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Medieval Academy of America

Christian Captives, Muslim Maidens, and Mary


Author(s): Amy G. Remensnyder
Source: Speculum, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Jul., 2007), pp. 642-677
Published by: Medieval Academy of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20466003
Accessed: 08-07-2015 10:48 UTC
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Christian Captives,
Muslim Maidens, and Mary
By Amy G. Remensnyder
In 1575Miguel de Cervantes,who had yet towriteDon Quijote or any of the
otherworks forwhich he became famous,headed home.He had justspentfour
yearsas a soldierinSpain's imperialarmies in Italyand the
Mediterranean,fight
ingbattleafterbattleagainstone of themost redoubtable
militarypowers of his
wounds
day, theOttoman Turks.'He had acquittedhimselfhonorably,receiving
Now itwas timeto returntoSpain.
thatwould plague him fortherestof his life.
Yet Cervanteswouldn't see his native land foranotherfiveyears.Thesewould be
yearsof intensesuffering,
of traumaeven.2The experienceshe had during this
difficulttimewould remainetched inhis psyche,profoundly
marking thenovels
and plays hewas towrite. For as Cervanteswas making hisway back to Spain,
he was capturedby theTurks and incarceratedinAlgiers.Thus he joined the
thousandsof otherChristiansheld in captivityby theTurks and theirallies in
North Africa.3Some of theseChristiansremainedpermanentlyenslaved;others
soughtto gain theirfreedomby convertingto Islam,while a fortunatefewwere
ransomedby theirfamiliesor charitablereligiousorders,as Cervanteshimself
was
in1580.
Heavy labor,chains,crowdedprisons, theconstantfearof being sent to row
thegalleysthatplied the
Mediterranean-the conditionsenduredbymanyChris
tiancaptives inNorthAfricawere harshenough thattheyinciteddark rumorsin
sixteenth-century
Spain.4No wonder captivesoftenattemptedto escape, as Cer
vantes did not justonce but four times.Painful as his desperateeffortsto flee
must have been, likehis otherexperiencesinAlgiers,they
would provide
captivity
himwith literary
fodder.In a play he composed shortlyafter
making itback safely
toSpanish soil,Cervantesdescribedwith particularpoignancycaptives'desireto
escape.He drew his subjectmatter fromhis own life:El tratode Argel is set in
in conferences held in April 2005 at New York University on the Virgin
the participants
for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this
and at Providence College on Cervantes
Tara
essay. I am also grateful to Philippe Buc, Alison Caplan, Deborah A. Cohen, Margaret Malamud,
Moshe
of theMedieval
and Early Modern
Nummedal,
Sluhovsky, the members
History Seminar at
I thank

Mary

Brown University,

and the three anonymous


Speculum evaluators for their thoughtful readings of this
the American Council of Learned
Foundation,
piece. Thanks, too, are due the John Simon Guggenheim
Endowment
for theHumanities
for the fellowships that made this research
Societies, and theNational
possible.

All

translations

are my own.

1
trans. J. R. Jones (New York, 1990), pp. 48-65.
Cervantes,
Jean Canavaggio,
2
For Cervantes'
in Algiers: A Captive's
captivity as trauma, see Mar?a Antonia Garc?s, Cervantes
Tale (Nashville, Tenn., 2002).
3
inNorth Africa in the Early Modern
Ellen G. Friedman, Spanish Captives
Age (Madison, Wis.,
Garc?a-Arenal
and Miguel Angel de Bunes, Los Espa?oles
1983); Mercedes
y elNorte de Africa: Sighs
XV-XVIII
(Madrid, 1992), pp. 209-55.
4
and 55-76.
Friedman, Spanish Captives, pp. xxv-xxvi
642

Speculum

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82

(2007)

643

Christian
Captives

theslavehouse ofAlgiers; itscharactersareChristianprisonersand their


Muslim
masters; itssubject,thecaptives'plight.
In themost autobiographicalepisodeCervanteswrote intothisplay,a Christian
captivemakes a break forfreedomby fleeingfrom
Algiersand crossingthedesert
in order to reach theSpanish fortat Oran.5 Cervantescould vividlyevoke the
as he himselfhad
dangersawaitinga captivewho attemptedthisrouteto liberty,
triedit.Unfortunately,
he failed to elude hisMuslim masters and was dragged
back toAlgiers.But inEl trato,Cervantes' fictionalized
overcomes
self-projection
all obstacles tohis freedom.
His liberationisassuredwhen he turnsto a powerful
figureforhermiraculous guidanceand protection:theVirginMary. "Ifyou give
I promise to be your slave"-thus concludes the long lyricalprayer
me liberty,
thatEl trato'scaptiveaddressesto theVirgin.6
It is entirelypossible thatwhen Cervanteshimselffaced thedesertand all its
dangers,he placed his hopes forfreedominMary justas hisplay's characterdoes.
We know thatCervantes soughtspiritualsolace in theVirginduringhis yearsof
captivity-one of his fellowprisonersnoted thatwhile inAlgiers,Cervantescom
Those poems have not survived,but ithas been suggested
posedMarian poetry.7
thatCervantesdrewon themforthe linesofMarian praise scatteredthroughout
El trato.8
Marian devotion in factsuffusestheplay.A Christianwoman, grieving
because her son isabout to be sold intoslavery,imploresherchildneverto forget
theVirgin, "the queen of goodness,"while anothercaptiveentrustshis soul to
Mary's care,knowingthatin the"uncertainsea" ofhismiseryshe is theonlysure
guide.9Cervantes even chose to end El tratowith a moving scene inwhich the
prisonersall kneeland cryout one afteranotherina sad chorustoMary. Echoing
thecaptive'sdesertprayer,theybeg theVirgin to embrace themwith hermercy
Moors."10
and "free[them]fromthehands of these
This earlyplaywas not theonlywork inwhichCervantesunderlinedthepower
ofMarian devotionto freeChristiancaptives.In themagical pages ofhismaster
piece,Don Quijote, the intimaterelationshipbetween theVirgin and liberation
from
Muslim masters appears again.Yet hereCervantesgives ita different
twist,
knownas the"Captive's
as can be seen in thechaptersofpart 1 (1605) collectively
Tale."'IIThemale protagonistof thisstory,a Spanishsoldiercapturedby theTurks
in 1571, lies inhopeless captivityat Algierswith his fellowChristians.But one
money and evenencouraginglettersfroman unexpected
day he begins to receive
source:Zoraida, thedaughterofAgiMorato, a wealthy and powerful
Moor. In
her letters
Zoraida declaresherdevotionto theVirgin (learnedfromherChristian
5
On

the autobiographical

nature of this passage,

see Garc?s,

Cervantes

in Algiers,

pp. 40-45

153-56.
6
Miguel

and 2067-71,
de Cervantes Saavedra, El trato de Argel, lines 1974-91,2052-56,
(Madrid, 1999), pp. 845 and 846.
completas, ed. Florencio Sevilla Arroyo
7
inAlgiers, p. 127.
Garc?s, Cervantes
8
Ibid.
9
and 2516, inObras
Cervantes, El trato de Argel, lines 295, 959-62,
completas, pp. 829,
850.
10
in Algiers, pp.
p. 850. For commentary, see Garc?s, Cervantes
Ibid., lines 2490-2521,
11
El
de laMancha
ed.
de
1.4.39-41,
Cervantes,
ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote
Miguel
Allen,

19th ed., 2 vols.

(Madrid,

1998),

1:464-502

(hereafter cited as Don

Quijote).

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and

inObras

835, and
153-61.
John Jay

644

Christian
Captives

nurse),her desire to go to the landof theChristians inorder to "see"Mary, her


willingness to help thecaptivesescape iftheywill takeherwith them,and her
intentiontomarry thecaptivewho lendshis name to thewhole story.In their
epistolaryexchange,Zoraida and thecaptiveconstantlyinvoketheVirgin as the
protectorof theirriskyenterprise.
So centralisMary to theirrelationshipthatshe
of
more oftenappears as theobject Zoraida's desirethandoes thecaptivehimself.
AfterZoraida and thecaptivesexecute theirdramaticescape and embark for
Spain, unfortunately
encumberedby a distraught
AgiMorato whom theyhave
been forcedto kidnap, theMarian themecontinues.To her father'shorror,Zo
raida declaresherselfto be a Christianand implorestheVirgin towatch overher
and hercompanions.When AgiMorato demands toknowwhy his daughterhas
Zoraida utters
The former
embracedChristianity,
Mary's name in reply.
captives
themselvesinvoke
Mary's help inbringingtheirodysseytoa favorableconclusion.
And on reachinglandfallinSpain,Zoraida isdelightedto findimagesof theVirgin
in thefirstchurchshe enters.Though not yetbaptized, shenow insistson being
called by thename of thesaintwho has impelledall her actions:Mary.
Cervantes tellsmuch thesame storyinhis play Los banos de Argel, a work he
InLos
published in1615, althoughhemay havewrittenpartsof ityearsearlier.12
Zahara ratherthanZoraida. There areother
banos he calls thefemaleprotagonist
of detail and staging.13
Yet Zahara is recognizablythesame character
differences
as Zoraida: aMuslim maiden ofAlgierswhose Christiannursetaughther to love
theVirginandwho nowwants to escape toChristendomso thatshecanworship
Like Zoraida, Zahara carrieson an epistolaryexchangewith a Chris
Mary freely.
tiancaptivewhom she intendstomarry.And likeZoraida, at theend of theplay
Zahara leavesIslam andAlgiersbehind.Although theaudiencedoes notwitness
her voyage to Spain, itwatches as Zahara, too, exchangesherMuslim name for
thename of thesaintwhom she so loves:Mary.
In tellingthesetalesofChristiancaptives,
Muslim maidens, andMary, Cervan
tes certainly drew on his own memories

of his years in Algiers. Many

of the

charactersinLos baizos and the"Captive'sTale" were people he had heard of or


encounteredwhile a captive.Cervantesmodeled Zahara/Zoraida, forexample,
on thereal-lifedaughterof theman theSpanish calledAgiMorato butwho ac
tuallyexercisedhispower and influencein late-sixteenth-century
AlgiersasHayyi
Murad.14Yet Cervantes took considerableliberty
with thefactsof thiswoman's
life:althoughmuchmore isknown about her fatherthanabout her,it isclear that
she neithermarried a Spaniard nor convertedto Christianity.15
InDon Quijote
and Los banos, then,as inEl tratode Argel,Cervantes used his consummate
art to transmute
his traumaticexperiencesas a captive intofiction.
literary
And

12
de Cervantes, Los ba?os de Argel, ed. Jean Canavaggio
(Madrid, 1983). The dating of
Miguel
comments
is controversial;
the play's composition
for two opinions, see Canavaggio's
(ibid., pp. 35
39); and Helena Percas de Ponseti, Cervantes y su concepto del arte: Estudio cr?tico de algunos aspectos
2 vols. (Madrid, 1975), 1:275-76.
y episodios del Quijote,
13
Percas de Ponseti, Cervantes y su concepto del arte, 1:242-57.
14
en la obra de Cervantes,"
Bolet?n de la Real Academia
Jaime Oliver As?n, "La hija de Agi Morato
27 (1947-48),
245-339.
Espa?ola
15
Ibid., pp. 264-66.

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645

Christian
Captives

as he did so, he placed theVirgin at the emotionalheart of his narrativesof


liberationand conversion.
Why did CervantesmakeMary so centralto thesestories?The answersto this
Marian traditionthathas attractedfar too little
question lie in a centuries-old
scholarlyattention:theways that theVirginofferedChristiansa symbolicfield
onwhich to articulatethenatureof theirencounters
with non-Christians.
We are
justbeginningtounderstandhowmedieval and early-modern
JewsandChristians,
so dangerouslyclose toeach other insomanyways, usedMary toemphasizetheir
radical,irreconcilable
difference.16
BehindCervantes'storiesofChristiancaptives
andMuslim maidens lies theequally rich,ifeven lessexplored,historyofMary
as thesymbolic
medium ofMuslim/Christianrelations.'7
These could be relations
of exchangeand dialogue,but justas oftenthey
were ones of conflict,
playedout
whereMary was as presentas Cervantes
on literalandmetaphoricalbattlefields
makes her inhis fiction.
Ever since the thirteenth
century,in theIberianPeninsula theVirginhad been
ofwhichCervanteshimselfhad abundantexperience:the
an iconof an enterprise
militaryconquestofMuslims. Spanishknightsand kingsprayed toMary before
out on campaignsagainst
setting
Muslims; theycarriedbattlebannersemblazoned
with her image;theyshoutedout hername as a battlecry;and they
made thanks
givingofferingsto herwhen theycame home victorious.They even institution
alized her roleas battlepatron,establishing
militaryordersand chivalricsocieties
inhername.Elaborate legendsevolveddetailinghow theVirginhad helpedChris
tianstowin crucialvictoriesover the
Muslims.Mary thenwas asmuch thepatron
of theso-calledReconquest as was a male saintmuchmore famedforthisrole,
St. James,or Santiago.'8
16For
"The Virgin Mary
against the Jews: Anti-Jewish Polemic in
example, Allyson F. Creasman,
the Pilgrimage to the Sch?ne Maria
of Regensburg,
The Sixteenth Century Journal 33
1519-1525,"
Denise L. Despres,
Flesh and the Social Body: Mary
"Immaculate
and the Jews,"
(2002), 963-80;
12 (1998), 47-69; William
Chester Jordan, "Marian Devotion
and the Talmud Trial
Jewish History
in Religionsgespr?che
of 1240,"
4
b?tteler Mittelalter-Studien

imMittelalter,

ed. Bernard

Lewis

and Friedrich Niew?hner,

Wolfen

1992), pp. 61-76; Hedwig R?ckelein,


(Wiesbaden,
"Marie,
l'?glise et
? la fin du moyen ?ge," inMarie:
la Synagogue: Culte de la Vierge et lutte contre les juifs en Allemagne
Le culte de la Vierge dans la soci?t? m?di?vale,
ed. Dominique
and Daniel
Iogna-Prat, Eric Palazzo,
pp. 513-32; Miri Rubin, Gentile Tales: The Narrative Assault on Late Medieval
1999), pp. 7-39; Klaus Schreiner, Maria:
(Munich,
Jungfrau, Mutter, Herrscherin
in den altfranz?sischen Mari
and Peter-Michael
1994), pp. 413-62;
"Judenfeindlichkeit
Spangenberg,
in Die
der kollectiven Selbsterfahrung,"
enmirakeln:
Stereotypen oder Symptome der Ver?nderung

Russo
Jews

(Paris, 1996),

(Philadelphia,

Zur Geschichte der Blutbeschuldigung


gegen Juden, ed. Rainer Erb, Doku
Legende vom Ritualmord:
6 (Berlin, 1993), pp. 157-77.
mente, Texte, Materialen
17
Only a few scholars have begun to consider this question. See, for example, Albert Bagby, "Alfonso
in the Cantigas de Santa Mar?a,"
1 (1988),
and the Virgin Unite Christian and Moor
Cantigueiros
All Generations Will Call Me Blessed': Medieval
Christian
Cuff el, "'Henceforth
111-18; Alexandra

Studies 12 (2003), 37-60; Amy G. Remen


of Non-Christian Marian Veneration," Mediterranean
inMedi
of Sacred Architecture: The Virgin Mary, Mosques,
and Temples
snyder, "The Colonization
inMonks
and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts:
eval Spain and Early Sixteenth-Century Mexico,"
Religious
in theMiddle Ages, ed. Sharon Farmer and Barbara Rosenwein
and Social Meaning
(Ithaca,
Expression

Tales

The Virgin Mary, Conquest,


and Amy G. Remensnyder, La Conquistadora:
N.Y., 2000), pp. 189-219;
in progress).
inMedieval
and Conversion
(book manuscript
Spain and Early Colonial Mexico
18On
a
see
as
in
G.
"Marian
of
the
patron
Amy
Mary
Reconquest,
Remensnyder,
Monarchy

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Christian
Captives

646

The Virgin's role inbattlehardlyended in1492, when theChristianstook the


lastMuslim strongholdin theIberianPeninsula,thekingdomofGranada. In fact,
when theSpanish turnedtheir
militaryattentionsto theothersideof theAtlantic,
themartialMary accompanied them.It isno accidentthatamong thefirstimages
of theVirginmade by the indigenouspeoples of theAmericaswas a war banner
fashionedbyNahuas at theorder of a conquistador sometimebefore 1531.19
Sixteenth-century
Spaniardswho foughtback home against theMuslims in the
Mediterraneanalso continuedto turntoMary foraid, as Cervanteshimself
must
have beenwell aware. After all, he participatedin one of thegreatest
Marian
militaryvictoriesof his day: thebattleofLepanto. For therestofhis life,hewould
evenbear thescarsof thewounds he receivedthatday.
This battle,foughtonOctober 7, 1571, pittedthefamedOttoman fleetagainst
thewarships of theHoly League, a Christianalliance comprisingSpain,Venice,
and thepapal forces.The league's remarkable(ifshort-lived)triumphover the
Ottoman armadawas celebratedthroughout
westernChristendomas a magnifi
centcrusadingachievementdue to theVirginMary.20The victorsmade a hand
some thanksgiving
offeringtoMary, donatingone of theirprize trophiesfromthe
battle-the Ottoman flagship'slantern-to her renownedshrineatGuadalupe in
westernCastile.21From thebrushesof artistssuch as Paolo Veronese came dra
matic scenesof theengagement
with
with theVirginpresidingover a sea bristling
masts.22To commemoratethebattle's anniversary,
Pope Pius V (d. 1572) even
a newMarian feast.He declaredOctober 7 thefeastday ofOur Lady
instituted
ofVictory,a Virginwith a ratherobvious connectiontomartial glory.Pius's suc
cessoron the throneof St. Peter,GregoryXIII, renamedthefeastforOur Lady
of theRosary.Gregoryacted in thebeliefthatChristendomowed thetriumphat
Lepanto to rosaryprayersthathad been recitedatRome on theveryday thatthe

in The Experience
ed. Robert
of Power inMedieval
Europe, 950-1350,
and Adam J. Kosto
(Aldershot, Eng., 2005), pp. 253-70;
Remensnyder,
see Klaus
On St. James and the Reconquest,
and Schreiner, Maria,
pp. 376-77.

Castile,"
Thirteenth-Century
F. Berkhofer III, Alan Cooper,
La

Conquistadora;
Die Entwicklung des politischen
auf der Iberischen Halbinsel:
"Politik und Heiligenverehrung
in Politik und Heiligenverehrung
imHochmittelalter,
ed. J?rgen Petersohn, Vortr?ge und
Jakobus,"
42 (Sigmaringen,
and Francisco M?rquez
1994), pp. 177-275;
Villanueva,
Vorsehungen
Santiago:
In general on saintly patronage of the Re
de un mito (Barcelona, 2004), pp. 183-222.
Trayectoria

Herbers,

inMedieval
and Crusade
conquest, see Joseph O'Callaghan,
Reconquest
Spain (Philadelphia, 2003),
190-99.
19
inThe Harkness
"The Harkness
1531 Huejotzingo
in the Library of Congress:
Collection
Codex,"
a Guide, ed. J. Benedict Warren
Manuscripts
1974), pp. 52,
Concerning Mexico,
(Washington, D.C.,
and 118. For discussion of this image, see Tom Cummins,
"The Madonna
and theHorse:
63,108,116,
pp.

inNew Spain and Peru," inNative Artists and Patrons in Colonial Latin America,
Becoming Colonial
7 (Tempe, Ariz., 1995), pp. 58-68.
ed. Emily Umberger
and Tom Cummins,
Phoebus
For further
see Remensnyder, La Conquistadora.
discussion ofMary and warfare in the colonial Spanish Americas,
20
as a crusade, see J.H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716,
rev. ed. (London, 2002),
On Lepanto
1571
p. 241. On the battle itself, see Hugh Bicheno, Crescent and Cross: The Battle of Lepanto,
(London, 2003).
21
a la sobrana magestad
de Nuestra
Gabriel de Talavera, Historia
Se?ora de Guadalupe
consagrada
de la Reyna de los Angeles, milagrosa
patrona de este santuario
(Toledo, 1597), fol. 156v.
22
Bicheno, Crescent and Cross, color plate 7.

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Christian
Captives

647

shipsof theHoly League and theOttomans clashed in thebluewaters of the


Mediterranean.23
Christiansoldierssuch as Cervanteswho foughtat Lepanto did not need the
pope to tellthemthat
Mary had beenwatchingover theminbattle.On October
7, 1571, all theyhad to do was to glance at theSpanish flagship.
High in its
riggingflewa bannerbearingan imageof theVirgin.24
Visible to friendand foe,
thestandardproclaimedthattheChristiansfoughtinMary's name.AsMuslims
war bannerswere nomere pieces of cloth.Such
and Christiansalike recognized,
banners,conspicuouswith theirbold colors and shapes even in theconfusionof
Woven intotheirfabric
was
combat,not only servedto signalmen as theyfought.
of thearmy'scourage,persistence,
also amore symbolicvalue as a statement
and
unity.25
Accordingly,
Ottoman archersat Lepanto tookcare to aim theirbows at
theMarian standardcrowningtheSpanish flagship.
When twoTurkisharrows
struckthebanner,theSpanishwere so angeredthattheysentalofta tamemonkey
to pluckout theseaffrontsto theirladyand theirhonor.26
The wounding of thebannerat Lepanto was witnessed by one of Cervantes'
peers, a Spanish lieutenantcapturedby theTurks in 1574. He rememberedthe
incidentvividly,describingit in a narrativethathe composed fromhisNorth
Africanprison. In his account, the lieutenantinsistedonMary's roleas a patron
withMuslims, recountinghow at Lepanto she
of Christians in theirconflicts
"fought" (theverb he uses is pelear) for "us."27The memory of theglorious
over theTurksobtainedwith theVirgin'saidmust have beencomforting
triumph
to thiscaptiveas he lay inprison,reminding
him of a happierperiod of his life.
In theabjectionof captivity,
he also looked toMary forhope, composingdevo
As hewhiled away his years inprison,
tionalpoetrytoher justas Cervantesdid.28
this
man thenwrote of theVirgin intworoles:as a symboland sourceofChristian
militarytriumph
overMuslims and as theworthyobjectof a captive'saffections.
These twoaspectsofMary really
were one and thesame,althoughthelieutenant

23
On

7 as a Marian
the establishment of October
feast day, see ibid., pp. 123-26;
and Marina
Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary
(New York, 1983), p. 308. On
in
the rosary, see Donna
Spivey Ellington, From Sacred Body to Angelic Soul: Understanding Mary
Late Medieval
and Early Modern
and Anne Winston
Europe
(Washington, D.C., 2001), pp. 214-16;
Allen, Stories of the Rose: The Making
of the Rosary in theMiddle Ages (University Park, Pa., 1997).
24
Memorias
del cautivo en La Goleta de T?nez
ed. Pascal de Gay
(El Alf?rez Pedro de Aguilar),
13 (Madrid, 1875), p. 129.
angos, Sociedad de Bibli?filos Espa?oles
25
Hence
battle banners were highly desirable war trophies for both Muslims
and Christians.
See,
for example, Cr?nica de Alfonso X seg?n el ms. II12777
de la Biblioteca
del Palacio Real (Madrid),
ed. Antonio

Carmara Ruiz (Murcia, 1998), 63, p. 183; Ibn 'Abd al-MunJim al-Himyar?, La p?ninsule
au
le Kit?b ar-rawd al-mi'tar, ed. and trans. ?variste L?vi-Proven?al,
moyen ?ge d'apr?s
Ib?rique
12 (Leiden, 1938), pp. 18-19 and 165; "Relaci?n
Publications
de la Fondation
de Goeje
circunstan
en la prisi?n del rey chico de Granada,
a?o de 1483,"
in Relaciones
ciada de lo acaecido
de algunos
sucesos de los ?ltimos tiempos del Reino de Granada
(Madrid, 1868), pp. 59-60; Rodrigo Amador

de los R?os, Trofeos militares de la Reconquista:


Estudios acerca de las ense?as musulmanes
monasterio
de Las Huelgas
(Madrid, 1893); and Al-Andalus:
(Burgos) y la catedral de Toledo
(New York, 1992), no. 92, pp. 326-27.
of Islamic Spain, ed. Jerrilynn D. Dodds
26
Memorias
del cautivo, p. 129.
27
Ibid., p. 127.
28
Ibid., p. 133.

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del real
The Art

648

Christian Captives

neversaysso. Inboth roles,shebecame ameans forSpanishChristianstoenvision


victoryoverMuslims. The fictioncomposed by anotherformercaptiveand par
ticipantat Lepanto,Miguel de Cervantes,shows justhowmuch theVirgin's role
in theexperienceand representation
of captivitybelonged to theconflictualdia
loguebetweenChristiansandMuslims also enactedwith actualweapons ofwar.
To be sure,when Cervantescame towrite of Lepanto, unlikehis fellowcaptive,
he did notmention theVirgin.29But Cervantes didn't need to-his storiesof
Christiancaptives,
Muslim maidens, andMary gave the samemessage of inevi
tableChristian triumph.In thesetales,theVirgin servesas a symbolofChristian
of captivityand conversion,are
victoryoverMuslims on thespiritualbattlefields
nas thatwere verymuch extensionsof thephysicalbattlefield.
Such is themeaning
of the longmedieval traditionsthat lay behindCervantes' storieslinking
Mary
and captives,on theone hand, and, on theother,
Muslim
Mary and converted
maidens.
CHRISTIAN CAPTIVES

Medieval warfare,whether in theformof full-blownsiegesor small-scaleraids


or skirmishes,
produced a steadystreamof captives.Taken as thehuman spoils
ofwar by thevictors,thecaptiveswere oftenheld forransomor sold intoslavery.30
Medieval Iberiawas no exception.The ever-shifting
of alliances
configurations
the
Muslim Granada, and
and rivalriesamong
peninsula'sChristiankingdoms,
variousNorth Africanpolitiesall sowed theirown cropsof captives,as did civil
strife
within kingdoms.3'
Not surprisingly,
theredemptionof captiveswas often
asmuch a centralpreoccupationforChristians(andMuslims) inmedieval Iberia
as itwas forSpaniards inCervantes'day.
Cervanteswas hardlythefirst
Christianto believe thattheVirginMary was as
powerfulin thistraumaticrealmofhumanexperienceas shewas insomany other
arenas of fortuneandmisfortune.One of theearliestgreatMarian miracle col
lectionsfromtheIberianPeninsula,the late-thirteenth-century
Cantigas de Santa
Maria, providesabundant evidenceof thepervasivenessof thisconviction.This
collectioncontainsmany storiesinwhich theVirgin liberatescaptivesfromtheir
confinement.
By thetimeAlfonsoX ofCastile (d. 1284) orderedthecomposition
29
Cervantes, Don Quijote
1.4.39, 1:467.
30On
into slavery, see Stephen
Muslim
sold
captives
The Changing Face of Slavery in Catalonia
Merchandise:

to Domestic
P. Bensch, "From Prizes ofWar
and Aragon,
Viator 25 (1994),
1000-1300,"

on Christians,
see Carmen Argente del Castillo Oca?a,
"Cautiverio
63-93;
ymartirio de doncellas en
in IV estudios de Frontera: Historia,
La Frontera,"
tradiciones y leyendas en La Frontera, ed. Francisco
and Jos? Rodr?guez Molina
Toro Ceballos
(Ja?n, 2002), p. 37.
31
on the
in Crusader
Brodman, Ransoming
James William
Captives
Spain: The Order of Merced
Frontier (Philadelphia,
Christian-Islamic
1986), pp. 1-14; Abdelghaffer Ben Driss, "Los cautivos entre
y Castilla en el siglo XV seg?n las fuentes ?rabes," inActas del congreso "La frontera oriental
como sujeto hist?rico": Lorca-Vera,
22 a 24 de noviembre de 1994, ed. Pedro Segura Artero
Cult of Saint Dominic
(Alicante, 1997), pp. 301-10;
Anthony Lappin, The Medieval
of Silos, MHRA

Granada
nazar?
Texts

and Dissertations

Communities
Reconquest

inMedieval
and Crusade,

56

(Leeds, 2002),

pp. 337-41;

(New York,
Aragon
pp. 148-49.

Kathryn Miller,
in 2007),

forthcoming

Guardians
chapter

of Islam: Muslim
6; and O'Callaghan,

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Christian Captives

649

of theselyricpoem-songsinMary's honor,theVirginwas famedacrosswestern


Europe forher abilityto helpChristiansescape theirenemies'dungeons.32
The storiesAlfonsoX includedin theCantigas participatedin thisEuropean
wide tradition,
with one significant
distinction.Inmost places inwesternEurope,
theVirgin freedher loyaldevoteesfromtheclutchesof enemieswho were them
selvesChristian.So thebellicoseknightsof twelfth-century
southernFrancewho
moves as theyfoughta rival lordand ended up inchainsmight
misjudged their
call onOur Lady ofRocamadour tobursttheirbonds.33InAlfonso'sCastile, too,
theVirgin freedChristiansfromChristians.34
But judgingfromtheCantigas, just
as oftenthebackdrop forthestoriesthirteenth-century
Castilians toldofMary's
miraculous intervention
on behalfof prisonerswas warfare betweenChristians
andMuslims.3s
Typical of these talesof the liberationof ChristianscapturedbyMuslims of
Granada and North Africa is a cantiga relatingthe fateof a Christian squire.
While offon campaign against theMuslims inAndalusia, thisMarian devotee
had themisfortuneto be takenprisoner.Yet even in themidst of brutalbeatings
by hisMuslim captors,thesquirenever forgottheVirgin.Weeping so piteously
he irritated
his jailers,he prayed intentlyto her,beggingforhis freedom.Even
was rewarded.
tuallyhis steadfastfaith
Mary appeared and shatteredhis chains,
demonstratingthe truthof thepoem's refrain:theVirgin "can well guide pris
oners,because she freesthemfromprison."36
The saintlyheroineof thiscantigawas one ofAlfonsoX's favorites:theVirgin
ofVilla Sirga.37The songsof theCantigas also praise other IberianVirgins for
suchmiraclesof liberation,includingthe
Madonnas ofEl Puertode SantaMaria,
Faro, Salas, Sopetr-an,
and Tentudia.38
When a futurechancellorofCastile, Pero
Lopez deAyala,was capturedinbattleby thePortuguesein1385, he pled forhis

32
Gabriela
Kloster und Welt: Hagiographische
und historio
zwischen Kathedrale,
Signori, Maria
an eine hochmittelalterliche
(Sigmaringen, 1995), pp. 46,
graphische Ann?herungen
Wunderpredigt
see among others Walter
and 234-40.
On Alfonso as patron and author of the Cantigas,
222-23,
sobre la g?nesis de la colecci?n de las Cantigas de Santa Mar?a y
Mettmann,
"Algunas observaciones
sobre el problema del autor," in Studies on the Cantigas de Santa Maria: Art, Music,
and Poetry, ed.
Israel J. Katz, John E. Keller, et al. (Madison, Wis.,
1987),
33Les
au XHe
de Rocamadour
miracles de Notre-Dame

pp. 355-66.
si?cle 1.10,

11, 18, 50; 2.2, 17; and 3.18,


and 272
22, 23, ed. Edmond Albe (Toulouse, 1996), pp. 118-20,
126, 162, 180-82,
202, 268-70,
see Signori,
76 (see also 1.53, p. 166, for the liberation of a captive fromMuslims).
For discussion,
Maria
zwischen Kathedrale, Kloster und Welt, pp. 222-23.
34
Alfonso X, el Sabio, Cantigas
de Santa Mar?a
106, 158, 245, 291, 301, and 363, ed. Walter
3 vols. (Madrid, 1986-89),
338-42
and 3:75-77,
236-37.
Mettmann,
2:25-27,152-54,
99-100,
35
Ibid. 83, 95, 176, 183, 227, 325, and 359, 1:263-65,
and
292-94;
2:186-87,
201, 297-99;
3:152-55,229-30.
36
Ibid. 227, 2:297-99.
37
The Virgin of Villa Sirga liberates another prisoner inAlfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
301,
3:99-100.
On Alfonso's
affection for this Virgin, see John Esten Keller, "King Alfonso's Virgin of
Rival of St. James of Compostela"
and his "More on the Rivalry between Santa Maria
Villa-Sirga:
Folklore and Brief Narrative Studies,
and Santiago de Compostela,"
both in his Collectanea Hisp?nica:
ed. Dennis P. Seniff and Maria
Isabel Montoya
38
See references above in nn. 34-35.

Ram?rez

(Newark, Del.,

1987),

pp. 61-76.

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650

Christian Captives

freedom
with asmanyVirginsas he could thinkof.39By thelatefifteenth
century,
however,one SpanishVirginhadwon a reputationin thisrealmthatfaroutshone
thatof her sisters:theVirginofGuadalupe.40
Visitors toher shrinetuckedintotheruggedhillsofExtremaduracould hardly
helpbut be struckby thehugequantityof chainsand shacklesthatgratefulformer
captiveshad leftthereas ex-voto offerings."We saw innumerableiron fetters,
which captives freedfromtheSaracens throughthe intercession
of theblessed
Virginbroughthere,"wrote theGerman doctorHieronymusMunzer,who came
toGuadalupe in 1495.41By 1515 pilgrimshad broughtsomany chains thatthe
friars
who tendedtheshrinedecided tomelt down theaccumulated
Jeronymite
ironware-it yieldedenoughmetal that theywere able to forgea choir grille.42
Severalfifteenthand sixteenth-century
compilationsofGuadalupe's miraclespro
vided thenarrativedetails to explain theseofferings.In taleaftertale,theVirgin
helpsChristiansescape their
Muslim captors,not only inGranada, but also on
themore distantshoresofNorth Africa.43
Cervantes himselfmust have seen theheaps of rustingirons laid before the
VirginofGuadalupe, or at leastheard reportsof them:in one of hisworks, he
includedan extendeddescriptionof the thicketof chains adorningGuadalupe's
shrine.44
Yet as Cervantes'El tratode Argel and other textsreveal, in the late
sixteenthcenturyotherVirgins,too, stillhad thepower todeliverChristiansfrom
NorthAfricanprisons. InCervantes'play,a captiveprays to theVirginofMont
serratforhelp inescapinghisMuslim masters.45
The Virgin,however,
was not theonlywonder-workertowhom Christiansheld
incaptivity
mightappeal.Until at least thefourteenth
century,
othersaintsposed
a seriouschallengetoMary's talentsin thisdomain. In theeleventhand twelfth
centuriestheFrench saintsLeonard ofNoblat and Foy of Conques were much
beloved fortheirabilityto freecaptives.46
was St.
So, too, by thetwelfth
century
39
Pero

de Ayala, Rimado
and 870-86,
del Palacio
ed. Germ?n
800-809,
757, 762-70,
L?pez
Orduna
and 293-96.
(Madrid, 1987), pp. 264, 265-67,
272-74,
40
etmiracles ? Guadalupe
au XVIe
si?cle (Madrid, 2001), pp. 151
Fran?oise Cr?moux, P?lerinages
como redentora de cautivos,"
"La Virgen de Guadalupe
inLa religiosidad
53; Pilar Gonz?lez Modino,

Jes?s Bux? iRey, and Salvador Rodr?guez Becerra, Autores,


popular, ed. Carlos Alvarez Santal?, Mar?a
Textos y Temas, Antropolog?a,
18-20
1989), 2:461-71.
(Barcelona,
41
"Itinerarium Hispanicum,"
ed. Ludwig Pfandl, "Itinerarium Hispanicum
M?nzer,
Hieronymus
Revue hispanique
48 (1920), 1-179, at p. 107.
Hieronymi Monetarii,"
42
como redentora," p. 467. The friars
"La Virgen de Guadalupe
Gonz?lez Modino,
apparently did
the same thing again in the seventeenth century; see Cr?moux, P?lerinages,
p. 128.
43
See the miracles
inMadrid,
Biblioteca Nacional,
MS
1176, fols. 9r-12v,
14r-15r, and 19r-20r;
and in Talavera, Historia
de Nuestra
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
fols. 230r-231r,
237v-238v,
240v-242v,
244v-245r,
292r-v,

246r-v,

293v-294v,

247v-248v,
301r-v,

260r-v,

262v-263r,
265v-266v,
268r-270v,
282r-283v,
286r-v,
and 471r-v.
For analysis see
309r-v,
315v-316v,
320v-321v,
and Gonz?lez Modino,
"La Virgen de Guadalupe
137, and 149-51;

302v,

Cr?moux, P?lerinages,
pp. 133,
como redentora."
44
Cervantes, Persiles y Sigisimunda
3.5, in Obras
completas, pp. 769-70.
45
Cervantes, El trato de Argel, lines 1980-85,
p. 845.
46
Liber miraculorum
S?nete Fidis 1.31-33;
ed. Luca Robertini,
2.6; 3.4, 5, 15, 19; and 4.4-9,
Biblioteca
di "Medioevo
latino" 10 (Spoleto, 1994), pp. 136-43,
166-68,
187-90,
203-5,
208-9,
to Social Violence
and 300-303;
Steven Sargent, "Religious Responses
in
284-87,
227-39,
277-80,
Eleventh-Century

Aquitaine,"

Historical

Reflections/Reflexions

historiques

12 (1985),

219-40.

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Christian Captives

651

James,
whose magnificentshrineatCompostela attractedpilgrimsfromall across
Europe.47But even Spain's apostle had to bow his head beforeanothersaintly
liberator:
Castilianmonasteryfamed
Dominic of Silos, veneratedat thenorthern
Dominic's commandover thepow
todayforitsexquisiteRomanesque sculpture.
well into the
ers of liberationbegan in the late eleventhcenturyand stretched
thirteenth
century,
as thepilesof shatteredchainsaccumulatingat Silos attested.48
Between 1232 and 1287 alone, thissaint freed145 people, thevastmajorityof
Muslim captors.49
The detailedstoriesof enslavement
themChristiansfleeing
and
escape that thesemen and women told to eager recordkeepersat Silos fillthe
lengthy
book ofDominic's miraclescompiled in thelatethirteenth
centuryby the
monk PeroMarin.50
Yet even thistextso intenton celebrating
Dominic as liberatorprovidedproof
of theVirgin's growingreputationin thisarena of saintlyactivity.In somewhat
more thanhalf themiracles inPeroMarin's collection,captivesdesperateforhelp
pray not toDominic alone but insteadto "God, St.Mary, and St.Dominic."'51
Perhaps thisappealwas merelya formulaicexpressioninserted
by thenote takers
at Silos-but itis justas likelyto reflectthehopes and expectationsof thecaptives
The language inone storyhas such simpledirectnessthat it leaves
themselves.52
littledoubt thatthecaptive inquestion,a man namedGoncalo de Sotavellanos,
actuallyprayed justas earnestlyto theVirgin as he did toDominic.s3Suffering
fromthehumiliationsimposedon him by hisMuslim owners,Goncalo "turned
to St.Mary and to St.Dominic," beggingfortheir"mercy"(nomention ismade
ofGod). Goncalo evenpromisedto "believemore" inMary andDominic ifthey
freedhim,a bitof pious bargainingtowhich theVirgin seemstohave responded
Early thenextmorning,Goncalo had a "vision" of "men investments
pray
first.
ingand amidstthema verytallwoman." The woman gaveGoncalo thereassuring
amessage reinforced
news thathewould escape bynightfall,
laterbyan apparition
ofDominic himself.
UnlikeDominic, however,thewoman of thevision isnever
identified
by name.Butwho else could she have been but theVirgin,answering
Goncalo's prayersevenbeforeDominic did?
in an escape thatthemonk of Siloswho shaped the
The Virgin's intervention
tale did his best to attributetoDominic foretoldthe future.By the fourteenth
Dominic's popularityas a saintlyliberator
witheredand died away,while
century,
The Virgin's triumphin thisrealmeven receivedinstitutional
Mary's flourished.
expressionwhen she displaced another local saint to become thepatron of the
of captives.
Spanish religiousorderdedicated to theredemption
47
Liber

Sancti Jacobi: Codex Calixtinus


and Manuel
2.1, 11, 14, 20, and 22, ed. Klaus Herbers
and 177.
1998), pp. 161, 168, 169-70,176,
(Santiago de Compostela,
de Silos 354-74,
and 763, ed. Brian
de Berceo, La vida de Santo Domingo
732-53,
and 153; Lappin, Medieval
T?mesis A/74 (London, 1978), pp. 90-94,149-52,
Cult, pp. 171

Santos Noia
48
Gonzalo

Dutton,
95 and 275-390.
49
Cult, p. 361.
Lappin, Medieval
50
Anton (Silos, 1988).
de Pero Marin: Edici?n
Los "miraculos roman?ados"
cr?tica, ed. Karl-Heinz
51
in the Miraculos
{Medieval Cult, p. 350) notes that this formula appears consistently
Lappin
from p. 90 onward; the formula is also used on pp. 51, 78, and 82-87.
roman?ados
52
(Medieval Cult, p. 350) argues for the latter possibility.
Lappin
53
Miraculos
pp. 80-81.
roman?ados,

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Christian
Captives

652

This order owed itsexistenceto a Catalan laymannamed PereNolasc, who


was deeplyconcernedabout theplightofChristianscapturedbyMuslims. During
the1230s Nolasc began to raise ransom fundsinBarcelona and on thenewly
Christian islandofMajorca, effortsthatsoonwon him and his companions the
men tookas theirpatrona local saint,
statusof a new religiousorder.At firstthese
Eulalia, thefemalemartyrwho had presidedoverBarcelona's cathedralforcen
turies.They called themselves"The Brothersof theHouse of St. Eulalia ofBar
celona" or the"Orderof theRansomingofCaptives." But by the1240s theyhad
century,theVirgin so
acquired a second saintlypatron:Mary. By thefourteenth
overshadowedEulalia in theorder'sdevotionaland public lifethatthebrothers
now styledthemselvesthe "Order of St.Mary ofMercy of theRedemptionof
Captives."54UnderMary's protection,thisorder continued itscharitableenter
century,as Cervanteshimselfknew frompersonal ex
prise into theseventeenth
perience.Althoughhe owed his own release fromcaptivityto a rivalransoming
order foundedinFrance, theTrinitarians,he includedinLos bauos de Argel a
versionof a scenehe had witnessed inAlgiers: the redemptionof prisonersby
Mary's order.55
Europe surelywas a factorin
The waxingMarian devotionof high-medieval
men did not adopt
Eulalia's eclipseas thecelestialguardianof thisorder.Yet these
Mary as theirpatron just to keep upwith the latesttrendsinpiety.As thename
theytook by the fourteenth
centuryindicates,thebrothersof theOrder of St.
made her bettersuited
Mary ofMercy were also choosing a saintwhose traits
thanany other towatch over their
mission: theMadonna ofMercy. This Virgin
may have
enjoyed increasing
popularityin thehighMiddle Ages.56The brothers
selectedher in part for linguisticreasons: theCatalan word for "ransom"
But theyalso must have thoughtof the tender
merce-also meant "mercy."57
herdevotees
maternalqualitiesof theVirginofMercy-often depictedsheltering
beneathhercapaciouscloak-as powerfullyembodyingtheirown compassionate
charitytowardcaptives.
The Virgin ofMercy was not theonlyMadonna to enfoldher devoteeswith
maternal love.All versionsofMary, whatever theirnames, did so. The loving
tendernessso associatedwith theVirgin in facthelps to explainnot justwhy she
aroused ever-growingaffectionin high-medievalChristiansbut also why she
More thanany other
played such a prominentrole as a liberatorof captives.58
would seek
saint,she possessed just thequalities a Christiancaught incaptivity
54
On

see Brodman, Ransoming


Captives. On the in
development,
see Bruce Taylor, Structures of Reform: The Mercedarian
in the Spanish Golden Age, Cultures, Beliefs and Traditions, Medieval
Peo
and Early Modern
Order
ples, 12 (Leiden, 2000), pp. 14-16.
55
pp. 147-48. On the actual procedures of sixteenth
Cervantes, Los ba?os de Argel, lines 822-32,
theMercedarians'

troduction

of Mary

institutional

as the order's

patron,

see Friedman, Spanish Captives, pp. 105-64.


and seventeenth-century ransoming missions,
56
Paul Perdrizet, La Vierge de Mis?ricorde:
?tude d'un th?me iconographique
(Paris, 1908).
57
Taylor, Structures of Reform, pp. 14-16.
58
cult in the high Middle
The best explanation
of the rise of Mary's
Ages is Rachel Fulton, From

to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200


to Judgment: Devotion
as a figure of mercy in the lateMiddle
43. On Mary
Ages, see Ellington,
Soul (above, n. 23), pp. 102-41.

Passion

(New York, 2002), pp. 204


From Sacred Body to Angelic

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Christian Captives

653

in a heavenlyguardian: a mother's boundlesscompassionand infinite


mercy.In
therealmofmother love,theVirginhad no realrivals.No othersaintcould claim
to be both God's mother and the spiritualmother of all Christians.59
As the
CastilianpriestGonzalo deBerceo sighedinhisbook ofMarian
thirteenth-century
praise: "Men andwomen,we all look to you asmother.... We shallbe as your
children.Sinnersand justalike,we hope foryourmercy."60
at Christ's celestialcourt, thesoftening
Mercifulmaternal intercession
of the
heavenlyruler'sjusticethroughhismother's tenderpleas-this is exactlywhat
medievalChristianshoped forfromtheVirgin.They beseeched
Mary topersuade
God to forgivetheirsinsand to smooththeirpath throughlife'sdifficulties.
Count
lessmiracle storiesof thehighMiddle Ages depicther extendinghermaternal
love to human beingscaught indire situations,
whether illnessorwar or natural
As GutierreDiaz deGameswrote inhis fifteenth
disasteror anyothermisfortune.
centurychivalricbiographyofCount PeroNiiio, theVirginwould always "help
those ingriefand distressat thetimeof theirgreatneed."'61
Christiansheld inMuslim captivitycertainlyfellintothecategoryof "those in
griefand distress"who neededMary's mercifuland lovingprotection.So the
poems in theCantigas de SantaMaria celebratingtheVirgin's releaseof captives
repeatedlyunderscore.SometimesAlfonsoX's poets crowned theirnarrativesof
Marian liberation
with praiseof "thegloriousVirgin,thecompassionatemother
ofGod" who is "always able to help those in need."62At othermoments they
describedhowMary reachedout "to freecaptivesfromprison"with thetender
power of her hands, "whichdirectlytouchedJesusChrist."63One cantigaeven
concludeswith a joyousscene inwhich a former
captiveentersaMarian church,
his
chains
and
"The
brandishing shattered
shouting:
Virgindid this,shewho helps
people inmisery."64
The miracle collectionsfromGuadalupe are no less insistent
about thesolace "themost mercifulVirgin,who can leaveno onewithout com
Cervanteshimself
fort,"bringstoChristians languishinginMuslim captivity.65
paints theChristiancaptivesofEl tratodeArgel as theVirgin's spiritualchildren
who implore"our intercessor,
[Christ's]motherwho is ourmother" foraid in
In comparisonwith thewarm languageofmaternal
obtaining theirfreedom.66
59

"Advocaciones

Tarraconensia:

en un c?dice del siglo XII,"


21
de ciencias hist?rico-eclesi?sticas

de la Virgen

Revista

ed. Atanasio
(1948),

sacra
Sinu?s Ruiz, Analecta
Atkinson, The Oldest

28; Clarissa

Vocation:

in theMiddle Ages (Ithaca, N.Y.,


Christian Motherhood
1991), pp. 103, 105-6, and 118;
to Judgment, pp. 224-26;
and Dominque
Fulton, From Passion
Iogna-Prat, "Le culte de laVierge sous
inMarie: Le culte de la Vierge (above, n. 16), pp. 86-87,
le r?gne de Charles
le Chauve,"
89, and 98.
60
de Berceo, "Los loores de Nuestra
Se?ora"
Gonzalo
de Berceo, El duelo de la
218, in Gonzalo
loores de Nuestra
Se?ora; Los signos del juicio final, ed. Brian Dutton,
Virgen; Los himnos; Los
T?mesis A/18 (London, 1975), p. 108.
61
Gutierre D?az de Games, El victorial: Cr?nica de D. Pero Ni?o
62, ed. Juan de Mata
Carriazo,
1 (Madrid, 1940), p. 180.
Colecci?n
de Cr?nicas
Espa?olas
62
Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
Similar descriptions ofMary's
83, 1:265; see also 95,1:292.
ibid. 158,291,301,
and
mercy color the poems about the liberation of captives from other Christians:
236-37.
and 3:75-77,
99-100,
363; 2:152-54
63
Ibid. 359, 3:229-30.
64
Ibid. 227, 2:299.
65
de Nuestra
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
Talavera, Historia
66
Cervantes, El trato de Argel, lines 2492-93,
p. 850.

fol. 247v.

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654

Captives
Christian

love suffusingtheMarian miracles of liberation,thedescriptionsof captives in


voking themercyof othersaintssuch as Dominic can only seem tepid.
forChris
Mary's maternalmercycould have an intensely
personal significance
tiancaptives.Hence theexpressionsof gratitudein the formof pilgrimageand
offerings
bymany of thoseformercaptiveswho believed theyhad theVirgin to
thankfor theirnewfound liberty.
But often therewas also a deliberatelypublic
dimensionto theirgratitude.At Guadalupe, men andwomen who had benefited
from
Mary's help inescaping from
Muslim captivity
would recounttheirstories
miracle books. In thesixteenth
to thefriarinchargeof theshrine'sever-thicker
mirac
century,twenty-seven
pilgrimstoGuadalupe alsomade sure to have their
ulous liberationsrecorded in theauthoritativeformof notarized certificates.67
fromthehighestsecularauthoritytheycould find
They soughtsuch certificates
on reachingChristian soil.Witnessed by viceroys,corregidors,
captains,or even
justthenotaryofwhicheverChristiantownfirstreceivedtheformer
captive,these
were quitepublicdeclarationsof thecaptive'sreintegration
intoChris
certificates
in
it.
As
one
has
and
the
role
historian
tendom
Virgin's
effecting
recentlysaid, for
certificates
so
victories
Muslims.68
these
over
the
Christians,
represented many
in
Bothmedieval and early-modern
Christianscould factconceiveof thewhole
of freeing
enterprise
captives,whetherundertakenby saintsor religiousorders,as
one theaterin thewars againstMuslims.69Accordingly,
oftengave
contemporaries
quite triumphalreadingsto theVirgin's powers to liberateprisonersfromthe
Muslims.Marian deliveranceofcaptivescould, forexample,accompanyChristian
militaryvictory.Suchwas thecase when theNorth AfricancityofOran fellto
theSpanish in 1509. According to capitularyrecordsfromGuadalupe, many of
theChristianswho poured forthfromslave houseswhen theSpanish forcesen
To
teredthiscitymade vows to thanktheVirgin fortheir
miraculous freedom.70
fulfilltheirpromises,theycame indroves toGuadalupe, asmany as severalhun
recordkeeper.
dred a day accordingto themonastery'sadmittedlyself-interested
This coincidencebetweenChristianmilitarysuccessagainst theMuslims and
theMarian liberationofChristiancaptives takeson further
resonancein lightof
anotheraspectof thevictoryatOran. Mary had helped theSpanish take thecity,
or so Count Pedro de Navarro, theman who led theassault, believed.Before
settingoff for theMaghreb, he had visited the shrineofGuadalupe to ask the
Virgin tohelp himprevailagainst theMuslims.71And afterhis successesnot only
atOran, but also TripoliandBougie, hemade an impressive
thanksgiving
offering
toGuadalupe: a lamp engraved in intricatedetailwith the imagesof the three
This objecthad as itslivingcounterpartsthepilgrims
who came
conqueredcities.72
toGuadalupe to celebratetheirescape from
Oran's prisons-lamp and pilgrims
alike renderedhomage toMary's role inChristiantriumphover theMuslims.
The Virgin's liberationof captivescould indeedforeshadowtheinevitability
of
67
Cr?moux, P?lerinages,
p. 46.
68
Ibid.
69
Cult, pp. 280-81;
Friedman, Spanish Captives,
Lappin, Medieval
70
Cr?moux,
p. 81.
P?lerinages,
71
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
de Nuestra
fol. 155v.
Talavera, Historia
72
Ibid., fol. 155r-v.

pp.

127-28.

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655

Christian
Captives

ChristianmilitaryvictoryoverMuslims, as a letterquoted in a fifteenth-century


Castilian chroniclereveals.73
Written in the springof 1409, the letter
was ad
dressed to themaster of a famousSpanishmilitaryorder,theOrder of Santiago,
who thenforwardedit to theregentofCastile himself,Ferdinand (laterkingof
Aragon). The news itbroughtbothmen as they
mustered theirforcesfora cam
paignagainstthekingdomofGranada was welcome:Mary had performed
a great
Muslim citiesFerdinandwas eyeingas a possible
miracle inAntequara,one of the
twoChristianboys,held inAntequara as hostages
target.
According to theletter,
were visitedin theirdungeonone day by theVirgin.
fortheiroldermale relatives,
She comfortedthechildren,tellingthemto put aside theirfearsand promising
themtheywould safelyescape fromtheircaptivity.
A fewdays later,theboys
founda way out. But once beyond thecitywalls, theylosttheir
way.Wandering
hopelessly,theywere about to give up and returntoAntequarawhenMary ap
peared again and led themto thesafetyof a nearbyChristiantown.
As PrinceFerdinand read the letterrecountingthisMarian miracle, hemust
have been pleased. Itwas afterall a most hopeful sign-perhaps theseevents
meant thatjustasMary had returnedthechildrentoChristian territory,
soAn
would be deliveredto theChristians.As thechronicler
who quoted
tequara itself
theletter
well knew,Ferdinand'sdesireto conquer thiscitywould be fulfilled
just
one year afterthemiracle occurred.Some contemporarieseven attributedthe
spectacularvictoryof 1410 thatattachedAntequara's name to Ferdinand'sfor
centuries(historians
knowhimas FerdinandofAntequara) to thesaintwho earlier
had freedtheChristianboys fromthecity:theVirgin. In a flattering
poem com
posed by thecourt poet AlfonsoAlvarez de Villasandino (c. 1345-1425), the
Virgin commandsSts. Jamesand Johnto accompanyFerdinandas he laid siege
toAntequara-their orderswere tomake sureher favoriteknightwon.74
The chronicler
who preservedtheletterabout thecaptivesdoes not credit
Mary
with Ferdinand'svictoryatAntequara, thoughhe does depict theregent
directly
as havingher blessinginhis campaignsagainstGranada.7sBut thiswritermakes
no bones about thedeep connectionbetween theVirgin'smiraculous aid to the
He
younghostagesofAntequara and her abilityto helpmen on thebattlefield.
fromtheletterabout thecaptivesto a longdisquisitionabout
passes immediately
theVirgin'swillingnessto intervene
on behalfof Christianwarriorswhen they
bothareproofthat
crossswordswithMuslims.76For thechronicler,
Mary actively
supportsChristians in "theirwork ofwar against the infidel."77
Accordingly,he
framesthiswhole chapternot simplyas aboutMary's miracles, but as about
Mary's miracleson behalfofChristians.
73
Alvar Garc?a

de Santa Mar?a,

Cr?nica

de Juan II de Castilla,

ed. Juan de Mata

Carriazo

(Madrid,

1982), pp. 282-83.


74
3 vols. (Madrid, 1966), 1:24
Cancionero
de Juan Alfonso de Baena 4, ed. Jos? Mar?a Az?ceta,
25. See also Villasandino's
devotion toMary;
ibid. 65, 1:143. For further
poem praising Ferdinand's
see Angus MacKay,
in Angus MacKay
and the Virgin Mary,"
"Ferdinand
of Antequara
discussion,
Ian Macpherson,
in Fifteenth Century
Love, Religion and Politics
insula, Texts and Studies, 13 (Leiden, 1998), p. 134.
75
Garcia de Santa Mar?a,
Cr?nica de Juan II, pp. 118, 129-31,
and
76
Ibid., pp. 283-84.
77
Ibid., p. 283.

and

Spain, Medieval
190-91.

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Iberian Pen

656

Christian
Captives

This religiousedge is sharpenedby a simplephrase theVirgin uses as shecon


soles theboys in theirdungeon atAntequara. She tellsthem"to keep the faith
(que guardassen la fee)."78
Mary's words could be read as an exhortationnot to
despair.But surelyin thisera theexpressionstillhad itsliteral
meaning: theVirgin
isalso instructing
theboysnot to renounceChristianity.
Captives,whether
Muslim
or Christian,were veryoftensubject to thepressure-and the temptation-to
convertto their
master's faith.79
The effortsby bothMuslims and Christiansto
redeemtheircoreligionistsfromcaptivitythenmight bemotivated by theneed
to remove
membersof theirfaithfromsituationsthatmightprovokeconversion.80
Accordingly,theredemptionof captivesbecame a symbolicbattlefield
on which
Muslims andChristiansmightaffirmtheirreligiousidentities.8'
Rescuingcaptives
languishingin thehands of theunbelieverswas tantamountto the triumphof
one's own faithand thedefeatof thealien faith-as one textfromGuadalupe
Mary's abilityto freecaptiveswas proof thatChristianityand not Islam
declared,
was the"trueand holy faith(ley)."82Hence therhetoricallinkbetweenmilitary
victoryand theliberationof captives.
In themiracle storiesof theCantigasde SantaMar/a and thosefrom
Guadalupe,
Not onlydoes she an
Mary wins many such symbolicvictoriesforChristianity.
swer theprayersofChristiancaptivesand break theirchains,but she also inter
venes to shoreup theirallegiancetoChristianityshould itwaver.As with thetwo
boys atAntequara, shepreventscaptivesfromconvertingto Islamor causes them
to returntoChristianityiftheyhave given inand becomeMuslims.83
What saint
could betterhelpChristiansimprisonedby the
Muslims escape thetrapof an alien
faiththanMary? A lovingmother always ready to help her human childrenin
theirhour of need, theVirginalso embodied thefaithtowhich thecaptiveswere
to cling-she was, afterall, theChurch,Ecclesia.A4In fact,
with
Mary's identity
Ecclesia may havemotivated her appearance on the symbolicbattlefieldof the
redemptionof captivesasmuch as did hermaternal tenderness.In turningtoher

78

Ibid., p. 282.
79
For themedieval

i
El Sarraihs
period: Bensch, "From Prizes ofWar"; Maria Teresa Ferrer Mallol,
en el segle XIV:
i discriminado
(Barcelona,
1987),
Segregado
Catalono-Aragonesa
and 109;
Cult, pp. 293-96; Miraculos
pp. 74-81;
pp. 65-67,
95-96,
roman?ados,
Lappin, Medieval
and Francisco de As?s Veas Arteseros and Juan Francisco Jim?nez Alc?zar,
"Notas sobre el rescate de

de

la Corona

en la frontera de Granada,"
Actas,
Bennassar
period: Bartolom?

ed. Segura Artero


For the
(above, n. 31), pp. 233-34.
and Lucile Bennassar, Les chr?tiens d'Allah: L'histoire
etXVIIe
des ren?gats XVIe
si?cles (Paris, 1989), esp. pp. 202-340;
Friedman, Spanish
and
and
Garc?a-Arenal
and de Bunes, Los Espa?oles
77,
90;
y el Norte de
pp.
58,
88-89,
Captives,
Africa, pp. 212-39.
80
Ferrer iMallol,
El Sarrains, pp. 71-81;
"Cautiverio
y martirio,"
Argente del Castillo Oca?a,
p. 47; Friedman, Spanish Captives, pp. 81 and 146.
81
Miller, Guardians
of Islam.
82
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
de Nuestra
fol. 292r.
Talavera, Historia
83
For example, Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
BN MS
325, 3:152-55;
1176, fols.
Madrid,
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
de Nuestra
fols. 240v-242r.
9r-12v; Talavera, Historia
84
On the equivalence
between Mary
and the Church, see Marie-Louise
Th?rel, Le triomphe de la
A
Notre-Dame
du
d?cor
du
occidental
de
de
Senlis.
Sources historiques,
l'origine
portail
Vierge-Eglise:
cautivos

early modern
extraordinaire

litt?raires et iconographiques

(Paris, 1984),

esp. pp. 78-193.

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Christian Captives

657

membership
their
forcomfortin theiroppressiveprisons,captiveswere affirming
in the church,theirvery identitiesas Christians.The Virgin's capacity to free
power of faith
Christiansfromcaptivityand servituderepresentedthe liberating
itself.
This thenis the longand richhistorythatliesbehindCervantes' invocationof
theVirgin inEl tratodeArgel.When Cervantescame towriteLos banos deArgel
and thechaptersofDon Quijote called the "Captive'sTale," he added further
nuance to his portraitof theVirgin's potent role in theconflictualdialogue be
tween
Muslims andChristians.As hisMuslim maidensZahara andZoraida show,
vehicle forChristians'
ifMary as mother and Ecclesia could be the triumphant
liberationfromMuslim captors, she could also extend her powers to people
Muslims to fleetheprison
trappedinspiritualdungeons:theVirginmightprompt
of Islamand embraceChristianity.
MUSLIM MAIDENS

In relatingstoriesof howMarian devotionmade Muslims converttoChris


The popularMar
Cervantes tapped intoan old hagiographictradition.85
tianity,
ianmiracle collectionsof thehighMiddle Ages provideeloquent evidencethat
medievalChristiansloved to telltalesof how theVirgin inducednon-Christians,
This is reflected
quite
JewsandMuslims, to converttoChristianity.86
particularly
clearlyinAlfonsoX's Cantigas de SantaMaria. For theJewsandMuslims who
figure,
punishingthem
Mary could be a terrifying
populatemany of thecantigas,
fortheirlackof belief inher specialnature as thevirginalmotherofGod or, in
But
militarydefeaton them.87
thecase of theMuslims, helpingChristiansinflict
interacts
with JewsandMuslims not
in thesepoems, theVirginmost frequently
toharmor chastisethembut to bringthemtoChristianity.88
The evangelical
Mary of theCantigaswas to someextenta creatureofher time,
Christianthink
embodyingthehopefulbeliefnurturedbymany thirteenth-century
This
ers that
Muslims teeteredon thebrinkofmass conversiontoChristianity.89
But theVirgin's role in con
Christianoptimismsoon evaporated.90
ill-founded
85
Villanueva
also makes this suggestion, though his analysis differs considerably
Francisco M?rquez
from mine; see his Personajes
y temas del Quijote
(Madrid, 1975), pp. 102-6.
86
see (from n. 17 above) Cuff el, "Hence
association with conversion,
On the reasons forMary's
and Remensnyder, La Conquistadora.
pp. 197-98;
"Colonization,"
forth"; Remensnyder,
87
For examples of punishment
inflicted on Jews, see Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a 4 and 34,
For military defeat ofMuslims with Mary's
1:63-66
and 143-44.
aid, see ibid. 165 and 185, 2:164
67 and 204-7.
88
Ibid. 28, 46,
(Muslim

and 251-53
and 171-73
and 2:168-69,
218-23,
192, and 205, 1:128-32
and 2:27-30
and 278-81
268-70,
117-22,
4, 25, 85, 89, and 107, 1:63-66,
in the Cantigas
"Anti-Semitism
For discussion: Vikki Hatton and Angus MacKay,

167,

conversions);

(Jewish conversions).
Bulletin
de Santa Mar?a,"

Garcia
Studies 60 (1983), 189-99,
esp. p. 195; and Mercedes
of Hispanic
Revista de estudios ?rabes
de Alfonso X el Sabio," Al-Qantara:
Arenal, "Los moros en las Cantigas
6 (1985), 133-51,
esp. pp. 145-47.
89
Dream of
in theWest: The Thirteenth-Century
Confrontation
Robert I. Burns, "Christian-Islamic
Review 76 (1971), 1386-1434.
American Historical
Conversion,"
90
toward theMuslims
(Princeton,
European Approaches
Benjamin Z. Kedar, Crusade and Mission:
N.J.,

1984).

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Christian Captives

658

"91 In late-medieval
versiondidnotdisappearalongwith the"dreamofconversion.
Spain,miracle storiessimilarto thoseof theCantigaswere repeatedand new,even
more ambitiousones added to them.The belief inMary's powers to persuade
continuedintoCervantes'day,as thesixteenth
Muslims toconverttoChristianity
A play
centurymiracle collections fromGuadalupe eloquentlydemonstrate.92
centurybyCervantes' fellow
composed in the late sixteenthor earlyseventeenth
association
Lope deVega also providesevidenceof thepersistent
literaryluminary
betweentheVirginand theconversionofMuslims. Lope's plot featuresa kingof
Morocco promptedto seekbaptismby a suddenaccess ofMarian devotion.93
The authorsof thesestoriesoftennarrateconversionusing thesame evocative
imageryof captivityand liberationthatwas so associatedwith otherMarian
miracles.Here, though,this language ismetaphoric, an expressionof spiritual
ratherthanphysicalconditions.Such is thecase inan enigmaticletternow in the
Barcelona archives,dated 1325 and addressed to Pope JohnXXII.94 Identifying
theactual authorof thisletterisnot easy,but itpurportsto be from"Bobacre,"
the
Muslim "lordof thecityofAffrica"(probablytheTunisianportofMahdia).95
womanwho identified
Bobacre relateshow one nighthe had a visionof a beautiful
Mary
herselfas theVirgin.UrgingBobacre to rejectIslam infavorofChristianity,
"commanded" thathe "come out of diabolical captivity(a diabolica capcione)"
and convertto the "true catholic faith."This descriptionof Islam as a prison
whose door theVirgin imperiously
flingsopen isarresting.It recallstheplay be
tweenthephysicaland thespiritualin theCantigas de SantaMaria, whose poets
drew explicitparallelsbetween
Mary's abilitytohelp prisonersescape fromtheir
fetters
and herpowersasmediatrixto releaseChristiansfromtheequallyweighty
iflessmaterial-bonds of sin.96
Muslims fromthespiritualsnareof unbelief,shecould
When theVirgin freed
in factalso freethemfromphysicalformsof enclosure,as a poem fromtheCan
The protagonistof thiscantiga is aMuslim man fromAlmeria
tigas suggests.97
who

had been captured by Christians.

91

"Dream of conversion"
92
Cr?moux,
P?lerinages,

is Burns's

Enslaved

formulation

as many Muslim

captives were,

(see n. 89 above).
Historia
de Nuestra

Se?ora de Guadalupe,
fols.
and 315v-316v.
247v-248v,
231r-233r,
289r-v, 301v-302r,
234v-235r,
273v-274r,
93
acts 2
Lope de Vega, La tragedia del rey Don Sebasti?n y bautismo del pr?ncipe de Marruecos,
8:452
ed. Manual
and 3, in Lope de Vega, Comedias,
Arroyo Stephens, 15 vols. (Madrid, 1993-98),
517.
94
Barcelona, Arxiu de la Corona
d'Arag?, C Jaume II Cartas extra series, caixa 136, no. 517. The
as "Bobaire")
text has been edited with some errors of transcription (including reading "Bobacre"
by
pp.

206-8;

Talavera,

in Acta Aragonensia:
zur deutschen,
italienischen, franz?sischen,
Quellen
spanischen,
aus der diplomatischen
3
und Kulturgeschichte
Korrespondez
Jaymes II. (1291-1327),
2:757-58.
vols. (Berlin, 1908-22),
95
see Charles-Emmanuel
ca
On the identification of "Affrica" as Mahdia,
Dufourcq,
L'Espagne
aux XHIe
et XlVe
si?cles: De
la bataille de Las Navas
de Tolosa
talane et le Maghrib
(1212) ?

Heinrich

Finke

zur Kirchen-

l'av?nement
paniques

Abou-l-Hasan

(Paris, 1966), pp. 493-94.


see below, pp. 664-65.

thorship,
96
Alfonso
3:76.
97

du sultan m?rinide

37

X, Cantigas

de Santa Mar?a

On

de l'?cole des hautes


(1331), Biblioth?que
of the letter's composition
the circumstances

176, 227,

245,

and 291,

2:186-87,

297-99,

?tudes his
and
338-42

Ibid. 192,2:218-23.

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its au
and

Christian
Captives

659

he endedup in thepossessionof a Christianwho livednearToledo. The Christian


man triedto converthim,but had no success-theMuslim stubbornlyrefused
Christianity,
especiallyobdurate inhis rejectionof theVirgin.His masterpunished
him by lockinghim up. Sensingeasy prey,a demon attackedhim-here was a
soul ripeforplucking,since ithad refusedChristianity.
TheMuslim foughtback
Then he receiveda new visitor:
desperately.
Mary. She toldhim thatto escape the
demon,hewould have to renounceIslam.TheMuslim wiselydecided toobeyher.
The nextmorning he poured forththe storyof thevision to hismaster,who
releasedhim fromconfinement.
Baptized asMary had ordered,theconvertspent
therestof his lifeas a good Christian inher service.This man's liberationfrom
physicalcaptivity
mirroredhis escape fromthespiritualprisonof Islam-and he
owed both to theVirgin.The poem's titleitselfsuccinctlycaptures theVirgin's
powers in both theserealms:"How St.Mary Freed a Moor Whom a Demon
Wanted toTake andMade Him Become a Christian."
Othermiracle storiesarticulatedtheVirgin'sabilityto effectbothphysicaland
Gua
spiritualliberationssomewhatdifferently.
In, forexample,two storiesfrom
in
the finalyears of thecampaign forGranada and theother
dalupe, one set
somewhereinNorth Africaduringthelate fifteenth
or sixteenth
Marian
century,
Muslim men to seekbaptismand to freeChristiancaptives.98
devotion inspires
The structure
of thesetales is reminiscent
of Cervantes' own storiesofMarian
conversion.So pronounced,in fact,is theresemblancethatit isevidentCervantes
which providedvividproof
was working fromthis longhagiographictradition,
of theVirgin's abilityto freesouls and bodies at once. The richnarrativepossi
Cervantesas he craftedhisportraitsofZahara
bilitiesthisaspectofMary offered
and Zoraida were heightenedby an overlappingstrandof Christian tradition
of thefemale
Mus
equally importanttohim: thetalesclusteredaround thefigure
limconvertwho freescaptives.
was not thefirstauthor to spin storiesofMuslim maidens
Cervantescertainly
converttoChristianity
who helpChristiancaptivesescape and thenthemselves
That honor belongs insteadto a Norman monk
and takea Christianhusband.99
of thetwelfth
OrdericVitalis,who includedsuch a tale inhis sprawling
century,
Historia ecclesiastica.100
Orderic's immediatesourcewas probablya knightcom
inghome fromcombat inwhat was thencalled theHoly Land: the tale is set in
of theFirstCrusade, and itsmale hero,thecaptivewhom
theimmediateaftermath
theMuslim maiden hopes tomarry, isBohemond of Antioch.10'According to
Orderic, neitherBohemond nor theMuslim maiden who helps him escape calls
onMary or any other saint.To be sure,on regaininghis freedom,
Bohemond
vows tomake a thanksgiving
pilgrimageto St. Leonard ofNoblat, a promisehe
apparentlyactuallyfulfilled
duringa visit toFrance in 1105-7.102Yet as Orderic
98
Talavera,
99
Nor was

Historia

de Nuestra

Se?ora

he the last?this

de Guadalupe,
in English

motif appears
Britain, Empire, and

fols. 247v-248v

Linda Colley, Captives:


100
Orderic Vitalis, Ecclesiastical
History
F.M. Warren,
"The Enamoured Moslem
5:358-79;

Princess

PMLA 29 (1914), 341-58.


101
Warren,
102
Orderic

"Moslem
Vitalis,

and 315v-316v.

from the late eighteenth century; see


1600-1850
theWorld,
(New York, 2004), p. 83.
6 vols. (Oxford, 1969-80),
10.24, ed. Marjorie
Chibnall,
ballads

inOrdericus

Vitalis

and the French Epic,"

Princess."

Ecclesiastical

History

10.24,

5:376-78.

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660

Christian

Captives

describes it, therewas nothingmiraculous about thiscaptive's liberationor the


maiden's conversion.The tale is reallyabout Bohemond's braveryand thebold
cunningof theMuslim woman who loveshim. Itwas in thisformthatthestory
passed intoFrenchepic, becomingpart of thestock repertoire
ofmotifs thatan
authormight exploit to enhancea hero.103
InOrderic'swake, however,itwas not only jongleurs
who sang of aMuslim
maidenwho helpedChristiancaptivesescape and thenherselfconverted.Perhaps
by epic as hagiographersoftenwere, theauthorsofMarian miracle
influenced
storiesalso appropriatedthischaracter.The languageand conceitsof epic firmly
shape the earliestextant instanceof such borrowing:the late-fifteenth-century
legendgildingtheoriginsof theshrineofNotre-Dame de Liesse inFranceand its
wonder-workingimageofMary.104
According to thistext,threetwelfth-century
Frenchcrusadersare takenprisonerby theMuslims and broughtto thesultanof
Egypt.105
Languishing inhis prison, theyare visitedby his daughter,Ismerie.At
her father'sorders,Ismerietriesto convertthecaptives to Islam but soon falls
underthespellofwhat theytellheraboutChristianity.
She isespeciallycaptivated
by theirdescriptionof the"beautifulVirginMary"-she even asks thecaptives
to sculptan imageof theVirgin,promisingthatinreturnshewill help themescape.
The captives,who as good knightshave never in theirlives touchedsculptors'
tools,are savedwhen angelsbringtheman exquisiteMarian image.Upon seeing
it,Ismeriedecidesnot only to freethecaptivesbut to accompany themback to
France and converttoChristianityso thatshemight serve
Mary and her son.
Some scholarshave argued thatthisFrench legendwas Cervantes' inspiration
for the "Captive's Tale."'106It is certainlypossible. Pilgrimswho visitedLiesse
might have returnedhomewith storiesof the shrine'sstatue,storiesthatthen
passed mouth tomouth until theyreachedCervantes eitherduringhis years
Yet theconsiderabledifferencesin structure
abroad or inSpain itself.
and focus
betweenCervantes' storiesand theLiesse legendshould give us pause. Further
more,

Ismerie moves

in an epic, fantastic crusading world

of the past, whereas

Zoraida and Zahara inhabita cityof thepresent,Algiers as Cervantes and his


knew it.In fact,thereisno need to look as faraway as France to
contemporaries
finda storyabout aMuslim maiden convertedthroughlove of theVirgin that
could have beenCervantes' inspiration.
a talemuch
By thelatesixteenthcentury,
more liketheones he himself
would writewas toldat aMarian churchthatthere
iseveryreasontobelievehehad visited:Guadalupe, thehomeof a CastilianVirgin
most famedforher role in liberating
captives.
InCervantes' day,pilgrimstoGuadalupe learnedof aMuslim maiden named
Fatimawho lived,not incrusaderEgypt likeLiesse's Ismerie,but in late-fifteenth
103
"Moslem Princess."
Warren,
104
On the history of the shrine, see Bruno Ma?s, Notre-Dame
de Liesse: Huit si?cles de lib?ration
et de joie (Paris, 1991).
105
Dame
"Comment
de Liesse autrement ditte de Lience fut trouuee, auec les
Ihymage N[ost]re
miracles": Notre-Dame
de Liesse, sa l?gende d'apr?s le plus ancien texte connu, ed. Comte de Hennezel
d'Ormois
(n.p., 1934).
106
et Notre Dame
G. Cirot, "Le Cautivo
de Cervantes
de Liesse," Bulletin hispanique
38 (1936),
"Une source de 'Cautivo' de Cervantes,"
Bulletin hispanique
39 (1937),
378-82;
Hugues Vaganay,
153-54.

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Christian Captives

661

centuryTangiers.107
Fatima'swealthy fatherhad decided tomarry her off to a
with theChristiancaptivesheld
powerfulfellow
Muslim. But shehad been talking
inher father'sprison,and her heartwas now seton convertingtoChristianity.
Fatima entrustedher fragilehopes of beingbaptized to two sourcesof refugethat
thecaptiveshad told her about: theVirgin ofGuadalupe and thecross.Upon
learningthather fatherhad quite otherplans forher,shewas seizedby despair.
Preparingto leap to her death froma high tower,she suddenlysaw a burstof
light"in thedirectionof the landof theCatholics." Resplendentat itsheartwas
theVirgin ofGuadalupe. Comfortedby thisvision,Fatima descended fromthe
tower,releasedthecaptivesfromtheirfetters,
andmade thearduous journey
with
themtoSpain.The VirginofGuadalupe protectedthemthewhole way. Soon after
arrivinginSpain, Fatimawas baptized and thenhurriedto thanktheVirginby
with hercompanionstoGuadalupe. The former
making a pilgrimage
captivesleft
theshrineafterofferingtheirchains toMary, but theconverted
Muslim woman
stayedatGuadalupe fortherestof her lifeas theVirgin's servant.So well in fact
did theconvertcare forMary that the townspeoplenicknamedher "the good
Christian"-la buena Christiana.
A late-sixteenth-century
historianofGuadalupe, Gabriel de Talavera, included
thisstoryinhisproud accountof hismonasteryand itsglories.108
Talaverawrote
in1597. But la buena Christianafirstappears in a handfulof laconicdocuments
dating froma fullhundredyearsearlier-exactly theera inwhich themiracle is
set.Reticentas thesetextsare, theynonethelesssuggestthatthiswoman was not
thecreatureof pure hagiographicfable thatNotre-Dame de Liesse's Ismerieso
clearlywas. These documentsreveal thata woman called la buena Christiana
actually livedat Guadalupe in the late fifteenth
century.
This woman was asso
ciatedwith themonasteryinsomeway, foran accountbook fromthe1470s notes
thatshewas grantedfood fromitskitchenfortherestof her life.109
Shewas well
offenough to own "houses" and a good enoughChristianthatshe loaned them
to the inquisitorsas an audiencehallwhen theycame toGuadalupe in 1485.110
At herdeath, she leftthesehouses to themonastery-in Cervantes'day they
were
stillcalled las casas de la buena Christiana."'1
The monastic community
evidently
cherishedthiswoman's memory,fortheyhoused her remainsin a tomb located
in theirchurch.By the latesixteenthcentury,thistombsporteda marble plaque
thatcould have been read by any literatepilgrimsuchas Cervantes.Inscribedon
itwas thestoryof la buenaChristiana'smiraculousMarian conversion."12
Justwho was thiswoman buried in state inGuadalupe's church?It ishard to
know.But it is probable thatshewas notwho themarble plaque adorningher
tomb said shewas: thedaughterof a wealthy and nobleMuslim of Tangiers

107
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
de Nuestra
fols. 231r-233r.
Talavera, Historia
108
Ibid., fols. 231r-233r.
109
Germ?n Rubio, Historia
de Nuestra
Se?ora de Guadalupe
1926), p. 219.
(Barcelona,
110
de Ecija, Libro de la invenci?n de esta Santa Imagen de Guadalupe
y de la erecci?n y
Diego
y de algunas cosas particulares y vidas de algunos religiosos de ?l 4.67,
fundaci?n de este monasterio
ed. Angel Barrado Manzano
(C?ceres, 1953), p. 345.
111
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
fol. 233r.
de Nuestra
Talavera, Historia
112
Ibid., fol. 233r.

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662

Christian Captives

convertedthroughlove ofMary. InMuslim Spain andMuslim North Africa,


Muslim women was ex
voluntaryconversionto Christianityby high-ranking
tremely
unusual.'13To be sure,in thelatesixteenth
centurysomewomenmarried
to powerful
Muslim men inNorth Africa did eventuallyfleetheirhusbandsand
womenwere renegades
go to liveas ChristiansinChristiankingdoms.But these
Christian captiveswho convertedto Islam and thenwere married off tomale
Muslims.14 By escaping toChristendom,they
renegadesor tonatural-born
were
not converting,as la buena Christianaand Cervantes'Zahara and Zoraida were
to theiroriginalreligiousidentity.
supposed to have done, but ratherreturning
was theconversionofhigh-ranking
Muslim women thatincontrast
So unlikely
to severalknown instancesinwhichmedievalMuslim princesembracedChris
tianity,thereis only one documentedcase of a medievalMuslim princessdoing
woman relatedby blood to the taifarulersofToledo
so: a late-eleventh-century
Political turmoilalone ledher to the
and bymarriage to theprincesof Seville."51
baptismal font.Losing her husband,Al-Ma mun, during theviolentupheavals
accompanyingthe fallof one taifakingdomafteranotherto theAlmoravids,a
withAlfonsoVI ofLeon
NorthAfricanBerberdynasty,thiswoman took refuge
Castile (d. 1109). At thisChristiancourt, she seems to have foundsafety-and
more. EventuallyshebecameAlfonso's concubineand thenhiswife. Itwas some
timeduringheryearswith thiskingthatshemade theexpedientdecision toadopt
his religion.
Thiswoman earned a certainnotorietyamongMuslims.Well intothefifteenth
century,juristsas faraway asMorocco would citeherconversiontoChristianity
as a cautionarytaleprovingthereligiousperilsof sexual relationsbetween
Muslim

113
M.

"Un ins?lito caso de conversas musulmanas


al cristianismo: Las princesas
J. Rubiera Mata,
en el cristianismo medieval:
in Las mujeres
te?ricas y cauces de
del siglo XI,"
Im?genes
at p. 341. The
actuaci?n
Fern?ndez, Laya 5 (Madrid, 1989), pp. 341-47,
religiosa, ed. Angela Mu?oz
toledanas

fact that none of the articles

in a recent collection

about conversion to and from Islam focuses on (or


of) female converts is telling; see Conversions
islamiques: Identit?s
In 1588, a very young
ed. Mercedes
Garc?a-Arenal
(Paris, 2001).
religieuses
in Palermo, but the circumstances
female member of the ruling house of Tunisia was baptized
leading
to her conversion are not at all clear given the fragmentary nature of the evidence; see Salvatore Bono,

even mentions

significant evidence
en Islam m?diterran?en,

"Conversioni

di musulmani

al cristianesimo,"
ed. Bartolom?

in Chr?tiens

colloque

du CESR

(1994),

Bennassar

et musulmans

? la Renaissance:

Actes

du

3
Sauzet, Le Savoir de Mantice
(Paris, 1998), p. 440. In any case, given her young age (she is described as a figliuola and an infante),
it is extremely unlikely that she herself made
the decision to convert.
114
de Cervantes,
As?n, "La hija de Agi Morato"
(above, n. 14), p. 248; and the texts cited inMiguel

37e

and Robert

n. 5; and in
10 vols. (Madrid, 1947-49),
de laMancha,
3:242-43,
ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote
in
Cervantes, Los ba?os de Argel, p. 23. For the social and religious situation of female renegades
e historia general
North Africa, see the contemporaneous
description of Diego de Haedo,
Topograf?a
El

3 vols. (Madrid, 1927-29),


1:119 and 165; and
de Argel 30 and 35, ed. Ignacio Bauer y Landauer,
the analysis in Bennassar
and Bennassar, Chr?tiens d'Allah
(above, n. 79), pp. 289-307.
115
On Muslim
Confrontation"
(above, n. 89), pp. 1392-94.
princes, see Burns, "Christian-Islamic
in
On the identity of theMuslim
princess and the circumstances
leading to her conversion discussed

see Evariste L?vi-Proven?al,


"La 'mora Zaiyda,'
femme d'Alphonse VI de Castille et
this paragraph,
18 (1934), 1-8; Bernard F. Reilly, The Contest of Christian and
leur fils l'Infant Sancho," Hesp?ris
Muslim
"Un ins?lito caso,"
(Oxford, 1992), pp. 92 and 96; and Rubiera de Mata,
Spain, 1031-1157
pp. 343-45.

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Christian Captives

663

women and Christianmen.116


Among Christiansshe naturallyenjoyed a much
more positive reputation.Transformedfrompolitical refugeeintoa heroineof
epic romance,byCervantes'eraChristiansevenhonoredher as a saint.117
Surely
shewould not have been singledout to receivesuchattentionfromeither
Muslims
or Christians ifher behaviorhad been typicalforaMuslim woman. The mere
existenceof thesetraditionsthensuggests
what theeventsofher lifereveal:ittook
rarecircumstancestomakeMuslim women freelyconverttoChristianity.
Even
Muslim women livingunderChristianrulewere farless likelyto renounceIslam
in favorofChristianitythanwere their
male counterparts
unless theyfoundthem
selvesinone of twosituations:eitherthey
were captivesofChristiansor they
were
womenwho, havingsleptwithChristianmen, could escape theharshpunishments
thatwould otherwisebe theirlotby converting.118
La buena Christiana'sMarian conversionthenprobablybelongedmore to the
realmof storythanof reality.So, too, did theconversionsof Cervantes' own
Muslim maidens: theactualwoman uponwhom Zahara andZoraida weremod
eled neverherselfembracedChristianity.119
Yet even ifthesestoriesaboutMary's
liberationsofMuslim maidens fromthespiritualprisonof Islamdid not possess
thesame degreeof verisimilitude
that laybehind the talesof her abilityto free
Christiancaptivesfrom
Muslim masters, theynonetheless
were equallyeloquent
vehiclesfortheexpressionof triumphal
Christianattitudestoward
Muslims. For
conversionitselfis a formof spiritualconquestand colonization.Itrepresents
the
Hence seventeenth-century
victoryof one religionover another.
Spaniards staged
thebaptismofMuslims as jubilantpublic ceremonies.120
Nor do thedense layers
ofmeanings clusteredaround conversionin thepremodernSpanishworld end
there.So tightly
bound up with other levelsof identity
was religiousaffiliation
thatthevictoriesenactedon thespiritualplane by conversioncould reverberate
loudlyinotherarenas.
In particular,spiritualsubmissionto Christianitycould signalor accompany
political submissionto Christians.The potentialpoliticalweight of conversion
ofteninfluenced
actual high-level
Muslims andChristians.
maneuveringsbetween
So in the1220s,Abu Zayd, the lastAlmohad rulerofValencia, bet thiscard as
he triedtogainChristiansupportinhis effortsto hold onto thekingdomslowly
116
P. S. van Koningsfeld
"The Islamic Statute of theMudejars
in Light of a New
and G. A. Wiegers,
Revista de estudios ?rabes 17 (1996), 28 (and n. 43); David Nirenberg,
"Muslims
Source," Al-Qantara:
in Christian
in The Medieval
Varieties ofMudejar
World, ed. Peter
Iberia, 1000-1526:
Experience,"
and Janet L. Nelson
in Spanish
Islamic Literature
(London, 2001), p. 71; Gerard Wiegers,
Y ?a of Segovia (Fl. 1450), His Antecedents and Successors, Medieval
and Aljamiado:
Iberian Peninsula,
Texts and Studies, 8 (Leiden, 1994), p. 6 (n. 30).
117
"Un ins?lito caso," pp. 342-43
Rubiera de Mata,
and 347. The sixteenth-century vita and mira
Acta sanctorum, April, 1:847-50.
cula are edited in "De Casilda
virgine, Burgis Hispaniae,"
118
For evidence of Mudejar
female converts, see R. Ignatius Burns, S.J., "Journey from Islam: In
in the Conquered
35
of Valencia
(1240-1280),"
cipient Cultural Transition
Speculum
Kingdom
Linehan

women who converted to escape the legal


at pp. 348 and 349, n. 62. On Mudejar
337-56,
see
n. 79), pp. 19-24. For the conversion of
i
Ferrer
Sarrdins
of
El
Mallol,
servitude,
(above,
penalty
di Musulmani,"
enslaved female captives, see Bono, "Conversioni
p. 434.
119
As?n, "La hija de Agi Morato,"
pp. 264-66.
120
au XVIIe
et conversion en Espagne
isla
Bernard Vincent,
"Musulmans
si?cle," in Conversions
(1960),

miques,

ed. Garc?a-Arenal,

pp. 193-205.

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664

Christian

Captives

slippingfromhis grasp.He declaredpoliticalallegiancetoJamesI ofAragon and


of converting-a thoughthe acted on by 1236.121
told thepope hewas thinking
OtherMuslim rulershoping formilitaryaid fromChristian rulersalso foundit
were contemplating
convenientto hint thatthey
enteringtheChristianfold.The
Hafsid sultanofTunisia, Ibnal-Lihyani,
was particularly
early-fourteenth-century
adroit at thisgame.During themany yearsof his negotiationswith JamesII of
Aragon, Ibn al-Lihyaninot onlyplayed toAragonese imperialambitionsin the
Maghreb byproposing thatTunisia become James'sclientstatebut he also dan
gled theenticingbait of conversionbefore theexcitedeyesof his potentialally
and lord.122
The nexus between spiritualand political allegiances so deftly,ifultimately
unsuccessfully,
exploitedbyal-Lihyaniappears, too, inthestoriesChristianscould
tellaboutMuslim princelyconverts,
whether real or legendary.123
Indeed, in the
world ofChristian legend,theconversionofMuslim princeswas rarelydevoidof
political resonance.Christianscould rhetoricallyshape such princelyrenuncia
tionsof Islam in order to create a politicalmap distinctlyaligned in favorof
Christendom.
Such is thecase ina tantalizingsetof threelettersaddressedtoPope JohnXXII
and relatingto one of al-Lihyani'simmediatedescendants,Abu Bakr,whom we
have encounteredbeforeas "Bobacre,"Marian convertand lordof theTunisian
cityofMahdia.124AnnouncingAbu Bakr's decisionnot only to embraceChris
tianitybut to bringan armyof convertswith him and to deliverhis city to a
Christian lord, theseletterscould representa cannycontinuationof thepolitics
an effortto gain Christianmilitarysup
of his relativeal-Lihyaniand therefore
Yet thepoliticalpicturepainted in thesetextsfits
port againstMuslim rivals.125
suspiciouslywell with contemporaneousAragonese ambitions inNorth Africa.
PerhapsAbu Bakr's conversionand itsmilitaryconsequenceswere thenpure con
coctionsof theChristianmenwho signedtheirnames to twoof theletters:
Domi
nicusSancii andAlfonsusPetri.Dominicus andAlfonsuswereMahdia's alcayts,
that is, the leadersof theCatalo-Aragonesemercenariesemployedby thecity's
As such, they
were also theunofficialrepresentatives
Muslim ruler.126
of theking
ofAragon and therefore
well aware of how nicelyhis continuingterritorial
aspi
121
Robert

on Abu Zayd,"
I. Burns, "Almohad
Prince and Mudejar
Convert: New Documentation
Iberia: Essays on theHistory and Literature ofMedieval
J.Kagay and
Spain, ed. Donald
Joseph T. Snow (New York, 1997), pp. 171-88.
122
Non-Christian
rulers on the northeastern fringes of
catalane, pp. 488-93.
L'Espagne
Dufourcq,
inMedieval

also used the promise of baptism as a political bargaining tool; see Rasa Mazeika,
"Bar
in Varieties of Religious
for Conversion,
1250-1358,"
gaining for Baptism: Lithuanian Negotiations
in theMiddle Ages, ed. James Muldoon
Conversion
(Gainesville, Fla., 1997), pp. 131-45.
123
Adam Knobler,
and Patchwork Pedigrees: The Christianization
"Pseudo-Conversions
ofMuslim

Christendom

Princes and the Diplomacy


of Holy War," Journal of World History 7 (1996), 181-97.
124
See above, p. 658, and Barcelona, Arxiu de la Corona
d'Arag?, C Jaume II Cartas extra series,
caixa 136, nos. 515-17. No. 517 has been edited inActa Aragonensia,
2:757-58.
For the identification

as Abu Bakr, governor of Mahdia


see Dufourcq,
of "Bobacre"
and descendant
of Ibn al-Lihyani,
catalane, pp. 493-94.
L'Espagne
125
in 1325, see Dufourcq,
On the political problems faced byMahdia
catalane, pp. 493
L'Espagne
94.
126
On alcayts see ibid., pp. 101-4, 412-13,
and 436-37.

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Christian Captives

665

rationsin the
Maghreb would be servedby thesubmissionofMahdia and itslord
to Christianity.127
Yet whetherAbu Bakr's conversionwas a Christian literary
or a genuineexperience,thelettersrenderitan act
fabrication,
hisown invention,
as pregnant
with politicalconsequencesas itwas with religious
meaning.And on
both stages,
Mary plays a leadingrole.She impelsAbu Bakr's changeof spiritual
affiliation
and all thetriumphsforChristianityit triggers.
IfChristianscould readpoliticalvictoryintotheconversions-real, suggested,
or legendary-ofhigh-ranking
Muslim men,what did they
make of thelegendary
conversionsofMuslim maidens such as Guadalupe's la buena Christiana and
Cervantes'Zoraida and Zahara? Afterall, even in legendthesewomen could not
exercise theovertpolitical power theirmale counterpartsdid. They could not
bringarmiesand citiesover toChristendom.Yet ifanything,inChristianlegend,
the
Marian conversionsofMuslim women had evendeeper layersofpoliticaland
culturalsignificancethandid theconversionofMuslim men. For implicitin the
spiritualconquest enactedby conversionis theappropriationof theconvertby
his or hernew religion-and it isone thingto appropriatethemen belongingto
theenemycamp and entirely
anotherto appropriatethewomen.
The domination,whether real or imagined,of theenemy'swomen oftenex
won throughtheclash of armscan.
presses triumphas eloquentlyas anyvictory
As a narrativetrope,itdraws itspower inpart fromtheequivalenceso often
made
betweenthefemalebody and a territorial
Christiansof late
polityor a people.128
medieval and early-modern
Spain were well aware of this. In theballads and
romancesthatenjoyedsuchpopularity,they
would have heardChristianknights
women equallyreadyforthe
compareMuslim citiesripeforconquest tobeautiful
whose sexual unionwith Chris
pluckingand learned,too,ofMuslim princesses
tianheroes symbolizedthedefeatofMuslim territory.129
Perhaps thisabilityof
thefeminineto embodythecollectivecoloredhowChristiansunderstoodlegends
Muslim maidens, suchas Zoraida and la buenaChristiana.Ifso,
about converted
thesestoriestoldofmore than individualsembracinga new religion-theynar
ratedthesubmissionofMuslims toChristiansand of Islam toChristianity.
Whether theChristianvictoryembodiedby thesefemaleconverts
was collective
or individual,all the talesendow itwith a keen edge thatcould not have been
producedby thereligiousdefectionof aman. In each of thesestories,the
Muslim
maiden's conversioninvolvesher resoundingrejectionof theMuslim man whose
intimatepropertyshe is. Ismerie,la buena Christiana,Zahara, and Zoraida all
defytheirfathers'authorityinoneway or another.Each helpsChristiancaptives
escapeher father'sprisonand thenherselffleesbeyondhiscontrol.Their rejection
of his religion.
of thefatherand all he standsforculminatesin theirrenunciation
127
On these Aragonese
ambitions see ibid.
128
in Behind the Lines:
R. Higonnet
"The Double Helix,"
and Patrice L.-R. Higonnet,
Margaret
et
al.
Gender and the Two World Wars, ed. Margaret
(New
Haven,
Conn., 1987),
Randolph Higonnet
pp. 37-38.
129
Pedro Correa Rodr?guez, Los romances frontizeros, 2 vols. (Granada,
1999), 1:297 and 301-2.
see Louise Mirrer, Women, Jews, and Muslims
in the Texts ofReconquest
For discussion,
Castile (Ann
en los romances frontize
"La ciudad-mujer
1996), pp. 17-30; Juan Victorio Mart?nez,
15 (1985), 553-60;
and Mar?a
Soledad Carrasco Urgoiti, El
de estudios medievales
en la literatura (del siglo XV al XX)
de Granada
(Madrid, 1956; repr. 1989), p. 32.

Arbor, Mich.,
ros," Anuario
Moro

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666

Christian

Captives

Despite her father'stenderpleas,Zoraida is so unshakable inherdecisionto leave


Islam thatsome literary
criticshave condemnedheras a heartless,disloyalchild.130
Yet hereZoraida merelyaccompaniesher literarysistersas theyall heedChrist's
repeatedexhortationsin theNew Testamentto cast off thetiesof blood kinship
in favorof spiritualfamily(Matthew12.46-50, 10.29; Luke 14.26).
In theirquest to convert,thesewomen oftenspurnnot only theirfathersbut
BothGuadalupe's la buena Christianaand
othermaleMuslim authorityfigures.
Zahara
elude
to
Cervantes'
marriage theMuslim men chosen forthemby their
fathers.
These are not thegesturesofwomen seekingto escape patriarchyitself:
Zahara selectsa Christianhusband forherself,as does Zoraida in the"Captive's
Tale." Sexuallyand spiritually
appropriatedforChristianity,
Zahara andZoraida
become livingaffrontstoMuslim male honor.So, too, theconversionsof la buena
Christiana and Ismeriebringhumiliationand shame upon theMuslim men,
whetherfatheror potentialhusband,whose authoritytheyshrugoff.The inability
men tocontrolwomen supposedlyundertheirprotectionparallelsIslam's
of these
Muslim men and Islam itself
inabilityto retainthemaidens' religiousloyalties.
are exposed as emasculated,impotentforces,incapableof commandingobedience
or arousing desire.

The Muslim maidens of thesetalesdirecttheirdesire insteadtowarda much


more worthy object: theVirginMary. All of thesewomen-Notre-Dame de
Liesse's Ismerie,Guadalupe's la buena Christiana,and Cervantes'Zahara and
Zoraida-are characterizedby intenselongingfor theVirgin.Zoraida, forex
with theChristian
ample, openlyyearns forMary. In contrast,her relationship
is
devoid of sexual pas
captivewhom she has chosen as herhusband strikingly
sion.'3' So pronounced is thelanguageofMarian desire in thelegendfromLiesse
thatitalmost takeson lesbianproportions.The storyreads likea loveaffairfrom
with theVirgin in theroleof lovelyladyand Ismerieas theimpas
theromances,
sioned suitor."Inflamed
with love" and "ravishedby love," Ismeriespendshours
shut up in her room thinking about

"beautiful Mary,"

as the Virgin

is almost

When Ismeriefirstsees the imageofMary


invariablydescribed in this text.'32
broughtby angels, she is so struckby itsbeauty thatshe fallsto her knees, the
gestureof a loveras much as a devotee. She thenhides the image inher room,
takingitout of itssilkwrapper only to kiss and hug ita hundredtimesover.133
This Marian desire could symbolizetheconvert's longingfor thechurchas
embodied by theVirgin.Yet thisreadingwould not explainwhy theseMuslim
to take
maidens' yearningfortheVirginalsomanifestsitselfas thedetermination
Mary as theirChristianname. Cervantes'Zahara and Zoraida are in factquite
insistentabout being calledMary.When thecaptive recountshis storytoDon
Zoraida byherMus
Quijote and company,hemakes themistake of introducing
130
Percas de Ponseti, Cervantes y su
Villanueva,
(above, n. 85), pp. 132-34;
Personajes
M?rquez
and 261.
concepto del arte (above, n. 12), 1:226-42
131
pp. 116 and 120; E. Michael
Gerli, Refiguring Authority: Read
Villanueva,
Personajes,
M?rquez
in Cervantes,
39 (Lexington, Ky., 1995),
Studies in Romance
ing, Writing, and Rewriting
Languages
p. 53.
132

"Comment
Ihymage fut trouuee"
133
Ibid., pp. 53-54.

(above, n. 105), pp. 47, 48, 52, and 54.

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Christian Captives

667

limname.Deeply upset,Zoraida isprovokedtouttertheonlywords shewill say


duringthisepisode: "No, no,Zoraida! Mary,Mary . .. yes,yes,Mary,Mary!"'134
InLos banos deArgel,Zahara's verylastlineiseven"nowmy name isnotZahara
anymorebutMary."135Notre-Dame de Liesse's Ismeriealso takesMary as her
baptismal name.'36Guadalupe's la buena Christiana,however,does not. She
chooses insteadthename Isabel,perhaps a nod to thequeen reigningat thetime
of her conversion.Yet she is theexception thatproves the rule.The crowd of
Christiansat this
woman's baptismurgeher to takethenameofMary. She refuses,
declaringthat"it isnot rightthattheslave should takehermistress'sname."'137
The expectationthatliesbehindthisinterchange
isclear:Muslim femaleconverts
should be calledMary. And so in theballads about frontierlifethatentertained
Spanish audiencesof thesixteenthcentury,theyoftenwere.138
Even thelegendary
of theonemedievalMuslim princess
afterlife
who reallydid
was shapedby thisexpectation.Twelfth-century
converttoChristianity
Christian
ofone
chroniclersrecordedthebaptismalnameof thisdaughteror granddaughter
of thelastMuslim rulersofToledo as Isabel.139
But by thethirteenth
she
century,
Thiswas no casual substitution,
appears insteadasMary.140
as one late-thirteenth
her
centurytextunderscoresin itsdramaticaccountof herbaptism.In thisstory,
new husband,AlfonsoVI, sternlyforbidstheofficiating
clericsfromgivingher
thename she so keenlywants:Mary. Yet thiswoman cleverlyfoilstheking by
persuadingtheprelatestobaptizeher asMary but to tellAlfonso thattheycalled
her Isabel.'4'
converts
who happilyshedtheiroriginalnamestobecomeMary
These legendary
had at least some historicalcounterparts.
evidencefromthirteenth
Fragmentary
Valencia suggeststhat
century
Mudejar womenwho convertedtoChristianity
often
did receivethisname at baptism.142
In thisthey
were littledifferent
fromgirlsborn
toChristianfamilies:beginningin thethirteenth
century,thenameMary enjoyed
increasing
So commondid itbecome thatby
popularityacrosswesternEurope.143
thesixteenth
centuryapproximately
one-quarterof theChristianwomen livingin
Spainwere calledMary.144
The Muslim maidens of legendthenmay seem to blend into thiscrowd of
of actual patternsamong converts
Marys, theirname choicemerely a reflection
134
Cervantes, Don Quijote
1.4.37, 1:454.
135
p. 155.
Cervantes, Los ba?os de Argel, lines 1059-60,
136
"Comment
Ihymage fut trouuee," p. 60.
137
Se?ora de Guadalupe,
fol. 323v.
de Nuestra
Talavera, Historia
138
Correa Rodr?guez, Los romances frontizeros, 1:354.
139
Cr?nica Najerense
15 (Valencia, 1966),
3.56, ed. Antonio Ubieto Arteta, Textos Medievales
p. 118.
140
de rebus sive historia Gothica
6.30, ed. Juan Fern?ndez
Jim?nez de Rada, Historia
Rodrigo
72/1 (Turnhout, 1987), p. 214.
Valverde, CCCM
141
Primera cr?nica general de Espa?a
que mand?
componer Alfonso el Sabio y se continuaba bajo
Sancho IV en 1289 847, ed. Ram?n Men?ndez
Pidal, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Madrid, 1955), 2:521.
142
Burns, "Journey from Islam" (above, n. 118), p. 349, n. 62.
143
950
Robert Bartlett, The Making
and Cultural Change,
Colonization,
Conquest,
of Europe:
1350 (Princeton, N.J., 1993), p. 274.
144
et les pr?noms chr?tiens,"
et leurs temps:
in Les Morisques
"Les Morisques
Bernard Vincent,
Table ronde internationale 4-7 juillet 1981, Montpellier
(Paris, 1983), pp. 57-69.

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668

Christian Captives

such as Cer
and Christians.But theheavy emphasis thatChristian storytellers
vantesplaced on thenew name of thesefabledconvertssuggestsotherwise.For a
act, at leastas these
Muslim woman to take thename ofMary was a significant
legendsconstrueit. In acceptingtheVirgin's name as theirown, theselegendary
convertsexpress theirlikenessto thesaintlypatron of theirconversion.As they
a message stronglyreinforced
by
takeonMary's name, theytakeon her identity,
who does not taketheVirgin's
otherelementsof thesestories.Even theone convert
name-Guadalupe's la buena Christiana-is nonethelessjustasMarian a figure
of
as her sisters.Like them,la buena Christianaplays a role stronglyreminiscent
Mary's own: she is a mercifulvirginwho helpsprisonersescape.
The parallelsbetweenconvertandMary are perhapsmost pronounced in the
usesMarian
"Captive's Tale." As some criticshave noted,Cervantes skillfully
Muslim maiden
imagerytodraw hisportraitofZoraida. He describeshisvirginal
Surely,
as "Our Lady ofLiberty"and thefilethatcuts throughcaptives'chains.145
Zoraida's name-the Arabicword forstar-as an allu
too,Cervantes intended
as thestellamaris, the "starof thesea."'146
sion to theVirgin's identity
The cap
tives'frequentreferencestoZoraida as "our star" are thenwordplays inmore
Marian languagedoes not appear in theother
ways thanone.147Such explicitly
Muslim maidens. Yet the structuralsimilarity
between these
talesof converted
women and theVirgin isunmistakable.Chaste liberatorsoffering
hope toChris
ofMary herself.
tiancaptives,theMuslim maidens become somany reflections
of
Muslim
women
was
Thismirroring theVirginby
notmerelya literary
effect
with
employed to heightentheMarian natureof thesestories.Itwas freighted
meaning, as is renderedbeautifully
explicitina poem fromtheCantigas de Santa
When the
Maria thatdescribesCastilian knightsbesieginga Muslim castle.148
Christiansset fireto thecastle's tower,theMuslims who had retreatedinsiderun
out onto thebattlementsto escape thesmokeand flames.All die thereexceptfor
a woman who sitson theedge of thetowerclutchingher son inher arms.When
theChristianattackerssee her, theydraw in theirbreathswith wonder.As the
poem says: "This image seemed to themlike theway that theVirginMary is
The artistwho portrayedthescene
depictedholdingand embracingher Son. "149
did his best to bringout the likenessof theMuslim and child to theimageof the
Virgin and Child. This mother and her child are perched in thebattlementsin
Madonna andChild
exactlythesameway thatinan earliercantigaa statueof the
of a Christianfrontier
castleunderattackbyMus
nestlesbetweenthebattlements
lims. 150

145
in Algiers, p. 215.
Cervantes, Don Quijote
1.4.41, 1:495; Garc?s, Cervantes
146
Gerli, Refiguring Authority, pp. 46, 50, and 52.
147
in Algiers, pp. 214-15.
Garc?s, Cervantes
148
For the historical circumstances
Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
described
205, 2:251-53.
in this poem, see Joseph F. O'Callaghan,
A Poetic Biog
Alfonso X and the Cantigas de Santa Maria:
and Cultures, 400-1453,16
(Leiden, 1998),
Peoples, Economies
raphy, The Medieval Mediterranean:
pp. 89-90.
149
Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
205, 2:253.
150
For theMuslim
MS Banco Rari 20, fol. 6r. For the
and child, see Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale,
statue of Mary
de El Escorial MS
and Jesus in the battlements of the Christian castle, see Biblioteca
TI.

1, fol. 247r.

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Christian Captives

669

This poem is historicallyspecificenough to be recountinga real event.Just


imaginethescene: themen suckingin theirbreathsinastonishment,
nudgingeach
Looks justlikethatstatueinthechurchathome."
other,
muttering,"They'reright.
The towerwas unsteady,
weakened by fire,about tocollapse.So, thecantigasays,
theChristiansprayed to theVirginMary, theprototypeof the image theyhad
Muslims.Miraculously,when thetower
beforetheireyes,askingher to save these
woman
and
her
landed
without injury.
The poem's conclu
child
fell,theMuslim
sion is foretoldin thebodies of thewoman and herchild: theyconvertedtoChris
tianity.

The illuminations
underlinetheMarian qualityof thisconvertevenmore ex
plicitlythando thewords of thepoem.15'In one frame,theChristianslead the
pair,stillin theMarian pose ofmotherwith child,beforetheverykindof image
createdwith theirbodies: a statueofMary with Christ in
theyhad unwittingly
with one hand at thestatueandwith theotherto
her arms.A Christiangestures
the
Muslim mother,explainingthemiracle toherand indicatingto theviewerthe
continuumbetween the twomaternal figures.In thefinalframe,under the im
Marian majestas, the
passivegaze of the
Muslims, stillinmother-and-child
mode,
shiverin thebaptismalfont.
In thisstoryof religiouscolonization,the likenessbetween thewoman's ma
ternalbodyandMary's both savesand betraysher.Representedas a living
Marian
A similardynamic
icon, thisMuslim naturallyis appropriatedforChristianity.
operatesinthetalesaboutmaidenlyMuslim convertssuchasZahara andZoraida.
EmbodyingtheVirgin in attributesand oftenname, they,too, become somany
flesh-and-blood
imagesof her.The storiesabout theseconvertsthustakea stance
on a specificissueoverwhichMuslim and Christianpolemicistshad clashed for
centuries:thevalidityof representational
imagesas devotionalobjects.Christian
of course,heldwidely varyingopinionson thissubject.Vi
thinkersthemselves,
olent controversy
over imagevenerationroiledeighth-century
while
Byzantium,
inmedievalwesternEurope, respectedtheologiansand condemnedhereticsalike
about statuesand paintingsof sacredfigures.
could articulatedistinctreservations
In thesixteenthcentury,
adherentsof Protestantreformlauncheddestructiveat
tackson images,promptingtheCatholic authoritiesgatheredat theCouncil of
Trent to articulatea measured defenseof theroleof art inworship.
Despite the lackof unityofChristianopinion, thevenerationof imagescould
featureinMuslim-Christianpolemicswith Christianapologistsfervently
defend
ing thepracticeagainstMuslim accusationsof superstitiousidolatry.152
Graphic
proofof theabilityof thehuman formto representsacred figures,thestoriesof
Muslim maidens asmirrorsofMary participatein theseChristianapologeticson
writtenby apologistssuchas a Spanishpriest
behalfof images.The formaltracts
held captive in early-seventeenth-century
Tunismade theirpoints in defenseof
151
MS Banco Rari 20, fol. 6r.
Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale,
152For an
see
As?n
de C?rdoba
Palacios, Abenh?zam
example
Miguel

y su historia cr?tica de las


see Louis Cardaillac,
3:112. For discussion,
1.19.11,
religiosas, 5 vols. (Madrid, 1927-32),
et
Un
and Ana
chr?tiens:
(1492-1640)
(Paris, 1977), pp. 330-31;
Morisques
affrontement pol?mique
in Fifteenth Century Spain, Medieval
Echevarr?a, The Fortress of Faith: The Attitude towards Muslims
Iberian Peninsula, Texts and Studies, 12 (Leiden, 1999), p. 163.
ideas

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670

Christian

Captives

imagesquite explicitly,
while thesetalesaboutMuslim femaleconvertsare nec
Yet atmoments two of thesestoriesare almost as direct
essarilymore subtle.153
as theapologists: theynot onlydepictMuslims who become iconsofMary, but
women venerating
Marian images.Ismerierespectfully
kneels
theyalso show these
before thewondrous imageof Our Lady of Liesse;when Zoraida firstreaches
Spain, she eagerlylearnshow tohonor imagesof theVirgin.154
As livingimagesofMary, these
Muslim maidens thussymbolizeone of themany
Yet iftheyservedas tri
polemicaldividinglinesbetweenIslam and Christianity.
umphantstatementsof religiousdifference,theirabilityto representtheVirgin
also demarcateda space inwhich thedistinctionbetweenMuslim and Christian
mightdissolve.Embodyinga figureat theheartofChristianity,
thesewomen sug
gest thatthedistinctionbetween
Muslims andChristianswas not indelibly
written
on thebody. Instead,theirstoriesexpressa nonracializednotionof theboundary
betweenMuslims and Christians,a sense of common humanitylinkingthem.
between thesewomen and theVirgin servesas a powerful,if
Indeed,the identity
tacit,admissionthatIslamand Christianitysharedsomething:
Mary herself.155
As many Christians inmedieval and early-modernIberiawere well aware, the
Qur'an enshrines
Maryam, as she is called in Islamic tradition,as thevirginal
mother of theprophet ISa, thewoman whom God has "chosen above all other
women" (sura3; see also suras19, 21, and 66). The authorsof learnedcommen
taryon theQur'an elaboratedon thequalitiesthatmadeMaryam so special,while
Muslim poets sangof theirlove forher.156
Maryam figured,too, in thedevotional
livesofMuslims, who couldmake pilgrimagesto see theplaces shehad stopped
duringtheflighttoEgypt-the date treethatleanedover to allow theexhausted
mother to collect itsfruits,thespringfrom
which shehad drunkand inwhich she
had washed her child's diapers.157
To be sure,Maryam asMuslims knew herwas not exactly identicaltoMary
as shewas understoodbyChristians.
Muslims vehemently
denied that
Mary was
themother of God and were no less acceptingof thenotion of her perpetual
These pointsof disagreementgave ChristiansandMuslims a powerful
virginity.
153
"The Captive

e la defen?a de la santa fe Cat?lica


?
of Tunis," Tratado
Christiana,
respondiendo
los argumentos
que de nuestros sagradas escrituras nos opone el Mahometano,
Paris, Biblioth?que
nationale de France, MS
espagnol 49.
154
"Comment
1.4.41, 1:501.
Ihymage fut trouuee," p. 53; Cervantes, Don Quijote
155
as a figure shared by the two faiths, see
For a detailed discussion
of the ramifications of Mary
Remensnyder, La Conquistadora.
156
et l'Islam
"Abd el Jalil, Marie
(Paris,
J.M.
in Qur'anic
Women: Mary
and Fatima
Exegesis,"

"Chosen
of All
1950); Jane D?mmen McAuliffe,
7 (1981),
IslamoChristiana
19-28;
Jane I. Smith
in Islamic Tradition
and Commentary,"
The Muslim World

and Yvonne

"The Virgin Mary


Haddad,
(1989), 161-87; D. A. Spellberg, Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of CAHsha bint
Abi Bakr (New York, 1994), pp. 152-74.
157
account
in Arnold of L?beck,
Burchard of Strasbourg's
SS 21:238
(I thank
"Chronica," MGH
Benjamin Kedar for this reference); Lucette Valensi, La fuite en Egypte: Histoires d'Orient et d'Occident
79

Rudolf Kriss and Hubert Kriss-Heinrich,


im
Volksglaube
1:84, 162, 172, 223, 227, and 242. For other
(Wiesbaden,
1960-62),
see Cuffel, "Henceforth"
devotional practices involving Maryam,
(above,
n. 17); Mikel
en Espagne
de Epalza, J?sus otage: Juifs, chr?tiens et musulmans
(VIe-XVIIe
s.) (Paris,
"Itinerarium"
and M?nzer,
1987), pp. 170-99;
(above, n. 41), pp. 61-62.

pp. 89-113
(Paris, 2002),
Bereich des Islam, 2 vols.
evidence of medieval Muslim

and 203-26;

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Christian Captives

671

fromeach other,an opportunitytheytook ad


way to proclaim theirdifference
vantageof not only inwrittenpolemic but inphysicalgestures.According to a
late-fifteenth-century
chronicle,forexample,JuandeVera was sentfromCastile
in1482 as royalambassador to theNasrid courtatGranada.While lingeringin
theshadedpatios of theAlhambra he happened to overhearsomeMuslims dis
cussing"mattersof faith."Perhapsas deliberateprovocation,one said that
Mary
did not remaina virginafterChrist'sbirth.Enraged,deVera accusedhimof lying.
Then, drawinghis sword,he strucktheman on thehead.158
Exactly fortyyears
later,IgnatiusLoyola, futurefounderof theJesuits,had a similarrun-in
with a
Muslim ofAragonwho deniedMary's perpetualvirginity.
Only divine interven
tionstoppedLoyola,who had not yet tradedhis soldier'sarms fortheweapons
of religiouslife,fromstabbingthe
Muslim todeath toavengethisinsulttoMary's
honor. 159

Yet as deVera and Loyola knew,


Mary belongedtoboth IslamandChristianity.
A sharedfigure,
shecreatedthepotentialforreligiousproximity
between
Muslims
and Christians-a possibilitythatbotheredMuslim and Christian theologians
But italso was actualized in thedevotionalpracticesofmanyMuslims
alike.160
andChristiansin themedieval and early-modern
Mediterraneanworld.Members
of both faithscould be foundvenerating
Mary at shrinessuch as Tentudia in
westernCastile, Saidnaya inSyria,Trapani inSicily,on the islandofLampedusa,
and all along therouteof theflighttoEgypt-a minglingofMuslims and Chris
tiansthatin some cases continuesto thisday.161
And at Saidnaya,Trapani,Lam
pedusa, and perhapsTentudia, too,Muslims joinedChristiansinveneratingjust
thoseobjects embodied by theMuslim maidenly convertsof legend:imagesof
Mary.
Faithfulreflections
of thisfigurestandingon thebordersbetweenChristianity
and Islam,the
Muslim maidens of legendat timesshare
Mary's religioushybridity.
Critics have long remarkedon the ambiguityof Zoraida's religiousidentity
somehave evenseenheras amixtureofMuslim andChristian,a "fantasybridging
Islam and Christianity."'162
And Zahara, declaresone characterinLos bahos de
Argel, is a "cristianamora"-a ChristianMoor, aMoorish Christiandepending
158
Andr?s

del reinado de los reyes cat?licos 47, ed. Manuel


G?mez-Moreno
Bern?ldez, Memorias
Carriazo
and Juan de Mata
(Madrid, 1962), p. 123.
159
Pedro de Rivadeneira,
"Vida del padre Ignacio Loyola"
3, Biblioteca de autores espa?oles, 60:17.
160
Cuffel, "Henceforth."
161
Tentudia
Said
(thirteenth-century evidence): Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a 329,3:162-65.
naya (evidence from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries): Burchard of Strasbourg's account inArnold
SS 21:240;
of L?beck,
"Chronica," MGH
l?gende de Sa?dnaia," Analecta Bollandiana
of Saidnaya Goes West: A Re-examination

"Les premi?res versions occidentales


Paul Devos,
de la
65 (1947), 245-78;
Daniel Baraz, "The Incarnated Icon
in the Light of New Manuscript
of theMotif
Evidence,"

Le Mus?on

108 (1995), 181-91; William Dalrymple,


A Journey among the
From theHoly Mountain:
"Our Lady of Saidnaya:
Bernard Hamilton,
(New York, 1998), pp. 186-91;
of the East
An Orthodox
in The
Shrine Revered byMuslims
and Knights Templar at the Time of the Crusades,"
Christians

Studies in Church History 36


Land, Holy Lands, and Christian History, ed. R. N. Swanson,
and Lampedusa
(seventeenth- to twentieth-century
(Woodbridge, Eng., 2000), pp. 207-15.
Trapani
au
fol. 76v; Ron Barka?, "Une invocation musulmane
"The Captive of Tunis," Tratado,
evidence):
nom de J?sus et de Marie,"
Revue de l'histoire des religions 200 (1983), 264-65.
162
in Algiers, p. 219.
Garc?s, Cervantes

Holy

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672

Christian Captives

The identification
Zoraida and
on how one translatesthisoxymoronicphrase.163
Zahara feelwithMary and theirdeep devotiontoher inpart allow theirreligious
indeterminacy.

possibilityof theblur
Yet in theend,Cervantespulls back fromtheunsettling
ringof religiousboundaries betweenMuslim and Christian offeredbyMary/
Maryam. At crucialmoments in the action, both Zahara and Zoraida loudly
Justwhat makes themChristianand not
proclaim themselvesto be Christian.164
Marian
Muslim? Afterall,Cervantesnevershowseitherbeingbaptized. It is their
as Christians.
devotion thatallows thesewomen to definethemselves
Ifthevenerationof theVirginstandsforconversion,in theprocessMary herself
isclaimed forChristianityand her rolewithin Islamdenied.Although inanother
Mary's place in Islam,he does not
of his playsCervantesexplicitlyacknowledges
do so inhis storiesabout Zahara and Zoraida.165True,Zahara and Zoraida al
ways callMary "LelaMarien," thusgiving thesaint theyso love thehonorific
(lalla) she actually enjoyed amongMuslims.166But thismodest recognitionof
his storiestoeffectively
Maryam isovershadowedby theway Cervantesstructures
erase theMuslim Mary. He isnot alone in this-the talesfrom
Guadalupe about
Notre-Dame de Liesse about Ismeriedo thesame.
la buena Christianaand from
mentionMary. The
In thesestories,noMuslims other than the femaleconverts
Muslim maidens themselves
do not seemtoknow aboutMary because shebelongs
whetherfrom
to Islamictradition.Instead,each learnsabout her fromChristians,
male Christiancaptivesas in thecase of Ismerieand la buena Cbristianaor from
femaleChristianslavesas in thecase ofZahara and Zoraida.
Thus while Cervantes flirted
with thepossibilitiescreatedby theVirgin as a
he ultimately
figurestraddlingtheboundaries between Islam and Christianity,
in
was
This
final
her
for
the
the
series
of triumphs
claimed
Christianity.
perhaps
Muslim maid
overMuslims articulatedthroughhis storiesofChristiancaptives,
ens,andMary. And itsignaledan importantshiftin theway thattheVirgincould
be used as thedividinglinebetweenIslam and ChristianityinSpain. To be sure,
duringthelongcenturiesdown to 1501/2 inCastile and 1525/26 inAragon,when
Muslims livedin theseChristiankingdomswith a recognizedstatusasMudejars,
betweenMary andMaryam as a way to dis
Christianscould use thedifferences
Muslims. But justas theydid not denyMuslims a right
tinguishthemselvesfrom
Muslims could respect
to liveamongChristians,theydid not deny that
Maryam.
miracle storiesinwhichMus
Medieval SpanishChristianscould even recount
limsbenefitedfromtheVirgin'swondrous powers. In thesetales,
Muslims earned
Mary's favorby actingexactly likeChristians-praying to her in a church,ven
Pow
eratingher statue,and carryingbattlebannersadornedwith her image.167
163
Cervantes, Los ba?os de Argel, line 756, p. 109.
164
Ibid., line 419, p. 134; Cervantes, Don Quijote
1.4.41, 1:495.
165
La gran sultana do?a Catalina
in Obras
de Oviedo,
lines 1738-52,
Cervantes,
completas,
p. 1018.
166
pp. 322-23.
As?n, "La hija de Agi Morato,"
167
Muslims
329, 3:162-65
venerating the Virgin in a church: Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
in a church;
(see also the illumination to no. 165, which depicts a sultan making an offering toMary
de El Escorial MS T.I.l,
fol. 222r). Muslims
Biblioteca
venerating a statue of the Virgin: Alfonso X,
Cantigas

de Santa Mar?a

183, 2:201-2;

also

the twelfth-century Latin

version

of Benedict

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of Peter

Captives
Christian

673

erful,ifveiled,messagesof religiouscolonizationthuslurkinthesestoriestailoring
Muslim venerationofMaryam to thepatternofChristiandevotionto theVirgin.
Nonetheless, theMuslims of thesetalesdo not have to take theultimatestepof
Mar
Mary without renouncingtheirown religion.
conversion.They can venerate
maidens.
Cervantes'
unlike
into
Christians,
them
not
make
iandevotiondoes
medieval
fromtheone inwhich these
Cervanteswrote ina contextverydifferent
in
Spain
affiliations
prevailed
of religious
storiesemerged.A new configuration
and
Islam
between
and it affectedtheways thatMary servedas a boundary
therewere no moreMudejars inSpain
During Cervantes' lifetime,
Christianity.
convertedtoChristianityand theirdescen
but onlyMoriscos: Muslims forcibly
of thereligionthathad been imposed
practitioners
dants.Not alwaysenthusiastic
by theSpanish Inqui
on them,thesepeoplewere oftensubject to interrogation
While the inquisitorsstruggledtohold back thecurrentof crypto-Islam
sition.168
thattheybelievedran strongin theMoriscos, theirtribunalsalsoworked to root
out yetotherChristianswhose orthodoxywas suspect:men andwomen swept
such as Erasmus and Luther.169
up in thereligiousideasproposedby reformers
of confessionalizationthatconsumedsixteenth-century
Ifduringthefirestorm
Europe, theVirgin emergedas an iconofCatholicism,with adherentsto theold
attacks,shehad
versionofChristianitychampioningher cult against reformers'
just as largea part to play in the fightagainst thepresumed threatof crypto
Tellingly,among the litmustestsused by inquisitorsto determinethe
Islam.170
ofMoriscos accused of apostasywas preciselytheone Cer
of
degree Christianity
Marian devotion.'17Per
vantesuses to declareZoraida and Zahara Christians:
afraid
to
Moriscos
say anythingabout the
made
haps this inquisitorialstrategy
Virgin.Some authorsat any rateimaginedthatitdid.Never utterawordwhether
good or bad aboutMary lestyou fallafoul of theInquisition,oneMorisco ad

Stubbs in The Chronicle of the Reigns of Henry II


Secundi, ed. William
borough, Gesta r?gis Henrici
Muslims
Rolls Series 49/1-2
and Richard I, A.D.
1169-1192,
(London, 1867), 2:121-22.
using a
banner of the Virgin in battle: Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Mar?a
181, 2:196-97.
168
issue of theMoriscos'
For an introduction to the large bibliography on the complicated
religious
"El
in Spain, 1500-1614
Garc?a-Arenal,
(Chicago, 2005); Mercedes
beliefs, see L. P. Harvey, Muslims

Revista de estudios ?rabes 13 (1992), 491


Propuestas de discusi?n," Al-Qantara:
problema Morisco:
503. For an introduction to the equally large literature on the Spanish Inquisition, see Henry Kamen,
Revision
The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical
(New Haven, Conn., 1997).
169
Kamen, Spanish Inquisition, pp. 83-102.
170In
artists could even depict Mary brandishing a sword
thewake of the Council of Trent, Catholic

to defend the church from Protestant attack; see Ellington, From Sacred Body to Angelic Soul (above,
n. 23), p. 213. On Mary, confessionalization,
and the range of views among the Reformers about her,
in Lutheran Sermons of the
see Beth Kreitzer, Reforming Mary: Changing
Images of the Virgin Mary
Sixteenth Century (Oxford, 2004); Thomas
Freeman, "Offending God: John Foxe and English Prot
in The Church and Mary, ed. R. N. Swanson, Studies
to the Cult of the Virgin Mary,"
estant Reactions
"Marian Devotion
and
39 (Woodbridge, Eng., 2004), pp. 228-38;
Bridget Heal,
Diarmaid MacCullough,
ibid., pp. 218-227;
Identity in Sixteenth-Century Germany,"
and Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary
Protestants,"
through
ibid., pp. 191-217;
"Mary and Sixteenth-Century
the Centuries: Her Place in theHistory of Culture
1996), pp. 153-63.
(New Haven, Conn.,
171
See references below in nn. 180, 183, and 186-87.
in Church

History

Confessional

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674

Captives
Christian

monishes his familyin a fictionaldialogue composed by a SpanishFranciscanof


thelatesixteenthcentury.172
Mus
of hisworld, thereisno room forthe
In thisfriar'simaginativerendering
identified
withChristianity.
Other
limMaryam, only foraMary overwhelmingly
Mary's role in Islam
sixteenth-century
Spanish textsevenmore blatantlyeffaced
The singersofpopular ballads and the
tomake her intoamarkerofChristianity.
authorsof local historiesof theReconquest inventedtalesof heroicChristians
who veneratedtheVirginand of enragedMuslims who persecutedher as a figure
Such storiesalso came to lifein theplays ofGolden Age
alien to theirfaith.173
silencesurrounding
motherbe
This increasing
thefactthatJesus's
dramaturges.174
longedasmuch to Islam as she did toChristianitycould simplyshow ignorance
about a faithno longeropenlypracticedon theIberianPeninsula.But it isequally
likelyto reflecta desire to keep theboundariesbetween Islam and Christianity
crisp in thiserawhen thereligiousambiguityof theMoriscos threatenedto blur
them.
For theirpart,Moriscos were evidentlyaware of the increasinglytightlink
In strivingto articulatetheirown religious
betweenMary and Christianity.175
Spain, someMoriscos even
identitiesin thecomplexclimateof sixteenth-century
contributedto thisassociationbetween theVirgin and thefaithnamed afterher
Moriscos couldmakeMary intoa
son.To proclaim themselves
good Christians,
in
symbolof theirreligiousprobity,as theydid a particularlyflamboyantfashion
in late-sixteenth-century
Granada. There, someMoriscos fashionedfortheircom
munity a spectacularlygrandiose role inChristian salvationhistoryof thepast
One of theprincipalguarantorsof thishistoryrecordedin
and of the future.176
con
archaicizingArabic on lead tabletswas theVirgin,pure and immaculately
Mary had dictated
ceived,as growingnumbersofChristianbelievedher to be.177
thetextinpersonand ordereditbe translatedintoArabic.Why intoArabic? "The

172
Fer
christiana 11.23, ed. Juan Meseguer
Juan de Pineda, Di?logos
familiares de la agricultura
162:369.
de autores espa?oles,
n?ndez, Biblioteca
173
and 444-48
and 2:707
Correa Rodr?guez, Los romances frontizeros (above, n. 129), 1:407-10
in IV estudios, ed. Toro Ceballos
"Santos guerreros en La Frontera,"
and
12; Jos? Rodr?guez Molina,

(above, n. 30), pp. 456-61.


Rodr?guez Molina
174
in Comedias,
"Los hechos de Garcilaso
de la Vega y moro Tarfe,"
ed. Arroyo
Lope de Vega,
de Mesonero
"El Triunfo del Ave Maria,"
ed. Ram?n
Romanos,
(above, n. 93), 1:1-58;
Stephens
The latter play enjoyed enduring popularity; see Carrasco
Biblioteca
de autores espa?oles, 49:173-94.
de Granada
(above, n. 129), pp. 85-87.
Urgoiti, El Moro
175
see Cardaillac,
et
On the wide
among Moriscos,
range of attitudes toward Mary
Morisques
chr?tiens (above, n. 152), pp. 264-79.
176
del Sacromonte,
ed. and trans. Miguel
Los libros pl?mbeos
Jos? Hagerty
(Madrid, 1980). For
en el ocaso
see Dar?o Cabanelas,
"Intento de supervivencia
discussion,
30 (1981),
Nueva
revista de filolog?a hisp?nica
de Granada,"
pl?mbeos
Revista de estudios ?rabes 24 (2003).
the special edition of Al-Qantara:
177
in these forgeries, see T. D. Kendrick,
On the Immaculate Conception
Suzanne L. Stratton, The Immaculate
1960), pp. 86-103;
Conception

de una

cultura:

334-58;

and

St. James
in Spanish

Los

Libros

the articles

in Spain

in

(London,

Art

(Cambridge,
this period, see

For the popularity of thisMarian


doctrine in Spain during
Eng., 1994), pp. 68-69.
Estella Ruiz Galvez Prigo, "M?cula
y pureza: Maculistas,
inmaculistas, ymaculados
(Espa?a s. XV a
s. XVII),"
in Les conversos et le pouvoir en Espagne ? la fin du moyen ?ge, ed. Jeanne Battesti Pellegrin
1997), pp. 139-61.
(Aix-en-Provence,

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Captives
Christian

675

Arabs are one of themost excellentpeoples," saysMary, "and theirlanguageone


of themost excellentlanguages.God chose themto -supporthis law in the last
Here Mary assures theMoriscos' identityas bothArabs and Chris
times."'178
tians.179

ThoseMoriscos who soughtinsteadto remainconnectedwith thereligionof


Mary-but only inorder to reject
theirancestorsalsomight turnto theChristian
her and thusproclaim theirallegiance to Islam. Some of thesecrypto-Muslims
declaringthatwhileMary was a virgin,shecertainly
adheredto Islamicteachings,
of
was not themother of God.180Well schooled in theQur'anic interpretation
Moriscos tendedto come fromregionsthathad been denselypopu
Mary, these
If theywere not familiar
century.18'
latedbyMuslims until late in the fifteenth
Maryam
with theQur'an itself,theycould glean theirknowledgeof thevirginal
fromthe legendstold andwrittendown about her in aliamiado, theversionof
Spanishused byMoriscos.182
wanted
hadmuch lessknowledgeof thereligionthey
But othercrypto-Muslims
Maryam.
So
stories
about
the
with
Qur'anic
to practice.Theywere not familiar
did
they
littlein factdid theseMoriscos know aboutMaryam and so strongly
with theVirgin that, in an odd echo of Cervantes, they
associateChristianity
could denyMary's role in Islam. In theireffortsto distinguishthem
themselves
selvesfromChristians,thesemen andwomen could rejectnot onlyMary's status
By
asmotherofGod but even somethingassertedin theQur'an-her virginity.'83
Muslims from
1525 inquisitorsexpectedMoriscos to denyMary's virginity.184
Moriscos theerrorof their
North Africawho came to Spain triedto teach these
ways,with varyingsuccess.185
Perhaps theNorth Africanvisitorswere aware of even biggerdoctrinalerrors
beingmade byMoriscos. In order to feelthemselvesa part of theumma, some
understand
Mary completelyfromtheir
Moriscos tookthefinalstepof expunging

178
Libros pl?mbeos,
p. 125.
179
as Christian while guaranteeing
intents
of these forgeries was to present theMoriscos
the
Among
"El entorno de los plomos: Historiograf?a
their ethnic identity as Arabs; seeMercedes
Garc?a-Arenal,
Revista de estudios ?rabes 24 (2003), 295-325,
esp. p. 311.
y linaje," Al-Qantara:
180
et chr?tiens, p. 269; Mercedes
Garc?a-Arenal,
Inquisici?n y moriscos: Los
Cardaillac, Morisques
Los Moriscos
Mercedes
Cuenca
de
Tribunal
del
Garc?a-Arenal,
107-8;
1978),
pp.
(Madrid,
procesos
1996), p. 207.
(Granada,
181
Cardaillac, Morisques
182
aljamiadas
Leyendas

et chr?tiens, p. 279; Garc?a-Arenal,


Inquisici?n y moriscos, pp. 107-8.
sobre personajes
b?blicos, ed. Antonio Vespertino Rodr?guez
y moriscas
en la
"Las figuras de Jes?s y Mar?a
Antonio Vespertino Rodr?guez,
1988), pp. 334-36;
(Madrid,
internacional sobre literatura aljamiada ymorisca,
inActas del Coloquio
literatura aljamiado-morisca,"
On aljamiado
3 (Madrid, 1978), pp. 259-94.
de Literatura Espa?ola
Colecci?n
Aljamiado-Morisca
see Harvey, Muslims
in Spain, 1500-1614,
toMoriscos,
and the religious texts available
pp. 128-154
and 156-59.
183
et chr?tiens, pp. 270-71;
Garc?a-Arenal,
Inquisici?n ymoriscos, pp. 107
Cardaillac, Morisques
Textos para
ed. Rafael Gracia Boix, Colecci?n
de C?rdoba,
Autos
de fe y causas de la Inquisici?n
8;
4 (Cordoba,
la Historia
de C?rdoba
1983), pp. 27, 90, 143, 165, 206, and 218.
184
in Sixteenth-Century
and Difference
Deborah
Spain,"
Root,
"Speaking Christian: Orthodoxy
125.
23
(1988),
Representations
185
et chr?tiens, pp. 268-69
and 421-37;
Garc?a-Arenal,
Inquisici?n ymoris
Cardaillac, Morisques
cos, pp. 129-30.

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676

Christian Captives

ingof Islam, at least if the testimonytheyand theiraccusers gave before the


Inquisitionis to be believed. "[I] do not believe in theVirginMary, and [I] do
believe inMuhammad"; Moriscos "believe inGod but do not have theVirgin
Moors of thekingdomofGranada,who did
Mary"; Moriscos should "be likethe
not believe inGod orOur Lady"; Moriscos call "St.Mary . . . St.Xaria, which
in theirlanguagemeans 'shit' 186-those statementsand others like themcede
Mary toChristianity,
effacingher fromIslam justas effectively
as Cervantesdid
inhis storiesofMuslim maidens and Christiancaptives.
It is against thisbackdrop of theVirgin's newlycharged role in thecomplex
play of religiousidentityinCervantes' day thatthewords of Franciscode Espi
nosa, aMorisco who was hauled beforetheInquisitionin the1560s,make sense.
In his confession,Franciscoheaped scornon various aspectsof Christianity,in
cludingthebeliefthatifcaptivesheld byMuslims prayedto theVirgin,shewould
freethem.187
With thisdeclaration,Francisconot onlysoughttoalignhimself
with
Islam by denyingtheVirgin'smiraculous powers. In rejecting
Mary's abilityto
liberateChristiancaptives,thisMorisco also refusedthenarrativeof Christian
victoryoverMuslims thatso powerfully
undergirdedtheVirgin'srole intheChris
of captivity.
tianexperienceand representation
Franciscoprobablyhad not learnedof thebeliefhe so disparagedby reading
themiracles of theVirgin ofGuadalupe or any other text.It seemsmore likely
Morisco had heard storiesof theVirgin'spowers to freeprisonersfrom
thatthis
people he knew,whetherotherMoriscos who recountedthesetaleswith incre
with satisfaction.
Whatever his sources,
dulityorOld Christianswho relatedthem
Francisco's testimony
suggestsjusthow deeply rooted in thecultureof ordinary
Christianmen andwomenMary's associationwith theliberationof captiveswas
Not all of them,of course,had personal experienceof
by thesixteenthcentury.
her favor in thisdomain. But theynonethelessdid not need learnedhagiogra
phers-or literary
geniuses likeCervantes-to tell themthattheVirginwas the
in thebahos ofAlgiersor Tunis.
powerfulallyofChristianssuffering
Itmight be wise thento askwhether thesixteenthcenturyreallysignaledthe
end of themedievalMary, as some historianshave proposed.188
True, fromthe
confessionaltumultand otherradicalchangesof thesixteenthcentury,theVirgin
emerged as a figureinmany ways quite differentfromher medieval sister.
Catholic preachersincreasingly
instructed
theiraudiencesto see
Sixteenth-century
Jesus'smother as a passive figure,a model of obedience toGod, ratherthan the
But sermonscan tellonlyone
powerfulwonder-workerofmedieval tradition.189
sideof thestoryof devotion.Even in theera of theCounter-Reformation,
preach
ersdid not completelycontrol theVirgin. She lived in theheartsof her devotees

186
Autos
i estrategia

and 143; Dolors Bram?n,


de fe y causas, pp. 104,105,129,
al pa?s Valencia,
Serie "La Unitat"
d'unes discriminacions
et chr?tiens, pp. 271 and 418.
Morisques

Contra moros
62

(Valencia,

ijueus: Formado
p. 92; and

1981),

Cardaillac,
187
Francisco

says that while Christian


captives may pray and make offerings to Mary,
liberated not by her but by the ransoms they pay their captors; see Garc?a-Arenal,
Inquisici?n
cos, pp. 121 and 124.
188
Ellington, From Sacred Body to Angelic Soul.
189
Ibid., esp. pp. 188-207.

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they are
ymoris

Captives
Christian

677

Muslims,
againstthe
aswell.And thesemen andwomen knew thatinthestruggle
Mary was
of captivity,
at Lepanto or on thebattlefield
whetheron thebattlefield
on behalfofChristians,to repeatthewords used
always readytohelp, "fighting"
by one ofCervantes'contemporaries.190
of the
The weight of centuriestold themso. For itwas not thecircumstances
incaptivity,
numbersof Spaniards suffering
century-the skyrocketing
sixteenth
with theTurks,aMuslim enemymore vigorousthanGra
and theconfrontation
nada had ever been-that firstpromptedChristianmen and women to believe
Mary held out hope inwarswith theMuslims. Instead,thiswas a role forgedfor
theVirgin in thepietyof thehighMiddle Ages. Cervantes'Muslim maidens and
medieval
could nomore have existedwithout their
Christiancaptivesthemselves
his
La
Mancha
without
Don
have
ridden
off
into
Quijote
counterpartsthancould
that
of
and
liberation
many heroic predecessors.The Marian stories captivity
culminateinCervantes' charactersreveal the long fingersof theMiddle Ages
world, crumblingchronologicalbarriersthat
reachingdeep intotheearly-modern
scholarsfartoo oftentreatas solidwalls.
Memorias

del cautivo, p. 127. See above,

p. 647.

Captives
Postscript: I regret that I have not been able to integrate the findings of Jarbel Rodriguez's
as his study was
Crown of Aragon
in the Medieval
and Their Saviors
2007),
(Washington, D.C.,
published after this article was already in proof.

Amy G. Remensnyder is Associate Professor of History at Brown University (e-mail:


Amy_Remensnyder@Brown.edu).

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