Imperial Stagings: Empire and Ideology in Transatlantic Theater of Early Modern Spain and the New World

By Chad M. Gasta | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
‘A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME’: POLITICS
AND DYNASTIC SUCCESS(IONS) IN CALDERÓN’S
LOA TO LA PÚRPURA DE LA ROSA

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

–William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

IN Shakespeare’s immortal play, Juliet suggests that if Romeo truly loves her, he will ignore his cherished surname and his family and social connections to escape with her. The lovers are doomed from the start, however, precisely because he is a Montague and she a Capulet–prominent members of two warring families. The epilogue in many ways encapsulates the play’s central struggle and tragedy but also reveals a predicament in early modern Europe: alliances between families were complicated and, as Romeo later finds out, sometimes deadly. Family conflicts, especially between the wealthy and powerful, often could not be resolved, even through marriage. Nonetheless, in early modern Europe, a marital arrangement between families that might bring about dynastic alliances between states was likely to be the best way to avoid military conflict. The Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, who placed each of their children in predominant dynasties throughout Europe, offer a particular case in point.

In spite of the successful placement of their offspring, by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Spanish monarchy expended greater effort battling military foes than marrying them. A good deal of time and money went to waging war against the Dutch and the French outside the Iberian Peninsula and against the Por-

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