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CSM Number : 5
Short name: The Chaste Empress
Incipit: Quen as coitas deste mundo ben quiser sofrer
Refrain: Quen as coitas deste mundo ben quiser sofrer/ Santa Maria deve sempr’ ante si põer
Summary of narrative
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Setting: Rome Protagonist(s): a Roman empress named Beatriz

There was a Roman emperor who had a wife named Beatriz. She was incredibly beautiful and was devoted to the Virgin. The emperor decided to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Before he left he made his brother his wife’s guardian. After the emperor had departed his brother fell in love with his wife, the empress. She accused him of treason and had him imprisoned in a tower. After travelling for two and a half years the emperor informed his wife that he was coming home. She released his brother.

On his return the emperor’s brother spoke with him privately. He told him that the empress had tried to seduce him and that when he had spurned her advances she had thrown him in prison. The emperor was so upset at the news that he ordered the empress to be killed. Some huntsmen seized the empress and took her to the forest to kill her. They had intended to rape her first but she called on the Virgin and a count came to her rescue. The empress asked the count to help her and he agreed to hire her to educate his son. She was raising the boy properly when his evil uncle fell in love with her. He tried to seduce her but she rejected him. In revenge he cut the child’s throat and placed the knife in the empress’s hand.

When the empress reported the murder to the count and countess, the count’s brother accused her of committing the deed and vowed to avenge it. He abused her badly. Everyone deemed the empress guilty and condemned her to death. Eventually she was given to a Syrian sailor to be taken out to sea and drowned. The sailor tried to rape her but the empress prayed to the Virgin who ordered him to desist. The sailors abandoned her on a deserted rock. As the empress lay sleeping there, the Virgin appeared to her. She took away her hunger and gave her a herb for curing leprosy.

The empress saw a ship approaching the island. It was full of Christian pilgrims. She begged them to rescue her. When the ship came to the port of Rome, the empress disembarked and cured a leper with the herb. Hearing the news, many lepers came to be cured including the count’s evil brother.

The empress cured more than a thousand and the count’s brother admitted his crime to the dismay of the count and countess who grieved for the empress. The empress continued to heal lepers and went on many pilgrimages.

After three months she arrived in Rome. The emperor summoned her and asked her to heal his brother. She agreed but said that he would have to first confess his sins in front of the emperor and the pope. When the emperor had heard of his brother’s treason he tore at his clothes in grief. Weeping, the empress identified herself as the woman his brother had wronged. Despite the emperor’s attempts to get her to return to him the empress vowed to live as an anchoress and never to wear silk or squirrel fur again.

Metrical data
Stanza: 16 16 16 16 13 13 Refrain: 13 13
No. of Stanzas: 26
Rhyme scheme: AA | bbbbba Zejel:
MS locations:
T15, E5, To19
Poncelet reference
Erat quidam imperator romanus uxore carens, qui castitatis (463)
apparition, children, confession (see also repentance), count , countess, emperor, empress, exile , imprisonment, leprosy, murder, pilgrimage, herbs, rape, sailors, Saint Denis, seduction, tower (imprisonment in), treason, tutor, vow, abandonment
Click HERE for a list of recordings of this poem
Miracle Collection
The Chaste Empress Vincent de Beauvais
The Chaste Empress BL Mariale 3
(London, BL, Additional MS 35112, ff. 21-80; 90-94)
The Chaste Empress John of Garland
Chaste Empress Gautier de Coinci
The Chaste Empress Mariale Magnum
(Paris Bibliothèque Nationale lat 3177)
The Chaste Empress Miraculorum B. Mariae. libri III
(Reims 1400)
The Chaste Empress Jean Mielot, Miracles de Nostre Dame
(Oxford, Bodleian, Douce MS 374)
The Chaste Empress Johannes Herolt
The Chaste Empress Li Miracoli de Senta Maria
The Chaste Empress Li Miracoli de Senta Maria
The Chaste Empress Paris Mariale 1
(Paris Bibliothèque Nationale 14463)
Bibliotheca Hispana Vetus
Antonio, Nicolás
Alfonso X, el Sabio compara moros y judíos
Bagby, Albert
Un recull de miracles de Santa Maria, procedent de Ripoll, i les Cantigues d’Alfons el Savi
Baraut i Obiols, Cebrià
Cantigas en versión para arpa de María Rosa Calvo- Manzano
Calvo- Manzano, María Rosa
A História da Imperatriz Porcina. Crónica de uma novela do século XVI popular em Portugal e Brasil
Cascudo, Luís da Câmara
A Paleographic Edition of the Alfonsine Collection of Prose Miracles of the Virgin
Chatham, James R.
Marian Intervention and Hagiographic Models in the Tale of the Chaste Wife: Text and Context
Connolly, Jane E.
Historical Anthology of Music
Davison, A. T., and Willi Apel
Sources of the Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio [AC]
Dexter, Elise Forsythe
Entre Ave y Eva: las mujeres de las Cantigas de Santa María. I. Madres y mujeres casadas
Fidalgo, Elvira
Entre Ave y Eva: las mujeres de las Cantigas de Santa María. II. Las trabajadoras. III. Las Evas
Fidalgo, Elvira
Da épica na Galicia medieval: Discurso de ingreso na Real Academia Gallega e resposta de Ramón Otero Pedrayo
Filgueira Valverde, José and Ramón Otero Pedrayo
Cincuenta leyendas por Gil de Zamora, combinadas con las Cantigas de Alfonso el Sabio
Fita, Fidel
As técnicas literarias na obra de Afonso o Sábio
Flores, Camilo
La voz del narrador en el Cuento de la santa emperatriz
Garribba, Aviva
O Espaço do conto no texto medieval
Júdice, Nuno
Le secret dans un conte médieval
Júdice, Nuno
Las traducciones castellanas de las Cantigas de Santa María
Keller, John E. and Robert W. Linker
Alfonso X, el Sabio
Keller, John Esten
A Feasible Source of the Denouements of the Exemplos in El Conde Lucanor
Keller, John Esten
Seeing is Believing: The Miniatures in the Cantigas de Santa Maria and Medieval Devotional Practices
Kennedy, Kirstin
A Preliminary Bibliography of Medieval Galician-Portuguese Poetry in English Translation
Longland, Jean R.
Uma cantiga de Santa Maria
Lopes, Francisco Fernandes
Itinéraire espagnol du conte médiéval (VIIIs-XVs)
Marsan, Rameline E.
O Livro dos Milagres da Bem-aventurada Virgem Maria
Martins, Mário
Emparedadas arturianas e vida reclusa em Portugal
Martins, Mário
Das Cantigas de Santa Maria ao Flos Sanctorum em português, de 1513
Martins, Mário
Osservazioni sulle Cantigas di Alfonso X e sui Miracles di Gautier de Coincy
Marullo, Teresa
El simbolismo en las vestiduras medievales y sus lexicalizaciones
Montoya Martínez, Jesús
Difusão e recepção de elementos culturais da Idade Média no Brasil: uma ‘Cantiga de Santa Maria’ no Nordeste
Pais, Marco Antônio de Oliveira
Uma cantiga de Santa Maria no N. E. brasileiro
Pais, Marco Antônio de Oliveira
Doing lines: refrains and copyists in the Cantigas de Santa Maria
Parkinson, Stephen
Textos de literatura portuguesa. I: Afonso X, o Sábio
Rodrigues Lapa, Manuel
Alfonso X, el rey sabio ¿tolerante con la minoría judía? Una lectura emblemática de las Cantigas de Santa Maria
Roitman, Gisela
El milagro de la emperatriz de Roma en las Cantigas de Santa Maria de Alfonso X el Sabio. Retórica de la imagen
Rubio Flores, Antonio R.
Tres ensayos sobre el arte en las Cantigas de Santa Maria de Alfonso el Sabio
Sánchez Cantón, Francisco Javier
La pecadora penitente en el teatro español: Sus fuentes y evolución
Sánchez Castañer y Mena, Francisco
Os judeus na Espanha do século XIII, segundo as Cantigas de Santa Maria de Alfonso X o Sábio
Teensma, B. N.