Against the backdrop of the uncertain and troubling history of Christian Spain at the turn of the ninth century, three comedias highlight the heroic deeds of the women of Asturias and León. In Lope de Vega’s Las doncellas de Simancas, women who are to be sent as tribute to the Emir of Córdoba sever their own hands, threaten suicide, and ultimately lead the resistance against the barbaric exchange. In Las famosas asturianas, also by Lope, Sancha, selected, as well, for delivery to the Moors, shames her countrymen by appearing undressed before them but not in the presence of the Moors. Spurred by such an insult, the men fight for the freedom of their daughters. Finally, in Álvaro Cubillo de Aragón’s Hechos de Bernardo Carpio, segunda parte de El Conde de Saldaña, Bernardo del Carpio’s wife, Sol, leads the women of Asturias and León to battle against the French at Roncesvalles; the future of Spain belongs to them as much as it does to the men. These heroic women demonstrate the popularity of the mujer varonil, the radical shift in the perception of women in the sixteenth century, and the notion that the real strength of Spain lies in its people, including its women, rather than in its hereditary monarchy.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Stroud, Matthew D. “Taking Matters into Their Own Hands: Heroic Women of the Early Reconquest in the Spanish Comedia.” Bulletin of the Comediantes 66.2 (2014): 55-66.
Bulletin of the Comediantes