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Old April 19th, 2013, 03:47 PM   #1

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Europa regina: Renaissance Concept of a Unified Europe?


Hi guys.

Lately I came across a very interesting artistic depiction from 16th century Europe, in which the European continent and all of its constituent lands is portrayed as an elegant queen. This imagery seems to have originated in 1537, when Charles V of Spain, the Holy Roman Emperor, ruled lands spanning the whole continent. Indeed, in most depictions of Europa regina, Hispania (Spain) is depicted as the head of the Queen. The imagery may have been at least partially influenced by the great ambitions of the Hapsburg monarchs. At any rate, it does seem to point to there being a sense of "Us vs. Them" with regards to Europe and the rest of the world during this time.

Here are some variants of the depiction:
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What are your thoughts?
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Old April 19th, 2013, 08:07 PM   #2
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That little bundle on her shoulder must be the young Elizabeth I, who had the stomach and heart of a man as a sort of rexina and thieved Hispania's Amerindgold.
In fact Britain is falling downwards on the old woman like an axe.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 03:53 AM   #3
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Interesting how Britain, or England, Scotland, Ireland, because it's not on the continent, is not seen as part of Europe at this time. But interesting to learn that this unified Europe concept went back to renaissance times. I'd always imagined the concept of a USE had only emerged after the war, inspired by the US.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 04:51 AM   #4

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I wouldn't call that hard evidence of a call for European unity. Map-making was highly stylistic in this time, seen as an art form above anything else, and accordingly steeped in symbolism and allegory. Given that the queen looks to be a Catholic monarch, wearing an imperial rather than regnal crown, and Protestant countries are either bland or excluded outright, this appears to be a statement of Catholic unity more than anything. The Crown itself is labelled 'Hispania,' Spain being the centre of Catholic monarchy at this time.

Last edited by Ri Fhionngaill; April 20th, 2013 at 04:57 AM.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 06:17 AM   #5

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This does not depict a queen.

The title on the top states that it is Europe:

'in forma virginis' (= 'in the form of a maid/virgin/young woman')

and down in the bottom left-hand corner it states:

'formosae sub forma Europa puellae' (= 'Europe in the form of a beautiful girl')

Poor Wales does not even get a mention, and the Tudors were on the throne!

Last edited by Garry_Owen; April 20th, 2013 at 06:21 AM.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 08:58 AM   #6

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My thought?

Well, the title of the book in the third image, seen at the top of the page, is , "Das ander Buch," which in English means "The other Book."

Other? But what is the first book to which this one is the other of?

Europa Prima Pars Terre In Forma Virginis? Was it so famous that the publisher could say "other" and everyone would know what "The other Book" referred to?

The two images are very very similar.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 01:15 PM   #7
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As the Vatican helpfuly divided the globe into Spanish and Portuguese sectors then presumably the world was this imperial persona. With a papa.
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Old April 20th, 2013, 01:48 PM   #8
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I don't think there was a call to unity, back then people still had a sense that Europe was a unity. As Christendom fell out of favor a more secular concept of 'Republic of Europe' hung around for centuries. It was only with the rise of nationalism in the 18th and 19th centuries that it disappeared entirely.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 10:18 PM   #9

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This is an allegory born in the reign of Emperor Charles V. It coincides with renaissance thought at University of Salamanca that the idea world would one day be a collection of semi-autonomous republics under one monarch. It is indeed an early example of a theoretical unitary form of government born out of the real politics of a world empire. Such a dream would end when the Emperor's son faced the realities of an overstretched empire fighting defensive wars on all fronts and institutional failures at home.

It is also the perfect exhibition of how - contrary to Anglophile perceptions - geopolitically insignificant the British Isles were in this time of history. A time when Europe's most powerful dynasty - the Hapsburgs - was centered over her heart, and her most powerful empire - Spain - was her crown and countenance.

Last edited by Learned Hand; April 21st, 2013 at 10:42 PM.
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Old April 21st, 2013, 11:09 PM   #10
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Yes, England was nothing but a cultural backwater back then... it took a Spanish Armada, or three? and a few other changes for things to spring into life!

Interesting map, thanks for copying it in btw.

Last edited by Collingwood; April 21st, 2013 at 11:11 PM.
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