Spanish and Portuguese ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-21-2017



Medieval authors repeatedly warned men of the dangers of going to hell due to their interactions with women. The authors listed here discuss the theological question of the act of contrition while warning men that they should repent for defaming women. This topic is present in the three following, pre-modern defenses about women where the men who wrote these treatises glorifiy the opposite sex for her ability to save man. The manuscripts examined in this project are: MS 9.985 Triunfo de las donas (1439-1441) by Juan Rodríguez del Padrón (c. 1390-1450), MS 1.341 Tratado de las virtuosas mugeres (1441) by Diego de Valera (c. 1412-1448), MS 207 Libro de las virtuosas et claras mugeres (1446) by Álvaro de Luna (c. 1390-1453). Most critics- Julian Weiss and Wendell P. Smith, to name just two, treat these defenses as focused on gender issues or as a means for social mobility and self-refashioning for the author. While these are valuable perspectives on the debate about women, the focus on these topics disregards a major factor, the need to prove identity with Christian society as a counter to increasing tensions toward converts from the Jewish or Muslim religion to Christianity. Various studies misread the role of religion in these treatises. Perhaps it is the obvious nature of the inclusion of religion in medieval works that has caused this oversight, but the presence is more meaningful than a necessary framework or literary style. While the debate discussed the treatment of women, the focus was on males. The men who demonstrated chivalrous and thus society's definition of Christian behavior were the actual subjects of the debate. It is by way of the defense of women that they could overcome the weight of their imperfections. This investigation examines the Spanish debate about women by focusing on the impact the discussion of Christianity in these treatises inadvertently had on national identity and how the structure of the social definition of nobility influenced this rhetoric on the ideological path toward limpieza de sangre. One achieves this by considering the political unrest surrounding the Spanish debate about women through an alternative perspective via a historical, social, and literary approach.

Degree Name

Spanish & Portuguese (PhD)

Level of Degree


Department Name

Spanish and Portuguese

First Committee Member (Chair)

Anthony J. Cárdenas-Rotunno

Second Committee Member

Mary B. Quinn

Third Committee Member

Anita Obermeier

Fourth Committee Member

Susan Rivera




Chivarly, conversos, religion, debate, women, identity, limpieza de sangre, Christianity, nobility

Document Type