After 20 years of roaming the Americas brawling, gambling and murdering close to a dozen people, the man known as Alonso Díaz Ramírez de Guzmán had one last option. Having often turned to the church for sanctuary when waist-deep in trouble, and now facing execution, the soldier and explorer chose the nuclear option: admitting to the bishop that he was actually a woman.
Now known as Catalina de Erauso, a mesmerizing and confusing figure in Basque history, the prisoner not only avoided being executed but also got to meet the pope. Given the protection of Peru’s Bishop Agustín de Carvajal following an examination that determined she was not only a woman but also a virgin, Erauso was sent back to Spain, where she wrote a MEMOIR that remains eye-poppingly off-putting to this day.
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