Bourbon (Re)Conquests: Epic, Empire, and Enlightenment from Madrid to Mexico City
Campbell, Sarah Cox, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Haberly, David, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
This study explores how Spain's early Bourbon kings, in particular King Philip V (1683–1746) and his son, Ferdinand VI (1713–59), were able to anchor their dynasty in the present of the Spanish Monarquía through recourse to the past. Using the resonances of the Reconquest of Spain from the Moors and the Conquest of the New World, the Bourbons, their ministers, and the artists and artisans who supported them finessed the advent of a new regime by cloaking it in history, depicting the Bourbon reforms as relics that would return the Monarquía to a past associated with historical grandeur, territorial integrity, and providential expansionism. In this study, I focus primarily on two eighteenth-century epic poems: El Pelayo (1754), written by the Count of Saldueña, Alonso de Solís Folch de Cardona; and La Hernandía, Triunfos de la Fe, y Gloria de las Armas Españolas (1755), by Francisco Ruiz de León. Using a rigorously interdisciplinary approach, I consider these epics in tandem with other depictions of the Reconquest of Spain from the Moors and the Conquest of the New World by Hernán Cortés produced in the eighteenth century. The appropriation of these two historical events occurred on both sides of the Atlantic, and when La Hernandía and El Pelayo are examined alongside pictorial, plastic, and literary renderings of the Reconquest and the Conquest on both continents, important commonalities can be found. Moreover, connections abound when these epics are examined in light of uses of the Reconquest and Conquest at the level of politics and policy. When read in this context, La Hernandía and El Pelayo can be reinterpreted and distanced from centuries of criticism that accused them of lacking aesthetic and ideological value. Instead, they are revealed to be contributors to the large-scale iii redefinition of the Monarquía that aimed to attribute possession of history to the Bourbon monarchs following their advent to Spain.
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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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