Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Archeology and the Crown

Another nice museum exhibit! This one is at the Palacio Real in Madrid (I´m back in Madrid) and is definitely worth seeing. It tells the story of the involvement of the various Spanish kings, mostly in the 18th century, with the development and encouragement of archeology, both here in Spain and in the New World.
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Carlos III and Carlos IV were very important in the latter.  It is for this reason that there is a statue of Carlos IV in the Zocalo in Mexico City: he was instrumental in founding their Academy of Fine Arts (named San Carlos) and in promoting the arts in Nueva España.
Part of the reign of Carlos III occurred during St Augustine´s 20 year British period,  and we were on our way to becoming a territory during part of the reign of Carlos IV, so we probably were less affected by their activities than other parts of the New World.  It is recorded that we did manage to celebrate the birth of Carlos IV with a pageant and many festivities.  Had the British not intervened, we might have had somewhat of a flowering of our own in St Augustine, although of course we were such a tiny colony that it probably wouldn´t have been on a very spectacular level.
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In any case, it is interesting to see how the Spanish crown, at that point the Bourbon dynasty, encouraged the intellectual and cultural life of the colonies.  While things went downhill for them in the 19th century,  the Bourbon kings were 18th century Enlightenment intellectuals who pursued their own research projects and also encouraged other scholars, particularly among artists and the higher clergy.