Catalina de Erauso, Nature, and Gender in Montalbán’s The Lieutenant Nun
Edward “Mac” Test, Boise State University
The memoir The Lieutenant Nun(La Monja Alférez) tells the story of Catalina de Erauso escaping a nunnery, cutting her hair, dressing as a man, and setting sail as a conquistador. After 17 years of gambling and brawling her way through the wars with Amerindians in Chile and Peru, Erauso returned to Spain as a Lieutenant and received from the king not only a pension but also permission to remain cross-dressed. This paper will examine Catalina’s depictions of “nature” in the memoir and Peréz de Montalbán’s similarly titled play in light of 17th century conceptions of natural law. Catalina’s cross-dressing, it argues, echoes European concepts of the relationship between gender and natural law as well as the “nature” of Amerindians.