1. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    Spain in the 17th Century

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Fernando.C, Jun 17, 2016.

    Any history buffs out here?

    I need information about the lifestyle and the overall cultural aspects of life in the mid- and late 17th century Spain. I need it for my WIP.
    Just to be clear, I'm NOT interested in the political and/or economical situation of the time. Only the cultural aspect. You know, the social conventions and standards, how people dressed, the position of women in the society, that sort of thing.

    I'm also interested in the Spanish nobility and their way of life and social status at the time.

    I tried googling but didn't get any satisfactory results. Also found a book in my local library on 17th century Spain but it focused on the political aspect of things.

    So if any of you guys know anything about the culture of the time period it would be greatly appreciated if you shared the information. Or if you know of any books/resources that match this criteria that'll be awesome as well.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    Hi Fernando,

    If your local library has turned up a blank, you could try Wikipedia (17th Century Spain, Hapsburg Spain, etc) and then check out the references on those articles. Follow your nose and you're sure to dig up the info you need.

    The period you're interested in is pre-enlightenment and the empire was in serious decline. Spanish society was massively influenced by the Catholic church, so there were strong elements of fundamentalist theocracy pervading all aspects of life, which set the standards for a lot of behaviour (including the acute repression of women).

    I'm no expert in the fashions of the time so I can't comment on how people dressed (Google image search is your friend here).

    As for the nobility, their prime purpose was not to do any work. Any successful merchants you might find in the nascent middle class would most have likely have also aspired to not do any work. Work was for peasants, and being a peasant was dire – no access to anything except your patch of farmland and a head full of superstition.

    Anyway, a final suggestion – when googling, be specific (the role of women in 17th century Spain, for example) and you'll turn up bucket loads of stuff.

    ¡Venga, al ataque!

    Happy hunting!

    :)
     
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  3. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    Thanks Wayjor. You gave me some really good pointers :agreed:
     
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  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Here's a link to a book that might get you started. It's available to read online, and it looks like it has an extensive bibliography at the end, which should lead you further into the subject.

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XcW4y5sb6ogC&pg=PR6&lpg=PR6&dq=social+history+of+17th+century+Spain&source=bl&ots=IxUOIBFuoS&sig=DAqRyP4LPS_y31Z_YodrC6XGzqw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFw4zz0bHNAhXIuRQKHYXwDwkQ6AEISzAH#v=onepage&q=social%20history%20of%2017th%20century%20Spain&f=false

    I think the word you need to insert into any searches is 'social history' not just 'history.' Social history gives you more of what you're looking for.
     
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  5. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some pretty spectacular art was produced by 17th century Spanish painters, not all of it of the upper classes. Artists you might want to check out include Diego Velazquez, Francesco de Zubaran, and Alonso Cano. You can refer to their work for clothing of the time, and also to get a sense of the period.

    The first 60 years of the 1600s saw the culmination of what is known as the Spanish Golden Age--- El Siglo de Oro--- in both art and literature. Dealing with the mid and later part of the century, you'll likely be focussing on the years when all that was winding down. But its influence would still be felt.
     
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  6. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any, some, or all of this may be true, but, @Fernando C., unless yours is to be a time travel novel with an outsider's POV, be careful to write your story from within the culture and context of the period. If you stand in judgment over it from a 21st century Post-Modernist perspective, it will come off as preachy and anachronistic and do neither your characters nor the book any favors.

    For instance, your typical young woman of the place and period would have had no argument with the idea that she was to find her life's fulfillment primarily in the role of wife and mother. The conflict would come when Papa chooses a husband for her whom she can't stand. And even then, though she'd likely deplore her cruel fate and go pray to the statue of the Blessed Virgin that dear Papa would change his mind, she would not say something like: "Screw it all, if I weren't so acutely repressed and held prisoner by the traditional anti-feminist strictures of this patriarchal society, I could find self-realization as a Woman Studies Professor at the University of Madrid!"

    Similarly, it was generally expected that sons, if they didn't become soldiers or go into the Church, would follow the professions of their fathers. (Don't forget the hardworking artisan class, BTW. Not everyone was an aristocrat, a bloated merchant--- a stereotype to be avoided for its cheapness--- or a dirt-poor peasant farmer). A young man might chafe at that, he might try to find some way around it ("Padre, can't you apprentice me to Tio Marco instead? I'd rather be a silversmith than a hog butcher!"), but it's unlikely he would question the overall expectations of his culture.

    Oh, yes, and historically, there were daughters whose fathers were willing to bring them up in the family trade, and who went on to have good success at it.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd think about what I wanted my protagonist(s) to do, and do targeted research on what it would take for him or her to do it.
     
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  7. Fernando.C
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    Fernando.C Active Member

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    I really appreciate you taking the time to offer so much insight :), both this and your previous post have been really really helpful.

    As for the issues you brought up in this post, don't worry I have no intention of passing any sort of judgement on the time period. Like you I always get annoyed when people try to judge a certain time periods by modern standards.

    What I want to do is pain a authentic picture of the period, so when people read the story they feel as if they've actually stepped into late 17th century Spain. Personally it bothers me when I read a book or watch a movie/ tv show set in a certain time period and a certain country which is full of inconsistencies and historical errors. You know people wearing the wrong clothes, or using tools that would not have been invented for another decade or two. Or some characters having views that are way unrealistically progressive for their time, like the examples you gave. This sort of thing throws me off the story, which is why I wanna make sure I avoid them in my story.

    Speaking of my story, there's no time travel, but it's a fantasy. The main setting isn't late 17th century Spain, it's modern day US. But there's gonna be a lot of flashbacks to the time period because that's where and when two of my main characters are from. They're vampires (and siblings) and the flashbacks are to explore their backstories and lives before they were turned into vampires, and also the circumstances surrendering them becoming vampires. A lot of the things that happened to them then are important to the main plot, so I decided to use flashbacks for that.
     
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