Beatriz Galindo

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Biography of Beatriz Galindo, Spanish writer, known above all for her fame as a cultured woman, teacher of Latin and grammar of Queen Isabel la Católica.

Due to her fame as a humanist, concerned with letters, and a deep connoisseur of the Latin language, she was known by the nickname “La Latina“.

Family and early years of Beatriz Galindo

Beatriz Galindo was born in Salamanca in the year 1465. Her parents were noblemen, they had been wealthy, but they had fallen short.

Salamanca is known for its ornamental, sandstone architecture. Credit: Wikipedia

Salamanca was founded in the 12th century and was a key intellectual center in the 15th and 16th centuries.

From her earliest childhood, Beatriz Galindo stood out for her intelligence and love of reading. This led her parents to allow her to receive grammar classes at one of the academies of the University of Salamanca.

Very soon she showed great interest in Latin. At the age of fifteen, in addition to reading the classical texts, she spoke and wrote Latin with great accuracy and fluency.

She was also fluent in Greek. She especially enjoyed reading and commenting on the writings of Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher.

Beatriz Galindo was part of a small group of women educated from childhood in the classical languages, Latin and Greek. These exceptional young women were instructed with all the knowledge of humanism, with the exception of rhetoric, which was supposed to be characteristic of men, since it prepared them for politics.

Among these women were Luisa Medrano (1484-1527), first professor at the University of Salamanca; Francisca Nebrija, daughter of Antonio de Nebrija, who collaborated with her father in Castilian Grammar and succeeded him in the chair of rhetoric at the University of Alcalá de Henares.

Beatriz Galindo studied at the University of Salamanca

Not everything was a bed of roses for Beatriz Galindo in college. It was not normal for a young woman to attend classes together with the other students.

It is enough to recall only three cases of extraordinary women who, even much later, had to suffer discrimination:

The Russian mathematician Sofía Kovalevskaya (1850), the German mathematician Emmy Noether (1882) and the Spanish astronomer Antonia Ferrín (1914).

The amount of difficulties that Beatriz Galindo encountered are difficult to imagine in the 21st century; She was only able to overcome them thanks to her exceptional qualities and the admiration she aroused in those who knew her.

The fame of the intelligence and culture of Beatriz Galindo spread first through Salamanca and later throughout the kingdom. In her environment, she began to be known as “la Latina”.

Beatriz Galindo was called to the Court of the Catholic Monarchs

When she turned 21, in 1486, her family was resigned to admitting her to a convent as a nun, as was the custom.

As luck would have her, Queen Isabel of Castile (35 years old) was eager to learn Latin. Having learned about this talented and cheerful young woman, she decided to call her to court to be her teacher.

Isabel la Católica children
Canvas by the painter Isidoro Santos, who represents Isabel la Católica while she observes the classes her children receive. It is kept in the Prado Museum

The queen also wanted to entrust Beatriz Galindo with the work of being the tutor of her children: Isabel (1470), Juan (1478) and Juana (1479). Their fourth daughter, Catalina, had been born in 1485.

The young Beatriz Galindo became part of the new nobility that was to surround the Catholic Monarchs. This group supported Isabel de Castilla from the beginning.

Her presence at the Court was not limited solely to her work as a tutor. The queen held the advice and opinions of the young teacher in high regard. Beatriz Galindo had a long friendship with Queen Isabel, whom she served faithfully.

Five queens were disciples of Beatriz Galindo: Queen Isabel I herself and her four daughters: Juana, Queen of Castile; Catherine, queen of England, and Isabel and Maria, both queens of Portugal.

Beatriz Galindo married Francisco Ramírez

Born in Madrid, Francisco Ramírez was from a family of not very wealthy hidalgos. He had first married Isabel de Oviedo, from whom he had several children.

From the first moment, Ramírez was faithful to the Queen. In 1476 he had participated with 100 horsemen in the Battle of Toro. This triumph was decisive for Isabel to win the throne of Castile. The Queen awarded him the appointment of “mayor” of the Alcázares of Seville.

Francisco Ramírez’s participation in the siege of Malaga was highly appreciated, where, thanks to the use of artillery, the surrender of the city was anticipated.

Ramírez was knighted; In December 1487, the Catholic Monarchs granted him the appointment of Secretary of the King’s Council in Madrid.

In the war in Granada, Francisco Ramírez, had a decisive intervention as captain of artillery.

In 1491, Queen Isabel decided to remarry him with Beatriz Galindo. Beatriz Galindo received 500,000 maravedís as a wedding gift from Queen Isabel, who was not willing to allow Beatriz to leave the Court.

Francisco Ramírez and Beatriz Galindo, had two children: Fernando and Nuflo.

Beatriz’s first-born son was sponsored by Fernando the Catholic, on whom he imposed his name, and was the page of Prince Don Juan.

Her other son was named Nuflo because her father was very devoted to this saint, who had saved his life on occasion in the fight with the Muslims from Granada.

Isabel, Queen of Castile, had surrounded herself with women who could collaborate in her humanistic project, to adapt Spanish society to the political and social principles that were advocated in the Renaissance.

Among these cultured and intelligent women were: María Pacheco, wife of the hidalgo Juan de Padilla (community member); Ana Cervatón, maid of honor of Queen Germana de Foix (married to Ferdinand the Catholic, after the death of Queen Elizabeth); Juana Contreras, Ángela Carlet and Isabel Vergara.

Beatriz Galindo stood out not only for her greater intelligence, knowledge of Latin and the writings of Aristotle, but above all as a promoter of charitable-religious foundations in Madrid.

Although, after her marriage, Beatriz was most of the time at Court, on some occasions she had to reside in Madrid, since her husband was the ruler of this town and had to take care of the interests that he had there.

Beatriz Galindo and Francisco Ramírez decided to found a charity hospital and two nunneries in Madrid.

The creation of these convents was a necessity for those young noblewomen who could not find marriage or who were looking for a place where they could develop their intellectual aptitudes, which they were not allowed because they were women.

Such was the case of Saint Teresa de Jesús (1525) in Spain; or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648), in Mexico.

La Latina Hospital Foundation

In 1499, Francisco Ramírez and Beatriz Galindo had a hospital built, near the Plaza de La Cebada, in Madrid.

This hospital had to attend to a dozen men (secular and religious), assisted by five women over forty, duly selected.

Facade of the Hospital de la Latina. Credit: Wikipedia. Photograph of Charles Clifford in the mid-19th century

The La Latina hospital was operating until 1899. It was demolished in 1904, in order to widen Toledo Street. Part of the site was occupied by the “Teatro de La Latina”.

The façade of the hospital, with a pointed arch, three sculptures on top crowned with Gothic canopies and the coats of arms of its founders, was dismantled and transferred to the Madrid School of Architecture.

Beatriz Galindo founded the “Convent of the Concepción Francisca”

Also in 1499, Beatriz Galindo had a convent built on Toledo Street, near the Plaza de la Cebada and next to the hospital that they had decided to found with her husband Francisco Ramírez.

In 1508, the Hieronymite nuns entered this new convent; shortly after, the nuns settled in another building, also founded by Beatriz Galindo, which was called “Convent of the Concepción Jerónima“.

Therefore, the convent in the Plaza de la Cebada was left uninhabited until May 20, 1514, it was occupied by other religious, who professed the rules of San Francisco. From that moment, it was called “Convent of the Concepción Francisca”.

This convent was demolished at the end of the 19th century, to widen Toledo Street. In its place another was built, between 1904 and 1907, which was called “Convento de la Latina“.

Beatriz Galindo founded the “Convent of the Concepción Jerónima”

In 1502, a year after the death of her husband, Beatriz Galindo founded on the site, house and vineyard owned by her husband Francisco Ramírez, on the corner of Toledo Street and Plaza de la Cebada, another convent for nuns.

The building was attached to the “Hospital de la Latina” and was designed by the Spanish-Muslim master builder, Maese Hazan.

The convent received the name of “Convent of the Concepción Jerónima” and began to receive nuns in the year 1512.

Beatriz Galindo went to live in Madrid

In 1501, Francisco Ramírez passed away. Beatriz Galindo retired with her children to the town of Madrid. She lived in this city until the day of her death, in 1535.

Although she was not born in Madrid, Beatriz Galindo had an important presence in Madrid life.

Only one occasion is known when Beatriz Galindo left the town of Madrid. This was in 1504 when Isabel la Católica died. Beatriz accompanied the Queen’s corpse to Andalusia, as she had arranged for her to be buried in Granada.

From her widowhood, she carried out a series of important actions aimed at consolidating the well-being of her family and at the same time seeking ways of life in accordance with her new situation.

She was aware that she could only manage to maintain the status of the family in this place, thanks to the relationships with her husband’s family, in addition to the constant protection and support of the Crown.

Once she decided to reside in Madrid, Beatriz Galindo had a house built, near the “Convent of the Concepción Jerónima“.

The building was one-story, with two intermediate courtyards. The facade was in the Plateresque style. The entrance gate was crowned by a shield with the arms of the Ramírez and the Galindo family.

Over time, this manor house where Beatriz lived with her children was known as “Palacio de Viana“.

Viana palace
Since 1939, the Viana Palace has been the residence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain. Credit: Wikipedia

Death of Beatriz Galindo, the Latina

Beatriz Galindo died in 1535. She was buried in the church of the “Convent of the Concepción Jerónima”, under the altar of the high choir. Her tomb is in the Plateresque Renaissance style. The recumbent sculpture of Beatriz Galindo, in alabaster, stands out.

Both her remains and her tomb have been accompanying the religious community of Jerónimas, in its successive headquarters.

In 1891, her remains were transferred to the new convent on Lista Street; and from there they went to the crypt of the church of the fourth monastery of the Concepción Jerónima, in El Goloso.

Memories of Beatriz Galindo in Madrid

Madrid honors the memory of this illustrious neighbor and benefactor of the town in various ways. Several streets and municipalities bear her name or her nickname “La Latina“.

The Madrid City Council erected, in 1999, a monument to Beatriz Galindo in the Puerta del Ángel square. It is a colossal bronze statue, the work of the sculptor José Luis Parés, which represents this noble lady sitting at her desk.

Statue Beatriz Galindo
Monument to Beatriz Galindo in Madrid, near Puerta del Angel square. Credit: Northern Castile Author: Juan Lázaro

The neighborhood of La Latina, in the old town of Madrid, owes its traditional name to the old hospital and convent founded by Beatriz Galindo next to the Plaza de la Cebada.

Subway poster for the “La Latina” station, in Toledo street, Madrid

In 1971, the city council gave the name of Latina to one of the districts resulting from dividing Carabanchel into three. The district of Latina should not be confused with the neighborhood of the same name.

Various teaching centers bear her name in Spain. Thus, the “Beatriz Galindo Secondary Education Institute“, on Calle de Goya, 10 in Madrid.

Other teaching centers are named after Beatriz Galindo in Motril, Marbella, Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca, and in the Aluche neighborhood of Madrid.

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