The Would-Be “King of the Spains”: Ferdinand of Aragon’s Political Maneuverings

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 2:30 PM
Room 302 (Hilton Atlanta)
Luis Morera, Baylor University
As is well known among experts of Early Modern Europe, Charles of Ghent ascended to the crowns of Spain in 1516—marking both end of Trastámara rule, and the beginning of Habsburg rule within the Iberian Peninsula. What is less well known is how close this important historical event, with myriad implications, almost never came to pass.

            This paper examines the twelve-year period after the death of Isabella of Castile (1504), when Ferdinand of Aragon was no longer king-consort in Castile. In particular, it looks at the multi-pronged strategy by which Ferdinand sought to extend his authority in the crown of Castile, as well as internationally. In addition to his active subversion of the claims of his daughter, Juana of Castile, and of his son-in-law, Philip of Habsburg, Ferdinand also pursued a new marital alliance to Germaine de Foix, the birth of a male child with her (an attempt to secure his claims to Castile through an heir of the Trastámara line), military campaigns of conquest in Naples and Navarre, as well as the use of civic ceremonies that styled him as “King of the Spains.” Moreover, he sponsored a program—across various forms art, architecture, music, performance, poetry, and other forms of panegyrics—which combined rhetoric of the Spanish Reconquest, with more internationally relevant rhetoric of crusade and allusions to being the Last World Emperor, who would bring about a united, planetary Christendom.

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