Manhood and the neutered body in early modern Spain.
Not everything is a man that pisses on a wall, after all, dogs piss too. (No es todo hombre el que mea a la pared, porque el perro mea tambien.) --Traditional Spanish saying (1)
The above refrain suggests that manhood was a restricted status; it was granted to a small part of society while it was denied to some males, all females, and yes, dogs too. Being a "man," however, was not only defined by reference to expressions, rituals, and traditions; during the early modern period judicial institutions took an increasingly prominent role in determining who was and was not a man. During a year reading marriage litigation documents from between 1650 and 1750 in an ecclesiastical archive in northern Spain, I came across dozens of trials that involved individuals whose masculinity became a central concern of a local church court. (2) These were cases whose basic question was anatomy--regarding hermaphrodites, castrates, and impotent men--and they reveal much about anxieties then prevalent concerning sexual categorization. In these court cases judges, lawyers, families and communities looked for definitive proof of manhood, and more and more they looked for this proof in physical medical examinations rather than simply masculine behavior. The community, church, and state all had a stake in defining manhood and controlling who would receive its benefits. To do so they exposed people who were in-between genders in order to cleanse towns and parishes of indefinite and non-reproductive men. It was an ordering of society not only by behavior, but also by anatomy. In this paper I take a similar approach to Angus McLaren, James Farr and Joan Scott, agreeing with them that refining definitions of sexual difference has often been a crucial way to reinforce social order and hierarchy. However, rather than examine how the male/female hierarchy was clarified and reinforced, this study argues that there was a greater scrutiny of the manly body itself in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The state's eye--represented in this study by the church court doctor--exposed and concentrated on male bodies so it could separate men from not-men. (3)
Scholars have long focused on the changeable cultural elements of masculinity, rather than the importance of male physiognomy in defining manhood. (4) The early modern Spaniards of these cases also assumed that manhood was revealed, in large part, through a person's behavior. Yet during the early modern period in Spain there were efforts to ensure that men met actual physical requirements, part of a broader trend of the Counter-Reformation to discipline society more rigidly by sex and gender. (5) Anatomical proofs of masculinity became more and more sharply defined after the Middle Ages. (6) Several studies have already demonstrated the many ways that governments and parishes looked to anatomy to define and control women. Institutions began physically examining women during this period, for example, to discover illegitimate pregnancies; breasts were inspected for signs of lactation, waists for signs of growth. (7) By the seventeenth century, communities, with recourse to legal institutions, had standardized procedures to demarcate gender physiologically, to explain womanhood and manhood through medical examination.
Before examining this new emphasis on the anatomical bases of gender it is important to take into account the cultural ways that gender became sharply defined during the early modern period. Ethnographers of rural Spanish communities have tackled the task of demystifying the contours of "machismo." (8) Julian Pitt-Rivers, Stanley Brandes, and, more recently, David Gilmore have provided many useful definitions of Spanish and Mediterranean masculinity. (9) To be a "man" in Spain, they point out, includes keeping one's word, supporting one's family, heading a patriarchal household, demonstrating sexual prowess, sobriety, maintaining one's independence of thought and action, and defending family and personal honor. (10) Ethnographers often stress cultural continuity, and in many ways masculinity was, indeed, similarly defined in the seventeenth century as they have outlined the contemporary idea of manhood. These definitions are generally based on performance; gender depends primarily on how one acts, not what one is physically. In fact, metaphorically, bodies can change to suit gendered behavior. Stanley Brandes, for instance, explains that if a woman behaves courageously enough, acts like a "man," she can be said to be cojonuda, she has "balls." (11)
David Gilmore writes about how manhood was regulated in an Andalusian village during the 1970s. (12) The negative characterization of the unmanly was the person who was lazy, anti-social, a drunkard, a liar, and one who lacked emotional control. (13) In the village of Gilmore's study the community singled out, ostracized, and gave demeaning nicknames to men who did not live up to the shared standards of masculinity. Manhood was a reputation earned through adherence to shared masculine ideals. But the type of scrutiny that has often been downplayed by cultural historians as well as ethnographers is that which focuses on the male body itself. Exceptions are Anton Blok and Stanley Brandes who emphasize the importance of physical integrity and genitalia to masculinity. (14) Blok, working on the phenomenon of cuckold's horns in the Northern Mediterranean, emphasizes the importance of testicles--cojones--for men living in the pastoral societies of the Mediterranean. (15) Brandes, who focused more specifically on Andalusia, goes into great detail regarding the common references to testicles, penises, and semen in popular Spanish folklore, jokes, and refrains. The size of cojones, "balls," is directly correlated with the degree of manliness; though, again, it is the metaphorical, not actual size that matters. Semen, in Brandes's assessment, is the very source of the masculine virtue, will, and strength. The Devil of the early modern period, in fact, lacking virtue, lacked semen, and emitted none during his copulations with witches. (16) For a man to waste semen, especially to lose it to a woman, was to be sapped of a vital essence. (17) Yet, however timeless many peasant traditions, sayings and beliefs may seem, ethnographic evidence cannot transport us to the world of three centuries ago. Cultural ideals from the literature of the period affords another perspective.
Regarding masculine behavior, many genres and discourses in early modern literature and art prescribed and proscribed proper manly behavior. There was, for instance, the Spanish church's campaign to rejuvenate the image of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, throughout the seventeenth century. (18) The church commissioned hundreds of paintings and images in Spain carefully planned to sell its image of the perfect domestic patriarch. (19) By emphasizing Joseph's chaste virility, strength, fidelity and lack of suspicion and jealousy regarding his inexplicably pregnant wife, the church attempted to reshape Spanish masculinity. Through the example of St. Joseph the Church urged men, ordinarily distrustful of the women whose honor they were to defend, to turn away from passion and toward faith. (20) This campaign to create young and virile images of St. Joseph coincided with other types of publicity. Clerics delivered hundreds of sermons that explained Joseph's role in Jesus and Mary's lives to lay men. This Christian ideal of masculinity emphasized reason and faith over passion and suspicion; it recommended that husbands give protection, affection and sustenance for wives rather than the domination and jealous sexual control of women demanded by the Mediterranean honor code.
There were also rhetorics in Golden Age Spanish literature that focused on behavior improper for a man. To delineate masculinity it was constantly necessary to define and proscribe unmanly behavior. Elizabeth Haidt has explored the importance of the hombre de bien in literature, the virtuous and controlled man of seventeenth and eighteenth century Spain. However, her discussion of the effeminate petimetre in literature reveals even more of how eighteenth century Spanish masculinity was defined. (21) Haidt claims that "The strangeness of the petimetre's body is manifest within a gender hierarchy such that the petimetre is that which is different from man, that which is not-man." (22) The petimetre was everything a man should not be. He was, to begin with, unSpanish; clearly the petimetre was an afrancesado, literally a Frenchified Spaniard. He was rarely married. The petimetre was of a soft constitution and manners and, above all, vain; he worked to draw attention to himself. A petimetre might, for instance, flaunt his shapely calves by wearing tight breeches. He dressed androgynously, wearing long, curled hair, and fashionable tight, high-heeled shoes. The petimetre used perfumes to excite women. He was libidinous, and gave women pleasure rather than taking his pleasure in women. In sum, although Haidt does not make this connection, the petimetre displayed the androgyny and ability to sexually excite that was the exceptional power of the castrato.
The amazing cultural popularity of castrati in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries must share some relationship with the petimetre. Both dabbled in the realms of androgyny and gender instability to stimulate sexual and artistic curiosity. A castrato could play a woman in one opera, and the following week portray the Greek military hero Achilles. Many of their greatest admirers were women, who were not infrequently found in their beds. (23) Whether women were attracted to the castrato's femininity, the promise of sex without consequences, or the truly enchanting castrati voice is impossible to know. Nonetheless, many castrati gained reputations for being oversexed. Because castrati were known not to be physically men, however, they provide a wonderful foil to understand how masculinity was constructed during the early modern period. Castrati had the reputation for frivolity, vanity, enjoying perfumes, using make-up, emotionality, instability, and immoderation. Their castrated bodies were described as corpulent, lanky, soft, and hairless. Conversely, whereas the castrato lacked wholeness, a "man" had to be physically intact, unbroken. (24) A "man's" body was hard and not smooth, it was possessed of a low-voice, and it had hair. This physical constitution of a "man," according to the Galenic theory of humors still dominant in seventeenth century Spanish medicine, made him practical, reasonable, and emotionally stable. As will be shown below, the castrate, the non-man, played an important role in the ordinary figuring of masculinity and manhood in the Spanish village.
In the small villages of early modern Spain a sharper image of "true" manhood emerged through the social excision of adult males who did not fit the idealized image. As Michel Foucault has explained, often "normal" or "legitimate" are first distilled by exposing what they are not. Institutions focus on the "abnormal" or "illicit" in an effort to control society and the people in it. (25) Foucault used the example of psychologists who first classified the myriad types of insanity rather than defining what actually constituted sanity. In seventeenth century Paris the insane were classified and forcibly separated from the sane. The court cases that form the basis of my research served much the same negative function in characterizing masculinity just as Foucault and Gilmore have described. But rather than simply focusing on "unmanly" behaviors, the church court concerned itself with a man's body. The court exposed anatomically deficient or supposedly abnormal men to reinforce a clearer concept of manhood increasingly based on physicality. As a consequence of this tighter focus on the male body the institution of the church court also surreptitiously effeminized male litigants.
Most overtly, the court violated male bodies through medical examination, sometimes repeatedly. Doctors and surgeons hired by the court disrobed men, touched them, and even sexually stimulated them to see if they could emit the verum semen that only "true" men reputedly could produce. By subjecting an individual to this intimate sexual examination, even if a judge confirmed the defendant's sexual ability, the person was publicly emasculated. The court and its probing doctors and surgeons had made of him a passive sexual object, even if the examinations were always portrayed in the documents as coldly objective and rational. There was, as Pierre Darmon has noted, a clear affirmation in this legal process of the court's sexual power over the laity. (26) Men became the passive objects of court inquiries into their nature.
This anatomical scrutiny highlights the fact that a man's body clearly mattered in the early modern formation of masculinity, just as it did in ethnographic descriptions from the twentieth century. Obvious secondary sexual characteristics moderated manliness: height, strength, deep voice, dark hair and complexion all imbued masculinity. Spanish medical knowledge of the age, still heavily based on Galen and scholasticism, assumed that light-skinned men were colder and phlegmatic. (27) Two medical depositions suffice as quick demonstrations of these assumptions: In 1692 Dr. Francisco Diez de Ysla attested to the obvious virility of thirty-year-old Andres de Molino Balladar because he was bearded and had a flush complexion. (28) In 1712, however, the virility of Luis de Menaca was doubtful; along with other physical factors the doctor noted his red hair and pale skin. (29) Such statements from three hundred years ago echo what Anton Blok has described as part of Mediterranean ideals of masculinity: "Adult males must be barbatos, literally 'provided with a beard' ..." (30)
The physical and sexual requirements of masculinity can be favorably compared to corresponding requirements for early modern womanhood. Sexual purity was an obvious and essential quality of the model early modern woman, as ubiquitous images of the Virgin Mary reminded Spaniards daily. The conservation and protection of virginity, and chastity after marriage, were integral to being a respected woman in the community, parish, and church. (31) Virginity was not simply a reputation for sexual behavior, but it was a physical state that could be tested and proved. Virginity could be attested to by midwives through an examination of the bride before a marriage. It might also be proved, supposedly, by a display of blood-stained sheets from the marital bed the morning after the wedding night. (32) Whether or not these methods were flawed matters not; what is important is that ideal womanhood was, in part, physical. The hymen was not simply a sign or proof of chastity; rather, being physically "intact" supposedly imparted strength, youth and holiness to the woman. Women who lost their virginity, even legitimately in marriage, were invariably described as broken, corrupted, and spoiled. (33) Though not defined by sexual purity in the way that women were, men's bodies also had to meet sexual requirements.
Early modern manhood was defined through male sexual performance. Of all the things a person had to do to achieve and maintain status as a man, sexual penetration was the crucial physical act. Only penile erection, penetration, and emission in the vagina completed and perfected a marriage, and aside from ordination, only marriage elevated a man to full male status in early modern society. The Basque Martin Guerre, made famous in our era by Natalie Z. Davis's The Return of Martin Guerre, was not able to perform as a man sexually during the first eight years after his marriage. Martin's unsatisfied wife nearly annulled their marriage because of his impotence. (34) Certainly, if he had not been able to marry Martin would have lived as an auxiliary member of his father or brother's family, not being able to form a lineage of his own. Becoming a husband was the crucial step that was part and parcel of other promotions in status; in English the word "husband" originally meant, after all, the master of a house. (35) Marriage for a man may have accompanied moving from journeyman to master, mozo to vecino (adolescent to citizen), or dependent son to head of a household. But clearly, marriage was critical to becoming a man. (36) Even when the Catholic Church accepted priests for ordination, it required them to be sexually intact and able. (37) And yet, because sexual intercourse usually occurred in private, behind doors, and perhaps in the dark, a carnal proof of manhood was often, in reality, unnecessary to attain manhood in seventeenth century Spain. Because sexual behavior was most often hidden it was always difficult for church courts to intervene in marriages and tie men to the sexual requirements of its definition of manhood. Proudly displayed codpieces, after all, could be empty. Unlike female virginity, there was not a standard public way to uncover the male body.
As an example that the hidden penis could be ignored when claiming manhood in early modern Europe we have the great success of Antonio de Erauso, born Catalina de Erauso in 1585. If we are to believe her tale, from 1600 to 1620 Erauso lived as a man, traveling to the Americas to seek greater opportunity and, no doubt, anonymity. (38) To everyone she met she proved her manhood by her dress, romantic flirtations with women, and violence. Catalina boasted of the fights in which she stabbed and/or slashed many an unfortunate man with her sword. Eruaso lived as a man though she lacked a penis and testicles, and could not sexually penetrate and emit the verum semen required by ecclesiastical definitions of sexual virility. (39) Finally, after one of her many confrontations and murders, she escaped justice by revealing herself as a woman to a bishop in Peru. Catalina de Erauso made for Spain and claimed respect and fame from an admiring King, Church, and public; all were amazed that a woman could have proved herself as manly as any man in the Spanish colonies. Yet Erauso's example became famous and acceptable because it was rare. More frequently, individuals who did not conform to their place in the gender system were exposed and ostracized. Their bodies would be uncovered and used to place them outside gender norms. This is what usually occurred to hermaphrodites.
In its effort to order society the Church needed to help communities define who was and was not a man. Hermaphrodites, those who were patently between sexes and often derided as monsters, presented church courts with urgent and difficult cases of ambiguity. In the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada we have the case of Juan/a de Leyda. In 1711 the tribunal of the diocese began an investigation into the question of whether Juan/a de Leyda was able to marry or not. Juan/a's sexual ambiguity began to worry family and community members when, at the age of twenty-one, s/he showed obvious interest in sex and marriage as a man. Juan/a engaged in "an illicit exchange" with a girl of his parish with whom s/he had also discussed marriage. (40) Court physician, Dr. Lucas de Salas, physically examined the young individual in the city of Calahorra on April 16, 1711. Dr. Salas displayed his disgust in a medical report to the court. With the considerable weight of his learned opinion he denied Juan/a any claim to a gender:
there being the virile member (if it even merits that name) ... that nature (which always is parted from one) divided to make two instruments from what should have been one; two were made, and both with total imperfection ... (41)
Without a gender, Juan/a lost considerable opportunities in the community. The tribunal did what it could to quarantine sexually Juan/a. The judge aimed to protect the village of Salinillas from what he considered a horrific sexual anomaly. Juan/a was ordered not to leave Salinillas, not to enter the service of the Church, not to have illicit sexual contact with anyone, and s/he certainly was not to marry. (42) Juan/a was considered a sexual monster and therefore had neither the rights of a man nor a woman, lay or cleric. Yet outwardly, Juan/a was expected to reinforce and conform to the strict division of genders that ordered society, even though it held no legitimate place for her/him. The court mandated that s/he dress as a man, and commanded the local parish priest to doctor Juan/a's baptismal record. They changed her/his name at birth from "Juana" to "Juan." (43)
With the preceding case in mind, it should be noted that members of the community, not the church court, often brought people who might cause sexual disorder to the attention of authorities. Direct accusation to the court, or quiet denunciation to neighbors, a bailiff, or a local priest were the usual paths to judicial scrutiny. The church court, in other words, did not search for and destroy sexual reprobates, rather it relied on the active participation of the community. Members of the community were anxious about individuals in their midst who did not merit the rights pertaining to manhood; rights of inheritance, local politics, and social stature. Womanhood, usually marked by entrance into marriage, was also guarded by ritualistic communal standards. (44) Furthermore, even though the church court required Juan to remain celibate, he/she could not join the ranks of the clergy in the service of God. Those chosen to serve Him needed to fit into His perfectly ordered creation. Despite some early modern literature that suggested a place in creation for the hermaphrodite, at the local level Juan/a was considered an anomaly, a monster, and his imperfect soul was revealed by his imperfect body. (45) But sexual imperfection was to be found in other conditions as well, such as in eunuchs and monorchids.
Manhood in Spain has long been associated with cojones, "balls," (testicles). Ethnographer Anton Blok, perhaps, explains this connection best:
Hombria [manliness] implies a direct reference to the physical basis of honour: those who live up to this ideal have cojones (testicles), while those who fail to show fearlessness are lacking in manliness and are considered manso, that is, castrated, tame. (46)
Into the twentieth century Basque mothers fed their boys rams' testicles in soup ("Rocky Mountain oysters") to ensure they would grow into men. Charles II, that last, sterile, pitiful Hapsburg who left Spain without an heir, was fed bulls' testicles, again in soup, in the hope they might conjure his own virile spirits. Obviously cases in which castrates appeared in court reveal better than any litigation communal anxieties about manhood, marriage and gender status. Castration in Spain has a long history. Historians interested in the development of musical castrati in Europe often point to Islamic Spain as the source of early castrates and the medieval practice of castration. Spain, however, cannot be singled out as the originator of European castration, at least according to musical historian Richard Sherr, who points to the long tradition of castrates in northern France as well. (47) For the purposes of this investigation what can be stated more concretely is that in the early modern era the removal of either one or both testicles from young boys was, apparently, not entirely rare in Spain. (48) Whether they lost testes to cure a hernia, become a castrato singer, or for another purpose altogether, several men appeared in court lacking testicles. It should be of no surprise that common health problems regularly left many early modern Spanish men lacking testicles. Referring to Italy, Valeria Finucci has found a similar situation: "Castration was hardly uncommon in the Renaissance, and not so much because there were castrati singers, I would argue, but because at any given day a number of men circulated in the streets with somewhat suffering or damaged genitalia." (49) The presence of men who lacked one or both "cojones" (testicles) in small communities meant that manhood had a discernable physical component; no one could take it for granted that all men were, indeed, sexually intact.
One entertaining example of the sentiment that the possession of testicles was sometimes to be doubted comes from the seventeenth century comedy The Examination of Suitors. In search of an appropriate husband, Marquesa Dona Ines interviews several male candidates. During one of the examinations a servant turns to the audience and says "What a beautiful thing, a melodic and subtle voice, from a man with such a beard!" (50) The implication is that, given his soft voice, there was the possibility that he might be a castrate. In this instance, all doubt was removed by the suitor's full beard.
Physically emasculated men, often pilloried by communities in small villages as "capons," provided important foils against which masculinity could be defined. Regardless of their infamous local reputations, or perhaps to restore them, these castrates occasionally attempted to marry. They were determined to claim masculine status in court, thereby proving to their communities and families that they were men. Of these married castrates, some were taken to court and thereby entered the historical record.
As an initial example we have Juan de Aleson who, in 1685, was forced to separate from his wife of twenty years, Maria de Lagaria, because their families claimed Juan was a castrate. Why the families decided to denounce the couple to court after so many years of marriage is unknown. Perhaps inheritance issues were called into question; maybe the community had simply gradually grown intolerant of the couple as an anomaly. Both were residents of the town of Najera, a small town that lies in the dry northern plain of Old Castile, just south of the river Ebro, in the modern province of La Rioja. Aware that as a castrate Juan was unfit for matrimony, family members took the case to the bishop's court in Logrono to annul the marriage.
In beginning its investigation the court first ordered Juan and Maria to separate. The court discovered that Juan had long been widely known in the community as a castrate--further proof that manhood required both cojones and a reputation for having them. Not only had many people known him to be a castrate, but even Juan had often candidly admitted that he lacked testicles. In one of the many stories that witnesses recalled about Juan's reputation as the local eunuch, a man named Juan Izquierdo junior began a fight with Juan de Aleson. During the squabble Juan "el capon" allegedly impugned Izquierdo's masculinity by saying that he regretted "that he didn't have balls to give him." (51) Yet despite his well-known reputation as "el capon," Juan de Aleson and Maria de Legaria had married and lived as man and wife for twenty years. There seemed to have been some alarm at the time of their marriage. According to the testimony of their neighbor Bernabe de Arriaza, when Juan's older brother asked Maria de Legaria why she married a castrate, she replied "that that way she would be free from dying in childbirth ..." (52) Though the marriage was undoubtedly unusual, aside from posing these perplexing questions, no one of the family was concerned enough about the marriage initially to bring the couple to court. Only when Maria, failing to avoid the dangers of childbirth, begat a child did family members finally interfere and work to bring an end to her false marriage to Juan. The child might have kindled family anxiety about claims to their estate. They may have needed to demonstrate that the child could not have been Aleson's and therefore had no right to his property and theirs.
Community and family members' litigation to end Aleson's marriage illuminates the social issues that castration most affected. The community was asserting its belief that manhood in their society should not be claimed by anyone who was not physically capable of penetrative, reproductive sex. A neutered man could not reproduce, could not have a lineage, and therefore should not marry and maintain a household. Exclusion from these institutions resulted in being barred from local politics because only heads of households could fully participate in municipal government. Sexual capacities were the foundation for gender distinctions and rights. The Catholic Church had long before defended this widespread concern for communal sexual order in Spain. Pope Sixtus V unequivocally prohibited marriage to castrates in 1587 when he responded to the Spanish papal nuncio's question about several women in Madrid who had married eunuchs. (53)
The prevalence of castrated men is a crucial factor if we are to attempt to understand early modern masculinity. Certainly more boys were castrated during the seventeenth century in Spain than we might expect. Castration often guaranteed an individual an education and thereafter a livelihood singing in cathedral choirs. Such an income would not only have benefited the castrato but, more importantly, the family that castrated him. The obvious conclusion that many historians have drawn from the pervasiveness of castration in early modern Spain, then, is that it was a means of social mobility for impoverished peasant families. Poor Spanish peasant families, the scenario goes, with too many mouths to feed, eking out a living farming the infertile soil of the Spanish central plateau, saw the castration of a son as a means to better their material condition. Castration would win for him an education, and an income, and thus provide the parents with a means to escape poverty. If particularly talented, a young castrato might hope to win entrance into the Royal School of Boy Singers. (54)
Of more than 250 marital litigation cases in the church court of the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada between 1650 and 1750 there were nineteen cases of castrated men. Thirteen had had one testicle removed, and six lost both. Admittedly, this is not an overwhelming number of castrates and monorchids (monotesticular men); and it should not be surprising to find such people involved in the primary focus of my investigations: cases in which wives sought annulments using the accusation that their husbands were impotent. Yet several characteristics of these suits demonstrate that such castrations were more common than we might expect. For one seventeenth century French parish Patrick Barbier claims to have discovered more than five hundred boys castrated under the pretext of hernia operations. (55) Aside from the many documented cases that I have found in Spain, the court often treated missing testicles as ordinary rather than extraordinary. The many men who were castrated but did not attempt to marry, and therefore did not appear in the court records, can only be guessed at. But by all accounts castration was common enough to be a characteristic of early modern society that we would not recognize today. Michael McVaugh has demonstrated the popularity of castration in Italy beginning in the fourteenth century and clearly linked it to hernia surgery. (56) The fact that hernista, "hernia surgeon," was a profession unto itself speaks to the prevalence of castration throughout Spain. Up until the mid-eighteenth century hernia surgery usually involved the removal of testicles.
Several musicologists have argued that hernia operations in the early modern period were often pretexts for castration. (57) Some contemporary Spaniards held the same opinion. One eighteenth century Spanish surgeon painted a grim picture of the dishonest hernia surgeon:
The day being selected, the parents abandon the house because they lack the courage to listen to the cries of their son: some of the assistants are disturbed, others are troubled, and no one looks clearly at the actions of the surgeon, in this manner giving approval to what he does. He carries out his bloody show, pulling out the balls, while pretending to have left them inside [the boy]. (58)
According to this same author, one particular gelder had a hungry dog on hand to which he would slip the severed organs during the operation, thereby destroying the evidence. (59) The above scenarios generally placed the blame for castration on deceptive hernia surgeons and on the Church, which created a demand for castrati voices. Such literature was, of course, part of typical eighteenth century anti-clerical polemic, but the main thesis of such descriptions rings true: the popularity for castrati necessitated the invention of common pretexts for castration. Hernias were a common pretext.
A couple of cases in the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada corroborate the implication that at least some hernia surgeons purposefully castrated boys in early modern Spain. Agueda Yzquierdo, for instance, could recall the castration of Juan de Aleson, the full castrate who later married Maria de Legaria. Agueda testified, somewhat matter-of-factly, that Juan's father "arranged to castrate the said [Juan de Aleson] his son and the gelder or hernia surgeon was in his house to perform [the castration], as she was a neighbor the witness passed by the house and saw how the said surgeon castrated and gelded of both sides the said Juan de Aleson ..." (60) Unfortunately the witness never stated exactly why Diego castrated his son. In another case a witness claimed that, because the hernista was conveniently in the village operating on his own boy, another man arranged to have his son castrated too. (61)
Family members, more often than the church itself, worked to publicize the genital deficiencies of their kin. In 1689 Jose Ruiz de Corcano petitioned the church court for a marriage license because family members were allegedly preventing him from marrying: "... some of his relatives, for hate and ill will and for other personal ends have informed [the priest] that he suffers from ... impotence ... [because] they removed both [of his] testicles." (62) Jose argued that this was simply a lie, that he was fit for marriage, and asked the court to interview the surgeon who had performed the operation. The tribunal did just that, and brought master hernia surgeon Joseph Matute before the court to testify. The hernia surgeon confirmed Jose's claim, making it clear in his testimony that he had left him with one healthy testicle. After a physical examination of Jose, a separate doctor and surgeon team concurred, and the ecclesiastical court gave the young man permission to marry. He was confirmed in his manhood.
Four months later, however, Jose's older brother, Juan Ruiz Sorzano, hired a lawyer to contest his younger brother's right to marry. He urged the court to reverse its first decision. Juan begged the court not only to forbid his younger brother a marriage license, but to make him pay the court fees and order Jose to be forever silent on the subject of any future matrimony. Juan, the older brother, justified this meddling into his brother's life "because my complaint is legitimate and legal to contradict [my brother] because it looks to the defense and service of God ..." (63) Not only was Juan interested in stopping a castrate from polluting what was a holy sacrament, marriage, he also asserted "... that [my complaint] prevents serious inconveniences that would occur if it would happen that [Jose] marries." (64)
This case shows how important full masculine status could be for a family and community. Both brothers' pleas to the court reveal a family feud over money, land and possibly even petty political power in a small community. Their clash was not just about this one marriage. Juan and the family, in fact, wanted Jose never to marry. Therefore the case did not arise because this particular bride was a bad match for Jose. If Jose ever married he would apparently ruin an overall family plan. Why? The motivations are only hinted at in the petitions and the trial. Jose claimed that his family was preventing the marriage due to hatred, ill will, and with "other personal goals" in mind. Juan argued that a marriage by Jose would cause "serious inconveniences." Economic motivations are the most likely cause of the dispute. Juan, as an older brother, may have wanted to preserve the family's estate, keeping it for himself and his own children. An unmarried brother would have lived off the estate, but would not have been able to alienate any part of it to his own wife and children. There was little to worry about if one's younger brother was a reputed castrate. Perhaps the castration of his younger brother had even been planned; though gruesome, this would not have been such a bizarre practice and was not unknown in other parts of Europe. According to Patrick Barbier, in Naples peasant families with four or more sons were permitted to castrate one for the benefit of the Church. (65) With his brother's marriage Juan would also cede some of the family's political standing in the community. Jose, for his part, would become an independent vecino with a voice in the community, as well as gain a family and household of his own. The castration of Jose, then, was perhaps a way to prevent the alienation of the family's estate.
Two years earlier the court witnessed a similar quarrel from the town of Villar del Rio. In this case Domingo de Viana was being prevented from marriage by his father, Matheo de Viana. The seventy-year-old father, Matheo, personally warned the local priest that his son, Domingo, at the age of twenty-seven, was a castrate. The priest was thereby forced to stop the banns from being announced for Domingo's approaching marriage. In testimony to the court the priest stated that, when Domingo's father announced Domingo's lack of manhood, the son "for having been prevented [from marriage by his father] the said son placed hands on [his father] and treated him very badly." (66) Domingo had been "castrated" at the age of two, and again a year later (the word used was "castrated," but these were apparently hernia operations). His father believed that these two operations had left his son fully castrated. Matheo had supposed that the hernia surgeon only left one testicle within Domingo "for appearances ..." (67) He had been content to know that his young son had been left unmarriageable. Perhaps the father in this case, so late in life, was intent on preventing the marriage of a son because he hoped to keep an inheritance intact, perhaps in the hands of another son. In any case, manhood was to be denied Domingo, as it would be denied those who were impotent.
As demonstrated in the case of castrates, manhood clearly depended on physical attributes: being a sexually intact male. But it also required continual, or at least occasional, proof of the sexual operation. Impotence at any moment threatened to rob a man of his virility, and through gossip and reputation, his masculine status. Of course it should not surprise anyone that masculinity was synonymous with sexual ability and prowess in the epoch and country of Don Juan, the nearly mythical seducer and defiler of women. Like Don Juan's feats, male sexual ability had to be demonstrated and defended, especially when such abilities were publicly doubted. Generally impotence was a private trauma that occasionally became a communal concern through networks of gossip. But it also often became a legal question when it impinged on the ability to effect marriage. In such court cases a man would be forced to prove his virility to court, producing detailed records that inform us today about the importance of virility in the everyday lives of early modern Spaniards. The court made every effort to actively link men to their sexual abilities by publicizing these proofs of manhood.
The use of banns and placards reinforced standards of masculinity by exposing impotent men to their communities. A clear requirement of the Christian ideal of masculinity exemplified by the model of St. Jospeh was not simply chastity, but oddly enough, virility. The church court of Calahorra and La Calzada was often engaged in routing out impotent husbands and dissolving their marriages. Perhaps one of the most interesting and difficult elements of impotence cases is trying to answer how the trial and its publicity affected the public reputation of the allegedly impotent man. Any individual's reputation depended largely on community consensus. Just as a woman's honor depended on her reputation for modesty, seclusion, and being above suspicion of fornication in neighbors' opinions, a man's honor depended on an aggregate public opinion that held him as honest, direct, physically capable of defending his family name, and, most importantly, as masculine. As has been emphasized time and again in regard to women, sexual reputation was central to honor. Just as virginity and chastity were essential to female honor, so virility was a fundamental element of masculine honor. The church court used its control of the public sphere to participate in the economy of sexual reputation.
Certainly an effective way to frighten and gain the attention of a husband accused of impotence was to place his name in local parish placards. If a husband accused of impotence fled, could not be found, or simply refused to respond to his wife's charges, his name and the charge would be displayed for the entire community to see. Such notices were nailed to the doors of the local church and then regularly announced to the parish. If more than one parish was involved then notices would be sent to the appropriate parishes. These banns could easily involve parishes outside the diocese. When the tribunal initiated an investigation of an allegedly impotent husband its first order of business always stated that if the man did not reply to the accusations within six days they would "publicize [the charge] and declare [the charge] and place it on placards." (68) The court would shame the accused into submission. Public humiliation was often a more powerful method of control than even the sequestration of an individual's money and property. If the tribunal impounded a husband's home he might still ignore court orders by depending on friends or family for support. But it was difficult to escape or ignore the ubiquitous shame caused by posters announcing that one was impotent.
Even if an individual responded promptly and quietly to a judge's initial letter ordering him to appear before the court, the proceedings of an impotence trial were not kept secret. The court's simple administrative business spread information about impotent men to local parish priests, notaries and perhaps other officials in order to take testimonies and do its bidding. Often the local priest or vicar, acting as a provisional judge (juez de comision), needed to hire a doctor and surgeon to perform the medical examination of the accused. The majority of people charged with impotence were fortunate in that they were able to have their hearings held far from their hometowns. There were, however, several men called before the court who lived in Logrono and Calahorra, both seats of the court's operations. Their neighbors presumably could casually attend the proceedings of the trials in which the most intimate details of their sexual lives were revealed. In cases that concerned the rich and powerful it is possible that transcripts of impotence trials were copied and circulated. In France, just to the north, this was a common practice and became a literary genre unto itself in the eighteenth century. (69)
Due to the public nature of impotence trials, husbands and their lawyers were forced to deny flatly and consistently any alleged impotence and prove their virility to the last, using all excuses, proofs and ploys necessary. During the four-year impotence trial of Antonio Francisco de Ydiaquez Velez Yqueziara, for instance, the church court made public announcements calling on anyone to come forward and give evidence about whether this Knight of the Holy Order of Santiago was potent or impotent. After dozens of doctors had failed to corroborate any independent movement of his penis, and several witnesses spoke against him, his lawyer began a lengthy account of the magic spells that had been used to douse his virility. (70) Even if he lost the case, a man, especially one of Ydiaquez's public stature, had to save face at all costs; he had to assert that he was virile, whatever the church court might tell the public.
If the church courts never attempted to keep impotence proceedings a secret during the trial, after the trial an impotent person's situation became much worse. Once the court reached a decision it made sure to publicize its judgment. The ecclesiastical tribunal needed to make decisions regarding impotence public to prevent further scandal, illegitimate marriages and subsequent litigation. When church officials were informed that a man was impotent they considered it imperative that the community be warned. All these ways for the public to learn about, and participate in, impotence trials made it impossible for men to avoid the shame and alienation that accompanied impotence. The importance of public shame in these trials demonstrates that the charge of impotence was not merely a means to an annulment. The social stigma that went along with impotence made such accusations more powerful. When a woman announced to her community and church that her husband was impotent she not only began a fight for her dowry, independence and rights, she necessarily attempted to destroy her husband's standing in that city or town. According to the church's reasoning, parishioners needed to know that he was sexually defective and not marriageable.
Non-men--males who did not possess the biological and cultural requirements of manhood--were increasingly defined and excised by Spanish communities and institutions during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A new legal confidence in the medical profession in the eighteenth century focused attention on the male body to accomplish this excision. The new faith in medicine as the principal authority to define manhood stands out from these court cases as much as the initial question of this essay: why did courts turn to a physical definition of manhood in the eighteenth century. Wives, families, and parish priests had come to doubt what definitively made someone essentially a man. Via litigation they called upon an increasingly self-assured medical profession to diagnose and classify the physical attributes of non-masculinity, in much the same way they would describe the unhealthy, the abnormal, or the insane. This trend, turning away from definitions of gender that placed the body on a continuum from masculine to feminine to essential and particular requirements of either gender, was part of the broader epistemological shift described by Thomas Laqueur and Londa Schiebinger. A classifying science concerned with discrete, definable sexual characteristics began to insinuate itself in the popular discussion of masculinity. This is a trend, of course, that continues to our own day. Western culture continues to turn to scientists to define the non-masculine for us as we see in the ridiculous quest for the so-called "gay gene." (71)
The ideas and sentiments that surround sexual differentiation today are increasingly divided. There is a determined opinion in the medical and social sciences that we are, fundamentally though not exclusively, our genes. Sociologists and psychologists of a generation ago, one the other hand, urged us to consider differences between men and women as products of socialization. Cultural historians generally followed their lead, looking at the many ways that definitions of gender have changed over the centuries. In so doing many have tended to ignore how the material body determined one's status and life in the past. Historically the body and its frailty were much more difficult to escape than in our own age. The people of Spain three hundred years ago, whom we have glimpsed in this paper, were much more at the mercy of their bodies than are people in Europe today. The body, like place and condition, arbitrarily determined who one was and how one was treated. Only rarely could an individual deny their physical attributes and become who they wanted, like the self-made man Catalina de Erauso. As definitions of gender during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries came to rely more and more on observation of physical attributes rather than behavior, individuals became even more defined by their bodies. Physical observation not only came to be the basis for rigid sexual identities, but also new and carefully defined racial and ethnic identities as well. Today the debate over body and being continue, with the powers of observation extending to our DNA while the freedoms available for self-fashioning (plastic surgery, sex-changes, etc.) are equally expansive.
1. Luis Martinez Kleiser, Refranero General Ideologico Espanol (Madrid, 1953) refrain 64,551, p. 741. I would like to thank the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the Comision de Intercambio Cultural, Educativo y Cientifico entre el Reino de Espana y los Estados Unidos de America for providing funds for the research that forms the basis of this article. Appalachian State University provided financial support for further research at the Newberry Library in Chicago. I also thank David Reid, Mary Valante, and Jim Winders of the History department at Appalachian State University for reading many drafts of this essay. Early and incomplete sections of this paper were presented at the American Historical Association in Chicago, 2003 and at the Sixteenth Century Studies Association in Pittsburgh, 2003.
2. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada included all of what are today the Spanish provinces of La Rioja, Alava and Vizcaya. It also held jurisdiction over parts of western Burgos, eastern Guipuzcoa and Navarra, and Northern Soria. In the early modern period the diocese was culturally divided. The Basque culture and peoples predominated in the half of the diocese north of the Ebro river, while the Castilian language and culture dominated the area south of the Ebro. The majority of litigation took place in Logrono; not the seat of the diocese, it was its largest city and was centrally-located on the Ebro River. For the three seats of the bishopric one historian has estimated the population of Logrono to have been no more than 7,000 at the end of the seventeenth century. The total of Calahorra's residents hovered around 3,600, and Santo Domingo de La Calzada boasted no more than 3,000 citizens (Eliseo Sainz Ripa, Sedes episcopales de La Rioja, tomo III, siglos XVI-XVII [Logrono, 1995] pp. 22-25.)
3. Angus McLaren explores court cases and the definition of masculinity in the nineteenth and twentieth century United States in The Trials of Manhood: Policing Sexual Boundaries 1870-1930 (Chicago and London, 1997). James R. Farr, "The Pure and Disciplined Body: Hierarchy, Morality, and Symbolism in France during the Catholic Reformation," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 21, no. 3 (Winter, 1991), pp. 391-414, and Joan Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," American Historical Review, XCI (1986).
4. Perhaps the most pertinent recent authors who have focused on the construction of masculinity in the early modern period are Elizabeth Foyster's excellent Manhood in Early Modern England (London and New York, 1999), Valeria Finucci's The Manly Masquerade: Masculinity, Paternity, and Castration in the Italian Renaissance (Durham and London, 2003) (hereafter abbreviated "Finucci, Manly Masquerade"), and Sidney Donnell, Feminizing the Enemy: Imperial Spain, Transvestite Drama, and the Crisis of Masculinity (Lewisburg, 2003).
5. James Farr has claimed that gender hierarchies became more acutely defined north of the Pyrenees, in Burgundy, in the early modern period (Farr, "The Pure and Disciplined Body"). A new emphasis on gender hierarchy and purity was caused, he argues, by the reforms of the Counter-Reformation Church. Farr follows anthropologist Mary Douglas's examination of social pollution, arguing that excising female sexual pollution became a greater concern in the seventeenth century than it had been earlier (see Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, London, 1966). In elaborating this thesis of excision he appropriately cites Joan Scott's assertion that "conceptual languages employ differentiation to establish meaning and that sexual difference is a primary way of signifying differentiation" from her seminal article "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," American Historical Review, XCI (1986), 1069.
6. Whether one accepts Thomas Laqueur and Londa Schiebinger's argument that the "two sex" model only became the dominant biological model in the early eighteenth century or not, in these Spanish cases genital anatomy was always used as a definitive marker of womanhood or manhood. Such a method of sexual determination fits either paradigm, whether the model was a Galenic sexual continuum with man at one end and woman at the other, or a two sex dichotomy that left no place between either sex. For a thorough argument regarding the "one sex" model see Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1990). See also Londa Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex?: Women in the Origins of Modern Science (Cambridge and London, 1989). Schiebinger and Laqueur's thesis is by no means definitive, and a recent refutation of their ideas, followed by their respective rebuttals, can be found in Michael Stolberg's "A Woman Down to Her Bones: the Anatomy of Sexual Difference in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries," ISIS 94:2 (June 2003), pp. 274-313. The debate seems to be as much about chronology as it is about sexual models, as historians of the Enlightenment like Laqueur find a transition between the models in the eighteenth century while historians of earlier periods argue for an early transition or no evidence that the "one sex" model was entirely dominant before 1700.
7. Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World: Regulating Desire, Reforming Practice (London and New York, 2000) p. 84.
8. Machismo, importantly, as Angie Hart points out, is a word never used in Spain, at least in the sense that it is used in English; see Angie Hart, "Missing Masculinity?: Prostitutes, Philippines, Spain," in Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies, Andrea Cornwall and Nancy Lindisfarne, eds. (London and New York, 1994) p. 51.
9. For a pointed critique of Gilmore's search for definitions of masculinity, Spanish and otherwise, see Angie Hart, "Missing Masculinity?: Prostitutes' clients in Alicante, Spain," in Dislocating Masculinity: Comparative Ethnographies, Andrea Cornwall and Nancy Lindisfarne, eds. (London and New York, 1994). It must also be noted that many studies of Spain have focused on Andalucia. Perhaps this is because foreigners have often viewed Andalucia as the quintessence of Spain, rather than [as] one of many different Spanish regions.
10. Ethnographers of Spain, as anthropologists often do, emphasize continuity over change, referring to the timeless character of the isolated and enclosed Spanish village. However, assertions that Spanish ideals have changed little over the past three centuries fail to take into account the huge demographic, industrial and political shifts that Spain has undergone. So it is with a healthy skepticism that I invoke these still important ethnographic observations. The many excellent ethnographic works on Spain, however, are invaluable for understanding daily life in Spanish communities. See, for instance, Susan Tax Freeman's Neighbors: The Social Contract in a Castilian Hamlet (Chicago and London, 1970), and Julian Pitt-Rivers, The People of the Sierra, First Ed. 1954, (Chicago, 1971). The most suitable works for Spanish masculinity are David Gilmore's Aggression and Community: Paradoxes of Andalusian Culture (New Haven and London, 1987), and Stanley Brandes, Metaphors of Masculinity: Sex and Status in Andalusian Folklore (Philidelphia, 1980) p. 92.
11. Brandes, Metaphors, p. 92.
12. Gilmore, Aggression, pp. 31-33. On masculinity see also Susan Tax Freeman, Neighbors: The Social Contract in a Castilian Hamlet (Chicago and London, 1970).
13. Gilmore, Aggresion, p. 32.
14. Anton Blok, "Rams and Billy-Goats: A Key to the Mediterranean Code of Honour," Man, New Series, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Sept., 1981), 427-440, p. 433. See also the Ram/Billygoat opposition in Brandes, Metaphors, p. 79. Valeria Finucci agrees that physical (sexual) intactness is essential to masculinity, Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 256. Julian Pitt Rivers, on the other hand, sees actual physical intactness as apart from or secondary to the cultural language and symbolism of the male body in his discussion of cojones: "While it is not supposed that he is literally devoid of the male physiological attributes, he is, figuratively, so." Pitt-Rivers, People of the Sierra, p. 90.
15. Blok, "Rams and Billy-Goats," p. 433.
16. The non-reproductive nature of sex with the Devil made it all the more perverted; see Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 272.
17. Brandes, Metaphors, p. 85.
18. Though the concern of this essay is manhood, womanhood also became more clearly defined, of course, over the same period. Many examples can be found in the literature of the day: Fray Luis de Leon's La Perfecta Casada (The Perfect Wife) of 1583 and Juan Luis Vives's De Institutione Feminae Christianae (On the Education of a Christian Woman) of 1523, for example, both clarified ideal womanly behavior and character.
19. Caroline Villasenor Black, "Love and Marriage in the Spanish Empire: Depictions of Holy Matrimony and Gender Discourses in the Seventeenth Century," Sixteenth Century Journal, XXXII/3 (2001): 637-667.
20. Villasenor Black "Love and Marriage."
21. Rebecca Haidt, Embodying Enlightenment: Knowing the Body in Eighteenth-Century Spanish Literature and Culture (New York, 1998) pp. 107-148. Haidt's insights are fascinating and, for the most part, extremely well reasoned. Haidt demonstrates, for instance, the relationship between petimetre/mojo, unmanly/ manly, Frenchness/Spanishness as constant oppositional themes in the literature of the day. The only aspect lacking in her analysis, unfortunately, is an adequate consideration of masculinity and class/status. The effeminate man, the petimetre, that Haidt shows was the continual fool in plays and stories was obviously of the upper class, while the playwrights themselves must have originated from, or appealed to an audience of a different class or strata of Spanish society.
22. Ibid. p. 110.
23. There were several famous cases of castrati who so captivated women that they eloped and attempted to legally marry. See, for instance, the case of Giusto Tenducci and Dora Maunsell in Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 241.
24. Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 256. Also, note that only virgins were understood to be physically intact. Once a virgin was penetrated, she lost her physical and personal integrity, her wholeness, and also her true virtue. In this sense both castrati and nonvirginal women shared a status as not completely whole, corrupted. They were both nonmen.
25. Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of insanity in the Age of Reason, trans. Richard Howard (New York, 1965) pp. 38-43. James Winders gives a succinct explanation of this process in Gender, Theory, and the Canon (Madison and London, 1991) p. 31.
26. One of Darmon's main arguments is that the Church and its courts used impotence trials to emasculate lay men in an attempt to exorcize their own sexual neuroses, see Pierre Darmon, Damning the Innocent: A History of the Persecution of the Innocent in PreRevolutionary France, trans. Paul Keegan (New York, 1986) p. 2.
27. Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 247.
28. Archivo Catedralico y Diocesano de Calahorra (hereafter abbreviated ACDC), Legajo 27/309/1, f. 6.
29. ACDC, Legajo 27/555/23, f. 12.
30. Blok, "Rams and Billy-Goats," p. 433.
31. For an ethnographic explanation of the importance of virginity in the Mediterranean world see Brandes, Metaphors, p. 181. For the historical development of the cult of virginity in Europe see Kathleen Coyne Kelly, Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages (London and New York, 2000).
32. As an example of the tradition of exposing blood stained sheets after consummation in Spain see Pierre Darmon who quotes a witness: "the Spaniards, that are great observers of ceremony, on the day following the wedding do have matrons show the sheets of the nuptial bed in public with great acclaim, to parade the stains of defloration, crying out all the while from a window: Virgin la tenemos [we've got a virgin]," in Pierre Darmon, Trial by Impotence: Virility and Marriage in pre-Revolutionary France (London, 1985) p. 149.
33. Renato Barahona examines in depth the language surrounding the loss of virginity in "Carnal Knowledge: The Language of Sex," Chapter Two of his book Sex Crimes, Honour, and the Law in Early Modern Spain: Vizcaya, 1528-1735 (Toronto, Buffalo, and London, 2003).
34. Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (London and Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983) pp. 20-21.
35. George Caspar Homans, English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century (New York and London, 1941) pp. 72-73.
36. Haidt, for instance, emphasizes this connection in her discussion of the unmarried petimetre. Haidt, Embodying Enlightenment, p. 112. See also Anne S. Lombard who also demonstrates the early modern interdependency between marriage and becoming a man in Making Manhood: Growing Up Male in Colonial New England (Cambridge, Mass., 2003).
37. This is according to the Council of Nicaea 325. See Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 256.
38. A great deal of skepticism surrounds Catalina de Erauso's autobiography, which she wrote or dictated between 1626 and 1630. Yet, that she lived, and lived as a man for much of her life seems incontrovertible; several extant contemporary letters mention her, as does the pension given to her from Philip IV for military service to the king. However, many of the feats and adventures she describes in her book clearly seem to be exaggerations or even inventions. See Catalina de Erauso, Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World, trans. Michele Stepto and Gabriel Stepto (Boston, 1996). Federico Garza Carvajal includes a full, if uncritical, discussion of Erauso as the ideal Spanish man in his Butterflies Will Burn: Prosecuting Sodomites in Early Modern Spain and Mexico (Austin, 2003) pp. 18-21.
39. Joseph Bajada, Sexual Impotence: The Contribution of Paolo Zacchia (1584-1659) (Rome, 1988) p.87, (hereafter abbreviated as "Bajada, Paolo Zacchia").
40. "una communicacion ylicita ..." ACDC, Legajo 27/631/11, f. 2.
41. "allandose el mienbro viril (si merecer, ni el nombre deello) ... por quanto diuidida la naturaleza (que siempre es desunata ad unum) hacer dos instrumentos de lo que hauia de hazer uno, hizo dos, y anbos con toda inperfeccion ..." ACDC, Legajo 27/631/11, f. 3.
42. The fact that Juan was not permitted to enter the clergy highlights a curious and important point regarding how the body was connected to sanctity, order, and sexuality. The canon law that required clerics to be physically intact dates back to the Council of Nicaea (Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 256). That council found the self-castration of certain aesthetic monks disturbing and worked to prevent them from entering the Church hierarchy.
43. There has been a great deal of work on hermaphrodites over the past two decades. Several famous cases have been unearthed and explored by historians of gender. Two important overviews will provide interested readers with a point of departure: Patrick Graille, Les hermaphrodites: aux XVIIe et XVIII siecles (Paris, 2001), and Alice Domurat Dreger's Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex (Cambridge and London, 1998).
44. Take, for instance, the importance of the coif that denoted the difference between girl and married woman. Synodal decrees in early modern Spain chastised women who took the toca de mujer without being legitimately married or after sexual relations: "que, de aqui adelante, ninguna muger, despues que hiziere vida maridable con su marido, sea osada de andar sino con toca de casada ..." "Sinodo de Antonio de Guevara," Mondonedo, November 13, 1541, Synodicon Hispanum, Antonio Garcia y Garcia ed. (Madrid, 1987), vol. 3, p. 73. This change in women was particularly marked by a change in hairstyle and headdress. As for men, passage into adulthood was accomplished by marriage or entrance into religion. See Barahona, Sex Crimes, p. 33, also Farr, "The Pure and Disciplined Body," p. 406.
45. This idealization of the hermaphrodite is contained in the origin of the word in Greek mythology: Hermaphrodite was the offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite. Thus the original hermaphrodite was not a monster but a product of Hermes, clever messenger of the gods, and Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love (Graille, Les hermaphrodites, pp. 18-19). An early modern example of the hermaphrodite as a utopian sexual being, containing in itself the best of both sexes there is Thomas Artus sieur d' Embry's Les Hermaphrodites, 1605. Aside from a select literature and fables that idealized the hermaphrodite, there was a pervasive sentiment that regarded her/him as a monster, not only among the populace, but also increasingly among the educated of the Enlightenment who, newly wed to the idea of a binary sexual system, saw no natural place in creation for anything in between sexes (Graille, Les hermaphrodites, p. 60).
46. Blok, "Rams and Billy-Goats," p. 432. See also Pitt-Rivers, People of the Sierra, p. 90.
47. Spain, once a part of and greatly affected by the Islamic world, had witnessed the production of eunuchs over the centuries. Various historians have assumed that the creation of castrati in Spain was a Christian Mediterranean version of the Islamic Mediterranean production of and trade in eunuchs. Sherr argues that the Mediterranean or Muslim worlds cannot be blamed for beginning the practice of castration in early modern Europe. He points out that many of the early castrati came from Northern France and the Low Countries long before Italy and Spain would dominate the castrati production and profession. See Richard Sherr, "Gugliemo Gonzaga and the Castrati," Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 33, issue 1 (Spring, 1980) 33-56, p. 37. On the prevalence of castration in the Eastern Mediterranean see Kathryn M. Ringrose, The Perfect Servant: Eunuchs and the Social Construction of Gender in Byzantium (Chicago and London, 2003).
48. Contemporaries, social commentators and later historians have mainly settled on two possible reasons for early modern castration: one medical and the other musical. Clearly there were medical reasons that justified castration in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Childhood illnesses and accidents occasionally resulted in the removal of testicles. Before 1772 childhood inguinal hernias frequently required surgery. In 1772 a protective belt called the manezuela was invented to prevent inguinal hernias (Nicolas Morales, "El real colegio de ninos cantors y una practica discutida a finales del siglo XVIII: la castracion," Revista de Musicologia, Vol. XX, no. 1, [Enero-Diciembre 1997], p. 7, hereafter abbreviated as "Morales, 'El real colegio de ninos'"). Inguinal hernias occasionally occur to young boys when the inguinal canal that separates the intestinal cavity from the groin fails to close before the birth of the male infant. If open, part of the intestines can descend out of the inguinal canal, producing a hernia. This condition required an operation to prevent the hernia from growing and endangering the life of the child. Such surgery usually involved the removal of at least one testicle; perhaps both were removed. In fact, most court cases about castration focused on the question of what the hernia surgeon actually did. According to the oft repeated testimony in these court cases, a surgeon specialized in hernias called a hernista (hernia surgeon) or sometimes potrero (gelder) would perform the operation. He would open the scrotum, remedy the intestinal hernia, and then remove one testicle completely.
49. Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 248.
50. "Linda cosa, la voz sutil y melosa, en un hombre muy barbado!" Act One of El Examen de Maridos, Juan Ruiz de Alarcon, 1633.
51. "que no tenia coxones para darle ..." ACDC, Legajo 27/566/40, f. 7.
52. "que asi estubiera libre de morir de parto ..." ACDC, Legajo 566/40, f. 1 back.
53. Bajada, Paolo Zacchia, p. 16.
54. Interest in the castrati singers has been the main reason for historical investigations of castration in Europe. Music historians and musicologists have provided the social background of castration. Understandably, but unfortunately, their focus has almost exclusively been the production of castrati. This leads to the assumption that the production of castrati was the exclusive reason for castration of young boys. Patrick Barbier's Histoire des Castrats, for instance, emphasizes the prevalence of castration in early modern Italy, and then takes for granted that all these boys had been castrated due to the popularity of castrati. He simply does not deal with castration as a European phenomenon outside of music. See Patrick Barbier, Histoire des castrats (Paris, 1989) p. 29.
55. Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 251.
56. Michael R. McVaugh, "Treatment of Hernia in the Later Middle Ages: Surgical Correction and Social Construction," Medicine from the Black Death to the French Disease, Edited by Roger French, et al. (Singapore, Sydney, 1998), p. 134
57. For the common assumptions equating hernia surgery with castration see Finucci, Manly Masquerade, p. 239, n. 36 as well as McVaugh, "Treatment of Hernia in the Later Middle Ages?" The most notorious cause for castration was the purposeful creation of a castrato singer. The need for castrati in the late sixteenth century had arisen as a consequence of the Church's post-Tridentine efforts to enforce the cloistered life of religious women. Women were prohibited from participating in many musical productions. Castrates were used to replace high female voices. Later, new musical tastes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for Italian opera increased the demand for castrati. The castrato, possessing the voice of a boy and lung capacity of an adult, was uniquely able to perform lengthy ornamentation without taking a breath, a musical quality much desired by wealthy patrons (Sherr, "Gugliemo Gonzaga").
58. "Senalase el dia, y los padres huyen de la casa, porque les falta el valor para escuchar los clamores de su hijo: los asistentes unos se turban, y otros se desmayan, y nadie mira con ojo sereno lo que se executa, con que aprovechandose de esta confusion, exerce sus titeres sanguinarios, arrancando los Didimos, y aparentando que los dexa dentro." A. Aguello Castrillo, Disertacion chirurgica, Madrid, Ed. Pantaleon Aznar (1775), p. 15 Quoted in Morales, "El real colegio de ninos," p. 9.
60. "trato de castrar al dho su hijo y estando el potrero o hernista en su casa para ejecutarlo como tal bezino paso la testigo a ella y bio como el dho hernista castro y capo de ambos lados al dho Juan de Aleson ..." ACDC, Legajo 27/566/40, f. 16.
61. Archivo Historico Provincial de Logrono, Legajo J 965/3, from an impotence case before the local abbot's court of the Abbey of Najera, part of the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada, f. 4.
62. "... algunos de sus parientes, por odio y mala voluntad y por otros fines particulares lean informado de que padece ... impotentia ... [porque] le quitaron ambos testiculos." ACDC, Legajo 27/571/50, f. 2.
63. "porque mi pte lo es lexma y formal pa contradezir la pretenson contra pr lo que mira al celo y seruo de Dios ..." ACDC, Legajo 27/571/50, f. 6.
64. "... q se ataxen ynconbenientes graues q se orixinarian en caso de lleuar efecto el casarsse" Ibid.
65. Patrick Barbier, The World of the Castrati: A History of an Extraordinary Operatic Phenomenon, trans. Margaret Crosland (London, 1996) p. 20.
66. "por haber lo el dho impedido el dho su hijo pusso manos en el [su padre] y lo trato mui malo." ACDC, Legajo 27/714/65.
67. "para la conpustura del mundo ..." Ibid.
68. "lo publiquen y declaren pongan en tablillas." ACDC, Legajo 27/450/1, f. 1
69. On the great curiosity and popularity of impotence trials in eighteenth century Paris see Darmon, Damning the Innocent, pp. 77-81.
70. ACDC, Legajo 345/31, folios 231-233.
71. See Dean Hamer, The Science of Desire: The Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior (New York, October 1994).
By Edward Behrend-Martinez
Appalachian State University
Department of History
237 Whitener Hall
Boone, NC 28608
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|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2005|
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