Thanks to the generosity of ARTES and Coll y Cortés, I was awarded a Travel Scholarships which gave me the opportunity to carry out field research in Spain during the Spring and Summer Terms of the academic year 2016-2017. Even if I was based in Madrid, my research was often conducted outside the capital and I had the chance to visit several medieval monuments linked to the PhD thesis I am writing at the Warburg Institute (London).
The goal of my PhD research is to demonstrate that the first two Marquises of Villena, Juan Pacheco (1419-1474) and Diego López Pacheco (c.1445-1529), dedicated enormous efforts and energies in organising a complex cultural programme aimed at counteracting the negative image of their family that the Catholic Monarchs had created through a powerful political propaganda. My research includes the analysis of material and written sources, as their combined reading in historical terms is one of the best tools to understand how historical memory could be manipulated through acts of patronage at the dawn of the Early Modern Period.
During my stay in Spain, I visited many cities and villages that belonged to the Marquises of Villena during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Some of the most impressive castles I visited were those of Villena, Almansa, Escalona, Garcimuñoz, Chinchilla and Belmonte. Among the religious buildings, the most relevant for my research were the monasteries of Santa María del Parral, Saint Cataline of Siena and St Francis in Belmonte. These trips helped me to answer three fundamental questions of my PhD research: How did the Pachecos insert these buildings in the pre-existent urban landscape? In which way were they used by the Pachecos? And finally, what was their meaning and how were they perceived according to the standards of the visual culture of their time?
Being in Spain not only allowed me to visit and study in situ many buildings and artworks promoted by the Marquises of Villena, it also gave me the opportunity to carry out documentary research in various archives. The majority of the documents linked to the Pacheco family are preserved in the Archive of the Nobility, today in the Tavera’s Hospital in Toledo, a perfect place for all those who are interested in studying the great noble families of the medieval and early modern periods. Nonetheless, I also found interesting documents in the National Archive, the National Library, the Biblioteca Francisco de Zabálburu and the Biblioteca of the Museo Lázaro Galdiano.
While I was in Spain, I also dedicated part of my time in Spain to the drafting of a paper I presented at the Kings and Queens Conference: In the Shadow of the Throne, organised by the Royal Studies Network, which analysed the links between Diego López Pacheco and the inheritors to the Crowns of the Iberian Kingdoms. At the same time, I also had the chance to assist to several lectures and seminars, activities that were a useful platform to interact with scholars who are developing their research in Spanish institutions such as the CSIC, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Museo del Prado, etc.