Emblematic Arches – Contributions to Reading a Hapsburg Festival

Gomes, L. (2016) Emblematic Arches – Contributions to Reading a Hapsburg Festival. The 2016 Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 04-06 Apr 2016. (Unpublished)

128123.pdf - Accepted Version



In 1619 Philip III of Spain (II of Portugal) enters into Lisbon, in what was to be the culmination of a long awaited and extensively planned royal entrée into his Portuguese kingdom, in the context of the Iberian Dual Monarchy. Between the initial discussions for this journey nearly twenty years earlier and the journey itself, the political landscape of parts of remainder Hapsburg empire had changed, perchance none more so than in the religious and political schisms in the Low Countries, as evidenced in the Festival itself. The Lisbon festival featured various arches and ephemera, described and illustrated in Lavanha’s account (1622), and to which festival the ‘nação flamenga’ contributed with an arch. Lavanha’s account of this arch in particular simply provides a description of the arch and messages therein inscribed, in much the same way he does of the remainder events and ephemeral architecture. However, this particular arch sends a strong political message to Philip himself through applied devices which, when read in the context of their emblem book sources and their known readership in Portugal, Spain and, crucially, the Low Countries, reveal the full impact of the demand imposed on the king. In effect, the message conveyed by the arch goes well beyond the obvious Latin dedications translated by Lavanha. The interaction of the emblems with the Latin dedications and, crucially, with the mechanical apparatus of the arch, creates a strong and spectacular demand on the king, in which process he is, nonetheless, forced to participate. In effect, it will be the very own presence of the king that triggers the conclusion, thus publicly acquiescing to the demands of the Flemish in Lisbon. Our contribution addresses how the readership of a festival can be multisensory and multidirectional – to the public, to the addressee, to the dedicatee, and though mostly in static displays of ephemeral art, they convey political movement. However, the experience of the festival is also the stage for the redefinition of nationhood in 17th-century Habsburg Spain. Alongside trade guilds, whole nations performed in this public political arena to assert, defend and promote a unilateral concept of nationhood. Willingly or not, by reading together the various elements of the arch, crucially connected by emblems and mechanical contraptions, the king finds himself participating in a public display that commits him politically to resolve the schism of the Low Countries.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Festival book, Philip II, Iberian dual monarchy, Portugal, Spain, Flanders, Flemish nation, emblem, applied emblems, emblem literature.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gomes, Dr Luis
Authors: Gomes, L.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > DH Netherlands (The Low Countries)
D History General and Old World > DP Spain
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Hispanic Studies
Research Group:Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Text/Image Cultures
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Author
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
STRATEGIC RESEARCH SUPPORT 2015-16SMLC - University of GlasgowUNSPECIFIEDSchool for Modern Languages and Cultures