A King Travels: Festive Traditions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain

By Teofilo F. Ruiz | Go to book overview
Save to active project


DURING my adolescence, I was led to the Middle Ages by an unhealthy diet of nineteenth-century romantic novels. Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, Sir Walter Scott, and other novelists replaced my earlier fascination with Jules Verne and Emilio Salgari. My youthful and fairly feverish mind was always populated by knights and highborn ladies, by romance and pageantry. When I entered graduate school, I had to leave all that behind me, reluctantly. Becoming a professional historian in the early 1970s meant embracing either the institutional and political history practiced by my beloved master, Joseph R. Strayer, or the new social science-inflicted history which was very much in vogue at Princeton under Lawrence Stone’s brilliant direction. My knights were replaced by peasants, pageantry by structures. I do not regret at all that detour in my growing up as a historian, but having embarked recently on a long journey to re-read everything I read when I was fifteen or sixteen years old, it is only now, at the end of my career or, as Cervantes put it, with my foot almost in the stirrup for that long journey into the night, that I return to my first dreams and love.

Although I love fantasy and magic—my lively five-year-old granddaughter, Sofía, provides that—I am not foolish enough to think that all these delightful accounts that I will so lovingly gloss in chapters to come and relentlessly inflict upon you present anything like an accurate depiction of reality (whatever reality is). I am fully conscious that they are representations, distorted and ideologically-ridden versions of events that took place long ago and to which we have access only indirectly and at secondhand. Moreover, I am also fully conscious that these representations come, more often than not, from those close to the centers of power—whether royal, aristocratic, municipal, or clerical. As such, they reflect peculiar ideological biases. But, once again, these narratives were essentially representations. Despite how close to reality late medieval and early modern narratives tried to make them appear, they were mostly fantasy. Arches were described, even though they were never really built. Displays were exaggerated, and the nature of feasts was often distorted to suit the political needs of the sponsors and writers. But representations also tell us important things about the nature of society, about the men and women who participated in these festive events, who gazed upon them and upon each other, who paid for them, and who scripted them for the benefit of those in power, those seeking power, or those contesting power. Recently, Thomas Bisson, in a spectacular book on the crisis of


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A King Travels: Festive Traditions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 356

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?