The Golden Age of the Spanish Empire would establish five centuries of Western supremacy across the globe and usher in an era of transatlantic exploration that eventually gave rise to the modern world. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of great political and social change--it was a time when Spain learned to rule the world.Read more...
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The Golden Age of the Spanish Empire would establish five centuries of Western supremacy across the globe and usher in an era of transatlantic exploration that eventually gave rise to the modern world. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of great political and social change--it was a time when Spain learned to rule the world.
Assembling a spectacular cast of legendary characters like the Duke of Alba, El Greco, Miguel de Cervantes, and Diego Velazquez, Robert Goodwin brings the Spanish Golden Age to life with the vivid clarity and gripping narrative of an epic novel. From scholars and playwrights, to poets and soldiers, Goodwin is in complete command of the history of this tumultuous and exciting period. But the superstars alone will not tell the whole tale--Goodwin delves deep to find previously unrecorded sources and accounts of how Spain's Golden Age would unfold, and ultimately, unravel.
"Spain" is a sweeping and revealing portrait of Spain at the height of its power and a world at the dawn of the modern age."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Goodwin (Crossing the Continent 1527-1540), a research and teaching fellow at University College London, effectively illustrates how Spain achieved a golden age with the attainment of unprecedented power over the Holy Roman Empire—and how its very unwieldiness cost Spain considerable wealth and stability, worsened by fiscal and political mismanagement. Charles V’s military accomplishments and Philip II’s continental power plays provided the bulk of Spain’s strength before giving way to weaker rulers whose eras ironically ushered in glittering poetic innovations, striking polychrome art, and lasting literary characters. Densely packed with historical and cultural details, these “Gold” and “Glitter” elements dovetail with an astute portrayal (inspired by Don Quixote) of Philip IV’s misguided favorite, the Count-Duke of Olivares, who as prime minister oversaw the Spanish Empire’s final descent. Goodwin’s belief in Spanish superiority results in occasional overgeneralizations (the Barber of Seville as the “most enduring character” and Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus as the “most stunning” female nude) and the near-omission of or ambiguity concerning relevant European figures such as England’s Elizabeth I and Charles I. Nevertheless, Goodwin successfully shows that significant achievements in art and culture, as well as colonial successes, allowed the diminishing powerhouse to keep her sparkle amidst the turmoil of decades of economic and military instability. Illus. (July)