R.S. [Allegory on the Glory of Spain] “Regna tot una rego, quot cœtera Numina gentes: . . .”
Sixteenth century. Engraving by R.S.; figures by Joan of Ach. Image 7 7/8 x 10 1/8. Trimmed to image and below text, perhaps as issued. Top two corners replaced in facsimile ink drawing. Good impression. Good condition.
An unrecorded allegory illustrating the glory of Spain during the sixteenth century. Spain is illustrated as a woman seated below a tree upon which hangs the royal crest, and she is holding a scepter and has a crown in her lap. Next to her stands a knight in armor holding a flag of war, a personification of Mars. This figure is explained by the Latin text below the image, which roughly translated states, “I rule as many kingdoms as other spirits rule nations: and although I possess the most, yet I seek more. I even try to add the Sun to the heavenly kingdoms, whither Mars, Art and Prosperity direct me....” The military might of Spain is illustrated by the drum and shield that lie at Mars’ feet, as well as by the army shown marching in the middle ground and the ships attacking a castle in the background. The arts and prosperity are symbolized by the musical instruments, scientific instruments, the illustration of commerce, and the goods and bullion which populate the allegory around the central figures. One final aspect of the allegory is the graphic reference to Spain’s conquests in the New World, illustrated by a globe showing a map of the western hemisphere in the lower left. The final line of the text also alludes to the Spanish empire in the west, “The Stars led me over the sea to the black Indies, which now I insert among the highest stars.” By the late sixteenth century, Spain was the dominant power in Europe, and this allegory wonderfully celebrates her glory.