|Title:||The Public Image of Hispanic Monarchs in Early Modern Times : The Role of the Royal Stables|
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|Authors:||José Eloy Hortal Muñoz, Author|
|Material Type:||video document|
EquivocÉcurie De Château ; Époque Moderne (XVIe-XVIIIe) ; Espagne ; Image
Of special relevance in court ceremonies amongst early modern rulers was the configuration of the complex network that defined the public image of the monarch, inside and outside the courtly environment. Thus, when the monarch ventured outside the palace it provided an opportunity to see the sovereign in all his majesty, and projected an image demonstrating his wealth, the sacralization of his figure, and the distance that separated him from his subjects. This mise en scéne in different ceremonies, such as the public presentation of heirs, processions, receptions and so on, revealed the splendour of the court and, above all, the power of the prince by means of a semiotic series that penetrated the viewers’ awareness directly and influenced their hinking. These appearances played an essential role in establishing the terms of the royal image, because most of the etiquette and the ceremonies in which the King took part were invisible to his lesser subjects, with the exception of public meals at the Royal Palace.
The royal stables were the apparatus of most importance in this respect, as this paper will argue, focusing on the case of the Spanish monarchy during the seventeenth century. We have to realize how intimately involved in the triumphal entries of this period was the horse, an essential part of the regalia and a reflection of the chivalric ideal of the dukes of Burgundy. Charles V tried to remain faithful to the image cultivated by his predecessors, expecting nobles from his vast Empire to be present at certain festivals, and encouraging their participation in such events as tournaments and games or redes. Undoubtedly, the political involvement of these parties was complex : ,while a royal entrance was a vehicle for dialogue between the monarch and the urban classes, tournaments expressed, in the form of hospitality, the role of the King as feudal Lord of his knights, as well as, on the nobles’ part, the qualities of honour and virtue. However, at the same time, Charles V sought to use the presence of nobles at these celebrations to emphasise the courtly nature of their activities and facilitate the transition from the medieval model of knight-warrior, to the archetype of the modern courtier, a gradual process culminating during the reign of his son.
This process can be seen at the stables during the Felicissimo Viaje, as Burgundian tradition had provided Charles with some sophisticated opportunities for equestrian display. Even in the apparently most trivial matters, the exaltation of the figure of the King and his household created complicated etiquette and ceremonies in order to show the King’s superior power in all aspects of life. The Burgundian stables were closely linked to war and its ceremonial similacra, the tournament and the fair, associations which greatly influenced practice in the emperor’s stables. The emperor was presented as a perfect gentleman, who was prepared for war and capable of mounting a horse in order to fight.
This image, how ever, would be modified after the Felicissimo Viaje , so that in the decade of the 1560s during Philip II’s reign the stables became conceived in more courtly terms, related to his more remote and sacralised figure, reflecting ceremonial changes in the conception of monarchy. Undoubtedly these changes derived from the introduction of Burgundian style to the stables for the Felicissimo Viaje, as this was the moment after which specially crafted vehicles transformed the event. After that point the King made use of what we might call representative vehicles
continuously, especially cars and carriages. The Castilian stables were less noted for putting these changes into practice, because, for example, the Master of the Horse was not one of the household’s main offices, while in the household of Burgundy the Master of the Horse undoubtedly was. We can simplify by saying that the Castilian stables were more ‘domestic’ than the Burgundian. Only a few Castilian offices, such as the minstrels, would have equal future importance, although stables in the Castilian manner would continue to have relevance in the Queen’s Household.
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