lunes, 8 de junio de 2015

A bright, wide-ranging chronicle of the golden age of the Spanish empire.

SPAIN- The Center of the World, 1519-1682

by Robert Goodwin


A bright, wide-ranging chronicle of the golden age of the Spanish empire.

Though Goodwin (Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies/Univ. Coll. London;Crossing the Continent 1527-1540: The Story of the First African-American Explorer of the American South, 2008) denies that he has written a magisterial work filled with scholarly detail but rather a book for the “idle reader,” it is a well-researched, intelligent, and easily understood history of the first global empire on Earth. 

The author divides the work into two sections: “Gold” deals with the historical, economic, and political history, and “Glitter” explores literary and artistic works. 

At the beginning of the empire, King Charles V realized that the great wealth of silver and gold arriving from America would require a bureaucracy to ensure the availability of the banks, postal service, food, and roads essential for the movement of troops and supplies. 

He had to be well-organized and wealthy to wage wars and contain an empire that included the Netherlands, Naples, the Holy Roman Empire, and, eventually, Portugal. 

Charles was also an avid collector of Renaissance art and appointed the Venetian artist Titian as court painter. 

His son, Philip II, inherited a well-oiled machine that enabled him to expand the vast art collection his father had begun. He laid the path for Spain’s great artists Velázquez, Murillo, and El Greco, who were joined by great writers and thinkers like Cervantes, Góngora, and Quevedo. 

Goodwin not only shows the greatness of Spain’s empire, but also explains the psyche of Spaniards during the time. They preferred poverty over labor and honor over trade, and they were obsessed with purity of blood. The latter aspect was one of the prime drivers of the Inquisition, formed to rid Spain of lapsed Christians who had converted from Judaism during the diaspora of 1492.

Any student of the Renaissance should read this excellent work showing Spain’s enormous impact on the arts and, with her vast American empire, the world.

Amazon review: The Golden Age of the Spanish Empire would establish five centuries of Western supremacy across the globe and usher in an era of transatlantic exploration that eventually gave rise to the modern world. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of great political and social change--it was a time when Spain learned to rule the world.

Assembling a spectacular cast of legendary characters like the Duke of Alba, El Greco, Miguel de Cervantes, and Diego Velázquez, Robert Goodwin brings the Spanish Golden Age to life with the vivid clarity and gripping narrative of an epic novel. From scholars and playwrights, to poets and soldiers, Goodwin is in complete command of the history of this tumultuous and exciting period. But the superstars alone will not tell the whole tale--Goodwin delves deep to find previously unrecorded sources and accounts of how Spain's Golden Age would unfold, and ultimately, unravel.

Spain is a sweeping and revealing portrait of Spain at the height of its power and a world at the dawn of the modern age.

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