Ciudad Universitaria, Edificio D, Plaza Menéndez Pelayo, s/n, 28040 Madrid 91 394 5863


The Emergence of Spiritual Female Authority is a research project funded by MINECO/FEDER (Ref. FFI2015-63625-C2-2-P; 2016-2019) and directed by Dr Rebeca Sanmartín Bastida. This project will analyse the rise of female authority in convents and “beaterios” and the interplay between the spaces of convent and court in fifteenth and early sixteenth-century Castile. The aim is to investigate the ways in which religious discourse was used by women as a means to gain access to the public sphere. This aspect of the history of the period has been little studied, and yet it is crucial, for it defined the patterns of female authority for ages to come. Politics and religion combined to create discursive styles and textual communities that empowered women in distinctive ways. Over the last few decades, research has revealed the presence of female mystics who exhibited a series of charismatic gifts (visions, prophecies, ecstasy) in Castile, and has established the notion that changes brought about in the Late Middle Ages and the Reformation led to a new model of female sanctity where these supernatural phenomena would be essential in its relation to the court, especially with the phenomenon of the so-called “living saints”. But the mid-sixteenth century witnessed the culmination of the process of cloistering of women who had hitherto acted as religious leaders. Notwithstanding the persecutions of female visionaries, particularly alumbradas, still in the first decades of the 15th hundreds these figures would continue to enjoy prestige and power.
This project is coordinated with the research project entitled “Power, Piety and Gender (Castile, 1400-1550): The Emergence of Female Authority at Court and Convent” (FFI2015-63625-C2-1-P), directed by María Morrás: