In Clio and the Crown, Richard L. Kagan examines the official histories of Spanish monarchs from medieval times to the middle of the 18th century. He expertly guides readers through the different kinds of official histories commissioned: those whose primary focus was the monarch; those that centered on the Spanish kingdom as a whole; and those that celebrated Spain’s conquest of the New World. In doing so, Kagan also documents the life and work of individual court chroniclers, examines changes in the practice of official history, and highlights the political machinations that influenced the redaction of such histories.
Just as world leaders today rely on fast-talking press officers to explain their sometimes questionable actions to the public, so too did the kings and queens of medieval and early modern Spain. Monarchs often went to great lengths to exert complete control over the official history of their reign, physically intimidating historians, destroying and seizing manuscripts and books, rewriting past histories, and restricting history writing to authorized persons.
Still, the larger practice of history writing—as conducted by nonroyalist historians, various scholars and writers, and even church historians—provided a corrective to official histories. Kagan concludes that despite its blemishes, the writing of official histories contributed, however imperfectly, to the practice of historiography itself.
With nearly 1,000 signed A-Z entries and written by renowned specialists in the field, this comprehensive work is an invaluable tool for students, scholars, and general readers alike.
Matters changed thereafter, when Fernando and Isabel launched a decade-long effort to subjugate Granada. Utilizing artillery and expending vast sums of money, they methodically conquered each Naṣrid stronghold until the capitulation of the city of Granada itself in 1492. Effective military and naval organization and access to a diversity of financial resources, joined with papal crusading benefits, facilitated the final conquest. Throughout, the Naṣrids had emphasized the urgency of a jihād waged against the Christian infidels, while the Castilians affirmed that the expulsion of the "enemies of our Catholic faith" was a necessary, just, and holy cause. The fundamentally religious character of this last stage of conflict cannot be doubted, Joseph F. O'Callaghan argues.
Cultural scholars such as Professor Ruiz and his colleagues have challenged the notion that authority is elided with high politics, an approach that tends to be monolithic and disregards the uneven application and experience of power by elite and non-elite groups in society by highlighting the significance of spectacle. Taking such forms as ceremonies, rituals, festivals, and customs, spectacle is a medium to project and render visible power, yet it is also an ambiguous and contested setting, where participants exercise the roles of both actor and audience. Chapters in this collection consider topics such as monarchy, wealth and poverty, medieval cuisine and diet and textual and visual sources.
The individual contributions in this volume collectively represent a timely re-examination of authority that brings in the insights of cultural theory, ultimately highlighting the importance of representation and projection, negotiation and ambivalence.