This book is a remarkable revelation of how early modern men thought about sex ... The dialogue is a treasure trove of details about sex, such as the many euphemisms used to describe male orgasm in terms of female objectification.... [T]he author states that conception—the be-all and
end-all of matrimonial intercourse—was only likely if both partners reached orgasm. And in case anyone needs to know, prophecies made by a marriage partner during the sex act are not legitimate. On another tack, although a husband has the right to slit the throat of an unfaithful wife, he should not do so and should lead her to repentance instead. Anyone who would enjoy a litany of remarkable comments about men’s approach to the sexual facets of early modern married life, written by a man who in theory was a virgin and never married himself, should read Norte de los estados.~Elizabeth Rhodes, Bulletin of the Comediantes 73, no. 1 (2021): 151–53
Best known for his works on the mystical practice of meditative recollection, Franciscan friar Francisco de Osuna published his candid manual for lay life, Norte de los estados (North Star) in 1531 before leaving Spain to reside in Antwerp. True to its title, the book was intended as a North Star that would dependably guide readers through the stages of youth, marriage, and widowhood. Although the historical literature on these themes is dominated by the works of his humanist contemporaries, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Juan Luis Vives, Osuna’s close attention to women’s experiences and his critical awareness of social class are distinctive. This first modern edition in Spanish restores Osuna’s reformist voice and expansive vision to the animated conversations on marriage and family in which he engaged. His detailed attention to practical questions and his intense spiritualization of spousal love make it an invaluable resource for understanding conjugal relationships in the popular imagination of the early modern world.
List of Illustrations
Chronology of Francisco de Osuna’s Life
Norte de los estados