Autors i Autores

Isabel de Villena


Isabel de Villena (Valencia?, 1430 – Valencia, 1490) was a nun and writer who lived in the court of Alphonse V (The Magnanimous) and was an active participant in the cultural world of Valencia in the fifteenth century. Of particular interest is her relationship with Jaume Roig, author of the celebrated work Spill (Mirror). Her father was the poet Enric de Villena, who was the Grand Master of Calatrava (a military order) between 1404 and 1414. In 1445 Isabel de Villena entered the convent and she was abbess from 1463 until her death in 1490.

Once inside the convent, Isabel de Villena devoted herself to a life of contemplation and spirituality, which, according to the chronicles of her time, led her to write different treatises on religious life. The only one that remains today is Vita Christi and its survival is thanks to her successor Sor Aldonça de Montsoriu, who published it for the first time in 1497.

Vita Christi, which was conceived as a book of doctrine, has become one of the key pieces of fifteenth-century literature from what is now known as the Golden Age of Valencia. Critics and scholars alike have regarded it as an extraordinary reference work and also a rara avis, as one of the few pieces written then by women. It is a biographical and contemplative book that does not exclude dreams as a way of describing spirituality, and that speaks of women in direct relationship with Christ, a view that would not have been to the liking of the church at the time.

The most recent version of Vita Christi, edited by Albert Hauf, was published by Edicions 62 in 1995. Another notable edition is that published in Valencia in 1985, with an Introduction and selection of texts by Lluïsa Parra.

Web page: Xulio Ricardo Trigo.
Translation: Julie Wark.