9 May 2016 12:30pm - 2:00pm CRASSH Meeting Room


Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series.  All welcome but please email Michelle Maciejewska to book your place and to request readings.  A sandwich lunch and refreshments are provided.

Dr Ruth MacKay

My project addresses a massive late-sixteenth-century plague epidemic in Castile in the context of and as part of the political culture of that region. Rather than emphasize chaos and panic, which in fact appear only rarely in the municipal and judicial documents I have examined, I instead will consider a series of moral and political choices that town leaders, churchmen, citizens and royal servants had to make: to flee or to stay; to expel the poor, to care for them, or both; to publicize the disease or keep it secret; to perform last rites or abandon one's flock; to save the individual or the community; to respect the quarantine or continue trafficking across broken-down, albeit heavily guarded city walls. The study will also examine people's memories and knowledge of past epidemics, their adoration of St. Roche and the circulation of news.


Dr Ruth MacKay is the ACLS Fellow at CRASSH in Lent and Easter  2016.

Ruth MacKay is an independant scholar from San Francisco. She was awarded her PhD in History from the University of California, Berkeley. From 2004 until 2013 she was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University. Previously she was a Lecturer in History at the University of California. Her published books include the following:

The Baker Who Pretended to be King of Portugal. University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Brazilian edition: O Padeiro que Fingiu ser Rei de Portugal. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2013.

Portuguese edition: O Pasteleiro que Queria Ser Rei de Portugal. Lisbon: Marcador, 2013.

Lazy, Improvident People’: Myth and Reality in the Writing of Spanish History. Cornell University Press, 2006.

The Limits of Royal Authority: Resistance and Obedience in Seventeenth-Century Castile. Cambridge University Press, 1999. Winner of the 1999 Leo Gershoy Award. Paperback edition, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Spanish edition: Los límites de la autoridad real: Resistencia y obediencia en la Castilla del siglo XVII (Valladolid: Junta de Castilla y León, 2007).

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