Holy Women, Holy Books & the New World Market: The Press of Maria Fernandez in 17th Century Alcala
Maria Fernandez (fl.1640-1671), was the widow of printer Antonio Vazquez (fl. 1632-1643), and University Printer at Alcala de Henares during much of the 17th century. For many years the University of Alcala, just outside of Madrid, was considered the most important center of humanistic learning in Golden Age Spain. Founded by Cardinal Cisneros, and receiving the patronage of the Kings of Spain, the University of Alcala was best known for printing the famous Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Recent bibliographical & historical scholarship continues to shed new light on the role of women in religious convents, missionary orders emigrating to the New World who were first trained in Spain, also fueled new demands for religious books. Royal and religious patronage, dedications, special printers marks and her book sellers are considered. While associated mostly for her printing at the University of Alcala, Maria Fernandez was also the aunt of a mystical Beata or holy woman who helped raise her young children and may have influenced her to found a convent for poor girls.
Keywords: History of the Book, Printing History, Cultural Heritage, Women Printers, Spanish Bibliography
Adjunct Faculty, I-School, College of Information Science & Technology, Drexel University & Duquesne University, Gumberg Library