I, Teresa de Lucena tells the story of a complex chapter of Spanish history through an intimate lens: the testimony of a woman who faced the Spanish Inquisition twice.
In 1391, decades before Teresa de Lucena (1467-1545) was born in Toledo, Spain, waves of anti-Semitic riots swept across the Iberian peninsula forcing thousands of Jews, including members of her distinguished family, to convert to Christianity.
Years of civil unrest followed between those who converted, known as conversos or New Christians, and Old Christians. In 1478, Ferdinand and Isabel established the Spanish Inquisition to eliminate what they saw as the root of the conflict: New Christians who were suspected of observing Jewish practices in secret.
Teresa was seventeen in 1485 when she and other conversos in Toledo faced the Inquisition for the first time; she was sixty-two in 1530 when she was arrested and held for eighteen months in an Inquisition jail. After a lengthy trial, meticulously recorded by the official scribes, she was found guilty of heresy for practicing Judaism in secret. Saved by her wits, she survived.
How do you make this complex story accessible and beautiful? Here, the translator and the illustrator join forces with the protagonist: Teresa de Lucena’s trial testimony is translated in her own voice and accompanied by original drawings and the translator’s reflections. The result is an intimate portrait of one woman’s life in tumultuous times.
“This is an astonishing work, both historically rigorous and profoundly affecting. A rare opportunity to see history in action.” — Kirkus Reviews
Ellen Kanner is an independent scholar and teacher who has lived and studied in Spain for many years. In 1988, she obtained a copy of the Spanish Inquisition dossier concerning Teresa de Lucena (1467-1545). In I, Teresa de Lucena, Ellen presents the translation she made of the archival materials accompanied by her research notes and personal reflections.
Annie Zeybekoglu is an artist and book designer with extensive commercial and teaching experience. Her work appears in collections in the United States and abroad. Annie designed the book format for I, Teresa de Lucena; her line drawings and art appear throughout the book.
Ellen and Annie are both graduates of Smith College and hold M.A.T. degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University, respectively.