Court and convent: The Infanta Isabella and her Franciscan confessor Andrés de Soto

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The historiography of early modern Netherlands is notably silent about one of the major figures involved in the Catholic Reformation in the region: Andrés de Soto, Franciscan confessor of Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, cosovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands. Between 1599 and 1625, Soto participated in many activities pertaining to the spiritual counseling of his princely penitent and her religiously inclined ladies-in-waiting, who often entered one of the female convents under their mistress's patronage. This article examines Soto's conspicuous displays of spiritual guidance in relation to his female penitents; it also discusses the contribution of these displays to the promotion of the Brussels court as a quasi-monastic institution; an ideal, yet problematic, image articulating the archduke's claim to divinely appointed sovereignty. The infanta and Soto enacted their relationship to each other and to the court ladies in a familial fashion. This familial symbolism was manipulated and even enhanced in response to various political crises during the infanta's regency and after Soto's death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-445
Number of pages34
JournalThe Sixteenth Century Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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