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Spain: The Centre of the World 1519-1682

A rigorous history book for readers of novels by Robert Goodwin


In the sixteenth century, the Spaniards became the first nation in history to have worldwide reach; across most of Europe to the Americas, the Philippines, and India. Goodwin tells the story of Spain and the Spaniards, from great soldiers like the Duke of Alba to literary figures and artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, Cervantes, and Lope de Vega, and the monarchs who ruled over them.

At the beginning of the modern age, Spaniards were caught between the excitement of change and a medieval world of chivalry and religious orthodoxy, they experienced a turbulent existential angst that fuelled an exceptional Golden Age, a fluorescence of art, literature, poetry, and which inspired new ideas about International Law, merchant banking, and economic and social theory.

Spain: The Centre of the World 1519-1682 is a story of the men and women of the time of Kings – from Emperor Carlos V to Felipe VI – the bureaucrats, the bankers, the soldiers and priests which made Spain rich and powerful: the artists, dramatists, poets and people which contributed to its splendour.

According to the journalist Luis Ventoso, ‘Professor Goodwin is firstly in love with Spain and now tells its story with a vibrant pulse, with passion and readability in his marvellous novel. It is a portrait of our past which would have pleased Cervantes’

The English pilgrim has painted ‘an alive still life’ of our Spain of the Austria’s with the spirit of Velázquez or Murillo, Quevedo or Cervantes and offers the reader a framework full of personalities walking through the famous streets of Madrid, Mayor or Arenal and the famous Retiro Park, and then to the narrow streets of Sevilla, la Alhambra and la Mancha, the cold mud of Flanders and the palaces of Italy, the deserts of Africa and America and the sea coves in Ireland. ‘He reproduces images of the life, the homes, the neighbourly patios, the castles and the temples; from where they came from or where they were travelling to, where they cooked and drunk their wines and beers, and where they danced, all the naval military battles, the village fights, the loves and hates in the tribunals. We smell the Spain of yesteryear, the men and women and their Kings. We assist to his experiences, listen to his lies and share his happiness’.

Spain – The Centre of the World is a fabric of biography, history and sceneries, which flood with mundane experiences and the macro-politics of our forefathers who in the XV century found themselves in the grand Habsburg Empire and in the XVII and its decay. ‘But, what decadence, the Golden Century, an apotheosis of arts and letters, a world which shined’ says Goodwin, born, educated and doctored in London, but has also attended courses in the universities of Sevilla and Granada. Currently he is a full-time writer, lives in his native city and often comes to Spain: he feels just as home in his house in Sevilla or London. His first important book, Crossing the Continent 1527-1540: the story of the First African-American Explorer of the American South, was published in England in 2008.

His novel was the first to be translated into Spanish as he commented ‘my dream has been to achieve an entertaining narrative, something serious decorated with laughter, something deep with an overdose of happiness, history told like as soap opera, but all documented on primary sources of the time’.