Mary in Hispanic Literatures.

TWOMEY, Lesley, “Mary in Hispanic Literatures”, en Oxford Handbook of Mary, ed. Chris Maunder, Oxford: University Press, 2020, pp. 364-88.


Mary is one of the best-loved subjects in Spain’s medieval literature. She supports Reconquest battles, shores up Christian hierarchies, and marks newly conquered territory with churches and monasteries dedicated to her. Individual authors have been studied. Gonzalo de Berceo’s (c.1197-c.1264) and Ambrosio Montesino’s lyrics have been compared (Boreland 198ure has still to be written 3b) and essays on miracle literature cover the whole medieval period (Conde and Gatland 2011) Historical aspects of Mary’s cult, aiming to show continuities between peninsular and transatlantic tradition, include some literary works (Remensnyder 2014). Devotion to Mary and Christ at the Passion, addressing Spain’s three cultures has been studied (Robinson 2013). There are few comparative studies covering the entire medieval period. A study of Spain’s Marian literatures has still to be written and this chapter is the first step.

After the thirteenth century, with a few exceptions, Marian poems, prose or dramatizations of the Christmas or Passion cycles are scarce until the fifteenth century. Drama and songs for the Christmas and Easter cycles parallel the increasing popularity of the lives of Christ and of Mary. Mary’s sorrows match rising interest in her lament and in the Passion in Spain’s kingdoms, until, by the sixteenth century, her suffering becomes a parallel to Christ’s (Boon 2007). The silent centuries between Mary’s lament of the thriteenth century and the late fifteenth-century laments, nevertheless, remains one of the enduring mysteries of Castilian medieval literature.

Marian lyric in the Cancionero de Baena: Devotional Words for an english Queen.

TWOMEY, Lesley K., «Marian lyric in the Cancionero de Baena: Devotional Words for an english Queen», Romance Notes, 61-2, 2021, pp. 205-216. ISSN: 0035-7995.


This article considers the unique inclusion of words in Middle English, purportedly spoken by Catherine of Lancaster in a “dezir” or propagandistic poem by Francisco Imperial, collected in the Cancionero de Baena. It then examines the use of Latin hymn and liturgical texts in the two introductory “cantigas” by Alfonso Álvarez de Villasandino. Catherine’s call to the virgin in the words  of the Salve, Regina is  replicated in the  second  of the  cantigas, whilst the  first relies on the most  frequently  found Marian hymns  for its choices of Latin verses. The article shows that although bilingualism was common in Castile, it was not common in Marian lyric. It proposes that Catherine’s well-known devotion to the virgin may have inspired Villasandino but almost certainly inspired Juan Alfonso de Baena’s choice of these two cantigas for his compilation presented to Juan II, her son.

Catherine of Lancaster’s devotion to Mary and the Influence of Middle English Annunciation Verse.

TWOMEY, Lesley K., «Catherine of Lancaster’s devotion to Mary and the Influence of Middle English Annunciation Verse», en Antonio Chas Aguión, ed., Corte y poesía en tiempos de los primeros Trastámara castellanos: lecturas y relecturas, Berlín, Peter Lang, pp. 91-113. ISBN: 978-3-631-88241-2.


This chapter examines the devotion to the Annunciation of John of Gaunt, Catherine’s father both through his membership of the Brotherhood of the Annunciation and through his donations to and founding of institutions named for Our Lady. It will also compare the relative importance of the feast of the Annunciation in both England and Castile. In the second part of the chapter the rich offering of Middle English Annunciation poetry (with its long history from Anglo-Saxon times) will open to a study of the presence of the Annunciation in the Cancionero de Baena, and its main genres: Biblical rendering of the Annunciation in vernacular lyric, the Annunciation as the first of the Virgin’s joys, rural settings in the Annunciation, and macaronic verse. It will also compare these themes to the same ones in Castilian and Galician verse prior to Baena’s compilation. Among its conclusions it proposes that influence of the poetry from the same period could have contributed to structuring the Cancionero de Baena, given Catherine’s family interest in the Annunciation.