Through the Virgin Mary, Remensnyder examines the dynamics of Christian and n-Christian identity in the pre-modern Spanish world. Rather than focusing on the Virgin Mary, she instead uses the Virgin as a lens to understand how people established identities for themselves in the contexts of domination and devotion. The first half of the book looks at how Spanish Christians used the Virgin's martial functions to draw lines of demarcation between themselves and n-Christians both metaphoric differences such as doctrinal differences and religious polemic and physical ones of war. She could also embody religious borderlands, the places of hybrid and fluid spiritual identities. The second half of the book looks at how the Virgin served as a place of passage where religious lines could be crossed through conversion. The book considers Christian stories that depict Mary as a particularly effective agent in the conversion of Jews, Muslims, and natives of the Americas. The project also examines those Jews, Muslims, and Indians who converted to Christianity: the Virgin was a figure of power through whom they could express their new hybrid identities.
Amy G. Remensnyder is Associate Professor of History, Brown University. She is the author of Remembering Kings Past: Monastic Foundation Legends in Medieval Southern France and co-editor of the forthcoming Why the Middle Ages Matter.