The Political and Social Uses of Dante in Fifteenth-Century Iberian Court Culture

Hartnett, Daniel Elisha, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Gerli, Michael, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Weber, Alison, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Parker, Deborah, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

Fifteenth-century Iberia saw Dante Alighieri‟s texts and literary reputation acquire a tremendous importance among prominent figures at the Castilian and Aragonese courts. Although the literary effects of Dante‟s entry into Iberia have enjoyed more than a century of discussion, few critics have considered the political or social effects of Dante‟s texts and literary reputation among the Iberian political elite. This study employs a critical method that adapts the theories of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and political scientist Benedict Anderson to analyze the cultural, political, and social development and importance of Dante within the community of literate aristocrats and bureaucrats at court. It seeks to examine the significance and availability of Dante in the community that read, copied, translated, glossed, and commented his manuscripts. Dante‟s role in power relationships among the elite who were both political and literary forms the foundation of this study. After setting the theoretical and methodological bases and examining past studies on Dante in Iberia, the first section of this study compiles a catalogue of all known Iberian Dante manuscripts in order to analyze trends in manuscript production and consumption among Iberian readers. For each of the thirty-two manuscripts included in the study, close attention is paid to the place and date of entry into Iberian hands, regional availability and saturation, luxury and scholarly features, manuscript diversity, and relation to Dante‟s texts. In the second part of the study, five Iberian authors, each a political figure, demonstrate the course of Dante‟s trajectory from cultural indifference to political and social value within the Iberian courts. Francisco Imperial, Enrique de Villena, and iv Andreu Febrer each connected Dante‟s work to their name and reputation, effectively altering Dante‟s first cultural meanings, while attempting to acquire prestige for themselves. The marquis of Santillana defined the valuable cultural capital in the community through his Prohemio e Carta, a document that established ownership of Dante manuscripts and original poetry as key elements in his cultural authority. Juan de Mena rejected Santillana‟s definitions and modeled himself biographically on Dante in order to subvert Santillana‟s claims to dominance. Dedication v I dedicate this dissertation to my family members, whom I consider friends, and my friends, whom I consider family. I would be remiss if I did not also mention the following people in loving gratitude: my best friend and partner, Laura; my loving parents, Dale and Kathe; my scholarly brother and sister-in-law, Jeremy and Jill; all my teachers; and all my students.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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