Armas y letras: Santillana and the Forging of a New Chivalric Ideal Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Venere, Sherry Antoinette
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • The most popular models of behavior for medieval Castilian nobility were heroes like Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar and Fernán González, who join the company of ancient heroes like Aeneas and Alexander, in embodying the Cardinal Virtues, in particular, the ideal of Fortitude. Their narratives made use of the classical topos of sapientia et fortitudo to showcase their expertise as soldiers and commanders. During fifteenth-century Castile, knights were asked to possess more qualities than were comprehended by sapientia et fortitudo and Íñigo López de Mendoza (1398-1458), more commonly known by his title, marqués de Santillana, was chosen as the champion of a new heroic paradigm. This dissertation examines how Santillana’s interest in letters and learning is used by contemporaries Juan de Mena, Gómez Manrique, and Diego de Burgos to construct a new image of what constitutes an ideal knight and nobleman, the soldier-scholar, in spite of the historical separation of arms and letters. I explore how these poets’ encomia of Santillana combine exemplary citations and the arms and letters topos to introduce the new paradigm of the soldier/scholar much before the likes of Garcilaso de la Vega and Cervantes praised the combination, and why it happened at this juncture in history. In Chapters 1 and 2, I consider the type of knowledge required to make these comparisons, examining the nature of arms and letters and the exemplary figure in ancient and medieval rhetoric, and our poets’ knowledge of these rhetorical theories. In Chapters 3-5, I discuss each Mena’s La Coronación, Manrique’s El planto de las Virtudes e Poesýa, and Burgos’s El triunfo del Marques de Santillana in light of the shifting appreciation of knightly letters in early-fifteenth century, Santillana’s efforts in arms and letters, and the poets’ efforts to legitimize their own positions. Despite the intentions of these poets, tensions still existed in medieval society around the figure of the knight, and we may conclude that while Santillana anticipates the new exemplary ideal through his own military and scholarly achievements, he is merely a very early example whose exemplary status is thwarted by the lukewarm reception of the Castilian nobility.
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  • In Copyright
  • Dominguez, Frank
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

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