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  • Dos escritos destinados a la reina Isabel: Colación muy provechosa. Tratado de loores de San Juan Evangelista by Hernando de Talavera
  • Mark D. Johnston
Talavera, Hernando de. Dos escritos destinados a la reina Isabel: Colación muy provechosa. Tratado de loores de San Juan Evangelista. Ed. Carmen Parrilla. Colección Parnaseo 24. Valencia: Universitat de València, 2014. 265 pp. ISBN: 978-84-370-9564-6

Scholarship on Hernando de Talavera (1430?-1507), confessor to Isabel I, one of her chief political operatives, and first archbishop of Granada, has burgeoned since the 1492 quincentenary of the kingdom’s annexation to Castile, but he remains one of the most under-studied major figures of his era. Carmen Parrilla’s edition of two unpublished writings by Talavera is therefore a welcome addition to the very limited modern library of his vast written oeuvre.

Parilla’s introduction to her edition begins with Talavera’s biography (11-32), critically evaluating modern conjectures about key details of his obscure early life, such as his birthdate and converso ancestry (12-3), as well as the still uncertain date (probably early 1475) of his appointment as Isabel’s confessor (18-21). After a quick review of Talavera’s many prose works (32-7), Parrilla devotes (somewhat oddly) equal space to his few verse compositions and translations (37-42). The remainder of her introduction thoroughly analyzes the contents of the Colación and Loores (44-86), then describes their lone known witness (MS 332 of the Biblioteca Lázaro Galdiano) and her editorial norms (87-98). [End Page 146]

Scholars of the era will surely appreciate Parrilla’s insightful analysis of how these two devotional texts functioned as both moral and political counsel to the young Queen Isabel, an effort to which many authors contributed, motivated by a common “afán instructivo articulado por una inflexión reformadora y legitimadora” (10). Talavera wrote the Colación in 1476 at Isabel’s request, adapting a sermon that she had heard him deliver as prior at the Hieronymite convent of Santa María de Prado in Valladolid during Advent of 1475; his revised version “conlleva un sentido inaugural potenciado por el comienzo del año litúrgico y su plan renovador. Tiene algo de gesto ritual efectivo que celebra, afianza y legitima el poder político de la nueva soberana” (49). Written very shortly later, and also at Isabel’s request, the Loores applies exegetical, hagiographical, dogmatic, and devotional arguments to explaining, with extensive digressions, the relative status of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist (the queen’s santo patrono), and the apostle Peter, which offer a pretext for frequent moral and political instruction to Isabel (74-5, 86). Parrilla’s editions of the Colación (99-132) and of the Loores (133-244) are carefully prepared, and document exhaustively, in their notes, the sources of every biblical, theological, hagiographical, philosophical, or scientific reference in Talavera’s two texts, providing thus a catalog of imagery and themes that recur in later propaganda for the Catholic Monarchs.

The volume ends with a rich bibliography (245-61), perhaps the best available on Talavera, though marred by occasional typographical errors, such as: “Clásico [sic] Hispánicos” (247); “clouster” for “cloister” (253); and “De l’homelie [sic] au sermon” (255). Like so many recent scholarly works, this edition brims with useful notes and references but lacks any indexes to help readers locate specific data. These material imperfections do not, however, detract from the overall value of Parrilla’s edition as a valuable contribution to understanding the nascent political, cultural, and spiritual ideologies of Isabel and Ferdinand’s regime. [End Page 147]

Mark D. Johnston
DePaul University


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