The empire past and present: discursive treatment of the Translatio Imperii in Alfonso X's Estoria de Espanna as a legitimisation of the Fecho del Imperio

Caetano Álvarez, Elena ORCID: 0000-0002-7369-7289 (2021). The empire past and present: discursive treatment of the Translatio Imperii in Alfonso X's Estoria de Espanna as a legitimisation of the Fecho del Imperio. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Language is, and has always been, a tool for power. This thesis addresses this issue by looking at 13th century Iberia and, particularly, the reign of Alfonso X, king of Castile and Leon (1252 – 1284). As a candidate for the Holy Roman Empire, Alfonso X focused his efforts to obtain the imperial crown in an enterprise that crystalised in the collective imaginary as the Fecho del Imperio. Whilst his dream failed, in order to legitimise and defend his rights the Learned king appropriated the ideological narrative and developed a historiography that would influence the centuries to come.
In an attempt to develop our understanding of this, I have analysed the text of the Roman section of the Estoria de Espanna, opus magnum of Alfonsine scriptorium. My main objective has been to look at the efforts of translatio and adaptatio (of previous sources in Latin), and inventio found in the text that built the imperial imaginary of the chronicle. My analysis has revealed four repetitive topics embedded in the text that are essential in understanding Alfonso X’s imperial ideology: the very concept of empire/sennorío and the Translatio Imperii; the importance of lineage for succession to the empire; the didactic character of the chronicle that established the features desirable in an emperor; and lastly, the surveillance of God in the transfer of the empire, a concept that removed any doubt in Alfonso X’s suitability for the role of emperor. The results have demonstrated that Alfonso X was acutely aware of the forces he had to overcome, and the people he had to convince, in order to achieve the imperial crown: the Castilian-Leonese Cortes and the rest of the Iberian monarchs, and the Christian Church, embodied by the papacy.
Finally, this thesis also demonstrates that Alfonso and his Estoria de Espanna are part of a wider European intellectual background that explains his desire in pursuing the imperial crown. When studied in isolation, Alfonso X’s imperial dream seems an exercise of stubbornness, but the theoretical plausibility of the endeavour, and the support of a wider intellectual network shows otherwise: the Alfonsine project might not have been the reckless undertaking that his successors would have us believe.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Sir Henry Thomas Doctoral Scholarship
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DP Spain
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures


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