María de Fonseca (c. 1486-1521) and the Marquis of Zenete (1473-1523): Aristocratic rebels and patrons of Renaissance culture


The story of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar y Mendoza, Marquis of Zenete, Cardinal Mendoza’s eldest son, and his second wife María de Fonseca would furnish a writer with ample material for an exciting novel and certainly deserves to be better known, especially in the Anglophone world. Among other things, this article sheds some light on the vulnerable status of women in late medieval and Renaissance Spain at a time when noble ladies had greater educational opportunities, and casts doubt on the alleged role played by Queen Isabel in championing the freedom and the rights of women; and it discusses how the Marquis of Zenete expressed his personality through jousting invenciones and inscriptions in Latin on the walls of his palace of La Calahorra, and introduced many features of Italian art and architecture into Spain almost in defiance of the status quo. The author explains why the Marquis wrote the words NULA SECUNDA on a harp that he gave as a present to Prince Juan. The possible significance of a quotation by Ovid formerly in the Salón de los Marqueses in the Palace of La Calahorra is discussed, and attention drawn to the appearance of the Fonseca sisters in the anonymous Carajicomedia.


Castilian culture fifteenth to sixteenth centuries: clandestine marriage; Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar Marquis of Zenete; María de Fonseca; Cardinal Mendoza; Carajicomedia; Cancionero general; Laodamia; Ovid; Germanies

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