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Dwarfs—and a Loca—as Ladies’ Maids at the Spanish Habsburg Courts

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Chapter Summary

The dwarfs who lived in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish Habsburg courts have received barely any serious scholarly attention, an absence that is eloquent testimony to preconceived ideas about their insignificance to court culture. This chapter sheds light on one particular category within this group: that is the women with dwarfism who served queens and princesses as ladies' maids. The dwarfs who served female rulers merit serious inclusion in any study of ladies-in-waiting. Magdalena Ruiz had been a popular and well-connected court character in her youth. The anecdote demonstrates Magdalena's intimacy with the upper echelons of Spanish court society and her freedom of speech: only a court favourite or a loca would be permitted to make jokes of a sexual nature about members of such illustrious families as the Padillas and Bobadillas in the company of one of the king's friends.

Keywords: dwarfs; ladies-in-waiting; loca; Magdalena Ruiz; Spanish Habsburg courts

10.1163/9789004258396_008
/content/books/b9789004258396_008
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