Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


History of Art


The church of the Santo Sepulcro in Torres del Río in the region of Navarra in northern Spain was constructed between 1160 and 1180. Most scholarship conducted in Navarra presents its medieval history through the lens of Christian/Muslim duality, and generally disregards scholarship that investigates the polyethnic nature of medieval Iberian society. In this context the Santo Sepulcro, which is most famous for its interlacing ribbed vault that is often compared to Islamic domes, is an anomaly that challenges standard narratives of Navarra’s history and art history.

The goal of this dissertation is to contextualize the Santo Sepulcro historically and art historically in a way that makes sense of some of its most salient features. The first chapter discusses the state of the problem and proposed avenues for the research presented in the remaining chapters. The second chapter presents the building in detail. Chapter Three builds a historical context for the region of Navarra from its prehistory to the death of Sancho el Fuerte in 1234, approximately fifty years after completion of the Santo Sepulcro. In addition to establishing details of political history that will facilitate later discussions, this chapter looks at the Ebro River Valley as a unified geographic area. Chapter Four turns to the historiography of Navarra and investigates how its national identity is dependent upon standard narratives of its medieval history. Chapter Five uses the analysis of Navarra’s history to demonstrate how historiography reflects contemporary political and cultural frameworks and impinges on art historical interpretation. I suggest that the Santo Sepulcro is representative of a local style that integrated “Christian” and “Islamicate” elements. Chapter Six bridges the historical and art historical inquiries with a reconsideration of the terms Mozárabic and Mudéjar, which designate ethnic groups that lived in medieval Iberia and periods and/or styles of art. The region of Navarra remains at the margins of scholarship conducted in the English-speaking academic community, and one of the goals of this dissertation is to make information available to those unable to engage with scholarship in the language of Castile.


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