Empire and Romance: Historia de la linda Melosina

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Abstract

This article studies the relationship between literature and politics in the chivalric romance, Historia de la linda Melosina (1489), an Old Spanish translation of Jean d'Arras' Mélusine. The work, both in the original French and Spanish translation, portrays the folkloric, literary representation of the fairy princess Melusina and her line, as well as drawing on the classical tale of Dido as subtext to the Melusine foundation myth of Lusignan. Through the presentation of Melusina as founder and female head of state, Jean d'Arras' Mélusine reflects the contemporary politics of the Hundred Years' War and the ambitions of the Duke of Berry and his family. The romance also has political resonance in the Iberian Peninsula through its references to Aragon and Catalunya and the connection of the Count of Cardona with Thomas of Lusignan. Moreover, the publication Melusina in Spanish coincides with the Isabeline period and reflects in Melusina's courtly governance and empire-building the spirit of that age. The Melusina romance underscores the themes of empire and governance as integral parts of Peninsular romances printed during the reign of the Catholic Monarchs.

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