Saturday, March 17, 2012
Catalina de Erauso
When she was taken to a convent at the age of four in 1596, it was assumed that Catalina de Erauso would lead a quiet life of religious contemplation, but after she was beaten there at the age of fifteen, de Erauso (who had never even seen a street up to this point), left the convent and leapt unapologetically into the rest of her life as an in-your-face woman. Using names like Francisco de Loyola and Alonso Diaz Ramirez de Guzman, she traveled back and forth across the ocean at will, enlisting here and there as a soldier and nearly dying of her wounds on at least one occasion in New Spain, on the west coast of what is now South America.
Tall, handsome, talkative and typically carrying a sword, de Erauso became so famous for her in-your-faceness that even after it became public knowledge that she was a woman, Pope Urban VIII gave her a special dispensation to wear the men's clothing that she insisted on wearing in any case. She spent the last years of her life as a mule driver on the road to Veracruz using the name Antonio de Erauso. Maybe she needed so many names because one name just wouldn't have done justice to someone with as big a personality as de Erauso apparently had.