History The Ensign Nun: Lesbian, Transsexual or Non-Binary?

Catalina de Erauso did not like labels

History The Ensign Nun: Lesbian, Transsexual or Non-Binary?

Catalina de Erauso did not like labels. This concept that seems so modern could already be found in characters from the Golden Age like her. Thus, Catalina is, according to some, a lesbian. For others, she is transsexual. Maybe she is a non-binary person. She was a nun, she posed as a man and fell in love [or not] with women. She went to the Americas and her story is so fascinating that she is one of the most revisited historical figures. Even the date of her birth is elusive. In his memoirs he states that he was born in San Sebastián in 1585, but his baptismal certificate from the San Vicente parish of San Vicente places it in 1592. An original book has now been published that tells the anecdotes of his life and at the same time makes the character a daring interview.

In Give Me Another Ensign Nun (Ed. Somos Libros) Maite Pizarro and Purificación Beltrán erase the space and time that separate the Ensign Nun from us to sit in front of her. "This character is absolutely fascinating for many reasons. She is a lady who has heads and tails. She was a nun but also a murderer, a gambler... She is a very controversial character. She has done so many things in her life that she was not a victim, He was also an executioner. For those who like morals, this figure is very slippery because you always want to pigeonhole a person into a spectrum but she was an angel and a demon. How she spent it," Purificación Beltrán, journalist and co-author of Dadme Another Ensign Nun.

Catalina de Erauso fled at the age of 15 from the convent where her parents had placed her when she was four. She cut her hair and had her breasts removed, as she confessed to the traveler Pietro Della Valle. "Since she was a girl she told me that she had done I don't know what remedy to get them out and make them look as flat as they were: which was a plaster that an Italian gave her, which when she put it on caused her great pain; but afterwards it did her no harm, no harm." treatment had its effect.

In her personal anecdote, in which there is surely also some apocryphal episode, the ensign nun is portrayed as a quarrelsome person, with a great tendency to get into fights and who did not tremble when it came to ending someone's life. She was very fond (almost obsessed) of playing cards, most of the brawls she got into were for this reason. She ran her sword through another ensign because during a game she told him that she "lied like a cuckold."

Catalina enlisted in the fleet that left for America. In the book it is said that on one of the expeditions that went from Potosí to another region, Catalina and his companions were attacked. Revenge was not long in coming. "We returned to them with such courage and wreaked such havoc that a stream of blood ran down the square like a river, and we followed them and killed them until we crossed the river." Catalina and the rest of the soldiers killed ten thousand men.

The ensign nun worked under the orders of Miguel, her brother, a renowned soldier whom she killed -unintentionally- in the heat of a battle. He valued Catalina's exploits and even wanted her to be promoted to captain. The latter could not be carried out because she had been asked to hand over the Mapuche leader Quispiguaucha alive and she decided that it was better to hang him.

As for her love life, Catalina was with women and even saved an adulteress from being murdered by her husband. They said that she never bathed - perhaps to avoid being discovered - and she frequently lived in prisons and convents. When she fled to avoid being captured, she always found refuge in some convent where she camouflaged herself until the storm passed or she even managed to save her skin. On the verge of being executed, she asked Bishop Agustín de Carvajal for clemency, to whom she confessed that she was actually a woman. The bishop "ordered her to be examined" and indeed the midwives certified that she was a virgin woman (virgin?). Once again, Catalina managed to save herself from it. The bishop allowed her to return to Spain where she had an audience with Philip IV to whom she recounted her life through the autobiography she had written about her. Precisely by recounting her little battles, he managed to get the king to grant him a pension for life. She later traveled to Rome and got her way again thanks to her faith.

He met with Pope Urban VIII and gave him a summary of his career. He fell into the favor of the Pontiff, who allowed him to use the name Antonio de Erauso and dress like a man. Some received it as a scandal and others fought to meet her. Becoming what we would call a celebrity today, she returned to America. She worked as a mule driver and used the masculine name that the Pope had allowed her to use.

Thanks to his chameleon-like virtue, he lived as he wanted and broke down all barriers. In San Sebastián there is a bust of her in the garden surroundings of the Miramar Palace, where he continues to camouflage himself from her to continue getting his way.