There is an uncanny political realism to Don Quijote's constant longing for Aragón. The Castilian Cortes system allowed representation by the three traditional medieval estates: the nobility, the clergy, and the townships. By contrast, a distinguishing feature of the Aragonese system was its quaternary structure. As in Castile, the Aragonese assembly included the clergy, the townships, and the high nobility, but it also included the low nobility, the so-called "infanzones," who were directly analogous to the "hidalgos" of Castile. Much has been made of the tragicomic tone of Cervantes's novel as a reflection of the agonizing decay of the social status of the hidalgo caste in late sixteenth-century Castile; but the author's choice of Zaragoza as the ultimate endpoint for his knight's final sally makes the story even more poignant given the fact that a man like Alonso Quijano would have had some degree of actual political representation at the Aragonese Cortes. From this more tangible political perspective, Don Quijote's aborted drive toward the Ebro is doubly ironic: a rejection of Philip II's repressive invasion of 1591 performed by a member of the very caste that should have most identified with the Zaragozan nobility fighting in defense of their constitutional rights.


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pp. 121-138
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