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Gender, Race and Religion in the Colonization of the Americas [1 ed.]
 0754651894, 9780754651895

Table of contents :
Contents
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Acknowledgements
Contributor Notes
Introduction: Contextualizing Race, Gender and Religion in the New World • Nora E. Jaffary
Part 1: Frontiers
2 Women as Go-Betweens? Patterns in Sixteenth-Century Brazil • Alida C. Metcalf
3 Gender and Violence: Conquest, Conversion and Culture on New Spain’s Imperial Frontier • Bruce A. Erickson
4 The Very Sinews of a New Colony: Demographic Determinism and the History of Early Georgia Women, 1732–1752 • Ben Marsh
Part 2: Female Religious
5 The Convent as Missionary in Seventeenth-Century France • Susan Broomhall
6 ‘Although I am black, I am beautiful’: Juana Esperanza de San Alberto, Black Carmelite of Puebla • Joan C. Bristol
7 Andean Women in Religion: Beatas, ‘Decency’ and the Defence of Honour in Colonial Cuzco • Kathryn Burns
Part 3: Race Mixing
8 Incest, Sexual Virtue and Social Mobility in Late Colonial Mexico • Nora E. Jaffary
9 ‘An Empire Founded on Libertinage’: The Mulâtresse and Colonial Anxiety in Saint Domingue • Yvonne Fabella
10 Mediating Mackinac: Métis Women’s Cultural Persistence in the Upper Great Lakes • Bethany Fleming
Part 4: Networks
11 Circuits of Knowledge among Women in Early Seventeenth-Century Lima • Nancy E. van Deusen
12 Waters of Faith, Currents of Freedom: Gender, Religion and Ethnicity in Inter-Imperial Trade between Curaçao and Tierra Firme • Linda M. Rupert
Afterword: Women in the Atlantic World • Patricia Seed
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

Gender, Race and Religion in the Colonization of the Americas

Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Series Editors: Allyson Poska and Abby Zanger In the past decade, the study of women and gender has offered some of the most vital and innovative challenges to scholarship on the early modern period. Ashgate’s new series of interdisciplinary and comparative studies, ‘Women and Gender in the Early Modern World’, takes up this challenge, reaching beyond geographical limitations to explore the experiences of early modern women and the nature of gender in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Submissions of single-author studies and edited collections will be considered. Titles in this series include: Women and Authorship in Revolutionary America Angela Vietto Shamanism, Catholicism and Gender Relations in Colonial Philippines, 1521–1685 Carolyn Brewer Women, Texts and Authority in the Early Modern Spanish World Edited by Marta V. Vicente and Luis R. Corteguera Women’s Letters Across Europe, 1400–1700 Edited by Jane Couchman and Ann Crabb Religious Women in Golden Age Spain The Permeable Cloister Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt Queenship and Political Power in Medieval and Early Modern Spain Edited by Theresa Earenfight

Gender, Race and Religion in the Colonization of the Americas

Edited by NORA E. JAFFARY Concordia University, Canada

First published 2007 by Ashgate Publishing Published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business copyright © Nora E. Jaffary 2007 Nora E. Jaffary has asserted her moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editor of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Gender, race and religion in the colonization of the Americas. – (Women and gender in the early modern world) 1. Women – America – Social conditions – 16th century 2. Women – America – Social conditions – 17th century 3. Women – America – Social conditions – 18th century 4. Miscegenation – America 5. Frontier and pioneer life 6. Women – Religious life – America – History I. Jaffary, Nora E., 1968305.4’2’097’0903 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gender, race and religion in the colonization of the Americas / edited by Nora E. Jaffary. p. cm. — (Women and gender in the early modern world) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-7546-5189-5 (alk. paper) 1. Women—America—History. 2. Sex role—America—History. 3. Women and religion—America. 4. America—Colonization—Social aspects. 5. America—Race relations. 6. Indigenous women—America—Social conditions. I. Jaffary, Nora E., 1968 HQ1400.G46 2007 305.4097’0903—dc22 ISBN 13: 978-0-7546-5189-5 (hbk)

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Contents List of Tables List of Abbreviations Acknowledgements Contributor Notes Introduction: Contextualizing Race, Gender and Religion in the New World Nora E. Jaffary

vii viii ix x 1

Part 1: Frontiers 2 Women as Go-Betweens? Patterns in Sixteenth-Century Brazil Alida C. Metcalf

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3 Gender and Violence: Conquest, Conversion and Culture on New Spain’s Imperial Frontier Bruce A. Erickson

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4 The Very Sinews of a New Colony: Demographic Determinism and the History of Early Georgia Women, 1732–1752 Ben Marsh

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Part 2: Female Religious 5 The Convent as Missionary in Seventeenth-Century France Susan Broomhall

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6 ‘Although I am black, I am beautiful’: Juana Esperanza de San Alberto, Black Carmelite of Puebla Joan C. Bristol

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7 Andean Women in Religion: Beatas, ‘Decency’ and the Defence of Honour in Colonial Cuzco Kathryn Burns 81 Part 3: Race Mixing 8 Incest, Sexual Virtue and Social Mobility in Late Colonial Mexico Nora E. Jaffary

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9 ‘An Empire Founded on Libertinage’: The Mulâtresse and Colonial Anxiety in Saint Domingue Yvonne Fabella 109 10 Mediating Mackinac: Métis Women’s Cultural Persistence in the Upper Great Lakes Bethany Fleming 125 Part 4: Networks 11 Circuits of Knowledge among Women in Early Seventeenth-Century Lima Nancy E. van Deusen 137 12 Waters of Faith, Currents of Freedom: Gender, Religion and Ethnicity in Inter-Imperial Trade between Curaçao and Tierra Firme Linda M. Rupert 151 Afterword Women in the Atlantic World Patricia Seed 165 Bibliography 173 Index 203

List of Tables 2.1 A Typology of Go-Betweens in Sixteenth-Century Brazil

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8.1 Type of Dispensation Application, 1765–1776

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8.2 Dispensation Type by Ethnicity

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List of Abbreviations AAL Archivo Arzobispal de Lima AGNM Archivo General de la Nación, México AGNP-DI Archivo General de la Nación, Péru, Derecho Indígena AHNM Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid ARC-PN Archivo Regional del Cusco, Protocolos Notariales CAW, UT Center for the American West, University of Texas at Austin CU The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, Columbia University

Acknowledgements Several people tried to warn me off attempting to edit a volume of essays solo, but happily, it has turned out to be a remarkably painless process. In large part, this has been due to the various forms of assistance I received while working on this book. First, I would like to thank Erika Gaffney, Ashgate Publishing, for her assistance in shepherding the volume through the publication process. I am also grateful to the series editors, Abby Zanger and especially Allyson Poska, for their input on and enthusiasm for the project. Thanks are also due to each of the contributors to this volume who good-naturedly incorporated my revision suggestions into their chapters. Ken Mills and Pat Seed both provided me with helpful feedback on my chapter on Mexican marriage. On several occasions, both Randolph Scully and Barbara Cutter assisted me by providing me with valuable information on gender history in the colonial United States, a region outside my area of specialization. Support from Concordia University assisted in the development of Gender, Race and Religion in several ways. The inter-library loan office of the Webster Library proved invaluable in securing numerous items for me, and the College of Arts and Science provided financial support for the project through its professional development funds. For the past three years, I have enjoyed the collegial and stimulating atmosphere of the history department at Concordia enormously. I am particularly grateful to my dynamic and supportive departmental neighbour, Andy Ivaska, and my unofficial mentor in gender history, Shannon McSheffrey. I also feel very fortunate to have located myself in a city hosting a network of other Latin American historians, and am grateful to Cynthia Milton, Daviken Studniki-Gizbert, Catherine LeGrand and Ed Osowski for creating such a dynamic community of scholars here. Finally, I am thankful to my ever supportive family members: Karl, Ann and Eric Jaffary; Sherrill Cheda; and Aeyliya Husain. For his patience, generosity and constant curiosity – truly a daily inspiration to me – I thank my partner and colleague, Ed. Lastly, and even though he is too little to understand perfectly just yet, I thank my new son Luc, whose increasingly long and predictable periods of sleep made the completion of this book possible.

Contributor Notes Joan C. Bristol is Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University. She is the author of Christians, Blasphemers, and Witches: Afro-Mexican Ritual Practice in the Seventeenth Century (University of New Mexico Press, Diálogos series, in press). Her articles appear in the Boletín del Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico) and The Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. Susan Broomhall is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History at the University of Western Australia. Her research interests concern women and gender in early modern Europe, and recent publications include Women and the Book Trade in Sixteenth-Century France (Ashgate, 2002), Women’s Medical Work in Early Modern France (Manchester University Press, 2004) and Women and Religion in Sixteenth-Century France (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Kathryn Burns teaches Latin American History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She became interested in beaterios and indigenous nuns and beatas while working on Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru (Duke University Press, 1999). Her current work in progress focuses on writing and power in the colonial Andes, and recent publications include ‘Notaries, Truth, and Consequences’ in American Historical Review 110:2 (April 2005), 350-79, and ‘Forms of Authority: Women’s Legal Representations in Mid-Colonial Cuzco’, in Marta V. Vicente and Luis R. Corteguera, editors, Women and Textual Authority in the Early Modern Spanish World (Ashgate, 2004), 149-63. Bruce A. Erickson is Assistant Professor of History at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York. He received his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. His interest in gender, colonialism and military culture grew from his investigation of thousands of pages of Spanish military documents when he worked as a researcher for the Spanish Colonial Research Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yvonne Fabella is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She is currently working on a dissertation entitled ‘Jealous Creoles and “Priestesses of Venus”: Gender, Race and the Construction of Creole Identity in Pre-Revolutionary Saint Domingue’. Bethany Fleming is the museum registrar for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, opening in Skokie, Illinois. She graduated from Valparaiso University with a B.A. in American studies and earned an M.A. in public history from Loyola University of Chicago. For three summers, Fleming worked as an historic interpreter and intern at Mackinac State Historic Parks on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Contributor Notes

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Nora E. Jaffary is Assistant Professor of History at Concordia University in Montreal. She is currently researching the history of birth and birth control in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexico and is working on a reader of documents in Mexican history. Ben Marsh is a Lecturer in History at the University of Stirling, Scotland. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, and has previously taught at Brunel University (London) and the University of Oxford. He is the author of Georgia’s Frontier Women: Female Fortunes in a Southern Colony (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007), and has also published work on women and the American Revolution (Georgia Historical Quarterly, Summer 2004, winner of the E. Merton Coulter Award). He is currently researching the history of European attempts to cultivate silk in the Atlantic world. Alida C. Metcalf is Professor of History at Trinity University. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1976 and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. She is the author of Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil: Santana de Parnaíba, 1580-1822 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992; second edition, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), which was awarded the Harvey Johnson Book Award in 1993 by the Southwest Council on Latin American Studies and Honorable Mention for the Bolton Prize in 1994 by the Conference of Latin American Historians. Her second book, Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500-1600 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005) develops the concept of the gobetween in the crucial first century of Brazilian history. Linda M. Rupert is Assistant Professor, Atlantic History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the recipient of the 2006 Catherine Prelinger Award and the 2004 Ida B. Wells Award from the Coordinating Council for Women in History. She has written “Trading Globally, Speaking Locally: Curaçao’s Sephardim in the Making of a Caribbean Creole” (Jewish Culture and History 7/1-2, 2004) and Roots of our Future: A Commercial History of Curaçao (Curaçao: 1999). Patricia Seed is Professor of History at University of California-Irvine. She has published extensively in the fields of Latin America’s gender history and the history of the Atlantic World. Her books include To Love, Honor, and Obey in Colonial Mexico (Stanford University Press, 1988), winner of the Bolton Prize, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and American Pentimento (University of Minnesota Press, 2001), Winner of the 2003 Prize in Atlantic History. Nancy E. van Deusen is Professor at Western Washington University. She has published two books, Between the Sacred and the Worldly: The Institutional and Cultural Practice of Recogimiento in Colonial Lima (Stanford University Press, 2001) and The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of an Afro-Peruvian Mystic,

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Ursula de Jesús (University of New Mexico Press, 2004), both of which are also forthcoming in Spanish-language editions. She has also published numerous articles on gender relations, race and religion in seventeenth-century Lima. Her current research project, Of Human Bondage: Personal Servitude in the Pre-Hispanic and Colonial Andes, 1492–1560, explores the lives of indigenous women, gender relations and forms of servitude in the pre- and immediate post-conquest years.

Introduction

Contextualizing Race, Gender and Religion in the New World Nora E. Jaffary

On her deathbed in 1678, Juana Esperanza de San Alberto, a former African slave, secured the privilege of professing as a nun in the Discalced Carmelite convent of San José in Puebla, Mexico. Although permitted to become a nun and celebrated in a posthumous spiritual biography, Esperanza, as Joan Bristol argues below, did not serve as an example to New Spain’s population of the social or spiritual redemption normally associated with participation in convent life. Esperanza lived in a society obsessed with both racial hierarchy and the potential for revolt that existed among its ‘lower orders’. Her biographer’s continued emphasis on the exceptional nature of Esperanza’s virtue – his reminder that ‘although [she was] black, [she was] beautiful’ – served to reinforce the belief in mid-colonial New Spain that virtue could not be associated with blackness. Esperanza’s near contemporary, Antoinette de Saint-Estienne, a métis girl from Acadia, travelled to France at age six in 1632, and 14 years later professed as a Benedictine nun in the convent of Beaumont-lès-Tours. Unlike in Esperanza’s case, Antoinette’s chroniclers, after initially acknowledging her ethnicity, eventually erased her racial identity in their account of her life. Susan Broomall observes, in her chapter treating Antoinette’s history in the present collection, that while the nuns of Beaumont-lès-Tours described Antoinette as a ‘little savage’ when she first arrived in France, by the end of their account, they referred to her as ‘the Canadian novice’. The Benedictine nuns were perhaps less preoccupied with the need to publicize the exclusivity of Europeans’ legitimate claim to virtue than were their Mexican Carmelite contemporaries because they were not living in an intensely racialized colonial setting in which they represented an anxious demographic minority. Any concern they might have had about the functioning of New France’s (in any case more ambiguous) racial hierarchy would also have been secondary, as Broomhall demonstrates, to their desired celebration of Antoinette’s adoption of convent life. Her virtuous example illustrated to their contemporaries the sisters’ successful participation in the revered  For an extensive discussion of Spanish fears of black uprisings in seventeenth-century Mexico, see Martínez, 2004.

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work of proselytism, all the more remarkable, in this case, for its occurrence within the confines of French cloistered life. Antoinette’s sisters, if they had read the travels of missionaries and explorers to New France, such as Marc Lescarbot’s widely popular L’Histoire de la Nouvelle France (1609), would have learned about a markedly different colonial reality, in social, economic and demographic terms, from the one in which Juana de Esperanza existed. For its successful operation, New Spain’s lucrative silver mining and agrarian economy necessitated the coerced labour of its indigenous, African and mixed race inhabitants. These groups’ participation in New Spain’s economy depended in part upon the Spanish elite’s successful communication of its cultural and spiritual superiority over the other demographic sectors of the colony. In comparison to New Spain, New France in the mid-seventeenth century was a younger, more financially precarious and much less densely populated colonial outpost. Frontier conditions persisted in French North America’s St Lawrence Valley until the 1660s, and elsewhere characterized New France until the late eighteenth century (Choquette, 2002, p. 194). Although certainly not free of violence, the French sector’s relationship with the territory’s indigenous population, particularly during the peak of the fur trade, was characterized more by dependence and occasional mutual cooperation than by the military conquest followed by rapid economic domination that occurred in New Spain. Guillaume Aubert has recently provided a convincing revision of the traditional view that ‘prior to France’s loss of its North American empire in 1763, conceptualizations of social order that emphasized ancestry and skin color were comparatively underdeveloped in the French Atlantic World’ (Aubert, 2004, p. 439). However, Aubert’s critical assessment of the racial and ancestral preoccupations, which New France developed along with its counterparts in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch America, date from the period after Antoinette’s life. As Juana Esperanza and Antoinette de Saint-Estienne’s stories – along with those of the many other women discussed in this volume – reveal, gender, race and religion were centrally involved in both the ideology and praxis of colonialism that European powers employed in their subjugation of the Americas in the Early Modern period. However, the particular ramifications of imperial control differed greatly in the diverse geographic and temporal contexts in which the colonization of the Americas transpired. The essays collected here treat the time period from the early sixteenth to the late eighteenth centuries and examine the colonial locales of Brazil, New Spain and Peru, English and French America, and the Dutch and French Caribbean. They are organized according to four salient topics in the history of women’s experiences in the colonization of the New World: the colonial frontier, women’s relationships to Christian institutions, race mixing and female networks. Many of the following  Jennifer M. Spear, 1999, also argues that as early as the late eighteenth century, religious and secular officials perceived race mixing as a threat to the establishment of a French colony in Louisiana.

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chapters reveal much about women’s experiences in several of these areas. Networks, for example, appear in nearly all of them in some way. However, they have been grouped together according to the topic featured the most prominently in each in order to facilitate their comparative examination across regions. This volume does not purport to provide a systematic comparative treatment of colonialism in the Americas. Rather, it presents 12 detailed studies of how the frontier, Christian institutions, race mixing and networks were each articulated in the various colonial settings that comprised the New World. It aims to document the extent to which contextual specificities determined the development of shared historical phenomena in colonial contexts. In one of the first collections of its kind, these studies also unite two exciting fields of history: the comparative study of the Atlantic World and the gendered dynamics of imperialism. The Atlantic World The past 15 years has witnessed the rise of Atlantic World studies. This rich field examines the common, comparative and interactive aspects of the history of those societies bordering on the Atlantic basin. The field of Atlantic studies treats the shared histories of these communities in terms of their economic, demographic and cultural interactions, examining, where possible, how the various colonies and core powers functioned as one integrated system. Publications in Atlantic history have grown in scope and sophistication in the past decade. However, work in this area continues to be dominated by scholarship focusing on the political, economic and demographic themes from which the field initially emerged, while giving less emphasis to the cultural and, in particular, the gendered dimensions of the comparative history of this region. The present collection aims to contribute to these latter spheres of Atlantic history by adopting what David Armitage has described as a ‘trans-Atlantic’ approach to the history of the Americas. Such an approach can bring the study of different sites into meaningful comparative examination ‘because they already share some common features by virtue of being enmeshed within circum-Atlantic relationships’ (Armitage, 2002, p. 19). Although this volume’s authors examine the book’s central themes – race, religion and gender – across a broad spectrum of contexts, the diverse geographic locales treated here possess several common features beyond their shared proximity to the Atlantic. Most evidently, the historical actors of all of the essays that follow existed within New World colonies that were subject to the economic  For helpful introductions to the historiography of Atlantic World studies, see Armitage, 2002, and O’Reilly, 2004. The first publications in Atlantic world history particularly emphasized the history of the Atlantic slave trade, the shared ‘democratic revolutions’ of the New World colonies and the economic structures of colonial empires. For examples of such work, see Curtin, 1998; Thornton, 1998; Kagan and Parker, 1995; and Eltis 1999. The smaller number of studies addressing cultural issues which link various locales in the Americas include Canny and Pagden, 1989, and Bach, 2000.

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and cultural priorities of royal and elite populations from a handful of powerful Western European countries. Europe employed a variety of strategies, including military conquest, fiscal and trade initiatives, evangelization, the purveyance of racial ideologies and public relations campaigns advertising the allure of Utopia to gain and maintain control over the Americas. One unifying framework for all of the historical personages examined here was their common exposure to such strategies. In some cases, for instance in Alida Metcalf’s examination of the status of female ‘go-betweens’ in sixteenth-century Brazil, the imperatives of colonialism immediately shaped historical subjects’ experiences. ‘Go-betweens’ mattered because they served as the means of facilitating both the trade in brazilwood and the establishment of Portuguese culture and Catholicism on this alien frontier. In other instances, such as in Kathryn Burn’s examination of the foundation of female religious institutions called beaterios in seventeenth-century Peru, historical subjects’ participation in colonial relationships, although palpable, was more indirect. As Burns observes, such religious institutions ‘were at the heart of a complex network of relationships and investments that created and reproduced Spanish hegemony – a world of interests shaped by considerations of honour and dominated by aristocratic clans’. If their collective colonial status represented one feature unifying the experiences of these historical subjects, another element they shared was their common familiarity with the stresses that resistance to this status engendered. The knowledge that they were at once part of, and at the same time distinct from, the Old World likely informed the everyday outlook of many inhabitants of Americas in the colonial period, both elite and plebeian, and whether of indigenous, African, European or mixed descent. In their insightful examination of the formation of Atlantic identities, Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden are reluctant to posit that the formation of distinctive New World identities was a necessary cause in the Atlantic colonies’ eventual independence revolutions. However, Canny and Pagden do conclude that ‘colonists’ ability to perceive themselves as a separate community with a separate culture was one of the factors that gave them the confidence to make a bid for freedom whenever political circumstances dictated that it was in their interest to do so’ (Canny and Pagden, 1987, p. 278). We do not follow the subjects of the following studies into such dramatic enactments of their colonial Atlantic identities as they expressed in independence revolutions, but the historical characters examined here can be observed engaging in, witnessing and also attempting to suppress the everyday challenges to colonial control that various members of their communities daily enacted. Ben Marsh recounts, for example, how Marie Camuse, a formidable immigrant to eighteenthcentury Georgia, exploited to her own considerable advantage her virtual monopoly on the technical knowledge of silk production, the industry that the colony’s Trustees had hoped would serve as Georgia’s most lucrative export. Nora Jaffary, on the other hand, describes the defiance (or ignorance) of both Catholic marital practices and Christian sexual mores that central Mexico’s indigenous population displayed in their continued adherence to pre-colonial traditions after close to three centuries’ exposure to aggressive proselytism. She also examines ecclesiastical officials’

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anxieties about the influences such practices exerted on the colony’s creole Spanish inhabitants. Beyond their common colonial status, one of the most significant elements unifying the experiences of the American population in the Early Modern period was their common existence within societies characterized by race mixing. The phenomenon of race mixing between and among colonizing and colonized populations and the myriad anxieties associated with it, particularly relating to gender and sexuality, were characteristic of European imperial ventures in Asia and Africa as well as those in the Americas. However, the particular nature of the tensions that race mixture in the New World provoked, because of the common presence of the African, indigenous and European populations there, was a defining characteristic of the Americas in the Early Modern period. The conventional interpretive model of the comparative history of race mixing in the New World depicts Ibero-America as more receptive to miscegenation than either French or especially English America. This portrait had been upheld despite the Iberian Peninsula’s historic preoccupation with the maintenance of its Catholic population’s limpieza de sangre (cleanliness of the blood) from the taint of Jewish or Islamic influences, a preoccupation colonists handily transplanted to new groups in the colonial context. Certainly, the centrality of race mixing as a defining feature of Latin America renders its historic (and present-day) social structure distinctive from other parts of the Americas (Chambers, 2003; Nash, 1982, p. 273). As exemplified in Nora Jaffary’s chapter, elite apprehensions about the increasing size and augmented social mobility of the mestizo population in Spanish America did grow steadily in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. However, as María Elena Martínez has recently discussed, during the first century and a half after the conquest, Spain tolerated, and in some cases encouraged, intermarriage between Spaniards and Indians, viewing Spanish-Indian mixtures as ‘a redemptive process, one in which “Spanish parts” redeemed the Indian ones’ (Martínez, 2004, 485). Marital alliances with women of the indigenous elite were politically useful to the Spanish in the first decades of their establishment of colonial rule, and European women’s relative unavailability also explains the frequency of such unions. In contrast, as Martínez

 Historians working in a variety of contexts in the past 15 years have demonstrated the degree to which the idea of ‘race’, with its implications of essential or genetic difference within the species of homo sapiens is an untenable construct. See, for instance, Cope, 1994; Lewis, 2003; and Hodes, 1999. I use the term here because the essays in this volume are concerned with the various ways that colonial Americans perceived differences based on lineage, physical appearance and religious practice – all elements contributing to colonial conceptions of ‘race’.  For excellent treatments of the subject in Asia and Africa, respectively, see Stoler, 1991, and McClintock, 1995.  On race mixing in the Spanish colonies, see Mörner, 1967; Seed, 1985; Cope, 1994; and Martínez, 2004.  For further discussion on this issue, see Schroeder, Wood and Haskett, 1997.

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observes, and as Joan Bristol’s essay corroborates, Spanish America ‘seldom allowed black blood the possibility of full redemption’ (Martínez, 2004, p. 485). Although the prevalence of race mixing in colonial Latin America is often contrasted with its lower occurrence in either English or French America, as Yvonne Fabella and Bethany Fleming illustrate here, substantial groups of mestizo and mulatto populations were produced within these other empires as well. Traditional explanations for the disparity between the degree of mestizaje (race mixing) that occurred in Europe’s various New World colonies attributed the differences to Iberia’s history of intermingling with both Jewish and North African populations, which contrasted with England’s demographic isolation. Scholars also credited the differences to the disparities between Catholicism and Protestantism, and the differing ways Roman and English law addressed (or failed to address) the issue of slavery (Nash, 1982, p. 274). More recently, historians have begun recognizing the degree to which conditions in the New World determined the frequency with which interracial unions occurred. Factors such as the differing ratios of Europeans, Africans and Indians; the availability of European women; Europeans’ need for alliances with other groups; indigenous populations’ own preferences and requirements; and the different configurations of labour systems viable in the Americas all played key roles in shaping the degrees of interracial mixing in discrete locations of the New World (Nash, 1982, p. 275). The greater frequency of familial – rather than isolated male – European migration patterns to New England, for example, combined with the relatively small size of the indigenous population there, in comparison to regions like Central Mexico which were densely populated in the pre-Columbian period, did determine much lower rates of Indian-European unions in the English colonies. Perhaps, however, the most distinguishing feature of miscegenation in English America was not the limited degree to which it occurred, but the pronounced extent to which its occurrence – with the development of such concepts as the ‘one drop rule’ – was either denied or proscribed. Gary B. Nash has recently published research challenging both the presentation of the colonial United States’ exceptional lack of significant interracial mixing, and the idea that race mixing was discouraged in the earliest decades of the colonies’ establishment (Nash, 1999). Although the essays in the third part of this volume focus, in particular, on the history of race mixing in three late eighteenth-century contexts, several other chapters of the collection also address this topic. One of the unifying themes running through many of these essays is the central influence that mixed race people, ‘gobetweens’, and the phenomenon of cultural mestizaje exerted in the creation of New World societies. Latin American historians have posited that in the late colonial period, creole populations began asserting their identity with both indigenous and mixed-race people as a means of articulating a distinctive New World identity (Schwartz, 1987; Cañizares-Esguerra, 2001). Several authors in the essays below  On the history of the legal banning of miscegenation in the early colonies, see Bardaglio, 1999.

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investigate what these populations themselves, as well as their European and creole contemporaries, perceived about their mixed-race identities and their participation in cultures created out of the blending of traditions originating in the distinctive groups that created the New World. In her study of the turbulent context of the late eighteenth-century Upper Great Lakes region, Bethany Fleming details how four female métis community leaders, ‘perpetuated the diverse culture of Mackinac Island through exogamous marriages to Euro-American men and subsequently maintained their heritage through the everyday use of clothing, material culture, and religion’. Linda Rupert’s chapter highlights how women of a variety of ethnicities participated in inter-imperial trade between Curaçao and Tierra Firme in the seventeenth century, and in so doing, developed ‘multiple ties across geopolitical, geographic, social, religious and racial/ ethnic boundaries’. Nora Jaffary, in her analysis of patterns of unlawful marriage practices in late colonial Central Mexico, accesses some of the ways in which indigenous people perceived the adoption of European customs. As both her study and Yvonne Fabella’s chapter suggest, anxieties about both interracial mixing and inter-cultural practices also helped define the experiences of colonial populations in various parts of the Americas. The final aspect of the New World’s colonial process that several authors in the present collection examine is their shared exposure to the attempted transmission of Christian institutions and ideologies across the Atlantic. For decades, historians working in distinctive localities in the Americas have examined the various functions that religion and religious personnel served in the colonization of the New World, although few studies exist that examine the history of the church in comparative Atlantic terms.10 Collections in the latter category have focused on examining the differing strategies and levels of success characteristic of Catholic and Protestant proselytism of the indigenous populations of the Americas (Griffiths and Cervantes, 1999), and on tracking the continuities and discontinuities between the Old and New World spiritual practices, including in terms of both pious practices and religious crimes (Giles, 1999; Dinan and Meyers, 2001). The essays in the present collection contribute to these discussions by focusing on the particular examination of how nonEuropean groups – mestizos, mulattos and other individuals who found themselves in cultural or social terms ‘in between’ colonized and colonizing powers – related to Christian institutions in the New World. Across the Americas, but perhaps nowhere so graphically as with Spain’s use of the Requerimiento (Seed, 1995 p. 88), the propagation of Christianity served as a justification for Europe’s initial domination of the New World and, once having established a presence in the Americas, for communicating the idea of European cultural superiority to its inhabitants. The church and its functionaries often served  For further discussion of this topic in the context of Colonial Mexico, see Jaffary, 2004. 10 Existent works include Griffiths and Cervantes, 1999; Dinan and Myers, 2001; and Greer and Bilinkoff, 2003.

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as an important administrative machine for European monarchs, particularly when – as in the setting of New Spain’s northern frontier that Bruce Erickson discusses below – the crown’s own representation in the New World was particularly weak. Catholicism, especially in such acts as the celebration of miraculous New World religious figures and auspicious places, was also often an important symbol for emergent independent identities in the Americas (Greer and Bilinkoff, 2003; Morgan 2002; Rubial García, 1999) and, as several authors discuss below, claims to status, legitimacy and virtue within colonial societies. In the early period of second-wave feminism, scholars began focusing on the history of how the Christian church – in colonial America and elsewhere – functioned as an agent of social control and an arbiter of traditional gender codes. Beginning in the mid-1980s, historians shifted to the examination of the various other repercussions that participation in Catholic institutions and knowledge of Christianity might imply for women, exploring, as Susan E. Dinan and Debra Meyer expressed, ‘how gender influences religious experience and how religion influences gender construction’ (Dinan and Meyer, 2001, p. 3).11 In their essays, Kathryn Burns and Nancy van Deusen adopt this more recent approach. Burns describes how indigenous and mestiza women’s participation in the discourse of ‘decency,’ which their successful foundation of beaterios made possible, served as a means to achieve status and honour in seventeenth-century Cuzco. In the Peruvian viceroyalty’s capital city of Lima, Nancy van Deusen presents a tangible portrait of how women formed networks for the exchange of spiritual knowledge across racial and economic boundaries. In van Deusen’s view, such networks validated women’s ‘internalized understandings of spiritual matters and provid[ed] them with an informal education’, in contexts in which formal theological education – and approbation – was unavailable to most. Gender and Colonialism In the past 15 years, national and regional histories of the Americas in the era of colonization have increasingly incorporated gender analysis, fulfilling in this intriguing context Joan Scott’s call for a history of how ‘politics constructs gender and gender constructs politics’ (Scott, 1988, p. 46). In Spanish America, Irene Silverblatt and June Nash pioneered the discussion of the gendered nature of the formation of Inca and Aztec and subsequent Spanish empires (Nash, 1978; Silverblatt, 1987). Patricia Seed investigated the means by which marital choice became a mechanism for the exertion of state and social control over challenges to the economic and ethnic status quo in the late colonial period (Seed, 1988), and Ann Twinam uncovered the gendered nature of the definitive systems of honour that determined the public legitimacy of claims to social status in Spanish colonies (Twinam, 1999). In the context of the English colonies, Kathleen Brown demonstrated the ways in which elite white men 11 Two of the works pioneering this approach in the European context include Bynum, 1987 and Wiesner, 1987. Foundational works on the church and gender control in the Iberian world include Lavrin, 1989, and Perry, 1990.

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in colonial Virginia constructed their political authority on their ability to control the racial and sexual identities of English ‘good wives’ and African ‘nasty wenches’ (Brown, 1996). Mary Beth Norton assessed the degree to which concepts of familial authority influenced access to public power in the northern and southern colonies (Norton, 1996). For New France, Karen Anderson explored indigenous women’s subjugation to French men–and the coincident wider subjugation of the territory’s indigenous population to the French crown – through their incorporation of Catholic marriage practices (Anderson, 1991). The essays in this volume build on the findings these important studies which established a historical framework for understanding how gender dynamics played a constitutive role in the establishment and maintenance of European colonial ventures. The essays collected here examine the history of gender in relation to the colonization of the Americas from two perspectives. Some study how women and ideologies of gender participated in the various mechanisms of colonial control that different European powers utilized. Others assess the multiple ways in which African, indigenous, mixed race and European women responded to the mechanisms Europe introduced to manage New World territories, resources and populations. Moving beyond the traditional dichotomous evaluation of whether colonialism most benefited or harmed women, the following essays instead consider how women adapted to colonialism and how it shaped their lives. With regard to the former issue, Bruce Erickson, in his study of the northern frontier of New Spain, argues that gender roles played an intrinsic part in Spain’s imperial control of the northern frontier. Because Spain aimed to integrate conquered people into Spanish society, the crown encouraged Spanish women’s fostering of Iberian culture and religion in the territory. In this context, men attained both honour and social advancement through aggression and valour, which often assumed the form of violent acts committed against women, rather than through the types of military engagement routinely associated with frontier life. Addressing another dimension of imperial control in the vastly different setting of late eighteenth-century Saint Domingue, Yvonne Fabella analyzes how the image of the mulatto woman, ‘the mulâtresse’, worked as a disciplinary mechanism for white society in the context of the growing pressures that eventually gave rise to the Haitian Revolution. As she demonstrates, the pervasive stereotype of the mulâtresse, portrayed in contemporary pamphlets and political tracts as lascivious, coquettish, spendthrift seductresses conveyed a sense of danger to the colonial social hierarchy and to the stability of the slave regime. By adopting a comprehensive view of female agency, these essays reveal the varied implications of women’s experiences in colonialism. They treat the history of women’s subjugation by, resistance to and participation in European imperialism, and they suggest how both gender ideologies and material realities help explain the varying roles that women adopted. Linda Rupert, in her analysis of the lives of Dutch Protestant, Sephardic Jewish and African women in the Dutch Caribbean colony of Curaçao, uncovers the vigorous participation of women in the economic hub of the port city of Willemstad. Rupert’s findings challenge the ongoing characterization

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some scholarship presents of women’s inherently critical view of imperial control.12 Instead, she describes how, because men were frequently away at sea, women dominated the port’s adult population, forming the majority of every major social and ethnic group except slaves until well into the nineteenth century. Women were particularly prominent members of Willemstad’s slaveholding and slave trading community. Trade was the principal venue through which the Netherlands exerted its claim to colonial control (Klooster, 2002, p. 172), and women assumed positions at the forefront of this sector. By presenting the realities of gender and colonialism in a comparative framework, this collection also allows for a more nuanced understanding of how particular contexts operated to modify some of the patterns and realities of women’s lives in colonial settings that are represented in existent scholarship, including the discussion of women’s lives on colonial frontiers. The book’s first section addresses the role of women and gender as it operated in various colonial frontiers: sixteenthcentury Brazil, colonial northwest Mexico and eighteenth-century Georgia. In her study, Alida Metcalf problematizes the predominant interpretation that women acted as the most common and the most important ‘go-betweens’ on the frontier between European and indigenous societies.13 Erickson and Marsh both call into question the idea (more prevalent in Latin American than United States historiography) that white women were able to assume positions of relative power for themselves because of the low proportions of desired European women that generally characterized early colonial societies in the New World.14 Working primarily in the eighteenth century, Erickson describes how the Spanish crown encouraged the presence of European – or mixed-race – women on the northwestern frontier of New Spain where, as guardians of European morality, they were meant to foster the presence of Iberian culture. Erickson asserts that because they were meant to act as role models for European ideals on the frontier, local administrators and missionaries held women alone accountable for breaches of morality, even when they were the victims of such breaches. Rather than enhancing women’s status, the frontier setting, he concludes, ‘weakened legal and moral inhibitions on the flagrant manipulation of military, ethnic and gender hierarchies’. The frontier thus represented the deterioration, rather than augmentation, of 12 In her examination of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter, Maria Sibylla Merian, for example, Natalie Zemon Davis implies that Merian’s status and experiences as a woman caused her to adopt an inherently different view of colonial Surinam from that of her male contemporaries, which ‘opened fissures in the ground of argument for European domination’ (Davis, 1995, p. 184). 13 For examples of discussions regarding the prominence of women’s role as ‘gobetweens’, see Boxer, 1975; Van Kirk, 1980; Brown, 1980; and Greenblatt, 1991. 14 Scholars discussing the increased status of European women in early colonial societies include Carr and Walsh, 1977; Hemphill, 1982; Brown, 1996; Russell-Wood, 1977; MartinezAlier, 1989; and Socolow, 2000, pp. 52-9. Norton, 1984, provides a critique of this view in the context of English America.

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women’s status. Focusing on a context in which European women, particularly those of reproductive age, were indisputably a valued rarity, Ben Marsh is also reluctant to conclude that women experienced improved conditions in the frontier society of eighteenth-century Georgia. He finds that the nascent social conditions of the frontier allowed a handful of women, including a silk-winder, a tavern-keeper and a Native American translator, to become unusually prominent. But he concludes that the colonial process in this setting implied both potentially diminished as well as ameliorated conditions for women. ‘Elasticity’, he finds, ‘could rebound in either direction.’ Metcalf’s careful examination of the accounts of explorers, merchants, missionaries and early administrators on the Brazilian frontier uncovers that despite the importance often accorded to Indian women, they did not, in fact, dominate this role. Metcalf argues that the predominance of Indian women in the national origin stories of many American countries ‘must be understood in the context of identity formation and literary expression’ rather than as a historical phenomenon. Her conclusion pushes us to provocative speculation: Was Brazil’s situation relatively unique, or have the well-known stories of such figures as Pocahontas, Sacagawea and La Malinche obliterated the realities of most women’s experiences elsewhere on American frontiers? If this is the case, what might explain the popularity of the woman-as-mediator myth? Could it be reflective of an ongoing desire to domesticize and harmonize the portrayal of Europe’s encounter with America’s indigenous societies, despite decades of scholarship which has challenged the traditional portrait of the encounter as an essentially positive and civilizing experience for these societies? Bethany Fleming’s examination of the importance of métis women in maintaining the fur trade economy of the Upper Great Lakes in the late eighteenth century suggests that there are contexts in which women did act, more broadly, as cultural brokers. In contemplating this and the other contextual contrasts presented here, readers may wish to surmise how particular conditions – including unique economic contexts and differing access to language, religious knowledge and kin ties – gave rise to such varied experiences for women in the colonial settings of the New World.

PART 1 Frontiers

Chapter 2

Women as Go-Betweens?

Patterns in Sixteenth-Century Brazil Alida C. Metcalf

Go-betweens are everywhere in the Atlantic world during the age of discovery and colonization, but how many of them were women? In a fascinating essay on gobetweens, literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt selects Doña Marina, or Malintzin, Hernán Cortés’s interpreter in the conquest of Mexico, as ‘the supreme instance of the go-between in the New World’ because she was the figure through whom all communication between the Aztec and Spanish worlds passed (Greenblatt, 1991, pp. 143–5). One does not have to look far to find other Indian women, such as Pocahontas or Sacagawea, playing similar roles elsewhere in the Americas (Karttunen, 1994). In Brazil, Catarina Paraguaçu, Isabel Bartira and Maria do Espírito Santo are Indian women known to Brazilians as daughters of chiefs who, because of their associations with Portuguese men, were central figures in the first Portuguese settlements in Brazil. These prominent examples suggest that Indian women were the quintessential gobetweens in the encounters, conquests and colonization of the Americas. But when faced with such interesting and compelling lives, it is always important to ask if these women are unique, or if indeed they are typical of a larger cultural pattern. This chapter seeks to answer this question by systematically searching for the female go-betweens in a formative period of Brazilian history: the first half of the sixteenth century. By using a typology that breaks down go-betweens by ethnicity and gender and by applying it to three discrete stages within this 50-year period, I argue that it is possible to evaluate the presence and significance of female go-betweens in Brazil. Despite the importance often accorded to Indian women as go-betweens between the Indian and European worlds, women, while present, did not dominate this role. To understand the roles of women as go-betweens, we must first define what go-betweens are. Beginning in the fifteenth century, as the Portuguese and then the Spanish, French and English mounted expeditions of discovery, trade, conquest and colonization, hundreds of go-betweens emerged to create, facilitate and interpret the encounters that took place. At the simplest level, go-betweens are physical – the sea captains, sailors, passengers and slaves who connected through their very physical and biological presence worlds that were previously isolated from each other. At a more complex level, go-betweens are transactional – the translators and

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cultural brokers who made possible communication, exchange, trade, conquest and settlement. At an even higher level, go-betweens are representational because they characterize and define new worlds and new peoples through chronicles, maps, epics, oral accounts and works of art. (Metcalf, 2005c). Because go-betweens do not always readily appear in historical sources, they must be searched for, and at times their presence must be inferred. Furthermore, the roles of go-betweens change as conditions change. Three stages can be outlined in the formative first decades of Brazilian history: Encounter and Trade (1500– ), Settlement (1530– ) and Evangelization (1549– ). Applying a simple classificatory scheme to each historical stage makes it possible to codify the roles of European, Indian and mixed-race persons known as mamelucos at each level – physical, transactional and representational. And both male and female go-betweens can be accounted for (Table 2.1). Table 2.1 A Typology of Go-Betweens in Sixteenth-Century Brazil Men European, Indian & Mameluco Physical/ Biological Transactional Representational

sea captains, sailors, passengers, slaves translators, traders, cultural brokers chroniclers, mapmakers, writers, orators, artists

Women European, Indian & Mameluca passengers, slaves translators, cultural brokers writers, orators, artists

Stage One: Encounter and Trade After the first recorded voyage to Brazil by Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500, exploration of the Brazilian coast began, accompanied by a trade in brazilwood and Indian slaves. The vast majority of physical go-betweens in this period of encounter and trade were European men who crossed the Atlantic and linked worlds previously unconnected. On the European side were hundreds of men: sea captains, sailors, degredados (penal exiles), traders and crown officials, but few, if any, women. The absence of even a single known European woman suggests that almost no European women sailed on the early sea voyages to Brazil. Certainly, there must have been some. The ranks of penal exiles included women (degredadas), but whether European women came to Brazil in this very early phase of encounters remains unknown. On the Indian side, most of the Indian men and women who crossed the Atlantic did so as slaves destined for Portugal, France, England, Africa and even Asia. TransAtlantic Indian slavery began almost immediately after Cabral’s landing in 1500.

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Fernando Noronha, a Portuguese merchant who received the right to exploit the trade in brazilwood, in 1501 or 1502, obtained a proviso from the king that entitled him to trade for slaves (Amado and Figueiredo, 2001, pp. 267–72). The few references to the slave trade from Brazil clearly indicate that women as well as men were taken from Brazil. One of Noronha’s ships, the Bretoa, transported 36 Indian slaves in 1511, 23 of whom (64 per cent) were women (História, 1921–24, vol. 2, pp. 343–7). In 1515, a Portuguese ship returned loaded not only with brazilwood, but with young men and young women, all slaves (Nova gazeta, 1922). Indians did cross the Atlantic as free persons, but their experience differed in key respects from that of European men. When an Indian man crossed the Atlantic, as did the Indian Essomericq, he did so in a ship built in Europe with European technology, under the command of European sea captains, and in the service of European kings or powerful European merchants. Although Essomericq was to have returned in ‘twenty moons’ with information for his father, the chief of a Guarani group in what is today Santa Catarina, he never returned to Brazil (D’Avezac, 1869; Perrone-Moisés, 1992). Paraguaçu, the Indian wife of Diogo Álvares ‘Caramuru’, a Portuguese man shipwrecked in Brazil possibly as early as 1510, is known to have crossed the Atlantic, to have visited France, and to have returned. Álvares married Paraguaçu, the daughter of the local chief in what the Portuguese named the Bay of All Saints. In 1528, Álvares and Paraguaçu sailed to Britanny where she was baptized ‘Catherine du Brazil’; soon thereafter, Catarina Paraguaçu returned to Brazil with Álvares (‘Igreja recebe certidão’, 2001; Meznar, forthcoming). Although Paraguaçu may have been the only Indian woman to cross the Atlantic and to return, many Indian women like her were drawn into intimate contact with European men in Brazil. In 1501 or 1502, Amerigo Vespucci describes landing on several occasions along the coast of Brazil and living with an Indian group for 27 days. While residing in the village, Vespucci describes the contact between natives of Brazil and Europeans, writing that ‘I ate and slept among them’ (Vespucci, 1992, p. 31). Sexual contact between Indian women and European men laid the groundwork for the sharing of disease, and it created the beginning of miscegenation. Indian women who became the willing and unwilling sexual partners of European men became physical go-betweens when they moved back and forth between their Indian villages and the encampments of European men. Their children – the mixed-race mamelucos – would later be an influential group in the first settlements; many would become go-betweens. Of all who crossed the Atlantic, only very few became the influential transactional go-betweens. Transactional go-betweens typically were translators who directly mediated encounters between Europeans and Indians. Past experience in the African trade in the fifteenth century had taught the Portuguese the importance of translators (Hein, 1993). At the first encounter in Brazil in 1500, there was little communication, according to a pilot on Cabral’s armada, either through language or through signs (Amado and Figueiredo, 2001, p. 134). Cabral immediately began to consider how to create translators for future encounters, but there is no evidence that he considered using women in this role. He had with him 21 degredados whose

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presence on board was intended for situations, such as the one he found in Brazil, where future communication was desirable (Amado, 1988, p. 242). Pero Vaz de Caminha, a nobleman on the fleet, describes how Cabral discussed with his captains whether it would be a good idea to take away two Indian men by force, and to leave behind in their place two Portuguese men, both degredados (Amado and Figueiredo, 2001, p. 94). According to Caminha, the captains counselled Cabral not to take any Indian men from Brazil, but to leave the degredados. The captains believed that the degredados would learn the language and would be able to give better information when the king sent another ship to Brazil. Cabral and his captains thus deliberately created the first transactional go-betweens when they left behind two men (and several more apparently jumped ship unbeknownst to Cabral). A subsequent expedition to Brazil did find at least some of these men, and learned much from them, as is revealed in a document written in 1503 and a letter in 1505 (Amado and Figueiredo, 2001, p. 301; p. 368). Brazilwood increasingly lured European merchants across the Atlantic, and the trade depended on many transactional go-betweens scattered up and down the coast, all of whom appear to have been European men. Either these European men were established in Brazil as factors who managed trading posts, or they were European men who went ‘native’ in Brazil and supplied individual ships. The Portuguese trade in brazilwood was regulated by the crown; merchants who held contracts from the king traded at a few established feitorias, or fortified trading posts, built along the coast. There, a resident factor negotiated directly with the Indians, or he did so through his own interpreters. Despite the regulation of the brazilwood trade by the crown, Brazil quickly began to follow a pattern that emerged the century before in West Africa where Portuguese men known as lançados settled among Africans and through their marriages to African women became early middlemen in the Guinea trade (Coates, 1993, pp. 158–9; Rodney, 1970, pp. 77–94; Brooks, 1993, pp. 135–40; Couto, 1988, pp. 31–4). Such a pattern is clearly evident in the French brazilwood trade. The French left agents in Brazil, known as truchements (truchmans, interpreters), who lived with Indian groups and facilitated the brazilwood trade when merchant ships arrived (Staden, 1929; Thevet, 1997; Léry, 1994). It was the job of the truchement to convince the coastal chiefs that it was in their interests to cut, haul and load the wood, for as one sixteenth-century chronicler wrote, ‘if the foreigners who voyage over there were not helped by the savages, they could not load even a medium-sized ship in a year’ (Léry, 1992, p. 101). To make possible this trading relationship, the truchements married the daughters of chiefs and other prominent men. Diogo Álvares developed a similar role in the Bay of All Saints where he facilitated the provisioning of European ships and the trade with Indians (Carneiro, 1980, p. 29). In 1530 a Portuguese mariner who met Álvares wrote in his log that ‘at this bay [of All Saints] we found a Portuguese man who had been here twenty-two years’ and that he [Álvares] ‘gave a long notice of what was in this land’ (Sousa, 1940, vol. 1, p. 155). In the far south of Brazil, similarly, a Portuguese man known

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only as ‘the bachelor’ provisioned ships, served as an interpreter and sold Indian slaves (Sousa, 1940, vol. 1, p. 502). No Indian women are known to have brokered any of these early commercial relationships. Yet, it is clear that the success of the European male transactional gobetween rested on his marriages to Indian women. These women were de facto gobetweens, too – linking the European men to their own Indian families and villages. As the daughter of a prominent local chief in the Bay of All Saints, for example, Paraguaçu tied Diogo Álvares into a powerful kinship network (Calmon, 1959, pp. 148–50; Tavares, 2001, pp. 67–8). The ‘bachelor’ of southern Brazil had several sons-in-law who assisted him; a fact which suggests that he also had developed an extensive kinship network (Sousa, 1940, vol. 1, p. 502). João Azevedo Fernandes argues that the first European men who found themselves ashore in Brazil had two choices: to be perceived as enemies and taken into indigenous groups temporarily, as captives to be killed in the cannibalism ceremony, or to be perceived as sons-inlaw, to be permanently integrated as the husbands of daughters of powerful chiefs. European men who entered into Tupi society as husbands and sons-in-law thereafter lived under the protection of powerful chiefs and instantly acquired allies in their brothers-in-law. In return, the European son/brother-in-law provided European items as gifts to his kinsmen (Fernandes 2003, pp. 26–7; p. 206; p. 224). Indian women therefore occupied an important niche – that of bridge between the European man and her Indian male kin – but it is difficult to evaluate their independence and agency as go-betweens. Representational go-betweens explained the meaning of cultural contact and exchange through discourse and symbols, thereby shaping subsequent encounters and perceptions. Representational go-betweens, such as the letter writer Amerigo Vespucci or the chronicler Pero Vaz de Caminha, translated Brazil into a language for powerful European men. As a result, they had a great deal more influence than those who crossed the Atlantic but who did not write about what they saw. The early chroniclers not only described new lands and new peoples, but their information made its way onto maps and into treaties that influenced how an ever larger group of Europeans perceived Brazil. Indian go-betweens also represented Europeans – finding the meaning of their presence, appearance and demands – to an Indian audience. Although we know little about this, shamans and chiefs who traded with Europeans undoubtedly represented the meaning of the actions of the Europeans for their communities through discourse, dreams and the interpretation of myth. At this level of representational go-betweens, no women, either Indian or European, are known to have represented the other side in texts or images that historians can study today. The lack of women in this role is only partly expressed by the absence of women in the more basic roles of physical, biological and transactional go-betweens. European women were less likely than men to possess the ability to read, to write or to draw maps. On the Indian side, it is possible that some women might have been shamans and might have represented the meaning of the presence of Europeans through oral prophecy. Indian women were known, for example, to play an important role in the cannibalism ceremony. In this role, they may have

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represented European men as outsiders and enemies (Fernandes, 2003). It is not difficult to imagine that Catarina Paraguaçu, who had sailed to France, would have been a go-between who represented Europe to those living in the Bay of All Saints. Assessments of these roles await more careful study of the surviving sources that depict Tupi and Guarani societies in the sixteenth century. Stage Two: Colonization In the second stage of development in sixteenth-century Brazil, which corresponds to the time when the first colonies began to form, women become more visible as go-betweens. On the European side, women began to cross the Atlantic in small numbers, becoming the first European women to play the role of biological and physical go-betweens in Brazil. The number of European women in the coastal settlements, however, remained very small. Not only were Indian women still more likely to be the sexual partners and wives of European men, but the numbers of mamelucas had grown substantially. The sheer number of Indian and mameluca women living in the Portuguese colonies made it possible for them to serve as transactional go-betweens between the early colonies and the surrounding Indian world. At the level of representational go-between, no women, Indian or European, are known by name. The majority of the women living in the first Portuguese settlements all along the coast were Indians or mamelucas. Pero Correia, who had lived in Brazil since 1534, wrote that in the southern settlement of São Vicente European men had 20 or more Indian women, some slaves, some not, all of whom were his ‘women’. According to Correia, it had become a custom for Portuguese men to marry a mameluca, and to then delegate to her authority over his slave women, many of whom were his concubines (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 438). European women played a weak role in the formation of the first colonial settlements, largely because of their small numbers. The crown endeavoured to send Portuguese women to Brazil. Some of these women came as poor but respectable orphans, others as the poor and unrespectable degredadas (Coates, 2001, p. 143; p. 85; Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 166). Both, it was hoped, would become marriage partners of Portuguese men. Beyond their role as physical go-betweens, these European women were intended to serve a second role: to connect the nascent colonies back to Portugal. Beatriz de Albuquerque, the Portuguese wife of Duarte Coelho, the holder of the large grant of Pernambuco, is such an example. In a colony where it was a ‘custom’ for Portuguese men to live with several women, Beatriz de Albuquerque carried to Brazil a reminder that the Catholic teachings on marriage recognized only one wife. In the same way, other European women who came to Brazil also reasserted the cultural ties to Portugal. According to genealogists, Beatriz’s own brother, Jerónimo (who was unmarried but living with an Indian woman) was ordered by the queen of Portugal to marry a Portuguese woman. Jerónimo complied

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and married the oldest daughter of a Portuguese royal official (Fonseca, 1935, vol. 2, p. 350). Because the early colonies depended so heavily on surrounding Indian tribes for their very survival, transactional go-betweens who mediated between the Portuguese settlement and the neighbouring Indian villages became crucially important. While it is possible that Indian and mameluca women brokered this relationship, the more common pattern which can be observed in the sources suggests that men dominated this role. Historian John Monteiro observes that ‘the most successful early Portuguese settlements were precisely those where significant alliances had been struck between European adventurers and native headmen’. For Monteiro, these alliances were ‘cemented by marriage strategies, as headmen “adopted” outsiders as sons-in-law’. (Monteiro, 2000, pp. 991–2). These adopted outsiders followed in the footsteps of the European men who brokered the brazilwood trade, for as the first Portuguese settlements began in the 1530s, European men who became sons-in-law to powerful Indian men became the crucial transactional go-betweens for colonists. As can be seen in the experience of three first colonies – Bahia, São Vicente and Pernambuco – Indian women were part of the success of the male European transactional gobetween, but little is known of their roles. When the hereditary grant to colonize the region at the northern most part of the Bay of All Saints was given to Francisco Pereira Coutinho, who arrived at the Bay of all Saints in 1536 with colonists, Diogo Álvares was still active as a transactional go-between. In return for facilitating relations with local Indians, Pereira Coutinho gave Álvares and his mixed-race son-in-law land grants in 1536. The role played by Álvares’s Indian wife Paraguaçu is not explicitly described, beyond the fact that she was present (Meznar, forthcoming; Schumaher and Brazil, 2000, pp. 144–5; Calmon, 1949, pp. 49–50, n. 5). In São Vicente, on the Piratininga Plateau, João Ramalho, thought to have been a degredado, brokered the relations between the Tupinikin Indians of the plateau and the coastal settlement founded by Martim Afonso de Sousa in 1532. Ramalho associated with several women, but appears to have had a long-lasting alliance with Bartira, later baptized as Isabel. Bartira, like Paraguaçu, was the daughter of a chief: Tibiriçá of Piratininga. Monteiro argues that ‘Ramalho clearly had appropriated the attributes of a Tupinikin headman’; having such a powerful broker undoubtedly favoured the vulnerable coastal settlement (Monteiro, 2000, pp. 991–2). Like Álvares, Ramalho appears in the 1530s as an interpreter used by Pedro Lopes de Sousa and his brother Martim Afonso de Sousa. In one of the first land grants handed out in Brazil (1532), Ramalho, as well as another Portuguese man who had lived for 15 or 20 years in Brazil, were witnesses and interpreters (Sousa, 1940, vol. 2, p. 15). The specific role played by Isabel Bartira is unknown; however, 20 years later the Jesuit leader Manoel da Nóbrega thought her important enough to try to determine if Ramalho (who had left a wife behind in Portugal) could marry her (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 2, p. 524–7). When Duarte Coelho received the right to colonize Pernambuco, the site of one of the king’s oldest brazilwood trading posts, he arrived in 1535 not only with his

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Portuguese wife Beatriz de Albuquerque, but with other family members, one of whom was his wife’s brother Jerónimo de Albuquerque (Prado, 1939, pp. 163–71). Jerónimo, who was later ordered by the queen to marry a Portuguese woman, first established various liaisons with Indian women, one of whom was the daughter of the local chief, Arco Verde. She was baptized with the name Maria do Espírito Santo. According to legend, on one occasion she intervened and saved the life of Jerónimo (Fonseca, 1935, vol. 2, pp. 349–50). Poetically the legend recognizes her role as a transactional go-between: by using her position between Jerónimo and the Indian world, she brokered a hostile encounter in his favour. Men such as Ramalho, Albuquerque and Álvares married in the Indian custom, which allowed them to establish themselves through their Indian wives and to create their own network of descendants. Such men quickly developed large families with many mameluco children. Tomé de Sousa wrote the king in 1553 that he dared not even estimate the size of João Ramalho’s family because it was so large (História, 1921–24, vol. 3, p. 365). In Bahia, Álvares had 16 known mameluco children, according to an eighteenth-century genealogist (Jaboatão, 1950, pp. 69–119). Jerónimo de Albuquerque’s liaison with Maria do Espírito Santo, as well as with other Indian women similarly resulted in the births of many mameluco children; he had at least 20 (Fonseca, 1935, vol. 2, p. 350). The pattern established by Álvares, Ramalho and Albuquerque became one that was imitated by other Portuguese men. The nineteenth-century Luiz Gonzaga da Silva Leme reconstructs the families of seven Portuguese men who married or who had children by Indian women in sixteenth-century São Vicente. He argues that the ‘first settlers’ of São Vicente married the daughters of the principal Indian chiefs of Piratininga (Leme, 1903– 1905, vol. 1, p. 1). Even when Portuguese men did not seek alliances with prominent Indian chiefs, they nevertheless fathered scores of mameluco children by free and enslaved Indian women. Mameluco men increasingly became the logical transactional go-betweens who translated and negotiated between the Indian and European worlds. Mameluco men reproduced in Brazil a pattern also visible in the Portuguese trade in Africa. Following in the footsteps of the mixed-race mulatto slave traders of the interior of West Central Africa, known as pombeiros, mamelucos linked the Portuguese coastal colonies with the Indian world farther west. In Kongo and Angola, pombeiros used their facility with African languages to negotiate for slaves in the interior, then they descended those slaves to the coast where they sold them to Atlantic slave merchants (Birmingham, 1977, pp. 550–54; Vansina, 1962, pp. 375–90; Zeron, n.d.). Similarly, mamelucos dominated the sixteenth-century Indian slave trade in Brazil. By marrying Indian women deep in the wilderness in order to establish ties to Indian chiefs and through negotiation or outright trickery, mameluco transactional go-betweens brought Indians from the interior and sold them into slavery on the coastal sugar plantations of Bahia and Pernambuco in the 1570s, 1580s and 1590s (Metcalf, 2002; 2005a). In contrast, mamelucas tended to live in Portuguese settlements, where they stepped into the roles first occupied by Indian women, roles which would have been

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dominated by Portuguese women, had their migration rates been higher. Mamelucas became desirable marriage partners for Portuguese men, both prominent and ordinary. The town council of Piratininga, for example, petitioned the Queen of Portugal to send more degredados to São Vicente, so that they could help to populate the land and marry ‘the many mestizas [i.e., mamelucas] who are here’ (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 3, p. 346). A newly arrived man from Portugal could, by marrying a mameluca woman, establish himself in local society. This pattern can be seen in the genealogies of the families of Ramalho and Álvares, both of whom had many more children than can be documented by genealogists. Even given the limitations of the sixteenth-century genealogical data analyzed by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century genealogists, it is striking how much more is known about their daughters than their sons. Of Álvares’s 16 known children, 12 were women, and all 12 women married European men. In contrast, only one son married; he married a Portuguese woman (Jaboatão, 1950, pp. 69–119; Tavares, 2001, p. 41; Couto, 1997, p. 312; Calmon, 1949, p. 30). Less is known about the marriages of Ramalho’s mameluco children, but what we do know reflects the same pattern: mameluca daughters married Portuguese men while the marriages of mameluco sons are unknown, suggesting that they did not live in Portuguese settlements (Leme, 1903–1905, vol. 1, pp. 1–48; vol. 7, pp. 224; vol. 9, pp. 65–9; Souza, 1904, pp. 562–9). In the period of settlement and early colonization, the numbers of representational go-betweens continued to remain small and dominated by European men. These representational go-betweens supplied powerful men in Europe with information about Brazil. A new representational go-between emerges in the correspondence of the leaders of colonies, the donatários, or recipients of colonization grants, such as Duarte Coelho. While only a few of such letters survive, those that do suggest the existence of a regular correspondence between ambitious European men in Brazil and men of influence in Portugal. The letters convey the difficulties of colonizing Brazil and reflect the point of view of those wanting to develop Brazil for private economic gain (História, 1921–1924, vol. 3, pp. 256–69). The writers of such letters characterize Brazil as a place to be exploited, regardless of the rights of its indigenous inhabitants. The enslavement of Indians (and Africans) appears in such letters as an unquestioned necessity, thereby reinforcing the view in Europe that slavery was vital for the colonization of Brazil. Indian and mameluca women undoubtedly served as representational gobetweens in the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, but we have no available sources that describe this role. As wives and mistresses of European men, they were important communicators of information about the Indian world. Catarina Paraguaçu, Isabel Bartira and Maria do Espírito Santo were influential women in their respective colonies, and their views certainly would have carried weight. However, since the majority of Indian women who were the sexual partners of European men were slaves and concubines, their roles as representational go-betweens were limited. Their low social status made their representations of less value in the colony and their inability to move freely between the colony and the Indian world curtailed the degree to which they could represent the colony to the Indian world.

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Stage Three: Evangelization The Society of Jesus arrived in Brazil in 1549 with the first royal governor, Tomé de Sousa, and a new stage began: evangelization. The Jesuit missionary enterprise introduced greater complexity of contact between the Indian and Portuguese worlds and, as a result, created expanded roles for go-betweens at all levels. The Jesuits were themselves physical and biological go-betweens; once in Brazil, they travelled extensively in order to make contact with indigenous groups. Jesuits themselves became transactional go-betweens because they sought to convert the indigenous peoples of Brazil through persuasion. This mission required them to interpret Christianity into language, symbols and pageantry which they deemed comprehensible to Indians. The Jesuits immediately sought interpreters and consciously created their own, some of the most important of whom were Indian and mameluca women. Through their extensive correspondence, Jesuits became important representational go-betweens who challenged some of the prevailing views of sixteenth-century Brazil in Lisbon and Rome. The Jesuit letters expressed a new representation of Brazil which questioned the interpretation of Indians and Indian slavery voiced by colonists; as a result, the Jesuits began to influence royal policy towards Indians. Soon after arrival, the leader of the Jesuit mission, Father Manoel da Nóbrega, outlined the role that the Jesuits would play in Brazil: they would leave the Portuguese settlement and seek the Indians (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 2, p. 112). Moreover, the Jesuits would move beyond the new capital to be built, Salvador da Bahia, and would disperse themselves along the coast of Brazil. Just eight months after arriving in Brazil, Nóbrega, travelling with the governor, began to set up Jesuit missions up and down the coast of Brazil, in Porto Seguro, Ilhéus, Espírito Santo, São Vicente and Pernambuco. Initially, however, Jesuits could not serve as transactional go-betweens, because they lacked familiarity with Indian languages and cultures. A few, very skilled, interpreters joined the Society and filled this void. One of the best interpreters in São Vicente was Pero Correia who had formerly made his living as a slave raider along the coast of Brazil, but in 1549, he repented and entered the Society of Jesus (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 2, p. 205). Because Correia and other interpreters within the Society were not enough for the mission, the Jesuits began to train their own interpreters by working with Indian children and Indian and mameluca women, some of whom became their most ardent early converts and interpreters (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 158). The attention paid by the Jesuits to the sins of Portuguese men had an impact on the Indian and mameluca women, many of whom formerly had little choice but to accept their state as free or enslaved concubines. With the arrival of the Jesuits, new opportunities opened up for them. Christian Indian and mameluca women came to the Jesuits to be taught about Christianity (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 2, p. 109; 1, p. 438). Nóbrega encouraged the women to formalize their unions in marriage, and he hoped to use some of these women to preach in their home villages in the interior (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 286).

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Women became transactional go-betweens when they became interpreters for the Jesuits. In Pernambuco, the interpreter for the sermons and doctrines taught by the Jesuit António Pires to the Indian and African slaves was an ‘honourable’ married Indian woman, who also served as interpreter when Pires confessed Christian Indian women. ‘I believe that she is the best confessor that I have because she is so virtuous’, Pires wrote (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 326). This pattern is not unique to Brazil; Jesuits often worked through Indian women, as has been documented in North America (Sleeper-Smith, 2001). With the arrival of the Jesuits a new kind of representational go-between came into focus: the Jesuit letter writer. Letters sent to Rome and Lisbon contained a wealth of information on Brazil – on its indigenous inhabitants, for example – but also a searing critique of its Portuguese colonists. The Jesuit point of view challenged the views of powerful colonists who saw Indian slavery as a basic necessity. Through their letters, Jesuits argued persuasively that the enslavement of Indians in Brazil was largely illegal and that it compromised the success of their evangelism. Their detailed descriptions of the illegal enslavement of Tupi and Guarani groups began to influence the understanding of the indigenous groups of Brazil in Portugal, Rome and everywhere copies of the Jesuit letters were read. Through such letters and lobbying campaigns, Jesuits persuaded the king to promulgate laws against illegal Indian slavery (Thomas, 1982, pp. 92–5). The Jesuit mission created other representational go-betweens, too. Due to the influence of the Jesuits, many Indian and mameluca women became devout Christians, while European women often became strong supporters of the Society (Leite, 1956– 68, vol. 3, pp. 263, 379). Among this group were several women of means who founded churches and chapels. Such shrines served as symbolic representations of Christianity and as sacred spaces where the discourse and traditions of Christianity were heard and practiced. Beatriz de Albuquerque founded a church in Pernambuco; Catarina Paraguaçu founded the chapel, Nossa Senhora da Graça, which later became a church in Bahia (‘Memoriale’, 1584). Susana Dias, great-granddaughter of Tibiriçá, granddaughter of João Ramalho and daughter of the mameluca Beatriz Dias, similarly founded the chapel of Santa Anna, which later became the mother church of the São Vicente town, Santana de Parnaíba (Leme, 1903–1905, vol. 1, pp. 41–8; Metcalf, 2005b, p. 41). All of these acts are examples of Indian or mameluca women serving as representational go-betweens. Indian men, who became influential representational go-betweens for the Indian side, challenged the Jesuit mission. Shamans, all of whom appear to have been men and some of whom were mamelucos, began to preach against the Jesuits. Jesuit letters describe shamans who undercut the Jesuit message by proclaiming that the Jesuits brought disease and death when they baptized Indians (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 256). One Jesuit wrote that the shamans persuaded the Indians that ‘in baptism we put death into them’; they told Indians, moreover, that calling on Jesus or making the sign of the cross was the ‘sign’ of death (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 2, p. 134). When an Indian chief in Bahia died after having been baptized, a Jesuit wrote that the shamans spread the word that ‘the holy baptism had killed him’ (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 255).

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According to several Jesuits, the shamans would persuade the sick that the Jesuits were trying to kill them, and would extract knives, scissors and fishhooks from the bodies of the ill Indians and claim that the Jesuits had put them there (Nóbrega, 1549, 152; Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 256). Mamelucos also preached against the Jesuits. In São Vicente, Jesuits were particularly worried about the mameluco sons of João Ramalho, who openly defied the Jesuits and undermined their mission. Jesuit José de Anchieta wrote that the sons of Ramalho never ceased trying to ‘rid the land of the mission that we are trying to build with the help of God’ by constantly exhorting catechumens to ‘leave us and to follow them’ (Leite, 1956–68, 2, pp. 114–16). One Jesuit labelled Ramalho’s mameluco sons as ‘like savages’, while Anchieta described their open acceptance of cannibalism (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 243–4; Leite, 1956–68, vol. 2, p. 115). Conclusions Having examined go-betweens in three stages of the formation of Brazilian society, what kinds of conclusions can we draw about the roles of women? By systematically looking for go-betweens, rather than focusing on a few fascinating but unique individuals, the evidence suggests that most go-betweens were the simple physical go-betweens whose biological legacies – their diseases, domestic animals, plants and mixed-race children – left the Americas changed forever. European men dominated this role. Trade required the presence of transactional go-betweens, and invariably European men who went ‘native’ stepped in to broker the exchanges. The ranks of translators and cultural mediators did include women when colonization and evangelization began; these were Indian and mameluca women, who like Doña Marina tended to be allied with powerful European men and well integrated into the Portuguese colony. More common as translators and brokers, however, were European men and increasingly mamelucos. Finally, among the representational go-betweens, whose written and symbolic texts would shape the perceptions of the ‘New World’ for generation after generation of Europeans, few women are to be found at all. In the Indian world, women may have been representational gobetweens, but available evidence suggests that male shamans and chiefs dominated the representation of Europeans to Indian communities. Every go-between – whether man or woman; whether Indian, European, African or of mixed race – did have an impact on the crucial first decades of Brazilian history, but most go-betweens were European men. Although not all of these European men were themselves powerful individuals, the fact that so many of the physical, transactional and representational go-betweens were European men fundamentally shaped the relationships between the Indian and the Portuguese world. European men dominated as the first transactional go-betweens because of their alliances with Indian women. Later, their mameluco sons and grandsons would use the same strategies to broker the relationships between the coastal colonies and the wilderness still under the control of hundreds of indigenous groups. Mameluco

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go-betweens possessed complex and ambiguous identities, and many undoubtedly preferred to serve the Indian, rather than the European, side. But by the second half of the sixteenth century, sufficient numbers of mameluco men chose to make their livings serving as the transactional go-betweens between the coastal colony and the wilderness for the Portuguese colony to benefit from an extensive trade in Indian slaves. Indian slaves built many of the plantations, mills, ranches and farms that became the core of the colony. After African slavery replaced Indian slavery in the north-eastern sugar mills, Indian slavery continued in the peripheries. The great bandeiras of the seventeenth century brought thousands of Guarani Indians to the towns of São Vicente (Monteiro, 1994; Metcalf, 2005b, pp. 45–50; Nazzari, 1991, pp. 7–11). Transactional go-betweens, many of whom were mamelucos, led this slave trade. Indian women had been some of the first important allies for European men, but it was their mameluca daughters and granddaughters who played important roles in the colonies. Mamelucas articulated the compromise between the Indian and the Portuguese worlds. It was their representation of Catholicism and their definition of family norms that increasingly set the tone in the colony. From what little we know of the first generations of these families, it seems that family culture gradually shifted from an Indian identity in the first generation to a mameluca identity in second and third generations, before settling into a Brazilian colonial version of a Portuguese identity. This transition followed the changes in the identities of women as they adjusted to the changing nature of Brazil. As an example of the first generation, neither Diogo Álvares’ wife, Catarina Paraguaçu, nor her mameluco children spoke Portuguese in 1552 (Leite, 1956–68, vol. 1, p. 369). Many years later, in 1587, after Álvares himself had died, his wife still did not speak Portuguese, and she needed a Jesuit interpreter to make herself understood to a notary (Calmon, 1949, p. 221, n. 7). But in the second and third generations, when mamelucas became the matriarchs of their families, the cultural contribution of their Indian mothers and grandmother was diluted as they identified with Catholicism and the Portuguese colonial culture of Brazil. The gradual increasing presence of European women in the colony, moreover, created competition in the marriage market, which also encouraged mamelucas to present themselves to Portuguese men as wives and mothers who would uphold Catholic values. Thus, Indian women were not the dominant go-betweens in Brazil in the first 50 years of the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Indian women were central to the power of the male transactional go-betweens who did broker the first relationships between the Indian and the European worlds. Indian women such as Catarina Paraguaçu, Isabel Bartira or Maria do Espírito Santo stood in influential positions and undoubtedly possessed power and status. Mameluca women potentially could have been important transactional go-betweens who mediated between the Indian and Portuguese worlds; however, because of their status as desirable marriage partners for Portuguese men, they tended to reside instead in colonial settlements where they defined key aspects of Portuguese colonial culture, such as religion, in family life.

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Because the process of colonization in Brazil, as elsewhere in the Americas, was a continuous process of encounter, settlement and evangelization, the need for go-betweens constantly arose, faded and re-emerged. As the peripheries of the first colonies began to be settled, familiar historical stages began to reappear, stages such as new encounters, new settlements and new waves evangelism. At these times, similar needs re-emerged for transactional go-betweens, while the movement of physical go-betweens into the peripheries profoundly affected peoples and landscapes there. Representations of new peoples and regions would again shape not only knowledge, but behaviours and strategies for domination. Did the patterns of the first 50 years of the sixteenth century reproduce themselves in these new encounters, too? Were the men of the colony the dominant go-betweens, as European men had been before? In these subsequent encounters, distances were shorter and evangelization would be initiated largely from colonial settlements. It is possible that Indian and mameluca women were important transactional go-betweens. Moreover, better documentation of these later encounters enables historians to reconstruct them more fully, including finding and assessing the motivations of Indian and mameluca women. The example of Damiana da Cunha, an Indian woman who served as broker between the Caiapó and the nineteenth-century colonial settlement of Vila Boa de Goiás, is a case in point. Damiana da Cunha, the granddaughter of a great chief of the Caiapó, undertook several expeditions to the Caiapó to convince them to relocate to the mission villages (aldeias) outside of Vila Boa so that they might reap the rewards of Christianity (Karasch, 1981). Damiana da Cunha, who soon became known as the ‘Indian heroine of Goiás’ (Karasch, 1981), joins the ranks of the Indian women who have achieved near mythical status in national and regional histories because of their roles as gobetweens. As elsewhere in the Americas, Indian women are portrayed as intrinsic to the identity of Brazil in some of the great literary works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. José de Santa Rita Durão celebrates the role of Paraguaçu in his poem ‘Caramuru’, while José de Alencar’s ‘Iracema’ tells the story of a romance between an Indian princess (Iracema) and a young Portuguese man (Durão, 1781; Alencar, 1865). Iracema, whose name is an anagram of America, is clearly intended to project the new identity created in the joining of the European with the native American. The presence of Indian women in the national stories of origin of many American countries or in literary works is a fascinating phenomenon, but it must be understood in the context of identity formation and literary expression. It is not a reflection of actual historical patterns. This analysis of the roles of women in the first encounters of the sixteenth century leads me to hypothesize that later encounters most likely reproduced many features of the first encounters, the most important being the dominance of European and mameluco men in the roles of go-betweens. As gobetweens, Indian and mameluca women were the exceptions, not the norm.

Chapter 3

Gender and Violence: Conquest, Conversion and Culture on New Spain’s Imperial Frontier Bruce A. Erickson

In both history and popular culture, warfare is understood as the archetypal male activity, and frontiers are depicted as the definitive male space. Indeed, the physical act of battle has generally been the preserve of men. Conquest, however, requires more than simple victory in battle. The Spanish empire’s goals in the Americas were at least as much religious and cultural as military. Conversion of Indians to Christianity and establishment of Spanish communities required both men and women. As such, specific tasks were assigned to Spanish women. This chapter asserts that Spanish strategy defined separate roles for the men and women of the colonial frontier based on idealized concepts of gender and honour that were defined in relation to violence and morality. Borderlands historians have traditionally underestimated the importance of violence in defining honour on the frontier. In doing so they fail to register how the violence of ongoing conquest rebounded on the conquerors within their own homes and communities. They neglect presidial society altogether, overlooking the extent to which the colonial experience shaped modern military culture. The presidios (garrisons) and missions of the northern frontier of colonial New Spain, especially those in the region of Texas and Coahuila, are the focus of analysis here. The northern frontier of New Spain in the eighteenth century is a particularly suitable setting for a study of gender and military culture. During the eighteenth century, Spain, like other European states, created a modern professional army. The primary task of this institution was to defend the American empire, particularly against European enemies (Marchena Fernández, 1983, p. 9; Weber, 1992, pp. 204–5). The modern military institution was born within a colonial culture. Societal concepts of masculine honour are rooted in military metaphors that, themselves, grew more from this colonial experience than from chivalric ideals. The masculine role of warrior became entwined in the rigid structure of the developing institution of the modern army and the ethnic hierarchy of the conquest frontier.

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Colonial policies privileged the missionary programs of the Catholic orders, particularly that of the Franciscans, and placed the presidio-mission complex at the heart of colonial strategy. Officials on the frontier depicted natives as child-like and in need of training through the use of force. The soldiers of the frontier presidios represented idealized fathers, providing discipline when it was required. Women, like mothers, were teachers and guardians of morality. The boundary between men’s and women’s roles was exceptionally difficult to cross. Combat was neither a suitable nor an honourable pursuit for women. Men were not expected to uphold moral standards, nor did they gain honour by doing so. The two spheres were separate but in no way equal on the colonial frontier. As evidence from the San Xavier presidio-mission complex in eighteenthcentury Texas demonstrates, frontier society was shaped by violence and defined by conflict that infiltrated all levels of society. Male honour in this environment was shaped by confrontations within overlapping hierarchies of race, rank and gender. Both honour and shame hung in the balance of every dispute. Women were some of the most salient currencies in these contests. To seduce or abuse another man’s wife was to figuratively rape him as well. On the frontier, women served as examples of Christian society’s moral purity, but they were also symbols men used to demonstrate dominance over others. Women were meant to improve the moral atmosphere of the frontier, but this responsibility worked against them when they were caught in the web of violence and domination that characterized the conquest frontier. It was, in fact, when women were the victims of sexual violence that the contradictory nature of their position was most glaringly obvious. The mission priests blamed the male perpetrators of sexual violence but held their female victims responsible as well. As these ecclesiastics saw it, violence was natural for men and more so for soldiers. Women were meant to enforce moral codes. Spanish imperial policy in the Americas, including its approach to colonizing the northern frontier, grew out of the centuries of intermittent warfare waged to reclaim Iberia from Muslim invaders who conquered it in the eighth century. During this reconquista (reconquest) of Spain (ca. 718–1492), Christian forces aimed not merely to conquer territory, but to reclaim Spanish Iberia socially and culturally, to create a Christian and European homeland in captured territory. In order to integrate the population of the captured territory into the new Christian Spain, they needed to create enduring Christian communities (Dillard, 1984, p. 12). Men conquered, but communities required families with wives, mothers and children as well as soldiers. Consequently, families were moved into frontier areas as part of imperial strategy. The Spain that began its overseas expansion in 1492 was shaped by the legacy of the reconquista (Lourie, 1966, p. 76). The empire brought imperial policies from Spain to America with the first conquerors. Beginning in the initial decades of the conquest, royal laws commanded Spanish men to bring their wives and families to America. Spanish families created communities, erecting homes and planting crops, and acted as role models of Christian behaviour and Spanish culture (Elliott, 1985, pp. 149, 200; Konetzke, 1945, pp. 126–9).

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The Spanish continued to develop the reconquista strategies of conquest, settlement and integration across the expanding frontiers of the empire. The northern frontier was an irregular line that extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and took in the northern tier of modern Mexican states and the Southwest of the United States. Although at times the frontier of Spanish conquest advanced evenly, more often it moved forward it fits and starts. The desert belt across the north of New Spain was sparsely populated and generally unattractive to settlers. At the same time, perceived threats from competing European states sparked expansion into areas far removed from other settlement. Frontier communities were thus often isolated from one another. Indian populations for the mission program further encouraged imperial occupation. A diversity of indigenous groups ranging from hunter-gatherers to the sophisticated pueblos of New Mexico peopled the vast extent of the northern frontier. They reacted in various ways to the Spanish intrusion. Spanish conquest strategy, while adapted to meet specific needs, was consistently designed around army presidios and Catholic missions. The presidio-mission complex was meant to hold territory against enemies, both European and indigenous. More importantly, it was a controlled space where the Spanish congregated natives in order to teach them Christianity and Spanish culture. The military objectives of expansion and defence cannot be separated from the religious aim of converting the native population and creating a Christian society. Pacification and conversion required the violence that defined and shaped the frontier. American frontiers are often assumed to be innately hostile places until tamed by European settlers. In reality, particular regions may or may not have been peaceful before the arrival of European conquerors, but it was their arrival that created the violent frontier. The northern frontier of New Spain was an inherently unstable place because the outcome of a conquest by force was still in doubt. In the absence of stable institutions, power, expressed through the violence of discipline, was the predominant language spoken between peoples. As Silvio R. Duncan Baretta and John Markoff express, frontiers are places ‘where no one has an enduring monopoly on power’ (Baretta and Markoff, 1978, p. 590). In essence, the frontier disappears with the victory or withdrawal of the colonizers. On the northern frontier of New Spain, antagonisms were confrontational, not only between the Spanish and Indians, but also between and within Spanish institutions. In the violent context of New Spain’s northern frontier, male honour was especially dependent upon violence. Ramón Gutiérrez characterizes honour as ‘one of the core values of the moral system’ of the men who colonized New Mexico. Gutiérrez adds that race and birth quickly became distinguishing traits in measuring honour for the Spanish in the Americas (Gutiérrez, 1991, pp. 177–8). Violence became less central  See Baretta and Markoff, 1978. In Frederick Jackson Turner’s still influential ‘frontier thesis’ the frontier is an inherently violent place, ‘the meeting point between savagery and civilization’, until transformed by white settlers of the expanding United States. For Turner, Native Americans were part of the violent frontier (Turner, 1993, pp. 60–61).

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to defining honour as the colonial period progressed. However, honour was defined in varied ways depending upon the setting and context (Johnson and Lipsett-Rivera, 1998, p. 15; Johnson, 1998, p. 129; Seed, 1988, p. 22). On the frontier, it continued to rest on a foundation of force. There were few Spaniards of noble birth in the isolated frontier presidios. Because of ongoing miscegenation on the frontier, racial distinctions became less significant than cultural divisions during the late colonial period (Gutiérrez, 1991, pp. 177–8; Alonso, 1995, p. 54). Thus, the importance of warfare was further elevated in the acquisition and maintenance of honour. Honour is commonly contested only between equals. Fighting and defeating Indians, defined a priori as cultural inferiors, was less honourable than battling against Europeans, so such activities did not contribute to the accumulation of male honour on the northern frontier (Alonso, 1995, pp. 93–4). In addition, the glory of pitched battles seldom punctuated the everyday domination of occupation. There was little honour to be gained in the domination of defeated subjects, but those were the enemies that soldiers most often saw. On the other hand, the slightest successful act of resistance could bring shame on the occupier and cost him honour. Such an atmosphere created increased sensitivity to violations of personal honour. Spanish soldiers perceived the indigenous population as racially and culturally inferior, but the Franciscans viewed them as children, ignorant rather than evil (Clendinnen, 1982, p. 41). Imperial strategy dictated that they be forced into missions to begin the process of conversion to Christianity. The language mission priests used to describe Indians is instructive in this regard. In 1756, Fathers Mariano Francisco de los Dolores and Juan de los Angeles of the Mission of San Antonio, in the frontier province of Texas, wrote that the natives there lived in the fields and forests like beasts. It was impossible to teach them to be Christians, or to accomplish anything, the priests continued, unless they were first reduced to the missions where they could be taught to live like men. It would profit no one if the Indians were taught the Catholic faith while living freely by their barbarous customs, continuing in their wicked traditions. The Fathers explained that they could not bring the indigenous communities into the missions and keep them there by themselves, nor could they separate the neophytes from their vices without help. They explained that the Indians were ‘like children of fear, they have more respect for arms ... than the persuasion of the ministry or the pains of hell’ (Archivo General de la Nación, México [hereafter AGNM], Historia, Parecer de Fray Mariano Francisco de los Dolores, 1756). This language is far from unique. Fray Romualdo Cartagena of the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Querétero, which trained and administered missionaries for the frontier, wrote in 1772: ‘It is seen every day that in missions where there are no soldiers there is no success, for the Indians, being children of fear, are more strongly appealed to by the glistening of the sword than by the voice of five missionaries’ (Bolton, 1979, p. 60). Mission priests demanded the violence of soldiers and complained when it was not provided. They also complained when it was exercised inappropriately. Their language shows that in either case they associated soldiers with violence. In 1674,

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a new mission was founded on the banks of the Río de las Sabinas, near modern Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico, far from the nearest contemporary Spanish settlement. Its founder, Fray Juan Larios, requested that no presidios be built in the area. His reason was the ‘great horror that the Indians had of the Spanish, because of the great cruelties ... and punishments [castigos] and deaths’ that they had suffered (Alessio Robles, 1978, pp. 219–22). The same priests sometimes used ‘castigos’ in quite a different manner. In early 1768, Fray Gaspar Solís toured Texas for the Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de la Ciudad de Zacatecas, home base for many of the Franciscan missionaries in Texas. At Misión del Santísimo Rosario, near the Gulf Coast south of San Antonio, he described in some detail why so many Indians of the region were not reduced to the missions. He blamed the cowardly nature of the Indians and the negligence of local commanders in congregating and punishing them when they fled. Solís continued that the soldiers did not pursue and punish neophytes who fled or properly punish those who returned to the mission on their own (AGNM, Historia, Diario que hizo el Padre Fray Gaspar Solís, 1767, p. 262). Father Solís used a form of the verb castigar to describe the punishment that the soldiers of Texas should, but did not, dole out to recalcitrant Indians. Larios and other Spanish priests used the same word to describe abuses by soldiers against Indians of the missions. Whether castigos were desired depended upon the requirements of the situation or the viewpoint of the writer of the report. Soldiers were needed on the frontier to mete out the discipline needed and ordered by missionaries. The army’s role was to be the stick to the missionaries’ carrot. Historians have repeated missionary complaints about the army’s abuse of Indians, but have not considered the violence inherent in the culture of frontier presidios to explain it. The founding fathers of Borderlands history blamed the culture of violence on a flaw in the Spanish character (Bolton, 1962, p.13) or in the mixed-race frontier people from whom most recruits were drawn (Bancroft, 1884, p. 601). Those who took what might be labelled a military history approach to violence within the army found fault with the army’s leadership and recruit training program (Faulk, 1969, p. 26) or simply identified violence and abuse with the era (Sánchez, 1990, p. 61; Nuttall, 1964, p. 71). Historians of gender reiterated by now familiar complaints about soldiers but broadened their conclusions about violence to include all Spanish men, neglecting to analyze the army as a separate entity and a distinct culture (A. Castañeda, 1990, p. 99; Bouvier, 2001, p. 52). Oddly, none considered that the army’s role and character were designed around organized, gendered violence and a hierarchy that was constantly reinforced in the same terms. Mission priests required help from the army when it came to discipline and from a Christian population for training in material and moral culture. Most often, Spanish soldiers and their wives were meant to serve as role models for natives. As they had done during the reconquista, artisans and their families contributed to the new communities in eighteenth-century California. Men instructed mission neophytes in smithing, carpentry and herding, women taught them cooking, sewing and other domestic arts (A. Castañeda, 1988, p. 287). Such interaction was a primary

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consideration when establishing presidios and settling Apaches in Sonora in 1787. The Spanish placed presidios and native communities in close proximity and in areas well suited to Spanish populations that could teach Indians how to cultivate the land and benefit from its fruits (Spanish Colonial Research Center, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, El Comandante General de Provincias Ynternas de Nueva España Dà Cuenta, 1787). If material skills were valued, the moral values that Spanish women taught to the Indians were especially important. Morality was considered part of women’s realm to the extent that women were even considered responsible for men’s conduct toward them. During the settlement of California, Father Pedro Font explained that the soldiers molested the Indian women, whose beauty he also found worthy of comment. The women, he noted, were ‘affable and friendly’ with them (Font, 1930, p. 271). The element of coercion so obviously evident in colonial sexual relations was ignored, or at least extenuated, by blaming the victims. Nonetheless, sexual relations between Spanish soldiers and Indian women were seen as a problem for the empire. Indeed, two of Font’s fellow missionaries, Junípero Serra and Francisco Palou, complained that the sexual predations of soldiers were responsible for the slow progress of the conversion program. Officials hoped that the presence of Spanish wives and families in California would inhibit such relations (Bouvier, 2001, pp. 46–53; A. Castañeda, 1990, p. 121). Spanish officials repeated this reasoning across the northern frontier to encourage, and sometimes mandate, the emigration of Spanish women. In Texas, scandals involving single soldiers were discussed in the earliest days of the province along with colonization schemes designed to alleviate the problem (Hernández, 1987, p. 120). Spanish officials thus made women responsible for preventing rape by satisfying the sexual appetites of their men as they guided the neophytes to proper Christian behaviour. Women of the Spanish empire went to the frontier as guardians of morality. Once there, they found themselves in a milieu which was defined by the violence of conquest. Whereas missionaries equated the army with violence, they viewed women as both teachers and transgressors of morality. They disapproved of the violent crimes and moral lapses committed by soldiers, but expected little more of them. Morality may have been the realm of women, but they were powerless to enforce it or even to defend their own honour. Honour was a male prerogative, won  Sometimes Christian Indians taught material and moral culture to neophytes. Around 1600, Bishop Alonso de la Mota y Escobar described Tlaxcalan Indians teaching newly reduced Chichimecas in the frontier pueblo of Colotlán, now in northeastern Jalisco. Tlaxcalan men and women taught gender-specific domestic arts. Tlaxcalan women also taught their Chichimeca counterparts that a man should have only one wife; and they instructed the women to serve and please their husbands so that they would not take other wives (Mota y Escobar, 1940, pp. 134–5).  It has long been recognized that women were held to a much higher standard of moral rectitude and sexual purity than were men in colonial Latin America. Ann Twinam provides a critical analysis (Twinam, 1989, esp. pp. 120–24), while Evelyn P. Stevens takes a more positive approach to the double standard (Stevens, 1973).

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through violence. To lose honour was to be shamed, indeed to be less of a man, more like a woman. A brief examination of the society and hierarchy of one especially vexed presidio will serve to demonstrate the plight that women faced when posted to the colonial frontier. From 1746 to 1755, the Spanish operated a presidio-mission complex on the Río de San Xavier in Texas. The Franciscan missionaries claimed that many indigenous communities were anxious for missions to be constructed so that they could come in to be converted to Christianity. After the missions were built and populated, they blamed the army for the lack of discipline within them. Their negligence, said one of the priests, ‘caused the heathen to be living in the missions as if they were in the woods, since it is impossible for the Fathers, unless the natives have respect for arms’, to control them (C. Castañeda, 1938, pp. 302–4). Problems between religious and military officials worsened in 1751 when Captain Felipe de Rábago y Terán was assigned to command the presidio. The missionaries testified that Rábago began an illicit affair with the wife of one of his men while passing through San Antonio. Notably, and typically, her name is never mentioned in the documents; her identity as a person was less important at the time than her role as an object of sin and conflict. This invisibility in the historical record makes it difficult to know much about frontier women outside of specific, usually unfortunate, events that interrupted their lives. Rábago’s victim was never named, but her husband was. He was Juan José Ceballos, a soldier and tailor. They had lived in San Antonio, Texas, before going to San Xavier, as did her family (Center for the American West, University of Texas [hereafter CAW, UT], Testimonio de los autos formados á representacion de Don Phelipe de Ravago y Theran, 1759, p. 201). Frontier soldiers and their families were most often native to the northern frontier. When necessary, the crown recruited settlers from nearby provinces through promises of land and upward mobility. However, upward mobility proved elusive, and these families went on to provide recruits for future settlements as well (Faulk, 1969, p. 25; Osante, 2005, pp. 233–44). Thus, most women of the frontier were born there or else came with their husbands or families. When Ceballos stood up to the advances of his commander, he was placed in heavy shackles, publicly humiliated, and then imprisoned at the presidio on the San Xavier. Some 30 years later, Fray Juan Agustín Morfi wrote that Rábago brought Ceballos’s wife to the cell where her husband was shackled to the wall. There, according to Morfi, Rábago abused her while Ceballos looked on (Morfi, 1935, p. 338).  Now known as the San Gabriel River.  Fray Mariano Francisco de los Dolores, quoted by Carlos E. Castañeda.  He is called Juan Joseph as often as Juan José; his last name is also spelled Cevallos, Zevallos, Zeballos and Seballos. Archaic name spellings is this chapter are changed to conform to modern conventions.  Unfortunately, this source is only available in translation, it would be interesting to see exactly what Spanish word was translated as ‘abuse’.

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While not found in contemporary documents, this incident was apparently later recounted to Morfi. After the priests threatened censure, Rábago allowed Ceballos to move into the sanctuary of the nearby Misión Candelaria. Meanwhile, a priest, Father Joseph Pinilla, went to Ceballos’s wife to convince her to return to her husband (Catholic Archive of Texas, Memorial del Reverendo Padre Viana, 1752). In addition, the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Querétero, whose priests were assigned to the San Xavier missions, directed the priests to continue to work to reconcile the couple (Morfi, 1935, p. 323). Though Rábago was accused of ‘abuse’, his victim was also deemed culpable. As these scandals unfolded, two soldiers complained to Father Pinilla about other illicit affairs at the presidio. Miguel de Arucha complained that his wife was living in sin with Nicolas Carabajal, the corporal of the company. And Joseph de Estrada said that his wife was involved with Lieutenant Don Manuel de Cos and Sergeant Joseph Miguel de Sosa. Again, the allegations involved the wives of soldiers and superiors in the military hierarchy. Father Pinilla condemned all parties, questioning the morals of the wives while he excommunicated all the soldiers then present at the presidio for living in sin (CAW, UT, Testimonio de las Diligencias practicadas por Don Thoriuio de Vrrutia, 1752, pp. 237–44). In May 1752, the sordid scandal came to a head at Misión Candelaria. As Ceballos sat with Father Pinilla and another priest, Joseph Ganzábal, a shot was fired outside the door. Ceballos slumped over dead and Father Ganzábal ran to the door to try to glimpse the killer. An arrow struck him and he too fell lifeless. The identity of the killer or killers was never determined with certainty, though more than one person was accused. Within days, a Christian Indian named Andrés was arrested and charged with one of the killings. In a series of confessions and retractions, Andrés implicated soldiers from the presidio de San Xavier. In one of his retractions, Andrés explained that two of the priests had threatened that if he did not change his story, the soldiers would hang him (CAW, UT, Testimonio de las Diligencias, 1752, p. 31). In that testimony, Andrés provided a perfect illustration of how the priests characterized the army to the Indians. Such an image made the missionaries look positively angelic by comparison. Andrés identified some of the soldiers who took part in the attack at Candelaria, most notably Martin Gutiérres and Juan Joseph Sánchez, better known as Marin (CAW, UT, Testimonio de las Diligencias, 1752, p. 5; Testimonio de los autos, 1759, pp. 8, 170, 201–2). According to this version of the story, Gutiérres had promised Andrés a horse for his part in the crime (CAW, UT, Testimonio de los autos, 1759, pp. 8–12). That horse, or another, surfaced in subsequent testimonies by and about Andrés and his wife Luisa, both of whom were described as Christians. Depending upon the witness and the specific testimony, Gutiérres gave, or offered to give, a horse to Andrés in return for access to Luisa. According to others, Marin had ‘embraced’ her as well. Andrés and Luisa were always described as Christian and ladino (Hispanicized). Still, soldiers felt free to approach Luisa with sexual demands. They assumed

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that the neophytes could easily be bought off for their dishonour and her distress. After hearing rumours at the presidio, the Franciscans became angry at Andrés and especially at Luisa, even though she was always described as a victim. One account referred to Gutiérres wanting to ‘rape’ Luisa and offering Andrés a horse for his consent. Yet the priests judged Luisa at least as guilty as any of the soldiers (CAW, UT, Testimonio de los autos, 1759, pp. 40–41, 52–3, 59, 112–13; Testimonio de las Diligencias, 1752, pp. 24–7). Rábago and the other men accused of abuse at San Xavier were considered culpable. Descriptions of their acts as abuse and rape suggest that the women were unwilling participants, victims rather than adulterers. Yet the women’s morals were questioned more than those of the men. At the same time that the missionaries condemned the abuse by Rábago, they counselled his victim to return to her home and husband. Perhaps the priests were not clear whether this was rape or adultery. Their handling of the whole affair suggests that they may not have been entirely certain that there was a difference between the two. Given that they saw women as the guardians of morality, they may have assumed their guilt as party to any moral transgression. At the very least, they betrayed an institutional view of power relations that was distinctly at odds with the realities of the military frontier. Luisa, the only Indian woman involved here, and oddly the only woman who was actually named, was obviously on the wrong side of both gender and racial divides. In disputing the charges against him, Captain Rábago suggested that the testimony, and memory, of the witnesses in his case was untrustworthy. ‘It would be’, he explained, ‘especially true in the Indians, and Indian neophytes, and much more in a stupid Indian woman ... on account of the imbecility of her sex, on account of her young age, that barely amounts to twenty years’. Later, Rábago discounted Luisa as a witness in part because of her repugnant morals. She had, after all, been having sexual relations with soldiers (CAW, UT, Testimonio de los autos, 1759, p. 59). The soldiers’ wives were the same women who were wanted on the frontier as teachers and guardians of morality. They, ‘more than men, were expected to uphold the domestic integrity, continuity and moral fabric of an established town’s society’ (Dillard, 1984, p. 202). Yet they were assumed responsible for any sexual transgressions in which they were implicated, even when they were unwilling participants in such acts. Through the several acts of adultery described at San Xavier, the hierarchy of the presidio is spelled out in some detail. Captain Rábago, Lieutenant Cos, Sergeant Sosa and Corporal Carabajal were all accused of committing adultery, with the wives of their men. The enlisted men had recourse to the native women, whether or not they were married. Gutiérres and Marin seemed to be quite free in their approaches to Luisa, a Christian Indian woman. Even when Father Pinilla intervened, he hardly mentioned the wronged women or the honour of their husbands, only the sinful morals of all involved. Common soldiers were unable to defend either their own honour or that of their wives. The frontier setting weakened legal and moral inhibitions on the flagrant

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manipulation of military, racial and gender hierarchies. It also added the force of violence to their operation. The same men involved in the adulteries, or rapes, at San Xavier existed in a general atmosphere of savagery that originated in the colonial processes of conquest and subjugation. The atmosphere of violence and domination which the army’s presence lent the frontier could not be kept separate from other aspects of presidial life. Just as the racial hierarchy of the conquest was enforced by everyday contests of resistance and humiliation, so discipline within the military hierarchy took on aspects of the same complex of domination. Masculine honour could seldom be won on the frontier in combat against an equal foe. But if honour was hard to come by, shame was not. Rape and sexual abuse, constituent elements of warfare and invasion throughout history, operated in the mission and the presidio as components of discipline and punishment. The conquest strategy of placing women on the frontier put them in the middle of a male institution. They were easily used as signifiers of their husbands’ status and could, just as readily, be exploited as a facet of the domination of their men. The women of the frontier, Spanish or native, were victims of the abuse that accompanies heightened displays of masculinity. They were also trophies, or markers, used by men who were, or pictured themselves, heroically masculine (Alonso, 1995, pp. 93–4). Gender was an inherent feature of the conquest hierarchy, defined relative to violence. The predatory sexuality commonly attributed to soldiers throughout history must be seen as a facet of the violence for which the army was designed.

Chapter 4

The Very Sinews of a New Colony: Demographic Determinism and the History of Early Georgia Women, 1732–1752 Ben Marsh

‘Women in a New Colony are the Very Sinews of it.’

On 30 January 1735, Georgia colonist Robert Parker Jr. observed in a letter to the brother of his new wife, Elizabeth Sale, that women were critical to the operation of a new settlement in North America. Sale, having lost her first husband to disease not long after arriving, had originally planned to emigrate back home to England. But Parker had convinced her to stay and marry him, observing that ‘I cou’d Not do my Self or the Setlement a greater Service than by laying an Embargoe Upon her by Way of Marriage, which I in few Months put in practice.’ His expression captured a pair of axioms which had manifested themselves in one way or another in every single colony that the British had established in the New World. First, that an insufficiency of European females fundamentally compromised the stable evolution of white settlement at the colonial level. Second, that demographic imbalances among migrant populations also considerably affected the extent to which individual men and women were able to subscribe to pre-existent gender models. Parker’s embargo, in any other environment, would probably have lacked its appeal. He was a grasping, odious character, who sought to profit not only from the acquisition of a wife but the accumulation of her inherited property. But in the insecure surroundings of the colonial frontier, Sale chose to acquiesce. Their decisions, though loaded with psychological baggage imported from the Old World, were taken in the peculiar context of the southern frontier.

 Parker’s less lofty motives were revealed in a letter written by Noble Jones, who, in his capacity as surveyor, was approached by the prospective groom who wanted to know where Sale’s land was going to be, and attempted to bribe Jones to change the plot (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 20, pp. 207–9, 415–16).

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Parts of British America by the mid eighteenth century resembled a settled, stable world. But despite the budding urbanization, the growth of institutions and the consolidation of social hierarchies in these older territories, there remained an obvious, perceivable geographic frontier. Over the course of the century, Europe and West Africa haemorrhaged enough migrants to top up settled seaboard areas of North America, immerse the navigable waterways and fertile eastern plains, and overflow westwards into the Appalachian backcountry. Sandwiched between the three great European colonial powers and two major South-eastern Indian peoples, Georgia constituted a clear geographic frontier of British settlement between 1732 and 1776. The significance of the geographic frontier, though perhaps not the engine of American identity which Frederick Jackson Turner once described, is that it was a prerequisite of other frontiers: it provided a site for the exploration of other boundaries in society, the laboratory in which practical and theoretical experiments were conducted. By the time of Georgia’s founding, many other regions had already played their part. Each new colony had shipwrecked settlers’ expectations upon the rocks of reality. The debris was gradually reconstructed as it drifted ashore, a product of both European origins and American environments. As fledgling settlements became functional societies, perceptions of gender, rank and race had hardened like baking clay in an Old World mould. A brief account of the evolution of female roles in early Georgia at once identifies commonalities across the British colonies, and some of the ways in which regional influences could be distinctive. The behaviour of the women of frontier Georgia echoed their antecedents in earlier colonial settings, though it differed markedly from that of their contemporaries in Britain, Europe and more established regions of North America. Not only were they more diverse in origin than most of the formative colonial populations which had preceded them, but the colonizing process ensured that the clay on the margins of settlement was initially pliant, supple and colourful. It would take several decades before wealth could become class, colour become race and the variable relations of male and female inhabitants become an operational gender system, capable of publicly identifying and acting upon defective behaviour. This essay seeks to outline some of the ways in which demographic determinism affected gender and ethnicity on the margins of settlement, contending that the imbalanced composition of the early population held simultaneously expansive and repressive repercussions for female opportunities in the colony. Georgia, established in 1732 as a buffer to the exposed southern frontier of the Carolinas, was devised as a model of social engineering. It was supposed to be populated by grateful white pauper families living in neat geometrical settlements. They were supposed to grow silk and wine, abhor slavery and rum, and make a mockery of the Spanish claims to the Southeast. But while paternalistic Trustees indulged in an eighteenth-century version of Sim City in their London offices, viruses afflicted their experiment in the real world. When the real power source of their activities crashed with the loss of parliamentary funding, they simply switched off their monitors. It had become quite clear by 1752, when the Trustees finally abandoned Georgia to royal government, that their clumsy efforts at social

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engineering were an abject failure. Warm-heartedness, it transpired, was no substitute for the self-interest which had characterized other proprietary colonial schemes. Whether characterized as a humanitarian tragedy or a bumbling farce, conditions on the frontier of settlement belied metropolitan hopes in a number of ways. Settlers fought protracted disputes over the prohibitions on slavery and rum, and the mechanisms by which land was distributed and inherited. Anti-Trustee lobby groups rallied around these issues, graffiti-ing the walls of buildings in Savannah, conversing with interested parties in Charleston and even distributing pamphlets to MPs in London. But beyond these public challenges, the process of establishing this unique colony also brought a series of private challenges in the lives of settlers. They found that their labour patterns, their childcare mechanisms, their forms of religious worship and the relations they established between the sexes could not exist as carbon copies of theoretical European paragons, but were variously reconfigured by the new environment. In large part, demographic determinism brought about this reconfiguration. The Trustees’ preconceptions of women’s roles – the housekeeping, nursing, childproducing and silk-winding which they described in their promotional literature – were falsely premised upon the notion that the familial cycles of Georgia colonists would imitate those of Europeans. Instead, circumstances in the colony dictated that marriage and familial formation would be very different, and settlers like Elisabeth Sale Parker quickly adjusted their lifecycle patterns to adapt. Imbalances within the migrant population acted in conjunction with fertility and mortality to produce distinctive repercussions for female inhabitants. In turn, the unorthodoxy of women’s roles further undermined the integrity of the social experiment. Though the rather eclectic nature of Georgia’s colonial records precludes the kind of family reconstitution which has been possible in English parishes and New England townships in the Early Modern era, some clear inferences can be made about the demographic structure of early migrants. The first boatload of immigrants on the Anne consisted of 114 people, of whom 44 were female, a proportion which seems to have persisted in the arrivals of the next decade. Assuming that half the children brought to Georgia were female, an assumption which is supported by the evidence that does specify the sexes of children, it is likely that the proportion of immigrants who were female was around 34 per cent of the total of 2724 recorded immigrants between 1733 and 1741. Furthermore, the evidence from the Anne shows that 87 per cent of the females aboard traveled in family groups: they were overwhelmingly wives, mothers and daughters. Their presence pays testament to the Trustees’ selection policy of industrious but disadvantaged families, and confirms the importance in their view of the paragon of woman as guardian of the family and  For more detailed histories of the background to the colonization of Georgia, see Davis, 1976, pp. 1–32; Coleman, 1976; Coleman, 1977, pp. 9-71; Wood, 1984, pp. 1-24; Reese, 1963; Taylor, 1971; Ver Steeg, 1975; Jackson, 1984.  For estimates and lists of the early Georgia population, see Ready, 1978, pp. 41–7; Greene and Harrington, 1932, pp. 180–86; Coulter, 1949; Cates, 1979.

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its virtue. It is clear from the composition of immigrants that the Trustees had not, as Clarence Ver Steeg has suggested, ‘attempted to develop ... a womanless society’ (Ver Steeg, 1975, p. 102). In fact, these figures display close parallels to the makeup of a group of 1960 migrants to New England before 1650, of whom 35 per cent were female and over 70 per cent travelled in family groups. They show that, purely in terms of the proportion of male to female, the women of Georgia had far more in common with their Puritan Goodwife counterparts than with the women of the early Chesapeake. In contrast, the seventeenth-century South had suffered an emphatic shortfall of females, who numbered one to every five or six men – accounting for the high rate of bachelorhood in Virginia, and considerable imbalance in Maryland. Here, as Lois Carr and Lorena Walsh observed in their pioneering article on planters’ wives, ‘comely or homely, strong or weak, any young woman was too valuable to be overlooked, and most could find a man with prospects’ (Carr and Walsh, 1977, p. 550). Given the similarities in sex ratios and family groupings of the immigrants who initiated the colonization of New England and Georgia, the difference in their early demographic evolution becomes all the more striking. If, as David Galenson suggests, ‘these sex ratios clearly indicate why rapid natural increase could begin so early in New England’, they fail to explain why Georgia’s endurance of no natural increase until well into the 1740s presents such a startling contrast (Galenson, 1996, p. 156). The qualitative evidence from the first two decades appears to contradict the relatively healthy sex ratios of immigrants. It displays an affinity with the early Chesapeake rather than with New England in its conscious awareness of the need for marriageable women as a positive inducement required for the recruitment and reproduction of settlers. James Oglethorpe wrote to the Trustees on several occasions, requesting the sending over of ‘industrious wives’ for the men in his regiment, since ‘from single men there are very great Inconveniences’ (Collections, vol. 3, pp. 104, 113, 144). Oglethorpe’s embarrassed request for mail-order brides for the southern frontier was echoed on the northern boundary of the colony. Here, Reverend Samuel Urlsperger conveyed the message that Lutheran Salzburgers who had migrated required a new transport of a hundred migrants ‘especially to the End that they might have more single women to Marry’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 21, p. 457). As early as 1736, Archibald McBaine had offered to provide ‘twenty Young Women None of them Whores nor Transporters’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 21, p. 295). Like the officials of the Virginia Company, who decided to send over boatloads of maidens during Edwin Sandys’s administration in the early 1620s, the authorities in Georgia were obviously acutely aware of a scarcity of marriageable women, without whom the population could never achieve natural replacement rates let alone growth (Morgan, 1975, p. 95). Only on 18 February 1745 did William Stephens find that ‘the Increase of Children among us of late years is (I think) worth remarking’ (Coulter, 1959, 171). Part of the explanation of why Georgia struggled to reach the impressive reproductive rates of New England is to be found in the high mortality of the early

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‘seasoning’ years, which meant that fewer marriages completed their normal fertility cycles. Of the colonists who came to Georgia, two historians have estimated that between 30 and 39 per cent were dead by 1752 (Ready, 1978, p. 55; Cates, 1979, pp. 146–58). Such was the disease toll in the first summer, largely from dysentery, malaria and typhoid around the swamps and river deltas of the low country, that an orphan house had to be opened for those who had lost both parents. The popular contemporary explanation for these ‘feavers’ lay in the excessive consumption of rum by idle colonists. Others attributed the illnesses to drinking the unhealthy river water. Neither strategy would have helped, but the colonists’ susceptibility is most probably associated with their exposure to a new epidemiological climate, more deadly than the environment of New England. The early demographic regime was summed up in the report of the minister in Savannah, Reverend Samuel Quincy. By July 1735 he had conducted 38 marriages, 34 christenings and 156 burials – figures which seem to confirm the healthy sex ratio, the low birth rate and the high mortality which afflicted the colony in its early years (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 20, p. 407). A further reason for the unimpressive fertility is found when the immigrants’ composition is broken down not only by size and sex but also by age. A cursory glance at the migrant lists demonstrates that many of the women who travelled to Georgia were already married and well advanced into their childbearing years. The average age of married women on the Anne, for example, was as high as 35 years, and they brought with them on average fewer than two children. Only 27 per cent of the women on the first shipload were between 12 and 30 years old. The first group of Salzburgers who arrived was similarly made up of older family units, as were a large proportion of the indentured servant-settlers (both English and foreign). The most likely explanation for the failure of fertility in the colony can be seen as based on this aging, family-grouped population and, more importantly, its interaction with the high mortality of the early years. The concerns of the Trustees’ officials about the scarcity of marriageable women reflected the difficulty, above all, of finding women of marriageable age. During the eighteenth century, studies of English families suggest that average parents produced children at roughly 30-month intervals, beginning at the time of marriage and extending to about the wife’s fortieth or forty-fifth birthday (Wrigley, 1997, pp. 364–5). As the female aged, the birth interval increased and children were born less often. But even the limited remaining potential for childbearing of most of the married women who arrived in Georgia was wiped out by either their own or their spouse’s probable death in their first few years. Many widows remarried like Elizabeth Sale Parker, some more than once, and often in an extremely short space of time. However, few of these second or subsequent marriages produced children; they often served simply as a convenient way to protect and provide for the widow and her existing children, and to furnish the new husband with a housekeeper and perhaps a house to keep. The relatively advanced age of many of the immigrants is likely to have placed added pressure on the women at the younger end of the spectrum to marry young and therefore have children early. The combination of

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the distorted age-structure and the disease-conducive environment was to prove disastrous for a large number of early births amongst first-parity females. The average age at first marriage in Georgia was undoubtedly much lower than in England and probably many other colonies; the likelihood of remarriage was substantially higher. While the quantitative evidence for the Trusteeship period is too sparse to generate a statistical average age at first marriage or a figure for average duration, still, the colonial records highlight the young age of many first-time brides and the speed with which they became wives after their arrival in the province. Some women married even before departure, in anticipation of the need for domestic stability in the New World (Jones, 1968, vol. 1, pp. 13, 16). The Trustees’ principal onsite official, cynical old William Stephens, often emphasized the speed with which young brides were snapped up. On 4 April 1745, he reported in his journal ‘that another of our Magistrates, was Smitten with Love, and making what speed he could, to enter into the Conjugal State with a young Damesel’ (Coulter, 1959, p. 203). Such marriages were clearly to the advantage of both parties, since girls could achieve considerable upward social mobility and relative security by procuring a well-todo husband. But they were recognized as unorthodox by conventional European standards: officials such as William Spencer, James Habersham and Johann Bolzius all proffered excuses in their letters for taking brides substantially younger than themselves. The scarcity of sufficient young British single women left a significant number of male colonists with no alternative but to seek brides outside of what might be termed their preferred catchment area. And these unions, limited though they were, necessitated to some extent a reappraisal of both ethnic and racial preconceptions. In the process of loving the one they were with, both male and female settlers consciously and subconsciously bridged cultural gulfs of varying dimensions. Lutheran Salzburgers reluctantly married Rhineland Germans, whilst Dutch servants and French-Swiss proved equally willing to hurdle linguistic and cultural obstacles in the quest for legitimate sexual union, and, much more importantly, household economy. Englishmen consorted with Highland and Lowland Scots, Irish and South Carolinians, whilst according to one source a number of Sephardic Jews deigned to accept Christian wives (Ready, 1978, pp. 24–5, 59). The timing of courtship also responded to immediate conditions: very short periods between time of first encounter and date of engagement were common. Systems which had appeared fixed by tradition and custom proved to be malleable – to the benefit of many participants, and to the disgust of a few righteous observers. If conditions on the frontier sanctioned the existence of what we might term trans-ethnic unions, the same conditions also sanctioned a more limited degree of interracial unions – on rare occasions between white and black or brown inhabitants, but more commonly  For instance, when teacher James Habersham married Bethesda schoolgirl Mary Bolton in December 1740, he felt compelled to point out that she was a true Christian maiden whose ‘pious prudent behaviour exceeded those of twice her years’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4a, p. 59, 74, 131; vol. 20, p. 170; Jones, 1968, vol. 1, p. 103).

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between male newcomers and female natives. Many English and Scottish Indian traders took Creek brides, thus assuring them of influential allies and support in the dangerous Indian Territory (Braund, 1990, pp. 247–51). These unions were beneficial also to the villages, which gained not only a secure route to European goods, and advantage over neighbouring tribes, but also a degree of influence over the so-called ‘Beloved Men’ who determined Georgia’s Indian policy. Some of these marriages were of a temporary, symbolic or sexual nature – pieces of commercial and diplomatic expediency. Others denoted more longstanding relationships whose offspring would inherit key roles and responsibilities in brokering relations between white and native peoples (Cashin, 1994, pp. 70–80, 315). Patterns of remarriage in Georgia also offer a contrast to mid-eighteenth-century British American trends. According to Robert V. Wells, female Quakers in the middle colonies rarely chose to remarry, and waited over six years on average to retie the knot (Wells, 1988, p. 27). This compares with an average interval of about four years for Englishwomen in the period 1700–1749 (Wrigley, 1997, p. 172). Twenty-five traceable and datable remarriages during the Trusteeship give an average wait of just 8.4 months for the Georgia widows, nearly half of whom had found new husbands in three months or less. This speed of remarriage, a tendency throughout the province seemingly regardless of age group, class or nationality, was remarked on frequently by contemporaries such as Thomas Causton, whose language in a letter to the Trustees dated 16 January 1735 is testament to the ability of both male and female settlers to put the past behind them: ‘Mr Antrobus having buried his wife has married the Widow of Joseph Taylor’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 10, p. 170). The impact of these demographic conditions had obvious repercussions for the population of the province, which struggled to grow despite the injection of fresh settler-groups during the 1730s and 1740s. But more far-reaching were their repercussions upon the experiences of individual women within the context of their communities. For since the process of migrating from Europe or from other colonies to Georgia had instantly placed women in a province where the social construction of relations between the sexes was partly nascent, and therefore malleable, demographic conditions made it possible for some unlikely women to be powerful. Elite women of British origin in earlier American frontier zones had often made their presence felt – such as Margaret Brent who clamoured for a vote in Maryland in 1647, Anne Hutchinson who clamoured for theological parity in early Massachusetts or Lady Frances Berkeley who was a significant force in late seventeenth-century Virginia. But perhaps historians of British America have been too quick to dismiss this trait as a seventeenth-century oddity, limited in time and largely confined to white Englishwomen of respectable birth.  Georgia cases compiled from references in Candler et al, Colonial Records; Jones, 1968; Coulter, 1949; Coleman, 1961.  Cynthia Kierner, for instance, suggests that ‘unabashedly powerful public women such as Brent and Berkeley would have no eighteenth-century counterparts’ (Kierner, 1998, p. 10). Mary Beth Norton emphasizes the preponderance of powerful women, and symbolic

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Take, for example, Marie Camuse, a mother of three sons who embarked on a ship bound for Georgia with her husband in April of 1733. The family, who hailed from the Piedmont region, spoke both Italian and French and were silk-workers by trade, had been targeted by the Trustees for their expertise in cultivating mulberry trees and in winding silk. Such experts were vital if aspirations for the economy were to be fulfilled, for Georgia was the latest in a long line of colonies dating back to Jamestown who professed their climate to be ideal for the cultivation of silk. As it happened, a series of deaths and desertions left Marie Camuse with a virtual monopoly on silk knowledge in early Georgia, which she manipulated regularly and effectively to her advantage – leading one contemporary to complain that ‘this Wicked Woman domineer[ed] over all’ (Coulter, 1959, p. 84). In July of 1740, Major William Horton warned the Earl of Egmont that ‘if that woman should die, the art would be lost’, and she certainly knew it (Percival, 1920–23, vol. 3, p. 155). Camuse fiercely guarded her technique or art from potential competitors. Trustee officials described her as secretive and unwilling to instruct others. She was prone to angry outbursts if she felt her finger movements were being studied, and refused to permit her reeling wheel to be copied. Camuse also misused the apprentice system which was instituted by artificially restricting numbers and habitually employing her apprentices in monotonous domestic tasks. Fellow settlers bemoaned in 1745 that she was unwilling to tell them the least article concerning this art, and tried to ensure that nobody else could ever ‘pretend a Monopolium’ in winding silk. For a long time, the Trustees and their officials had no choice but to acquiesce to the machinations of Marie Camuse – whose work was attested to in the first chest of silk to arrive from Georgia (in February of 1742), which she had wound from 220 pounds of cocoons. She was offered a gratuity for every person ‘certified to be properly instructed by her in the Art of winding Silk’, although a visitor in 1735 rightly considered the training of apprentices to be a burden to her (Moore, 1744, p. 30). Filmerian mothers in the seventeenth-century northeast, noting that ‘most such incidents occurred in New England and within two decades of the colonies’ founding’ (Norton, 1996, p. 403). For more details on these prominent Englishwomen in colonial settings, see Lebsock, 1984, pp. 26–7; James et al, 1971, vol. 1, p. 236–7; Norton, 1996, pp. 281–7, 359–99. For a more general discussion of the comparative status of mainland British American women, see Berkin, 1996. Trevor Burnard’s analysis of white women’s marginalization in Jamaica (compared with their treatment in Maryland) plausibly suggests that high-status opportunities were dependent on women’s domestic significance as well as their demographic scarcity in British American colonies (Burnard, 1991, pp. 93–114). For broad discussions of changes and continuities in the status of women in Latin America and New France, see Socolow, 2000, and Anderson, 1991, respectively.  For references to Marie Camuse, see Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 1, pp. 100, 362, 392, 406, 527–9; vol. 2, pp. 276, 416–21, 428; vol. 4, pp. 310–11; vol. 4a, pp. 134, 136, 141, 146, 231–2; vol. 6, pp. 6–7, 85–6, 95, 190–91, 251; vol. 10, p. 3; vol. 15, pp. 62, 140–41, 169, 179–81; vol. 16, p. 92; vol. 25, pp. 62, 169, 179–81; vol. 26, p. 93; vol. 28 (pt. 1), p. 103; vol. 29, p. 9; Coulter, 1949, p. 8; Coulter, 1959, pp. 83, 88; Moore, 1744, p. 30; Jones, 1968, vol. 18, pp. 4, 5, 201.

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The profits were not inconsiderable, for Camuse was a shrewd businesswoman. In early May of 1741, President William Stephens noted that she ‘knew what use she was of’, and found himself compelled to supply her with what she asked for (including ten pounds cash and various provisions) simply because ‘she must not be disobliged’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4a, p. 136). That September he was forced to show her the colony’s account-books to silence her suspicions, while her claim for £29 two months later was granted ‘for the Sake of keeping her Quiet’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 6, pp. 6–7). Camuse even spread rumours threatening that she would return to England if she were not better accommodated. When tentatively asked by the Board of President and Assistants in November of 1743 whether she would accept a salary of £60 per annum and the assurance of a pension offered by the Trustees, Camuse rejected the offer – haughtily stating that James Oglethorpe had allowed her £100, and ‘she would accept of nothing less’. Needless to say, the Board complied, its minutes wearily recording that they had given way ‘to her perverse Temper Rather than hazard the loss of a Manufacture always designed by their Honours as a Staple of the Country’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 6, pp. 85–6). Ultimately, Marie Camuse’s monopoly collapsed in the face of prolonged pressure, as her demands, eventually, exceeded her worth. Her salary was suspended at the end of August 1747, as her worst fear – that of one of her own students actually becoming educated – was realised, and a new silk-diva emerged in Savannah (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 6, pp. 190–91). A more familiar figure who similarly epitomized the potential of the frontier to offer rapid upward mobility to women was Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, who, in Michelle Gillespie’s words, ‘wielded substantial power as a cultural broker’ (Gillespie, 1997, p. 189). This mixed-race niece of one of the kings of the Creeks was born around 1708 in Coweta Town on the Ockmulgee River, with the tribal name ‘Cousaponakeesa’. She married prosperous Indian trader John Musgrove around 1725, but her greatest opportunities arrived with the Anne on Yamacraw Bluff seven years later – opportunities that she seized with open and dextrous arms. Her success in translating for Oglethorpe and dealing with the Indians gave her great influence over the young colony as well as more material rewards. She was the largest landholder in the first years, having herself ‘translated’ that the local Yamacraw sachem, Tomochichi, wished to convey to her large amounts of acreage, and operated a trading post and storehouse with which she supplied both the Europeans and Indians with meat, bread and liquor.  For secondary summaries of the life of Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, see Gillespie, 1997; Coulter, 1927; Baine, 1992. For primary references, see Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 1, pp. 277, 286, 487, 537–8; vol. 2, p. 263; vol. 4, pp. 49–50, 217–220, 327–8, 518; vol. 4a, pp. 86, 103, 160, 219; vol. 6, pp. 72, 111, 176, 252, 256, 264, 268, 272, 274, 277, 305–6, 355; vol. 20, pp. 64–5, 122–3, 141, 173, 237–8, 246, 452; vol. 26, p. 405; vol. 27, pp. 1, 7, 24–5, 66–280; vol. 28 (pt. 1), pp. 75, 228, 315; Jones (1968), vol. 4, p. 34.; Abstracts, wills of John Musgrove and Jacob Matthews; Coulter, 1949, pp. 88, 90; Percival, 1920–23, vol. 2, pp. 313, 375, 486.

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Her first husband died in 1737, but E.M. Coulter suspected that ‘all along he had appeared the lesser half of the household, overshadowed as he was by his influential wife’ (Coulter, 1927, p. 5). Her activities, if anything, became even more vigorous. She set up a communications point, Mount Venture, on the southern bank of the Altamaha River from where the Spaniards’ activities could be surveyed and reported, and in 1740, when open warfare broke out, she rallied the Creeks to Oglethorpe’s side. By now she had married again, this time to her own servant Jacob Matthews – a loud, excitable and lusty young Englishman – whose wedding was described by one contemporary as no less than a ‘Promotion from Obeying to Commanding’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4, pp. 518–19). However, it was evident that this was an unconventional marriage. While the married Jacob Matthews may have dressed more resplendently and acted with airs and graces, there was little doubt that his new bride retained the balance of power in their relationship. In his last will and testimony written in January of 1740, more than two years before his death, he formally bequeathed her all of her belongings back – a way to enforce Creek inheritance customs over English legal practice. Mary’s crucial role in providing intelligence was often called upon to deal with tense situations, and she was referred to by Colonel Alexander Heron as ‘a Woman of such consequence’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 26, p. 405). Her marriage to a third husband, Reverend Thomas Bosomworth, in 1744 prompted efforts to make further gains from her exulted position, culminating in claims that she was both ‘Empress and Queen of the Upper and Lower Creeks’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 6, pp. 261–3). In a remarkable showdown weekend in August of 1749, Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, once a lowly interpreter, asserted that she was no subject but rather the equal of King George II. She claimed that she could command every man in the Creek nations to follow her, and threatened the colony with extinction. Nor were these entirely idle threats – for at her behest, hundreds of Creek warriors had descended upon Savannah, and townsfolk were understandably paranoid. Faces and tempers were strained, words carefully chosen, doors barred, and the militia stood armed. As Savannah officials looked on aghast, she stamped her foot on the ground, and screamed that ‘that very Ground was hers’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 6, p. 264). Only by arresting the Bosomworths, procuring an independent interpreter, dividing the Creek leaders and distributing plenty of gifts were the Savannah officials able to turn the diplomatic tide in their favour. The Indian leaders were assured they had been deceived, and though several remained unconvinced, Creek headman Malatchee professed that he had not understood that he had been ‘Ranked with an Old Woman’. The supposed Empress was contrite after the event – though not as contrite as her husband, who openly wept while promising that he would use his utmost endeavour to prevent his wife from creating any more disturbances. Escaping with little more than an embarrassing caution, she retained what Governor Henry Ellis later described as ‘questionless great ascendancy over some of the Indian tribes’ in the 1750s and was finally granted 6,200 acres in St. John’s parish in recognition of her services on 13 June 1760 (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 28 (pt. 1), p. 75).

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Englishwomen in certain occupations might equally find it possible to command great influence over their fellow colonists. As a tavern-keeper, the ‘Mother’ Elizabeth Penrose held a critical position at the heart of her community. For while Puritans congregated inside churches, Virginians convened outside courthouses and Quakers massed in meeting-houses, early Georgians went down the local pub. The Trustees attempted to maintain stringent control over the activities which took place in taverns. They insisted, for instance, that tavern-keepers had to have an official license, had to give accommodation to travellers and could sell neither dry goods nor any other articles usually kept in shops. Rum and gin, in particular, were commodities dangerous enough to have a moral value attached – a not inconsiderable achievement in the heyday of the slave trade. Such spirits were construed as evil: the scourge of metropolitan London society, and a disease poised to infect the colonial experiment. However, a large number of tippling houses existed without licenses which catered to the tastes of labourers, soldiers, sailors and travellers in the colony. The most popular and successful unlicensed tavern was that of the Penroses – which even hosted a public banquet in 1735 (Davis, 1976, p. 118). John Penrose spent little time in Georgia, leaving the running of their inn and their shop to his wife while he traded in New York. Elizabeth Penrose, already 46 years old when she left England in 1732, would become known in the colony as ‘Mother’ Penrose. This nickname, like the ‘Godfather’ or the ‘Daddy’, beautifully highlights the importance of popular notions of hierarchical familial authority. Penrose was an extremely influential woman whose reputation and connections allowed her considerable ascendancy in Savannah. She illegally employed a servant of Joseph Hetherington’s in March of 1735, but Hetherington wistfully observed in a letter to Oglethorpe ‘and as for troubling my head with her, is what I did not Care for, She still remaining Conqueror Over the whole place’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 20, p. 275). If white and native women were able to command a noticeable degree of formal and informal authority in Trusteeship Georgia, some evidence also suggests that attitudes to African-Americans in the province were similarly out of line with those elsewhere in the settled South. On 29 May 1739 an English tradesman named Pope, new to the colony, considered it well within his rights to administer a slap to a slave woman who had the tenacity to argue with him over prices, but his actions that afternoon would generate uproar in Savannah. The Trustees’ secretary recorded the incident in his journal, remarking that this girl, mistress of Captain Caleb Davis, a colonial trader of some reputation, was more than just a slave. The captain, he wrote,

 Mother Penrose’s dominion apparently extended beyond retail, tavern-keeping and rum-selling, for she was convicted in May of 1736 of ‘keeping a bawdy-house’ (Coulter, 1949, p. 40). For other references to Penrose, see Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 2, pp. 363, 410; vol. 4, pp. 211–12, 222, 327, 361–2, 365; vol. 4a, pp. 153, 158–9, 163, 174; vol. 5, p. 395; vol. 20, pp. 275, 285, 334; Abstracts, will of John Penrose; Coleman, 1961, p. 165.

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Pope, familiar only with European attitudes to both women and slaves, misunderstood the ability of the colonial frontier occasionally to distort such norms. His action of administering physical reprimand was premised on his ignorance of the fact that Captain Davis’ slave, nurse, mistress and accountant had forged a social status for herself which belied her appearance. The existence of powerful women like Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, Marie Camuse and Elizabeth Penrose demonstrated that the scarcity of labour and the absence of a functional market economy offered favourable opportunities to women – for some, a miniature ‘Golden Age’ of institutional infancy during which women could expect greater power in the public sphere, and more direct control of economic resources than was usual in Britain or America. The identification of the colonial era in America as a ‘Golden Age’ for (white) women, as first expounded in Elizabeth Dexter’s Colonial Women of Affairs in the 1920s, has long collapsed under the pressure of more recent research.10 But abandoning the search does not mean rejecting that at certain times, or in certain places, some women secured a higher economic or social status than the cultural norms of their society theoretically permitted. The converse is equally self-evident, as localized conditions could also bring a downturn in other female fortunes. In early Georgia, an English farmer’s wife could become ‘Conqueror Over the whole place’; a mixed-blood Creek woman could claim that ‘She could command every Man’ and become the largest landholder in the colony; and an Italian mother – despite a large family of children – could ‘domineer over all’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 20, p. 275; vol. 6, p. 262; Coulter, 1959, p. 84). Simultaneously, the colony’s institutional infancy created conditions liable to constrain female economic agency and restrict activities and opportunities which were uncontested in the Old World. For many, Georgia resembled something more akin to a miniature ‘Dark Age’ – a step backwards into a bygone, barbarous era. Elizabeth Bland declared in an abjectly miserable letter to Oglethorpe in June of 1735 that ‘I have lost my liberty’, describing the colony as a veritable hell on Earth, and conjecturing (rather prophetically) that King George could never get away with treating his people in a like manner in Britain (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 20, pp. 393–4). In the absence of a caste of slaves, female indentured servants were 10 For a succinct explanation and deconstruction of the myth of the ‘Golden Age’, see Norton, 1984, pp. 593–619. The model has been rejected on the basis that it is oversimplistic and unsophisticated, caricaturing colonial female behaviour with an anachronistic brush which overstates public economic opportunities in the earlier period (often overlooking socio-cultural constraints), and contrasts them too favourably and abruptly with a paradigm of female domesticity in the nineteenth century. See also Ulrich, 1982, pp. 35–50; Salmon, 1986, pp. 185–93.

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particularly vulnerable to exploitation – as discovered by one woman in the summer of 1739 when she broke into a property to find her indentured grand-daughter had scars across her body ‘from her Neck down to her Heels’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4, pp. 394–5). Similar atrocities – tortures, abuses and rapes – were reported across the province. As in England, women were denied an economic identity within marriage and exploited outside it – especially as vulnerable orphans and needy widows. Unlike in England, they were also theoretically prohibited from landholding and inheritance (Caldwell, 1984, pp. 183–97). They were commodified, and on at least one occasion, actually bought and sold, a fact that would be more startling were it not for the fact that the institution of slavery was only just around the corner.11 The complexities associated with the settlement of a colony served to extend both ends of the spectrum of female economic and social experiences – offering both greater latitude and greater menace than was to be expected elsewhere. Elasticity in this range of opportunity could rebound in either direction. There were clearly opportunities for many low-status females to marry above their Old World rank – whether first time brides or not. By doing so, they might gain access to a more comfortable lifestyle and larger landholdings, and exert more influence than would have been conceivable elsewhere. The personal nature of justice and the limited extent of institutional control could also, on occasion, operate to the benefit of a sex whose formal authority was minimal. Arguably, as a self-selecting troupe of paternalistic philanthropic males, the Trustees were liable to be peculiarly receptive to female petitions – as evidenced in their willingness to grant women land despite their own strictures. But the self-same conditions proved enormously detrimental to another set of women. For many – perhaps most – widows, and especially those with young children, remarriage was not so much an empowering as a survival device. Equally, for every young woman who manifested freedom in her social behaviour, another found herself ostracized and neglected by her community and its slack policing. When Ann Magdalena Heinrich, a teenage Swabian servant, complained to her white master of an attempted rape by one of her two black overseers in Augusta, he first beat her with his cane, then ordered her stripped stark naked, hauled up to a beam by her arms, and then terribly whipped – all specifically ‘in Presence of these two Negroes’ (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4a, p. 271; Jones, 1968, vol. 10, p. 17). Her race was no guarantor of preferential consideration, and in this case evidently less of a factor than her gender, class, age and national origin. In short, whether this was a liberating or a constraining change for European female settlers is open to debate. A horde of historians, spurred on by the feminist movement of the late twentieth century, has explored this question, or variants of it, across an impressive range of colonial backdrops. Were Chesapeake planters’ 11 For alleged incidents of wife selling in Georgia, see Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4, p. 259; vol. 20, pp. 229, 456; vol. 21, pp. 57–8; Coulter, 1949, p. 81; Coleman, 1961, pp. 77–9. For incidences of wife selling in England, 1760–1800 (of which he found 42 cases), see Thompson, 1993, pp. 404–67.

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wives more powerful in the community because of their marital value (Carr and Walsh, 1977)? Was the status of New England’s goodwives enhanced by their longer lifespan or greater religiosity (Norton, 1984)? Were Dutch women compromised in New York by the arrival of restrictive English legal controls (Biemer, 1983)? Did Quaker matriarchs in Pennsylvania or Delaware gain from their family stability and independent religious meetings (Dunn, 1989)? It seems strange that the pioneers themselves made remarkably little reference to any change in status, especially since contemporaries were not slow to pass judgement upon other new juxtapositions in their new worlds: forms of servitude, slavery or Indian neighbours. Naturally, the omission is partly explained by the fact that the records we have left are overwhelmingly male. Equally, it is perfectly clear that most of the females who settled the frontier were heavily preoccupied with more pressing questions. Since it is manifestly impossible to take a statistical average of female experiences, index them against pre-colonial expectations and compare them with other societies, the most salient question then becomes: What differentiated those women who appear to have benefited from those who appear to have suffered in the formative colonial environment? In general, the Georgia example indicates that those women who were best able to negotiate their way around the perils of the frontier environment seem to have drawn heavily upon three criteria: control of information, connections and character. As demonstrated by monopolizing businesswomen like Marie Camuse, a particular expertise or proficiency could offer females a relatively exulted position among their peers – and this was more far more likely to occur on the frontier than in more established societies. Control of information in a locale plagued by uncertainty hugely benefited those with access to reliable news or communication. Social connections were also critical in determining the relative standing of immigrants. Those able to draw on kinship networks, for instance, or construct new associations, found themselves better able to cope with changes. The most vulnerable inhabitants among the diffuse settlements of early Georgia were those who had no social capital to compensate for their predicament: isolated indentured servants, orphans and secluded housewives. Finally, it is apparent that some personalities proved better suited to the coarseness of the frontier than others – better able to display adaptability in the face of changing circumstances. Those willing to improvise solutions to unfamiliar obstacles, to anticipate rather than respond to events, were at an advantage when it came to using this information or cultivating these social connections. Naturally, none of these criteria were as important as luck, wealth, status, race or nationality. Nor could female protagonists ever fully break free of the invisible constraints of gender, for their behaviour was never fully disassociated from their sex. This qualification was captured most clearly in the frames of reference used to describe influential women by male commentators. Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth may have been ‘Mary’ to the Indians, but colonial officials insisted upon using her formal European identity (as ‘Mrs. Bosomworth’ or ‘the wife of Mr. Matthews’) despite her obvious independence and even though this usually required several further lines of clarification. Elizabeth Penrose’s nickname ‘The Mother’

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served as an ironic reminder of her womanliness. On more than one occasion, Marie Camuse was consciously and ironically likened to the stereotype of the recalcitrant male English artisan – good at his job but sometimes greedy, often lazy and always drunk (Candler et al, Colonial Records, vol. 4a, pp. 231–2). Observers freely assumed and described mitigating circumstances to account for the unseemly behaviour of such women – most commonly drunkenness or simply madness. In short, their activities were never conceived in isolation, or on their own terms, but squeezed into pre-existent gender categories: they remained wicked women, drunken women, mad and frantic women. The flexible practical nature of relations between the sexes thus failed to influence the theoretical model imported from older societies. There would be no new episteme which might have facilitated the persistence of such phenomena into later colonial Georgia. In 1753, for the first time on record, an unmarried girl reported that she would prefer to stay single in the face of a marriage proposal. For 20 years, women in Georgia had either jumped at the opportunity to marry, or in the words of this girl, had been ‘forced to accept’ (Jones, 1968, vol. 16, p. 41). By the 1750s, such opportunities and obligations were already becoming somewhat less intense, as Georgia society began to experience a quite remarkable transformation. Institutional authority dramatically increased with royal control, population explosion and the regulation of racial slavery, bringing formalized practices which inhibited the elasticity in women’s experiences. Increasingly like their counterparts in other colonies, Georgia women would operate inside of rather than in spite of an established patriarchal society. As had occurred fitfully in other colonies, the economic, social, and familial roles fulfilled by early Georgia’s female inhabitants would change significantly as the province aged; the sinews would stiffen. But their initial exceptionalism serves to remind us that there was no trend in the evolution of colonial female experience – even among white women – which can accurately be squeezed into an artificial national periodization. Simply put, to view colonial female experiences through a national chronology is to overlook the crucial importance of regional age. Focusing on regional age, and particularly the prime determinant of regional demography, allows a more sensitive accommodation of the local influences which affected both the history of colonial women and the history of how gender manifested itself among displaced Europeans in the New World.

PART 2 Female Religious

Chapter 5

The Convent as Missionary in Seventeenth-Century France Susan Broomhall

In recent years, scholars have increasingly discussed the involvement of French women religious in the New World colonies of Canada during the seventeenth century. Historians have examined the efforts of missionary women, their pedagogical aims and methods and their attitudes to both race mixing and to the immigration of European women to the New World colonies. However, there has been little analysis of the experiences of indigenous women who engaged in the reverse journey and travelled to France, or of their role in shaping European perceptions about race and religion at home. Examining the presence of a Mi’kmaq woman in a provincial French convent, this chapter argues that exchange of ideas and perceptions was possible between French and First Nations populations. Moreover, it examines how her inclusion in the religious community allowed the convent to position itself as a participating member in the Catholic missionary outreach programmes in Canada. In the archives of a former convent in Tours, the Benedictine Abbey of Beaumontlès-Tours, exists a chronicle which was apparently written over the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Although the authors of the history are anonymous, both its handwriting and references within the text suggest that there were several authors of the work who maintained the chronicle, and that these authors were nuns in the convent. From medieval times to the closure of the convent during the Revolutionary era, Beaumont-lès-Tours was among the region’s most prestigious convents. The Benedictine community accepted only elite women as professed nuns, and enjoyed close relations and patronage with the leading families of the area. The town of Tours itself was relatively unimportant in seventeenth-century France. It was a textile town of moderate size, which had distinguished itself as a royalist and fervently Catholic city during the Wars of Religion of the previous century. Yet this relatively insignificant city in provincial France did have one important  All citations come from the more widely accessible published edition of the Grandmaison, 1877, 139–43. In the pages which concern this paper, the published version is a faithful rendition of the original manuscript: Archives départementales d’Indre-et-Loire, H 794. All translations are my own.

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religious claim in the seventeenth century: it was home to a vibrant newly established monastic house of the active Ursuline order, and this convent had spawned one of the great female missionaries of the period, Marie Guyart, better known as Marie de l’Incarnation. She lived and worshipped at the Ursuline convent in Tours before leaving for the developing Quebec colony where she would undertake missionary and teaching work amongst the First Nations people from the 1640s. The story of Antoinette de Saint-Estienne, a métis woman of Mi’kmaq heritage, as it was recorded over four pages of the Beaumont chronicle – the only known source of the events – can be outlined briefly as follows. Antoinette was apparently one of three daughters born to Charles de Saint-Estienne de La Tour and an anonymous woman of the Mi’kmaq nation in 1627. La Tour arrived at the age of 14 in Acadia in 1610 accompanying his father. La Tour later had a key role in the development of the nascent Acadian colony, including acting as the King’s Lieutenant-General for the region during his eventful commercial and administrative career. In 1632, two of La Tour’s daughters were brought back to the French maritime city of La Rochelle when Antoinette was about six or so, where arrangements were made for their welfare by Claude de Launay-Razilly, brother of the then administrator and lieutenant-general for the Acadian colony, Isaac de Razilly. One daughter, whose name is not known, was sent to the Ursulines of Tours, and Antoinette, the elder sister, was placed with a Huguenot gentlewoman of La Rochelle. Launay-Razilly wrote of his charges to his sister, a professed nun at the convent of Beaumont-lèsTours. Mother Louise de Razilly spoke to the Beaumont’s abbess with a request that the elder sister be taken from her Protestant guardian and placed in the convent, where she eventually became a professed nun in 1646. Antoinette’s experiences, as described in the Beaumont chronicle, raise significant questions about the nature of relationships and understandings between First Nations and French peoples in the early colonizing era. If historians and anthropologists have been concerned to document the observations, experiences and changing ideas of colonists in the New World, there has been less discussion of the much rarer occasions when Europeans might have been transformed by the arrival of, and relationships with, First Nations peoples in France. Although there is much less evidence to explore this perspective of the interchange between the peoples of the Canadian First Nations and France, such a study is crucial to our ongoing understanding of New and Old World encounters. Scholars are increasingly focusing on the dynamic and reciprocal nature of relationships and ideas between these groups, and examining how Europeans and First Nations people  Although Duke Redbird argues that the Métis were distinguished as a group by the 1670s and probably identifying themselves before this time, it is unclear that any such identification of a métis nation existed in the French sources for the 1620s to 1640s. For this reason, I have chosen to use the lowercase métis, usually meaning anyone of mixed blood, when referring to Antoinette rather than suggesting that she was identified as someone of the Métis nation. Dickason suggests that the word métis does not appear to be used in seventeenth-century New France. See Redbird, 1980, 3 and Dickason, 1985, 34, n. 27.

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could each only be understood through their relationship to one another (Greenblatt, 1991; Canny and Pagden, 1987; Pagden, 1993; Warkentin and Podruchny, 2001). This study contributes another view of culture exchange between these peoples by examining what impact First Nations people had on the French population; that is, how First Nation experiences in France, rather than in Acadia, might have shaped Europeans’ ideas about each other in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. If the Beaumont chronicle, the source for Antoinette’s story, brings us no closer to her own views on her experiences in France, it can at least render a métis woman historically constituent in the narrative of these cultural encounters (Emberley, 1993, p. 125). Furthermore, it can reveal the significance of both gender and geography in European perceptions of indigenous, colonial and missionary experiences. The Beaumont chronicle demonstrates that provincial religious women’s views of their encounter with a particular First Nation individual could differ from those of French colonists, or of missionary men and women abroad (Davis, 1994). Antoinette de Saint-Estienne in France How did the Beaumont sisters perceive the young charge in their care? The Beaumont account explained that Launay-Razilly ‘brought a little savage, come a short time ago to France from Canada, to put her in some religious life’ (Grandmaison, 1877, p. 139). This was in fact Antoinette’s younger sister, who had been promised to the Ursulines. Indeed, Antoinette’s sister would have been in the Ursulines convent at the same time that Marie de l’Incarnation was formulating her mission to go to the New French territories (Davis, 1995, p. 269, n. 63). Although the girls had been baptized by the Capuchin Fathers who were among the first groups of missionaries in Acadia, the account consistently used the word ‘savage’ or ‘little savage’ to describe Antoinette and her sister during their first years in France, even while their father was referred to as ‘a French gentleman’ (Grandmaison, 1877, p. 140). Similarly, their mother was simply called ‘a savage of the country of Acadia, from New France, otherwise Canada’ (Grandmaison, 1877, p. 140). Thus, in the context of the Canadian environment, and in her childhood, Antoinette was perceived by the nun writing the chronicle as a savage in need of civilization and Christianization – although she was already baptized. Once on French soil, Antoinette’s history began to take on divisions which seemed to represent the concerns of the local French culture. The account explained that when Launay-Razilly wrote to his sister of his indigenous charge, Mother Louise de Razilly ‘asked him for her’. Launay-Razilly explained ‘that he had promised  It remains a challenge that evidence for First Nation views and experiences of encounters on French soil largely rely on French-language and -cultured sources, which must be sifted and applied carefully, bearing in mind its location in the Eurocentric, patriarchal colonial and missionary context. See here the work of Bruce G. Trigger, 1982, 1985, and Natalie Zemon Davis, 1994, on ethno-historical perspectives to indigenous views of contact. For perspectives from Amerindian historians, see Assiniwi, 1974; Sioui, 1992.

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her to the Ursulines of this town ... but that if she had so much charity, she could better employ it towards one of her sisters, who was a little older, who was at La Rochelle, with a Huguenot lady, named Saint-Hilaire, a relative of his father, who was very zealous about her religion’ (Grandmaison, 1877, pp. 139–40). He further added that she was likely only to release Antoinette if it was to a respectable lady. Mother Louise immediately saw the Beaumont abbess to obtain permission to take in Antoinette. Several issues seem to be at stake in the chronicle’s description of these events, some of which barely concerned the well-being or Christianization of Antoinette herself. First, the fervent order of Ursulines, newly established in Tours in 1622 and highly popular and dynamic (partly because its sisters took in a wider sector of the population, without demanding high conventual payments), contrasted the staid traditional elite nuns of Beaumont (Davis, 1995, pp. 73–4; Rapley, 1990, p. 51). The nuns’ motives could be at once charitable and competitive. Although vastly more wealthy, it is possible that the nuns of Beaumont abbey felt threatened by the new spiritual focus in Tours which the Ursulines represented. If the Ursulines were to take in one indigenous girl, why should the Beaumont nuns not also demonstrate their spirit of charity and equality by taking care of one of her sisters? Moreover, Antoinette and her sister would likely have represented a novelty in the provincial town, and the Beaumont nuns may not have wanted to miss the chance to share in a relatively rare opportunity of civilizing and Christianizing what they saw as a ‘savage’ girl. The Abbey of Beaumont-lès-Tours needed to find its own renewed sense of identity and purpose in the new spiritual landscape of the Catholic Reformation era. In adopting the task of (re-)converting Antoinette to Christianity, despite being a traditional, contemplative order, the Benedictine nuns could participate in the new missionary activities of Tridentine France. Moreover, they could do so without ever leaving the approved enclosed space of their conventual buildings, thereby simultaneously attesting to their acceptance of the restricted public activities of female contemplative orders stipulated in the Catholic Reformation era. As Dominique Deslandres has shown, the new missionary focus of Tridentine France was not merely concerned with conversion in lands overseas. These endeavours were inextricably linked to a similar missionary campaign on the French mainland, especially in the provinces and countryside, where heresy, Protestantism and traditional Catholic beliefs inconsistent with contemporary Tridentine teachings were to be stamped out (Deslandres, 1993, pp. 1–13). Antoinette de Saint-Estienne, the ‘savage’ in need of the nuns’ help to become a full member of Christian society, could revitalize the community’s own sense of its spiritual purpose. In this way, Antoinette’s presence in the provincial convent contributed to a Tridentine spiritual colonization of France; in her own way, an indigenous Canadian became a missionary force for renewal of Catholic faith in the heart of a traditional monastic institution in Europe. Furthermore, a likely second concern of some importance to the Beaumont nuns was to see Antoinette taken from the spiritual guidance of a Huguenot woman, where she might be swayed from her Catholic baptism by Madame de Saint-Hilaire, her caregiver for her first four years in France. In the early 1630s, the religious conflicts

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of the preceding century, and the destruction of lives and town, were still remembered by the older citizens of Tours. The Beaumont nuns might have wished to prevent the Huguenots from creating a new convert from a native saved by Catholic missionaries in Canada. Although Huguenots had established some of the first French settlements in America during the sixteenth century, at Rio de Janiero and later in Florida, these had been constantly threatened and were eventually destroyed by rival Catholic colonial powers such as Portugal and Spain (Ortwin Sauer, 1971, pp. 196, 202). By the seventeenth century, Huguenots were permitted to trade but not to proselytize in the New World and were later banned by French edicts in 1627 and 1628 from settling in Canada (Salone, 1970, p. 44). Thus for Huguenots, missionary activities directed at the new colonies of America could take one of two forms in the era of Antoinette’s arrival in La Rochelle: Huguenot circles could instruct their faith to the handful of First Nation individuals who arrived in France, or, as Marc Lescarbot reported hearing at La Rochelle, they could offer prayers to God for the conversion of the indigenous peoples (Wrong, 1928, p. 152). Indeed, the ‘very zealous’ Huguenot Madame de Saint-Hilaire was highly reluctant to give Antoinette to the Beaumont sisters. It took some negotiation to release Antoinette de Saint-Estienne from her care and to achieve the move to the abbey of Beaumont-lès-Tours. In 1642, following the community’s vote, Antoinette professed as a novice. Two years later, a passing Cordelier Father Fore happened to hear her voice (which the chronicle notes as exceptional) during a service and was so struck by it that when he returned to Paris, he informed the queen, Anne of Austria, of the remarkable novice of Beaumont. The queen professed a desire to hear this voice for herself and wrote to Beaumont’s abbess to arrange to have Antoinette delivered to the Parisian convent of Val-de-Grâce where the queen often heard her devotions, and might thus have the opportunity to hear Antoinette for herself. The abbess obliged and Antoinette left for the capital, where Anne of Austria visited her during a service three days after her arrival in June 1644. She confirmed that the young novice’s voice was indeed beautiful ‘but without method’ (Grandmaison, 1877, p. 142). The queen assigned her a tutor who could develop her voice to its full potential, for which it would be necessary that Antoinette remain in Paris. Antoinette was thus accepted into the newly created Benedictine convent of Val de Grâce in Paris and took vows as a professed nun after just three months. The chronicle’s record of Antoinette’s experiences in the convents of Val de Grâce and Beaumont permits a study of the differences between the provincial town and the French capital. The pious fervour of women at the French court was instrumental in the development of spiritual activities of the New French colonies in the seventeenth century. Regents Marie de Medici and Anne of Austria, and noblewomen such as Antoinette de Pons, marquise de Guercheville, and Madame de Cambalet, duchesse d’Aiguillon, patronized the endeavours of both male and female missionaries such as the Jesuits, Ursulines and Hospitalières across the Atlantic (Lapierre and Roy, 1983, p. 10; Wrong, 1928, pp. 164–5, 282–5; Anderson, 1991, pp. 87–8, Davis, 1995, p. 83). Moreover, these noblewomen housed the First Nation individuals whom the missionaries sent back to the French court to renew

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faith in the colonial spiritual projects (Anderson, 1991, pp. 87–8). Val de Grâce was a favoured and fashionable new Benedictine convent, created and patronized by the queen. Thus, Anne of Austria contributed to her own missionary activities by supporting Antoinette’s inclusion in her preferred Parisian convent. Furthermore, the queen increased her favoured convent’s prestige by arranging for the unique and talented First Nation woman to become a member of its religious community. However, it was clearly with some pride that the chronicle reported that after only eight months, Antoinette asked to return to Beaumont, in doing so sacrificing her future musical advancement. In fact, the chronicle explained that Antoinette feared she could not support the austerity of Val de Grâce and, with the queen’s consent, the young woman returned to Beaumont in February 1645. Although an illustrious and royally patronized convent, the chronicle made clear that Antoinette chose to go back to the sisters of Beaumont, and its more moderate religious lifestyle. Of course, during the sixteenth century, Beaumont, like most French convents, had undergone reforms in response to the decrees of the Council of Trent for a stricter monastic lifestyle, but it had largely maintained a moderate path of conventual life. Windows were barred, walls rebuilt and the convent made generally less accessible to the outside, yet a glance through the convent chronicle indicates that the nuns continued to maintain connections to the outside world, and to leave the enclosed space, with little difficulty. Val de Grâce, a Benedictine house created in the previous decades by Anne of Austria, on the other hand, had adopted a more austere version of the changes to convent life. Significantly, this decision appears to represent the only moment of autonomy in the written record of Antoinette’s life. That Antoinette chose to reject the harshness of the new Val de Grâce lifestyle was a special source of pride to the chronicle’s author, and something of a justification of Beaumont’s more reasonable version of religious life. Moreover, with competition for spiritual focus in Tours coming from the new active orders like the Ursulines who had different notions about the asceticism of convent life, Antoinette’s decision to return was especially significant for the traditional Beaumont sisters. Tropes, Individuality, Otherness Antoinette, as we have seen, arrived at the Beaumont convent in 1636 aged around nine or ten. She was to be placed under the care of Mother Louise, who was novice mistress. As the chronicle recorded, it was ‘to render her capable of religion [religious life], if it was possible’. The Beaumont sisters thus found it necessary to analyze indigenous religiosity: examining whether Antoinette had the capacity to accept a religious life, and at what level she would be accepted into the community at Beaumont. This matter related to her ‘savage’ origins, and the nuns’ doubts about her ability to be a Christian. However, what the Beaumont nuns expected to see demonstrated in Antoinette was much more than missionaries demanded of most of the First Nations peoples in Canada. The sisters needed to see whether Antoinette could accept life as an enclosed member of a Benedictine convent. Other than through

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their observations of Antoinette herself, to what sources of information did the nuns have access, in order to assess the capacity for Christian monastic life of indigenous women? By the 1630s, the observations and travels of missionary, ethnographers, explorers and colonialists were circulating in Europe (Thwaites, 1896–1901). Some of these accounts were particularly popular in France. Marc Lescarbot’s Histoire de la Nouvelle France (1609) was reprinted in France as early as 1611. The Jesuit Relations of their experiences particularly among the Wendats appear to have been immensely successful propaganda amongst the pious literate elite in France. From these sources, the nuns might have known of the Jesuits’ criticism of the earliest baptisms which had taken place in Acadia. Lescarbot had reported back to Marie de Medici in 1610 the baptism of some twenty Mi’kmaq in Acadia, by the Récollet priest Jessé Fléché. After their Christianization, which the Jesuits claimed were too hasty and made without previous spiritual instruction, or even knowledge of the Mi’kmaq language, each individual was given a Christian name, inspired by the influential figures of the French court. If the Beaumont nuns considered that Antoinette’s baptism by the Capuchins could have been similarly unsatisfactory, then it might explain why they initially perceived her as a ‘savage’ in need of true Christianization. Although by the 1650s Marie de l’Incarnation’s accounts of spiritual interaction with the Iroquois in Quebec became known, at the time when the Beaumont nuns were assessing Antoinette’s capabilities for religious life, most of their potential written sources of knowledge were male-authored. Thus the primary reading material for the nuns to analyze Antoinette’s religious constitution were produced by European men whose observations and assessments were coloured by their own patriarchal assumptions about women’s religious capacity. Overwhelmingly, these sources concluded that if the First Nations people could be fruitfully converted to Christianity, their love of freedom made their suitability for enclosed monastic life much less certain. Indeed few First Nations women appear to have become nuns during the French regime in Canada (Trudel, 1973, p. 235). The Wendat Geneviève Skannudharoi took the veil with the Hospitalières in Quebec after eight months as a postulant, and this was on her deathbed. One young Montaignais girl, Louise, appears to have stayed in a Dieppe hospitalier community in the late 1630s but with the intention that she would return to Canada with the nuns on their missionary work.  Deslandres, however, demonstrates how little even those asking for missions to Canada understood about the evangelising endeavours taking place there. Deslandres, 1993, pp. 8–9. What the Beaumont nuns knew about the New French colonies was likely to be far less than the extent of published literature available.  In 1636, Jesuit missionaries sent an Iroquois woman, three Montagnais girls and one boy to France to live with Madame de Combalet in Paris. One of the Montagnais girls, Louise, was already a Christian and sent to live at the hospital in Dieppe, where the Superior reported that she was ‘very sweet, compliant, obedient, and devoted ... so modest and attentive during the holy services of the Church that she puts our little French girls to shame’. Father Lejeune’s 1637 Relation even contains a letter from Louise to him, in which she expressed remarkably eloquently her gratitude to be in Christian France, although we should be cautious

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Later, Marie de l’Incarnation, working much more closely with First Nation women than her male contemporaries, would conclude in a letter she wrote home to a fellow nun in the Ursuline convent in Tours: ‘We have tested the savage girls. They cannot survive in enclosure. Their nature is strongly melancholic, and being restrained in their customary freedom to go where they want increases their melancholy’ (20 October 1663; Davis, 1995, p. 116). The most convincing source of evidence to judge Antoinette’s capabilities for monastic life were likely, however, to be the nuns’ observation of her behaviour in their community. After the years of Antoinette’s education with the novice mistress, Mother Louise, ‘seeing her capable of religious life and to serve in the choir, asked the community to consider her [as a novice], to be in the choir’ (Grandmaison, 1877, p. 141). We have seen that eventually Antoinette returned to Beaumont from Paris to become a fully professed nun. It is significant that over the course of the chronicle account, Antoinette and her sister are first described in their youth and first arrival in France as ‘little savages’, although the chronicle does note that they had in fact been baptized by Capuchin brothers in Acadia. Yet, by the end of the account, Antoinette is referred to as ‘the Canadian novice’ (Grandmaison, 1877, p. 143). The nuns’ perception of her status and estimation as a Christian had evidently increased as she became a fully engaged member of the Christian community, both in Tours and as a professed member of the austere Val de Grâce convent in Paris. The entire account of Antoinette’s experiences occurs in just four pages and is retrospective, so the choice of language used to describe her seems less likely to mirror the nuns’ changing perceptions over time as much as the way they perceived that Antoinette’s increasing exposure to Christian organizations had aided her full Christianization. Of course, Antoinette’s own views and choices about monastic life are much less clear. The decision to admit Antoinette as a novice at Beaumont appears to lie, at least according to the Beaumont account, in the hands of the observing novice mistress, the abbess and the community of French nuns. Realistically, Antoinette would seem to have had few alternatives on French soil. She appears to have had few familial networks of support concerned with her welfare. Her father is never mentioned in the Beaumont chronicle as an interlocutor in the decisions of her fate. Yet, if there were practical incentives to persuade Antoinette to remain within the Beaumont community, we should not exclude the possibility that emotional reasons determined her future as well. Beaumont was the lifestyle and community with which she was most familiar by the time of her noviciate in 1642. It may have been her sense of familial connection to the Beaumont nuns, as much as the austerity of Val de Grâce, which persuaded her to return to the provincial abbey in 1645. Moreover, the continuing interest in Antoinette, witnessed by the turn out of the most important citizens of Tours to her triumphant profession in 1646, may have about reading an indigenous voice of a very young girl through this source. Although Lejeune claims that Louise has produced this letter, he continues on in the following phrase to say how Louise excuses herself for writing ‘very badly, not yet being able to form the letters’, 97. See Thwaites, 1898, vol. 11, pp. 92–101.

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seemed more attractive than being one of a larger pool of Parisian novelties to attract the passing interest of a queen. Antoinette’s individual story can tell us something of the experiences and perceptions of a métis woman, but perhaps more about the possibilities of First Nations impact in seventeenth-century France. Judging from the nuns’ chronicle, Antoinette did indeed make an impact in the community of Beaumont-lès-Tours. In a passive way, her presence in the convent helped the abbey nuns to participate as missionaries in the New French colonies. By taking Antoinette into their community, the sisters felt that they had saved an indigenous woman from a Godless life as well as Protestantism. Moreover, the simple fact of Antoinette’s residence in the abbey could have enabled the nuns to re-conceptualize their spiritual purpose as a contemplative Benedictine order in the Tridentine Catholic world, and in relation to the Ursuline women religious nearby. Yet Antoinette was also, in a more active way, able to influence the life of the nuns at Beaumont-lès-Tours. Her decision to return, choosing provincial Beaumont over the attractions of the royally patronized Val de Grâce convent, gave the nuns a sense of pride and prestige — at least in their own eyes. Furthermore, by her everyday actions and participation in convent life, Antoinette allowed the sisters to see, not her differences, but the similarities which they shared. Over the course of the chronicle’s account of Antoinette’s experiences, the perception of Antoinette as other, a ‘savage’ to be Christianized, seems less important than the way in which she comes to represent Beaumont in their own local struggles and perceptions of difference, with competing orders in Tours, with the Huguenots, or as a provincial backwater without the sophistication or patronage of Parisian religious communities. Indeed, at the moment where Antoinette joined Beaumont as a full and equal professed sister, she ceased to be documented in its chronicle. She no longer stood out as different or extraordinary, but was a fully incorporated anonymous member of the enclosed spiritual community. Over the course of Antoinette’s experiences in France, she was thus increasingly more like the sisters of Beaumont than she was different to them. This is not to deny that at least some of Antoinette’s experiences, and indeed the chronicle’s discussion of her, must surely relate to her unusual status as one of the first métis women in seventeenth-century France, but it is hard to discern how much her experiences were connected to her indigenous origins, or might have been shared by any French adolescent girl with a remarkable musical talent and no direct guardian to protect her own interests. Moreover, any Beaumont novice who attracted the attention of the queen in such a dramatic and important way was bound to make the pages of the convent’s chronicle, more typically filled with notices of the death of local clerics and the convent’s building plans. Indeed, the fact that all mention of Antoinette falls in the year in which Anne of Austria requested she come to Paris, suggests that it  With the exception that Antoinette’s name is included amongst the nuns in the Procèsverbal de translation des relicques de Beaumont, in 17 June 1650, see Grandmaison, 1877, p. 252.

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was this feature, rather than the first presence of an indigenous woman in the convent (some ten years earlier), that mattered most to the convent’s retrospective vision of itself. Thus, through their observation and interaction with Antoinette, the nuns increasingly saw her individuality as rendering her similar to them. In doing so, they rejected the tropes of otherness established in much of the contemporary literature describing First Nations peoples to which they might have had access. Natalie Zemon Davis has drawn our attention to the ways in which the alterity which missionaries and colonialists described in the indigenous people they encountered could be gendered. In her work on the missionary Ursuline Marie de l’Incarnation, Davis argues that a significant difference between Marie and her male religious counterparts, particularly the Jesuits, was her interest in the similarities of the indigenous peoples and Europeans, rather than their differences (Davis, 1995, pp. 116–17). The Beaumont and other nuns in France who had the opportunity to come into contact with First Nations women certainly shared this view, yet they went further than Marie. An indigenous woman on French soil who was incorporated into convent communities (whether by individual choice or circumstance) like Antoinette in Tours, demonstrated a religious capacity for monastic life on par with European Christians which diverged from the perceptions Marie de l’Incarnation concluded from her observations of Iroquois women in Quebec. Antoinette became more than a trope of religious otherness, lacking the potential for a full Christian monastic experience as Marie de l’Incarnation seems to have understood it. By their close observation of Antoinette as an individual, the nuns’ perceptions shifted from ‘savage’ alterity to Christian unity. European cultural ideas did not flow in one direction to First Nations lands. It too was transformed, not only by the experiences and observations of First Nations people in their native lands, but also by the impact of indigenous people on the home soil of colonists and missionaries. Individuals like Antoinette could indeed influence how the French thought about indigenous peoples and themselves. Antoinette’s acceptance into the abbey of Beaumont-lès-Tours is not a story of one-way religious and social acculturation of a First Nation women into a European organization. Her acceptance in the order required the nuns too to look past physical differences and learned tropes of otherness, to see similarity. Convents in First Nations lands like Marie de l’Incarnation’s might have incorporated more social status differences amongst its French nuns than traditional contemplative communities in France, but they represented a bastion of European difference — the religious women’s willing assent to controlled enclosure contrasting the indigenous ‘natural’ freedom. Ironically, in this instance, the Beaumont convent in France, although socially homogenous, could instead become the dynamic melting pot to mix cultural difference through a unified religious purpose.

Chapter 6

‘Although I am black, I am beautiful’: Juana Esperanza de San Alberto, Black Carmelite of Puebla Joan C. Bristol

On 17 October 1678, a woman named Juana Esperanza de San Alberto was stricken with a grave illness in the Discalced Carmelite convent of San José in Puebla, Mexico. Born a member of the Bran ethnic group in what is now Guinea-Bissau over 80 years before, Esperanza had been enslaved and brought to Veracruz at the age of five or six. A Spanish couple purchased her and she moved to Puebla with them in 1601. When her owners died, they bequeathed Esperanza to the convent of San José where she lived and worked as a servant for 68 years. Esperanza’s health had been declining for several years before she became sick in 1678, and when the nuns realized that she had suffered a serious setback, they sent for physicians to treat her. She recovered initially, but when she relapsed two days later, the doctors recommended that Esperanza be given the sacraments to prepare her for death. Upon hearing this, she asked to profess as a nun, and the prioress requested a license from the bishop to allow Esperanza to take the habit. When the license was issued, two male clerics went to the convent to give her the Eucharist and Extreme Unction. One of the clerics asked her why she wanted to become a nun and Esperanza, her speech laboured, responded that ‘she did not have any other motive than to give more pleasure to God, Our Lord’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 317). She received the habit and later professed before the prioress with the convent community in attendance. Esperanza lived for another year, bed-ridden and in terrible suffering. The nuns maintained a vigil by her bedside and the chaplain visited her daily to say mass and administer communion. Finally, in the early morning of 10 October 1679, Esperanza died. The news of her death caused a commotion. People went to the door of the convent and crowded into its church to mourn. An important benefactor of the convent provided wax and candles for the burial and invited local elites to attend Esperanza’s funeral. Although it was October, a huge number of fresh flowers arrived at the  I would like to thank Nora Jaffary, Jane Scully and Randolph Scully for their comments on this article.

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convent for the service. The priests who buried Esperanza kissed her hands ‘with great devotion’, and as she was buried onlookers realized that the choir was full of a wonderful smell, very different from what they would have expected from a dead body (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 318). Afterwards, the flowers that had rested on Esperanza’s body were handed out to ‘the multitude of people who asked for them with great entreat[ies]’, and people lined up at the door of the convent to request the modest objects that she had used in her daily life, including the rough earthenware from which she had eaten (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 318). A woman who suffered from asthma prayed to Esperanza to intercede on her behalf with God; four months later she reported that she had been healed. When the priest José Gómez de la Parra began writing the convent chronicle in 1703, he included Esperanza’s biography with those of the other nuns, praising her piety and claiming that God had sent her as an example of virtue and observance for the religious women who read about her life (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 321). This story is extraordinary for several reasons. First, Africans and their descendants in Spanish America were often seen as culturally and morally deficient and characterized in sexual terms. Yet this black African woman was celebrated for the idealized feminine virtues of piety and humility usually reserved for descriptions of the most respected Spanish women. Second, Esperanza was not only admired for her virtues; before she died, she professed as a nun in spite of the fact that nonSpanish people did not meet the requirements of limpieza de sangre, the purity of blood that was compulsory for men and women taking religious orders. Black, indigenous and casta women often lived in convents as servants, but they could not become nuns. Third, after her death Esperanza was the subject of a vida, a spiritual biography that held her up as a role model for the nuns of the convent, even though Spaniards were supposed to provide a civilizing influence on non-Spaniards rather than the reverse. At first glance, the vida of Juana Esperanza de San Alberto presents an example of a woman whose life seemed to have contradicted Spanish ideas about the relationship between blackness, femininity and virtue. It may seem difficult to reconcile Esperanza’s identity as an African slave with the respect and admiration that she earned for her religious activities, especially since this admiration culminated in her profession as a nun. Was Esperanza celebrated for her virtues in spite of the fact that she was an African woman or because of it? Did Esperanza’s story as told through her vida challenge Spanish attitudes toward gender and calidad (literally translated as quality or status) in Mexico, or did it constitute and reify these attitudes? What does Esperanza’s vida tell us about the relationship between gender and calidad in New Spain? Esperanza’s biography appeared in a history of the Discalced Carmelite convent in Puebla written by a prominent poblano priest named José Gómez de la Parra. The chronicle described the first century of the convent beginning with its foundation in 1604 and included individual vidas, or spiritual biographies, of the 44 nuns who had died during the century since it had been established. These biographies emphasized the nuns’ embodiment of ideal feminine qualities such as humility, chastity and

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piety, and they were meant to reflect the virtues of the convent and its community. Gómez de la Parra relied on the writings of another nun, Juana de Jesús María, as the primary source of information about Esperanza’s life. This Spanish nun had known Esperanza for 39 years, and in 1680, the year after Esperanza’s death, the bishop ordered her to write Esperanza’s story. Juana added information from other nuns to her own recollections to construct her biography of Esperanza. Early modern vidas describing the religious experiences of individual religious men and women had two important functions. First, vidas were often used to promote people for sainthood. Thus, writers of vidas highlighted their subjects’ exceptional virtues. Men were described as strong and courageous, while women’s vidas placed special emphasis on the way their subjects embodied ideal feminine qualities such as humility, chastity and piety. Although Gómez de la Parra did not intend to promote the individual nuns of San José for sainthood, the biographies served to represent the members of the convent community in a good light. The second function of spiritual biographies and autobiographies was to serve as role models for ordinary people. Women’s vidas in particular showed that it was possible for women to overcome their weak female natures and live virtuous lives, whether as wives and mothers or as members of religious orders. The biographies in Gómez de la Parra’s chronicle were also meant to benefit and edify future members of the convent. Because of these two functions, to promote potential saints and to edify ordinary people, female vidas reflected the idealized virtues for women as much or more than they represented the actual activities of their individual subjects. Vidas did not only project ideal positive qualities, however. Arguably, in emphasizing the exceptional qualities of particular women, vidas reinforced the idea that women were by nature weak and corruptible. Only very special women could overcome the limitations of their gender to attain the heights of virtue. By the same token, the vidas of devout men and women, who were overwhelmingly Spanish, reinforced the idea that Spanishness was a prerequisite for virtue. The characteristics for which religious Spaniards were celebrated were closely linked to their calidad. An individual’s calidad was based on factors including skin colour,  For more on convent chronicles, see Elisa Sampson Vera Tudela, Colonial Angels: Narratives of Gender and Spirituality in Mexico, 1580–1750 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 14–34.  Although Josefina Muriel claims that the chronicle should be seen as a femaleproduced text because of the reliance on the nuns’ writings, I refer to Gómez de la Parra in addition to the nuns when I discuss the text’s authors. Gómez de la Parra mentioned his sources frequently and used direct quotations from Juana de Jesús María, so their ideas can often be disentangled, and his voice comes through clearly in his opinions about Esperanza’s importance to the convent and her significance to the other nuns (Muriel, 1994, p. 48). Manuel Ramos Medina, who wrote the introduction to the 1992 edition of the chronicle, also treats Gómez de la Parra as the author along with the nuns (Ramos Medina, 1992, p. xiv–vi).  These vidas would have been aimed at elite Spanish women. Non-Spanish women and in fact most Spanish women were not literate. Only some women who received an education were taught to read and write (Lavrin, 1991, p. 64).

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clothing, occupation, personal relationships, limpieza de sangre and cultural practices (Carrera, 2003, pp. 6–21). People could claim limpieza only if they could prove that they did not have Jewish, Muslim or other non-Christian ancestry. Illegitimate people could not claim limpieza because their bloodlines were in question. Blacks, natives and castas did not have limpieza, and this prevented them from holding public office, attending university, taking religious orders and enjoying other privileges that were reserved for Spaniards. Ideas about the gendered behaviour of non-Spanish women were very different from those of Spanish women. Spaniards often defined Africans and their descendants, both men and women, as inherently amoral or immoral. For example, a 1672 royal decree stated that in Cartagena and environs, ‘the black men and women walk about naked, being so outside of Christian decency’. Women’s nudity was particularly worrisome since black women presented a special temptation for men, and officials were supposed to ensure that they were dressed or at least covered appropriately so that they would not ‘caus[e] danger to those who look at them’ (Archivo General de la Nación, México, Reales Cédulas Duplicados, 1672, vol. 30, exp. 55, pp. 86–86v). By characterizing the nakedness of black men and women as voluntary, the decree implied that they were either unable to live by colonial society’s norms or unable to care for themselves, although a Spanish missionary’s horrified description of slaves in Cartagena whose owners denied them clothing gives us another perspective on this situation (Sandoval, 1987, p. 236). This characterization of African and African descent people as uncivilized provides a marked contrast to the enumeration of Esperanza’s many virtues in her biography. If Juana Esperanza de San Alberto was an unusual subject for a spiritual biography because she was an African woman, her role as a nun was even more unprecedented. Non-Spaniards were discouraged from taking religious orders for most of the colonial period because they lacked limpieza de sangre. In the immediate post-conquest period, Franciscans established a school to educate indigenous noblemen for the priesthood, but by 1555 the First Provincial Council of the Mexican Church mandated that neither indigenous nor casta men would be ordained. NonSpanish men could take minor orders or be tonsured, and in the seventeenth century,  By the eighteenth century, however, illegitimate people who could prove their Spanish background could petition to buy certificates of gracias al sacar, which made them legally legitimate. Elites took advantage of this, although the practice was limited. According to Ann Twinam, there were only 244 petitions from Spanish Americans in the century between 1720 and 1820 (Twinam, 1999, passim).  The Third Mexican Council of 1585 theoretically overturned the previous council’s decision by ruling that ‘neither those of mixed blood, whether from Indians or Moors, nor mulattos in the first degree are to be admitted to orders without great caution’, meaning that literally these people could be ordained, but only in controlled situations (Lorenzana, 1769, p. 106). However, according to Stafford Poole, this ruling was in fact meant to keep non-Spaniards from becoming priests, since ‘Indian, mestizo, and mulatto priests would not have been acceptable in most parts of New Spain and would not have fitted the hierarchical conceptions of the priestly state at that time’ (Poole, 1981, 649–50).

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the regular orders took indigenous or mixed people as lay brothers and even very occasionally allowed non-Spaniards to profess as friars (Ganster, 1986, p. 151). Non-Spanish men did not, however, take major orders. Non-Spanish women were even more restricted from holding religious office than were their male counterparts. Although black, indigenous and casta women lived in convents as maids and slaves of the usually upper-class cloistered women, they could not become nuns. A dowry was required to enter most convents, so that only wealthy women or women with wealthy patrons could profess, although reformed orders such as Esperanza’s Discalced Carmelites did not require the lavish dowries of other orders. Poor women who felt a religious calling, and women who did not want to profess for other reasons, could become beatas. These holy laywomen lived on their own or in communities. Economic considerations were secondary to the issue of calidad, however, and nuns had to have limpieza de sangre. Beatas were usually Spanish as well, although some beaterios were founded exclusively for native women (Lavrin, 1986, p. 188). In 1724, the convent of Corpus Christi was founded in Mexico City for the daughters of indigenous noblemen, but even then purity of blood was a key factor, since membership was restricted to women of noble lineage and unmixed native background (Gallagher, 1978, pp. 153–4). A few non-Spanish women did gain repute for their religious piety and mystical abilities to communicate with God, including the seventeenth-century black slave and later donada (religious servant or lay sister) Ursula de Jesús who worked in a convent in Lima and the china visionary Catarina de San Juan who lived in Puebla at the same time as Esperanza. Catarina de San Juan and Esperanza must have known about each other since Catarina’s owners and benefactors, Margarita de Cháves and Miguel de Sosa, were patrons of San José, and Margarita entered the convent after her husband died (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, pp. 239–41). Catarina’s biographers claimed that she was urged to enter the convent herself and was offered a private cell (Morgan, 2002, p. 29), although Gómez de la Parra’s chronicle only mentioned her in connection with Margarita (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 242). These women, like Esperanza, were unusual in that, as non-Spaniards, they achieved individual renown for their religious piety. Urban residents would also have been familiar with AfroMexican cofrades, women who played important roles in confraternity leadership (von Germeten, 2003, pp. 62–110). Although they did not gain individual fame as holy women, they provided a model of Afro-Mexican female piety. Even taking into account these examples of non-Spanish piety, however, Juana Esperanza de San Alberto’s profession as a nun was extraordinary. Was her vida unusual as well? On a superficial level, it was similar to the vidas of the Spanish nuns, echoing the standard themes of spiritual biographies by extolling its subject’s humility, charity and piety. Yet Gómez de la Parra and Juana de Jesús María were  The term chino/a referred to Filipinos or people from other parts of Asia who had arrived in Mexico by way of the Philippines. The following discussion of Catarina de Jesús relies on Morgan, 2002, pp. 119–42. For Ursula de Jesús see Ursula de Jesús, ed. Nancy E. van Deusen, 2004.

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faced with the atypical problem of explaining how a black woman could embody the idealized virtues associated with Spanish religious women. Faced with a similar problem, Catarina de San Juan’s biographers addressed the issue of her colour and origins by claiming that she was born in India as the fair-skinned daughter of Arabian and Mughal royalty and had been enslaved when she was kidnapped by pirates as a child (Morgan, 2002, pp. 119–42). By constructing her origins this way, her biographers foregrounded her humility, expressed by the way she embraced her low social status and acted like a servant rather than a daughter of royalty. According to her vidas, Catarina’s complexion changed from light to dark when she asked God to make her dark-skinned (equated with ugliness) to protect her from male attention and preserve her virginity. By giving her a noble background and light skin, her biographers explained how a non-Spanish woman could represent Christian virtue and communicate with God without challenging Spanish ideas about lineage, origin, skin colour and behaviour (Morgan, 2002, pp. 134–41). Essentially Catarina’s biographers claimed that her status and appearance did not reflect her true calidad. She was a dark-skinned servant, yet her noble background and original complexion marked her as a person of worth, which was reconcilable with her religious achievements and virtuous life. Esperanza’s biographers had different objectives than Catarina’s, and these objectives influenced the rhetorical strategies they used in her vida. While Catarina’s biographies were intended to promote her for sainthood, Esperanza’s biography was much briefer and formed a small part of a larger chronicle that was meant to reflect the glory of the convent rather than individuals. Instead of erasing Esperanza’s calidad, as Catarina’s biographers did by claiming that she was originally lightskinned, Gómez de la Parra and Juana de Jesús María emphasized Esperanza’s calidad as a negra by continually reminding their readers that, as a black holy woman, she was unique and exceptional. This focus on blackness, understood as a combination of elements associated with the ‘black’ calidad, of which colour was only one, had several functions. First, by focusing on Esperanza’s blackness, her biographers highlighted her exceptional character, since according to them it was the burden of blackness that made her virtue and spiritual activities remarkable. Second, the emphasis on Esperanza’s calidad and her exceptional character served to highlight the achievements of Spanish women. According to the vida, Esperanza achieved spiritual heights because of the example of the nuns whom she served. It was precisely because the chronicle represented the achievements of the community as a whole that Esperanza’s biographers did not rhetorically erase her colour and background, as Catarina’s did. Nor did they cease to discuss her background after she proved her worth to the convent, as the French nuns of Beaumont-lès-Tours did for the métis nun Antoinette de Saint-Estienne in Susan Broomhall’s article in this volume. For Esperanza’s biographers, the story of a black woman who had surpassed all expectations while living with the nuns reflected well on the convent. Thus, they emphasized her calidad rather than erasing it. The language of exceptionalism also allowed Esperanza’s biographers to assert that she was not representative of the spiritual potential of black women.

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Representatives of the church and state were eager to keep non-Spaniards under control and to reinforce the caste system, particularly in the late seventeenth century. Spaniards were a minority in the colony; in 1646 Europeans made up a mere 0.8 per cent of the population. Africans composed 2 per cent, castas 22.6 per cent and indigenous people 74.6 per cent of the total (Aguirre Beltrán, 1989, 219). Elites were quite aware of their numerical inferiority, and they were also conscious of the potential problems that it could cause. In 1692, just eleven years before Gómez de la Parra began his chronicle in Puebla, elites in the capital had faced multi-caste rioters yelling ‘Down with the Viceroy and his wife! Death to the Corregidor! Death to the Spaniards! Down with bad government!’ as they set fire to public buildings and looted shops in the city center (Sigüenza y Góngora, 1929, pp. 262–3). Although ostensibly spurred by a grain shortage that caused price gouging and inflation, the riot exposed cleavages in society that separated plebeians and elites (Cope, 1994, p. 158). Elites also faced less overt challenges in this period. Caste boundaries blurred in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as intermarriage (as opposed to less formal unions between members of different caste groups) and passing from one caste group to another increased. Eighteenth-century caste paintings have been seen as the result of elite Spanish anxieties about the porousness of caste boundaries (Katzew, 1996, pp. 12–13). The ratio of free to enslaved Afro-Mexicans increased during the seventeenth century, as did the ratio of people identified as mulattos to people identified as blacks, so that by the end of the seventeenth century the majority of the Afro-Mexican population was free and mulatto. Spaniards worried that these free mulattos might pass as members of another caste group and claim privileges to which they were not legally entitled. Thus, Esperanza’s biographers had to make sure that she was not seen as representative of black women. The emphasis on her exceptional nature and unique position served to underscore the idea that most black women were not worthy of professing. To emphasize Esperanza’s unique status, her biographers ignored competing discourses about blackness. The idea of blackness as negative was not the only reading of blackness that was available in colonial New Spain. In her discussion of Gertrudis Rosa Ortiz, an eighteenth-century Mexican mystic, Nora Jaffary shows that alternate readings of blackness were possible. Gertrudis, identified as a mestiza but with possible African ancestry, saw herself as black in her mystical visions. Although this transformation was accompanied by hardship (she was not able to eat while she was black) Gertrudis welcomed it, characterizing it as part of the process of purifying her soul. Jaffary claims that Gertrudis’s visions allowed her to point out the suffering that blacks endured in New Spain and to characterize them as virtuous Christians (Jaffary, 2004, pp. 133–5). On a similar note, Nicole von Germeten has  This is not to say that African-descent women were not inspired by her example. Ursula de Jesús, the Afro-Peruvian mystic, inspired at least one Afro-Peruvian woman to apply to become a donada (van Deusen, 2004, p. 6) and Afro-Mexican women may have been similarly influenced by Esperanza’s story. However, Esperanza’s biographers did not explicitly intend her example to encourage other Afro-Mexican women to profess as nuns.

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shown that slavery was associated with holiness in New Spain. The poverty, humility and suffering of Africans and their descendants were seen as bringing them closer to Christ’s experience, and Afro-Mexicans as well as Spaniards used the language of slavery to emphasize their own sanctity. Spaniards also supported and joined Afro-Mexican led confraternities in order to share in this holiness (von Germeten, 2003, p. 51–8). Such an association of blackness with the sanctity that comes from suffering also appears in Esperanza’s vida. Yet Esperanza’s biographers claimed that, rather than finding salvation in her blackness, Esperanza instead rose above the base qualities associated with her calidad. Although Esperanza died as a nun, she entered the convent as a servant. She was enslaved in what is now Guinea-Bissau around the turn of the sixteenth century and she arrived in Veracruz at the age of five or six along with a younger sister, both of whom were purchased by a married woman named María Fajardo (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 310). María’s sister Juana was a founding member of a beaterio established in Veracruz in the 1580s, and in 1601 the community moved to Puebla. It became the convent of San José in 1604. Esperanza’s owners followed the beaterio to Puebla, and when her husband died, María went into seclusion in her home. She became ill in 1611 and, knowing that she was near death, she professed as a nun and bequeathed her property, including Esperanza, to the community (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, pp. 203–4). Although the reformed Carmelites were not supposed to have servants, they recognized Esperanza’s ‘good nature’ and were granted permission to keep her in the convent for a limited period (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 310). When the time came to leave, Esperanza resisted and begged to stay. The nuns, aware that she was ‘naturally inclined toward virtue and to recogimiento’ asked for a license to allow her to remain as a servant (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 310). Some years later, she was confirmed by the bishop with the name Juana Esperanza de San Alberto. Esperanza’s calidad was at the forefront of her biographers’ minds. Juana de Jesús María recalled, Certainly I was often struck to see this morena with such extreme peace and consolation, without having another of her colour [in the convent], because although it is true that all the nuns esteemed her, nature led us to treat her according to her calidad, but she was never heard to say a word of sorrow, only on some occasions she said crying that she had particular emotion in her soul that her parents were in hell and that they had not been baptized as she [had been]. (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 312)

For the Spanish nuns, Esperanza’s blackness overshadowed her virtue. They could not help treating her ‘according to her calidad’ as was natural in relationships  Recogimiento had three meanings. It was a method of praying in which one withdrew from the world to focus on God. It was also a model for female behaviour emphasizing seclusion. Finally, recogimientos were houses where women who needed to withdraw from the world found refuge. Nancy E. van Deusen, Between the Sacred and the Worldly: The Institutional and Cultural Practice of Recogimiento in Colonial Lima (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), passim.

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between Spanish women and those who served them. In keeping with the Spanish tendency to define Africans and their descendants by colour rather than by ethnic designations, Esperanza was referred to as a negra, rather than a Bran or even an African. Yet Juana emphasized Esperanza’s origins in order to suggest that slavery had saved Esperanza from paganism and enabled her to be baptized as a Christian. Her black colour, servant status and African origins were clearly acknowledged – there was no attempt to reconfigure her personal story to explain the existence of virtue in a black woman as Catarina de San Juan’s biographers had done. Esperanza was, however, an exceptional black woman. She had overcome the handicap of her calidad to attain the spiritual heights usually reserved for only the most outstanding Spanish women. Her biographers cast her as a natural adherent to the rule of the Carmelites since she followed their regimen without being trained as a nun. She maintained the silence that was the custom of the convent so thoroughly that ‘she asked [about] something very rarely, [only if it was] very necessary and unavoidable’ (Gómez de la Parra, p. 310). Although she had not been instructed in the Teresian practice of using physical penances to enter into a state of communication with God, Esperanza practiced self-imposed mortifications.10 These achievements did not erase her calidad in the minds of the nuns, but it tempered it. Although ‘the black colour that nature gave her could be despicable, by the grace of God [Juana Esperanza] had her soul beautified with the adornment of his virtues’ and the nuns admired her as if she were ‘the precious stone of jet’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, pp. 309–10). The metaphor of jet was employed throughout the text to explain the paradox of a black woman who embodied Christian virtues, since ‘although because of its black colour [jet] is contemptible and is considered rustic, [enclosed] in the interior is ... something of divinity’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 309).11 Gómez de la Parra had Esperanza explicitly address the seeming contradiction between her calidad and her virtuous nature when he quoted her as saying, when she was pleading to stay in the convent, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, wives of Jesus Christ, although I am black, I am beautiful, and the powerful King loved me and brought me to his Church and introduced me into this retreat of your delights’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 310). If God had been able to overlook her obvious blemish to see the beauty that existed within, the nuns, and by extension the reader, were encouraged to do so as well. This statement reflected the idea that Esperanza was not typical for someone of her calidad, yet it emphasized her blackness rather than excusing it. 10 In discussing Afro-Mexican flagellant confraternities, Nicole von Germeten argues that Afro-Mexicans may have practiced mortifications in order to emphasize the special humility that came from their low-status position in society, and this could apply to Esperanza as well (von Germeten, 2003, pp. 32–52). 11 Jet was associated with Afro-Mexican women in other contexts as well. Linda Curcio-Nagy notes that the author of a description of a 1640 performance of Afro-Mexican women compared these women to a necklace of jet and glass beads. She explains that this was connected to the dress code, which restricted non-Spanish women from wearing pearls. Because jet was of lower value than pearls, it was seen as more suitable for non-Spaniards (Curcio-Nagy, 2004, p. 62).

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Her biographers did not emphasize Esperanza’s exceptional nature only as a way of explaining how she could be both black and virtuous, however. The language of exceptionalism was typical of the vida genre. Whether writing either hagiographies designed to promote their subjects for sainthood, as in the case of Catarina de San Juan, or biographies that would be included in convent chronicles, the authors of vidas highlighted their protagonists’ virtues. Gómez de la Parra praised the Spanish nuns for their obedience and modesty. Ana de Jesús, the founder of the beaterio and the convent’s first prioress, was ‘so humble ... that, in her conduct there would be no one who would judge her to be the mother and founder of this convent, because she did not seem [like an important person] but rather the most modest and minor nun of the whole community’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 162). She did menial jobs in the kitchen, dressed in rough clothing, gave up food and obeyed her confessor completely (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 163). ‘Everyone admired the profound humility’ of Elvira de San José, another founding member, ‘because, being one of the founders, when the prelatesses mortified her she took it with such submissive serenity as if she were a novice [who had just entered] the convent’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 172). According to Gómez de la Parra, Esperanza was also humble, hiding in the chicken coop or the empty choir so that the nuns would not see her practicing her penances and praying for fear that they would admire her (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 311). Her modesty was so great that she did not even tell her confessor about her experiences during prayer, even though Gómez de la Parra suggested that she might have entered into direct communication with God: With the heroism of her virtues, it is not to be doubted that the Lord would give her many and repeated mercies in the holy exercise of prayer, more as she hid them and occulted them with her profound humility, exercising that which the wife said: My beloved for me and I for Him. So only God and Esperanza knew that which happened to her talking with your Divine Majesty. (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 316)

He claimed that this reticence arose from her extreme humility and ‘desire ... to be despised and contemptible’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 316).. Yet Esperanza’s humility was different from that of the Spanish nuns. Ana de Jesús, Elvira de San José, and others were admired for their humility because they did not act according to their station – although they were important, they were modest and behaved like insignificant novices. In Esperanza’s case, humility meant more than modesty. Esperanza was praised for her subservience – she knew the limitations of her calidad and was praised for acting like the servant that she was. One of Esperanza’s chief virtues was her ability to act in accordance with the qualities expected of her. When Gómez de la Parra claimed that Esperanza had the ‘humblest and most abject opinion ... of herself, not only of her person because of her calidad, but also with respect to her virtues’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 316) he reinforced the idea that her calidad invited negative assessments. Esperanza’s virtues may have raised her above the contempt normally associated with blacks, but it did not change her calidad, nor did it challenge the humble place which blacks occupied. Esperanza understood this and accepted it. As Gómez de la Parra wrote,

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with regard to obedience and humility, with the proper understanding that she had of her calidad, not only did she obey the prelatesses and nuns with humble submission, but she [acted with humble submission] when the sisters of the white veil intimated [that she was to blame for mistakes] in the kitchen, without ever noting nor having any excuse at all. (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 313)12

Esperanza did not excuse or defend herself when she was falsely accused. She only said the words ‘Blessed is God’ in response to her accusers’ complaints, although it was so difficult to maintain silent in these situations that she spit or vomited blood from the effort. Gómez de la Parra compared Juana Esperanza to Jesus Christ, ‘her beloved Husband’, who maintained a similar silence when he was accused by false witnesses in front of Pilate (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 311). In this comparison, we see the association of slavery with holiness discussed by von Germeten (von Germeten, 2003, pp. 51–8). Esperanza, unlike the Spanish nuns, did not pay attention to convent affairs ‘never [putting herself forward] to inquire about what happened in the convent’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 310). When she was supposed to bring food to the sick nuns and they nagged her to hurry, ‘she never responded [with] a word of excuse, [she] only said: Blessed is God, beloved is Jesus’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 311). These examples illustrate Esperanza’s subservience, showing that she knew her place within the intertwined hierarchies of the convent and the colony. She understood that as a black woman she was meant to serve Spaniards and her awareness of her calidad was a virtue in its own right. The most important example of Esperanza’s understanding of her place was in the events surrounding her profession as a nun. Although she took pains to hide her practices and not draw attention to herself, Juana Esperanza’s fame extended beyond Puebla. The marquesa de Mancera, the wife of New Spain’s viceroy Antonio Sebastián de Toledo, visited the convent and expressed her ‘fervent desires ... to see and know Esperanza, the morena; because of the news that she had of her virtue’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 315). The marquesa asked Esperanza to pray for her. In 1675, two Carmelite friars visited the convent, and after meeting Esperanza asked the prioress to ask permission for her to profess as a nun (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, pp. 315–16). When Juana de Jesús María urged her to take the habit, however, Esperanza refused, responding ‘Mother, I do not dare, nor am I worthy of it’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 317). Juana wrote that she ‘was well edified and confused to see a soul so pure and candid that all her life she had been in such great retirement loving and serving God, maintaining the rules of the Discalced Carmelite religion, better than I, and with all this she did not dare to profess’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 317). Eventually, the dean visited the convent to urge Esperanza to profess, and still she resisted. Finally she agreed that she would profess when she was close to death (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 317). As we know from Gómez de la Parra’s text, this moment arrived on 17 October 1678, when she was given the last rites and took the Carmelite habit. According to her vida, even though Esperanza had died an old woman, ‘her body in the bier did not appear more than a morenita of twenty with 12 Emphasis added.

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some gleams in her face, which seemed made of jet’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 318). Her beauty in death and her body’s refusal to deteriorate in the normal way exemplified her great piety and saintly character (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 318). The vida celebrated Esperanza’s life and her achievements even after death. Although, according to her biographers, she had been singled out and filled with religious fervour by God, the focus on blackness and exceptionalism ultimately placed much of the credit for Esperanza’s behaviour with the Spanish nuns. Although Gómez de la Parra described how her sisters admired her, and Juana de Jesus María wrote that Esperanza maintained the rules of the Carmelites ‘better than [she] did’, in the end they saw Esperanza’s behaviour as the product of the nuns who helped shape the raw virtues that God had given her (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 317). When Gómez de la Parra claimed that Juana Esperanza’s story capped the collection of nuns’ biographies with the ‘richest crown, which the very religious women made and formed in this despicable morena with their holy examples, which she embraced with all perfection’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 308), he applauded the religious models that the nuns provided Esperanza. Gómez de la Parra claimed that the sister Esperanza is and was the sum perfection of the religious women who died in the century and of all who lived in its time. Because these [women], with the continuous and daily exercise of the observance of prayer, of mortification, and the other virtues, erected and raise, in the sister Esperanza, the spiritual building of perfection, [assuming] the grace of God, being a poor black woman, bozal, ignorant and rustic, it seems that the Lord destined her to be exemplary for this holy community, so that she would love him and serve him, embracing and observing all her life, without being a religious woman, the holy institution of the Discalced Carmelites, of whose constitutions she was so observant, that the very religious women, by whose example the sister Esperanza arrived at such perfection, edified and confounded, came to have the holy emulation that advised the apostle St. Paul: Aemulamini charismata meliora. (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 309)

Although Esperanza ‘is and was the crown of all the religious women of her time’, it was they ‘who, with their exemplary lives’, helped her with ‘the bright gold of charity, the rich and precious stones of virtues’ and gave ‘this fortunate morena’ the opportunity to imitate them and exercise such virtues (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 308). Thus, although Esperanza’s example ‘offer[ed] and minister[ed], to the present and future nuns, useful considerations to inflame their spirits’(Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 319), the teachings and examples of the residents of the convent were essential in helping her refine her virtues and put them into action, and her successes were theirs. Conclusion Initially it might seem that Esperanza was celebrated in spite of the fact that she was black. Clearly, since black women could not be nuns, she was allowed to take the Carmelite habit despite her calidad rather than because of it. As we have seen here, however, Esperanza’s calidad was a central theme in her biography, and both

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her virtues and those of the convent community more generally were magnified and enhanced when seen through the lens of her blackness. She was celebrated precisely because of her calidad – the story of an exceptionally virtuous black woman reflected well on the nuns whose pious examples had influenced Esperanza’s own religious activities. Esperanza’s vida thus reinforced ideas about calidad and gender and how they were related in New Spain. Esperanza was not unique because of her gender. She was exceptional because of her virtue and religious devotion, but she had peers among her fellow nuns. What made her behaviour unique was the relationship between her calidad and her gender – according to her biographers, black women were not expected to personify Christian virtue. Above all, Africans and their descendants in New Spain did not become nuns. As noted above, the vidas of exceptional women underscored the degree to which ordinary Spanish women did not live up to the ideals of virtuous womanhood, but they also gave these women role models to try to emulate. Because of this dual function, these vidas maintained the association of certain ideal virtues – including humility and piety – with Spanish femininity. Juana Esperanza’s vida functioned in a similar way to maintain the association between abstract characteristics and black femininity. In the case of black femininity, however, these characteristics were negative. By constantly emphasizing that Esperanza was unique among people of her calidad, Gómez de la Parra and Juana de Jesús María ensured that the values usually associated with blacks – and the values usually reserved for Spaniards – would emerge intact. Esperanza was not meant to represent the possibility that black women could lead virtuous lives or become nuns. Instead, her story functioned to ensure that virtue would not be associated with black woman, since the reader was reminded that ‘although [she was] black, [she was] beautiful’ (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 310)13 because of her uniquely exceptional qualities. When Gómez de la Parra assured the reader that ‘although the black colour that nature gave her could be despicable, by the grace of God [Juana Esperanza] had her soul beautified with the adornment of his virtues’, he was asserting that blackness, even when it appeared in the form of an exceptionally virtuous woman, was inherently contemptible (Gómez de la Parra, 1992, p. 309–10). In the end, Esperanza’s vida was constitutive rather than merely reflective of colonial ideas about calidad and gender. Esperanza’s vida reconciled her role as an exceptionally pious woman and her identity as a black slave in such a way as to reify and reproduce colonial hierarchies. Esperanza’s vida was meant to prove to the reader that she was an exceptional case and that it was only by emulating Spanish behaviour that she was able to rise above her lowly origins. Juana Esperanza’s biographers found the idea of black female piety unthinkable without the special circumstances that surrounded her. Her vida ultimately represents Spanish ideas about the impossibility of black piety as much as it chronicles the life of an extraordinary historical figure.

13 Emphasis added.

Chapter 7

Andean Women in Religion: Beatas, ‘Decency’ and the Defence of Honour in Colonial Cuzco Kathryn Burns

In this essay, I will examine the making of a Christian indigenous elite in Cuzco through the history of a little-studied institution, the beaterio, and the practice of cloistered Catholic religious life by Cuzco’s beatas. The archival paper trail left by such communities of women in colonial Peru is hard to find, since beaterios on the whole were far less prosperous, solid institutions than their more prestigious counterparts, cloistered convents. We have tended to marginalize beatas and beaterios from the histories we write. I myself left them on the margins of the research I did on Cuzco’s cloistered nuns and the city’s broader spiritual economy (Burns, 1999). I was trying to understand the intricate practices that ‘married’ the city’s creole aristocracy, through its daughters, to cloistered convents, sources of credit and spiritual benefits. From this perspective, Cuzco’s convents were at the heart of a complex network of relationships and investments that created and reproduced Spanish hegemony – a world of interests shaped by considerations of honour and dominated by aristocratic clans. Beaterios, relatively poor and undocumented, were (for my purposes) decidedly off to one side.

 This chapter is a revised version of Burns, 2002. Research in Peru in 1998–99 was supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. I gratefully acknowledge Margareth Najarro’s and Donato Amado’s invaluable assistance in locating relevant sources.  A notable exception is the work of van Deusen, 2001, which will certainly do much to change that. Recogimiento is a complex term that may be used as a synonym for beaterio. Those interested in Mexico will want to see Muriel, 1974, and Asunción Lavrin’s useful review of it in Hispanic American Historical Review, 57 (2) May 1977, 338–9; also Gonzalbo Aizpuru, 1987, 1990; Castañeda, 1984, pp. 97–110, on the educational history of Guadalajara’s beaterios; and Foz y Foz, 1989, on the colegios founded in Mexico and elsewhere by the Compañía de María. The Third Orders of colonial Salvador, Brazil make another useful comparison (Russell-Wood, 1989).

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Yet the work of beatas and beaterios was also crucial to the reproduction of Spanish dominance (Burns, 1999, pp. 15–40; van Deusen, 2001, pp. 17–36). And if we want to understand Cuzco from the perspective of its indigenous population, making central their interests and relationships and the resources underpinning them, we must look not only at convents but at beaterios. Several of these institutions, though by no means all, were created by indigenous cuzqueños (residents of Cuzco) specifically for indigenous women. In their history we can see especially clearly how the city’s relatively well-to-do indigenous donors constructed for themselves, donation by donation, an honourable Christian identity – one of ‘decency’ (decencia), a keyword which, as we will see, resonated with period meaning. In this essay, I will suggest the importance to this creative process of beaterios’ foundations in late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century Cuzco. This was a sort of ‘Golden Age’ of prosperity for the city’s propertied inhabitants (Burns, 1999, pp. 78–82). We will see that the daughters of indigenous cuzqueños, as they entered the cloistered religious life and became beatas and ‘Indian abbesses’ (abadesas indias), were among the protagonists of this collective creation of a ‘decent’ indigenous identity. To begin, what exactly was a beata? The term covers a wide semantic range, as does beaterio. Both refer to what we might think of as the (relatively) informal religious life for women. A beata closely resembled – but was not – a nun. In Cuzco as in Castile, to borrow William Christian’s words, a beata usually was a woman who had made a simple (that is, private) vow of chastity, wore a habit, and observed a religious rule of some kind, whether temporarily or permanently, cloistered or in society, or alone or in company of others ... . Many were simply devout single or widowed women who lived in their own houses with habits they made for themselves. (Christian, 1981, pp. 16–17)

A Cuzco example of a devout woman setting up her own personal cloister would be Mari Diez de la Cueva Ojeda. This widow from Seville purchased a house in Cuzco in 1622 in which to live as a Franciscan beata (Archivo Regional del Cusco, Protocolos Notariales [hereafter ARC-PN], Cristóbal de Luzero, 1621–22, fols 157v–161r). However, most of the colonial Peruvian beatas about whom we can find archival traces lived in communities rather than individual dwellings. The ecclesiastical trend in this period, articulated in the decrees of the Council of Trent, was to encourage and reinforce religious women’s enclosure.

 I have benefited greatly from working alongside Marisol de la Cadena, whose study of indigenous intellectuals in twentieth-century Cuzco (de la Cadena, 2000) also hinges on their understandings and appropriations of ‘decency’.  The 21 August 1624 will of Mari Diez de la Cueva Ojeda is in ARC-PN, Cristóbal de Luzero, 1623–24, fols 371r–371v.  Christian (1981, pp. 170–71) describes pressures on sixteenth-century Castilian beatas to ‘regularize’. Van Deusen (2001, p. 188 n. 3) notes that the threshold for establishing beaterios was easier to reach: it required approval by local ecclesiastical authorities, ‘while

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In Cuzco, such communities of devout women formed quite early. The first took shape not long after the Spaniards invaded the Inca city, around 1550, through the efforts of a Basque widow named Francisca Ortiz who had decided to live as a Franciscan tertiary. This recogimiento (which soon became the convent of Santa Clara) was at first primarily intended to raise and protect mestizas, the daughters of Spanish men and Andean women. As I have argued elsewhere, it was on the front lines of Christian evangelizing campaigns in the heart of the former Tawantinsuyu (Burns, 1999, pp. 15–40). Most communities of devout women had a much lower profile. A founder or benefactor might put them on record by leaving them a donation, perhaps specifying the desire that the community receive only women of a certain kind, such as orphan girls without any resources (‘sin ningún remedio’). Some foundations were expressly intended for native Andeans. In 1638, for example, a Cuzco scribe notarized the donation of property (‘un solar en el barrio Matara’) by Mateo Cocha and Francisca Pasña, ‘Indians’, to support a community of Franciscan tertiaries identified as ‘Indian beatas’ (ARC-PN, Alonso Beltrán Luzero, protocolo 5, fol 666r, 9 August 1638). A few years later, in 1655, a native Andean widow from Yaurisque named María Panti donated houses and land in the Cuzco parish of San Blas to a community of Augustinian beatas that was intended for ‘orphan Indian girls’ (ARC-PN, Lorenzo Mesa Andueza, protocolo 184, fol 1561r, 29 July 1655). While we do not know exactly how many beaterios were founded in midcolonial Cuzco, by the late seventeenth century the city seems to have had quite a few. The parish reports ordered by Bishop Mollinedo in 1689 indicate a total of nine beaterios in just two Cuzco parishes, San Blas and Hospital de los Naturales. Seven of these institutions were for indias and two for españolas. From the point of view of the priests, these communities, at least the ‘Indian’ ones, appeared marginal, very informal and rather dangerous. Consider the report of parish priest Andrés de Mollinedo, who in 1690 informed his bishop about the four ‘Indian beaterios’ of his parish, Hospital de los Naturales: One [is] associated with San Francisco, another with the Compañía [Jesuits], another with La Merced, and in another they wear the habit of the Santísima Trinidad, and these Beaterios only exist for the Beatas to sweep the floors of the Churches of the said orders except for the Trinitarians, and none of them serves any other purpose or sets an example, since as they do not have enough income to support themselves nor are they cloistered, they go out to find the necessary sustenance, and to sell what they have made, and it frequently happens that because they are fragile some of them turn up pregnant ... . (Villanueva Urteaga, 1982, p. 230)

convents needed the approval of local secular and ecclesiastical authorities, the archbishop, the king, and the pope’.  It is unclear just what happened when, but a plausible narrative is that Ortiz was caring for the sick when the cabildo drafted her to lead a spiritual initiative on behalf of mestizas. Many early beaterios formed on mid-century orders from above that mestizas be gathered and cared for in recogimiento (Burns, 1999, pp. 22–4).

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This priest’s account clearly associated his parish’s indigenous beatas with the exact opposite of chaste enclosure: mobility, moral weakness (‘fragility’) and unrestrained sexuality. As far as he was concerned, these beatas were not a spiritual asset but an inconveniente, a problem. But Father Andrés de Mollinedo believed the problem could be solved. He could imagine putting the city’s beatas to better use, as he informed his bishop: ‘It would greatly please God if these Beaterios, and the others that exist in this city, were removed, and the Clergy or their Sacristans were to sweep their own Churches, as they do in Spain ... and if the majority of the beatas married they would leave progeny, and there would be more Indian tributaries’ (Villanueva Urteaga, 1982, p. 230). Father Mollinedo was not the only one to depict Cuzco’s indigenous beatas as loose and licentious. In 1689, Abbess Magdalena de San Juan Bautista of the indigenous beaterio of Nuestra Señora del Carmen complained that the city’s official Protector of Natives, Don Pedro de Roa Izquierdo, had directed serious insults (palabras injuriosas) at her community. By the abbess’s telling, when Don Pedro had insisted on being allowed entrance into the beaterio and had been refused, ‘the hour being late and the timing suspicious and not decent for opening the cloister of so many maidens, as he desired’, he had thrown a public tantrum. According to her testimony and that of witnesses, the enraged Don Pedro had, with little fear of God and in an affront to royal justice and disrespecting these poor cloistered maidens, in a loud voice and with great indignation publicly called us all whores and said that at night we brought men in over the rooftops and that we gave birth inside, all for the purpose of dishonoring this beaterio and stripping away the honor and prestige of us all. (Archivo Regional del Cusco [hereafter ARC], Corregimiento, Causas Ordinarias, legajo 25, expediente 505)

Abbess Magdalena de San Juan Bautista defended her beaterio by suing Don Pedro de Roa Izquierdo for defamation. The court records are incomplete, so we do not know if she won, but clearly she did her best to depict her community as chaste, maidenly and ‘decent’. This Andean abbess’s stance expressed a vigorous argument on behalf of indigenous women’s honour. As recent studies remind us, the defence of honour in colonial Latin America did not fall solely to men, nor did it occupy only the relatively white, European elite. Whoever failed to defend her honour from attacks, even fairly insignificant ones, ran the risk of losing it. Thus people of every ethnicity and rank in the social hierarchy engaged in defence of their honour, albeit in differing ways (Johnson and Lipsett-Rivera, 1998). For unmarried women, including women in religion, the defence of honour depended on their capacity to maintain chastity, or at least the public appearance of it (Twinam, 1999, 59–73). Within this overall logic, the abbess Magdalena de San Juan Bautista could hardly permit a prominent local authority – the Protector de Indios, no less! – to storm around outside the walls of her beaterio calling its inhabitants whores. This judicial contest reinforces the impression that, from the point of view of Spaniards and creoles, Cuzco’s indigenous beaterios were anything but honourable

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and ‘decent’. Even when native Andean beatas lived in cloistered arrangements resembling those of convents, as seems to have been the case with the community of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, they might be subjected to stereotyped insults like those that Don Pedro de Roa Izquierdo allegedly hurled at the beaterio’s closed doors. The three cloistered convents of Cuzco, Santa Clara, Santa Catalina and Santa Teresa, were different: to them creoles and Spaniards entrusted the care and education of their own daughters. But religiosas indias (Indian religious women) may have sounded to the city’s ‘white’ elite like a contradiction in terms. Let’s consider the indigenous beaterios of Cuzco from a different point of view, that of their Andean founders and benefactors. Note that beaterios were the only colonial institutions dedicated to the contemplative religious life that were founded and endowed by and for native Andeans. Endowing a religious institution for women was, I will argue, part of their benefactors’ self-fashioning as respectable, ‘decent’ cuzqueños. The communities they helped establish may have received few high-ranking Andeans, since we know that the city’s convents accepted numerous daughters of curacas (ethnic women) and women of Inca descent (Burns, 1999, pp. 113, 123–7, 150–51). But I believe they raised a counterargument to those who, like Father Andrés de Mollinedo and Don Pedro de Roa Izquierdo, impugned ‘Indian’ honour by suspecting the chastity of Andean women who chose to become brides of Christ and observe religious life. The notarial records in Cuzco’s regional archives provide fascinating traces of indigenous donors’ objectives. María Panti, the widow whose 1655 donation was made to support orphaned ‘Indians’ dedicated to observing the rule of Saint Augustine, listed the 11 beatas by name, adding that ‘the reason this family has not grown with greater fervour is that it has not had a house in which to seclude (recoger) the said Beatas and each of them lives in a different place, such that they have not been able to obtain their desired goal of observing enclosure and communicating with God in his sainted service’ (ARC-PN, Lorenzo Mesa Andueza, protocolo 184, fol 1561r, 29 July 1655). Her motives are later echoed by Doña Catalina Tocto, a native of the parish of San Blas and the widow of Don Diego Sayre Topa. Doña Catalina donated a small tract of land near the Franciscan monastery of La Recoleta in 1671 to the ‘Indian beatas’ of the Third Order of San Francisco, ‘seeing that the said beatas wish to live together (en congregación) and to live enclosed under an abbess and have not until now had a secure place in which to seclude themselves (recogerse)’ (ARC-PN, Lorenzo Mesa Andueza, protocolo 211, fol 399v, 3 May 1671). Both widows – one a Cuzco native of high rank, the other a non-noble newcomer from the provinces – indicated in their donations that many of Cuzco’s indigenous beatas had no place to live in community. They saw this as a problem of resources, and acted to resolve it by giving pieces of property.  The eighteenth-century convent of Corpus Christi in Mexico, founded to receive daughters of indigenous nobles (Muriel, 1963; Gallagher, 1978; Lavrin, 1999), had no exact Peruvian counterpart; the closest comparison seems to be the beaterio of Copacabana in Lima (Martín, 1983, pp. 294–5).

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Somewhat different motives were expressed by a couple from the Sucso ayllu (kinship group) who lived in the parish of San Sebastián. In 1673, Don Mateo Chalco Yupanqui and his wife Doña Isabel Paucar Ocllo, through the mediations of an interpreter, donated a small field located south of the city along the royal highway (camino real) to the ‘Indian beatas’ of the parish of Santiago, ‘because for several years they have been praying to God on our behalf’. Appreciative of the spiritual efficacy of the women’s prayers, they made the community a gift ‘so that they will continue’ (ARC-PN, Lorenzo Mesa Andueza, protocolo 212, fols 437r– 441v, 2 March 1673). In the same year, Doña Ana María Suma Inquillay, a native of Cotabambas who lived in the Cuzco parish of Santa Ana, registered a will in which she left her house to the beatas of San Agustín while ‘charging them to pray for her to God Our Father’ (ARC-PN, Martín López de Paredes, protocolo 155, fol 898r, 1 January 1673). Such bequests were typical of the broader spiritual economy of Cuzco. The donors could have made their gifts to local nuns or priests, but chose to commission the prayers of indigenous beatas instead. These indigenous donors were in effect helping Cuzco’s Andean beatas to live more like nuns: cloistered, in community, dedicated to lives of prayer and under the authority of an abbess. Many of the city’s indigenous beaterios gained institutional solidity only gradually, as donations trickled in. But one ambitious foundation seems to have been relatively well endowed from the start: Santísima Trinidad, a combination of beaterio and school (colegio) dedicated to educating poor, orphaned indigenous girls. Its founders were clearly members of the city’s indigenous elite: Don Diego Ignacio Inga, one of the principales of the parish of Santiago; his wife Doña Pascuala Choquesisa Coya; and their son, also named Don Diego Ignacio. These three sought to create a place to alleviate ‘the misfortunes (desdichas y miserias) of said Indian orphans who are at risk of losing their souls because there is in this city no endowed institution in which to shelter and raise them with good habits and practice in the things of our sainted Catholic faith’. They provided for the construction of ‘wellmade houses with a very decent chapel’ in the Cuzco neighborhood of Matará, endowing the new foundation with 350 pesos a year in perpetuity (Lima, Archivo General de la Nación, Peru, Derecho Indígena [hereafter AGNP-DI], legajo 11, cuaderno 180, año 1698). This charitable gesture enables us to glimpse, in considerable detail, what ‘decency’ (decencia) meant to three indigenous nobles of mid-colonial Cuzco. For reasons that are unclear from the archival record, a Cuzco scribe named Juan de Saldaña was sent in December 1678 to inspect this combined beaterio and school. He came away very impressed after carefully registering what he had seen inside Santísima Trinidad. His inspection report gives us a highly unusual look inside a colonial cloister, for Santísima Trinidad seems to have contained all the basic features of a convent. There was a chapel with an altar, ‘which was very decent’, decorated with a painting of the Holy Trinity; an entryway, small garden and sacristy with everything necessary for performing the mass; next, inside the recogimiento, a main patio with a fountain; and ‘beyond that a corridor and dormitory and refectory and kitchen in separate rooms successively’ – all described as ‘capacious and decent’.

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Saldaña also saw the cells of the beatas, a dispensary full of ‘maize, chuño, flour, habas, cheese, quinoa, and bread’, and an orchard where the beaterio’s residents cultivated some of their food supply. What most impressed Saldaña, however, was the talent displayed by the girls who were being educated inside Santísima Trinidad. He certified that the beatas had gathered before him in the chapel to demonstrate their learning. Leonarda Ignacia, a beata nine years of age, and Josefa Rosa, age eight, expounded in the Castilian language Christian Doctrine, beginning with the commandments of God’s law and finishing with the fourteen articles of faith. And then ... Andrea de la Trinidad and Felipa de San Ignacio ... beatas fifteen years old explained in the same language with great clarity and elegance the things that we Christians should know pertaining to our sainted Catholic faith. And then ... they explicated the mystery of the holy Trinity and the encarnation of the son of God and the Passion and the holy sacrament at the altar, to the admiring wonder of those who were present. (AGNP-DI, legajo 11, cuaderno 180, año 1698)

Their training was even more extensive, Saldaña found as he toured the chapel and saw the musical instruments used by the beatas: ‘their organ, harp, guitars, raveles and chirimias, bajones and clarines ... .’ With these instruments, ‘when [they had] finished singing, the beatas played, causing great harmony, wonder, and devotion’. Thus, Santísima Trinidad appeared to have met fully the goals its founders had expressed in 1674: that the beatas learn about Christianity, and also ‘to read and write and sing and play musical instruments, all with the purpose and goal that ... with the clarity of their voices ... they should reduce (reduzgan) to the Christian faith and religion the infidel Indians who are yet to be conquered’. Twenty years later, Santísima Trinidad faced the possibility of losing some of its land, buildings and water rights to the Uscamaita and Sutic ayllus, whose members had been resettled (‘reduced’) in the Cuzco parish of Belén. In 1695, the rectora Doña Josefa de la Trinidad and her sister Doña Andrea de la Trinidad mounted an appeal to the Real Audiencia in Lima to enable the community to maintain possession of its property. This time several of the beaterio’s neighbours testified on its behalf. What impressed these witnesses and received emphasis in their testimony was the strictness of the beatas’ enclosure. According to one, the orphaned beatas ‘are secluded ... never going into the street nor showing their faces as other beatas in other schools and beaterios do ... they are completely poor ... secluded in their studies, enclosed, observing their rules of obedience, poverty, chastity, and enclosure’ (AGNP-DI, legajo 11, cuaderno 180, año 1698). Thus, some Spaniards and creoles in late seventeenth-century Cuzco were prepared to acknowledge the honourable conduct of the beatas living inside Santísima Trinidad. ‘Decency’ was linked in their observations to the impermeability of the institution’s walls and the rigour of the discipline observed inside it. Witnesses from the neighbourhood testified that the beatas performed spiritual exercises and dressed in coarse cloth, ‘without communicating with anyone besides the founders’. Everything was done, according to them, ‘in imitation of the convents’.

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Was this the goal of the indigenous donors? Did they want indigenous beatas to imitate as closely as possible, in places like Santísima Trinidad, the cloistered convents of Cuzco, where Spanish hegemony was firmly established? Perhaps so, but inside beaterios, indigenous women might practice the cloistered religious life on terms very different from those available to them in convents. The city’s beaterios provided them a place to exercise leadership roles, something they could never have done inside Santa Clara, Santa Catalina or Santa Teresa. Inside Cuzco’s convents the highest position to which an indigenous woman could aspire was that of the white veil (velo blanco). Women of this half-dowry status never assumed the leadership roles in their communities; these were always occupied by professed nuns of the black veil (velo negro) (Burns, 1999, pp. 119–27). Only in Cuzco’s ‘Indian’ beaterios might a native Andean woman rise to a position of authority as abbess. No indigenous man in Cuzco could hope to exercise comparable Christian authority. As they endowed the city’s beaterios, indigenous benefactors were also creating a dignified, ‘decent’ place for themselves. This seems particularly clear in a detailed 1708 donation by a beata of Nuestra Señora del Carmen named Doña María Ursula Quispe. Through Cuzco scribe Alejo Fernández Escudero and an interpreter, she arranged to donate the residence she owned in the neighbourhood of Matará to create a new institution for training pious ‘maidens’ to worship in the Spanish language, ‘with the condition that they must be Indians and not Spaniards’. She herself would administer this new beaterio for the duration of her life as its founder and earthly patroness. The terms of her donation provided that ‘this recogimiento should be called a colegio, and should recognize as its [spiritual] patroness the Holy Virgin of the Purification who is located in the Chapel inside the said residence, such that each year those who are Cloistered ... celebrate her fiesta with all possible decency’ (ARC-PN, Alejo Fernández Escudero, protocolo 86, fols 791r–93v, 6 October 1708). Doña María Ursula Quispe went on to stipulate strict controls on the entry of Spaniards. Only three, Doña Luisa Gutiérrez Maldonado and her two daughters, would be allowed to take part, and only at the beginning, to initiate the beatas’ language training. After that, the entrance of Spaniards would be totally prohibited, ‘because among the said maidens who will have learned the Castilian language and devotion to the saints, they will teach one another’. By contrast, daughters of curacas ‘from any pueblo in the region or beyond’ were to be admitted ‘freely’. It is not clear whether Doña María Ursula’s plan for a school came to fruition in early eighteenth-century Cuzco. The project, in any case, is noteworthy for the extensive privileges and authority it conferred on an indigenous woman. As long  Although there were no “Indian abbots” in Cuzco, late eighteenth-century records from the city’s archdiocesan archives do contain the names of a few priests with indigenous surnames. Their identities and careers and the context in which they worked have yet to be studied. Estenssoro Fuchs, 2003, pp. 470–77, examines the case of Nicolás de Ayllón (b. Chiclayo 1632 – d. Lima 1677), a saintly Indian who made his house into a kind of beaterio – for poor Spanish women. Estenssoro discusses briefly the formation of an indigenous clergy in late colonial Peru (pp. 512–16); see also O’Phelan Godoy, 2002.

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as she lived, Doña María Ursula Quispe would preside over the new institution’s affairs, in consultation with two priests of San Felipe Neri in whom she trusted. They would be empowered to determine, among other things, who would enter for schooling. They might also decide to expel Doña Luisa Gutiérrez Maldonado and her daughters if they failed to live ‘with due Modesty and composure, subject to the abbess who must be a native [que (h)a de ser natural]’. Both Santísima Trinidad and Quispe’s projected colegio recall the well-known Jesuit school San Francisco de Borja, founded in Cuzco in the early seventeenth century to educate the sons of the indigenous elite (Esquivel y Navia, 1980, vol. 2, p. 43; Garrett, 2005). The projected schools for indigenous girls seem to reflect parallel aspirations for the daughters of native Andeans: that they should learn to read, write, sing and pray, thereby setting an inspiring Christian example. But it is worth signalling some important differences. The founding initiative for these women’s institutions came from indigenous cuzqueños, people from the city or the wider Cuzco region, not from a religious order. Both colegios were open to young women who were not necessarily elite themselves (and Santísima Trinidad specifically encouraged destitute orphans). And both deliberately placed community leadership in the hands of Andeans. These founding acts both reflected and reinforced the considerable initiative of propertied, indigenous cuzqueños and their powerful desire for ‘decency’. Some closing reflections seem appropriate to stimulate further questions and research. I think we can observe something of a boom in the creation and endowment of beaterios in Cuzco during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. This would make sense in terms of what we know about the city’s history, in particular that of its religious foundations; the period was a relatively prosperous one in which an especially active bishop, Manuel de Mollinedo y Angulo, did much to foment charitable projects of many kinds. What more can we learn from this activity about Cuzco’s indigenous elite – their shifting colonial fortunes, affiliations, identities? Do the donations and new foundations reveal differences among them, perhaps significant rivalries? Quite possibly the religious investments I am examining here were part of a broader move by propertied Andeans who were neither Incas nor nobles to assert their respectability vis-à-vis Cuzco’s still-powerful Inca nobility. Throughout the colonial period, Cuzco’s Incas vigorously defended their privileges, using an elaborate ‘visual rhetoric’ of heraldic and other signifiers to set themselves above other cuzqueños (Dean, 1999, pp. 122–59). But their claims did not go uncontested. Carolyn Dean’s careful reading of the art historical record convincingly shows that Cañaris, Chachapoyas and other non-Inca cuzqueños used major events in the Christian calendar – particularly the annual observance of Corpus Christi – to display their rivalry with the city’s Incas (Dean, 1999, pp. 179–99). It is certainly possible to interpret the evidence I am presenting along similar lines. Commercial success in mid-colonial times may have led a few Andean nouveaux riches – including non– Inca, non-noble provincials like the widow María Panti – to mount a major bid for respectability through Christian investments. The endowing of beaterios and girls’

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schools would have helped people like Panti stake a claim to ‘decency’ for themselves and their kinsmen. This, in turn, may have fueled Inca efforts to demarcate and police their own special status, signified in the wearing of the maskapaycha and other kinds of symbolic display (Dean, 1999, pp. 100–109; Amado, 2002; Garrett, 2002, 2003, 2005). If ‘decency’ was a bid by relatively prosperous but non-noble ‘Indians’ to establish themselves as honourable, we still have much to learn about the meaning and extent of this quest for honour. We might usefully think here along comparative lines, for Lima in these years saw the founding of the beaterio of Nuestra Señora de Copacabana for indigenous women. The beaterio was established in the late seventeenth century primarily for daughters of the members of the indigenous brotherhood (cofradía) that bore the same name.10 Like so many other beaterios, Copacabana was a place where girls could get an education. Among its eighteenthcentury entrants were not only limeñas but women from the northern Peruvian coast, including daughters of curacas and principales from Chiclayo, Lambayeque and elsewhere (Archivo Arzobispal de Lima [hereafter AAL], Beaterio de Copacabana, legajo 1 [1692–1829], expedientes dated 21 February 1770 and 6 December 1771). How did daughters of coastal curacas and other Lima-based Andeans experience Christian ‘Indianness’ and ‘decency’? What spiritual and material resources did they control, and how did their identities and affiliations change over time? Did purity of blood become an issue for those defending indigenous honour in Peru’s viceregal capital?11 An intriguing petition from March, 1770 suggests that by the late eighteenth century, claims to indigenous ‘decency’ might have as much to do with certain families’ supposedly ‘pure’ blood as with their wealth or their female members’ piety. Don Pedro Nolasco Farro, a lieutenant infantryman in Lima’s indigenous militia (Batallón de Naturales), was also a member in good standing of the Copacabana religious brotherhood. As such, he fully expected that his daughter would be admitted to the beaterio. He protested indignantly in 1770 when the Mother Superior of Copacabana denied his daughter entry unless he first paid the beaterio 500 pesos. He  Compare the work of Bilinkoff, 1989, who shows how the endowment of monastic institutions in sixteenth-century Avila, Spain, enabled a commercially successful ‘new’ elite to gain ground on an older, more established one. For more on Cuzco’s Inca elites and their cultivation of privilege, see Garrett (2005) and Amado Gonzales(2002). 10 In its close relationship to a particular religious brotherhood or sodality, Copacabana seems to have been different from Cuzco beaterios. Martín (1983, p. 295) calls Copacabana ‘the only Peruvian beaterio that received Indian and mestizo women exclusively’, a statement that clearly does not take into account the history of Cuzco’s beaterios. 11 Apparently, it did in the Mexican convent of Corpus Christi, founded in 1724 for pureblooded daughters of caciques (Gallagher, 1978, p. 153; Lavrin, 1999, pp. 242–5). Disputes also arose over admissions to the second Mexican convent for Indian women, Santa María Cosamaloapán in Valladolid (Michoacán), founded in 1734 (Lavrin, 1999, pp. 248, 250–52). A third Mexican convent was founded for Indian women between 1744 and 1774 in Oaxaca, and a fourth, La Enseñanza, in 1811 (Lavrin, 1999, pp. 252–4).

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had already sold a servant to build his daughter a cell (celda) inside the beaterio, and ‘from his house he sent her everything, even water’ (AAL, Beaterio de Copacabana, Legajo 1, 1692–1829, expediente dated 15 March 1770). The Mother Superior would do better, he insisted, to pay attention to what was truly amiss. The beaterio had been founded ‘solely for the daughters of Indian [confraternity] brothers, in such fashion that it was forbidden to give Habits to women of any other nation (otras de distinta nacion)’. Yet in his own time, Don Pedro Nolasco Farro claimed, Copacabana had come to be inhabited ‘primarily by chinas’ – women of impure, ignoble origins. This constituted an affront to his indigenous honour. His daughter’s entrance should be granted ‘for the honour of the [Indian] nation’ (‘por honor proprio de la nacion’).12 Had indigenous honour and ‘decency’ also become linked to blood purity in Cuzco? Whether or not the abbesses of the indigenous beaterios of Cuzco obeyed such logic remains to be investigated. To further clarify Andeans’ Christian investments and identities, comparative study of the two beaterios of Las Nazarenas – one in Cuzco, one in Lima, both seventeenth-century foundations – would also be useful. Neither was destined exclusively for indigenous women, but Cuzco’s did receive daughters of curacas (Burns, 1999, pp. 125–6). Both attempted to rise to the rank of monasterio in the eighteenth century. Only Lima’s Nazarenas succeeded (Martín, 1983, pp. 202–6). These two institutions’ ongoing histories raise many questions: Could indigenous women hold high office inside Nazarenas? Did these institutions become stable and prosperous enough to extend credit to the communities around them, as Cuzco’s convents did? We have yet to find out. Research is also needed on the beaterios established outside the city of Cuzco in places such as Quispicanchis, Yucay and Corporaque (Cahill, 1996, p. 81, n. 36). It appears that colonial beaterios for Andean women were not strictly an urban phenomenon. Nor were beaterios strictly a colonial phenomenon, any more than convents were. The old beaterio of Copacabana still operates today in the Rímac neighbourhood of downtown Lima as a Catholic school for girls.13 Clearly, we still have much to learn about indigenous Andeans’ Christianity, their sense of ‘nation’ and their quest for honour. The beaterios they founded in some cases left few archival traces. But at least one of Cuzco’s streets today is still associated with the name of an old indigenous beaterio: Mutkapuquio. To understand what was at stake for indigenous cuzqueños as they created an honourable, ‘decent’ place for themselves, we can follow Joan Wallach Scott’s lead, treating gender as a useful category of historical analysis (Scott, 1988). For there were heights of ‘decency’ that, it seems, could best be attained not through sons but through daughters, poor female orphans and other gendered subjects. 12 His reaction is comparable to that of three Mexican caciques in the 1730s, protesting the admission of Spaniards into the convent of Corpus Christi as a matter of noble indigenous honour (Lavrin, 1999, p. 247). 13 Rich sources on Copacabana are available in Lima’s well-organized Archivo Arzobispal, and span the late seventeenth century to the early twentieth century. The school of Copacabana may still hold portions of the institution’s archive; I tried to find out and gain access in the early 1980s, without success, but hope others may have more luck.

PART 3 Race Mixing

Chapter 8

Incest, Sexual Virtue and Social Mobility in Late Colonial Mexico Nora E. Jaffary

In early June of 1772, Mariano Cabrera, a creole Spaniard from the town of Cadereita, filed a petition with the court of the Archdiocese of Mexico in which he pleaded for dispensation from the incest bond that prohibited him from marrying Juana de Olvera, a distant cousin to whom he claimed relation of the third degree of consanguinity. Cabrera asserted that as a poor orphan, it would be difficult for Olvera to secure another match, and that in any case, marriage without dispensation would be difficult for both him and his intended under any circumstances ‘because we are related to everybody in this region’. In later testimony, both he and Olvera attested that, in their ‘misery and fragility’, they had engaged in carnal relations with one another. Four days after Cabrera filed his petition, Bernabé Loredo, a sculptor and distant relative of the couple, appeared before the local ecclesiastical judge, parish priest Mariano del Villar, ‘to unburden his conscience’. Loredo declared that he had discussed the proposed match at length with the labourers and herdsmen with whom he worked, and all had confirmed that it was ‘public and notorious’ that Olvera was the illegitimate daughter of Cabrera’s aunt. The couple were thus first cousins related to one another by the second degree of consanguinity rather than the third. After hearing the testimony of several witnesses, Mariano del Villar wrote Manuel Barrientos, Vicar General and acting Archbishop of Mexico, in support of the couple’s application and echoing all the arguments Cabrera had himself made. A few days later, Barrientos granted the couple a routine dispensation of the consanguinity impediment and allowed them to proceed with their marriage. As occured in Cabrera and Olvera’s trial, members of the laity in late colonial Mexico frequently sought to use legal mechanisms in order to prevent marriages deemed impossible – or inappropriate – by virtue of their violation of one of the impediments to marriage the Catholic Church had instituted between the eleventh  Degree was measured by calculating two parties’ distance from a common relative. All translations from Spanish to English are my own.  The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, Columbia University, New York City [hereafter CU], Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exp. 63.

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and sixteenth centuries. The Council of Trent (1545–63), whose regulations on marriage Mexican Ecclesiastical Councils had adopted in the late sixteenth century, decreed that dispensations for consanguineous marriages of the first degree should ‘be issued only on very rare occasions ... Nor are they to be dispensed with in the second degree ... ’ (López de Ayala, 1817, p. 307). Despite this dictum, in Cabrera and Olvera’s case as in 98 per cent of the other 213 similar applications for the dispensation of marriage impediments in the Archdiocese of Mexico reviewed here, dispensed with they were. My examination of this body of dispensation trials reveals three central findings: First, and most surprisingly, several factors indicate that members of the Archdiocese’s lay community, rather than diocesan officials, acted the most aggressively to uphold the Church’s canonical regulations on appropriate marital choices. The lay population appeared most vigilant about ensuring the maintenance of Church doctrine regarding marriage in the Spanish community, although parish priests were somewhat more active in attempting to enforce its absorption among Indian couples. Second, these cases suggest that even after two and a half centuries of Catholic social and spiritual proselytism, pre-Hispanic traditions relating to marital and sexual practices persisted amongst the indigenous population of central Mexico. Finally, this examination reveals that the atypical instances in which officers of the Archdiocese did intervene to enforce the practice of marital canon law on the lay population involved cases in which members of the Spanish community were engaging in behaviour that resembled customs more common amongst New Spain’s indigenous population. The examination of marriage dispensation cases affords us a unique perspective on the spiritual, gender and ethnic history of late colonial Mexico. Catholic marriage in colonial Latin America was at once a private bond between a man and a woman, a contract uniting families while simultaneously maintaining social distinctions within a racially and economically hierarchical culture, and an institution of both secular and sacred control. As Patricia Seed has shown, couples in Mexico participated in marital unions in order to express love and affection even to inequitable partners with the Church’s support, at least up to the late eighteenth century. Prompted in particular by its anxiety over increasing challenges to New Spain’s ethnic and  The cases represent all the trials I could locate for the years 1765, 1772 and 1776. Sixty-eight (those for 1772) are located in CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886. The remaining 146 (89 for 1765 and 56 for 1776) are in Mexico City, Archivo General de la Nación, México [hereafter AGNM], Bienes Nacionales, Diligencias Matrimoniales y Dispensas, Impedimentos, vols 706, 890. The cases originated from communities all around the Archdiocese, the most populated diocese in New Spain, extending in a broad band across southern central Mexico from Tampico in the northeast to Acapulco in the southwest. Approximately 10 per cent of the cases originated in Mexico City, but most were from smaller communities.  McCaa, 1994, and Kuznesof, 1995, discuss the persistence of pre-Hispanic marital and sexual practices in Latin America during the colonial era.  On the history of marriage in colonial Latin America, see Ripodas Ardanaz, 1977, Seed, 1988, and Twinam, 1999.

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economic status quo as the eighteenth century drew to a close, the state began more successfully intervening to prevent such matches (Seed, 1988). The institution of marriage also served as a mechanism in which the Catholic Church, with varying success, attempted to reinforce both traditional gender codes and contemporary sexual morality. Asunción Lavrin documented the discrepancies between the colonial population’s actual sexual practices, particularly regarding pre- and extra-marital sexual morality (Lavrin, 1989, pp. 47–95). But Richard Boyer, in his research into the prevalence of bigamy in colonial Mexico, demonstrated that Mexico’s popular classes, even those who transgressed Church doctrine regarding marital practice, ‘collaborated with the efforts of Church and state to impose a hegemonic model of comportment and ideology, [although] selectively, imperfectly, and mostly on [their] own terms’ (Boyer, 1995, p. 230). Marriage, as other researchers have uncovered, was also an institution by which the Church and state attempted to sacramentally induct the ethnically and spiritually diverse population of New Spain into Catholic doctrine and thus colonial control (Cline, 1993, pp. 472–7). The Mexican dispensation trials examined here allow us to observe the implications of all of these facets of marital unions and sexual relations in the late eighteenth century, but the evidence they contain is perhaps best suited to one particular set of concerns. Given the particular nature of these sources, they are most aptly used as a means of examining attitudes toward both sexual taboo and social mobility that the economically and ethnically diverse body of applicants expressed in both their legal testimonies and their extra-judicial actions. The analysis of these documents reveals the types of behaviour that both officers of the institutional Church and members of secular society were anxious to proscribe, as well as the kinds of practices which, although officially prohibited, were ubiquitously practiced. Petitioners in these cases requested dispensation from the impediments to marry articulated in the decrees of the Council of Trent. They directed their requests to the Tribunal de Justicia Metropolitano, a court overseen by the Archbishop of Mexico but most often administered by his appointed Vicar General. Trent’s marriage law regulations were designed to protect individuals’ rights to exercise their own free will in making marriage selections and to ensure applicants’ qualifications to marry selected parties through prohibitions on incest and bigamy. Although desirous of preventing marriages between people related by affinity (kinship through marriage), and those whose ‘public honesty’ was in doubt because of their prior public engagement to a close relative of the intended spouse, Trent was most strict in its prohibition on marriage of parties linked by consanguinity.

 Other scholars’ research, including Socolow, 1992, and Chandler, 1986, corroborated Seed’s findings. Saether, 2003, has recently questioned the validity of the concentration on race as a central tension in late colonial marriage conflicts, particularly those involving the Real Pragmática of 1776 (1778).  For further discussion of non-Spanish and plebeian attitudes towards practices the colonial Church and state endorsed, see Cope, 1994, and Johnson and Lipsett-Rivera, 1998.

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Table 8.1. Type of Dispensation Application, 1765–1776 Dispensation Type 1st Degree Affinity 2nd Degree Affinity 3rd Degree Affinity 4th Degree Affinity Affinity Total

1765

1772

1776

Total



1

18

19

23

10

23

56

2

3



5

3

2



5

28

16

41

85

1st Degree Consanguinity

4





4

2nd Degree Consanguinity

7

7

13

27

22

19

2

43

19

12



31

52

38

15

105

3rd Degree Consanguinity 4th Degree Consanguinity Consanguinity Total Banns Spiritual Kinship Public Honesty

3

11



14

1

1



2

1

1



2

Pre-marital Sex



1



2

Chastity Vow

1





1

Adultery



1



1

?

3





3

89

69

56

214

Total

Sources: CU, “Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886”; AGNM, Bienes Nacionales, Diligencias Matrimoniales y Dispensas, Impedimentos, vols. 706, 890.

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Consanguinity and affinity incest applications constituted the overwhelming majority of dispensation applications in the Mexican Archdiocese in this period. As illustrated in Table 8.1, just under 50 per cent of the cases involved applications for dispensations of consanguineous incest. Third-degree consanguinity ties were the most common, but both second- and fourth-degree links were quite frequent. A further 40 per cent of the late eighteenth-century applications involved affinity incest cases where the kinship bonds were often much closer; the most frequent affinity applications involved people related in the first and second degrees. The third largest set of cases involved requests for the dispensation of marital banns, but these represented less than 10 per cent (14 cases) of the total. In addition, people applied for a scattering of other types of dispensation (public honesty, adultery or vows of chastity) in this period. One notable pattern discernible in this data, as illustrated in Table 8.2, is that members of distinctive ethnic groups exhibited the tendency to launch different categories of applications. Spanish couples (who were almost exclusively criollos, Spaniards born in the New World) predominated consanguinity impediment applications. Nearly 60 per cent of Spanish petitioners applied for dispensation of consanguinity impediments, whereas only 25 per cent dealt with affinity ties. Amongst Indian applicants, the inverse relation applied. Over 63 per cent of the Indian cases involved affinity impediments, while about half that amount, 33 per cent, were for consanguineous incest. Almost all the cases of applications to dispense the banns of marriage involved Spanish couples only. Spaniards’ proclivity for desiring to marry their cousins and other relatives was likely an extreme manifestation of their pronounced pattern of endogamous marriage in colonial society, undertaken in the interest of creating and transmitting wealth and status within the Hispanic community (Cope, 1994, p. 25; Martinez-Alier, 1989). Spaniards explicitly articulated the forces motivating them to apply for consanguinity dispensations in the trial transcripts. The most common argument these applicants used to legitimate their dispensation applications was the canonical justification of exigüidad del lugar, or smallness of the place. Don Joseph Antonio Barrango’s 1772 consanguinity application from Huexutla (a town located in the contemporary state of Hidalgo, which at the close of the eighteenth century had two thousand Indian tributaries, just under 700 Spaniards, 180 mestizos and around 460 mulattos and blacks), exemplifies this type of justification (Gerhard, 1993, p. 145). In Barrango’s case, Huexutla’s parish priest recommended to the Vicar General that Barrango be granted dispensation to marry his third cousin because, as Barrango had expressed,  All but one of the 14 banns applications involved cases where both parties were Spanish. In the exceptional instance, the prospective bride was mulata, and the groom wished to seek a secret marriage to pre-empt his family’s likely attempted prevention of the union. The court’s granting of the right to a secret marriage in this case and in several others in which although both parties were Spanish, a social status difference existed between them, suggests that the Church continued to support individuals’ rights to determine marriage choice even in this late period more frequently than Seed, 1988, pp. 180–86 indicated was the case after the 1740s.

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Table 8.2. Dispensation Type by Ethnicity Dispensation Type Consanguinity Affinity Banns Other Total

SpanishSpanish

Indian- CastaIndian Casta

SpanishCasta

IndianTotal Casta

52 22 12 3

16 31 – 2

18 11 – 2

6 3 1 –

3 3 – –

95 70 13 7

89

49

31

10

6

185

Sources: CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886; AGNM, Bienes Nacionales, Diligencias Matrimoniales y Dispensas, Impedimentos, vols. 706; 890. Notes: The ethnicities of at least one party were indeterminable in 29 cases.

‘the cortedad (smallness) of such towns makes it difficult for those of sangre limpia (clean blood) to marry equally’ (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, exp. 631). In many other trials, both the prospective groom and bride asserted that ‘the smallness of the place’ meant that ‘there was not another person in the area of equal quality’ (and in particular of clean blood) whom it might be possible to marry. Mexican couples’ ‘cortedad del lugar’ defence for consanguineous incest may have been novel in their references to the racial connotations that limpieza de sangre carried in colonial Latin America, but the argument had a much older history. Couples had used the argument in Europe for centuries in order to overcome impediments to marriage, although it was a defence that female applicants had traditionally used most often, presumably because of their characteristic immobility in comparison to men. They argued that because they lived in small places they could not meet suitable marriage candidates of equal economic status other than relatives. Without such dispensation, the options available to women from small communities were to remain single, migrate from their home communities or contract marriage with people of inferior status (Knecht, 1932, p. 191). Criollo couples in Mexico used a number of other arguments with great success in their consanguinity applications. Discussion of the incidence of pre-marital sexual activity served as one of the most convincing strategies for making this argument. Applicants often successfully maintained that they should be granted dispensation to marry a relative with whom ‘out of fragility and baseness’ they had already committed carnal excesses. In such cases, the Vicar General’s primary concern lay in ascertaining that the couples had not merely engaged in sexual activities in order to manipulate the court into granting dispensation; as long as the couple’s motives had been purely

 This occurs, for example in CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exps. 632, 635, 636, 650, 750 and 751.

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lewd, mercy might be extended to them.10 Spaniards also pleaded that dispensation was necessary in order that they might marry and legitimate children who had been born out of wedlock. Several grooms also contested that the Church should grant dispensation for proposed marriages because unless permitted to proceed with these uncanonical marriages, the poverty, sullied reputations and advancing age of their prospective brides would prohibit them from ever securing more disable matches.11 The court was, for the most part, sympathetic to these arguments, in all probability because they were also rooted in canon law (Knecht, 1932, pp. 191–6). Although Spaniards constituted the majority of applicants for consanguinity incest dispensations, Indians and mixed-race couples also made bids for such dispensations using these same arguments. In May of 1772, Rafael de el Balle, an Indian resident of the town of Yxtapalapa, initiated an application to marry María Anna Ybarra, also Indian, to whom he was related by the fourth degree of consanguinity. Balle opened his petition by requesting the Vicar General ‘deign to dispense me from [this impediment] in consideration of the notable reduction and cortedad of this place’ (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, exp. 635). In the course of his trial, other witnesses supported this claim, but also asserted an additional justification. Miguel Pablo, Indio Governador of Yxtapalapa, explained that if these two did not marry, it would be spoken about a great deal, and some other hidden reason would be attributed to the fact that they were prevented from marrying ... this would end in the dishonour of one or both of the contractors because ... all, or at least the majority of the residents of this town married with dispensation. (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, exp. 635)

Two other witnesses substantiated this view, including Nicolas Juan, who asserted that if the impediment was not dispensed with, ‘it could damage the credit of the engaged couple’ (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, exp. 635). According to these witnesses, then, the Indian population of Yxtapalapa ubiquitously engaged in consanguineous incest and used arguments similar to Spaniards in order to ensure their betrothals’ fruition.12 In this and in several of the Spanish requests for dispensation of marriage banns, couples connected their need to secure particular marriages to claims regarding financial and social credit in their communities. Other cases present a different portrait of Indians’ attitudes from those that Spaniards displayed in their consanguinity applications. Sebastián Fabián de Luna 10 Seed, 1985, p. 285 found that couples in sixteenth-century Mexico used the existence of already established sexual unions as a way of forcing their families into accepting undesirable marriages. 11 Such arguments were made in CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exps. 628, 631, 633, 634, 635, 636, 640, 641, 642, 644 and 650. 12 McCaa, 1984, and Rabell Romero, 1992, both found that Indians tended to be slightly less endogamous than Spaniards in colonial Mexico, and that mestizos were the least exogamous group. Love, 1971, discovered that African couples had about a 50 per cent exogamy rate.

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appeared before the parish curate of San Pablo in Mexico City in 1772 to plea for dispensation to marry his first cousin, Marcelina Antonia de Luna. He began by confessing that ‘seven years ago, overwhelmed by my fragility, I violated her virginity, without any violence, and without having given her my word of marriage’. This description of Marcelina’s unforced surrender of her virginity is not found among cases of Spanish applicants who stressed the sexual honour of their prospective brides, or – where applicable – their honourable (if unsuccessful) resistance to engaging in sexual sin. Shortly after they had initiated their relationship, Sebastián continued, ‘another married Indian took her away and had her in his power for eight days’. Rather than diminishing Marcelina’s appeal, however, her abduction seems to have heightened Marcelina’s attractiveness to Sebastián, who succeeded in liberating her eight days later. Shortly thereafter, they exchanged vows of marriage, although several years and the births of three children intervened before Sebastián formally initiated his application to the court (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exp. 654). Other cases also suggest the existence of a more lenient attitude in non-Spanish communities towards women’s participation in pre- and extra-marital sexual activity. In one application, Juan Antonio Sánchez, an Indian from San Juan Bautista Sichú de Indios (a small community in the northeast corner of the present state of Guanajuato) applied for dispensation from the second-degree affinity impediment he shared with María Josefa since she had previously had sexual relations with his first cousin. Again in contrast to Spanish applicants’ attitudes to allegations of women’s pre- or extra-marital sexual activities, Juan Antonio attached no hint of shame when describing María’s behaviour. Without elaborating, he simply stated to the court that after the time he and María Josefa had exchanged promises to marry, she had ‘had an illicit relationship with Antonio Simón, the cousin of the declarant’. He also attested that although he had been aware of the affair, this knowledge had not deterred his desire to continue pursuing María Josefa in order to make her his wife. Whatever their practices may have been, these cases reveal that when they appeared before the ecclesiastical court, Spaniards felt obliged to preserve the discourse of orthodox sexual morality, while members of Indian communities openly attested to their adoption of alternative standards of sexual propriety. As demonstrated in Table 8.2, although Indians were sometimes implicated in consanguinity applications, affinity incest was much more common in their impediment applications. Most often, these took the form of incest provoked by ‘copula ilicita’, where one member of the couple had had a previous sexual encounter with a relative of the other. Occasionally, affinity petitions involved widows or widowers who desired to contract marriage to a party who was kin to their deceased spouses. The high proportion of Indian-Indian applicants in these affinity dispensation applications may represent the persistence of pre-Hispanic sexual practices in the late colonial period. Several writers have also demonstrated that in pre-Hispanic central Mexico, the Nahuas practiced polygyny and divorce, and that, unlike in Iberia, they encouraged, rather than prohibited, affinity ties (Kuznesof, 1992; Calvo, 1991; McCaa, 1994). In his examination of Aztec Texcoco, Gerome

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Offner writes that while the Aztecs had discouraged consanguinity incest, they had observed the levirate, a practice which dictated that on the death of a man, one of his brothers would take his wife or wives even if she (or they) had had a child by the deceased (Offner, 1983, p. 173).13 Besides containing information about applicants’ attitudes toward sexual morality, these dispensa cases also allow us to observe both attitudes of the institutional Church and the wider lay community’s perspectives on sexual and social practices. One of the remarkable features of this body of trials is the infrequency with which the Archbishopric denied petitions for dispensation. Out of the total 214 cases, the court rejected only four petitions, routinely granting with minimal investigation – or justification – dispensation applications, including those of couples related by close degrees of consanguinity and affinity. We would expect the onus of upholding the Church’s regulations on marital practice to fall to ecclesiastical officials who, through preaching, the sacrament of confession and punishments distributed through the court of the Holy Office, purveyed Catholic doctrine on orthodoxy sexuality and marital practice (Lavrin, 1989, pp. 7–11). Intriguingly, however, the rarity of the court’s rejections of these applications suggests that Archdiocesan officials (if not local parish priests who sometimes did initiate dispensation proceedings, particularly in the case of indigenous parishioners) were not overly concerned in the late colonial period with the population’s contraventions of marital law.14 Instead, members of the wider body of secular society who either initiated these applications themselves or denounced the transgressive behaviour of members of their communities to the court seem to have been more preoccupied with policing the maintenance of marriage law.15 Prospective grooms most often initiated dispensation cases. Grooms instigated the vast majority of the cases in 1772 (68 per cent) when they revealed the existence of an impediment to their local parish priests when they first announced their

13 Marcus, 2001, p. 331 writes that while consanguineous incest taboos may have existed for the mass of the population in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, as in Europe, it was certainly practiced among the nobility. 14 Parish priests initiated several cases for Indian applicants who were cohabiting with affinal or consanguineous kin. 15 It is also possible that the Archbishopric’s seeming leniency in granting dispensations to almost all applicants can be explained as a reflection not of its disinterest in maintaining matrimonial canon law, but with its greater priority of having secured the power to make such dispensations at all. Ripodas Ardanaz, 1977, pp. 185–91 describes how Spanish-American bishops had been frustrated in the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries with the papacy’s reluctance to allow them to process such applications. The issue was resolved by a general dispensation in 1770 when Clemente XIV extended the power to grant dispensations to bishops and archbishops in Spain’s overseas possessions for a period of 20 years.

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intention to marry.16 Clerics initiated applications in a small minority of cases.17 More frequently, in about one quarter of the 1772 cases, third parties denounced the prospective couple to the court either by secret denunciation, upon having heard the banns of marriage read, or else when called upon to act as legal witnesses to marital proceedings.18 In several of these cases, third parties denounced Indian couples to the court for engaging in third or fourth degree consanguinity or affinity incest. They initiated such cases even though the church did not define such practices among Indians as incestuous. In the first decades after their arrival in the New World, Spanish ecclesiastics and secular administrators noted that some members of indigenous populations in various parts of the Americas married siblings or half-siblings and that others frequently formed second unions with parental in-laws. Confronted with the ubiquity of such practices, the crown pressured the papacy to adopt greater toleration for these customs. In one of the first manifestations of the changes to canon law that Europe’s encounter with the Americas provoked, Pope Paul III issued a bull – the Altitudo of 1 June 1537 – which restricted the prohibition of the definition of both consanguineous and affinal incest in indigenous unions to the first and second degrees only (Ripodas Ardanaz, 1977, p. 171). In third-party denunciation cases – including the aforementioned Indian trials – denouncers’ motivations were often rooted in concerns other than the upholding of orthodox standards of sexual or social propriety. In several cases, denouncers who were evidently jilted lovers or resentful illegitimate siblings used the court as a venue in which to satisfy personal vendettas against one or other of the betrothed parties.19 In other cases, it seems likely that reluctant grooms encouraged secret denunciations of impediments to marriage by their friends or family members.20 But many times, no motive for the denunciation is revealed in the trial documentation other than denouncers’ articulated concern to ‘soothe their consciences’ and comply with the Church’s marital legislation in acknowledging that impediments existed between two betrothed parties. Members of the public, then, had various reasons for calling the Archbishop’s attention to couples’ violations of canon law. But the high rate of success of dispensation applications suggests that officials of the ecclesiastical court were not, for the most part, disturbed by such violations. The court’s routine granting of dispensations renders the four occasions (one in 1772 and three in 1776) upon which 16 Grooms initiated applications in 44 of the 65 1772 trials for which the initiator is clearly indicated. 17 Priests initiated petitions in 8 per cent (5) of the 1772 cases, although they may well have played an unacknowledged role in encouraging men to initiate their applications ‘of their free and spontaneous will’. 18 Third parties denounced the matrimonial couple for impediments to marry in 16 of the 1772 cases. 19 Such was the case in CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exps. 643, 645, 646. 20 This occurred in CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exps. 629, 630.

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they were not granted dramatic illustrations of the types of practices which the court did deem to have gravely violated sexual or social propriety. Three of the denied cases involved affinity applications, and the fourth case was an application for dispensation of the second degree of consanguinity. In the latter trial, the complicating factor that may explain the court’s rejection of the application was that the prospective groom was a soldier. María Theresa de Mata, a mestiza, and mother of the prospective bride, initiated the application. Her atypical instigation of the petition is a likely indicator of the reluctance of the prospective groom, Miguel Raphael de Mata (also mestizo), to pursue the marriage. María testified that Miguel, her brother-in-law, had seduced and impregnated her daughter, Juana Gervancia, after giving her his word of marriage (palabra de casamiento). María had consulted with her cura, and they had decided that pursuing a dispensation application to allow the marriage to occur was the proper course of action. Juana later told the court that her uncle, a soldier in the company of Joseph Francisco Cavallero, Captain of the cavalry of the Milicias Provinciales de San Carlos, had rescinded his palabra because he could not obtain permission from his commander to marry her, did not possess sufficient financial resources for the wedding and feared her parents. After hearing Juana and Miguel’s evidence and listening to testimonies of several other witnesses, the court not only refused to grant the dispensation from the consanguinity impediment, but commanded Miguel to pay Juana 25 pesos, sentenced him to six month’s imprisonment and, most unusually, to 100 lashes which he would receive at the door of his parish Church, administered over the course of the subsequent four Sundays (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, exp. 657). In their testimonies, neither Juana nor Miguel expressed particular remorse over having engaged in incest. And although the investigating juez ecclesiástico in San Juan Baptista de Sichú de Indios asked both of them ‘if they did not know the gravity of the sin of incest that they had committed’, given the Church’s propensity to grant dispensation in other similar cases, it seems unlikely that concern over incest itself lay at the root of the court’s decision to deny the application.21 Neither is it likely that the court was concerned with the implied force Miguel used in convincing his niece to submit to him sexually. In the same year as this trial, the Archbishop’s office granted impediment dispensations in three other cases in which parties testified grooms had ‘seduced’ or ‘violated’ their prospective brides.22 The court’s refusal was most likely grounded in its desire to punish Miguel, a soldier, for renouncing his palabra de casamiento. The unusually harsh sentence Miguel received, rather than a reflection of the court’s concern with particular aspects of sexual morality, may best be explained as the manifestation of a late colonial shift 21 Martinez-Alier, 1989, p. 90 in her research in nineteenth-century Cuba, found that uncle-niece marriages were such a common occurrence in dispensation cases that the reasons justifying the making of these matches did not even appear in their dispensation applications. 22 CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exp. 629, 631, 634. For further discussion of the Church’s attitude to rape, see Casteñada, 1989.

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in the state’s attitude to soldiers’ marital vows. The Spanish Crown had decreed in 1632, 1701, 1728 and 1741 that all members of the Spanish army, including enlisted men, required royal permission to marry (Miller, 1990, p. 62). During this period, soldiers frequently used this legislation as justification for avoiding undesired marriages. However, in 1774, the crown overturned these earlier rulings with legislation directed to the Vicar General stating that in palabra de casamiento suits, ‘he was obligated to make the soldier comply with his promise, and was to advise the military authority that the male applicant, now married, would have to leave forever his position in the military’ (Margadant, 1991, p. 29). Although Miguel and Juana’s case pre-dated the new legislation by two years, it is likely that the imperative for its support already existed and would explain the reasons for the ecclesiastical court’s harsher view of Miguel’s behaviour. The reasons for the court’s refusal to grant the three other dispensation applications – all of them involving affinity incest and all occurring in 1776 – is less clear. One case involved an application for dispensation of second-degree affinity between two mestizos. Joachín Díaz had been having an illicit friendship with Michaela Getrudis de Aranda, who was the widow of his first cousin. The court flatly denied the application, in this unusually short (two folio) case, merely indicating that ‘there is no cause for the dispensation that they demand’ (AGNM, Bienes Nacionales, vol. 890, exp. 113). The reason for the Archbishop’s negation of the applications in the remaining two cases is equally ambiguous. They both involved Spanish couples, one from Coyoacán and the other from Toluca (AGNM, Bienes Nacionales, vol. 890, exps. 98, 116). In the first trial, one Miguel Reynal appealed to the court for permission to marry Josefa de Ybarra, the sister of his recently deceased wife. Miguel explained that the two, while living in the same house, and ‘tempted by the devil and directed by their miserable natures’, had become sexually involved after the death of Miguel’s wife. Josefa had become pregnant, and Miguel pleaded that he should be granted dispensation to save her honour and legitimate their child. As in the previous case, the Archbishop’s representative merely concluded, without further explanation, that no canonical justification existed to grant the dispensation. Given that so many of the details in this case are consistent with those in which the court was normally persuaded to extend dispensation, its denial of the application is particularly perplexing. The final affinity case which the court denied was similar. In it, Ramón Bernal pleaded that the court grant him dispensation to marry María Ygnacia Jiménez ‘to secure the spiritual good of our souls’. Ramón testified that upon receiving his promise of marriage, María had become sexually intimate with him. He realized, however, that their marriage was impossible because of the affinity ties they shared because five years earlier he had engaged in sexual relations with her first cousin. Once again, the Archbishopric’s office abruptly ruled that ‘there is no reason to grant dispensation’ and directed the local parish priest to prohibit any further contact between Ramón and María (AGNM, Bienes Nacionales, vol. 890, exp. 116). It is possible that the inconsistencies of the rulings in these three cases reflect no more than the random acts of a (particularly bad-tempered?) bureaucrat in the

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ecclesiastical administration, or perhaps they were a calculated public demonstration of the Church’s ability to prevent marital unions if it chose to do so. However, another more substantial explanation is possible. Perhaps it is significant that applications for dispensation of these three affinity impediments, although launched by Spaniards (or in one case, a mestizo), were more typical of members of Indian rather than Spanish communities. In the same year as these three applications were denied, more than twice as many Indian couples applied for dispensation of affinity ties as did Spanish couples. Perhaps the underlying reason for the court’s refusal to grant the affinity applications of Spanish and mestizo couples is that the Church was attempting to curtail public demonstration of non-Indians behaving in what was more commonly an ‘Indian’ sexual and social practice. In several cases involving indigenous applicants, parish priests or Archdiocesan officials noted that Indians should be granted leniency because they were ‘poor, wretched and uncultured’.23 Dispensation applications document a number of remarkable features of marital practice and sexual morality in the Archdiocese of Mexico in the late eighteenth century. Both the high rates of affinity incest cases and more specific testimony about attitudes towards women’s pre- and extra-marital sexual activity found in the cases suggest the persistence of pre-Hispanic indigenous custom late into the colonial period. The high rates of lay participation, particularly among the Spanish population, in the initiation of dispensation applications, and their nearly 100 per cent success rate imply that in this context, the upholding of marital canon law had become a matter more vigilantly regulated by the laity rather than the clergy. Applications’ tremendously high success rates may also reflect the institutional Church’s belief that as long as due process was followed, it was more important to preserve the sanctity of marriage in the potentially unstable social atmosphere of the colonial setting than to rigidly apply Trent’s regulations on acceptable and unacceptable martial unions. Those rare occasions when the Archdiocese did elect to deny Spanish applications for dispensation of a marital practice which Indians more typically engaged in may have been an admission of the court’s anxiety that rather than succeeding in indoctrinating Indians in Spanish sexual morality and Catholic marital custom, the colonization of ideas was, in fact, subtly happening in the reverse direction.

23 CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, 1649–1886, exp. 645, fol. 4v. In another case involving casta applicants, the court referred to the ‘ignorance and inferior calidad’ of the applicants (CU, Mexico Historical Manuscripts, exp. 634, fol. 2v).

Chapter 9

‘An Empire Founded on Libertinage’: the Mulâtresse and Colonial Anxiety in Saint Domingue Yvonne Fabella

By the 1770’s, Saint Domingue (modern Haiti) had become France’s most important New World colony, leading the world in both sugar and coffee production (Geggus, 1996, p. 259). The colony experienced tremendous population growth as French migrants pursued dreams of tropical wealth, and enslaved Africans were imported in record numbers to work the plantations. But such rapid growth prompted concerns from some colonists about the type of society being established in Saint Domingue. In the decades before the outbreak of the massive slave revolt of 1791 they feared, in particular, that the colony’s dangerously fluid categories of identity had resulted in an ambiguous social hierarchy in which colour did not correspond with economic status: free descendents of slaves were socially mobile, and they were said to flaunt their wealth before whites in the colony’s towns. Just as worrisome, a colour barrier did not prevent the development of romantic, or at least sexual, relationships between whites and non-whites, as the increasing number of ‘mixed-blood’ residents demonstrated. Some colonial whites argued that such a ‘confusion of rank’ not only impeded civic virtue but also threatened to undermine the colonial social order by challenging the premise of white superiority: in order for the slave system to work, blackness had to be degraded. Reforming colonial society therefore required a clarification of the colour ‘ranks’. Colonists’ anxieties over the colour hierarchy were also inextricably linked to anxieties over gender. As a result, the image of the mulâtresse, a free ‘mixed’ woman, crystallized fears over the loss of white creole legal, economic and social power. The image also worked to consolidate categories of identity that were otherwise unstable and fluid. Portrayed as a lascivious, irresistible predator who destroyed both domestic harmony and civic responsibility, the mulâtresse served as a convenient foil for the  I am grateful to Aisha Khan, Ned Landsman, Gene Lebovics, Steve Patnode, Nancy Tomes, Kathleen Wilson, the members of the Columbia University Early American Seminar and the members of the Stony Brook History Department Dissertation Group for their thoughtful and helpful suggestions

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construction of a virtuous, white creole identity. By examining the place of the mulâtresse in a widely circulated proposal for colonial reform, Considerations on the Present State of the French Colony of Saint Domingue, by Michel René Hilliard d’Auberteuil, this chapter will suggest ways in which discourses of race, gender and class intersected to construct colonial power relations in the French Caribbean. Hilliard and other colonists translated metropolitan climatic theory, gender discourse and debates over consumption to the Caribbean context in an effort to reconstruct the social hierarchy. In the Americas, and particularly in Saint Domingue, the category that produced the most anxiety was that of the free people of colour, known in the French colonies as the gens de couleur. This category included former slaves as well as free descendents of slaves. Throughout the eighteenth century, this population grew steadily in both size and wealth, due in part to a particular tradition of manumission. According to the 1685 French slave code, or Code Noir, slaveowners could marry their enslaved mistresses, thereby freeing them and their children. Certainly not every slave concubine gained her freedom, much less married her owner. In fact, white fathers were more likely to free their own ‘mixed’ children, especially the boys (Gautier, 1985, p. 172). Some of these children inherited land and slaves from their fathers, becoming wealthy coffee and indigo planters; their daughters were then considered desirable marriage partners for middling white immigrants to the colony (Garrigus, 1993). Other white fathers contracted apprenticeships for their sons. Of course, many more gens de couleur were manumitted for other reasons and therefore did not have such support, yet they achieved social mobility or at least subsisted through their own means as small landholders, retailers, craftsmen, domestics and soldiers. Still others scratched out a living as peasants (King, 2001, pp. 52–158; Rogers, 1999, pp. 80–226). By the 1770’s, white colonists and administrators were alarmed by the rapid growth of the gens de couleur population as well as their upward mobility. According to the census, gens de couleur comprised 22 per cent of the colony’s free population in 1775, and almost half – 44 percent – in 1788 (King, 2001, p. 45). Furthermore, planters of colour were said to have comprised one-third of the colony’s total planters. Fearing that the growth of this population would undermine the slave regime on which the colony depended, the Ministry of the Navy (the Ministry which governed the colonies) and local colonial councils issued a series of decrees to impede the social mobility of the gens de couleur, including prohibitions against entering certain professions, serving as militia officers, taking the surnames of white  The term ‘creole’ is used as it was in Saint Domingue, to indicate any person born in the New World.  Considérations sur l’Etat Présent de la Colonie Française de Saint-Domingue.  Arlette Gautier suggests an upward estimate of 10 per cent (Gautier, 1985, 177).  The Abbé de Cournand estimated the fraction of planters who were gens de couleur in his ‘Requete présentée à nosseigneurs de l’assemblée nationale, en faveur des gens de couleur’, [S.l.n.d.], pp. 1,4. Cited in Garrigus, 1993, 233n.

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families, visiting France and wearing fine fabrics. Public spaces including theatres, dance halls and churches became legally segregated as well (Garrigus, 1996a, p. 26). Colonial authorities, anxious over the apparent instability of Saint Domingue’s colour hierarchy, attempted to cement that hierarchy through such legislation. The white, French-born colonist Hilliard d’Auberteuil expressed similar anxieties in his controversial yet widely read Considerations. Published in 1776– 77, Considerations combined ethnographic description with scathing criticism of colonial administrators, laws and people. In it, Hilliard lashed out against mercantilist trade policies, a ‘tyrannical’ military government and white creole colonists who valued gluttonous consumption more than social stability. Still, officials at the Ministry of the Navy initially approved the work for publication because they thought it would provoke a fruitful public debate in the colony (Ogle, 2003, p. 45; Hilliard d’Auberteuil, 1776, vol. 1, pp. xii–iii). Although we cannot know how many people actually bought or read the work, we do know that when bookstores began selling it in Saint Domingue in 1777, local officials were alarmed by its popularity as well as its criticism. Dismayed by the Ministry’s approval and fearful of the book’s impact in the colony, Saint Domingue’s Intendant complained that the book was ‘flying from one set of hands to another. It excites the indignation of all educated and sensible readers, but how many are neither the one nor the other!’ (Ogle, 2003, p. 38). The Intendant’s complaints were heeded, and in December 1777 Considerations was suppressed. Hilliard, a lawyer, probably intended for the book to launch his legal career in the colonies. In 1775 he had travelled to France in order to seek Ministerial approval for the publication of Considerations as well as a position in the colonial courts. The work’s approval and publication in 1776 did not immediately produce a job offer for Hilliard, but the ban of Considerations did not ruin his career either. In 1779 he requested and was granted the post of royal prosecutor (procureur du roi) in Grenada after turning down the same position in Martinique, which he considered less prestigious (Ogle, 2003, pp. 37, 39). Thus, although Considerations caused Saint Domingue’s administrators to dislike and mistrust Hilliard, the Ministry of the Navy still appreciated Hilliard’s criticisms enough to hire him. Although Considerations caused a scandal, many of Hilliard’s arguments were not novel. Considerations shared similar themes with other prominent colonial works, particularly those of creole magistrates Emilien Petit and M.L.E. Moreau de Saint-Méry, both of Saint Domingue. Collectively, these authors criticized metropolitan ignorance of colonial life, arguing instead for the superiority of creole ‘local knowledge’ to justify greater local judicial control (Ghachem, 1999, p. 189). Moreau and Hilliard furthered the argument by distinguishing white creoles from metropolitan French and from non-whites in the colony. In their works, white  Hilliard was later fired for slandering colonial authorities and mocking Catholicism (Ogle, 2003, p. 39).  Petit’s arguments appeared in Droit public, ou Gouvernement des colonies françaises (1771), and Moreau’s in a six-volume compendium of colonial law, Loix et Constitutions des

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creoles were flawed yet potentially responsible citizens with unique, positive traits. Likewise, Moreau’s and Hilliard’s negative portrayals of the colony’s non-whites enhanced the image of white creoles by contrast. In particular, the figure of the mulâtresse helped clarify those distinctions. The Mulâtresse as Image and Agent Although colonial whites feared the growth and success of the gens de couleur as a group, their anxiety tended to focus on free women of colour, creating a new stock character popular in creole writing: the mulâtresse. Similar to the mulata of the Spanish and British Americas, the mulâtresse was depicted as the offspring of black (often enslaved) mothers and white fathers. Alleged to be an exotic, beautiful seductress, she easily preyed on the fortunes of white men, who found her irresistible. In all, the image of the mulâtresse conveyed a sense of danger to the colony’s social hierarchy and hence, to the stability of the slave regime. Moreau described these women as ‘priestesses of Venus’, born to deliver and partake in sexual ecstasy: ‘The entire being of a mulâtresse is given over to voluptuous pleasure, and the fire of this Deity burns in her heart, not to be extinguished except with her life’ (Moreau, 1958, vol. 1, p. 104). In addition to her inherent lasciviousness, the mulâtresse was also commonly described as an ‘insatiable’ consumer of fine clothing and jewelry. In fact, Moreau claimed that many such women could change their clothing every day for an entire year (Moreau, 1958, vol. 1, p. 105). Thus, the mulâtresse had a voracious appetite for both sex and finery. Further, the mulâtresse allegedly posed a threat to stable, virtuous (white) households in the colony, since social stigma prevented many white men from marrying free women of colour but not from taking them as mistresses. Moreau claimed that ‘[white creole women] want husbands, and [mulâtresses] seek to prevent that from happening’, suggesting that mulatto women preferred to be the courtesans of white men rather than marry men of colour, who allegedly abused them (Moreau, 1958, vol. 1, pp. 107–8). In Moreau’s eyes, the mulâtresse was destined for prostitution and adultery. Her ‘nature’ compelled her to a life in which she devoured valuable clothing, jewels and men with equal abandon. Laurette Ravinet, a white creole woman, reinforced this image of the mulâtresse in her memoirs. Recalling the Saint Domingue of her childhood, Ravinet described the competition felt by white women whose fashion sense and marriages were challenged by women of colour: ... [White] creole ladies, humiliated as wives by the luxury and indecency of the mulâtresses, [who are] public women, wanted a distinguishing mark that would place them on another level than these courtesans. An ordinance was passed in Cap that prevented this greedy

Colonies Françaises (1784), and Déscription Topographique, Physique, Civile, Politique et Historique de la Partie Française de l’Isle Saint Domingue (1797).

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class from wearing shoes. So [instead] they wore sandals, with diamonds on the toes of their feet. (Ravinet, 1844, p. 24)

Almost 50 years after having fled Saint Domingue, Ravinet still clearly resented the mulatto women who dared to defy white superiority. Hilliard described the mulâtresse in a similar fashion, as women who possessed ‘well-made’ bodies and naturally moved in a ‘voluptuous’ manner. Further, Hilliard noted their tendency to adorn themselves in fashionable, flattering ‘finery’. In Hilliard’s eyes, the mulâtresse was a powerful, dangerous figure: ‘Mulâtresses are in general much less docile than mulattoes, because they have claimed for themselves, over most of the Whites [men], an empire founded on libertinage’ (p. 77). Why were free women of colour, particularly ‘mixed’ women, consistently characterized in such a way? In part, the mulâtresse image resulted from the seemingly transgressive position of free women of colour. While the social mobility of free men of colour challenged white creole attempts to establish white supremacy, free women of colour contested racial and gender hierarchy. Unlike white and enslaved women, free women of colour were assertive and independent economic actors, particularly in urban areas, where they commonly worked as retailers and domestics. In the daily life of the towns, these women could be found selling vegetables, cooking oil, fish, fabric and furniture on the street, from makeshift market stalls, and from established boutiques. As humble peddlers and prestigious merchants, these women engineered business partnerships, borrowed money and rented their shops, notarizing each transaction (King, 2001, p. 189; Rogers 1999, pp. 192–4; Socolow, 1996, pp. 281– 2). Women of colour also worked as servants, cooks and housekeepers (ménagères), a category that often included the concubines of employers. These domestics would sometimes work for a wage, but their greater payoff came at the end of their service when employers granted them larger sums in order to buy property (Rogers, 1999, p. 179). Free women of colour also defied gender expectations by buying, selling, leasing and renting property on their own far more frequently than white women, and as frequently as free men of colour (Garrigus, 1996b, p. 39; King, 2001, p. 188). Some free women of colour owned and cultivated garden plots in rural areas, selling the produce at local markets. Others proved to be shrewd investors by purchasing property, making improvements on it, and then reselling it for a profit. Still others rented out urban and rural property, demanding that the renters not only pay an annual fee but also make specific improvements on the property (Socolow, 1996, pp. 282–4). Free women of colour also bought slaves, both for their personal use and to lease out to others (Rogers, 2003, p. 41; Socolow, 1996, pp. 286–91). Thus, free women of colour were highly visible, highly active members of the colony’s economic life. Though they achieved somewhat less economic success than did free  Ravinet fled the colony for France during the Haitian Revolution at age three, so she probably did not witness this event.  All page numbers in parentheses refer to the Considérations Sur l’Etat Présent de la Colonie Française de Saint Domingue, volume 2.

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men of colour, the entrepreneurial drive of these independent women was surely more striking – and disconcerting – to white colonists who desired a stable colour and gender hierarchy. The economic and social independence of these women contrasted with idealized visions of femininity in eighteenth-century France that increasingly defined women’s ‘natural’ role as a housebound wife and mother. They further challenged a racial logic – codified by the discriminatory legislation discussed above – which situated them as socially inferior to whites. Finally, their forced and consensual sexual relations with white colonists called into question the allegedly superior virtue and self-control of white men more generally. Thus, the daily lives of free women of colour demonstrated the unstable boundaries which failed to divide the colony along clearly demarcated colour, class and gender lines. Hilliard and other colonists made the body of the free woman of colour into a sexual object of desire in order to sharpen those boundaries, thereby consolidating the privilege and authority of creole whiteness. But while the mulâtresse crystallized those categories, she was also used to police them. Demonized as the libidinous ‘other’, the mulâtresse clearly illustrated the vices to which so many otherwise virtuous colonists had fallen victim. Like other creole colonists, Hilliard hoped to reform colonial government and society. He desired a more autonomous colonial government run by industrious white creoles who could live without fear of revolt or pretension from those of lesser ‘rank’, that is, those of African descent. But if colour alone could not sufficiently delineate colonial society, codes of behaviour could be another way to ‘perform’ difference (Wilson, 2003, pp. 151–5). Ultimately, Hilliard encouraged creole whites to perform their allegedly superior intellect and virtue in their everyday behaviour, thereby demonstrating the self-control and morality that was the monopoly of whites. By upholding the image of the licentious, wasteful mulâtresse, Hilliard and other colonists demonstrated to whites how not to behave. Therefore, her dangerous image worked to construct categories of race, gender and class, and to discipline members of each. Climate and the Creole Body The mulâtresse was one of many bodies being meticulously observed at this time. Throughout the eighteenth century, European naturalists and philosophers sought to explain differences among the world’s peoples through observation and classification. Before the nineteenth-century model of biological determinism gained prominence, human difference was explained in part through the theory of ‘environmentalism’. Environmentalists such as Johann Blumenbach and Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon argued that physical attributes, character and morality were determined by ‘external forces working on the body’, including climate, diet and customs (Schiebinger, 1990, pp. 393–4). With Europeans as the standard by which all other groups were measured, people raised in tropical climates were believed to suffer the ill effects of ‘excessive heat’ which weakened one’s body, mind and morality. These dark-

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skinned people were therefore considered to be lazy, overly sexual and prone to despotic government (Wheeler, 2000, pp. 23–4). Positing that bodies changed according to climatic variation, environmentalists regarded Europeans who moved to the Caribbean colonies as physically, mentally and morally altered. Following this logic, white creoles would degenerate even more than relocated Europeans. Hilliard proposed a counter-discourse to the standard Eurocentric environmentalism, arguing that white creoles, while deficient in some areas, possessed certain environmentally determined advantages not found in Europeans. Further, he claimed that not all of the vices of the creole were due to climate but rather to the despotic colonial regime governing Saint Domingue. Poor laws, not the ‘excessive heat’, caused degeneration among the colony’s inhabitants. Perhaps the most famous environmentalist was the French philosophe Montesquieu. In The Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu asserted that people in hot climates became ‘slothful and dispirited’, requiring slavery to make them work. Likewise, slave-owners required despotic government since the heat rendered them politically slothful (Montesquieu, 1977, p. 264). Furthermore, not only did the heat in warm climates make its inhabitants lazy, but it also made them so cowardly that the bold inhabitants of cold climates could easily conquer them. Montesquieu used the West Indies as his prime example: ‘The Indians are naturally a cowardly people; even the children of the Europeans born in the Indies lose the courage peculiar to their own climate’ (Montesquieu, 1977, p. 247). Moreover, he claimed that people in warmer climates were controlled by their emotional and physical passions. Because of their ‘[delicate] organs’ they were only motivated by sex (Montesquieu, 1977, pp. 246– 7). Contrary to Montesquieu, Hilliard argued that the warm climate of Saint Domingue nurtured many positive qualities in its white creole inhabitants. Not only did they grow larger and more ‘robust’ than Europeans, but creole women were allegedly quite fertile (pp. 27, 32). The men had a natural taste for dance, music, arms, horsemanship and gymnastics; they were courageous yet compassionate (p. 27). Furthermore, the tropical climate caused a ‘fecundity of imagination’ which encouraged development of the arts (p. 30). Hilliard considered the consistency of the region’s temperature another benefit. Whereas drastic changes in temperature caused ‘revolutions in health’ for those in Europe, creoles were protected by the Caribbean’s perpetually warm weather (p. 53). Thus, the Caribbean climate cultivated large, skilled, sensitive creole men and fertile creole women. However, Hilliard agreed with the environmentalists that the Caribbean heat encouraged indolence and sexual desire. ‘The climate of Saint Domingue inspires love. The most severe man can here become lazy: opportunity, the continuous heat, everything down to the arrangement of [one’s] organs drives [one] to the trap, and pleasures become needs’ (p. 31). This climate-inspired ‘love’ could have dangerous results. According to Hilliard, white men who married mulatto women would lose their status as whites, becoming the ‘equal of the freedmen’, who then despised them (p. 79). Not only were such marriages bad for the white spouse, but they eventually brought despair to the mulâtresse wife and their children. These men

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became consumed with sadness and regret since their families had been shamed and their children were ‘condemned to share the humiliation of the slaves’ (p. 79). Furthermore, such unions, particularly those between white men and their black slaves, jeopardized family property and names. Hilliard alleged that these négresses took advantage of the Code Noir by ‘appropriating the entire fortune of their masters’ so that the fortunes of (white) families were ‘lost to passion’, becoming the ‘price of debauchery’ (p. 81). ‘Respectable names were lost, along with the best land, to legitimate Mulattoes’ (p. 81). Thus, the sexual desire promoted by the climate led to unfavourable marriages in which those of lesser rank appropriated French names and fortunes. Ultimately, Hilliard argued that the negative effects of the tropical climate could be overcome if the colony was ruled competently. For, contrary to Montesquieu’s belief, ‘it is not true that hot countries are made for despotism ... ’ (p. 37). Rather, because the inhabitants of Saint Domingue were ‘tormented by all sorts of passions’, Hilliard believed it the duty of the government to funnel these passions toward ‘public utility’, reigning them in through ‘wise rules’ (p. 37). Competent government, directed by thoughtful leaders, would channel the advantages of the creole toward the public good. The ‘passions’ induced in the white creole population could be tamed by ‘the eternal power of reason’ and the ‘empire of Law’, not the despotism proposed by Montesquieu (p. 38). Hilliard argued that if these principles were used to rule, creoles would be ‘more active and [would] contribute more to the happiness of the nation; work would give them pleasure’ (p. 38). Wise laws based on reason could temper the passions of the creoles, making them happy and industrious while the colony prospered. Most importantly, ‘mixed’ children would not inherit the land and status of their white fathers; white ‘rank’ would be preserved. Creole Luxury One of the ‘passions’ that such laws needed to temper was the love of luxury, a trait commonly attributed to both the mulâtresse and creoles more broadly. In fact, European visitors often commented on the conspicuous consumption of those living in the Caribbean colonies in general, where the ‘planter way of life [was] crassly materialist and spiritually empty’ (Lewis, 1982, p. 109). Hilliard was profoundly disturbed by such materialistic displays; however, he did not condemn all types of luxury. Instead, he distinguished between two types: a productive ‘commodity luxury’ that promoted industriousness as well as domestic and social harmony, and a wasteful, extravagant ‘exterior luxury’ that prevented the establishment of communal bonds. Although Hilliard claimed that Saint Domingue exhibited the latter type, largely as a result of its climate and its poorly run government, he advocated for the colony’s transformation into a society that practiced a ‘commodity luxury’. This transition, he claimed, could be brought about through wiser legislation. Luxury consumption also posed a dilemma in the metropole. Urban France experienced an unprecedented wave of popular consumption over the course of

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the eighteenth century that allowed the middling and lower orders to partake of luxury items previously enjoyed only by the elite. The popular classes of Paris began acquiring ‘furniture for show’ such as bookshelves, writing tables and card tables as well as toiletries such as razors, shaving mirrors and chamber pots (Roche, 1987, pp. 146–57). Furthermore, the real value of their clothing tripled overall, and the number and variety of clothing items dramatically increased as well, especially among women (Roche, 1987, pp. 162–6). Responses to this ‘consumer revolution’ varied. Critics interested in preserving the Old Regime social order worried about luxury’s impact on the traditional social hierarchy. In the first half of the century, French philosophers, moralists and aristocrats more generally feared that new consumer patterns would dismantle traditional social hierarchies. The monarchy and the nobility had long distinguished themselves from those beneath them through their spectacular displays of wealth, simultaneously representing and recreating their higher status. However, when nonnobles dressed in sumptuous clothing and purchased expensive consumer goods typically reserved for their social superiors, ‘symbolic anarchy’ resulted (Shovlin, 2000, p. 588). Inherited rank was no longer readable on one’s exterior; aristocrat and commoner could easily be mistaken for one another. While early- to mid-century critiques of luxury exhibited such concerns over ‘symbolic anarchy’, later anti-luxury discourse became increasingly anti-aristocratic. Whereas previous commentators objected to the deceitful use of luxury by the lower orders to mask their ‘true’ rank, critics writing later in the century often argued that the use of luxury by anyone to demonstrate rank was a fraudulent practice. They claimed that observers could easily confuse spectacular displays of wealth with greatness and nobility, when in fact the truly noble did not belong to the idle, parasitic aristocracy but rather to the group of useful citizens, including farmers and merchants (Shovlin, 2000, pp. 597–8). Thus, the symbolic anarchy described by this later group of critics masked a new social hierarchy, one based on social utility. Hilliard’s Considerations more closely resembles the work of these later, Enlightenment-minded thinkers. Clearly concerned about a similar trend of ‘symbolic anarchy’ taking place in Saint Domingue, Hilliard desired to erect a colonial social order based on industry and public utility, as well as on hierarchies of colour and gender. The only distinctions he cared to recognize among the white population were those resulting from ‘employment and personal merit’ (p. 49). Thus, not only was he opposed to aristocratic privilege, but he also objected to the aristocratic tradition of reinforcing social distinctions through dress and consumption. He attacked the ‘exterior luxury’ of colonials whose buying habits were showy and pretentious, designed to attract the attention (and envy) of onlookers rather than create a comfortable home for the working husband. Ideally, he envisioned a society in which men were motivated by the desire to purchase items pleasing to themselves rather than others. Accordingly, men would purchase ‘embellishments’ for their homes and adornments for their wives rather than dressing ostentatiously themselves (pp. 106–7). The desire to please themselves, Hilliard claimed, would make these men industrious and the colony prosperous.

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In contrast to this idealized society was Saint Domingue, where a ‘love of finery’ had ruled since French migration increased after 1763.10 Hilliard explained that colonists in the towns began to imitate the extravagance of these new, coquettish immigrants, and soon, administrators, merchants and factors were ‘covered with jewels, with embroidery and braids’. Military officers then wanted flashier uniforms, and women – white women and mulâtresses – wanted ‘to share the luxury of their husbands and their lovers’. Since women had ‘more invention in the art of finery and more time to spare’, they took such extravagant expenditures to the limit (p. 102). But if ‘exterior luxury’ was imported from France, it became rampant in the colony due to a despotic government and irrational laws that did not guarantee colonists’ safety or the protection of their property. Consequently, colonists never considered themselves to be permanent residents of Saint Domingue; rather, they planned to return to France after making their fortunes. Thus, they did not commit themselves to improving their homes since their homes were not long-term investments: ‘the man who wears 10,000 francs worth of clothing or jewels, lives almost always in an apartment without furniture and tapestries; he does not dare embellish the interior of his home; he fears becoming too attached to his own goods ... he wants to be always prepared to depart’ (p. 106). This last point is illuminating for several reasons. Hilliard desired a society in which men adorned their houses and wives but not themselves; in so doing, he argued, men would be encouraged to remain in the colony due to their comfortable homes, creating a more stable society of permanent households. But household stability came not only from fine furniture and tapestries – it was also the product of attractively attired wives. Thus, Hilliard encouraged more than mere aesthetic improvements in the home. He suggested the reinforcement of domestic ties between (white) husbands and wives as a means to prevent white men from taking women of colour as lovers. As discussed above, such relationships commonly resulted in the ‘loss’ of property and French names to people of colour when white men married their ‘coloured’ lovers. However, even when they did not marry their lovers, white men commonly supported them and their extramarital children.11 Women of colour – whose beauty and stylish dress were notorious – threatened the stability of the home in two ways: they could lure the affection and the money of married white men. Finally, to stem this threat, Hilliard encouraged the passage of legislation that would ensure ‘tranquility and public felicity’ such that ‘exterior luxury’ would give way to ‘commodity luxury’. Eventually, men would no longer feel the need to demonstrate their wealth on their own bodies and ‘objects of vain finery will be employed only to ornament women’ (p. 106). 10 After France lost its North American colonies to Britain in the Seven Years’ War, French migration was largely redirected toward the Caribbean and to Saint Domingue in particular. 11 White male colonists often followed the traditional French legal practice of providing for extramarital children through a living allowance, a dowry or vocational training (King, 2001, p. 184).

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Hilliard’s association of women with ‘vain finery’ coincided with the gendering of fashion in eighteenth-century France. As the century progressed, upper-class men dressed in simpler and more functional clothing, abandoning the wigs, makeup and silk breeches of the earlier period. Class distinctions marked by men’s clothing were gradually erased while gender distinctions between women’s and men’s clothes increased (Hunt, 2000, p. 192). Also, women became greater consumers of fashion than men did, and the value of their wardrobes increased five to ten times more rapidly than those of the men during this period (Jones, 1996, pp. 30–31). Simultaneously, the desire to be fashionable came to be seen as a frivolous, uniquely feminine trait. In women, devotion to fashion was blamed on their allegedly inherent lack of reason. In men, such devotion was viewed as the product of dangerous feminine influence. The early eighteenth-century periodical press criticized men who followed fashion as the ‘dupes of feminine values that rejected rationality and endangered the nation’ (Benhamou, 1997, p. 35). Thus, while seventeenth-century contemporaries accepted as normal fashion’s influence over women as well as men, by the eighteenth century fashion was believed to be an illogical, feminine concern. In this light, Hilliard’s attack on ‘exterior luxury’ can be linked to a common theme among eighteenth-century philosophes: the danger of feminine ‘nature’ as a justification for women’s exclusion from the public sphere. Over the course of the century, gender categories became grounded in biology so that women’s emotionality was defined as their dominant characteristic, in contrast to masculine reason. Consequently, women were expected to be moral authorities in the home rather than political agents due to their allegedly natural roles as wives and mothers, which made them more compassionate but less sensible than men (Schiebinger, 2000; Steinbrugge, 1995, p. 6). Women’s compassion did not mask their less flattering traits, however. Contemporaries began to view women as naturally frivolous, opaque and prone to dissimulation, in contrast to the Enlightenment ideals of reason and transparency. Simultaneously, the opposition between public and private grew increasingly demarcated so that ‘women’s earlier independence in the street, in the marketplace, and for elite women, in the public spaces of the court and aristocratic household’ was dramatically circumscribed as the public sphere became a masculine one (Landes, 1988, p. 46). Furthermore, public settings in which women traditionally played a central role were corrupted by these same negative traits. Most famously, salon society came under attack by Rousseau, who portrayed salons as frivolous, immoral and unnatural sites of female domination in which men’s active nature was constrained by the whim of the salonnière. Rousseau reduced salon activity to efforts by men to achieve the admiration of women, a reversal of the natural order as Rousseau saw it. Further, he argued that male salon-goers risked becoming effeminate at the delight of the salonnière: ‘Unable to make themselves into men, the women make us into women’ (Goodman, 1994, p. 54). Thus, while women’s frivolity, irrationality and emotionality required a man’s protection, their capacity to emasculate put men at risk. The existence of the slave system and the evolving notion of racial difference, together with the fact that white women were far outnumbered by white men and

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women of colour, meant that French gender discourse could not be simply transferred to Saint Domingue. Powerful, elite white women easily served as the foil for a newly idealized, bourgeois femininity in France: housebound wives and mothers who cultivated a harmonious domestic space became much more appealing when juxtaposed with the emasculating, domineering salonnière. In Saint Domingue, however, white creoles attempting to forge a positive identity for themselves needed to consolidate white femininity. Therefore, the few white women who did reside in the colony had to be depicted as ideal women to demonstrate the moral superiority of the white population as a whole. Thus, the discursive construction of the powerful white woman, exemplified by the salonnière, was useful in France to bring feminine domestic virtue into relief. However, it had no place in the colony where the element of race complicated gender relations. There, her image was replaced with the dangerous mulâtresse.12 The contrast between these women is clear in Hilliard’s discussion of feminine fashion. Hilliard identified the frivolity of women – both white and ‘coloured’ – as a driving force behind ostentatious colonial fashion. White women’s fashion sense was necessary in a society practicing ‘commodity luxury’; well-dressed white wives became another piece of household décor designed to please their husbands. But what was the discursive function of well-dressed extramarital lovers, particularly the mulâtresses? In whites’ descriptions of colonial society, the mulâtresse best fit the eighteenth-century French formulation of powerful femininity. Allegedly, the mulâtresse lived for fashion and erotic pleasure, and her beauty and refined style belied her calculated motives; in other words, she was ‘opaque’. The formation of this image, then, seems to have been closely linked to the evolving French gender discourse. In fact, the stereotypical mulâtresse had much in common with Rousseau’s salonnière: both acted outside their expected gender roles, and both had the power to ‘feminize’ men. The salonnière upset the natural gender hierarchy by dominating men and encouraging frivolous conversation. The mulâtresse was often economically independent, single and childless. Further, she could destroy the most masculine power of all, reason. White men became docile in the presence of salonnières and downright irrational in the presence of mulatto women. Colonists, including Hilliard, saw the worst, most dangerous attributes of women’s nature in the figure of the mulâtresse just as Rousseau saw them in the salonnière. Fixing Boundaries Anxieties over social status also contributed to Hilliard’s critique of ‘external luxury’. Fashion and ‘luxury’ provided a way for the lower orders and the aristocracy to mask their ‘true’ social position, a position determined by public utility. However, equally 12 John Garrigus has also noted the similarities between metropolitan criticisms of powerful aristocratic women and colonial descriptions of the mulâtresse, arguing that creoles used such characterizations to explain the corruption of the white colonial public and to ‘feminize’ the image of the gens de couleur (Garrigus, 2003, p. 76–9; Garrigus, 1996b).

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important to Hilliard was the role of colour in determining social hierarchy. Nowhere is this sentiment stronger than in his discussion of the gens de couleur. Although Hilliard recognized some positive characteristics of gens de couleur, including their familial attachment, respect for the elderly and respect for property (p. 78), he clearly believed that the group was too large, and that it needed to be more systematically discriminated against. For, in Saint Domingue ‘interest and safety demand that we burden the race of Blacks with such a contempt, that whoever descends from them, even until the sixth generation, will be covered with an indelible stain’ (p. 73). Therefore, Hilliard defended death as the punishment for ‘Mulattoes’ who dared to strike a white man, calling it ‘unjust’ but ‘necessary’ (p. 74). Ultimately, the reason behind such justice was the maintenance of the social hierarchy, in this case defined by colour: ‘Safety and good treatment cannot exist without the support of order and the preservation of rank’ (p. 74). Likewise, Hilliard argued that intermarriage between whites and people of colour must end. As discussed above, the white men who agreed to such marriages allegedly lost their ‘rank’ as whites, and their children suffered the ‘humiliation of slaves’ for the rest of their lives. Hilliard supported this ritual degradation of such white men, claiming that ‘one is right not only in hating him, but more so in suspecting the integrity of those who by interest or by forgetfulness, descend to marry beneath one’s station’ (p. 79). He blamed the continuing practice of intermarriage on white men who sought quick fortunes by marrying wealthy women of colour. To solve this problem, Hilliard suggested that white men be taught to become wealthy through their own work, ‘not in degradation, in the confusion of ranks [or] in the inversion of the public order ... ’ (p. 80). Hilliard recognized that intermarriage and miscegenation would be difficult trends to reverse in Saint Domingue. Therefore, he suggested that if the colony could not completely prevent ‘the mixing of families and races’ then whites should at least marry only the lightest-skinned people of colour, so that the differences could not be easily discerned. ‘This is the way to avoid the confusion of classes and ranks, for so long recognized as dangerous in the political system of the Colony’ (p. 83). Thus, ‘Négresses, Mulâtresses, and Quarteronnes’ should not be allowed to marry whites. Further, all ‘Blacks, Griffes and Marabous’13 should permanently remain enslaved (p. 83). What Hilliard proposed, then, was a three-caste society based on colour, which would determine rank. The darkest-skinned people would be slaves, the lightest-skinned people would be full citizens, and those in between would be the intermediary class of ‘Yellows’: But the Colony cannot be well constituted without conserving an intermediate class ... absolutely distinct from that of the slaves, by exterior and individual signs, as well as by civil rights. This class therefore must be yellow, meaning, entirely composed of Mulattoes; and to render it such, it is necessary to begin by marrying all free Blacks currently living in the Colony, to Mulâtresses, and marrying Mulattoes to free Négresses; it is then necessary 13 A ‘Griffe’ was a child of a ‘mulatto’ and a ‘negresse’, while a ‘marabou’ was a child of a ‘grif’ and a ‘negresse’.

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With such legislation, there would be no danger of the ‘confusion of ranks’. Because skin colour would clearly reveal everyone’s ‘rank’, one would not need to display or mask it through ostentatious dress; the hierarchy of skin colour would replace the need for silk, lace and gold. Furthermore, it follows that white men would no longer be tempted to marry or take as lovers women of colour, who would be ‘tainted’ by their African ancestry, both in the eyes of whites and (if Hilliard’s plan were to work) in their own eyes as well. Instead, white men would settle in stable, comfortable homes with their white wives, committing to the colony as their home rather than yearning to leave for France with their fortune. Likewise, their fortunes would be ‘saved’ from falling into the hands of legitimate or illegitimate children of colour. Thus, another of Hilliard’s primary concerns – the preservation of property – would be ensured. The codification of the colour hierarchy would protect property in another way as well: by internalizing their degraded status, black slaves would be less likely to revolt. The tripartite caste system would justify the slave regime through its demonstration of white superiority. The image of the mulâtresse lay at the heart of Hilliard’s desire for change. For Hilliard, and perhaps for many colonial elites, the mulâtresses, in their bodies and their consumption, represented the ultimate danger to colonial slave society: the ‘confusion of rank’, rank based on colour, gender and class. The stereotypical mulâtresse resisted facile categorization in each of these areas. While it was clear to white observers that she was not white, she certainly could not be easily associated with the allegedly animal-like black women who worked the sugar plantations. While she was undeniably feminine in her beauty, coquettishness and suspect eroticism, she was also single, often financially independent and without children. These last three traits denied eighteenth-century gender discourse which argued women’s natural role as wife and mother. Thus, the mulâtresse challenged the gender ‘rank’ that positioned men as the head of household and provider for the family. Furthermore, considering Hilliard’s belief that women should adorn themselves in order to please their husbands, the fact that mulatto women were so well dressed without any husbands to please must have really disturbed him; the mulâtresse dressed to lure those same husbands away from their wives. Finally, the stereotypically welldressed mulatto woman did not ‘wear’ her social status. Her ‘rank’ was not at all clear; she represented the fluid boundaries within a society that needed impermeable ones for its survival. Hilliard’s own description of the mulâtresse, cited earlier, powerfully conveys this transgressive image. Mulâtresses, he claimed, had acquired an ‘empire’ over white men, one ‘founded on libertinage’ and clearly related to the ‘affectation’ of their clothing. Furthermore, these women of colour were more resistant – ‘less docile’ – than their male counterparts, who Hilliard describes as quite loyal to whites. Thus,

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more than the economic success of the wealthy male planters of colour, Hilliard feared the undisciplined, independent spirit of the mulâtresse who did not conform to French or colonial society’s gendered or colour expectations. White colonists clearly saw in these women a degree of power and danger which required attention. Hilliard responded to this by proposing changes in law that would end their ‘empire’ and reform white creole behaviour.

Chapter 10

‘Mediating Mackinac: Métis Women’s Cultural Persistence in the Upper Great Lakes’ Bethany Fleming

One midsummer’s day in 1817 on Mackinac Island, a small group of people came together to celebrate the marriage of island resident Josette Laframboise and the commandant of Fort Mackinac, Captain Benjamin K. Pierce. The group had gathered in the large, two-story Market Street home of Elizabeth Bertrand Mitchell, one of the island’s most prominent and successful residents. Mitchell was métis – mixed French and Ottawa blood. She and her husband David, a British army surgeon, had become successful through the fur trade, the island’s main business. Related to the Ottawa and Chippewa, French, and British groups in the Mackinac region, Elizabeth Mitchell and her family were described by their friend Elizabeth Baird as ‘prominent, interesting, aristocratic, and wealthy’ (Baird, 1998, p. 15). Mitchell hosted quite an aristocratic group for the marriage of her friend Madeline Laframboise’s daughter. But the ceremony that joined the American garrison with the family and friends of Miss Laframboise was more than just an elite gathering of Mackinac Island society. It also represented the diversity of the community living together at Mackinac. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Mackinac Island was the geographic, economic and cultural centre of the Great Lakes. Located between Lakes Michigan and Huron, near the present Canadian-American border, Mackinac Island was the hub of the fur trade, welcoming various groups of Indian and European men and women to live and work together in early America’s most lucrative industry. The fur trade society of Mackinac Island and the Great Lakes represented a heterogeneous mix of people whose composition constantly shifted during this turbulent period. Between 1750 and 1815, the Great Lakes endured three international wars and experienced four changes in political, socio-economic and cultural domination as power passed between the French, British and American governments. In the midst of this turmoil, a group of women, including Josette Laframboise, persisted in maintaining a way of life within the fur trade that allowed them to preserve their blended heritages. métis women (women of mixed native and European blood) perpetuated the diverse culture of Mackinac Island through exogamous marriages to Euro-American men,

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and subsequently maintained their heritage through the everyday use of clothing, material culture and religion. By marrying outside of their own cultural group, métis women constantly blended their own cultural background with the one into which they married, maintaining a unique culture within the fur trade society. The women whose stories are explored here used their distinctive positions within the evolving society of Mackinac to build successful businesses, influence those around them and operate as cultural liaisons and role models. Métis women’s decisions, particularly in marriage, put them in positions that allowed them to maintain their way of life even as they adapted to dramatic changes. In the past 25 years, historians, ethno-historians and anthropologists have focused increasingly on the kinds of cultural adaptation with which indigenous people responded to Europe’s colonization of the Americas. In 1980, Sylvia Van Kirk and Jennifer S. Brown both introduced in-depth studies of native women involved in the fur trade in what is now Canada. Their groundbreaking studies explored native women’s essential, non-passive roles in the progress of the fur trade society of Western Canada. A few years later, Jacqueline Peterson built on this research, focusing on the métis women of the Western Great Lakes. Peterson’s research introduced the idea of métis as people ‘in-between’ – in-between cultures, politics and so forth. In 1991, Richard White further developed the history of Indian-White relations in the Great Lakes region in his The Middle Ground, a work which remains today the most significant study dealing with fur trade society in America. White drew upon the work of Brown, Van Kirk, Peterson and others, to examine the political, socioeconomic and cultural changes that took place in the Great Lakes Region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. White’s development of the concept of the ‘middle ground’ to characterize the fragile cultural, socio-economic and political state of the Great Lakes that drew on both indigenous and Euro-American traditions and practices has become standard among historians of the area. However, in one significant way, White neglected to draw on the insights of Van Kirk, Brown and Peterson. In his work, women’s history was marginalized, abstracted and rendered peripheral in detail and vitality. He minimized the importance of native and métis women in maintaining the fading native and métis culture in his suggestion that the middle ground ended in 1815. More recently, Susan Sleeper-Smith furthered the study of native women as central components of the fur trade society and challenged White’s end of the middle ground. In her book Indian Women and French Men, Sleeper-Smith argued that cultural adaptation and exchange within mixed marriages led to the persistence of native communities in the Great Lakes Region throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Focusing on kinship and Catholicism within French-Indian marriages, and native women’s agricultural production in the Western Great Lakes, SleeperSmith effectively illustrated native and métis women who acted as intermediaries in the cultural and socio-economic middle ground. Centred in Indiana and Michigan, Sleeper-Smith’s geographic and economic area of study did not include the more socio-economically, culturally and politically diverse communities of the Great Lakes that served as hubs of the fur trade society. In these larger, heterogeneous

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communities, native and métis women faced different challenges than those in less central locations. Yet against ever-changing pressures and obstacles, native and métis women in more urban settings rose up to serve not only as political and economic leaders in the fur trade society, but also to perpetuate the culture of the métis people and the middle ground that existed in the Great Lakes Region. What follows is a detailed look at four métis women – Elizabeth Mitchell, Madeline and Josette Laframboise and Agatha Biddle – who lived on Mackinac Island, the hub of the Great Lakes fur trade, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Through their dress, the objects they used in their everyday life and the beliefs they maintained, they upheld the continuity of their culture in a time when constant shifts of political and socio-economic influence threatened the already fluctuating stability of life in the Great Lakes region. Josette Laframboise and her family and friends were the products of a long history of marriages between the Ottawa and Chippewa and the French. The FrenchCanadian/métis community dated back to the first arrival of the French in the land of the Anishnabeg Indians. French missionaries, explorers and traders had begun to move into the Great Lakes region in the early seventeenth century and many native groups, especially the Anishnabeg, accepted them into their communities. Eventually many French men, particularly traders, formed relationships with Indian women. French traders who married into native communities were incorporated into mutually beneficial kinship networks, in economic, political and social terms. As the region shifted from French to British and eventually American control, exogamous relationships continued in much the same manner, although they diminished in frequency. In 1818, one year after Josette and Benjamin Pierce were married, American Fur Company employee Gurdon Hubbard recalled that ‘the village [of Mackinac Island] had a population of about five hundred, mostly of Canadian French and of mixed Indian blood’ (Hubbard, 1911, p. 15). Between 1765 and 1818, according to the parish register for Ste. Anne’s Church at Michilimackinac, 65 per cent of Euro-American (mostly French-Canadian) men married native or métis women (Widder, 1999, p. 3). The majority of marriages recorded in the register during that time were between Euro-American men and native or métis women. Until the mid1800s, métis men most often married native women, just as Euro-American men did. Starting in the later in the mid-1800s, métis men began to more actively marry métis and Euro-American, women (Jung, 2003, pp. 45–6). They did so in large part because of the ever increasing rule of Americans, which, as the United States gained control further and further west, required men to become part of the homogeneous American culture in order to succeed politically and socio-economically. During this period, métis men did not have as much ability to perpetuate native and métis culture within the hegemonic society which was becoming increasingly dominant in the Great Lakes region. The Mackinac métis community of Canadian French and Indian blood originated from these early exogamous relationships between French men and native women. After the War of 1812, as more and more Americans came to the Great Lakes

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to continue the fur trade, they entered into a world that was not only marked by different customs but one that, as James Merrell described, was a new world created through the socio-economic and political relations of earlier European and native people (White, 1991, p. 33; Merrell, 1991). Richard White wrote that the fragile ‘middle ground’ society of the Great Lakes grew increasingly more unstable in the late eighteenth century, and argued that it disappeared completely after the War of 1812 under American hegemony. However, evidence from Mackinac island suggests the ‘middle ground’ society persisted in this region under the influence of métis women. French Canadians, métis, Indians, British and Americans continued to live amongst one another in the region after 1812, and while political ties and relationships changed under American rule, that rule could not change the middle ground immediately. Elizabeth Baird described her cousin Josette Laframboise as a ‘highly educated and cultivated ... half-breed girl ... handsome indeed and very agreeable ... ’(Baird, 1998, p. 19). In the Mackinac region of the early 1800s, Josette Laframboise, although métis, was a belle of the high society made up of French, British, Americans and métis. She was praised for her ‘graceful demeanor of perfect charm’ (Baird, 1998, p. 19). Her marriage to American Captain Benjamin Pierce, although considered unconventional and even distasteful by many in the eastern section of the United States, was the norm for young people in the Great Lakes region. Many visitors to Mackinac Island commented on how island society differed from that of other American and European towns, expressing surprise and criticism when visiting the region (Peterson, 1985, p. 39). Others were less critical. During her visit to Mackinac Island in 1843, Margaret Fuller wrote that ‘the people in its streets, Indian, French, half-breeds, and others, walked with a leisure step, as of those who live a life of taste and inclination, rather than the hard press of business, as in American towns elsewhere’ (Fuller, 1991, p. 107). Josette LaFramboise’s act of marrying exogamously followed the tradition of many women before her. But to anyone unfamiliar with the society and culture of the region, the guests of the wedding, dressed in their finery, made a visually stunning statement. The officers came in full military dress. Their wives wore their best, fashionable, gowns. Madame Madeline Laframboise, mother of the bride, and Therese Schindler, aunt of the bride, wore ‘full Indian costume’. Mitchell, the hostess of the event, wore her own diverse costume of plain black silk, with a black neckerchief around her throat. Perched upon her head was a black beaver hat with a plume on one side (Baird, 1998, pp. 16, 19–20). Visitors from the eastern states of America were certainly not accustomed to this mixture of dress, of race and of culture. However, for people of Mackinac Island and the surrounding region, this diversity had, since the arrival of Europeans, been the norm. Madeline Laframboise, her sister Therese Schindler and Elizabeth Mitchell were all prominent members of the antebellum Mackinac society. Elizabeth Bertrand Mitchell was the daughter of a French trader and a Chippewa mother. She grew up among Ottawa relatives at L’Arbre Croche, near mainland Fort Michilimackinac. In 1776 Elizabeth Bertrand married British Army surgeon David Mitchell. She

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and David moved to Mackinac Island with the British Army in 1780–1781. When David’s regiment of the army was scheduled to be transferred, he put in a request for resignation. The Mitchell family then entered the fur trade and maintained a large garden. Elizabeth Mitchell’s kinship relations within the fur trade society were probably a large factor in the couple’s quick success in the business. It is, however, most likely that David Mitchell did not marry Elizabeth Bertrand solely for her economic and kinship connection to the fur trade community. In the late 1770s, still a British soldier, Mitchell was not yet tremendously active in the fur trade business. However, Michilimackinac was the hub of the fur trade, and even military personnel were daily engaged in its activities. When David Mitchell chose to leave the army, Elizabeth’s relations to the Chippewa, Ottawa and French communities surrounding Mackinac made the Mitchells’ venture into the fur trade possible. Together David and Elizabeth effectively entered into the fur trade sector, something to which Elizabeth was no stranger. With their strong presence in the community through their connections to the British, French, Ottawa and Chippewa, their successful move into the fur trade business, and their cultivation of one of the few areas suited for agriculture on the island, acquired through land grants from the British army, the Mitchells soon became one of the more successful, prosperous families on Mackinac Island (Armour, 1982, pp. 2–4). During the War of 1812, David Mitchell rejoined the British Army as a hospital mate. Ever the British loyalist, David never returned to Mackinac Island when it became American permanently (Armour, 1982, pp. 7, 10). Elizabeth Mitchell, however, stayed on Mackinac Island, running her household and business, and remaining a prominent figure in Mackinac Island society. During the war, Elizabeth Mitchell used her position as a woman of native descent and the wife of a British soldier to aid the British by encouraging her Ottawa and Chippewa relatives to fight on their side. Many Ottawa and Chippewa took her advice and aided the British in defeating the American assault of the island during the summer of 1814. Elizabeth later received recognition from both the British and the Ottawa and Chippewa. She received 50 pounds per year for two years from the British and a deed to Round Island, the small island southeast of Mackinac Island, from the Chippewa of the area (Armour, 1982, p. 7). The gifts of appreciation and respect reveal how well received Elizabeth was in the British and Indian communities around Mackinac. Elizabeth was also respected in other circles of the Mackinac community. Never as drastically loyal to the British as her husband, Elizabeth was, in the words of American Gurdon Hubbard, ‘rather partial to the ‘Yankees’, treat[ing] them with great consideration’ (Hubbard, 1911, p. 22). Hubbard considered Mitchell a friend, in whose home he felt he was ‘ever a welcome visitor’ (Hubbard, 1911, p. 133). From Mitchell, as well as Laframboise, Hubbard ‘received much good advice, as well as instruction in the method of conducting trade with the Indians, which was of much benefit to me in my after life as a trader’ (Hubbard, 1911, p.22). Socially and economically, Elizabeth was highly regarded by many in the Mackinac community. After her death in 1827, Elizabeth Mitchell’s mantle of social leadership moved easily to her long-time friend, Madeline Laframboise. Madeline Marcot LaFramboise

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was born to a French trader and an Ottawa woman in 1780. She grew up in her mother’s Ottawa village on the St Joseph River in Southern Michigan where she presumably met and married Joseph Laframboise, a Frenchman who had been trading in the St Joseph and Grand River areas for many years (Baird, 1998, p. 18; McDowell, 1972, p. 272–3). She had entered the trade on her own after her husband was shot in the early 1800s and she became one of the leading independent traders on Mackinac Island. Part of her success can be attributed to her ability to adapt. After Joseph’s death in the winter of 1806 (or 1809, by some accounts), Laframboise lost no time in continuing to engage in trade that winter (Baird, 1998, pp. 18–19; McDowell, 1972, pp. 274–9). In later years, as Americans, most significantly the American Fur Trade Company (AFC), filtered into the Great Lakes region and increasingly dominated the trade, Laframboise continued to manage her business successfully. Although the AFC did establish a monopoly in the area, Laframboise maintained her success as a trader by alternately working semi-independently, trading ‘on [her] own account and risk’ or else as a direct employee of the AFC (Thwaites, 1888, vol. XI, pp. 370–77). She was a formidable trader whose competition was feared and from whom many sought advice and education. Madeline Laframboise’s strongest influence was in the cultural realm rather than in the economic sphere of the fur trade. Laframboise was deeply devoted to the Catholic faith and to education, both sacred and secular. The practice of Roman Catholicism was significant in the French-Canadian/métis communities throughout the Great Lakes region. However, by the early 1800s, many circumstances had threatened the viability of the Catholic Church on the island. It was largely due to the efforts of Laframboise that the Catholic Church on Mackinac Island remained an active institution. Although most of the 500 island residents were Catholic, for many their faith constituted what Keith Widder has called ‘folk Catholicism’ (Widder, 1999, p. 16). From the establishment of the Catholic Church in the Mackinac region in 1695, priests visited the area only sporadically (Thwaites, 1888, vol. XVIII, pp. 469– 513, XIX, pp. 1–149; Mazzuchelli, 1915, pp. 75, 77). While Fort Michilimackinac was under French control and situated across the straits on the Lower Peninsula, a priest visited Ste Anne’s Church a few times a year, performing several marriages and baptisms before moving on his way. Catholic priests continued to visit the majority French-Canadian/métis, Catholic community at Ste Anne’s after the British took over, but throughout the early 1800s they came less frequently. Between 1765 and 1830 there was no resident priest stationed at Ste Anne’s (Widder, 1999, pp. 91, 93). With the lack of a permanent priest and the intermixing of the French, FrenchCanadian, métis and Indian peoples, the resulting predominant faith was a pastiche of beliefs, blending Roman Catholicism with native religious beliefs. What remained of Catholicism was kept alive by devote Catholics like Laframboise, who sought to maintain much of the stricter practices and teachings throughout the fur trade society (Baird, 1998, pp. 3, 18, 20). When the British moved Fort Michilimackinac over to the island in 1780–1781, the village community had followed, largely due to the removal of Ste Anne’s Church from the fortified village on the mainland to the village of Mackinac Island (Armour, 1978, p. 132). Ste Anne’s was the only church on Mackinac Island until the Protestant

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mission arrived, and the church building served as a strong reminder of the centre of the small community. Residents such as Madeline Laframboise, and her husband Joseph, led the community as devote believers, keeping the threads of the faith alive. In the early 1820s, when the original church building of Ste Anne’s was no longer sufficient, Madeline Laframboise donated the land upon which the new building was built, and provided a large amount of the funding. As well, Laframboise often petitioned friends in other parts of the country in order to bring priests to Mackinac, and provided room and board for priests when they came (Baird, 1998, pp. 41–2; Evans, 1973, p. 199). In addition to her strong interest in the maintenance of the church, Laframboise was also devoted to the religious and secular education of the youth, especially of young women. Laframboise had not had an education like her older siblings in Montreal, but she certainly understood the benefits of education. Already known in the community for her fluency in speaking French, English, Ottawa and Chippewa, after her retirement from the fur trade in 1821, between the ages of 40 and 50, she taught herself to read and write French and English fluently (Baird, 1998, p. 20). Throughout the 1820s and 30s, Laframboise employed teachers to educate island girls in various subjects, including Catholicism (Baird, 1998, p. 20; Kinzie, 1992, p. 10). At least two of the women Laframboise educated were of the Biddle family. Agatha Biddle, a good friend of Madeline Laframboise, and her daughter Sophia were educated by the goodwill of Laframboise (Baird, 1998, p. 20, 24–5). Agatha de la Vigne was the stepdaughter of the prosperous French-Canadian trader Joseph Bailly. He and his wife Marie were a well-known couple in the French-Canadian/métis Roman Catholic fur trading community. In 1819 Agatha married American Edward Biddle, an exuberant newcomer to Mackinac Island who had arrived shortly after the War of 1812 (Baird, 1998, pp. 22–3). The marriage of Agatha and Edward, in a socio-economic sense, was beneficial for all involved. Through his marriage into an established trading family such as the Baillys, Edward Biddle furthered his growing ties to the community. Edward was brought into kinship relations with the Ottawa relatives of Agatha and her mother. Joseph Bailly was assured that competition with the enthusiastic American would not be a problem. Baird expressed Bailly’s pleasure in the marriage of his stepdaughter and the American trader: ‘Mr. Bailly was more noisy than ever in the happiness over this marriage ... such a marriage and connection was more than he could bear quietly’ (Baird, 1998, p. 23). Many Indian and métis women did indeed marry ambitiously. Keith Widder writes: ‘[Métis] women found a way to retain or rise above the level of social status held by their fathers in the fur trade society’ (Widder, 1999, p. 129). And Harriet Gorham suggests that ‘the marriage of a mixed-blood woman to an incoming trader strengthened ties between new traders and older, more established trading families in the area, reducing the threat of potential competition’ (Gorham, 1987, p. 51). Certainly for women of Anishnabeg descent, a culture especially cognizant of kin relations and ties between families, there was a strong impetus to marry someone who would strengthen bonds within fur trade society. Euro-American men also

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understood the advantages of marrying into relationships that would improve their potential in the business. The wedding ceremony of Agatha and Edward had a few of the same guests as the Laframboise-Pierce wedding of 1817. Agatha, her mother and her stepfather, Joseph Bailly, were good friends of Madeline Laframboise and her sister Therese Schindler. Both Madeline Laframboise and Therese Schindler attended Agatha and Edward’s wedding, dressed in their usual Anishnabeg/métis clothing. Agatha and her mother, a métis woman who had grown up in the Ottawa village of L’Arbre Croche, also wore Indian dress (Baird, 1998, p. 23; Howe, 1998, p. 4). Baird took great care in recording exactly what the outfits at this wedding looked like. Far different from the Euro-American fashions with long, fuller skirts and mid-height waists, the métis clothing consisted of layers of broadcloth and silk or calico worn in a style more like traditional clothing of the Anishnabeg, with leggings, moccasins and beads (Baird, 1998, p. 23). Like the wedding two years earlier, the mixture of métis and American dress made cultural distinctions clear. More than just contrasts in clothing, the Biddles had to make many adjustments to one another’s cultural differences. Edward Biddle had moved west from Pennsylvania only shortly after the War of 1812 (Thwaites, 1888, vol. I, pp. 49–63; Davis, 1947, pp. 101–2). He and his brother James may have had some contact with the fur trade in the East, but they were new to the Great Lakes region. Certainly, many of the customs of the French-Canadian/métis community were different from those with which they were accustomed. For Agatha, marrying a man outside her own French-Canadian/métis community was a decision not much different from her Ottawa mother’s decision to marry Joseph Bailly or her friend Madeline Laframboise’s decision to marry Joseph Laframboise. Indian and métis women had been marrying exogamously for hundreds of years in the Great Lakes region. But Edward was American and Protestant, and spoke English rather than French as his primary language. When Agatha decided to marry Edward, Americans were still a relatively new minority on Mackinac Island. For many arriving Americans, the mixture of cultures and races on the Island was astounding. It was through the daily dress and activities, the material culture, of mixed-blood women that cultural diversity persisted. Madeline Laframboise and Agatha Biddle maintained their Ottawa and métis heritage and transmitted that heritage to others through what they wore, used and discarded on a daily basis. Although the quantity of remaining material culture is not enormous, there is significant evidence to reveal that they did use elements of Ottawa and métis culture in their everyday lives. There are a number of accounts of the clothing worn by Madeline and Agatha and other métis women in the region. Elizabeth Baird’s memoirs are not the only place where the mention of the women’s ‘Indian dress’ is found, although her description is one of the most elaborate. Francis Howe wrote detailed descriptions of the clothing of Agatha’s mother Marie and an Ottawa woman Pkuknoquah (Howe, 1998, pp. 101–2). Margaret Fuller commented on Laframboise’s ‘dress of her country’ (Fuller, 1991, p. 153).

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Other evidence concerns Madeline’s and Agatha’s daily usage of Ottawa material culture. The papers of the American Fur Company Store record that on 20 August 1825, Madeline Laframboise traded 6 prs. Mockasins + 3 Gamished Mococks [sic]’ in return for partial payment of her bill (American Fur Company Retail Store Account Book, 1824–1827, American Fur Company Store Records, Mackinac Island State Park Commission). Madeline often traded and gave away moccasins and mococks (birch bark containers) full of sugar to friends and acquaintances (Baird Papers). Agatha Biddle also worked with birch bark and made and used moccasins. Archaeological evidence from the outhouse site used by the Biddle family in the 1820s and 30s reveals numerous pieces of birch bark and quill work, suggesting that Agatha engaged in such native birch bark basketry and quill artistry and used native items, such as mococks, in her everyday life (Stone, 1974, p. 41). Agatha Biddle mirrored her mentor Madeline Laframboise and in many ways followed in her footsteps, as Madeline had earlier perpetuated the ways of Elizabeth Mitchell. Elizabeth Mitchell and Madeline Laframboise served as examples of the persistence of culture for later generations as they struggled to come to terms with the changes in their lives. In more than just the choice of exogamous marriage, religion and use of native material culture, Agatha followed in the footsteps of earlier generations of métis women on Mackinac Island. Like her good friend Madeline Laframboise, Agatha managed her home in the tradition of the Ottawa and métis – openly and generously. The Biddle home on Market Street was always open to visitors, of all backgrounds. Agatha hosted many colleagues of her husband, as well as taking in many orphaned and ill Ottawa and Chippewa children and families. Certainly, Agatha’s benevolence toward those involved in the trade boosted her husband’s relationships with those with whom he conducted business, but in many cases Agatha responded out of her own desire to help her people, in the tradition of her people. Although the Biddle house was a fairly large one, it must have felt small to many who visited and lived there. It was often filled to capacity. In addition to the Biddle’s own seven children, Agatha and Edward took in a number of orphaned Indian children, including one named Keshawa. Agatha Biddle clothed, lodged, supported and educated Keshawa for 16 years in the 1820s and 30s. Agatha also cared for many ill visitors to the island. For two years the Biddles fed and supported the family of Moconamas, from L’Arbre Croche. As well, Agatha served in the capacity of undertaker for native people who died while living on the island, furnishing coffins and carrying out the services of burial. Moreover, Agatha gave out large amounts of pork, fish, and flour, corn, wood, tea, sugar, coffee and medicines each year to visitors. In a signed testimonial Samuel Abbot, public notary and acquaintance of the Biddles, claimed ‘that the number thereof who were participants of Mrs. Biddle’s charity, independent of those who may have been entertained on account of trade or  Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Special File #156, Record Group 75, Biddle, Agatha, Claim for services to Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, 1818–1836, The National Archives of Canada, Preliminary Draft Transcription.

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business, were annually great’ and that ‘[he] has often seen Mrs. Biddle’s kitchen crowded with Indians, receiving shelter and food’. Agatha played a significant role in helping her Ottawa and Chippewa relatives. Like the métis women before her, she carried on her native/métis heritage in her home. Although the native/métis culture and the American culture were not as compatible as the native culture and French culture had become, Agatha maintained her sense of cultural identity within her marriage to Edward. Like her friends Mitchell and Laframboise, Agatha Biddle was able to maintain a métis identity through her language, religion, dress and material culture, perpetuating the cultural diversity of the middle ground community on Mackinac Island and in the Great Lakes region. As more Americans came, however, and the majority French-Canadian métis community began to see shifts and changes, some young métis women found it very hard to make independent choices about marriage. Maintaining and perpetuating the mixed heritages of early Mackinac Island became more and more difficult as American culture grew more prevalent. At the marriage ceremonies of Josette Laframboise Pierce and Agatha de la Vigne Biddle, the heterogeneous nature of antebellum Mackinac Island was clearly visible. Any visitor to the Mitchell or Bailly homes on the days of the weddings would have immediately seen the diverse array of culture represented in the families and guests of the weddings. The women of Mackinac Island continued the heterogeneity of the fur trade in their perpetuation of native and métis culture – through their dress, the objects they used in their everyday life, and the beliefs they maintained. Through their notable roles in the socio-economic, political and cultural fabric of Mackinac’s fur trade society, métis women not only maintained their own complex backgrounds, but perpetuated the culture of diversity as leaders and role models for all members of the society. From generation to generation through the 1700s and into the 1800s, Indian and métis women adapted and acclimated to the tumultuous landscape. By continually engaging in the decision of exogamous marriage, these women carried their unique blended heritage through to their own mixed-blood children.

 Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Special File #156, Record Group 75, Biddle, Agatha, testimonial for Samuel Abott, Michilimackinac, 19 October 1837, The National Archives of Canada, Preliminary Draft Transcription.

PART 4 Networks

Chapter 11

Circuits of Knowledge among Women in Early Seventeenth-Century Lima Nancy E. van Deusen

In the early modern period, women spent a great deal of time in each other’s company: whether fashioning lace gloves, witnessing a moment of rapture in a friend’s home or kneading dough in convents. Clustered in private and public settings they laboured, they bickered, they imparted their innermost thoughts. Recently, scholars have begun to consider how these collective assemblages and ‘alliances’ formed and where women gathered to work and converse. This chapter follows in the footsteps of this previous work, but also shifts the focus by considering how and where the transmission and exchange of knowledge about spiritual matters in early seventeenthcentury Lima occurred among women who established networks. I shall argue that as a result of the social circuits that developed, women formed ‘epistemological communities’ around a body of spiritual knowledge that was interconnected and interdependent (Hankinson Nelson, 1993, p. 141). Epistemologies, or, in this case, broad understandings of the world of the beyond, were located, as feminist scholar Teresa de Lauretis has argued, ‘in the personal, the subjective, the body, the symptomatic, the quotidian, as the very site of material inscription of the ideological; that is to say, the ground where socio-political determinations take hold and are realized’ (Lauretis, 1986, pp. 11–12). When considering feminine epistemologies in the early modern period, two interrelated questions arise. First, how did women gain their authority about spiritual matters? One could argue that feminine knowledge of the sacred was often based less upon formal learning than upon ‘the spiritually experienced’ or experimentado, which occurred corporeally and through visions (Ahlgren, 1995, p. 376; Kieckhefer, 1991, pp. 288–305; Bynum, 1986, pp. 257–88; Myers and Powell, 1999). Many women openly cultivated an internalized personal relationship with God, and, until the 1620s, the Jesuits, the pre-eminent religious society in Lima, openly advocated various types of divine contemplation and mental prayer (Torres Saldamando, 1885,  For Mexico, Pescador, 1992, Boyer, 1995, pp. 167–217; for France, Cashmere, 1996, pp. 44–62; for England, Frye and Robertson, 1999, pp. 4–5. I would like to thank Jodi Bilinkoff, Ilana Aragón Noriega and Susanne Seales for their comments and assistance.

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pp. 349–53; Iwasaki Cauti, 1995, p. 227). This path of affective spirituality gave women a sensorial authority, which meant that the experiences they had of the divine and of the supernatural world were validated through their bodies. But women did not keep this knowledge to themselves. They shared their personal experiences with others, especially women, thus validating their internalized understandings of spiritual matters and providing them with an informal education. By imparting their understandings of visions, in addition to their renderings of specific texts such as books, religious icons or the body, women fostered feminine understandings of theological matters and developed cognitive maps of the ineffable. In fact, the seventeenth century saw an increase in the number of beatas loosely affiliated with religious orders, but who preferred to lead spiritual lives in el siglo (the world). Many of the most notable beatas, were in fact, women of colour. Others, including the Spanish Isabel de Porras Marmolejo (+1631), were recognized by the Lima community as living saints, or worthy of sanctification (van Deusen, 1999). The most celebrated, Rosa de Flores Oliva, or Santa Rosa (1586–1617), set the primus inter pares (first among equals) example, because, as some clerics emphasized, the future saint (she was canonized in 1671) helped convert many ‘lost and scandalous women’ and inspired the daughters of the wealthy in Lima and in the provinces (Meléndez, 1681, vol. 2, pp. 508–9; vol. 3, 795f; Jiménez Salas, 2002, p. 155, [fol. 117v]; Martín, 1989, p. 288). Although many laywomen chose a path of affective spirituality in the world, for some privileged women, the cloister provided a safer haven than el siglo for spiritual contemplation; it could also elevate the status of their families in the eyes of God. An increase in Lima’s convents from three in 1600 to eight by 1650 attests to this sea change. Even as early as 1614, nearly 16 per cent of the Spanish female population had either themselves opted or been coerced by family members to become nuns. Although exclusionary policies prohibited women of colour from becoming nuns of the black or white veil, many found the position of donada (religious servant) an increasingly viable option. For some mestizas and mulatas who had been raised in the ‘house of God’ working in the service of a nun, a cloistered life as a donada offered them economic stability and sanctuary from the outside world. For others, it provided a socially and legally sanctioned path toward God and salvation, even if it meant serving the nuns, the community and God (van Deusen, 2001, pp. 173–6; Ursula de Jesús, 2004, pp. 28–32). Discussions that consider how pious women living inside or outside a monastic setting acquired their theological knowledge often emphasize the pivotal nature of the confessorial relationship (Bilinkoff, 1993, pp. 83–100). Yet, perhaps because the seminal role of the male confessor has dominated our perceptions (and many of the extant sources were generated by male confessors), we have overlooked other sources of inspiration. Although superior male personalities played key roles as advisors, teachers and censors, their influence over women should be seen in tandem with the kinds of spiritual networks that developed among pious women. Archival evidence shows that the ‘binomial relationship between confessor and holy woman’ formed only one of several conduits that enhanced the circulation of

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theological knowledge (Iwasaki Cauti, 1993, p. 591; Rubial García, 2002, p. 20). In early seventeenth-century Lima, healers, nuns, beatas and women disapprovingly labelled by the Inquisition as sorceresses (hechiceras) developed personal contacts and fomented important spiritual networks. Facing poverty, unemployment, marital strife, child care or health matters, these women maintained fluid exchanges between the realms of the ‘sacred’ and the ‘worldly’ (van Deusen, 2001, p. xv; Vergara, 1997, p. 136; Estenssoro, 1997, p. 415). In churches, markets, small apartments and crowded convents, laywomen and nuns shared perceptions that combined the heretical with the fantastic and the theologically sound. Of course, the circulation of this knowledge did not occur in a cultural vacuum. During the first half of the seventeenth century, Lima witnessed a spiritual renaissance and a ‘feminization of piety’ characterized by visionary experiences, contemplation, penitential asceticism and suffering in imitation of Christ. A broad constituency of devoted Catholics – including ecclesiastical superiors, mendicant widows and lay pious women known as beatas – embraced the practice of interioridad, or deep, internal spiritual contemplation (Andrés Martín, 1979, pp. 269–301). In addition to an added emphasis on the development of the self in relation to God, other, distinct manifestations of Catholicism formed the substance of daily life. Many households contained numerous religious images, small altar screens (retablos), paintings and statuettes of the saints, Mary or Christ. In the evenings, families gathered together to read hagiographic texts and discuss theological issues. They pondered the sermons given by priests at mass and witnessed the never-ending array of processions honouring the saints, the entry of nuns into convents or the arrival of holy relics. They bowed their heads in prayer when the church bells tolled the news of someone’s death, or at the appointed hour, clamoured for the souls in purgatory. Despite the climate of relative openness in Lima, the presence of the Inquisition tribunal in the viceregal capital created a paradox because of its closer scrutiny of the religious lives of Spaniards and castas. Over the decades, members of the tribunal, not the women placed on trial, determined the parameters of orthodox and deviant conduct. Even some of the leading members of the religious orders who served as the confessors of beatas, nuns and lay pious women attempted to control some of the practices of interioridad that prevailed among these women. In fact, one could accept at face value the assertion made by one ecclesiastical authority who described the gathering of some lay pious women in 1622 as a grangería de raptos, or a commercialization of ecstatic raptures (Archivo Histórico Nacional de Madrid [hereafter AHNM], Inq., Lima, 1647, no. 5, fol. 16v). Certainly this view came to predominate in a major change that occurred in the early 1620s among the upper  On Venice, Scully, 1995, pp. 857–76; for Mexico, Jaffary, 1999, pp. 9–28. For Peru, Silverblatt, 1987; Mannarelli, 1998; Osorio, 1999, pp. 198–229.  Vauchez, 1991, pp. 21, 24; idem, 1997, pp. 348–54, 369–86, 409; Weinstein and Bell, 1982, pp, 220–23; Bynum, 1987, pp. 16–30.  Kieckhefer, 1996, pp. 310–37; Alberro, 1988, p. 530; Henningsen, 1994, pp. 9–27; Sánchez, 1991, p. 36; Mannarelli, 1998, p. 47; AHNM, Inquisición, Lima 1030, 1621, fols 251r–252r.

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echelon of the Jesuits and some members of the regular orders. Yet even after the auto-de-fé of 1625, when four beatas condemned for heresy were ‘systematically silenced’ after being paraded through the public plaza, pious women continued to exchange ideas and engage in practices related to the supernatural world. While it is true that the ‘ideology and practice’ of judging sanctity became more rigorously enforced in this period, this shift did not affect the vast majority of pious women because only a handful of visionaries were seriously scrutinized by their confessors as potential candidates for sanctity (Myers, 2003, pp. 29, 34, 41). In the most public of all arenas including plazas, hospitals and churches, women facilitated the everyday ‘performance of gender’ in their actions and interactions with others (Butler, 1990, p. 140; Certeau, 1984, pp. 35, 98–100, 115–30). Unwittingly, women trammeled the socially constructed notion that moral, pious women should remain enclosed (recogida) in the home or in the convent. However, they did not do so as a form of conscious resistance to patriarchal forms of control, but rather as an affirmation and enactment of Christ’s humanity. Moreover, these gathering places were not exclusive to women; men could also inhabit the same physical spaces (for instance, the vestibule of a church or the marketplace), but not necessarily participate in the interactions and exchanges that occurred there among women (Giddens, 1979, p. 207; Massey, 1994, p. 168; McDowell, 1999). For these reasons, it is important to see beyond the disparaging portrayals and valorizations of contemporary female spiritual practices. Because scholars draw evidence from the very sources that construct such bifurcated paradigms, we continue to dissect forms of religious expression into distinctly sacred or profane practices in an uncritical manner, thus splintering and dislocating the beliefs of nuns in convents from healers and beatas on the streets of Lima. Generally, we associate sorceresses with predictions and incantations, but evidence shows that nuns and beatas also invoked ‘good’ spirits such as Christ, Mary or the saints in their ‘white’ magical spells, prayers or self-flagellation to alleviate poverty, marital strife or illness (Castañeda Delgado and Hernández Aparicio, 1995, p. 11). Most intercessors credited God with directing their power because they believed He had invested them with a special gift (don) to serve as channels of divine will in performing healings, prophecies or mediations on behalf of the dead. To do so, most women learned incantations that mixed bona fide and deviant practices. For instance, a group of laywomen accused of sorcery in 1597 explained that they taught one another invocations to Santa Martha, the stars and the Holy Trinity to procure a man (AHNM, Inq., Lima 1028, 1597, fols 495v–497r). Even nuns commonly pleaded with the saints to intervene on behalf of distressed patrons, and shared visions and prognostications with the members of the religious community or visitors in the locutorio (parlour) (AHNM, Inq., Censuras, Leg. 4467, 1624, no. 11). When Gerónima de San Francisco (d. 1643), a discalced nun of the Monasterio de San Joseph, heard that a woman had not given birth to her stillborn child for three days, she cleaned a discarded girdle fragment (cingulo), and  Palma, 1957; Toribio Medina, 1956; Millar, 2000, p. 287; Iwasaki Cauti 1993, p. 584; Guilhem, 1981, pp. 171–207.

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then prayed to Saint Francis for a miracle while the afflicted woman held the object against her swollen belly (Archivo Franciscano de Lima [hereafter AFL], Gerónima, fol. 477r). Even Santa Rosa, known for performing major miracles, also participated in more mundane spiritual practices. She once predicted that a fugitive slave would return to work the following day; she also helped cure an india servant working in a convent. (Meléndez, 1681, vol. 2, pp. 433–4). Nuns also used their supernatural senses to offer guidance on spiritual matters. Gerónima de San Francisco recounted in her autobiography that when a distressed laywoman confided to her that ‘some affliction in her soul kept her from something good’, Gerónima rightly ‘sensed’ that she had never been baptized (AFL, Gerónima, fol. 476r). Just as female religious were involved in so-called esoteric practices, generally the activities of so-called sorceresses were not megalomanic posturings or invested with harmful intentions; on the contrary, they formed the economic and spiritual manna of daily life (Jaffary, 1999, pp. 9–28; Scully, 1995, p. 858). Although they were more likely to make a living from their predictions or curative abilities, still, they communicated with dead family members who wished to diminish their stay in purgatory, they helped retrieve lost objects, they made predictions to avert disaster and they healed the infirm. These were all matters of serious importance to elite and plebeian limeños who invested heavily in trying to glean some understanding of and control over the beyond or lo más allá. The fact that beatas, nuns and ‘sorceresses’ interpreted signs from lo más allá had just as much to do with popular patronage of these activities as with the venues they found to express their supernatural gifts. Various documents – such as beatification proceedings, Inquisition hearings and idolatry records – show that the general populace, including influential authorities like the vicereine, frequently solicited spiritual advice on marriage, health, lost objects, auspicious travel dates and the whereabouts of dead or dying relatives from nuns, beatas and laywomen known for their esoteric skills (Castañeda Delgado and Hernández Aparicio, 1989–95, vol. 1, p. 338). In Lima, the ‘consumption’ of the supernatural was so pronounced that a diverse range of lay and religious women worked as intermediaries on behalf of the living and the dead to satisfy the ‘market demand’. Male clerics said masses, but clients flocked to consult with healers and beatas; they pulled at the sleeves of nuns about matters of the beyond. They demanded to know the whereabouts of the dead, the pain they suffered and if it could be alleviated. Patrons believed these women had special intercessorial powers to restore health or harmony, to produce material goods or to predict the future. In spite of the wishes of Inquisition authorities, the desire to control the unknown operated along a continuum where the boundaries between life and death, the quotidian and the esoteric were not readily distinguishable. These same documents also reveal an elaborate social constellation of healers, miracle workers, prophetesses and their clientele (Flores Espinoza, 1991, pp. 53–74; Estenssoro, 1997, pp. 419, 424–6). These broadly based consanguine and fictive kinship relations included married, single, elite and disenfranchised laywomen who met to pray in their homes and in the visitor’s parlours of convents. The social circuits also extended to beatas and nuns. In fact, many of Lima’s female lay and

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religious visionaries – including the most celebrated, Santa Rosa – were friends and spiritual confidantes (Vargas Ugarte, 1951, pp. 39, 69). For instance, Inés de Ubitarte (tried and acquitted by the Inquistion in 1624, and later condemned in 1629 when she self-denounced) transferred from the Monasterio de la Encarnación to the newly founded convent of Santa Catalina in 1624. Initially, her written revelations received the approval of the abbess, Lucía de la Santíssima Trinidad (+1649), something of a visionary herself, who had met Santa Rosa at the home of one of Rosa’s spiritual daughters (hijas espirituales), Isabel Mexía, some years before. Lucía had also rubbed shoulders with the well-known beata Luisa del Melgarejo (1578–1651) and even gave Melgarejo a copy of Luis de Granada’s El perfecto cristiano to study. Before she took her religious vows in the Monasterio de la Trinidad, María de Bustamante had frequented Rosa’s home. Another nun from the same convent also frequented Rosa’s home before she took her vows (Jiménez Salas, 2002, p. 392). Ana María Pérez, a quarterona de mulata who also knew Luisa del Melgarejo, was the constant companion of the Franciscan india donada, Catalina de San Francisco (AHNM, Inq., 1030, 1622, fol. 232v). Some beatas were popular among nuns; in fact, the nuns of the Monasterio de la Encarnación prayed for one beata placed on trial in 1623, and several testified on her behalf (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, 1623, fol. 214r). Only rarely did the testimonials of nuns, beatas and laywomen ascribe racial valuations to the women with whom they shared their spiritual experiences and ideas. While ‘race’ certainly mattered in particular contexts and in particular locales of colonial society, racialization, or the process that ascribed physical and cultural differences and categorizations to individuals and groups, did not seem to matter in these religious assemblages, or at least not in the same despictive and devaluing way. Measuring one’s worth relative to an ‘other’, as historian Richard Boyer has argued, was certainly crucial in the on-the-ground dramatizations of difference that characterized colonial society (Boyer, 1998, pp. 491–2). And race certainly mattered when a woman of colour realized that she could never become a nun, or when she faced inquisitorial scrutiny. But when ‘horizontal’ exchanges occurred among pious women of roughly equal spiritual status or interest, race mattered less as a determinant of difference (Boyer, 1998, p. 494). Indeed, horizontal exchanges of knowledge might involve both servants and elite women gaining a non-literate knowledge of the sacred through the imitatio morum or personal tutelage offered by some of these exceptionally pious women (MulderBakker, 2001, p. 117). The discalced nun, Gerónima de San Francisco, served as a model for one young woman who did not wish to marry or enter one of the more elite convents, but instead chose to follow in her footsteps and become a nun in the same convent (AFL, Gerónima, fol. 477v). The mulata Luisa Mexía, a criada employed by one of Santa Rosa’s spiritual daughters (Isabel Mexía, mentioned above), testified at the future saint’s first beatification hearing how she had observed Rosa’s charity toward others (Meléndez, 1681, vol. 2, pp. 433–4; González, 1671, p. 279). Numerous young girls sought Rosa’s spiritual counsel; select beatas performed simple but profound spiritual acts by praying together in Rosa’s cell or helping dress and adorn the image of Catherine of Siena with flowers on her feast day (Jiménez Salas, 2002, p. 349, [fol. 270v]). In fact, some ten years before Rosa’s death, a number of young

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girls and widows (her hijas espirituales) began to gather at her home, and then later under her direction, took their vows as Dominican tertiaries (Vargas Ugarte, 1951, pp. 76–7). What knowledge would her faithful protégés impart to others once the future American saint had died (Meléndez, 1681, vol. 2, pp. 374, 401; Vargas Ugarte, 1951, pp. 77–8; Fernández Fernández, 1995, p. 20)? Although it is difficult for the historian to access their experiences, the servants and slaves usually present in any moderately wealthy limeño household also benefited from the informal tutelage offered by their pious owners or patrons. For instance, we will probably never know how the black slave Gerónima’s life changed after she had witnessed beads of sweat appearing on a portrait of Christ as Rosa of Lima knelt before it. Would that event have affected her devotion to God, or her belief in the supernatural (Martín, 1989, p. 289)? The same question can be asked of the servants of other well-known limeña mystics. For instance, who was the young slave who arrived at the Colegio de San Pablo each day to tell the enraptured beata Luisa Melgarejo Sotomayor that the afternoon meal was ready, or to inquire how she would like her eggs prepared (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1647, no. 5, fol. 18v; Iwasaki Cauti, 1995, p. 223)? Could she have been Ursula de Jesús (1604–66), the AfroPeruvian mystic who worked briefly in her service, and then years later wrote a spiritual diary replete with communications with souls in purgatory? Informal tutelage and social intercourse served to create essential linkages among young and mature pious women. Yet they found other means to enlighten one another. In an active, participatory spirituality, they imparted a feminine sense of Christian benevolence and charity (caridad) to others. Together, pious women attended processions that occurred on a nearly daily basis in Lima (Suardo). Some dressed as penitents walking barefoot and carrying chains; others gazed at the graphic murals of the Stations of the Cross located near the Iglesia de la Recoleta Dominicana (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, 1622, fol. 233r; Vargas Ugarte, 1953–62, vol 2, pp. 471–2). Even before Gerónima de San Francisco took her monastic vows in 1612, she was known as a ‘saintly woman’ because of her custom of walking through the streets of Lima with a cross on her back (Fernández Fernández, 1997, p. 388; Córdova y Salinas, 1651, p. 914). Dozens of lay pious women like Gerónima frequented jails, hospitals, schools, convents and private homes to help the infirm, poor and needy. They also worked to support their charitable enterprises. For instance, Feliciana de Jesus (1600–64) feared that convent life would be too cloying, thus emulated Saint Rosa, became a tertiary and provided for herself, her mother and her sister as a florist, gardener and seamstress (Meléndez, 1681, vol. 3, pp. 746–67; Vargas Ugarte, 1953–62, vol. 3, pp. 438–40). The mestiza Franciscan tertiary, Isabel de Cano, sewed mattresses for the sick and addressed spiritual matters in public. She also collected alms and was named perpetual sexton (sacristana) of the Chapels of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaría and the Virgin de la Soledad. Her duties there included washing and folding the mantles and altar cloths, searching for flowers to place on the altars and grinding the flour to use in making hosts for mass (Córdova y Salinas, 1651, pp. 524–8).

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Many women felt a calling to do God’s service in the world and live the vida apostólica (the apostolic life). Santa Rosa herself gave spiritual advice to the needy, and when invited by male religious authorities, spoke at public religious events (Vargas Ugarte, 1951, pp. 150–51; Myers, 2003, p. 37). The beata Isabel de Jesús felt that the fire of God’s spirit burned fervently within her as she performed charitable works throughout the city: If she went to the plaza to ask for alms, whatever she received she used to buy bread, cucumbers, stew and tamales. From there she and another person took those goods and went to the jails; they even entered the subterranean area where they keep the prisoners locked up. [As she did so] the fire of God’s love burned in her chest. She distributed this food to the poor prisoners, and although they told her many tales of horror, sometimes she felt it, and other times not. Other days she went to [the Hospital of] La Caridad, where she helped the infirm women and gave them food to eat. After that she only begged for alms for herself, her husband, and her children. (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, 1623, fol. 215v)

Like Isabel de Jesús, female devotees made their presence known by attending processions, dressing and carrying statues, sweeping the floors of the churches or cleaning the linen and providing fresh flowers for the sacristy. In small but significant ways, women created spiritual pathways in plazas, schools, hospitals, convents and churches. They fostered a feminine geography of the sacred by rendering these spaces appropriate landscapes for spiritual beings. Furthermore, by enacting their sense of participatory spirituality in public spaces, they created a locus through which other women, from one generation to the next, could continually enhance feminine circuits of theological knowledge. Just as men did not ‘haphazardly’ gather together, the same can be said of women who found additional gender-specific locations (many part of their daily routines) to share information and knowledge (Giddens, 1979, pp. 218–19). They sat in particular areas of church (Trujillo Mena, 1981, p. 301). Many frequented the same chapels to pray and enter ecstatic trances (Vargas Ugarte, 1951, p. 38; AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, fols 212v, 224v–225r, 225v). They rented rooms from respectable women (de calidad) or they lived in small aposentos (apartments) (Durán Montero, 1992, pp. 178, 187; Flores Espinoza, 1991, p. 62). Poorer beatas visited one another in their humble flats, attending to one another when they were ill or in need. Such spaces provided comfort, solace and, in some cases, anonymity. The visionary Gerónima de San Francisco recounted in her vida that at one point before 1611, she had rented a tiny, austere room from a close female friend sworn to secrecy not to divulge her whereabouts because she wished to avoid the clamouring public and contemplate for long, uninterrupted stretches of time (AFL, Gerónima, fol. 460r). In a society where people lived in proximity, this suggests an array of possible interactions among women of distinct casta and class backgrounds (Contreras, 1968, pp. 28–9, 30–31, 37, 51). It also suggests the reliance upon informal female networks for labor, social assistance and friendship (van Deusen, 2001, pp. 92, 234, n. 60). Understanding this aspect of colonial life helps one see why women shared intimate details of their private, spiritual lives in the squares, markets and callejones – already

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naturalized areas of female interaction (Osorio, 1999; Vergara, 1997). In cramped or spacious rooms, pious women recounted their dreams, visions and beliefs. Together, beatas bowed their heads in prayer at the sumptuous oratories located in the homes of their wealthy friends, or met to read excerpts from the Flos Sanctorum, a work that detailed the tragic and colourful lives of saints and martyrs, or to discuss the more profound mystical writings of Teresa of Ávila or Luis of Granada (Leonard, 1992, p. 268). The beata, Luisa Melgarejo, who frequently held conventicles in her home, also maintained an altar complete with religious objects and other sacramental ornaments supplied by Jesuit priests (Iwasaki Cauti, 1995, pp. 230, 242–3). Other beatas maintained more modest, makeshift altars in their small flats. Institutions also offered a locus, and promoted a temporary sense of community among women. Recogimientos, hospitals, convents and schools could provide asylum and protection, and operate as centres of control for those women and girls separated from the home, or for those who worked or lived there on a permanent basis. In fact, by 1650, the possibility of residing temporarily or permanently in institutions had become ‘habitual’ in the minds of many limeñas who attempted to redefine their understanding of the casa as they struggled with poverty, violence or marital strife (van Deusen, 2001, p. 100). Women recognized that they might regain their sense of place, dwelling and domestic order in a convent or a recogimiento, which would also reaffirm their internalized notion of space as a function of desire and as a brick and mortar reality (hooks, 1990, p. 148; Massey, 1994, p. 171). A number of scholars argue that convents operated as centres where women could develop their own renderings of theology that ranged from a rudimentary knowledge of liturgy, rituals and mystical symbolism to a deep understanding of scholastic readings (Arenal and Schlau, 1989, pp. 214–29; Ibsen, 1999). Evidence from convents in Lima certainly supports this assertion; however, other institutions, including colegios, schooled generations of girls in similar ways. One of Lima’s most prestigious educational centres ‘taught matters of virtue and good example’ to privileged daughters of the elite whose parents could afford to provide them with an exceptional education. More than a scholastic education, however, students in the Colegio de Santa Teresa received a good dose of affective spirituality. They witnessed the frequent ecstatic trances (arrobos), levitation, healing and prophetic skills of their governess, Doña Isabel Porras Marmolejo, renowned throughout Lima as a visionary (Archivo Arzobispal de Lima [hereafter AAL], Beatificaciones, fols 45r, 47v–48v, 51v, 57r, 58v). But such extraordinary learning experiences were not only the provenance of the elite. We see a more modest example in the story told to the Inquisition tribunal by Leonor Verdugo, a Potosí resident accused of sorcery in 1621. As the scribe recorded her account in the third person, Leonor explained that the Recogimiento de las Divorciadas had served as an ‘educational’ center where she learned certain prayers and incantations:

 Vargas Ugarte, 1953–62, 3: pp. 458–9; Fernández Fernández, 1995, pp. 88–9; AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1631, Pr, Diego Nieto Maldonado, no. 1246, fols 1949–1951v.

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Gender, Race and Religion in the Colonization of the Americas In this prayer one asked God or Saint John to intercede and help obtain a husband, or to find out whether she would become a nun. [Leonor] learned this while recogida in the divorce house of Santa Clara in Lima. All the doncellas prayed it and the words chanted were good and holy ... . She [Leonor] prayed the Lord’s prayer and the Hail Mary to commend herself to God and his saints and [to ask them] to mediate on her behalf. She also knew how to pray the rosary on behalf of the souls of purgatory and the lost soul (ánima sola), who had no one to pray for him. (AHNM, Inq., Libro 1030, 1622, fol. 252r)

In addition to the spiritual tutelage that occurred within institutional settings, young, inquisitive women had access to books they learned to read, or had read to them (Sánchez Lora, 1988, p. 375). A few exceptional women gained access to ecclesiastical libraries, and generous friars shared their books with talented female protégés (Martín, 1968, p. 85; Hampe Martínez, 1993, p. 119). Others were able to buy or borrow the hagiographic and instructional works that began arriving en masse in Lima around 1600. For instance, by 1645, the year the modest and humble mulata tertiary, Estephanía de San José, died, she had acquired 17 large, medium and smallsized devotional manuals and books, the contents of which she eagerly shared with willing listeners (AFL, Estephania, fols 569r–573v). The act of reading not only imparted information, but it also promoted internal contemplation (Kieckhefer, 1991, p. 302). This was considered particularly true for women, because, from the medieval to the early modern period, women were strongly identified with the five senses, and reading stimulated the aural and visual faculties that would aide contemplation (Solterer, 1994, p. 129f). Like men, pious women in Peru ‘performed’ written works aloud, while female listeners received the narrative content aurally (Birge Vitz, 1991, p. 101). For example, Estephanía de San José held literary sessions with the richest women of Lima. Her biographer, Francisco de Ávila, wrote: She knew what was suitable for that lady and her household to read. She entered the house saying, blessed be Jesus Christ ... and wanted them to read the book she carried: and if the opportunity presented itself and it did not bother or annoy anyone, she took out her book and said ... ‘read me a little’, and then went to another part and said, ‘read a little of this’, knowing that what she read or heard was important for that person. But, [she proceeded] carefully, and not in an obvious way that might raise suspicion. (AFL, Estephanía, fol. 570r)

The contents of recently translated hagiographies also facilitated discussions about the virtues and spiritual adventures of medieval and early modern saints such as Saints Lutgarde, Gertrude, Catherine of Genoa and Catherine of Siena. In fact some of the theological writings of the great female mystics infiltrated the content of the notebooks (cuadernillos) composed by Lima’s visionaries. Before the Inquisition  Eguiguren, 1940, 2: pp. 695–722; AHNM, Inquisición, Lima, Leg. 1647, exp. 5, 12v; AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1629, Pr, FA, no. 6, 240v–241.  Iwasaki Cauti, 1995, p. 221; AHNM, Inq., Lima, Libro 1030, 1623, fol. 396v; AHNM, Inquisición, Lima, Libro 1647, no. 5, fol. 12v.

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started rounding up suspect writings, spiritual diaries circulated widely and formed the centerpiece of informal spiritual conventicles. The mystical raptures recorded by the discalced nun Gerónima de San Francisco, influenced discussions held by a select group of lay pious women (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1647, exp. 5, fol. 21v). Some visionaries were prolific. Luisa Melgarejo de Sotomayor composed 59 notebooks before they were confiscated, and by the time the nun Inés de Ubitarte underwent scrutiny by the Inquisition in 1624, she had recorded over 98 revelations during a six-year period. In fact, many influential authorities had already read them, and the foundress of the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Lucía de la Santíssima Trinidad (Daga), served as her scribe. Still, handwritten diaries were rare treasures. More prevalent were the small but significant religious objects that women owned and then bequeathed to family members and friends. Articles that rendered many aspects of baroque Catholicism tangible included relics, oil and tempura paintings, religious statuettes (hechuras), etchings, retablos, miniatures and rosaries bathed in silver.10 Among the worldly possessions of one pious limeña who died in 1631 were no fewer than 15 altar screens of various saints, Christ and Mary (Archivo General de la Nación, Perú [hereafter] AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1631,Pr, FA, fols 834r–v). Visual art often fulfilled an important didactic function. Its iconographic presence allowed the viewer to internalize particular messages and link it to specific actions such as contemplation, prayer, meditation or the reading of religious texts (Loreto López, 1997, pp. 27, 33). This resonated with the inveterate Catholic belief that God had chosen to communicate with humans by means of images (Jones, 1999, p. 28). It also resonated with Jesuit founder Ignatius of Loyola’s advice to position religious images in key areas of the home and to focus the imagination on contemplative practices related to those images (Iwasaki Cauti, 1995, pp. 230, 242–3). Icons served as pedagogical devices in other ways. In 1622, Doña Francisca de Villaroel testified at the Inquisition trial of the beata Ana María Pérez that she came to understand the meaning of ‘levels of glory’, while she, another woman, the prisoner and her son examined an etching (estampa) of heaven that contained trees representing divine geneaology, complete with cherubim and seraphim. The uppermost part of the drawing revealed a luminous Blessed Trinity (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, fol. 228r). Others found inspiration by viewing the religious icons displayed in the richly ornate churches of the city. Some beatas frequented particular chapels where they witnessed religious statues moving, crying or sweating (AHNM, Inq., Lima 1030, fol. 213r; Fernández Fernández, 1995, pp. 88–9). In the Iglesia de San Pablo, many could kneel before the Coronation of the Virgin:, a painted image so spectacular and  AHNM, Lima 1030, fol. 395r; AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1647, exp. 5, fol. 23r. 10 AGNP, Testament, 1629, Pr, FA, no. 6, fols 34v–40; AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1629, Pr, FA, no. 6, fols 559–61; AGNP Estate Inventory, 1631, Pr, FA, no. 9, fols 115–17; AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1631, Pr, FA, fols 834r–v; AGNP, Dowry, 1632, Pr, FA, no. 10, Fol. 865– 866v; AGNP, Testament, 1632, Pr, CA, no. 11, fols 223–224v; AGNP, Dowry, 1632, Pr, CA, fols 442v–445; AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1640, Pr, Diego Nieto Maldonado, no. 1246, fols 1949–1951v.

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impressive that it influenced a vision held decades later by the black mystic, Ursula de Jesús (Ursula de Jesús, 2004, p. 132 [39v]). Written works and iconography enhanced feminine experiences of the divine, but the female body also served as a primary means to render God’s presence visible. Clothing provided clues of a woman’s zeal, and the quality of the fabric (grogrum versus silk, for instance) mirrored the inner spiritual domain. Particularly drab, tattered or rumpled garments were considered a sign of unusual piety and humility. María de Uzástegui testified that ‘when [Santa] Rosa came to my home, instead of a blouse, she wore a sackcloth, which I saw when she took it off to bathe’ (Fernández Fernández, 1995, p. 63). Jewelry, pins and pendants adorned female bodies that served as an inscriptive surface where gendered forms of sanctity were displayed (Grosz, 79f, pp. 138–59). The wealthy frequently wore necklesses (gargantillas) that contained an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception laden with gold and jewels.11 Others wore ornate reliquaries (relicarios) or pendants crafted by renowned artisans that sometimes contained an actual relic or a miniature painting of a saint protected by glass and a small frame (Egan, 1993, pp. 73–80). These religious objects were thought to empower the individual. Conversely, religious objects could gain additional powers if held in the possession of someone considered spiritually blessed. For instance, the nuns of the Monastery of Santa Catalina believed Inés de Ubitarte when she claimed that a holy girdle (cingulo) had been sent to her from heaven (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, 1629, fol. 396r). Even floral arrangements fashioned by nuns held special significance for some laywomen who thought they contained some spiritual essence (AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1631, Pr, FA, no. 9, fols 831–32). Bodies also served as ‘powerful conduits of devotional display’ in other ways (Camille, 1994, p. 79). The belief in the inexorable corporeality of the female body meant that women could achieve mystical union through the body, which could also serve as a pedagogical tool for the observant. Bodies served as an external text of ‘experiences of mystical transport that spoken or written language did not and could not articulate’ (Simons, 13). Witnesses used terminology and employed an interpretive gendered framework to read the external signs of female bodies enduring physical torture in imitation of Christ (Bynum, 1989, pp. 161–219; Simons, 1994, p. 12ff; Butler, 1990, pp. 140–41). Rosa’s india servant Mariana, who accompanied the mystic on her daily rounds, once confessed under duress that Rosa wore a tunic of rough pigskin beneath her Dominican habit, and that she diligently obeyed her master by placing lime on Rose’s hands when told they were pale and lovely.12 She also testified that on three separate occasions Rosa revealed her purpled and lacerated 11 AGNP, Estate Inventory, 1629, Pr, FA, no. 6, fols 559–61; AGNP, Estate Inventory, no. 9, 115–17; AGNP, Estate Inventory, Lima, 1631, fols 834r–v; AGNP, Dowry, no. 10, fols 865–66v; AGNP, Testament, María Maldonado, Lima, 1632, Pr, CA, no. 11, fols 223–24v; AGNP, Dowry, Isabel de Rojas, Lima, 1632, Pr, CA, fols 442v–45. 12 Fernández Fernández, 1995, pp. 38, 57, 63; Mujica Pinilla, 1995, p. 195; Vargas Ugarte, 1951, pp. 57–8; Jiménez Salas, 2002, p. 195, [fol. 145v].

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shoulders which she then helped cure (Jiménez Salas, 2002, p. 404, [fol. 317v]). The intimate physical knowledge only a servant or close companion could have is also revealed in the testimony given by the Indian servant Catalina of her mistress, Mariana de Jesús, a famous visionary from Quito. At her beatification hearing she proclaimed her mistress’s most intimate mortification habits and described how she washed the blood off her back after Mariana begged the servant to whip her (Espinosa Polit, 1957, pp. 176, 216–17). Evidence also suggests that many limeños considered ecstatic trances to be orthodox, acceptable and accessible public practices. Gerónima de San Francisco was famous for attending Jubilee masses at the Iglesia del Hospital de la Caridad where she once spent over 40 hours on her knees in an ecstatic trance (Fernández Fernández, 1997, p. 388; Córdova y Salinas, [1651] 1957, p. 914). Because mystical transport fell outside the range of conventional behaviour, witnesses developed a descriptive vocabulary that gave further credence to the experiences (Simons, 1994, p. 16). Female witnesses could provide extremely detailed, almost scientific descriptions of the position of the head, colouration or other bodily movements of women experiencing arrobos, or ecstatic trances. Women also made careful note of how certain rituals were performed: for instance, whether someone received the Eucharist with fervour or devotion. On one occasion, Catalina de Santa María, a companion of Rosa’s, accompanied the future saint to a church to pray. When she saw that Rosa had entered a trance, she edged closer in order to discern any changes. Catalina first noticed that Rosa’s body remained immobile and without sensation, and that later her cheeks changed in colour from deathly pale to inflamed to resplendent like the rays of the sun (Jiménez Salas, 2002, p. 350, [fol. 271v]). Decades after her death, students still had vivid memories of Isabel Porras Marmolejo in an ecstatic trance – sighing and groaning, her eyes vacant and staring, her breath shallow, her mouth as though it were releasing a silent moan. The witnesses claimed that although her body lacked any strong pulse, their teacher maintained a look of complete serenity on her face throughout her rapture (AAL, Beatificaciones, 1633, fols 45r, 48v). Such an elaborate, interpretive vocabulary argues that ecstatic trances were comprehensible and acceptable – perhaps even common – phenomena (AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1647, exp. 5, fols 10v, 20v; AHNM, Inq., Lima, 1030, fol. 210v). In a telling example, the Bishop of Huamanga testified at the Inquisition trial of Luisa Melgarejo Sotomayor that during the Jubilee procession of August 1618, [w]hile among a group of women, the said doña Luisa fell into a trance, which she tended to do. However, she started to groan and gesticulate in such an anguished manner that all those present [at the procession] who heard the noise drew closer to see her. In order not to trample her, and because of the large and curious crowd, the women closest to her, all friends of hers, surrounded her and created a human wall until the procession had ended and her rapture subsided. (AHNM, Lima, 1647, no. 5, 1624, fol. 5v)

‘The women closest to her, all friends of hers, surrounded her and created a human wall’. There is something very powerful and evocative in that image. As historian

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Michel de Certeau once wrote, ‘something essential is at work in this everyday historicity’, in this case, witnessing women honour and protect a sacred space (God speaking through the body of a moaning woman) that enabled the feminine expression of everyday piety (Certeau, 1984, p. 20). A close examination of Inquisition documents, nuns’ vidas and contemporary chronicles provides clues about early modern notions of the holy and the unholy, but they also disclose a widely disseminated, richly internalized knowledge of the sacred. Beyond these fleeting glimpses of quotidian Catholicism, however, what does the circulation of knowledge tell us about the connections between the world of the mind and external social relations? It suggests mobility in terms of women’s religious identities, their sense of social place and their spatial pathways. It implies that racial categories and the racialization of differences did not seem paramount to women who considered themselves to be of roughly equal status in terms of their spiritual identities and interests. It also implies a deep undercurrent of exchanges occurring, almost unseen, yet visible in the most public of all places. This knowledge should then cause us to recast the question – ‘a woman’s place?’ – and where, how and with whom they felt safe to express themselves. The historical evidence quietly, but insistently, begs us to rethink and perhaps reconfigure our sometimes prescriptive gendered and racialized notions of place and space as sources of belonging and participating in colonial society. Of course, male clerics, husbands, fathers and brothers still determined the parameters of orthodox spiritual expression and played prominent roles in the lives of the visionaries and ‘false’ beatas mentioned throughout this chapter. Learned men served as their confessors, approving or censoring their visions and their writings. Theologians determined who fell within the orthodox prescriptions for sanctity; they preached and disseminated many of the theological ideas that circulated among the women themselves. They also regulated and rescripted their lives to resonate with Counter-Reformation codes of sanctity or heresy. On another level, the existence of female circuits of knowledge should not presume a conscious network of female solidarity, friendship or loyalty, especially given the climate of suspicion generated by inquisitorial scrutiny. Nor did all women share the same perspectives or knowledge. But these circuits, as fluid and informal as they were, may be an indication that some men and women shared common cultural traditions, but on different terms. In those instances where women exerted some control (in this case as intercessors), they ranked themselves vis-à-vis other women, not men. Knowing that such feminine epistemological communities existed then raises the question of how expressions of spirituality became gendered, and how they were communicated and transmuted. More importantly, what and how did men learn from women? Just as many early modern treatises drew upon the experiences of medieval mystics, perhaps the knowledge of priests and friars became equally feminized as women whispered tales of the beyond into the ears of receptive confessors.

Chapter 12

Waters of Faith, Currents of Freedom: Gender, Religion and Ethnicity in Inter-Imperial Trade Between Curaçao and Tierra Firme Linda M. Rupert

In mid-1688, a small boat left the Dutch entrepôt of Curaçao, a small island in the southern Caribbean, carrying a Sephardic Jewish woman, four women of African descent, two Spanish men and a Guayquirí Indian. It was headed for Coro, a town located just 40 miles away on the northern coast of mainland Spanish America. But the vessel did not complete the typically short, easy voyage over calm waters. Instead, it was caught in a storm and dashed to bits along the mainland shore. Only the Guayquirí, Miguel Francisco, survived to tell the tale of this eclectic group of shipmates. He testified that he had met the Sephardic woman in Curaçao, where she had begged him to help her leave the island undetected, and that she carried papers written by a Franciscan priest in Curaçao introducing her to religious and secular authorities in Coro, where she intended to convert to Catholicism. As the storm tore apart the vessel, one of the Spaniards clumsily complied with her desperate pleas to baptize her before she perished, bestowing on her the Spanish Christian name of Josepha María (the only identification we have for her). Her four black female companions remain nameless. What circumstances brought together such an unlikely group of shipmates? Why would these five women leave a prosperous Dutch island to sail together to a peripheral part of Spanish America? What situation were they leaving, and what new  Research for this chapter was funded by the Social Science Research Council, the J. William Fulbright Foundation, and Women’s Studies and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke University. I would like to thank Ramón Aizpurua, Jan Ewald and Nora Jaffary for their comments on earlier drafts. I regret that I have not been able to incorporate all of their suggestions.  AF CC #914, 9 September 1688. I am grateful to Carlos González Batista for assistance in locating the original document. The Spanish men, identified as Pablos [sic] and Benitto Boxorques, probably were sailors.

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world did they hope to enter? While we can only guess their particular circumstances and motives, the fragment of their story that survives in the historical record provides a porthole into the inter-imperial networks that were developing throughout the Caribbean at the time, across divides of gender, race/ethnicity, religion and social class, as well as across larger geographic and geopolitical boundaries. We can understand better the movements of these women and their contemporaries if we move beyond a dualistic model that divides the early modern Atlantic world into polarized categories of centre/periphery, metropolis/colony, land/sea, port/ shipboard. Instead, the Atlantic can be conceptualized along a spectrum ‘showing gradations in power, intensity of interaction, and social character’ in overlapping but somewhat independent economic, political and social systems, in the words of geographer Donald Meinig (Meinig, 1986, pp. 264–5). Throughout the Americas, colonial centres and peripheries operated according to their own internal logic, one that was influenced by, but also somewhat independent of, distant European imperial centres (Bushnell and Greene, 2002, pp. 3–6). Curaçao was a colonial centre, an important regional hub in a Dutch commercial system that linked supply and demand markets throughout the Americas, Africa, Europe and beyond (Klooster, 1998). The nearby Spanish-American mainland, Tierra Firme (present-day Venezuela and parts of Colombia) was, in contrast, a colonial periphery, a ‘vital frontier’ in Spanish America that produced agricultural commodities for Atlantic markets but was marginal to the central Spanish imperial project (TePaske, 2002, pp. 30–36). The supposedly rigid dichotomy between land and sea also has shaped the study of gender in the Atlantic maritime world. The shipboard community is seen as a man’s world, occasionally penetrated by a handful of exceptional women, including notorious pirates like Anne Bonny and Mary Reid, daring cross-dressers who passed as male sailors, and a few adventuresome wives of ship captains who sailed with their husbands. Port society, in contrast, is often portrayed as an extension of the domestic sphere, the domain of weeping widows and aggressive prostitutes who eagerly await the arrival of itinerant men (Druett, 1998, 2000; Cordingly, 2001). This characterization ignores the multiple connections that existed between land and sea, and the varied roles that women adopted throughout the maritime world (Creighton and Norling, 1996, p. x). Port, sea, coast and rural hinterland were not discrete, opposing worlds but rather parts of a continuum that often extended across geopolitical borders (Meinig, 1986, pp. 260–61). The inter-imperial networks which developed between Dutch Curaçao and Spanish Tierra Firme in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are fertile ground for analyzing the many ways that women and men negotiated power along this continuum, in the interstices of imperial systems. As Natalie Zemon Davis has shown, women were particularly adroit in creating their own hybrid borderlands in the early modern world, managing multiple identities outside the bounds of official power structures and transforming the supposed margins of society into vibrant, locally defined centres (Davis, 1995, pp. 210–12). Archival evidence demonstrates that women participated in multiple, interconnected networks between Curaçao and Tierra Firme in a variety of ways that supersede the port/sea dichotomy, but their

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role hardly has been acknowledged. This article is an initial attempt to address that lacuna. Emergence of a Dutch Entrepôt When the five women embarked on their ill-fated voyage, close ties already existed between Curaçao and Tierra Firme, and the island had become an important regional trade centre. When the Dutch West India Company seized the small, arid island from the Spanish in 1634, they initially used it as a naval base from which to attack Spanish possessions in the Americas. Company officials soon saw the commercial potential of the island, which was strategically located just 40 miles off the northern coast of South America, outside the hurricane belt, and had several natural, deepwater harbours along its sheltered southern coast. The 1648 Treaty of Munster, which ended the Eighty Years’ War between the Netherlands and Spain and recognized Dutch possessions in the Americas, strictly forbad commerce between their respective colonies, but this provision was largely ignored. By the 1650s and 60s, the island’s merchants were trading actively with Spanish, French and English colonies throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, in violation of the restrictive commercial policies of these other European colonial powers, and to the great consternation of their authorities. The inter-imperial trade broke no Dutch laws, however. This focus on commerce characterized the entire Dutch colonial enterprise. By the mid-seventeenth century, the Dutch had established footholds over a large swath of the Americas, from New Netherland (present-day New York) in North America, to a half dozen Caribbean islands and the so-called Wild Coast on the north-eastern littoral of South America (in the no-man’s land between Spanish and Portuguese domains), south to Recife, Brazil. But these territorial gains proved ephemeral. By the 1670s, following their defeat in three Anglo-Dutch Wars, the Dutch retained only the Wild Coast settlements and a few small Caribbean islands, of which Curaçao was the largest and most important. They abandoned further efforts at territorial conquest, turning their full attention to commerce. In 1675, just 13 years before Josepha María and her companions set sail, the Dutch West India Company declared Curaçao a free port, one of the first in the Americas. This move was highly unusual in the prevailing mercantile climate. Thereafter, vessels of all flags freely entered Curaçao’s principal harbour of Willemstad,  For example, vice-director Matthias Beck to Amsterdam directors, 11 June, 1657 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #27, p. 93).  Amsterdam directors to vice-director Lucas Rodenborg, 7 July 1654 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #15, p. 63); ‘Petition of merchants, planters, and others concerned in the good government of St. Christopher’s to the Council of State’, 25 January 1659 (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1574–1660, vol. XIII #63, p. 473); Lt. Col. Thomas Lynch of Jamaica, 25 May 1664 (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1661–68, #744, p, 211).  The description of this trade as contraband, smuggling, illicit, etc., therefore, refers to its characterization by other European powers, not to its role in the Dutch Atlantic system.

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paying a fixed percentage of the value of their cargos for the privilege to trade there (Goslinga, 1985, p. 81). Curaçao became the wealthiest Dutch possession in the Americas, linking markets throughout the Caribbean and the Americas to the wider Atlantic world. In the last quarter of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth, the transit trade via the small island totalled half the value of all Dutch Atlantic commerce (Emmer, 1998, p. 102). Frigates, brigantines and snows departed regularly for Europe, carrying tobacco, cacao, hides, coffee, indigo, sugar, precious metals and dyewood from source markets around the region, and returning with European manufactures. Other vessels brought slaves from Dutch forts in western Africa. Between 1646 and 1700, the Dutch shipped over 160,000 enslaved Africans to Curaçao, the vast majority for re-export to Spanish America. The peak decade was the 1680s, when Dutch vessels transported approximately 53,000 Africans across the Atlantic in 97 documented voyages (Postma, 2003, pp. 123, 137). In spite of strict sanctions imposed by the Spanish Crown, demand in Tierra Firme for enslaved labour fuelled a lucrative clandestine commerce in human cargo, alongside the official trade through the asiento de negros (the contract which regulated the legal import of slaves to the Spanish colonies). The unauthorized shipment of enslaved Africans to Spanish America via Curaçao reached such high proportions that King Carlos II of Spain issued three strongly worded Royal Decrees in the 1680s and 90s, threatening to grant freedom to any slave on the mainland whose owner could not produce a legitimate bill of purchase via the asiento (Marley, 1984, #5). (The slave trade also provided an easy conduit for the entry of contraband goods into the Spanish colonies, and helped Curaçaoan traders develop contacts with merchants and markets on the mainland.) In 1688, the Company had a surplus of some 5,000 Africans on the island, most of whom they smuggled to the mainland (Goslinga, 1985, p. 166). Josepha María’s anonymous black companions sailed a route that was well travelled that year. Inter-imperial trade permeated all levels of Curaçao’s economy and society. The Amsterdam Chamber of the Dutch West India Company controlled the island politically as well as economically, and even appointed the governor.10 With no large For analysis of the Dutch trans-Atlantic trade, see Klooster, 2003, 1998; Emmer, 1998 and Postma and Enthoven, eds., 2003.  This does not include the unknown number of undocumented voyages. For extensive treatment of the Dutch transatlantic slave trade, see Postma, 1990 and 2003.  Among others, Spanish King to Governor of Mérida, 1656 (Troconis de Veracoechea, 1969, #43, pp. 209–10); ‘Acta del Cabildo de Caracas’, 30 January 1680, (Troconis de Veracoechea, 1969, #47, pp. 219–20).  Vice-director Matthias Beck to Amsterdam directors 28 July 1657 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, eds., 1987, #28, pp. 104–5); Matthias Beck to Company directors in Amsterdam, 4 February 1660 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, eds., 1987, #57, p. 161); Nationaal Archief Nederland [hereafter NAN] Nieuwe West Indische Compagnie [hereafter NWIC] 1146: 21, Governor van Beek to Amsterdam Chamber, 18 September 1700. 10 For analysis of the role of the Dutch West India Company in the Dutch colonial project in the Atlantic, see, among others, Heijer, 2003, and Goslinga, 1985.

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scale agriculture producing cash crops for export, Curaçao did not fit the plantation paradigm. Urban merchants with international connections, not rural planters, formed the upper class. Across the socio-economic spectrum, most of the population worked in maritime-related activities, from prosperous Dutch merchants to enslaved dockworkers and sailors. The port city of Willemstad was the hub of the local economy. By the first decade of the eighteenth century, the majority of the island’s taxpayers lived in town (Buddingh’, 1994, p. 70). From a small military outpost of several hundred inhabitants (mostly men) in the 1660s, Willemstad’s population mushroomed in the decades following the port’s opening to free trade.11 By the end of the eighteenth century, with a population of just under 12,000, Willemstad was a mid-sized American port, somewhat smaller than Charlestown (South Carolina), Boston and Vera Cruz, Mexico; about the same size as Cartagena, Colombia and Kingston, Jamaica; and significantly larger than the French Caribbean ports in SaintDomingue and Guadaloupe.12 Willemstad’s transformation into a thriving Caribbean and Atlantic port included a demographic diversification in which gender, ethnicity and religion all played central roles. With men frequently away at sea, women had already become over half the port’s adult white population by the first decade of the eighteenth century.13 Women dominated the city demographically, forming the majority of every major social and ethnic group except slaves until well into the nineteenth century (Abraham-van der Mark, 1993, pp. 40–41; van Soest, 1978, p. 3).14 The local population was both highly cosmopolitan and highly stratified. A somewhat oversimplified but useful categorization divides the inhabitants into three groups that were defined along clear, intertwined lines of social class, race/ethnicity and religion, with the small Dutch Protestant merchant elite at the top; up-andcoming Sephardic Jewish merchants in the middle; and Catholic Afro-Curaçaoans, enslaved and free, at the bottom (Hoetink, 1987).15 Uninterested in converting their slaves, the Dutch allowed itinerant Catholic priests to visit the island regularly from the nearby Spanish-American mainland to minister to the Afro-Curaçaoan majority (Lampe, 2001, pp. 108–109). Curaçao officially remained part of a mainland diocese (Coro until 1638, and Caracas thereafter), and retained close religious ties with Coro. After the bishop of Caracas issued a pastoral letter from Coro in 1677, encouraging

11 Sir Thomas Modyford’s Proposition, February 1665 (Calendar of State Papers, 1661–68, #944, p. 281); Governor Stapleton of Nevis to the Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations, 17 July 1672 (Calendar of State Papers, 1669–74, #896, p. 392). 12 NAN NWIC 1176, 9 August 1790; Price, 1991, p. 263. 13 NAN NWIC 1149, ‘Leijste den familien’, 10 July 1709. 14 This demographic over-representation of women was typical of many early modern Atlantic ports, and had far-reaching implications. See, for example, Herndon, 1996, p. 57. 15 For an English summary, see pp. 164–8. One problem with this model is that it does not allow for the ethnic diversity of the many small-scale merchants and itinerant seafarers who passed through the cosmopolitan port of Willemstad. Nor does it recognize the multiple social, economic and cultural interactions between the three groups.

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evangelization in Curaçao, over fifty priests visited the island (Felice Cardot, 1982, pp. 393–5).16 Curaçaoan traders developed close ties with Tierra Firme from the earliest years of Dutch rule. Peripheral to the Spanish imperial project, the area largely was neglected by the two fleets that plied the Atlantic between Spain and its more prosperous New World colonies (Hussey, 1934, pp. 5–7, 52). Local plantations, worked by enslaved labourers, produced a variety of agricultural commodities that found ready markets in Europe. Tierra Firme was the world’s leading exporter of cacao beans, from which chocolate is processed. Inhabitants and colonial authorities alike were anxious to trade, both to acquire manufactured products from Europe and to market their agricultural commodities.17 Curaçao’s proximity to the coast, across relatively calm, shark-free waters, facilitated the transit of small vessels to and from Tierra Firme.18 The long, isolated coastline broken by small bays provided countless spots for hidden rendezvous, while numerous river valleys allowed easy transport of commodities to and from the Spanish-American hinterland.19 Coro, the intended destination of Josepha María and her shipmates, was located at the eastern base of the narrow Paraguaná Peninsula, a short sail downwind and down-current from Curaçao. Accessible to even the smallest craft, it was a centre of inter-imperial trade already by the 1650s, and a particularly favourite destination of small-scale merchants and seafarers.20 Atlantic Diasporas and Inter-Imperial Trade From the earliest years, a variety of participants on both sides of the geopolitical divide traded regularly between Curaçao and Tierra Firme, alongside the West India Company and well-established Dutch merchants. They included government officials, clergy, indigenous people, enslaved and free people of African descent, and

16 For religious ties between the areas, see Felice Cardot, 1982, pp, 386–413. 17 NAN Oud Archief Curaçao [hereafter OAC] 824: 296–8, 16 August 1750; Governor du Faij to Amsterdam Chamber, 27 February 1723 (NWIC 1153); Governor Worsley of Barbados to Council of Trade and Plantations 26 March 1723 (Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1722–3 #486, pp. 234–5); Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 353–9. For description and analysis of the specific areas of Venezuela and other parts of Spanish America that were most involved in this trade, see Arauz Monfante, 1984, pp. 71–129. 18 Francisco Nuñez Melian to Spanish Crown, Valencia, 11 February 1635 (Wright, 1935, #60, p. 199); Domingo Antonio Francisco to Caracas, 12–13 July 1635 (Wright, 1935, #62 Annex, pp. 215–16). 19 NAN NWIC 1153, Governor du Faij to Amsterdam Chamber, 27 February 1723; Governor Worsley of Barbados to Council of Trade and Plantations, 26 March 1723 (Calendar of State Papers, 1722–23, #486, pp. 234–5). 20 Among others, vice-director Matthias Beck to Amsterdam Directors, 28 July 1657 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #28, p. 104).

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a variety of merchants and seafarers.21 Two Atlantic diaspora groups in particular, Curaçao’s up-and-coming Sephardic Jewish merchants, and people of African descent (enslaved and free, women and men), played key roles in this commerce, operating both alongside and independently of the Dutch merchant elite who dominated the island’s trans-Atlantic trade. Further analysis of the role of these two groups in interimperial commercial circuits provides insights into the travels and possible motives of the five ill-fated women. By the last quarter of the seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth, Curaçao was home to the largest and most prosperous Sephardic Jewish community in the Americas (Emmanuel and Emmanuel, 1970, p. 7). These diasporic exiles, who traced their roots to the Iberian Peninsula, worked as merchants from their earliest arrival on the island, via Amsterdam, in the 1650s.22 Drawing on an interconnected network of family members and associates in port cities around the Atlantic basin, Curaçao’s Sephardic merchants traded regularly with close to two dozen locales throughout the Americas.23 Most of Curaçao’s Sephardim were of humble origins and, in spite of their Atlantic-wide commercial connections, they were not yet an established merchant elite. Throughout the eighteenth century, the majority belonged to the island’s lowest tax bracket.24 By the time Josepha María and her shipmates sailed, Curaçao’s Sephardic merchants already had forged close commercial ties with contacts in Tierra Firme, especially in the area around Coro. They established a thriving enclave at nearby Tucacas, which was such a notorious centre for illicit inter-imperial trade that the Spanish authorities tried, unsuccessfully, to eliminate it in 1710 (Emmanuel, 1973, p. 6; Klooster, 1997, pp. 72–3; Arbell, 1996). Josepha María would have known the merchants in Curaçao’s small, tight-knit Sephardic community who traded regularly with Coro, and she likely would have recognized any who she might have encountered on the mainland. In 1700, Curaçao’s Sephardic community numbered only about 126 families, all of whom met weekly at the island’s one synagogue (Emmanuel and Emmanuel, 1970, p. 93). Josepha María’s letters of introduction to secular and religious authorities in Tierra Firme, and her plans to convert, indicate that she intended to abandon, or at least deny, her Jewish heritage. Even so, she would not have been far from the 21 For extensive analysis of the role of these different groups in inter-imperial trade, see Klooster, 1998; Arauz Monfante, 1984; Cohen, 2003; Aizpurua, 1993. 22 ‘Freedoms and Exemptions granted to Joseph Nunes de Fonseca’s colony on Curaçao’, 22 February 1652 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 198., #12, pp. 49–51); vice-director Matthias Beck to Petrus Stuyvesant 21 March 1656 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #26, pp. 91–2); Emmanuel and Emmanuel, 1970, pp. 62–7, 68–70. 23 For the wider Atlantic dimensions of Sephardic trade, see, among others, Bernardini and Fiering, eds, 2001; Cesarani, 2002; Cesarani and Romain, 2005. For the regional trade ties of Curaçao’s Sephardim, see Emmanuel and Emmanuel, 1970, Appendix 16, pp. 822–40; Emmanuel, 1957, pp. 261–339; Klooster, 1997; Fortune, 1984. 24 NAN NWIC 1166:83, ‘Leijste van de familien’, 2 June 1775; Emmanuel and Emmanuel, 1970, Appendix 8, pp. 763–8. Curaçao’s Sephardim emerged as a bona fide elite in the nineteenth century, following their attainment of full political rights in 1825.

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commercial circuits that sustained the Sephardic community she had left. In spite of the strict prohibition by the Spanish Crown and severe sanctions against offenders, many local government officials and members of the clergy on the mainland were deeply involved in inter-imperial commerce. Lower echelon officials in neglected coastal areas understood that the inhabitants of their marginalized jurisdictions depended on illegal trade for their very survival. Smuggling also gave them a certain political and economic independence from larger, more powerful seats of regional and imperial government (Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 358–9; Ferry, 1989, pp. 116–18). Officials in Tierra Firme likely would have welcomed Josepha María, expecting that her contacts among Sephardic merchants would help them develop their own independent connections with the prosperous Dutch entrepôt, strengthening both the local economy and their own status. Catholic priests, who travelled freely across the geopolitical divide to perform their religious obligations and enjoyed widespread respect among large sectors of the population in both places, had many opportunities to trade clandestinely. From the earliest years of the Dutch takeover, the very priests who ministered to enslaved Curaçaoans combined contraband with their ecclesiastical duties (Felice Cardot, 1982, p. 392). They often trafficked in slaves. Thirty years before a Franciscan priest penned letters of introduction for Josepha María, Father Frey Francisco already was trading slaves and merchandise between Coro and Curaçao.25 Such practices continued throughout the next century. Father Alexius Schabel, a Bohemian Jesuit who lived in both Tierra Firme and Curaçao at the turn of the century, wrote of his own commercial dealings and those of other priests.26 Augustin Caycedo, an Augustinian priest who became prefect of the Curaçao mission in 1715, regularly traded in tobacco from the mainland (Goslinga, 1985, p. 259). In later years, priests traded a variety of commodities, including slaves from Curaçao.27 Josepha María’s four black companions carried no letters of introduction. If they were her chattel, she probably was relatively well-to-do. (She clearly had the resources to arrange her private transport to the mainland, and she had both the presence of mind and the connections to obtain the letters.) The attention of four domestic slaves surely would have eased the stresses of settling into her new life, while the very act of possessing them likely would have established her status as a woman of means in Spanish colonial society. Alternatively, she may have purchased the women at a local slave auction in Curaçao as an investment, intending to sell them upon her arrival on the mainland to finance her new life. Such auctions were held regularly in 25 Matthias Beck to Amsterdam directors 28 July 1657 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #28, p. 103). 26 Alexius Schabel, ‘Dagboek-Fragment van Pater Michael Alexius Schabel Societatis Jesu Missionaris op het eiland Curaçao loopend van 21 October 1707 tot 4 Februari 1708’, National Archives of the Netherlands Antilles [hereafter NANA]; Schunk, 1997, pp. 96, 100; Felice Cardot, 1982, pp. 395–6. 27 AF IPC VIII: 379–81, 4 February 1721; AF IPC XVI: 437–42, 1737; Felice Cardot, 1982, pp. 405–6. In some cases, authorities unjustly may have accused priests of participating in contraband trade.

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Curaçao to dispose of recently arrived Africans who were too sick or handicapped to be sold directly on the international market. Between 1700 and 1730, Curaçaoan women made 193 separate purchases of 991 Africans at these auctions, the vast majority in small groups of one to five slaves. Women represented about 13 per cent of the total number of the 1458 buyers at these auctions, but they bought only 6 per cent of the total number of slaves (16,535), purchasing significantly smaller lots than did men.28 Han Jordaan has suggested that women often bought a few sickly slaves as an investment, reselling them at a nice profit when they had recovered or had been cured by their owners (Jordaan, 2003, p. 249). There was particular demand on the mainland for such slaves, who were sold individually and clandestinely, alongside the formal inter-imperial trade that was closely regulated by the Spanish Crown via the asiento de negros. If indeed this was Josepha María’s strategy, the sale of four slaves, at the going rate of about 300 pesos each for a strong, healthy young woman, could have provided her with a tidy sum to begin her new life.29 They would have been among thousands of enslaved Africans who were surreptitiously ferried from Curaçao to Tierra Firme that year. But it is not certain that the four women were, in fact, Josepha María’s property. The document identifies them variously as quattro negras (‘four black women’) and quattro negras esclavas (‘four black female slaves’). Authorities were not always careful to distinguish the legal status of people of African descent, and often assumed that they were enslaved unless there was evidence to the contrary.30 It is possible that the women were either freewomen or runaway slaves, who had joined forces with her only for the duration of their aborted journey. Hundreds of fugitives voluntarily made the same inter-imperial crossing that others made against their will. Already by the 1640s and 50s, enslaved Afro-Curaçaoans regularly were stealing canoes and other small vessels to flee to Tierra Firme.31 Nearby Coro was a favourite destination. Coro authorities apprehended 14 runaway Curaçaoan slaves in 1690, and 30 more (including at least one woman) in 1702.32 Doubtless many more escaped undetected. By 1704, there were so many Afro-Curaçaoans living in the area that the 28 Calculated from Jordaan, 2003, Table 9.2, p. 244, and unpublished material which he generously shared from his ongoing research. There were between 175 and 193 female buyers; because 18 names appear on the lists in two different forms, it is impossible to know the exact number. Apparently there are no extant records for such sales before 1700. 29 Average prices calculated from a variety of slave sales in Coro between 1700 and 1715 (González Batista, comp., 1987, Instruments Públicos/Colonia, vol. I–IV, pp. 35–52). Of course, we do not know the age or health of these four women. 30 AF CC #914, 9 September 1688. 31 Resolution by Curaçao island officials 26 May 1644 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #8c, p. 39); L. Rodenburch to Company directors in Amsterdam, 2 April 1654 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #14, p. 59); vice-director Matthias Beck to Company directors in Amsterdam, 11 June 1657 (Gehring and Schiltkamp, comp., 1987, #27, p. 98). 32 Spanish King to Gov. Marqués de Casal, 1690 (Castillo Lara, 1981, p. 343); Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 345–6. The literature on marronage largely has neglected gender. For a groundbreaking essay, see Landers, 2004.

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local government considered rounding them all up to create a new town.33 Fugitive men and women arrived in Coro from Curaçao throughout the eighteenth century. Between 1729 and 1774 the Dutch West India Company documented the flight of 585 enslaved Curaçaoans to Coro, 89 of them women (15 per cent of the total).34 Fourteen of these women were listed as traders. Most of them probably had worked as market vendors within the port city of Willemstad, developing commercial skills that would have served them well in the thriving smuggling networks of Tierra Firme. (Interestingly, among the many occupations listed, no men were identified as traders.) Already by the 1680s, local groups of runaway slaves on the mainland were raiding haciendas and settlements, and selling the pilfered goods on the interimperial contraband circuit, an activity that continued throughout the eighteenth century.35 While we do not know what skills and experience Josepha Maria’s companions possessed, had they reached their intended destination they probably would have had the opportunity to participate in this lucrative activity, albeit on a relatively small scale. In Tierra Firme, the women would have had a good chance of becoming permanently and legally free – if they followed Josepha María’s example and publicly converted to Catholicism. Eight years before they left the island, in 1680, the Spanish King had authorized colonial authorities in America to emancipate runaway slaves who escaped from the colonies of rival European powers and subsequently were baptized in the Catholic faith.36 In the following decades, fugitives regularly arrived in several Spanish-American territories to claim this right, travelling from South Carolina to Florida, from the Danish islands to Puerto Rico, and from French to Spanish Hispaniola. (Landers, 1990, pp. 13–14; Hall, 1985, pp. 483–4; Ferry, 1989, pp. 111–12.) Spanish colonial authorities issued Royal Provisions in 1704 and 1711 that specifically freed enslaved Curaçaoans who already were living in Tierra Firme, and even granted them land (Castillo Lara, 1981, p. 350; Ferry, 1989, pp. 110–13). By the mid-eighteenth century, former Curaçaoan fugitives, women and men, were well established in communities throughout the mainland, where they learned to use the Spanish colonial legal system to obtain and defend a variety of rights.37 A 33 ‘Representación de D. Luis Perez sobre la libertad de esclavos’, 1704 (González Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles #8, pp. 120–21); Castillo Lara, 1981, p. 345. 34 NAN NWIC 1166:124, ‘Lijste der Slaven’, 7 July 1775. 35 ‘Sobre negros esclavos complicados en comercio ilícito’, Spanish King to Governor Diego Maldonado, 27 November 1687 (Troconis de Veracoechea, 1969, #49, pp. 223–4); Francisco de Echeverría re the capture of Curaçaoan fugitives, 17 June 1742 (González Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles #18, p. 124); and 20 petitions regarding smuggling filed in Coro, 1738–41 (González Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles #19, p. 124). For more analysis of this point see, among others, Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 337–56, 381; Troconis de Veracoechea, 1969, p. xxvii. 36 Spanish King to the Governor of Trinidad, 1680 (Troconis de Veracoechea, 1969, #48, pp. 222–3). 37 Petition of Juan Hilario Bueno, 27 February 1726 or 1727 (González Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles #13, pp. 122–3); Juan Lorenzo Rodriguez, 1–15 September 1746 (González

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few even became landowners, producing cash crops for sale on the Atlantic market. For example, in the 1760s, Ana María Mohele, a free black woman, fought a long legal battle to retain ownership of a small cacao plantation in Curiepe (a town of free blacks east of Coro). She had inherited the 1,000-tree grove from her aunt, who had fled slavery in Curaçao earlier in the century, obtaining both freedom and land upon converting to Catholicism. Authorities maintained that the aunt’s manumission and property ownership both were invalid, since she already was Catholic before she left the island. Nevertheless, they granted Ana María half of the property, confiscating the rest.38 Had the four shipwrecked women survived and established themselves in Tierra Firme, their heirs might have played out similar dramas in mainland courts. But the legal system did not always work in favour of enslaved women. The very inter-imperial circuits that brought freedom to some might be used to snatch it from others. In 1749, a decade and a half before Ana María’s suit, the Curaçaoan Sephardic merchant Moses Henríquez travelled to Coro in pursuit of his mulatto slave, Mariana, who had fled the island with her infant daughter, Juana. (The records do not indicate whether Mariana tried to win her freedom with a professed conversion.) After legally establishing his ownership rights in a Coro court (bolstered by testimony from several other Sephardim and a free black ship captain from Curaçao), Henríquez sold Mariana and Juana to a local cleric, Francisco de la Colina, who, in turn, gave them to his sister, Juana Maria de la Colina, the wife of a local government official.39 If the Colina family was involved in smuggling, they already might have had business ties with the Sephardic merchants from Curaçao, or hoped to develop them in the future. Inter-Imperial Exchange Circuits Sixty years before Mariana fled Curaçao with her daughter, Josepha María and her companions were among the very first women on record to sail between the Dutch island and the Spanish mainland. Many others followed, less tragically, in their wake. Men and women of different races/ethnicities and religions created networks Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles #21, pp. 125–6); ‘Bando de buen gobierno sobre expulsión de vagos’, 9–10 February, 1756 (González Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles #29, p. 132); Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 381–2. 38 ‘Ana María Mohele, morena libre, contra oficiales de Real Hacienda’, Archivo del Registro Principal del Distrito Federal de Barlovento, Sección Tierras, 1767-M-1, cited in Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 325–6, 378–9, 577. There are other cases where a Curaçaoan’s conversion was questioned, either by Spanish colonial authorities or by local blacks, some of whom may have resented the preferential treatment given to foreigners. 39 Mosseh Henríquez, 25 January 1749 (González Batista, 1987, ‘Instrumentos Públicos/Colonia’, vol. XXIII, #1, p. 81); Francisco de la Colina, 12 June 1749 (González Batista, 1987, Instrumentos Públicos/Colonia, vol. XXIII, #3, pp. 81–2); ‘Sobre la propiedad de una esclava curazoleña’, 1–2 October, 1748 (González Batista, 1987, Causas Civiles, #23, p. 126).

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between the two areas, often operating independently of the official Dutch and Spanish imperial structures. Women participated in these commercial exchanges in a variety of ways that have yet to be analyzed. For example, of the 56 Curaçaoan slaves whom mainland authorities arrested for smuggling between 1730 and 1736, only one, Grasia, was a woman. But a closer inspection of the roster shows that 13 of the 44 owners of these captured slaves were women, and that together, these 13 women owned 17 of the 56 slaves who were caught.40 That is, in this single, small window into the inter-imperial trade in one seven-year period, women were a full 30 per cent of the investors, measured either by number of owners or by number of slaves owned. Like the women who purchased sickly slaves to resell later at a profit, these female investors were deeply involved in inter-imperial commerce, albeit on a small scale. Women of different ethnicities and social groups also participated in the trade in Tierra Firme. For example, two women at opposite ends of the racial and social class spectrum – the free black Dominga Gemba, and the wealthy doña Mariana Quixán, who owned a large cacao plantation – opened their homes to clandestine meetings of smugglers in the eighteenth century (Cohen, 2003, p. 116). By 1767, women owned 11 per cent of the 276,000 cacao trees in Curiepe, a mainland town of free blacks that was closely tied to the contraband trade and which had been settled, in part, by fugitive Afro-Curaçaoans earlier in the century (including the aunt of Ana María Mohele).41 Occasionally, women broke the rigid gender barriers of the maritime world. While Grasia was the sole woman among the 56 slaves who were caught smuggling goods between Curaçao and Tierra Firme in the mid-eighteenth century, several Sephardic women owned vessels. Between 1721 and 1787, eight Sephardic women (half of them widows) owned 11 ships. Four co-owned their vessels with men, not necessarily their husbands. Rachel, widow of David Bueno Vivas, owned three or possibly even four different sea craft in the 1760s and 70s.42 The names of Dutch and Sephardic women, especially widows, also appear occasionally on cargo-lading lists, indicating that they assembled small lots of goods to ship to Europe.43 Widows in the Protestant and Sephardic merchant communities often took over the business dealings of their deceased husbands, developing commercial relations across religious and ethnic boundaries, as well as geopolitical divides. In the 1710s, for example, Clara Catharina Kerckrinck, the Dutch widow of former island governor Jeremias van Collen, had a business partnership with Phillip Henriquez, one of Curaçao’s most successful Sephardic merchants, for trade ventures with Coro.44 No doubt many more such connections await discovery in the archives.

40 NAN OAC 806: 622–4, ‘Lijste van de Negros en Moulatte Slaven’, 22 June 1737. 41 Calculated from table in Castillo Lara, 1981, pp. 575–7. 42 Calculated from Emmanuel and Emmanuel, 1970, Appendix 3, pp. 681–738. 43 For example, NAN NWIC 1155:116, 30 April 1734; NAN NWIC 1161, 12 June 1753. 44 NAN Staten General [hereafter SG] #9489. Ferry, 1989, has documented the increasingly important role of widows as property owners in the mainland cacao economy.

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The regular contact that women and men established between Curaçao and Tierra Firme via inter-imperial trade and migration led to other forms of collaboration and exchange. In 1732, Andresote, a freeman of African and indigenous descent, led an uprising of slaves, free blacks, mulattos and native people against Spanish colonial authorities who were trying to curtail smuggling in Tierra Firme. As the rebellion escalated, Curaçaoan traders rushed to intervene, whisking Andresote away to Curaçao on a Dutch vessel.45 Sixty years later, in the summer of 1795, enslaved men and women planned and carried out almost simultaneous rebellions in Curaçao and Coro, which, as we have seen, had been tightly linked by trade and migration for well over a hundred years.46 By the end of the eighteenth century, if not before, AfroCuraçaoans were carrying the island’s developing creole language, Papiamentu, to many Spanish territories, including several parts of Tierra Firme that were closely tied to the island via the inter-imperial trade (Wood, 1972, p. 21; Granda, 1973, pp. 1, 7–13). The evidence from the inter-imperial sphere between Curaçao and Tierra Firme indicates that the dichotomy between mobile seafaring men and rooted port women is insufficient for understanding the complex ties that developed in the interstices of emerging empires in the early modern colonial Atlantic world. The networks that women and men created between the Dutch island and the Spanish mainland provide a more fluid model in which the peoples of two separate imperial realms developed multiple ties across geopolitical, geographic, social, religious and racial/ethnic boundaries. Trade between Curaçao and Tierra Firme opened opportunities beyond the economic sphere – freedom from enslavement, the pursuit of new religious identities, opportunities to acquire land and grow export products, possibilities for revolt, even the development of new creole languages. Paradoxically, for people of African descent inter-imperial exchanges could be either extensions of enslavement or paths to freedom. People wove complex webs of human relations around the inter-imperial circuit, influenced by, but also somewhat independent of, geopolitical power structures. Women participated in these emerging networks in ways that have yet to be researched or analyzed adequately, but not for lack of evidence in the historical record. We can only guess the degree to which the five shipwrecked women already were inserted into inter-imperial networks in 1688, the extent to which they would have engaged in commerce or other forms of exchange had they reached the mainland alive and how they would have lived their new lives. But there is little doubt that 45 Testimony regarding Andresote’s uprising, 16 January 1732 (Troconis de Veracoechea, Documentos, #60, pp. 246–8); letter from Martín de Lardizábal to the King regarding the Andresoteuprising, 18 June 1733 (Troconis de Veracoechea, Documentos, #61, pp. 248–50). Also see Felice Cardot, 1952; Hussey, 1934, pp. 66–9. 46 Rafael Diego Mérida report on Coro uprising, 25 June 1795 (Troconis de Veracoechea, comp., Documents #84, pp. 310–12); instructions from the Captain General of Coro, 28 June 1795 (Troconis de Veracoechea, comp., Documents #85, pp. 312–14). The origins of the revolts and the degree of collaboration between the two, was debated among authorities at the time, and it has continued to be a point of discussion in both the Curaçaoan and Venezuelan historiography. See, among others, Gil Rivas et al, 1996; Arcaya, 1949; Paula, 1974.

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the Sephardic Jewish woman seeking to convert to Catholicism, the four anonymous black women who gambled – and lost – their lives to flee with her, and the many other women who subsequently sailed in their wake, acted at least partly according to their own interests, charting their own courses, albeit within the very real confines of the colonial American slave societies in which they lived.

Afterword

Women in the Atlantic World Patricia Seed

The Atlantic World hurtled into existence with startling speed in the decades following Columbus’s unintended landing in the Caribbean in 1492. Fifty years later, it had already emerged as a giant jumble of mismatched cultures, languages and faiths split into competing economies and feuding polities. The two biggest political contenders – Spain and Portugal – had carved up the Atlantic world before the sixteenth century began. But neither could control the 82 million square kilometers of the world’s most newly discovered (and second largest) ocean. Frenchmen ventured along poorly defended Brazilian coastlines and freezing northern Canadian waterways; Englishmen, Dutch men, Swedes and Danes hazarded onto unprofitable Caribbean islands abandoned by their Spanish predecessors. In between, exiles and expatriates settled wherever possible among the unsuspecting inhabitants of the twin continents. Already inhabiting the western half of this new Atlantic world were approximately 54 million people unfamiliar with the ways of those arriving from the eastern side of the Atlantic. While the newcomers sought to carve up a share of the newly revealed riches of the western hemisphere, the existing residents struggled to survive and adjust to the newcomers’ competing commercial demands. New economic demands came from many sources: governments, trading companies and private individuals. Traveling from the eastern shores of the Atlantic, Europeans bargained, traded and seized minerals, agricultural goods, labour and land from the indigenous communities. All transferred newfound wealth to themselves or transported it back across the Atlantic in distinctively organized fashion. However, these official channels were soon expanded by piracy and contraband. Both soon swirled around the edges of the Caribbean and along the coastal waterways just as outlaws and maroons wended their way across inland borders. Into this European competition for riches another equally unsuspecting group began to arrive. People from western Africa imported to fill the economic gap caused by the unexpected widespread deaths of the formerly tens of millions of native inhabitants. Their humanity degraded to mere labour, the fruits of their toil fed the consumption of sugar and tobacco on the Atlantic’s eastern side. Whether through accident or design, the western side of the Atlantic became an international meeting

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place of Europeans and Africans in the interstices of worlds inhabited by millions of indigenous people. While women suffered the usual indignities to which they were subject anywhere, several dimensions of their life separated their New World existence from that of their counterparts in Europe. The competitive relations among European communities and the infeasibility of tight village control led to increased opportunities for women to move to new locations and to adopt new economic roles. While women in Europe often found themselves tied to the region of their birth, the mobility available to New World women in some areas provided greater potential for independence. A Sephardic woman from Dutch Curaçao could step on board a vessel headed for the Spanish colony of Venezuela, intending to abandon the faith and community of her ancestors. Had she made such a choice in any European city, she would have been forced to remain near relatives and a community that would ostracize her. By heading south to Venezuela, she left behind those who would condemn her for abandoning her faith. Also travelling in the same direction, some Afro-Curaçaoan women voyaged as slaves while others fled the oppressive bonds of slavery. The physical mobility possible in the New World could provide both women the chance for a fresh start. Black women escapees from Curaçao who became liberated by taking this journey often turned to commerce in their new homeland; a few became successful commercial planters. Along with Sephardic women, these black women also traded in the contraband that floated around the edges of the Caribbean. Dutch Protestant Curaçao, with its Sephardic Jews and African slaves, lay only 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, as Linda Rupert notes. The occupation more available to European women in the New World than in the old was trading. Several essays in this volume show English, French, Dutch, black and mixed-race women engaging in commerce. In addition to the black and Sephardic women in the Dutch and Spanish Caribbean, mixed-race Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth operated a trading post in Georgia supplying both Englishmen and Native Americans. In New France, Elizabeth Bertrand Mitchell, Madelaine and Josette Laframboise, Elizabeth Mitchell and Agatha Biddle all played important roles in the fur trade coming through the island of Mackinac. In Brazil, however, only a few Indian and mameluca women are known to have participated in the trade between Portuguese and indigenous societies. While circumstances afforded women greater opportunity to trade, in many respects, ideology about women remained unchanged despite the move overseas. Traditional social judgements about women’s proper role permeated colonial thinking. As Bruce Erickson notes ‘Spanish soldiers and their wives [on the northern frontier] were meant to serve as role models for natives’, with women teaching sewing and other suitably female domestic arts. But the promise of moral example vaporized as Spanish men competed over women and the sexual coercion of women continued both within the presidio and outside it. Encounters at this multinational assembly also inexorably led to the physical amalgamation of Africans, Europeans and Native Americans. The children of these

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unions provided one of the most visible divergences between New World and Old. While women of European origin shared enhanced ability to become traders in English, French and Dutch colonies, the possibilities for advancement for mixedrace women diverged depending upon the colony where they were born. In only two colonies could mixed-race offspring integrate into European colonial society: the French New World and Portuguese Brazil. In both areas, mixed-race offspring of white European fathers become economically or socially integrated into their fathers’ societies. From the well-off to the merely poor, countless Portuguese men entered into sexual and occasionally marital liaisons with Tupi women. In a pattern not imitated elsewhere in the Americas, the mixed-race offspring of these early unions sustained their economic and political ties to Portuguese interests. As Alida Metcalf points out, mixed-race (mameluco) men dominated the trade in Indian slaves, wrested from the interior to labour on coastal plantations in the sixteenth century. Mamelucos sustained their predominant linguistic ties to their Tupi relatives for the first two or three generations, despite attaining significant social standing in their father’s society. Daughters of Portuguese men and native women had no trouble marrying new arrivals from Portugal. With the arrival of the determinedly proselytizing Jesuits, some mixed-race women (deliberately targeted by the order) soon became catechists and church patrons. A similar but not identical future awaited mixed race women in Canada. A substantial mixed Indian-French community resided on the island now known as Mackinac Island. Its leadership embraced daughters of French and First Nation (largely Ottawa and Anishinabe (Chippewa) parents, treating women traders Agatha Biddle, Josette Laframboise and Elizabeth Bertrand Mitchell with respect. Rarely, some métis daughers were afforded an even greater acceptance – into European society itself. Antoinette de Saint-Estienne, and her older sister, both métis daughters of a prominent Frenchman and a Mi’kmaq woman, were formally acknowledged by their European father. Neither was left to fend for herself in an ambivalent colonial society. Both accompanied him back to France, and rather than being farmed out as servants, were carefully placed with prominent French women guardians. In the French Caribbean, a slightly different situation emerged. The offspring of black and French parents in Saint-Domingue, like the Canadian métis, could become integrated into French society – but only the society that resided on SaintDomingue. French fathers both freed and acknowledged their half-black offspring, boys more often than girls. Such mixed offspring became economically integrated into the local European society, inheriting land and slaves from their French parent. But the social and economic prominence of mulata women (but not men) created resentment detailed at length by Michel René Hilliard d’Auberteuil. By contrast, no such obvious resentment marred the financial and social attainments of Native métis Agatha Biddle or Josette Laframboise. While mixed (Native-European) women were welcomed in the Portuguese and northern French colonies, such mixed race women encountered significant hostility

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if they attempted to participate in English colonial society. While not expressed verbally, hostility toward the thriving Anglo-Cherokee trader Mary Bosomworth spills out of the details of her life. Unacknowledged by her English father, Mary struggled against English hostility – her frustration and anger against the subtle social ostracism she suffered in Georgia. Eventually, her frustration and anger spilled over into an ultimately fruitless attempt to deploy her Cherokee relatives against Anglo society. The final straw appears in the relief expressed by English officials at her arrest, a humiliating personal rebuke. In the end, neither side fully embraced her. No large Indian network protected her; no Anglo-Indian network existed to fill that void. Anglo society remained suspicious of mixed-race women like Mary rather than embracing and accepting their talents. Had she been born with the same talents for trade and translation in French or Portuguese rather than Anglo-America, her economic successes would have more likely been welcomed than rejected. The hostility to successful mixed (native/European) women in the English colony of Georgia appears linked to a separate unusual cultural characteristic. The desire for preserving an ethnically separate English society appeared more strongly in Anglo-America than elsewhere in the European colonies. In Georgia, Anglo men pleaded for white English women themselves. A British regimental leader stationed in Georgia solicited white wives for his men; male colonists pleaded with widowed or single women to remain. But these desires contrast sharply with the indifference of French, Portuguese and even Spanish colonists to marriage to women from the other side of the Atlantic. Missionaries and monarchs had to prod, threaten and sometimes arrest French and Iberian men, who preferred informal and occasionally formal alliances with native women, to force them to bring abandoned spouses across the Atlantic or to marry European women. Englishmen’s anxiety to marry within their own group – independent of official prodding –remains distinctive. The uniquely English masculine desire for Anglo-only marriages may have been fuelled by a combination of economic ambitions, inheritance rules and the self-justifying fiction of English colonization. The desire to obtain a widow’s property fuelled at least one Englishman’s marital preferences for a countrywoman. Culturally crafted inheritance rules also affected the fate of mixed-race offspring. Any legitimating of racially mixed offspring in English society could lead to mixedrace individuals benefiting from the economic successes of their fathers. This result in turn might challenge the legitimacy of deeply held convictions about the justification for New World settlement – the colonial fiction that Englishmen deserved New World land because they alone knew how to make effective economic use of it. Consequently, Georgia’s male Britons who engaged in temporary or irregular sexual relations liaisons with the Cherokee or Creek women for the most part did not seek to have their unions blessed by the conventional churches of their fathers. No legal provision existed for English fathers to recognize the offspring of these unions  Patricia Seed, American Pentimento: The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), pp. 126-31.

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who were most often abandoned to their mothers’ societies. Failing to acknowledge the existence of these mixed-race Indian-British offspring made it easier for British fathers to disavow their existence, to exclude them from social roles in English society and regularly exclude them any rights to their paternal inheritance. By contrast, inheritance laws elsewhere in the Americas provided for the recognition of mixed-race offspring. These half-native children of both Brazilian and French fathers became more readily accepted socially, culturally and economically into their fathers’ societies. Children of French fathers and native mothers sometimes became integrated into French overseas society. However, in Saint-Domingue, the sons and daughters of French fathers and black mothers had to go overseas to achieve social status and economic power. For different cultural reasons, Spanish-American society also kept mixed-race individuals at a distance, but to a much less extreme than Anglo-American society. Offspring of Spanish conquerors and elite native women enjoyed a limited window of opportunity in the first decades for integration into their fathers’ culture. After that first generation, however, Spanish society embraced fewer mestizo offspring. Over the centuries, however, mixed-race individuals proliferated, becoming a recognizably distinct group themselves. Thus, that edge dividing Spaniard and native eventually dulled, but within each sphere, preferences for endogamy continued to operate. As Nora Jaffary writes, Spanish and Native communities within the archdiocese of Mexico continued to show a predilection for marriages between relatives, two centuries after the conquest. Evidence of these preferences in the New World appears in the types of dispensations to marry for which couples applied. Native and Hispanic communities preferred to marry within their own groups, with only a single significant distinction. Spaniards remained more likely to marry close biological kin than did natives, while the latter more frequently wed their in-laws or those related to them through ceremonial rituals such as baptism. This preference for in-laws may have simply resulted from survival. Waves of devastating diseases ripped through the kinship ties of indigenous America in the sixteenth century, sundering ties between fathers and daughters, aunts and nieces and other relatives, rendering it impossible to reconstitute the travertine ties of preconquest kinship. In its stead, the created ties of baptism and marriage came to take the place of kin association among indigenous people. But given the Catholic Church’s view of in-laws and blood kin as nearly identical forms of kinship, ecclesiastical intervention was required to allow natives to continue to forge marital bonds among themselves. For Spaniards, however, the blood networks remained far closer, and the desire to retain the integrity of the white Spanish community may have played a role in the church’s decisions to permit close blood-kin marriages. Another arena for advancement for both mixed-race and European women appeared only in the wholly Catholic colonies – the convent. Both within and beyond the cloister, women of many ethnicities formed informal religious networks. In the Iberian world, nuns and priests came from the light or white elite; all mixed-race, indigenous and black women remained permanently subordinated within the convent hierarchy. In this fashion, Iberian leaders crafted access to formal standing within

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Catholicism as the ultimate barrier separating Spanish (or white) from indigenous, black and mixed-race individuals. Interestingly enough, Africans and Afro-Americans – but not indigenous people – occasionally broke through that barrier. Juana Esperanza de San Alberto, the black slave in a Mexican convent became recognized for her saint-like humility, obedience and piety by the nuns of the convent she served, the bishop of the diocese in which she had died, and the surrounding Spanish community. Even so, only as she lay dying and unable to assume the mantle within the convent did this African-born woman become a nun. Similarly, outside the confines and strictures of recognized Church institutions, communities and networks of religiously inclined women met in the homes of recognized women spiritual leaders in colonial Peru. Among these women, Nancy van Deusen notes several Afro-Peruvians who became recognized for their spiritual gifts; the black mystic Ursula de Jesús and mulata Estephanía de San José. Indigenous women in Spanish America entered the religious realms as servants, just as their African and Afro-American counterparts did. But as Kathryn Burns notes, the better-off indigenous women in Peru also had access to institutions created ‘in imitation of the convents’ but rested permanently outside the established religious hierarchies. Unlike their African and Afro-American counterparts, indigenous women did not become accepted as authentic Catholic heroines. The cultural barrier separating Native Americans from Spaniards centred on belief in Natives’ spiritual deficiency, preventing them from becoming true Christians. Because French colonials saw different cultural barriers sustaining their superiority over indigenous people, indigenous women could enter convents as nuns and not merely as servants. At least one métis woman gained entrance to a convent in France, where she suffered the condescension of the French nuns. Because religion did not constitute the foundation of the cultural divide separating indigenous from Frenchmen, this same mixed-race convent girl achieved recognition at court, although her secular skills as a singer rather than her piety attracted attention. Women in the Atlantic world had three major avenues to autonomy unavailable to their continental cousins: commerce, convents and conversion. Barriers to entry into commerce were lowered for European descended women in all the colonies. In several, however, mixed-race women were also able to establish commercial networks by utilizing their ties to both native and European communities. Convents, of course, only became an option in the Catholic colonies. In Ibero- and FrancoAmerica, convents also offered a measure of autonomy. Given the perpetual shortage of priests, spiritually guided meetings provided a meaningful opportunity for independent intellectual activity. As with commerce, the convents provided social mobility for women of specific mixed-race ancestry. Finally, a more desperate option remained: the likelihood of slipping physically beyond the reach of one’s own community by converting to another religion. With Catholic, Protestant and Jewish communities located in and around the Caribbean, a woman willing to leave her 

Seed, American Pentimento, pp., 116-23.

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family behind could start a new life in another colony, provided she adopted one of its accepted religions. While commerce and conversion remained available to women of all backgrounds, somewhat fewer opportunities existed for women depending upon the type of mixedrace ancestry. For example, mixed native-European offspring fared best in Brazil, Spanish and French-Canadian America during the first century of colonization, when they were more often integrated into their European fathers’ societies. Mixed Indian-European daughters could also inherit from their European fathers in all three colonies, if the latter chose to acknowledge them. However, the opportunities for mixed-race alignments split sharply when convents became involved. Only in the French colonies could mixed native-European women advance socially within the convent hierarchy or become admired for their achievements. In Iberian convents, mixed native-European women were kept on the other side of a sharp cultural divide while mixed black-European women enjoyed greater opportunities for mobility and spiritual recognition. Different circumstances prevailed in the English colonies. While prized for their economic assets, European-descended women faced fewer opportunities for autonomy than in the Catholic colonies. Women of any mixed ancestry were least welcomed in the Anglo colonial world, where no provision existed for their incorporation into the world of their fathers. The Atlantic world remained disjointed. Neither amalgamation nor segregation nor melting pot, the Atlantic crucible swirled fragments of separate worlds, men, women, goods and currencies. Mixed-race, black and European women could float across Caribbean waters to start new lives and adopt new religions. Trade currents would carry nearly all European and mixed race women to greater autonomy. But rather than sharing a common fate, mixed race and European women traders in different European cultures floated on a raft with others like themselves carried to their separate destinies.

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Index

Acadia 58, 59 affective spirituality 137–9, 149–50 affinal incest 97–9, 103 Albuquerque, Beatriz de 20, 22, 25 Albuquerque, Jerónimo 20–21, 22 Álvares, Diogo 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23 American Fur Trade Company (AFC) 130 Ana de Jesús 76 Anderson, Karen 9 Anne of Austria 61–2, 65 art and spirituality 147 asiento de negros 159 Atlantic world 3–8, 152, 165–71 Aubert, Guillaume 2 Baretta, Silvio R. Duncan 31 Barrientos, Manuel 95 Bartira, Isabel 15, 21, 23, 27 beatas 71, 81–91, 138, 140, 141, 142, 144, 147 beaterios 4, 8, 74, 76, 81–91, 170; see also Santisima Trinidad Beaumont-lès-Tours, abbey of 1, 57, 60, 62, 64, 65 Benedictines 1, 57–66 Biddle, Agatha 127, 131, 133, 134, 166, 167 blackness 1, 6, 9, 68, 70, 72, 73–74, 75, 78–9, 112–14, 122 blacks 9, 40, 68, 75, 79, 110, 157, 158–61, 166, 170; see also gens du couleur, slaves Boyer, Richard 97, 142 brazilwood 4, 16–19; see also trade Brown, Jennifer S. 126 Brown, Kathleen 8 de Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de 114 Cabral, Pedro Álvares 16, 18 Caminha, Pero Vaz de 18, 19 Camuse, Marie 4, 46–7, 50, 52, 53 cannibalism 19

Carmelites 1, 74, 78 Carr, Lois 42 caste paintings 73 Catarina de San Juan 71, 72, 76 Catholic Reformation 57, 60, 65 Ceballos, Juan José 35–6 Chesapeake 42 Christian, William 82 Christianity 6; see also women and spirituality and colonialism 4, 7–8, 24–6, 30, 31, 32–4, 60, 63, 68, 82, 97 conversion to 24–6, 28, 62–3, 65, 151 and gender 8 climate, theories of 114–16 clothing 117–18, 119, 128, 132; see also fashion Code Noir 110, 116 Coelho, Duarte 20, 21, 23 confessors 138–9 confraternities 71, 74 consanguineous incest 95, 96, 98, 99, 100, 103 consumption, 116–20 convents 57–66, 68, 71, 76, 81, 82, 85, 138–9, 169–70; see also nuns Corpus Christi, convent of 71 curacas 85, 91; see also Indians Curaçao 151–64 Cuzco 81, 83, 86 Davis, Natalie Zemon 10 fn12, 66, 152 decency 82, 86, 87–8, 90 degredados 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 demographics in Georgia 39, 41–5 in Saint Domingue 110 Dexter, Elizabeth 50 disease 43 dispensations, marital 95–107 donadas 138 donatários 23

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Elvira de San José 76 Enlightenment 117–20 environmentalism 114–15 Estephanía de San José 146, 170 exigüidad del lugar 99 fashion 112–13, 117–20, 122 feitorias 18 femininity 68, 69, 76–7, 114, 120 fertility 42–3 Franciscans 30, 35–8, 70 frontier 2, 4, 10–11 in New Spain 9, 29–38 in Georgia 39, 40–41 and violence 29–38 and women 10–11, 42, 45, 50–53 fur trade 2, 125–6, 128, 129; see also American Fur Trade Company Galenson, David 42 gender; see also femininity, masculinity, women in the Atlantic world 152 and colonialism 8–11 in the Enlightenment 119–20 and honour 8–9, 29–38, 102 and race 5, 71–2, 109–10 and spirituality 140–41 and virtue 69–70, 72, 78–9, 82, 83–5, 87, 89, 91, 120 gens du couleur 110, 112, 121; see also race mixing von Germeten, Nicole 73–4, 77 Gerónima de San Francisco 140, 142, 143, 144, 148 go-betweens, 4, 10, 15–28, 126 Gómez de la Parra, José 68, 69, 71–2, 79 Guarani 25 Haitian revolution 9, 109 Hilliard d’Auberteuil, Michel, René 110–23, 167 Considérations sur l’Etat Présent de la Colonie Française de SaintDomingue 110–123 Huexutla 99 Huguenots 58, 60, 61, 65 identity New World 4, 6–7, 8, 11

white creole 110, 120 Imitatio Christi 139, 148 incest 95–107; see also affinal incest, consanguineous incest indian women 11, 15–28, 25, 82, 85–6, 88–9, 90, 126–7, 170 indians and agency 126 as church donors 85, 86, 88 church’s views of 32, 107 Cherokee 168 Chippewa 128, 129 Creek 44–5, 47–8, 50, 168 elite 5, 81, 85, 89, 91 marriages of 96, 101, 104 Mi’kmaq 57 Montaignais 63 in New France 59 in northern New Spain 31 Ottawa 129, 133 interpreters, see translators Inquisition 103, 139, 147 Isabel de Jesús 144 Jaffary, Nora 73 Jesuits 24–6, 137, 140 Jews 5; see also Sephardic Jews Juana Esperanza de San Alberto 1, 67–79, 170 Juana de Jesús María 69, 71–2 Kirk, Sylvia Van 126 Laframboise, Josette 125, 127, 128, 134, 166, 167 Laframboise, Madeline 125, 127, 128, 129, 130–31, 133, 166 Lario, Fray Juan 31 Lavrin, Asunción 97 Lescarbot, Marc 61, 63 Lima 8, 139 limpieza de sangre 5, 68, 70, 71, 100 luxury, conceptions of 116–20 Mackinac Island 125, 127, 128 Magdalena de San Juan Bautista 84 mamelucos 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26–7, 166; see also race mixing Mancera, marquesa de 77 Maria do Espírito Santo 15, 22, 23, 27 Marie de l’Incarnation 58, 63, 64, 66

Index Marina, Doña 15, 26 Markoff, John 31 marriage church’s regulation of 95–7, 103–4 endogamy in 99–100, 101 exogamy in 128 European women and 20 in Georgia, 39, 42–5 indians and 4, 24, 101–3, 104 impediments to 95–107 international 44–5 inter-racial 5, 6, 7, 17, 18, 20–23, 24, 47–8, 101, 110, 115–16, 118, 121, 125–6, 127, 128, 131–2, 133, 167, 168–9 laity’s attitude toward 103–4 slaves and 110 and social mobility 44 soldiers and 105–6 Martínez, María Elena 5 masculinity 29–32, 34–5, 38, 120, 122 material culture 126, 132, 133 Melgarejo, Luisa del 142, 143, 145 merchants 113, 155, 156, 157–64 mestizaje, see race mixing cultural 6, 7, 96 mestizos 5; see also race mixing métis 7, 58, 65, 125–34, 170; see also race mixing middle ground 126–7, 128 military in New Spain 29 miscegenation, see race mixing Misión Candelaria 36 missions 30, 31, 33 Mitchell, Elizabeth Bertrand 125, 127, 129, 133, 166 Mollinedo, Andrés de 83–4, 85 Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, baron de, 115, 116 mulâtresse 9, 109–23; see also race mixing Musgrove, John 47 Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth, Mary 47, 48, 50, 52, 166, 168 Muslims 5, 30 mysticism 71 Nash, Gary B. 8 Nash, June 8 networks 2, 7 women’s commercial 152–3

205

women’s spiritual 137–50 Nóbrega, Father Manoel da 24 Nuestra Señora de Copacabana 90–91 nuns 1, 57, 67, 68, 61–2, 71, 76, 79, 81, 86–7, 88, 138,140, 141, 170; see also Benedictines, Carmelites, Ursulines Offner, Jerome 102–3 Oglethorpe, James 42, 47–8, 50 ordination, of non-Spaniards 70–71 Ortiz, Getrudis Rosa 73 palabra de casamiento 105–6 Panti, María 83, 85, 89–90 Paraguaçu, Catarina 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28 Parker, Robert Jr. 39 Penrose, Elizabeth 49, 50, 53 periphery, influence on metropole 58–9, 65, 152 Petersen, Jacqueline 126 Pinilla, Father Joseph 36, 37 pombeiros 22 ports 152, 153 presidios 29, 30, 31, 32–3, 35 prostitution 112 Quispe, María Ursula 88–9 Rábago y Terán, Felipe de 35–7 race mixing 2, 5–7, 17, 109, 110, 112, 166–71; see also under marriage and under gender racial hierarchy 1–2 in Mexico 68, 70, 71, 72–6, 79, 96–7 in Saint Domingue 109–11, 113–14, 120–23 in Curaçao 155–6 Ramalho, João 21, 22, 23, 25, 26 rape 35–8 Ravinet, Laurette 112 reading 146–7 recogimientos 83 reconquista 30–31 religious orders, see Benedictines, Carmelites, Franciscans, Jesuits reproduction 42–4 Requerimiento 7 revolts 73, 109, 163

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Roa Izquierdo, Pedro de 85 Rosa de Lima, Santa 138, 141, 142, 143, 144, 148 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 119 rum 40, 41, 49 Saint-Estienne, Antoinette de 1, 57–66, 167 Sale Parker, Elizabeth 39, 41 Saldaña, Juan de 86–7 salonnières 119 San José, convent 1, 67, 68, 69 San Juan Bautista Sichú de Indios 102, 105 San Xavier, mission 30, 35–8 Santa Clara, convent of 83 Santisima Trinidad, beaterio of 86–7, 89 Seed, Patricia 96–7 Sephardic Jews 9, 151, 157–8, 162, 166 sexual practices 35–8, 95, 96, 97, 100–103, 105, 106, 107 silk 4, 11, 40, 40, 47–8 silver mining 2 Silverblatt, Irene 8 slavery African 10, 22, 27, 40, 41, 68, 74, 109, 110, 154, 158–61 Indian 16–17, 25, 27 slaves, African 67, 68, 70, 154, 165–6 spirituality of 71, 143 Sleeper-Smith, Susan, 126–7 social mobility 44–5, 51, 110–11, 160–61, 166–7, 170–71 Society of Jesus, see Jesuits Solís, Fray Gaspar 33 sorceresses 139, 141, 145

Sousa, Tomé de 22, 24 Stephens, William 44, 47 taverns 49 trade; s ee also fur trade brazilwood 15–20, 21, 26 in Curaçao 7, 10, 152, 153, 156–64 in Saint Domingue 111 translators 15, 17, 19, 24–5, 47 Trent, Council of 60, 62, 82, 96, 97, 107 Tribunal de Justicia Metropolitana 97 truchements 18 Tupi 19, 21, 25 Turner, Frederick Jackson 40 Twinam, Ann 8 Ursula de Jesús 71, 143, 148, 170 Ursulines 58, 59, 60 Vespucci, Amerigo 17, 19 vidas 68–70, 73, 76, 78, 79 Walsh, Lorena 42 West India Company 153, 154, 156 White, Richard 126, 128 Willmestad 10, 153, 155 women and colonialism 9–11 in commerce 9–10, 155, 162–3, 166 on frontiers 10–11 roles of in Georgia 41 and social mobility 166 and spirituality 137–8, 140–43, 143–4 Yxtapalapa 101