María del Rosario Aguilar Perdomo
496 pages; 157 colour illustrations; flapped paperback; 17 x 24 cm
Spanish; with the help of the Community of Madrid; 2022
This book takes a fascinating look at the historic gardens that Spanish nobles built for their own pleasure and where they displayed immensely valuable botanical and antiquarian collections. It also surveys the splendid gardens described in chivalric novels, where the characters cured their melancholy, had amorous encounters and hosted banquets, parties and dances. With the aid of numerous testimonies (chronicles, letters, records of expenses, travel accounts) and paying constant attention to the adventures that thrilled Don Quixote, it establishes a fruitful dialogue between chivalric fiction and the reality of the period, allowing readers to piece together a picture of noble gardens in sixteenth-century Spain, the combination and hybridisation of their medieval and Renaissance forms, the legacy of Al-Andalus, and French, Italian and Flemish influence.
Gardens, the most fragile and ephemeral of art forms, were a cultural phenomenon of the highest order in Renaissance Spain. During the reigns of Charles V and Philip II – the keenest gardener of the Spanish Habsburgs – these verdant palaces became symbols of power, talking architectures that reflected their owners’ spiritual inclinations through the melodies of water, birdsong, flowering hedges, fruit-laden trees and antique sculptures. Drawing on the accounts of writers, patrons and travellers, the author explores the history of aristocratic and literary gardens.
María del Rosario Aguilar Perdomo, a lecturer at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (whose Faculty of Human Sciences distinguished her with an outstanding teaching award), earned a doctorate in Spanish Medieval and Golden Age Literature from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid after graduating in Philosophy and Humanities from the Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). She has been a visiting lecturer at the universities of Milan, Bergamo, the Nacional Autónoma de México and Trento. Her main fields of research are Spanish sixteenth-century chivalric novels, the relationships between gardens and literature in the reigns of Charles V and Philip II, and scholarship on Cervantes in Colombia.