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Spanish claims to Jerusalem, Spain, Jerusalem, Habsburgh monarchy, imperial Messianism


Spanish claims to the throne of Jerusalem in the early modern period have often been viewed in light either of royal mythologies connecting the Habsburgh monarchy to the biblical kings David and Solomon or to prophetic discourses of imperial Messianism relating to universal monarchy. This paper broadens our understanding of Spanish claims to Jerusalem through close reading of two archival documents produced in 1605. In defending Spanish preeminence and sovereignty in Jerusalem, I argue that these documents participate in a “polemics of possession” that crucially informed cultural production related to the Holy City in the period more broadly. These documents further urge us to recognize Jerusalem’s role within early modern Spanish culture and politics as a location bound up in pragmatic geopolitical, diplomatic, economic, and material concerns that demand our attention. This novel recontextualization of Spanish cultural production surrounding Jerusalem ultimately advances scholarly conversations by mapping the contours of Spain’s Jerusalemite “polemics of possession,” thereby inviting us to consider new relationships between otherwise disparate material and textual phenomena.