chapter  11
32 Pages

The Making and Meaning of the Monastic Habit at Spanish Habsburg Courts

BySpanish Habsburg Courts Cordula van Wyhe

In life or death, the monastic habit was an integral part of the attire of male and female members of the Habsburg dynasty, as princes and princesses were traditionally buried in a monastic shroud. This tradition was by no means specific to the Habsburgs, but had been a widespread practice among the burgher and aristocratic élites since the Middle Ages.2 Nevertheless, the adoption of the monastic habit by members of the house of Habsburg was widely publicized in contemporary chronicles, funeral accounts, and biographies, as well as state portraits and engravings. As such, it forms an important topos of the Pietas Austriaca. The radical change of appearance from magnificent court costumes to the somber habit of a Franciscan nun or monk was vital for the desired conflation of the courtly and monastic sphere and by extension for the idea of sacralized Habsburg rule.