The Redes Petristas Project:Mapping Petrista Networks Past and Present
In his introduction to Luis Vicente Díaz Martín's Itinerario de Pedro I de Castilla, published in Valladolid in 1975, Luis Suárez Fernández predicted that the important archival work carried out by the young historian soon "har[ía] caer muchas de las ideas estereotipadas que acerca de este discutido personaje y de su época, todavía circulan por los libros en uso" (5). These prospects were confirmed by a steady flow of works investigating the institutions—social and political—as well as the economic and financial organization of the "infamous" Castilian king. Such a focus, even if at times narrow in scope, as subsequent generations of historians would notice (see Estow xv), had the value of providing a much-needed understanding of a period that, ironically enough, had been understudied as a consequence of the vast historiography devoted to it since 1369. Therefore, local history as [End Page 39] a discipline driven by erudite and rigorous archival work produced the bases for an understanding of King Pedro I and his reign that, in turn, demanded and inspired a broader scope. It is not surprising that such a controversial figure—at times glimpsed through the preserved documentary record, at times distorted by layers of much romanticized narratives—would also end up attracting post-structuralist and new historicist scholars. And so, since the 1990s philologists, historians and art historians have kept pushing the boundaries of what we thought we knew about the king and the political, social and cultural context in which his policies were enacted.
The work of Clara Estow is a superb example of the advantages of veering away from scholarly disputes regarding Pedro's place in history and the supposed flaws of his character in order to consider how language, social structures and power relations have shaped subsequent visions of the king's life and reign. In this regard, her research constituted the backdrop and inspiration for the many conversations that this cluster's editors had in 2014 about the fascinating and multifaceted image of Pedro I in medieval Iberian literature. At that time we both were postdoctoral fellows at the Centre for Medieval Literature (CML), and it was there that our project Redes Petristas began with a workshop organized at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, in June 2015. Several of the contributions gathered in this cluster developed from presentations given at that meeting.1 The workshop provided us with the opportunity to share some of our ideas with renowned experts on the field and, above all, to work out a definition of Petrismo as "a constellation of conflicting memories about Pedro's life and death kept alive by his descendants and their affiliates, on the one hand, and the Trastámara dynasty on the other".2 The definition soon proved to have its caveats when [End Page 40] our discussions brought up the enduring appeal of these narratives and images long after the death of those who were directly affected by the fratricide of Montiel, as evinced in the attention paid to Pedro the Cruel by the European romantics or in the compelling power of the historical fictions inspired by the story of Pedro's assassination, meant to allegorize Spain's recent past. Such was the case of Francisco Ayala, who went back to 1369 more than once in order to understand the spiral of destruction and displacement provoked by the Franquista coup d'état in his shorts "La noche de Montiel" (1940) and "El abrazo" (1949). However, instead of considering the war between Pedro I and Enrique de Trastámara as the "first Spanish civil war" (Valdeón) or the earliest episode of Spanish cainismo (Escolar and Escolar), we rather wanted to reflect upon the deep social fracture the death of Pedro may have created in late medieval Castilian society, and about the possibility of surveying these past events and creations from a perspective akin to that used for the study of the literary and artistic productions emerged after the Civil War itself, the Holocaust, or the Latin-American dictatorships.
The move from analyzing Pedro I himself and his reign to exploring the multiple ways in which this iconic figure had been re-elaborated and appropriated through time, well into the Early Modern period, aspired to create a methodological dialogue with recent trends in contemporary critical theory, not only in the realm of Memory Studies but also in that of Network Studies. Our previous work on the reign of Pedro I and on issues that somehow intersected around his figure had persuaded us of the potential that both approaches may have in opening new venues for research when pursued in conjunction. On the other hand, these emerging disciplines offered us a common ground from which to delve into the study of medieval Iberian literature, since neither of us is, properly speaking, a literary historian by training. However, by bringing together literature, art history and historiography, we were also anchoring our project firmly in the broad transdisciplinary and pan-European enterprise of the CML, whose mission is "to establish cross-disciplinary theoretical frameworks for the study of medieval literature from a fully European perspective".3 We acutely [End Page 41] felt that the center's questioning of the traditional division of disciplines and its endorsement of pan-European narratives against the grain of national canons would offer a platform to our own questioning of Petrismo. This was only natural, since the advent of a new dynasty in the Iberian realm went hand in hand with the expansion of the Hundred Years War outside the Anglo-French space.
Not surprisingly, from the very beginning "memory" seemed to be the category and methodological challenge that all contributions in our workshop shared in one way or another: memory as a pendulum moving swiftly from the kind of monumental memorialization described by Pierre Nora, to the dynamic processes of construction of cultural memory scrutinized by Jan and Aleida Assmann or Astrid Erll. Moreover, the strategies displayed by Pedro I's offspring and familiares to remember the deposed king—and sometimes even to vindicate his figure—allowed us to bring in the notion of trauma and to consider whether these attitudes could be re-conceptualized through and against Marianne Hirsch's notion of "postmemory". Her idea that traumatic memory can be transmitted from one generation to the next poses many problems, as remarked by van Alphen, for whom "the dynamics between children and survivor parents is rather defined by dis-connection, hence dis-continuity […] in terms of intelligibility" (488). In a different vein, Susan Sontag has contended that "what is called collective memory is not a remembering but a stipulating: that this is important, and this is the story about how it happened, with the pictures that lock the story in our minds" (76). In our discussions, we all agreed on the fact that this is all the more true of the late Middle Ages, when the past was internalized by means of texts and images—not necessarily historiographical—intended to be treasured in memory, and when individual identity was mediated by lineage, gender, status, religious values, etc. (Bedos-Rezak; Sanok).
Yet, at the same time that we were sharing our work, published and in progress, it was evident that we were also creating links among our shared interests, weaving new critical frameworks, and crisscrossing references and [End Page 42] interpretations from diverse backgrounds. In the end, we were becoming a network in more ways than we had intuited when thinking about Redes Petristas – Petrista Networks as a title for our meeting. It was in this way that the idea of mapping "Petrista networks" was turned into a way of conceptualizing and developing an argument for the use of Network Theory to advance our research agenda, while creating an aggregative, non-hierarchical organization for our distinct individual ventures. Therefore, the notion of a common interconnected space generated by the intersection of research interests and the creation of linkages of collaboration, spreading through a variety of disciplines in different countries, also provided a diagrammatic model for the visualization of these Redes Petristas as we were defining them, in form and content, theory and practice. And, as a result, events, people, objects and places around Pedro I began to emerge as a web in which causation cannot be properly figured as a chain or line, but rather "as a tissue, or superficies of innumerable lines, extending in breadth as well as in length" (89), to use Thomas Carlyle's memorable sentence about the complexity and ultimate inscrutability of history. Strikingly enough, he had anticipated that the complexity of historical phenomena "will foil and bewilder the most assiduous computation" (143).
Regardless of Carlyle's skepticism, in the last 20 years there has been a continuous interest in relational research within the Humanities, paired with the steady investment in developing digital solutions regarding data bases, visualization, mapping, virtual and enhanced reality, etc. The era of social media has not only brought about creative ways of doing research inside and outside academic circles, but also opened new paths for collaboration across disciplines and political borders. In this context, it could be argued that Iberomedievalism has trail-blazed the field with pioneering projects like Philobiblon and continues to apply technological innovations diversified and developed alongside the needs of the researchers, as evinced in the crowdsourced-editing process adopted by the Estoria de Espanna Digital.4 In parallel with the uses of Social Network Analysis developed by the Social [End Page 43] Sciences, relational analysis has already been used as theoretical tool for the re-assessment of structures and power relations in historical research (Martín Romera 221). In the field of literary and critical theory, though, it has been taken to new heights with projects like The Stanford Literary Lab, intended to advance in the application of computational analysis to the study of literature. The work of Franco Moretti, the main inspiration behind this project, offers a synthetic view of the innovative venues opened up by the use of quantitative strategies for literary historiography.
Since we are still in the initial stage of Redes Petristas, our introductory remarks do not intend to contribute to the scholarly debate on Network Theory per se, but to present a sort of manifesto/roadmap of the possibilities afforded by these methodological approaches in the analysis of a complex cultural phenomenon, such as Petrismo in the way we define it. As a starting point, nonetheless, we endorse Caroline Levine's contention that formalistic approaches do not need to be rigidly systemic, or to be detached from their specific historical context. On the contrary, forms are always "containing, plural, overlapping, portable and situated" (4–5). If we focus on networks is because they are dynamic structures in a constant process of re-elaboration. They can express relations of dependence, causality or resistance, and to cluster into "übernetworks" of greater complexity. And since we are talking of human networks, they can also be completely unpredictable, irreducible to the same systematic patterns as those in the Natural Sciences. For all these reasons, the notion of network can be a powerful intellectual catalyst for thinking about historical morphology and representation. Our stance is, nonetheless, different from Franco Moretti's idea of "distant reading" and its explicit embrace of the ideal of abstraction—as such, "independent of interpretations"—supposedly provided by quantitative research ("Conjectures" 56–58; Graphs 1–2, 9). We feel closer, though, to his understanding of literary history as the representation of a "diagram of forces": "Deducing from the form of an object the forces that have been at work: this issue is the most elegant definition ever of what literary sociology should be" (Graphs 56–57). Accordingly, networks are used here as images of thought and models by and for interpretation, able to give visible (mental) [End Page 44] form to the knowledge gained in close reading and, at the same time, to reveal hidden connections among seemingly isolated phenomena. In the future, however, Redes Petristas will entail the creation of reciprocal relations between technology (repository, visual, digital, interactive), traditional research methods (archival, editorial, codicological) and critical theory (literary theory, visual culture, legal theory, neuropolitics). All these efforts will converge on the creation of a dynamic database of people, objects and places related with Pedro I, to be accessible from the website Petristas.org. In this task, one of the challenges will be to find a way to represent the circulation of people and objects not only in geographical terms, but also the continuous reconfiguration of these networks throughout time, an aspect rarely addressed in Network Theory (Levine 122).
The network as a mental image and the congenial metaphor of synaptic transmission were, thus, inextricably intertwined from the initial stages in our attempt to unveil and conceptualize the interconnectedness of actors, sites, places and events related to Pedro I and his multifaceted figure. In the workshop, we suggested to articulate future research around two converging axes: on the one hand, the circulation of people, objects and ideas during and after the conflict as a result of political alliances and exiles; on the other hand, the creation of personal networks—family or diplomatic ones—where women played a crucial role. Although substantially reformulated in the resulting cluster, the productivity of these intuitions were confirmed in some of the articles, such as those of Ana Echevarría, Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida, Elena Paulino Montero and Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez.
The spontaneous and organic dialogue generated among these contributions has led us to identify the four "nodes of meaning" that structure this first editorial product of Redes Petristas: the inevitable "narrativization" of the historiographical accounts devoted to the contested recent past, the ghostly presence of the dethroned king at the core of Trastámara courtly culture, the creation of female networks around and against the memory of Pedro I, and the progressive displacement of Petrista allegiances from realpolitik into the realm of fiction. By presenting complementary insights, the eight paired articles gathered in this cluster let us ascertain some areas of these Redes [End Page 45] Petristas as they are here unearthed, to be mapped out by future research.
The first of these conversations (Covadonga Valdaliso and Brett Rodríguez) takes innovative and rigorous stances towards the writing of history between the fourteenth and the sixteenth century through a careful re-examination of the relations between historiography and propaganda in the texts written about the Castilian dynastic conflict, both in Iberia and abroad. Despite the overwhelming presence of Pero López de Ayala's authoritative voice, the authors show how the demands of different audiences in diverse contexts gave rise to contrasting images of the king that ended up being woven into a narrative fabric where each historian then needed to place himself. Most important, both contributions invite us to consider the role of fiction in the construction of a persuasive historical account since, as Covadonga Valdaliso contends, "la búsqueda de la objetividad muchas veces ha llevado, paradójicamente, a considerar que lo fabulado resultaba más verosímil y, por tanto, se acercaba más a lo real" (54). In her analysis, she succeeds in tracing a genealogy of texts and manuscripts that raises the issue of the existence of the lost "corónica verdadera" favorable to the deposed king that has long excited the imagination of contemporary historians. The supposed vestiges of this "Grial de la historiografía petrista" would have been, instead, fabricated in the fifteenth century to fill in what was felt as a gap in the transmission of the historical record. This dynamic of "narrativization" of historiographical writing is also very much present in Brett Rodríguez's article, where he revisits Ayala's Crónica del rey don Pedro in relation to both popular and lettered environments. He also exposes how the chronicler substantially reworked his early account of Pedro's reign in order to create a compelling narrative that could respond to contemporary English and French reports of Pedro's deeds and death, such as those provided by Froissart and the Chandos herald.
Óscar Perea's article takes up once more the role of propaganda, as well as the actions of those members of the Castilla family who, as descendants of the murdered king, were not only directly involved in the dissemination of claims about the "corónica verdadera" but also in the vindication of Pedro in poetical works. The author threads a compelling argument for [End Page 46] the relevance of poetry as an instrument for the creation of social bonding and ideological promotion, using the Cancionero tradition as a case study.5 According to his thought-provoking hypothesis, "character assassination" of the last legitimate king would have been in fact the motor behind the success of fifteenth-century Castilian courtly verse, while its decline would have coincided with the rise of new historiographical attempts to vindicate Pedro I. Yet, when thinking broadly about issues of cultural politics in the Trastámara period, encompassing architecture and artistic practices, as in Elena Paulino's contribution, the paradox inherent to the courtly culture created by the new dynasty becomes even more evident: regardless of the overt efforts to repress the memory of Pedro I, it seems that the distinctive visual culture coined by the king and his entourage kept on reappearing in areas where we never thought to look for. As described by Paulino, the aftermath of Pedro I's death was a moment of vibrant creativity and artistic experimentation—not always acknowledged by previous scholarship—that marked the emergence of aristocratic patronage in Castile, in a trend that would culminate with the extraordinary palatial and funerary ensembles of the following century. However, many of these developments may be regarded as an evolution from Petrista models, such as the Sevillian alcázares and other royal spaces devised as the stage for the king's autocratic power. So, ironically, the more the Trastámara kings and queens tried to appropriate and re-signify emblematic spaces associated with Pedro—the palace-convent of Tordesillas is a case in point—the more the new nobility revived the splendors of the past. In the end, one is left to wonder to what extent the architectonic and visual memory of Pedro's reign could have been excised from that of his father Alfonso XI, of which it was a sort of logical continuation.
The third dialogue (Ana Echevarría and Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida) makes a strong case for the necessity of incorporating gender studies into a reassessment of the role of women in the life and reign of Pedro I. Since [End Page 47] Juan Bautista Sitges' Las mujeres del rey Don Pedro de Castilla, most of the scholarship devoted to this issue has generally fallen into much romanticized and dramatic views, although the truth is that it is not always easy to separate personal and political aspects when reading between the lines of the chronistic and documentary record. In contrast, these contributions—as well as Clara Pascual-Argente's comments on the "Cuento de Bruto y Dorotea"—succeed in questioning the perceived roles of feminine networks around Pedro as dependent, reactive and lacking in agency. The articles show how female networks sustained a collective identity built upon mutual support and the creation of spaces of empowerment, whether at the court or in the convent. On the one hand, Ana Echevarría proposes a revision of the role of María de Portugal (1313–1357) both during the reign of Alfonso XI and after it, once her son became king of Castile. Following current debates on the notion of "queenship" and on the strategies developed by Iberian queens to assert themselves, Echevarría emphasizes that the Portuguese sovereign had a precisely defined role within the political and administrative structure of the court, made even more conspicuous through the institution of the Casa de la Reina, a singular feature of the Castilian and Portuguese monarchies which also served as an umbrella for other royal women (see also Echevarría and Jaspert). Yet, as Echevarría claims, this very order allows for a dispassionate re-examination of her attitude towards Leonor de Guzmán, with whom she must have reached a sort of power arrangement to share the courtly space by separating their respective fields of action. In sum, if we agree with Michael Mann's definition of society as "multiple, overlapping and intersecting power networks (3)", Echevarría's proposition not only sets the record straight with regards to the political relevance of María de Portugal, but also skillfully lays out a model for thinking about gender, queenship and networks in medieval history. Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida, on the other hand, embarks on the study of the Vida de María García de Toledo, where a different kind of network emerges at the heart of the religious orders closely linked to the inner circle of Pedro I's descendants. In its crisscrossing of hagiography, memory and life-writing, this text attests to how proximity to the dead king still produced political capital, albeit of a completely different kind to that described in the preceding article: for María García, it was Pedro's condemnable behavior [End Page 48] The last conversation bring us back to where we started, with history and fiction, although the relationship has been reversed in order to explore how literary worlds could have been able to provide an alternative account of the recent past to that offered by historiographical writing. The articles by Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez and Clara Pascual-Argente have as a backdrop the impact of Pedro's demise in a period dominated by profound changes in the exercise of royal power and by the tensions between old and new nobility, relentless Petristas and supporters of the new dynasty. In this context, both authors track the process by which Galicia—one of the strongholds of the legitimist side after the event of Montiel—was gradually recreated as a sort of imaginary landscape for Petrismo. In the initial stage of this process, most of the Galician nobility, with the support of the Portuguese king, opposed a fierce resistance to Enrique II and fully endorsed the cause of John of Gaunt and Constanza, Pedro's daughter. This Atlantic alliance would have been transfigured, in the pages of El Victorial, into the "Cuento de los reyes" and the "Cuento de Bruto y Dorotea", two stories that linked Troy, England and Galicia in a textured narrative where ancient times brought back present concerns under the guise of fiction. Yet the fate of Troy had already been invested with a very poignant meaning for some loyal Petristas, such as Galician nobleman Nuno Freire de Andrade, who treasured as a relic the badly damaged remains of the incomplete Historia Troyana commissioned by the dead king, and tried to restore its contents in his Galician mother tongue. Therefore, the active defense of the legitimist cause and the emotional attachment to the recent past—including the physical objects once related to the king—described in Pichel's article would have paved the way, decades later, to the relocation of this drama into a time increasingly far away from its readers, a process favored by the distancing effect created by fiction, analyzed in Pascual-Argente's contribution. As she concludes, "what may be at work here is the process of transformation of Petrista cultural memory into the cultural memory of Petrismo—that is, the adoption of some aspects of Petrista cultural memory into the way in which Castilian courtly culture [End Page 49] remembers Petrismo" (261), at a time when Trastámara legitimacy was not contested anymore.
A reflection by Clara Estow, who has been part of the Redes Petristas project from its inception and has gracefully showed her continuous support, serves as a coda to this cluster. There, she offers her thoughts on the scholarship devoted to Pedro I and his reign, and suggests areas where further study will be productive. Some of those areas include Castilian hegemony over Iberian politics and institutions; the use of the Iberian conflict by France and England to promote their goals; and the way in which relations among the three principal religious groups in Iberia became redefined during and after the fratricide conflict between Pedro and Enrique de Trastámara. Her inspiring words rest comfortably along the lines of the contributions to the cluster and persuade us to strengthen the lines that connect the multiple nodes defining these Redes Petristas. [End Page 50]
This article was written with financial support from the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF102ID). We would like to express our gratitude to the Centre for Medieval Literature (Universities of Southern Denmark and York) and, above all, to its director Lars Boje Mortensen, for his constant encouragement in the last three years. This institutional support has materialized into a generous funding for the workshop Redes Petristas – Petrista Networks (Odense, 4–5 June, 2015), for the website Petristas.org, and for the co-organization of the international conference Debuerit habere regnum. Deposing and Proclaiming Kings in Middle Ages (Lisbon, Centro de História – Universidade de Lisboa, 12–14 October, 2016).
1. The list of the participants included Godfried Croenen, Ana Echevarría Arsuaga, Clara Estow, Shazia Jagot, Tom Nickson, Clara Pascual-Argente, Ricardo Pichel Gotérrez, Ana Sáez-Hidalgo, Manuela Santos Silva, and Covadonga Valdaliso Casanova.
2. As such, it has been preserved in the opening lines of the website created for the Redes Petristas project: http://petristas.org/. The network is open to scholars working on any aspect related to Pedro I, who can join by signing up through the website. There is also a blog, addressed to both academic and non-academic audiences, publishing brief research papers written by members, together with news and updates concerning our activities and events of interest.
3. The CML is a Center of Excellence inaugurated in 2012 and funded for ten years by the Danish National Research Foundation. For further information, see http://www.sdu.dk/en/Om_SDU/Institutter_centre/C_cml
5. Given the extensive nature of this study, this contribution has been divided into two articles, the second of which, focusing on the analysis of the anti-Petrista propaganda in the Cancionero de Baena, will be published in the next issue of La corónica (46.1).