Between Honour and Excellence

Nobiliary Genealogy and Common Opinion in Early Modern Spain


  • José Antonio Guillén Berrendero Department of Education, Language, Culture and Arts, Historical-legal and Humanistic Sciences and Modern Language, Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid



nobility, genealogy, early modern Spain


This article inquires after the causes of the unprecedented growth and scope of genealogical expertise in the many realms that comprised the Spanish Monarchy in the seventeenth century. Lengthy proofs of nobility were a prerequisite for admission to orders of chivalry, courtly institutions, colleges, and universities. The nature and means of transmission of genealogical knowledge are analysed in order to grasp its socio-political significance. Indeed, besides their critical importance for the nobility, genealogies were relevant for society at large and were tied to the recurring debates on the essence of nobility that were taking place in Europe from the thirteenth century.