Abby McGovern (Albright College)
Scripta: International Journal of medieval and Modern Literature and Culture, No 2 (2013)
In forming the canon of works that exemplify the debate on women in the fifteenth century, particularly in the Iberian Peninsula, there is often one text omitted. This work was composed by perhaps the most notorious figure in Spanish history: Alvaro de Luna. Although more commonly known as the king’s lifelong companion and privado, Luna was also the author of Libro de las claras e virtuosas mugeres. Among the auctoridades that Luna credits, he does mention one medieval writer as a source of inspiration: Giovanni Boccaccio. His work, De claris mulieribus was written a mere 73 years prior to Luna’s Castilian version and it can be argued that Luna’s 15th century work is an adaptation or imitation of its Italian predecessor.
The texts present themselves similar in purpose, content and structure. While some critics have dismissed the intrinsic similarities between the two texts, this article will discuss how Alvaro de Luna chose to craft a 15th century adaptation of Boccaccio’s obra maestro and give examples of the debt that Luna owes to the Italian version. It will be discussed in this article how Luna utilized his work to not only instruct María on how she should behave, but to also exemplify women who were good and virtuous and thusly, offering the antithesis of what Luna believed María was.