De la Cruz’s mistress, Marqués de Mancera, enjoyed showing off her maid’s intellect. In an era when women were not educated and when feminism wasn’t supposed to exist, de la Cruz was an educated feminist at court. Groups of professors and priests would gather to quiz de la Cruz. She always impressed them with her well-reasoned, educated answers. But in a reality where women could be mothers, wives, prostitutes, or nuns, de la Cruz made the only decision available to her as an intellectual young woman with an insatiable thirst for knowledge–as a teenager, she became a nun.
Past being a feminist nun, de la Cruz was an independent voice for the oppressed. One of the most important poets in the Spanish Golden Age, de la Cruz wrote not only in the Spanish of the elite, but in the accented Spanish of African Slaves and the languages of indigenous America. She dared to write feminist social critiques in the seventeenth century. Her access to books was revoked by an angry church shortly before her death from the plague, but her work lives on.