Theses Doctoral

Re-composing the Global Iberian Monarchy through the Lisbon Press of Pedro Craesbeeck (1597-1632)

Stein, Rachel Sarah

This dissertation investigates the role of the printing press in the global Iberian Monarchy of the Union of Crowns (1581-1640), when the Portuguese empire was annexed to Spain’s. I argue that the book printer Pedro Craesbeeck and the authors and editors who published works treating America, Africa, and Asia at his Lisbon house used the printing press to attempt to alter the Iberian Monarchy’s commercial and political composition. Pedro Craesbeeck reconfigured the printing industry of Iberian Europe by building a global publishing hub in Lisbon that attracted editorial projects from all over the monarchy while drawing business away from competitors in cities like Madrid, Antwerp, and Seville. Writers and publishers symbolically rearranged the two Iberian empires’ lines of administration, tying Spanish America to Lisbon and Portuguese Asia to Madrid through a variety of textual and material operations. These agents of the Iberian book trade wielded the printing press as a mechanism to ‘re-compose’ the global monarchy they inhabited, exploiting the flexibility of a multi-territorial, multi-jurisdictional state while working within and around the limitations imposed by the institutions of Church and Crown.
Pedro Craesbeeck’s press gives us stories of global linkages and disconnections forged in productive tension. This thesis makes a crucial contribution to studies of early modern globalization, which have tended to focus on tracking connections and circulations rather than dynamics of reconfiguration and redistribution. The dissertation also problematizes longstanding views of the printing press as a top-down tool of the Habsburg monarchs by showing that this technology enabled subjects to participate in the monarchy’s construction according to their individual designs. The dissertation makes these claims by closely analyzing the textual and material contents of printed histories, hagiographies, treatises, reports, and poetry in Spanish and Portuguese alongside archival documentation in those languages and Latin, as well as large sets of bibliographical data. Among the canonical works that occupy a prominent place in the dissertation are Mateo Alemán’s Segunda parte de la vida de Guzmán de Alfarache, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s La Florida del Inca and Comentarios reales, Luís de Camões’s Os lusíadas, Fernão Mendes Pinto’s Peregrinaçam, and Diogo do Couto’s Décadas da Ásia. I also bring to light a range of little-known works: a hagiography of an ascetic in New Spain, a treatise on the corruption of the Caribbean pearl trade, and a discourse on the short-lived Portuguese takeover of Pegu (current-day Bago, Myanmar), to name a few. By building a corpus of study out of Pedro Craesbeeck’s press, I put into dialogue texts rarely read together due to linguistic and national disciplinary divides. The categories of Spanish, Portuguese, peninsular, and colonial literature, history, and culture dissolve, giving way to a global Iberian perspective.


  • thumnail for Stein_columbia_0054D_13806.pdf Stein_columbia_0054D_13806.pdf application/pdf 68.6 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Thesis Advisors
Russo, Alessandra
Velasco, Jesús R.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 7, 2017