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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The Catalan Aragonese civilization did produce effects


[Sidenote:

Struggle of the Catalan, Latin, and Castilian languages for predominance in polite literature.]

At the close of the preceding era Catalan was already being employed in prose works in Catalonia, while the Proven?al predominated in poetry. In this period the Catalan, which also found support in Valencia and Majorca, invaded all types of literature. Against this current there appeared two powerful forces which made themselves most felt in the last century of the era,--Latin and Castilian. Latin was much more firmly rooted in Catalonia than in Castile, and the Latin tradition was greatly reinforced by contact with the Classical Renaissance influences throughout the period, owing to the intimate political relations of the kings with Sicily and Naples. These influences were at their height in the reign of Alfonso V. Castilian had the support of Aragon proper, since the Aragonese tongue was very similar to that of Castile, and it was furthered by the Castilian dynasty of Ferdinand I, which began to rule in Aragon in 1410. The same element appeared at the court of Alfonso V, much frequented by Castilian and Aragonese poets, and even by Catalans who chose to write in Castilian. As a result Catalan began to decline as a literary language, although it did not disappear, but on the contrary improved in its elements and forms. Catalan poetry of the era never completely effaced the Proven?al influence, as evidenced by the subject-matter, which was predominantly

amatory, although somewhat erudite, artificial, conventional, mystical, allegorical, satirical, and even moral. Catalan prose appeared principally in novels of chivalry and in history. Castilian poetry and prose also had interesting manifestations in the entire realm of Aragon. The history of dramatic literature followed the same course as in Castile, although in some of the choral representations at the court of Alfonso V an approach to the modern theatre was made.

[Sidenote: The fine arts.]

With respect to architecture, sculpture, and the related arts the general remarks about their development in Castile may be applied to the kingdom of Aragon, subject to the observation already made[49] as to the difference of Catalan Gothic from that of Castile. The Italian influences were exceptionally strong in Catalonia and Valencia, and the French were marked in regions near the Pyrenees and in Majorca. One type of edifice peculiar to the eastern coasts was the defensive tower to which the inhabitants resorted on the appearance of pirates or in times of military danger. In painting, the Italian style of Giotto was more completely assimilated than in Castile. Flemish influences were equally prevalent.

[Sidenote: Mutual influence of Aragonese and other European civilizations.]

Despite the long occupation of the duchy of Athens by Catalan rulers, who used Catalan speech and customs, the Catalan-Aragonese civilization had no noteworthy effect in Greece, and, similarly, neither the Byzantine nor the Athenian civilization reacted upon the kingdom of Aragon. In southern France, however, the Catalan-Aragonese civilization did produce effects, just as it was in turn affected. The same mutual exchange of influences was also observable between Aragon and Italy, if indeed the civilization of the latter was recognized as superior by the Spanish conquerors themselves. The principal impulse came at the time of Alfonso V and the contemporary papal reign of the Spanish pope, Alfonso Borgia, as Calixtus III (1455-1458). There was a great influx of Spaniards, especially from the realm of Aragon, and as they occupied the highest official posts in southern Italy, they could not but make their presence felt. Many Spaniards left Italy upon the deaths of Alfonso V and Calixtus III, but others remained, and political relations were maintained between the two kingdoms, since the Neapolitan ruling family proceeded from the same trunk as that of Aragon, thus preparing a new period of Spanish rule and influence with the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon.


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