Perhaps he feared that I was lonely. Domenico Sella, my thesis advisor, had received a generous research fellowship for study in Milan, and David Ringrose, Sella’s other graduate student, was far enough ahead of me that we would not meet for over five years. At the reception, I served as the foreigner, who arrived speaking a strange language. Who was this Fernand Braudel, whose long book on the Mediterranean (the 1949 edition) I had just read with such excitement? What was the École des Annales, whose journal I pawed through most mornings in the library’s tombs to peruse book reviews? But one of the older students, an ordained Lutheran minister I later learned, asked bluntly the real question on everyone’s mind, “Why Spain?” The era of Charles V constituted a fine choice, but, “Wouldn’t it be better to study something important?” he inquired in a tone of genuine pastoral concern. Even in a huge graduate program in November 1966, Spanish history counted for nothing. My attempt to offer the justification from J. H. Elliott’s Imperial Spain, 14691716 (1964), around which I had organized part of my special undergraduate reading course before departing for Wisconsin, fell flat with this audience. I still lived in a bubble of naïveté, unable to see that these students were unconsciously prepping me for later job interviews for positions with titles such as “Renaissance and Reformation” or “European History, 1500-1750,” in departments dominated by historians of the United States who claimed to cover “American” history. By the time of my debate in December 1970 with Frank Manuel, before ten of his New York University colleagues in a crowded hotel room, about the relationship of my Spanish history research to work on Louis XIV’s “absolute monarchy,” I had honed my preparation strategy. I got that NYU job and the opportunity to create my course on Spain and Mediterranean history, 500-1700. I am stealing a theme from the excellent keynote address of Carla Rahn Phillips at the 48th ASPHS annual meeting at NYU, “Arriving (way beyond) where we started.” Our ancestor organization, SSPHS, was only founded in 1969. Spanish historians arrived at academic meetings as aliens from another world, and that world seemed like Pluto: no one was sure if we represented a worthy planet. At least, the Spanish Civil War and Franco made Spanish history somewhat relevant for those interested in twentieth-century European history. Professor Philips hailed how very far we have come since the late 1960s, and this marvelous book, The Early Modern Hispanic World, demonstrates how contemporary historical discourse would be inconceivable without the contributions of historians of Spain and the Hispanic Monarchy. As Geoffrey Parker explains in his charming preface to this tribute to Richard Kagan, no one has done more in the United States to propel us into the historiographical center than Kagan, through the publication of a shelf of splendid monographs and several seminal articles. The editors have done a fine job of honoring their mentor. Because the book provides an excellent presentation of research of high quality on a wide variety of compelling subjects, I learned a great deal. Despite the lack of attention to large parts of the global Hispanic Monarchy, including the domains of the Crown of Portugal, and my favorite political topics, their book would serve as a stimulating text for a graduate seminar to expose students to innovative work and possibilities for future research. Before discussing the fifteen contributions, I must say that after reading the word “interdisciplinary” in the book’s title, I was disappointed by how little the book engages with disciplines outside the specialties of the individual authors. Parker tells the story about the advice that Kagan’s uncle, political scientist Herbert McCloskey, gave him about doing his historical research in the context of the Social Sciences (xxiv). By taking his uncle’s advice, Kagan’s first two books attracted attention from researchers in other disciplines. Despite obvious opportunities to do so, I do not see a similar engagement with other disciplines in most of these papers. Historians must now engage with other disciplines as institutional support for their departments continues to erode in many countries. There are many possibilities, but after reading these chapters, two stand out. One of the editors’ major themes is “space and place” (4), which should not be treated as mere atmospherics. Their introduction to the volume is entitled “Introduction: Mapping the Early Modern Hispanic World.” Over the past 25 years, the discipline of geography has soared in importance, largely due to the increasing use of geospatial technologies, particularly geographic information systems (GIS). Employing these technologies demands a deep understanding of “place” and “space,” but no reader of this book will learn anything about the extensive geographical literature on the subjects because the chapters that would benefit from this engagement do not make the connection. Since the famous 1971 debate on Dutch television between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, cognitive science research has consistently validated Chomsky’s assertion that, unless somehow impaired, humans are born with a common cognitive architecture. Research has destroyed the intellectual foundations of Foucault and French “critical theory,” including Freudian psychoanalysis (the Phlogiston theory of the twentieth century) and the ontological positions of Edmund Husserl and National Socialist Party philosopher Martin Heidegger. Interaction with cognitive science would benefit historians’ research on conflict and the interactions between groups, the impact of judicial and other institutions, the expression of emotions, “shared attention” to the natural world and to public performances, artworks and publications, and the formation and maintenance of norms. Ida Altman offers an interpretive overview of a subject that has been generally neglected by historians of the early Spanish settlements of the Americas: the role of towns and cities in the Caribbean, providing readers with four detailed and well-designed maps. She explores how the cognitive models of Castilian settlers underwent transformation in the new environment without abandoning their vision of the importance of municipal corporations as the necessary bases for social and cultural development. Within this context, she pays attention to the presence of women. The new arrivals envisioned their social environment as one based from the beginning on slavery, and they planned to import a relatively large number of Africans. The stress on slave labor also had an impact on their interactions with indigenous communities and the almost complete demographic transformation of the Caribbean. James S. Amelang tells us about his innovative method to grasp how people understood their urban environments. He focuses on the accounts of those who walked through a city, trying to establish the cognitive models they used when they noted details and organized their observations. His planned book will draw readers who wish to discover an important and neglected aspect of the past. Erin Kathleen Rowe contributes to the growing literature on public spectacles with her chapter detailing the staging of processions in seventeenth-century Madrid and the way these were harnessed to bolstering attachment to the monarchy. The details are fascinating and open paths for research. We know that marketing does not always work. Viewers often grasp marketers’ intentions in unexpected ways, and if there is not frequent repetition, the message will not stick in people’s memory. In what ways were the themes of processions repeated to sustain the norms and emotions stimulated by the spectacles? For example, the anti-Semitic messages of many Holy Week processions were cognitively reinforced by popular songs, stories, and children’s games. The Crown was little present in the lives of most people in the Hispanic Monarchy, and much that people did experience, particularly through the actions of royal officials, was negative, which is why attention to marketing through spectacles is potentially so important. Sara T. Nalle scores a game-changing goal with her exposure of a division among conversos of Jewish origin, which historians usually treat as a single group. Her case study of the bishopric of Sigüenza shows the existence of a group descended from those who converted well before 1492 and a second cohort of those who converted in that year. These two clusters generally did not intermarry or interact much in other ways. Her chapter provides an excellent example of the engagement with the social sciences championed by Richard Kagan. With great care, she employs SPSS (Statistical Program for the Social Sciences), which has allowed her to tease from the available information important distinctions between these groups, and she provides a map and clear graphs to guide reader understanding. In their chapter on the Alumbrados, Mercedes García-Arenal and Felipe Pereda take readers on a brief, clear, historiographical tour of the controversies about this spiritual group, which all students of the period will adore. Moreover, although they do not neglect the Moriscos, their treatment of the judeoconversos makes their contribution a wonderful companion for Nalle’s chapter. They sift carefully through the cognitive variations of Spanish religious reform aspirations and dissidence to highlight general problems and those difficulties particular to judeoconversos, while along the way providing exciting suggestions for research. Benjamin Ehlers fulfills the promise of his title, “The Spanish Encounter with Islam,” in a coherent, appealing manner through a focus on Don Pedro Luis Galcerán de Borja, whom Philip II named as the governor of Orán and Mazalquivir on the coast of North Africa. As the son of the duke of Gandía in the Kingdom of Valencia and the Master of the Aragonese military Order of Montesa, Don Pedro already possessed extensive contact with the diversity of Morisco communities. His taste for leadership of Valencian gang violence, which led to the execution of his brother Diego de Borja, occasioned his assignment to serve in North Africa. With this intriguing biographical treatment, Ehlers exposes the complicated goals behind the Crown’s rhetoric of religious warfare. While Ida Altman shows how Castilians adapted to their transformed lives in the Caribbean during the first decades of Spain’s contact with the Americas, Allyson M. Poska provides a fascinating bookend to this story through the experiences of poor northern Spanish families, about 1,900 people in all, who went to the Río de la Plata region in the late eighteenth century. Again, Peninsular Spaniards transformed themselves into slave owners, many of them probably interacting with Africans for the first time. Poska provides a valuable insight into the difficulties caused by the contract restrictions on these settlers as they tried to adapt and survive. She offers the suggestive insight that women’s lives may have been particularly altered because the categories of work they would have done in Spain were more commonly performed by slaves. For over a quarter century, I was the founding director of my university library’s special collection for the history and philosophy of medicine and science. Thus, I was delighted to discover the exciting chapter of María M. Portuondo on science. Beyond its importance for Spanish studies, the author enriches greatly our understanding of scientific activity during the First Global Age. Her account of a generalized “crisis of knowledge” among those interested in the natural world demands that readers who teach the so-called Scientific Revolution within the context of survey courses on European history enrich and reconceptualize their approaches to expose better the broad range of concerns of “natural philosophers.” As historians of the book frequently assert, printing was one of the first mass production industries. As such, it challenged those who hoped to dominate the world of ideas. Kimberly Lynn explores this dynamic by examining the attempt by one published author, the prominent inquisitor Diego de Simancas (1513-83), to destroy another, Bartolomé Carranza, the archbishop of Toledo, who was arrested in his diocese in 1559. Simancas penned his own justification, but Pedro Salazar de Mendoza (c. 1550-1629), a cathedral canon in Toledo, attempted the rehabilitation of Carranza, who lost that opportunity when he died shortly after the termination of his trial in Rome in 1576. Through her account of manuscripts and printed books circulating among the literate, Lynn makes an important point: as institutions, neither the Inquisition nor the Church represented a unified voice, which means that historians who reify these entities in their narratives make a fundamental error. Although the story of Simancas’ persecution of Carranza will be familiar to many readers of this book, I wager that they will find A. Katie Harris’ story about conflicts in seventeenth-century Sardinia over archeological excavations and their interpretation new and stimulating. Grafted onto a dispute between Cagliari and Sassari for administrative and ecclesiastical primacy, the supposed discovery in their respective 1614 digs of the bodies of ancient saints and martyrs spurred a polemical competition. To defend the Cagliari discoveries, Dionisio Bonfant published a treatise in 1635, and in the margins of the copy of Cardinal Francesco Barberini in Rome, Lucas Holste (Holstenius) commented. Harris employs these works to reveal the quite different ways of writing sacred history to defend local interests and those of Rome’s conception of the universal Church, and through her entertaining and enlightening account, she shows that the divide between these two intellectuals mapped onto a series of propagandistic issues and institutional assertions. Xavier Gil presents a much more familiar author, Giovanni Botero, whose work, especially his manual, Raggion di stato (1589), and notably after the publication of the first Spanish translation in 1593, helped shape the intensifying debates among the politically active at all levels over policies and actions needed for the “conservation” of the Monarchy and its constituent parts. Through his careful assessment of receptions of Botero’s general recommendations, of when these connected with the experiences and perspectives of Spaniards and when they did not, Gil focuses on a central issue: how did the Hispanic Monarchy manage to survive, in some form, until the early nineteenth century? In doing so, he demands attention to his thesis about the first half of the seventeenth century: “The challenge of self-preservation of both king and the monarchy and how this was faced make this generation pivotal in Spanish political and intellectual history” (289). Through his study of a woodcut that was central to the Inquisition trial of 1557-8 in Cuenca of Étienne Jamet, a French artisan, Fernando Marías opens our eyes to a possible research future for Spanish art history. Esteban Jamete (died 1565), as he came to be known, arrived in Castile in 1535, and after contributing to construction projects in a remarkable number of municipalities, including Valladolid, Toledo, and Seville, he settled in Cuenca in 1546. Marías argues that Jamete represented “Protestant Nicodemism,” which makes him interesting in the context of the intense persecutions carried out by Inquisition tribunals in this period, but this chapter forces its readers to consider paying much more attention to the sign systems represented in the era’s artistic projects. The representations could have constituted a “language” through which religious dissidents expressed their views and communicated with others. This idea certainly challenges the “heavily Catholic” (Marías’ characterization) interpretation of the symbols in sixteenth-century Spanish art, which I began learning upon my arrival in Toledo shortly after the archbishop had given permission for social dancing between men and women. In Franco’s Spain, the idea that some of Spain’s most prestigious works might have expressed religious sensibilities at variance with the orthodox teachings of the Church could not have been considered, and I suspect other readers will find as beneficially unsettling as I, Marías’ account of this case. Through her analysis of the comedia entitled La Santa Liga by Lope de Vega, which focuses on the Battle of Lepanto in 1572 and was probably written between 1596 and 1603, Elizabeth R. Wright increases both our appreciation of this play’s originality and our understanding of the multiple goals of the playwright. She questions, “Why give the Battle of Lepanto – an epic event if ever imperial Spain engendered one – such varied, comic treatment?” (322). Lope borrowed from a number of sources and showed his creativity by employing familiar modes in ways his audiences would not have expected. As a cartographer, I enjoyed the way Wright ties her account to the publication of post-Lepanto “island atlases,” which offered a cognitive landscape that served as much more than a background for the dramatic action and dialogues. Lope’s final product offered both entertainment and information, sometimes to people much concerned about their Morisco neighbors and the continuing Muslim capacity to attack shipping and coastal Spanish communities. One wonders how performances of the play interacted with these deep fears of many in the audience. In her chapter on “staging femininity” in the eighteenth-century theater, Marta V. Vicente presents another type of connection between performance and audience. In doing so, she raises important questions about the ways the shared attention of audience members could serve to reinforce or transform prevailing norms. She tells the engaging story of María Ladvenant, “La Divina,” who arrived in Madrid from Valencia in 1759 to take “the Madrid theater scene by storm” (342). In tying theater presentations with Enlightenment perspectives and discussing the legal restrictions on the works of authors and actors, Vicente highlights and seeks to explain the popularity of the tonadillas, songs performed between two acts, which pushed cultural boundaries for theater-goers who wanted to be entertained emotionally by a provocative, sexualized woman, not educated. Vicente ends with an intriguing exploration of how this phenomenon might have fit within an attempt to fashion a distinctive Spanish identity. The book closes with a real treat: a retrospective overview by Sir John Elliott of what has happened within the study of Spanish history over the course of his distinguished career. While noting that prejudices still remain in the profession against taking seriously Spain as a valuable subject, Elliott highlights several current developments that promise a better, more unbiased future. Historians of Spain are increasingly publishing collaborative, thematic works with colleagues interested in other European polities and Latin America. With the rise of interest in world history, the global Hispanic Monarchy, particularly when its history interacted with the domains of the Crown of Portugal, provides an integrative subject because this composite monarchy linked directly to all of the Earth’s major commercial and productive centers. While noting the thematic limitations of this book, he correctly states that it demonstrates the high quality of the research being done, which promises that the many important topics with which historians must yet deal will draw scholars of impressive talent. J. B. Owens Idaho State University


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J. B. Owens. Review of Lynn, Kimberly and Erin Kathleen Rowe, eds. The Early Modern Hispanic World: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Approaches, Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, 2017,