La differece of being woman

Research and Teaching of History

Area: Documents

MemoriasLeonor López de Córdoba.

Catalog Number

A. Córdoba. Archivo Municipal. Perg. s. XV. (Lost).

B. Córdoba. Archivo de la Casa del Bailío. Papel. (Lost).

C. Córdoba, Archivo Municipal. Papel. (Lost).

D. Córdoba. Archivo Histórico de Viana, leg. 157, exp. 7. Paper, 5 fols. Copy from 1733. (From C).

E. Madrid. Real Academia de la Historia, sig. 9-5445, fols. 363r-373v. Paper. Before 1760. (From A).

F. Madrid. Real Academia de la Historia, sig. 9-5747, fols. 66r-81v. Paper. Second half of eighteenth century. (From A, copying E).

G. Sevilla. Institución Colombina, Ms. 59-5-31 (ant. 63-9-73), fols. 195r-203r. Paper. Copy from 1778. (From an office of the public notary of Córdoba Francisco de León).

H. Córdoba. Biblioteca Pública Provincial, Ms. 107 (1). Papel. Siglo XIX. (From E and F).

I transcribe from E, completing it with G.


José María Montoto, Reflexiones sobre un documento antiguo, “El Ateneo de Sevilla”, 16 (15th July 1875), 209-214.

Marqués de la Fuensanta del Valle, Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de España, Madrid, Imprenta de Miguel Ginesta, 1883, 33-44.

Teodomiro y Rafael Ramírez de Arellano, Colección de documentos inéditos, raros y curiosos para la historia de Córdoba, 2 volumes in 1, Córdoba, 1885, 150-164.

Adolfo de Castro, Memorias de una dama del siglo XIV y XV (de 1363 a 1412), doña Leonor López de Córdoba, “La España Moderna”, 14-163 (July 1902), 120-146.

Reynaldo Ayerbe-Chaux, Las Memorias de doña Leonor López de Córdoba, “Journal of Hispanic Philology”, 2 (1977), 11-33 (from G); y Leonor López de Còrdoba. Memorie, text, intro., notes and Italian trans. In the care of Lia Vozzo Mendia, Turín, Pratiche Editrice, 1992, 44-67, (from G).

Ramón Menéndez Pidal, Crestomatía del español medieval, II, Madrid, Gredos, 1966, 522-525 (fragments, of the eds.).

Carmen Juan Llovera, Doña Leonor López de Córdoba (1362-1430). Relato autobiográfico de una mujer cordobesa escrito hacia 1400, “Boletín de la Real Academia de Córdoba”, 117, (1989), 257-270 (fragments).

Versión a la lengua castellana actual
María-Milagros Rivera Garretas, “Egregias señoras. Nobles y burguesas que escriben”, en Anna Caballé, ed., La vida escrita por las mujeres, 1: Por mi alma os digo. De la Edad Media a la Ilustración, Barcelona, Círculo de Lectores, 2003, 33-41. (From E, completed with G).
(Into English) Amy K. Kamisky and Elaine D. Johnson, “To Restore Honor and Fortune: the Autobiography of Leonor López de Córdoba”, a Domna C. Stanton, ed., The Female Autograph, Nova York, New York Literary Forum, 1984, 70-80; Kathleen Lacey, “The Memorias of Doña Leonor López de Córdoba”, in Elizabeth A. Petroff, Medieval Women’s Visionary Literature, Nova York, Oxford University Press, 1986, 329-334. Al italiano, Lia Vozzo Mendia in Leonor López de Córdoba, Memorie, 43-67.
Leonor López de Córdoba, who between 1404 y 1412 would be the favourite of the regent Queen of Castile, narrates in her Memorias –the first autobiography known of in the Castilian language- the epidemic of plague that affected the city of Córdoba between March and June 1400, the measures that she took to avoid contagion and the death of her eldest son Juan Fernández de Hinestrosa, aged twelve.

At this time, a very cruel epidemic of plague came. And my lady did not want to leave the city; and I asked her to allow me to get away with my young children, so that they shouldn’t die. She was not happy but she gave me permission. And I left Córdoba and I went, with my children, to Santaella. And the orphan that I had brought up lived in Santaella; and I stayed in his house. And all the neighbours of the town were very happy about my arrival and received me with great celebration, because they had been servants of the lord my father; and, because of this, they gave me the best house in the place, which belonged to Fernando Alonso Mediabarba.

And, without us suspecting anything, my lady aunt came with her daughters. And I went to a small place; and her daughters, my cousins, never got on with me because their mother treated me so well. And from then on I had so many bitter experiences that they could not be written down.

And the plague arrived there. And, because of this my lady left with her people for Aguilar; and she took me with her, although it was too much for her daughters, because their mother loved me greatly and took good care of me. And I had sent to Écija that orphan that I had brought up. The night that we arrived in Aguilar, the boy came from Écija with two lumps in his throat and three patches on his face with a very high temperature. And don Alfonso Fernández, my cousin, was there, with his wife and all his household. And, although all of them were my nieces and my friends, they came to me as soon as they knew that my servant had come in this way. They said to me: Your servant Alonso has come with the plague, and, if don Alfonso Fernández sees it, he will be very astonished, him being with that disease.

And the pain that entered my heart, you who hear this story will understand me well; and that I should feel humiliated and bitter. And, realising that such a serious disease had entered that house because of me, I ordered that a servant of the lord master, my father, be called, whose name was Miguel de Santaella, and I asked him to take that boy to his house. And the unfortunate man was afraid and said: Lady, how am I going to take him with the plague, for him to kill me? And I said to him: Son, would God not want it. And he, shamed by me, took him. And, for my sins, the thirteen people who watched over him at night, all of them died.

And I said a prayer that I had heard a nun say in front of a crucifix; it seems that she has very devoted to Jesus Christ. And it is said that, alter hearing matins, she would go before a crucifix and pray on her knees seven thousand times: Merciful son of the Virgin, let mercy overcome you. And that, one night, the nun being close, and being where she was she heard that the crucifix responded to her saying: Merciful you called me, merciful I will be to you.

And I, who had much devotion to these words, prayed this prayer every night begging God to spare me and my children; or that, if he had to take any one of them, that it should be the oldest because he was already ill. And it was God’s will that, one night, I could not find anyone to watch over that sick child because all of those who had watched over him were dead. And that son of mine, who was called Juan Fernández de Hinestrosa like his grandfather, who was twelve years and four months old came to me and said: My lady, there is no one to watch over Alonso tonight. And I said to him: You watch over him, for the love of God. And he answered me: Lady, now that others have died, do you want it to kill me? And I said to him: For the charity that I give, God will have mercy on me. And my son, so as not to disobey me, went to watch over him; and for my sins, that night he caught the plague and the next day I buried him. And the sick one lived on afterwards, all those that I have said having died.

And doña Teresa, wife of don Alfonso Fernández, my cousin, got very angry because my son was dying in those circumstances in his house; and with death in his mouth, he ordered for him to be taken out of it. And I was so upset with grief that I could not speak of the humiliation that those people caused me. Then my sad son said: Tell my lady doña Teresa not to have me thrown out, that my soul will leave now for heaven. And that night he died. And he was buried in Santa María de la Coronada, which is outside of the town, because doña Teresa could not stand me, and I did not know why, and she ordered them not to bury him inside the town.

And so, when they took him to be buried, I went with him. And, when I was going through the streets with my son, people came out shrieking, moved to pity for me. And they said: Come out, men and women, and you will see the most unfortunate, defenceless and most accursed woman in the world, with cries that pierce the heavens.

And as the people of that place were all reared and trained by the Lord my father, although they knew it did not please their masters, cried greatly with me, as if I were their lady.

That night, when I returned from burying my son, they told me straight away to return to Córdoba. I went to my lady aunt to see if she was ordering me to do so. She said to me: lady niece, I cannot refrain from doing what I have promised my daughter-in-law and my daughters, because they have all agreed together; and they have tormented me so much so that I might separate you from me, that I have granted them what they want; and I do not know how you have made my daughter-in-law doña Teresa so angry, that she has such a bad opinion of you. And I said to her, with many tears: Lady, let God not save me if I have deserved it. And so I came to Cordoba, to my houses.

Original text

29. En este tiempo, vino una pestilencia mui cruel. Y mi señora no quería salir de la ciudad; e yo demandele merced fuir con mis hijuelos, que no se me muriesen. Y a ella no le plugo, mas diome licencia. Y yo partime de Córdova y fuime a Santaella con mis hijos. Y el huérfano que yo crié vivía en Santaella; y aposenteme en su casa. Y todos los vecinos de la villa se holgaron mucho de mi ida y recibiéronme con mucho agasajo porque habían sido criados de el señor mi padre; y, assí, me dieron la mejor casa que había en el lugar, que era la de Fernando Alonso Mediabarba.

30. Y, estando sin sospecha, entró mi señora tía con sus hijas. E yo aparteme a una quadra pequeña. Y sus hijas, mis primas, nunca //371 estaban bien conmigo por el bien que me hazía su madre. Y dende allí pasé tantas amarguras que no se podían escribir.

31. Y vino allí pestilencia. E assí se partió mi señora con su gente para Aguilar; y llebome consigo, aunque asaz [para sus hijas porque] su madre me quería mucho y hazía grande cuenta de mí. E yo había embiado aquel huérfano que crié a Ézija. La noche que llegamos a Aguilar, entró de Ézija el mozo con dos landres en la garganta y tres carboncos en el rostro, con mui grande calentura. Y que estava allí don Alfonso Fernández, mi primo, e su muger e toda su casa. Y, aunque todas ellas eran mis sobrinas y mis amigas, vinieron a mí, en sabiendo que mi criado venía assí. Dixéronme: Vuestro criado Alonso viene con pestilencia y, si don Alfonso Fernández lo ve, hará maravillas, estando con tal enfermedad.

32. Y el dolor que a mi corazón llegó, bien lo podéis entender quien esta historia oiere; y que yo venía corrida y // amarga. Y, en pensar que por mí había entrado tan gran dolencia en aquella casa, hize llamar un criado de el señor mi padre el maestre, que se llamaba Miguel de Santaella, e roguele que llevase aquel mozo a su casa. Y el cuitado hubo miedo y dixo: Señora ¿cómo lo llebaré con pestilencia que me mate? Y díxele: Hijo, no quiera Dios. Y él, con vergüenza de mí, llebolo. Y, por mis pecados, treze personas que de noche lo velavan, todos murieron.

33. E yo facía una oración que había oído que hazía una monja ante un cruzifijo; parece que ella era mui devota de Jesuchristo. Et dis que, después que había oído maitines, veníase ante un cruzifijo y rezaba derrodillas siete mil veces: Piadoso fijo de la Virgen, vénzate piedad. Y que una noche, estando la monja cerca, donde ella estaba que oyó cómo le respondió el cruzifixo e dixo: Piadoso me llamaste, piadoso te seré.

34. E yo, habiendo grande devoción con estas palabras, rezaba cada noche esta oración rogando a Dios me quisiese //372 librar a mí y a mis fijos; o, si alguno hobiese de llevar, llevase el mayor porque era mui doliente. E plogo a Dios que una noche no fallaba quien velase aquel mozo doliente porque habían muerto todos los que hasta entonces le habían velado. E vino a mí aquel mi fijo, que le decían Juan Fernández de Henestrosa como su abuelo, que era de edad de doze años y quatro meses, y díxome: Señora, no hay quien vele a Alonso esta noche. E dígele: Veladlo vos, por amor de Dios. Y respondiome: Señora, agora que han muerto otros ¿queréis que me mate a mí? E yo dígele: Por la charidad que yo lo hago, Dios habrá piedad de mí. Y mi hijo, por no salir de mi mandato, lo fue a velar; e, por mis pecados, aquella noche le dio la pestilencia, y otro día le enterré. Y el enfermo vivió después, habiendo muerto todos los dichos.

35. E doña Theresa, muger de don Alfonso Fernández, mi primo, hubo mui gran enojo porque moría mi hijo por tal ocación en su casa; y, la muerte en la voca, lo mandava sa-//car de ella. E yo estaba tan traspasada de pesar que no podía hablar de el corrimiento que aquellos señores me hazían. Y el triste de mi fijo decía: Decid a mi señora doña Theresa que no me haga echar, que agora saldrá mi ánima para el cielo. Y esa noche falleció. Y se enterró en Santa María la Coronada, [que es] fuera de la villa, [porque doña Theresa me tenía mala intención, y no sabía por qué, y mandó que no lo soterrasen dentro de la villa].

36. Y assí, quando lo llebaban a enterrar, fui yo con él. Y quando iba por las calles con mi hijo, las gentes salían dando alaridos, amancilladas de mí. Y decían: Salid, señores, y veréis la más desventurada, desamparada e más maldita muger de el mundo, con los gritos que los cielos traspasaban. E como los de aquel lugar, todos eran crianza y hechura de el señor mi padre, aunque sabían que les pesaba a sus señores, hizieron grande llanto conmigo, como si fuera su señora.

37. Esta noche, como vine de soterrar a mi hijo, luego me digeron que me viniese a Córdova. Y yo llegué a mi señora tía, por ver si me lo mandaba ella. Ella me //373 dixo: Sobrina señora, no puedo dexar de hazer lo que a mi nuera y a mis fijas he prometido, porque son hechas en uno; y en tanto me han aflixido [que os] parta de mí que se lo hobe otorgado, y es lo no sé qué enojo hecistes a mi nuera doña Theresa que tan mala intención hos tiene. E yo le dige con muchas lágrimas: Señora, Dios no me salve si merecí por qué. Y assí víneme a mis casas a Córdova.

© 2004-2008 Duoda, Women Research Center. University of Barcelona. All rights reserved. Credits. Legal note.

Related Essays
  1. 1. Life and Non-life: Plagues and Slaughter, María-Milagros Rivera Garretas.