The Constructions of a Cultural Legacy: Queen Marí­a de Molina of Castile and the Political Discourses of Molinismo.

North, Janice, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Gerli, Edmondo, Department for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This dissertation is a new historicist approach to studying the cultural legacy of the medieval queen María de Molina of Castile-León (1284-1321). In this study, works of literature are examined alongside historical accounts—such as chronicles and official documents—which are read as literature and analyzed for the political rhetoric which they contain. This study is focused on two things: First, understanding María de Molina’s exercise of queenship, with an emphasis on how that queenship is constructed and represented in texts, and second, evaluating the impact of her queenship and its connection to the so-called cultural movement of molinismo in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In this study, Queen María’s queenship is understood as the combination of her exercise of power in the discursive space of the court, as well as her representation in royal documents and histories.
The first chapter explores the origins of what some literary critics have dubbed “molinismo” in thirteenth-century Castile-León, and the explanation of molinismo as a conservative movement back to orthodoxy, contained in literature produced in the court of Queen María’s husband, Sancho IV. This chapter provides an overview of Sancho’s cultural production, but it focuses on an analysis of the king’s cultural politics and the only work that Sancho claimed credit for as an author, Castigos del rey don Sancho IV.
Chapters two and three examine María de Molina’s queenship as it is constructed in the royal chronicles written by the archdeacon of Toledo, Jofré de Loaysa, and Alfonso XI’s chancellor, Fernán Sánchez de Valladolid, as well as in other official documentation, such as royal charters, privileges, and ordenamientos from the medieval political institution of the cortes. These chapters consider the gendered construction of the queen’s image, the extent of her participation in shaping that image, and the political motivations for her portrayal in these texts.
The last chapter returns to the topic of molinismo in Castilian literature produced in the first half of the fourteenth-century. Through an analysis of three works that are connected to the cultural movement of molinismo (Libro del caballero Zifar, Poema de Alfonso XI, and Libro de buen amor), this chapter attempts to measure the queen’s influence on molinismo and poses the question of whether or not molinismo should be considered a unified cultural movement.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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