Scholarship on Juan Manuel’s works typically emphasizes the author’s lay estate and his concern with practical subject matter, while his writings on theology are deemed of secondary importance and incongruous with his authorial identity. The tension between Juan Manuel’s lay estate and his theological writings is particularly evident in his Libro de los estados (1332). This article proposes that the Libro de los estados mounts a defense of Juan Manuel’s treatment of theological subject matter in the form of a hidden polemic. In this work, we can read the rhetorical strategies used to present theological arguments as an attempt to appropriate religious authority to the author figure, Don Juan. This claim for religious authority results in an expansion of the domain of lay authorship in the vernacular, presenting authorship as a new avenue for the laity to aid in converting unbelievers and strengthen the faith of their fellow Christians.


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pp. 5-28
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