This post is also available in Español
Omníbona is a 16th-century utopian dialogue written in Spanish. It has been almost completely overlooked by Hispanists, political theory and utopian literature scholars until its first edition’s recent publication. Consequently, many readers with different interests could get access to it now.
Omníbona is, possibly, the first European utopia in vernacular language and the first one after the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia. Its extraordinary content destroys many assumptions of utopian literature and thought in Spain. For instance, it suppresses the paradigm of a lack of utopian literature in Spain until the 18th century, since the internal evidence seem to date it circa 1540.
It is also a considerable long work divided into twelve books, which describe institutions, roads, habits, the capital city, schools and universities, and the political organisation of an imaginary kingdom. Parallelisms between this kingdom and that of Castilla are evident because it tells about the conflicts over poverty, gipsies, conversos and indigenous people, the Inquisition, etc.
The reforms taken by the utopian king are extremely daring considering their temporal context. It is remarkable that they were meant to be spread in the heart of the court, as they contradict the established narrative of Habsburg political theory. By way of an example, in terms of education, Omníbona suggests compulsory education for boys and girls until the age of 12, and these latter could have access to higher education.
The project Explora Omníbona, la utopía moderna olvidada (FFI2015-72593-EXP) has got funding from the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. This project proposes examining this work’s potential to alter our paradigms of Hispanic cultural and literary history, as well as promoting its knowledge and spread.