The love of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz to the viceroy

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Although for many it has been a traditional love relationship, the love between Sor Juana Ines and Maria Luisa could not be reciprocated.

Juana Inés de Asbaje and Ramírez de Santillana , later known as Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz , is the clear example of the desire to find a space for oneself and to devote oneself to study and to letters, and not to the traditional life of the women of the XVII century.

Considered as a child prodigy and of singular talent, Juana de Asbaje was born between 1648 and 1651 in San Miguel Nepantla (State of Mexico). Thanks to the education he received secretly, he learned to read and write at age three.

His love for books and letters comes after he found his grandfather’s library at the hacienda of Panoaya, where he read the Greek and Roman classics.

Juana Ines entered the court of the viceroys at a young age. / Image: Seprin

Between the court and the convent

Thanks to his knowledge, Juana Ines entered the court of Viceroy Antonio Sebastián de Toledo at a young age. There he met the viceroy Leonor Carreto , who became his patron – a powerful person who protects artists so they can develop their works.

In the court there were gatherings – gatherings of people – attended by theologians, philosophers, humanists, mathematicians, among many others, which allowed the young woman to develop her intellect and her literary abilities.

Father Núñez de Miranda , confessor of the viceroys, proposed to enter a religious order before his disinterest in marrying.

Juana Ines entered the convent of the Discalced Carmelite in August 1667. However, due to the rigidity of the rules and with deteriorating health, she abandoned it three months after her admission.

Finally, in February of 1669 he arrived at the convent of San Jerónimo taking vows like Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. In this place he spent the rest of his life. There he was allowed to continue his studies, write and celebrate gatherings.

The close friendship between the viceroy Leonor and “the beloved of the viceroy” – as it was known to Sor Juana – continued until 1674, when the viceroys were relieved of their office and Leonor Carreto died on the way to the port of Veracruz.

The new viceroys

In order to receive the new viceroys, Sor Juana was entrusted with the elaboration of the triumphal arch, for which her allegorical Neptune wrote . Impressed by the work, the new viceroys offered their protection, especially Maria Luisa Manrique de Lara, Countess de Paredes, who would become very close to the nun .

Several of the poems made are directed to the viceroys of New Spain. In addition, he wrote several sacred and profane verses, autos sacramentales -among which the Divine Narcissus , The Scepter of Joseph and The Martyr of the Sacrament stand out- , as well as two comedies.

The series of Channel 11 “Juana Ines”, approaches the sentimental relation between the nun and the viceroy. / Photo: Pinterest

Sor Juana Ines and “Lisi”

According to the historian and poet Sergio Téllez-Pon , several investigations suggest that the relationship between the poet and the viceroy went beyond the “palace incense”.

More than 50 poems were written for the viceroy María Luisa, whom Sor Juana named “Lisi” . An example of this is the sonnet I adore Lisi :

I love Lisi, but I do not intend 
Lisi to correspond with my finesse; 
for if I judge its beauty, 
its decorum and my apprehension possible.

Through these words, Sor Juana makes it clear that she loves the monarch, it does not matter if she is reciprocated or not, but she expresses her feelings and, above all, knows that this love can not transcend, since Sor Juana must respect her vows of chastity, and the hierarchy of the viceroy would forbid any relationship with a commoner.

Téllez-Pon affirms that the relationship between Sor Juana and María Luisa would be very similar to the term “sapiosexual” , very used nowadays. He explains that the love between women was purely intellectual, without reaching “carnal” infatuation .

Bruno Chávez , in charge of Special Projects of the Memory and Tolerance Museum , clarified in an exclusive interview with Homosensual , that the convent life did not allow the nuns to go abroad. However, the influence of the viceroy allowed Sor Juana to appear in court , as well as visiting and having a library to continue with her studies and the writing of poems.

Chávez highlights the differences between the poetry that Sor Juana dedicated to men and the poetry dedicated to María Luisa -because she rejects the love that men can profess-, but accepts the deep love she can have for a woman, in this case a the virreina .

An example of this is the following verse against men:

The ungrateful one leaves me, I am looking for a lover; 
to which the lover follows me, I leave ungrateful; 
I constantly adore whom my love abuses; 
abuse to whom my love seeks constant.

Remember that the term “lesbian” did not exist in the seventeenth century, so that society could not suspect some romance among women.

Death of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

An epidemic broke out in 1695 in New Spain, affecting much of the capital of the territory. The convent of San Jerónimo was seriously affected, as several nuns died as a result of the disease .

Sor Juana died on April 17 of that same year when she contracted typhus, after helping several convent companions with the same problem.

Thanks to the viceroy, a large part of Sor Juana’s work was published in Spain and gained worldwide fame.

The love between Sor Juana and María Luisa was an example of an intense but chaste relationship.

Source: El País , Cultura Colectiva , El Siglo de Torreón and Vanidades .

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