Book Series Burgundica, vol. 35

A Spectacle for a Spanish Princess

The Festive Entry of Joanna of Castile into Brussels (1496)

Dagmar H. Eichberger (ed)

  • Pages: 440 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:240 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59443-9
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60089-5
  • E-book
  • Available

This volume introduces the reader to the festive entry of princess Joanna of Castile into Brussels (1496) that marks the dynastic union between Spain and the Burgundian Netherlands.

Based on the Berlin manuscript 78 D5, the first illustrated report of an entry concentrating on one single lady. This study includes a reproduction of this manuscript in full colour with sixty-three folios.


“Encompassing subjects such as history, art history, and the history of literature, and approaches like Habsburg or general court studies, this publication is recommended for all scholars interested in the Low Countries. The volume can also be helpful in its approach to understanding Early Modern festivities, urban studies, and the history of fashion. The high-quality reproduction of the primary source in the final pages of the publication allows readers to test the ideas introduced in the preceding essays.” (Oskar J. Rojewski, in Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews, July 2024)


Dagmar H. Eichberger taught at the Universities of Canberra, Melbourne, Heidelberg, Jena, Konstanz, Paris, Giessen and Vienna. She is the leading expert on Margaret of Austria, Joanna of Castile’s sister-in-law. She has published on Renaissance culture in the Netherlands and Germany and co-edited several volumes on Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Religion and Visual Culture, Burgundian Women and Visual Typology. Further research on art objects as material culture and the history of early collections is in progress.


On the evening of 9 December 1496, Princess Joanna, Infanta of Castile, reaches the outskirts of Brussels where a procession of secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries welcomes her. After having been married to Philip the Fair in Lier, Joanna travelled to Brussels by herself. Equipped with torches and processional crosses, the citizens accompany her all the way to the heart of the city, the large market square with its magnificent town hall. The Berlin manuscript 78 D5 is the first illustrated report of an entry concentrating on one single lady. The manuscript is a treasure to all those interested in urban culture of the Early Modern period. The author of the festival booklet compares the well-lit city with the splendours of Troy and Carthage. Twenty-eight stage sets, or Tableaux Vivants, and an elaborate procession mirror the costly intellectual program presented to the sixteen-year-old princess. The carefully planned theatrical productions underscore themes of marriage, female virtues and the politics of war and peace. The program includes entertainments, soundscapes, and pyrotechnic amusements. The Latin texts are made available in English translation. The entire manuscript, with its sixty-three folios, is reproduced in colour. Eleven leading scholars present their new findings on this spectacular entry from an interdisciplinary approach.


List of Illustrations

List of Contributors


1.     Introduction. A Spectacle for a Spanish Princess (Dagmar Eichberger)

2.     Joanna of Castile’s first Residence in the Low Countries (1496-1501): the Transformation of a Trastámara Princess (Raymond Fagel)

3.     Joanna, Infanta of Castile and Habsburg Archduchess. Recreating a Lost Wardrobe and Trousseau in 1496 (Annemarie Jordan Gschwend)

4.     The Self-representation of Brussels in Times of Uncertainty (Claire Billen & Chloé Deligne)

5.     ‘In unam pacis accordantiam’. The Role of City Poet Jan Smeken and other Rhetoricians in Organizing the Brussels Entry (Remco Sleiderink and Amber Souleymane)

6.     Role Models for a Queen’s Daughter (Wim Blockmans)

7.     Arguing with the Old Testament. Moral and Political Lessons for Princess Joanna of Castile (Dagmar Eichberger)

8.     ‘Pour esmouvoir les cuers et coraiges des hommes a Joye et Recreation:’ the Entry of Joanna of Castile as Entertainment (Laura Weigert)

9.     The Brussels Town Hall. A Worthy Emblem for a Capital City (Sascha Köhl)

10.    Illustrating Contemporary Events in Watercolour on Paper. The Entry of Joanna of Castile as an Example for a new Genre of Memorial Books (Anne-Marie Legaré)

11.   Ms 78 D5. A Codicological Description (Dagmar Eichberger)

12.   Ms 78 D5. Short Descriptions of the Miniatures (Helga Kaiser-Minn)

13.   Ms 78 D5. The Latin Text: Transcription and Translation (Verena Demoed)

14.   Ms 78 D5 (fols 1r – 63v). Reproduction of Text and Images

15.   Bibliography

16.   Keywords

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