Politics and emotion in thirteenth-century Iberia

Jennifer Speed, Fordham University


King Jaume I of Aragon (1213–1276) left behind vast records of the governments he shaped, the cultures he absorbed and diffused, and the people with whom he interacted over the course of a long and vigorous life as the ruler of a confederation of Mediterranean domains. Scholars today are left with a wealth of documentation about his life and administration, to include a unique literary and historical artifact—his vernacular autobiography, now known as the Llibre dels fets. Despite this wealth of evidence about the large and small details of his life, it is still very difficult to explain the relationship between the institutions he created and his politics, or political behavior. In describing the life of the king it is easy to leave out the person of the king. The Llibre has much to tell us about not only what Jaume did, but also the ways in which he reflected upon and interacted with his environment. As yet, though, historians who have studied Jaume and his life have made unpredictable and inconsistent use of the Llibre. This study seeks try and understand Jaume's historical work, that we might better understand the text as much as its author. A particular interest here lies in understanding the personal and political behavior of King Jaume and what it tells us about Jaume as well as later medieval monarchy. This work draws from thirteenth-century legal and chancery records, as well as from Jaume's Llibre dels fets. In making use of diverse sources from King Jaume's life and reign, all of which give evidence of the importance of affective relationships that are characterized by expressions of emotion, my study explains some of the dynamics of thirteenth-century Iberian political culture. Rather than reveal the increasing depersonalization of statebuilding in Jaume's life and in realms, as existing studies would suggest, Jaume's political activities point to ways in which affective and personal relationships were a critical part of kingship and politics in later medieval Europe.

Subject Area

European history|Political science

Recommended Citation

Speed, Jennifer, "Politics and emotion in thirteenth-century Iberia" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3377058.