Gower in Early Modern Spanish Libraries: The Missing Link.

Saez-Hidalgo, Ana.

Gower in Early Modern Spanish Libraries: The Missing Link.

Sáez-Hidalgo, Ana. "Gower in Early Modern Spanish Libraries: The Missing Link." In Russell A. Peck and R. F. Yeager, eds. John Gower: Others and the Self. Publications of the John Gower Society XI (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2017), pp. 329-44.

It has long been accepted that the two fifteenth-century Iberian manuscripts of the CA--one in Portuguese and one a Castilian translation based on the Portuguese--were associated with John of Gaunt's daughters Philippa and Catherine, who were married to the kings of Portugal and Castile. This essay explores what we know and what we can reasonably conjecture about the path these manuscripts followed from their creation in some kind of courtly context, to intermediate owners of humanistic leaning, to the safe haven of royal libraries. The presence of the Castilian MS in the Library of El Escorial is first attested in 1576 in a catalog listing it among the donations by Philip II, whose goal was to create a world-class national library and center of learning. The king very likely received the book from the scholarly Hieronymite friar Juan de Huete, whom he had appointed as the first prior of the Escorial (331-37). In Philip's royal library, the Spanish CA was classified not as fiction or "fabula," but as a work of "filosofía" along with other mirrors for princes and didactic works (338-39). The Portuguese manuscript, owned since the early nineteenth century by the Royal Library in Madrid, can be traced along a circuitous path to the library of Luis de Castilla (d. 1618), a book collector whose library included works of "law, classics, history, and regiments of princes, all of them typically humanistic readings" (342). On the death of Castilla, it was acquired by the polymath Count of Gondomar, long-serving ambassador to the court of James II. Left to his descendants, the volume went next to the Royal Library. Throughout its travels, the Iberian CA "seems to have been continually valued for its moral advice" and especially its regimen for princes (344). [LBB. Copyright. John Gower Society. JGN 36.2].


Gower Subjects
Manuscripts and Textual Studies
Confessio Amantis
Facsimiles, Editions, and Translations