Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


'The Education of a Christian Woman' in the Construction of the Image of Female Power...

24 January 2023–25 January 2023, 5:00 pm–5:00 pm

A painted portrait of Queen Mary I of England. She is sitting in a red velvet chair, looking at the viewer. In her right hand she holds a rose, in her left hand a pair of gloves. She wears a brown gown-overcoat, her hair is covered for the most part

...of Queen Mary I of England (1553-1558). This international Seminar celebrates the 500-year anniversary of the first publication of 'The Education' by Juan Luis Vives. It will focus on its patron, author, and dedicatee as well as address its impact on the construction of the image of female power in Tudor England.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Dr Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
United Kingdom

In 1523, De institutione feminae Christianae, the book’s first title, was published. The author was Spanish Humanist Juan Luis Vives (1493-1540) who at the time was also a Lecturer at Corpus Christi College in Oxford. The book was commissioned by his ‘only patron’, the Queen of England, Catherine of Spain, commonly known as Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). It was written in Latin, the language of the New Learning movement it belongs to, and it focused on the three stages in which Vives divided a woman’s life: as a maiden, as a married woman and a matron, and as a widow. It was dedicated to Princess Mary Tudor future Queen Mary I (1516- 1558). It was part of a wider curriculum that Queen Catherine designed for her daughter’s formal training as first ‘heiress apparent’ to receive a formal Renaissance education in England. The book was an instant success throughout Europe with many reprints, and it became the most influential work of its kind in the Modern Age. The Education of a Christian Woman had an impact in the way that Mary I constructed her image of power as the first Queen Regnant in English history. Despite this, Queen Catherine’s role as intellectual and financial patron is often overlooked and the connections between the manual and Mary I’s trailblazing propaganda as the first woman to be educated to rule have yet to be explored.

This international seminar will focus both on visual arts and documentary evidence that deal with this important void in queenship historiography. Leading specialists in several fields will address topics like the Christian education of the daughters of Queen Isabella of Castile and the ties between the Spanish alliance and the construction of the image of female power in Tudor portraiture. Other important subjects will speak to Queen Mary I’s use of female recourses present in Vives’ work in the representations of the monarch as Queen Regnant, as ‘Mother of England’, and as married woman and queen consort of King Philip of Habsburg (1527-1598). Other experts will talk about Mary I’s role as first woman to exercise power and how this was translated after her reign. Another crucial topic that will be discussed is the growing historiographical trend that is brining into the light Queen Mary I’s outstanding contributions in female rulership in Renaissance Europe. The results will be published in the series Queenship and Power by Palgrave Macmillan.

Seminar Programme

24 January 2023
Location: Instituto Cervantes, 15-19 Devereux Ct, Temple, London


5:00pm - 5:45pm
Acto inaugural

Víctor Ugarte, Instituto Cervantes London
José Pascual Marco, Ambassador of Spain to the United Kingdom
Alexander Samson, University College London
Noelia García Pérez, University of Murcia

5:45pm - 6:15pm
Las mujeres cristianas en los intercambios de retratos entre la Monarquía Hispánica y la dinastía Tudor.

Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón, Independent Scholar

6:15pm - 7:00pm
Mary I & the Art of Queenship

Peter Stiffell, University of Kent (presented by Prof Alexander Samson)

7:00pm - 8:00pm ROUNDTABLE
Educating the Eye: Gender, Power, and Representation in the Visual Arts in the Reign of Mary I

  • Karen Hearn, University College London
  • Johanna Strong, University of Winchester
  • Aoife Stables, Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Patricia Manzano Rodríguez, Durham University
  • Irini Picolou, Durham University

8.00pm - 8.30pm
Vino español


25 January 2023
Location: University College London, Institute of Advanced Studies, Wilkins Building South Wing, Common Ground


9:30am – 10:15am
Before Vives. The Christian Education of the Daughters of Queen Isabella of Castile

Melania Soler Moratón, University of Murcia / University of Valladolid

10:15am – 11:00am
Juan Luis Vives’ ‘Patronae Unicae’: Queen Catherine of Aragon and the Construction of the Image of Female Power in Tudor England

Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón, Independent Scholar

11:00am – 11:45am
Early Modern Women and the Archive

Alexander Samson, University College London

11:45pm – 1:45pm LUNCH

1:45pm - 2:30pm
The Continued Instruction of Christian Women: Reprints of Vives

Valerie Schutte, Independent Scholar

2:30pm - 3:15pm
The Power of Networks and The Networks of Power: The Development and Cultivation of Female Friendship by Mary I, for both Personal Solace, and Political Capital

Melita Thomas, University College London

3:15pm - 3:30pm COFFEE BREAK

3:30pm - 4:30pm ROUNDTABLE
'The Education of a Christian Woman’ in the Context of Queenly Education

Elena Woodacre, University of Winchester
Alexander Samson, University College London
Valerie Schutte, Independent Scholar
Melita Thomas, University College London
Emma Luisa Cahill Marrón, Independent Scholar


The Seminar is sponsored by

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