Finding Common Ground: Chivalry and Crusade in Castile and Burgundy

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 2:50 PM
Room 302 (Hilton Atlanta)
Elizabeth Ashcroft Terry, University of California, Berkeley
The ascension of Charles of Habsburg in 1516 to the crowns of Spain was a dramatic turning point in Spanish and European political history. Although the Duke of Burgundy arrived in Castile as a foreigner, he interacted with his new subjects very differently than his father, Philip of Habsburg had a decade and a half earlier, who had needed to jockey for power with the formidable Ferdinand of Aragon. Because of a shared chivalric and crusading culture in Burgundy and Castile, Charles had an advantage as he negotiated with Castilian nobility to integrate his dynastic holdings.

      This paper examines the long-standing traditions of chivalric culture and crusade ideology that existed in both realms, and the ways in which Charles drew on these as a means to create a unifying courtly culture. It points out that Charles’ grandfather, Maximilian I of Habsburg, consort to Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, wrote and commissioned a three volume chivalric romance about his own life and family history. When he ascended to the crown of a united Spain, Charles brought these works with him, and he commissioned Spanish translations of Burgundian romances. Similarly, although it was Ferdinand and Isabella who famously spent a decade subduing and defeating Muslim kingdom of Granada, the bringing the Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula to a close, the Dukes of Burgundy had similarly robust traditions of crusading, memorialized in the founding of the Order of the Golden Fleece (1430), the Vow of the Pheasant, and other courtly events. Charles drew on these legacies, and he welcomed Spanish noblemen into the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece. In Charles’s reign, leading Christendom against the Turks would be both a policy goal and a lofty ideal—and young Charles inherited this crusading ideal from both sides of his family tree—Trastámara and Habsburg.