minientrada La Latina, a wise woman in the Renaissance

Today I would like to introduce you to an unknown female personality figure in the history of the European Renaissance and the Kingdoms of those times.  Maybe you think this post is only a Salamanca-based article about the influence of a woman in Spain, but to be honest it is most likely to be relevant in the entire continent. And yes, it all started in the little Estudio Salmantino founded in 1218.  Unbelievable though it may seem, the University of Salamanca is the third oldest one in the world that is still operating, along with Paris and Bologna. Should not we be proud to study in such a historical environment in the northwest of Spain? Also, throughout 2018 the VIII centenary will be celebrated to pay tribute to such an endless contribution to knowledge, language, art, religion and culture.

Given these circumstances, we encourage all the incoming international students and history lovers to expand their knowledge of the period of the Renaissance by accompanying us on this blog.  It might not be our area of expertise but the need for recognizing what Beatriz Galindo meant leave us no choice but to do so.

Let’s get started!

Beatriz Galindo was born in Salamanca around 1465 in La Latina Street, 11. Actually, nowadays it is called as such because of her. It is one of the coziest areas in town. The little street, now full of bars and two floors buildings, keeps a marvellous atmosphere that invites you to stay and grab a drink with a delicious tapa. The place is pretty much close to the two biggest University libraries in Salamanca: Libreros and Abraham Zacut. The first one is where the “printing house” was located at the end of the XV century, introduced, by the way, by Antonio Nebrija, the writer of the first Spanish Grammar (out of any Romance language).

We cannot tell much about the life of Beatriz Galindo in Salamanca given that she was bounded to attend, only aged 16, to the Court of Isabel the Catholic. Isabel was the queen of Castile, married to Ferdinand of Aragon, the king. This is probably the tipping point of her influence in Europe.

Remembered as “a wise woman” and “the shadow of power”, Beatriz Galindo developed an extraordinary mastery of Latin with only 15 years old. In the late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance, Latin was the international language so speaking it was a necessary condition in order to immerse in the culture of the time.  Perhaps it was not very difficult for her to learn it as she lived in the glorious University of Salamanca, described as the core of the Spanish Renaissance. Having taught grammar classes, she was able to hold, say, “a translator position” because in the future, she would become a skilled interpreter and a teacher. Surprisingly, the initial destiny of such an intelligent girl, Beatriz, was to live in a convent. But thanks to the purpose of Isabel to learn Latin with her help and also to serve as a preceptor of her four daughters, she made a great impact in the whole world. Where did she get the inspiration of Latin?

Well, for example, we have found a book that supports the idea of Beatriz basing her studies on Aristotle and his book titled “Commentarii in Ethicorum”. The University of Salamanca keeps safely this gem.

But what about the Queen she worked for? Was Isabel looking for a similar enriched person?

One month ago I went to Madrigal de las Altas Torres, the place where Isabel of Castile was born. It is 1 hour away from Salamanca, in the province of Ávila.  When Isabel’s only son, Juan, passed away, the throne of Castile and Aragon passed to the first of their daughters: Isabel. She married to the King of Portugal and delivered a little “Miguel de la Paz”, whose destiny was very unfortunate too.

The throne finally ended up in the beautiful Joanna, called by the conventional wisdom as “Joanna The Mad”. This was the woman who married to “Philip the Handsome” in Flanders and turned out to be the mother of six later queens and kings in the Europe of the XVI Century; one of them was Charles I of Spain and V of Germany.

The latter daughters taught by Beatriz were María and Catalina (yes, the famous and intelligent Katherine of Aragon, queen of England).

There have appeared multiple documents which state that Katherine of Aragon was defined as the most clever woman by then. The truth is, actually, that the daughters of Isabel were all highly appreciated by all the European Kingdoms. A big reason was undoubtedly the role of Beatriz Galindo in their upbringing.

She taught them Latin, dancing skills, chess strategies, knowledge of history and religion.  She then married to Francisco Ramírez de Madrid, a very important commander of the Catholic Kings who fought against the muslims and in the war against Portugal as well.

In Salamanca there is also a famous bookshop in Calle Brocense (Brocense Street), “La Latina”. Some cultural aspects of the culture of Salamanca are based in there so I really recommend going to know more about the legacy of such important individuals as Beatriz.

In Madrid, one of the districts is called “La Latina” because she lived in there after his husband died. Also, there is even a high school with its name in the District of Salamanca in town. In the capital of Spain she founded the Hospital of the poor people whose help and dedication contributed hugely.

She died at the age of 70 in Madrid, 30 years after Isabel the Catholic did. Her sarcophagus is located at the Municipal Museum of Madrid.

Unfortunately, the information and biography of Beatriz Galindo is still blurred. During the Spanish Civil War, most of the documents regarding her life disappeared or were burned in Madrid. However, this post is built on relevant literature and online material (see the 3 bullet points) and can help develop further on topic:

What can you tell us about Beatriz? Leave us a comment!

Este artículo ha sido traducido al español.