1 Sebastián de Covarrubias, Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española (1611),
facsimile ed., ed. Martín de Riquer (Barcelona: Editorial Alta Fulla,
1943), 818.Translation mine.Clarification may be helpful concerning the
use I make throughout this book of Covarrubias’s Tesoro, a text that has
become a kind of touchstone for studies of early modern Spain. I read
Covarrubias’s definitions here and elsewhere in this work not as a trans-
parent window or privileged lens into early modern Spanish culture (the
Tesoro is as politically and ideologically charged as any other text) but
as a useful index of that culture and society, in spite of (if not perhaps
because of ) its being as compromised and as problematic as any other
founding text of early modern European culture.
2 I explore that critique here in particular relation to limpieza de sangre
statutes, but the argument could be more broadly made. The criticism
of honor that the play encodes could be considered in relation to the
continuation of war in the Netherlands, for example—a war with high
human and material costs, fought largely in the name of honor, and one
that Philip IV refused to abandon until an honorable peace treaty (‘‘paz
con honor’’) could be negotiated.
3 Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990), 118. Laqueur writes: ‘‘The
images through which bodies and pleasures were understood in the Re-
naissance are less a reflection of a particular level of scientific under-
standing, or even of a particular philosophic orientation, than they are
the expression of a whole fabric or field of knowledge. Myriad discourses
echo through the body.’’ Laqueur’s reading of the social, cultural, and
even aesthetic constructedness of anatomy has been important for the
sort of reading of thewife’s body I undertake here: ‘‘Anatomy, and nature
as we know it more generally, is obviously not pure fact, unadulterated
by thought or convention, but rather a richly complicated construction
based not only on observation, and on a variety of social and cultural
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