CEEH Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica

La corte en llamas. Proceso al marqués de Heliche (1662-1663)


María Asunción Flórez Asensio


644 pages; flapped paperback; 16,5 x 22 cm


Spanish; jointly published with Marcial Pons; 2023





Don Gaspar de Haro y Guzmán (Madrid, 1629 – Naples, 1687), Marquis of Heliche, was the son of Don Luis de Haro (Philip IV’s last valido) and aspired to succeed his father as royal favourite. The biography of this fascinating figure so representative of the upper nobility of his time has been sullied by the accusation, hitherto unrefuted, of an attempt to burn down the Coliseo, the theatre in the Buen Retiro palace. Although he was acquitted a year after the proceedings began and Philip IV lifted the sentence given to him for attempting to kill his slave Ybas (the only proven offence he committed), this accusation dogged him throughout his life and until very recently has obscured his brilliant period – after the event – as a politician in the service of the Spanish Monarchy.

This book analyses the proceedings brought against Heliche in 1662 for his alleged attempt to set fire to the Coliseo of the Buen Retiro. The marquis’s guilt had barely been questioned until now, despite the many irregularities of the proceedings and the flimsiness of the motives that supposedly spurred him to commit such an offence: to prevent the Duke of Medina de las Torres from taking advantage of his work after becoming governor of the Buen Retiro or the even more ludicrous theory that he wished to wreak revenge on Philip IV for failing to appoint him as his new favourite. A detailed study of the surviving documentary sources, however, makes it possible to establish a very different hypothesis; indeed, it is even plausible to speak of a plot against the marquis and his family, which was reported by his defenders at the time.

María Asunción Flórez Asensio is professor of Music at the EEMM and has a PhD in History from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, for which she was awarded a special doctorate prize. She also holds qualifications as a singing teacher from the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música and as a specialist soloist from the Escuela Superior de Canto de Madrid. The author of several monographs, she has published various scientific articles in specialist journals, as well as studies in collective works. She has contributed nearly forty entries to the Diccionario biográfico español of the Real Academia de la Historia and is a member of the advisory committee for the CSIC’s book collection ‘Cancioneros Musicales de Poetas del Siglo de Oro’.