«Tendran la Regla a la letra». Royal Patronage and the Observant Movement in Late Medieval Spain. Diana Lucía Gómez-Chacón

Talk to be presented at Weingarten, December 1st 2018

Church of 
Nuestra Señora de la Soterraña, in Santa María la Real de Nieva

The desire to lead a pure and intense spiritual life was very present among the late medieval society. The Observant movement had important consequences on the identity and charisma of the monastic and religious orders that aspired to recover a splendor that they considered lost, through the (re) construction and the (re) creation of the past. 

In Spain, the Trastamara monarchs’ spiritual interests frequently mixed up with their political aspirations. Throughout the 15th century, both Castilian and Aragonese monarchs manifested a special tendency to entrust their souls’ health to Observant ecclesiastics, a fact that would have favoured the foundation of reformed monasteries by the royal family. The medieval Iberian kingdoms did not develop an ideal of sacral monarchy. Consequently, Spanish monarchs’ authority was based on their royal descent and the laws of the land. Public religious ceremonies in which the ruler took part, alms giving and patronage together confirmed their status as worthy rulers and moral examples. Spanish monarchs were expected to be pious, and they, therefore, consciously cultivated a virtuous public persona. Their religious activities were part of their program to maintain their reputation, and led them in turn to take an active involvement in the clerical affairs of their realms.

 Thus, I will analyse royal patronage and Observant movement in late medieval Spain from three different points of view: the Trastamara dynasty’s support of the eremitic spirit of certain reform initiatives, the conception of the Observant movement as a royal memorial strategy, and the close relationship between royal patronage, Observance and female virtuosity.


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