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The Eve of Spain

Myths of Origins in the History of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Conflict

Patricia E. Grieve

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The Eve of Spain demonstrates how the telling and retelling of one of Spain’s founding myths played a central role in the formation of that country’s national identity.

King Roderigo, the last Visigoth king of Spain, rapes (or possibly seduces) La Cava, the daughter of his friend and counselor, Count Julian. In revenge, the count travels to North Africa and conspires with its Berber rulers to send an invading army into Spain. So begins the Muslim conquest and the end of Visigothic rule. A few years later, in Northern Spain, Pelayo initiates a Christian resistance and starts a new line of kings…

The Eve of Spain demonstrates how the telling and retelling of one of Spain’s founding myths played a central role in the formation of that country’s national identity.

King Roderigo, the last Visigoth king of Spain, rapes (or possibly seduces) La Cava, the daughter of his friend and counselor, Count Julian. In revenge, the count travels to North Africa and conspires with its Berber rulers to send an invading army into Spain. So begins the Muslim conquest and the end of Visigothic rule. A few years later, in Northern Spain, Pelayo initiates a Christian resistance and starts a new line of kings to which the present-day Spanish monarchy traces its roots.

Patricia E. Grieve follows the evolution of this story from the Middle Ages into the modern era, as shifts in religious tolerance and cultural acceptance influenced its retelling. She explains how increasing anti-Semitism came to be woven into the tale during the Christian conquest of the peninsula—in the form of traitorous Jewish conspirators. In the sixteenth century, the tale was linked to the looming threat of the Ottoman Turks. The story continued to resonate through the Enlightenment and into modern historiography, revealing the complex interactions of racial and religious conflict and evolving ideas of women’s sexuality.

In following the story of La Cava, Rodrigo, and Pelayo, Grieve explains how foundational myths and popular legends articulate struggles for national identity. She explores how myths are developed around few historical facts, how they come to be written into history, and how they are exploited politically, as in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 followed by that of the Moriscos in 1609. Finally, Grieve focuses on the misogynistic elements of the story and asks why the fall of Spain is figured as a cautionary tale about a woman’s sexuality.

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The Eve of Spain

Patricia E. Grieve

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Reviews

An impressive, erudite, and multidisciplinary approach... Grieve is to be commended for showing that such discourses transcend Iberian literature. Highly recommended.

Ambitious, deeply researched study... The Eve of Spain makes a significant contribution to Hispanic studies... Likewise, the study presents a useful model for trans-historical literary scholarship, a feat for which Grieve should be applauded.

Grieve makes it clear why history matters, noting that while medieval and early modern societies do not mirror today's complex world, they 'nonetheless are seedlings of, and bear some relationship to, today's globalized world and geopolitical issues'.

In searching for the medieval origins of Spanish nationalism, Grieve's provocative book promises to intervene in some of the thorniest debates in modern Spanish historiography, at the same time as it engages the larger scholarly public interested in the premodern contribution to nation building and nationalism.

The Eve of Spain is an erudite, engaging, and original excursion into the literary psyche of medieval and early-modern Spain.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
328
ISBN
9780801890369
Illustration Description
23 halftones, 1 map
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Prologue
Act One: Fall and Redemption (711-1492)
1. Setting the Stage
Of Women, Kings, and Nation
Origins of a National Myth
2. Granada Is the Bride
Using History to

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Prologue
Act One: Fall and Redemption (711-1492)
1. Setting the Stage
Of Women, Kings, and Nation
Origins of a National Myth
2. Granada Is the Bride
Using History to Shape a National Past
La Cava and the King... and Pelayo and His Sister
"She Came to Him in His Prison Cell"
The Jewess of Toledo and Rising Anti-Semitism
3. Blood Will Out
The Return of the Goths
Corral Casts Spain's Founding Myth
Training Isabel, the Princess of Asturias
Isabel, the Warrior Queen
Bad Women and Good in the Late Fifteenth Century
The Inquisition and the Holy Child of La Guardia
The Fallen and the Promise
Act Two: Promise and Fulfillment (1492-1700)
Interlude
4. Desiring the Nation
The Influence of Pedro de Corral's Chronicle of King Rodrigo in the Sixteenth Century
The Woman's Body and the Fate of the Nation
The Loss of Spain in the Oral Ballad Tradition
Philip II's Chronicler, Ambrosio de Morales, and the Development of the Heroic Pelayo
Philip II and the Power of Prophecy
5. Here Was Troy, Farewell Spain!
A Tale of Tales
Miguel de Luna and Spain's Prophetic History
Father Juan de Mariana and Early Modern Nationalism
Spain's Second Helen
Lope de Vega and the Stage of King and Nation
The Legend of the Fall of Spain after the Expulsion
Either Rise or Fall
Act Three: Imagining Spain (The Enlightenment to the Present)
6. Ancestral Ghosts and New Beginnings
The Challenge of Foundational Myths in the Age of Enlightenment
Fallen Women Take the Stage
Orientalism, Romanticism, and Visigothic Spain
The Search for Spanish National Identity in Medieval Spain
Pelayo, the Role of Women, and Contemporary Spain
The Founding Myth and the New Millennium
Epilogue: Cultural Dialogues
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Patricia E. Grieve
Featured Contributor

Patricia E. Grieve

Patricia E. Grieve is the Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and author of "Floire and Blancheflor" and the European Romance and Desire and Death in the Spanish Sentimental Romance (1440–1550).