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International Seminar: The Education of a Christian Woman (1523) in the Construction of the Image of Female Power of Queen Mary I of England (1553-1558)

Arte, Poder y Género Research Group / MEFER Project / Instituto Cervantes London / British Spanish Society / University College London

Organisation: Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón.
Coordination: Laura Martínez Cayado.
Dates: 24-25 January 2023.
Format: Hybrid (In person/Zoom).
24 January: Instituto Cervantes (15-19 Devereux Ct, Temple, London) & 25 January: University College London (Common Ground, South Wing).
Registration: Free/Required. Please send an email to artepoderygenero@um.es

Anthonis Mor, Mary Tudor, Queen of England, 1554.
© Museo Nacional del Prado

This international seminar celebrates the 500-year anniversary of the first publication of The Education of a Christian Woman. It will focus on its patron, author, and dedicatee. It will address its impact on the construction of the image of female power in Tudor England. In 1523 De institutione feminae Christianae, the book’s first title, was published. The author was Spanish Humanist Juan Luis Vives (1493-1540) who at the time was also a Lecturer at Corpus Christi College in Oxford. The book was commissioned by his ‘only patron’, the Queen of England, Catherine of Spain, commonly known as Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). It was written in Latin, the language of the New Learning movement it belongs to, and it focused on the three stages in which Vives divided a woman’s life: as a maiden, as a married woman and a matron, and as a widow. It was dedicated to Princess Mary Tudor future Queen Mary I (1516-1558). It was part
of a wider curriculum that Queen Catherine designed for her daughter’s formal training as first ‘heiress apparent’ to receive a formal Renaissance education in England. The book was an instant success throughout Europe with many reprints, and it became the most influential work of its kind in the Modern Age. The Education of a Christian Woman had an impact in the way that Queen Mary I constructed her image of power as the first Queen Regnant in English history. Despite this, Queen Catherine’s role as intellectual and financial patron is often overlooked and the connections between the manual and Mary I’s trailblazing propaganda as the first woman to be educated to rule
have yet to be explored.

This international seminar will focus both on visual arts and documentary evidence that deal with this important void in queenship historiography. Leading specialists in several fields will address topics like the Christian education of the daughters of Queen Isabella of Castile and the ties between the Spanish alliance and the construction of the image of female power in Tudor portraiture. Other important subjects will speak to Queen Mary I’s use of female recourses present in Vives’ work in the representations of the monarch as Queen Regnant, as ‘Mother of England’, and as married woman and queen consort of King Philip of Habsburg (1527-1598). Other experts will talk about Mary I’s role as first woman to exercise power and how this was translated after her reign. Another crucial topic that will be discussed is the growing historiographical trend that is brining into the light Mary I’s outstanding contributions in female rulership in Renaissance Europe.

24 January
Location: Instituto Cervantes. 15-19 Devereux Ct, Temple, London
5.00 pm – 5.45 pm
Acto inauguraL – Víctor Ugarte, Instituto Cervantes London. José Pascual Marco, Ambassador of Spain to the United Kingdom. Alexander Samson, University College London. Noelia García Pérez, University of Murcia.
5.45 pm – 6.15pm
Las mujeres cristianas en los intercambios de retratos entre la Monarquía Hispánica y la dinastía Tudor – Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón, Independent Scholar.
6.15 pm – 7.00 pm
Mary I & the Art of Queenship – Peter Stiffell, University of Kent.
7.00 pm – 8.00 pm. Roundtable
Educating the Eye: Gender, Power, and Representation in the Visual Arts in the Reign of Mary I – Karen Hearn, University College London. Johanna Strong, University of Winchester. Aoife Stables, Independent Scholar. Patricia Manzano Rodríguez. Durham University. Irini Picolou, Durham University.
8.00 pm – 8.30 pm. Vino español
25 January
Location: Common Ground, South Wing, University College London
9.30 am – 10.15 am
Before Vives. The Christian Education of the Daughters of Queen Isabella of Castile – Melania Soler Moratón, University of Murcia / University of Valladolid.
10.15 am – 11.00 am
Juan Luis Vives’ ‘Patronae Unicae’: Queen Catherine of Aragon and the Construction of the Image of Female Power in Tudor England – Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón, Independent scholar.
11.00 am – 11.45 am
Early Modern Women and the Archive – Alexander Samson, University College London.
11.45 pm – 1.45 pm. Lunch
1.45 pm – 2.30 pm
The Continued Instruction of Christian Women: Reprints of Vives – Valerie Schutte, Independent Scholar.
2.30 pm – 3.15 pm
The Power of Networks and The Networks of Power: The Development and Cultivation of Female Friendship by Mary I, for both Personal Solace, and Political Capital – Melita Thomas. University College London.
3.15 pm – 3.30 pm. Coffee break
3.30 pm – 4.30 pm. Roundtable
‘The Education of a Christian Woman’ in the Context of Queenly Education – Elena Woodacre, University of Winchester.
Alexander Samson, University College London. Valerie Schutte, Independent scholar.
Melita Thomas, University College London. Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón, Independent

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