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A King Travels:
Festive Traditions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain
Teofilo F. Ruiz

Teofilo F. Ruiz, Winner of the 2011 National Humanities Medal
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2012

Paperback | 2012 | $46.95 / £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691153582
Hardcover | 2012 | $78.50 / £55.00 | ISBN: 9780691153575
376 pp. | 6 x 9 | 4 halftones. 2 maps. | SHOPPING CART

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A King Travels examines the scripting and performance of festivals in Spain between 1327 and 1620, offering an unprecedented look at the different types of festivals that were held in Iberia during this crucial period of European history. Bridging the gap between the medieval and early modern eras, Teofilo Ruiz focuses on the travels and festivities of Philip II, exploring the complex relationship between power and ceremony, and offering a vibrant portrait of Spain's cultural and political life.

Ruiz covers a range of festival categories: carnival, royal entries, tournaments, calendrical and noncalendrical celebrations, autos de fe, and Corpus Christi processions. He probes the ritual meanings of these events, paying special attention to the use of colors and symbols, and to the power relations articulated through these festive displays. Ruiz argues that the fluid and at times subversive character of medieval festivals gave way to highly formalized and hierarchical events reflecting a broader shift in how power was articulated in late medieval and early modern Spain. Yet Ruiz contends that these festivals, while they sought to buttress authority and instruct different social orders about hierarchies of power, also served as sites of contestation, dialogue, and resistance.

A King Travels sheds new light on Iberian festive traditions and their unique role in the centralizing state in early modern Castile.

Teofilo F. Ruiz is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His many books include The Terror of History: On the Uncertainties of Life in Western Civilization and From Heaven to Earth: The Reordering of Castilian Society, 1150-1350 (both Princeton).


"Accomplished historian Ruiz examines festivals in Spain from approximately 1200 to the mid-17th century. Starting from the premise that these events conveyed social, political, and ideological content, the author argues effectively that a close analysis over time of various festivals and related traditions--e.g., those associated with royal entries and visits to major municipalities; royal births, weddings, and funerals; Corpus Christi and Carnival--improves historians' understanding of changes in political processes and culture. . . . The book provides information and insight that anthropologists, students of Spanish literature, and historians of Spain and colonial Spanish America will draw upon for many years."--Choice

"[O]ne may recommend the present study as a labour of love--a detailed and interesting introduction to that colourful world of chivalry which, as he confesses, has captivated the author since his youth."--James Casey, European History Quarterly

"Ruiz is . . . a master storyteller. The chroniclers who originally recounted these festivities and processions in loving detail intended to recreate for their readers a complete vision of the clothing, music, food, decorative arches, dances, and jousts that constituted them, and Ruiz has done the same service for us."--Jodi Campbell, English Historical Review


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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Abbreviations xiii
Chapter I: Festivals in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain: An Introduction 1
Chapter II: The Meaning of Festivals: A Typology 34
Chapter III: Royal Entries, Princely Visits, Triumphal Celebrations in Spain, c. 1327-1640 68
Chapter IV: The Structure of the Late Medieval and Early Modern Royal Entry: Change and Continuity 113
Chapter V: A King Goes Traveling: Philip II in the Crown of Aragon, 1585-86 and 1592 146
Chapter VI: Martial Festivals and the Chivalrous Imaginary 193
Chapter VII: Kings and Knights at Play in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain 210
Chapter VIII: From Carnival to Corpus Christi 246
Chapter IX: Noncalendrical Festivals: Life Cycles and Power 293
Conclusion 331
Appendix: The Feasts of May 1428 at Valladolid 335
Bibliography 339
Index 345

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      File created: 3/10/2015

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