The chapters in this book represent separate case studies regarding the use of romance strategies and tales of love and arms more generally in the imperialist myth-making of early modern England against the threat of imperial Spain, particularly those works first used by Spanish authors to justify Spain’s own designs for transatlantic conquest. With interwoven readings of the Spanish-inspired works of William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, John Dryden, Ben Jonson, and Peter Heylyn, this book shows how English poets, dramatists, and writers romanticized the global colonial world (México, Perú, Guiana, California, and Australia), eroticizing masculine wanderlust, and producing emergent discourses of English nationalism and imperialism in response to contemporary Anglo-Spanish conflicts, global traffic, trade and piracy. As a study of fanatical English readers of romance, this book also tracks the cultural and political circumstances that primed the success of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote of la Mancha in England.
Image credit: Woodcut map and plan of Tenochtitlán, in Praeclara de Nova maris Oceani Hyspania Narratio (Nuremberg, F. Peypus, 1524). Courtesy of Edward E. Ayer Collection, The Newberry Library
Spanish Romance in the Battle for Global Supremacy:
Tudor and Stuart Black Legends
Did Spanish explorers really discover the sunken city of Atlantis or one of the ten lost tribes of Israel in the site of Aztec México? Was faerieland real--could it be found in terra incognita? Did classical writers foretell the discovery of America? Did the Welsh knight Madoc discover America centuries before Columbus? Were Amazon women hiding in Guiana and where was the location of the fabled golden city, El Dorado? Was Baja California really an island or a peninsula and did Sir Francis Drake really discover the largest island in the world? Who was more powerful, Apollo or Diana, and which claimant nation, Spain or England, would win the game of empire? These were some of the questions English writers, historians, and polemicists asked through their engagement with Spanish romance. By exploring England’s fanatical consumption of so-called books of the brave conquistadors, this book shows how the idea of English empire took root in and through literature.