- The Early Modern Hispanic World: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Approaches ed. by Kimberly Lynn and Erin Kathleen Rowe
The Early Modern Hispanic World: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Approaches.
Cambridge UP, 2017. 360 Pp.
THE BOOK UNDER REVIEW IS DEDICATED to the eminent Hispanist Richard L. Kagan, Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor Emeritus of History at Johns Hopkins University. In spite of its encomiastic origins, the book manages to transcend many of the pitfalls of the Festschrift genre. Richard Kagan’s formidable intellectual range, achievements, and influence are well represented by the contributions, many of which were written by students and collaborators of the renowned scholar of early modern Spanish history. Both as a whole and in its parts, the collection is important for any student of the historiography of Spain, not the least as a historical artifact itself, that is, a record of transition and tensions in the field of Spanish history itself, and perhaps the seedbed for its future directions.
In an opening “Appreciation,” Geoffrey Parker recounts Kagan’s career, from his undergraduate studies at Columbia and doctoral research at Cambridge University under John Elliott, to his evolution into the premiere Hispanist of North America. Parker’s chatty preface is followed by a more formal introduction, “Mapping the Early Modern Hispanic World.” In this careful and cogent essay, the editors survey recent developments in the rapidly changing field of early modern Spanish history, framing the volume’s essays in light of Kagan’s own work in contesting the Black Legends of Spanish exceptionalism and decline.
The essays that compose part 1, “City and Society,” foreground the importance of urban space in the articulation of Spanish political and cultural identities. In the process, they expand upon and update the analysis of Kagan and Fernando Marías in their Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493–1793 (Yale UP, 2000). In “Towns and the Forging of the Spanish Caribbean,” Ida Altman argues that the municipality—as a social, political, and legal institution—was key to the formation of the Spanish empire. She does so by [End Page 179] tracing the early history of towns and their inhabitants in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo, using documentation from Seville’s Archive of the Indies. James Amelang’s “The Walk of the Town: Modeling the Early Modern City” is an introduction to a textual genre he identifies as “city-walk books.” In these texts, as Amelang explains, “the walk” is a “means of explicating and presenting a city” (57). Erin Rowe examines religious processions in 1620s Madrid in “The King, the City, and the Saints: Performing Sacred Kingship in the Royal Capital,” including a 1622 canonization celebration memorialized in a text by Lope de Vega. Rowe concludes that, through these festivals, Philip IV made himself present: the king “did not need to seek proximity to the saints in order to absorb their holiness; rather, he increasingly sent forth the saints as his representatives, the ultimate symbols of a sacred and glorious monarchy” (87).
Part 2, “Religion, Race, and Community,” complicates categories of religious and social difference that previous generations of scholars often took for granted. Sarah T. Nalle argues against attributing conversos with a monolithic character in “A Minority Within a Minority: The New and Old Jewish Converts of Sigüenza, 1492–1570.” Nalle finds that, in Inquisition and other records, conversos used different self-ascriptions depending on whether they were part of a group that had converted before or after 1492. So too did recent converts (“nuevos convertidos”) pursue marriage practices, occupations, and residential patterns separate from those of the so-called confesos (115). This cleavage within one Castilian converso community should give significant pause to scholars in search of a distinctly converso role in any dimension of Spanish society, culture, or politics. In “On the Alumbrados: Confessionalism and Religious Dissidence in the Iberian World,” which is an expanded version of a 2012 journal article, Mercedes García-Arenal and Felipe Pereda survey recent trends in the study of the alumbrado heresy. They trace the movement’s geographic, historiographic, and theological contexts while also arguing against ascribing alumbradismo with inherently Judaic or Islamic...