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I. Introduction

God forgive me

If it is a sin or a crime

But that is how I am

fado "Que Deus Me Perdoe" [1]

In the classic fado, "Que Deus Me Perdoe," the Portuguese singer Amalia Rodrigues laments the distinction between the abstract concept of sin and the concreteness of human frailty and hopes for divine forgiveness. This lament is a modern version of a colonial Brazilian reality. The distinction between sin as defined by the Catholic Church and reiterated by the Portuguese state and the behavior of a large part of the Brazilian popular culture offers the opportunity to explore a series of issues critical to our understanding of that time and culture.

This essay focuses on demonstrating the existence of local standards as recognized entities having an almost institutional role in secular and ecclesiastical juridical systems. In critical areas such as morality, social policies, and local justice, a system evolved in colonial Brazil which both implicitly and, more importantly, explicitly recognized the values of local societies--even when these values and behaviors violated basic precepts of church and state. To the degree that this happened, we see an inversion of the image of a top-down authoritarian system and are reminded once again of the power of local traditions, systems of thought and behaviors.

This essay explores the evolution of this system in the captaincy of Minas Gerais, the core of the far-flung Portuguese empire in the eighteenth century. This system was formally recognized in Portuguese law and in Brazilian practice but its existence largely has been ignored. Perhaps more importantly, during the eighteenth century it played a key role in the life of the residents of Minas Gerais. Mineiros, as these residents were called, and inhabitants of other captaincies were able to carve out a series of accommodations with both the civil and ecclesiastical establishments--accommodations which institutionally recognized local practices. Essentially the system was built around the idea that in many areas of community life, local values and behaviors took precedence over royal or church doctrine, law or rules. These values and behaviors were based in the community and often cut across class, ethnic, gender, or status lines. They were shared values and behaviors, recognizable by a broad range of community residents even if they did not always agree with them. They were held in contradistinction to the values of the "authorities"--the state, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and a preponderance of the Luso-Brazilian elite.

These community values and behaviors were manifested through the existence of a body of recognized public opinion. This body of generally held opinion was called the "people's voice"--the voz popular--and the process of forming and disseminating that opinion was called "murmurac[bar{a}]o"--a delightfully alliterative word referring to murmurings or gossip. Violations of this body of opinion were described as scandals. But more than causing mere social embarrassment, the concept of scandal was at the very heart of this complex constellation of social values. Not simply a social act, the concept of scandal had a religious underpinning. An author of an early 19th century manual of moral philosophy described this underpinning very forcefully: "The sin of scandal is the greatest enemy of God and of the Church of God because it most directly and effectively seeks to disfigure the Church and destroy all the works of God." [2] The inter-relationship of the voz popular, gossip, and scandal can be used to explore a se t of realities which illustrate the role of the local community/communities in the shaping of the historical process and in defining the socio-cultural world in which the majority of Brazilians lived.

II. Focus of Study: Public Opinion

The study of colonial Brazil has, until recently, revolved around the study of elites or institutions--those elements of colonial society which were literate and produced the great bulk of our historical sources. These sources embrace published works including ecclesiastical material such as sermons, confessional manuals and baptismal guides, travelers' accounts, and medical treatises as well as the vast body of governmental archival material which has survived. Such sources often blind us to the existence of a popular culture--this heterogeneous culture involving to varying degrees the vast bulk of colonial society. Even such sources as the cases of the Inquisition often have been used for institutional or attitudinal histories rather than as material for the study of the lives of victims of the Inquisition.

The last two decades have produced a healthy change as these same sources, generated by the dominant culture, are being used by historians as "hidden transcripts" in the felicitous expression of James Scott to look at the history of non-elites. But often this group, generally non-whites, is seen as outside the mainstream culture in as much as elite culture is generally seen as synonymous with colonial culture. The issue is described very effectively in theoretical terms by Raymond Williams when he defined elite culture as "effective dominant culture" and the very process of confusing it with "the" culture in general, "selective tradition." This effective dominant culture is constantly being modified by educational processes, social training, and the organization of work. Thus rather than seeing the dominant culture simply as imposed ideology, Williams posits a more fluid situation. [3] Those elements outside the effective dominant culture are described as either alternative or oppositional. The distinction b etween them is that the former has no desire to impose its values on the general society while the latter does. [4] In this sense, it is appropriate to see in colonial Brazil an effective dominant culture counterpoised to an alternative popular culture. I suggest in this essay that the relationship between them in specific areas can be characterized as one of mutual accommodation. There is little effort by the popular culture in Minas Gerais to impose its views on the dominant value system. Instead there is a desire to coexist, or better, to be left alone. [5] In very significant, indeed surprising, areas of life, the dominant culture does just that.

This essay also examines the contours of this alternative culture and its relationship to the effective dominant culture through the prism of socio-cultural accommodation. [6] In this process, the voz popular becomes the manifestation of the alternative popular culture. The effective dominant culture is that shaped and enunciated by the phalanx of church, state and elite. Colonial culture, as I see it, is the meeting of the two: a complex value system formed through the imposition of some elements of the dominant culture, some elements of the alternative culture, and numerous cases where the values of both cultures meet and are transformed. Rather than being the reflections of the values of either the effective dominant culture or the alternative popular culture, colonial culture is the multiple points of contact between them.

Gossip assumes a very important role in the articulation of colonial culture. It created a community which was inclusive, one in which both men and women participated. [7] No doubt, men and women participated in several imagined communities whose membership was defined by the sharing of common knowledge. Gossip creates common knowledge but it is a truism that it is common only to those who share it. The act of gossiping is the act of creating communities-- constructed communities. [8] These communities, defined by gossip or murmurings, had several levels defined by the nature of the relationships which were formed. The first can be characterized as horizontally constructed communities such as those defined by gender. Gossip in this situation serves to bind individuals together into a homogeneous group shaped by some characteristic such as gender or occupation or quality. [9] It functions to identify a group and to distinguish it from others. The second is vertically defined and defines the relationship among groups. The first is horizontal and links individuals and the second establishes vertical relationships among groups. The first is intra-group and the second inter-group. It is the intersection of these two which is the subject of this study.

III. The Voz Popular: The Articulation of Community Standards

Sin does not exist

On the bottom side of the Equator.

N[tilde{a}]o Existe Pecado ao Sul do Equador [10]

In general, the artifacts produced by this alternative culture have vanished. Most of its physical attributes, its material culture, such as clothing, housing, house furnishing, etc. have long since decayed. And yet, the vast majority of colonial Brazilian society lived within the confines of this culture whose echoes are still heard today in Brazil. The difficulty is in finding and giving voice to that alternative culture.

Paradoxically, to demonstrate the existence of this body of public opinion it is necessary to ask different questions of the artifacts produced by the dominant culture where clues to the nature of this popular culture can often be found. These "hidden transcripts" as defined by James Scott are transformed into sources for our understanding of a culture which has no unambiguous direct voice. The production of the dominant culture illuminates a world which is otherwise difficult to see across the centuries.

There is no more powerful expression of the dominant culture than the governing rules of the Catholic Church in Brazil, In 1720, the results of the synod of Bahia held in 1707 under the leadership of Archbishop Sebasti[tilde{a}]o Monteiro da Vide were published. The synod was a serious effort to impose on the Brazilian church the perspective of the Council of Trent held a century and a half earlier. The doctrinal results of the Bahian sessions are known as the Constituicoens primeyras and not only served to govern the archbishopric of Bahia but would be adopted in other parts of the colony. [11] Also in 1720, the more mundane regulations for the institutional structure of the Archbishopric were also issued thereby implementing the decisions of the synod. [12] In this Regimento do auditorio ecclesiastico were detailed instructions for conducting visitations in the communities of the archbishopric. These visitations were intended to monitor the religious and moral orthodoxy of the people as well as to specific ally monitor the performance and morals of the local priests. The Regimento's precise instructions for the periodic visits to the parishes provides an important insight into the relationship of the dominant and alternative cultures. There were many questions which were to be asked by the ecclesiastical visitors of parish residents--forty in all. These ranged from knowledge of heresy and blasphemy to witchcraft and divination; bigamy to consensual unions to pimping; usury to the illicit renting of animals; and twelve separate questions, the largest single category, relating to the moral and professional behavior of priests. The latter, no doubt, reflected the deep concern by the church hierarchy with the behavior of local priests.

A close reading of this document reveals a common refrain, a concern with public awareness of the act being discussed. The tone of the these forty questions to be posed to local parishioners is evident from the first:

If they [the parishioners] know or have heard that any person has committed the serious crime of heresy or apostasy, holding, saying or doing anything contrary to our Holy Catholic Faith in sum or in any part thereof, even if not renowned for this. [13]

Twenty-four of the forty questions contained qualifying phrases relating to common knowledge. Of these, nine specifically included phrases such as "even if [the person] is not renowned" for the alleged activity. This qualification was attached to questions relating to heresy, witchcraft, divination, bigamy, the marriage of a priest, the failure of a priest to provide sacraments or last rites specifically or to treat his parishioners fairly. In fifteen questions, it is clear that scandal or public knowledge needed to exist for the activity to be worthy of being reported. The qualifiers varied but a typical one is the phrase "e disso for infamada" as in "If any person sheltered in their house consents to or encourages the giving of women to men and is renowned for this." [14] Another recurring phrase is "and there is public renown for this," "e disso haja fama p[acute{u}]blica." Besides these questions, there were others relating to prostituting daughters and wives, pimping, incest, living in scandalous consens ual unions, usury, eating meat on fast days or not attending mass, and priests living scandalous lives. In these cases, public knowledge was essential as the key issue was the impact of the act on the community.

The Bahian church leaders were, in effect, distinguishing between types or levels of moral and spiritual misbehavior. In those cases without qualifications, people were to be reported even if these acts were not generally known--even if they were not upsetting the peace of the local community by causing scandal. Committing the act alone was the sin. In the other cases, people were to be reported only if their acts were generally known and causing scandal or disturbing the community. The first were immoral regardless of whether the community knew. But most were worthy of investigation and prosecution only if generally known and causing scandal. In the first the crime was the thought or act, the second was the negative impact on the community.

Question 17 is very precise and provides a definition of the geography of "public and notorious": "If there is any unmarried or married ecclesiastic or secular person who lives in consensual unions scandalously, and of this there is knowledge in the parish, place or village or in the greater part of the neighborhood." [15] The space circumscribed by the voz popular was thus defined in radiating circles. In this fashion, concubinage was seen as a crime to be examined if it produced scandal and if this scandal was known in the prescribed area: no scandal, no crime--no crime, no sin worthy of investigation.

In enunciating a distinction between categories of unacceptable behaviors, these church leaders were recognizing the existence of community standards of behavior--the alternative popular culture. [16] For many social acts there was no problem so long as those actions did not cause offense. But for others, the offense existed regardless of who knew about the actions or beliefs. What is remarkable, of course, is that the determination of the level of immorality implicit in acts such as the sexual abuse of daughters and wives, pimping etc. was left to the community. This makes clear the existence of a set of values distinct from those traditionally associated with the Catholic Church, especially the post-Trent church. In a remarkable series of situations, the church tolerated behavior which violated Christian precepts so long as there was no scandal--so long as there was no behavior so dangerous as to provoke the ire of the community. The Church leadership, in effect, chose social peace over religious conformit y--pragmatism over dogmatism. In the social arena, the church was willing to accommodate local attitudes, so long as there was a working, and no doubt unconsciously arrived at, consensus.

In so doing, church leaders also recognized that moral definitions were relative. Morality was to be determined by the community and with that came the reality of differences in standards. This flexibility is particularly surprising to find recognized in a church document whose expressed intent was to root out deviancy. Deviance, even in cases where the church was particularly adamant such as homosexuality, was subject to the views of the popular culture, and an institutionalized way was found for those views to be heard in the form of public opinion. No doubt different standards of behavior were expected from different classes of people and by gender. But these differences were accounted for by the body of public knowledge.

Time and again in colonial documents, there emerges the necessity of defining an action as public and well known. Thus often documents refer to "p[acute{u}]b1ico e not[acute{o}]rio." [17] The terms were used synonymously throughout the eighteenth century and their repetition served to emphasize the point. Antonio de Mor[tilde{a}]es Silva in the 1813 edition of his Diccionario da lingua portuqueza defines "p[acute{u}]blico" as "Common, of the use of all" and "not[acute{o}]rio" as "known to all, p[acute{u}]blico." [18] One witness noted that "it was certain and p[acute{u}]blico and not[acute{o}]rio" that a couple lived as man and wife for several years. [19] The repeated and insistent use of these and similar expressions is an illustration of the importance placed upon the body of public knowledge in colonial Brazil. It reflects the reality that public opinion could and did have a role in the public sphere not in the traditional democratic sense by affecting the promulgation of laws and moral strictures but by shaping their implementation. [20]

It is also an illustration of the distinction between public and private sin--those acts which are important only if and when they are known and those which are sinful regardless of whether they are known by others. The Church was outlining a geography of sin which struck a balance between formal Church teachings and the values and behaviors of the alternative popular culture. In doing so it recognized the existence of an alternate set of cultural values which it deemed too costly to change. It was an accommodation with reality, an accommodation which saw social peace as its primary objective. Socio-cultural consensus, the avoidance of unnecessary conflict, emerges as an important concept in colonial Minas Gerais.

But it was an accommodation made in a wide area of colonial life. Portuguese practice treated the values of the popular culture, manifested as public knowledge, as a valid source of truth. This can be seen in many aspects of colonial judicial experience, both ecclesiastical and civil. For example, when the Inquisition opened a formal investigation into an allegation, it formulated a series of four or five central questions. Typically the final one was: "If everything reported is true and is p[acute{u}]blico e not[acute{o}]rio ... " [21] The investigators wanted to know if the information being given was common knowledge. That common knowledge was, in effect, that held by those sectors of the free community in a position to speak to that issue. [22] This was important since it affected the investigator's perception of the nature of the crime and its impact on the community.

Trials for secular or spiritual transgressions did not require that witnesses provide direct evidence of having personally witnessed the crime. [23] It was sufficient for the witnesses to report the community knowledge. This was done through such expressions as "I know because it is public and widely known... " or "I heard it said that...." It was not unusual to have witnesses testifying who had no personal knowledge of the alleged transgressions. [24] These witnesses were perfectly acceptable since they reflected the public's awareness of the transgression. The process makes manifest the desire of the authorities to seek judicial resolutions which maintained the public peace which was more important than discovering the "absolute truth" about a situation. In essence, the community's view of truth, what Chris Wickham calls "agreed truth," was more important than any abstract notion of justice. [25]

The frequency with which such expressions are found in colonial documents suggests that the definition of a crime is relative and not absolute. The fact that this definition was credibly expressed through public knowledge means that it was the members of the community using gossip or murmurings which defined what is the truth. Truth becomes relative rather than an absolute--it is constructed rather than found. [26]

By permitting this to occur, the authorities were permitting alternative collective perceptions to emerge and moving the determination of morality from the universalist, assigned and absolute to the local, particularist, and relative; from being prescribed by authority to being shaped and sanctioned by the members of the local community. It is this which, in part, gives colonial culture its paradoxical nature--centralizing in intent but in practice decentralized down to the level of the local community. Constant statements of orthodoxy concerning values and hierarchy in social and political relations are counterbalanced by the ignoring of many of these values and their implementing directives by the general population. As in other regards, this space given to local practice and values belies the traditional perception of Portuguese authoritarianism.

The articulation of the views of the community or the popular culture were made through the voz popular or, as it was more infrequently stated, the voz p[acute{u}]blica or the voz comun. [27] The terms used had parallel meanings in the eighteenth century. Mor[tilde{a}]es Silva defines "popular" as "of the people" with "people" having the sense of residents; "p[acute{u}]blico" as "of the use of all;" and "comun" as "that which belongs equally to many; of which many use." [28] They are different ways of saying what, functionally, describes the same entity.

The concept of the voz popular operated on two distinct levels. The first is the level of common knowledge about specific events. For example, the voz popular frequently is heard on matters relating to New Christians or Judaism. Thus various witnesses reported the "fact" that Alexandre Lopes was a New Christian or Andre de Barros was a Jew was common knowledge. [29] But it was heard on other issues as well; for example when a witness testified about a priest "that it is the common voice throughout the neighborhood, that the said priest ... was of little capacity and understanding and thus they called him Father Horse." [30] In this regard, public knowledge defined a person's reputation in the community and was an integral part of the culture of honor and shame which permeated eighteenth-century Minas Gerais and of which more will be said below.

There was a sense that public knowledge or opinion had to be generally held. In a case where false testimony was used to incriminate a man, an angry Inquisition judgement noted that for reputation, fama, to exist it was necessary that it be "found in all parts of that Hamlet or in the greater part of it and that there should be similar characteristics in that reputation.... " [31] This sense of "similar characteristics" was generally understood. People testifying to the Inquisition make that clear. One witness in a case involving a healer stated that "in respect to the cures and dances it is p[acute{u}]blico e n[acute{o}]torio but as to the drinking he [the witness] does not know if it is firm in the understanding of all." [32] The use of "all" as in "all parts" and "of all" implies the expectation that the knowledge cut across social lines. However, this does not seem to have included the entire community but only the free community. While males of various qualities commonly appear in the ecclesiastical and civil records and women occasionally do, slaves have a very rare presence and only when the case involves them. When they are involved, they reflect the popular culture's view. The contour of the popular culture in this regard seems imprecise. In some areas, slaves were included; in others they are not present at all. Their absence from the artifacts of the dominant culture should not be a surprise and should not be taken to exclude them from our definition. It simply means that they were more effectively excluded from the "transcripts" of the dominant culture.

To some degree the same is true of women. Most of the witnesses relied upon by the Inquisition were male even in cases where the accused are female. It appears that the public/official expression of the voz popular was the task of males. [33] This relates even to the description of the reputation of specific individuals--a process in which women must have participated.

Thus common knowledge had to be a generally shared view in the community and its characteristics commonly held and described. But there is no sense of an imposed set of values and attitudes. Individuals seem to have been comfortable reporting when their perceptions deviated from that of the body of public opinion. Thus it is not unusual to find witnesses such as Ricardo Jos[acute{e}] Freitas stating that "he did not know if all have formed the same concept and thus he abstains from saying that it is p[acute{u}]blico e not[acute{o}]rio." [34] Another witness in the same case reported that "he did not know if it is p[acute{u}]b1ico e n{acute{o}]torio in all parts but that it was at the time when the said Rita lived in the neighborhood." [35] But this freedom to stand apart from the commonly held view is a reaffirmation of the existence of that body of opinion and suggests that it was formed as part of an open social process.

In the eighteenth century, people understood this meaning of public opinion and with precision described its geographical configuration. For example, a witness testified that what she had reported "was p[acute{u}]blico e n[acute{o}]torio in the Aplica[tilde{a}]o de Santa Ana, the place of residence of the accused." [36] An individual who did not share the common view felt compelled to report that view and then explain the different perception. Another witness, a priest who had served as a chaplain on some sugar plantations on the Ilha do Governador in Rio de Janeiro, testified that he had known the owner's son for nineteen years and "always heard it said and it was public knowledge, fama p[acute{u}]blica, that [the son] was a New Christian of the nation but that he, the Witness, always held him to be a good Christian.... " [37] Or an Inquisition witness could report that "what was said is the truth but she did not know if it is p[acute{u}]b1ico e not[acute{o}]rio by all.... " [38] The ways in which the state ments are phrased makes it clear even through the filter of the scribe of the Inquisition that it was understood that there was a body of public opinion which was distinct from individually held opinion and that the distinction was known and could be described with some precision even by those who did not agree with it. The distinction between "hearing" something and the voz popular suggests that the community view was not constructed casually.

IV. The Voz Popular and the Contours of Popular Culture

The popular culture's view played an important role in the culture of honor. Honor in colonial Luso-Brazilian society operated at two levels. One was honor as a function of birth. It was assumed that those of high birth were born with honor; it was a type of honor which those of lower birth could never aspire to. But the second variety was a function of a person's character and behavior. While the first was permanent, the second could be earned or lost. This second type of honor was a critical part of colonial society as those without permanent honor sought aggressively to establish their claims to the second variety. In this effort, the honor of women was a critical factor. This second characteristic was a function of a person's or a family's reputation in the community. The reputation (fama) of a person or family determined whether they had honor of not. And the formation of fama was one of the functions of the voz popular.

This can be seen in numerous forms in colonial Minas Gerais. For example, when a husband died leaving children under the age of twenty-five without stipulating any specific determinations, his widow was often forced to petition the crown for authorization to serve as executor of the children's estate. The widow was thus forced to assert that her reputation was unblemished. In 1765, D. Maria Theresa da Nazaret, the widow of Francisco Velozo de Miranda, a resident of Inficionado, filed such a petition called an Instrument of Justification in which she argued that "she was a person of means, capable of taking care of herself [de bom governol and chaste without reputation [sem fama] or any rumor to the contrary with the capacity and intelligence to administer well and to put in good order not only her property but that of her children." [39] Her petition was supported by three members of the community who reiterated her reputation in the community. It was the community which defined the reputation of an individu al and therefore of his/her family.

But if the voz popular operated on the level of a body of common knowledge which defined the reputation of people and commented on their behavior, it also operated on a second level. In this form, the voz popular is the body of shared experiences and values held by the alternative culture. It exhibited a set of values, religious beliefs and social practices whose unique combination characterizes and distinguishes it from that of the dominant culture. It is the representation of an alternate culture.

Typically the expression of this culture in colonial Brazil was oral, measured by behaviors including popular manifestations in the form of festivities and celebrations. That is, of course, the reason why we find this expression in the margins and recesses of the documents produced by the dominant culture. This reliance on oral transmission is explained by the limited access to literacy and the conscious control of education by the dominant culture to maintain power. The former issue is obvious. Literacy was a definition of the effective dominant culture, and the absence of educational opportunities reinforced the distinction between literate and illiterate. Socially circumscribed access to literacy was reinforced by the control of the press in Portugal through censorship by the dominant culture and its effective prohibition of presses in Brazil. The latter process is also clear. The absence of presses and universities in Brazil is often seen as the prime example of the control over knowledge, but this same desire to control can be seen in more prosaic situations. For example, it is evident in the rejection of requests to establish a training school for surgeons in Minas Gerais in 1768. The council of the comarca capital of Sabar[acute{a}] had requested that an instructor of Theoretical and Practical Surgery and Anatomy be created in order to raise the professional level of medical personnel. The Crown Procurator, in his opinion to the Overseas Council, successfully opposed the request, noting

That this link [studying in Portugal] should not be weakened and the public teaching [locally] of the art of surgery, which itself is a small matter, would be the beginning of the weakening [of the tie between colony and mother country]. But this small beginning would within a few years result in the Brazilians monopolizing this teaching; and this small beginning could serve as an precedent later for the teaching of Medicine and perhaps could affect in the future the establishment of the Teaching of Law supported by the town councils and thus reach the point of cutting this tie of dependency. [40]

Clearly there was concern that any breach in the "tip of dependency" was a dangerous precedent. A small breach would quickly lead to the destruction of Portuguese control over all realms of education. Significant is the clarity of both the language and the intent. Educational dependency was too important to endanger. The combination of these various factors means that it is difficult, although not impossible, to find expression of the popular culture in its own voice.

It is relatively easy to demonstrate that Luso-Brazilian society had found a means to recognize and accommodate public knowledge in a wide range of ways. What is more difficult is to define the contours of the popular culture from which came the voz popular. But some of its features are clear. Certainly a key component of this popular culture was the evolution of a distinct complex of religions best described as a continuum of values and rituals from primarily African to primarily European Catholic. In Minas Gerais, the massive presence of Africans, imported to work the gold fields and to support gold production, had affected the religious structure of most, if not all, mineiros. Most clear in the records of the Inquisition is the emergence of an African-Christian faith. There can be no doubt of the existence of a culture whose roots were formed by the confluence of folk Portuguese and African traditions. This is very evident in the values shared by members of the popular culture in the mining zones of eight eenth century Minas Gerais and is easily seen in the ill-defined interstices between religion and what was called by the dominant culture "superstition." [41]

This confluence of cultural traditions is illustrated by the case of Luzia Pinta, an ex-slave born in Angola. [42] By the age of twelve she was serving a Portuguese master in Angola and then came to Brazil where she obtained her freedom. At early as 1741, she was living as a freed woman in the mining district of Sabar[acute{a}] where she had developed such a reputation for being able to cure victims of evil spells and to divine the future that people from distant places knew of her talents and used her services. In some cases they came to her and in others she went to them. It was this reputation which ultimately drew the attention of the Inquisition, resulting in her arrest and trial.

During her interrogations by the officials of the Lisbon Inquisition, Pinta described, with no little pride and assertiveness, how she was able to cure. She would dress in special and ornate fashions. Sometimes, she would sit under a canopy, dressed "in the style of an angel," wearing a cap with a ribbon tied around her head and carrying a short sword in her hand. On other occasions she would appear dressed "in the Turkish style" with a crown and holding a sword. And at other times, she wore ribbons, cascabreis, on her arms and legs and carried a small hatchet, machadinho. Several observers would later report that from her seat under the canopy she would "bray like a burro." A critical part of the ceremony was the music. Her slaves, Angolans like her, would sing accompanied by drums called tabaques, or tambores. Her singing and chanting was done in an unknown language which was assumed to be African by observers. After several hours of music and dancing, with Luzia jumping like a "goat," as one observer repo rted, she would "go out of her mind," as she was seized by "the illness of her country, which she referred to as calandus." Portuguese participants later during her trial would describe her state as "horrendous" and "furious." After that would come "the winds of divination" which she also called "destiny"-- presumably a trance-like state was being induced. While in the trance, she spoke in the language of her youth.

At that point, she would transmit God's wishes: "God, Our Lord, would tell her what to do." [43] She would then be able to tell her listeners of God's plans and to offer various cures. On some occasions she would order those under a spell to lie down and then she would pass over them while holding a special small vessel called a canoazinha, which she had made for that purpose, rubbing the believers/patients with "herbs or grasses" or hervas. On other occasions, she would begin by smelling the heads of the believers/patients to divine if spells had been cast on them. Then they would drink a potion made of wine and grasses or swallow the dust of dried grasses. When done, she would tie a ribbon on the person's right arm which served as an amulet ensuring that the evil spell would not be received again. During her interrogation, she acknowledged that she could sense whenever she was in the presence of someone who carried a "mandinga or anything diabolic" which would immediately induce a trance. [44] These talism ans were used by people of both Portuguese and African origin. Luzia Pinta stated that she could also induce the trance by staring into space for some time and then bowing. This would give her the ability to look at people and determine if they were going to live and thus were curable or if they were going to die and there was nothing more that could be done for them.

Luzia Pinta was only one of many people known as sorcerers, healers, and diviners. They represented the connection between folk Catholicism and traditional African religions. This role of cultural mediator is easily illustrated at several levels. She was sophisticated in her understanding of Catholic doctrine. She vehemently denied ever having resorted to the devil for her powers, understanding that this was the key concern of the agents of the dominant culture. Instead she firmly and repeatedly insisted that her powers were granted by God (and not the devil) and that it was God who spoke through her and provided the cures. God used Saints Anthony and Goncalo as intermediaries to effect the cures. To drive home the point she insisted that for their services each saint received a portion of her fee. This is an effective grafting of the two traditions. And not a bad idea, given the predicament she must have feared.

The ritual and the symbols she carried, small swords and axes, no doubt are drawn from Africa as was the music. But it is not the content of her message or the ritual in which it was couched alone which is significant. We must also consider her clientele. In her case, and in that of other diviners, the believers were not just slaves and people of color. Portuguese, in general, and members of the elite among them were drawn to Luzia Pinta, the ex-slave born in Africa. Moreover, when the diviners were reported to authorities, it was not by members of the inner circle of believers. Many Portuguese participated and many had come to rely on these individuals to provide cures for themselves and for members of their families. These included the most important members of the Luso-Brazilian elite in the gold-mining zone. They were not the source of the denunciations--these typically were made by outsiders to the imagined community of believers.

The connection of these people to Pinta serves to illustrate well the connection between the dominant and the alternative cultures. This is evident in their descriptions of Luzia Pinta and her ceremonies. She was described as being known throughout the comarca for her capacity to foretell the future and as a feiticeira p[acute{u}]blica--a public sorceress, a term implying that she was generally known and yet no effort was made to hide her activities. Among the witnesses was a priest who had heard of her curing people, a captain-major who had attended her sessions, and a university-trained royal judge, ouvidor, who had gone to consult her about his pains. [45] Three important representatives of the dominant culture as well as assorted members of their families had consulted (the verb used was consultar) Pinta. They had not seen the conflict with the dominant culture and none of them reported her to the Inquisition.

The way in which the Inquisition defined the questions to be asked of witnesses is also telling. The inquisitors posed five questions regarding her case, the first two being standard and generically asked of all witnesses:

1. Did the witnesses know why they had been called?

2. Were they aware of anything going on against the faith?

3. Did they know Luzia Pinta?

4. Was Luzia Pinta "publicly seen as a feiticeira and as such consulted and by whom ...

5. When she acted as she did was she of sound mind?

The way question four was framed, no doubt, shaped the form of the responses by the witnesses who consistently stated that she was indeed seen as a public feiticeira. In effect, the inquisitors were putting words/concepts into the minds of the witnesses who were only too anxious to please. But the witnesses also added details, enriching our understanding of how she was perceived--what her reputation was. The testimony of Francisco Pereira Ribeiro is typical. He reported that her curative powers were "common knowledge, voz popular, throughout the neighborhood." The royal judge of Sabar[acute{a}], Dr. Balthasar de Mor[tilde{a}]es Sarmento, sought her out "for consultation." Other Portuguese witnesses referred to her as a "calanduzeira"--or someone who performed calanduses, "diviner," adevinhadeira, "witch," feiticeira and "healer," curandeira. The fact that these activities had been occurring for some years without repercussions suggests that her activities were not seen either as unusual or as a threat.

The relationship of the ex-slave to the Portuguese clearly gave her a ready source of income and status. Consistently the witnesses referred to her as widely known and sought out by many. This power and prestige also must have conferred upon her, and the many others like her, a position of authority and status over slaves, people of color in general and, to some degree, over some whites attracted by her power or afraid of it. [46] It certainly placed her into a privileged position for someone of her quality--an African ex-slave woman.

The records of the Lisbon Inquisition are filled with sorcerers, healers and diviners just like Luzia Pinta. The rituals, calanduses, occurred at night, and are generally described as being of an "indecent and abominable nature" by the representatives of the effective dominant culture. Often they were led by women such as the six female slaves of Sergeant-Major Antonio Machado da Costa of Sumidouro. Two of the women were identified as Banguelas. While the ethnic origin of the other four is not given almost certainly they were Africans. [47] Often present were whites and other freemen so there was a sense of broader sanction and an important point of cultural contact and cross-cultural acceptance. While Portuguese authorities referred to the participants as black, in reality, where detailed descriptions are found, whites are always present. The members of the dominant culture thus sought to distance and marginalize these activities and belief systems as much as possible, even to the point of frequently referr ing to activities such as Pinta's as animalistic.

The tone of these descriptions is very telling. Their very routine nature and the fact that there were many other individuals claiming these powers of healing and divination points to the generalized acceptance of a popular religion shaped to varying degrees by African religious forms within the popular culture in Minas Gerais in the eighteenth century [48]--a popular culture with its own religious values and forms of expression but closely tied to the dominant culture and thus able to reach out and involve elite whites. It is important to reiterate the fact that this popular culture was not isolated: rather it maintained contact with the effective dominant culture. It was the latter which sought to isolate and reject or eliminate this alternative value system.

This relationship is seen very clearly in the case of Joaquim, an Angolan slave residing in Mariana. Joaquim was the leader of a group of individuals who participated in religious activities, again demonstrating the overlap of traditional African values and European Catholicism. Joaquim would begin the activities by singing "songs of his Land" accompanied by the other participants. Then someone else would approach the center of the group and sing out "Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ!" to which the others would respond "For ever!" The witnesses to this ceremony reported that some of those present then said "you call us devils but we are nor devils because we are baptized and because we speak with Jesus Christ and Holiest Mary and the devil does not speak to either Jesus Christ or Holiest Mary." [49] The overlapping of religious traditions in ways similar to this was very common within the popular culture.

These ceremonies are mixtures of African rituals and values and Catholic ones. They are described in the routine, matter of fact language of the Inquisition scribes. The mass importation of Africans into the gold mining zone had led to the evolution of a popular culture where Portuguese Catholicism and African beliefs, attitudes, and values coexisted both in the society and in the minds of many people, Portuguese and African and their descendants.

Frequently these activities were seen to constitute a threat against the established order, and the tone of these concerns betrays both a realization that Catholic doctrinal understanding by members of the popular culture was superficial and that these alternative views had achieved some general acceptance. This is apparent in the investigation of the Mina slave Rita who was accused of being a healer. One white witness reported that Rita lived "by persuading the weak and badly instructed Souls who believe in her fabrications from which result mainly disorders and finally loss of Religion, [and] damnation for the Slaves for she is an instigator of the People." Other witnesses did not limit their concerns to the slave population--seeing Rita as leading the weak sheep, regardless of their quality, astray. Another white witness saw her "increasing the Devil's party," "weakening the faith" and "deceiving the residents who because they are not strong in the things of God and of Doctrine [ldots] permit themselves t o be persuaded of the work of the common enemy." The weak included both "credulous whites and rustic blacks." A pardo witness spoke of Rita "filling the Country with abuses." In another case, reference is made to the "total credulity with which such fabrications are received in the State of America." Blacks, in particular, are blamed for persuading people to take the wrong path. [50] In classic form, the victim becomes the threat and corrupter of those who enslave her/him.

It is important to remember that these sentiments emerge during the judicial process when the witnesses, many of them participants and believers, seek to distance themselves from the attention of the Inquisition. The witnesses are trying to protect themselves. Their concerns reflect those of the dominant culture and probably are presented in the form used by the investigators, who are representatives of that culture. In reality, many of the curers were able to practice their profession for years without interference. Once the curers are discovered by the unsympathetic members of the dominant culture who see them as a threat or by outsiders, they are arrested and interrogated. At that point, many, whose positions are compromised, turn on 'them,' the representatives of the alternate culture. These sorcerers then move from sources of comfort to dangers; from efficacious healers to dangerous fakes. But it is very clear that until the moment of arrest, the bulk of the population either actively accepts these acti vities or tolerates their existence.

It is also clear that gossip helps to define this alternate culture. The feiticeiras are well known. They have reputations in varying geographies. Their powers are the subject of discussion not just among slaves and other marginalized groups but among the highest reaches of the community and among men as well as women. Without gossip they would have no clientele or believers. It was gossip or murmurac[tilde{a}]o which created this community.

Another of the values which defined this popular culture and one which deeply frustrated the Catholic church and the dominant culture was the frequently described presence of the devil plus an alternate conception of hell. This is seen throughout eighteenth century Brazilian society. There are numerous examples: the mandinga carried by a Santa Catarina slave with the inscription "Cruz Diabo," [51] diviners who were accused of functioning with the cooperation of the devil, [52] the use of supernatural powers through the intervention of the devil, [53] curing through the power of the devil, [54] and the slave in the Fazenda do Bananal who described hell as being a place for devils and not for people. [55] The devil was a constant part of the imagery of colonial popular culture. In Par[acute{a}] a Portuguese-born sergeant-major admitted making a pact with the devil to win the love of a woman [56] as did an Indian at the other end of the social spectrum. [57] On special cards, cartas de tocar, probably not unlik e tarot cards, the devil was depicted with a chain in one hand attached to a woman's wrist. [58] An African healer in Vila Rica was accused of increasing the "party of the Devil" by her actions--actions which were seen as corrosive of Catholic values. [59]

The devil was a presence in the mind of eighteenth-century Brazilians. The Catholic Church accepted the concept of a devil but sought to root out those people who had made "pacts" with the demonic presence. Thus it also saw the devil as a real and dangerous force. But many people took this doctrinal issue and pushed it further and dealt with the devil in very familiar ways. [60]

If the Church was deeply troubled by the large collection of diviners and healers populating Brazilian society as well as those people who made pacts with the devil, it also had to face a heavy dose of anti-religious behavior. This appeared in the Inquisition interrogations as not being afraid of God, "pouco temente de Deus," or as blasphemy. [61] While it appears that blasphemy or libertinism may have become more prevalent at the end of the eighteenth century, there is no doubt that it was a feature of earlier times as well. This skepticism was aimed particularly at priests, many of whom had committed serious breeches of church etiquette. In the mining district, religious zeal was often counterbalanced by a skeptical, almost mocking, attitude. There are various reports, for example, of the unedifying scene of prostitutes recruiting clients during masses. The mining zone was a rough and tumble world which the agencies of the dominant culture had not been able to tame or domesticate.

V. The Voz Popular and Marriage

Thus the popular culture appears to have ignored church doctrine and policy on various matters of consequence. This was true of the general rejection of church marriage by the great majority of the population. While marriage is one of the essential sacraments of the Church, in Brazil the insistence on marriage was modified by the refusal of major sectors of the community to many. The refusal was so general that both the church and the state were forced to accommodate this social reality. Thus ecclesiastical inspectors in Minas Gerais were to ask the parishioners of the communities they visited whether "there is any Ecclesiastical or single secular person who lives in consensual union scandalously and is known for this.... " [62] Two substantial qualifications were added. There had to be scandalous behavior and the scandal needed to be known generally. Consensual unions were not automatically so sinful as to trigger concern, according to the Catholic Church. The line of demarcation was scandal and public know ledge.

Interestingly these qualifications appear in the protocol issued in the Regimento of the Bahian Synod which thus made provision for consensual unions rather than arguing strongly for the marriage values defined by the Council of Trent. [63] In this very important regard, the imposition of the precepts of the Council of Trent was delayed still further in Brazil.

And if the church was willing to tolerate these illicit relationships unless they caused scandal, the state also demonstrated its tolerance of them--acceding no doubt to the inevitable. Portuguese authorities were explicitly instructed not to interfere with consensual unions unless they were causing scandal in the community. This principle of tolerance was implemented. In 1782, for example, an overzealous royal judge of Principe arrested a number of men for "maintaining concubines and causing general and public scandal." The men appealed to the governor who ordered them freed on the grounds that the charges, while embarrassing, were "childish." [64] Scandal as defined by the royal judge was not enough to push the civil authorities to become involved in the matter. Presumably the actions of the men did not rise to the level of "public scandal" in the eyes of the governor.

Consensual unions were far more common among the members of the popular culture than in the dominant culture--although even within the latter they were hardly rare. The key issue was public notoriety. So long as it was tolerated by the community there was no need for the church to take action--despite the sacramental stricture on such matters. This seems to reflect the survival of a set of behaviors brought to Brazil from a pre-Trent Portugal where publicly proclaimed marriages were socially recognized. The Council of Trent validated the church's claim for monopoly control over the conditions and processes of marriage. But mineiros had not read the edicts of the Council of Trent and most continued with their traditional patterns of social behavior. It is a good example of Fernand Braudel's "longue dur[acute{e}]e." This behavior had sufficient power and acceptance to ward off the efforts of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to impose the new rules.

The Catholic Church and the Portuguese state accommodated to the existence of these behavioral patterns by accepting them unless they caused social scandal and thereby upset the social peace. This specific form of accommodation created another breach in the orthodoxy of the dominant culture. The social power of scandal or public knowledge was extensive and that power could be actively used by some people. Public knowledge was an important part of the strategy employed by couples whose efforts to marry had met with parental disapproval or complications caused by the church's definition of impediments to marriage. For minors, individuals under the age of twenty-five, parental authority was required to contract marriage and there had to be no impediments to that marriage. In eighteenth-century Brazil, ways were found around this requirement. If the couple could demonstrate that the woman's honor had been stained then the only way of remediating that damage was to either permit the marriage to occur despite pare ntal objection or force the man to provide the woman with a dowry substantial enough to permit her to marry a man appropriate to her station and condition. To force the church into this position required that the woman's honor be besmirched publicly. It did not matter if the illicit action was done in private--to have any effect it had to cause public scandal which would threaten the reputation/honor of the woman's family.

In this situation, familiarity and intimacy served as a way of maneuvering around ecclesiastical restriction. And the rules as to what constituted sufficient public scandal varied by class. For members of the dominant culture, comparatively little was required. Thus when Manuel Coelbo Rodrigues sought to marry his cousin D. Josefa de Avila de Figueiredo, their family relationship obviously emerged as a barrier. In addition to petitioning the church that their relationship was only of the 4th degree, they also argued that Rodrigues had aroused public commentary by going in and out of her family's house so much that, while they had not had sexual intercourse, D. Josefa's honor was threatened. The church agreed and authorized the wedding. [65]

The intensity or degree of the stain was relative. For the members of the popular culture, the stain had to be more substantial and damnable. This can be seen very clearly in the case of Jo[tilde{a}]o Machado Castanho and Paula da Silva, a freed parda. Their prospective marriage was threatened by the realization that Silva was the godmother of a child whose mother had had an illicit sexual affair with Castanho among other men. Silva argued that: "The petitioner, even though she is a parda, lived and lives with much probity, such that under the promises of marriage made to her by the Petitioner [Castanha] he led her to lose her virginity which led to her becoming pregnant . . ." [66] Silva was making an emphatic claim to honor based on her behavior, "living ... with much probity," as a counterbalance to her quality as a parda which automatically disqualified her from claiming honor as a condition of birth. In her petition she argued, as did so many others, that if she were not authorized to marry Castanho she would not be able to find another husband and her brothers would likely kill her. Her witnesses agreed, adding that if she did not marry Castanha she would "be exposed to illicit treatment." [67] The ecclesiastical authorities, as usual, acquiesced to her petition.

The strategy was certainly not a secret. A priest investigating the petition of Mathias Dutra and Maria do Esp[acute{i}]rito Santo to waive the restriction created by their being related by godparentage noted that the couple already had one child and that witnesses reported being told by Duarte that "he had had carnal relations with the petitioner in order to have the impediment removed more easily and [thus] to be able to marry her.... " [68]

It was commonly understood that the church could be maneuvered by being presented with situations in which the woman would be permanently and irretrievably compromised and her family's honor stained, if the church did not bend on its frequently stated rules. Publicly known illicit sexual activities or other behavior which caused scandal were the means by which a couple could avoid existing ecclesiastical impediments to marriage or the efforts of parents to determine their choice of marriage partners. This had the effect of forcing church authorities to select between two bad choices: they could waive the church's rules or refuse to legitimatize the marriage. But the latter choice would leave the woman dishonored and her future ruined. The situation was described very effectively by Antonia Martins Cerqueira who "found herself sullied with the petitioner, [and] thusly if she did not marry him she would be dishonored without anyone to marry, being abandoned with no one to support her because she was extremely poor."69 Given these choices the church consistently preferred to protect the woman and grant the waiver. For this process to be effective for members of the popular culture required an act so powerful that it offended the community's sensibilities: the dishonor had to involve kidnapping or deflowering the woman and the act had to be publicly known. It had to set tongues wagging to create a new reputation-one which upset the community and turned it against the couple and their families.

A corollary to this virtually institutionalized role for deflowerment is the issue of virginity. Virginity at marriage was a tenet of the dominant culture, one ritualized through the remarkable centrality in Latin Catholicism of the Virgin Mary in all of her many aspects. It represented a cultural ideal. But it had the practical function of guaranteeing control of the parentage of the child who stood to inherit the family's name and property. But this was an issue only for those with enough property and honor by birth to be concerned. For most people, it was a ideal without point. In a way it is a classic example of Williams' concept of effective dominant culture since it has come to be seen as a characteristic of the entire culture. The reality; of course, is that this was an ideal which generally could be realized only by females of the dominant culture whose every act could be watched and supervised, and even for these women there were exceptions. For the vast majority of Brazilian women, no such control c ould be imposed nor was it warranted.

But even for those families for whom honor was a critical value, the concept of virginity at marriage was typically not the central value. A woman of status needed to be a virgin when she became engaged. It was the public promise of marriage which constituted the threshold of sexual activity. Once there was a public promise, then sexual activity was often initiated. The key was that it had to be a public proclamation-one made to the community both to inform it and to receive its sanction.

This, of course, raised a very different set of problems. Many were the men who promised marriage to have sex and who then reneged on their promise, leaving a woman and family dishonored. Many were the women, no doubt, who used the promise of sexual intercourse to obtain a promise of marriage and, hopefully, the reality of an officially sanctioned bond. Both of these strategies depended on a public promise to marry.

Many were the women who married, having lost their virginity and often already pregnant. But so long as their sexual relationships had been limited to the man they were marrying there was no problem. The reputation of the family was safe as was the clarity of the inheritance process.

But this was not a reality for most women. Most women, free and slave, would never marry, so the concept of virginity at marriage was of no relevance. For the vast majority of free women, not to speak of slave women, the treasured elite concepts of seclusion and isolation which were the foundations of virginity were not possible. Most women of the popular culture had to live and work in the world-not in the seclusion of a fortress home. This expanded their social opportunities but also put them at greater risk.

This means that the popular culture was able to maintain traditional forms of family organization--consensual unions described as concubinagem or amanceberia. The legal basis of the family thus came to differentiate the popular culture from the dominant culture. The values of the latter were not successfully imposed on the popular culture during the eighteenth century. Quite to the contrary, the dominant culture had to accept the existence of this alternate form of social organization.

VI. Abuses of the Voz Popular

"This malicious dissension [zizania] that you plant are diabolical seeds that you spread.' [70]

What seems remarkable given our perceptions of cultural and religious orthodoxy is that the community standard was very tolerant or permissive in some areas. Traditional values included an acceptance of behavior dependent on social rank. Behavior permitted in some circumstances and by some people was not in other situations.

This is true of folk religion and the treatment of slaves. The case of Ja[tilde{a}]o Carvalho de Barros provides an example of the latter. A pardo ex-slave, Barros was charged with having had homosexual relations with his slaves. He also was having sex with a slave woman and arranging for her to have sexual relations with male slaves while he watched. There was common knowledge of his activities with women for years; in fact the gossip had preceded his arrival in the community. Word of his homosexual activities had been common knowledge for at least several years and various people had, according to their testimony, witnessed Barros involved in these activities. [71] Perhaps an indication of the community perception of the power of a master over his slaves, members of the community took no action for years.

The same happened with Pedro Lopes Fiuza, a Bahian-born resident of Vila Rica. In 1723 he was accused by his slave of homosexuality--the dreaded pecado nefando. Witness after witness noted that it was common knowledge that he was having sexual relations with a male slave and that another had run away to avoid being importuned into doing so. Some had spoken to people who had actually seen him engaged in such activity. [72]

In these and no doubt many other cases, this community standard of morality therefore also functioned to protect malefacrors and to permit the continued exploitation of slaves. The reality is that the community standard was capable of being used to maintain existing prejudices, and the ability of masters to do their will on slaves appears to be a part of that value system, at least in Minas Gerais. Thus the exploitation of slave women was not a cause of concern to the mineiro community under any circumstances. Here we can discern levels of values. The relationship of Jo[bar{o}]]o Carvalho de Barros to his slave woman was a matter of public knowledge and discussion on the street among men and women for years. Nothing came of it. So was his homosexual relationship to his male slaves. To the community, what a master did with his slaves was the master's business. In the world of the dominant culture, however, there was a distinction to be drawn. The difference is that once reported to the Inquisition, there was an investigation of the homosexual behavior but not of the systematic exploitation of the slave woman. Even to the Inquisition, the latter behavior was permitted--no doubt because it was seen as "natural" sex.

At the heart of this system was the honest reporting of the voz popular. Critical to the functioning of this system was truthful testimony. It is in this respect that the frequent colonial admonitions about the eighth commandment concerning false testimony must be seen.

Transgressions were taken very seriously. The saga of Antonio de S[acute{a}] Tinoco is an example of the danger of false testimony and the distortion of the voz popular. [73] This resident of Itaberava, Minas Gerais was accused of heresy for publicly stating that "simple intercourse" was not a violation of the sixth commandment; for being a "public sinner" who lived openly with his slave woman; and for skipping confession and communion on three consecutive Easters. "Simple intercourse" was an issue of debate apparently throughout the eighteenth century. It was the belief that intercourse between two individuals free of any impediments for marriage but not married was not a violation of the Sixth Commandment. Tinoco's accusers included the parish priest and four of seven witnesses. Based on the accusations he was arrested and ordered sent to Portugal. From Rio de Janeiro he was able to marshal his supporters and obtained another investigation as a form of cross-examining the charges.

The testimony given on this occasion was very different. Nine witnesses were deposed. They agreed that it was general knowledge that he had fathered "mulatinhos" but a number of the witnesses denied any personal knowledge. The issue of his relationship to the slave woman was not seen as a matter of concern by the witnesses who seem to have agreed that no matter the relationship she "worked like a slave." Witnesses who had known him for years stated that he had fulfilled his spiritual obligations. More critically they substantiated his statements that he had been falsely accused by the parish priest and his friends as a means of removing Tinoco from his practice as a surgeon and thus opening the market for the priest's brother who had taken a correspondence course in surgery but had been a business failure. Much was made of the fact that one of his accusers had been so moved by the crusading passion of a group of Catholic missionaries that he confessed his part in the plot.

The testimony also pointed out that this was the second effort to destroy Tinoco. He had previously been accused falsely of assault. Again a group of witnesses had accused him but eventually he was found innocent. The town council judge who had investigated the case had not done a thorough job and was accused by the reviewing authority "of having substituted his [version of the] truth called public knowledge [fama] or publicity [publicidade] that was said to exist because to determine a case based on public knowledge or to say that there is knowledge it is necessary that it be found in all parts of that settlement [Arrayal] or in the greater part of it and that moreover there exist very similar versions.... "This statement is a recognition that there existed a body of knowledge which could not be 'invented' by the authorities but had to be dealt with seriously.

Giving false witness opened the guilty parties to criminal prosecution and the payment of fines to the falsely accused as well as payment for any losses to the falsely accused's reputation and property. The seriousness of giving false witness is evident in the death penalty provided for in the Ordenac[tilde{o}]es Filipinas. [74] The same penalty applied to the person who arranged for the false testimony. These extreme punishments had, by the eighteenth century, been ameliorated or the hangman would have been kept busy. But they are an indication of the seriousness with which this act was seen. Ecclesiastical strictures were equally severe. In a sermon delivered in Porto, for example, Father Lourenco de Santa Thereza said that "Those who raise their voices speaking against purity, chastity, and saintliness are meat-eating wolves whose teeth do not forgive the innocence of lambs.... Those who gossip [murmur[tilde{a}]o] without basis against serious people worthy of respect are bears whose teeth destroy without resistance.... And all those detractors who speak and say what they should not say, or speak, have the head of a wild beast." [75]

This emphasis was merited on two levels. First, gossip could easily upset the social peace which was one of the primary objectives of church and state. Second, honest and credible testimony undergirds the concept of the voz popular and that in turn was the basis of ecclesiastical and civil justice. This carefully contructed system could easily be overturned by false testimony.

VII. Conclusion

Popular culture in Minas Gerais may have been an amalgamation of Portuguese and African traits but it existed not in opposition to but largely within the value system of the dominant culture. Largely but not completely. It was connected by contact on the one hand with the dominant culture with which it had reached a broad set of accommodations and on the other with the marginalized culture of the poor, the slaves, and the slave runaways--a group whose presence was felt throughout eighteenth century Minas Gerais. Thus despite the obvious instruments of orthodoxy such as the Inquisition and the ecclesiastical inspector, the behaviors and attitudes of the popular culture were not a statement of opposition but a reflection of time-honored ways of living. These behaviors and values form, in Williams' terms, an alternative culture rather than an oppositional one.

But it was so widely and deeply ingrained that it forced the instrumentalities of the dominant culture to find paths of peaceful accommodation in many areas. But not in all. In matters of direct confrontation with church dogma and doctrine there could be no accommodation. But in the social statement of those views, there was indeed room for accommodation. Sin, it seems, was relative.

The articulation of the values of this culture occurred through gossip--the voz popular. The voz popular or the voz comun or murmurac[tilde{a}]o served as the means, an institutionally acceptable means, of negotiating or mediating between the official and unrelenting standards of the dominant culture and the alternative life patterns and values of the popular culture. Both the form, gossip or murmurings, and at least some of the content, concepts of honor and shame, consensual unions and attitudes about sexual intercourse, run deep in Portuguese culture and history. They represent fundamental elements of the Portuguese past which survived well into the nineteenth-century. In that sense they represent a part of Fernand Braudel's "longue dur[acute{e}]e"--those values and attitudes which are the enduring/continuing elements of a culture and which change only gradually.

Gossip or the voz popular was the means of defining communities by identifying common values and attitudes. By circumscribing the shape of groups, gossip or murmuring served to create community identity. It served as an expression of community memory. The eighteenth-century was a time of great social change, characterized by high levels of spatial mobility as people chased after their own pots of gold and by the presence of large-numbers of Africans representing a range of different cultures, Portuguese immigrants and creoles of varying qualities. In this social environment defined by movement and diversity, the voz popular played an important role in creating imagined communities where physical ones were difficult to sustain. In this sense, this practice conforms to Wickham's discussion of the transactional role of gossip, a critical part of the process of creating group identity. [76]

As such the voz popular was able to withstand many of the pressures brought by church and state to change the popular culture and to force the dominant culture to tolerate those enduring values and attitudes so despised by theologians and moral philosophers of the day. The voz popular, by giving voice to the popular culture, affected significantly the shape of the world in which the vast majority of Brazilians lived. [77] At the same time, it also serves as a vehicle for better understanding this alternate culture whose roots are to be found in northern Portugal and western Africa but whose blossoming occurs in the gold-laden mountains and valleys of Minas Gerais.


A preliminary version of this paper was read at a 1994 International Conference: Cultura portuguesa na Terra de Santa Cruz and later published as "A 'voz popular' e a cultura popular no Brasil do s[acute{e}]culo XVIII" in an edited work based on that conference. Maria Beatriz Nizza da Silva (ed.), Cultura Portuguesa na Terra de Santa Cruz. (Lisbon, 1995), 137-154.

(1.) "Que Deus me perdoe/Se [acute{e}] crime ou pecado/Mas eu sou assim" from the fado "Que Deus Me Perdoe" made famous by Am[acute{a}]lia Rodrigues (lyrics by Silva Tavares and music by Frederico Val[acute{e}]rio).

(2.) Henrique Joze de Castro, Socc[hat{o}]rro evang[acute{e}]lico aos p[acute{a}]rochos e aos p[acute{a}]is de familias: ou exposic[tilde{o}]es doutrinaes [ldots] para uso dos reverendos parochos em suas igrejas, e dos pais de familias em suas casas, e de todas as pessoas.[ldots] Tomo I. (Lisboa, 1827), 131.

(3.) In this regard, Williams' views parallel those of Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. Translated by John and Anne Tedeschi (Baltimore, 1992), introduction.

(4.) Raymond Williams, "Marxist Cultural Theory," Rethinking Popular Culture: Contemporary Perspectives in Cultural Studies, Chandra Mukerji and Michael Schudson, eds. (Berkeley, 1991), pp. 413-416; James Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, 1990).

(5.) It is interesting to note that in Virginia gossip also did not create "an oppositional culture" but, instead created public knowledge which played a conservative reinforcing role. Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender Race and Power in Colonial Virginia. (Chapel Hill, 1996), esp. 99-104, 285-287 and 306-318. I am grateful to Robert A. Wheeler for this reference. Thus whereas in Minas Gerais gossip serves to define an alternative culture, in colonial Virginia it serves to reinforce dominant cultural values.

(6.) By the same token, it does nor appear appropriate to see accommodation as having a political manifestation. Generally, eighteenth century elites were inflexible in terms of accommodating to alternate political values.

(7.) It is yet difficult to discern the gender-defined character of gossip in colonial Minas Gerais as did Kathleen Brown for colonial Virginia where she is able to describe imagined female communities. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches & Anxious Patriarchs: esp. 99-104, 285-287 and 306-318. I suspect that there existed differences in subject, tone, and language between male and female gossip and that there may have existed two somewhat overlapping communities. The sources used in this study do not permit that distinction although it probably existed. The situation in the nineteenth-century is much clearer. See Sandra Lauderdale Graham, House and Street: The Domestic World of Servants and Masters in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro (Austin, 1988).

(8.) Chris Wiskham refers to "a community of talkers." "Gossip and Resistance among the Medieval Peasantry," Past & Present 160 (August 1998): 5. Mary Beth Norton refers to "a community of gossipers" and "collectivities." Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society (New York, 1996), pp. 213-217. I am grateful to Guilherme Perreira das Neves for bringing the first essay to my attention and to Robert A. Wheeler for the second.

(9.) Quality is used here to refer to "qualidade" or social position defined by appearance, social standing, and general reputation. It is used rather than race as it was in the eighteenth century.

(10.) N[tilde{a}]o existe pecado/ do lado de baixo do Equador. N[tilde{a}]o Existe Pecado ao Sul do Equador. Lyrics by Chico Buatque de Hollanda.

(11.) Constituicoens primeyras do arcebispado da Bahia ... (Coimbra, 1720).

(12.) Remento do auditorio ecciesiastico do arcebispado da Bahia (Lisbon, 1720).

(13.) Regimento do auditorio ecclesiastico, p. 87. "se sabem ou ouvirem dizer que alguma pessoa comereu o grav[acute{i}]ssimo crime de heresia ou apostasia, tendo, crendo, dizendo ou fazendo alguma coisa contra a nossa Santa F[acute{e}] Catolica em todo ou em algum artigo dela, ainda que disso n[tilde{a}]o esteja infamada."

(14.) Regimento do auditorio ecclesiastico, p. 88. "se alguma pessoa d[acute{a}] alcouce, em sua casa, consentino ou induzindo que nela se deem mulheres a homens e disso for infamada."

(15.) Regimento do audiorio ecclesiastico, p. 89. "se alguma pessoa eclesi[acute{a}]stica, ou secular, solteiros ou casados, que estejam arnancebados com escandalo e disso haja fama na freguezia, lugar, roca ou aldeia ou na maior parte da vizinhanca ou rua."

(16.) It is not possible to identify the nature of these regional differences at this time.

(17.) Arquivo Nacional do Torre do Tombo (hereafter cited as ANTT), Inquisicao de Lisboa, No. 12892, Ambrozio da Costa Rodrigues, 1767. This case is from Maranh[tilde{a}]o.

(18.) Antonio de Moraes Silva, Diccionario da Lingua portuqueza. 2nd. ed. 2 vols. (Lisbon, 1813) 1, pp. 524 and 349.

(19.) ANTT, Inquisicao de Lisboa, No. 4065, Domingos Barbosa Oliveira, 1791.

(20.) Jurgen Habermas has distinguished between opinion and public opinion. Defining the former as "things taken for granted as part of a culture, normative convictions, collective prejudices and judgements," he describes it as "a kind of sediment of history." On the other hand, public opinion emerges from protected rational discussion. "The Public Sphere," in Mukerji and Schudson, eds. Rethinking Popular Culture: Contemporary Perspectives in Cultural Studies, pp. 398-399. In the case of colonial Brazil, we are dealing with a distinctly non-democratic society at the political level where rational discourse was not protected but yet for social-moral issues local communities were given some latitude and their collective attitudes given an institutionalized role. The voz popular represents the first variety--it is a bundle of "collective prejudices and judgements" about the reputations of members of the community as well as cultural values and norms.

(21.) ANTT, Inquisicao de Lisboa, No. 11972, Pedro Lutesin de Franca, 1797.

(22.) The nature of the sources makes it very difficult to include slaves as part of this corpus of public opinion. It does seem probable, however, that some slaves, to the degree that they were functional members of the community, were indeed part of the voz popular.

(23.) This was true in Portugal and in other parts of medieval Europe as well. Chris Wickham in his recent examination of nature of gossip describes the traditional distinction made in Italy between forms of knowledge: per visum, direct witnessing; per auditum, hearing; and publica fama, common knowledge. "Gossip and Resistance" p. 5. The second form, per auditum, was not encountered in the sources used in this study and seems to have been folded into the concept of publica fama.

(24.) Arquivo Hist[acute{o}]rico Ultramarino (hereafter cited as AHU), Minas Gerais, 1771, Trial Record, 31 May 1771.

(25.) Wickham, "Gossip and Resistance," p.6.

(26.) Wickham refers to "agreed truth" having been "constructed through gossip." "Gossip and Resistance" p. 6.

(27.) ANTT, Inquisicao de Lisboa, No. 256, Antonio Alvares Pugas, 1742.

(28.) Mor[tilde{a}]es Silva, Diccionario do lingua portuqueza, 1, p. 422 and 2, pp. 470 and 481. The word publicar was also used as a verb in the sense of making something public. For example, "and she married him four months ago and with him lived as husband and wife until it was made public, publicou, that her first husband was alive." ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 13264, Isabel, 1783. This case occurred in Portugal.

(29.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 8024, Process of Alexandre Lopes or Lara or Ferreira, 1734 and No. 8752, Andre de Barros, 1714.

(30.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 256, Antonio Alvares Pugas, 1742. Testimony of Diogo Marques da Silva.

(31.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 2490, Antonio de S[acute{a}] Tinoco, 1759: "nam devia o diro Juis antepor a verdade achando a fama que se dicese havia, ou publicidade porque para se estar pela fama ou para se dicer que ha fama he preciso que esta se dese em toda a parte daquelle Arrayal ou na mayor parte delle e inda deviam concorrer verizimeis conjecturas...."

(32.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 4853, Rita, 1797. Testimony of Manuel Thimoteo Goncalves.

(33.) Wickham makes the same point for medieval Italy. "Gossip and Resistance," p. 15.

(34.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Rita, 1797. Testimony of Ricardo Jos[acute{e}] Freitas.

(35.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Rita, 1797. Testimony of Serafim Goncalves Vieira.

(36.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Rita, 1794.

(37.) ANTE, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 695, Lu[acute{i}]s Antonio Monteiro, 1713.

(38.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 11972, Pedro Lutesin de Franca, 1797.

(39.) AHU, Minas Gerais, 12 January 1765, Instrumento de Justificac[tilde{a}]o, Maria Theresa da Nazaret.

(40.) Overseas Council Session, 16 May 1768, Revista do Arquivo P[acute{u}]blico Mineiro 15 (1910): 468-469.

(41.) It is important to note that one person's "superstition" is another person's religion. The term was used frequently to refer to the religious values of marginalized populations. Again, the artifacts of the dominant culture need to be read very carefully. Scott's "hidden transcripts" is a very useful reminder and guide.

(42.) The material for this description of Luzia Pinta comes from the Inquisition of Lisboa, ANTT, Process No. 252, 1742. For more information about this woman and her activities see Laura de Mello e Souza, O diabo e a Terra de Santa Cruz: feiticaria e religiosidade popular no Brasil colonial (S[tilde{a}]o Paulo, 1986), 352-357.

(43.) In the recording of Inquisition interrogations, the scribe transformed the testimony into the third person and, no doubt, frequently paraphrased the testimony. Thus when Pinta's testimony is recorded in the third person, it took the form "she felt" or "she could not." This has the effect of distancing the speakers further from us as observers-further muzzling the already voiceless.

(44.) "Mandinga" was used in two ways during the eighteenth century. The word referred to talismans or amulets used commonly to provide protection or good luck to their wearers. But it was also used to refer to evil spells.

(45.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 252, Luzia Pinta, 1742.

(46.) Given the many similarities between these rituals and those practiced today, it is very likely that the ceremonies described in this case are an early form of candomble.

(47.) Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, ANTT, Process No. 6680, 5 October 1790.

(48.) It is very difficult to determine if this African-Catholic form of expression can be used to characterize mineiro popular culture or was characteristic only of a sub-group. At this point it seems likely that some degree of African and Catholic values characterized the popular culture and therefore was coterminous with it.

(49.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Process No. 14831, Joaquim, 4 December 1781.

(50.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Process No. 6680, 5 October 1791.

(51.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 16479, Manuel de Andrade, 1731.

(52.) ANTE, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 14391, Felicia, 1757.

(53.) ANTE, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 17366, Isabel, 1724.

(54.) ANTE, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 16753, Jose, 1734.

(55.) ANTE, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Letter of Denunciation, 1795.

(56.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 1894, Adri[tilde{a}]o de Passos, 1754. Passos admitted not understanding that following the devil meant rejecting God. This important local figure, apparently a self-made man, noted that to be a Christian all that was required was to be baptized, make the sign of the cross, and go to confession. Passos explained his theological confusion by referring to his "low birth."

(57.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 2693, Alberto Monteiro, 1766. The promise took the following form: "Devil if you grant me my wish to sleep with that woman I promise to do whatever you wish and you can take me with you."

(58.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 5630, Jacinto, 1771.

(59.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 4853, Rita, 1789.

(60.) This issue has been explored by Laura de Mello e Souza, O diabo e a Terra de Santa Cruz.

(61.) ANTT, Inquisic[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, Antonio Jos[acute{e}] Goncalves, 1794.

(62.) Regimento do auditorio ecclesiastico, p. 88.

(63.) Constituicoens primeyras, pp. 259-303, especially 265.

(64.) AHU, Minas Gerais, 16 April 1782, Cax 119, doc 30, Report, Principe.

(65.) Arquivo da Curia de Mariana (hereafter cited as ACM), Marriage Petition, No. 305, 11 June 1742.

(66.) ACM, Marriage Petition, No. 295, 29 March 1741, fols. 2-2v.

(67.) ACM, Marriage Petition, No. 295, 29 March 1741, fol. 6.

(68.) ACM, Marriage Petition, No. 285, 18 June 1740,

(69.) ACM, Marriage Petition, No. 337, 20 September 1749, fol. 2v.

(70.) Lourenco de Santa Thereza. Sermoens varios mystics, e doutrinaes, que pregou o Reterendo Padre Mestre. 2nd Parre (Lisboa, 1761), 105.

(71.) ANTT, Inquisi[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 15097, Joao Carvalho de Barros, 1703.

(72.) ANTT, Inquisi[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 15946, Pedro Lopes Fiuza, 1723.

(73.) ANTT, Inquisi[tilde{a}]o de Lisboa, No. 2490, Antonio de S[acute{a}] Tinoco, 1759.

(74.) 0rdenac[tilde{o}]es e leis do Reino de Portugal (1603). 0rdenac[tilde{o}]es Filipinas. Candido Mendes de Almeida (ed). Rio de Janeiro, 1870. Fac-simile edition by Fundac[tilde{a}]o Calouste Gulbenkian. Liv.5 Tit. 54.

(75.) Lourenco de Santa Thereza. Sermoens varios mystics, e doutrinaes: 100-101.

(76.) Wickham, "Gossip and Resistance," p. 11-18.

(77.) This seems to be a different role for "public reputation" than that discussed by Mary Beth Norton for colonial North America. There, "common fame" could be used in criminal prosecutions, and authorities in both Maryland and Connecticut formally recognized this role. Founding Mothers & Fathers, pp. 253-261. In the case of Minas Gerais, Portuguese authorities also modified their vision of what constituted acts worthy of being prosecuted in conformance with local attitudes and behaviors.
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Author:Ramos, Donald
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Date:Jun 22, 2000

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