ORB Masthead with site navigation toolbar; see bottom 
of page for text version of toolbar

Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME


Public record of the labour of Isabel de la Cavalleria

January 10, 1490, Zaragoza

Translated by Montserrat Cabre.

In the name of God. Amen. To be stated before everyone that in the year of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ MCCCCLXXXX, the day counted as the tenth of the month of January, between the tenth and the eleventh hour before noon, in a room whose windows receive the light of the street, in the upper rooms of the houses of the magnificent lord MartÍn Gil de Palomar y de Gurrea, lord of the town of Argavieso, located in the parish of San Juan de Puent in the city of Zaragoza, facing the houses of sir Sancho de Ayala, bookseller, as well as those which were owned by sir MartÍn de Pertusa and also the public street called GuchillerÍa; being there the magnificent Isabel de la CavallerÍa, daughter of the magnificent and eminent lord sir Alfonso de la CavallerÍa, and who had been the wife of the magnificent Pedro de Francia, deceased, who had been the lord of the town of Bureta, walking around the aforesaid room where the windows were open and some blessed candles lit, accompanied by two women who were holding her by her armpits, complaining about suffering from the pain of her pregnancy, going into and wanting to go into labour.

I, Domingo de Cuerla, notary, together with the witnesses written and named below, were constituted there personally, having been called with much insistence by the aforesaid Isabel to attend her labour so that we could personally see and eyewitness the baby who would be delivered by the aforementioned daughter Isabel. And she said that she required me so that I, notary, might write a public record and draw up a formal statement of the administration of her labour as well as of the baby who was about to be born.

And after, having said the above, in the aforesaid room and before Isabel were personally constituted Catalina de Cutanda, whose popular alias was de Salinas, widow, who had been the wife of Gabriel de Salinas, deceased, and Aina de Medina, wife of Gonzalvo Tiz„n, wallmaker, midwives[1] or popularly called madrinas[2] for the administering of labour, also especially called in to administer the labour of the aforesaid Isabel. To the request of Isabel I, the aforesaid Domingo de la Cuerla, notary, and in front of all the witnesses named below, touched with my hands their bodies and between their legs, with their skirts and clothes up to their shirts so that I could see and examine if the midwives were bringing any baby fraudulently, or if Isabel had any under her skirt. And I, the aforementioned notary and the witnesses, saw that neither Isabel nor the midwives had anything on but their personal clothes and dresses.

To the request of the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa, both midwives on their knees and touching with their hands an image of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Four Gospels, solemnly swore, kissing and adoring the aforesaid image and Gospels, to administer well and without any fraud or trick the labour of the aforesaid Isabel. And having done this, a bed which was in the room was uncovered and I, the aforesaid notary and the witnesses, saw that there was nothing in it except the necessary and appropriate linen for its dressing. And having done this, and the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa continuously complaining about her suffering and going to go into labour, I, the aforesaid notary and the witnesses named below, were present there, watching Isabel de la CavallerÍa and the midwives and the other persons who were there, with the deliberate intent to prevent that they did not and could not do any trick in bringing any baby and changing one for another. And the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa, complaining about the pains of her labour, lying down on her back in the arms and legs of the aforesaid lord MartÍn de Palomar y de Gurrea, lord of Argavieso, who was sitting in a chair holding her with strength, the aforesaid Isabel having some relics on her belly and many blessed candles lit around, and the midwives were there, Aina on her knees in front of the aforesaid Isabel and the aforementioned Catalina Salinas was between the legs of the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa, sitting on a stool with a cloth laid out in her knees to administer the labour and to receive the baby who was about to be born, and there was a clean brass pot between the legs of the aforesaid Isabel, as we could see, where I, the notary and the witnesses saw and heard fall in the blood and the water which were coming out from the body of the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa while in labour pains. And thus, after very many big pains that the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa was suffering I, the notary and the witnesses named below and some other persons who were there and wanted to eyewitness the labour of the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa, saw how she gave birth and a baby came out of her body, completely wet and with his eyes closed. Catalina de Cutanda, alias Salinas, midwife, received the baby in her hands and in the aforesaid cloth that she was holding. And having the baby in her hands, as has been said, I, the notary and the witnesses seeing it, saw that the umbilical cord was hanging from the placenta within the body of the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa and was affixed to the navel of the aforesaid newborn baby, and that the aforesaid midwife Salinas, administering the aforesaid labour, was working to receive and take it out, as she did and took out the placenta where the aforesaid baby had been nourished in the body of the aforesaid Isabel de la CavallerÍa, and I, the aforesaid notary and the witnesses, saw that placenta fall into the aforesaid pot with a lot of blood which was there. And thus, having done all of the above, the aforementioned Catalina de Cutanda alias Salinas, midwife, uncovered the aforesaid newborn baby that she had wrapped in the cloth where she had received it, and I, the notary and the witnesses mentioned below, and the other people who were there and wanted to see it, publicly eyewitness and saw that the newborn baby was a man, since he had all the male organs that men have, that is, his member and its companions, alias popularly called willy and balls.

And thus, having seen and examined the aforesaid baby and being a man as has been said, the aforementioned Catalina, midwife, before me, the notary and the witnesses mentioned below, cut the umbilical cord of the aforesaid child and wrapped him with the cloth that she had.

And having done all of the above, the aforementioned Isabel being sleepy and almost out of herself because of the hard labour, the aforesaid MartÍn de Gurrea, lord of Argavieso, asked me, the aforesaid public notary, in his own name and as proxy of Isabel de la CavallerÍa, who had given birth, to write it down in a public record as many times as were necessary in order to maintain the right of Isabel de la CavallerÍa and to preserve her interest in the future.

That was done in the aforesaid city of Zaragoza, the aforesaid day, month and year, in the houses and place mentioned above. All present witnesses of all this were master Pedro de Juana, shoemaker, and Ferrando Dominguez, notary, inhabitants of the city of Zaragoza.

Edited by Maria del Carmen Garcia Herrero, Las mujeres en Zaragoza en el siglo XV. (Zaragoza: Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza, 1990), vol.II, pp.293-295; previosly published by the same author in Homenaje al Profesor Emerito Antonio Ubieto Arteta. (Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza, 1989), pp.290-292.


[1] parteras, literally, the women who bring labour on, midwives.

[2] madrina is a wordŻ used in medieval Aragonese, Castilian and Catalan to refer to both midwife and godmother. In all the following instances in this document, the two midwives are referred to as madrinas.


Encyclopedia | Library | Reference | Teaching | General | Links | About ORB | HOME

The contents of ORB are copyright © 1995-1999 Laura V. Blanchard and Carolyn Schriber except as otherwise indicated herein.