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He compliments his research and teaching into the built environment with an active engagement in the world of early music, especially that of keyboard instruments. He has held organist positions both in Australia as well as in Spain. When it came time for the critics and historiographers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to write the grand narrative of Spanish architecture, the decadence of Habsburg monarchy, economy and society was paralleled to the decline of the noble art itself.

The completion of the Escorial in loomed more like an enormous granite epitaph for Spanish architectural production than the promise of a New Jerusalem. These negative topoi have, in many cases, found their way into the contemporary historiography of Spanish architecture of the period, typically depicted as all surface and no space, relegating it to a place lesser importance. The wars on multiple fronts — both at home and abroad — were the prime cause of the financial instability that crippled seventeenth-century Spain Font de Villanueva Domestic and foreign capital was siphoned northwards to pay for these bellicose ventures, leaving the Crown repeatedly bankrupt and the nation drained.

The social, economic and spiritual situation was further compounded by the bouts of pestilence that struck throughout the century, decimating the population of major cities, most notably that of Seville. When it came time to constructing the narrative of Spanish architecture in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, historians similarly looked back at this period and the paucity of large-scale new projects it had bequeathed, viewing its production, and those responsible for it, as a tarnished shadow of the preceding century.

Historians and critics have written that the decline of the empire was accompanied by the decadence of its architecture. These negative topoi associated with crisis and failure have, in many cases, been integrated into much of the contemporary historiography of Spanish architecture of the seventeenth century, consequently relegating that architecture to a place of lesser importance within the western-European canon.

This is especially the case in non-Spanish language literature that has yet to assimilate recent scholarship about the architecture of the Iberian Baroque. Of particular concern to this investigation is the role that this question played in the writing of Spanish architectural history. This most unlikely of ground fomented a revolutionary change in the manner in which architecture was conceived, practiced and consumed.

Despite the economic turbulence of the seventeenth century, the Church remained by far the largest commissioning body of new architectural work.

Renacemento hispánico

Architects protested over the erosion of their position and remuneration within Castilian society, and theoreticians lamented the risks of lapsing decorum, whereas the Church was far more concerned with the economic reality which forcibly altered the commissioning, contracting and construction of works. Historiography has been markedly biased in giving voice to the former, hiatoria ignoring, almost in totality, the latter.

Taking as an example the Cathedral of Seville and in particular, the course of the construction of the church of the Sagrario Fig. The contexts of the economic conditions that ushered in the seventeenth century and the effect these had on cathedrals and their building programmes are presented in the first two sections of the paper.

It will be shown that far from acting as one monolithic nation-state or empire — and thus subject to a single historical argument Kamen The central sections of the paper focus on the city of Seville and in particular the construction of the church of the Sagrario. It will question the accepted historical supposition that Castilian architecture was in fact in crisis.

Was the negative perception of architects of the time one purely conditioned from the consequences of the financial uncertainty of the period, or can the erosion of the traditional role of the architect be attributed to a radical shift in the conception, creation and consumption of design as offered by its alternate practitioners?

By citing key architectural projects undertaken in late-seventeenth century Seville, it will be argued that the collaborative process of realising architecture — architects together with participation from other guilds — produced a highly effective method of designing and delivering projects. The abhorrence of the Baroque is cast as an essential act of moral and political reform, one in which the academies and academicians were seen to play an important role in restoring architecture to its rightful place.

It will be argued that it is this legacy that has shaped the historiography of seventeenth-century Castilian architecture, one that explicitly sought to render innovation into crisis. Una cosa es verlo, y otra decirlo. It is one thing to observe it and another to pronounce it.


By it had become apparent to Felipe III that the economic and societal conditions of Spain were grave. The proposition of reform that the Consejo de Castilla presented to the king the following year outlined the litany of afflictions, their perceived sources and the proposed action for their solution.

Throughout the century numerous remedies were proposed and applied to address the problems besetting the Spanish empire, and in particular, the kingdom of Castile that bore the brunt of the financial responsibilities of its maintenance.

Yet despite this programme of treatment, the tangible consequence of reform was not felt until the end of the seventeenth century. According to the economic historian David Ringrose The implications for architecture moedrno this position indicate a contradictory panorama of the seventeenth century.

On the one hand, the two institutional pillars of Church and state guaranteed a continuation of commissions, albeit of varying scale and nature. On the other hand, the maintenance of this paradigm exaggerated an overall economic climate unfavourable towards the general flourishing of the profession outside of these limited realms. The Church was by far the larger protagonist in terms of the geographic scope and variety renacimineto commissions instigated throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Gacia et al.

Whereas the Crown principally constricted its building programme within the orbit of its Madrid-centred universe, the Counter Reformation expanded its spiritual world into the chancels, bays and niches of every cathedral, church, and convent throughout Castile, the Americas and Asia.

This opened up an almost inexhaustible physical space for new architectural intervention. In addition to the new interior ventures, there was also the obligation to continue and complete the building programmes that had been instigated previously, especially in the case of large-scale projects such as cathedrals.

It is in these instances that the effects of the economic crisis can most clearly be seen. Distinct from its northern European counterparts, the cathedral-age of Spain lasted well into the eighteenth century.

The seven-hundred-year campaign against the Muslim territories of the Iberian Peninsula reached its conclusion in with the capture of Granada. As new territories were gained from north to south, mosques were initially adapted and reconfigured to serve the Christian rite that was now enacted inside.

Over time, as resources became available, many of these structures were demolished and new gothic cathedrals — a lo moderno — built in their place. In areas such as Andalusia where the transferal from Muslim to Christian control occurred much later than the rest of the peninsula, the lag between occupation and reconstruction extended through to the sixteenth century.

The gargantuan project of Seville was one of the few Andalusian cathedrals to be completed in one continuous phase between and — excluding the Royal Chapel and other dependant spaces discussed in the second section of the paper.

Those in the other episcopates were still not near completion by the commencement of the seventeenth century. The consequences of the crisis on major cathedral works varied from diocese to diocese, though across the range there was a general reduction in the workforce employed. Accompanying this was an elongation of the time frame.

The panorama of cathedral building in the seventeenth century was anything but homogenous. For long-established dioceses or those of particular prestige and financial means, the period of the seventeenth century presented a variety of conditions in relation to architectural works undertaken.

In general, for large-scale works such as major rebuilding of the fabric or substantial additions, delays, paralysations and financial shortfalls were equally as common in wealthy dioceses as in those of more recent establishment or lesser prestige and patrimony. However, despite the dilatation of building works, the larger and richer dioceses were better able to ride out the severest moments of the crisis and had greater economic resilience, enabling the commissioning and provision of new architectural and interior projects, once conditions had improved.

Castilian ecclesiastical income was drawn from three primary sources: Whilst income from rented lands was more or less stable, tithes, which were tied to agricultural production and incomes, were a volatile component of the income base, as were the vagaries of votive offerings. Of this share, only a third was actually dedicated to the maintenance and construction of the edifice, wages of general staff, the cost of the liturgy and liturgical ornaments, as well as the costs and salaries of the musical chapel.

The total income of the prelate and chapter was one third of the tithes, in addition to other pensions, incomes and benefits received. As such, these individuals were considered obliged to contribute substantially to the funding of major works.

As part of his legacy, a prelate was also expected to promote projects and works that would enhance the splendour and solemnity of the liturgy, either through new or improved architecture, art works, furnishings, ornaments, and musical instruments such as organs.

The seventeenth century presented the Church with many threats to its income base, especially war, environmental disasters and pestilence. During the Spanish-Portuguese war of the s, those dioceses whose frontier territories were subject to the theatre of war experienced a sharp drop in income. As a consequence, there is evidence of a retardation or cessation in building work throughout the affected dioceses Bonet Correa Despite the general condition of crisis, the financial state of the Castilian Church was in fact quite resilient.


Its broad base of multiple income streams and its enormous influence on the economy allowed its interests to be well protected, though not completely immune to the turbulence that faced many other sectors of the society, as shall be seen in the examples of large-scale architectural projects cited below Rawlings A large portion of the funds came directly from the donation of bishops and benefices, both incumbent and vacant. The shortfalls in funds and the associated cash flow issues were further compounded by the taxes payable to the Crown — subsidio and the excusado — for the war campaigns being waged, an inescapable condition faced by all dioceses Higueras Maldonado A case in point from the middle of the seventeenth century illustrates the financial difficulties associated with personal subsidisation of such massive projects, even for wealthy individuals.

Bishop Fernando Andrade Castro bp. For reasons undisclosed, Andrade had difficulties in fulfilling his donative promise of the additional ducados from onwards Higueras Maldonado This form of action was repeated again some six years later when the Chapter was faced with similar financial difficulties. The cities of Andalusia were not the only sites of large-scale cathedral construction.

The construction of the new cathedral of Segovia stalled in Expenses relating to the construction were pared back to the minimum needed to save the works from total paralysis, a state which was to remain for a good part of the century Cillanueva de Santos In the capital of the kingdom and heart of the empire ambitious plans for a new cathedral in Madrid never rose from the ground Banner The incomplete Cathedral of Valladolid.

Photo by Angeldp Creative Commons license. The problems surrounding the financing of the church of the Sagrario of Seville Cathedral — seat of the second wealthiest archdiocese in the Spanish empire, only after the primacy of Toledo — highlight the extent to which the economic and social crises of the seventeenth century influenced the architectural production of the time. In the following section an analysis of the constrained financial conditions that accompanied its construction will be used to elucidate a number of influencing factors that may have contributed to a shift in design practices from the s onwards.

The plan to construct a new sacramental chapel for Seville Cathedral was approved in The project was aimed at addressing the inadequacies of the extant chapel, deemed to be inappropriate in scale and poor in condition.

Construction of the new chapel and parish church commenced in From this date onwards progress on the work slowed down: This is further evidenced by the delays in completing the vaulting in the following decade when another six workers were dismissed, seriously compromising the progress of the project.

In war began between Spain and Portugal, reducing the revenues of the archdiocese whose western edge formed a lengthy border with its neighbour.

Renacemento hispánico – Wikipedia, a enciclopedia libre

Whilst the battle with Portugal may have affected the income of the Cathedral, the greatest social and spiritual disaster came with the devastating plague of Work on construction stopped completely. The brick flooring installed in had to be ripped up to accommodate mass graves for the rsnacimiento number of dead; the resultant stench was apparently so foul that no work could be done on the site for five months.

After the setbacks of the s the vaults were finally closed in and the Sagrario was inaugurated with much pomp and splendour in The trade-off for the eventual completion displays ernacimiento two-fold compromise that mark nearly all architectural projects faced with financing issues: The ambition of the Cathedral Chapter to build, or rebuild, was far more restrained in the seventeenth century, especially compared with the architectural legacy of the previous century.

This is best exemplified by a survey of the building programme of the sixteenth century: Interior of the Royal Chapel, Seville Cathedral. Simultaneously, the ancient Almoravid mellero was being modernised with a new belfry, also designed by Ruiz II.

Begun in the same year as the Chapter House, it was completed in ten years. These grand projects, all of stone save the belfry, rendered the periphery of the Gothic structure an almost continuous work zone for the majority of the sixteenth century, bequeathing Spain with the finest suite of ecclesiastical architecture from the period Fig.

The Giralda in the background, with the cupola of the sacristy in the foreground, Seville Cathedral. The works on the Cathedral formed the nucleus of an intense building programme that occurred in the city during the entire sixteenth century.

Photo by Turismo Sevilla Creative Commons license.