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Catalina de Erauso
(1585 - 1650) Spain

Catalina de Erauso

Soldier of fortune, nun


Known as "La Monja Alférez" (The Second Lieutenant Nun). Born in San Sebastian in the Basque region between Spain and France in 1585, Catalina de Erauso at 15 fled a convent of Dominican nuns where she was raised since she was four years old, and where she was to take her vows the following day, cut her hair, disguised herself as a man... and spent the rest of her life dressed and behaving like a man.

Catalina de ErausoIn 1603, she turned to the New World, and became a soldier of fortune and fought in the conquest of Chile and Peru. Under the name of Antonio de Erauso, she fought in the wars against the Araucanian Indians in Chile, which won her the military degree of alfrez. Gambling and brawling her way through the mining towns of the Andean highlands, fighting and dueling, she finally revealed her true identity 20 years later to the local bishop... and became an instant celebrity.

She returned to Spain where she secured a pension for life from the king, then went to Rome to receive permission from the Pope Urban VII to continue to wear men's clothing for the rest of her life (she was Catholic, and it was about 1626), and moved back to Latin America, to Mexico, where she continued to live as a man, with her choosen name of Antonio de Erauso, until the day of her death, sometime around 1650.


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