England's Spain : an invisible romance




Ariza-Barile, Raúl, Ph. D.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Historically, political and cultural relations between Spain and England have been understood as tense or otherwise dominated by animosity due to the religious and imperial disputes that both nations waged during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A consequence of this fraught relationship was the emergence of the so-called Black Legend, an array of English Protestant ideologies aimed at denigrating Spain, its peoples, and colonial endeavors. While the origins of the Black Legend are normally traced to the first European age of exploration, it would be misleading to think that Anglo-Spanish tensions began only in the Renaissance. My dissertation already sees complex, intricate dialogues between England and the Spain over the course of the Middle Ages and uncovers a hidden, invisible, and primeval display of a Black Legend narrative in three Middle English texts that remain relatively overlooked in scholarship: the late fifteenth-century Croxton Play of the Sacrament; Geoffrey Chaucer’s A Treatise on the Astrolabe; and the anonymous Floris and Blancheflour, one of the earliest romances in Middle English. “England’s Spain: An Invisible Romance” hears echoes of Spain in England’s late medieval textual traditions. I argue that Spain, although prominent in the three texts that I analyze, appears as an othered or “invisibilized” entity from a structural and thematic standpoint, thus contributing to what I identify as an early textual strategy that mirrors complicated dialogues between Spain and England. Through an unusual combination of texts and genres, my dissertation throws into relief a cultural narrative that has been poorly understood or overshadowed by historical developments in the context of a history of acrimony and enmity. Positioning Spain as important in the development of medieval English literature exemplifies how a culture normally overlooked in Anglophone historical and cultural discourses is central –and not invisible– in the study of a field that, still today, is dominated by concerns so nationalistic, monolingual, and mono-cultural that they appear to reinforce the negative connotations of the term “medieval.”



LCSH Subject Headings