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Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain

Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain: Vizcaya, 1528-1735

Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain
    Book Description:

    Renato Barahona has distilled years of meticulous research into a pioneering study of sexual criminality, women, honour and the law in early modern Basque Spain. Presenting his argument in a lucid and engaging style, Barahona explores the litigation of honour and dishonour by female victims of seduction. He successfully demonstrates that - in this region and era - female honour lost through sexual transgression could be redeemed through recourse to the law.

    Drawing from records of over 350 lawsuits, which took place between 1500 and 1750 (all primary sources, and all previously unpublished), Barahona offers new insights into the role of the secular courts in serving the interests of women. He does much to broaden our understanding of courtship, sexual practices, sexual vocabulary, marriage customs, cohabitation and violence against women.Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spainwill be welcomed by students and scholars in the areas of social history, women's studies, law and literature.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7982-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    This book is the fruit of a long and unusual journey — one that began in the second half of the 1960s while I was a graduate student at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, working under Fernand Braudelʼs direction. Fresh out of college, I had decided to work there because of the strong French tradition of Hispanism in history and literature. After taking courses for a year at the École, I mentioned to my teacher that I would like to undertake some research in primary sources. He was receptive to the idea, and replied that he would...

  5. 1 Courtship, Seduction, and Abandonment
    (pp. 3-40)

    On 19 September 1616 Marina Léniz, a young servant (moça de servicio) — around seventeen or eighteen years of age - and a resident of Bilbao, appeared before the authorities of that city and filed charges against Martín de Jáuregui, a tailor (oficial sastre) also of that city. According to the plaintiff, while she and the defendant were living in the house of a third party, Juan de Ossa, a tailor, some two years earlier, Martín had solicited her with many offers and persuasions, a promise of marriage, and other unspecified things (ʻcon muchas ofertas y persuaciones, dándole palabra de...

  6. 2 Carnal Knowledge: The Language of Sex
    (pp. 41-58)

    The lawsuits that constitute the documentary basis of this study, whether for defloration, cohabitation, or other sexual misconduct, are an important source of sexual terminology. The language of sex casts considerable light on social attitudes and legal views of early modern Spanish sexuality. This chapter examines the litigationʼs main sexual expressions, their frequency and prevalence, their significance and meaning, and their legal function and purpose, as well as what is notably absent from the lawsuitsʼ descriptions of sexual activity. The discussion will focus primarily on three areas: the vocabulary of virginity, of defloration, and of sexual intercourse in

    Virginity -...

  7. 3 Coercion, Violence, and Subordination
    (pp. 59-93)

    Issues of coercion, physical force, and violence hardly surfaced in most of the lawsuits examined in the opening chapter. However, as will be argued below, it would be extremely mistaken to infer from this that seduction was always or generally carried out with full female consent or voluntarily. Quite the opposite, numerousestuprolawsuits contain unmistakable elements of threats, intimidation, insults, and verbal harassment, while others involve explicit instances of physical violence and aggression both before and during the commission of sex acts. Some cases also include the outright - and at times forceful - abduction and transfer of the...

  8. 4 A pan y cuchillo: Cohabitation
    (pp. 94-118)

    On 11 August 1628, at Navarniz, Francisco de Velasco, apparently a private citizen, came forth to denounce a cohabiting couple: ʻattendant the commonweal, and that there not be public and scandalous sins, he criminally denounced [Domingo de Abarroa de Mutio and María San Juan de Larriñaga]ʼ (ʻatendiendo a la bindicta pública y a que no haya pecados públicos y escandalosos, denunció criminalmente a ...ʼ). According to Velasco, their behaviour had caused ʻgreat rumour and poor example, having continual communication and company, and sharing bread and knife, while he was a married manʼ (ʻgran murmuración y mal exemplo, teniendo continua comunicación...

  9. 5 Litigating Honour/Dishonour
    (pp. 119-156)

    The compelling image of honour as glass is a recurrent one in Golden Age drama. It is an exaggerated conceit to be sure, but one that vividly conveys, among other things, the purported fragility of honour and the difficulty, indeed the impossibility, of putting it back together once it has been broken.¹ Presented as such, honour - perhaps especially that of females - is a priceless possession and quality, one that when damaged is beyond repair. At the other end of the spectrum, however, honour is a tangible commodity that can be quantified, repaired, and partially restored. And if honour...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 157-168)

    When this investigation began, our knowledge of late medieval and early modern Spanish sexuality was blurry at best. Today, however, owing to significant scholarship devoted in whole or in part to these subjects, the map of Spanish sexuality during those eras has acquired a sharper focus¹ and, as a result, it is now possible to begin to compare the sexual and social behaviours of Vizcayans to those of their Spanish contemporaries.

    In other words, one may ask how similar or different early modern Vizcayan sexual transgressions were from those in the rest of the Spain. I believe that the conduct...

  11. Appendix A Legal Spheres and Sources
    (pp. 169-172)
  12. Appendix B Defloration, Dowry, and the Vizcayan Fueros
    (pp. 173-174)
  13. Appendix C Cohabitation and the Vizcayan Fueros
    (pp. 175-176)
  14. Glossary
    (pp. 177-178)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 179-246)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-254)
  17. Index of Authors and Subjects
    (pp. 255-266)
  18. Index of Names in Lawsuits
    (pp. 267-274)