Forging Imperial Cities: Seville and Formation of Civic Order in the Early Modern Hispanic World
University of Kansas
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In 1503 the Spanish monarchy awarded the city of Seville a monopoly on Spanish-American trade. Serving as the gateway to Spain's lucrative Atlantic Empire for over two centuries, the city fashioned itself as an imperial capital, and natural successor to ancient Rome. Despite never serving as the official capital to the Spanish Habsburgs, civic authorities in Seville nonetheless expressed their city's wealth and nobility through an excess of laudatory histories, artwork, architectural renovations, and regional patron saints. This dissertation first contextualizes Seville's prominence by exploring how Phillip II's refusal to establish a permanent capital in Madrid until 1561 promoted competition between many cities in Castile, all of which saw themselves as potential contenders for the future imperial court. As Spain moved into Atlantic territories, this competition helped fashion the urban organizational strategy for colonial settlement in the New World. As Seville was the most important city in Spain during the early modern period, the city greatly influenced the conceptualization and development of Spanish-American cities between the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. Colonial capitals such as Mexico City found in Seville a language for expressing their inclusion in the Habsburgs' global empire through lavish ceremonies and architecture which could establish their New World cities as distinctly Spanish and Catholic. By placing Seville at the center of the empire, my research will act as an amendment to contemporary Spanish historiography which has failed to fully recognize the influence of Andalusia in early colonial development.
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