Lives Uncovered: A Sourcebook of Early Modern Europe 1487594518, 9781487594510

Curated by acclaimed scholar Nicholas Terpstra,Lives Uncoveredis a captivating collection of early modern primary source

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Lives Uncovered: A Sourcebook of Early Modern Europe
 1487594518, 9781487594510

Table of contents :
List of FiguresAcknowledgements1. How to Read a Primary Source2. Lives Uncovered: Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period3. Body and Spirit, Sickness and Health3.1. The Cosmic Human (1531)3.2. The Human Animal (1561)3.3. You are what you eat, or you eat what you are? (1656)3.4. Cooking Comfort Foods (1570)3.5. A Balanced Diet (1587)3.6. New Food: Tomato (1692)3.7. Depression as a Spiritual Imbalance (1643)3.8. Combatting Inner Demons (1653)3.9. Self-Medicating with Alcohol (1682)3.10. A New Addiction: Coffee3.11. A New Vice: Tobacco (1605)4. Conception, Contraception, and Birth4.1. A Woman's Advice on Conceiving a Child (1671)4.2. A Man's Advice on Conceiving a Child (1612)4.3. Menstruation4.4. How to Have a Healthy Childbirth (1513)4.5. Boys and Girls in the Womb (1587
1671)4.6. One Sex or Two? Women and Men as Mirrors of Each Other4.7. How to Prevent Miscarriage (1656
1671)4.8. Diary of a Dutch Midwife (1693-1702)4.9. Diary of a Florentine Father (1404-31)4.10. Diary of an English Mother (1648-68)4.11. Penalties for Abortion and Infanticide (1555)4.12. Miscarriage and Abortion (1671)4.13. Trials for Infanticide (1677
1679)4.14. Trying to Understand Birth Defects (1575)4.15. The Business of Wetnursing (1420s)4.16. Wetnursing Carnival Songs4.17. Breastfeeding is Good, and Mother's Milk is Best (1622)4.18. A Jewish Circumcision5. Childhood and Adolescence5.1. What Boys and Girls Need to Learn5.2. Bad Dreams and Bedwetting (1653)5.3. Training of a Renaissance Feminist (1488)5.4. A Man's Idea of a School for Girls (1671)5.5. A Woman's Idea of a School for Girls (1694)5.6. A Feminist Instructs Her Brothers (1485)5.7. Raising Muslim and Jewish Children in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest's View (1612)5.8. Writing Home: An Obedient Son (1578)5.9. Writing Home: A Wily Son (1629-36)5.10. Youth Rules the Night5.11. Life of a University Student (1550s)6. Working Life6.1. Instructions for the Ideal Servant: An Employer's View (1681)6.2. Learning a Trade on the Job6.3. The Apprentice's Overseer6.4. Peasant Protest and Rebellion (1502
1525)6.5. Workers and Employers at Odds6.6. Women in/and the Guilds: Gold Spinners in Germany6.7. Apprenticeship Contract for a Daughter (France 1610)6.8. Apprenticeship Contract for a Female Orphan6.9. Protecting Local Industry (1687)6.10. The Rural Woman's Guide to Hard Work (1550)7. Marriage: Making and Ending It7.1. A Contested Marriage in Court: Richard Tymond vs.Margarey Shepard (1487)7.2. A Contested Marriage in Court: Alice Parker vs. Richard Tenwinter (1488)7.3. Marrying Your Own7.4. A Man Describes the Perfect Wife (1583)7.5. Domestic Assault7.6. Marrying to Breed (1654)7.7. Italian Marriage Negotiations7.8. German Marriage Negotiations (1533)7.9. English Marriage Negotiations (1680-81)7.10. Marriage Night Conversation7.11. Fertility Curses and Cures7.12. French Marriage Negotiations: Contract for a Second Marriage (1540)7.13. A Woman's Critique of Married Life (1600)7.14. "Happy the Woman Without a Man"7.15. A Man's Critique of Married Life (1682)7.16. Calculating Adultery7.17. Marriage and Divorce in Muslim Spain (1438
1474)7.18. A Woman's Response to Bigamy: Recovering Independence (1539)7.19. Impotence and Divorce (1635)7.20. Muslim Marriage Ceremonies in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest's View7.21. Marriage Without Rituals: The Quaker Option7.22. A Woman Reflects on Marriage8. Sex, Gender, and Prostitution8.1. A Morisca Prostitute in Valencia (1491)8.2. A Catalogue of London Prostitutes (1691)8.3. City Government Establishing a Brothel (1460)8.4. Same-Sex Relations and Cross-Dressing (1477)8.5. Warning Parents about Same-Sex Relations among Girls8.6. A Transvestite Prostitute (1395)8.7. Prosecuting a Priest for Same-Sex Relations (1651)8.8. Socially Acceptable - and Unacceptable - Same-Sex Relations among Men8.9. Sex and the Convent8.10. Prosecuting Rape (1675)9. Poverty and Poor Relief9.1. Rural Poverty in France (1484)9.2. Poor Consumers Protesting Adulterated Food (1484
1494)9.3. Unworthy Poor and Worthy Rich (1524)9.4. Chasing the Deadbeat Dad (1696)9.5. Civic Help = Self Help (1526)9.6. The Common Chest and the Common Good (1522)9.7. Women in the Economy of Makeshifts (17th Century)9.8. Urban Poverty in France (1530s)9.9. Sheltering and "Improving" Orphans and Abandoned Children (1686)9.10. The Challenge of Keeping an Orphanage Open9.11. Better Schools for "Better" Children (1683-84)9.12. Getting the Poor Out of Sight10. Crime and Punishment10.1. Selling Murder and Mayhem (1661)10.2. Punishing Women who Brawl (1690)10.3. Deception, Social Climbing . . . and Death (1697)10.4. Frustrated Lovers Separated by Convent Walls (1585)10.5. Close Call: A Near-Execution for Sodomy (1667)10.6. Preparing for Execution10.7. The Execution of Two Nobles (1568)10.8. The Theatre of Execution in Rome (1581)10.9. Ritual Execution of an Alleged Rapist and Robber in Venice (1513)10.10. A Burning for Heresy10.11. The Galleys in Marseilles10.12. Appointment of an Executioner: Charles Sanson in Paris10.13. Diary of an Executioner: Franz Schmidt of Nuremburg10.14. Public Penance and Punishment in Spain - Heresy and Inquisition (1486)10.15. Confessions on the Scaffold (1700)11. Holy and Unholy: Mystics, Nuns, and Witches11.1. Men Enclosing Women Behind Convent Walls (1654)11.2. Nuns in the Reformation (1547)11.3. Trials of an Educated Nun (1682)11.4. Nuns Possessed in Loudon (1643)11.5. Nuns and Demons: Possession or Pretension? (1643)11.6. Authorizing the Witch-Hunt (1484)11.7. Why Become a Witch? (1486)11.8. Husband and Wife Witch Team11.9. Judgment on the Witch Walpurga Hausmannin (1587)11.10. Witchcraft as a Problem for Political Leaders (1580)11.11. A Miller Faces the Inquisition (1584-86)12. Living Apart Together: Jews, Muslims, and Christians12.1. Expelling the Jews from Spain: The Official Order (1492)12.2. Going into Exile: Iberian Jews around the Mediterranean (1495)12.3. A Jewish Ghetto in Southern France12.4. How to be a Practicing Muslim in a Catholic Country12.5. Living Undercover (1504)12.6. You are what you wear - or are you? (1567)12.7. Conversion: A Jew in Italy Converts to Christianity (1569)12.8. Doubting Conversion: The Spanish Inquisition Investigates a Morisco (1622)12.9. A Jewish Woman in Germany12.10. Targeting Refugees: The Dutch Threat to London (1593)12.11. Observing the Ottomans in Istanbul (1562)12.12. In Awe and Fear of "The Great Turk" (1601)12.13. Allowing the Jews to Return to England (1649)12.14. Toleration - or Conversion?12.15. The Jewish Community in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest's View (1612)13. Other Worlds: Migration and Emigration13.1. Black and White Enslaved Peoples in Africa (1600)13.2. Into India: Making Unfamiliar Worlds Familiar (1497)13.3. Into America: Unfamiliar Worlds and Peoples (1497)13.4. Tense Encounters: Early Portuguese Travelers in China13.5. Protesting Exploitation of Indigenous People (1552)13.6. An Immigrant Writes Home (1574)13.7. Encouraging Migration from New England to Jamaica (1656)13.8. A Portuguese Missionary's First Impressions of Japan13.9. A Young Black Nobleman in the British Empire14. Danger, Disease, and Death14.1. Death on the Road: The Dangers of Travel (1550s)14.2. How to Survive into Old Age (1683)14.3. Death of a Jewish Rabbi (1509)14.4. Fighting Plague (1541)14.5. Stealing Bodies From the Grave (1554)14.6. Visitors from beyond Death (1572)14.7. Muslim and Jewish Rituals around Death and Burial in Algiers: A Portuguese Priest's View (1612)14.8. Popular Burial Customs in Spain (1500s) SourcesIndex

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Contents List of Figures  xi Acknowledgements xiii


How to Read a Primary Source  1


Lives Uncovered: Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period  5


B ody and Spirit, Sickness and Health  9

3.1 The Cosmic Human (1531)  9 3.2 The Human Animal (1561)  11 3.3 You Are What You Eat, or You Eat What You Are? (1656)  14 3.4 Cooking Comfort Foods (1570)  18 3.5 A Balanced Diet (1587)  19 3.6 New Food: Tomato (1692)  20 3.7 Depression as a Spiritual Imbalance (1643)  21 3.8 Combatting Inner Demons (1653)  22 3.9 Self-Medicating with Alcohol (1682)  23 3.10 A New Addiction: Coffee (1732–34)  25 3.11 A New Vice: Tobacco (1605)  27 Reading Questions  27


C onception, Contraception, and Birth  29 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9

A Woman’s Advice on Conceiving a Child (1671)  29 A Man’s Advice on Conceiving a Child (1612)  30 Menstruation (1671)  32 How to Have a Healthy Childbirth (1513)  33 Boys and Girls in the Womb (1587; 1669)  35 One Sex or Two? Women and Men as Mirrors of Each Other (1671)  37 How to Prevent Miscarriage (1656; 1671)  37 Diary of a Dutch Midwife (1693–1702)  38 Diary of a Florentine Father (1404–31)  42 v


4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18


Diary of an English Mother (1648–68)  44 Penalties for Abortion and Infanticide (1555)  45 Miscarriage and Abortion (1671)  46 Trials for Infanticide (1677; 1679)  47 Trying to Understand Birth Defects (1575)  48 The Business of Wet Nursing (1420s)  49 Wet Nursing Carnival Songs (1400s)  50 Breastfeeding Is Good, and Mother’s Milk Is Best (1622)  51 A Jewish Circumcision (1580–81)  52 Reading Questions  54

Childhood and Adolescence  55

5.1 What Boys and Girls Need to Learn (c. 1654)  55 5.2 Bad Dreams and Bedwetting (1653)  57 5.3 Training of a Renaissance Feminist (1488)  58 5.4 A Man’s Idea of a School for Girls (1671)  60 5.5 A Woman’s Idea of a School for Girls (1694)  62 5.6 A Feminist Instructs Her Brothers (1485)  63 5.7 Raising Muslim and Jewish Children in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612)  64 5.8 Writing Home: An Obedient Son (1578)  66 5.9 Writing Home: A Wily Son (1629–36)  68 5.10 Youth Rules the Night (c. 1670)  72 5.11 Life of a University Student (1550s)  73 Reading Questions  77


Working Life 

6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 6.10

Instructions for the Ideal Servant—An Employer’s View (1681)  79 Learning a Trade on the Job (1525)  80 The Apprentice’s Overseer (1795)  82 Peasant Protest and Rebellion (1502; 1525)  83 Workers and Employers at Odds (c. 1465)  86 Women and the Guilds: Gold Spinners in Germany (1500s)  88 Apprenticeship Contract for a Daughter in France (1610)  89 Apprenticeship Contract for a Female Orphan (1700)  90 Protecting Local Industry (1687)  92 The Rural Woman’s Guide to Hard Work (1550)  93 Reading Questions  94


Marriage: Making and Ending It  95

A Contested Marriage in Court: Richard Tymond vs. Margery Sheppard (1487)  95 A Contested Marriage in Court: Alice Parker vs. Richard Tenwinter (1488)  96 Marrying Your Own (1540)  97 A Man Describes the Perfect Wife (1583)  98 Domestic Assault (1598)  99 Marrying to Breed (1654)  100 Italian Marriage Negotiations (1400s)  100

7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7




7.8 7.9 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 7.18 7.19 7.20 7.21 7.22

German Marriage Negotiations (1533)  104 English Marriage Negotiations (1680–81)  106 Marriage Night Conversation (1699)  107 Fertility Curses and Cures (1500s)  108 French Marriage Negotiations: Contract for a Second Marriage (1540)  109 A Woman’s Critique of Married Life (1600)  110 “Happy the Woman without a Man” (1500s)  112 A Man’s Critique of Married Life (1682)  114 Calculating Adultery (1700)  116 Marriage and Divorce in Muslim Spain (1438; 1474)  117 A Woman’s Response to Bigamy—Recovering Independence (1539)  119 Impotence and Divorce (1635)  120 Muslim Marriage Ceremonies in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612)  121 Marriage without Rituals—The Quaker Option (1685)  123 A Woman Reflects on Marriage (1703)  124 Reading Questions  125

VIII Sex, Gender, and Prostitution  127 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 8.10

A Morisca Prostitute in Valencia (1491)  127 A Catalogue of London Prostitutes (1691)  128 City Government Establishing a Brothel (1460)  131 Same-Sex Relations and Cross-Dressing (1477)  133 Warning Parents about Same-Sex Relations among Girls (1771)  134 A Transvestite Prostitute (1385)  134 Prosecuting a Priest for Same-Sex Relations (1651)  135 Socially Acceptable—and Unacceptable—Same-Sex Relations among Men (1509)  137 Sex and the Convent (1661)  138 Prosecuting Rape (1675)  140 Reading Questions  140


P overty and Poor Relief  141

9.1 Rural Poverty in France (1484)  141 9.2 Poor Consumers Protesting Adulterated Food (1484; 1494)  143 9.3 Unworthy Poor and Worthy Rich (1524)  145 9.4 Chasing the Deadbeat Dad (1696)  146 9.5 Civic Help = Self Help (1526)  147 9.6 The Common Chest and the Common Good (1522)  149 9.7 Women in the Economy of Makeshifts (1600s)  150 9.8 Urban Poverty in France (1530s) 151 9.9 Sheltering and “Improving” Orphans and Abandoned Children (1686)  154 9.10 The Challenge of Keeping an Orphanage Open (1600s)  156 9.11 Better Schools for “Better” Children (1683–84)  156 9.12 Getting the Poor Out of Sight (1608)  158 Reading Questions  159




Crime and Punishment  161

Selling Murder and Mayhem (1661)  161 Punishing Women Who Brawl (1690)  163 Deception, Social Climbing, ... and Death (1697)  163 Frustrated Lovers Separated by Convent Walls (1585)  165 Close Call: A Near-Execution for Sodomy (1667)  166 Preparing for Execution (1400s–1500s)  168 The Execution of Two Nobles (1568)  172 The Theater of Execution in Rome (1581)  174 Ritual Execution of an Alleged Rapist and Robber in Venice (1513)  175 A Burning for Heresy (1553)  175 The Galleys in Marseilles (late 1500s)  177 Appointment of an Executioner: Charles Sanson in Paris (1700s)  178 Diary of an Executioner: Franz Schmidt of Nuremberg (1500s)  180 Public Penance and Punishment in Spain—Heresy and Inquisition (1486)  182 Confessions on the Scaffold (1700)  183 Reading Questions  184

10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 10.14 10.15


Holy and Unholy: Mystics, Nuns, and Witches  185

Men Enclosing Women behind Convent Walls (1654)  185 Nuns in the Reformation (1547)  186 Trials of an Educated Nun (1682)  188 Nuns Possessed in Loudon (1643)  188 Nuns and Demons: Possession or Pretension? (1643)  189 Authorizing the Witch Hunt (1484)  191 Why Become a Witch? (1486)  192 Husband and Wife Witch Team (c. 1437)  192 Judgment on the Witch Walpurga Hausmännin (1587)  194 Witchcraft as a Problem for Political Leaders (1580)  196 A Miller Faces the Inquisition (1584–86)  199 Reading Questions  203

11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 11.9 11.10 11.11


Living Apart Together: Jews, Muslims, and Christians  205

Expelling the Jews from Spain: The Official Order (1492)  205 Going into Exile: Iberian Jews around the Mediterranean (1495)  208 A Jewish Ghetto in Southern France (late 1500s)  210 How to Be a Practicing Muslim in a Catholic Country (1400s)  211 Living Undercover (1504)  212 You Are What You Wear—Or Are You? (1567)  215 Conversion: A Jew in Italy Converts to Christianity (1569)  216 Doubting Conversion: The Spanish Inquisition Investigates a Morisco (1622)  217 A Jewish Woman in Germany (late 1600s– early 1700s)  221 Targeting Refugees: The Dutch Threat to London (1593)  222 Observing the Ottomans in Istanbul (1562)  223 In Awe and Fear of “The Great Turk” (1601)  225

12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 12.10 12.11 12.12



12.13 Allowing the Jews to Return to England (1649)  226 12.14 Toleration—Or Conversion? (c. 1650)  228 12.15 The Jewish Community in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612)  229 Reading Questions  230

XIII Other Worlds: Migration and Emigration  231

13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 13.9

Black and White Enslaved Peoples in Africa (1600)  231 Into India: Making Unfamiliar Worlds Familiar (1497)  234 Into America—Unfamiliar Worlds and Peoples (1497)  238 Tense Encounters: Early Portuguese Travellers in China (1500s)  241 Protesting Exploitation of Indigenous People (1552)  243 An Immigrant Writes Home (1574)  245 Encouraging Migration from New England to Jamaica (1656)  247 A Portuguese Missionary’s First Impressions of Japan (1549)  248 A Young Black Nobleman in the British Empire (1734)  251 Reading Questions  255

XIV Danger, Disease, and Death  257

14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7

Death on the Road: The Dangers of Travel (1550s)  257 How to Survive into Old Age (1683)  258 Death of a Jewish Rabbi (1509)  260 Fighting Plague (1541)  261 Stealing Bodies from the Grave (1554)  263 Visitors from Beyond Death (1572)  265 Muslim and Jewish Rituals around Death and Burial in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612) 265 14.8 Popular Burial Customs in Spain (1500s)  268 Reading Questions  269

Sources 271 Index 277


Figures 3.1 Bloodletting Points  12 3.2 Cupping  13 3.3 Beer Drinking  24 4.1 Positions of the Foetus in the Womb  41 4.2 The Nursery  53 5.1 The Idle Apprentice  67 6.1 Ale Wife  85 6.2 Women Spinning Silk  91 7.1 The Marriage Balance  103 7.2 Signing a Marriage Contract  107 7.3 The Wandering Husband  118 8.1 Master of Anthony of Burgundy, German Bathhouse (c. 1470)  130 8.2 Venetian Public Prostitute  132 9.1 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon (c. 1650)  144 9.2 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Young Beggar (c. 1650)  157 10.1 Seven Men on the Gallows  173 10.2 The Death of Thomas Cranmer at the Stake, Burned for Heresy in 1556  177 10.3 Executioner Franz Schmidt Executing Hans Fröschel on 18 May 1591  179 11.1 Renouncing Christ to Follow the Devil  190 11.2 Witches Roasting Babies  193 11.3 Witches Destroy a Town  198 12.1 A Morisca and Her Daughter (1529)  214 12.2 The Wandering Jew (1640)  227 13.1 King of Kongo Giving Audience to the Portuguese and His Subjects (1400s)  233 13.2 Portolan Chart (1492)  240 13.3 Job, Son of Solomon, High Priest of Bonda (1734)  250 14.1 The Dance of Death at Basle  262 14.2 The Dissection of the Body of Tom Nero  264


Acknowledgements The readings here represent voices from the past that sometimes seem distant and sometimes strangely familiar. I’d like to acknowledge that these midwives, students, merchants, nuns, philosophers, and sailors had no sense of how their words and lives might be published in a distant future they could hardly imagine. We share their private letters and public accounts so that students now can gain a deeper sense of a distant past and of frequently difficult lives that many find equally hard to imagine. I’ve been privileged to see in many classes what happens when voices past and present engage together—we’ve had intense discussions, puzzled queries, and many “aha!” moments when things suddenly came in to focus. My thanks to students in Regina, Toronto, Siena, Oxford, and Tours who shortened the distance between past and present and who made the conversations live with their curiosity and excitement. Thanks as well to Allison Graham and Alexandra Logue for seeking out some of these voices, to John Christopoulos and Kristina Francescutti for researching their contexts, and to Sienna Lee-Coughlin, Spirit Rose Waite, and Sarah Patterson for helping to organize them. The idea to turn an informal course reader into a more formal published collection came from Natalie Fingerhut of University of Toronto Press, and I would like to thank her for her ongoing support and above all for her great patience in a journey that took a little longer than any of us anticipated.



How to Read a Primary Source This section helps students recognize different kinds of primary sources—diaries, letters, laws, poems, and so on—and think about how these sources are written for different purposes and audiences. It introduces the idea of reading with a few critical questions in mind: who wrote a piece, what it is, why it was written, who it was written to or for, when it was written, and what it says. Students learn what kinds of information to expect from different kinds of sources and how to read those sources critically. Every time we write a note, a message, a list, or an essay, we have someone in mind that we are writing to. It may be hundreds or thousands of friends on social media, or a couple of teachers or professors for an essay, or an employer for a report, or a single person for a private card or letter. We may even write to ourselves, with a quickly scrawled shopping list, or a note reminding us of things we need to do today, or a diary of what we actually did. Sometimes we write to persuade our reader, sometimes to record our likes or dislikes, and sometimes to express private things we don’t want or expect anyone else to read. Our writing may be “official” or personal; it may be public or private; it may be something we want the world to remember or something we want everyone to forget. We change the tone of what we write depending on who we are writing to, when we are writing, and what we are writing for. With public writing, we know that readers will get a sense of who we are through what we write, so we think more about the impact of what we write: What do we want to tell our readers? What details have to be included? If some group that we are part of appoints us to write something on behalf of the group—a petition, a set of rules, minutes of a meeting, or a report on an event—then we may be less personal and more formal in what we write. We may think more about reporting fairly and clearly, and we may even have to include some views of the group that we don’t personally share. When we write privately, that seldom happens—we are free to write what we think and feel. But do we always do that? What we share with a parent or grandparent will be different from what we share with someone we love in a more intimate way—or someone we hate. We may hide some things we don’t want them to know, or exaggerate other things if we want to please or impress them. Whether we write publicly or privately, we know that those who read us will get some sense of who we are. People living in Europe in the early modern period, roughly 1500–1700, wrote for much the same purposes and in much the same way. They argued, boasted, and bragged. They recorded details carefully or made them up entirely. They wrote what they believed to be true or what they knew to be false. They wrote letters, diaries, rules, proposals, newspaper 1


reports, stories, and poems. Reading what they wrote opens a window into what they thought about—what worried them or excited them or amazed them about each other and about their world. These are the people whose daily lives made up the history we study. A letter from a woman in Peru to her brother in Spain trying to convince him to take the long voyage to join her. A midwife giving advice on how to conceive a boy or girl and how to have a healthy pregnancy. A young student on his way to university who has to think quickly to avoid getting beaten up and robbed. A lawyer giving instructions to judges on how to prosecute a witch. A mother telling her son who he must marry, or a son telling his mother why he married the girl he loved instead. A dying father leaving instructions on how he wants his children to be raised, or a guardian making promises on how he will care for an orphan. Reading these letters, wills, and diaries narrows the distance between early modern people and ourselves, because we see that sometimes they expressed hopes and fears that we can easily identify with. Sometimes it does the opposite, as when we read medical advice about how to keep our bodies cool by eating chicken or hot by choosing cabbage. We have to read carefully so that we don’t misunderstand things that seem very close to our own experience or misinterpret things that seem very different. If we read with a few questions in mind, we can get more out of reading documents written a few hundred years ago: • Who was writing it? • Who was reading it? • Why was it written? • When was it written? • What does it say? As we play with these questions, and go back and forth from one to the other, we will find that each casts a bit of light on the others. What may seem like simple words on a page can take on different meaning if they are written by a woman or a man, if they are written for a child or an adult, if they are written to persuade the reader to do something, or if they are written to report on what others have done. And while today we avoid plagiarism, many early moderns embraced it—some of the authors here borrowed freely from other authors, and sometimes from other languages, often without acknowledgment. This makes critical reading all the more complicated and all the more necessary. Some sources offer advice, set down rules, or advocate a course of action; since they prescribe actions, we often call these prescriptive. Medical treatises, laws, sermons, and advice literature all count as prescriptive examples. Other sources offer accounts of events that have taken place; since they describe actions, we often call these descriptive. Court records, letters, diaries, and chronicles are examples of descriptive writings. But not all documents fall neatly into these two categories: A mother writing a letter to her son will move back and forth from description to prescription as she gives news about a sibling and advice about a cold. A doctor writing a medical treatise may offer advice about childbirth that combines dictates from the respected Islamic authority Avicenna with eye-witness experiences of a local midwife. And even within these categories, we have to read critically with an eye and an ear to who is writing and why. A court reporter’s transcript of an interrogation may not overtly show how an illiterate peasant defendant is awed or cowed by the learned magistrates posing their questions. The voice of the accused was filtered initially through the learned judicial system and is filtered again in our modern translations. When we read that transcript in modern English, we have to work to pick up the subtle differences between questions asked in formal French, German, or Spanish (or Latin) and answers 2


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given in the simple vernacular or local dialect of 500 years ago. And on it goes: Pamphlets and chronicles that reported news from the period almost never presented facts objectively but instead had propagandistic purposes. The more questions we ask about these passages, the closer we come to understanding their different levels of meaning. The more levels of meaning we recognize, the better we understand how these sources uncover lives that were often quite different from—or surprisingly similar to—our own. What foods we eat and why; how we fall in love and whether we marry; what reactions we may have to those from other cultures, cities, or social classes, and how our views and values will then shape whether we help, punish, embrace, or flee the other—all of these experiences are also found in the sources here. Reading them challenges us to see with the eyes of those who wrote them and to understand their world from the inside: Why did so many people fear witches? How did men understand women, and vice versa? What was fair, or just, or good? Looking at these issues as they looked at them helps us understand the societies they built. Each document fits into a larger picture or view of the world. That view of the world extended beyond sight and the other four senses. It extended beyond birth and death. Early modern people had a strong sense of the universe as a place powered by forces and spirits. They believed in a God who created and sustained this universe, who knew them, and who held them accountable both for what they did and for what they let their neighbors do. The readings here aim to open windows onto Christian, Jewish, and Muslim experiences, and to show how much of daily life was shaped by a strong sense that all actions by individuals, families, and societies would either please or anger God. Who, what, when, where, and why. One question informs another, and as you go back and forth between them you may find that a document says the opposite of what you first thought. Don’t be frustrated—take this as a challenge and maybe even a mystery. The more carefully you train your ear with these questions, the more clearly you will hear the voices of those behind these letters, diaries, laws, and treatises, and the better you will understand the world that they made.



Lives Uncovered: Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period This reader is organized around the human life cycle, and it illustrates what realities and concerns dominated at each stage of life from birth through youth and adulthood to death. It offers overviews of the life cycles of males and females from different social classes and different religious/racial groups in parts of Europe and notes the importance of other themes such as sex and sexuality, poverty, crime and punishment, religious tension and coexistence, and migration and emigration. Our path from cradle to grave begins with some medical images about the body and about health and illness. We then move through advice about conception, pregnancy, and birth, and on through childhood, schooling, and adolescence before turning to marriage, which most early modern people took to be the threshold into adult life. From here the path diverges into some side areas. We’ll have already looked at work and workplaces by this point, since most people began their working lives well before they reached their teenage years. Many thought that they could not even consider marriage until they had developed their skills, saved some money, and perhaps seen a bit of the world. Their experiences as adults varied widely, and the readings aim to uncover many different sides of life. Some may challenge our assumptions about early modern life, and others may highlight unexpected similarities and differences between our life today and theirs back then. We may suspect that gender roles were tightly defined, and that may in turn make some of the practices around sex and prostitution a bit puzzling to us. The background for some of this was poverty: Most people could expect that they would spend at least part of their lives in serious poverty, and often this followed the life cycle, too, with childhood and old age being the most vulnerable times. All early modern societies aimed to ease the way for children and the aged, whom they considered most deserving of care. They could be quite harsh on others, like young men and women, who were thought to have only themselves to blame if they didn’t have clothes, shelter, or a meal. It’s perhaps no surprise that crime and violence were more common as a result, since some disadvantaged men and women were forced to find by theft what they could not earn by work. Most societies took a very hard view of crime and saw punishment as something that must give lessons to more than just the one charged with a crime. They were far quicker to whip, 5


brand, and execute criminals, and most thought that these actions had to be carried out publicly if young and old were to learn anything from them. Religion played a large role in shaping not only people’s sense of larger issues, like the meaning of life and the universe, but also a host of day-to-day questions about where and how to live and about who was inside the community and who was outside. Many saw those of other religious faiths not simply as different but as threatening. As a result, there was more effort to forcibly convert, expel, or punish those of other faiths. Finding a way to live together could be complicated, since every religion believed that the health of individuals and communities lay in following the will of God completely, and most believed that God favoured their religion above all others. As a result, the religious refugee became a mass phenomenon in the early modern period. For a few centuries Europe no longer had the numerous communities of Muslims and widespread communities of Jews common in the Middle Ages. Some of those forced on the road moved to other shores around the Mediterranean, and some moved across the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. It’s because Europeans spread so widely across the globe in this period, and because they wrote so voluminously about where they went and who they encountered, that this collection includes readings about North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas. Imperialism and colonialism were still in their earliest phases, but we can see both of them emerging in the sense of wonder, ownership, fear, and opportunity that comes out in the letters and accounts that Europeans wrote to each other about these different parts of the world. These readings also deal with the period known as the Renaissance and Reformation in Europe, a time known for major developments like the growth of the state, the development of capitalism, the rupture in the Catholic Church, and the voyages of Europeans around the globe. Survey histories will focus on those larger movements and on major figures like humanists Erasmus and Moderata Fonte, artists Artemisia Gentileschi and Peter Paul Rubens, or monarchs Henry VIII and Isabella of Castile. Historians often associate these famous people with major events, but in their own daily lives they were preoccupied with more ordinary concerns: Is that stomach ache a sign of serious illness? What should I eat for dinner? What do my friends think of me? How can I get my children (or parents!) to listen to me? These readings aim to pull back a curtain on how humanists, artists, and monarchs—as well as midwives, cooks, servants, and criminals—went about their daily lives. Uncovering their lives is a critically important way for us to understand the world they lived in and the hopes, fears, and convictions that informed their books, plays, and paintings or their decrees and public actions. No one experienced the “growth of the state” in anything but immediate and personal forms: changes in marriage law, expanding criminal prosecutions, greater regulation of workplaces and of trade, or expulsion from a homeland because of religious difference. Following the early modern life cycle gives us an immediate and deeper understanding of the social structures, the individual choices, and the cultural values that made the early modern period so revolutionary. What job does capitalism give me? What is the Reformation this Sunday in this church? What does the growth of the state look like in my village? We understand these major movements so much better when we see their impacts on the daily lives of a wide range of people. If we read primary sources to hear the voices of the past, we must remember that these are always in a conversation that was frequently lively and heated. Women experienced many things differently than men. Where one sat on the social scale made an enormous difference to how one experienced childhood, poverty, or crime. Classical learning and cultural traditions always opened gaps between advice given and actions taken. For most people, religion was more about following rituals and forming communities than about believing particular ideas or theologies—they did not reject these, but their languages of faith were more often expressed by actions than by words. This could make their actions 6


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more reflexive than reflective. We need to remember that we are reading words written in a culture where many people, often the majority, were illiterate. The greatest challenge for us is not only to understand how to read these letters, diaries, treatises, and laws, but also to use primary sources to hear the voices of those who could not write.



Body and Spirit, Sickness and Health We begin by looking at how early modern medical authorities thought about the body and about health and sickness. Some of their ideas seem remarkably current. In order to be healthy, you had to follow two principles: moderation and balance. Watch what you eat and drink, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, get fresh air, keep your emotional health in balance, and be regular in your bowel movements and urination. This practical advice was put into a framework that we might find harder to swallow. Following the ancient Greeks and Romans, medical authorities thought that your individual makeup, or “constitution,” was set by the balance of four fluids (or “humors”) within your body: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. These were associated with the values of hot and cold, dry and wet, making for a complex and sophisticated diagnostic system that knew nothing about germs, viruses, neurological conditions, or genetics. Your gender, age, class, diet, and even geography and the seasons all played a part in setting the balance or imbalance. The first step to health was finding out what your individual balance was and sticking to it, either by building up positive fluids or purging excess and bad ones. Spiritual forces that might be linked to God, to the natural order, or to powers in the universe could also play a role in determining your physical and emotional health. As Europeans came across new foods and drinks, they aimed to fit them into this system, sometimes with comical results.

3.1 The Cosmic Human (1531) Early modern people, ranging from peasants to philosophers, believed that the physical world and everything in it was shaped to some extent by supernatural and cosmic forces. The German soldier, occult writer, theologian, astrologer, and alchemist Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535) wrote De occulta philosophia (1531) to describe how planets and stars controlled the different parts of the human body and governed emotions, character, and health. Natural, celestial, and ceremonial magic offered ways to understand this complex and divinely created order and the place of humans in it. Agrippa’s occult interests brought charges of heresy, though he continued to argue that they were consistent with divine revelation. Source: Cornelius Agrippa, De occulta philosophia (1531). In P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (Ed. and Trans.), The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), pp. 96–97. 9


such as that, serving the sexual act; and she is said to rule, in addition, the ossacrum, backbone, loins, head and the mouth which gives a kiss as a pledge of love. The Moon, even though she may lay claim to the whole body and its individual parts because of the variety of her signs, nevertheless has ascribed to her in particular the brain, lungs, marrow of the backbone, stomach, the menstrual fluids and all the waste matters of the body, the left eye and the power to grow. Hermes says there are seven openings in the head of a living creature and that these are assigned to the seven planets: namely, the right ear to Saturn, the left to Jupiter, the right nostril to Mars, the left to Venus, the right eye to the Sun, the left to the Moon and the mouth to Mercury. Individual signs of the zodiac look after their special parts of the body. So, Aries rules the head and face; Taurus the neck; Gemini the arms and shoulders; Cancer the chest, lungs, stomach and upper arms; Leo the heart, stomach, liver and back; Virgo the intestines and the bottom of the stomach; Libra the kidneys, thighs and buttocks; Scorpio the genitals, the vulva and the uterus; Sagittarius the thigh and groins; Capricorn the knees; Aquarius the legs and shins; and Pisces the feet.… Those things relating to Saturn cause sadness and depression; those relating to Jupiter are conducive to happiness and excellence; those relating to Mars to boldness, contention and anger; those relating to Venus grant love, lust and ardent desire; those relating to Mercury grant eloquence; those relating to the Moon bring a conventional life. People’s skills and characters are also allotted according to the planets. Saturn governs old men, monks, those given to depression, hidden treasures and those things which one acquires with difficulty and by means of long journeys. Jupiter has control over members of religious Orders, prelates, Kings, Dukes and material profit lawfully gained. Mars governs barbers, surgeons, doctors, executioners, butchers, provisioners, bakers, millers, soldiers and those who are everywhere called “the sons of Mars.”

It is clear that all inferior things are subject to higher and (as Proclus says) in a certain fashion each is present inside the other, i.e., the highest is in the lowest and the lowest in the highest. Thus, terrestrial things are in heaven, but in a causal and celestial way; and celestial things are on earth, but in a terrestrial way, that is to say, consistent with their intention. So we say that here on earth there exist certain things which pertain to the Sun and some which pertain to the Moon, because in them the Sun and Moon give rise to something of their own power. This is why things of this kind receive more workings and properties like those of the stars and signs under which they exist. Thus, we find out that things pertaining to the Sun have a relationship with the heart and head because of Leo (the house of the Sun) and Aries (in which the Sun is exalted). Things pertaining to Mars are ascribed to the head and testicles because of Aries and Scorpio; which is why people whose senses are staggering and who have a pain in the head because they are drunk with wine find immediate relief by plunging their testicles into cold water, or washing them thoroughly with vinegar. But with regard to these inter-relationships, one must know how the human body is allotted to the planets and their signs. According to Arabic tradition, the Sun rules the brain, heart, thigh, marrow, right eye and vital spirit. Mercury governs the tongue, mouth, the other instruments or organs of the sense (internal as well as external), the hands, feet, legs, nerves and power of imagination. Saturn rules the spleen, stomach, bladder, womb, right ear and the power of making connections between things. Jupiter rules the liver and the fleshier part of the stomach, the belly and navel, which is why ancient authors tell us that a replica of the navel was deposited in the Temple of Jupiter Ammon. Some writers also attribute to Jupiter the ribs, pubic bone, intestines, blood, arms, right hand, left ear and the power of the genitals. Others, however, set Mars in charge of the blood, veins, kidneys, gall-bag, nostrils, back, descent of the sperm and the power to be angry. Venus (some say) governs the kidneys, testicles, vulva, uterus, sperm and lust, along with the flesh, bodyfat, stomach, pubic area, umbilical cord and everything



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3.2 The Human Animal (1561) A buildup of toxic elements in the blood, the stomach, or the organs would certainly make you sick. Purgation was the path to health, whether by vomiting out the contents of your stomach, emptying the bowels, or drawing excess blood from your veins. The Bolognese doctor Leonardo Fioravanti (1517–83) believed that all diseases went back to corrupt agents in either the blood or the stomach, and that health could be restored only if the blood was purified and the stomach purged. He was the prince of purgators, and here he uses the example of how animals heal themselves in order to make his case. Fioravanti travelled the length of Italy selling his remedies and books, disputing opponents, serving as chief physician to the Spanish Army, and attracting followers through public healings. Source: Leonardo Fioravanti, Capricci medicinali (Venice, 1561). In William Eamon, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 185 and 187.

the entire body, and by reason of this cause the blood along with all the interior parts suffers, and for this reason it follows that to be able to liberate the body from all kinds of infirmities it is necessary to evacuate it of these corrupt humors, whether by vomiting or by purgation. And the truth of this is verified every day by experience, which shows that those medicines which provoke vomiting, evacuating a great deal, cause much better effects than any other for the health of the sick body. … [First], it is seen that the animals of the earth don’t ever treat themselves of any infirmity, except of the stomach, and when they seek to heal themselves, they eat herbs that cause them to vomit. This teaches us that they do not suffer from any other infirmity than the aforesaid. By the experience of animals I prove that illnesses have their causes in the stomach. [Second], all medicines … as soon as they arrive in the stomach, attract to themselves all the evil humors of the stomach, and of the entire body, and embrace them together, and nature condemns them to be committed out in succession. Thus the stomach is emptied of all such material, and the body remains free of every impediment of infirmity.…

It’s quite true that nature gave all the animals a very great gift, which was that each animal, all by itself, without aid or counsel from anyone, knew how to cure its infirmity.… The dog, when it feels sick, goes to the forest and finds there a certain sort of herb, which it recognizes by natural instinct, and eats it, and that herb immediately makes it vomit or evacuate from behind; and it is cured at once. The ox, horse, and mule, when they feel themselves aggravated by some infirmity, bite the end of their tongue until blood flows out, and are healed. Hens, when they are sick, take out a certain membrane under the tongue, and the blood flows from it, and immediately they are healed. And many other animals do similar things to cure various infirmities.… The animals therefore really know how to doctor themselves, and haven’t previously studied medicine. They don’t have it by science, but by experience and the gift of nature.… And so each time men saw these things they observed it, and in this way came to know that evacuation and bloodletting were very useful. … The first cause of all infirmities is the indisposed and corrupt stomach, from which follows the corruption of



Figure 3.1  Bloodletting Points An anatomical diagram of a man’s vascular system and corresponding bloodletting points. Though only skilled surgeons drew blood, diagrams like these showed what the main points were for successful treatments.



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Figure 3.2  Cupping Like bloodletting by means of leeches and small incisions, cupping was a form of purgation intended to balance the humors. The cups were heated in order to increase the flow from the incision.



3.3 You Are What You Eat, or You Eat What You Are? (1656) Should you eat brown or white bread? Take an extra helping? Eat garlic? Rules for healthy eating in the early modern period were as complicated as they are now. Recipes and menus were driven by the doctrine of the humors and by the belief that you should vary what and how much you ate according to your gender, your class, your constitution, and your temperament. A finely tuned diet and appetite would allow you to be as healthy as a horse without visiting a doctor. It’s not for nothing that Nicholas Culpeper (1616–54), author of this piece, advertised himself as a student of physic (i.e., medicine) and astrology, because the whole universe came together around the kitchen and the table. In this piece, he recommends what students in particular should eat. Source: Nicholas Culpepper, Health for the Rich and Poor by Dyet without Physick (London, 1656).

Chap. 1.

either would not be at all, or else be pure, and not crude, if excess in Diet were avoided. 4. Neither are those Vapors only, and immediately sent up from the Stomach, which if that were all, it were bad enough; but also from the Liver and Spleen, which being overcloyed, in Concoction send up abundance of fuliginous sooty vapors to the head. 5. A sober Diet doth by little and little, diminish these Vapors, and in short time, reduceth them to their due proportion, both in quantity, and in quality. 6. For when Nature is not burdened, she governs the Body perfectly, and so wisely orders and dispenseth all things, that neither Diseases arise in the Body, nor impediments in the Mind.…

What is meant by a sober Life. 1. By a sober Life, I intend such an exact quantity of meat and drink, as the Constitution of the Body allows of, in reference to the Services of the mind. 2. I add [in reference to the Services of the kind] because such as lead a studious Life, ought not to eat so much, as such as lead a laborious Life, their digestion being not so good, therefore their Meat ought to be less in quantity, and light of digestion.… 10. The measure of Food, ought to be (as much as possibly may be) exactly proportional to the quality and condition of the Stomach, because it is the Office of the Stomach to digest it. 11. And that quantity is exactly proportional to the Stomach, which the Stomach is able perfectly to concoct and digest.… 13. In such as exercise bodily Labors, the Faculties of the Body, are chiefly exercised, and a greater measure is required for them, than for such as only live studious lives, and exercise the Faculties of the Mind only.

Rule II.

1. If thou find a dullness, heaviness, and weariness after meat, it is a sign thou has exceeded the due measure. 2. For Meat and Drink ought to refresh the Body, and make it more cheerful, and not to dull and oppress it. 3. If then thou findest these ill Symptoms, consider diligently whether it come through superabundance of Meat or Drink, or both, and subtract accordingly: and do this by degrees also, till by little and little thou findest no longer any such inconveniences.…

Chap. 2.

Rules to find out the fit measure of Meat and Drink.

Rule III.

Rule I.

1. We must not pass immediately from a disordered kind of life, to a strict and precise life; but subtract from the excess by little and little.…

1. If thou takest so much Food at Meals as makes thee unfit for study, and other Duties of the Mind, it is evident thou exceedest the due measure thou oughtest in Reason to keep.… 3. Now this is clear, That all the offence that proceeds to the Brain (by way of Food I mean) ariseth from the abundance of Vapors that are sent up to the head; which

Rule IV.

1. Touching the Quality of the Food, there is no great care to be had, so that the Body be of a healthful Constitution, and find the Meat he eats do him no harm.… 14


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Answ. 1.

4. It is best for Students to use a good quantity of Bread with their Meat, for the damage it brings may thereby in a great part be avoided; and indeed to have a great care of all Meats which they find to offend; for such cause Crudities, and by Crudities, cloudiness and dizziness of the Brain, Catarrhs, and distillations on the Lungs, Wind, Gripings, Gnawings, and Frettings of the Guts; and what a mad thing is it to buy these vile and fading pleasures to Gluttony, at the rate of so many, so great Inconveniences; and to please a liquorish appetite, enter into such a thraldom with Gluttony, as spoils both Spirit, Soul, and Body. 5. Only take this Caution: When I say, Students ought carefully to avoid all Meats that offend, I do not intend, but that they may now and then eat a little of any Meats they desire; for oftentimes that which offends Nature, being taken in large quantities, benefits Nature, being taken in less proportions.…

The Ancients, who lived in hot Countries, took it all together, and that about three of the clock in the afternoon. 2. Weak Persons, and aged People, had better take it at twice, because small quantities suit better with weak digestions.

Chap. 4.

A Temperate Diet frees from Diseases.… 3. Where there is an agreeable proportionableness amongst those things which are commonly called Humours, there is no matter for a sickness to work upon; for the ground of Health lies in this, That the Humours be rightly and proportionally tempered in the Body. 4. Experience teacheth, That such as keep a sober Diet, are very seldom, or never molested with Diseases; and if at any time they are surprised with a sickness, they bear it better, and recover it sooner than such whose Bodies are as full of ill Humours, as an egg is Full of Meat. 5. The Reason is, Because all Diseases have their original from Repletion, viz. Taking more Meat and Drink than Nature requires, or the Stomach can welcome.… 8. [Consequences for] the Stomach, either through the over great quantities of Meats, or of their malignant quality, or of the variety of them taken at one time, or not a due space taken between Meals:

Rule V.

1. Beware a variety of Meats, and such as are seriously and daintily dressed.…

Rule VI.

1. Keep as much as may be from the view of dainty Feasts and Banquets.… 3. It is far more difficult to restrain in the Appetite from good cheer when it is present, than from the desire of it when it is away.…

1. It fills the Brain with Choleric and Phlegmatic Excrements 2. It breeds Obstructions 3. It corrupts the temper of the whole Body 4. It fills the Veins with putrefied Humours …

Chap. 3.

Certain Objections Answered.

Objection I.

Whether this Measure and stint being once found out, ought to be altered, or not?

15. We deny not but Exercise may, nay, ought to be used in due time, and in due measure, a quarter of an hour before Meals, or so, to swing a weight, or swing your Arms about with a small weight in each hand, to leap, or the like; for this stirs the Muscles of the Breast.

Answ. 1.

Winter requires something of a larger quality of Meat than Summer. 2. Hot and dry Meats agree best with Winter, cold and moist with Summer.

Chap. 6.

A temperate Diet resists Epidemical Diseases.

Objection 2.

Whether the daily Measure ought to be taken at one, or more times?

1. All Epidemical Diseases, as such as are real Physicians know, proceed from the Air corrupted by planetary influence.…



1. Having shown what benefits it brings to the Body; let us now rise a little higher, and show some advantages it brings to the mind.… 3. The sight in ancient Men is chiefly clouded, because the Optick Nerves are clouded with superfluous Humours and Vapors, whereby the Animals Spirits, which are Subservient to the sight, are either darkened or choked in their progress. 4. This impediment is taken away by sobriety in Diet, and avoiding such things as fill the head with fumes, strong Wines, thick Beer &c.…

3. If then your Bodies be kept clear from corruption, by a temperate Diet, there is nothing for the Disease to work upon.

Chap. 7.

A sober Diet makes Men’s Bodies fit for any Employment. 1. It makes the Body lightsome, fresh and Expedite to all the motions thereunto appertaining. 2. For, heaviness, dullness, and the like oppressions of nature, proceed from ill Humours, and ill Humours from ill Diet, whereby the Joints and Ventricles of the Body are filled full of superfluous moisture.… 4. Hence it is clear that in him that keeps a sober Diet, the concoction is perfect, good Blood bred; and of good Blood, good Spirits, free, lightsome, and clear: so that both agility of body and vigor of mind is thereby acquired.…

Chap. 11.

A sober Diet Mitigates the Violence of Passions and Affections.… 5. Such as are full of Choleric Humours, are always angry and rash, those that are full of Melancholy Humours are sad, pensive, full of griefs and fears; and these Humours propagate in the Brain; there follows frenzies and madness, therefore the fault lies in the Humours. 6. The affection of the mind follows the apprehension of the fancy is conformable to the disposition of the Body, and the predominate Humours therein … Therefore consider:

Chap. 8.

A sober Diet makes Men live long. 1. A sober Diet, not only brings health of Body, and vigor of mind, both which are very desirable things … but also it gives long life to them that follow it, and glorify God by it. 2. Infinite examples might be brought of this, I shall only quote one, which is Galen, who by keeping an orderly Diet, lived one hundred and twenty years, which in that hot Country, where he lived, was a great wonder, as if he had lived two hundred years here.… 12. But some will say, there are in the world which live to extreme Old Age, yet keep no such Diet, but stuff themselves every day to the full with meat and drink. To this I answer. 13. 1. This is most rare: most Gluttons die before their time. And one Swallow makes not a Summer. 14. 2. If Irregular eaters and drinkers would observe a moderation, they would questionless live much longer and in better health.… 18. They that are of weakly Constitutions, if they live temperately are more secure touching health and prolonging of their lives, than those of the strongest constitutions or can be, if they live intemperately.

1. Choleric Men dream of Fire, Burning, Fighting, Killings &tc. 2. Melancholy Men dream of Darkness, Fear, Funerals, evil Spirits, whatever they dream of, be sure Fear is at one end. 3. Phlegmatic Men, dream of Rains, great Waters, Drownings, Shipwreck &tc. 4. Sanguine Men dream of … Banqueting, Songs, and love matters. 7. Dreams are nothing but the apprehensions of the Fancy, when the senses are asleep, so that it follows; that in waking, as well as sleeping, the Fancy apprehends things according to the predominant Humours, till it be corrected or otherwise directed by reason.… 9. Choler, in-as-much as it is extreme Bitter and therefore contrary to Nature, causeth other Men’s words or Deeds to seem to proceed from bitterness of Spirit against him; as though whatsoever was said or done, was intended against him with despite and injury. 10. Because Choler is fiery and Impetuous, it makes the Apprehension swift and violent, and drives a Man to a speedy revenge of the evil, which he doth but suppose was done against him.

Chap. 10.

A sober Diet maintains the senses in Vigor. 16


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to say, but is fain to ask the standers by what the matter treated about was.… 4. Now this great and apparent evil is wonderfully both prevented before it come, and cure when it is come, by a sober and temperate Diet. 5. Let such as are so troubled, avoid excess of hot drinks and Wines which send up unwholesome Vapors to the Brain, or if the coldness of their Stomachs require them, let them drink them in small quantities and presently after meals. 6. For although the Wine itself be hot yet it breeds cold Diseases viz. Distillations on the lungs, Coughs, Apoplexies, Palsies &tc. And the reason is, because it fills the Head with Vapors which the Brain cools and congeals into cold Phlegm which is the cause of these evils.

11. The Melancholy Humour is heavy, cold and dry, Lumpish and sour, and always (it abounding) Obnoxious to the ear: now by reason or its coldness and heaviness, it cannot incite a Man to the repulse of evil, as Choler doth, which is light and active, but polluteth a Man with fear and care, and desire of revenge.… 13. Choler abounding makes Men angry, Rash, hasty, bold, quarrelsome, peevish, swearers, cursers, brawlers: hence comes fighting, killing, wounding, one another &c. For drunken frays come from the fury of Choler inflamed and set on fire by the Wine. 14. Melancholy makes Men sad, faint-hearted, solitary, fearful, subject to despair, and Madness, it pollutes the Brain, and sends up such filthy vapors from the Hypochondria to the Brain, that it unfits a Man for any business. 15. Phlegm makes Men slow, sleepy, fearful, forgetful, unfit for any matter of consequence: for although this Humour be not so hurtful to the body as Choler and Melancholy; yet it is more hurtful to the mind; for it dulls the vigor of the Spirits, but its moisture, cloying the Brain and stopping their Passages. 16. Now a sober Diet doth in great part Remedy all these evil, abating them by little and little; Nature either consuming them within or drying them out by degrees; especially if she be helped a little by some proper Medicine. 17. Besides all this, the whole temper of the Body much corrected, there being a supply of pure and well tempered Blood without any crudities, or superfluous Humours, so that such as keep a sober Diet are calm, affable, courteous, cheerful, and moderate in all things, for this being Nourishment, which Nature works upon, causeth Benign affections throughout the body.… 19. A Choleric Man when he is angry, at a supposed injury, his anger so enflames the Humour, and the Humours so increaseth his anger that he will not suffer a friend to speak to him, though he loved him never so deeply.

Chap. 13.

A sober Diet helps the Understanding. 1. O yes! Every one that delight in Vigor of wit, in studying, reasoning, finding out and judging of things, as also to Lead such a life, as be may be fit for communication with holy Angels, let him read diligently this Chapter. 2. Would you be watchful, provident, circumspect, of a good forecast, of a sound Judgment, able to give good counsel, able to comprehend any study, to grow excellent in what you undertake, come hither this way.… 7. For a Spiritual progress depends much upon the use of the understanding, we cannot love any good thing nor profit in the love of it, nor hate any evil thing, nor increase in the hatred of it, unless it be proposed to be good or evil by the understanding, that so it may make the affections, so that corruption of the understanding is many times the reason why men call good evil, and evil, good, at all times the reason of mistaking an apparent good for a real evil.… 10. Neither doth a sober diet only take away the impediments of speculation, but also administers very many necessary helps to it, viz.

Chap. 12.

A sober Diet preserveth the Memory.

1. Good Blood 2. Pure and well tempered Spirits. 3. An equal and well tempered Brain

1. There is scarce anything more desirable to a student than a good memory. 2. Memory is most commonly impeached by a cold Humour polluting the Brain, stopping the narrow passages of the Spirits, benumbing the Spirits themselves, whereby they become slow, weak and inconstant, and oftentimes fail a Man in the midst of his discourse; so that he knows not, what he said last, nor what he intended

Chap. 14.

A sober Diet allayeth the heat of Lust. 1. Lust is the Mother of sin, the Devil the father, and man’s heart the Womb, in which it is conceived.…



when the Seed and Spirits are abated, and tempered, lustful imaginations cease of their own accord, or if they do rise, they are easily quelled.… 17. Yet once more let me acquaint you with this truth: much expense of Seed, causeth much exhaustion of the Spirits, and therefore of necessity dulls the mind much.… 19. Abstinence plucks up the cause of all these by the Roots, and by degrees reduceth the natural temper to a mediocrity; a happy Remedie for all such as are vexed with lust or lustful thoughts.

5. A sober Diet much allays the temptations of the Flesh and brings much tranquility both to Flesh and Spirit.… 7. The matter of lust is the abundance of Seed. The impulsive cause is the store of animal Spirits, whereby the Seed is expelled. The exciting cause is the imagination of lustful matters.… 9. Now a sober Diet doth subtract both from the matter and from the impulsive cause, for it maketh an abatement by degrees both of the quantity and heat of the Seed and diminisheth the store and fieriness of the Spirits, and

3.4 Cooking Comfort Foods (1570) This Italian cookbook emphasizes freshness in ingredients and shows how to gain the most goodness out of meats meant for those of high and ordinary stations in life. Source: Bartolomeo Scappi, Opera dell’arte del cucinare (1570). In Terence Scully (Ed. and Trans.), The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’arte et prudenza d’un maestro cuoco (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 263, 343, 357, 593, and 597.


You can do it with melted capon or goose fat. And with the same liquids you can cook them in a small saucepan of tinned copper or silver, or else in silver dishes, and serve them in those vessels.

Get broccoli between February and the end of March, with its leaves removed. Take the tenderest part of it that has not flowered. Boil salted water. With the broccoli done up into little bunches, put it into that boiling water. Do not overcook it but take it out and put it into dishes. Then get boiling oil and drip it hot with a spoon over the broccoli, adding orange juice, pepper and a little of the broth in which it was cooked. Serve it hot because otherwise it is no good. You can also sauté a crushed clove of garlic in the oil to flavour the broccoli. Whenever you need to hold it back for an hour or two, put it into cold water after it has parboiled and leave it there until you want to recook it. Green broccoli is kept the same way and it will not take on a bad smell. It is served in the above way.

A dainty pottage of deboned frogs.

Get eviscerated frogs from June throughout the fall and boil them in plain, lightly salted water. Take them out of the broth and put them into cold water. Take the meat and sauté it gently in oil or butter in a small pan, adding in water and enough salt, peeled and seeded verjuice grapes, mint, marjoram, burnet and parsley, those herbs beaten with a few ground almonds or grated bread to thicken the broth. Cook it all. Colour it with a little cinnamon and saffron. Instead of almonds and grated bread, you can thicken the broth with egg yolks, depending on the day. You can also beat the meat small after it is boiled, though because frog’s legs are very small and by nature separate from one another, they are rarely beaten. Serve them hot.

Fried eggs.

Get fresh eggs. Have fresh butter that is strained so that no sediment remains, and heat it up in a frying pan; hold the pan’s handle up so the butter runs together and the eggs take on a good shape. Put the eggs into the butter when it is warm and let them cook slowly, splashing hot butter over the yolks with a spoon so they cover over. With a sharp spoon take them out without breaking them. Serve them hot with orange juice and sugar over them.

Chicken Soup.

Get two capons, killed that day, to make only a single bowl of broth. Beat one and a half of them with knives, along with their bones. The remaining half you divide into several pieces and boil them in a pot with a litre 18


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to time and putting in the reduced broth from the half capon. Let it braise until the beaten meat is cooked, then strain it and, in a fine receptacle, reboil it with a little sugar and orange juice or a little verjuice. With egg yolks that broth can be used to make thick broths and soups.

and a third of water until it is well reduced. Then take the beaten capon and put it into a basin, stirring into it a little salt and ground cinnamon. Put everything into a well tinned tourte pan, giving it a gentle heat from below and above the way tourtes are baked, stirring it from time

3.5 A Balanced Diet (1587) Eating a balanced diet never went out of style, and when the Toledo doctor Oliva Sabuco de Nantes Barrera (1562–1622) published The True Medicine in Madrid in 1587, she aimed as well to balance the ancient authorities Galen and Hippocrates. Spanish readers took her as their bible: Barrera’s review of “the natural causes of life, death, and disease” continued to be reprinted through the early modern period and into the nineteenth century Source: Oliva Sabuco de Nantes Barrera, The True Medicine (1587). In Gianna Pomata (Ed. and Trans.), The True Medicine (Toronto: Iter, 2010), pp. 84, 186, and 188.

be eaten first, followed by what is harder to digest, and at the end of the meal one should have what they call the seal of the stomach, such as a morsel of quince, or some quince jelly, or two olives, or a pippin apple, etc. As to drink, if one can get used to it, it is better to drink just once after the major part of the meal, and immediately after to finish the rest of the meal. Old people should drink two or three times during the meal, and no more, because with a lot of drink the chyle turns watery, and so does the brain. This is why it is wonderfully beneficial to put up with thirst after eating.

Comparison: On Food and Drink Hippocrates said, “One must administer gruel in the morning, but in the evening one can give solid food.” As to Galen, “[he] teaches that those who are weakened by disease should eat more at supper than at dinner, saying that one should always try to follow the rule we recommended when we argued that in the evening more nutritious food should be given.” On which, Mr. Doctor, I’d like to give you my opinion, which is the following: Those who need the help of the true medicine (because their brain tends easily to make flux, as is the case with invalids, or those with little heat in their stomach, and the old) but even those who are healthy, in order not to need medical help, should eat more, “at dinner,” than at supper, because at supper two things combine to make the meal’s juice watery and prone to fall, namely, rest and sleep. If there is a lot of juice, the flux is also great, even if the triggering occasion may be small, and therefore suppers may be very harmful, so that it is best at supper, if one has an appetite, to eat just a little food, of good quality, and not to gorge oneself. Old people should eat a little food, of moist quality, such as good goat-milk, or almond-milk, new-laid eggs drunk raw, and, “similar things,” and at the end of the waning moon they should cut down on their food, as does the bird Ibis. Doctor: How should they cut down on their food? Antonio: By adopting the said diet, plus herbs and olive oil. As a rule, what is more easily digestible should

Comparison: On Anger Hippocrates and Galen argued that nobody could die of anger, Galen saying, “Nobody ever died of anger, neither from the chilling of the heat nor from the debilitation of the bodily strength.” And Hippocrates said, “Irascibility, in itself, contracts heart and lungs and attracts heat and moisture to the head.” He also said, “One should act so as to excite anger, for the sake of restoring heat and moisture.” And Galen said, “Grief, anxiety, and anger hurt in the same way as a protracted lack of sleep, because they weaken the strength of the body, and [cause] a thousand other things.” And Aristotle said, “Anger is a longing for revenge, accompanied by pain.” On the contrary, Galen said, “The desire for vengeance is only an accidental part of wrath, not its essence.” … 19


around through the skin and the head, and in thus moving around it heats up, like the sunray when it flees the cloud. Fever occurs when the heart’s heat has room and time for fleeing; if there is no room or time for the heat to flee, death comes instantly. The ancients spoke of fervor sanguinis, a “boiling of the blood,” also because the humor that falls as a result of the feeling of anger is the yellow or green choler, which is hot, and per se, by itself, can set the body on fire. This hot humor is the predominant cause and peccant matter in hot diseases, whereas the phlegm is predominant in cold diseases. One can often see this yellow or green choler coming out of the nose in filaments. It is also discharged from the eyes, as can be seen from the fact that many tears or rheum from the eyes scorch the face. The urge to revenge is the desire to retaliate for the injury received.

Anger is the feeling of having been injured unfairly by somebody and hoping for revenge. Vexation, or grief, occurs when the injury was not due to the unfair action of somebody, and one cannot revenge oneself. Vexation and grief do damage as anger does, in the same way it has been already described. Anger does not kill if there is hope of revenge; but if that hope is gone, then anger does indeed kill. As to the heat excited by anger, I would never wish for that help in order to recover heat and moisture! The ancients only looked at the outside of things, at what appears externally. The heat they called fervor sanguinis, “a boiling of blood,” is caused by damage done by the brain’s flux, exactly like the heat of fever. You will recall that fever is a flight of the innate heat of the heart, which runs away from its opposite, the moist and cold spirits falling from the brain. This heat spreads

3.6 New Food: Tomato (1692) While many associate the tomato with Italian cuisine, Italians recognized it as a Spanish import. This author emphasizes tastiness as much as whether the food is easily digestible. Source: “Antonio Latini’s Recipes for Tomatoes” (1692). In David Gentilcore, Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), p. 52.

Tomato Sauce, Spanish style.

Tomato Casserole.

Take half a dozen ripe tomatoes and roast them in embers, and when they are charred, carefully remove the skin, and mince them finely with a knife. Add as many onions, finely minced, as desired; chilies, also finely minced; and a small amount of thyme. After mixing everything together, add a little salt, oil, and vinegar as needed. It is a very tasty sauce, for boiled dishes or anything else.

Fill the pot with pieces of pigeon, veal breast, and stuffed chicken necks. Stew well in some good broth, with suitable aromatic herbs and spices, together with cockscombs and testicles. When the stew is cooked through, roast some tomatoes in embers, peel them, cut them into four pieces, and add them to the soup along with the rest of the ingredients, making sure not to overcook them, as they require little cooking. Then add some fresh eggs and a little lemon juice, and allow the mixture to thicken, covering it with a lid and applying heat both above and below.

Eggplant Dish.

Cut [the eggplants] into small pieces; add minced onions and squash, likewise cut small; and diced tomatoes. Lightly sauté everything together with aromatic herbs, with sour grapes if they are in season, and with the usual spices. You will produce a very good dish, Spanish style.



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3.7 Depression as a Spiritual Imbalance (1643) The sixteenth-century Italian exorcist Zacharias Vicecomes recognized some of the same symptoms of alienation, anxiety, and sadness associated with melancholy. He suspected that in extreme cases that resulted in individuals cutting themselves and attempting suicide, they came from supernatural rather than natural causes—the patient was possessed by an evil spirit. In such instances, the cure lay not in restoring an inner balance of humors by regulating diet and rest, but in calling for an exorcist who could cast out the “inner demons” who were controlling the patient. Source: Zacharias Vicecomes, Complementum artis exorcistae (1643). In P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (Ed. and Trans.), The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), pp. 46–48.

(15) Very often they jump from a great height. (16) Sometimes a fiery or ice-cold vapour runs through their bodies. (17) They feel as though ants are running over their body; or frogs jumping; vipers, snakes, and fish swimming; flies flying, and so forth. (18) They see and hear things beyond what is natural. (19) They feel scared of things when these are placed on top of their head.… (20) They cry out when one places any saints’ relics on their head, even if one does so secretly, and say: “Take them away. They mean me harm,” or “They are too heavy.” They blow heavily or turn their head round or make an effort to throw the relics off or display anger against the minister and bystanders. (21) They have a hatred for all spiritual things. They run away at the sight of priests, especially exorcists, and are unwilling to enter a church. If they do go in, they try to run out at once.… They are unwilling to look at or kiss any blessed object, the images of the saints, and especially the crucifix. Indeed, they throw them down and spit on them all. (22) They make no effort to speak sacred words … and if they do pronounce them, they try to stutter, or corrupt the words, and demonstrate extreme boredom. At length they cannot say them at all. This is how they show clearly they are possessed by evil spirits.

Signs of someone possessed by an evil spirit: (1) Very often the demoniac sticks out a tongue unnaturally black and swollen; his throat is either inflated or narrowly constricted so that he seems to wish to be strangled. It returns, however, to its former state. (2) Demoniacs weep aloud and do not know why they are weeping. (3) They answer questions angrily in a loud, quarrelsome voice. (4) When pressed to speak, they do not wish to do so. (5) They grit their teeth and do not wish to eat. (6) They pursue people with hatred. (7) They say many things whose meaning is impossible to decipher. (8) They are oppressed by heavy torpor. (9) They remain as if deprived of their senses. (10) They cut themselves with knives and slash their clothes and hair. (11) They have frightening, dreadful eyes. (12) They are afflicted by a sudden terror which immediately goes away. (13) They imitate the voices of various animals and so one hears the roaring of lions, the bleating of sheep, the lowing of oxen, the barking of dogs, the grunting of pigs, and so on. (14) They hiss through their teeth, froth at the mouth and show other signs like rabid dogs.



3.8 Combatting Inner Demons (1653) A Catholic priest could relieve someone suffering from “inner demons” by employing a wide range of spiritual tools like relics and rituals. Protestants rejected these as the superstitious magic of power-hungry priests. Here the French protestant preacher François Perreaud (1577–1657) recommends using the purely spiritual tools of prayer and fasting in order to draw God into the cure, as He is the only one who can truly remove demons. Source: François Perreaud, Demonologie (1653). In P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (Ed. and Trans.), The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), pp. 48–49.

of the spirit” … and it is with this sword of the word of God that Jesus Christ himself repulsed three assaults which Satan made against him.… In addition to this remedy we also have prayer which really is like a piece of weaponry, well sharpened to parry all the blows of evil spirits and weaken their power, entrusting ourselves to God evening and morning in the name of his son Jesus Christ, when we get up, go to bed, come and go, stay where we are, eat and drink, and in all other circumstances.… As for fasting, which Jesus Christ conjoins with prayer, one should note that he does not at all prescribe thereby a particular time for the body to fast and abstain from certain kinds of food, since the Devil is always awake and never sleeps, and so he fasts (so to speak), or rather he does not eat. Yet he does not cease to be the Devil and continue to do evil. This is why, when Jesus Christ says, “this kind of devil does not come out save by fasting and prayer” … If we avail ourselves of these remedies, as true weapons both offensive and defensive, against these foes of ours, let us have no doubt that … God will remove the Devil from us and at the same time will cause his holy angels to draw near us to minister to us and defend us against all evil.

There are those who … believe that these spirits can be driven away with the help of certain physical remedies, by using the innate power of some earthly material … But there is no doubt at all that today the Devil does not even pretend to be constrained by such remedies—especially by superstitious remedies as the cross, holy water, touching with relics, amulets, written characters and other similar methods which confirm people more and more in their idolatry and superstition. Others admit that although, according to the laws of nature, incorporeal things do not respond to the action of physical things, nevertheless demons … fear physical weapons. They are particularly afraid of the sword, partly because of its flashing brilliance at which they cannot look without blinking, and partly because of its cutting edge by which they are cut, sliced and divided into pieces. After they have been dismembered, they collect themselves together and suddenly join themselves up completely … One would do better to follow the advice of the Apostle Paul: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” [2 Corinthians 10.4]. It is true that among those weapons he mentions especially the sword, but this sword he qualifies in particular terms, “the sword



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3.9 Self-Medicating with Alcohol (1682) In this variant on classical thought, the author argues that distillation destroys the balance in all foods between the healthy “balsamic” spirits and the fiery “brimstony” spirits. Distilling leaves only the clear fire of the “brimstony” spirits, and those who drink too much of these wreck the natural heat that fuels their digestion. They become dependent on the more dangerous “dark fire” that offers no genuine warmth but only consumes the drinker. Women and those in warm climates are particularly vulnerable to these effects. Source: Thomas Tryon, Health’s Grand Preservative; or, The Women’s Best Doctor, A Treatise, Shewing the Nature and Operation of Brandy, Rumm, Rack, and Other Distilled Spirits, and the Ill Consequences of Men’s, but Especially of Women’s Drinking Such Pernicious Liquors and Smoaking Tobacco (London, 1682).

swallowed up, and as it were hid and moderated … but as soon as this Essential Spirit and Balsamick body are separated or destroyed, this dark Fiery Brimstonie Spirit appears in its own form, and becomes like a Mad furious Devil in Nature, its clothing being the Dark-Fire … so that there doth remain no true Life nor Light in it, but being set on Fire, its Flame is of a dim Brimstone colour, which demonstrates that the dark wrathful Properties of Saturn and Maris, and their Fierce Fires are predominant in all such Liquors or Spirits. … Such spirits being frequently Drunk do generate various Diseases, according to each Man’s Nature and Constitution, and the Climate whether hot or cold, for they do powerfully Prey upon the Natural Heat, confirming the sweet Oyl and pure Spirits … and for this cause such Liquors cannot Administer any Propper or Agreeable Nourishment to the Body, or to the pure Spirits, it cannot give that which it hath not, it hath only power to awaken the Central Heat or Fire, which ought not to have been kindled … Meats and Drinks ought to be equal in their parts, the Spirit ought not to be Separated from the Body, nor the Body from the Spirit, but both ought to be Administered together; for the Body without the Spirit is of a gross heavy dull or dead Nature, and the Spirit without the Body is too Violent and Fiery, but the Health of Man’s Body and Mind, doth chiefly consist in the equality of both; do not all Meats and Drinks wherein any Quality or Property of Nature is extream (whether it be in Vertue, or harmfulness) is not sparingly taken, certainly discompose the Harmony of both the Body and Mind? … … most Diseases are generated through surplusage of Nourishment. For unto weak heats there ought to be administered a proportionable Food, but stronger heats will admit of stronger Foods of greater quantity, which

Brandy, Rumm, Rack, and other distilled Spirits, are all very perfidious and hurtful to the Health of the Body, if not sparingly taken on extraordinary occasions … for the Intention of all such Chymical preparations, when first Invented, was for Medicinal uses, and not to be used as Common drink, as of late years indiscretly they are, to the destruction of many Thousands, the frequent use of them contracting such grievous and stubborn Diseases, as for the most part are incurable. … Therefore all such Spirits so drawn, do lose their Balsamick body with all their Cordial Vertues and Tinctures, put what Herbs or Liquores you will into such Furnaces, they are presently Plundered of their Natural Colour, and run off white; whereby it appears, that this common way of Distillation destroys the pure Natural Vertues and Tincture, for from the Tincture proceeds all the Variety of Colours, both in Vegetables, Minerals, and Animals, so that such Spirits do only contain a harsh fierce Fiery Nature and for that reason, if they be frequently Drunk, do Prey upon the Natural Heat, and by degrees weaken it, destroying the very Life of Nature … whence it comes to pass that in those who addict themselves to the Drinking of these high Fiery or Brimstony Spirits, their Natural heat grows cold and Feeble, and their Appetites are weakened, destroying the Power of the Digestive Faculty of the Stomach, so that many such People after Eating are forced to Drink a Dram to help concoction; all other Drinks proving too cold for them, which constrains them to continue seeping of such Liquor; … for before the Sack or any Balsamick Liquor, was put into the Still and drawn off, those very same Fiery harsh sulphurous Spirits were essentially in the Wine, or whatever else it be, for it is the Root of Nature, and the Original to every Life, but being mixed or incorporated with the Balsamick body and pure spirit, the fiery fierce sulphurous spirit is thereby 23

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only preserv’d in better Health, but also enabled to endure Labour with more ease and pleasure, than the Intemperately Superfluous [who] can lye a Bed or sit by the Fire. O then how excellent are the ways of Temperance and Sobriety! they free the Body from pain, and the mind from perturbations, sweetning all Gods Blessings.… Brandy, Rumm and all strong Spirituous Drinks are far more dangerous in hot Climates and Countries than they are in cold, and do sooner there destroy the Health, tho they be bad in both … for in hot Climates the Natural Heat is not so strong by reason of the forcible Influences of the Sun, which do powerfully exhale the Radical moisture, open the pores, and too violently evaporate the Spirits by continual Sweatings, which dulls the edge of the Appetite, weakening the Digestive Faculty of the Stomach, whereby the Inclination to Drink is increased, for which reason many desire hot Spiritual Drinks, because they find a present refreshment, for all such Drinks do powerfully awaken the Internal Spirits by Simile, and make Men quick, lively and brisk …

all persons might know, if they would but observe the operation of their own Natures; … If Men and Women were but sensible of the danger, and terrible Diseases that are contracted by the frequent eating and drinking of those things that are unequal in themselves, as Brandy, Rumm and other Spirituous Drinks and highly prepared Foods, they would not so eagerly desire them. Do not all or most that do accustome themselves to such things quickly spoil their Healths? Nature is Simple and Innocent, and the Simplicity therefore cannot be continued, but by Sobriety and Temperance in Meats and Drinks that are Simple and Harmless which will not only gratify Nature, but contribute both due and moyst Nourishment … Many hundreds of Poor People who are constrained by pure necessity … to Live for the most part on Simple Food and mean Drinks, their Labour hard, cloathing thin, open Air cold Houses, small Fires, hard Beds, standing on Earthen Floors; by all which means, they are not

Figure 3.3 Beer Drinking A group of northern Europeans drinking beer. The size of the tankards and mugs, together with the fumes/flames that emanate from the mugs around the drinkers’ heads, is likely intended to demonstrate excess.



B o d y a n d Spiri t , Sic k n e s s a n d H e a l t h

3.10 A New Addiction: Coffee (1732–34) J.S. Bach (1685–1750) was a leading Baroque composer of both religious and secular music. In this piece, Mister Schlendrian and his daughter Liesgen argue about her three-cup-a-day coffee habit. He wants her to stop, but she finds coffee “sweeter than a thousand kisses.” His threats to lock her up in the house and stop buying her clothes or other luxuries don’t bother her a bit. She relents only when he says he won’t find her a husband, but she then secretly plans to make her suitors promise to write a “coffee clause” into the marriage contract. Source: Johann Sebastian Bach, Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) (1732–34). Trans. Z. Philip Ambrose.

I’ll turn indeed to my distress Into a dried-up goat for roasting.

Coffee Cantata Specific location unknown, probably in Zimmermann’s Coffee House.

4. Liesgen Ah! How sweet the coffee’s taste is, Sweeter than a thousand kisses, Milder than sweet muscatel.

Liesgen, Narrator, Schlendrian 1. Narrator

Be quiet, chatter not, Give ear to what will now transpire: Now Mister Schlendrian Comes with his daughter Liesgen here And rumbles like a honey bear; Now listen what she’s done to him!

5. Schlendrian, Liesgen (Schlendrian) If thou for me not coffee quit, Thou shalt attend no wedding feast, Nor ever take a stroll.

2. Schlendrian Don’t we have with our own children Hundred thousand woes to see!

Coffee, coffee, I must have it, And if someone wants to treat me, Ah, my cup with coffee fill!

(Liesgen) Agreed! But here to me my coffee leave!

What I’m ever daily saying, To my daughter Liesgen praying, Passeth fruitless on its way.

(Schlendrian) Here now I’ve got the little monkey! I will most sure a whalebone dress of latest girth refuse thee.

3. Schlendrian and Liesgen (Schlendrian) Thou naughty child, thou wanton hussy, Ah, when will I achieve my way? For me, off coffee lay!

(Liesgen) I can with ease learn this to bear. (Schlendrian) Thou shalt not to the window venture And no one see who walks beneath it!

(Liesgen) Dear Father, do not be so strict! For if I may not thrice each day My little cup of coffee drink,



(Liesgen) Until from coffee I abstain? Well! Coffee, be forever conquered! Dear Father, mark, I’ll never drink a bit.

(Liesgen) This also; but heed my petition And grant that I my coffee keep! (Schlendrian) Thou shalt as well not from my hand A silver or a golden band Upon thy bonnet gain thee!

(Schlendrian) And thou in turn at last shalt get him. 8. Liesgen

(Liesgen) Yes, yes! But leave to me my pleasure!

This day, still, O dear Father, do it, please! Ah, a man! Truly, he would suit me fine!

(Schlendrian) Thou wanton Liesgen thou, Then dost thou yield me ev’rything?

6. Schlendrian Maidens who are steely-hearted Are not easily persuaded. But just hit the proper spot, Oh, ye’ll have a happy lot.

If it only soon might happen That at last in coffee’s stead, Ere I yet shall go to bed, I a gallant lover find me!

9. Narrator Old Mister Schlendrian now goes to seek How he for this his daughter Liesgen Soon may a husband here procure; But Liesgen secretly makes known: No suitor come into my house Unless he’s made to me the promise And put it in the marriage contract, too, That I shall be allowed to brew, Whenever I desire, my coffee.

7. Schlendrian, Liesgen (Schlendrian) Now, follow what thy father bids! (Liesgen) In all things, only coffee not! (Schlendrian) Go on, thou must then be contented To lack as well a husband ever.

10. Chorus A cat its mousing never quits, A girl remains a coffee-nurser.

(Liesgen) O yes! Dear Father, please, a man!

The mothers love to use the brew, The grandmas fondly drank it too, So who would now the daughters censure?

(Schlendrian) I swear it, it will never be.



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3.11 A New Vice: Tobacco (1605) Tobacco was one of those American products that Europeans tried desperately to fit into their existing food systems based on humors and qualities. Or not always desperately—this anonymous author’s serenade to tobacco joked that it was as powerful as love in its ability to move men to action. And women? Source: Anonymous, “Tobacco, Tobacco.” In Tobias Hume (composer), The First Part of Ayres, Frensh, Pollish, and Others (London: John Windet, 1605).

Tis fond love often makes men poor So doth Tobacco, Love makes men scorne all Coward feares, So doth Tobacco, Love often sets men by the eares, So doth Tobacco. Tobacco, Tobacco sing sweetely for Tobacco, Tobacco is like love, O love it. For you see I have prove it.

Tobacco, Tobacco Sing sweetly for Tobacco, Tobacco is like love, O love it, For you see I will prove it. Love maketh leane the fatte men’s tumor, So doth Tobacco, Love still dries uppe the wanton humor, So doth Tobacco, Love makes men sayle from shore to shore, So doth Tobacco,

Reading Questions 1. Early modern people often thought of the body as a container of hot and cold fluids, using the classical Greek and Roman concepts of the humors (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile). The healthy body had these fluids in balance. How might people fall out of balance, and how could they restore a healthy balance? 2. A person’s balance of humors (called their “constitution”) varied by gender and by age. How did social class also figure into the balance? 3. How did early moderns balance physical and spiritual causes in their ideas about mental illness? 4. Early modern Europeans had many chances to eat “new” foods, like tomatoes, chocolate, and coffee, and to try other luxuries, too, like tobacco. Do they seem suspicious of them? Enthusiastic? Why might they try and fit them into the system of the humors?



Conception, Contraception, and Birth Views about moderation, balance, the humors, and each individual’s distinct constitution all shaped what early moderns thought about the processes of conception and contraception, and about having a healthy pregnancy and birth. Our authors here include an English midwife, a German family doctor, and the French king’s personal physician. We see how conception takes place and how a pregnant woman can ensure that she has a safe and easy delivery. Yet a French proverb warned that “A pregnant woman has one foot in the grave,” and indeed many women and infants died in childbirth. Diaries of a Dutch midwife, an Italian father, and an English mother give some idea of how childbirth could be dangerous. In some cases abortion and infanticide were practiced. Nursing children posed an early life challenge, and there were many debates about whether it was better for mothers or for wet nurses to suckle infants.

4.1 A Woman’s Advice on Conceiving a Child (1671) Jane Sharp was a midwife who practiced in London for three decades. She was the first English woman to publish a book on midwifery, and in it she showed her familiarity with both classical and modern authors. Sharp offered practical advice for mothers, fathers, and midwives, drawing on religious precepts, classical morality, and common sense. Her book was a commercial success, and with its guidelines on nutrition, childrearing, and care for various diseases, it became a common household item in the eighteenth century. Sharp was critical of male doctors’ inexperience, and she encouraged midwives to seek training and techniques from each other rather than relying on the medical profession. Source: “Of True Conception.” In Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (London: Printed for Simon Miller, 1671).

Of true conception.

the Man’s seed with the woman’s, that a perfect Child is by degrees framed; for first small threads as it were of the solid and substantial parts are formed out, and the woman’s blood flowes into them, to make the bowels and to supply all parts of the infant with food and nourishment.

True Conception is then, when the seed of both sexes is good, and duly prepared and cast into the womb as into fruitful ground, and is there so fitly and equally mingled, 29


that by sucession of time she stirs up the formative faculty which lieth hid in the seed and brings it into act, which was before but in possibility, this is the natural property of the womb to make prolifick Seed fruitful, it is not all the art of man that setting the womb aside can form a living child. To conceive with child is the earnest desire if not of all yet of most women, Nature having put into all a will to effect and produce their like. Some there are who hold conception to be a curse, because God laid it upon Eve for tasting of the forbidden fruit, I will greatly multiply thy conception: but forasmuch as increase and multiply, was the blessing of God, it is not the conception, but the sorrow to bring forth that was laid as a curse.

Conception is the proper action of the womb after fruitful seed cast in by both sexes, and this Conception is performed in less than seven hours after the seed is mingled, for nature is not a minute idle in her work, but acts to the utmost of her power; it is not copulation, but the mixture of both seeds is called conception, when the heat of the womb fastens them; if the woman conceives not, the seed will fall out of the womb in seven days, and abortion and caption are reckoned upon the same time. The Seeds of both must be first perfectly mixed, and when that is done, the Matrix contracts it self and so closely embraceth it, being greedy to perfect this work,

4.2 A Man’s Advice on Conceiving a Child (1612) Jacques Guillemeau (1550–1613) was a doctor to the French royal family who made pioneering contributions to obstetrics and pediatrics while also drawing heavily on classical authors and reports of Aboriginal customs. In this translation of his work The Nursing of Children (1612), he describes how to determine whether a woman has conceived a male or female child, how a pregnant woman should care for herself, and what can go wrong in pregnancy. Source: Jacques Guillemeau, Child Birth, or the Happy Delivery of Women (London: A. Hatfield, 1635).

women, which conceive when the wind is in the South, who for the most part bring forth daughters, and when the Northwind bloweth, sons. Hippocrates saith, that a woman which goeth with a boy hath a good colour, for a woman in her case, but if it be of a wench, she will have a worse complexion. Likewise if the right breast be harder and firmer, the nipple hard, red, and more eminent, the milk white and thick, which being milked or spirtled against a slecke-stone, or some such smooth thing, continues in a round form like a pearl, and being cast even into water it dissolveth not, but sinks directly to the bottom: and if you make a cake with the said milk and flower, and in the baking it continues firm, and close, it is a sign the woman is with child of a boy. Again, she that goeth with a boy, hath the right side of her belly bigger, and more copped, and there the child stirreth oftenest. This motion commonly at six weeks is scarce sensible, but at two months and a half more manifest. The Male child lyeth high above the Navel by reason of his heat, and the Female at the bottom of the

The signes whereby to know whether a woman be with child of a boy or a wench. As it is very hard to know at the first whether the woman be with child or no, so by great reason must it needs be farre more difficult to discerne, and distinguish the difference of the sexe, and to determine whether it will be a boy or a wench. I know there are some that boast they can certainly do it, but for the most part it hapneth rather by chance, then through either arte or skill. Nevertheless, to distinguish the Male from the Female, we will presently shew all the marks which we ever knew, or could observe, either out of the ancient, or modern writers. And first of all, young women commonly are with child rather of a boy then of a wench, because they be hotter then elder women, which was observed by Aristotle, who saith farther, that if an aged woman which never had children before, chance to conceive, one may be sure it will be a wench. The like hapneth (as some write) to 30

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generation of Males or Females depends on the strength of the seed, and not of the stones, the use whereof he saith, is not for generation. But experience teacheth us the contrary, for the countreymen when they could have a Bull beget a Cow-Calfe, or a Bull-Calfe, they tye the right stone for the one, and left for the other.

belly, because of her coldness and weight. They which be with child of a boy are more quick and nimble in all their actions, and be in better health of body, without being subject to many infirmities, which commonly happen to women with child of a wench. Avicen observeth these signs, That a woman with child of a boy hath the pulse of her right side stronger, higher, and thicker, then that of the left: she will reach out her right hand rather then her left, and in going she will always set forth the right foot formost: her right breast is bigger then the left, and the right eye greater, brighter, and more sparkling: and if a woman about her last months have any great sickness, or any throwes, without being delivered, it is some likelyhood that she is with child of a boy, since the male child is faster tied and bound then the female, because the ligaments which hold and fasten him are stronger and dryer then they that bind and support a wench. A woman which is with child of a daughter hath a pale, heavy, and swarth countenance, a melancolique eye: she is wayward, fretfull, and sad: she beares in her face as Hippocrates saith, Maculam solarem, that is to say, her face is spotted with red, like those who have been much in the sun: her left brest is bigger then the right; and the top of the nipple black. The milk which comes forth of her breasts is blewish, this, and watrish: her belly is flat; and she feels her burthen move on the left side, and that, not before the fourth month: the veins of her thighs, and groin, are bigger, and more knottie on the left side then on the right. An honest Gentlewoman assured me that she had made trial of this receipt, which is, to take an equal quantitie of Claret wine, and of urine made in the morning, put them together into a glass, and let them stand a whole day, if there appear in the bottom a gross cloud, thick like to Beane-broth, it is a sign the woman is with child of a boy, if it appear in the middlest, it is sign of a wench, if there be nothing found in the bottom but oridinary residence of urine, it shews she is not with child at all.… Here will it not be beside our purpose to set down what Hippocrates writes in his book De superfaetatione, of the means how to get a man or woman-child. He that will beget a son must know his wife as soon as her courses are stayed, and then try the utmost of his strength; but if he desire to get a daughter, then must he accompanie his wife a good while after her courses, or at that time when she hath them: and beside, he must tye his right stone as hard as he can endure it; and when he would have a son, he must tye the left. But Aristotle seems wrongfully to blame this worthie man, when he sayeth, that the

The signes whereby to know that a woman goeth with two children. The signs that a woman hath conceived two children, doe seldom appear before the third or fourth month, which then is known both by the moving of the children, and also by the greatness and swelling of the woman’s belly. As for the motion, if it be felt strong and forceable both on the right and the left side, at the same instant, then it is apparent, that there be two children. Likewise for the greatness of her belly, if it appear more swollen and bigger then in her other child-bearing, if the sides be higher than the middle of her belly, and from the navel downward there appear as it were a line or separation between both sides creasted; if the woman bear her burthen with difficultie, and her belly fall upon her thighs and hips, then may you safely say that she goeth with two children. Of false Conception. Women are oftentimes deceived in reckoning themselves with child, for they think themselves with child when it is nothing but the stopping of their natural sickness, which keepeth not due course. Some have a false conception, which is as it were the beginning of a Mole. Others have the Mole itself, which we commonly call the Moon-calf. False conception is a lump of flesh gathered together commonly like to the gizard of a fowl, which is bigger or lesser according to the continuance of it, which nature commonly expelleth in the second, third, or fourth month. But the Mole is far bigger, and continues a year or two, yea ten or twelve, and sometime as long as the woman lives. Of this Mole there be two kinds, the one may be called a true, the other a false one. The true Mole is fleshy, being nothing else but an inprofitable masse, without shape or form, hard and firm, bred within the Matrice, and cleaving to the sides thereof. The false Mole is of three sorts, the one windy, being a collection of gross winds: the second waterish, or a heaping together of waters: the third humoral, or a meeting of many humors.… These are often bred together with the child, but then they cause death, either for that the child is deceived of his nourishment which is carried to the 31


fall, and daily wax soft, limber, and lanke, and without milk. In the end, the face, breasts, arms, thighs, and legs grow lean and thin: true it is, that they swell towards night, like those that have the dropsie … The said Hippocrates observeth, how that by the motion it may easily be known, for in true conception the male child beginneth to stirre at the end of the third month, or sooner; and the female at the third or fourth month; and where there is no such quickening, we must observe whether there be any milk in the breasts, if there be none found, it is a sign that it is a Mole. Beside, the mother feeleth the child move every way, both on the right side, and on the left, as much above, as below, and in the middle without any help. But in false conception, though there be some motion, it is not animal, but proceedeth rather from the expulsive facultie of the Mother than of the Mole, which having no living soul endevoureth not of itself to come forth, neither provoketh the womb as the child doth, who having need of air to breath in, seeks after it. But this is a most evident sign when the woman lyes down on either side, for then she feels it fall like a bowl, and is not able to uphold, or stay it; yea, and being laid on her back, if her belly be pressed or crushed, it will remain in the place whither it is thrust, without coming back again. Now that which most assureth us, is, when the nine months are past, and the woman not delivered, but her belly grows bigger, and swelleth more and more, and all the other parts grow lean and less, this is a sure sign of a Mole, though there be some women that have borne their children ten, yea, eleven months. The signs of the windy Mole are these, the belly is equally swollen and stretched like a bladder, softer then in the fleshy Mole, and chiefly near the groin and nether belly.

Mole; or because he wanting roome, cannot grow and come to perfection.… The cause of the fleshy Mole according to the ancient writers cannot wholly proceed from the woman, but the man must add somewhat thereunto. Galen holdeth, that it is bred when the man’s seed is weak, barren, imperfect, or in little quantitie; and for the most part choked through the abundance of the menstruous blood, which is gross and thick, unfit for the framing of a child … The windie Mole is ingendered through want of heat in the Matrice, and other parts adjoining, as the Liver and Spleen, whereby much wind is bred and shut up in the emptinesse of the womb. It may also come from without, as in women newly delivered, and in such which having had their natural courses in great abundance, doe venture too soon into the cold air. The watery Mole proceeds from the abundance of waterie showres which is sent from the Liver, or the Spleene, or other parts thereabouts; or else through the weakeness of the Matrice, which cannot assimilate the blood that is brought to nourish it, part whereof is turned into water, and being not voided, stayeth in the wombe. The humoral Mole is bred by reason of too much moisture … of the whites, or waterish evacuations, which come down through the vessels of the Matrice … False conception hath some common signs with the true, as suppression of the natural courses, depraved appetite, distastfulness, vomiting, swelling of the belly and breasts, so that it is very hard to distinguish the one from the other. But these that follow are more proper to the false, then the true birth: for (as Hippocrates saith) In false conception, or Mole, the face is commonly puffed up, their breasts which were swollen at the beginning, doe

4.3 Menstruation (1671) Here Jane Sharp discusses women’s monthly periods, also known as termes, courses, or flowers. Source: “Of the Termes.” In Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (London: Printed for Simon Miller, 1671).

Mentrua because they should flow every Moneth: and they are named Flowers because Fruit follows; and so would theirs if they came down orderly: they are then a sign that such people are capable of Children; it preserves health to have them naturally, but if they stop there must

Of the termes. The Monthly courses of women are called Termes; in Latin Menstrua: quasi Monstrua, for it is a Monstrous thing, that no creature but a woman hath them; or else 32

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should not be too thick nor too thin, without any ill scent, and of a red or reddish colour: and the veins of the womb are the passages … to send forth superfluous menstrual blood from all parts of the body; some say this blood is venemous, and will poison plants it falls upon, discolour a fair looking glass by the breath of her that hath her courses … that Ivory will be obscured by it: It hath strong qualities indeed, when it is mixed with ill humours. But were the blood venemous it self, it could not remain a full month in the woman’s body, and not hurt her; nor yet the Infant, after conception, for then it flows not forth, but serves for the child’s nutriment.

be danger; when the woman has conceived, then they stop: they begin commonly at fourteen years old; they are of no ill quality naturally, but are onely superfluous moisture and blood the Female sex abounds withal; for when they stop, the Child in the womb is supplied by them. The Termes run longer two or three dayes with some women than with others, for they differ as women do, according to plenty, or less plenty of good diet, and labour, or idleness, or the like. Hippocrates saith, They should bleed in all but two pints at most, or a pint and a half, the colour of the blood and substance differs, according to divers tempers; it

4.4 How to Have a Healthy Childbirth (1513) The German physician Eucharius Rösslin (1470–1526) was concerned about high infant mortality rates, which he, like many other doctors, blamed on poorly trained midwives. Whether this sharp critique was justified, his 1513 medical guide entitled Rosegarden became both a popular home reference work and a standard text for training and licensing midwives, and it was quickly translated into other languages. It offers rare illustrations of birthing chairs, lying-in chambers, and the positions of the fetus in utero. Ironically, Rösslin gained much of what he knew about birthing through consultations with midwives, and to these he added the observations of male classical authors. Source: Eucharius Rösslin, Rosegarden (London, 1552).

juice. She might also want to eat figs mornings and evenings. And she should avoid those things that constipate, like baked goods, roasts, rice, hard boiled eggs, millet, and similar things. If necessary, she can take a mild enema of chicken broth or meat broth without damage. She may also take a mild medicine to soften and loosen her stools. She can also use a suppository made of soap and fat, or egg yolks. Furthermore if the pregnant woman is feeble and weak as the delivery nears, then one should begin to strengthen her before hand with food and drink and with good electuaries. And after such things the woman should prepare herself and make herself fit and proper for the delivery with all the things that open, widen, soften and loosen, and ease the openings of her genitals, so that the genitals separate and let themselves be stretched and widened. And in particular women who have small and narrow genitals should do this. But in old women the genitals and uterus are dryer and harder, tighter and less able to be stretched apart than in young women. On

How a Woman Should Behave During, Before, and After the Delivery and How One Should Come to Her Aid in a Difficult Delivery If the uterus or the woman’s genitals are afflicted with boils, ulcers, warts, venereal boils, and the like, on account of which the woman’s genitals cannot widen and stretch due to pain, then one should take counsel from a surgeon well before the delivery. Similarly if there is a problem of the bladder such as stones, boils, painful burning urination, then one should take counsel beforehand and try to remedy the affliction. Also if the woman’s anus is afflicted with warts, hemorrhoids, swelling, abscesses, ulcers, and the like then one should take counsel before the delivery to remedy these. Further if the woman has hard and compacted stools, which make her bowel movements burn her, then for one month before the delivery she should eat and drink things which soften and loosen, like baked apples with sugar eaten early, with a glass of wine, or with sweet apple 33


and flow to the genitals provide for an easy descent and delivery of the baby … she should sit and then stand, go up and down the stairs, and yell out loud. Moreover the woman should push and force her breath out and also hold it in, so that she presses and pushes her intestines down. Furthermore the woman should also drink one of the medications listed below when she begins to push the baby out. After this when she feels the uterus open and the water flow copiously from the womb, then she should lie down on her back, but she should not lie down completely and yet she also should not quite be standing, but rather it should be somewhere in the middle between lying and standing, and the head should be lying more behind her than in front of her. And in high German lands, and also in Italian lands the midwives have special chairs for a woman’s labor, and these are not high, but carved out and hollow on the inside. And these should be made so that the woman can lean back on her back. One should also pad the back of the chair with towels. And when the time comes, the midwife should lift up the towels well, and turn the woman onto her right side, and onto her left side, and the midwife should sit in front of her paying close attention to the movement of the baby in the womb, and the midwife should observe the mother’s organs and attend to them with hands, smeared with white-lily oil or almond oil, or the like, and with the same hands the midwife should also gently take hold of the mother, as she should rightly know. The midwife should also teach and counsel and advise the mother, strengthen her with food and drink, and with good, kind words urge the woman to labor, and have her pull her breath in. In addition to this the midwife should press gently on her stomach above the navel and the hips. The midwife should also promise the mother the happy delivery, of a baby boy. And if the mother is fat, then she should not sit, rather she should lie on her belly, and lay her forehead on the ground and pull her knees to her belly, so that the womb is pushed and pressed. After that she should smear white-lily oil inside the genitals, and if it is necessary then the midwife should take hold of her with her hands, and widen the woman’s privates, and after this, the woman will deliver quickly. Furthermore the midwife should begin no work with a delivering woman, unless the baby appears and can be taken hold of, or if she can see it, for otherwise her work is in vain, and the woman is sickened by it, and overworks herself, so that when she should labor she has become weak and sick. Now when the woman is in labor and the first skin in which the baby lies appears, which is called the chorion,

account of this they should use things which are warm and moist to soften and smooth, which are taken orally and introduced into the genitals, or rubbed or salved externally, such as fatty meat broths, particularly from young fat hens or capons.… Also as the delivery nears the pregnant woman should drink good aged wine mixed with water. She should also have a regimen of food and drink. A regimen that moistens and does not produce too much fat, and she should avoid that which dries, constipates, presses, constrains, tightens or narrows, for one month before delivery. But if the woman gets very close to the time of delivery, such that she has twelve or fourteen days until delivery, and feels some heaviness and pain, then she should sit up to her navel in a water bath several times each day, but not for too long (so that she does not become weak). And there should be things in this water bath that soften and smooth, like mallows, althea, camomile blossoms, dog’s mercury, maidenhair, linseeds, fenugreek seeds, and the like. And if she cannot stand the bath due to weakness, then she should still take a sponge or wool towel and wash her legs, and her genitals, private parts and hips with warm water in which the above-mentioned things have been steeped, and during this time she should not take a steam bath or go much in the public baths, for she will become weak and feeble from these. And after the above-mentioned bath and washing the woman should take the oils mentioned before or a good fat marrow and smear/rub/and salve her back, her body below the navel and at the sides, and her legs right near the genitals. Furthermore the woman should also put the above-mentioned fats, oils, and slime into her genitals in a sponge or cotton, or in a little suppository sack by lying on her back, her head low, her rear end high, so that the oils can get into her genitals. And in particular the woman should use these fats and oils in a sponge as is described above, if the uterus is dry and desiccated, or if the woman has a lean body. Furthermore she should make a good steam underneath of musk, ambergris, and gallia muscata [French musk], when you lay these on the coals it smells good, and the uterus opens and goes down toward the good aroma. As the delivery approaches the woman should also eat small amounts of good foods, which nourish and strengthen her well, and she should drink good wine, and should exercise with appropriate work, and movement, walking and standing more than she did before, for such things will stimulate the birth. At the hour of delivery, when she experiences heaviness, pain, and various fluids which begin to appear 34

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into the woman’s genitals to make them smooth and slippery. In particular egg whites, with their yolks, make a good medicine to pour into a woman’s genitals in this emergency. And if should make her sneeze, as this will bring on the delivery. Furthermore if the baby is big, and particularly the head, then the midwife should gently widen the woman’s genitals and the opening of the womb, with her hands, smeared with oil and fats that lubricate, as written above. Similarly if the baby is a little daughter, or twins, then one should do with oil as is written above.

or afterbirth, then the delivery is nigh. And if the skin won’t break on its own because of its strength, then the midwife should break it with her fingernail, or she should grasp the chorion between her fingers, and cut it open with a knife or a little scissors, in such a way that she does not scratch or wound the baby. And after this the water will break out and the baby will follow. And if the midwife has cut open the chorion too early, so that the water has all run out, and the mother’s genitals have dried up, and the baby has not fully moved toward the opening, and wants to prolong its delivery, then one should pour white-lily oil, melted lard, and fats in the proper warmth,

4.5 Boys and Girls in the Womb (1587; 1669) James Wolveridge was an English doctor practicing in Ireland when he published a guide directed at Irish midwives. Later editions changed this to “expert” midwives, suggesting that Wolveridge was seeking a broader audience. He wrote it as a conversation between the doctor Philadelphos (a greek word meaning “affectionate friend” or “loving brother”) and the midwife Eutrapelia (a greek word meaning either “witty conversation” or “coarse jesting”), suggesting that it combined the best of learned and practical knowledge. In fact, Wolveridge drew much of the text from The Expert Midwife, the English translation of a 1587 Latin guide by a Swiss physician who had himself adapted the German Dr. Rösslin’s 1513 Rosegarden. On the basis of such extensive plagiarism, reinforced with the findings of classical Greek and Roman medicine, male doctors across Europe asserted their moral and professional authority to reform women’s practice of midwifery. Source: James Wolveridge, Speculum matrices; or, The Expert Midwives Handmaid (London, 1669).

Thirdly, the apples of the eyes are lessened, the eyes swell, and become swarthy; the veins of the eyes grow red; and are full with blood; the eyes sink … divers colours are seen in the eyes, and are observed in a looking-glass; the veins betwixt the eyes and the nose are turgid with blood … the veins under the tongue are somewhat greenish. Fourthly, the chest is warm, and the back cold. Fifthly, the veins and arteries are turgid, and the pulse easier; the veins in the breast are first black, then either yellow or blue. Sixthly, the breasts grow big, and hard with pain; the nipple grows red; if she drinketh that which is cold, she feels cold in her breast. Seventhly, there is a great loathing of meat and drink, and destruction of the natural appetite, with longings after various meats, with an absurd appetite, a continual vomiting, and weakness of the stomach … belchings,

Of the signs of Conception in general, and the different Sexes in particular. Dr. Philadelphos. Good Mrs. Eutrapelia, vouchsafe me your observations about Conceptions, and let me understand what are the signs of Conception in general; and what signs distinguish the Sexes? Eutrap. Although, Sir, ’tis hard to know whether a woman hath conceived yea or no, yet it may be conjectured by many experienced Arguments; as, for instance, First, it is thought a credible sign of Conception, if a woman either the tenth day after coition, or sooner, perceive, by reason of any humors, any of her terms, be they whites, or reds. And, though the stopping of those be accounted for a sign, yet that fails often … Secondly, pains and giddiness in the head, and a mist over the sight … there portend conception. 35


Now, the signs of a female are contrary; and these are most commonly the signs. The first motion after conception is felt the 90th day, and that first in the left side. Secondly, Females are born with more sickness, the thighs and privities swell, the colour is paler, the appetite stronger, and yet apt to loath that which is contrary to it. Thirdly, the Courses appear about the 30th day after conception. Fourthly, the age of the woman is very considerable; for the younger women most commonly bring males, by reason of their greater heat in the womb: And the more aged females, by reason of the defect of heat contracted in the matrix, by their age; and females are more often generated by such Parents that are more cold and moist by nature, and of seed that is too moist, cold, and liquid. Dr. Philadel. Since you have given such a character of the signs of Conception, and the distinction of Sexes; let me know by what signs you apprehend the infant to be well, and thrive in the womb, or not. Eutrapelia. I shall, Sir. And first, if it be well, the breasts will be hard; but if otherwise, they will be flaccid, and a waterish humor will flow out of them (like to milk) of its own accord. Secondly, if the courses flow too often out of the womb in the time of child-bearing, it is an argument of an unhealthy child. And, moreover, the fattest women common bring forth the weakest infants. Thirdly, if a woman bring twins, the one a male, the other a female, there is a great danger of the female, because they are nourished by a different aliment in the womb: but if they be both females, there is the less danger. Fourthly, if the child be gotten in the time of the monthly terms, they are mix’d with untoward humors; from whence it is experienced that many leprous infants are begotten. … Sixthly, if a Dropsie overtake the pregnant woman, and that her nose, ears, and lips look red; it is a sign of a dead child. Seventhly, if the infant come forth after the ninth month, ’tis oftentimes very weak. Eightly, if a virgin conceive before her first flowers, it proves a lusty and perfect child. Lastly, all these things praemised, Midwives also usually observe, that as many knots as they find in the navel-string of an infant, so many males, they say, she will have …

loathing of wine, an inordinate pulsation of the heart, sudden joy, and after that, a sudden grief; pains about the navel, heaviness about the loins, swelling toward the bottom of the belly, inward pricking in the body, chilness of the outward parts, after coition … a shooting pain about the back and belly. The courses are stop’d; for those veins from which they flow carry the blood … for the nourishment of the infant by the navil; and part of it is conveyed upwards into the breasts, and there is prepared for milk. Eightly, the thighs swell with pains, but the body is weaker, and the face pale. Ninthly, the belly is costive, by reason of the compressure of the intestines. The urine is white, with a cloud swimming at the top, wherein are to be seen many atomes, like those observable in the beams of the sun: but, when in the fifth month many of these sink to the bottom … In the later months the urine is reddish, or yellow, it becomes blackish, with a red cloud at the top. I will here-with relate to you two experiments, by which it may be know whether or no a woman hath conceived. And the first is this; Stop up a woman’s urine three days in a urinal, at the end of which strain it (or, rather drop it through fine linen) and if she hath conceived, you shall see little creatures like to lice; if these be red, ’tis a token of a male; but if white, they portend a female. But this is said to be sure; If a woman’s urine be put in a brass Basin, and stand there one night; if you put it into a bright needle, if she hath conceived, that needle will be bespeckled with red spots; but, if otherwise, it will be rusty all over. Dr. Philadel. These, ’tis true, may be promiscuous signs of Conception. But Mrs. how know you the Sex, whether male, or female? Eutrapelia. By these signs, Sir, usually; as First, If she hath conceived a male, the right eye moves oftener, and is better, as to its native colour, than the left. The belly is sharper about the navel. The right breast growth turgid before the left, and the nipple is sooner changed. The milk increaseth sooner, and if it be milked out, and set in a glass in the sun, it will grow into a clear mass … not unlike to an oriental pearl; as also, if the courses appear about the 40th day after the Conception. The right cheek is redder, and the whole colour of the face better … the first stirring on the right side is the sixtieth day, and that strongly too; and the right foot moves first in walking and in arising from a seat, the right foot is first to bear up the body. The pulse is more frequent on the right side than on the left.


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4.6 One Sex or Two? Women and Men as Mirrors of Each Other (1671) Here Jane Sharp explains the one-sex model, taken from Galen, which held that men and women have mirrored versions of what are fundamentally the same genitalia. Women’s inner coldness keeps the reproductive organs within the body, while men’s inner heat pushes them out. Source: “Of the Likeness of the Privities of Both Sexes.” In Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (London: Printed for Simon Miller, 1671).

Of the likeness of the Privities of both sexes.

turned inwards, for they are both one length, onely they differ like a pipe, and the case for it; so then it is plain, that when the woman conceives, the same members are made in both sexes, but the Child proves to be a Boy or a Girle as the Seed is in temper; and the parts are either thrust forth by heat, or kept in for want of heat; so a woman is not so perfect as a Man, because her heat is weaker, but the man can do nothing without the woman to beget Children, though some idle Coxcombs will needs undertake to shew how Children may be had without use of the woman.

But to handle these things more particularly, Galen saith that women have all the parts of Generation that Men have, but Mens are outwardly, womens inwardly. The womb is like to a man’s Cod, turned the inside outward, and thrust inward between the bladder and the right Gut, for then the stones which were in the Cod, will stick on the outsides of it, so that what was a Cod before will be a Matrix, so the neck of the womb which is the passage for the Yard to enter, resembleth a Yard

4.7 How to Prevent Miscarriage (1656; 1671) Miscarriage was a common problem due to health and environmental issues, and a woman seeking to avoid it might find the necessary techniques in manuals that gave details of how to have a healthy pregnancy. English doctor William Sermon plagiarized and paraphrased the Compleat Midwife’s Practice (1656) when coming up with his own reworking of Galenic humoral theory, superstition, and common sense. Source: William Sermon, The Ladies Companion; or, The English Midwife (London, 1671).

… an unusual heaviness of the hips and loins, and an unwillingness to stir, loss of appetite, shivering and shaking coming by fits, the colour of the face red, pain in the head towards the brain, straightness of the sides, and belly above the navel; sometimes the body doth swell, as it were puft up with hardness and stiffness … Which to prevent, it is the opinion of many Authors, that after Conception there can nothing be better than to observe a good Diet, and to shun all immoderate affections, as care, anger, violent exercise of the body, which oftentimes too much stirs the blood.

As touching the signs of Miscarriage, they are various and many in number … Women’s breasts which were before found full and plump, (when they are in danger to miscarry) will seem less, and begin to fall; the milk will run forth in great quantity: And if a woman [carry] … Children, and one of breasts grow loose, soft, and empty it is a sign she will miscarry of one; for it demonstrates that the Child does loath and refuse its nourishment, especially if the nipple become evil coloured. [Other signs include] … a violent loosness of the belly … 37


bored through two scruples, the shaving of a stags pizzle one dram, make them all into fine powder, take thereof half a dram at a time in the best Wine. The meaner sort of people (of such that cannot part with their Moneys to do themselves good) may take some few grains of Mastick every morning. Or, Take half a dram of the seed of Plantain every morning, (by itself, or in an Egg, &c.) or every second or third morning during the whole time of being with Child. … Apply to the Navell a toast of bread, steeped for a small time in red Wine, strowing thereon the powder of Cynamon, red Coral, Roses and Madder, such as the Dyers make use of. … Or, Take Gum, Arabick, Mastick, Myrrh, of each two drams, dryed Mint and Wormwood, the roots of Bistort, of each one dram and an half, Pomgranat Peels two drams and an half, ShipPitch, Colophoni, liquid Storax, of each three drams, yellow Wax, Venus Turpentine, of each half an ounce, the Oyl of Mirtles, as much as shall be sufficient to make all into a Plaister, spread it upon Sheeps Leather, and keep it for use. Touching Plaisters, they must not be worn too long, but often taken off and put on again, otherwise they will heat the back, cause itching.

Letting of blood may also be requisite about the third or fourth month, but in small quantities. Purging may be altogether unnecessary, except the belly be much bound and the woman diseased: If so, they make use of Glisters, or some gentle pill, as Pills of Rubarb, and if you judge there is fear of miscarriage; by reason of the mouth of the womb being over large, then make use of such things as have power to contract and bind together, as Plaisters, Oyntments and such Medicines as will stay the over much flux of the Courses, as will afterward be set down at large. … … Take the distilled water of Plantain, Shepherds purse, of each three ounces, syrup of Pomgranats and syrup of dryed red Roses, of each one ounce and a half, tincture of Coral two drams, spirit of Pomgranats one dram, mix them together and take thereof half a spoonful at a time. This I have often known to do wonders in such cases. In sudden frights where there may be danger of miscarriage: Take Frankinsence, Mastick, Dragon’s blood, of each one dram, Mirtles, fine Bole, Kermes berries, of each fifteen grains, make them into fine powder … in Wine, or in the Broth of a Hen. … Take the powder of red Coral two drams, Date stones, Kermes berries, of each one dram, Pearls that are not

4.8 Diary of a Dutch Midwife (1693–1702) Male doctors frequently criticized midwives as lazy and unprofessional, but the highly detailed journal of Caterina Schrader (1656–1746) tells a very different story. She describes the 3,000 births, many very complicated, that she attended in a career spanning four decades. Schrader’s journal details best practices in professional midwifery and demonstrates how medical work was the key to independence for some women. She practiced her profession only during the two periods when she was a widow, suspending her activities during a second marriage and picking them up again when widowed a second time at age 64; she delivered her final baby at age 88. Source: Caterina Schrader, Memoirs. In Hilary Marland (Trans.), “Mother and Child Were Saved”: The Memoirs (1693–1740) of the Frisian Midwife Catharina Schrader (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1987), pp. 49–57.

Thereupon in my eighty-fourth year of old age in my empty hours I sat and thought over what miracles The Lord had performed through my hands to unfortunate, distressed women in childbirth. So I decided to take up

the pen in order to refresh once more my memory, to glorify and make great God Almighty for his great miracles bestowed on me. Not me, but You oh Lord be the honour, the glory till eternity, And also in order to alert my 38

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wished to have a surgeon with me to avoid all scandal. But they let another midwife be called. When she [the other midwife] came to her she said she would deliver her immediately. And I was rejected completely [sent away]. The women tortured the labouring woman for two days, so I eventually said, she would never deliver her. And I did not want to involve myself again. And I said to the midwife that she should let her be and not torment her anymore. She gave completely wrong information and said that the child now lay with his shoulder forward, first with his back [presenting]. I investigated and found that it [the child] had not moved a hand’s breadth compared with when I was attending the day before. It was the wrong way round. I said, that a man-midwife, doctor (Theodorus) Winnter, had to be called immediately from Leeuwarden. When he came he inquired first of me how it was with the women in labour, as I had been the first to be with her. Then he questioned the other [midwife]. Then he went to the woman in labour, investigated the case and said, we could not help her. Removed the dead child with an instrument (hook), but the woman worsened on the third day, got looseness and died. The doctor ridiculed the other midwife; gave me great repute. Gave me a solemn testimonial and great honour.… 18. 1693 on 24 December I was fetched to De Leie to the wife of a horseman, whose mother was a midwife, And [the mother] had tortured her two days and nights. The child lay very squashed. The woman and I had a hard time. And with The Lord’s blessing, I helped her in half an hour. All well for mother and child.… 20. 1694 on 27 January I was fetched to the wife of Derck Jans, Antie, after another [midwife] had been with her two days and nights. Everything was in a terrible state. The child was deeply embedded, with the feet round the neck [and] trapped behind the pubic bone, the cord round the legs and round the neck. Must be choked. Was stuck two hours in the birth canal. Had to loosen it with enormous difficulty. I had almost given up, but The Lord brought solution. The mother does well.… 35a. 1694 on 6 October fetched to Nes on Ameland to a skipper’s wife. Had been in labour five days. [They] could not loosen her from the afterbirth. After that I was fetched to Hallum, but as soon as I came there she [the woman in labour] said, woman, you’ve come too late. And she closed her eyes and died. Had I been earlier, I think I could have saved the mother and child. 35b. 1694 on 6 October summoned to Ameland to the wife of a skipper of a big ship, Had been in labour five days with twins. The first one was born alive, the second was born dead two days later. And the afterbirth

descendants so that they can still become educated. And I have pulled together the rare occurrences from my notes. In my thirty-eight years living in Hallum in Friesland I saw my good, learned and highly esteemed, and by God and the people loved husband, go to his God to the great sadness of me and the inhabitants, leaving six small children in my thirty-eight years of age. But then it pleased God to choose me for this important work; by force almost through good doctors and the townspeople because I was at first struggling against this, because it was such a weighty affair. Also I thought that it was for me and my friends below my dignity; but finally I had myself won over, This was also The Lord’s wish. 1. 1693 on 9 January fetched to Jan Wobes’s wife, Pittie, in Hallum. A very heavy labour. Came with his face upwards. A dangerous birth for the child and very difficult for me. The afterbirth had to be pulled loose. But everything well.… 3. 1693 on Shrove Tuesday (26 February) in the evening I was fetched for the very first journey in my life to Wijns to a widow whose husband was called Chlas Jansen, in terrible weather, stormy wind, hard frost. The three of us travelled by sleigh over the ice. The wind blew so hard that one could not stand. Pieces of ice got stuck in my legs, so that blood dripped into my hose. And came at last by sleigh to Wijns, three hours going; we were almost dead. The people carried me into the house and forced my mouth open; and poured brandy into my mouth. There was a good fire, I thawed out a little. First I demanded a bowl with snow and rubbed my hands and feet with it until life came into them. Otherwise I would have been ruined for life. After I recovered again, I went to help the woman. And also her dead husband’s brothers had taken everything away from her and had said that she would not give birth; therefore the life of this child was of great consequence. The woman had a very heavy labour, like her previous labours had also been; she had had two midwives from Leeuwarden [in her previous labours]. I prayed to [the] Lord, and he answered me and delivered the woman of a good, big daughter to the great delight of her and me. This introduction was oppressive for the first time. The Lord be thanked. All well. And the woman got all her belongings back.… 16. 1693 on 2 November I was fetched to Marrum to Hincke, the wife of Bauwke Binders, merchant. Was there a day and a night. Did everything that art required. It seemed an uncomplicated birth. And I wanted to deliver her by art, but because I still had little experience, I 39


418. 1699 on 16 September to wife of soldier, Jan Geritz, Gatzke, a woollen worker. [Delivered] her of a son with heavy labour. A dead, heavy child. Had to fetch it from her with all force. The mother does well. But first could not hold her water. But improved by The Lord’s goodness almost by its own accord.… 423. 1699 on 4 October been called to Hilltie, wife of the town crier, Pitter Ludema. A heavy labour and very curious. Came repeatedly with his eyes before the birth canal. In the next moment in yet another presentation, then straight, then soon after awkwardly again. It was as if it [the child] flew in the body; such a birth has never come to me before. Moreover, the woman was very impatient. I had to put her on her head three times to turn it from behind. As soon as she was again in position, it was wrong again, I had to pull out the child from behind while leaning forward. Had almost not thought that the child could still be alive, but God’s works are mysterious. The child and the mother are fresh and well. I gave it up, but they would not let me go. Locked the door and must [stay]. Oh Lord, save all people.… 486. 1700 on 13 March fetched to Oostersingel to Gebke, the wife of the painter and thread winder, Jackop Evers. Found that the water was gone. And his arms born, the navel string outside. Turned it quickly and brought it forth. But it took a good hour using every device before one could bring him to life. But then everything well for the mother and child. It came from the navel string.… 581. 1701 on 27 January fetched to Akkerwoude to the widow of Simon Gaabes, after she had been in labour for eight days. And found it with its back in front of the birth canal. Looked for the feet. Turned it. Had it immediately, to [the] great astonishment of all those who were present. All well for mother and child.… 595. 1701 on 1 March fetched to Broek, outside Dantumawoude, to the blind midwife’s daughter (Hynck). Found the navel string outside; the child dead. The hand of the child presented. Turned it, got it by the feet. It was hard work to say the least. Stayed with its head stuck fast. Finally got it loose, but all still well for the mother.… 606. 1701 on 23 March to Hincke, the wife of the baker Lieuwe, who had with her the midwife, Saekie, who had tormented the sufferer a long time. I came [and] found the child lying with its stomach before the birth canal, with both hands outside the birth canal. And the child lay very squashed; could not get the feet. Had to put her over on her head. With great difficulty got one foot, tied a string round it; then got her back again in position [mother]. Then pulled towards me [the string]. Then the hands went inside by themselves and held [stayed in].

remained behind. And then I still had to be fetched over the sea. When I came indoors, she sat up [and] said to me, woman you’ve come too late. With that she died immediately, which was a great shock for me. Oh poor martyrs, who come under such torment from midwives.… 39. 1695 on 16 December I went to de Nieuwe Zijl to Teirck Pitter’s wife, Hanntie. The water was already gone [broken] when I came to her. Found the child very squashed and sideways before the birth canal. With much work I finally got it with its feet first before the birth canal. But I succeeded. The second child came [presented] sideways. I had very great difficulty before I got it by its feet. Then the birth canal closed round its neck, and had to remain like this; however the mother and one child is saved. This was my last case in these places. And then I went to Dokkum.… 72. 1696 on Tuesday, 22 July [=June] I was fetched to Janke, the wife of Zitze Jouwes, who is a wagon maker. And with the help of my God, without which it would have been impossible, delivered her of a son. It was a very heavy [labour]. The child lay on its side, turned very awkwardly. Finally with much force and trouble I got its feet. In the presence of a man-midwife and our minister, who gave me great praise. Everything still well for mother and child. Oh God, You be honoured and thanked.… 150. On 6 May 1697 fetched to Auwkie, the wife of the miller, Jan Berens. And delivered her of children, which were lying in a very queer way, Had to disentangle them both inside and pull them with their feet. Had much difficulty with the afterbirth. Everything still well for mother and child[ren?].… 153. 1697 on 17 May I went to Schuwkye, wife of Johanes Wytzes, innkeeper, who had danced on the previous days with a young man, supposedly from Kanck, so that he could no longer keep up with her. For this The Lord punished her, because she made her pregnant body suffer so much. She had three days of terrible labour. Very closed tight. The child was stuck, so she had to be delivered through art. The people fetched surgeon Pitter, who was working on her for a whole day, with the greatest difficulty in the world, so that he fainted away three times. But finally he and I got the child out together with a hook each. And the woman remained stable for three days. Then got heavy looseness and has died.… 365. 1699 on 15 February fetched to Gebke, wife of the painter, Jackop Isebrant. Found that it [the child] lay with its shoulders forward. I broke the water. Turned it. Just managed with great trouble to get hold of the feet. It was a dangerous, heavy birth. The child was dead, the mother does well.… 40


ConCePtIon, ContRaCePtIon, and BIRtH

I was fetched. Found that the child [lay] with his stomach [first]. Turned it quickly. A living child. And [the] woman completely well. But the second day the woman was alone in the house; the people were milking. Then a strange man came in, who asked the woman in childbed whether he could light a tobacco pipe, which he did. After that the woman got such an attack of fits, that three men could not hold her. Together with periods without speech. Died the same day. One questioned if the person who had come in there had committed murder. The Lord knows best how.… 743. 1702 on 4 May [I] was fetched to Rinsumageest to the former sweetheart of the town clerk, Veenema, who had promised to be hers in marriage, but who had left her on the advice of friends. Was four days in labour. Could not be helped. Then I was fetched and delivered her quickly through the help of my God. Yet a heavy birth, because of the heartache caused to her.

When I came the child was already dead. The afterbirth [was] also very grown in. The mother does well. Oh very heavy labour.… 661. 1701 I was fetched to Rynck Eckes’s wife, who flooded a great deal without labour. A doctor was fetched. She was also very watery and flooded terribly. At last I was fetched again. The woman wrestled with death. I said, she must deliver. Found the afterbirth loose before the uterus. Then delivered her from it. Then the dead child lay sideways before the birth canal. Turned her. Delivered it [with] great difficulty. And she [the mother] died, very aware, in the presence of all her friends an hour after. She should have been delivered earlier with such heavy flooding.… 671. 1701 fetched to Driesum to a weaver’s wife, after a previous midwife had delivered a baby the day before. Had to fetch her the day after again. Found that there was still another child, but could not help the woman with all her torturing. Went away [other midwife]. Then

Figure 4.1 Positions of the Foetus in the Womb An eighteenth-century English diagram of infants’ various possible positions in the womb and a number of tools intended to facilitate delivery.



4.9 Diary of a Florentine Father (1404–31) The diary of Florentine silk merchant Gregorio Dati (1362–1435) sets out starkly how social and demographic realities wove together. Dati conceived 23 children with four wives and one servant girl, with the last born when he was 69. By the end of that same year, only three children remained alive. Most had died within a few days or months, and hardly any made it to adolescence. Many widowers followed Dati in seeking both children and dowries by remarrying repeatedly until later in life, while few widows remarried past the age of 30, when they might experience reduced fertility—and increased independence. Source: Gregorio Dati, Libro di ricordi. In Gene A. Brucker (Ed. and Trans.), The Society of Renaissance Florence: A Documentary Study (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 126–28 and 134–36.

among the Standard-bearers of the Militia Companies with the exception of two: Giorgio and Bartolomeo Fioravanti. We called the child Niccolò, God bless him. God was pleased to call the child very shortly to Himself. He died of dysentery on 22 October at terce. May he intercede with God for us. At nine o’clock on Sunday, 1 October 1412, Ginevra had a son whom, from devotion to St. Jerome—since it was yesterday that her pains began—I called Girolamo Domenico. The sponsors were Master Bartolomeo del Carmine, Cristofano di Francesco di Ser Giovanni, and Lappuccio di Villa, and his son Bettino. God grant him and us health and make him a good man. God willed that the blessed soul of our daughter Betta should return to Him after a long illness. She passed away during the night between Tuesday and the first Wednesday of Lent at four in the morning, 21 February 1414. She was seven years and seven months, and I was sorely grieved at her death. God grant she pray for us. On 1 May 1415, at 9 in the morning on a Wednesday, God granted us a fine little boy, and I had him baptized at four on Saturday morning. Jacopo di Francesco di Tura and Aringhieri di Jacopo, the wool merchant, were his godfathers. May God grant that he be healthy, wise, and good. We named him after the two holy apostles, Jacopo and Filippo, on whose feast day he was born and we shall call him Filippo. At eleven o’clock on Friday, 24 April 1416, Ginevra gave birth to a baby girl after a painful and almost fatal labor. The child was baptized immediately on S. Marco’s Day, the 25th. We called her Ghita in memory of our mother. Monna Mea di Franchino was her godmother. Manetto died in Pisa in January 1418. He had been very sick and was buried in S. Martino. Pippo died on 2 August 1419 in Val di Pesa in a place called Polonia.… At two o’clock on the night following Monday 17 July,

Glory, honor and praise be to Almighty God.… I shall list the children which He shall in His grace bestow on me and my wife, Ginevra, On Sunday morning at nine o’clock, 27 April [1404] of the same year, Ginevra gave birth to our first-born son. He was baptized at vespers [6 pm] on Monday the 28th in the church of S. Giovanni. We named him Manetto Domenico. His sponsors in God’s love were Bartolo di Giovanni di Niccola, Giovanni di Michelozzo, a beltmaker, and Domenico di Deo, a goldsmith. God make him good. At 9 on Thursday, 19 March 1405, Ginevra gave birth to a female child of less than seven months. She had not realized she was pregnant, since for four months she had been ailing as though she were not, and in the end was unable to hold it. We baptized it at once in the church of S. Giovanni. The sponsors were Bartolo, Monna Buona, another lady, and the blind woman. Having thought at first that it was a boy, we named it Agnolo Giovanni. It died at dawn on Sunday morning, 22 March, and was buried before the sermon. At 9 on Tuesday morning, 8 June 1406, Ginevra had her third child, a fine full-term baby girl whom we had baptized on Friday morning, 9 June. We christened her Elisabetta Caterina and she will be called Lisabetta in memory of my dead wife, Betta. The sponsors were Fra Lorenzo, Bartolo, and the blind woman, On 4 June 1407, a Saturday, Ginevra gave birth after a nine-month pregnancy to a little girl whom we had baptized on the evening of Tuesday the 7th. We named her Antonia Margherita and we shall call her Antonia. Her godfather was Nello di Ser Piero Nelli, a neighbor. God grant her good fortune. At 9 in the morning on Sunday, 31 July 1411, Ginevra gave birth to a very attractive baby boy whom we had baptized on 4 August. The sponsors were my colleagues 42

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Between eight and nine o’clock on the morning of Tuesday, 20 March 1425, Caterina had another healthy and attractive child who was baptized the following day— the 21st—which was the feast of St. Benedict. Fra Cristofano, Father Provincial of the monks of S. Maria Novella, the prior, Master Alessio, Master Girolamo, and Fra Benedetto were his sponsors. We christened him Lionardo Benedetto. God make him a good man. At three in the morning of 26 July 1426, Caterina had a fine little girl whom we christened Anna Bandecca. The baptism was on the 27th and her sponsors were Antonino and Monna Lucia. God grant her His grace and that she be a comfort to us. At two o’clock in the night of Monday, 28 August 1427, Caterina gave birth to a fine little girl. She was baptized on Wednesday morning the 22nd and christened Filippa Felice. The Abbot of S. Felice, Giovanni di Messer Forese Sanviati, and Giuliano di Tommaso di Guccio, who had served in the same office with me, were her sponsors. God grant she be a source of consolation to us and fill her with His grace. Our Lord called her to Himself on 19 October 1430. This appears on page 30, notebook E. May God bless her. At about eleven o’clock on Saturday, 2 June 1431, Caterina gave birth to a girl who was baptized on Monday the 4th in S. Giovanni’s and christened Bartolomea Domenica. See notebook E, page 46. Our Lord was pleased to call to Himself and to eternal life our two blessed children, Lionardo and Ginevra, on Saturday, 6 October 1431. This appears in notebook one, page 14. Lionardo had been in perfect health twenty-four hours before his death. God bless them and grant us the grace to bear this loss with fortitude.

Lisa was born. She was baptized by Master Pagolo from Montepulciano, a preaching friar, on Wednesday at seven o’clock. God console us, amen. She died later. Altogether Ginevra and I had eleven children: four boys and seven girls. Offspring, 1422 The following is a list of the children begotten by me. I was single when my first son, Maso, was born on 21 December 1391—this appears on the back of page 4. Before his birth I had got Bandecca with child but she had a miscarriage in her sixth month in July 1390. After that … I had eight children by my second wife, Betta: five boys and three girls. Then, as I show on page 10, I had eleven children by my third wife, Ginevra: four boys and seven girls. Altogether, not counting the one that did not live to be baptized, I have had twenty children: ten boys and ten girls. Of these, Maso, Bernardo, Girolamo, Ghita and Betta are still alive. Praise be to God for all things, amen. Caterina, my fourth wife, miscarried after four months and the child did not live long enough to receive baptism. That was in August 1421. On 4 October 1422, at one o’clock on a Sunday night, Caterina gave birth to a daughter. We had Fra Aducci and Fra Giovanni Masi baptize her on Monday the 5th and christen her Ginevra Francesca, May God bless her. At three o’clock on Friday, 7 January 1424, Caterina gave birth to a fine healthy boy whom we had baptized on the morning of Saturday the 8th. The godparents were the Abbot Simone of S. Felice and Michele di Manetto. We christened the child Antonio Felice. God grant he turn out a good man.



4.10 Diary of an English Mother (1648–68) The diary of Alice Thornton (1627–1707) gives a mother’s experience of the same social and demographic realities that Gregorio Dati records. Born into a privileged family that had fallen on hard times, she married at age 25 and was pregnant within 7 weeks. Over the next 15 years, she gave birth to nine children, many times with exceedingly difficult and dangerous deliveries. Three children were still living when her husband died in 1668, and most of the rest had lived only a few hours or weeks. Alice Thornton lived 30 years longer and never remarried. Source: Alice Thornton, Diary. In Charles Jackson (Ed.), The Autobiography of Alice Thornton (Durham, UK: Surtees Society, 1873).

Alice Thornton, my second child was born at Hipswell near Richmond in Yorkshire the 3d day of January, 1654. Elizabeth Thornton, my third child, was born at Hipswell the 14th of February, 1655 (died 5 September, 1656). Katherine Thornton, my fourth child, was born at Hipswell … the 12th of June 1656. … on the delivery of my first son and fifth child at Hipswell 10th of December, 1657 … the child stayed in the birth, and came crosswise with his feet first, and in this condition continued till Thursday morning … at which I was upon the rack in bearing my child with such exquisite torments, as if each limb were divided from the other … but the child [was] almost strangled in the birth, only living about half an hour, so died before we could get a minister to baptize him … 17 April, 1660. It was the pleasure of God … to bring forth my sixth child … a very goodly son … after a hard labor and hazardous. [The child died two weeks later.] 19 September, 1662 … I was delivered of Robert Thornton … it pleased the great God to lay upon me, his weak handmaid, an exceeding great weakness, beginning, a little after my child was born, by a most violent and terrible flux of blood, with such excessive floods all that night that … my dear husband, and children and friends had taken their last farewell. [She takes a powder which helps and] … I was delivered and spared from that death … 23 September, 1665. [Pregnant once more] I being terrified with my last extremity, could have little hopes to be preserved this … if my strength were not in the Almighty … It pleased the Lord to make me happy with a goodly strong child, a daughter, after an exceeding sharp and perilous time [the child died on 24 January]. Christopher Thornton, my ninth child, was born [on Monday, 11 November, 1667] … it pleased his Saviour … to deliver him out of this miserable world [on] the 1st of December, 1667. [On 17 September, 1668, Mrs. Thornton’s husband died.]

30 September, 1648. About this year, my dear and only sister, the Lady Danby drew near her time for delivery of her sixteenth child. Ten whereof had been baptized, the other six were stillborn, when she was about half gone with them, she having miscarried of them all upon frights … falls and such like accidents.… The troubles and afflictions of these sad times [of civil war] did much afflict and grieve her … wanting the company of her husband [who] … being engaged in his king’s service, was not permitted to leave it.… These things, added to the horrid rudeness of the soldiers and Scots quartered amongst them, which vexing and troubling her much with frights, caused her to fall into travail sooner than she expected, nor could she get her old midwife … After exceeding sore travail she was delivered of a goodly son about August 3d … she was exceedingly troubled with pains, so that she was deprived of the benefit of sleep for fourteen days, except a few frightful slumbers; neither could she eat … and as she grew weaker, a month [after] … her delivery, said … in a weak voice, “I am going to God, my God, now” … then, giving a little breathing sigh, delivered up her soul … Although she was married to a good estate, yet did she enjoy not much comfort, and I know she received her change with much satisfaction … [6 August, 1652.] About seven weeks after I married it pleased God to give me the blessing of conception. The first quarter was exceeding sick in breeding, till I was quick with child; after which I was strong and healthy, I bless God … Mr Thornton had a desire that I should visit his friends (at Newton). I passed down on foot a very high wall.… Each step did very much strain me … This … killed my sweet infant in my womb … who lived not so long as we could get a minister to baptize it … after the miscarriage I fell into a most terrible shaking ague … The hair on my head came off, my nails of my fingers and toes came off, my teeth did shake, and ready to come out and grew black … 44

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4.11 Penalties for Abortion and Infanticide (1555) An unmarried woman whose child died was almost always considered guilty of murder; married couples were treated far more leniently, and their infant’s death was often assumed to be accidental. Abortion was more complicated, particularly since the fetus was thought to become human only gradually in stages leading up to birth. These mid-sixteenth-century French penalties show how seriously authorities viewed cases of deliberate abortion, though the commentary by an eighteenth-century legal scholar suggests that they were not always prosecuted. Source: M. le Rodant (Ed.), Code matrimonial (Paris, 1766), and François Serpillon, Code criminel (Lyons, 1784). In Julia O’Faolain and Lauro Martines (Eds.), Not in God’s Image (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), pp. 225–26.

of testifying. (3) The child must not have been buried in any of the usual cemeteries. In the absence of any of these conditions required by the statute of 1556, the crime cannot be proven … A sentence of 16 July 1716, declared concealment of pregnancy only punishable by terms of the statutes [of 1556 and 1708] when the child had been deprived of baptism and Christian burial … The statute of Henri II does not require girls to admit their pregnancy to officers of the law or notaries or other public officials. They cannot be forced to do so. It is enough, by the terms of the statute, if they admit to people of integrity who, in case of necessity, may testify to this. In the absence of a corpus delicti, the prosecution cannot force a girl [i.e., by torture] to state what has happened to her child; she is not obliged to reveal her turpitude. The child might be being reared by a father who prefers not to be known. … Our justices distinguish … If the embryo was dislodged before ensoulment was likely to have taken place, then the penalty is lighter … because one cannot call this homicide, since there was as yet no soul; yet, since it is not lawful to prevent the hope of a human being, the penalty would be banishment; but if it was dislodged after the fortieth day [following conception], it is legally homicide … These distinctions do not effect the fact that by the terms of the statute of 1556 the crime is punishable by death whether the premeditated abortion was induced before or after ensoulment … but one must admit that these crimes, although frequent, are rarely punished because of the difficulty of convicting the guilty.

We have been informed of an execrable crime commonly committed in our realm, which is that women, having conceived children … hide their pregnancy … And, at the time of their delivery, give birth secretly, then destroy the child by suffocation … or by other means, without having afforded them the benefit of the Holy Sacrament of Baptism. Next they throw them into shameful and secret places or bury them in unconsecrated ground, thus depriving them of Christian burial. When they are accused of this before Our judges, they … allege that their children were stillborn … and for lack of proofs … Our judges … fall into conflicting opinions: some advocating the death penalty, others torture … The women, after enduring the torture without confessing anything, are usually sent to prison with the result that they fall into similar crimes once more and go back to their evil ways, to Our very great regret and the scandal of Our subjects … We order that any woman duly convicted of having concealed … her pregnancy and confinement … whose child later on turns out to have been deprived of the Holy Sacrament of Baptism and of public and customary burial shall be held and considered to have murdered her child and shall suffer the death penalty. —From the French Code matrimonial [1556] Before a girl may be convicted of having destroyed the fruit of her womb, several circumstances must be present. (1) There must be a corpus delicti; this is the first and most essential condition; in its absence, there is no presumption that a crime has been committed … (2) The girl must not have admitted her pregnancy to anyone capable



4.12 Miscarriage and Abortion (1671) Jane Sharp noted that a man’s seed might have a difficult time establishing itself in the woman’s womb, and that slippery conditions could cause it to fall out. There was little remedy for that kind of accident, but other causes of unwanted abortion could be avoided: The pregnant woman should take particular care to stay out of drafts; to avoid strenuous exercise, violent coughing, or vigorous dancing; to seek some foods and avoid others; and to avoid the medical remedy of bleeding. Healthy blood brought a healthy child, and any excessive loss of blood, either by accident or deliberately, could trigger the loss of the fetus. Source: “Of Women’s Miscarriage or Abortment with the Signs Thereof.” In Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (London: Printed for Simon Miller, 1671).

will choak it. Sharp diseases or Pestilential Feavers … Palsies, falling-sickness kill the child, and sometimes the child is sick in the womb. Also change or weather may cause miscarriage, sayeth Hippocrates, when the winter is hot and moist, and the Spring cold and dry that follows it, the women that conceive in that Spring will easily abort, and if they do not, they will suffer hard labour in child-birth, and the child will be weak and short liv’d; the reason may be because the body is opened and made more tender by the foregoing heat and moist weather, and then the succeeding cold makes it more dangerous. Great labour, as dancing, leaping, falls or bruises, great passions suddenly coming not lookt for, may make a woman miscarry; let all women beware of it for it is more painful than a true delivery, because one is natural and the other against nature, nature helps the one but not the other. Signs of Abortment I have spoken of in part, but commonly the third and fourth month womens bodies that will swell and puff up with hardness and stiffness, stitches and windiness running about her, yet she feels no more weight in her body, this is a sign of miscarriage if it be not prevented. There is nothing better after conception, to prevent abortment than good natural food moderately taken, and to use all things with moderation, to avoid violent passions, as care, and anger, joy, fear, or whatever may too much stir the blood, use not Phlebotomy without great cause, nor yet violent purgatives. If the Matrix be too much dilated, use things that contract and soften, as Baths prepared, Unguents, Ointments, Odours, Plaisters. Some remedies are specificial against miscarriage, and if the woman be in danger she may use them, and that in divers ways that she may take them; as thus, take red Coral in powder two drams, shavings of Ivory one dram and a half, Mastick half a dram, and one Nutmeg in powder, give half a dram in an egg, &c.

Of Women’s Miscarriage or Abortment with the Signs thereof. There are abundance of causes whereby women are driven to abort, or miscarry; and I have spoken some what of this before; I shall add a little more to it, the better to know the signs, causes, and remedies against it; it is the bringing forth an untimely birth or fruit before it be ripe … some women have such large wombs, or slippery, & full of slimy humours that the Seed cannot be contain’d but slips away … But sometimes the Cups or Veins whereby the conception is tied to the womb … are stopt with viscous ill humours, and so swollen with wind or inflamed that the Cups break and the fruit is lost for want of food; this happens commonly in the second or third month; so Hippocrates tells us, that this is the certain cause, if the women that miscarries be of a good state of body, not too fat nor too lean. Sometimes the right Gut or the womb may have an Ulcer, or Piles, or the Bladder or Ureters swollen with the Stone … and the pains thereof may break the Cups; or if she have a … great provocation to stool and can do nothing, she brings forth her birth by straining downward, and that before she should. Also great coughs make the woman feeble and consumptive, and the child consumes within her, great bleeding at the nose, or any great loss of blood, or too great flux of her courses after conception cause miscarriage … Also opening of a vein may cause it … Violent purging before the fourth month, or after the seventh causes abortment. But gentle purging between the fourth and the seventh month are safe. Violent fluxing, or vomiting make women strain too much, especially lean folks, and may perish the child … If the woman hunger much for want of food, Nature hath nothing to spare to keep the child alive, it is the same thing with Beasts, and Plants, that want nutriment, and too much 46

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4.13 Trials for Infanticide (1677; 1679) Infanticide was treated very seriously, but since so many infants died in or shortly after birth, it was also notoriously difficult to prove. It was the most common cause of execution among women, particularly young unmarried women, who were suspected of eliminating the child in order to hide an illegitimate pregnancy. The first case was famous even before coming to court: a midwife who has not had any children of her own fakes a pregnancy in order to bolster her husband’s affections and her professional reputation. She stages an elaborate ruse with the help of the neighborhood “searchers,” those women who examine corpses and register deaths. The fraud is discovered, the real mother is investigated, and the case is dismissed once it is clear that no murder has occurred. In the second case, an unmarried pregnant girl is turned out by her landlord before she can give birth and ends up passing out as she delivers the baby in the street. The judge sentences her to death for failing to care for the child. Source: “Tryal of a Midwife of the Parish of St. Giles Cripplegate,” Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1 June 1677; 15 October 1679. Old Bailey Online.

called, several sober Matrons now deposed, that having searched her, they were confident she had no child at all, and that this was some other person’s child, &c. The Prisoner being demanded where she had the child, declared of the two Searchers, which they being called to the Bar acknowledged … [T]hey [had] brought it to her the same day, and had 20 shillings, being promised 9 more.… The [infant’s] Mother [had] appeared in Court, and … testified it to be still born, and that [the searchers] coming to search it, and seeing her a very poor woman, told her they would save her the charge of a Burial, &c. But the Mother denyed she had any money for it: Upon full examination of all … both the Midwife and two Searchers were by the Jury brought in Not Guilty of the several Indictments whereof they stood charged.

A Midwife Tried for Infanticide in London (1677) After this was the Tryal of a Midwife of the Parish of St. Giles Cripplegate … This Midwife whether to satisfie her Husband … who was very Impatient to have a child, or whether it were to preserve her credit in her imploy which she thought somwhat prejudiced by the imputation of barrenness, I cannot say … she resolved to pretend to have a Child.… [B]y wearing a small Pillow, she had perswaded many of her neighbors that she was great, … [A]bout a week before her pretended Labour [she] enquired very earnestly of a poor Woman if she could not help her to a young Child as soon almost as born, either alive or dead, for says she there is a Lady whose husband will not live with her because she never had a Child, and he is now in the Country and if I could get a Child, I should do a good office in rendering love between them, and get something my self.… [S]he [then] applied her self to the two searchers of Whitechappel, who having gratified her extravagant desires, on the 18 of April our Midwife pretends to fall in labour, but would not let any of the women touch her … [A]nd having dismist all save one in the Chamber, when she was got to bed, pretending great pains, her friend offering to put her hands into the Bed for better satisfying her self of her condition, she cried out Murder! Murder! Which raising a further suspicion in the woman, she did at last take out of the Bed a cold naked dead Child, which had, as appeared, been wrapt up in a Cloth, and seemed to have been a day or two old.… [S]he told the Prisoner this could be none of her child … Neighbours being

A Homeless Woman Charged with Infanticide in London (1679) … [A] poor young Wench lodging about Thames street, betrayed (as she alleadged) by a promise of Marriage and getting her with Child, which being perceived by the Woman that she lodged with, to whom she confessed the truth thereof, just when she came to fall in Labour about 9 or 10 a Clock in the Night, this … woman, fearing some charge or trouble might happen to her … cruelly turned her out of doors, and set her in another Parish, and there left her in pains, telling her that now the said Parish were bound to provide for her. In this sad condition in the street, and without any help was this poor Creature delivered, and being found lying as one 47


save only some little spots or marks of a Bruse or Pinch on the Throat, which some conceive might be occasion’d Involuntarily in struggling to Promote its Birth; by an ignorant Woman in her circumstances: however being a Bastard Child, and the law makeing it death in that case for any woman to be delivered alone without calling help, she was thereupon found Guilty.

half dead by the watch, and her condition perceived; a midwife was called, who found the Child dead, but not separated from her Body, when she came to her; who asking her if it were still-born, the Prisoner both then and now said, it was not, for she heard it cry, but denied that she intended or used any wilful means to make away the Life of it nor did there any signs of Violence appear

4.14 Trying to Understand Birth Defects (1575) Ambroise Paré (1510–90) was a famous French doctor who served a series of French monarchs and also became famous for his innovations in battlefield surgery. He was also known for his work in obstetrics and was the teacher of Jacques Guillemeau. He here describes the differences between three forms of unnatural births—monsters, marvels, and the maimed—and how monsters in particular could be generated either by divine cause, a series of accidents during conception or gestation, or improper actions on the part of the mother. Source: Ambroise Paré, On Monsters and Marvels (Paris, 1575). In Ambroise Paré, On Monsters and Marvels, translated by Janis L. Pallister (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp. 3–4.

The second, his wrath. The third, too great a quantity of seed. The fourth, too little a quantity. The fifth, the imagination. The sixth, the narrowness or smallness of the womb. The seventh, the indecent posture of the mother, as when, being pregnant, she has sat too long with her legs crossed, or pressed against her womb. The eighth, through a fall, or blows struck against the womb of the mother, being with child. The ninth, through hereditary or accidental illnesses. The tenth, through rotten or corrupt seed. The eleventh, through mixture of mingling of seed. The twelfth, through the artifice of wicked … beggars. The thirteenth, through Demons and Devils.

Monsters are things that appear outside the course of Nature (and are usually signs of some forthcoming misfortune), such as a child who is born with one arm, another who will have two heads, and additional members over and above the ordinary. Marvels are things which happen that are completely against Nature as when a woman will give birth to a serpent, or to a dog, or some other thing that is totally against Nature … Maimed persons include the blind, the one-eyed, the hump-backed, those who limp or [those] having six digits on the hand or on the feet, or else having less than five, or [having them] fused together; or [having] arms too short, or the nose too sunken, as do the very flat-nosed; or those who have thick, inverted lips or a closure of the genitals in girls, because of the hymen; or because of a more than natural amount of flesh, or because they are hermaphrodites; or those having spots or warts or wens, or any other thing that is against Nature.

(There are other causes that I leave aside for the present, because among them all human reasons, one cannot give any that are sufficient or probable, such as why persons are made with only one eye in the middle of the forehead or the navel, or a horn on the head, or the liver upside down. Others are born having griffin’s feet, like birds, and certain monsters which are engendered in the sea; in short countless others which it would take too long to describe. [1575]).

1. On the Causes of Monsters There are several things that cause monsters. The first is the Glory of God. 48

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4.15 The Business of Wet Nursing (1420s) Wet nursing was a serious business that was often managed by the nurse’s husband. Here in the account book of Piero di Vicchio in Florence we see many infants: One stays almost two years, another two months, another only two weeks. Fees varied according to the baby’s gender, the parents’ class, and the freshness of the nurse’s milk. The baby’s parents provided clothing and furniture, and if they demanded an exclusive contract, the nurse’s own child would be sent out to a cheaper wet nurse far from the city. In between contracts, the nurse might take in babies who had been abandoned to the city’s charitable hospital or foundling home. Piero never names either his wife or the daughter he sends out of town. Source: Piero di Vicchio, Libro di ricordi. In Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, “Blood Parents and Milk Parents,” in Women, Family, and Ritual in Renaissance Italy, translated by Lydia G. Cochrane (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 151–52.

vant woman of Giovannozzo Pitti, I returned him to the superior of S. Maria della Scala. Tuesday 31 May, I have received from Giovannozzo Pitti a child to put to nurse for several days at the price of 6 lire and a half per month. He has sent me with the child 12 linen swaddling cloths, 3 red cloths, 5 bands, and the cradle. Sunday 13 June, I have returned the son of Giovannozzo Pitti and all the cloths, woolen and linen, and bands, the cradle, and the blanket, at the same time as the child. And I have received from him 3 lire for the time I kept him. Thursday 15 April 1428, I have given to Meo di Cucio da San Tomato my daughter to nurse at the salary of 3 lire per month. He has taken with the child 4 woolen swaddling cloths, two red ones, two linens (?), as well as four bands (two new, two used), twelve linen swaddling cloths, old or new, and a new cradle to put the little one in, as well as a mattress and a small quilt. [The child was returned 17 June.] 13 June 1428, the [medical] nurse of Francisco di …, a grocer in the Old Market at the sign of the keys, gave me his son to be nursed. He was so sick that he could not suckle. They had let him get so weak that we very nearly lost him. With the grace of God and of my wife, we saved him, so that this day, 16 June, I have decided to keep him until the time when the wife of Francesco di Benedetto di Caroccio brings her child into the world; until then, my wife is to receive for her trouble with the child 7 lire for one month, or more, if she sees fit. [They kept the child seventeen days and were paid 3 lire 10 soldi 6 July.]

I have a child to nurse 20 October 1422 to Jacomino di Bartolo di Bianco da San Benedetto at the salary of 4 lire per month. [Payments continued until 9 August 1424 for a total of 51 lire, 17 soldi.] 20 October 1424, I received from Niccolo dei Ricci a child of his to be put to nurse; he will give me two fiorini per month; thus we agreed for the two years to come, or [a total of] 48 fiorini. I shall note below what he gives me. [Notations of payments follow until 18 September 1425, for one of which, 17 March 1425, for 5 lire, he notes “which my balio at Poppi received.”] The above mentioned Niccolo has paid 46 fiorini for the 23 months during which my wife gave the breast to Sanminiato his son. 7 April 1428, I received from monna Leonarda, wife of Piero son of messire Vanni Castellani, her daughter, whom my wife is to raise; the said wife and nurse shall receive each year for her trouble and for the breast feeding of the said little girl seven lire per month paid but the said monna Leonarda, who is bound to pay for the whole year 21 fiorini to Piero Puro and to his said wife. Thursday 6 May 1428, I have returned to monna Leonarda her daughter, whom my wife had taken to nurse, and I have also returned 20 linen swaddling cloths [diapers], 7 bands, 6 woolen swaddling cloths, one mattress, one sheet, one cradle. She still owes me 6 lire, 15 soldi, 8 denari, and I must return to her one linen cloth. [On 14 May he is paid 6 lire.] Friday 7 May (1428), I have received from Santa Maria della Scala [a foundling home] a child named Valoriano; I kept him until the 31st of this month when, for a ser-



4.16 Wet Nursing Carnival Songs (1400s) Carnival was a time for turning everything upside down for fun and satire. The two Florentine songs here would most likely be sung by men dressed up as wet nurses, extravagantly outfitted to advertise their physical advantages, and acting out the words of the song with baby dolls as props. They come from the rural area of the Casentino, approximately 25 miles (or 40 kilometers) east of Florence, where the air and food were thought to be healthier, and the baby boy would grow up “straight and hard.” Picture the wild carnival procession and imagine what the double meaning may be behind every line. Source: Anonymous, “15th Century Carnival Songs.” In Louis Haas, The Renaissance Man and His Children: Childbirth and Early Childhood in Florence 1300–1600 (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 1998), pp. 11–13.


behind the bake oven, playing with him in the sunshine. In every matter, we know what to do, so that the baby grows up quickly; as long as he stays straight and hard we don’t mind getting tired, and he’ll never leave us until his nursing is finished: so you can be quite confident in sending him to the Casentino.

Here we come, wetnurses from the Casentino, each one looking for a baby, and here are our husbands who lead us on the way, whoever has a baby, show him to us, male or female, it doesn’t matter. We shall take good care of him, and he will be well fed, that we’ll soon have him standing straight like a proud knight. If the baby falls sick or is a bit run down, we’ll take such good care of him that he will soon recover; but we must help him out in changing him frequently; when he’s wet, we must dry him and wash him with a little wine. We’re fine in our way of life, prompt and skillful in our trade, always when the baby cries we feel our milk returning: acting with energy and speed, we do our duty, we take him out of the cradle drying his little face. When he has a sore eye we go clear up to Poppi: a woman puts him on her knee and gives him back his health, and then she wants us to hold him sometimes for days on end, so naked,


With lots of good fine milk our breasts are full. To avoid all suspicion, let the doctor see it, because in it is found the being of the creature, for good milk nourishes with no trouble and makes the flesh firm … We’re young married women, well experienced in our art, we can swaddle a baby in a flash and no one has to show us how to use the cloth and bands; while caring for him we arrange them carefully because if he catches cold, the baby is harmed and the balia blamed. We change three times a day the wool and linen cloths and white bands, and we never get tired or cross being with him so he won’t cry …


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4.17 Breastfeeding Is Good, and Mother’s Milk Is Best (1622) While wet nursing was common among the upper classes in the fifteenth century, later authorities advocated maternal wet nursing on the grounds that milk gave health and character, and a baby should get this from its own mother rather than a stranger. The English Puritan minister William Gouge (1575–1653) reinforces these medical concerns with religious arguments, offering many examples from the Bible of mothers who nursed their own children. Source: William Gouge, “Why Mothers Should Suckle Their Own Children,” in Of Domesticall Duties (London, 1622).

God’s word doth in many places by just consequence imply that it is a bounden dutie: in other places it doth expressly commend it by the practice of holy women: and againe in other places it taketh it for a granted truth, and ruled case, not to be denied. 1. In the blessing given to Joseph … God shall blesse thee with the blessing of the breasts, and of the wombe. By the blessing of the wombe, what can be meant, but children? By the blessing of the breasts, what, but milke, whereby those children are nourished? … The consequence then is this: As it is a blessing to have children of a true lawfull wife; so [illegible] have those children nursed of the same wife their mother. Object. They have the blessing of breasts that have other women to nurse their children. Answ. By the same reason it may be said, they have the blessing of the wombe who have strange women to beare them children. But the joyning of these two branches of blessing together, sheweth that both must be taken in the same kinde: so that as the blessing of the wombe is to have children of a man’s wife, so the blessing of the breasts is to have them nursed of his wife. If it be a blessing for the woman which beareth the childe to give it sucke, then mothers are bound to performe this dutie. 2. It is denounced as a curse, that women shall have a barren wombe and drie breasts. If it be a curse for women to have drie breasts, then may not women wittingly make them drie: which all mothers doe, that give not sucke to their children. … 4. God by his good providence brought it to passe, that the mother of Moses (though she were forced to cast out her childe) should nurse her owne childe. Yea the mother her selfe was desirous to doe it, and therefore appointed her daughter to watch who should take it up. These two circumstances implie that it appertaineth to a mother to nurse her children.

Of giving sucke to children. Among other needfull things, the milke of the breast is fit for young babes, and with it they are to be nourished. I thinke none doubt of the equitie of this. It hath in all ages, and in all countries, beene accounted the best food that can be for young babes. The metaphor, which S. Peter useth, taken from young infants in these words, As new-borne babes desire the sincere milke of the lord confirmeth as much. So doth also the desire which such infants have to the milke of the breasts: and the [illegible], and the promptnesse which is in them to sucke: and Gods providence in [illegible] a woman’s breasts to yeeld forth such milke: and the constant manner of nourishing little infants after this manner, commended in the Scriptures: and (to conclude) the naturall instinct which many unreasonable creatures have thus to nourish their young ones. They who on meere curiositie (where no urgent necessitie requireth) try whether their children may not as birds be nourished without sucke, offend contrary to this dutie; and reject that meanes which God hath ordained as the best: and so oppose their shallow wit to his unsearchable wisdome. Of mothers giving sucke to their owne children. Of nourishing children with breast-milke, there is no great question: therefore I have with a touch passed it over. The chiefest question of doubt is concerning the partie who is bound to this dutie; namely, whether the mother be bound to doe it her selfe or no. Many strong arguments there be to presse it upon the [illegible] of mothers, and to shew that (so farre as they are able) they are bound to give sucke to their owne children. So are taken from the light of God’s word; and some from the light of nature. 51


6. Women ought to doe all the best duties of love that they can to their children. Therefore mothers ought to nurse their owne children. Some of the most worthy patterns, in whose example this dutie is commended to mothers, are these. 1. Sarah gave sucke to Isaak. This example is to be noted especially of the greater sort: as rich men’s wives, honourable men’s wives, and the like. For Sarah was an honourable woman, a princesse, a rich man’s wife, a beautifull woman, aged and well growne in yeeres, and a mistress of a family. Are not these excuses pretended by many mothers for not nursing children themselves? 2. The virgin Mary gave sucke to Jesus. This example is to be noted especially of the meaner sort, for the virgin Mary was young, poore, persecuted, forced to remove and flie with her childe from countrie to countrie. Are not these excuses pretended by other mothers? These two patterns doe not only commend the duty, but also strippe all mothers that are negligent therein, of all excuse. To these may be added the examples of Annah, of David’s mother, and of many others. What if also I adde the example of that true, naturall, affectionate mother who stood before Solomon’s throne to plead for her childe? She thus saith of herselfe, I arose to give my sonne sucke, &c. If this had not beene a good motherly dutie, she would not then and there have pleaded it.

5. The Apostle layeth this downe as a note of a good woman, who in her place hath beene carefull to doe her dutie, and thereupon fit to doe service in God’s church (If she have nourished her children, or word for word, If she have fed her children.) Now the proper food for young babes is breast-milk, which, by the Apostles rule, the mother must give. 6. The same Apostle commandeth mothers to love their children. How can a mother better expresse her love to her young babe, then by letting it sucke of her owne breasts? As this is a testimony of love, so it is a meanes of preserving and increasing love: for daily experience sheweth that mothers love those children best to whom they themselves give sucke. Sum these severall consequences together, and we all finde the dutie in question to be very strongly inforced hereby. 1. As a blessing it is promised, that mothers shall give sucke to the children that they beare. 2. As a curse it is threatened, that women shall not be able to give sucke. 3. An Angell gave direction to a mother so to carrie her selfe as she might have store of good milke for the childe which she should beare. 4. God by his speciall providence manifested that the proper mother was the best nurse for a childe. 5. It is the note of a good woman to performe this part of her perticular calling, namely to nurse her owne childe.

4.18 A Jewish Circumcision (1580–81) All cultures had rituals that brought a new infant into the broader religious community: Christians practiced baptism (sprinking water on the initiate’s forehead), while Jews and Muslims practiced circumcision (removal of the foreskin from a boy’s penis). The French author Michel de Montaigne witnessed a circumcision in an Italian synagogue, where the entire community welcomed their newest member. Source: Michel de Montaigne, travel journal (1580–81). In Robert Bonfil, Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy, translated by Anthony Oldcorn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 251–52.

accompanies everything they do, though the whole thing lasts less than a quarter of an hour. The minister may also be someone who is not a rabbi, anyone there among them, anyone who wishes to be called to this task, since they consider it a great blessing to be frequently involved in it: they even pay to be invited, one offering an article

The godfather sits on a table, placing a cushion on his knees; the godmother brings him the child, and then withdraws. The child is all swaddled, according to our custom; the godfather holds him out with his legs hanging down, and then the assistants, and the one who is to perform the operation, begin to chant, and the chant 52

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in a basin which is among the other objects which form the panoply of this mystery. The minister then proceeds to use his fingernails to take hold of a certain membrane which covers the glans and to tear it off forcibly, pushing it back behind the glans. It appears that this involves a considerable effort and some pain. Nonetheless, they do not consider it in the least dangerous and the wound invariably heals in four or five days. The crying of the child is the same as one of our children held at baptism. As soon as the glans is thus uncovered, wine is quickly offered to the minister, who takes a little in his mouth and then proceeds to suck the bleeding glans of the child, then he spits out the blood, repeating the operation as many as three times. This completed, he is handed a screw of paper containing a red powder that they call dragon’s blood, and with it he powders the wound. Then he wraps the child’s member with specially prepared bandages. Having done this, he is handed a glassful of wine, which, on account of certain prayers that he recites, is said to

of clothing, another something else useful for the child, and they believe that a man who has circumcised up to a certain number known to them, has the privilege that when he dies the parts of his mouth will never be eaten by the worms. On the table where the godfather sits, all the instruments used in the performance of the operation are laid out in order. Besides this, a man hold in his hands a carafe full of wine and a glass, There is also a brazier on the ground, at which the minister first warms his hands, then, seeing the child safely held in place by the godfather, with his head towards the latter, he takes hold of the child’s member and with one hand he pulls on the skin at the tip, while with the other he pushes in the glans and the member. At the inner extremity of the skin which he holds still away from the glans, he places a silver instrument which holds the skin in place and ensures that in cutting it no harm is done to the glans or to the member. After which, with a knife he cuts the skin, which is immediately buried in the earth gathered

Figure 4.2  The Nursery A sixteenth-century German engraving offering advice on the supplies prescribed for a new child. Items included those to aid in the child’s physical and spiritual protection, care, and development. 53


takes a round object riddled with holes, like one of our civet boxes, and holds it first to the minister’s nose, then to the child’s, and lastly to the godfather’s: they believe in fact that scents fortify and clear the mind making it more suited to devotion.

be of benediction. He takes a sip, then he dips his finger in it and makes the child suck it three times. The same glass, exactly as it is, is then sent to the mother and the other women who are waiting in another room so they can drink what is left of the wine. Then a third personage

Reading Questions 1. How does gender shape ideas about how children are conceived, how they develop in the womb, and how they are born? 2. How do the humors shape these same ideas? 3. There was a French saying that “A pregnant woman has one foot in the grave.” What made pregnancy and birth so dangerous, and how did early moderns mix science, religion, and superstition to counter these dangers? 4. Did early modern women have any effective means of birth control?



Childhood and Adolescence The same issues of gender and class that we see shaping ideas and practices around health and birth certainly shaped ideas on how children should be raised and educated. An Italian woman writes about how she came to get the kind of education usually reserved for boys, and an English man and woman offer different ideas about what kind of school is best for girls. A Portuguese priest puzzles over how Muslims and Jews raise their children in Algiers and clearly either misunderstands or misrepresents some details. The letters of two generations of young men from the same German family show a sharp difference between an obedient young man following the rules and a restless young man seeking to break out of those conventions and make a life of his own—a life that will lead him away from the merchant trade that his family had prospered in and into a military career that eventually takes him to Brazil. A Swiss student leaves home at age 15 to study medicine in the south of France and learns far more than he or his parents ever bargained for.

5.1 What Boys and Girls Need to Learn (c. 1654) Danish father Mogens Sehested here leaves instructions in his will for how his children are to be educated, underlining the clear difference between his daughters and his sons. His daughters needed only basic knowledge of reading and writing, with some moral lessons as well. His sons would benefit from a fuller curriculum that included mathematics, geography, and languages. Source: Mogens Sehested, last will. In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 19–22.

1. Firstly, he himself must above all fear and love the almighty God and diligently practice prayer and invocations and devoutly respect and heed the word of God. 2. Secondly, he must with the greatest diligence and gravity maintain the fear of God in my children, have

As I, in the name of Jesus, have employed the honest and much learned person Christian Valentinson Schmidt to be the preceptor of my children, he is hereby given instructions and orders as to how he shall behave and act in this service.








the hall. Afterwards they shall immediately be given their breakfast, and as soon as they have eaten it they must return to the school and remain there to do their lessons until it is nearly ten o’clock, so that they can get some exercise before the meal. When it is one o’clock after the noon meal they shall return to school and remain there with their lessons until it is nearly five o’clock so that they again can get some exercise before the [evening] meal. 8. When we are at home, the children are permitted to go to the sitting room to play and move about when they are not in school, while when we are not at home, they must remain in the school or in the small room next to it to play and the houseboy must be with them and look after them, or they can walk with the schoolmaster on the earthwork or in the field, although they cannot knock at the door of anyone’s house here in town, except when we are at home and they are granted permission to do so. 9. The schoolmaster must also pay diligent attention to the children’s houseboy so that he keeps their clothing and shoes clean and that [the houseboy] pays attention to what is lacking and that nothing disappears. Similarly, every morning and evening he [the houseboy] must properly dress and undress the children and properly fold and lay their clothing in an appropriate place, in the same way he must build the fire in the school when it is needed. If the boy is found to be negligent or obstinate, the schoolmaster has permission to punish him with the braided leather whip or rod, as [it] is appropriate [punishment]. 10. For his service, the aforementioned Christian Schmidt shall be given an annual pay of forty rigsdaler to be paid twice a year as he wishes and needs. And his salary shall commence from the first of July of this year to the same day the following year and then yearly as long as he remains in this service. That this will be kept in this manner and complied with, I sign with my own hand. At Ribberhus 4 July anno 1654.

them read the explanations of their prayers and catechisms evening and morning as they have been used to, and when they come from the church [he must] be informed of what they learned from the sermon. Thirdly, he must teach and instruct the boys in the fundaments and practices of the Latin language according to the manners and ways which were urged upon all of them yesterday and hereafter will be repeated in a manner most suited to them. And if the children are found to be negligent or indifferent to learning when they are asked and commanded, he must diligently and seriously admonish them, so that they mend their ways and improve; if they do not respect such admonition, he has the authority to punish them with the switch in moderation, and not with paddle, rod or fist, which are not suited for children. If, against all expectations, some of the children should prove reluctant or obstinate the school master shall at once let me know that they may be properly punished further. He must also continue to teach Jytte Sehested to read and write and have Sophie and Margrete Sehested write on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons when the boys are free from school. He must diligently pay attention to the children’s manners and conduct, especially when we are not at home, [he must ensure] that they maintain proper table manners and do not go to the farm buildings or any other place outside of the house when he is not with them, and accompany them both going outside and returning. He must live soberly and properly and not cause any offence or indignation neither by words nor by actions and not go anywhere in town without prior notice and permission. During the summer, the children must read their morning prayers in the school for the schoolmaster at six o’clock in the morning, and then together with him come down to read and sing to the servants in



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5.2 Bad Dreams and Bedwetting (1653) Robert Pemell, a physician from Kent, here uses Galen and Hippocrates to answer the ageold question: Why won’t baby sleep? Overeating and bad humors are the most likely causes, though he also notes that even babies can experience fear and should be protected from it. Source: Robert Pemell, De morbis puerorum; or, A Treatise of the Diseases of Children (London, 1653).

The prognosticks.

Among the diseases that are incident to children, Hippocrates mentions great fears, and startings which is nothing else but troublesome sleep, accompanied with terrible dreams.

This disease must not be sleighted, because many times it is the forerunner of the Falling sicknesse.

The cause.

The cure.

The causes hereof are impure and filthy vapors which mingle themselves with the animal spirits, and trouble the same, representing terrible fancies to the imagination; now these vapors arise from the bad concoction of the stomach. Therefore this disease is very subject to children, who suck the milk very greedily, or eat abundantly, and so receiving more nourishment then the stomach can digest, it is corrupt, and so these vapors arise to the brain, and trouble the animal spirits. Neither is it absurd to say that these vapours do not onely ascend by the oesophagus or gullet, but that by the veins they ascend up to the head. Elder children are subject to this disease as well as younger. Galen saith, these fears, are caused when there is a natural imbecibillity or weaknesse of the childs stomach, and the meat received is corrupted in it, which cause vapours to arise up to the head, and bring these startings. Sometimes they come from worms, and when they breed their teeth.

For the cure hereof, means must be used to take away the corrupt humours in the stomach. Let the Nurse keep to a moderate dyet, and use meats that hinder corruption, and obstain from all vitious and corrupt food; as Pease, Beans, Leeks, Onions, Colewort, &c. that so the milk may be good which the childe sucketh. Let the childe suck but sparingly and moderately least by too often sucking the stomach be oppressed; neither let the childe after sucking or feeding be laid to sleep, but kept watching a while, that so the nourishment may descend to the bottome of the stomach, and the concoction be the better. When it is laid to sleep, let it not be much rocked, for overmuch shaking of the child hindereth digestion, and causeth the childe many times to vomit. To remove the corrupt food in the stomach, let the childe take oyl of sweet Almonds, or sirup of Succory, or Manna, or a little hony of Roses solutive; you may give a spoonful or two of either, for these will cleanse the corrupt humours and provoke to stool. Give the child half a scruple or more of Pynony seeds in a little milk morning and evening; or give it a little Magister of Coral.

The signs. The signs are manifest, for they often start in their sleep, screech and cry out suddenly, and many times they shake and are all in a water, and most times a hot stinking vapour proceedeth out of the childs mouth.



5.3 Training of a Renaissance Feminist (1488) Born before schools for girls were available, Laura Cereta (1469–99) sharpened her intellect and written style through lessons with her father and with tutors. Her exceptional abilities made many uneasy, and some men and women criticized her for breaking with conventional gender roles and expectations. Yet Cereta persisted and wrote extensively on education, philosophy, gender, politics, and death. Source: Laura Cereta, letter. In Laura Cereta, Collected Letters of a Renaissance Feminist, edited and translated by Diana Robin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 37–43.

sity of studies disturbed my natural abilities. Yet the decision I had made remained more firmly entrenched than before, and I was more unwaveringly committed than ever to proceeding with the study of sacred literature so that I might see if such writings had more nobility in them. This inward-looking path to knowledge played so important a role in my life that I devoted whole nights to this study without stopping to rest, and all other desire for relaxation eluded me like a thief and vanished. For truly, there is a simpler truth in sacred literature that is useful both in its infinite subtlety and the pleasure it conveys through its beauty. On the road I have taken, I have found contentment in contemplation. Now that I have availed myself of the counsel of religious texts, wherein writings about morality combine profundity with utility, I have found satisfaction in literature that would give me not smoke and darkness but something perfect, secure, and lasting. Since men receive an education in literature and other studies, however, so that they may benefit from the example of their forebears, the most elect men of diverse orders have said publicly that education has been wasted on me because it has benefited only me and not others. I am happy to have the opportunity to express my opinion about something that may exonerate me from criticism. I preferred to please the crowd rather than myself. Stimulated by the desire for fame, I was drawn into a prodigious error in the course of my writing. Namely, the first thing I wrote was a funeral oration composed to be read over the corpse of a donkey. This one humble oration stirred up the envy of a number of men, who cruelly sharpened the teeth of their spite against me, and as though their mouths had been swords, I was left trembling like a lamb among wolves. Full of their mockery of me, these men did not hesitate to dishonor me with their spittle, while I was hard-pressed by my wounds. For a long time I bore all these attacks patiently in order that no one would be able to accuse me of writing

Letter to Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza Though I was untrained and scarcely exposed to literature, through my own intelligence and natural talents I was able to acquire the beginnings of an education. While my pleasure in embarking on such a journey of the mind and my love of study were strong at the outset, the weak seeds of my small talent have grown to such a degree that I have written speeches for public occasions, and these I embellished grandly, painting pictures with words in order to influence people and stimulate their minds. My love of reading caused me to sample different kinds of subjects, and only in study did I feel a sense of inner contentment. And, although I remained ill-equipped for the task despite my passion for learning, I reached a decision that awakened in me a desire for fame and honor, as though my mind were challenging itself to scale new heights. As my eagerness for knowledge grew, so did the capacity of my mind, and in the course of this growth, the fruitfulness and the fertility of my pen caused me to prefer philosophy over all other studies, just as fruit would have given me more pleasure than leaves. (But here a blush of modesty would expose the fact that I am only writing with such painstaking elegance—and taking so much time to do so—to beguile a patron!) To get back to my story then, at the end of my childhood, when I was approaching adolescence and was becoming more mature in my understanding of literature, a nobler thought came to me. Accordingly, I devoted myself to other kinds of books, giving myself over to insomniac nights and study, like someone who has a passion for mathematics. If my intellect did not reveal to me the things I longed for at that time, at least I had been allowed to cross the fourfold threshold to knowledge. Still, this was not the home of happiness or pleasure that I sought, though it was adorned with a beautiful understanding of things. For I was ignorant of the causes that would lead me to virtue; moreover, too great a diver58


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everlasting runs along the precipices and is difficult and narrow. I can boast, I admit, about the intellectual gifts the omnipotent lord has given me since rare is the girl in any age who writes books with painstaking grace and brilliance. I have spent on the liberal arts whatever the river of time has allotted me; yet all my strength of mind has composed only these few cold and lifeless letters with a short and inadequate pen. Because my deficiencies as a writer have caused me to be fearful, I did not dare to trust myself to the criticism of readers without your consent. Your protection and kindness towards all men, however, have persuaded me to aspire to better things. Reason, supported by live evidence, urges me to take heart, since all those who rely on your support reach the goal they hoped for, aided above and beyond their due. I know you will take care for my safety, for you are accustomed to aiding those who are afflicted, with compassion and even when your assistance is not sought. Your piety does not wait for the requests of those who are in pain, and it causes you to help your friends before you pardon them. I should beware more how I walk among the brambles and thorns. Those who are experienced know how much envy, which is full of nettles, burns the bare feet. Nor does envy ignore the learned, many of whom are writers, unprotected by a patron, who are barred from the senate and the meeting places of the most upright men. Odium makes a shambles of everything. The harm done by distorted interpretation besmirches everything. And although truth is the final judge in all matters, envy, the censurer of all men, bites even this judge. Envy, furtive and anxious, like a thief in hiding, ransacks letters and books until she catches the scent of an enemy. Now that I have finally explained the purpose of my little work to you, who are the other general of the church militant and its firmest bastion, I beg and supplicate your majesty to allow me, a writer, to serve you as your protegee. For, insofar as it befits my lowly station, in hopes of your favor—my father, lord, and judge—I have put myself in your charge. For if you, being human, are not a god, still you have risen to a place worthy of a god because of your virtue: so widely renowned is your name among peoples everywhere and so wholly do the faithful in Rome turn to you in religious awe. The superb constancy of your faith and your mind, which is ruled by the most just laws, has rendered inviolate your most excellent office. For you have taken up the apostolic insignia of Peter, the fisherman, and you have governed the cities as a holy man should, with clemency and civility, like a peaceful shepherd whom both military

about the consolation of philosophy while I indulged the whims of an unstable mind: thus a stern excellence of mind taught me to disdain those slanderers so that threats would not seem to be vying with counterthreats as though in a sword fight, or mutual blows parrying with one another. … But since I became justifiably concerned about protecting my reputation, I could not imagine myself being worth so little that I would not respond in writing— whether I was provoked once or many times. And when I had written back, soon a great crowd of harassers wrote to me. I responded at greater length, and more eloquently than I would have believed. Nonetheless, after persevering for days, during which time a great deal of costly labor was wasted, I managed to extract from the business of writing to those men some residue at least that was suited to my work; for that which is bought at the cost of time is too costly. And so my epistolary commerce grew in both ways. There is, however, one humble style that can give pleasure in all letters: this style should not astonish, even if it is adorned with very few, though living, colors. For what profit can there be in a brilliant oration framed by curving vine tendrils entwined with an elaborate foliage of words? Those works which cannot be dismissed as lacking in restraint are always better considered in a class of their own, and certainly educated readers respect a modestly written oration more than one that is not so: superfluous effort is exerted for superfluous elegance. No one should expect me to possess a rarefied way of speaking that has come down to me from the age of Phoenix. This native literature of ours will be enough for everyone, though here no Greek Amphion has ever burst into harmonious song, and no Demosthenes, no Theophrastus have made speeches; nor do these pages of mine, which are illuminated with pictures, represent Aesop as more esteemed than Virgil. From all the maxims of antiquity, my mind distills figures that are alive and fresh. Because of this, I may not express the opinion that the vulture is a more noble creature than the silvery little sparrow. For virtue does not inhabit the first living seeds of things—but what precious thing in the ancient maxims could be more precious than virtue? And so I, who have hardly acquired even the first rudiments of learning, am a small chattering woodpecker among poetic swans. Each person should display her own particular gifts for study. For no one is safe who strives beyond her abilities; and thus it is safer to trust in reason than in men’s opinions. The road to fame that is 59


dedicating the fruits of their work to their Atticuses and Maecenases, so as therein to make them famous. While the former is not mine to do and while I have acquired too little of the world’s learning, still the obligation rests with me now to commit to memory the things that have been entrusted to me, if polished eloquence can untangle the complicated impediments of language. As long as I am deserving of these things, you will not be dishonored in any way, most clement of all men. I hope to offer a supplement to this great penury, this work, barren of words and rich ornament. Therefore this your little book, on which I have spent sleepless nights and long labors, although it is sterile in itself, will grow nonetheless more fertile in your hands. It will germinate, bear fruit, and flow with juices.… Both future generations and men of the current age will know you as a man most highly educated in the whole of literature, and they will sing this torn invention of mine which will exalt and venerate your memory honorably and for a long time to come. March 1488.

kudos and civil authority have made eminent. You have most excellently executed your duties, and you appraise all events with the measuring rod of reason, while you look with great foresight toward the future. And with a firm yet generous mind, how often you have engaged in victorious battle with fortune on your side. … And with all the honors of the ancients and your great magnanimity, you hold in awe those who would gladly endure all the good fortune and every disaster that came their way following your example, or those who, should it be necessary, would lay down their lives to save you from death or exile. On account of this, I, your servant, have liberated my study from all this in order to devote myself to your glory—not for the purpose of embellishing a throne as famous as yours with my small glory—but to be a participant in that glory myself, which would be the greatest honor. For just as the Parthians paid homage to their kings with gifts, so the Latins do the same by

5.4 A Man’s Idea of a School for Girls (1671) While boys’ schools were common, girls’ schools were rare. Edward Chamberlayne (1616– 1703) here proposes an academy for young women to be trained in the Protestant faith. Many feared that without such an institution, Protestant parents might be tempted to send their daughters to Catholic convent schools. Chamberlayne expressed the common concern about the weak and disorderly nature of young women and the need to educate and socialize them in proper gender norms like deference, humility, and obedience. Source: Edward Chamberlayne, An Academy or College Wherein Young Ladies and Gentlewomen May at a Very Moderate Expense Be Duly Instructed in the True Protestant Religion and in All Virtuous Qualities That May Adorn That Sex (London, 1671).

Before the late unhappy Troubles in England, it was the usual Observation of Foreigners, who had been acquainted with this and other Nations, that the English Lady was the most modest, chaste, and pious Woman in Europe, that she was eminent for Reverence, Obedience, Faithfulness, and Affectionateness to her Husband, for Discreet, frugal management of her House and Family, for Sobriety, Retiredness, Taciturnity, Humility, Patience, and all other Graces and Vertues, wherewith the holy Women of old were endowed. Since which, by a general licentiousness, during our late unnatural War, not only all kind of Sects, and with them Irreligion, Atheism, and Debauchery, were introduced amongst the Men of this

Nation; but also most of those fore-mentioned excellent Qualifications are now at length (to the great grief of all sober persons) became more rare amongst Women, then perhaps in any of our Neighbouring Countreys, which having been seriously and sadly considered, it is by many Godly prudent men judged very expedient that most earnest endeavors should speedily be used by some extraordinary way of Education to reduce (if possible) the Female Sex of England to their Pristine Vertues: that so by their Godly Conversation, and good Examples, their Husbands, Children, and Servants may in time be won, and at length a general Reformation wrought in this Kingdom. 60


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separate themselves from the vanities of the World, and yet employ their Talents to the benefit of the Publick. These are therefore to give notice, to all whom it may any way concern, that near London, in a plesant healthy Soil and Air, there is for both the purposes above-mentioned, proposed a large House, with a Chappel, fair Hall, many commodious Lodgings, and Rooms for all sorts of necessary Offices, together with pleasant Gardens, Orchards, and Courts, all encompassed and well secured with strong high Walls. Also there is a Reverend, Learned, and Pious Divine in the same Parish, ready to officiate daily Morning and Evening as Chaplain; a grave discreet Lady to be Governess, with divers other Matrons, who having taken up a resolution to live a retired, single, and religious life, are to assist in the Government of the Colledge, without expecting any gain, profit, or emolument for themselves, but to bestow gratis all their care and pains in governing the Colledge and the young Ladies in their Education. Moreover, there will come at due times the best and ablest Teachers in London for Singing, Dancing, Musical Instruments, Writing, French Tongue, Fashionable Dresses, all sorts of Needle Works, for Confectionary, Cooking, Pastery, for Distilling of Waters, making Perfumes, making of some sort of Physical and Surgical Medecins and Salves for the Poor, &c. There are also prepared a Body of Statutes and Rules, whereunto all upon their Admission are to submit themselves, until the whole Society, with the consent of the Visitor, who is a Person of great Eminency and Worth, shall think fit to alter, or repeal any of them, for the better promoting this Pious Design. If therefore any Honourable and Worthy Persons desire that their Daughters, or any Trustees, that their Orphans should be admitted Commoners or Pensioners of this Colledge, or any Devout Widdows or Elder Virgins who intent not to marry, desire to be admitted Fellows and Assistants in this Government, and to lead the rest of their dayes without cares and troubles of the World, to live with honour and reputation, to devote themselves to the service of God and the good of their Countrey, by contributing their advice and assistance in the training up of young Ladies and Gentlewomen, and securing their Persons and Fortunes, till the time of their Marriage, let them repare either to Mr. Horn, a Stationer at the South-side of the Royal Exchange, to Mr. Martyn, a Stationer at the Bell in St. Pauls Churchyard, to Mr. Thomas Collins, Stationer at the Middle Temple Gate, to Mr. Herringman, Stationer in the New Exchange, to Mr. Mortlack, Stationer in Westminster-Hall, or to Mr. Tayler, a Stationer on London-Bridge, and they shall be further informed.

Some have thought best to set their Daughters to be educated in the Maiden Schools in and about London, where either through the Unskilfulness, or Negligence, through the Unfaithfulness, or Covetousness of the Mistresses, too much minding their private profit, the Success oft times hath not answered the Expectation of their Parents and Friends, whereof there are divers lamentable Examples, and grevious Complainings. Others therefore (although of the Protestant Religion) have chosen rather to be at the great Charges, and hazard of sending their Daughters to be bred up (till the [time] of their Marriage) in some Popish Monasteries of our next Neighbouring Countreys, whence they have return’d otherwise very virtuous, but generally tainted with, and enclined to Romish Superstitions, and Errors. Some have assayed to educate their Daughters always at home, but thereby have found them apt to be corrupted, or betrayed by Servants (of whose unfaithfulness and viciousness there is now a more general complaint than ever) or else in continual danger to be stolen away by some debauched indigent Neighbours. Or if they are rich Orphans, to be sold by the Trustees, whereof there are also divers Examples. Or to be wholly ignorant and unacquainted with the World, or at least toward that handsome becoming Deportment, which usually sets off, and recommends young Ladies to good Husbands, and is to be acquired only abroad in a virtuous converse with others. Lastly, Divers Gentlemen of this Kingdom have, of late for the Education of their Daughters, had recourse to the Families of some Non-Conformists, where perhaps a strickter Education may sometimes be found, but then if any advantage be here had, it is usually attended with this great mischief, that thereby schismatical and rebellious principles are insensibly instilled into them, which may one day occasion (if they not timely prevented) the final overthrow of the present established Church and State. Now the Premisses considered, and also, that for the Education of Sons in all Vertue and Piety, no way hath been found to succeed better generally, then to let them pass their youth in a Collegiate life, under the eye and care of a discreet, learned, pious Tutor, and under the regular Government of the Head and Fellows of a Colledge. It is not to be doubted but that some such Collegiate life (if rightly instituted) may prove as successful, and perhaps much more, for the Education of Daughters, and that thereby may be founded not only excellent Seminaries and Nurseries, out of which Persons of Honour and Worth may at all times make choice of Vertuous Wives. But also Provision (whereof there is great want in England) may be made for sober, pious, elder Virgins and Widdows, who desire to 61


5.5 A Woman’s Idea of a School for Girls (1694) Mary Astell (1666–1731) thought that women should receive an advanced education on their own terms, and without interference from men. In A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, for the Advancement of their True and Greatest Interest (1694), she argue that elite women should be educated separately in a convent-like setting to limit the direct influence and authority of men. Some historians have claimed Astell as the first English feminist. Source: Mary Astell, “A Serious Proposal to the Ladies” (1694). In N.H. Keeble, The Cultural Identity of Seventeenth-Century Woman: A Reader (London: Routledge, 1994), p. 291.

escape this, who are bred up in that? That therefore women are unprofitable to most, and a plague and dishonour to some men is not much to be regretted on account of the men, because ’tis the product of their own folly, in denying them the benefits of an ingenious and moral education, the most effectual means to direct them into, and to secure their progress in, the ways of virtue. For that ignorance is the cause of most feminine vices, may be instanced in that pride and vanity which is usually imputed to us, and which I suppose, if thoroughly sifted, will appear to be some-way or other, the rise and original of all the rest. These, though very bad weeds, are the product of a good soil, they are nothing else but generosity degenerated and corrupted … Whence is it but from ignorance, from want of understanding to compare and judge of things, to choose a right end, to proportion the means to the end, and to rate everything according to its proper value, that we quit the substance for the shadow, reality for appearance, and embrace those very things which if we understood we should hate and fly … Thus ignorance and a narrow education lay the foundation of vice, and imitation and custom rear it up. Custom, that merciless torrent that carries all before it, and which indeed can be stemmed by none but such as have a great deal of prudence and a rooted virtue. For ’tis but decorous that she who is not capable of giving better rules, should follow those she sees before her, lest she only change the instance and retain absurdity. ’Twould puzzle a considerate person to account for all that sin and folly that is in the world … did not Custom help to solve the difficulty … ’Tis Custom, therefore, that Tyrant Custom, which is the grand motive to all those irrational choices which we daily see made in the world, so very contrary to our present interest and pleasure, as well as to our future …

This is a matter infinitely more worthy your [women readers’] debates than what colours are most agreeable, or what’s the dress becomes you best. Your glass will not do you half so much service as a serious reflection on your own minds … No solicitude in the adornation of your selves is discommended, provided you employ your care about that which is really your self, and do not neglect that particle of divinity within you, which must survive, and may (if you please) be happy and perfect, when it’s unsuitable and much inferior companion is mouldering in the dust … Remember, I pray you, the famous women of former ages, the Orindas of late, and the more modern heroines, and blush to think how much is now, and will hereafter be said of them, when you your selves … must be buried in silence and forgetfulness! … How can you be content to be in the world like tulips in a garden, to make a fine show, and be good for nothing … Although it has been said by men of more wit than wisdom, and perhaps of more malice than either, that women are naturally incapable of acting prudently, or that they are necessarily determined to folly, I must by no means grant it … The incapacity, if there be any, is acquired not natural; and none of their follies are so necessary, but that they might avoid them if they pleased themselves … … Women are from their very infancy debarred those advantages with the want of which they are afterwards reproached, and nursed up in those vices which will hereafter be upbraided to them. So partial are men as to expect brick where they afford no straw; and so abundantly civil as to take care we should make good that obliging epithet of ignorant, which out of an excess of good manners they are pleased to bestow on us! … … seeing it is ignorance, either habitual or actual, which is the cause of all sin, how are they like to



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… one great end of this institution shall be to expel that cloud of ignorance which Custom has involved us in, to furnish our minds with a stock of solid and useful knowledge, that the souls of women may no longer be the only unadorned and neglected things.

Now as to the Proposal, it is to erect a monastery, or if you will … we will call it a religious retirement, and such as shall have a double aspect, being not only a retreat from the world for those who desire that advantage, but likewise, an institution and previous discipline, to fit us to do the greatest good in it …

5.6 A Feminist Instructs Her Brothers (1485) There were many men who wrote on how girls should be educated, but few women who returned the favor. Laura Cereta here tells her brothers to smarten up, appreciate the teachers that they have, and take their schooling seriously. Source: Laura Cereta, letter. In Laura Cereta, Collected Letters of a Renaissance Feminist, edited and translated by Diana Robin (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 37–43.

academies. If you obtain his counsel, you will acquire a great deal of knowledge. But at your tender age, I’d like you to pay attention to the direction in which my warnings could lead you. You, who live in the best city, have as a father a man who is renowned; he has endowed you with the finest values and an excellent name. See to it that people don’t say of you that you sank into a life of licentiousness, in a retrograde path from where your ancestors began, or that you were tempted to give up your trust in a great teacher. Since nature has made it possible for you to surpass intellectually the endowments of many men light now the torches of the better part of your soul for the sake of learning. This effort is of crucial importance, since either pleasure will separate you from the great men of this city or virtue will distinguish you from the dregs of the populace. The choice between these two roads is, however, yours. Take care lest the precipitous plain of desire should cause you to be afflicted with a still greater wound—that of regret. The quiet serenity of virtue inhabits the loftiest places in the hills. August 3, 1485.

Although I had to tell your teacher many things about you by letter, still I knew it was only right and fitting for me to send these letters on to you, lest it should later seem that it was through my doing that your natural talents, which, we hope, will enable you to arrive at the culmination of your studies in the liberal arts with outstanding results, were prevented from coming to the fore. For this reason, while some of your schoolmates are fussing with their hair, and others are spending their time grooming themselves—whether they dodge school to play in places where they won’t be found, or sit around taking their leisure—while some of your friends waste their nights sleeping and others squander their days babbling and telling idle tales, I urge and implore the two of you to press on with your studies and to be diligent and remain alert. In this way your native intellectual gifts will enable you to obtain knowledge, which is a more lasting possession. In addition to his being of assistance to you, Olivieri is a man of authority and distinction who has taught students in his home, in the fields, and in the streets, just as he has taught in



5.7 Raising Muslim and Jewish Children in Algiers​ —A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612) For Europeans, Algiers was a fascinating frontier town where Muslims ruled over Jews and Christians, many of whom were there as galley slaves. The Portuguese priest Antonio de Sosa (1538–87) described what he saw of family life and how he understood it, though some details, like polygamy among the Jews, were in the realm of fantasy. Source: Antonio de Sosa, Topography of Algiers (1612). In Maria Antonia Garcés (Ed.), An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612), translated by Diana de Armas Wilson (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 194–97.

after the mother and baby have bathed, they return to the house where another fiesta of food, music, and dance awaits them. Should there be another newly delivered mother in the same house, the two are not to see each other for a space of forty days. The Algerians rear their children with much loving care: during the first year, and even for some time after, they give the baby no other nourishment than breast milk. They regularly take babies to be blessed by their marabouts: the living, to whose homes and hermitages they carry them, as well as the dead, whose tombs they visit. Some women, out of devotion, tend to bury their infants in the sand by the seashore, leaving them there for an hour or more, convincing themselves that he who escapes and lives will have a long and healthy life, with all kinds of prosperity. The mothers hang about their necks countless written documents given them by the same marabouts, in which are figured many characters in Arabic or Turkish letters, and in other scripts, some with unknown names of demons and some with words of the Qur’an. Also hung on their babies are an infinite number of devices and charms related to witchcraft, like the back of a sea urchin, the head of a chameleon, some bones of a turtle, the nails of a lion, some hide from the forehead of the same lion, the tusk of a pig. Because these are all considered chief among relics for children, the parents often plate them in gold or silver. They might also hang on babies’ necks the beak of an eagle, a few links from coats or smocks of chain mail, tiny sea shells, a tablet or plate of silver or iron with some written words from the Qur’an, a hand made of five silver or other metallic fingers, and an infinite number of other things which they worship and consider good omens. And sometimes a single infant will carry all of the above on his body.

When a woman goes into labor, she is often visited by friends and relatives who cheer, encourage, and serve her with special diligence. During such a time, they invoke many of their marabouts, whom they consider saints, and make vows to them. These women use an infinite number of aromatic substances during labor, and there is no telling where they discover them. And if all this still does not help the birthing, they call boys out of the school to carry through the streets a sheet— held by its ends with a hen’s egg in the middle—and to sing certain prayers responsively, like a chorus. The moment that Turkish and Moorish women hear these prayers, moved by pity, they run to their doors with jars of water to toss over the egg in one splash, believing that if they break the egg with this action, the woman will give birth. If the woman delivers a boy, all the women present, and wherever else is with them, howl very loudly two or three times. At the birth of a girl they howl only once. On the night after delivery of first-born children, the families stage great dances with their tambourines and rattles, to which they invite friends and relatives. These dinners include fritters, meats, rice, couscous, and other favoured edibles. By way of offering congratulations for the delivery, wealthy relatives send the new mother joints of lamb, special post-childbirth fritters called sfendj, and some molasses candies. Newly delivered mothers are visited only by other women friends and relatives. Seven days after childbirth, the friends and relatives of the new mother host a dinner, after which they all take her to the baths, and her baby with her (if a girl), with a great parade of tambourines and rattles preceding them. The new infant is very richly dressed and carried in the arms of some black or Christian male or female slave, who marches in the middle of the procession. And 64


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or stronger alcohol, and every manner of lechery and sodomy. To speak comprehensively here of all Algerians, let us discuss the Jews. They only marry with Jewesses, and some have two or three wives. These husbands do not give their wives dowries, nor do they buy them in the manner of Moors and Turks. Rather each woman arrives at the home of her husband with a dowry from her parents and relatives. These women are also in the habit of using cosmetics, especially Jewish brides, although they do not paint their arms black, as do Moorish women and renegades, but rather use much color and white paste. Jewish brides also wear many seed pearls, rings, earrings, and gold bracelets. The Jews also make a public fiesta on the wedding day, seating themselves on a patio, which they nicely decorate with many coverings of silk (or what they have). The Jewish bride is richly dressed and seated on a scaffold of netting. All the Jewesses come together to dance, sing, and strum their strings, and any onlookers—Moors, Turks, and Christians—are allowed to enter to see the fiesta. The same is not permitted at the fiestas of Moorish, Turkish, and renegade women, who can be seen only by Christians, from whom they do not hide or cover themselves, as we said earlier. Because the bride and other Jewesses are so richly dressed and adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls in these dances and gatherings, the Jews tend to rent two or three janissaries, handpicked by the agha, and pay them handsomely to guard the entrance to the wedding so that no thieves (Turks, Moors, or other janissaries) might enter and rob the women. Given that the Jews were always, and are today still, the most devoted to their children of any peoples in the past and present of the world, the love and care with which they rear their offspring is also incredible. When a boy can barely walk, the father will take him by the hand to the synagogue (on Saturdays and holy days). Later he will have the boy learn to read and write in Hebrew, and some also in Arabic. And because of the way these Jewish children are reared, no father will dare to punish them or make them angry, because at that moment many of them, for this reason, will turn Turk in spite of their parents, who cannot stop them. In the same way, many of these children, as youngsters, are very prone to vice, gambling, and drink. Some also take up friendships with Turks or renegades, whom they serve as sexual partners and to whose vice of sodomy they then attach themselves.

The Algerians are fond of having their children nursed by Christian slaves who have milk, yet they give little reward to such wet nurses. It is true that a few Algerians tend to promise these Christian women from the start that they will give them their liberty when they are done nursing the child for some years. After the child is weaned, the parents take little care to show him good manners and rearing, nor do they take him by the hand to warn or punish him. They behave as if they were no more than parents of an animal, which they let follow its own good or bad inclinations. Some parents enroll their children in school when they are nine or ten years old, to learn to read and write in Arabic or Turkish, and others (although very few) to learn both. In the same way, mothers teach their daughters to sew and do handiwork, if they themselves know how (which few do), or they send them to the house of a sewing teacher for girls, which is what the poor do. The time for circumcising their sons is neither clear nor determined, because some are circumcised when they are small and others at twelve or fourteen years. And their way of doing this we mentioned earlier, when speaking of the circumcision of renegades. Only men are obligated to undergo this ceremony, although in the Great Cairo and other parts they also circumcise young women, cutting from their members certain superfluous flesh, and there are women who make a living with this art. But this is not done in Algiers (and we speak here only about the customs of its inhabitants). When the daughter has grown and is ready for marriage, they wash her very well, and, having shaved the hair from the back of her neck and having cut a few tufts from the front of her head, they make her perform the salat (as we said earlier about female renegades) in a bedroom. The women do not go to the mosques to pray because, according to the marabouts, this is considered baram, something forbidden to the profane, an act that calls for interdiction or excommunication. In the view of these marabouts, women cause men to sin, and would do the same if they were seen in the mosques. When the sons are grown, each follows the lifestyle that most agrees with him, although, ordinarily, the son of a corsair becomes a corsair; that of a merchant, a merchant; that of a janissary, a janissary and soldier; and that of a mechanic, a mechanic. All of them, in general, when they reach fourteen years of age, or even earlier, are contaminated with every kind of vice, especially that of licentiousness, continuous eating and drinking of wine



5.8 Writing Home: An Obedient Son (1578) Friederich Behaim’s (1563–1613) letters to his mother show him to be a traditionally respectful and obedient youth, eager to please, and ready to take advice on everything from how to avoid a cold to how to clean his clothes. Source: Friederich Behaim, letter. In Steven Ozment, Three Behaim Boys: Growing Up in Early Modern Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 107–08.

your night coat when you are in your room. Avoid cold drinks and sit perhaps for a while by the fire. And do not forget to be bled on time. When you need paper, let me know. Paul has gotten a supply, for which I paid one and a half gulden. I have not yet heard when the Oertels’ wedding is planned. When I find out I will let you know. Jobst Tetzel is the bridegroom of Maria Gralat. I am sending some cleaning flakes for your leather pants. After you have worn them three times, put some on the knees. Since Martin is not around, I will have your old coat patched up and sent to you with the next carter [so that you can wear it] until a new one is made. Send me the two sacks with the next carter. You will find the gulden in the trouser foot that is tied with a string. Nothing more for now. God bless, 14 October, 1578. Mrs. Paul Behaim

Mother to Friederich Behaim, 14 October 1578 Dear son Friederich. I have your letter and news of your health. I and all in the household here are also in rather good health, praise God. May God continue to give us his grace. Amen. You write that you have been unable to get by on the money [I gave you.] I will let it pass this quarter, but see that you do manage on it in the future. Enclosed is another gulden. As for your clothes, I do not have Martin here with me now (we are quarrelling), but he has begun work on your clothes. He has made stockings for your holiday trousers, which I am sending you with this letter. Since your everyday trousers are so bad, wear these leather holiday trousers for now until a new pair of everyday woolen ones can be made and sent to you, which I will do as soon as I can. Send me your old trousers in the sack I sent the pitcher in. As for the smock you think should be lined, I worry that the skirt may be too short and that it will not keep you warm. You can certainly wear it for another summer, if it is not too small for you then and the weather not too warm. Just keep it clean and brushed. I will have a new coat made for you at the earliest. You also write about your board. You must be patient for a while. You may not at the outset lodge a complaint against [Herr Oertel], especially while you are sitting at his table. [Only] he may speak out who eats his food and is also an authority in the house. So it would be better if the inspector, who is there for a reason, reports it. Will you once tell me who your table companions are? Also, let me know by All Saints what you have spent on beer and what you owe the [illegible] so that I know how much to send you for the quarter. As for your throat, there is nothing you can take for it but warm mead. Gargle often with it and keep your head warm. Put a muffler or scarf around your neck and wear

Friederich Behaim to Mother, 16 October 1578 Filial love and devotion, dear Mother. Know that I have received the money and the sack with my trousers. As you write that I should let you know who my table companions are, there are six. Hans Kersin, who is Herr Zisselgassen’s [step]son; Johannes Schmidt, from Fürth; the third is named Christoph Keferlein, who was once Herr [Hieronymus] Baumgartner’s servant; a fourth from Bavaria; the fifth, with the name of Peter Kögel, who has been one of the twelve orphans; the Inspector; and myself. I am sending the two sacks back with Kolb along with a letter that belongs to Jacob Schleicher. Otherwise, nothing more for now. God bless. Greet all the household for me. When I have the time, I will write to each of them. 16 October, 1578. Y[our] L[oving] S[on] Friederich Behaim



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Figure 5.1  The Idle Apprentice Eighteenth-century engraver William Hogarth presented this series contrasting an idle and an industrious apprentice. In the first image, the two are at their looms, making a contrast of vice and virtue. The second image demonstrates how one vice, like idleness, devolves into others, as the idle apprentice visits a prostitute, likely in a bawdyhouse. 67


5.9 Writing Home: A Wily Son (1629–36) Stephan Carl Behaim’s (1612–38) letters with his relatives and guardians show someone more ambitious, wily, duplicitous, and vain. Always short of money, he wheedles funds for a sword from his mother while he is 17 and in university. He eventually ends up chasing his fortune as a mercenary in Brazil—where he dies in a military campaign at age 24, soon after he wrote his last letter, found here. Source: Stephan Carl Behaim, letter. In Steven Ozment, Three Behaim Boys: Growing Up in Early Modern Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 183–86, 221–22, 252–56, and 273–75.

here while I am away, unless you insist that I do so out of concern that I may damage it. So I will bring it home with me over the dog-days and leave it with you in Nuremberg, to be picked up when I need it. You must at some time buy me a sword, and they are not cheap. They are in fact becoming more expensive, and the longer the war lasts, the higher prices will climb. So I ask you once more, in total submission to your will, not to deny me this and to send five gulden.… After you have read this letter, do not say a word to anyone about it. Tear it up as soon as you have read it, so that Brother does not find out about any of this. We had our exams this week (praise God), and several have been promoted who did not argue as well as I. But I know well the reason I am remaining behind. As always, we owe the rector three batzen for the exams, which you should feel free to send me. Also, I need six kreuzer to contribute for the poor people at table. For everything, I need five gulden, eighteen kreuzer altogether. The man asks me often about the book; he would still like to have it returned. I commend you all to God’s fatherly care and protection and wish you continuing health and prosperity. 18 July, in the year of Christ, 1629. Your obedient son always, Stephan Carl Behaim [P.S.] I would like again to see on your letters the words: “My Dear Son,” and also to have the first letters in the salutation capitalized.

Stephan Carl Behaim to Mother, 18 July 1629 Sincere greetings, filial love, and due devotion, much-beloved Mother. When you and all the family are in good health, it is joyous news to me. I am, praise God, still strong and well. May the Divine Majesty long continue to keep us all well. Much-beloved Mother, I must tell you that there is a student here who has a lot of swords and wants to sell one. He needs the money for [debts incurred at] the holy feast of Peter-Paul. He is selling it so cheaply that even if one wore it every day for a long time, one still could resell it for more than he is asking, which is five gulden. I have not seen a better sword. So I took it straightaway to a bladesmith and asked him whether he thought I should buy it. He said that I should, regardless of the cost. Since it is to serve me for a lifetime, I asked the bladesmith what he thought such a sword should cost. He said at least six gulden. He plans to buy it himself, if I do not. The sturdy iron hilt alone is worth almost three gulden and the blade at least that much again. He has honestly advised me to buy it. Since I must have a sword, I wanted first to ask Mother to buy it for me, Brother has sent me a sword, but it is a child’s sword, not a student’s, and I am often made fun of because of it. It is like Fritz’s. Since this sword can be gotten so cheaply, and a bladesmith has advised me to buy it, I ask you sincerely and as a son to buy it for me. Just consider that in Nuremberg I shall have to pay three or at least two-and-a-half gulden for a sword hilt alone, which cannot compare in the slightest degree to this one either in strength or in parrying. I will make every effort to balance the time spent fencing with time spent studying (which is otherwise all I do now). I would, however, not like for Brother to know that his sword was not good enough for me. Another reason why you must buy me a sword is that I am leaving today or tomorrow, and I will have to pay eight gulden for one [elsewhere]. I do not want to leave it

Stephan Carl to Jacobus Tydaeus, 18 July 1629 If you are in good health and all things are going well for you, I am pleased. Most generous and distinguished Herr Teacher Jacobus Tydaeus, preceptor forever worthy of honor. I have learned that the last letters I wrote my dear mother have been shown to you. In [these letters] I informed her that 68


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Under the circumstances, we could not have arranged a more pleasant or better opportunity for you [than the clerkship in Speyer], had you been our natural son. But if you want to continue in your Junker service, you can certainly follow your own obstinate head and do so, and we guardians, who have recommended a better course for you, will then be excused from any responsibility for it. But you should understand clearly that if you do, we will not give you one heller. You will then receive your board and clothes from your Junker and will not die from hunger or freeze to death. And you could then also relieve yourself of such unnecessary worries as your present shame over returning so soon to Nuremberg. If you have had other things to be ashamed of in the past, you now have nothing to be more ashamed of than your disobedience and obstinacy toward us. If you will not return to Nuremberg with the Council’s honorable envoy, and you remain convinced (apparently) that your own proud mind can arrange your transfer from Altenburg to Speyer more competently than your guardians, then in God’s name by all means try your hand at it. We will not interfere. Arrangements have already been made on your behalf in Speyer, at great effort on our part, and we cannot change them at this point. What you now owe us in this matter is simply proper obedience, which we remind you now with good intentions in response to your letter. God be with us, Nuremberg, 15 February 1631. Your caring and devoted guardians, Lucas Friederich Behaim H[ans] Heinrich Weiss Conrad Baier

she should not believe everything reported to her by various persons, for Herr Teacher knows how people tend to exaggerate. I have also learned that you are particularly displeased by the first paragraph of my 23 June letter. You imagine that since your dear wife was here [in Nuremberg visiting my mother at the time] that I wrote these words against her honor. I ask and strongly insist that you not accuse me on the basis of this [one] page.… There is no doubt that your wife has acted with a benevolent heart. But I really think that I have never had [such] ill-will toward her that she should have cause to set forth all my vices, or even the least of them [to my mother]. Many vices and misdeeds have been falsely ascribed to me, and I now declare that I have never done any of them. But since I have recently failed to do my duty toward you as a student, and in this I have sinned against you, my esteemed preceptor, I truly have reason to be contrite. So on Sunday, God willing, I shall go to the Lord’s Table and receive forgiveness for all my sins. For this reason, I want to ask Herr Teacher and his wife again to forgive me for all I have done against them. I promise, so help me God, never again to succumb to such great moral failing, and I pledge henceforth to do my duty as a good student. May good fortune be yours. Nuremberg, 18 July 1629. Stephan Carl Behaim Guardians to Stephan Carl, 15 February 1631 Our friendly greeting and obliging will, dear brother and cousin, Stephan Carl. From your letter of 8 February, written to me, L[ucas] Friederich Behaim, and to your Mother, we guardians must learn to our great astonishment and extreme displeasure that you not only will not abide by our well-intentioned, loyal, and even fatherly counsel, which we have earnestly discussed in advance with many knowledgeable people, but having been greatly displeased by it, you now stubbornly maintain your own pernicious and baseless opinion that you should go to the University of Wittenberg, and you will in no manner or way be turned away from it. For our future justification, we always provide you clear reasons in writing for our decisions, whether they concern your service to a master, or, as in this case, why we cannot in good conscience send you to a university. We have now several times extensively and with sufficient argument addressed the last matter, and we do not consider it necessary to repeat ourselves here, nor are we able to spend the time required to do so. So, as is proper, we stand by our last, well-reasoned, and final decision.

Hans Christoph Coler to Lucas Friederich, 11 April 1633 It is always my pleasure to serve you willingly, noble, esteemed, prudent, wise, very gracious dear friend and brother. I have received your letter of 11 April by the new [Gregorian] calendar, together with your enclosure. Having carefully noted their contents, I can report to my dear friend that I am indeed well satisfied with his brother. But I hold him to a strict discipline. After he had run away from me once, I wanted to turn him over to the military police the second time (only pro forma). However, he pleaded so earnestly to be spared and promised not to do it again. To this day he has kept his promise. My dear friend may also be assured that I tolerate neither his nor the other boys’ getting drunk outside my lodging. When someone wants a drink after a meal, or when an ensign 69


military service solely for that reason). For a long time, I have thought that just as a mild and pleasant summer customarily follows a hard, severe winter, so God might bestow somewhat better fortune on me in the cavalry— like the examples in history books and in my present experience. Unfortunately, I have been deceived in this good hope. [Since joining the cavalry], I have twice been taken prisoner and three times I have lost everything. And it is easy for me to see that my mother has been extremely inconvenienced by the not small number of [financial] transactions I have had to make each time to replace what I lost. I can only say that heaven, earth, and all the elements have conspired to bring this suffering, cross, and misfortune upon me, and such will continue as long as I remain in Germany and in the Swedish war, which has brought me nothing but misfortune. I have, therefore, been forced to choose between two evils. Often I have wished and proposed to end once and for all the expense I cause my mother. But as much as I have wanted to do this, I am always prevented by the greatest misfortune. But so that my mother may see and recognize that nothing has been more on my mind, I have … quit the Swedish war, which has never brought me any good fortune whatsoever. And fearing no danger, misfortune, or effort, I have now betaken myself to Holland to seek my fortune among the most powerful of cities.… I am disinclined to serve [again] on land, for getting reoutfitted would cost a lot. So I have in the name of the Lord decided to enter service at sea in the West Indies. The Lord has wondrously led me here not only through an enemy who surrounded me on all sides and against the ever treacherous Rhine, but also past the wanton and godless peasants of Koll and Trier and around deserted soldiers who murder and plunder people everywhere in the woods. Despite the loss of my sword and coat, the awful food I have had to eat, and the twenty-eight miles I have had to go by foot through enemy territory, the Lord has accompanied me here from Frankfurt with very good fortune. I hope now to sail with the next ship to the West Indies … As I have had prior service as an infantryman, I may be able to obtain an ensigncy. [If so] I am sure I will not have to request a single heller from home for at least three years. Such a position not only pays regular monthly wages, but as an ensign one has also not to pay the smallest heller for food and drink. And beyond this, all reasonable unexpected expenses are covered when one has only a little money and the smallest of means. This does not include unexpected losses from gambling, a pastime I have renounced anyway, as I am against spending money I can never have. I can imagine no better way

or another officer comes to one of my guards, my guards have orders to give them enough to drink, and I overlook the bill. I do find, however, that Stephan Carl goes to the barber too often. I really know nothing about his laundress, except that I certainly regret it when I have to pay six heller to have a shirt washed.… [Beyond these expenditures], I have given Stephan Carl a total of nine Reichsthaler over the six months [he has been with me], but always on condition that he first tell me what he needs the money for. His clothes have become completely threadbare. Because all the boys must do four watches and sleep on benches, they wear out more clothes than they otherwise would. His sword [also] has not been of much use. Since Stephan Carl is now away from Nuremberg, and my dear friend writes to me that I should buy him clothes only as he needs them and not merely for show, I will, God willing, go with him and [his fellow musketeer] Gugel to Frankfurt next week and buy them clothes as their need requires.… As for military exercises, Stephan Carl got on awkwardly at first with the muskets, but he is now getting better. My good friend may be assured that I will neglect nothing that serves his brother’s advancement, and he will be treated as if he were my very own child.… Commending [you] to God, with sincere greetings I remain the servant of my dear friend and brother, Hans Christoph Coler, First Lieutenant Mainz, 11 April, by the old calendar, 1633 Stephan Carl to Mother, 21 August 1635 My due, obedient service and inborn filial love and loyalty to the best of my ability always, noble, very honored, richly virtuous, much-beloved, and highly esteemed Mother. … Dear Mother, to make for you and report to you more joy than suffering would be the fairest and most dutiful thing I could do. I shall remain the world’s most unhappy person until this happens. Someday I hope to send Mother a happy letter about the great good fortune God has bestowed upon me. But I must now again, unfortunately, write far more about misfortune than about good fortune. I had hoped that fleeting and fickle fortune would by now somewhat have raged itself out against me. Since my youth I have wanted just once to experience such good fortune that my mother might know true joy [in me]. This was foremost in my mind when I fought in the war with the infantry (I entered 70


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Amsterdam, 21 August 1635. Mother’s obedient son for as long as I live, S.C. Behaim [P.S.] Because I very much need some money before we sail, and not only for my spiritual and physical needs, I earnestly ask Mother to do her utmost.

in the world to curtail all my expenses and pay off my accumulated debts than by gaining such an ensigncy. Although the voyage [to the West Indies] is very dangerous, it is one many thousand honest youths cheerfully undertake.… Surely my God, who saved my life more than a hundred times while I was in the service of the Swedish crown, can by his gracious and fatherly will protect me from all the mischief, howling, and tossing of a mad, raging sea.… It is not without reason that people say such a voyage is as dangerous as a journey can be. No one knows if I will be permitted to write to Mother again in my lifetime. Unfortunately, it is not unknown to me that my excessive borrowing has often distressed Mother in the extreme, even though, as God knows, I have always borrowed money with extreme reluctance, sadness, and inconvenience to myself. And no one other than my dear fellow countrymen is to blame for this. It is for God to have mercy on them. If I did not now have good friends in the city to whom, God willing, I will go in the morning and there await Mother’s answer to my letter and the sailing of the West Indies ship, I could easily have experienced the same misfortune here all over again. For had I been able to save my soul and body with it, I could not get a single heller [from my usual German contacts]. So, for God’s sake, I very sincerely ask Mother mercifully to forgive and forget all that has happened up to now in Germany.… I live entirely in the hope that my highly esteemed mother will kindly forgive me from her heart for all the distress I have caused her in the past and not speak of it again. May she now see that I neither fear nor hesitate to do anything humanly possible to free her of expense, make amends for her suffering, and bring her joy.… Since it will be at least four weeks before we sail, such a thoroughly pleasant letter can still reach me here in good order. I could earn not a little traveling money, if I had twenty thaler to invest here in cheap goods to take with me to the West Indies. Unfortunately, I am completely broke. Also, at the very least, I must provide myself with linens, a coat, and other necessary articles before we sail. I have no idea where I will get a heller for this. So I want to ask Mother, in complete filial trust, and urgently, to send me twenty thaler via Abraham de Braa, if it is possible for her to do so. In return, I shall arrange for my monthly wages to be sent to Herr de Braa every quarter- or halfyear (assuming God lets me live so long), and he will then transfer the money to Mother for her support and compensation.…

Stephan Carl to Lucas Friederich, 3/13 May 1636 My due, obedient service and brotherly love and loyalty to the best of my ability for as long as I live, noble, high, and most wise Brother. It is my duty to inform Brother that by the grace, help, and assistance of the Highest, I completed my West Indies voyage to this land of Brazil in nine weeks and three days. As my heart had wished, I remained healthy throughout and we had an extraordinarily good, steady wind and beautiful weather all the way from England. We saw many marvelous fish, whales and flying fish, among others. Although Brazil is still a very long way from India, it can in no way be compared to our European countries. One may even call it a completely different world. As I first observe the land, it is, in a word, true wilderness. There is not a single cultivated acre, field, or meadow, only dense brush and untillable forest everywhere. It is also utterly without bread, wine, and barley— almost everything needed to sustain life. 2. The people here, namely, the Portuguese, the Brazilians, the blacks and the savages, are not completely unlike ourselves in their appearance, intelligence, and customs, nor in their way of life and even to a degree in their religion (excepting the savage or tapojer, who relies more on Satan than on God). Brother will already have enough information about them in Sebastian Münster and others. 3. The climate and weather here are also completely different from our own. While you are now having summer, we are having winter, which is as hot as a German summer. During this half-year, which is called the rainy season, it rains more here than it ever does in Germany and (so I am told) also more than it does here during the summer months. Also, when it is evening in Germany, it is midnight here. Fourthly, I seldom find in Germany the enrapturing vegetation, animals, and birds, which God has bestowed upon this land, and when I do, they are very rare. As Brother will discover in my letter to sister Ebner, I praise Brazil and everything in it to the sky. But I dare say that the riches of God are also manifest in the splendor and glory of our own dear Fatherland in the same gracious gifts. 71


plums, beans, berries, barley, vinegar, olive oil, and sometimes wine to get along rather well. These foods one cannot get here. They must be imported from Holland and Seeland by the West India Company at great cost and peril.… I felt obliged to report these things very hastily to Brother and to make a sincere filial request that he acknowledge receipt of this letter by return mail, if it can be done conveniently, and also send me news of our beloved Fatherland.… Written in great haste, 3/13 May, from Fort de Bruijne, 1636, in Brazil. My Brother’s obedient servant for as long as I live, Stephan Carl Behaim P.S. If the money given me by Herr de Braa [when I was in Holland] has not yet been fully repaid, I urgently ask that it be done as soon as possible.

As for my own situation, I can report to Brother that I am fully resolved to seek my fortune in the cavalry. Colonel Arciszewski wants me there, and there are magnificent horses running around in the forests here which one can have for free. [Military] pay is eighteen gulden a month, to which is added my regular plunder. Last month, April, the Portuguese here guided the enemy to St. Lorenz, thinking to strike us again from there, but God helped us counterattack successfully while the enemy was en route. However, until the above-mentioned Colonel Arciszewski presents me with my own sword and I am able to support myself by it, I will remain with the infantry in Fort de Bruijne (which is the main fort on the seacoast lying between the once beautiful, but now ruined, city of Olinda and the populous market-town of Recife).… Soldiers here are provisioned according to need. I still receive each week enough bread, meat, bacon,

5.10 Youth Rules the Night (c. 1670) Young men in many rural communities used violence and noise as ways of taking possession of the night—this was their time and space, and they could seriously assault any who tried to stop them. Source: Fiscal procurer of St. Rambert, letter. In John Cashmere, “Social Uses of Violence in Ritual: Charivari or Religious Persecution?,” European History Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1991): 291–319.

town, the princes tax him … in order to make him pay for the departure of the nymph whom he carries away. When a widower marries a girl, or a widow a boy, they are taxed according to their condition, for having removed the nymph or young lord who ought to have belonged to some other. These were the only taxes spoken of in past times. Each enjoyed his goods in peace and owed nothing until his marriage. The imposition was very moderate, a reasonable time was given to pay, and thank God all the taxes were the same! It is true that after a pre-arranged time, people went to collect the sum, and that if payment was delayed a little too long, the custom was that the prince’s officers hurried along to the debtor’s house with a great deal of folly, following their brief, took down the tapestries, disarranged all the furniture, and as was the order of the day, threw everything out of the window. This was done with such good grace that it was an entertainment, and not an act of violence.

… several inhabitants, men and boys, who raise Cain at night until 2am, frequenting the cabarets, insulting and beating all kinds of folk, singing inflammatory and dissolute songs, committing intolerable crimes, and yesterday even, the feast of All Saints day, notwithstanding the solemnity of the day, raised Cain almost throughout the night and ran about in the streets, threw stones at passers-by, beat and overwhelmed a man named Pierre Miat, who is ill and bedridden as a result, and in danger of his life, with two other young inhabitants … who were with him; swore and blasphemed the holy name of God execrably, mimicked dogs, cats and wolves, and committed various scandals which deserve correction and exemplary punishment. … But now all this courtesy [of the charivari] has passed away … All that remains of these old games is a right of exaction, and an imposition of tribute on certain occasions. When a stranger marries a woman from the



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5.11 Life of a University Student (1550s) A sixteenth-century university student had to worry about far more than grades or the cost of textbooks. When 15-year-old Felix Platter (1536–1614) went from the Swiss town of Basel to study medicine in the southern French town of Montpellier, he had to outwit bandits intent on robbing and killing him, religious regulations that made it illegal to eat eggs during the fasting time of Lent, riots, murder investigations, and more. Always a lucky student, he earned his degree and soon became chief medical officer of Basel, thanks to the plague that took the lives of his superiors. Source: Felix Platter, memoirs. In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Beloved Son Felix (London: F. Muller, 1962), pp. 34–35, 52–55, 88–89, 126, and 128.

same chamber, knew nothing of this. During the evening the surgeon had ordered his lackey to go in advance of us, early in the morning, to Nantua, to order a meal to be ready for us when we came there. When we got up, the innkeeper came to complain of the manner in which someone had used his gallery, and the wall below, which had been newly whitewashed. He declared that the front of his house was in an abominable state. The surgeon said that it must have been the lackey who was responsible for it, and persuaded the innkeeper that that was the reason why the man had left so early in the morning. On the 12th of February, the day that is called Shrove Sunday in our calendar, there were further serenades and masquerades of all sorts in Montpellier. They went on all day on Monday and all day on Tuesday, which is called Mardi Gras here. On this day young people roved through the town with bags full of oranges hung round their necks. This fruit is sold ridiculously cheap in this country, and a dozen of them cost no more than a patart, that is to say, two deniers. These people also carry baskets, which they use as shields. They gathered in the Place Notre-Dame and hurled the oranges against each other, and soon the whole square was strewn with débris. Lent commences with Ash Wednesday. Meat and eggs are forbidden under pain of death, but we Germans did not stop eating them. I learned how to cook eggs in butter on a piece of paper held over live charcoal, I did not dare to use any utensil for this purpose. Throughout Lent I collected in my study the shells of eggs that I had cooked there, in this manner, over the flame of a candle, but a servant discovered them and showed them to my mistress, who was very annoyed. However, she did not take the matter further. We lived frugally in my master’s house. The cooking was done in Spanish fashion, although the Maranos abstain from the same foods as do the Jews. At midday

On the 15th of October we set out for Geneva, along the lake and by way of Nyon and Coppet, and there we stayed at the Lion. After dinner we explored the town. As I had been teased frequently about my hair, which I had worn long since childhood, after the fashion of that time, I went first of all to have it cut very short. As a result I got catarrh, a complaint I had never had till then. I went to Meister Calvin’s house and gave him a letter in which my father recommended Schoepfius and me to him. As soon as he had read it, he said: “Master Felix, this is very convenient. I have an excellent travelling companion for you, a surgeon called Michel Heroardus, who is from Montpellier. He will leave tomorrow or the day after, and you could not wish for a better companion.” This news was all the more agreeable because Robert was going to remain in Geneva. We waited, then, for the time to depart. On Sunday I heard Calvin preach to a large congregation, but I could not understand his sermon. I met one of my friends, Felix Irmi, who was studying French in Geneva. We had to wait until the afternoon of the 17th of October for Monsieur Heroardus. He came with a lackey and some brothers of Monsieur Potelière. We set out with them. We came before long to the bridge of Chancy, over the Rhône, and as night fell we entered Collonges, three leagues from Geneva. There we passed the night. Our horses were disturbed throughout the night because there was a mule in the stable, and I was obliged to get up to see to them. My horse had torn out the manger to which he had been fastened. I tied him up again elsewhere. I had not troubled to put on my shoes, and as a result my feet were frozen with cold. I had no sooner got back into bed than I was seized with such an upheaval of the belly that I had hardly time to get out again and to run out on to the gallery that encircled the inn. There I relieved myself of my torment. My companions, though sleeping in the 73


ber of shells of all colours, some crabs, and many other curiosities. The crabs are abundant, and are round and run sideways. The lectures were numerous. In the morning there were those of Sabranus, Saporta, and Schyronius, and at nine o’clock that of Rondelet. In the afternoon there were those of Fontanonus, Bocaudus, Guichardus, and Griffius. We breakfasted during Schyronius’s period, for he was very old, and one day he filled his breeches in his professorial chair. We would pass an hour in the Trois Rois, in the faubourg, not far from the College, where we would get a measure of excellent muscat for a stuler, that is to say a batzen or a carolus, which is equal to a piece of four. With this we might have meat—some pork, for example, with a little mustard—for we never had this in my master’s house. The cost was less than a stuber for each of us … Near All Souls’ Day Rondelet presided at an autopsy at which a monkey was dissected. The liver and spleen were covered with pustules filled with water, which burst at the slightest touch. Those on the liver were reddish in colour, except for those in the region of the bile vessel, which tended to be yellow. I thought that the animal had died of dropsy. Some days afterwards there was another session, at which the subject was a handsome courtesan who had died in childbirth. Her womb was still swollen, since the delivery had only recently occurred, On the 16th of November a German sent Antoine to Strasbourg in search of money. I gave him a letter for my father, whom I told that the Turks had landed with twenty-five galleys at Aigues Mortes, and with eighteen others at Frontignan, the country of the muscat. It was thought that they would make their winter quarters there, and this caused some disquiet, for they had a great deal of artillery and were very well equipped. I had always desired to know everything concerning medicine, even those parts commonly neglected. I was mindful, too, of the multitude of physicians in Basle, among whom I could make my way only by superior knowledge. I could not expect to be assisted by my father, who was overwhelmed with debt, had only a small income, and was reduced to living on what revenue came from the boarders in his school. I could not have imagined then that he would remarry in his old age and have a large number of children. The desire to learn made me follow with attention not only the lectures and ordinary studies, but also the preparation of remedies in the pharmacy, a matter I found very useful later. Further, I collected plants, and arranged them properly on paper …

we eat a soup garnished with cabbage; it contains mutton, rarely beef, and is not in plenty. It is eaten with the fingers, each person from his own dish. At supper salad is served regularly, and is followed by a small roast.… Bread is in sufficient quantity, and is very good. There is wine for those who want it; it is deep red in colour, and is drunk mixed with water. The servant first pours as much water as you wish, and then adds the wine. If you do not drink all of it, what is left is thrown away. This wine does not keep more than a year, and turns sour. We had a more scanty fare during Lent. First, we would have a soup made with cabbage prepared with oil; then would follow haddock, a kind of fish that resembles cod. We had other sea fish too, for example small soles, seasoned with oil and cooked on a stove while we were at the table, and served on a little plate. Sometimes we had tunny, a kind of fish four or five feet long. Cooking is always done with oil, and I did not eat anything cooked in butter during the whole of my stay in Montpellier. There are also mackerel and sardines, which are very good boiled or fried; eels, which are abundant; enormous lobsters (langustae) two feet long, and small lobsters without pincers (squillae), which are brought in in basketsful. Unfortunately, they were not often seen in our house. At supper time, even in Lent, we had a salad of lettuce or blanched chicory, and sometimes some onions. Onions are sold in the market in great heaps about the time of Saint Bartholomew’s day. They are cooked in syrup. During most of the winter we also had roasted chestnuts, but never cheese or fruit. The fine weather and the heat returned with the month of February. I was impatient to see the sea, which so far I had only viewed from a distance; so on the 22nd of February we went to the village of Pérols, which is on the edge of a lagoon and about two leagues from Montpellier … We came to the shore of the salt lagoon, which is long, but so shallow that one could almost ford it. There was a boat there, but without oars and with no one to steer it. We had no other recourse than to haul it to the other side by the rope, and some of us sat in it while the others pulled. In this way we came to the strip of land that divided the lagoon from the sea, and which is in many places no more than twenty paces across, though solid enough to defy both wave and tempest … We undressed and bathed.… the water was already pleasant, and the sand on the beach was so warm that when we came out of the sea we covered ourselves with it to take off the chill of the water. It is an excellent means of firming the skin, and of curing the ringworm. I gathered a num74


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From the 18th to the 22nd of February the carnival, which had begun some time before, attained its most exciting period. We saw numerous masked people walking or riding on horseback through the streets, with every kind of costume imaginable. The women too take their part. Throughout the year they are so severely restricted that they are not allowed to talk to strangers, except at a window and in a loud voice, so that their conversation may be heard by passers-by. But at carnival time there are no such shackles and hindrances. They put on masks and run the streets in complete freedom with their friends and acquaintances. So, for more than one husband, the cuckoo sings before the spring comes. No matter, at such times they are no longer the masters and must conform to common usage. The groups on foot go from house to house, as at Avignon; but the horsemen and people in carriages meet in the old town, on the large square near the College of Medicine. The horses are of superb breed, but are ill used, for it is common to see two men on the same beast. The maskers fill the square, carrying bags full of over-ripe oranges, or followed by lackeys carrying them instead, and they throw these fruits at the splendidly costumed ladies who stand on the balconies of the houses round about. The women catch the oranges in their hands, or let them fall in the room behind, to throw afterwards at those whom they like least. The horseman and the lady who receive most are the heroes of the day. Thousands of oranges are wasted in this way, and the children gather those that fall to the ground and throw them at each others’ heads. Sometimes the oranges contain liqueurs or perfumed powders, or even love-letters that the ladies know very well how to retrieve. They also throw eggs full of perfume in the same way, but sometimes the result of this is very unfortunate or disastrous for the women, when the eggs contain substances that burn or blacken the face. So that everyone may proceed in comfort, carriages and horsemen always go at a very slow pace. The horsemen have gilded boots furnished with enormous spurs, capable of splitting the flanks of their horses if the spikes were not fitted with little wheels, which soften the stroke. These carnival pleasures continued in this way, night and day, without interruption, until Wednesday the 24th of February. Then each of the revellers went into a church to rub his forehead with a pinch of ashes, and this operation had a marvellous effect, for instantly they forgot all their follies and gave themselves over to penitence, and to abstention from all kinds of meat for the next seven

On the 14th of December I received a letter from my father, dated the 15th of November. He urged me to make sure that I should not run into danger in my journey through France, and not to put him to too much expense, for he was hard pressed.… About this time of the shepherds the cold was so severe that there was ice in several places outside the town. The Germans went out to skate, to the utter astonishment of the French. It was said that the Rhône was frozen near Arles … On the 12th [of January] I put on a mask and went to dance in one of the great houses, the mistress of which possessed a doubtful reputation. We stayed there until midnight, among many other revellers. Suddenly the mistress of the house declared that she had lost a precious necklace, and caused a search to be made among the crowd. It was not found. Soon afterwards we left. My departure made me suspected of having found it, and Friar Bernhard, an Augustan monk who knew me, was commissioned to sound me discreetly on the matter. I received him in such a manner as to discourage him from coming again. I was so disgusted by this experience that I resolved not to go dancing again. The calumnies spread about me reached Catalan’s ears, and he told me soon afterwards that the woman had given the necklace to a priest, and she had acted the little comedy at the ball to avoid her husband’s suspicion. Wandering doctors and hawkers of ointments and syrups are forbidden to exercise their trade in the town, The same prohibition affects doctors from other places, who must not practise without the express authorization of the university. No less strictly prohibited is the supply of drugs by apothecaries without a doctor’s prescription, with the exception of a few unimportant remedies, such as suppositories, ordinary clysters, worm cures, etc., as set out in Joubert’s Montpellier Dispensary. Whoever has been an assistant pharmacist may not become a doctor. If an unlicensed doctor is found, or a hawker of ointments, the doctors and the students have the right, without further ado, to set him backwards on an ass, with the tail in his hands for a bridle, and to drive him round the town; which delights the populace, who pelt the fellow with mud and rubbish until he is filthy from head to foot. We caught one of these men on the 19th of December 1595. We shut him up in the anatomy theatre while we went to find an ass. His wife ran everywhere, crying out that we were going to dissect her husband alive, and the district was so aroused to compassion for the wretch that he was taken from us by force. We saw him no more.



cealed. Then, without making a sound, he sent for sergeants, who came, and caught the whole gang in the morning when they came to redeem the chest. The box was almost half full of stuffs of great value. But as they are all sons of good families their lives will no doubt be spared and their knavery will be looked on as a subtle jest, a name the Gascons customarily give to theft. Here is another event that also occurred in Toulouse some time before I came to Montpellier. A law student, guilty of having had commerce with the daughter of a magistrate, had been condemned to death, and was already on the scaffold when his friends came to rescue him. They brought with them a gang of young hooligans to throw a hail of stones at the executioner and his assistants, and under cover of this several hundred armed students attacked them from another side, while half a dozen more, masked, climbed on to the planks and took away the condemned man. They took him to a monastery, and there he lay for several days concealed until he could leave the town disguised as a woman. This student was called Rondelet, and he was the nephew of the famous physician, nepos, ex fratri medici. I saw him made a doctor some time afterwards in Montpellier, and I have the story from his own mouth. The students are also in the habit of making their way into the ballrooms of respectable houses and there committing the most reprehensible acts. For example, they will put out the lights in a room, and then in the darkness exercise all sorts of licence towards the women. At other times, when they have foreknowledge of a banquet, they will burst into the kitchen and seize the dishes just at the moment when the serving-men are about to carry them to the table. Another of their tricks they call being “pages of France,” which means that they steal the cloaks from the shoulders of passers-by in the street, or the hats from their heads, and sell them, and spend the money in gaming or other pleasures. When they have a full purse, they walk proudly with their cloak rolled about their arm; but when it is the contrary, then they muffle up to the nose, hunching their heads into their shoulders, and do not dare to raise their eyes.…

weeks, The ambassador of Priest John himself was stupefied by the astonishing power of that powder.… The University and its students The University of Toulouse was once one of the foremost in Christendom, but its reputation today is only for its faculties of theology and law. The latter has even gained at times to the detriment of Montpellier, by reason of an event still recent enough, which was described to me. A student of law had been condemned to death for having seduced the daughter of a president of Montpellier, but his friends, by force of arms, delivered him from prison. To avenge himself on them, the father took advantage of a time when they were gathered together in their college in the faubourg and had them assassinated. From this time the students resolved to abandon Montpellier for Toulouse, where they increased so greatly in numbers that sometimes they could be counted only in thousands.… They do not hesitate at any ill turn they can do. Here is one that occurred a little time before I came, and whose perpetrators were still in prison, Some students, finding themselves in need of money, conceived the idea of shutting one of their number in a chest and carrying it to the merchant who was their money-lender, so that he might advance them money they needed, they said, for a certain urgent journey, on this security, which they promised to come and redeem in the morning. In the middle of the night the student came out of his hiding place, gathered up various pieces of valuable material, and was on his way to the door when the dog in the house suddenly began to bark, and compelled him to return to the chest with his plunder. The merchant was awakened by the noise, and he rose and searched the shop, but finding nothing unusual, he returned to his bed. But at a second attempt the barking began again. Puzzled, and determined to find out what was the matter, this time the merchant employed the stratagem of scattering ashes on the floor. When a third alert by the dog roused him once more, the footmarks revealed the hiding-place where the thwarted scoundrel was con-



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Reading Questions 1. What skills did parents want their children to gain through education? How did education take place both inside and outside formal schools? 2. Girls received a very different education from boys, if they received one at all. How did the forms and content of their education differ, and why did some prefer to be educated separately? 3. Everyone wanted children to have good manners, but how were early modern ideas of good manners different from those of today? How were they the same? Is there any advice that surprises you?



Working Life While some children learned in school, most began working at an early age and learned what they needed to know on the job. All authorities thought that the first lesson was obedience—to father, to employer, and to ruler—and so a set of French and English documents shows how formal work regimes like apprenticeships were sometimes used as a way to ensure that orphaned and abandoned children still learned that lesson. We see through a series of rules, orders, and protests in Germany that tensions over rules, control, and the ability of working people to set their own terms of work and life could result in standoffs if employers had the backing of city councils, rulers, and church officials. Some English guides to work show that girls and women had even less control over their working conditions, and their work could often be far harder.

6.1 Instructions for the Ideal Servant—An Employer’s View (1681) In a word: obedience. Guidebooks for the ideal apprentice emphasized that obedience to their masters was like the obedience a subject owed the king, or a Christian owed God. Without proper “government”—a general term meaning (self)-discipline—all of society would fall apart. Richard Burton (the pen-name of bookseller and prolific author Nathaniel Crouch [1632–1725]) here emphasizes what the apprentice owes the master, but he neglects to explore the other side of the relationship. Source: Richard Burton, The Apprentices Companion, Containing Plain and Useful Directions for Servants, Especially Apprentices, How to Perform Their Particular Duties to Their Masters, so as to Please God (London, 1681).

Now of all Governments, the Government of Families was the Original, which is commonly divided into three parts; That of Husband and Wife, Parents and Children, Masters and Servants. It is the last of these only, whereunto this present Discourse is designed; … we would endeavor … to give some motives and directions to Servants, as to their indispensable Dutys towards their

Government is a thing so absolutely necessary, that without it, Man-kind, instead of being reduced into Civil Societies and Republicks, would quickly appear to be like Herds of Beasts … who do what they list, are uncapable of Laws, and obey none, and therefore are killed and destroyed at pleasure, [and] are sensible neither of reward nor punishments. 79


pose himself to some honest Calling and Imployment, wherein he may afterwards live serviceably and comfortably … And to that end let him consider … that therefore he ought to endeavour to appear hereafter with somewhat of true worth upon the Stage; for God hath committed to all persons some Talents for improvement, though with great variety … we should cheerfully address ourselves to be useful for the good of the whole … Therefore an industrious young man should take example from these, and not stand idle in the Market-place, while all other creatures are thus industriously at work in the Lords Vineyard: to which purpose, his first care ought to be in the choice of his Calling, wherein we may observe too many to miscarry; some by their unadvisedness therein, binding themselves as it were, Apprentices to continual temptations, and in effect, necessitate themselves to the promoting the service of Sin and Vanity in the world, which no man ought either to abet or shelter.

Masters; but more particularly to Apprentices, that Genteel Servitude, which by a few year’s service faithfully and diligently performed toward their Masters, lays a certain foundation for attaining Riches and Honour in this world, and by God’s grace, everlasting happiness in the life to come. There is nothing more plain nor certain, than that God Almighty hath ordained and appointed degrees of Authority and Subjection; allowing Authority to the Master, and commanding obedience from the servant unto him, for God hath given express commands to Masters to govern their Servants, and to Servants to be subject to their Masters.… Christians in all Ages have asserted and owned this distinction; some of them having been placed as Masters and others as Servants, and according to the Station which it hath pleased God to allot them, they have performed their mutual duties … … The next thing that an ingenious and well minded young man ought to do, is willingly to prepare and com-

6.2 Learning a Trade on the Job (1525) Most children were put to work at an early age, and the lucky ones learned a skilled trade by apprenticing with master tradesmen and artisans who organized themselves in guilds to manage training, production, sales, and social and religious life, including care for those who were ill and burial for those who died. These ordinances from the Guild of Slipper Makers in the German town of Lüneburg establish the extensive rights and responsibilities of masters and apprentices to each other and above all to their guild, which collected dues in order to provide services to members. Source: “Guild Ordinance for the Slipper-Makers of Lüneburg,” 8 February 1525. Trans. Ellen Yutzy Glebe.

The Master’s Obligations

apprentice’s services, he shall stay where he is, but without a contract, because he came outside of the contract time … [3] … the masters shall normally keep contracting times on Easter and Michaelmas [September 29] and take the apprentices under contract at their place in the guild hall. Thus, the same manner and customs that are found in other towns will be observed. Every master should direct the apprentice to that spot.… [4] … should an apprentice behave improperly in his master’s house, the master should ask and take fitting recompense from him.

[1] Every master may hold two apprentices and one youth or helper. And when a master has a youth who has been learning with him for half a year, he may take another youth into his shop. [2] When a master has staffed his workshop in this manner and more apprentices come into the city, any apprentice who comes to a master should work for him for fourteen days, and afterwards [he should] more work either for the same or another master. And if it should happen that there is then no master who requires the


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[7] And if an apprentice plays with dice or cards either outside or inside the city, he shall pay a fine of a pound of wax as often as it happens. [8] Item, every apprentice and anyone who has completed the instruction should give 2 pence to the Marian fund every fourteen days. [9] Those youths who have been in training for one year shall give 1 penny to the Marian fund every fourteen days. [10] Item, when a youth wants to learn our craft, he shall be named to the masters, and it should be shown that he is truly and legitimately born and has been instructed for 3 years. [11] And whenever a youth wants to be accepted for instruction, he shall give the apprentices 3 shillings for the guild hall and 4 shillings to the Marian fund. [12] And an apprentice who has not properly completed the training year shall not be promoted. [13] If a journeyman should fall ill, he shall be lent 4 or 8 shillings from the Marian penitential fund. If this apprentice should die, then this money shall be recovered from his remaining goods, but if he survives, he shall repay the borrowed money to the fund. [14] Item, if an apprentice is regularly delinquent in his reparations, the master should withhold wages from the apprentice until it is made right. And if an apprentice leaves the city or is banished, he shall pay 6 pence into the Marian fund. … [16] What is collected in the fund will be put toward two candelabra and candles to the glory of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, to increase her high praise.

… [6] Furthermore, if a master should take an apprentice from another master outside of the contract time, the former shall also be fined a cask of beer as often as this happens, one half of which will go in penance to the Marian fund, the other half to the masters. [7] And if any master should—by God’s will—lose a wife or children, all members of the guild shall process to the grave, as is fitting, and the apprentices shall carry the corpse to the grave. Whoever does not do this and stays home, whether master, wife, or apprentice, shall be fined a half pound of wax for the Marian fund. … Order and Regulation of the Apprentices [1] … when an apprentice first begins his traveling years, these regulations shall be read aloud to him, so that he knows how to behave and of which rules he should be aware. [2] Afterward, he shall be congratulated with a drink and received as a good journeyman, whereupon he shall immediately donate 6 pence to the Marian fund. [3] If it should happen that an apprentice becomes so drunk that he vomits in the guild hall, he shall give a pound of wax to the Marian fund. [4] And if an apprentice tries to bring a drunk apprentice into his master’s house, which he is obliged to protect from harm, and if the apprentice does not stop this behavior, he shall be fined one keg of red beer, one half to the Marian fund and the other half to the guild hall. [5] And if it should happen that the apprentice does not remain in his master’s house, but goes around in an improper fashion, he shall incur the same penalty. [6] And if an apprentice misbehaves in the guild hall, he shall pay a fine of a pound of wax to the Marian fund.

Written on Wednesday after Candelmas [February 8], in the year 1525.



6.3 The Apprentice’s Overseer (1795) Suitable for hanging up in shops, this verse reminded the apprentice of all the ways that he was to show obedience and gratitude. The “monitor” is an overseer, and the best overseer is a lively conscience. No similar poster exists setting out the employer’s obligations to his apprentice. Source: H. More, The Apprentice’s Monitor; or, Indentures in Verse, Shewing What They Are Bound to Do (London: S. Hazard, 1795).

The Apprentice’s Monitor; Or, Indentures In Verse Shewing what they are bound to do. Proper to be hung up in all Shops. Each young Apprentice, when he’s bound to Trade, This solemn vow to God and Man has made. To do with joy his Master’s just commands, Not trust his secrets into other hands. He must no damage to his substance do, And see that others do not wrong him too. His Master’s goods he shall not waste nor lend, But all his property with care defend. He shall not buy nor sell without his leave, Nor lie, nor injure, nor at all deceive. Taverns and Ale-Houses he shall not haunt, Those snares to Youth, those scenes of vice and want. At Cards and Dice he shall not dare to play, But fly from such temptations far away. O Youth! remember thou to this art bound, See that no breach of this in thee be found.

— The Golden Rule In verse.

My Son, behold what God’s commands impart; Love God with all your strength, and mind, and heart. Take care that you unto another do What you wou’d have another do to you. On these as on their great design and end, The prophets and the law alike depend.

Sold by S. Hazard, (Printer to the Cheap Repository for Religious and Moral Tracts) at Bath; J. Marshall, Printer to the Cheap Repository, no. 27, Queen-Street, Cheap-Side, and No. 4, Aldermary Church Yard; and R. White, Piccadilly, London; and by all Booksellers, Newsmen, and Hawkers, in Town and Country. Great Allowance to Shopkeepers and Hawkers. Price an Half-penny, or 2s. 3d. per 100.—1s. 3d. for 50.—9d. for 25.


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6.4 Peasant Protest and Rebellion (1502; 1525) Much of workers’ lives, from work to marriage to rights and religion, was controlled by social superiors—noblemen or city councillors—who claimed extensive authority over all areas of life. The manifestos put out in time of social protest, like this one by peasants and workers in 1502, may seem to lack focus as they jump from one subject to another. Yet they show powerfully how these workers realized that a broad range of their social complaints were driven by a few factors—above all the ongoing erosion of their traditional rights and privileges as landed elites and urban employers moved to expand their own powers. Source: Articles of the Bundschuh Rebellion (1502). In Gerald Strauss (Ed. and Trans.), Manifestations of Discontent in Germany on the Eve of the Reformation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1971), pp. 144–47.

6. They had resolved to pillage monastic and ecclesiastical possessions, also the properties of the clergy, and to divide the booty among themselves. They wished to humiliate the servants of the Church and to reduce them in number by killing and driving out as many as possible. 7. They had agreed among themselves that, once enough peasants had assembled, they were not to stay in any one spot longer than twenty-four hours following a victorious battle but to move on from place to place until they had subjected the whole country to their conspiracy. 8. Such great confidence had they in their endeavor that they took it for certain that, once the war had broken out, no subjects would resist them; they believed, on the contrary, that peasants, burghers, and townsmen would freely join their association out of the love of liberty which all men share. 9. They confessed that they had decided among themselves to come together at dawn on Friday the day before St. George’s day [April 22] to launch their assault on the city of Bruchsal. And they would have succeeded in their objective, due to the number of sympathizers among the citizens, had a chance occurrence not prevented the plot from being carried out. 10. They confessed that their main targets were monasteries, cathedral churches, and the clergy in general. These they intended to strip of their properties and deprive of their authority. They also resolved never again to pay a tithe, either to the clergy or to secular lords and nobility. 11. They confessed that they had decided among themselves to take by force of arms all the freedoms they desired and would henceforth refuse to tolerate any man’s dominion over them. They would no longer

The Articles of the Bundschuh in the Bishopric of Speyer (1502) The First Article of Their Confession: They said that the principal reason for their entering into this association of the Bundschuh was their desire to abolish every remaining yoke of servitude, and, following the example of the Swiss, to gain their liberty through the use of arms as soon as their number had grown sufficiently and they had gained confidence in their ability to win in combat. 2. They confessed that those who joined their organization must first say five paternosters with the Ave Maria, kneeling, in memory of the five principal wounds of Jesus Christ so that God might grant success to their endeavors. 3. They chose Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, and St. John as patron Saints. In order to have a secret sign of recognition they decided on the following password: One conspirator asks another, “What is your name?” The other, if he belongs to the conspiracy, replies, “The priests are to blame.” Oh, the sinfulness of the peasant mind! What a bane it has always been to the clergy. 4. During and after torture they confessed that it was their intention to annihilate all authority and government. They had decided that, as soon as their number had grown large enough, their bands would fall upon anyone opposed to them and kill without mercy all those who dared resist. 5. They said that they had decided to attack first the city of Bruchsal in the bishopric of Speyer, where, they boasted, half the inhabitants were sympathetic to them. Having gained Bruchsal, they planned to proceed armed against the Margraviate of Baden and devastate everything that lay in their path.



partners. But when a man or a woman of the county takes for wife or husband a person not from the county and not bonded to the count, and the man dies and is claimed by the count as his bondsman, the count’s officials come and take the best head of cattle. If the woman dies, they take her best frocks, even her wedding garments, and sometimes also a bed. In some places they also take clothes when the husband has died. It is our request that in future such exactions cease and we be no longer compelled to surrender cattle, clothes, beds, or anything else in case of death. 7. What happens when a man takes for a wife a woman not in bondage to the count. If a man should take for wife a woman from another village who is not the property of the count, and the woman dies, the count takes the third part of the entire property without any compensation, regardless of debts remaining to be paid off and orphaned children to be raised. Sometimes he takes our cattle even though half of it may still be unpaid for … 8. Marriage with a person from another county is forbidden without the count’s approval. We are further oppressed by the unchristian practice of refusing a man or woman permission to wed a person not subject to the lord. Even when this permission is granted, it is given only after a long delay. And if one of us should enter into such a marriage without permission, he is punished for it by the lord or his bailiffs … … 12. We are forced to have our legal documents notarized by the territorial scribe [Landschreiber] even though territorial courts have no authority over our written business. Our lords oblige us to have our papers, such as purchasing agreements, contracts, bills of sale, and other documents, drawn up by the territorial scribe, although the old laws give us leave to have them done and sealed at our own village courts at nominal cost. It is therefore our request that in future all documents pertaining to our affairs be written and sealed by the authority of our own courts … … 16. In violation of the old customs our lords have appropriated the brooks running through our property and given the fishing right to other persons. Many of us have lands and meadows watered by brooks and rivers, and these we have always, according to tradition, had the right to employ for irrigating our fields and driving our mills, for it is generally accepted that water is free and common to all. But in recent years

pay interest, remit tithes or taxes, nor pay tolls or dues of any kind. They wished to be completely quit of all duties and tributes. 12. They demanded that hunting, fishing, grazing, lumbering, and every other thing that had become a princely prerogative be returned to the public so that a peasant might hunt and fish whenever and wherever he had a mind to, without being hindered or oppressed by anyone. 13. The peasants agreed that their band would march first of all against the Margrave of Baden, the Bishop of Speyer, and the monks and clergy in the vicinity. Whoever undertook to resist them would be killed mercilessly as a disobedient and seditious enemy of divine justice. Articles of the Peasants of Stühlingen and Lupfen (1525) 1. The counts of Stühlingen and Lupfen should not imprison any resident involved in a civil action. In the old days it was the custom and usage in the above-mentioned county to imprison no one against whom a civil action was pending, as long as the man held some property in the county and was willing to furnish surety for the matter or sum being asked of him. In recent times, however, our lords have ignored our village courts, where, according to our laws and customs, they should bring action. If they think that a man owes them something or if they suspect that someone has committed an offense, they order the bailiff to take the accused to prison and let him lie there until he has made his peace with them according to their bidding … 2. No one should be tried for felony in a court other than the one with jurisdiction over his place of residence or the place where the offense was committed. … 3. Our lords confiscate both the stolen and the personal property of a condemned thief. … We request that the counts be made to realize that in the case of a condemned and executed thief the stolen property should be returned to the man from whom it was stolen and that the wife and children of the condemned man should not be done out of the remaining property, no matter how it was acquired … … 6. What happens when a marriage partner dies and the deceased is claimed by the lord as a bondsman. Marriage is an institution sanctioned by divine and Christian laws and is, moreover, free, so that in case of death nothing should be taken away from either of the 84

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Although the county of Lupfen and Stühlingen has many mills conveniently situated to meet our needs, we are compelled to take our grain to a mill in the counts’ domain at a great distance from our villages. It is our plea that we be left free to grind our grain wherever it is convenient for us … 23. We do not know the origins of the interest and rents we are said to owe the counts. Although we have for many years made annual payments of interest, dues, and rents to our lords, we confess that we do not know the origins of these payments, nor do we know for what reason we are obliged to make them, nor what obligations our lords owe us in return for them. We ask that the counts be required to inform us of the origins and causes of these interests, dues, and rents by showing us credible documents stating why we must pay them and what duties they owe us in return …

our lords have taken this right away from us and leased the waters to fishermen, who have inflicted grave damage on our properties by tearing down dams and weirs, thus making it impossible for us to use our mills and water our meadows … … 19. Our lords claim to be the legal heirs of all children born out of wedlock, to the exclusion of next of kin. When an illegitimate child dies, our lords lay claim to the deceased’s belongings and goods, excluding the next of kin, though this may be a brother or a sister. We wish it recognized that brother, sister, father, mother, or next of kin should inherit in such cases ahead of our lords … … 22. We are forced to grind our grain in distant and inconveniently located mills.

Figure 6.1  Ale Wife Many women brewed ale for home use and sold the surplus. An “alewife” brewed for the commercial market and sometimes ran an alehouse as well. 85


6.5 Workers and Employers at Odds (c. 1465) Journeymen organized together to resist masters’ efforts to limit their traditional rights. The Strassburg example shows how they first used a confraternity as a form of union and then brought in further rules for all to observe. Masters used their power in the town council to challenge this union-like development with a set of rules in 1465, but workers in nearby towns cheered them on and the two sides reached a rough compromise. Source: Various fifteenth-century documents. In Gerald Strauss, Manifestations of Discontent in Germany on the Eve of the Reformation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1971), pp. 130–43.

1404: The Journeymen Furriers of Strassburg Form an Association

tices work with him until he has paid his fees like the rest of us.…

In God’s name, Amen. We … journeymen furriers, as well as all other workingmen and journeymen of the furrier craft in Strassburg, make known to all who read this document … that we have resolved to join together, and, realizing that we ourselves and all other men born into this world receive our soul, body, and life from God’s grace alone, that all things in this world are corruptible, and that we must all depart from this world and return to the earth whence we came, though when and where we cannot know, and wishing, furthermore, to do praise and honor to God and Our Lady his Mother, Mary, Queen of Heaven, we have agreed upon and drawn up a body of rules as follows, and these we submit with all good intentions toward [the] … Master-in-chief of our guild and the jurors and other honorable masters of the furrier’s guild in Strassburg, who have approved and accepted what we have asked, namely, that we shall be allowed to present a wax candle at the Dominican church in Strassburg where we hold our funeral ceremonies and that this candle remain there in perpetuity to the honor of God and Our Lady.… If it should come to pass that a member grow ill or fall into bodily need, a sum of money shall, on his personal pledge, be lent to him out of the common chest, as much as the pledge is worth.… If he has no pledge to give, a loan shall be made all the same, but it shall be limited to three shillings.… All journeymen furriers moving to Strassburg subsequent to the issuing of this document, and in service at a master’s workshop there, shall observe the above-mentioned rules and obligations.… Whoever refuses to comply, be he a local person or a foreigner, shall not be employed by a master here, nor shall assistants or appren-

1465: Strassburg City Council Fights Back 1. No master shall henceforth enter into any association, fraternity, league, or combination with any journeyman or other worker, nor shall journeymen and workers make any common laws or regulations except with the express approbation of masters and council of the city. 2. All employed persons, whether indentured to knights, artisans, or burghers, and all journeymen residing in this city shall, furthermore, swear an oath of obedience to masters and council, pledging themselves to advance the interest and honor of the city and do nothing to cause it harm or injury as long as they shall serve this city and reside in it … 3. No journeyman or other employed person shall from now on have a common room or house, not any place, house,1 or garden in which to congregate for talk of common affairs or negotiation on conditions of work, nor shall they be permitted to form any kind of association for banding together.… 4. Journeymen shall not prevent a master from employing, for whatever reason, whomever he wishes to employ, for no employed person has the right to negotiate with a master or with another journeyman concerning conditions of employment. All such negotiations shall take place before the guild and nowhere else.… 5. Journeymen shall hold their funeral processions on holidays only, and not on working days. 6. No journeymen or other employed person shall henceforth carry a sword, foil, or long knife, nor any other weapon save a common bread or cutting knife not to exceed one span [c. nine inches] in length.…

1 These common rooms … were established by journeymen in imitation of the older and prestigious convivial clubs used as exclusive gathering places by urban patricians. 86

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are asking your worships to compel journeymen furriers to accept employment procedures dictated by your command and intervention, which, though customary among tailors and some other trades, are an unheard-of innovation in the furrier’s craft and never before encountered in German lands. Surely you know that our craft has long possessed the liberty of negotiating its own conditions of employment. We cannot condone an infringement on this liberty, whether it be attempted in Strassburg or elsewhere. We do not doubt that your worships have due regard to this liberty of ours, which was granted to us by the city of Strassburg itself. We feel certain that you will wish to leave us secure in our just liberties and that you will do nothing to destroy our fraternity and our freedoms.…

7. No three journeymen or other employed persons shall wear identical hats, coats, trousers, or other identifiable marks. 8. Whoever violates any of the above stated points or articles shall not be given work by any master in this city … 9. No city that has become a signatory to these articles shall alter them in any way without prior consultation with all the other signatory cities. 1470: The Journeymen Furriers of Strassburg Appeal to the Council to Repeal Restrictive Regulations Wise and honorable, gracious, dear sirs: Be assured of our submissive and willing obedience at all times. Dear sirs, we have learned from several members of our craft that the esteemed masters of our guild have taken it upon themselves to introduce a number of innovations directed against us and against several valid and amiable agreements concluded in times past, innovations which indeed go beyond anything we, who travel far in the pursuit of our trade, have ever heard or seen. These innovations have placed heavy burdens upon us and other persons employed in our craft.… We therefore pray submissively that your worships may have patient regard for the matter at issue and that we journeymen be left in possession of our old traditions and customs and not be disadvantaged, brought to injury, and enraged by the masters.…

1470: Journeymen of Willstatt call for Strassburg journeymen to strike in order to turn back the masters’ efforts to take away their traditional rights. Our friendly greetings, dear journeymen of the furrier’s craft in Strassburg. Dear journeymen, we pray that you now cease all work in Strassburg until your masters shall have decided to respect once again our old traditions, privileges and seals. No honest journeyman will wish to work under the conditions now prevailing. We therefore caution you against allowing yourselves to be persuaded by your masters to act contrary to the interests of all good journeymen by accepting improper and illicit conditions. A man who submits to the masters against our cause shall not be forgiven for ten or twenty years. May God help you to conduct yourselves toward us as you would with us to behave toward you. The new order which our masters are now attempting to impose upon us is unheard of in Germany, in Latin lands, and even among the pagans.

1470: Journeymen furriers who had left Strassburg for nearby Hagenau also protest that the Council’s new restrictive regulations take away traditional workers’ rights. … Wise and honorable sirs: Concerning the recent troubles between masters and journeymen of the furrier’s guild in Strassburg, we have heard that the master furriers



6.6 Women and the Guilds: Gold Spinners in Germany (1500s) Most guild ordinances aimed to protect the rights of master artisans and laborers, but in Germany there were also ordinances that aimed to limit the activities of women who wished to practice a trade. These three sets of rules and regulations for female goldsmiths and goldspinners were aimed at prohibiting those who were unmarried from living and working independently—they could practice only if there was a husband or master to keep them in line. Source: Ordinances of women in gold production, Germany. In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. WiesnerHanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 160–62.

From now on every master of the gold-beating craft shall pay every spinner and maid that he has living in his house seven gulden as a yearly salary if they spin him six strands each week. Also, those spinners and maids who can stretch out 100 Ramm [a measure of length] every day or sew together four books shall be given eight gulden as a yearly salary. If a spinner or maid spins, stretches or sews less in the year, then her salary will be deducted accordingly.… No master of the craft shall pay any spinner or maid who completes the daily work noted above any more or less, nor use any of his other servants for this work, all with a fine of five pounds. This applies only to the spinners and maids who serve the masters in their houses and absolutely not to those who work for themselves.

Goldsmiths’ Ordinance, 1535 If a goldsmith dies and leaves no son behind him that will use or work in his craft, or is not gifted in this or old enough to assume the [responsibility of the shop], then the goldsmith’s widow may (if she wants) work in the craft for three years after the death of her husband, and no longer. Then this same widow will have to marry someone else from the goldsmith’s craft who has already been a master or wants to make his masterpiece, after these three years. Every widow that wants to work in the craft is obliged to carry out the usual duties, such as allowing her work to be inspected or any other things called for in the regulations of the craft the same as any other, and is liable for punishments for infractions according to the same regulations and ordinances.

Goldspinners’ Ordinance, 1597

Goldbeaters’ Ordinance, 1560

From now on no maid is to be taken on and taught for less than four years. Each maid is to be registered when taken on and let go as is normally required. Third, every spin-maid is to contract herself at the least for one year to a master and during that time not leave him without justifiable cause (which has to be proven to the authorities). Whenever a trained maid wants to contract herself to another master, she should report this to the sworn masters beforehand, so that they can see that this master does not already have too many maids. Fourth, every master should house and feed all his maids in his house. No unmarried maid should be given work to do for herself [i.e., if she didn’t live with the master].

First, from now on no goldspinner is to be tolerated here unless she has first learned from an honorable master of the gold-beating craft. Those who are unmarried and want to live with the master are to be maintained by that master for a reasonable yearly salary. Second, from now on no goldspinner is to have the power to spin gold for herself unless she has learned from a goldbeater. However, those spinners who have already learned before this ordinance will be allowed to continue. Whoever breaks this ordinance on one or more points and cannot behave or conduct herself properly will be liable to pay a fine of five pounds for every infraction.


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6.7 Apprenticeship Contract for a Daughter in France (1610) The formal contract of an arrangement for a young girl, Marguerite Cervay, to be sent to live with and apprentice under a hat maker for 16 years. Source: Apprenticeship contract. In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 22–23.

said father and mother, in consideration of the services that she will have provided to him domestically during that time. To do this, present was the said Marguerite Cervet, aged eight and one half years or so. [She] finds these [arrangements] acceptable and promises to learn the said art to the best of her ability; to serve the said Pelletier and his wife well and faithfully in it, and in all other things lawful and honorable that are commanded of her and as a servant is obliged to do; to work toward their benefit, avoid losses to them, and warn them of problems if they come to her attention; without taking flight nor serving elsewhere during the said time. And in case of flight or absence, the said father and mother will be obliged to search for her in the city and outskirts of Paris and bring her back to the said Pelletier to finish the said service if they are able to find her; and [they] pledge her to complete loyalty and faithfulness. As thus etc., promising, obligating, each in his own right, etc., the said Cervet and his wife and their daughter, the one for the other and each of them alone for all without dispute or division, renouncing body and goods, etc., Cervet and his wife renouncing any benefits of division or dispute. Done and passed at the offices, etc., the year 1610, the 4th day of June in the afternoon; and the said Pelletier has signed and as to Cervay and his wife and their daughter, they declare that they do not know how to write or sign.

Present in person were Vincent Cervet, farm worker living at Mortayne, parish of Saint Malo, in Preche, and Marie Poigne, his wife, whom he authorizes for this transaction. Together they acknowledge and affirm that, for the benefit of, and to avoid losses to Marguerite Ceryay, their daughter, they have given and left her, from today for the next sixteen years, to and with Francois le Peletier, merchant plumassier [maker of plumed hats], bourgeois [citizen] of Paris, living there on the bridge of Notre Dame in the building with the sign of the shield of Brittany, present and accepting. [Le Pelletier] has promised and promises to show and teach his art of plumassier, the merchandise and all in which he is involved to the said Marguerite Cervay; to have her instructed in the Catholic apostolic and Roman faith and religion; to provide and deliver what she needs in terms of drink, food, fire, bed, home, light; and to treat her gently, as is appropriate; to have her lanced, medicated, and treated in case of sickness providing that the sickness does not last more than fifteen days each time; and to maintain her with clothes, linen, footwear, and other necessary clothing honorably, as her status warrants, during the said time of sixteen years; and at the end of that time leave to her all the clothing and worn clothes that she then may have in use; and further to give her the sum of 100 livres tournois, one time, to contribute towards her portion in marriage, or otherwise to use at the discretion of the



6.8 Apprenticeship Contract for a Female Orphan (1700) Apprenticeship served many purposes, and here a parish council (which is responsible for caring for the poor) arranges for an orphan girl to apprentice with a man of the parish. This frees the parish of paying for her upkeep. Employer John Carter is obligated to feed, clothe, shelter, and teach her, and she is obligated to serve him “in all lawful business”; in fact, orphan girls in these situations were frequently vulnerable to sexual assault. While some continental contracts obligate the employer to provide their orphaned female servant with both a husband and a dowry at the end of the contract, John has to provide Francis with only two sets of clothes. Source: Francis Baker’s apprentice contract, St. Botolph Aldgate Parish Apprentice Indentures (1700).

Save the Said Parish and Parishioners … And at the End of the Said term Shall and will make Provide, allow, and deliver unto the said Apprentice double Apparel of all sorts, good and new, that is to Say, a good new suit for the Holy dayes and another for the Working dayes In Witness whereof the Parties above Said to these Present Indentures interchangably have put their hands and Seales the day and year above written.

This Indenture made the Twenty First - day of August … 1700 Witnesseth that Stephen Gifford and Henry Todd Churchwardens of the Parish of Buttolph Aldgate in the City of London And John Cullerend of the Overseers of the Poor of the Said Parish … with the Consent of his Majesties Justices of Peace … have Put & Placed … Francis Baker a Poor Child of the Said Parish Apprentice to John Cartar of the Parish of Stepney in ye County of Middx Cook with him to dwell and Serve … unto the full end and terme of Seven Yeares … During all which term the Said Apprentice her … Master faithfully Shall Serve in all lawfull businesses according to her power, wit and ability; and honestly, orderly, and Obediently in all things … behave herself towards her Said Master … And … John Cartar the Master doth covenant … That he … the Said Apprentice, in the Art of good house wifery Shall teach & instruct or cause to be taught & instructed And Shall & will during all the term aforesaid, find provide and allow unto the said Apprentice meet, competent, and Sufficient Meat, Drink, Apparts, Lodging Washing and all other things, necessary and fit for an Apprentice And also Shall … Provide for the Said Apprentice … and will

Sealed and delivered in the Presence of John Mumford John Fowles Jere: Bentham Serve Mr Brent Sir We whose Names are subscribed Justices of the Peace of the City of London—aforesaid do (as much as in us lie) consent to the putting forth of the above said Francis Baker—Apprentice according to the intent and meaning of the Indenture above said. John Moore Robt Geffery John Carter


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Figure 6.2  Women Spinning Silk Spinning was the quintessential early modern women’s occupation. This engraving shows not only the tools of the trade but also the domestic setting (the hearth on the left) to remind the viewer that spinning is a job associated with women in every age and stage of life. 91


6.9 Protecting Local Industry (1687) Rulers wanted international trade, but they always feared that international traders were getting the better of them. Many states reacted by aiming to limit imports while encouraging exports, and by working to build local production and give privileges to local producers. The textile industry was one of the largest and most important anywhere because both men and women could produce and sell cloth, and because cloth was so important to daily life that the demand for it was always strong. Source: “Edict Protecting the Brandenberg Woolen Industry.” In C.A. Macartney (Ed.), The Habsburg and Hohenzollern Dynasties in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (New York: Walker, 1970), pp. 265–69.

With the same regard for the public welfare, We further equally forbid the importation of all foreign-manufactured serges, baizes, etc., for cutting or consumption in this country, under pain of confiscation, and with the same possibility as above of further penalties. And since it is highly necessary to supplement the above prohibition with careful and adequate provisions for making good the exclusion of foreign cloths under this prohibition by improving the manufacture of them in this country and providing the tailors, drapers, and others of Our subjects with good cloths … of various grades, We … repeat all the above-mentioned Edicts published by Our father of glorious memory … [and] extend, precise, and elaborate them in the following respects:

Edict Prohibiting Purchase and Sale of Wool Cloth and Stuffs from Abroad, and Improvement of the Local Woolens Industry (30 March 1687) We, Frederick William, by grace of God Margrave in Brandenburg, Imperial High Chamberlain and Elector, etc., We do hereby most graciously and earnestly command, enact, and will, of Our sovereign Power and Highness, that none of Our subjects, military or civil servants, burghers of towns or landsmen, but in particular no merchants, pedlars, tailors, clothworkers, or any other persons who have hitherto had any dealings in foreign cloth, shall as from the beginning of next July bring into the land or the towns any cloths manufactured in neighboring or other foreign places of which they cannot at once prove that the ell cost them to buy more than 1 thaler, 12 groschen, under pain of confiscation of the cloth for the first offense and a further punishment at Our discretion, in case of repetition. We do not, however, wish free trade in such cloths between foreigners and foreigners, or between Our subjects and foreigners, wholesale, or if the purchasers collect a quantity of pieces and have them made up into bales—this only at the fairs—to be in any way prohibited or impeded, but wish it to go on unimpeded as heretofore, but subject to the condition that the merchants report all foreign cloths to Our tax officials, have them made up into bales by a sworn packer, and sealed on the spot at which the bales or packages are made up with a seal of lead bearing a scepter and round it the words, “Foreign cloths in transit”; neither foreigners nor Our subjects may then open such bales in Our Lands, and Our customs officials—and in the case of native merchants, the tax collectors—are to see carefully whether the seals have been broken or opened.

1. Every year before the shearing, an official warning is to be given to all sheep farmers that they are not to export their wool, nor to sell it except at annual fairs to any person not directly engaged in the woolens-manufacturing industry. 2. No wool is to be offered for sale at the annual fairs before 11 a.m. After that it can be bought by all weavers, tailors, etc., who have registered with their guild; but not for export. 3. Crown agents and nobles may still export their own wool, but it must be weighed and provided with a permit before export. Foreign buyers may not buy directly from nobles, etc., but only from merchants in the towns, after the wool has paid excise. 4. Traders authorized to sell abroad may for that purpose buy wool from nobles, but not from other growers, and must keep registers of what they buy. 5. Villages, etc., where no weavers’ and tailors’ guilds exist must take their wool to a place where there is such a guild.


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… 18. Merchants must provide weavers with materials on credit, and, where necessary, cash advances; the terms are to be left to free bargaining, but must not be oppressive. 19. On the other hand, weavers, clothworkers, etc., must not, as has notoriously been their habit, spend the sums received by them as payment in advance on their cloth in gorging and carousing. … 21. Loose-living and unattached journeymen who refuse to take employment with the spinning mills, and attempt to work independently, are to be compelled to take wool from the weavers and clothmakers and to spin it properly; they must, however, be paid a regular and adequate wage. … 30. The order is to be given the widest publicity, and any infringement of it or failure by customs officers, etc., to enforce it is to be severely punished.

6. A clothworker who has bought more wool than he needs may not sell it abroad; he must distribute it to other members of his guild. 7. Wool must be washed and cleaned before being offered for sale. 8. The wool of wild rams must not be mixed with that of the farm sheep; the animals are to be destroyed. 9. Similarly, goats’ hair is not to be mixed with sheep’s wool. To ensure this, goats are to be pastured with swine. 10. Growers may spin, full, and weave cloth for their own consumption only, not for sale. 11. They may not sell homespun wool to anyone except tailors and clothworkers. 12. No one may sell clothes manufactured out of cloths, etc., the importation of which is prohibited. 13. An inspectorate of cloths is to be established. 14. Special attention is to be paid to promoting the manufacture of types of cloth formerly imported. … 15. Cloth weavers must not sell inferior goods.

6.10 The Rural Woman’s Guide to Hard Work (1550) Milking, baking, gardening, sewing, marketing, accounting … and absolute loyalty to her husband. These were the obligations of the rural woman, as indicated in this handbook written by a man. Source: Anthony Fitzherbert, Booke of Husbandrye (1550). In Julia O’Faolain and Lauro Martines (Eds.), Not in God’s Image (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), pp. 253–54.

In the beginning of March is time for a wife to make her garden to get as many good seeds and herbs as she can, and specially such as be good for the pot … March is time to sow and flax and hemp … it should be sown, weeded, pulled, watered, washed, dried, beaten, braked, hatchelled, spun, wound, wrapped and woven … And therefore may they make sheets, tablecloths, towels, shirts, smocks and other such necessaries, and therefore let thy distaff be always ready …

What works a wife should do in general … First … set all things in good order within thy house, milk the kine, suckle thy calves, strain up thy milk … get corn and malt ready for the mill to make and to brew … measure it before the mill and after and see that thou have thy measure again, apart from the amount due to the miller, or else the miller dealeth not truly with thee, or else thy corn is not dry as it should be. Thou must make butter and cheese when thou may, serve thy swine both morning and evening … take heed how thy hens, ducks and geese do lay … and when they have brought forth their birds, see that they be well kept from crows and other vermin …

And undoubted a woman cannot get her living honestly with spinning on the distaff, but it stoppeth a gap and must needs be had … It is convenient for a husband to have sheep … and then may his wife have part of the



Also to go or ride to the market, to sell butter, cheese, milk, eggs, chickens, capons, hens, pigs, geese and all manner of corn. And also to buy all manner of necessary things belonging to the household, and to make a true reckoning and account to her husband [of] what she hath received and what she hath paid. And if the husband go to the market to buy or sell … he [ought] then to show his wife in like manner. For if one of them should deceive the other, he deceiveth himself, and his is not like to thrive, and therefore they must be true either to other.

wool to make her husband and herself some clothes … or blankets or coverlets or both. And if she have no wool of her own she may take wool to spin of cloth makers, and by that means she may have a convenient living and meanwhile do other works. It is a wife’s occupation to winnow all manners of corns, to make malt, wash and wring, to make hay, to shear corn, and in time of need to help her husband fill the muck wain or dung cart, drive the plow, to load hay, corn and such other.

Reading Questions 1. Most education came on the job and was shaped by work needs. Few workers needed to be literate, but many needed physical endurance and skill. What are some of the common elements that appear across the various contracts and rules for workers? 2. How did early modern society use apprenticeship as a form of fostering, particularly for orphaned or abandoned children? How did this shape the roles of employer and employee? 3. While males and females worked in different parts of the economy, were the rules governing their work very different? 4. The German workingmen’s associations struggled to preserve rights for their members that might seem to us to be far outside the concerns of a workplace. What view of life and society did they demonstrate with their demands?



Marriage: Making and Ending It The decision of who to marry was one of the most important that a young woman or man could make—so important, in fact, that usually it was their families that took the lead in negotiations. Marriage manuals were full of advice on what to look for, as we see from some Italian and Spanish examples. Letters and diaries from Italy, Germany, and England take us through the delicate negotiations around money, status, and fertility, while an English dialogue reminds us that love and lust still did have a lot to do with it. An inability to have children together might end a marriage, as we see from French and Danish contracts, but a German case and an English ballad around bigamy and adultery remind us that sometimes there was more than enough to go around. An Italian dialogue, a Dutch poem, and an English ballad show female and male complaints about marriage, and we see from reports of Muslim practices that Europeans knew there were other ways of handling marriage and divorce. Yet they were reluctant to entertain these options, as the Quakers found when they tried to take marriage out of the legal system and put it back in the community.

7.1 A Contested Marriage in Court: Richard Tymond vs. Margery Sheppard (1487) Margery promised to marry Richard, but when she fails to deliver, he takes her to court. Source: Richard Tymond c. Margery Sheppard (1487). London Metropolitan Archives, MS DL/C/A/001/ MS09065B, 18r; 19r–20v.

for fifteen years, and Margery Sheppard for the same time. To the first and second articles of the libel, he says that on Monday after the last feast of the holy Trinity between eight and nine in the morning, he was present in John Bolsar’s house in the parish of East Ham, where this witness himself was living at the time, that is in the hall of the house, together with Richard Tymond, Mar-

a. John Hall, Witness for Plaintiff—Witnessed Future Consent Contract (28 May 1487) John Hall of the parish of East Ham, where he has lived for seven years, illiterate, of free condition, thirty-five years old or thereabouts, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Richard Tymond 95


that he is an affine to Richard, as he married Richard’s sister. He does not care about victory but wants justice to be done. And he is not corrupt nor was instructed to depose what he deposed, as he says. (London, GL, MS 9065, 18r)

gery Sheppard, Margery Hall this witness’s wife, Richard Pyrkyn, and none others, with the small daughters of this witness within the age of discretion there also. There and then, after communication between Richard and Margery concerning contracting marriage between them, Richard said this to Margaret, in English, “Margaret, how say ye, may ye find in your heart to have me to your husband, and forsake all other and love me as your husband?” After a certain interval as if she was deciding what to answer, she said to him thus, “yea, by my troth, no man in the world so soon.” And then Richard took her by her right hand and said to her, “Margery, will ye have me to your husband, and love me as a woman ought to do her husband?” With their hands joined together she immediately said, “ye, by my faith and my troth.” And they unclasped their hands. And then immediately Richard, taking Margaret by the right hand again, “And I will have you to my wife and thereto I plight you my troth.” They unclasped their hands and kissed one another. This witness deposes these things from his own sight and hearing, as he says. Questioned concerning the other articles in the libel, this witness says that he knows only that after the contract, the aforesaid Richard and Margaret were and are commonly said, held, had, and reputed in the parish as man and wife or at least as persons legitimately betrothed together. And he says that the things he said above are true and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate in the parish and in other neighbouring parishes that the aforesaid Richard and Margery contracted marriage, as he says. And otherwise concerning gifts and the other contents of the articles he knows nothing, and he says

b. Margery Sheppard, Witness for Plaintiff—“Wife” in this case; argues she did not make a contract (27 June 1487) Margery Sheppard sworn etc. concerning the positions etc. To the first position, she says that in Lent a year ago and after the feast of Easter, Richard spoke to her and urged her to contract marriage between them. To the second position, she says that after Easter and before the last feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Richard spoke to her in John Hall’s dwellinghouse in East Ham, in the presence of the same John, his wife, and none others, to contract marriage between them, and she said thus: “I will do as my father will have me, I will never have none against my father’s will.” She did not speak any other words sounding of marriage as she says in the truth of her oath, as she says. To the third position, she says that in Lent a year ago she received from Richard a silk lace, and after Easter another lace, but she did not receive these as his wife or on occasion of any contract, but one he has had back and for the other he received from her 4d. To the fourth position, she does not believe the contents to be true. To the fifth position, she believes what is believed and does not believe the rest. To the sixth position, she does not believe its contents to be true. (London, GL, MS 9065, 19v-20)

7.2 A Contested Marriage in Court: Alice Parker vs. Richard Tenwinter (1488) Richard promised to marry Alice as a way of getting into her bed, but when he fails to deliver, she takes him to court. Source: Alice Parker c. Richard Tenwinter—Witness for Plaintiff (1488). London Metropolitan Archives, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065B, 2rv.

a. Richard Tenwinter, Response of Defendant—Said that he had sex with her, said ambiguous words about marriage but did not mean them (22 January 1488)

Responses personally made by Richard Tenwinter 22 January, in the church of St. Paul, London, before the lord Official in my, Spencer’s, presence Richard Tenwinter


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sworn etc. on the positions etc. To the first, second, and third positions, he says that Alice Parker repeatedly urged this witness that he should come to her house and at last, that is on Sunday after the feast of the conception of the blessed Mary1 in the evening, he went to Alice’s house together with Robert Adcok. After they came, Alice led this witness to her room, leaving Robert in the hall, and then this witness said to her thus, “I pray, let me lodge here all night.” She responded that she did not dare do this because of fear of the butcher who was accustomed to rise early in the morning, as she asserted. And then this witness said that the butcher would not see him. And she said, “Will ye wed me?” And then this witness said “I will wed you as well as I can,” meaning that he would know her carnally, and thus this witness slept that night with her in the chamber and since then and he frequently knew her carnally. And otherwise he does not believe the contents of the positions. To the fourth position, he does not believe it. To the fifth position, he believes what is believed and does not believe what is not believed, and he does not believe the fame. (London, GL, MS 9065B, 2r)

Nicholas Shambles in London, where he has lived from the last feast of St. Ursula,2 and before that in the parish of St. Sepulchre for five years, illiterate, of free condition, twenty-three years old, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he first saw and knew Alice Parker on the day about which he will depose below, and he has known Richard Tenwinter for half a year or thereabouts. To the first and second articles, he says that on a day before the feast of Christmas last past, which day he cannot otherwise specify, he followed Richard Tenwinter to the house of Alice in the aforesaid parish. After they came there Richard entered into Alice’s chamber, this witness standing in the hall of the house. In that chamber, after Richard and Alice had talked together for some time, at last this witness heard Richard asking her if he could stay there all night with her and at first she said no and said that she did not dare because of the butchers who were nearby but immediately afterwards she said, “If ye will make me as good a woman as ye be [a] man, ye shall lie with me.” And he responded, “I will.” And then this witness hearing this said to Richard that he would [not] stay there any longer, and he left, leaving them together in the chamber. This witness deposes these things from his own sight and hearing. And otherwise he knows nothing concerning their contents. To the fourth article, he says that he knows nothing concerning its contents. To the fifth article, he says that the things he deposed above are true, and concerning the fame he knows nothing, as he says. (London, GL, MS 9065B, 2rv)

b. Robert Adcok, Witness for Plaintiff—Heard parties say ambiguous words of contract before agreement to sleep together. (22 January 1488) On behalf of Parker c. Tenwinter, 22 January in the church of St. Paul, Robert Adcok of the parish of St.

7.3 Marrying Your Own (1540) An excerpt from a Portuguese advice book that explains how one ought to have a happy marriage. It all begins, as explained, with finding a spouse from within one’s own community and social circle. Source: Advice on choosing a wife, Portugal (1540). In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 74–75.

… some say a good marriage must … be with a known neighbour daughter of his native neighbour, because as the proverb goes: the woman and the cow are found out

back. The neighbour is aware and knows the defects of his neighbour, and knows the customs and faults of his daughter, and the [female] outsider he never saw at times

1 That is, 9 December 1487 (the feast day of the conception of the Virgin was 8 December). 2 October 21. 97


ordained many things in favour of neighbours that they cannot torment one another, and have to be friends with their neighbours: they cannot throw out something that hands from the neighbour’s house: nor do something that smells badly and they are obliged to repair the fountain between him and the house of the neighbour that was destroyed by the violence of the fire which did spread from it to others.… In front of the neighbour’s door, and if his house is falling apart he is obliged to repair it. This way I say that the marriage with a [female] known neighbour is good …

is very different from what he wants or from what pleases him.… He will also know if she is content with him or not for many [women] marry against their will to obey their parents who make them do it. Others marry men they never met who promise them oceans and mountains and after all there is nothing and [they] find themselves greatly deceived. When a man and a woman are neighbours they cannot deceive one another, and neighbourliness is the cause of much love. The neighbour presumes that he knows the deeds of his neighbour … The law has

7.4 A Man Describes the Perfect Wife (1583) The perfect wife is a perfect companion, who mirrors a perfect soul and character. Luis de León (1527–91) takes as his starting point the idea in Genesis, the first book of the Judeo-Christian Bible, that God made Woman when he saw that Man was alone and lonely. Marriage is about more than having children. Using metaphors of books and paintings, he conveys the idea that creativity, intelligence, and beauty are at the core of a perfect union. Source: Luis de León, La perfecta casada [The Perfect Wife] (1583). In John A. Jones (Ed.) and Javier San José Lera (Trans.), A Bilingual Edition of Fray Luis de León’s La perfecta casada: The Role of Married Women in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999).

perfect wives when the fact is that the nature of their state demands many different things of them. … In the Scriptures, as in an ordinary shop or in a public market which are for the use and general benefit of all, God, in his mercy and wisdom, provides an abundance of all that is necessary and appropriate for each and every state, and He takes so much care over every little detail of this particular state of married women that it is as though He enters their homes, puts the needles in their hands, winds the distaff for them and moves the spindle between their fingers. For, to tell the truth, although the state of matrimony is lower in rank and perfection than that of celibacy or virginity, yet because of the need there is of it in the world for the preservation of men so that those who are born of them may issue forth to be children of God and to honour the earth and fill heaven with joy and glory, it was always highly honoured and favoured by the Holy Spirit in the Sacred Scriptures. From the Scriptures, we know that this state is the first and oldest of all states, and we know that it is a way

To Dona Maria Varela Osorio The new state in which God has placed you, subjecting you to the laws of holy matrimony, is, as with a royal highway, more open and less arduous than others, yet not lacking in difficulties and pitfalls of its own; it is also a road on which one may stumble, be at risk and go astray, and for which, as for any other, some guidance is required. For, serving a husband and governing a family and rearing children, and the attention which, together with this, should be devoted to the fear of God and to protecting and preserving a clean conscience, all of which is part of the state and office of the married woman, are all tasks which individually demand great care, and jointly cannot be fulfilled without special favour from heaven. Many women are mistaken in this respect, for they think that getting married simply means leaving their father’s house and moving into the husband’s, and coming out of servitude and going into freedom and comfort, and they think that by producing a child from time to time and then casting it into the arms of a nursemaid, they are complete and


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desired that the matrimonial law of man and woman should be like a picture and living image of that most sweet and close unity which there is between Him and His Church, and thus He ennobled matrimony with the richest gifts of His grace and other blessings from Heaven. … Among many other passages from the divine books which deal with this subject, the most fitting and the one in which there is a kind of recapitulation of all or the greater part of that which pertains to this matter, is the last chapter of Proverbs, where, through the lips of Solomon himself, His king and prophet, and through the person of a woman, the mother of Solomon himself, whose words He provides and quotes with beautiful arguments, God paints a complete picture of a virtuous wife in full colour and detail; so that those women who seek to be like her (and all those who marry should seek this) may look at themselves in her as if in a very clear mirror, and may take note, as they look at themselves there, of that which will help them accomplish what they should do.

of life created, not after our nature was corrupted by sin and condemned to death, but rather established in the beginning, when men were still in complete and happy perfection in Paradise. The Scriptures themselves teach us that God arranged in person the first marriage ever, and joined the hands of the first two marriage partners and blessed them, and was at one and the same time, as it were, both matchmaker and priest. In the Scriptures, it is written that the first truth God uttered for our instruction, and the first teaching that came from His lips, was the approval of this union, saying: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” (Gen. 2) … … Christ Himself made the reparation of this holy bond one of the principal parts of His teaching, and one of the things for the remedy of which He had been sent by His Father, thus restoring it to its ancient and first rank. And what is important above all else is that, out of the marriage which men and women contract themselves. He made a symbol and most holy sacrament of the bond of love by which He joins Himself to our souls, and he

7.5 Domestic Assault (1598) Marital disputes often came before church courts rather than civil ones, and in this instance the Scottish church’s council of elders (Kirk Session) aims to keep a wife from assaulting her husband with words, blows, and beer. Source: “Margaret Schort Attacks Her Husband, Alexander Cousland,” Holyrude Kirk Session Records, Stirling (1598). Translated from Scots by E. Ewan.

hes spokin angrie wordis to him And hes scartit [has scratched] his face” for the which faults and several other injuries done by her to her said husband before “not regairding his lyf,” the brethren desire the baillies to punish her publicly whereby she may be moved to abstain from the like in time coming and that others may take example. [23 March 1598]

Appeared Margaret Schort spouse of Alexander Cousland, who being accused for abusing of her husband several times within the past three weeks, as she has done before, she confesses that upon some words spoken by him, she “mintit ane shoull to him, [threw a shovel at him], that she cust in his faice ane cop wt aill [she cast in his face a cup with ale] and that thrugh angir she



7.6 Marrying to Breed (1654) Many authors believed that marriage was above all about breeding. In the sixteenth century, as Spanish armies occupied many parts of Europe, this author encouraged poor Spanish soldiers to marry poor local women, and so—without using the modern language—help diversify the Spanish gene pool. Source: T. Campanella, A Discourse Touching the Spanish Monarchy (London, 1654).

who shall make the Souldiers beds, or may Spin and weave cloath for the making of Sailes, or the like. Then again … I would have Italian Women be married to those that are of the Seminaries of the Low-Countries, or of Spain. … … it would be very advantageous for Spain, that the Spaniards should marry Italian, and Low-Country Women, and so make up one Family betwixt them: for by this meanes the whole World would by little and little be brought to embrace the Manners and Garbe of the Spaniard, and so would the easilier be brought into subjection. And those Spanish Souldiers that are at Naples are in an errour, while they seek onely for Spanish Women to make Wives of: and therefore the Vice-Roy there should see, that the Spanish Women should have Italians, or Netherlanders for their Husbands; on whom He should confer all the honours he can; especially, where these Marriages happen to be among the Barons, or persons of quality.

[Let the king] cause to be erected in each of his several Dominions, (as namely in Spain, Naples, and the Low-Countries, &c.) two, or four Seminaries of Souldiers, into which shall be put poor Mens Sons only, and Bastards; which shall be here trained up to the Exercise of Armes; acknowledging the King for their father, and none else: and these, after they are once grown up to be lifted for Souldiers, shall go and seize upon Women where they can, in an enemies Country, which they may make their Wives. And this will be a means to encourage poor people to get children as fast as they can … and the King also shall by this means be sure to have faithful Souldiers. But in Foreign Nations, let Him erect for every several Nation a … Seminary; … [one] for the Moors; and another for the Sons of the Low-Dutch: all which He shall cause to be brought up in Military Discipline, as the Great Turk doth his Janizaries. And besides, there should be certain poor women maintained in the said Seminaries at the Kings Charge,

7.7 Italian Marriage Negotiations (1400s) Italians of the upper classes focused on dowries, political connections, and fertility when negotiating marriages. Gregorio Dati married four times and seems to have had his eye firmly fixed on the dowries his wives could bring. Two generations of Valori relied on Florentine power brokers Niccolo Capponi and Lorenzo de’Medici to arrange politically advantageous marriages. Their contemporary, Alessandra Strozzi, had to work around the fact that her husband was dead and her sons all exiled from Florence—she had to find wives for her sons from further down the social scale but still kept her eye on politics, money, and fertility. Source: Private papers of the Dati, Valori, and Strozzi families. In Gene Brucker (Ed. and Trans.), The Society of Renaissance Florence (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), pp. 29–32 and 37–40.

The Marriages of Gregorio Dati

the Evangelist, of SS. Peter and Paul, of the holy scholars, SS. Gregory and Jerome, and of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Elisabeth and all the blessed saints in heaven—may they ever intercede for us—I shall record here how I mar-

In the name of God and the Virgin Mary, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of SS. John the Baptist and John 100

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her greatly, and she returned her soul to her Creator on September 7 … On Friday the 8th she was honorably buried and on the 9th, masses were said for her soul. Memo that on Tuesday, January 28, 1421, I made an agreement with Niccolò d’Andrea del Benino to take his niece Caterina for my lawful wife. She is the daughter of the late Dardano di Niccolò Guicciardini and of Monna Tita, Andrea del Benino’s daughter. We were betrothed on the morning of Monday, February 3, the Eve of Carnival, I met Piero and Giovanni di Messer Luigi [Guicciardini] in the church of S. Maria sopra Porta, and Niccolò d’Andrea del Benino was our mediator. The dowry promised me was 600 florins, and the notary was Ser Niccolö di Ser Verdiano. I went to dine with her that evening in Piero’s house and the Saturday after Easter … I gave her the ring and then on Sunday evening, March 30, she came to live in our house simply and without ceremony …

ried my second wife, Isabetta, known as Betta, the daughter of Mari di Lorenzo Vilanuzzi and of Monna Veronica, daughter of Pagolo d’Arrigo Guglielmi, and I shall also record the promises which were made to me. May God and his Saints grant by their grace that they be kept. On March 31, 1393, I was betrothed to her and on Easter Monday, April 7, I gave her a ring. On June 22, a Sunday, I became her husband in the name of God and good fortune. Her first cousins, Giovanni and Lionardo di Domenico Arrighi, promised that she should have a dowry of 900 gold florins and that, apart from the dowry, she should have the income from a farm in S. Fiore a Elsa which had been left her as a legacy by her mother, Monna Veronica. It was not stated at the time how much this amounted to but it was understood that she would receive the accounts. We arranged our match very simply indeed and with scarcely any discussion. God grant that nothing but good may come of it. On the 26th of that same June, I received a payment of 800 gold florins from the bank of Giacomino and Company. This was the dowry. I invested in the shop of Buonaccorso Berardi and his partners. At the same time I received the trousseau which my wife’s cousins valued at 106 florins, in the light of which they deducted 6 florins from another account, leaving me the equivalent of 100 florins. But from what I heard from her, and what I saw myself, they had overestimated it by 30 florins or more. However, from politeness, I said nothing about this … Our Lord God was pleased to call to Himself the blessed soul of … Betta, on Monday, October 2 [1402] … and the next day, Tuesday, at three in the afternoon she was buried in our grave in S. Spirito. May God receive her soul in his glory. Amen … I record that on May 8, 1403, I was betrothed to Ginevra, daughter of Antonio di Piero Piuvichese Brancacci, in the church of S. Maria sopra Porta. The dowry was 1,000 florins: 700 in cash and 300 in a farm at Campi. On … May 20, we were married, but we held no festivities or wedding celebrations as we were in mourning for Manetto Dati [Gregorio’s son], who had died the week before. God grant us a good life together. Ginevra had been married before for four years to Tommaso Brancacci, by whom she had an eight-month-old son. She is now in her twenty-first year. After that [1411] it was God’s will to recall to Himself the blessed soul of my wife Ginevra. She died in childbirth after lengthy suffering, which she bore with remarkable strength and patience. She was perfectly lucid at the time of her death, when she received all the Sacraments: confession, communion, extreme unction, and a papal indulgence granting absolution for all her sins … It comforted

Two Marriages in the Valori Family, 1452 and 1476 1. I record this event, that on July 15, 1452, Niccolò di Piero Capponi sent for me and, after many circumlocutions, he asked me if I were still in a mood to marry. I told him that I would not diverge from his judgment in this matter or in any other, for I had great faith in him and was certain that his advice would be prudent and honest. Then he told me that Piero di Messer Andrea de’Pazzi had two nubile daughters and that he was willing to give me the girl which I preferred. He was making this offer to me on Piero’s behalf. I accepted the bait willingly and asked for two days’ grace to confer with several of my relatives, which I did extensively, and was advised by them to proceed. After two days, I returned to Niccolò and told him to ask Piero’s consent to marry the eldest whom I knew well, for up to the age of twelve we were practically raised together. [For a dowry, Bartolomeo received 14,000 florins of communal bonds, valued at 2,000 florins. His wife Caterina died on November 20, 1474, leaving two boys and six girls.] … 2. On this day, July 5, 1476, Lorenzo de’ Medici [the Magnificent] told me that he wanted to speak to me, and I visited him immediately. He said that Averardo d’Alamanno Salviati had come to see him and told him that he had a daughter of marriageable age that he would willingly give her to my son Filippo, requesting that Lorenzo be the broker. I replied that this pleased me but that I wished first to speak to Filippo to learn his views, which I did that same evening. Finding my son disposed to follow my judgment and my will, on the next day I asked Lorenzo to conclude the business. He sent for Averardo and they 101


she appeared to be suitable. We have information that she is affable and competent. She is responsible for a large family (there are twelve children, six boys and six girls), and the mother is always pregnant and isn’t very competent … [August 17, 1465] … Sunday morning I went to the first mass at S. Reparata … to see the Adimari girl, who customarily goes to that mass, and I found the Tanagli girl there. Not knowing who she was, I stood beside her … She is very attractive, well proportioned, as large or larger than Caterina [Alessandra’s daughter] … She has a long face, and her features are not very delicate, but they aren’t like a peasant’s. From her demeanor, she does not appear to me to be indolent … I walked behind her as we left the church, and thus I realized that she was one of the Tanagli. So I am somewhat enlightened about … [August 31, 1465] … I have recently received some very favorable information [about the Tanagli girl] from two individuals …They are in agreement that whoever gets her will be content … Concerning her beauty, they told me what I had already seen, that she is attractive and well-proportioned. Her face is long, but I couldn’t look directly into her face, since she appeared to be aware that I was examining her … and so she turned away from me like the wind … She reads quite well … and she can dance and sing … Her father is one of the most respected young men of Florence, very civilized in his manners. He is fond of this girl, and it appears that he has brought her up well. So yesterday I sent for Marco and told him what I had learned. And we talked about the matter for a while, and decided that he should say something to the father and give him a little hope, but not so much that we couldn’t withdraw, and find out from him the amount of the dowry … Marco and Francesco [Tanagli] had a discussion about this yesterday (I haven’t seen him since), and Marco should inform you about it one of these days, and you will then understand more clearly what should follow. May God help us to choose what will contribute to our tranquillity and to the consolation of us all … [September 13, 1465] … Marco came to me and said that he had met with Francesco Tanagli, who had spoken very coldly, so that I understand that he had changed his mind. They say that he wants to discuss the matter with his brother-in-law, Messer Antonio Ridolfi … And he [Francesco] says that it would be a serious matter to send his daughter so far away [to Naples], and to a house that might be described as a hotel. And he spoke in such a way that it is clear that he has changed his mind. I believe that this is the result of the long delay in our replying to

agreed on the conditions. On July 7, Lorenzo came to my house and told me that the alliance was sealed, that Alessandra, the daughter of Averardo Salviati, would be the wife of my son Filippo with a dowry of 2,000 florins. And we formally sealed the agreement in the palace of the Signoria, with Lorenzo himself pronouncing the details of the settlement. Marriage Negotiations: The Strozzi, 1464–1465. [April 20, 1464] … Concerning the matter of a wife [for Filippo], it appears to me that if Francesco di Messer Guglielmino Tanagli wishes to give his daughter, that it would be a fine marriage … Now I will speak with Marco [Parenti, Alessandra’s son-in-law], to see if there are other prospects that would be better, and if there are none, then we will learn if he wishes to give her [in marriage] … Francesco Tanagli has a good reputation, and he has held office, not the highest, but still he has been in office. You may ask: “Why should he give her to someone in exile?” There are three reasons. First, there aren’t many young men of good family who have both virtue and property. Secondly, she has only a small dowry, 1,000 florins, which is the dowry of an artisan … Third, I believe that he will give her away, because he has a large family and he will need help to settle them … [July 26, 1465] … Marco Parenti came to me and told me that for some time, he has been considering how to find a wife for you … There is the daughter of Francesco di Messer Guglielmino Tanagli, and until now there hasn’t been anyone who is better suited for you than this girl. It is true that we haven’t discussed this at length, for a reason which you understand. However, we have made secret inquiries, and the only people who are willing to make a marriage agreement with exiles have some flaw, either a lack of money or something else. Now money is the least serious drawback, if the other factors are positive … Francesco is a good friend of Marco and he trusts him. On S. Jacopo’s day, he spoke to him discreetly and persuasively, saying that for several months he had heard that we were interested in the girl and … that when we had made up our minds, she will come to us willingly. [He said that] you were a worthy man, and that his family had always made good marriages, but that he had only a small dowry to give her, and so he would prefer to send her outside of Florence to someone of worth, rather than to give her to someone here, from among those who were available, with little money … He invited Marco to his house and he called the girl down … Marco said that she was attractive and that 102

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marriage would have satisfied our needs better than any other we could have found …

him, both yours and Marco’s. Two weeks ago, he could have given him a little hope. Now this delay has angered him, and he has at hand some prospect that is more attractive … I am very annoyed by this business; I can’t recall when I have been so troubled. For I felt that this

[Filippo Strozzi eventually married Fiametta di Donato Adimarí in 1466.]

Figure 7.1  The Marriage Balance An image of the bride and bridegroom being weighed for their match. The larger box of gold in the woman’s lap, along with the scales tipped in her favor, suggests that she brings more material assets to the match than her future husband does. 103


7.8 German Marriage Negotiations (1533) Michael Behaim writes to his older cousin, Freiderich, overseer of the family’s extensive business interests, to justify a love match he made without first consulting his relatives. Friederich has clearly written a blistering letter condemning Michael, and the rest of the family have turned their backs on him. While they see a loss of face and of opportunity in Michael’s reckless act of independence, Michael argues that there will be both happiness and business prospects, and he aims to get back into the family’s good graces—and business. Source: Michael Behaim, Letter. In Steven Ozment, Three Behaim Boys: Growing Up in Early Modern Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), pp. 78–82.

necessary sacrifices so that some day we may have more than we now have.… I admit, d[ear], e[steemed] Herr cousin that I was wrong to think that I should not share my plans with you or seek your advice before the event, as would have been reasonable. The thought did occur to me. Many times I convinced myself completely that I should do so and I often started out for your room. Very often at the market and on the street, or when we walked together in the private garden, I wanted to share with you something of the matter as it then stood. But I had such great fear of your angry reaction.… You also accuse me of despising [the name of ] Behaim and believe that you have never in your life heard anyone shame the Behaims the way I have done by saying that I never imagined I would gain a wife here from such a family. Dear Herr cousin, please remember that to my masters here I have always been a broomsweep and house servant, as I have often indicated to you before when I complained about the extraordinary chores they have made me perform.… No one here ever recognized me as a Behaim from Nuremberg. So you must understand that under these circumstances I could not imagine getting a wife from such a prominent family.… That among all my relatives you found none who wanted to come to my wedding, I blame on the great distance between Nuremberg and Breslau. I did honor them with an invitation, for which they do not consider me good enough to thank. They have replied belatedly through my sister.… But d[ear] Herr cousin, I can never repay the good deeds and friendship you and your children have always shown me and my siblings. It is true that your efforts on our behalf have always been great. You have always meant us well and shown us every loyalty. I herewith

Michael Behaim to Friederich Behaim Praise be always to God, A.D. 1533, 25 July, in Breslau. My sincere, willing service. Dear, esteemed, gracious Herr cousin, it gladdens my heart to learn that you and all our family are in good health. My wife and I, praise God, are still very well … I have been unable until now to answer the letter you wrote me after my marriage. Here follows as much as it seems necessary to me to defend my honor. First, you divulge that you had good knowledge of all my doings already before my letter and that you knew that I had married into a respected family, although not into royalty. [You also say] that you had not expected me to succumb to love and, especially considering how rich I am, to settle for such a modest meal. [You are also unhappy because] after all you have done for me, I departed Nuremberg without confiding in you and even flatly denied the marriage.… Unfortunately, all that you say is true. I too would have been happier had you been informed from the beginning. I will try to explain why things have happened the way they did. I ask you to hear me out with an open mind. Our finding each other was a very rare event, and there is much to write about it. But, in brief, I can only look on it this way: she caught my eye and I caught hers, and we were joined together by God, because He had ordained that it happen this way by his divine will. I thank Him for having given me a good, respectable girl, whom none of my family need be ashamed of. To speak frankly, God might have punished me with a loose whore with lots of money who is the talk of the town. My wife and I hope now that it is God’s divine plan to give us good fortune and success so that we may live together comfortably within the estate of marriage as our ancestors have done. We are prepared to make the 104

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ask Peter Antonio if I might be his agent here, as Hans Heugel [is for others]? If he does not want to do this, you might Propose the following arrangement. If he will supply me with a wide range of silks of his own choosing, which I can retail to other buyers, I will provide him a good accounting of what I am able to sell each year and have the remainder delivered wherever he wants it to go. In return, I ask only for a fair share of the profits. I hope to be able to sell such goods here profitably over a good part of the year. D[ear], e[steemed] Herr cousin, I ask you to devote all possible attention to this matter. I look on it as a deed for your son as well as for myself, so that the Behaims might also become merchants in Breslau. Think it over carefully, and if [my plan] pleases you, do your best to move the arrangements forward without delay.… Herewith, d[ear], e[steemed] Herr cousin, you have a full account of my plans and activities. I also ask you still again not to let the effort involved discourage you from reaching the best possible agreement you can between my brother and me with regard to our peasants. I also want you to do your best to arrange for my brother to pay me annual instalments on two of his notes which I hold, one for one hundred thirty-three gulden, the other for forty-three gulden, one pound, sixteen pfennigs, a total of one hundred seventy-six gulden, one pound, sixteen pfennigs, at eight pounds, twelve pfennigs [interest]. I give you my full and complete authority to settle this matter on my behalf. Whatever you work out shall also please me.… D[ear], e[steemed], gracious Herr cousin. This letter comes to you with every good intention. Please accept it as such. Do let me know how the two matters stand, namely, with Peter Antonio and with my brother. Greet [your] wife, [my] cousin, and all your children. May the Lord God be a gracious father to us all. Y[our] w[illing] cousin. Michael Behaim

acknowledge in writing that you have done more for me than all my relatives.… I must show you my good and true intentions by providing at least a rough sketch of what my wife brings to me [in the marriage], so that You may readily see that she has also gotten her equal here in me. First I have already received 800 Rhenish gulden in cash. I also have at least an estimate of my share of the property, which I hold jointly with my two sisters-in-law. When my mother-inlaw dies, there is 1600 Hungarian gold gulden in dowered property. That is an ample 2400 Rhenish gulden. Also, I am receiving free food and drink for a year and a day after the wedding from my mother-in-law, along with the services of a maid and a servant. Thereafter, I am promised free lodging in half of the house. So far I am pleased, and I get along with my mother-in-law. However, a year and a day after the wedding, I must begin to maintain the house myself. May eternal God grant me good fortune to that end. Amen. My mother-in-law also provides me with all necessary household furnishings, bedsteads and quilts for me and my servants, chests, wardrobes, and whatever belongs in a room—tables, chairs, pewter settings, linens, etc. Also the jewellery, clothing, and accessories it is fitting to give with a daughter. So I have had a stately wedding and for a long time there have been more formalities than I desire, prolonged by the family of the bride. In sum, all this shows you their good and true feelings about the marriage. If you doubt my word on this, just ask around. God willing, I am planning a business which will allow me to trade with Liegnitz and Nuremberg, while maintaining my markets here in Breslau. This will also prepare the way for an eventual market in Poland, which I find an appealing prospect, if almighty God grants good fortune. Dear, esteemed Herr cousin, since I am contemplating trading more in conjunction than in competition with Nuremberg, and wish to do so successfully, would you



7.9 English Marriage Negotiations (1680–81) What’s love got to do with it? Two adults negotiate over the life and property of a 12-yearold girl, and once arrangements for cash and property are sorted out to the satisfaction of suitor and mother, the business of procreation can begin. Source: Samuel Jeake, An Astrological Diary (1694). In Michael Hunter and Anabel Gregory (Eds.), An Astrological Diary of the Seventeenth Century: Samuel Jeake of Rye (1652–1699) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).

to return me the favour of having a place in your heart.” “Sir” (said she) “it is so weighty a business that I am not capable of returning you an answer without a long time of consideration” …

7 June 1680: Resolved to seek … Elizabeth Hartshorn of the age of 12 years and 8 months in marriage, with the consent of her mother Mrs. Barbara Hartshorn of Rye. And this day about 3.00 p.m. went to her house to mention it; but prevented by company from a convenient opportunity.

16 June: About 6.00 p.m. I went to Mrs. Barbara Hartshorn’s, and having her approbation before, had now the declared consent of her daughter.

8 June: About 1.00 p.m. I went again, and finding Mrs. Barbara Hartshorn alone had a fit opportunity to propose it immediately, which was accepted, and the portion argued, I insisting upon £1,200. She first offered £500 in money and the house she lived in (one of the best in the town) which she rated at £200 and at last said she would make her fortune to me of £1,000 viz. £700 in money, £100 in household goods and the house valued at £200 …

28 June: Having drawn up the terms of the marriage and settlement and shown it to my father I went in the evening to carry it to Mrs. Hartshorn; which when she perused she told me she liked nothing in it, and insisted upon the repayment of £500 if her daughter died without issue; which I not granting she seemed so much adverse that I thought she repented of what she had offered … [Later] she sent … to tell me, that if I had no other discouragement, she did accept of the propositions I had made according to the paper which I had drawn up, wherein was contained a reservation of £40 per annum to her during life, in case her daughter died without issue …

9 June: In the morning I acquainted my father with what I had proposed etc. for his consent … 11 June: About 1.00 p.m. I went thither again, and stayed about 4 hours; but we came to no conclusion. In the evening I came to a resolution in my own thoughts, and had my father’s consent to proceed as I pleased; and having a fit opportunity of waiting on Mrs. Hartshorn to her own house, I told her about 9.00 p.m. that I had advised with my father, and perceived him satisfied. And that I did comply with those terms she had proposed, and declare myself to be her most humble and most obedient son and servant for ever: which she respectfully accepted with expressions of satisfaction.

12 July: About 2.00 p.m. (the writings concerning the marriage being sealed before by Mrs. Barbara Hartshorn and myself) I was betrothed or contracted to her daughter … Eliz. Hartshorn in the presence of my father and her mother, Mr. Mich. Cadman and Mr. Tho. Miller, in form following, viz.: taking her by the right hand I said, “I Samuel take thee Elizabeth to be my betrothed wife, and promise to make thee my wedded wife in time convenient; in token whereof is this our holding by the hand.” Then loosing my hand, she took my by my right hand, repeating the same words mutatis mutandis.

14 June: About 1.30 p.m. I went to Mrs. Barbara Hartshorn’s, having her consent to propose it to her daughter … Eliz. Hartshorn; for whom I had an affection from her infancy. My first motion was as I remember to this effect: “My Dear Lady, the deep impression your person and virtues have made upon my mind abolige me to become your servant, and I beseech you Madam to be pleased to believe the greatness of my affection, to which be pleased

1 March 1681: About 9.35 a.m. I was married to … Elizabeth Hartshorn at Rye by Mr. Bruce … The day was cloudy, but calm. The sun shone out just at tying the nuptial knot … Devirgination 3 [March] Thursday night. 106

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Figure 7.2  Signing a Marriage Contract Early modern marriage was a strategic economic arrangement as much as anything else. Here we see the families of the bride and groom signing the marriage contract, much like heads of state signing a treaty.

7.10 Marriage Night Conversation (1699) Sex and comedy went hand in hand in the dialogues and love songs found in Wits Cabinet, or a Companion for Young Men and Ladies. The book is full of advice and instructions on how to keep and how to lose virginity, including the “Bridal-Night Discourse” for a just-married couple. Source: Anonymous, Wits Cabinet; or, A Companion for Young Men and Ladies Containing … the Whole Art of Wooing, the Whole Art of Drinking, Interpretation of Dreams, General Rules for the Gentle Behaviour of Young Men and Ladies in All Company (London, 1699).

The Bridal-Night Discourses.

Julia: To Bed, Sweet-heart! Why, art thou sleepy? Jer: No, but I shall be worse if thou art Sad and Melancholy: Come—prithee, my Dear, let’s to Bed. Why dost blush? Let me undress thee, be not so coy, but smile. Jul: Alas! I find myself not well, my Love.

Jerenomo, Julia. Jerenomo: Will you not come to Bed, my dear, why do you delay? Come—let me help you. 107


Jul: My Passion is now over, and now, Dear Joy, I haste to thy Embraces. Jer: Welcome my Comfort and Delight, and thus I fold my arms about thee. Jul: And this about thee, my Dear bliss, I twine like Female Ivy. Jer: Let’s put our Bodies and our Minds together, and make up the Concord of Affection. Come let me kiss thee, let me kiss again, and multiply them to an infinite increase. Jul: Spare not, they are thine own, dear Heart. Jer: Let’s tumble in Delight, and draw out the Minutes in dear Embraces. There is no difference between us and Princes; for our Contentment is still as great as theirs. What a Waist, what a Breast, what a Belly’s here! Then sweetest let us enter Loves Elysium, and bid good Night unto thy Maiden-head.

Jer: That’s only Bashfulness, my Dear, I’ll make you well; there’s no such Physick for you, as your warm Husband’s Arms. Jul: Be not so hasty, Dearest, we steal not our Content— there’s time enough. Jer: Do you already cease to Love me? Jul: No, think it not, for I love thee dearly. Jer: To Bed then, and I shall give better Credit to thee; be not so cold a lover. Jul: Give me leave a little to admire and contemplate thy outward Graves. Jer: Come, come—you dally—off with your Ornaments for the day, they look unseemly now—clip that Lace, that is more happy than thy dear Husband, to embrace thee—off with that Gorgeous Petticoat, that hides those pleasures which ought more to be revealed.

7.11 Fertility Curses and Cures (1500s) The marital bed could be full of surprises, and at a time when most people wanted children, infertility was considered by many quite literally as a curse. Medical student Felix Platter here conveys popular wisdom on how couples might be cursed when a sorceress attended the wedding and the various ways in which young couples and their friends might aim to untie her knot. Source: Felix Platter, journal. In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Beloved Son Felix (London: F. Muller, 1962).

found the trick is done: the new-wed man will be impotent towards his wife as long as the lace remains knotted. But his virility is undiminished for other women, and from this comes adultery and all kinds of disorders. He is in no doubt that the devil himself has made off with the farthing, and will keep it until the last day of judgement, to ensure the damnation of the guilty. This abominable crime is punishable by burning. If it is so common in Languedoc, this is no doubt because of jealousy, hate, or vengeance, for there are always several suitors for the hand of a young girl. Therefore not more than ten weddings in a hundred are performed publicly in the church. Instead, the couples, with their parents, go into hiding in a neighbouring village, there to receive the nuptial benediction, and afterwards they return to the town for the wedding breakfast. Sometimes it is the priest himself who commits the deed, or even some idle, care-for-nothing rascal. I knew of a child who did it to his

On the 16th of July there was a wedding at Uzès, and as I was surprised that the ceremony did not take place in the church in the town it was explained to me that the couple had gone to be married secretly in the church of a near-by village, to avoid the enchantment that might be cast on them by the knotting of the aiguillette. They use this term for a trick of the devil, an interference of the malign spirit, who, because he hates marriage uses every means to provoke adultery and fornication; for the knot in the aiguillette engenders hate between man and wife, and if they go openly to church they will know the authors of the charm and have some culpable connection with them afterwards. The examples of this are only too numerous. This is how the spell works. While the priest says “What is united by God, let no man put asunder”—“But let the devil do it!” murmurs the sorceress, throwing a farthing over her shoulder and tying a knot in a lace. If the coin disappears without being 108

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When, in the neighbourhood, a young man marries an old widow, or a young girl marries an aged widower, they are treated to charivari. All the young people assemble, one bringing a cauldron, another a stove or a drum, a third a fife, or a salt-box with its spoon, or a trumpet, etc. They band gather in front of the couple’s house and at midnight begin a concert, howling, blowing, and banging with all their might. No-one in that quarter gets any sleep. Sometimes they fill the street with evil odours that make everyone gasp for breath. And this row goes on every night, for two hours or more, until the couple buy their peace by payment of a certain sum. Frequently there are brawls. Once a troop of good musicians, who had come to give a serenade in Uzès, met with one of these rowdy charivari bands, a quarrel followed, and one of the musicians was killed. The perpetrators were condemned to death, but they had fled. Charivaris were prohibited, but this did not prevent them from beginning again, just as before.…

family’s serving-girl. She begged him to undo the charm by untying the knot, which he did, and immediately the husband recovered his power and was completely cured, This danger, together with the liberty enjoyed by the women of Languedoc, and the indulgence shown by the magistrates towards adultery and people of bad reputation, explains the small number of weddings that take place in the district. During the three years I was there, there were not more than ten marriages to my knowledge. It is the easiest thing in the world to become accustomed to such celibacy, and not to make an end of it until a rich match gives reason. It is why the country is less populous than ours and there is more land for each one of them. There are many other ways in which married people may be bewitched; they may be found in Bodin, who claims to have known a woman who could practise such enchantments in twenty-five different ways. I must also say a word about charivari. This is a term that comes from the Greek and means a broken head.

7.12 French Marriage Negotiations: Contract for a Second Marriage (1540) When marrying for a second time, the marriage contract had to note provisions made for the dowry and children—and any other property—of the first marriage. Anne was the daughter of a gunmaker, whose first and second husbands were both also gunmakers; between marriages, she worked with her parents again, suggesting that she may also have been skilled at the trade. Source: Contract for a second marriage (1540). In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 93–95.

Present in person were Blanchet Moreau, bacquebutier [maker of a particular sort of early firearm], living in Paris, in the name of and [acting] for Anne Mareau, his daughter, widow of the late Jehan Gilbert, who while living was also a bacquebutier … and Alexandre Loiseau, similarly bacquebutier, living in Paris, for himself in his own name … The parties, because of the marriage which, to the pleasure of God, will be made and solemnized in front of the Holy Church between the said Loiseau and Anne Moreau, acknowledge and affirm that they have made

and make between them the contracts, agreements, dower, promises, and arrangements which follow. … Blanchet Moreau has promised and promises to give … Anne, his daughter … to the said Loiseau, who has promised and promises to take her as his wife and spouse tomorrow, if God and Holy Church allow, free and clear of all debts whatsoever. In consideration of [this] marriage the said Blanchet has promised and promises … to give and pay to the said future couple … the sum of 20 livres tournois in cash, with the personal property which follows:



obligation, and [releases Blanchet of obligation for] all other things which … [have come to] his said daughter for whatever cause there might be, from the past up to today. And therefore the said Alexander Loiseau has given and gives the said Anne Moreau, his future spouse, the sum of 30 livres tournois in cash, to pay once as pre-set dower and without return, for all right to dower, if there is a surviving child or children of theirs at the time of the dissolution of their … marriage, for her to have and take as soon as dower takes place, and beyond her rights of common property, from all the belongings which belong to the heirs of the said Loiseau at his death … And further the said Loiseau has willed and wills that if he dies before his said spouse without a surviving child or children of the two of them from their marriage … that she have and take by priority … before the dividing up with heirs, all her clothing, rings, and jewelry she has in of that time. This has been the content above received [by the notaries], passed and agreed between the said parties. Promising, etc., obligating, each in his own rights etc. renouncing. Done and passed in duplicate, in the year 1540, Wednesday, the 12th of June.

… a bed [frame] of wood, a bed and bolster stuffed with feathers, a white canopy, a cover of red linen, six sheets of hemp cloth, six tablecloths, a dozen table napkins, a locking oak chest, a table, two trestles, a sideboard on a lockable counter, which property the parties estimate among themselves at a value of 15 livres tournois, which brings the value, including the cash, to the sum of 35 livres tournois. [This sum] the said future couple will be obliged to postpone by half, as coming to them by inheritance from the said Blanchet Moreau and from Moudette Louprat, his wife … And the said Blanchet further pledges to give and pay … the sum of 10 livres tournois payment and wages to the said daughter for serving her … father and mother since the death of her said husband up to now. The said Loiseau affirms that he has received from the … Blanchet three livres 10 sous tournois toward the two sums in cash, with which he is satisfied and [which he] considers Blanchet to have paid, saying he … releases the said Blanchet of obligation for the cash that [Blanchet] has received for [Blanchet’s] daughter as her customary dower … and has renounced and relieves heirs of the said Gibert, her first husband, of

7.13 A Woman’s Critique of Married Life (1600) Venetian patrician women enjoyed extensive privileges if they married, yet many faced forced entry to convents as nuns when their families concentrated dowry funds by limiting the number of daughters who could marry. Here the Venetian female author Moderata Fonte (1555–92) puts her critique of Venetian married life in the mouths of a group of patrician women of various ages and marital statuses who come together to debate the pros and cons of married life. Source: Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Women (1600). In Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men, edited and translated by Virginia Cox (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 44–49.

conversation, and on these occasions, safe from any fear of being spied on by men or constrained by their presence, they would speak freely on whatever subject they pleased—sometimes, their womanly labours, sometimes, their seemly diversions. Sometimes one of them, who was fond of music, taking up her lute or tempering her sweet voice with the notes of a well-tuned harpsichord, would provide a charming entertainment for herself and

Well then, in this truly divine city, abode of all celestial graces and perfections, there was once not long ago (and indeed there still is) a group of noble and spirited women, all from the best-known and most respected families of the city, who, despite their great differences in age and marital status, were so united by breeding and taste that a tender bond of friendship had formed between them. These women would often steal time together for a quiet 110

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this time and whether she was happy. But before Helena could reply, Leonora, who had a keen wit, cut in with these words: “My dear Virginia, how can you ask such things, when everyone already knows the answer? For popular opinion dictates that no new bride can be anything other than happy.” “Well, let’s not say happy,” added Lucretia. “Rather, as well as can be expected.” “When I think about it,” said Helena, “I am not sure I can say yet whether I’m happy or not. Certainly I greatly enjoy my husband’s company, but there is one thing about him that dismays me a little. He is quite insistent that I should not leave the house, whereas I long for nothing more than to go to all the weddings and banquets to which I am invited—partly because this is my time for diversion, but also because I’m concerned to keep up my own and my husband’s reputation by letting the world see that he is treating me well and that I can dress as befits a gentlewoman, as you can see.” “I hope to God,” Cornelia interjected, “that you’ll never have anything worse to complain of! But you have yet to learn how quickly a wedding cake can go stale.” “Our ‘young married,’” said Lucretia, “is still unconvinced of this truth; she can’t make up her mind to believe it. And she’s quite right, of course, for everything is lovely when it has the charm of novelty.” “What you mean is that everything seems lovely when it has the charm of novelty,” said Leonora. “As to that,” replied Lucretia, “seeming good in such cases is much the same as being good. For if something I eat, for example, seems good to my palate, even if it isn’t, it’s as good as if it were.” “Don’t make me laugh,” rejoined Leonora. “If that’s the case, then we shouldn’t wonder at the bakerwoman who, after toiling all day over her hot oven, ran outside to strip off her little ones’ clothes, in the belief that they too much be suffering from the heat, without considering the fact that it was the depth of winter!” Cornelia laughed at Leonora’s joke and exclaimed, “Praise God that we are free to do just as we please, even tell jokes like that to make each other laugh, with no one here to criticize us or put us down.” “Exactly,” said Leonora. “If a man could hear us now, joking together like this, how he would scoff! There’d be no end to it!” “To tell the truth,” said Lucretia, “we are only ever really happy when we are alone with other women, and the best thing that can happen to any woman is to be able to live alone, without the company of men.”

her companions, or another, whose tastes inclined to poetry, would recite some novel and elegant composition to entertain that judicious and well-informed audience in a fresh and pleasing manner. The women were seven in number. The first was Adriana, an elderly widow; the second, a young daughter of hers, of marriageable age, called Virginia; the third, a young widow called Leonora; the fourth, an older married woman called Lucretia. The fifth woman, Cornelia, was a young married woman; the sixth, Corinna, a young tertiary; and the seventh, Helena, a young bride who had, as it were, temporarily left the group, for she had gone to stay with her new husband in a nearby villa on the mainland, and since the wedding none of the others had had a chance to see her. Now this most worthy group of friends, hearing that the young widow Leonora had recently inherited a lovely house with a very lovely garden, and that she had just moved into it, decided to pay her a visit there at the first opportunity, both for the pleasure of seeing Leonora (a sensible young woman, who though young, rich, and a widow, was in no hurry to find herself a new husband), and to look over the new house and enjoy for a while the delights of its gardens. And so one day they went in a party to pay a visit on this charming young hostess, and after the usual greetings had passed between them, they repaired at her invitation to a light and airy room (for it was the height of summer). There some—the older ones—went out onto a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal, and lingered there for a while enjoying the fresh air and watching the gondolas flying past below. The others, led by Virginia, drew up to a window that overlooked the garden and stood there larking about as young girls do when they are together, affectionately teasing one another and sharing delightful jokes. After a while, a gondola was seen pulling up to the quay; and, as the women looked at it, wondering whose it could be, they suddenly realized that it belonged to Helena. And indeed the young bride had just returned from the country and, hearing that all her friends were assembled at Leonora’s, she had come there at once to see them all, and in particular Virginia, who before her marriage had been her closest friend. When the women realized it was Helena arriving, their happiness was complete, for she was a very charming young woman, and she had hardly got up the stairs before they all flocked around her, embracing her and smothering her with kisses in their joy at seeing her again after such a long absence. Then they led her into the drawing room, where they all sat down and feasted their eyes upon her, until finally Virginia spoke up and asked her how she had been all 111


“O happy Corinna!” cried Lucretia. “What other woman in the world can compare her lot with yours? Not one! Not a widow, for she cannot boast of enjoying her freedom with having suffered first, not a wife for she is still in the midst of her suffering, not a young girl awaiting betrothal, for she is waiting for nothing but ill (as the proverb says, ‘husbands and hard times are never long in arriving’). Happy, thrice-happy Corinna, and all that follow your example! All the more so since God has endowed you with such a soaring intelligence that you delight in the pursuit of excellence, and devote your every lofty thought to the study of letters, human and divine, so that one might say that you have already embarked on a celestial life while still surrounded by the trials and dangers of this world. Though such trials barely touch you, for, by rejecting all contact with those falsest of creatures, men, you have escaped the tribulations of this world and are free to devote yourself to those glorious pursuits that will win you immortality. But perhaps you should devote that sublime intelligence of yours to writing a volume on this subject, as an affectionate warning to all those poor simple girls who don’t know the difference between good and evil, to show them where their true interests lie; for in this way you would become doubly glorious, fulfilling your duties to God and to the world.” “It certainly would be a worthwhile thing to do,” said Corinna, “and I must thank you for bringing it to my notice; perhaps one day I shall indeed write such a work.”

“Indeed,” said Leonora. “For my part, I derive the greatest happiness from living in peace, without a man. For we all know what a marvelous thing freedom is.” “But surely men can’t all be bad?” Helena said. “Would that they weren’t!” replied Cornelia. “And please God that you won’t be in a position to bear witness to it from your own experience!” “Who knows?” said Virginia. “What if Helena turns out to be lucky?” “Well, she just might,” said Lucretia. “Don’t let’s lose all hope.” “However badly you speak of men,” Helena rejoined, “I don’t believe that you will put Virginia off trying out what it’s like to have a husband.” “If it were up to me,” said Virginia. “I’d prefer to do without one. But I have to obey the wishes of my family.” “When it comes to that, dear child,” said Adriana, “I’d be quite happy to respect your opinion, but your uncles have decided you must marry, because you have inherited such a fortune and it needs to be in safe hands, so I really don’t know what else I can do with you. But, anyway, keep your spirits up and don’t be afraid. Not all men can be the same, and perhaps—who knows?—you may have better luck than the rest.” “Oh, that really is quite a lifeline you’re holding out!” cried Leonora. “That kind of vain hope you’re talking about doesn’t fool me. I’d rather die than submit to a man! My life with you is too precious for that, safe from the fear of any great rough man trying to rule my life.”

7.14 “Happy the Woman without a Man” (1500s) Marriage is a chain that keeps women subject to men. The Dutch poet, teacher, and nun Anna Bijns (1493–1575) believes that it is best avoided altogether. Source: Anna Bijns, “Unyoked Is Best! Happy the Woman without a Man.” In K.M. Wilson (Ed.), Women Writers of the Renaissance and Reformation (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987), pp. 382–83.

“Unyoked Is Best! Happy the Woman without a Man” How good to be a woman, how much better to be a man! Maidens and wenches, remember the lesson you’re about to hear. Don’t hurtle yourself into marriage far too soon. The saying goes: “Where’s your spouse? Where’s your honor?” But one who earns her board and clothes Shouldn’t scurry to suffer a man’s rod. 112

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So much for my advice, because I suspect— Nay, see it sadly proven day by day— ’T happens all the time! However rich in goods a girl might be, Her marriage ring will shackle her for life. If however she stays single With purity and spotlessness foremost, Then she is lord as well as lady. Fantastic, not? Though wedlock I do not decry: Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man. Fine girls turning into loathly hags— ’Tis true! Poor sluts! Poor tramps! Cruel marriage! Which makes me deaf to wedding bells. Huh! First they marry the guy, luckless dears, Thinking their love just too hot to cool. Well, they’re sorry and sad within a single year. Wedlock’s burden is far too heavy. They know best whom it harnessed. So often is a wife distressed, afraid. When after troubles hither and thither he goes In search of dice and liquor, night and day, She’ll curse herself for that initial “yes.” So, beware ere you begin. Just listen, don’t get yourself into it. Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man. A man oft comes home all drunk and pissed Just when his wife had worked her fingers to the bone (So many chores to keep a decent house!), But if she wants to get in a word or two, She gets to taste his fist—no more. And that besotted keg she is supposed to obey? Why, yelling and scolding is all she gets, Such are his ways—and hapless his victim. And if the nymphs of Venus he chooses to frequent, What hearty welcome will await him home. Maidens, young ladies: learn from another’s doom, Ere you, too, end up in fetters and chains. Please don’t argue with me on this, No matter who contradicts, I stick to it: Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man. A single lady has a single income, But likewise, isn’t bothered by another’s whims. And I think: that freedom is worth a lot. Who’ll scoff at her, regardless what she does, And though every penny she makes herself, Just think of how much less she spends! An independent lady is an extraordinary prize— 113


All right, of a man’s boon she is deprived, But she’s lord and lady of her very own hearth. To do one’s business and no explaining sure is lots of fun! Go to bed when she list, rise when she list, all as she will, And no one to comment! Grab tight your independence then. Freedom is such a blessed thing. To all girls: though the right Guy might come along: Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man. Prince, Regardless of the fortune a woman might bring, Many men consider her a slave, that’s all. Don’t let a honeyed tongue catch you off guard, Refrain from gulping it all down. Let them rave, For, I guess, decent men resemble white ravens. Abandon the airy castles they will build for you. Once their tongue has limed a bird: Bye bye love—and love just flies away. To women marriage comes to mean betrayal And the condemnation to a very awful fate. All her own is spent, her lord impossible to bear. It’s peine forte et dure instead of fun and games. Oft it was the money, and not the man Which goaded so many into their fate. Unyoked is best! Happy the woman without a man.

7.15 A Man’s Critique of Married Life (1682) According to this anonymous English author, marriage is just so boring—far better to remain independent, and rely on mistresses and prostitutes for entertainment, than to allow a wife to “destroy soul, body, credit, and estates.” Source: Anonymous, A Satyr against Marriage: Directed to That Inconsiderable Animal, Called Husband (London, 1680).

A Satyr Against Marriage: Directed to that Inconsiderable Animal, called Husband. Christen thy froward Bantling every Year, And carefully thy Spurious Issue Rear: Go once a Week to see the Brat at Nurse, And let the Young Impostor drein thy Purse: Hedg-Sparrow-like, what Cuckoo’s have begot Do thou maintain, Incorrigible Sott. Oh! I could curse the Pimp that could do less, He’s beneath Pitty, and beyond Redress:

Husband! thou Dull unpittied Miscreant, Wedded to Noise, to Misery, and Want; Sold an Eternal Vassal for thy Life, Oblig’d to Cherish, and to Heat a Wife: Drudge on till Fifty; at thy Own Expence Breath out thy Life in one Impertinence; Repeat thy loath’d Embraces every Night Prompted to Act, by Duty (not Delight:) 114

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No, he must have a sprightly youthful Wench, In equal floods of Love, his flame to quench; One that will hold him in her Clasping Arm, And in that Circle all his Spirits Charm; That with New Motion, and unpractis’d Art, Can raise his Soul, & then insnare his Heart. Hence springs the Noble, Fortunate, and Great, Always Begot in Passion, and in Seat: But the Dull Off-spring of the Marriage-Bed, What is it? but a Humane shape in Lead: A Sloathful Lump Ingender’d of all Ills, Begot like D—against the Parents Wills. If it be Cukoldiz’d, it’s Doubly Spoil’d, The Mothers Fear’s Intail’d upon the Child. Thus whether Illegitimate, or Not, Cowards and Fools in Wedlock are Begot: Let no Enobled Soul himself Debase, By Lawful Ways to Dasterdize his Race; But if he must Pay Natures Debt in Kind, To check the growing Danger, let him find Some willing Female out; What tho’ she be The very Scum and Dregs of Infamy: Tho’ she be Linsey-Woolsey, Baud & Whore, Close-stool to Venus, Natures Common-shore, Impudence, Folly, Brandy, and Disease, The Sundays Crack for Suburb-Prentices; What then? she’s better then a Wife by half, And if thou’rt still Unmarry’d, thou art safe. with whores thou can’st but venture, what is lost May be Redeem’d again with Care and Cost; But a Damn’d Wife, Inevitable Fate, Destroys, Soul, Body, Credit, and Estates.

Pox on him! let him go: what can I say? Anathema’s on him are Thrown away; The wretch is marryd, & has known the worst, And now his Blessing is, he can’t be Curst. Marry’d! O Hell and Furies! Name it not, Hence, hence you Holy Cheats; a Plot, a Plot. Marriage is but a Licens’d way to Sin, A Nooze to catch Religious Wood-cocks in: Or the Nick-name of some Malicious Friend, Begot in Hell to Prosecute Mankind. ‘Tis the Destroyer of Our Peace and Health, Mispender of our precious Time and Wealth; The Enemy to Wit, Valour, Mirth, all That we can Virtuous, Good, or Pleasant call. By Day ’tis nothing but an endless Noise; By Night the Eccho of Forgotten Joys: Abroad the Sport and Wonder of the Crowd, At Home the hourly breach of what we vow’d: In it’s Opium to our Lustful Rage, Which sleeps a while, and wakes again in Age. It heaps on all Men much (but useless) Care, Forthwith more Trouble, they less Happy are; It checks Youth, shortens life, & taints the mind, Our Sences pauls, and strikes our Reason blind. Ye Gods! that Man by his own Slavish Law, Should on himself such Inconvenience draw: If we would Wiser Natures Laws Obey. Those chalk him out a far more pleasant way, She bids freely Look, Like, and Enjoy. Therefore when lusty Youth & Wine conspire To Flame the Blood unto a Generous Fire; We must not think the Gallant will Indure The Durient Raging of his Calenture: Nor always in his single Pleasures Burn, Tho’ Natures Hand-maid sometime serves the turn:




7.16 Calculating Adultery (1700) A “cuckold” was a man whose wife had sex with other men. In this satirical verse retelling a story from Boccaccio’s Decameron, the cuckolded husband Rinaldo takes his wife Phillipia to court, but she persuades the judge and hearers that he has not in fact been injured. She has always met his needs, and her excursions beyond the marriage bed and into the arms of her lover, Lazarino, simply used up something for which her husband had no need or use. Source: Anonymous, A Law against Cuckoldom; or, The Tryal of Adultery (London, 1700).

The Iudge was in a horrid Fright, (Toucht to the quick by Charms so bright) Lest she the Matter shou’d Confess, Her Case would then be past Redress. You must be Burnt, Madam, he said, Your Spouse has Information made, That you were lately caught by him, Committing the forbidden Crime Adultery, and doubtless you Have heard for this what Death is Due: Consider what you have to say, And prudently your Answer weigh. She said, I freely own the Fact, He caught me in the very Act; With Joy the pleasing Word I name; For know, I Glory in my Flame: And since my Passion did begin, Have often try’d the tempting Sin. For this you say I ought to Die; But you know better, Sir, than I, That Laws for Public Justice meant, Should pass by General Consent; And pray what Women did appear To Vote for this? I ne’er could hear Of one that lik’d it; and ’tis hard They should unjustly be debar’d Their Native Right, by a Decree, To which They never did agree: On us alone, Restraint is lay’d; Who are by bounteous Nature made To give Content to more than One; Which never yet by Man was done. If Prejudice did not prevail, Your solid Wisdom cou’d not fail For me this matter to decide, And to declare the Edict void. But, Sir, if Death must be my doom, Soon let the Welcome Minute come; Secure, I wait the fatal Blow;

Too weak are Laws, and Edicts Vain, The hearts of Women to Restrain; For when with happy Search they find The Man they like, They still are kind, So strong, so daring is their Love, It does ev’n fear of Death remove. For proof of This, if others fail, I now design to tell a Tale. At Prato, once upon a Time, Adultery was thought a Crime: And every kind Consenting Wife Was doom’d by Law to lose her life; So partial was this horrid Act, It Equally Condemn’d the fact, Whether the Cause was pure desire Or sordid Gain and sinfull Hire, No sooner did this Edict pass, But one Rinaldo found (alas) His Wife Phillipia, Fam’d for Charms, In Lusty Lazarino’s Arms: And with Revenge and Fury fill’d, Twas Ten to One he both had kill’d; But eager passion he restrain’d, The bold Adulteress arraign’d, And to the Podestate Complain’d. The Iudge for Tryal Nam’d the day, And gave her time to slip away: But she resolv’d to stand it out, In vain her Kindred went about, By dire Descriptions of the Law, To fright and force her to withdraw. She minded not a Word she heard, One would have sworn, by what appear’d, She thought her Fate would glorious prove, To suffer Martyrdom for Love. When solemn day of Tryal came, In Court appear’d the Guilty Dame; But lookt as Chearful, Brisk and Gay, As those that Ogle at a Play: 116

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Bestowing what I had to spare; Believ’d it better to improve My Growing Overplus of Love, Than suffer Envious Marriage Bands To keep it Dead upon my Hands. Her speech so pleas’d the Listning Crowd, They Clapt their Hands, and laught aloud. Rinaldo durst no longer stay; But hid his Face, and sneakt away: And fair Phillipia, by her Art, So brib’d the Court to take her part, So to her side the Iudge did draw, She sav’d her self, and Damn’d the Law.

Yet first an easy Favour show: Pray ask my Husband, there he stands, If all his Conjugal Demands Have not been answer’d still by me, Wth an Exact Conformity. Rinaldo said, I must Confess, My Wife did still Comply in This; Inclin’d my Wish’t Desires to Grant, And Fond to satisfy my Want. Observe, Sir, That, Phillipia said, Whate’re he wanted still he had; Then wherefore, pray, this mighty Pother, If I, to Gratify another, Imploy’d the useless Residue! Pray, Husband, what was that to you? I, like a Charitable Fair


7.17 Marriage and Divorce in Muslim Spain (1438; 1474) Muslim marriage contracts also focused on securing the exchange of property, and in some instances they included clauses noting how this would be divided in the event of a divorce. Source: Marriage and divorce contracts, Granada (1438 and 1474, respectively). In Olivia Remie Constable (Ed.), Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 463–66.

A Marriage Contract (1438) In the Name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate. Blessings be upon our lord and protector Muhammad and upon his family. Praise be to God who created mankind from clay, made people from lowly water, and instituted marriage, inviting [people] to it and letting its excellence be known. God Most High has said “Marry as you wish either one, two, three, or four women.” Blessings and peace upon Muhammad his prophet, and upon his family and property, and upon his companions among the muhājarūn and upon the ansār, his beloved friends and benefactors. ‘Alī ibn Mūsā ibn Ibrahīm inn ‘Ubaid Allah al-Lakhmī gives his daughter Fātima in marriage to Abū Ishāq Ibrahīm ibn Ahmad, known as al-Hakīm. She is a virgin, who has been under [her father’s] care until he decided her marriage, and there are no impediments to be found [to the marriage]. The father of the bride, ‘Alī, has received 375 dinars out of the total bride price of 610 dinars, and

has awknowledged receipt of this from the groom, Ibn Ibrahim [sic]. The remaining balance of 225 dinars is to be paid two years from the date of this document. ‘A’isha bint Abū ‘Abd Allah ibn Mufaddal, the mother of the groom and his guardian, gives her consent to this contract of marriage, and she wishes [for the couple] all the virtues and promised rewards [of marriage], with all its benefits of constancy and probity. The bride receives as a gift [from the groom] a garden in the district of Almunia which is bordered on the south by property belonging to his sister, of the north by that of Abū al-Hasan, on the east by that of the heirs of Abū al-Hasan al-Murīd, and on the west by that of Abū ‘Abd Allah ibn Musharrif and his daughter. This gift is required by the marriage contract. It is witnessed that ‘Alī, guardian and father of the bride, is of sound mind and has the legal right to give [his daughter in marriage]. Also, that the groom, Ibrahīm, and his mother, who is acting as his guardian in this matter, are both of sound mind and of legal capacity as regards this 117


Figure 7.3  The Wandering Husband This series depicts both a reality for some early modern women and a threat of social disorder with which contemporaries—men and women alike—were preoccupied: the inversion of the ideal order with a responsible and God-fearing husband in control. 118

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of her mother, who shall provide for and maintain her in every instance, including marrying her off and in anything else. No liability whatsoever will fall to her father until his maintenance obligation legally lapses. This in the presence of the wife’s father and mother, Fātima bint Ahmad al-Sharqī, and with their agreement on what is stated herein. Futhermore, the two of them undertake complete surety for all her liabilities whenever and whatever befalls her, including enfeeblement and destitution. If ever they should bring suit against the husband, they shall forsake all praise and censure will accrue to [the wife’s] father. And in these two situations [enfeeblement or destitution], the parents will terminate her custody. [The wife] undertakes all of this willingly and voluntarily, without compulsion or any associated detriment. Her father completely forgoes whatever was incumbent on the husband owing to the period of his residence with her in the father’s house in Bāb al-Bunud within Granada. In view of all of this and because of it, the husband pronounced her divorced. From his possession he makes her possessor of herself. They acknowledge his honorableness and made those who knew both of them, and who were sound and [legally] admissible, witness him [in this] on the right of Rabī al-awwal of the year 879 [17 July 1474].

marriage contract. The groom, the contract itself, and the guardians that consent to it [are all sound]. Dated Saturday, 18 Jumada al-Akhra, 842 [11 November 1438] A Divorce Contract (1474) In the Name of God the Merciful and the Compassionate. May God bless and grant salvation to our master Muhammad and to his family. This is a copy of the divorce document drafted from the text of the marriage contract of Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Ashkar, and ‘A’isha bint [the daughter of] Abū ‘Uthman Sa’ad ibn Ahmad al-Mu’adhin. The Text: Praise to God! The above-mentioned wife is divorced from her above-mentioned husband in this marriage, by completing her prescribed waiting period, even if it should be prolonged; and by relinquishing all of her rights from him in this marriage contract, and otherwise, in terms of sustenance and the like. And if she is pregnant with his child she is released with the child from him on the same terms, prior to the child’s birth and after the birth until either a male child reaches puberty or a female consummates marriage. Moreover, their daughter Fātima is placed in the care and custody

7.18 A Woman’s Response to Bigamy—Recovering Independence (1539) Ursula Kolhauffen has found out that her husband, Adam Wagner, is married to another woman, and so she petitions the court to reclaim her dowry and her independence. To help make her case, she spells out the full range of resulting accusations, including adultery, bastardy, and bigamy. Source: A petition to reclaim a dowry, Germany (1539). In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. WiesnerHanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 142–43.

that she is still living, and I ventured to do this. But God called to me in the meantime, and I delivered the child with which I was pregnant. I was ill used because of the child, and I had nothing other than what pious people shared with me. When the child was two weeks old, I got up and went with the child to Gaissing in the duchy of Furstenberg, and I found her [the other wife] myself.

Honorable, wise, just, and careful sirs, I, Ursula Kolhauffen, Adam Wagner’s wife, would like your wisdoms to know about the case involving me and my husband Adam Wagner, which your wisdoms certainly already know about in parts. That is, that he is supposed to have another wife [besides me]. The situation that your wisdoms put to me, is that I was supposed to bring proof 119


not his, but I can prove to the day and hour [that it is]. I have already testified all of this in writing, and sent it by messenger to the judge in Freising. The judge said to the messenger that he would not order him [Wagner] to appear because he did not have jurisdiction over the case because he had been started elsewhere. I asked not for his life or bodily punishment, but that he be compelled to give me my dowry back and to declare me free of him. He then offered, in the presence of two men, namely Jorgen Dygler and Franntz Federmacher, both citizens of Munich, to pay it back to me year by year and declare me free of him. That is exactly what I am now petitioning and requesting. If you will not agree to this, I will protest, and prove to your wisdoms that I made my request properly according to the law in the proper place, and law itself is at fault here. I have done everything according to the law, and have revealed everything to your wisdoms, that you prevail upon him to do what he himself agreed to do in front of Jorgen Dygler and Franntz Federmacher. I place myself under the care and protection of your wisdoms. Dated the eleventh of April, 1539. Your wisdom’s obedient subject, Ursula Kolhauffen.

I wanted to vindicate the case myself, but I did not have the power or right to do so. The authorities in Gaissing told me that if my husband Adam Wagner himself were there, they would handle the case quickly and help me gain what I sought, determine whether she was his wife or not, and whether I could set myself against both of them, as I had requested. He [Wagner] was seeking [to keep] my dowry, which I will swear on my life. For he heaped shame and insults with no justification on me, which threatened my body and life. That is, in the mayor’s house in Gaissing, a man whose wife was standing next to him said that my husband publicly said in Zell and elsewhere that I had dishonored myself twice, and was a murderous piece of goods. He also said this to me when we were home—that I dishonored him twice and also sought to dishonor the children—so he used violence against me. After that he said further that I had moved away from him for whorish reasons and was now moving from place to place like a whore. But I can prove that when I lived out of Munich, I lived with pious honorable people, and supported myself and my child with hard work. Further, he said that the child that I had was

7.19 Impotence and Divorce (1635) After the Reformation, Danish authorities changed the marriage laws to make it easier to get a divorce for reasons of impotence. In this case, a woman’s stepfather had married her to an old and impotent man, and so she had refused to live with him. After seven years the stepfather petitions to end the marriage since her husband is not only impotent but also in a hospital and unable to work or to take care of her. Source: Court records (1635). In Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (London: Pearson Education, 2002), p. 133.

found him completely unfit for marital love, for which reason they immediately separated, each in order to seek his or her own living, and as his weakness and fragile health have increased over the years so that he cannot provide her with clothes, food, shelter or in other ways as is mentioned above, and no improvement is to be expected, she can no longer support herself on her own. Thus testified aforesaid Oluf Lauridsen and said this to be the truth as written down, and [he] required witness by jury.

Court session Thursday April 9th, 1635 … Rasmus Madsen in Holte appeared on behalf of his stepdaughter Karen Hansdatter and recounted how, seven years ago, she entered into marriage with a man by the name of Oluf Lauridsen Jyde then living in Skovshoved, and [who] now on account of his old age and fragile health has been granted food and shelter in the hospital [poor house] in Copenhagen, and that as soon as they had entered into holy matrimony, she had


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7.20 Muslim Marriage Ceremonies in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612) The marriage market in Algiers was made more complicated by the fact that Christian slaves who converted to Islam (called “renegades”) could win their freedom and have a chance at social and economic advancement. They could also marry Christian slave women, who might or might not convert. The priest Antonio de Sosa focuses on issues that concerned Christians—property relations, rituals, and sexuality—but notes how they are complicated in the context of polygamy, a practice that fascinated and horrified his readers. Source: Antonio de Sosa, Topography of Algiers (1612). In Maria Antonia Garcés (Ed.), An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612), translated by Diana de Armas Wilson (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 188–93.

are set up by go-betweens, particularly by procurers who go from house to house checking out the daughters of this or that man.… The second custom goes contrary to that of Christian women … who bring a dowry to their husbands when they marry to help with the burden and sorrows of marriage. Algerian men, on the other hand, are the ones who endow their women before marriage: in effect, they buy them. It is true that if the father or mother of the fiancée is dead, she brings to her new home whatever goods belong to her, and then both partners live off the woman. The husband, however, can neither sell her goods nor her belongings; rather he is obliged to keep the same amounts she brought into the marriage. The dowry that they promise their women is settled by the prospective bridegroom with the father of the bride-to-be, if she has one, and if not, with her closest relatives. Everything is done legally, in front of the kadi, or judge of the city. When this is done and settled, the bridegroom then sends his fiancée a gift of things to eat, such as fritters, which they call sfendj, and other honeyed sweetmeats. Wealthier men send a basket or two filled with oils, or with skin bleaching agents, rouge, henna, and other mixtures, as a sign that the woman is chosen and accepted as their own. Some four, five, six, or more days (as many as they wish) before the woman is given over to her husband and the wedding is celebrated, her friends and relatives tend to have great dances and fiestas in her home, inviting all her female friends, neighbors, and women of status in the city. These dances are accompanied by the sounds of rattles and tambourines played by Moorish women, who make a living doing this and are paid by all the partygoers. The custom is that the dancer, when finished, goes among all the women asking for money with an open

Although many men, Turks as well as renegades and Moors, are content with one wife, the majority of them (as per general usage and in accordance with the carnal liberty that Muhammad allows them) have two, three, four and more wives.… They claim that the multitudes of women are like walls, where all carnal desires are contained so that men may not stray abroad to sin with other women. Turks, Moors, and renegades all marry indifferently, either with some Turkish women newly arrived from Constantinople (although these are few and rare), or with native Moorish women, renegades, or daughters of Jews who become Muslims. As long as the woman pleases or benefits her suitor, nobody (no matter how high in social status) cares too much about her lineage or nobility. Nor do these Algerians care about kinship, as long as she is not a sister.… Ordinarily these men take the greatest pride in marrying renegades: and this is because these women are all more perfect and diligent in the service of their husbands and management of their homes. They are also better looking than Moorish or Turkish women. And if a man buys a Christian woman and makes her turn Muslim and renegade, she is always his slave unless he decides to free her. As a result, she is more obedient and does everything not to be sold, which he can do unless he has produced children with her. These men also take sexual advantage of their Christian slaves, which is not forbidden them, but if by chance they produce children, they cannot sell these women. The Algerians have two customs in their mode of marrying, very contrary to those in the Christian world. The first is that a man will marry a Moor or renegade, or her daughter, sight unseen, because all their marriages 121


The bride being seated, the groom then removes the veil that covers her face, and then the two see each other for the first time in their lives. And no matter what the husband says, the wife will not respond a word to him if he first does not give her a gift, such as a ring, earrings, bracelets, or coins of gold. The marriage consummated, the custom is that the new husband take his wife’s undergarments (all of them made of cotton or linen) and, opening the door of the bedroom in which he was locked up with his bride, tosses it to the women outside of the bedroom awaiting this item, or else he gives it into the hands of his motherin-law or other relative close to his wife, who is always there. They all receive this news with great rejoicing, loud voices, and howling, while playing the tambourines and rattles. And in order to testify to the virtue and chastity of the bride to date, the mother or some relative shows the underwear to the rest. All these ceremonies of dancing, get-togethers, and strolling abroad with the bride are forgone when the men marry with some Christian whom they buy and turn into a renegade. Such a woman is not given a dowry, unless it be to buy her freedom. In such a case the man is obliged to make a written statement in front of the kadi, or justice of the land, and to declare in it the amount of the dowry he promises and is compelled to give. Because afterward, if he were to leave her, he is obliged to first pay her the dowry, just as when he leaves or divorces other Moorish women, as we will note in what follows. Some of those who are married with many women tend to keep them in different towns, such as one in Madrid, another in Toledo, another in Alcala, another in Salamanca, and another in Lisbon. But the men are obliged to provide for all of them, which is why the marabouts claim that it is a great sin for any man to marry more women than he can support. Many other men, however, keep them all in one house, although in different rooms, and are obliged to sleep with all of them, doling out their sexual favors by days, weeks, or months. … And because this use of polygamy is so engrained, the women behave as well as possible within the home so that their husbands do not leave them. They do not generally like or love each other, however, nor do they eat together: rather each wife guards herself from the others, fearing to be given a poison. … Husbands are also extremely jealous of their wives, not consenting to have them seen even by their own

hand … During these and many other days before the wedding, the women spend their time washing, scrubbing, bathing, soaping, applying makeup, and painting the bride-to-be, so that no matter how plain she may be, they make look good. And all this is done by certain Moorish women who do nothing else for a living. When the day arrives that the bride is to be given over to her intended, huge evening dinners are celebrated. The bridegroom hosts one in his home for his friends and relatives, and the parents or relatives of the bride, in her home for theirs—separating the men from the women in diverse parts and rooms of the house, so that they cannot see each other. After dinner, when they have once again decorated the bride with many jewels and seed-pearls, and painted her arms up to the elbow in black and her face in red and white—so that she seems nothing other than a mask—then the men go out into the street before the women, where others are waiting, and they arrange themselves into an orderly procession of two lines. The men go on ahead, taking with them two or three Moors playing kettledrums, tabors, and flutes. The women bring up the rear, their faces all veiled, and behind them at the very end they bring the bride, thoroughly covered up. In this procession (the men and women carrying lit white candles in their hands), they accompany the bride through the streets of the city, while the bridegroom remains at home with the rest of the people. Before the procession with the bride returns, he enters the bedroom that was decorated (as best as possible) for both partners, and he sits on the pillows there, because they do not use any kind of chair. When the bride arrives accompanied by the designated people, her kinswoman and friends remain and take her to a special room where, removing her cloak, they roll up her sleeves to the elbows—which are painted and dyed black, as we said—and having her put both hands on her two sides (as we said, like wings), they throw over her face a very fine and subtle white veil. Then, with the Moorish women still playing their tambourines and rattles, they arrive at the door of the bedroom where the bridegroom awaits. He then comes forward to receive the bride and, taking her by the hands and closing the bedroom door, he guides her to sit on the pillows where he was first seated. In this entry of delivery of the bride to her groom, the custom is that one of the two manages to put his or her foot over the foot of the other, because they say that whoever does this will be the rooster in the house, always dominating and giving orders to the other.


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bits to their burrows when they sense a goshawk flying near. On top of this, Turks and men in high places are in the habit of guarding their women with Black eunuchs, whom they call aghas, and only these men enter the women’s quarters to give and take messages.

blood brothers, which is why no windows in Algerian houses face the street. Nor might a Moor or Turk or renegade enter a house before the occupants begin shouting: “watch out, watch out, make way, make way!” and the women instantly run to hide in their bedrooms, like rab-

7.21 Marriage without Rituals—The Quaker Option (1685) Quakers rejected the formal rituals of the established Church of England and sought to solemnize their marriages in the old way—that is, by public recognition of a group of witnesses. Since this was illegal, it made their children illegitimate. Here they ask that Parliament recognize and authorize their own marriage ceremonies. Source: Anonymous, A Copy of a Marriage-Certificate of the People Called Quakers (1685).

A Copy of a Marriage-Certificate of the people called QUAKERS .

and Five, They the Said A.B. and E.F. appeared in a publick Assembly of the aforesaid People, and others, met together for that end and purpose in their publick Meeting-place at Bull and Mouth London, and (according to the Example of the Holy Men of God recorded in the Scriptures of Truth) in a solemn manner, he the said A.B. taking the said E.F. by the Hand, did openly declare as followeth. Friends, in the fear of the Lord, and in the presence of you his People, I take this my Friend E.F. to be my Wife, promising by the assistance of God, to be to her a faithful and loving Husband, till is please the Lord to separate us by death, [or to the same effect]. And then and there in the said Assembly, the said E.F. did in the like manner declare as followeth: Friends, in the fear of the Lord, and in the presence of you his People, I take this my Friend A.B. to be my Husband, promising to be to him a faithful, obedient and loving Wife, till death separate us, [or to the same effect]. And the said A.B. and E.F. as a further Confirmation thereof, did then and there to these Presents set their Hands; And we whose Names are herunto subscribed, being present, amongst others, at the solemnizing of their said Marriage and Subscription, in manner aforesaid, as Witnesses thereunto, have also to these Presents subscribed our Names, the Day and Year above-written.

Importing the Method used among them:

Humbly Presented

To the Members of Parliament, to manifest the said Peoples Christian Care, and Righteous Proceedings, not admitting Clandestine or Unwarrantable Marriages amongst them. And therefore they Humbly Request that their Marriages may not be rendred Clandestine or Illegal, nor they or their Children exposed to Suffering on that Account. A.B. Glass-Grinder in Southwark, Son of C.D. of Gilford in Surrey Scrivener deceased, and E.F. of Little Brittain, Daughter of G.H. in the Minories Shoomaker deceased: Having declared their Intentions of taking each other in Marriage before several publick Meetings of the People of God called Quakers in London, according to the good Order used amongst them: whose Proceeding therein, after a deliberate Consideration thereof, were approved by the said Meetings, they appearing clear of all others, and having Consent of Parties and Relations concerned. Now these are to Certifie All whom it may [concern]. That for the full accomplishing of their said Intentions, this 17th day of September in the Year, according to the English Account, One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty

[Signed by 23 men, 14 women. Also the two principals A.B. and E.F.]



7.22 A Woman Reflects on Marriage (1703) English marriage laws reduced women to property and put all marital property under the control of the husband alone. Mary Astell (1666–1731) doesn’t consider herself an object, and finding the legal arrangement to be a bad bargain, she uses satire to reflect on what marriage should mean. Source: Mary Astell, Some Reflections on Marriage (London, 1703). In N.H. Keeble, The Cultural Identity of Seventeenth-Century Woman: A Reader (London: Routledge, 1994), p. 287.

out being responsible to the law, he may however do what is much more grievous to a generous mind, render her life miserable, for which she has no redress, scarce pity which is afforded to every other complainant. It being a wife’s duty to suffer everything without complaint. If all men are born free, how is it that all women are born slaves? … if reason is only allowed us by way of raillery, and the secret maxim is that we have none, or little more than brutes, ’tis the best way to confine us with chain and block to the chimney-corner, which probably might save the estates of some families and the honour of others …

… ’Tis true, through want of learning and of that superior genius which men, as men, lay claim to, she [i.e., Mary Astell herself] was ignorant of the natural inferiority of our sex, which our masters lay down as a self-evident and fundamental truth. She saw nothing in the reason of things, to make this either a principle or a conclusion, but much to the contrary; it being sedition at least, if not treason, to assert it in this reign [of Queen Anne]. For if by the natural superiority of their sex they mean that every man is by nature superior to every woman, which is the obvious meaning, and that which must be stuck to if they would speak sense, it would be a sin in any woman to have dominion over any man, and the greatest queen ought not to command but to obey her footman, because no municipal law can supersede or change the Law of Nature … If they mean that some men are superior to some women, this is no great discovery; had they turned the tables they might have seen that some women are superior to some men. Or had they been pleased to remember their oaths of allegiance and supremacy, they might have known that one woman is superior to all the men in these nations … … if absolute sovereignty be not necessary in a state, how comes it to be so in a family? or if in a family, why not in a state, since no reason can be alleged for the one that will not hold more strongly for the other? If the authority of the husband so far as it extends is sacred and inalienable, why not of the prince? The domestic sovereignty is without dispute elected, and the stipulations and contract are mutual; is it not then partial in men to the last degree to contend for, and practise, that arbitrary dominion in their families which they abhor and exclaim against in the state? For if arbitrary power is evil in itself, and an improper method of governing rational and free agents, it ought not to be practised anywhere; nor is it less but rather more mischievous in families than in kingdoms, by how much 100,000 tyrants are worse than one. What though a husband can’t deprive a wife of life with-

Some Reflections upon Marriage … if marriage be such a blessed state, how comes it, you may say, that there are so few happy marriages? Now in answer to this, it is not to be wondered that so few succeed, we should rather be surprised to find so many do, considering how imprudently men engage, the motives they act by, and the very strange conduct they observe throughout. For pray, what do men propose to themselves in marriage? What qualifications do they look after in a spouse? “What will she bring?” is the first enquiry, “How many acres?” … Few men have so much goodness as to bring themselves to a liking of what they loathed merely because it is their duty to like; on the contrary, when they marry with an indifferency to please their friends or increase their fortune, the indifferency proceeds to an aversion, and perhaps even the kindness and complaisance of the poor abused wife shall only serve to increase it … If … it is a woman’s hard fate to meet with a disagreeable temper … she is as unhappy as anything in this world can make her. For when a wife’s temper does not please, if she makes her husband uneasy, he can find entertainments abroad, he has an hundred ways of relieving himself, but neither prudence nor duty will allow a woman to fly out, her business and entertainment are at 124

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what is in the very literal sense a caring for the things of the world, a caring not only to please, but to maintain a husband? … … how can a man respect his wife when he has a contemptible opinion of her and her sex? When from his own elevation he looks down on them as void of understanding and full of ignorance and passion, so that folly and a woman are equivalent terms with him? Can he think there is any gratitude due to her whose utmost services he exacts as strict duty? Because she was made to be a slave to his will, and has no higher end than to serve and obey him! … She then who marries ought to lay it down for an indispensable maxim, that her husband must govern absolutely and entirely, and that she has nothing else to do but to please and obey. She must not attempt to divide his authority, or so much as dispute it (to struggle with her yoke will only make it gall the more) but must believe him wise and good and in all respects the best, at least he must be so to her. She who can’t do this is no way fit to be a wife, she may set up for that peculiar coronet [for virginity] the ancient Fathers talked of, but is not qualified to receive that great reward which attends the eminent exercise of humility and self-denial, patience and resignation, the duties that a wife is called to.

home, and though he makes it ever so uneasy to her she must be content and make her best on’t. She who elects a monarch for life, who gives him an authority she cannot recall however he misapply it, who puts her fortune and person entirely in his powers … had need be very sure that she does not make a fool her head, nor a vicious man her guide and pattern … … the woman has in truth no security but the man’s honour and good nature, a security that in this present age no wise person would venture much upon … … since God has placed different ranks in the world, put some in a higher and some in a lower station, for order and beauty’s sake, and for many good reasons; though it is both our wisdom and duty not only to submit with patience, but to be thankful and well-satisfied when by his providence we are brought low, yet there is no manner of reason for us to degrade our selves; on the contrary, much why we ought not. The better our lot is in this world and the more we have of it, the greater is our leisure to prepare for the next; we have the more opportunity to exercise that god-like quality, to taste that divine pleasure, doing good to the bodies and souls of those beneath us. Is it not then ill manners to Heaven, and an irreligious contempt of its favours, for a woman to slight that nobler employment, to which it has assigned her, and thrust herself down to a meaner drudgery, to

Reading Questions 1. What concerns are uppermost in the minds of parents? In the minds of children? 2. How do broader networks of family and political allies play a role in choosing mates and determining marriage arrangements? Why is this so important? 3. Are young people ever able to make their own choices with regard to marriage partners? When and why? 4. What do the Dutch, Spanish, and English anti-marriage satires have in common, and on what points do they differ? Are the authors wary of commitment, or are they tired of the obsessions with property? 5. Why is it so hard to end a marriage?



Sex, Gender, and Prostitution Not everyone accepted the idea of heterosexual marriage as the expectation for life or the norm for sexual activity. There were many opportunities for sex outside of marriage, and city governments took the lead in opening brothels because they thought that rape, child assault, and same-sex relations might otherwise expand. They may have been right. Muslim Spain, Protestant London, and Catholic Venice all provide examples of prostitution and brothels in the documents below, while we also find from Italian, French, and English sources examples of sexual activity outside the rules, including both same-sex relations and sexual activity in convents.

8.1 A Morisca Prostitute in Valencia (1491) Mariem’s path to the brothel is depressingly familiar—alienated from her husband, she is turned away by her mother and falls in with a pimp who rapes her and prostitutes her before selling her as a slave to a local noble, who installs her in a brothel in Valencia’s Muslim quarter, where she is arrested for unlicensed prostitution. She receives some justice in the court, though her future remains uncertain. Source: “Confessions Exacted from the Prostitute Mariem, a Muslim Woman in Valencia” (1491). In Olivia Remie Constable (Ed.), Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 494–95.

She was asked with whom did she come [to Valencia]. She answered that [she came] with a procurer by the name of Cutaydal [a Muslim], whose place of origin, she said, was unknown to her. She was asked if she is with that one [Cutaydal] freely or by compulsion. She answered that presently she is no longer with him, since he mistreated her; however, previously she was and came with him out of her own free will, for he had promised to make her his wife.

First she was asked her name. She answered that it is Mariem. She was asked whose daughter she is. She answered that she is the daughter of Yuseff Algumeli, Muslim of the village of Alasquer. She was asked how she came here [that is, to the city of Valencia]. She answered that it was because of her mother, for her mother had forced her to return to her husband. 127


twenty pounds, but that the said Don Altobello had told her that it was for thirty pounds. She was asked what she does with her earnings [from prostitution]. She answered that she has worked for two days, and that everything she earns goes to Don Altobello. And that he [Don Altobello] has told her that he will take her earnings into account toward her ransom. She was asked if she has taken any clothing or jewelry from the said village of Alasquer. She answered that she has not taken anything other than the clothes she is wearing. … She was asked if she is married and has a husband. She answered yes, she was married with a letter of sadaq [Arabic, dower], according to the custom of the Muslims. Her husband is named Mahomat Jahupi. She was asked if she has worked [as a prostitute] and has committed adultery with any Muslim in the present city of Valencia. She answered that she has been a prostitute and has worked in the brothel of the moreria [Muslim quarter] of Valencia. She was asked if she had committed adultery before she was put in the brothel of the moreria of Valencia. She answered yes, that is, that she slept with the said Cutaydal in the city of Valencia. She was asked if she was adhering to the aforesaid confessions. She answered yes, that she will always adhere to them.

She was asked if he [Cutaydal] put her to work [as a prostitute] with her free consent or by compulsion. She answered that in the beginning she, the said defendant, traveled with the said Cutaydal voluntarily, for he had promised to make her his wife. She was asked if she, the said defendant, is in the brothel voluntarily or if the said Cutaydal was forcing her to be there. And she answered that before she, the said defendant, became a prostitute, the said Cutaydal threatened her, telling her that the agents of the lord cardinal [of Valencia; a major landholder in the kingdom with a reputation for mistreating Muslims] would enslave her. And therefore it was decided [by Mariem and Cutaydal] that she should be sold to the noble Don Altobello [de Centelles] and that with this she would be secure [that is, safe from the cardinal’s men as Don Altobello’s slave, a more benign master]. And so she was led to believe that she had been sold to Don Altobello, and thus they have put her in the brothel. And thus she has had to endure being there and is there voluntarily. She was asked if she would like to return to the custody of her husband or of her mother and return to freedom, instead of being where she is. She answered that she does not wish to return to her husband, but that she desires to return to her mother rather than being where she is. She was asked for the quantity [of money] she was sold to the said Don Altobello. She answered that the said Cutaydal led her to believe that he had sold her for

8.2 A Catalogue of London Prostitutes (1691) Printers in Venice, Amsterdam, and London found an audience for these fictitious catalogues that gave the names, characteristics, and prices of prostitutes. Part satire, part social commentary, and all profit, their descriptions of prostitutes give us a sense of the standards by which all women were evaluated. Source: Anonymous, A Catologue of Jilts, Cracks, Prostitutes, Night-Walkers, Whores, She-Friends, Kind Women, and Others of the Linnen-Lifting Tribe (London, 1691).

2. Mrs. Eliz. H—n, her Sister, as well by Iniquity as by birth; the very Ape of Female Quality, both as to her Dress and Carriage; she is very indifferent as to matter of money, but a Supper of two Guineas may tempt her to be kind. — 02 l. 03 s. 00 d.

1. Mrs. Mary H—n, a tall, graceful, comely Woman, indebted for two thirds of her beauty to Washes and the Patch-box; she mightily frequents the Raffling-shops, very shy of allowing her Favours; but the present of Silver Furniture for her Chamber may mollify her, which will cost you but — 20 l. 00 s. 00 d. 128

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produce the Ready, and she tacks about; her usual rate is — 00l. 07s. 06d. 13. Mrs. Bridget W—ms, a pretty little black Woman, has not been debauch’d above two years, not yet a Mistress of her prosession; the usual custom being to give her half a Crown, and then to Bully her of the Money again — 00l. 02s. 06d. 14. Mrs. Dorothy E—ds, a very fair Woman, who kept a Coffee-house near Charing Cross, has a particular fancy for Soldiers, from the embroidered Officer to the thredbare Red coat sentinel; her prizes are various, and therefore ’tis left to the kind Cully’s discretion. — 00l. 00s. 00d. 15. Mrs. Katherine D——r, a Woman that loves a Vizormask to that degree of findness, that she lies in one every Night; she may pass for a Woman of tolerable understanding while she is so obscured; but the Disguise taken off, instead of inviting, she frightens you from an Intreague. — 00l. 00s. 00d. 16. Mrs. Sarah W—ks, a tall brown Woman, newly come out of a Flux, she dresses as fine as Gause and painted Callico can make her, if you mount the Guard, the price, with Saddle and Furniture, is — 00l. 10s. 00d. 17. Mrs. Peggy L—ly, a sly insinuating Crack, who in company always talks of her Husband at Sea; her whole cargo, with Topsails and Rigging, are hardly worth 10 shillings, but beware of her lower tire, for several have to their sorrow found her a Fire-ship — 00l. 00s. 00d. 18. Mrs. M—ws, formerly a Player in Salisbury-court, known by her Teeth jutting out before; her good rigging makes her pass for a first rate Crack; her demands are commonly a Guinea, but those who have dealt in the Commodity know she will take — 00l. 02s. 06d. 19. Mrs. Sarah H—th, a very black Woman, who has several times attempted to turn honest, but her itching flesh won’t let her, and so is forced to continue a Crack in her own defence; her demand is — 00l. 02s. 06d. 20. Mrs. A——ld, her quondam Companion, with a Nose like a Bollonia Lapdog, she has been lately in the Powdering-tub of Affliction; a good easie Girl, who scorns to ask for money, but will not take it unkindly if you present her with a Crown for her Company. — 00l. 05s. 00d. 21. Mrs. W—by, formerly Miss to Col. S—field in Ireland, but reduced to that necessity, that she who formerly refused five Guineas for the allowance of a private Favour, will now take up with any ordinary Fellow for — 00l. 01s. 00d.

3. Mrs. Eliz. B——w, a very fine Woman who has been a Dealer in Cullies since she was fifteen; modest and pleasant enough, till after the third bottle, but the Messalina herself was not half so imprudent; she has several prizes for her Ware, but her usual price is — 03 l. 01 s. 06 d. 4. Mrs. Di— P——p, a very fair Woman, and loves none but those of her own Complexion, has a sort of Sparks who buz about her, like Flies about a Honey-pot, whoever engages her to a Glass of Wine, must reckon himself fortunate if he comes off for — 03 l. 04 s. 06 d. 5. Mrs. Dorothy R—t, a tall comely Woman, a little redfaced, by drinking too much Usquebagh when she lived near Essex-street; she would be thought, by her haughtiness, to be a Woman of condition, but those who know her better are sensible she will allow a man her company for a bottle. — 00 l. 01 s. 04 d. 6. Mrs. Sarah F—r, a great two-handed Strapper, having no Charms either in Person or Humour; yet will follow her old Trade, though she is kickt and bumpt about almost every Night; if she snaps a Cully his Pockett must pay — 00l. 05s. 00d. 7. Posture Moll, a plump brown Woman, but so very well known, that as Nicholas Culpepper says of some Herbs and Plants, she needs no description; the usual price of her Raree show is — 00l. 02s. 06d. 8. Mrs. Y——g, her Disciple or Deputy who studied the Mathematicks under her, and has improved finely; her price is the same with her Mistress; but she will pick your pocket if she can, and then it may cost more than — 00l. 02s. 06d. 9. Mrs. Mary L—d, a constant frequenter of the eighteen penny Gallery in the Play house; plump and jolly, if her impudence doesn’t dash you out of countenance; at first meeting her price is 5s but you may perswade her to abate a shilling — 00l. 05s. 00d. 10. Mrs. Martha K—g, a little fat Woman, known last Winter by her Velvet Gown and Peticoat, which was a Lyburn Legacy; she has a very particular way of inflaming a Reckoning, so that you who thought to have come off for your 2 shillings may spend before you part — 01l. 01s. 06d. 11. Mrs. Abigail T—y, a tall slender Woman, a great frequenter of Covent Garden Players, who makes her Devotion a Bawd to her Lust, her price is — 00l. 10s. 00d. 12. Mrs. Susan C——n, the errantest she Hypocrite living; all bawdry with her is but Natural Philosophy; at her first coming into Company she appears a Saint, but



22. Mrs. Eliz. (alias Betty) S—ds, formerly a Retailer of Oranges at the Playhouse; the very Quintessence of Leudness, who brags she has been tilted at by many

Lances, as there are men in the Confederate Army: her price is 5s and a Clap she gives into the bargain. — 00l. 05s. 00d.

Figure 8.1  Master of Anthony of Burgundy, German Bathhouse (c. 1470) An illustration of a Renaissance bathhouse, a public space where men and women alike could enjoy various pleasures of the flesh, from eating to sex.


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8.3 City Government Establishing a Brothel (1460) Many cities decided that a brothel was a “necessary evil”: the best way to curb the problems of young men falling into sexual assault of women or same-sex relations with other young men. In the city of Venice, it was the Criminal Court of the Forty that took the decisions on where to place the brothel, how much to charge prostitutes to work there, and the rules and regulations for the brothel and for the women. Source: “The Rialto Brothel and the Regulation of Prostitution” (1460). In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 120–23.

sum of 3 lire per month apiece, that being the sum they used to pay towards the fortified brothel which is not to be destroyed. And the said Don Priamo shall be bound to build and provide a sufficient number of vaults or booths. That the said Don Priamo shall now and in the future be obliged to keep the said houses or booths in a good state of repair at his own expense, and shall further be bound to provide suitable and necessary accommodation for these sinful women. That two castellans shall be appointed to remain on guard in the said fortified brothel from the twenty-fourth hour [sunset] to the second hour of the night, lest the sinful women be molested or injured. Each castellan shall receive 3 lire per month from public funds, and shall observe all the other rules which used to apply in the fortified brothel that is now to be destroyed. That from henceforth no one may enter the fortified brothel bearing a knife or other weapons, upon a fine of 25 lire and one month’s imprisonment, notwithstanding any licence or permission he may have to bear arms. Item. The said Lords have ordained that from henceforth all whores of the island of Rialto must repair to the public place and to the vaults assigned to them, upon a fine of 10 lire and twenty-five lashes each. Item. They have decreed that no sinful or other woman may have herself touched or have carnal knowledge of any man in the daytime in any inn, tavern …

By command of the most illustrious Signoria the Lord Heads of the Sestieri have been entrusted with the task of finding a suitable and proper place where the whores must abide, and of making fitting arrangements for these sinful women. Hence the noble and wise Lords and Heads of the Sestieri, Francesco Contarini, Marino Coco, Pietro Lombardo, Antonio Coppo and Natalin Nadal, together with Ser Andrea Gradenigo of the Criminal Court of the Forty (in place of the Head of the sestier of San Polo), faithfully executing the orders issued to them by the most illustrious Signoria, have examined all places on the island of Rialto, and have agreed that the best solution and the least harmful to that island would be for these sinful women to abide in the houses of the noble Priamo Malipiero. They are situated in a street behind the inn called the Ox, and Don Priamo has granted them to the Heads of the Sestieri on the same terms and conditions, and at the same rent, as when the first fortified brothel [castelletus], which is now to be demolished, was built. First, the Lord Heads of the Sestieri, having looked into the matter thoroughly and taken information, have determined that every sinful woman who resides in the said alley or street shall be bound to pay 6 lire per month by the way of rent for each room, and other sinful women who do not reside in that common place but do occupy vaults [voltas]1 on the island of Rialto shall be obliged to contribute to the common place or fortified brothel the

1 Voltaie or volte were literally vaults or storerooms to house merchandise; in this context the word suggests a bleak, utilitarian room without windows, and perhaps expresses the notion that prostitutes were merchandise. 131


Figure 8.2  Venetian Public Prostitute This sixteenth-century woodcut uses fashion and posture to express the apparent extravagance and brazenness of public prostitutes. From her hair style to her shoes to her open bodice, this prostitute represents the opposite of those idealized women’s virtues: charity and humility. 132

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8.4 Same-Sex Relations and Cross-Dressing (1477) Although a woman who took the “active” sexual role was punished more severely than her “passive” partners, all of the women involved were punished in various ways. Here is the case of a German woman who had long-term sexual relationships with multiple women. It offers a rare legal case of same-sex relations between women in the early modern period. Source: Court records (1477). In Helmut Puff, “Female Sodomy: The Trial of Katherina Hetzeldorfer (1477),” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30, no. 1 (2000): 41–62.

Hannss Welcker says, among other things, that he had heard from Ennel Helmstat[ner] that she said that she who stands in the dock and who is supposed to be a man—that she abducted her, whom she calls a sister, from a noble and is not her sister. Katherina Hetzeldorferin from Nuremberg [testifying]: She says that she did it first with one finger, thereafter with two, and then with three, and at last with the piece of wood that she held between her legs to the extent she said and confessed before. (She also says that the woman who was with her is her sister and that she has nothing to do with her [i.e., has had no sex with her]. She was ready to die for that [i.e., it is really true].) She says that she who was with her is not her sister and says that she encountered her in Wefthelm and took her here [to Speyer] (she did not court her nor do anything dishonest with her) and had her ways with her. And she also says thereafter that she made an instrument with a red piece of leather, at the front filled with cotton, and a wooden stick stuck into it, and made a hole through the wooden stick, put a string through, and tied it round; and therewith she had her roguery with the two women and her who is supposed to be her sister. She was drowned—requiescat in pace—on Friday before the deposition of Saint Guido. When the Schreckenspoenn said such about her, and when she insisted that she did not know anything other than that she was a man and committed an act of knavery with her three times, she remained arrested because of that until the aforementioned Katherina was executed, [in order to find out] whether Katherina wanted to absolve her for not knowing anything other than that she took her for a man, and [in that case] ban her ten miles’ distance from the city. Similarly Else, wife of Wendel Muter, with whom she had to do once [i.e., had sex with her once], remained arrested. And on the following Saturday they both swore ten miles from the city [i.e., they were exiled ten miles from the city]. Friday after Judica, 1477.

Else, wife of Wendel Muter, says, among many other things, that around four weeks ago she who stands in the dock [i.e., the accused] came to her at her house when her husband was not at home. She knocked on the door so long that in the end she [i.e., Else] let her in. Among other things, [she says] when they were together she put her up in a different bed. Then [however] she who stands in the dock lay down in bed with her and, during many quarrels, sat down on top of the above-mentioned Else, and tried to seduce her and to have her manly will with her. [In the margin at this point: As she in fact did it with her once just like a man. She (i.e., the accused) also says that if she is to be punished she did it once. She also says that her semen is so much that it is beyond measure, that one could grab it with a full hand.] She [i.e., Else] grabbed it [the penis] and felt that it was a huge thing, as big as half an arm. She thought it was like a horn and pointed in front and wide behind. She could hardly ward her off. Among other things, when she broke loose she who stands in the dock [i.e., the accused] jumped out of the window. She also says when she came to her she showed her the penis and tried to have her will with her and offered to give her eight florins. She [i.e., Else] also says that she [i.e., the accused] urinates through this thing. She also says that she who stands in the dock prohibited her [from telling others], and she promised not to mention it to anybody. She also says that she who is supposed to be her sister said in her brief that she who stands in the dock had deflowered her and had made love to her during two years. She also said that she did not know anything other than that men should be granted such roguery. Else, wife of Henck [?] Michel [?], says that during carnival she saw that she who stands in the dock stood, whored like a man, and she grabbed her just like a man. She also says that with hugging and kissing she behaved exactly like a man with women, as she said. Ennel Helmstetner says that once upon a time she asked the accused for information about her sister … asked how it came … that she … her sister … she was her husband. 133


8.5 Warning Parents about Same-Sex Relations among Girls (1771) Adolescent boys had been thought to be particularly susceptible to same-sex attraction, and this late eighteenth-century French author advises parents to beware of the relations that might grow between their daughters and young female servants, particularly when the daughters are recuperating from illness. Source: J.D.T de Bienville, Nymphomania, or Treatise on Uterine Fury (1771). In Jeffrey Merrick, Homosexuality in Early Modern France: A Documentary Collection (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 29–30.

examine her and observe her conduct with the same strictness as one would with a prostitute who had given rise to the most vehement suspicions. The sick girl’s gestures and glances when being attended by this servant should be observed with the greatest care. Criminal familiarity between these unfortunate women and their young mistresses or young pupils is a more widespread contagion than is thought. Less is made of it when the danger is less evident, and the danger is great only when it is less perceptible. If after all these observations, there does not appear to be any unusual relationship with anyone, it can be reasonably assumed that the sick girl’s imagination is the source of her problems, and that a secret profligacy has brought them to the point of malignancy that requires the application of remedies. It will thus be necessary, if the sick girl persists in lying, not to lose sight of her for an instant, day or night, during which she should be given as a sleepmate a girl whose virtue and prudence are beyond reproach.

On the Means of Healing in the First and Second Stages and the Relief that May be Hoped for in the Third Stage With regard to the third stage of the condition, it will be up to the parents or those entrusted with the education of the sick girl to carry out everything necessary to complete it fully. But I should show them the means to do so and demonstrate what experience, which has often filled me with shock and horror, has taught me only too surely. It is therefore necessary to investigate who the sick girl’s most intimate and dearest acquaintances are. And without seeking to go into their morals or watching what the continuation of these intimacies might produce, with whatever sex these acquaintances might be, it is necessary to separate them on pretexts that can neither offend them nor cause the sick girl’s mind to rebel, which it is advisable to spare because of its weakness, and that of the organs. If this relationships exists with a servant, no matter how much prudence is attributed her, it is necessary to

8.6 A Transvestite Prostitute (1385) Female prostitutes were sometimes prosecuted for wearing men’s clothing and engaging in sodomitical relations. This early case shows the reverse: a male transvestite prostitute who was apprehended wearing women’s clothes and having sex with another man. Source: London Records Office, Plea and Memoranda Roll A34, m.2 (1385).

On 11 December, 18 Richard 11, were brought in the presence of John Fressh, Mayor, and the Aldermen of the City of London John Brithy of the county of York and John Rykener, calling [himself] Eleanor, having been detected

in women’s clothing, who were found last Sunday night between the hours of 8 and 9 by certain officials of the city lying by a certain stall in Soper’s Lane committing that detestable, unmentionable, and ignominious vice. 134

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back [he] would make [his] husband bring suit against him. Rykener further confessed that for five weeks before the feast of St. Michael’s last [he] was staying at Oxford, and there, in women’s clothing and calling himself Eleanor, worked as an embroideress; and there in the marsh three unsuspecting scholars—of whom one was named Sir William Foxlee, another Sir John, and the third Sir Walter—practiced the abominable vice with him often. John Rykener further confessed that on Friday before the feast of St. Michael [he] came to Burford in Oxfordshire and there dwelt with a certain John Clerk at the Swan in the capacity of tapster for the next six weeks, during which time two Franciscans, one named Brother Michael and the other Brother John, who gave [him] a gold ring, and one Carmelite friar and six foreign men committed the abovesaid vice with him, of whom one gave Rykener twelve pence, one twenty pence, and one two shillings. Rykener further confessed that [he] went to Beaconsfield and there, as a man, had sex with a certain Joan, daughter of John Matthew, and also there two foreign Franciscans had sex with him as a woman. John Rykener also confessed that after [his] last return to London a certain Sir John, once chaplain at the Church of St. Margaret Pattens, and two other chaplains committed with him the aforementioned vice in the lanes behind St. Katherine’s Church by the Tower of London. Rykener further said that he often had sex as a man with many nuns and also had sex as a man with many women both married and otherwise, how many [he] did not know. Rykener further confessed that many priests had committed that vice with him as with a woman, how many [he] did not know, and said that [he] accommodated priests more readily than other people because they wished to give [him] more than others.

In a separate examination held before the Mayor and Aldermen about the occurrence, John Britby confessed that he was passing through the high road of Cheap on Sunday between the abovementioned hours and accosted John Rykener, dressed up as a woman, thinking he was a woman, asking him as he would a woman if he could commit a libidinous act with her. Requesting money for [his] labor, Rykener consented, and they went together to the aforesaid stall to complete the act, and were captured there during these detestable wrongdoings by the officials and taken to prison. And John Rykener, brought here in woman’s clothing and questioned about this matter, acknowledged [himself] to have done everything just as John Britby had confessed. Rykener was also asked who had taught him to exercise this vice, and for how long and in what places and with what persons, masculine or feminine, [he] had committed that libidinous and unspeakable act. [He] swore willingly on [his] soul that a certain Anna, the whore of a former servant of Sir Thomas Blount, first taught him to practice this detestable vice in the manner of a woman. [He] further said that a certain Elizabeth Brouderer first dressed him in women’s clothing; If she also brought her daughter Alice to diverse men for the sake of lust, placing her with those men in their beds at night without light, making her leave early in the morning and showing them the said John Rykener dressed up in women’s clothing, calling him Eleanor and saying that they had misbehaved with her. [He] further said that certain Phillip, rector of Theydon Garnon, had sex with him as with a woman in Elizabeth Brouderer’s house outside Bishopsgate, at which time Rykener took away two gowns of Phillip’s, and when Phillip requested them from Rykener he said that [he] was the wife of a certain man and that if Phillip wished to ask for them

8.7 Prosecuting a Priest for Same-Sex Relations (1651) Here is testimony assembled against a French priest who was charged with having sexual relations with men. Source: “Charges against Jean Verré” (1651). In Jeffrey Merrick, Homosexuality in Early Modern France: A Documentary Collection (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 33–37.

The young lady Marie Pagnie, widow of the late Jacques Regnart, living like a bourgeois, linen worker of Cambrai, resident of the parish of Saint-Georges, 52 or 53 years old,

after swearing an oath in the hands of the undersigned clerk of the archbishop’s court of Cambrai, asked about certain questions put to her by the appointed proctor 135


chaplain of Sainte-Croix and since of Saint-Georges in said Cambrai, that they, having gone to bed with said Verre, took them by the penis or virile member, and shook it and provoked pollution in them. Adding that being himself in bed with said Verre, Verre wanted to do likewise with him, with which the soldier did not want to comply, which he stated to Martin. Thus said My Faithful One told him that he was doing evil and something indecent and that it would be better if he purged himself with women or girls, and that the offense would not be so great, by which said speaker was greatly scandalized, and nevertheless by common report he understand that young men or lads called said Verre cock jerker, and said Verre was suspected of and caused scandal by such foul deeds. Michel le Jeune, mason, bourgeois of Cambrai, resident of the parish of Sainte-Elizabeth, 50 years old, sworn, heard, and examined like the preceding witnesses, said that several years ago now master Jean Verre caused scandal by and was suspected of the sodomitical sin and that when he was seen walking through the streets, people said, there is the priest who wants to play the Italian whore, which he heard in various places and taverns, and it happened again when he walked by the house of [illegible name], selling bandy-wine near the pottery cross, and other times heard it said in public, without being able to say by whom, when said Verre was seen going by, “There is the dear chaplain who wants to do it from behind.” Antoine le Jeune, his brother, having told him that being one time in bed with said Verre, Verre wanted to attempt such a vile deed on him and that he was forced to get up and leave him, said also that a certain soldier of the company of said captain Pousque, known as My Faithful One, now deceased, recounted to him that said Verre also tried to make a similar attempt on his person and that he tried to win some soldiers in similar ways.

[lawyer presenting a case to an ecclesiastical court] of said court, said and deposed that master Jean Verre, priest, lately chaplain of said Saint-Georges, lived and kept a room at her house for a period of about two years, having left it at the time of the festival of Saint-Remy [1 October] last year, during which time she saw that said Verre admitted to his said room, at different times and on different occasions, various men, both priests and laymen, who sometimes slept in his room, where there was but one bed. Not having seen or noticed any disorder, except that one time a certain Spanish soldier from Monsieur the governor’s guard left the room at dusk or in the evening and came downstairs completely displeased, saying that said Verre was a badly disposed man and that he needed a woman rather than a man, without having explained himself further. And having drawn some beer from the tavern for said soldier at the request of said Verre, he brought it to his said room, saying to said speaker that he would sleep there like he has done, and having asked him where he would sleep, he responded to said speaker that he would sleep on the floor, by which said speaker feeling scandalized and she expressed her resentment and dissatisfaction to said Verre. [In margin: The next day] asking him why he thus detained and had spent the night with such a person in his room. Upon which said Verre alleged excuses with which said speaker was hardly satisfied, everything heard, having signed after the reading. Master Jean Martin, priest, chaplain of Sainte-Croiz in Cambrai, 63 or so years old, introduced and examined like the preceding witness, after swearing the oath, on the priest’s word and by his sacred orders, with his hand on his heart, said and deposed that he heard, about two or so years ago, from a certain soldier in the company of sieur captain de Pousque, now deceased, whose military nickname was My Faithful One, that various other soldiers told him that master Jean Verre, priest, formerly


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8.8 Socially Acceptable—and Unacceptable—Same-Sex Relations among Men (1509) In some places, same-sex relations among males might be acceptable if they followed an age-related pattern, with teenagers acting as “passives” for slightly older male “actives,” who themselves would move to exclusively heterosexual relations when they married. Here an author condemns what he considers the moral outrage of older Venetian elite men acting as passives and allowing young men to penetrate them. Source: “Homosexual Practices Unpunished, 1509.” In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 124–25.

their own fathers and senators becoming, as has been said, the ones who submit? Surely this is a wicked and abominable thing, unheard of in our own times, especially among old men. It was said that this vice on the part of the aged had come from Rome, for the prelates and other old people were given to it, and there were passive homosexuals in the papal court. Be this as it may, it was a most shameful and detestable excess, and greatly to be condemned in persons of all ages, but especially old men, and a dreadful sin which was not to be tolerated by the heavens, much less by the human courts of law. In the city of Venice there were so many decrees, laws and ordinances for the punishment of this execrable perversion that the books were full of them, and they imposed the penalty of burning on persons who committed such crimes. But these laws, ordinances and decrees were neither respected nor enforced, and that was because the persons responsible for their execution were themselves involved in these offences and had no heart to carry out the punishment, for they feared that the same penalty might fall upon themselves or their own children. For these reasons the thing was suppressed, and the fire which these criminals deserved was quenched and doused with water. It was true that, as it is written (I think) in earlier books, the punishment of this vice of sodomy was entrusted to the Council of Ten to arouse fear and trembling, for in the Venetian Republic nothing had greater authority, wisdom and judgment than the Council of Ten. However, the vice had now become so much a habit and so familiar to everyone, and it was so openly discussed throughout the city, that there came a time when it was so commonplace that no one said anything about it anymore, and it neither deserved nor received any punishment—except for some poor wretch who had no money, no favours, no friends, and no relations: justice was done on people like that, and not on

I have yet to speak of another wicked and pernicious vice, which was widely practiced and highly esteemed in this city, and this was the unnatural vice called sodomy, for which, as we read in ancient writings, the great God sent down fire upon the two cities so notorious to all. This vice was openly practiced in Venice without shame; indeed, it had become so habitual that it was more highly regarded than having to do with one’s own wife. Young Venetian nobles and citizens tricked themselves out with so many ornaments, and with garments that opened to show the chest, and with so many perfumes, that there was no indecency in the world to compare with the frippery and finery of Venetian youth and their provocative acts of luxury and venery. Truly they may be called not youths, but women. They were tolerated by their fathers and relatives although they deserved punishment; had [their elders] taken action on this effeminacy on the part of their sons and relatives, perhaps things would have gone differently and the heavens would not have allowed such a catastrophe to fall upon us. But such was the love of fathers for their children that they were blind to their ruin, sunk and drowning as they were in this accursed vice, and they neither saw nor realized it. By the power of money these [young people] turned from men into women, and now that after this disaster money must needs be in shorter supply they will do far worse things in their desire to obtain it, for they have been brought up to expect these lascivious refinements which one cannot have without money, and they cannot resist such things. What must I say and write, wise readers, about the Venetian patricians and senators, white-bearded, advanced in years and full of wisdom who were so sunk and drowning in this vice of Gomorrah that at their age they became passive homosexuals [patients], and paid the young men money to satisfy them in this perversion, 137


not apply to everyone; for truly there are many good, pious, and righteous fathers and senators. I say it only of some of them, and I think they are very few involved in this bestial practice—which is no wonder, for even among the twelve apostles there was one bad one.

those who had power and money and reputation, and yet committed far worse crimes. But I do not wish to leave this subject without assuring my most worthy readers that what I have said above, about Venetian patricians and senators implicated in this vice of Gomorrah, does

8.9 Sex and the Convent (1661) This testimony shows conflict between nuns in the convent, how sex might often become part of it, and the Inquisition’s greater concern with whether heresy might be expanding within the convent walls. Source: Testimony of Discalced Carmelite nun Ana de San Bartolomé against fellow nun Andrea de San Francisco for the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition in New Spain (1661). In Elisa Sampson Vera Tudela, Colonial Angels: Narratives of Gender and Spirituality in Mexico 1580–1750 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), pp. 137–40.

this mother’s honor, raising grave and false testimony against her. Using this she has discredited Maria de Santa Inés with the prelate, whom she has so utterly blinded and deceived that he believes all her sinister reports, doing himself much harm by allowing himself to be taken in by such wicked opinions. On another occasion I understood and heard from the mouth of Mother Mariana de la Encarnacion herself (founding mother of this convent) complaints about the wicked conscience and little fear of God with which this sister talked about Mother Maria de Santa Inés. She said these words to me, “I would put both my hands into the fire for her,” and she also said to me at this time, “Oh, my daughter, how painful it would be if she among all of us were to be elected prioress, may His Divine Majesty prevent it. Pray to God very fervently that she may be given light in order to save herself.” On another occasion, I heard this sister to be very distraught and indignant with Maria de la Encarnacion, who was the mother prioress at that time and very observant of the role. The cause of her indignation was nothing more than that the prioress had ordered that she attend mass in the convent when she was at the grille talking to a secular sister of hers whom she told to wait or to come back later, but the prioress did not allow her to come back, and this made her (Andrea de San Francisco) very unhappy and distraught, which was clear from the words I heard her say. She invoked God to revenge her and demanded justice and vengeance

What I feel and have always known about the sister Andrea de San Francisco is that she has a turbulent nature, lacking in humility, inclined to vanity, proud of herself, and very convinced of her great capabilities and intelligence, making herself out to be a reformer when not a single prelate or prioress who has had to correct her unruly nature has been able to cope with her. For from all of our corrections, she infers complaints and grievances done to her by the prioresses, saying that they all disliked her because what she wanted or tried to obtain was utmost perfection. With this she disturbs the community who knows her inside out, and all the nuns know her way of going about this—so contrary to the Carmelite religion. She is so blinded by her passions that she ignores the huge damage she has caused and is causing in this convent, discrediting with her tongue whenever she can the good opinion and name of the nuns, and in particular that of Maria de Santa Inés, who is esteemed by all in this city and is venerated for the many qualities and capacities that God has given her. For this reason I have noted in sister Andrea de San Francisco an envy that is evident to the whole convent. She tells these things to people outside the cloister, who have come to know her by her unguarded words, ill-considered and heedless of God and the obligations owing to Him. The bad propensity and wicked intentions that this our sister feels towards this nun Maria de Santa Inés have reached such a point that she has spoken infamously of 138

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that it will weaken, and the souls will fall off through lack of the spiritual doctrine and nourishment of our Holy Religion that this sister does so much to exile from this house, though she would be incapable of exerting herself [literally killing herself] to conserve the penitences of the order and the attendance at choir, for her nature is more inclined toward softness and ease than toward hardness and rigor. She lives very contentedly with her lack of inhibition, and not only is she angry but also bold in her words. She dared to summon the confessor who confesses us all and who is very upright and God-fearing cleric, reprehending him, asking how could he absolve us, and other things that I will leave in silence, they being too much. He was amazed to see such boldness from a nun wearing the Carmelite habit, but this is nothing in comparison with what this community knows and has experienced from this sister. May God reconcile her to truth and to knowledge of herself. On two occasions I have tried to talk to this poor sister with love and sisterly, full of sympathy for her ruinous state to see if I could reconcile her to union and peace. Thus I have approached her twice, saying “Sister Andrea de San Francisco, I am very sorry about your afflictions, for God’s sake calm down.” She hardly let me say a word when she turned toward me resolutely and said “God will return for me” or “God will revenge me”—I cannot remember accurately which of these words she said. As I saw her so intent of not repenting, I came up to her when she was alone and asked her with my hands uplifted, and for the sake of Jesus Christ and his Holy Mother, to do an act of humility and mortification in the refectory in front of the community. I said she would be edified if she showed abjection and humility. At this she looked at me irately, and told me that what I said was of no benefit to her. May the Grace of Jesus Christ be of some benefit to her. In proof that this is true, I sign my name. Ana de San Bartolomé.

from His Divine Majesty, saying that the prelate had threatened the entire convent and the prioress, and those who had been prioress (meaning by those words Mother Maria de Santa Inés). She has such an open aversion for Maria de Santa Inés that, the two times the latter was prioress, she gave her much trouble with her natural predilection for conversation with secular people—a thing with which this sister disturbs the prioress and the community. She does what she wishes whenever she wants, having no one to discipline her. She has deceived the prelate so utterly that he does most of what she wants; she is the prioress of the prioress, and so everything is upside down. The lay sisters have been deceived by her and set against the community. Their profession being a lowly one, she has raised them to the status of chapter nuns, inventing laws that are against the rule, which prohibits and bars these sisters from voting or giving an opinion or any advice on anything. She has stirred them up in this way and involves them in all the evils she plans for the convent, so making them turbulent and inattentive of their laws and obligations that prohibit them from the concerns in which this sister embroils them. With all this she causes an incredible disturbance to all the community. All her work and the whole purpose of her life is dedicated to escaping the observance and strictness of the order of her religion, which she has so repudiated and which every day she contradicts more, though she knows what Christ Our Lord said to Our Holy mother and a convent that was subject to the secular prelate. He said that if she did not try to put it under the authority of the order, it would soon fall into relaxed ways. Well, what hope can there be for this one where sister Andrea de San Francisco is? Nothing but certainty that it is at risk of damning itself. If God through his infinite mercy does not have pity on these souls and puts this convent under the authority of the order, there is no doubt but



8.10 Prosecuting Rape (1675) Edward Coker was tried and found not guilty of the rape of an 11-year-old girl. The girl’s guardian testified that the girl had cried out and there were physical signs of assault. While the judge did not think there was sufficient proof that the attack had been non-consensual, he did not want Coker to go unpunished. He was charged with assault instead, and fined. Source: “Edward Coker—Rape of a Minor in the Old Bailey,” Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 15 January 1675. Old Bailey Online.

fact appeared very foul against him yet the Circumstances thereto not being so direct as to prove a Rape, according as the law directs on those cases, he was brought in not guilty upon that Indictment, but that he might not go Scot-free the Court directed another Bill to be drawn up for an Assault upon the said Child, which Bill was found, and upon his tryal thereupon was found guilty, and was fined 25 Markes by the Court for his offence.

The next was one Edward Coker who stood indicted for the ravishing of a Child of 11 yeares old, the Child was there and gave her Evidence in Court that the said Coker coming into her Aunts house where she lived, did get her into a Room and did there force her: The Aunt attested that she hearing the Child cry out, came into the Room where he was in the dark with her, and found by evident tokens that the Child had bin abused, but although the

Reading Questions 1. Why did city governments get involved in the business of regulating and even facilitating prostitution? 2. Based on regulations, what women engaged in prostitution and why? Do the different regulations point to different forms of prostitution? 3. Was sex about pleasure? If not, what was it about? 4. Same-sex relations were not always condemned, or were sometimes condemned for reasons that we might find odd. How did early moderns view same-sex relations?



Poverty and Poor Relief Early modern society saw expanding trade and fortunes and the development of commercial culture and luxury trades. But the stark reality was that the majority of people were poor, sometimes desperately so. Poverty hit across cities and rural areas thanks to famines, plagues, and economic collapse, and it also hit across the life cycle, with the children, the disabled, and the elderly being particularly vulnerable. These were the ones most often considered worthy of special help, unlike unemployed youth, who were often considered to be unworthy fraudsters, as Erasmus’ dialogue shows. There were many efforts by different cities to reform poor relief in the early modern period, and we can see that Wittenburg, Ypres, and Rouen all launched ambitious systems, often by consolidating the resources in a wide range of charitable institutions and making it harder to get that help. Some poor were expected to move into workhouses, while others were given only a day’s food and shelter and then sent out of town. The English proposals show that education and work were often put forward as solutions for the young, particularly orphans, but the Spanish and French appeals show that there were no easy fixes, and that costs often undermined easy, modest plans.

9.1 Rural Poverty in France (1484) The sharp edge of poverty was hunger. This document is an appeal to the French Estates General to do something about the causes of hunger: war, taxes, and privileges. The petitioners are not asking their political superiors to give them bread but rather to stop taking the food from their plates. Source: Journal of the Estates General of France held at Tours (1484). Chaier of the Estates, “The Plight of the French Poor,” translated by James Bruce Ross, in James Bruce Ross and Mary Martin McLaughlin (Eds.), The Portable Renaissance Reader (New York: Viking Books, 1953), pp. 214–18.

Cahier of the Estates General For the third and common estate, the people of the three estates declare that this kingdom is at present like a body

which has been drained of its blood by various wounds, to such an extent that all its members are empty. And just as the blood is the nourishment of the corporal life, so the 141


And if in times past there were many evils, it has been even worse since the death of the king. And if the people had not felt the hope of some relief on the accession of the new king, they would have abandoned their labours. And as for the intolerable burden of tallage and taxes which the poor people of this kingdom have not carried, to be sure, for that would have been impossible, but under which they have died and perished from hunger and poverty, the mere description of the grievousness of these imposts would cause infinite sadness and woe, tears of pity, great sighs and groans from sorrowing hearts; not to mention the enormity of the evils which followed and the injustice, violence, and extortion with which these taxes were imposed and seized. And to consider these burdens which we may call not only intolerable but even deadly and pestiferous, who would ever have thought or dreamed of seeing this poor people so badly treated, who were formerly called free [françoys]. Now we may call them a people in worse condition than serfs, for serfs are nourished and this people has been crushed by intolerable burdens, such as securities, duties, impositions, and excessive tallage. While in the time of King Charles VII the quotas of the tallage imposed by the parish officials were counted only in twenties, such as twenty, forty, sixty pounds, after his death they began to be levied by hundreds, and since, they have grown from hundreds to thousands. And in many parishes where in the time of the late King Charles only forty or sixty pounds of tallage a year were levied, up to a thousand pounds were imposed in the year of the death of the last king [Louis XI]. And in the time of King Charles, in the duchies, Normandy, Languedoc, and others, the tallage was only in thousands but now it is in millions. And in the province of Normandy … there have followed many, great and pitiable consequences, for some have fled and sought shelter in England, Brittany, and elsewhere, others in great numbers have died of hunger, others in despair have killed their wives and children and themselves, seeing they had nothing left to live on. And many men, women, and children, having no animals, are forced to work yoked to the plough, and others labour at night out of fear that in daylight they will be seized and apprehended for the said tallage. And as a result parts of the land have remained unploughed, and all because they have been subject to the will of those who wish to enrich themselves with the substance of the people, and without the consent and deliberation of the three estates … And as to the manner of raising these tallages and taxes, great pillage and robbery have been committed which everyone knows about. Among great abuses and

finances of the kingdom are the nourishment of the commonwealth. The members are the clergy, the nobles, and people of the third estate, who are drained and denuded of resources; and there is no longer a bit of gold or silver in the said members except for those who have been near the king and have shared in his benefactions. And to understand the cause of this extreme poverty of the kingdom, it should be known that for eighty or a hundred years this poor French body has been drained almost continuously in various and pitiable ways … As for the little people, one could not imagine the persecution, poverty, and misery they have suffered and still suffer in many ways. First of all, since that time [1461, the death of Charles VII] no region has been free from the continual going and coming of armed men, living off the poor people, now the standing companies, now the feudal levies of nobles, now the free archers, sometimes the halberdiers and at other times the Swiss and pikemen, all of whom have done infinite harm to the people. And one should note and consider with pity the injustice and iniquity suffered by this poor people, for the men of arms are hired to defend them from oppression and yet it is they who oppress them the most. It is necessary for the poor labourer to pay and hire those who beat him, dislodge him from his house, make him sleep on the ground, deprive him of his substance; and yet securities are granted to the men of arms to preserve and defend them, and to protect their goods! And the iniquity of this practice is clear enough. For when the poor labourer has worked all day long in weariness and sweat of his body, and has gathered the fruit of his labour, from which he expects to live, they come to take from him part of the fruit of his labour, to hand over to someone who will perhaps beat him before the end of the month, and will come to remove the horses who have tilled the land which bore the fruit with which the man of war is paid. And when the poor labouring man has paid with great difficulty the quota he owes as tallage, for the hire of the men of arms and when he takes comfort in what is left to him, hoping it will be enough to live on for the year, or to sow, there suddenly come men of arms who eat up or waste this little reserve which the poor man has saved to live on. And there is still worse. For the man of war is not satisfied with the goods which he finds in the hut of the labourer but forces him by blows with stick or spear to go to town to get wine, white bread, fish, spices, and other luxuries. And, in truth, if God did not counsel the poor and give them patience, they would succumb in despair. 142

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money. Or at least if some receive them, let the pensions be reasonable, moderate, and bearable, out of regard for the afflictions and miseries of the poor people. For these pensions and monies are not taken from the domain of the king, nor could he supply them, but they are taken entirely from the third estate; and it is only the poor labourer who contributes to paying the said pensions. And thus it often happens that the poor labourer and his children die of hunger, for the substance on which he was to live was taken for the said pensions. And there is no doubt that in the payment of these there is sometimes a piece of money which has come out from the purse of a labourer whose children beg at the gates of those who receive the said pensions. And often the dogs are fed with bread bought with the pennies of the poor labourer on which he was to live.

injustices, all notorious, it has happened that the individuals of a parish who had already paid their quota and share have been imprisoned to pay what their neighbours owe, and even more than the other parishioners owed. And they were not through after paying the quota and share of the others but must also pay the sergeant, jailer, and clerk, or else suffer harm and the loss of their earnings. These things considered, it seems to the said estates that the king should take pity on his poor people, and relieve them of the said tallage and taxes, as he has proclaimed, in ordered that they may be able to live under him. And this they beg of him very humbly … And may it please my lords who take pensions to content themselves with the income from their own lords, without taking any extraordinary pensions or sums of

9.2 Poor Consumers Protesting Adulterated Food (1484; 1494) Food was expensive, and famine and starvation were constant threats for the poor, who counted on authorities to make good food available at a reasonable cost. Here are two accounts of protests that broke out after adulterated flour was found in Venetian markets. The authorities arrested the vendors and ordered the flour burned. Source: “Against Bad Flour, 1484, 1494.” In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 106–07.

There have been many complaints to our office that rotten and stinking flour is being sold in the flour warehouse, a thing that could easily infect this city with pestilential disease on account of the poor people who buy it because it costs them less. To avoid any unhappy consequences that might arise from this [abuse], we give orders that from henceforth no shopkeeper who has or holds a shop in the warehouse may sell or keep in his shop any rotten or stinking flour, but must keep and sell good flour that can [properly] be sold. If there is anyone, no matter who, that presumes to keep and sell in his shop rotten and stinking flour of this kind he shall at once be liable to a fine of 50 lire and shall forfeit this rotten flour, which shall be burnt or else flung into the water, and, if there is an accuser and through his accusation the truth is discovered, he shall have the said 50 lire and his name shall be kept secret. Proclaimed by Pietro di Riccardo, herald.

1484 About the our of Vespers on that day there was a great crowd of people coming together and rushing across the bridge to Rialto to see the burning of adulterated flour. For a certain man had imported sacks of flour in a ship to sell them, and it was discovered that the flour was mixed with ash and chalk and other kinds of white dust to make it seem more plentiful; for there was then a severe famine in Venice and flour and corn were very costly in the market place. When the fraud was detected the authorities brought the sellers of the flour under arrest to Venice and they ordered all the purchasers to return it, and they lit a fire in the middle of the Rialto and threw all the flour upon it and burned it in the sight of an enormous crowd. 1494 By order of the Signori, etc.



Figure 9.1  Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon (c. 1650) A scene of two young boys eating the fruits of their begging. Despite their momentary enjoyment of grapes and melon, their tattered clothing and their bare and dirty feet alert the viewer that they live in poverty. 144

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9.3 Unworthy Poor and Worthy Rich (1524) Erasmus’s dialogue demonstrates some common skepticism about the real extent and reasons for poverty, and it lampoons lazy beggars. Many believed that beggars were frauds, and the favored solution of reformers of the 1520s was a “Common Chest” controlled by laypeople who would ask hard questions before helping those posing as the poor. Source: D. Erasmus, Beggar Talk (1524). In Craig R. Thompson (Ed. and Trans.), The Collected Works of Erasmus: Colloquies (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), pp. 564–65 and 567–68.

Misop.: No, by your Poverty! Neither by stealth nor by robbery. But first let me explain my elegant appearance, which seems to surprise you so. Irides: When you were with us you were covered all over with sores. Misop.: Well, I’ve employed a very kind physician. Irides: Who? Misop.: None other than myself—unless you think there’s anybody better disposed to myself than I am. Irides: But I wasn’t aware that you practiced medicine. Misop.: All that adornment I had put on with paints, turpentine, sulphur, resin, birdlime, linen cloth, and blood. When I felt like doing so, I took off what I had put on. Irides: Imposter! There was nothing more wretched-looking than you were. You might have played Job in the tragedy. Misop.: My need compelled it at the time—though Fortune too sometimes changes her skin. Irides: Tell me about fortune, then. Did you find some treasure? Misop.: No, but a more comfortable source of income than yours. Irides: How could you make money when you had no stroke of luck? Misop.: A profession’s a livelihood anywhere. Irides: I understand: you mean the profession of picking pockets. Misop.: Don’t put it like that. I mean the profession of alchemy. Irides. It’s hardly a fortnight since you left us, and have you mastered an art that others have scarcely learned in many years? Misop.: I found a short cut Irides: What, I beg you? Misop.: Your profession had brought me about four gold pieces. By good luck I fell in with an old crony who hadn’t managed his fortune any better than I had mine. We had some drinks together. As often happens, he began to tell me his story. I struck a bargain with him: I’d pay for the

Beggar Talk Irides: What strange bird do I see flying this way? The face I recognize, but the clothes don’t suit. Either I’m simply doting or this is Misoponus. The chance must be taken: I’ll accost the fellow, ragged as I am.—Greetings, Misoponus. Misoponus: Irides, I see. Irides: Greetings, Misoponus. Misop.: Be quiet, I say. Irides: What? You don’t want to be greeted? Misop.: Not by that name, certainly. Irides: What’s the matter? Aren’t you the same person you had been? Or is your name changed along with your clothes? Misop.: No, but I’ve got my old one back. Irides: Who were you then? Misop.: Apicius. Irides: Don’t be ashamed of your old pal if you’ve met with better luck. It wasn’t very long ago that you were in our order. Misop.: Come over here out of the way, if you please, and you’ll hear the whole story. I’m not ashamed of your order but of the first order. Irides: What order are you talking about, the Franciscan? Misop.: Not at all, my good friend: the order of the down-and-out. Irides: Well, you’ve plenty of company in that order! Misop.: I was rich. I squandered my money. When it was gone, nobody knew Apicius. I ran away in disgrace and joined your club, preferring that to digging. Irides: You were wise. But where did this strange sleekness come from? For your change of clothes isn’t so surprising. Misop.: Why? Irides: Because the goddess Laverna enriches many men unexpectedly. Misop.: Do you suppose I’ve become rich by stealth? Irides: Perhaps by a more ignoble way: by open robbery, then. 145


Misop.: In being free to do as they please. Irides. This freedom, than which nothing is sweeter, belongs to no king more than it does to us. I don’t doubt there are many kings who envy us. Whether there’s war or peace, we’re safe. We’re not drafted for the army; we’re not called to public offices; we’re not taxed when the public is plundered by levies. No one investigates our lives if any crime is committed, even an uncommonly savage one, who would think a beggar worth arresting? Even if we strike a man, he’s ashamed to fight with a beggar. Neither in peace nor in war may kings enjoy themselves, and the mightier they are the more men they fear. The common people have a superstitious dread of harming us, as though we were under God’s protection. Misop. But meanwhile you live in filthy rags and huts. Irides: What have these to do with true happiness? What you’re talking about are external to man. To these rags we owe our happiness. Misop.: But I’m afraid you’re going to lose a good deal of this happiness before long. Irides: How so? Misop; Because citizens are already muttering that beggars shouldn’t be allowed to roam about at will, but that each city should support its own beggars and all the able-bodied ones forced to work. Irides: Why are they planning this? Misop.: Because they find monstrous crimes committed under pretext of begging. In the second place, there’s not a little danger from your order. Irides. I’ve often heard talk of this kind. It will be done at the Greek Calends. Misop.: Sooner than you’d like, perhaps.

drinks and he’d let me in on his trade secrets He imparted them in good faith; now they’re my means of support. Irides: May not one learn them? Misop.: I’ll share them with you for auld lang syne. You know there are lots of people everywhere who are dying to learn this art. Irides: I’ve heard that and I believe it. Misop.: I worm my way into their company every chance I get. I boast of my art. When I see a sucker, I prepare the bait.... Irides: Is your profit from this profession enough to support you? Misop.: Oh, yes; in fine style, too. Hereafter, if you’re smart, you’ll give up this wretchedness and join my order. Irides: Oh, no, I’d rather try to get you back into mine. Misop.: What? Voluntarily return to what I’ve once fled from and give up the good thing I’ve found? Irides: My profession has the advantage of becoming more attractive as you grow accustomed to it. For though there are many men who quit the Franciscan or Benedictine order, did you ever see one who left mine after having lived in it for some time? For you could hardly tasted the pleasures of begging in merely a few months. Misop.: That taste taught me it’s the most miserable thing there is. Irides: Then why does nobody give it up? Misop.: Maybe because some men are naturally miserable. Irides: I wouldn’t trade this “misery” even for king’s wealth. For begging’s the nearest thing to possessing a kingdom. Misop.: What do I hear? Coal’s the nearest thing to snow? Irides: Tell me, in what respect are kings luckiest?

9.4 Chasing the Deadbeat Dad (1696) In England, the poor were the responsibility of the parish where they had been born. Here, Isabella Cousin’s parish takes responsibility for her bastard child but names the alleged father, perhaps in the hope that he will provide for his son. Source: Isabella Cousins, pauper settlement, St. Botolph Aldgate parish (1696).

Who saith that on or about the Eleventh Day of April last in the Workhouse of the said Parish of St. Botolph outside Aldgate she the said Isabella Cousins was delivered of a Male Bastard Child since Baptized at Aldgate Church by the Name of John and that the said Bastard Child is

The examination of Isabella Cousins of the Parish of St. Botolph outside Aldgate in the County of Middlesex, Widow, taken on Oath before me One of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said County this 11th Day of May 1696. 146

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become chargeable to the said Parish of St. Botolph outside Aldgate And that John Byron of No 28. Surry Street Black Friars Road in the County of Surry, Gentleman, is the Father of the said Bastard Child

Taken and Signed the Day & Year first above written before H: Reynell Isabella Cousins

9.5 Civic Help = Self Help (1526) How should cities help the poor to help themselves? Juan Luis Vives (1492–1540) was an Iberian converso humanist whose proposal for a workhouse with tight entrance and labor requirements influenced many civic authorities in the sixteenth century. There was to be adequate help, but no free lunch—children, women, the blind, and the lame all had work suited to their abilities. Source: J.L. Vives, On Assistance to the Poor (1526). In A. Tobriner (Ed. and Trans.), On Assistance to the Poor (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999).

are not sufficiently faithful to parents and children and brothers and wife. Therefore, whenever human remedies must be employed, especially among those for whom the divine commands have too little weight, I propose the following plan. Some of the poor live in those institutions commonly called hospitals … others beg publicly; still others bear their hardships as best they can, each one in his own home. I call “hospitals” those places where the sick are fed and cared for, where a certain number of paupers is supported, where boys and girls are reared, where abandoned infants are nourished, where the insane are confined, and where the blind dwell. Let the governors of the state realize that all these institutions are a part of their responsibility … In the next place, there is nothing so free in the state that it is not subject to inquiry by those who administer the government.… Nor can anyone remove his property from the oversight and control of the state, unless he gives up his citizenship. Nor indeed can he free his own life, which is of more consequence and dearer to everyone than property, especially since everyone has acquired his property with the help of the state, as if it were a gift, and can keep and hold it only by the help of the state. Therefore, let the senators, by twos, with a secretary, visit each of these homes, and inspect it, and write a full account of its condition, of the number of its inmates and their names, likewise from what cause each one has come there. Let all these things be reported to the councillors and the Senate in assembly.

They have no conception of the duty of a government who wish to limit it to the settling of disputes over money or to the punishment of criminals. On the contrary, it is much more important for the magistrates to devote their energy to the producing of good citizens than to the punishment and restraint of evildoers. For how much less need would there be if these matters were rightly looked after before hand … Surely it is a shame and disgrace to us Christians, to whom nothing has been more explicitly commanded than charity—and I am inclined to think that is the one injunction—that we meet everywhere in our cities so many poor men and beggars. Whithersoever you turn you encounter poverty and distress and those who are compelled to hold out their hands for alms. Why is it not true that, just as everything in the state is restored which is subject to the ravages of time and fortune—such as walls, ditches, ramparts, streams, institutions, customs, and the laws themselves—so it would be suitable to aid in meeting that primary obligation of giving, which has suffered damage in various ways? … Someone may ask me: How do you propose to relieve so great a multitude? If true charity dwelt in our hearts, if it were really a law unto us—though compulsion is not an element that concerns one who loves—it would make all things common, nor would a man regard the distress of another otherwise than his own. As it is, no one extends his interest beyond his home, and sometimes not beyond his own chamber, nor even beyond himself, while many 147


neither Greek nor barbarian nor Gaul nor Fleming, but a new creature; and they must be treated even as if they were native-born. Should the native poor be asked whether they have earned a trade? Yes; and those who have not, if they are of suitable age, should be taught the one they say they are most strongly inclined, provided it is feasible. If it is not feasible, let them be taught some similar trade; for example, let him who cannot sew garments sew what they call caligas [soldier’s boots]. But if this trade is too difficult, or he is too slow in learning, let an easier one be assigned to him, all the way down to those which anyone can learn thoroughly in a few days, such as digging, drawing water, bearing loads, pushing a wheelbarrow, attending on magistrates, running errands, bearing letters or packets, driving horses. Even those who have dissipated their fortunes in riotous living—by gambling, harlots, extravagance, and gluttony—must be relieved, for no one must die of hunger. But to them more irksome tasks should be assigned, and smaller rations, that they may be an example to others, and may repent of their former life and may not relapse easily into the same vices, being restrained both by lack of food and by the severity of their tasks. They must not die of hunger, but they must feel its pangs. Nor would I allow the blind either to sit idle or wander around in idleness. There are a great many things at which they may employ themselves. Some are suited to letters; let them study, for in some of them we see an aptitude for learning by no means to be despised. Others are suited to the art of music; let them sing, pluck the lute, blow the flute. Let others turn wheels and work the treadmills; tread the winepresses; blow the bellows in the smithies. We know the blind can make little boxes and chests, fruit baskets, and cages. Let the blind women spin and wind yarn. Let them not be willing to sit idle and seek to avoid work; it is easy enough to find employment for them. Laziness and a love of ease are the reasons for their pretending they cannot do anything, not feebleness of body … And this reminds me of the insane. Since there is nothing in the world more excellent than man, nor in man than his mind, particular attention should be given to the welfare of the mind; and it should be reckoned the highest of services, if we either restore the minds of others to sanity or keep them sane and rational. Therefore, when a man of unsettled mind is brought to a hospital, first of all it must be determined whether his insanity is congenital or has resulted from some misfortune, whether there is hope of his recovery or not.

Let those who suffer poverty at home be registered, both they and their children, by two senators for each parish; their needs ascertained, in what manner they have lived hitherto, and by what ill chance they have fallen into poverty. It will be easy to learn from the neighbours what sort of men they are, how they live and what their habits are. Evidence about one poor person should not be taken from another, for he would not be free from jealousy. Let the councillors and the Senate be informed of all these things. If any man suddenly fall into some ill fortune, let him notify the Senate through some senator, and let his case be decided according to his condition and circumstances, Then in regard to the beggars who wander about with no fixed dwelling places; let those who are in health declare their name and the reason for their mendicancy in the presence of the Senate, in some open place or vacant lot, that their filth may not pollute the Senate chamber; let those who are sick do likewise in the presence of two or four senators and a physician, that the eyes of the Senate may be spared. Let witnesses be sought by them to testify in regard to their manner of life. Upon those whom they appoint to make these examinations and perform these duties, let the Senate confer the authority to coerce and exact obedience; even to the point of imprisonment, that the Senate may have knowledge of those who show themselves refractory. Before everything else this principle must be accepted, which the Lord imposed upon the human race as a punishment for its sin: that each man should eat bread that is the fruit of his own labour. When I say “eat” or “nourished” or “supported” I do not mean to imply food alone, but clothes, shelter, fuel, candles; in fine, everything which is involved in the sustenance of the body. Let no one among the poor, therefore, be idle, provided of course he is fit for work by his age and the condition of his health.… Health and age must be taken into consideration; but in order that you may not be imposed upon by pretence of sickness or infirmity—which not infrequently happens—let the opinion of physicians be sought, and let impostors be punished. Of the able-bodied vagrants the foreign-born be returned to their native country—which indeed is provided for in the Imperial law—with travelling money, for it would be inhuman to send a destitute man on a journey without any money, and would be nothing less than commanding him to rob. But if they are from villages or towns afflicted with war, then the teaching of Paul must be borne in mind, that among those who have been baptized in the blood of Christ there is 148

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mode of life; others need mild and friendly treatment, that like wild animals they may gradually grow gentle; others, instruction. There will be some who will require force and chains, but these must be so used that the patients are not made more violent by them. Above all, as far as possible, tranquility must be introduced into their minds, for it is through this that reason and sanity return. Let the investigators make their examination into the needs of the poor humanely and kindly. Intimidation should not be used unless they deem it necessary in dealing with persons who are refractory and who disparage the government.

One ought to feel compassion for so great a disaster to the health of the human mind, and it is of the utmost importance that the treatment be such that the insanity is not nourished and increased, as may result from mocking, exciting, and irritating madmen, approving and applauding the foolish things which they say or do, inciting them to act more ridiculously, applying fomentations, as it were, to their stupidity and silliness. What could be more inhuman than to drive a man insane just for the sake of laughing at him and amusing oneself at such a misfortune? Remedies suited to the individual patient should be used. Some need medical care and attention to their

9.6 The Common Chest and the Common Good (1522) Wittenberg was a small city undergoing intense religious and social ferment in the 1510s– 20s. As the base of the protestant reformer Martin Luther, it was inevitably a place that served as a model for many other towns that wanted a new and religiously informed approach to helping the poor. Source: Poor Order of the City of Wittenburg (1522). In F. Salter, Some Early Tracts on Poor Relief (London: Methuen, 1926).

In addition they shall [henceforth] support and maintain themselves by the work of their hands. 6. Likewise, everything which the cloisters among us now have is to be inventoried, such as chalices, pacificale [a silver liturgical piece], monstrances, and the like; also to be listed are the incomes they possess and collect yearly. 7. Likewise, no foreign students will be allowed in our city. If one or more desire to study with us, then they must provide themselves with food and drink, for we will allow no one to beg nor to ask for alms. 8. Likewise, neither wandering begging monks with relics nor any kind of monks begging alms for building churches shall be tolerated in view of the fact that all the churches are finished, and more than enough are built, etc. 9. Likewise, loans shall be made from the common chest to poor artisans who without this are unable to support themselves daily by their trade, in order that they may be able to provide for themselves. When they are established, however, they can repay the loan without any interest; but if they are unable to repay the loan, it shall be pardoned for God’s sake.

1. It is unanimously resolved that all income from the churches, all of the brotherhoods, and the guilds shall be collected together and brought into a common chest. Two from the city council, two from the community, and a secretary are to be delegated who shall receive and possess such income in order to provide for the poor people. 2. Moreover, henceforth the endowed income of priests, when it is freed through the death of a priest will also be collected in the same common chest; and henceforth no one [no other priest] will be endowed by it. 3. Likewise, no beggars shall be tolerated in our city, rather one shall urge them to work or expel them from the city. But they who because of age or sickness or other misfortune have fallen into poverty shall be provided for from the common chest through the appropriate delegated manner. 4. Likewise, there shall be no wandering mendicants among us. 5. Likewise, no monks shall be allowed to beg in our city, but rather they are allowed the income they now have.



if there are not communicants, the priest consecrates and summarizes it with prayers for that purpose. Thereafter he concludes with the collect without the ita missa est. Also the communicant may take the consecrated host in the hand and himself put it in his mouth; the same may be done with the cup, hence drinking from it. 15. We also will not permit unchaste persons to be supported by us; they should have recourse to marriage. If they will not do this but are residents they shall be banished. If they are not residents they shall be severely punished according to their particular offense; beyond this anyone devoting himself to unchaste relationships or living shall be expelled from the city. 16. In case our fellow citizens and residents are burdened by interest rates that are too high, for example, five to six percent, or do not have the means for a deposit, we will loan them the main sum from the common chest, and they will repay the capital at four percent annually until it is repaid. But we convey to the clergy among us this confidence that they will also devote themselves herein in Christian love, and submit voluntarily in these particular things. 17. Likewise, particular regard shall be given to the children of poor people. Boys sent to school and studies who because of poverty are unable to remain there, shall be given the means [to remain in school] so that at all times there will not be lacking learned people to preach the Holy Gospel and the Scriptures, and also in worldly government. Those not sent to school shall be supported [in studying] trades and crafts, for in such things particular care is needed.

10. Likewise, the common chest shall provide for poor orphans, the children of poor people, and maidens who shall be given an appropriate dowry for marriage. 11. Moreover, where such income is not sufficient for such good works or does not extend itself far enough, then shall others, be they priests or citizens, according to what they have, yearly contribute a sum of money for the maintenance of the multitude of the poor. 12. Likewise, the priests whom we now have, since their income also is collected into the common chest, shall be supported yearly with six gulden, although yearly they have before received eight gulden from the Vigils they kept. Seeing that the Mass and Vigils lapse, they may request the same money for poor sick people, and comfort them in their need. They shall encourage no one, however, to make a testament [will] to their advantage. 13. Likewise, the images and altars in the churches shall be done away with in order to avoid idolatry, for three altars without images are enough. 14. Likewise, the Mass shall not be held other than as Christ instituted it at the Last Supper. For the sake of the weak in the faith, however, singing is allowed. Only the first part of the Missal containing the missae de tempore shall be used, not the second part of the Mass of the saints, and the introit, kyrie, gloria in excelsis et in terra, the collect or preces, epistle, gradual, without the sequence, the gospel, creed, offertory, preface, sanctus without the major and minor canons [i.e., Canon Missae and offertory prayer] so long as they are not out of accord with the Scriptures. After this begins the evangelical mass, if there are communicants the priest consecrates,

9.7 Women in the Economy of Makeshifts (1600s) Women then as now tended to outlive their husbands, and this often meant they would raise their children in poverty and be destitute in old age. They relied on the charity of civic and church officials, the generosity of neighbors, and an “economy of makeshifts.” Source: Parish Poor Law Petitions: 1617–18, 1620, and 1683. In Julia O’Faolain and Lauro Martines (Eds.), Not in God’s Image (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), pp. 255–56.

her the use of the fire and many times constrain her to lodge in the fields.” Prays that she may be provided of some poor house in Newland where she may have the use of fire and lodging.

1617 Petition of Frances Horner … spinster … “Your petitioner is a poor impotent person and is placed in a house in Newland wherein two households more are who deny 150

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Parish of Eldersfield: There are divers poor people in the said parish which are a great charge. Giles Cooke, not of our parish, married a widow’s daughter within our parish, which widow is poor and lives in a small cottage, which is like to be a charge. Joan Whitle had lived forty years and upwards in the parish with a brother, as a servant to him; and now that she has grown old and weak he has put her off to the parish; she was taken begging within the parish and sent to Teddington, where she said she was born, but that parish has sent her back again. Elzander Man, born in Forthampton, in the county of Gloucester, married a wife within the parish, who was received by her mother until she had two children; the said wife is now dead, and he is gone into Gloucestershire and has left his children in the keeping of the parish. Thomas Jones, born at Hasfield, in the country of Gloucester, married a wife within the parish, and has two children; the said Jones being now gone, the parishioners would know if they might send the woman to her husband, or to the place where she or her husband was born.

Eleanor Williams charged with keeping of a young child is now unprovided with house and room for herself and her poor child, her husband having left the soil where they lately dwelled and is gone some place to her unknown. She is willing “to relieve her child by her painful labor but wanteth a place for abode” and prays to be provided with houseroom. 1683 Derbyshire Annals: Ann Peach a poor disconsolate widow … sheweth that [she] hath been harborless since Candlemas last … that [she] has been a widow above nine years with a young child that is lame … is far remote from all relatives [although she was] brought up a considerable person … that she hath sold and pawned all she hath … the very clothes off her back and gloves off her hands to support her impotent child that she can get no work, hath neither money, credit nor harbor, and is in great danger to perish without your assistance.

9.8 Urban Poverty in France (1530s) The leaders of Rouen in northwest France had clearly read Juan Luis Vives, and possibly even the Wittenberg Orders. Their experience over a year or more shows that ambitious plans were often difficult to put into practice, and that plans and expectations shifted frequently in the face of the realties of poverty. Source: In F. Salter, Les pauvres de Rouen. In F. Salter, Some Early Tracts on Poor Relief (London: Methuen, 1926).

Assembly of Chief Citizens (December 2nd, 1532)

of the Royal Hospitals of St. Martin and St. Catherine, together with eight notable folk (royal officials, legal functionaries, and merchants) from each of the eight Wards of the City; the purpose of the assembly being to ascertain the situation as regards the poor and the sick beggars, and to formulate a policy whereby they could be relieved without begging in streets and churches and at private houses. First of all, the disorders, ills and inconveniences were explained which meet us day by day in the shape of house-burglaries, larcenies, riots and the like, arising from the fact that many idle vagabonds, strong and healthy creatures, are suffered to live in the City without

Proceedings of an assembly held at the City Hall of Rouen … on Wednesday the 2nd day of December 1534, in the afternoon; there being present [the] King’s advocate in the aforesaid Court [the] Lieutenant-General of the High Bailiff, and the following persons specially summoned, to wit: the Archbishop’s Vicars, the Canons, Dean and Chapter of the Metropolitan Church of the Notre Dame, the Twenty-four Councillors of the City, the Vicar of the Abbot-Commendatory of St. Ouen, the Priors of St. Lo and the Madeleine, the Sheriff of Rouen and the Commissioners of the Shrievalty of Rouen, the Managers 151


drawal of the beggars should be proclaimed on Saturday next, together with a warning to the beggars to make no further collections in the City, and that this point should be clearly explained, so as to prevent discontent. It was further agreed that notices should be sent to the parish clergy, for them to read out at Sermon-time, and that they should be asked to invite their parishioners to give alms for the relief of the poor.

earning their living, and that these filch by their begging the bread and other sustenance of the truly poor and sick. Furthermore, mention was made of the natural obligation, both divine and secular, in accordance with which every Christian is bound to come to the help of his neighbour, as a member of the same body, and of how the Cities of Paris and Lyons (and others) had issued ordinances to deal with a similar situation. Finally, it was explained that the present assembly had been summoned by the Court of Parliament aforesaid in order to obtain the advice, guidance and approval of the City, in particular as to whether there was not need or occasion to promulgate systematic ordinances on this point. So, after the opinion of the various persons present had been heard, it was unanimously decided that it was of the first importance to separate the genuine poor, and the sick, feeble and impotent from the lazy vagabonds and hale and hearty ruffians, by driving these latter (whether natives or strangers) out of the City in whatever way might best be done, and thereafter make provision for the nourishment and maintenance of the genuine poor and infirm; and to work out and put down in writing all necessary means and measures, all of which should be sent to the Court of Parliament which should make such ordinances as seemed good to it.…

Poor Ordinances of Rouen (1535) The Court, considering that Charity is the greatest and chief of all the virtues and that it is required of every Christian that he make shew of it towards God’s poor who cannot earn their living, through illness or other legitimate let or cause, notices that there are in this City many folk, hale and hearty, who eat the bread and substance of the poor and filch from them the alms that are given day by day.… Further, the Bailiff of Rouen or his Deputy is ordered to arrest all folk of this sort and make them prisoners as soon as the eight days are over … and the said Bailiff or his deputy is to hand over to the City Councillors the aforesaid idle knaves sturdy vagabonds and beggars, to be chained or put in irons, two by two … but not so chained as to prevent them from working, and the said prisoners are to be put to labour with all diligence at such accessary public works as will make for the good, profit and use of the City.… The City Councillors … shall take such good and adequate care of these prisoners that they shall not get out of the irons nor escape, and they shall maintain them and provide a safe place to lodge them in, furnishing them at the expense of the city, or causing them to be furnished with, such victuals, utensils and the like as shall be necessary for their life and maintenance, during the time that they are working as aforesaid, and such as shall be necessary in the future. And since, as a result of these ordinances, the convicts, outlaws, and sturdy ruffians might take to their heels in flight from this City, in great bands or companies, whereby much trouble might result, the Court prohibits and forbids folk of this sort from going about the country in bands and companies, in fact more than two at a time, under pain of the whip … And as regards the appropriate place for and kind of public work on which these idle vagabonds, knaves, and sturdy ruffians are to be set, it is recommended that the making of a road … of which road the curbs shall be concrete, cut and set by masons and workmen, and the

Assembly of the City Council (January 7th, 1535) The statistics of the impotent poor showed that there were 7000 of these: of beggars there were 297 and of beggars’ children 235. Le Lyeur: the higher clergy should be informed that the collections do not amount to much and should be invited to make contributions … Dumouchel: the begging poor who are strong enough to work should be set to earn their living on public works.… Announcement should be made at Sermon-time that within three days beggars must make themselves scarce and not make further collections in the streets or churches, and that when the three days are over (systematic) relief must be given them. It was agreed that first of all, and before isolating the poor beggars, a decision should be come to as to whether alms ought to be given to the shamefaced poor, and if so, whether in money or in kind, and up to what amount, and also what should be the status of the folk appointed to distribute the said relief; and that for this purpose a meeting of the Twenty-Four of the Council should be held on the afternoon of Monday next; and that when that had been done within the week, the aforesaid with152

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The Archbishop of Rouen and all the other clergy are to be exhorted to use for this purpose, possible, endowments of which they have the control, and the clergy are also asked, in their sermons and at confession, to incite the faithful to these acts of charity, and to do the same when they are receiving testamentary instructions. The parish clerks are to bring their funds to the Treasurer of the Poor, who will put the money in a box which is to be kept in the City Hall, and which is to have three keys, one kept by himself, one by a royal official of sorts, and one by the oldest of the City Councillors. As regards accommodation for the impotent poor, the Court orders that those who have homes should be left there unless they can more easily be put up in some special establishment along with the other poor who have not got homes. For these latter, hospitals in the town and suburbs, or similar buildings are to be got ready.… The Court orders pilgrims and others passing through the City … to report themselves at one or other of the four following Hospitals (St. Ouen, St. Martin, St. Vivien, or St. Catherine), where they will be given food and lodging for one night, and the authorities of the Hospital are forbidden to take them in for more than one night, unless sickness, bad weather or some such cause makes it inevitable. As some of the administrators of these Hospitals are saying that they have not got revenues enough, or that they are not legally bound to use their revenues in this way, the Court orders all foundation charters, etc. (together with each Hospital’s accounts of receipts and expenditure for the last few years), to be brought before the Royal Procurator-General. The Court will then settle what is fair, taking into account the intentions of the founders.… Those of the impotent poor who fall seriously ill are to be promptly taken to the Hotel-Dieu de la Madeleine, whose medical staff, paid from the revenues of the Institution, are to look after them; the staff are also to visit any poor folk who are sick and find out if their illness is genuine or a sham. The administration is to be in the hands of the three persons already named, the oldest City Councillor, one of the royal officials, and the Treasurer of the Poor; this latter is to be elected by a majority-vote of the Council for six months at a time, while in cases of difficulty recourse may be had to the Bailiff or his assistants, or to the Court as a whole. All these persons are to meet at the City Hall once a month, or more often if required.

road as a whole filled up with pebbles, slate, and other material by the chained prisoners, who shall go and fetch stuff in baskets from the edge of the Forest and the clay pits near the road. Further, all managers of hospitals, all keepers of hostelries and taverns, all peasants and all inhabitants of this City and of its suburbs are ordered not to receive, entertain or conceal in their houses or elsewhere the said convicts, outlaws, idle vagrants and sturdy beggars … And as to the other beggars, those, that is, who are not hale and hearty, or who are women with children to suckle, from whom they cannot reasonably be separated, and also wayfarers, pilgrims and young children, and in general all persons of whatever they may be, these are prohibited from any further begging or collecting of alms in churches, houses, entrances of the streets of the City, under pain of whip and rod, saving only the collections of the friars and nuns of the Mendicant orders, the Bons Enfants and the poor prisoners, which shall be allowed to continue in the accustomed manner. Further, in order to ascertain the numbers respectively of the infirm poor allowed to remain, and the sturdy outlaws, etc., driven out or set to public works, the Court enjoins and commands the Treasurers and parishioners of the City and its suburbs … and to elect and choose … two eminent personages in each parish who, together with the Vicar or Curate and the Treasurers of the parish shall go round every house, hired place or household to collect their names, surnames, ages, place of origin, trade, period of residence in the City … In order to provide the money required for the relief of the impotent poor, Collections shall be made on every Feast-day, and from house to house twice a week, the collectors being two responsible folk elected from week to week: one is to carry a dish or plate, and a box with two keys, the other a piece of paper on which are to be recorded gifts in kind, without however mentioning the names of the donors. The total amounts are to be entered up weekly in a Register. A chained box is to be set up at every church door and at all the doors of public buildings, labelled “for the poor.” The persons in charge are to bring these boxes to be emptied in front of the parish clerks weekly, and hotel-keepers in particular are to be instructed “to have the care and solicitude to urge their guests to give to the poor by handing them the box at meal-times and at any other times which they see to be convenient to their consciences.”



Report of the Procurator General (March 18th, 1535)

that the following sums should be assessed against the Abbeys, Priories, and other ecclesiastical bodies having houses, goods, and revenues in the said City and Shrievalty of Rouen, to wit: The Abbey of Beaubec, the sum of 20 livres, The Abbey of Corneille, 20 livres, Saint Vaudrille, 50 livres, Saint Victor, 10 livres (and so on, the highest assessments being Jumieges and le Bec, 60 livres each, and the lowest Corneville, Conches, and Le Bourgachard, 100 sous each). And on the clergy of parochial churches whose clergy are absent and non-resident, the following sums …

The Royal Procurator General … explained the great and almost intolerable burden endured by the poor (men, women, and children, put on the alms’ list in accordance with the City’s Ordinance) by reason of their incalculable number, and also by reason of the high price of the necessaries of life, such as wheat, barley, and other grains, and meat, and drink, and victuals of all sorts. The Councillor Commissary appointed to audit the accounts of the Treasurer of the Poor presented his report and explained the amount of his obligation and the advances made by him from these funds. The Court, having considered these statements, decreed and resolved

9.9 Sheltering and “Improving” Orphans and Abandoned Children (1686) This anonymous account describes a shelter established to educate and “improve” “poor fatherless and motherless infants.” The account aimed to help raise support and funds for the children of poor or widowed families. The subtext here was that poor people were responsible for their own poverty: Their “loose way of breeding” and raising children was a direct cause of the problem of vagrant beggars roaming across England. This College would take impoverished children from their worthless parents and turn them into productive members of society. Source: Anonymous, An Account of the General Nursery, or Colledge of Infants, Set Up by the Justices of Peace for the County of Middlesex (London, 1686).

in the Afternoon; he sees that the Schoolmaster and all Inferior Servants do their several Duties, and that all the Children are well provided for, and instructed in true Religion and Virtue. 3. There is a Physician, an Apothecary and Chyrurgion, who attend weekly, every Thursday, in their several ways, to take care of, and provide for the Children. 4. There is an excellent Writing Master to Teach all the Children to Write, who also Registers the Names of all Children admitted and disposed of, and keeps all the Accounts of the House. 5. There is a School Master, who Teaches all the Boys to Read, say their Prayers and Catechism; there are several other Persons of several Trades, to Teach the Children several sorts of Works, and bring them up therein.

There is a large House at Clerkenwell, built near the Fields, which cost the several Parishes within this County of Middlesex, at least 5000l. Building, which House is by the Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, set a part for the Reception and Breeding up of poor Fatherless or Motherless Infants, left to the Parish care, and for the Instructing them in Religion and Virtue, and making them Capable of getting an honest Livelihood by their Labour. 1. There is a Governour, one of his Majesties Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, to whose Care the said justices have committed the General Nursery. 2. There is a Minister residing constantly in the Place, who Reads Prayers twice a day, before Dinner and Supper; he Catechises on Sundays, and sometimes preaches


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6. There is a Porter, who looks to all the Children at Play, attends the Door, and Rings the Bell to Prayers, Dinner and Supper. 7. There is a Matron or House-keeper, who takes care for Provision to be brought into the House, and Dressing thereof, for the Family. 8. There is an Assistant to the Matron, who takes care of all the Childrens Cloathes, and of the Beds and Sheets, that all be mended and kept in good Order. 9. There is a School Mistriss for the Girls, to Teach them to Read, say their Prayers and Catechism, 10. There is a Semstres, who Teacheth all the Girls to Work, and make all the Linnen used in the House, 11. There is a Cook to Dress all Provisions according to the Matrons Order. 12. There is a Laundress also, belonging to the House. 13. There is an old Nurse, to take care of all Sick and Weak Children, this Nurse hath her Assistants if need requires. 14. There are several Women to look after the Chambers, to Wash and keep Clean all the Lodgings, make the Beds, and to do other necessary Work there. 15. The Books are constantly made up every first Thursday in every Month, and all Officers and Tradesmen, and others, who are concerned in the House, are cleared off. 16. There is also a Register Book, kept to Register the Names of all Worthy Persons who shall be Benefactors to this good Work, and the same laid by for a time, to put the Children out with it, to Trades, as they grow fit; and the Justices of the Peace, once every year, at the Quarter Sessions, next after the Feast of the Birth of our Lord, yearly have constantly an Account thereof. … The great Conveniences and Advantages by this Nursery will be, 1. To the Fatherless and Motherless. 2. To the Poor; the Trouble and Charge of Breeding up such Infants, taking them much off from earning their Livelihoods. 3. To all such whose Employments require, or cause their Absence from their Dwellings, as Seafaring Men, users of Fairs and Markets. 4. And to all such as would not otherwise keep Houses, unless it were for the Looking after, and Breeding up their Children. It is also believed this Provision may prevent the great Trouble and Charge to all persons, by Children left and laid in the several Parishes.

Or that at least it may ease the Parishes, and their Officers, in Providing for, and Breeding up of their Parish Children. And by this Education, we may be assured there will be better Subjects, better Masters, and better Apprentices and Servants, for all persons that shall need them. And as this good Work takes, many other Proposals shall be made for the taking off, and wholly providing for Infants, for small sums of Money, which shall be secured by certain and sufficient Funds. The Rates propos’d for such Maintenance and Education are, Twenty Shillings Entrance, which is for new Cloaths and Bedding, and 3s, a Week, for Meat, Drink, Cloaths, and all other thing, for the future. The Days to receive them, are Thursdays weekly, from Nine till Noon, at the Nursery or lnfantory at Clerkenwell, &c. But the Place and Accommodation being so much approved of by all that see it, and the Confluence of People thither on those days being great, for the greater ease and dispatch to the business, It is desired that all Persons approving of the Undertaking, will came and bring in their Children on the Mondays before, and leave the Name and Age of the Child with the Officer, who is appointed to attend there on those days to that purpose. Note, That you may take the Child away at any time, often you have an Opportunity of a better Provision for it, and the new Cloaths with it. … We the Grand Jury at Hicks-hall, Sworn this present Sessions for the Body of the County of Middlesex going to see this publick House, the General Nursery, or Colledg of Infants, did examine and inspect into the Methods and Rules thereof and we find that all the Children there are well Lodged, well Cloathed, kept Neat and Clean, taught to Read and Write, and well instructed in the Religion of the Church of England, as it’s now Established by Law. And we find that by such Education, both the Bodies and Souls of many Infants will be preserved, and many great Evils prevented, which daily happen in this County. And we find it a great Advantage and Convenience to the several Parishes, and that it is a very charitable and exceeding good Work. And we return our humble and hearty Thanks to the Justices of the Peace for this County, for the Encouragement they have already given it, And we humbly desire the further Assistance of this Court for the supporting and promoting thereof.



9.10  The Challenge of Keeping an Orphanage Open (1600s) Charitable homes depended on wealthier patrons for ongoing help, particularly when they sheltered infants and children too young to work, as was the case here. Louise de Marillac (1591–1660) founded a group called the Daughters of Charity that matched young women seeking a social and religious vocation and older women seeking some charitable focus for their wealth. Source: Louise de Marillac, “Letter 263 [Poor Relief for Children].” In Louise de Marillac, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, edited and translated by Louise Sullivan (New York: New City Press, 1991).

in some prominent place in the churches, ask the Parish Priests and preachers to recommend this act of charity, and take up a collection at Court, as had been suggested. I believe that if someone went to speak to the Princess about these extreme needs that she would give something. It is pitiful that the Ladies go to so little trouble. Either they must believe that we have enough to support the children, or they want to force us to abandon everything. For these reasons I think that they have resolved to do nothing at all. Please let us know if we should send notices for the assembly, and if you think it is wise for us to inform Madame de Shomberg and Madame de Verthamont of it.

My Most Honored Father Vincent, I am too insistent, but we are truly at the point where we need help without delay, or else we must drop everything. Yesterday it was necessary to spend all the money we had for current expenses, about 15 or 20 pounds, to have wheat for the children at Bicêtre. Then we had to borrow to get four bushels. We have no source of income for the coming month. There are 12 or 13 children here, and there are not enough diapers to change them. Please, it is essential for the assembly of Ladies to do something about this matter tomorrow such as pass a resolution to collect alms in the parishes every Sunday, place small collection boxes

9.11 Better Schools for “Better” Children (1683–84) The Middlesex General Nursery was a plan, but Christ Hospital was a reality. King Edward VI founded the boarding school in Newgate in 1552 to educate the children of the poor, and this document outlines admission requirements. It is clear that the “poor” here meant those poor in family rather than poor in means—Christ Hospital was for those of a higher social standing than the “General Nursery” proposed above for Middlesex. Source: Anonymous, Rules and Qualifications to Be Observed in the Admission of Children into Christ Hospital This Year (1683–84).

5. That none be taken in that are Lame, Crooked, or Deformed, nor that have any Infectious Disease, as the Leprosie, Scald-head, Itch, Scab, or that have the Evil or Rupture. 6. That none be admitted, but such as are without any probable means of being provided for other ways, nor without a due Certificate from the Minister, Church-wardens, and three or four of the principal Inhabitants of the

1. That no Child be taken in, but such as are the Children of Freemen of this City. 2. That no Child be taken in, under the Age of Seven Years. 3. That no Children be taken in, but such as are Orphans, wanting either Father, or Mother, or both. 4. That none be taken in that are Foundlings or that are maintained at the Parish Charge.



PoveRty and PooR ReLIef

Parish from whence such Children came, certifying of the Poverty and Inability of the Parent living, (if any be living) to maintain and provide for such Children, and the true Age of the said Child: And engaging to discharge

the Hospital of them before or after the Age of Fifteen Years, if a Boy; and before and after the Age of Fourteen Years, if a Girl; which shall be left to the Governours pleasure to do, both by the Parent if any, and Minister

Figure 9.2 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Young Beggar (c. 1650) A boy in squalor searches the folds of his clothes to remove fleas. 157


whereof the President or Treasurer, for the time being, to be one, who shall strictly examin, touching the Age, Birth, and Quality of such Children, and of the Truth of such Certificate; and when the Committee shall find cause, they shall forbid or suspend the taking in of any Child or Children presented, until they receive full satisfaction, that such Child or Children is duly qualified, according to the Rules above-mentioned. That such Child or Children as shall be presented to be admitted, in pursuance of the Will of any Benefactor, shall be examined by the said Committee, who are to take care, that such Child or Children be qualified according to the Wills of the Donors or Benefactors, (as near as may consist with such Wills) agreeing to the Qualifications above.

and Church-wardens aforesaid; so that it shall be wholly in the Power of the Hospital, to dispose of such Children, or to return them to the Parent or Parish, as aforesaid, as to the Hospital shall seem good. 7. That no Children be taken in that hath a Brother or Sister admitted into the Charge of the Hospital. Lastly, To the end, no Children may be admitted contrary to the rules above said, when the General Court shall direct the taking in of any Children; before such Children be admitted, they shall be presented to a Committee, consisting of the President, Treasurer, the Almoners, Renters, Scruitenors, and Auditors, and all other Governours to be Summoned at the first time, and so to Adjourn from time to time; and that they or any Thirteen or more of them,

9.12 Getting the Poor Out of Sight (1608) Many believed that the best way to control wayward women—whether nuns, prostitutes, or the poor—was to take them off the streets and put them into secure enclosures. Here is a call to sweep poor and vagrant women off the streets of Madrid and lock them up in new prisons built for women only. Source: Magdalena de San Jerónimo, Vagabond Women (Madrid, 1608). In Jon Cowans, Early Modern Spain: A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), pp. 141–42.

ging for alms, going from house to house where alms are usually given; and normally many of them have men, and they bring the men with them to gather alms; and although some never had children, they bring with them two or three young creatures to elicit pity, and in this way they shamefully take alms away from the real poor and those who out of real necessity cannot work. And these lazy women find sustenance in this way, they do not wish to work or serve. There are others who take a little house for themselves, setting up shop sewing and doing alterations and mending trousers and doing needlework, or other similar lines of work, and under this pretence their house is a house of offenses to God, sometimes sinning themselves and other times getting other women to do the same. There are many others who serve as go-betweens and processes … There are many women, especially older ones, who as a way of making money have two or three girls who, under the pretence of seeking alms, go where there are

On the Importance and Necessity of This House for Wayward Women There are many young vagabond and idle women, including some girls sixteen and younger, who are supported by nothing other than a bad life. And thus, when night falls, they go out in search of prey like wild beasts from their caves; they set out from these places, through the streets and the gates of houses, inviting those wretched men who go about carelessly, and they cast the nets of Satan, and they fall and cause men to fall in extremely grave sins. They go to the houses of the gentlemen where there are pages and other young servants, they even go to the lords and weak men, offering the opportunity, and they fall miserably; and then, having spent the whole night out, or most of it, they retire with their lewd earnings to their inns and houses, and there they spend the day sleeping, eating, and lazing until night returns … There are many others who, being sound and good and with the strength to work or serve, go about beg158

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one is to attack the problem at its roots; for this reason, in all the cities where this is possible, there should be houses or schools where all orphan girls are gathered, so that they can be taught virtue, Christianity, and decency, taking them away from the danger of ruin and from the disreputable singing and dancing and many other evil inclinations and customs that have been created, making them practice Christian virtue and doctrine, and learn work, decency, and good habits, so that in due time they may serve in proper and honest houses, where after a few years they may be put right and rescued …

offenses against God, and other times the same women take them and sell them … and from this line of work these bad women make a living … No less serious has been … the evil and the damage that has been seen for the last twenty years among these maidens [who are] servant girls, because aside from not having anyone to serve—for having led the life of urchins—those who manage to serve do this so badly and are so full of vices (because either they have boyfriends or they are thieves or procuresses) that a great deal of trouble is incurred with them … To solve … such a great problem … in whole or in part, an effective remedy is needed; and for this, the main

Reading Questions 1. Who bears responsibility for poverty? Who should care for the poor, and how? 2. Is poverty a shame? A sin? Are the poor themselves to blame? What different kinds of poverty are there, and how do the poor aim to help themselves? 3. Many of the institutions here aim to put a permanent end to poverty by either training or disciplining the poor, or both. How are the French, German, and English instutions similar, and how are they different? 4. What role does religion play in dealing with poverty and the poor?



Crime and Punishment Poverty was one common reality for early moderns, and violence was another. Public executions were meant to provide a deterrent, but they seem mainly to have fed an appetite for entertaining stories about murder and sex crimes, as the English and Italian accounts demonstrate. The public executions themselves were highly ritualized, with attention to drawing out the greatest public, moral, and religious lessons, as we can see in the manual written for those who comforted criminals before death in Bologna, and in eyewitness accounts of executions in Rome and Antwerp. Hanging, beheading, and burning were practiced according to the nature of the crime and the status of the criminal, and we see from the Paris and Nuremburg accounts that executioners were chosen and trained carefully. Long-term imprisonment was also an option, and in Mediterranean states being condemned to row on the galleys was a form of imprisonment that often ended in death.

10.1 Selling Murder and Mayhem (1661) Murders led the headlines, and before newspapers became common, pamphlets described violent crimes in bloody detail. These excerpts from a single pamphlet combined details on the murder of a widow brothel-keeper (“her brains being dasht out against the walls in the room …”), a disturbance of the peace by a servant woman who threw stones at windows and passers-by, and the strange case of a man who killed his wife and then goaded authorities into discovering it. Source: Anonymous, Bloody News from St. Albans Being a Perfect Relation of a Horrible Murder Committed on Wednesday Last (London, 1661).

ing from the room where they were, about half an hour after missing her so long, they sought after her, and could not hear anything of her. At length coming to the room where she was murdered, on a sudden they were smitten with amazement, discovering that she was barbarously massacred, her brains and some flesh sticking against the wall round the said room.

The widow Bass … was a lusty hostess who kept a house of entertainment, and lived gallantly at the Sign of the Green-man in this town. She was a woman that was an early riser, her constant hour being four in the morning. But this last week proved a black week and clouded the glory of this lusty dame: for on Wednesday in the morning she rose early, according to her former custom, to attend on the company then in her house, and depart161


now and then a stone at the window, some up the chimney, some at those as passed by, which she still continued as formerly. Mr. Page having made this discovery, got a warrant, apprehended her, and brought her before a magistrate, by whom she was committed upon complaint of the neighbours who had been disturbed by her. The country round about gathered together, and coming to the mayor of Shrewsbury, made a great complaint against her, declaring how they were daily affronted by her slinging of stones as they passed by. Upon their complaint, according to his order, she was brought before him, and being strictly examined, she confessed that she had done all they had said, and withal that she could not help it, for some evil spirit had possessed her, and she must in spite of her teeth do it; for she was compelled to it by some means or other, but how, she knew not, but so long as she was in that house it would continue so. She likewise acknowledged, that at any time she went forth, she took an opportunity to fill her lap full of stones, and that when she came in, she fell to her labour, and so disposed of them as formerly, for she was daily vexed with some spirit; who aggravated her to do it, and she could not be in peace till she had performed it. The mayor upon this strict examination, considering of the heinous offence committed by her, ordered that she should be whipped for her obstinacy, which was performed accordingly, after which she was acquitted. …

Since this whole town are in great trouble, seeking daily how to find out the authors of this cruelty, and several neighbours resort thither, and some do conjecture that it was done with a hatchet, others that a left-handed man must be the actor, but the truth cannot as yet be known; for her brains are so divided and fastened to the walls, that it doth work great astonishment in the hearts of all that behold it. There are some taken upon suspicion, but upon their examination confess nothing, utterly denying that they have any hand in this bloody and cruel tragedy; Notwithstanding, it is believed that she was a woman well to live in the world, and that she had great store of means, which as they do conjecture is the chief cause why this barbarous and unchristian murder was committed; it being indeed more likely to be acted for lucre rather than anything of envy or malice … Yours to serve you, whilst August 11, 1661. R.W. … Here follows a true and exact account of that strange, and indeed wonderful Scare-crow … It happened … that there dwelt one widow Weston, with her kinsmaid Martha, whose house was continually [illegible] and molested by vehement throwing of stones about it, sometimes to the breaking of the windows, sometimes up and down the chimneys and other places of the house, not only within, but without in the air, to the great prejudice of sundry persons which passed by. Insomuch that through the long continuance thereof, the neighbours waxed angry, and raised the country to know the mystery thereof. Hereupon several eminent ministers assembled together at the next house, to the said widow, to pray for the allaying of the said stones, and withal sent for the said widow, with her said kinswoman to pray with them. And it so sell out, that whilst they so prayed together by long continuance the stones throwing ceased, but immediately after they desisted, they began as furiously as ever. This continuing in so strange a manner, one Mr. Page a surgeon, who watching an opportunity, betook himself to a private corner which he thought convenient for that purpose, and looking in at the window, he discovered the maid spinning, and as she turned the wheel, she flung

At Chelensford in Essex the present Assizes held there, was a man tried for murdering his wife who was discovered by the crowner [coroner] of Colchester in manner following, viz. The day being come wherein he intended to bury the dead body of his murdered wife, he asked the people, whether the crowner had been there or no? they answering he had not as yet. Whereupon as he went after the corpse he saw the crowner, and threatened to arrest him for not looking after his charge, upon which the crowner caused the coffin to be opened, and found that she was murdered in a most barbarous manner; her private parts being sown up, and an awle in her head, and her mouth stopped, all which he confessed in his examination, received sentence for the fact, and is before this time executed for this bloody and inhumane murder.



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10.2 Punishing Women Who Brawl (1690) Assailants were punished heavily if they drew blood, and executed if they killed with intent. Acquittal here suggests a complicated case. Source: “Anne Bunyan c. Elizabeth Townsend—Assault in the Old Bailey,” Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 30 April 1690. Old Bailey Online.

in St. Stephen’s Parish Coleman-street and some Blows happened, and the Prisoner was seen to Beat Townsend’s Head against a Leaden Cistern till the Blood gushed out, &c. The Prosecution favoured of an express Malice, so in the end she was Acquitted.

Anne Bunyan Wife of William Bunyan, alias Rider, was Tried for the willful Beating of Elizabeth Townsend Spinster on the 10th Day of August, in the 8th of Year of our late Sovereign Lord King Charles the Second (of Blessed Memory.) it was Evidenced against her, that a Quarrel arose between the Prisoner and the Deceased

10.3 Deception, Social Climbing, … and Death (1697) This pamphlet offers “A full relation of the birth, parentage, education, life and conversation of Mrs. Margaret Martel the barbarous French-woman.” Martel deceived her parents, a series of lovers, and her employers, in a career that included theft and prostitution before ending in murder. Always ready to believe the worst about the French, English readers would have been enthralled and appalled by this account of a “barbarous French-woman” who was lustful, proud, and ambitious. Source: Anonymous, A True Translation of a Paper Written in French (London, 1697).

plain he had a wife at Roan [Rouen]. She travelled with him from city to town for above the space of two years, at which time it’s said her paramour dying, she destitute of employ, was reduced almost to swine’s husks: in which condition as the prodigal in scripture, she turned to her father’s house begged his pardon and was received into favour. Whilst the impression of her sorrows were yet on her heart, her carriage and behaviour was grave and demure enough; but so soon as they were worn away (as time consumes all things) she returned like a dog to his vomit; and gave up her self to all the delicacy, pleasure and effimacy imaginable. As I am informed the cause of religion, and the preservation of a good conscience was not so much the occasion of her coming to England, as so shield and hide herself from being ridiculed and hissed at home … Being driven to some necessities to support herself and her son, and being as unwilling to work as she was

The Life and Conversation of Mrs. Margaret Martel She was born within the city of Paris, in the kingdom of France, her parents not of the meanest rank, esteem and quality, however her own unhappiness had reduced her; Her education, according to the mode of that nation, being very liberal; having a peculiar dexterity in what belongs to air and gallantries, as music, dancing, japanning, needle, works, and what more greatly loving and mightily frequently interludes, masks, balls, and such like exercises, in which few or none ever went before her.… about the age of fourteen (to the grief of her indulgent parents) she fell in league with an Italian comedian, a man though not over well enriched with the gifts of mind, yet perfectly accomplished with agility of body; as vaulting, fencing, leaping &c. Her love was so hot and furious, that no persuasions whatever could overrule her; but go she must and did along with him, though it was apparently 163


so employed in contriving new scene of love, had leisure to think of getting more. Being too under a cloud of dis-reputation, amongst her acquaintance, she was unable to borrow as afore; and therefore was forced to take new methods for a livelihood; hereupon it was I suppose she entered into the service of the honourable Lady Dondanel, where she continued not above ten or eleven months, at most; and then took lodgings, in which she continued till the perpetration of her horrid villainy. … On the 29th of June … Margaret Martel moved by an avaritious desire to support her pride and ambition, came to the house of Squire Pullen, in which sometimes before she had lodged the space of 14 months, and finding the lady within … visited with her till towards the evening, at which time contriving several frivolous messages for the said Madam Pullen’s maid, she took the opportunity with a razor to cut her throat in the closet, as the lady was showing her some plate, which the plate said French woman had formerly pawned there; after this villainy perpetrated, she riffled and plundered the house … The next day after she had done this wicked deed, she was taken and committed to Newgate … till Friday the 9th of June, at which time she was called down to the Old Bailey, in order to her trial which was as follows. She was indicted on two indictments, the first for murdering Elizabeth Pullen, wife of Paul Pullen, Esq; … The second was for robbing squire Pullen of a silver tankard, 2 silver candlesticks, 4 gold rings, [illegible] silver porringer, 3 spoons, 2 gold watches, 6 pair of silver buckles, with other valuable goods. The first evidence was the Maid servant, who said, that her mistress being at dinner; … the prisoner came to knock at the door, she being her mistresses acquaintance, let her in … after she had eat and drank, she desired a letter to be carried to Red-Lyon-Square which Madam Pullen bid herself to do, in the mean while she [Martel] committed her bloody murder, the maid returning home, the said French woman entertained her with a thousand frivolous discourses, pretending the gentlewoman was gone abroad; which the maid also, from her mouth, related to her master when he came home, whereupon he went to bed; but the French woman tarried there till 11 a’ clock, at which time, lying down on the bed, the maid, though thinking little, spied some drops of blood on her petticoat, and demanding how it came, the French woman answered with a smile, and soon after went away about 12, the maid went out to look for her mistress, but found her not till coming home, one of the neighbours advised the maid to break open the door,

too proud to beg, she was fully bent to contrive some more than ordinary adventure to raise her drooping fortune in the world, and it was this. She goes to each and every friend and acquaintance, with whom she had any manner of in credit and borrows some one thing or other of modish rigging from them; by which means she was able, like the peacock, not only to deck and plume herself with variety of coloured feathers, but had also some surplussage of her borrowings to leave as pledges for money: thus equipped and adorned with her son as a page after her, she moves to the court, then at Kensington, and there takes stately and noble lodgings, appearing at all times as a person of no small quality; she much frequented the walks, gardens, and other places of public resort, where behaving herself very carefree and complaisant, young gallants, like bees about a honey pot, daily flocked and buzzed about her; yet so nice and politic she was to give them no occasion, in the least, to think that she was common; but on the contrary, when any made addresses, and laid close siege, she repelled them with a great deal of gravity, assuming no ordinary gift of modesty, the more to inflame her suitors; at length she found she entirely caught two wood-cocks in her net, and therefore was resolved to use them accordingly. The first was no less than the son to a noble Earl, the second a Baron of considerable figure, she wisely received their addresses apart, one knew nothing of the other, till after the expense of a great deal of time the latter, as the freest bleeder, bore the bell; and things brought to such a conclusion, the nuptials being appointed, that the unwary gentleman lodged all his jewels, rings, plate and treasure whatsoever in her sole custody, not mistrusting in the least the virtue of his bright saint, though to his exceeding great cost he found the fairest face had the most corrupt heart, for he being obliged, upon some emergent occasions, to visit some relation in the country, his Delilah, with all the booty moves off; and so the poor cheated gentleman, without enjoying any other bliss, than the phlematick offals of love, the lechery (cold comfort) of a dry kiss, lost his all. I must confess my informer further told me, that although she was not so honest as to restore her borrowed plumes; yet she was so cheerful as to spend what freely she had acquired so easily, and though interest forbade her, entertaining the Baron in her bed, yet nature prompted her to the joys of Venus, and kind Cupid directed her to a jolly hero in the field of love, whose service she well rewarded: and truly she was so ravished with the sweets of his society, that she entirely forgot herself, and so spent her whole treasure before her thoughts 164


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at length she did; acknowledging the horrid machination to be all her own. On Friday, July the 16th by eight a’ clock in the morning, she was conveyed from Newgate to the place of execution, where to be modest, as I may say, and the better to signify her self a Roman Catholic she read a short paper, and afterwards delivered the same to the sheriffs; but it contained nothing more remarkable than what hath been said; a fresh acknowledgement of her heinous offence at the last moment of her breath, and an idolatrous prayer to the Virgin Mary.

of which it was thought the gentlewoman had the key, where they found her cruelly murdered as aforesaid. Upon her trial, the French woman was in two or three several tales, having little purpose to say, for indeed most of the goods were found in her custody, and there was also produced her bloody petticoat and slippers, and so the jury half-English and half-French brought her guilty of the murder and robbery. Her behaviour in Newgate, was now modified, she was twice at the chapel once under condemnation, but it was some time before she confessed her guiltiness of the horrid fact, which through the persuasion of a French divine

10.4 Frustrated Lovers Separated by Convent Walls (1585) Venetian noble families limited the number of their children who could marry, consigning the females to convents and the males to lives of secular celibacy. Few of the young Venetian women forced into convents truly wanted to be nuns, and some young couples tried to continue the relations they had enjoyed outside. In this case, a noble man and woman have kept up a romantic relationship for well over a decade before being discovered and punished. The Venetian Great Council bans the man for six months and fines him 300 ducats; the nun would have been disciplined in her convent. Source: In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), p. 205.

The Great Council thought the sentence a very light one, since it was notorious that this gentleman had had dealings with this nun for the last twelve years and had been reproved on many occasions. She was in the convent of San Zaccaria and belonged to the noble house of Da Mula, being the daughter of Ser Niccolò; she was not a handsome woman, and her age was some thirty-six to forty years. This sentence, light though it was, pleased everybody, given the stake that the city had in the nunneries, for people spoke very ill of their honour, and everyone wanted to see them reformed.

There was published in the Great Council a sentence pronounced by the Provveditori sopra i Monasteri [Overseers of the Convents] upon Ser Zuanne Dolfin, who had broken the laws concerning nuns by visiting at forbidden times and on several occasions a nun in one of the convents of this city, although he was not within the degrees of relationship permitted by the law. He was to be banned from the Council for six months, and to pay a fine of 300 ducats, to be distributed in accordance with the decree of the Council of Ten; and the period of his ban was to begin only when he had paid the fine of 300 ducats.



10.5 Close Call: A Near-Execution for Sodomy (1667) Apprentices sometimes lived with their master and were subject to his control. In this case, an apprentice gardener has charged his master Thomas Rivers with “buggering” or sodomizing him, and Rivers is condemned to death. At the very point of execution, the apprentice recants, and Rivers is released. Whether a crime or false accusation, this document shows how English law dealt with sexual crimes and misconduct. Source: Anonymous, The Gardner at the Gallows: For Buggerie Laid to His Charge … Written by One Who Was an Eye and Ear Witness (London, 1667).

position and nature. But all this took not away the boy’s evidence, which he declared with so much confidence, and answering all objections, that the said Thomas Rivers was brought in guilty on Friday the 13th day of this instant December, 1667 and accordingly was condemned to be hanged at Tyburn (the common place of execution) for the said fact. Between the sentence and the execution, the minister of the place, Mr. Welden, was often with him, and after many serious exhortations, did persuade him to confess his fact, and thereby give glory to God, whose justice had brought him to that final punishment. But Mr. Rivers still persisted on his innocence, and the burden of all still was, that he was as innocent from the fact as the child unborn. And notwithstanding his remorse and repentance, which was kindly and good, for all his former sins; but observing that this had no impression at all upon him: put Mr. Welden, the minister (whose prudent industry in this thing is much to be commended) upon a more strict examination of the boy; which accordingly he did, having sent for him on Sunday, and at other times, found the boy still in the same story: some of the keepers also taking the lad to task, yet could not find him vary one word from he has sworn at the court. And now the fatal day of Mr. Rivers’ execution is come, which was on Wednesday the 18th day of December 1667. He being prepared to die, was put into the care that morning, about ten of the clock, and so guided away to Tyburn. But still God was pleased to put it upon the heart of Mr. Welden, the minister of Newgate, to send one of the keepers again for this boy, who was brought accordingly, and carried to the White-Hart tavern in Smithfield, and there again examined and exhorted in the fear of God, that if he had sworn falsely against his master, that he would then and there declare it. But still the boy persisted in his report; and whereas it was observed before by the minister and the keeper, that the boy’s mother, whose name is Wells, and also others

Thomas Rivers Gardener, aged about 27 years, dwelling in the South-hampton buildings in Vine-street took an apprentice or servant, whose name is Henry Wells, a lad about 15 years old; the said Rivers having married a wife above two years before, and brought her out of Ireland; … This boy ran away from his master about three months ago, and being a lad of a prompt wit and confidence, spent much of his time about birds; … But the said Rivers about two months after this lad ran away … obtained two warrants to apprehend him, and bring him home again; the last whereof he served upon him with his own hands, about three weeks or a month ago, and had the boy before a justice; where being come, he swore, that the occasion of his running away from his said master, was, because he had several times buggered him. Upon which oath the said Rivers was committed to the Gate-house, where he remained about 16 days, and when the last sessions was in the Old Bayley, December 11, 1667 he was brought from thence to Newgate, and from thence to his trial at the Old Bayley. There came this lad and swore against him, That his said master Thomas Rivers, did one time when his mistress was forth, invite him the said Henry Wells into bed to him, and asked if he were cold, which he said he was, and then and there he buggered him, and entered his body; and that after that he took him in the cellar, and tied him up by the two wrists, and there abused him; and also that upon a Sunday after, the said master took him out into the fields, and did the like unto him after he had bound him. There came in behalf of Mr. Rivers the Gardener, two or three witnesses, viz. the Constable, the Beadle, and a neighbor; the two former did assert, That they were present when the master apprehended the boy, and had him before the justice, and that then the boy swore, he had buggered him eight times. The other spoke to his conversation and living, which he said, was harmless and innocent; the said Rivers being of a very softly dis166


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about his neck, the officer having the end of it in his halbeard-hand, they alighted at the Tavern, with the guard, where came to him again the boy and his friend, who again asked him forgiveness, to whom he meekly said the Lord forgive you, for I do, and being desired to drink a glass of wine, he took only one glass, and then reflected again upon some passages of his own life, repeating what he thought had been amiss in himself; he could not call to mind any pleasure he had been else addicted unto, unless it were ringing; which being still with the rope about his neck, and the noose under his ear, as it was put by the executioner, some of the company thought that put him more than ordinary in mind of it. From thence he was conveyed unto Newgate, where he now remains; and several of his friends and neighbours being with him the next morning. And discoursing with him about divers things, as concerning the fact: unto which he answered, he thanked God he was never so much as tempted to it: also concerning his death, and what thoughts he had when he thought he should be turned off; he answered, that he had thoughts of dying; but withal, a very great impress upon his mind, that his innocence, as to that thing, would be cleared up before, or at his death, which he saith he was persuaded too from a dream that happened to him the night before he was carried to be executed, which was this: He thought he beheld himself in a field of wheat, and whilst he was beholding the goodness of the corn, there were abundance of turtle-doves come flying about him, and others stood before him staring him in the face, which he looks upon as emblems of innocence, and the wheat to be near the harvest, but yet not wholly ripe for the sickle.

of his kindred did use to whisper to him, either before or after they had examined him: Mr. Welden singled him out from them, and takes him into a coach with himself and keeper, and so he accompanied his master to the gallows; yet all this while he did not discover the least remorse of heart. Being all come to the place of execution, Mr. Rivers is tied up to the gallows, and here having made his last speech and prayer, he now waited for the fatal turn that should turn him into eternity; and now was the last time that this lad had to confess his error, which accordingly he did, being in the same cart where the prisoner was to be turned over. The minister told him, that now was the last time he had to declare his conscience, and the truth of the fact: the lad seeing his master now upon the brink of death, and his hood ready to be pulled down over his eyes; cried out, that he had wronged his master, and sown falsely against him; the minister hearing that, bid him direct his speech to the people, which accordingly he did, and declared to them that were spectators that he was forsworn, which the boy’s mother also did at the place of execution; upon which, the Ordinary (having order before, if the boy did deny it) taking notice, presently dispatched one of the Sheriff ’s Officers, with one of the Keepers to the King’s Majesty; who immediately riding to White-hall, found his Majesty at dinner; they declared to his Majesty the whole business, whereupon his Majesty was graciously pleased to order them forthwith to return back with all haste, and reprieve the prisoner, and not stay for methodizing it, least it should be too late. And now the messenger of life being come to the place, which is to the prisoner as a resurrection from the dead, where he was untied from the gallows, and brought back again on horseback behind one of the officers, with the halter



10.6 Preparing for Execution (1400s–1500s) In many Italian cities, groups of laymen gathered in brotherhoods that would be with a condemned person through the last hours in jail, to the public reading of the sentence, and on the excruciating trip to the site of execution where hundreds and possibly thousands might be waiting to see the spectacle of death. These “comforters” would counsel the condemned, pray with them, and try and distract them with stories, songs, and spiritual paintings on portable panels called tavolette. This manual was used to train brotherhood members in how to handle different situations that could arise. Source: “Comforters’ Manual of the Brotherhood of St. Mary of Death, Bologna” (1400s–1500s). In Nicholas Terpstra (Ed.), The Art of Executing Well: Rituals of Execution in Renaissance Italy (Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 2008), pp. 248–50 and 270–75.

[1] The manner you must have when you enter the prison.

have a good heart and to put on a good face and don’t get dismayed about anything because you would cause them a lot of pain. I warn you that those who remain will feel more suffering than you who are leaving. So try to comfort them and show them that you accept all that the Lord God Almighty has you go through for the salvation of your soul.” And when you have told him this, go away and leave your companion with him. Make it a habit never to leave him alone and free to wander where he may, so that he cannot start having stray thoughts. And you then go outside to those who want to come inside and tell them this, “Look good people, your coming is a great consolation and it makes us very happy that you can come and see the relative you love, and speak and stay with him as much as you like. But I would like to ask you in all earnestness not to try to reverse what God has approved. So I advise that you do not have anything further to do with him, that is, with our brother. And if we have managed fairly well to set him on the right path and if he accepts willingly what the Lord God Almighty has him go through, then, for the love of God, try to comfort him and on no account show a troubled expression nor any sign of anxiety and suffering. But instead let him understand that he is blessed who rather passes from the trials and tribulations of this wretched world.” And when you have told them this, let them enter and let them talk and stay together as they like. And nevertheless continue comforting both parties, showing them the wretchedness of this world and how he is blessed who departs from it without a damned soul. And if they would like to talk with him about his affairs, let them talk and explain. And do not say anything further to him. Rather, let the fact that they wish to put his affairs in good order comfort him.

When you enter the prison you must use the words that are written at the beginning of this book. When you reach the man you are going to comfort, you must greet him kindly and cheerfully and say some kind words, telling him about how all the heavens are rejoicing, waiting for his soul. And take him by the hand and, like this, the conversation should begin. And, normally, there are prisoners standing around him talking to him—some comforting him, and some listening to him—before you arrive at the prison. Because of this, when you have been in their company for the span of a half hour, then with humane words kindly ask these other prisoners to go rest and not to speak anymore. And so in this friendly way you can make them go away, because it is quite tiresome to have somebody cut in when you are speaking. And once they have left, you then make clear to the one who has to die what he has to do and instruct him about the earlier chapters as best you can.

[2] The manner that one must have when his relatives want to come to visit him. It may happen, as it often does, that someone wants to come to the prison to see the one who has to die, whether it be his father or mother, brothers or sisters, wife or children, relatives or friends or companions, as is customary. If so, then before they come to him in the room where you are, say to the one who has to die, “Look, my brother, some of your relatives want to come and visit you so as to see and comfort you. And I’ll be here, just outside, and I’m very happy about this, for your consolation and for theirs. Therefore I beg you, for the love of God, to try to 168


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Rather, act as if you do not hear him and do this so that he who has to die has no reason to think that you desire him to go away quickly. And thus always make it a habit to not get worked up about anything besides your office. That is, if the cavalier is slower or if he is delayed along the way more than he should be, don’t bother about it and don’t let it show that you get bothered about it, and do this for the reason above. And when you two are called, make the one who has to die ask forgiveness of all the prisoners and ask them to pray to God for him. And then have him leave the prison and when he comes to the place where the cavalier is, ensure that he pardons all the people, and above all the officer and his companions. And as for you, keep always keep beside him holding the tavoletta high so that he has that to see and nothing else. And if even then you see that he is faltering, comfort him directly and remind him that this is the other battle that his enemies wage against him, and that he should not take it to heart, because if he lets them win, he will have a hard time escaping their grip. And thus make him always say some prayer.

But if you see them talking to him about something inappropriate, for example if they complain about what he will be facing and so forth, then throw yourself in between them and, with a slightly troubled expression, break up the discussion. Redirect it appropriately, showing them compassion, since it cannot be anything but the frailty of the flesh that would make him stray in his conversation. And when they want to take their leave from him and go away, at that time you should be daring and keep speaking and don’t let them draw out their departure. Rather make them all take their leave the earliest you can, before the weakness of the flesh overwhelms them: since at that moment, I believe, is when one may feel the greatest torments of the flesh. And if his father or mother is there with him, then before they go, make the one who has to die ask them forgiveness on bended knee; and similarly make him give them his blessing.

[3] The consideration you should make when you begin your conversation with the one who has to die.

[21] The manner you must have when he is led out of the prison.

When you begin to speak with the one who has to die, you need to know and consider, among other things, his character and, secondly, his culture. This is because, as you well know, a wise man who is learned needs a different kind of conversation than a rustic or a woman. It would be a good idea to consider carefully the character of the person who has to die because in this work you will find many kinds of people: you will find very different spirits since our wills are not the same. You will sometimes find many of them who want to listen and who don’t say much. And there are sometimes those who are inclined toward listening to prayers and saying them with you. And there are among them those who are inclined to read on their own and who don’t want to listen very much. And there are among them those who raise their eyebrows and don’t take to heart what you are saying and who think about other things. And there are those who are immovable in the beginning and do not want to humble themselves before God, as rather you would like. …

When he is led out of the prison, make sure that you are always level with him on the right side, and your companion on the left side. Do not leave his side for any reason, letting whoever wants to come near to do so. And when you are at the door of the prison, make him ask forgiveness of the people near him and ask them to pray to God for the salvation of his soul. And so have him praying continually until you reach the place where the condemnation is read.

[22] The manner you must have when he is led out to the place of condemnation and he is read his condemnation. When you are at the orator’s stand and his condemnation is read out, then you should be very daring in your speech, and never let him be still because then he would be greatly transformed due to the multitude of people that he sees. And always make sure that he looks you in the eye and at the tablet, so that he does not look around. Always make him say some prayer so that he does not think, and so that he does not listen to what is being read. And this is because if he were to hear read out some crime that he did not commit, he would get very agitated. And there are times some of them may say to the notary who

[20] The manner you should have when the cavalier comes to tie his hands. When the cavalier is in the prison and has come to take him away, do not move unless the two of you are called. 169


is reading, “You are lying through your teeth,” and this is very bad. Firstly, because rage flames up in his heart, and also because he ends up denying everything that is being read and ends up denying the truth. For it’s not possible that the notary doesn’t say or read something true. Therefore be advised to make sure, if you can, that he does not commit this sin. When the bell tolls above the steps of the Basilica of St. Petronius1, which signals the raising of the Lord God, then you make sure that he who has to die turns and looks to where the body of Christ is raised or should be raised, and that he removes his hood or whatever he has on his head. When the host is raised, make him repeat after you, “Blessed host, which is the Son of the true and living God, the dearest Jesus Christ, born of the glory of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on my soul and do not look upon my sins, since I am sorry and repent, and so I say mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” And you then touch him with your hand on his chest and mouth. When the chalice is raised, you should then begin that prayer which goes, “Oh holy blessed and just blood that comes from that holy Circumcision,” and continue until it’s all finished, and have him repeat your every word. When the condemnation has been read, make sure this man asks the people to pray God for his soul, and that if he has wronged anyone, that he asks that one forgiveness.

the crowd and the flagellants, like to hear beautiful things. And by doing this you provide a great service to the one who has to die, and you bring honour to yourself and to our Company. When he has knelt down on the threshold of the church, remove his hood. And when the host is raised, say this, “At this time we raise the Creator Jesus Christ, our Lord, the blessed host and living flesh, fruit and flower of the womb of the Virgin Mary. I am sorry for all my sins and I admit my fault, my entire fault.”2 And give him your hand on his chest and mouth. When he raises the chalice, you should say this: “O holy and just blood, know me fully, that at the point of my death I would not be deaf or mute. Blood of our saviour Jesus Christ, preserve my soul in eternal life, Amen.”

[24] What you must say when you leave the church to go to his death. When you both leave the church and go towards the place of execution where he must die, then you must comfort him with gentle words and say, “Oh creature of God, you have devoutly taken up the arms of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, and you are armed with them now. So now you are transformed into a valiant cavalier and fight manfully since I tell you that you are near death and do not have much time left to live. This is your cross by which you must follow the dear Christ Jesus, who will reward you with his precious blood.” And in this way you always continue to comfort him until you are on top of the hill or wherever the execution will be carried out.

[23] The manner you must have when you will go around the square. When … you go around the square and then on through the street, keep him straight with prayers and with some pleasant sayings. And this is necessary because many people will be there to watch and to hear what the penitent will say, and also so that he cannot pay attention to what is going on around him. Because the devil sometimes makes him see some enemy of his so that he becomes enraged and his spirit suffers. And so until you arrive at the church of St John at the Market, or to the place where he is to die, you should always make him say some prayers. And when you come close to that church, begin some beautiful prayer, the most beautiful one that you know, and say it until the body of Christ is raised. And this is necessary because in such places there are always many people, who are there to see the execution, together with the flagellants. And all these ones, that is

[25] The manner you must have when he is near the place where he has to die. When you are at … the place of execution, remind him forcefully about confession. If he had kept hidden any sin out of fear, plead with him to confess to the priest and tell him frankly, “Look, my brother, you have death on your heels. It chases you so hard and for so long that by now you not wish to hang on to life for anything. You know that death is a fraud and liar, but you should desire by now to return to God who awaits you with open arms, to receive you if you depart pure, and clean and without sin. And know that you have no more time for penance and that your salvation rests in four or five words that you still have to say. Let me remind you that the disposition

1 The civic church of Bologna (as distinct from the cathedral church of St. Paul), which faced the Podestà’s Palace across from Piazza Magg. 2 Mia colpa e mia maxima colpa is the original Italian. 170


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with which the soul leaves the body is the one that will remain with you eternally. For this reason, therefore, for the love of God, do not try to keep back any sin and do not [aim] to bring it with you. Since the priest is here, tell him everything.” In this way make him confess to the priest.

hesitate from saying with him these last words that Jesus Chris said on the wood of the cross: “Into your hand, Lord, I commend my spirit.” Make it so that his last words would be: “Into your hands, my Lord, I commend my spirit and soul.” And so always have your mind on this when they fix the tagliadura around his neck; make him bend to kiss the tablet. Do this so that when he bends, and his throat comes near the execution block, and the tagliadura secures his neck so that he cannot move it, he will be severed at the first touch.3 If he holds his neck high, even then and often by accident, the braces shift and because of this there can be much suffering/pain. And similarly pay attention to when the executioner lifts the mallet; make sure that you never move the tavoletta under his face until the mallet is close to the chopping block. And make sure that you pull the tablet away at the same time as the blow, so that he who has to die does not notice. Because sometimes when the tablet is taken away too soon, he moves his neck, and thus suffers many more blows which makes it very hard on him. And similarly, when you go up on the ladder of the gallows with one who has to be hanged, as you climb up the ladder tell him that prayer that begins, “Soul of Christ, purify me.” And be careful to finish it leaving enough time so that you can say at least two or three times, “Into your hands, my Lord, I commend my spirit and soul,” [Luke 23:46] so that these are the last words you make him say. And take care always to hold the tablet in front of his face and not too low. Go as high as you can, which will make it easier for you and so that he will be better able to understand what you tell him. And do not be there in a way that would block him when he is about to swing down, so that when he is knocked off the ladder he falls freely. From the moment he is pushed, you cry out three times in his ear and tell him to remember the Passion of Christ and to call the Virgin Mary to his heart. And pray to God for his soul.

[26] The words that you must adopt when he comes from confession. When he rises from confession and goes towards the execution block, or they position him from behind, then tell him these words and ensure that he answers, “Into your hands, oh my Lord, I commend my spirit and soul. I ask you, my Father, that you have mercy on my soul at the hour and at the moment of my death. Sweet Virgin Mary, I commend to you my soul. Sweetest Virgin Mary, advocate for us sinners, fountain of mercy, stairway to heaven, doorway of paradise, joy of the saints, pray to your benevolent Son by the death and passion that He endured on the wood of the cross, that he have mercy on my soul at the hour and at the moment of my death. Sweet Virgin Mary, I commend to you my spirit.” And if you were to see that the time is advancing, tell him that prayer that begins, “Soul of Christ, purify me, etc.”

[27] The manner you must have when he who has to die kneels down. When you are at the block and he who has to die kneels down to put his head on it, you kneel down as well, using your right knee and keeping the tavoletta in such a way that he always has his eye on it, that is so he always sees it. And sincerely tell him the following words, “My dearest brother, make yourself strong and steady at this step and don’t have fear. And aim to offer your soul, clean and devout, to the Creator who gave it to you.” Do not

3 The tagliadura was a yoke-like brace whose upper and lower halves secured around the prisoner’s neck. A blade fit into a slot above the prisoner’s neck, allowing the executioner to sever it cleanly with a single blow of a mallet. 171


10.7 The Execution of Two Nobles (1568) Through the 1560s, the Spanish government faced challenges to its control over the Netherlands. The Duke of Alba was sent to restore order by force and decided to make a lesson out of two noblemen who had been implicated in open revolt. It gradually dawns on these two noblemen that they will not be granted the amnesty they have been expecting, and so they have to recover their dignity by making a heroic death. Source: In G.T. Matthews (Ed.), News and Rumor in Renaissance Europe: The Fugger Newsletters (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1959), pp. 28–30.

attired in a black velvet doublet, cut low at the neck, wide black velvet breeches, and brodequins, or white Spanish boots. Over this he wore a red damask night-robe, and an ordinary black cloak, both edged with gold braid. He also wore a hat with black and white plumes thereon. He walked from the said Bread-House to the scaffold. He carried his cloak over his shoulder and had his hands crossed upon his breast. And so he walked in orderly fashion with a proud face as he had formerly been wont to go to the Council. He carried himself bravely, though his face looked melancholy and afflicted. He held his cloak before his mouth, thrown over his shoulder, and looked around him; then he laid it aside, composed himself for death, and was about to unrobe himself. The Maistre de Camp said to him: “Oh, there is no haste, take time for reflection. Time and to spare will be given to you and this vouchsafed right willingly.” Thereupon he slung the cloak once more round his shoulders and again looked around him, but without saying a word or making a sign. Only his right hand he stretched out from under the cloak and gazed upon it fixedly. Therefore the Bishop of Ypres addressed him in these words: “Sir, do not take thought now of any worldly matters, but bethink yourself of the salvation of your soul.” At that he asked: Whether the salvation of his soul could prevent him thinking of his wife and his children? The Bishop answered: “Nay, since our Lord Himself as He hung upon the Cross for the remission of our sins, committed His mother to the care of John.” There-upon the Count made reply: “Then there is naught that troubles my heart or lies heavy on my conscience.” With these words he put down his hat, laid aside his cloak, likewise his night-robe. The Maistre de Camp once more bade him not to hurry, but the Count made answer that, as it was ordained he must die, he wished to do so. He knelt down with the Bishop and spoke privately with him for the space of two paternosters. Thereupon he himself motioned him aside with his hand, lifted a gilt

On the 4th day of June of this year 1568, Count Egmont and Count Horn were taken on a special conveyance from Ghent to Brussels. They were accompanied by twelve troops of Spaniards on foot and several hundreds on horseback. When Count Egmont beheld the town of Brussels he said: “I am in good hopes that the Duke of Alba will of his mercy allow me to sup with my spouse and my children this night.” They had been with him of late and had brought him consolation. But as soon as they entered the town, (it was at three o’clock in the afternoon), they were taken to the King’s Bread-House, which stands in the market-place opposite the Town Hall, and thereupon Count Egmont said: “Now I have lost all hope!” The same evening at seven o’clock, their sentence was read out to the two counts, thereupon Egmont on that evening and during the night oft repeated: That the wrongs he had committed against His Majesty might graciously be forgiven him and his life spared in return for the services he had rendered: that he should be punished with lifelong imprisonment and be treated not as a count, but as a poor nobleman. The King should be implored thus on his behalf. The Grand Prior, likewise, it is rumoured, has thrown himself on his knees before the carriage of the Duke, but it has availed him nothing. The Duke is reported to have said that the sentence of both gentlemen is to be carried out. Therefore the Bishop of Ypres has been sent to them as Confessor, and, in addition to him, the Duke’s Chaplain and a Spanish priest. These remained with them until their death. In the morning a stand, which is called here a scaffold, was erected in the market-place, and on either side a pole with an iron point was nailed thereto. The said scaffold was draped with black cloth and two black cushions were laid upon it. The market-place was guarded by the twenty troops which had come from Ghent and by ten from Brussels. At eleven o’clock Count Egmont was first in place. He was unbound and accompanied by the Bishop of Ypres and the two Spanish priests and the Maistre de Camp. He was 172


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same he was willing to grant to all. He begged that every one should say a paternoster for him. Thereupon he fell on his knees with the Bishop and thus remained the space of two paternosters, or thereabouts. The hat he held in his hands all the time. Then he arose once more, thanked everybody in a strong and manly voice, and made obeisance to all the soldiers, who did likewise. Thereupon he laid aside his cloak and knelt down unbound. After this the executioner did as he was ordered. When both gentlemen had been executed, their heads were placed on two iron spikes where they remained till the afternoon at three. But the corpses were guarded by six monks, who, clad in grey, and as is the custom here, bury the dead. The bodies were unrobed under a linen cloth that was spread over them and each was laid in a special chest, in which they remained for about an hour under the scaffold. Thereafter, they, as well as the heads, were carried in a four-cornered separate little box to the Church of St. Gugule. There the heads were sewn to the bodies and Count Egmont transported to St. Claire, and Count Horn to another convent. Thereafter Egmont was embalmed and buried in his own domain at Gottegem, and Horn likewise at Weert.

cross from where it lay on the scaffold, and knelt before it. Likewise he pulled the white cap or bandage which he had on his head over his eyes, and thus remained kneeling for some time while the executioner made ready. Meanwhile the Bishop inquired of him whether he would permit his bandage to be made tight. “Nay,” he replied, “I will die right valiantly and deport myself in seemly fashion.” Thereupon the executioner carried out his appointed task with the sword. Immediately this was done the two Spanish priests bore away the dead body and the head, and placed them under a black cloth at the side of the scaffold. They then fetched Count Horn from the Bread-House. He also was unfettered, and when he stepped out upon the market-place he doffed his hat and bade the soldiers on both sides good-day in the Spanish tongue. These did likewise. Then he went bravely, bareheaded, hat in hand, to the scaffold. He wore his usual garments, a doublet of white linen and laced black velvet breeches, and there-over a cloak. As soon as he mounted the scaffold he spoke to all and sundry, saying how much it grieved him that he had so acted against the King and not served him better. He craved the pardon of His Majesty and of whomsoever he should have offended. This

Figure 10.1  Seven Men on the Gallows An anonymous drawing shows hanged men with necks broken, left on public display. 173


10.8 The Theater of Execution in Rome (1581) Hanging or decapitation might not be the only activity in the theater of punishment—there had to be drama and a public settling of accounts. The hand with which a killer had held the knife might be cut off first, or the body would be cut into quarters and displayed through the city he had terrorized. In the first case here, comforters hold small religious pictures (tavolette) directly in front of the condemned’s face to keep him from seeing the crowd, while in the second the executioner carries out the sentence using the same methods that the condemned had used to carry out the crime. Source: Michel de Montaigne, travel journal (1581). In D.M. Frame (Ed. and Trans.), The Complete Works of Montaigne: Essays, Travel, Journal, Letters (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957), p. 941.

After he was strangled, they cut him into four quarters. They hardly ever kill men except by a simple death, and exercise their severity after death. Monsieur de Montaigne here remarked what he has said elsewhere, how much the people are frightened by the rigors exercised on dead bodies; for these people, who had appeared to feel nothing and seeing him strangled, at every blow that was given to cut him up cried out in a piteous voice. As soon as a criminal is dead, one or several Jesuits or others get up on some high spot and shout to the people, one in this direction, the other in that, and preach to them to make them take in this example. … On January 14th … I saw two brothers executed, former servants of the Castellano’s secretary, who had killed him a few days before in the city by night, in the very place of the said Signore Giacomo Buoncompagno, the Pope’s son. They tore them with red-hot pincers, then cut off their fist in front of the said palace, and having cut it off they put on the wound capons that they had killed and immediately opened up. They were executed on a scaffold: first they were clubbed with a big wooden mace, and then their throats cut immediately. This is a punishment they said is sometimes used in Rome, though others maintained that it had been adopted to the misdeed, since they had killed their master in that way.

On January 11th, in the morning, as Monsieur de Montaigne was leaving the house on horseback to go to the bankers’, it happened that they were taking out of prison Catena, a famous robber and bandit captain who had kept all Italy in fear and to whom some monstrous murders were ascribed, especially those of two Capuchins whom he had made to deny God, promising on that condition to save their lives, and then massacred without any reason either of advantage or of vengeance. Monsieur de Montaigne stopped to see this spectacle. Besides the formalities used in France, they carry in front of the criminal a big crucifix covered in a black curtain, and on foot go a large number of men dressed and masked in linen, who, they say, are gentlemen and other prominent people of Rome, who devote themselves to this service of accompanying criminals led to execution and the bodies of the dead; and there is a brotherhood of them. There are two of these, or monks dressed and masked in the same way, who attend the criminal on the cart and preach to him; and one of them continually holds before his face a picture on which is the portrait of Our Lord, and has him kiss it incessantly; this makes it impossible to see the criminal’s face from the street. At the gallows, which is a beam between two supports, they still kept this picture against his face until he was launched. He made an ordinary death, without movement or word; he was a dark man of thirty or thereabouts.



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10.9 Ritual Execution of an Alleged Rapist and Robber in Venice (1513) A serial criminal loose in Venice’s mainland territories lured girls and women into the woods, where he robbed and raped them. He was finally identified by a woman, and tried and found guilty by the city’s highest criminal court. Contemporaries thought that the execution had to be as horrible as the crime. Source: In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 89–90.

had meted out this treatment to more than eighty, among them eleven young girls who were raped, and sixteen from this city, as [recorded] in the trial. This [rogue] was recognized by one of the women in the street at San Fantin, and she said to him, “Here you are, you murderer!” grabbed hold of him and handed him over to the officials. He was held in custody by the Forty and fully confessed everything. Now he has been sentenced to be conveyed tomorrow at noon on a raft up the Grand Canal, in the usual manner, then to be disembarked at Santa Croce and dragged by a horse to San Marco, there to have his head cut off and to be quartered, and quarters to be hung on the scaffold.

This morning in the Criminal Court of the Forty, on the proposal of the Avogador di Comun Sier Zuan Capello and his colleagues, there was sentenced to be quartered tomorrow a certain Gasparo d’argua, who prowled around on the pretext of having a trembling-sickness, committing acts so hideous that they make the head reel. This man, for more than a year, had found a trade which brought here many young girls and women from the country and outside the city; and when they were on the road he took them into a certain wood and worked them over, taking any goods and money they had, threatening to kill them, and made off, and the poor ashamed [creatures], having lost their goods, remained there. And he

10.10 A Burning for Heresy (1553) Burning was the punishment for those charged with heresy or witchcraft, applying a Roman method for executing political traitors to those charged with being traitors to God. In some cases the executioner strangled the prisoner before the flames consumed him, and in others it was assumed that the smoke would suffocate the condemned first. This account comes from the diary of Felix Platter, a Swiss medical student studying in Montpellier, who was struck by a series of deaths in a few charged days in January—first the executions of a defrocked priest and a cloth worker for heresy, and then the accidental death of a young man in a fight. Source: Felix Platter, journal. In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Beloved Son Felix (London: F. Muller, 1962), pp. 70–73.

there. Behind the condemned man two other prisoners walked, one a cloth shearer, in his shirt, with a bale of straw fastened to his back; the other of good appearance, and well dressed. Both of them had recanted and denied the true faith. Dalencon, however, sang psalms

On the 6th of January Guillaume Dalencon, unfrocked eleven weeks before, and since then held in prison, was condemned to death. In the afternoon a man carried him on his shoulders out of the town towards the monastery, to the place of execution. A pyre had already been built 175


they advised me to hold my tongue, for the same fate could befall me also, as a heretic. During these affaires an extraordinary phenomenon occurred. On the 6th of January, immediately after the execution of the first man, it began to thunder violently. I heard it plainly and so did many others with me; but the priests derided us and said that it was the smoke from the burning of heretics that produced that effect. On the 7th of January the wedding of Doctor Fontanonous took place. … According to custom the young couple were conducted to church on Sunday evening, in a procession with numerous torches and musical instruments, and afterwards were taken home in the same manner. After the meal, and while everyone was dancing, with the doors open, a Monsieur Le Beau presented himself. He was a young, good-looking student, who claimed to be of noble birth, and therefore always carried a sword, a thing that students did not customarily do. He was accompanied by one of his friends, a man called Miliet, a good dancer, as indeed Le Beau was, and who never missed a ball. Now, there was another student there, called Flaminius, a burly arrogant Italian. He mocked at Le Beau, and tripped him, so that he nearly fell. Le Beau replied to this with a box on the ear. They would have fought on the spot if they had not been separated. Flaminius swore to have his revenge. On Monday, after dinner, Le Beau was walking, as usual, on the paved Place Notre-Dame, when Flaminius came up like a madman, brandishing a dagger. Le Beau retreated and drew his sword, and presented the point, saying “Go away, Flaminius!” But the other tried to knock up the sword and throw himself on Le Beau. Then Le Beau thrust his sword into Flaminius’ chest, through and through, so that the steel showed a foot behind his back. Flaminius cried out “I am killed!” and died at once. He was carried away on a ladder. Le Beau fled with his sword in his hand and hid in a house, but he was pursued. The bailly and his sergeants entered the house and searched it, while Le Beau took refuge on the roof, and went from house to house. At last he was caught and taken to the prison of the Cour du Bayle, where he suffered a long and severe imprisonment. In the end he obtained the king’s pardon and was set free. He had never ceased to maintain that Flaminius had leapt upon his sword, and this contributed to his acquittal. Later he became a doctor in Tours, and he still lived there not many years ago.

all the way. At the pyre, he sat down on a log and himself took off his clothes as far as his shirt, and arranged them beside himself, as though he would be putting them on again. He exhorted the other two, who were about to apostatize, so touchingly that the sweat stood out in great drops, as big as peas, on the forehead of the man in the shirt. When the monks formed in a curve around him, and mounted on horseback, told him that it was time to make an end, he leapt joyously on to the pyre and sat down at the foot of the stake that rose in the centre of it. This stake was pierced by a hole, through which ran a cord with a running noose. The executioner put the cord round Dalencon’s neck, tied his hands and across his breast, and placed near him the religious books he had brought from Geneva. Then he set fire to the pyre. The martyr remained seated, calm and resigned, with his eyes raised towards heaven. When the fire reached the books the executioner pulled on the cord and strangled him; his head dropped to his breast and he made no further movement. Little by little the body was reduced to cinders. His two companions stood at the foot of the fire, where they were made to watch his sufferings, and could feel the heat of the flame. After the execution they were both taken to the Hotel de Ville. Near there, in front of the church of NotreDame, a platform had been set up, with a statue of the Virgin on it, before which they would have to recant. The crowd had to wait for them for a long time. At last only one of the two men was brought out. The cloth shearer had refused to abjure and demanded that he should be executed without mercy for having failed his beliefs. He was therefore taken back to prison. The other man, who seemed to be a man of substance, was placed on his knees before the statue of the Virgin, with a lighted candle in his hand. A clerk read out various charges, to which he had to reply. In this way he saved his life, but he was sent to the galleys and there put in chains. On the following Tuesday, the 9th of January, it was the turn of the cloth shearer again. He was strangled and burnt as the priest had been. He showed great courage, and no less repentance for having come so near to denying his faith. It had rained on that day, and the fire would not burn. The victim, who was not completely strangled, endured great suffering. At last the monks of the neighbouring monastery brought some straw, and the executioner took it and sent for oil of terebinth from my master’s pharmacy to ignite the fire. Afterwards I reproached the assistants who had given it to him, but



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Figure 10.2  The Death of Thomas Cranmer at the Stake, Burned for Heresy in 1556 This woodcut from John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs shows Thomas Cranmer being burned for heresy by Catholic authorities. His violent death made him a martyr in the eyes of English Protestants.

10.11 The Galleys in Marseilles (late 1500s) Some men had their sentences commuted from a quick execution to the slow death of being a rower on one of the galleys that sailed the Mediterranean. Slaves and the condemned rowed in appalling conditions with only a slight chance of release, either after a term of punishment or if they could scrape together funds to buy their freedom. This account is by Felix Platter’s son, Thomas (1574–1628), who followed his father’s path as a medical student in Montpellier. Source: Thomas Platter, journal. In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Journal of a Younger Brother (London: F. Muller, 1963), p. 275.

to the lieutenant-viguier or consul of the town, whose name was Libertat. There was such a noise of chains on board, and of shouting, that it seemed like the heart of an immense forge. I county thirty-one banks of oarsmen on each side. Four, and sometimes five, men of various

In the middle of the harbour, almost opposite the Hotel de Ville, there were two splendid galleys, richly painted and guilded, which we went to visit on the 12th of February. One of the them belonged to the Duc de Guise, governor of Marseilles and of Provence, and the other 177


through rain, snow, and heat. At night the galley is covered with an awning of thick material, and when this is removed in the morning it is a curious spectacle to see the men at their various occupations. Some knit, some sew, some carve wood; others chat, scratch, wash, cook, wash dishes, etc. Every one of them works, for when they are at anchor, and not employed in cleaning the streets, the squares, or the port, each one works for himself in order to gain a few sous to buy wine or linen. With their savings or the money given to them by charitable people they would be able to buy their freedom, but they quarrel constantly among themselves and do not hesitate at any kind of dastardy. In general they are robust men. When they are rowing at sea they are bare to the waist, and before them and behind them is placed a man with a whistle to convey orders. If they do not obey promptly enough they are lashed about the head and shoulders until the blood flows. Sometimes, to make an example, a limb is chopped off one of them. The two guards are usually former galley slaves, and they are devoid of any sort of pity. When the wind is favourable sails are spread to gain extra speed.

nationalities were chained to each oar. At that time most of them were Spaniards, about four hundred in number, who had been made prisoner either when the consul Casaulx attempted to deliver the town to Spain or else on board a Genoese vessel of which I will speak presently. Sometimes there are only twenty-four oars to each side. The men are chained in twos by the feet, with heavy chains; but as they often succeed in escaping, and can hide their fetters under a long robe (although it is forbidden for any workman to remove a convict’s chains), iron collars are put on their necks, with a rod or stalk of iron, two spans long, which stands upright above the head, and cannot be hidden in any manner. If you wish to see how much human nature you can endure, you have only to visit these wretches. They are fed with biscuits, a kind of hard and thin bread, cooked in an oven and made with uncleaned wheat. These have to be soaked in water before they can be chewed. Once or twice a week the men are given meat, but their other food is appalling. They are dressed all the same, and all cropped and shaved to avoid vermin, and are confined in the galleys day and night, winter and summer,

10.12 Appointment of an Executioner: Charles Sanson in Paris (1700s) Executioners and their families were shunned by everyone—few wanted to sell to them, drink with them, or associate in any way with the men whose hands were tainted with so much blood. Here the French King Louis XIV sets out the taxes and fees that executioner Charles Sanson can levy at the city gates in order to gain food and an income by obligation from those who would not offer this by choice. Source: In H. Sanson (Ed.), Memoirs of the Sansons: From Private Notes and Documents (London: Chatto and Windus, 1876).

Longval, we have, in accordance with the said order, given and granted, and do by these presents give and grant him the status of Executioner of the High Works and Criminal Sentences in our aforesaid city, provostry and viscounty of Paris, heretofore held and exercised by Nicolas Levasseur, known as La Riviere, last incumbent thereof, the same having been discharged by the said order of our said Court of the Parlement of Paris, and added, under the counterseal of our Chancery, in respect of the said office and its tenure, future exercise, enjoyment and use

Louis, by the grace of God King of France and Navarre, to all those who shall see this presents, greetings! By order of our Court of the Parlement of Paris, the eleventh of August of the present year, it having been ordained for the reasons hereinafter set out that Charles Sanson known as Longval shall alone fulfill the office of Executioner of High Justice in our city, provostry and viscounty of Paris subject to his obtaining our letters patent for the said office; wherefore be it known that in view of the good account given us of the said Charles Sanson known as 178


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twenty sous and a carp; and for each bag of peas or broad beans in pods one sou, and for each basket six deniers; and for each case of oranges and lemons brought in by itinerant merchants either by water or by land, one sou; for each wagonload of oysters in the shell one quarteron and for each boatload in proportion and for every person bringing brooms, one brook; for every horse-load, two; and for every cartload six; for every merchant bringing in coal, his potful; from the sworn ropemakers, rope for the executions; all of which rights have always been levied both in our own city of Paris and in other parts of our Kingdom, which the said Sanson will enjoy, as also exemption from all levies in respect of nightwatch, guards, bridges, ferries, receipt of wine and other beverages for his own provender, with the right to carry arms both offensive and defensive, himself and his servants, on account of his office …

by the aforesaid Sanson, to the rights of levy in the fairs and markets of our said city, provostry and viscounty of Paris, products, gains, revenues and emoluments, such and similar as have well and properly been enjoyed by the incumbents of like offices; to wit: enjoyment of the house and habitation of the Pillori des Halles, its appurtenances and dependencies without let or hindrance for whatsoever cause, and furthermore the right to exact from each merchant bearing eggs on his back or by hand one egg, from each saddle-load two eggs, from each cartload, a demi-quartron, and from each basket of apples, pears, grapes, and other produce whether arriving by land or by water in boats carrying the same load as a horse one sou; for each laden horse the same amount and for each cart two sous; for those bringing whether by land or by water, green peas, medlars, hemp-seed, mustard-seed, poulavin, millet, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts his spoonful as has always been the custom; from each itinerant merchant bringing on his back or by hand butter, cheese, poultry and fresh-water fish, six deniers; for each horse, one sou; for each cartload of beans, two sous; for each tip-cart

Bestowed at Versailles, the 23rd day of September, in the year of grace 1688, the 46th year of our reign.

Figure 10.3  Executioner Franz Schmidt Executing Hans Fröschel on 18 May 1591 Nuremburg’s executioner, Franz Schmidt, winding up to behead a condemned man with a sword. Beheading was only one form of execution employed by Schmidt. 179


10.13 Diary of an Executioner: Franz Schmidt of Nuremberg (1500s) In a career spanning more than four decades, German executioner Franz Schmidt (1555– 1634) put 300 people to death by beheading, hanging, drowning, and burning for a wide range of offences, including theft, rape, and some horrific murders. He recorded some details of each case in a diary that also notes the great number of those who were branded, whipped, or exiled for lesser charges. The table included here shows that these were the years when executioners across Germany were most active. Source: F. Schmidt, journal. In Albrecht Keller (Ed.), A Hangman’s Diary, translated by C. Calvert and A.W. Gruner (Montclair: Patterson Smith, 1973), pp. 223–29.

Year 1577 22. Nicklauss Stuller, of Aydtsfeld, alias Schwartz Kracker, a murderer. With his companions Phila and Gürgla von Sunberg he committed eight murders. First he shot a horse-soldier; secondly he cut open a pregnant woman alive, in whom was a dead child; thirdly he again cut open a pregnant woman in whom was a female child; fourthly he once more cut open a pregnant woman in whom were two male children. Gürgla von Sunberg said they had committed a great sin and that he would take the infants to be baptized, but Phila said he would himself be priest and baptize them, so he took them by the legs and dashed them to the ground. For these deeds he, Stuller, was drawn out on a sledge at Bamberg, his body torn thrice with red-hot tongs, and then he was executed on the wheel. …

Herein all the executions of Master Franz Schmidt Executioner in Nuremberg; which he carried out, at first for his father in this place and elsewhere; those also when he was finally appointed by an Honourable Council to be executioner of the same town; the number of persons married or single, whom he executed; the name of every one; what each had done; and what was done to each, are diligently set forth. Likewise one may read of all the bodily punishments, such as flogging, banishing from the town, cutting off of fingers and ears, branding of cheeks, standing in the pillory, and many other matters. All to be read, diligently set forth. Anno 1573.

Executions Year 1573 1. June 5th. Leonhardt Russ, of Ceyern, a thief, hanged at Statt Steinach. Was my first execution. …

Year 1578 This is the beginning of my duties when I Master Franz Schmidt, was appointed (executioner) at Nuremberg on St. Walburga’s day. 29. July 3rd. Hans Mullner, alias de Model, a smith, who violated a girl of thirteen years of age, filling her mouth with sand that she might not cry out; also Hans Kellner of the Reuth by Forchheim, a thief; both beheaded with sword at Nuremberg. …

Year 1574 7. Kloss Renckhart of Feylsdorf, a murderer, who committed three murders with an associate. First he shot dead his companion, secondly a miller’s man who helped him to attack and plunder a mill by night. The third case was again at a mill, called the Fox Mill, on the mountains, which he attacked at night with a companion. They shot the miller dead, did violence to the miller’s wife and the maid, obliged them to fry some eggs in fat and laid these on the dead miller’s body, then forced the miller’s wife to join in eating them. He kicked the miller’s body and said: “Miller, how do you like this morsel?” He also plundered the mill. For these things he was executed at the wheel at Graytz. …

Year 1580 43. January 26th. Margaret Dorfflerin (50 years old) from Ebermannsstatt, Elizabeth Ernstin (22 years old) from Anspach, Agnes Lengin (22 years old) of Amberg, three child murderesses. The woman Dorfflerin, when she brought forth her child in the garden behind the Fort, 180


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chalice and vestments and broke open four trunks, also attacked people in their houses by night. He was captured at Betzenstein, brought in and hanged at Nuremberg. …

left it lying alive in the snow so that it froze to death. Ernstin, when she brought forth her child alive in Master Behcimb’s house, herself crushed its little skull and locked the body in a trunk. But the woman Lengin, when she brought forth her child alive in the house of a smith, throttled it and buried it in a heap of refuse. All three beheaded with the sword as murderesses and their heads nailed above the great scaffold, no woman having been beheaded before this at Nuremberg. I and the two priests, namely Master Eucharius and Master Lienhardt Krieg, brought this about, as the bridges were already prepared, because they should all three have been drowned.… 61. October 26th. Michael Passelt of Sultzbach, a pursemaker’s hand, who was wedded both to his mistress, called Maglin, and her daughter, having long lived in lecherous intimacy with them. Beheaded with the sword, here in Nuremberg; his body afterwards burnt.…

Year 1588 112. January 2nd. George Hornlein of Bruck, Jobst Knau of Bamberg, a potter, both of them murderers and robbers. Two years ago Hornlein and a companion attacked a carrier on the Remareuth, stabbed him four times so that he died, and took 32 florins. Six weeks ago he and Knau were consorting with a whore. She bore a male child in the house, where Knau baptized it, then cut off its hand while alive. Then a companion, called Schwartz tossed the child in the air, so that it fell upon the table and said: “Hark how the devil whines!” then cut its throat and buried it in the little garden belonging to the house. A week later the above-mentioned Hornlein and Knau, when the whore of the aforesaid Schwartz bore a child, wrung its neck; then Hornlein, cutting off its right hand, buried it in the yard of the house. Six weeks ago Hornlein and Knau with a companion, a certain Weisskopf, attacked a man between Herzog and Frauen Aurach. Knau shot him dead, took 13 florins, dragged the body into the wood and covered it with brushwood.… To conclude it would require another half sheet to write down all the people they attacked … The two murderers were led out on a tumbril. Both their arms were twice nipped with red-hot tongs, and their right arms and legs broken; lastly they were executed on the wheel. …

Year 1584 87. November 17th. Anna Freyin, a clothworker of Nuremberg Having brought forth a child by a cutler called Ambrosius (she having formerly been married); the child being a boy, and two years old, she threw it in the well by the Franciscan Church and drowned it. Afterwards going to the prison voluntarily. Beheaded with the sword here. Total: 20 persons. Year 1585 88. February 11th. Frederick Werner of Nuremberg, alias Heffner Friedla, a murderer and a robber who committed three murders and twelve robberies. The first time he shot dead his own companion at Buch, the second time he killed and robbed a man in the Erlander Wood, the third time he killed a journeyman, whom he attacked alone in the Fischbach Wood and knocked on the head with a stone, so that he died here in hospital. He likewise helped to rob his wife in the Schwabach Wood with the help of Herdtelt (already executed) and left her for dead. Drawn to execution in a tumbril, twice nipped with redhot tongs, and afterwards broken on the wheel. …

Year 1617 300. November 13th. Burnt alive here a miller of Manberna, who however was lately engaged as a carrier of wine, because he and his brother, with the help of others, practiced coining and counterfeiting money and clipping coins fraudulently; he had also a knowledge of magic.… This miller, who worked in the town mills here three years ago, fell into the town moat on Whitsunday. It would have been better for him if he had been drowned, but it turned out according that the proverb that “What belongs to the gallows cannot drown in water.” This was the last person whom I, Master Franz, executed.

Year 1587 101. January 5th. Hans Krauss of Burckenstatt, alias Locksmith Hans, a burglar of churches, who broke into the church at Endtmannsberg with his companions, stole the



10.14 Public Penance and Punishment in Spain—Heresy and Inquisition (1486) The Spanish Inquisition used public ceremonies called the “Act of Faith” (auto de fe) to advertise the return to faith of those charged with heresy, and the punishment by burning of those who would not recant. This ceremony with 750 penitents underscores that the Inquisition was established in 1480 to target primarily Jews forcibly converted to Catholicism who had continued to practice the Jewish faith in secret. Public punishment and humiliation, combined with permanent exclusion from public office, aimed to prevent any deviation from what was effectively the state religion of Catholicism. Source: In Olivia Remie Constable (Ed.), Medieval Iberia: Readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish Sources (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), pp. 482–84.

was erected near the new gate. The father inquisitors were seated on the platform, and on another nearby platform was an altar where mass was said for them and a sermon was preached to them. And afterward a notary public arose and began to call each one by name, speaking in this way: “Is so-and-so there.” And the reconciled raised his candle and said: “Yes.” And there in public he [the notary] read off all the things in which he [the reconciled] had Judaized, and likewise was done with the women. And when this was done, there in public they were given their penance which was to march in a procession on six [consecutive] Fridays, whipping their backs with ropes of knotted hemp and without hose or hats, and [also] that they fast on those six Fridays. And it was ordered that as long as they should live they could hold no public office such as mayor or constable or alderman or magistrate or notary public or gatekeeper, and that those who held such offices should lose them, and that they could not be money changers or apothecaries or spice merchants, nor could they hold any suspicious post whatsoever, nor could they wear silk or fine scarlet wool or colored clothing or gold or silver or pearls or mother-of-pearl or coral or any jewel, nor could they act as witnesses, nor could they rent such things. They were ordered on penalty of being considered backsliders, that is, those who fall again into the same error as before, that if they used any one of the above mentioned [forbidden] articles, they would be condemned to be burned the stake. And when all these ceremonies were over, they left the cathedral at two in the afternoon.

Toledo, 12 February 1486 On Sunday, 12 February 1486, all the “reconciled” … marched in a procession there were as many as 750 people [including] both men and women. And they marched in procession from [the monastery of] Saint Peter the Martyr in this fashion. The men were without cloaks, bareheaded, barefoot, and without hose. And because the weather was so cold they were ordered to wear linen soles under their otherwise bare feet, with unlit candles in their hands. And the women were without cloaks or any outer garment whatsoever, their faces uncovered, barefoot like the men, and holding their candles. Many important and respected personages were among such people, and with the extremely cold temperature and the dishonor and disgrace they suffered on account of the great crowd that was watching them—because many people had come from the surrounding areas to see them—they went along shrieking with pain and weeping, and some tore out their hair (it is believed more because of the disgrace they were suffering than because of the offenses they had committed against God). And thus they marched in great anguish through the entire city, following the same path as the Corpus Christi procession, until they arrived at the cathedral. At the door of the cathedral were two priests who made the sign of the cross on the forehead of each one of them, saying these words: “Receive the sign of the cross that you denied and lost through being grievously deceived.” And they went into the cathedral up to a platform that



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10.15 Confessions on the Scaffold (1700) Those being executed publicly often gave speeches admitting their guilt and seeking forgiveness from God and others. These were printed and sold as pamphlets and broadsheets. Source: John Allen, A Full and True Account of the Behaviours, Confessions, and Last Dying Speeches of the Condemn’d Criminals That Were Executed at Tyburn, May 24, 1700 (London: E. Mallet, 1700).

but as often broke them: His Indisposition did not permit him to speak much, but he seem’d very attentive to good Advice. James Walters, Condemn’d for several Felonies: Was an Apprentice to a Merchant, but leading a dissolute debaucht Life, his Master turn’d him away; then he went to his old Companions, who prevail’d with him to go abroad with them, where he committed a great many base, notorious Actions. He complain’d of the tedious Confinement he underwent, and how troublesome it was to him, who was always a busie stirring Person: But he was put in mind that he shou’d by no means once fancy, that he must lie in that doleful Place, shut out from all Business, and condemn’d as it were to a state of Idleness; but that he should set himself with all his might, to mind the one thing necessary, the great Work of Repentance, and making his Peace with Almighty God; for this would cut out work enough for him, and of more Comfort and Profit to his Soul, than any other Employment which he had formerly been used to. He was also told, that he stood now upon the very brink of Eternity, and must shortly appear before the Tribunal of God, which is infinitely more terrible than that of any earthly Judge can be; therefore it became him, with all the seriousness that is possible, to prepare himself for so dreadful an Appearance; to which he reply’d, that he had a good Education, and understood these matters very well. John Titt, 24 Years old, Convicted for Burglary. He serv’d his Master (who was a Waterman) very Faithfully, but being made free, he unfortunately met with some Acquaintance which entic’d him to Drink to excess, and so neglecting his lawful Calling, being reduc’d to want, was the more easily prevail’d with to commit this Fact, the only one of that Nature, (as he said) he ever was Guilty of. His Life of late was very irregular, addicted to Swearing, Lewdness, and Debauchery, for which he said he was exceeding sorrowful, and that his Vices were now as detestable in his sight, as before they seem’d pleasant. John Hatchman, aged 15 Years, Convicted for the same, confest his Crime, and said that Titt meeting him in Southwark, made him Drunk, and then brought him

JOHN Shirly, alias Davis, 22 Years old, Condemn’d for Firing the House of Dr. Sloan; being examin’d said, that he was Descended of a good Family, that his Parents, who tenderly loved him, Educated him at School a considerable time, but growing Headstrong, he ran away from them, and Listed himself a Soldier, for several Years he served abroad in that Station, and at last, having got Acquaintance with the Surgeon of a Regiment, he pretended to practice that Art, which brought him in no small Profit; but being Viciously inclin’d, liv’d at such a rate, that his Incomes could not answer his unnecessary and exorbitant Expences, which caus’d him to rack his Invention, how to support his profuse way of Living; this made him listen to bad Advice, and to turn a deaf Ear to that wholsome Counsel, which they who knew his Parents frequently gave him. The great Enemy of Mankind provided some Accomplices for him, who having consum’d their Substance with riotous Living, were willing to undertake any wicked Action that might support their craving Circumstances: To this Gang he willingly associated himself, and committed several Robberies and Burglaries, more than he could remember: At length they resolv’d to break open this House in Bloomsbury-Square,which they attempted in several Places, but could not effect; then they resolv’d to burn it; and accordingly one of them struck a Light, and cut a little Door into Splinters, then breaking the Glass and part of the Wood in the Window, set a Candle to it, which caus’d the Window to blaze: Their Design as he said, was to throw Stones at the upper Windows, to awaken the Family when the Fire had got a Head, and so under Pretence of helping them to carry away their best Goods, and Rob them of all that was valuable.… he was present when it was burning, and got a silver Candlestick, a Case of Pistols, and some other things. Philip Wake, Convicted for the same, confest his Crime, and gave an account of it much after the same manner, only with this Adition, that Davis was the Projector of it, and encouraged them to do it, when they resolv’d to desist. He added, that he was an old Offender, had made several Resolutions, to forsake his evil Courses, 183


John Cooper, Condemn’d for the same. He was seiz’d with the Jayl-Distemper, which is a violent Feaver, attended with a delirious Light-headedness, and so was not in a capacity to give any Account of himself.

along with them to break open the House. He denyed he ever was concern’d with such Persons any more, and Promises if he be Transported, to lead a better Life for the future.

Reading Questions 1. Executions were often held in public and followed an almost theatrical set of rituals. What kinds of rituals do we see in Italy, France, England, and Germany, and what might have been the purpose behind them? How do the English broadsheets emphasize this public role? 2. How are condemned men and women prepared for their executions, and why might this have been important to authorities? 3. Executioners and their families were often shunned because their work involved shedding human blood. How do the executioners of Nuremberg and Paris work around this social stigma? 4. Does it seem that the rituals around execution are meant for those who are dying, or are they for those who are watching?



Holy and Unholy: Mystics, Nuns, and Witches Many early modern males thought that it was their right and responsibility to supervise women, whom they considered frail, weak, and helpless. Yet women were also thought by some to have a closer connection to spiritual realities. The convent was a convenient place for Catholic fathers and brothers to lock up their daughters and siblings, since it removed them from the complex negotiations around marriage, dowry, and inheritance. As our Italian, French, and Spanish female authors show, some women embraced convent life, and others hated it. Women both individually and communally were also thought to be more vulnerable to temptation by demons, and upheaval and division in convents was often taken to be a sign of demonic possession. Suspicion also attended some women who moved outside of traditional social and gender norms, and as we see in German and French sources, they might be accused of witchcraft. While an Inquisitor like the Dominican friar Heinrich Kramer thought that witches were largely women, many other authorities believed that men could also fall into the temptation of power that witchcraft seemed to promise.

11.1 Men Enclosing Women behind Convent Walls (1654) It’s impossible to know how many nuns welcomed the convent and how many were forced into it. At age 11, Arcangela Tarabotti (1604–52), the oldest of six girls and possibly suffering a deformity that made it difficult for her to marry, was forced by her father to become a nun. Her icy denunciation of “paternal tyranny” demonstrates the keen intellect and sharp pen that she exercised from within the convent walls. It would not be published until after her death 23 years later, when Church authorities attempted to censor it by placing it on the Index of Prohibited Books. Source: Arcangela Tarabotti, Paternal Tyranny (1654). In Arcangela Tarabotti, Paternal Tyranny, edited and translated by Letizia Panizza (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), pp. 43–45.



Christian’s eyes should gush with streams or turn into founts of perpetual tears as they meditate on the doubtful salvation of so many women put behind convent walls under the pseudonym “nuns.” But these men do not weep; on the contrary, the most Catholic and spiritual of them—or rather the most hypocritical—consider it their right to offer up young creatures to God in unlawful sacrifice for the sake of preserving their own advantages. (Unlike the Blessed Virgin Mary, these young girls have been conceived in original sin; and unlike John the Baptist, they have not been sanctified in their mothers’ wombs. They come into the world tainted by sinful dispositions.) What a gross abuse, what an unforgivable error, what a wicked decision, and what sheer audacity is this deed when Divine Providence, after all, has granted free will to His creatures, whether male or female, and bestowed on both sexes intellect, memory and will! By means of these three faculties they are able to shun avoidable evil and pursue the good of their choice by their own voluntary inclination, not servile fear.

Men’s depravity could not have devised a more heinous crime than the wanton defiance of God’s inviolable decrees. Yet day in and day out, men never cease defying them by deeds dictated by self-interest. Among their blameworthy excesses, pride of place must go to enclosing innocent women within convent walls under the apparently holy (but really wicked) pretexts. Men dare to endanger free will, bestowed on men and women alike by the Divine Majesty; they force women to dwell in life-long prisons, although guilty of no fault other than being born the weaker sex—and consequently more deserving of compassion, assistance, and support, rather than being locked up forever in dungeons. The pagan philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, flourishing at the time of the sixty-ninth Olympiad, lived continually in deep gloom. People observed him most of the time with his eyes brimming with tears and his head bowed down with sad thoughts; he was a bundle of suffering and melancholy bemoaning the degree and extent of human wretchedness. Following Heraclitus’s example, every

11.2 Nuns in the Reformation (1547) Nuns did not stay distant from the fights over theological doctrines that raged across Europe from the 1520s. Jeanne de Jussie (1503–61) was a nun in the Genevan Convent of Saint Clare who wrote about how the events of the Reformation had an impact on the convent. She likely began writing around 1535 and finished the account in 1547. In the first passage, she recounts how city councillors agreed to protect the rights of nuns to continue living in St. Clare, and in the second she writes pungently of the radical changes brought in by reformers like Guillaume Farel, the preacher who convinced John Calvin to remain in Geneva. Source: “Plea from the Nuns of Saint Clare to the Syndics and Councils” and “Hemme Faulson’s Visit to the Convent of Saint Clare” (1547). In Jeanne de Jussie, The Short Chronicle, edited by Carrie Klaus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), pp. 46–47 and 100–01.

Plea from the Nuns of Saint Clare to the Syndics and the Council

ors written by myself in the following manner and substance: “Our magnificent and most honored lords, fathers, and good protectors, we have heard of the arrival of God’s enemies in your town, and of the evil and disrespectful things they are doing in the church of God and to pious people, and we are very afraid. We therefore beg you very humbly, kneeling prostrate on the ground with our hands folded in honor of Our Redeemer and His sorrowful passion and of His Virgin Mother and of Monsieur

The poor secluded ladies, the nuns of Madame Saint Clare, terribly frightened by those people and afraid they would hurt them, with the fury they were showing towards pious people, prayed tearfully night and day, and they gathered together in the chapter room to decide what to do about it. And they made a very humble plea to messieurs the syndics and council186


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Hemme Faulson’s Visit to the Convent of Saint Clare

Saint Peter, Monsieur Saint Francis, and Madame Saint Clare and of all the saints in paradise, please to keep us in your safeguard and protection so that those enemies of God do not violate or disturb us. For we do not want any innovation of religion or law or to turn away from divine service, but we are determined to live and die in our holy vocation here in your convent praying to Our Lord for the peace and preservation of your noble town, if you lords will agree to preserve and protect us all here as your ancestors have done; and if not, let us leave our convent and your town, to save ourselves and seek refuge elsewhere to observe divine service, and we will keep you, as our fathers, in our prayers there, and we ask you for your good will and for an answer.” The letter was presented on Thursday evening [October 6]. On Friday morning [October 7], three of the aldermen came to hear Mass at the convent, and after mass they asked the father confessor and his associates to give the sisters their answer, saying “Messieurs and the council here have seen and considered the ladies’ humble request, and they should not worry about anything because the city will take care of them and make sure that no harm comes to them, and they should also have no fear for their religion, for the city does not want to be Lutheran.” The sisters were a bit cheered up and, in this hope, remained in their convent.

On Misericordia Sunday, a rich burgher woman, a perverted Lutheran whose sister was a nun at the convent of Madame Saint Clare, came to talk to the sisters. Because the sisters were not yet certain that she was completely perverted, she was taken to the grille. She greeted the sisters very respectfully. Then she asked them to let her speak to her aunt [Claudine Lignotte] and to her sister [Blaisine Varembert], which they did. After a few respectful words she could not hold back her venom but poured it out on the poor nuns’ hearts, saying that the world had been in error and idolatry until now and that our ancestors had lived wrongly and had been deceived because God’s commandments had not been proclaimed in truth. Immediately the mother vicaress [Pernette de Montluel], who was there in place of the mother abbess [Louise Rambo], who was sick then, said to her, “Lady we do not wish to hear such talk. If you want to speak with us about Our Lord and piety, as you have done in the past, we will keep you in good company, but if you go on like this, we will turn deaf ears to you. Your perversion is a mortal wound in our souls because we see clearly that you have drunk that accursed Farel’s poison, and your soul weighs heavily on us.” Again she began to say horrible words about the Holy Sacrament, that it was nothing but a wafer and she would never believe in it. Then mother vicaress and her companions chided her piously, telling her she was deceived, and in a few kind words they asked her not to believe those messages of the Antichrist, but to live respectably like her late father and mother, who had been very honorable people. Her aunt and sister also spoke to her, respectfully and in few words, about the Holy Scripture, for they did not wish to hear such errors. She said other words of error. At that, mother vicaress and her company stood up and closed the doors to her, telling her that their prelate had forbidden them to listen to those errors. She stayed there for a long time, even though her words fell on deaf ears, and she said that she really thought the sisters obeyed the devil’s ministers more than God and other insults. But she got no response, which made her very angry; after that, she kept trying to turn the heretics against them and to remove her sister from the convent.

Around Easter 1534 On the Friday [March 27] before Palm Sunday, in the Franciscan refectory, one of the monks was hit hard in the face by his brother, a Lutheran, for arguing about the Holy Sacrament. On that same day that accursed Farel started to baptize children in their accursed manner. A great many people watched, and even Christians came to witness their delusion. The holy week passed in great fear and anxiety. Nonetheless, praise be to God, there was no scandal and divine service was celebrated in all the churches.

Beginning of Marriages by Farel According to the New Form On Quasimodo Sunday, that wretched Farel started to marry men and women together according to their way and tradition, with no rites or piety, but simply by ordering them to come together and multiply. He spoke some shameful words that I will not write, because it is horrible for a chaste heart to think of them. 187


11.3 Trials of an Educated Nun (1682) Even those nuns who embraced the cloister faced doubts. Spiritual anxieties could take sharply physical form in an environment where nuns saw themselves as being on the front lines of an intense spiritual battle. In her autobiography, Isabel de Jesús (Spain, 1611–82) discusses how her efforts to write are challenged by the devil, who fills her cell with the smell of sulphur and harasses her with nausea and vomiting when she attempts to pick up her pen. Source: Isabel de Jesús, Vida (Madrid, 1682). In Sherry Velasco, Demons, Nausea, and Resistance in the Autobiography of Isabel de Jesús, 1611–1682 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996), pp. 89–90.

The enemy showed me some bodies that were already dead and I recognized them as holy souls and friends of God.… [H]e dismembered them with his hands as if they were knives and he ate them and after eating them he began to vomit and then eat them again. As my stomach was somewhat heavy, the stench of the vomit made me throw up what I had eaten and it seemed like it stained the floor as if they had spilled a lot of ink there and then very black smoke like ink appeared from it. The Devil harassed me when he saw the ink: … “Take from her so that you will not lack with which to write.… [N]ow you will have enough, because they do not order you to write” … and I had many fears about whether it was God’s will or not that I write. And as I am so lazy about writing, I wanted to believe that it was not God’s will that I write and so I willingly quit.

I sat down to write and the stench of sulfur and smoke was so bad in my room that it stunned me and I could not move. My stomach and heart were in such pain that I fell to the floor.… I felt them take my pulse and I heard them say, “Oh no, she has no pulse!” … I improved a bit with the grace of God and I finished what I had started to write, but I remained more than eight days with that upset stomach. It seemed that I would burst open I suffered so much for not telling what it was, and not saying that there was something wrong with the food, because there was not, but rather my sins.… [T]hey thought it was caused by the lack of food.… My stomach ache was so bad that, after getting weaker, my stomach became upset and caused me to vomit and I did not dare take communion.… [M]y stomach problem continued, but they made me eat and later came the worst, which was the stench and the agitated stomach.

11.4 Nuns Possessed in Loudon (1643) Being forced into a convent might well leave a young woman vulnerable to the inner demons of melancholy, but what if those demons decided to act together? The most notorious example of a convent possessed was found in the French town of Loudon. From 1632 to 1638 the nuns periodically fell into violent convulsions and fits of barking, and made sexual advances to their confessors. They named two demons, Asmodeus and Zabulon, as the culprits, though it was clerical rivalries outside the convent walls that kept the issue alive and led to the burning of their priest Urbain Grandier. Source: Monsieur des Niau, La veritable histoire de diables de Loudon (Poitiers, 1643). In P.G. MaxwellStuart (Ed. and Trans.), The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), pp. 179–80.



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arms two or three times at the shoulder-joints, and their elbows, and their wrists. They lay down on their stomachs, and then joined together the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet. Their faces became distorted, one could not bear to look at them. They stared without blinking. They suddenly struck out with their tongues which were swollen, black, hard, and covered with little lumps; and yet in this state they still managed to speak distinctly. They threw themselves back until their heads touched their feet, and in this position walked for a long time with remarkable speed. There issued from them cries so frightful and so loud that nothing like it had ever been heard before. They used expressions of such indecency that it would embarrass the most debauched men, and their actions of exposing themselves and inviting those present to join them in acts of carnality would have amazed inmates of the lowest brothel in France. They uttered curses against the three persons of the Trinity, oaths and blasphemous expressions which were so appalling and so unheard of, that the human mind could not have thought of them unaided.

As for the nuns, they deposed that Grandier had insinuated himself into the convent both day and night for four months and no one knew how he had got in. He exposed himself to them (they said) during divine service and tempted them by both word and deed to acts of indecency. Invisible people often struck them (they said) and the marks of the blows were so easily perceptible that the doctors and surgeons had easily found them.… When confronted with Grandier, the Mother Superior and seven or eight other sisters identified him, even though it was shown that they had never actually seen him, unless it were by magic, and that he had never had anything to do with their affairs.… The physical effect of possession is a proof which strikes even the crudest minds; and it has another advantage, namely that one example is enough to convince a whole group of people. Now, the sisters of Loudun gave such proofs every day. When the exorcist gave the Devil an order, the nuns changed all of a sudden from being quiet to exhibiting the most dreadful convulsions.… They hit their chests and their backs with their heads, as though their necks were broken, and did so with a speed you would scarcely believe. They twisted their

11.5 Nuns and Demons: Possession or Pretension? (1643) Loudon was not the only convent in trouble in the 1630s. Near to Modena in Italy, the nuns of Santa Chiara were falling into fits, screaming, having convulsions, and throwing themselves on the floor, After three years of doctors, exorcists, and inquisitors, it was determined that the events were simply a case of mass hysteria. Having saddled themselves with a low view of women, and then having forced many women into convents against their will, the men like Cardinal Grimaldi who ran the Catholic Church had a devil of a time sorting out stories of odd happenings behind the convent walls. Chalking it up to mass hysteria did not shake their faith in the social utility of forced enclosure. Source: Congregation of the Inquisition to Cardinal Grimaldi (1643). In Jeffrey Watt, The Scourge of Demons: Possession, Lust, and Witchcraft in a Seventeenth-Century Italian Convent (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2009), pp. 197–98.

the monastery under the pretext of a cure or to be able to spend time and converse with exorcists, from whom they quite often learn how to project as real effects of the devil [their own] melancholy and pretenses. It was less than four years ago that in the land of Carpi in a monastery of nuns of the order of Santa Chiara, one of them was suspected of having been bewitched by a lay sister. They started to use exorcists. Much time went by and, either because of

This Holy Congregation is not led to believe so easily that the signs described in the account and the upheavals that the nuns have generated are caused by supernatural factors and by the actions of the devil, because we have always found that for the most part, [all such things] are born from the melancholic humors of nuns [who are] unhappy and have been sent to the cloister against their will. Still worse, [some are] shams [who hope] to be able to leave 189

LIves unCoveRed

All of this was born in part of suspicion and in part of fabrication. Among the guidelines that were given to him, the first … was prohibiting them to be exorcized; then keeping the nuns who were believed possessed separated from each other; imposing upon them fasts of bread and water; letting them scream alone; prohibiting them to talk with anyone other than their overseers or to [write] letters; forbidding all other nuns to speak with [the so-called possessed nuns] and to speak about [demon] possessions among themselves; providing them with a wise and experienced confessor, in whom we valued the work of his services. With such diligences, it pleased Blessed God to discover the fraud and to quiet that very tumultuous cycle and to introduce into the monastery the peace that reigns there today with great edification. I wanted to point all this out to Your Excellency so that you may know from this example that for very good reason we must proceed here with caution before believing in the [demon] possessions of nuns [1643].

the malice of nuns or of exorcists, as many as fourteen [of the nuns] were discovered possessed. Quite extravagant were the physical disorders that they exhibited, the blasphemies that they uttered.… And the suspicion grew more and more, so it was necessary that the Holy Congregation send there the bishop of Adria with the most talented physicians and exorcists of Bologna in order to uncover the truth of this supposed possession. The nuns knew how to act so well that they fooled the bishop, the physicians, and the exorcists. But these most eminent [members of the Holy Congregation] were not satisfied and, convinced that this was all pretense and melancholy, they decided to send to Carpi a minister of this Supreme and Venerable Inquisition, with prudent instructions, [who was] quite experienced in these matters … of the Holy Tribunal. And I can tell Your Excellency in all sincerity that as soon as he arrived there and put into action the guidelines given to him, the truth was discovered, and in four days ten were cured and slowly the others [were cured as well].

Figure 11.1 Renouncing Christ to Follow the Devil One of a series of woodcuts illustrating the witch-hunting guidebook of seventeenthcentury Francesco Maria Guazzo. The man in the foreground steps sacrilegiously over a cross in order to accept a diabolical baptism, an inversion of the Christian sacrament. 190


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11.6 Authorizing the Witch Hunt (1484) Many officials in church and state were initially skeptical about the presence of witches and resisted outside inquisitors coming in to arrest, try, and condemn their subjects on charges of demon worship. Pope Innocent VIII supported the work of two particularly active inquisitors and emphasized that witchcraft was an assault on the health and fertility of fields, animals, and people—that is, it was not just an intellectual threat to Catholic doctrine but an immediate physical challenge to human survival. Source: Innocent VIII: Bull, Summis desiderantes (1484). In H. Kramer and J. Sprenger, Malleus maleficarum, edited by M. Summers (London: John Rodker, 1928).

of their own souls, to the insult of the divine majesty and to the pernicious example and scandal of multitudes. And, although our beloved sons Henricus Institoris and Jacobus Sprenger, of the order of Friars Preachers, professors of theology, have been and still are deputed by our apostolic letters as inquisitors of heretical depravity, … nevertheless certain of the clergy and of the laity of those parts, seeking to be wise above what is fitting, … assert that … it is illicit for the aforesaid inquisitors to exercise their office of inquisition in the provinces, cities, dioceses, territories, and other places aforesaid, and that they ought not to be permitted to proceed to the punishment, imprisonment, and correction of the aforesaid persons for the offences and crimes above named.… We therefore, desiring, as is our duty, to remove all impediments by which in any way the said inquisitors are hindered in the exercise of their office, and to prevent the taint of heretical pravity and of other like evils from spreading their infection to the ruin of others who are innocent … do hereby decree, by virtue of our apostolic authority, that it shall be permitted to the said inquisitors in these regions to exercise their office of inquisition and to proceed to the correction, imprisonment, and punishment of the aforesaid persons for their said offences and crimes, in all respects and altogether precisely as if the provinces, cities, territories, places, persons, and offences aforesaid were expressly named in the said letter.… And they shall also have full and entire liberty to propound and preach to the faithful word of God, as often as it shall seem to them fitting and proper, in each and all of the parish churches in the said provinces, and to do all things necessary and suitable under the aforesaid circumstances, and likewise freely and fully to carry them out.

Innocent, bishop, servant of the servants of God … Desiring with supreme ardor, as pastoral solicitude requires, that the catholic faith in our days everywhere grow and flourish as much as possible, and that all heretical depravity be put far from the territories of the faithful, we freely declare and anew decree this by which our pious desire may be fulfilled, and, all errors being rooted out by our toil as with the hoe of a wise laborer, zeal and devotion to this faith may take deeper hold on the hearts of the faithful themselves. It has recently come to our ears, not without great pain to us, that in some parts of upper Germany, as well as in the provinces, cities, territories, regions, and dioceses of Mainz, Koln, Trier, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the catholic faith, give themselves over to devils male and female, and by their incantations, charms, and conjurings, and by other abominable superstitions and sortileges, offences, crimes, and misdeeds, ruin and cause to perish the offspring of women, the foal of animals, the products of the earth, the grapes of vines, and the fruits of trees, as well as men and women, cattle and flocks and herds and animals of every kind, vineyards also and orchards, meadows, pastures, harvests, grains and other fruits of the earth; that they afflict and torture with dire pains and anguish, both internal and external, these men, women, cattle, flocks, herds, and animals, and hinder men from begetting and women from conceiving, and prevent all consummation of marriage; that, moreover, they deny with sacrilegious lips the faith they received in holy baptism; and that, at the instigation of the enemy of mankind, they do not fear to commit and perpetrate many other abominable offences and crimes, at the risk



11.7 Why Become a Witch? (1486) One of the most influential guides to witch hunting brought it all down to women’s lust. While many authorities thought that both men and women could become witches, the Dominican Inquisitor Heinrich Kramer’s Hammer of Witches claimed that the promise of sex made many women give in to the devil’s charm, and he was obsessed with recording the mechanics of intercourse with the devil. Source: H. Kramer, Malleus maleficarum (1486). In H. Kramer and J. Sprenger, Malleus maleficarum, edited by M. Summers (London: John Rodker, 1928).

… Let us now chiefly consider women; and first, why this kind of perfidy is found more in so fragile a sex than in men.… All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable.… Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort even with devils. More such reasons could be brought forward, but to the understanding it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found infected with the heresy of witchcraft. And in consequence of this, it is better called the heresy of witches than of wizards, since the name is taken from the more powerful party. And blessed be the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime: for since He was willing to be born and to suffer for us, therefore He has granted to men this privilege.

There is also, concerning witches who copulate with devils, much difficulty in considering the methods by which abominations are consummated. On the part of the devil: first, of what element the body is made that he assumes; second, whether the act is always accompanied by the injection of semen received from another; thirdly, whether he commits this act more frequently at one time than at another; fourthly, whether the act is invisible to any who may be standing by. And on the part of the women, it has to be inquired whether only they who were themselves conceived in this filthy manner are often visited by devils; or secondly, whether it is those who were offered to devils by mid-wives at the time of their birth …

11.8 Husband and Wife Witch Team (c. 1437) The devil recruited followers in the very heart of the church and initiated them with rituals borrowed from Catholicism. This popular belief made the border between divine worship and devil worship fuzzy. This excerpt from an early manual on witch hunting by German theologian Johannes Nider (1380–1438) emphasizes that both men and women followed the devil, though notably all the males mentioned eventually repent and return to the true faith, while the female witch remains resolute and cursing to the very end. Source: Johannes Nider, Formicarius (The Ant Hill) (c. 1437). In George L. Burr (Trans.), The Witch Persecutions: Witch Hunts in Europe (1896).

a citizen of Bern, in the diocese of Lausanne, [Note: this is Peter of Gruyeres, Bernese castellan 1392–1406] who has burned many witches of both sexes, and has driven others out of the territory of the Bernese. I have moreover conferred with one Benedict, a monk of the Benedictine order, who, although now a very devout cleric in a reformed monastery at Vienna, was a decade ago, while

I will relate to you some examples, which I have gained in part from the teachers of our faculty, in part from the experience of a certain upright secular judge, worthy of all faith, who from the torture and confession of witches and from his experiences in public and private has learned many things of this sort—a man with whom I have often discussed this subject broadly and deeply—to wit, Peter, 192


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bare all I know about witchcraft, for I see that I have death to expect.” And when he had been assured by the scholars that, if he should truly repent, he would certainly be able to gain absolution for his sins, then he gladly offered himself to death, and disclosed the methods of the primeval infection. The ceremony, he said, of my seduction was as follows: First, on a Sunday, before the holy water is consecrated, the future disciple with his masters must go into the church, and there in their presence must renounce Christ and his faith, baptism, and the church universal. Then he must do homage to the magisterulus, that is, to the little master (for so, and not otherwise, they call the Devil). Afterward he drinks from the aforesaid flask:

still in the world, a necromancer, juggler, buffoon, and strolling player, well-known as an expert among the secular nobility. I have likewise heard certain of the following things from the Inquisitor at Autun, who was a devoted reformer of our order in the convent at Lyons, and has convicted many of witchcraft in the diocese of Autun. The same procedure was more clearly described by another young man, arrested and burned as a witch, although as I believe, truly, penitent, who had earlier, together with his wife, a witch invincible to persuasion, escaped the clutches of the aforesaid judge, Peter. The aforesaid youth, being again indicted at Bern, with his wife, and placed in a different prison from hers, declared: “If I can obtain absolution for my sins, I will freely lay

Figure 11.2 Witches Roasting Babies Witches here appear as forces of social and religious perversion, killing and cooking unbaptized infants who will be the main course in the cannibalistic feast that was the Witches’ Sabbath. 193


For, after confession, the young man was seen to die in great contrition. His wife, however, though convicted by the testimony of witnesses, would not confess the truth even under the torture or in death; but when the fire was prepared for her by the executioner, uttered in most evil words a curse upon him, and so was burned.

and, this done, he forthwith feels himself to conceive and hold within himself an image of our art and the chief rites of this sect. After this fashion was I seduced; and my wife also, whom I believe of so great pertinacity that she will endure the flames rather than confess the least whit of the truth; but, alas, we are both guilty. What the young man had said was found in all respects the truth.

11.9 Judgment on the Witch Walpurga Hausmännin (1587) Walpurga Hausmännin was a licensed midwife who lived and worked in a small town in southern Germany. She was denounced and convicted for witchcraft after having lived under suspicion for a long time, and the case made by her accusers closely follows the Malleus Maleficarum. Under torture she confessed that she had been seduced by the devil after losing her husband decades earlier. She went on to kill many infants and livestock, to bewitch and even kill countless others, and to send hailstorms to attack crops. Walpurga was burned in 1587, and her goods were confiscated. Source: In G.T. Matthews (Ed.), News and Rumour in Renaissance Europe: The Fugger Newsletters (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1959), pp. 137–43.

On the ensuing night the Evil Spirit visited her again in the same shape and whored with her. He made her many promises to help her in her poverty and need, wherefore she surrendered herself to him body and soul. Thereafter the Evil One inflicted upon her a scratch below the left shoulder, demanding that she should sell her soul to him with the blood that had flowed therefrom. To this end he gave her a quill and, whereas she could not write, the Evil One guided her hand. She believes that nothing offensive was written, for the Evil One only swept with her hand across the paper. The script the Devil took with him, and whenever she piously thought of God Almighty, or wished to go to church, the Devil reminded her of it. Further, the above-mentioned Walpurga confesses that she oft and much rode on a pitchfork; by night with her paramour, but not far, on account of her duties. At such devilish trysts she met a big man with a grey beard, who sat in a chair, like a great prince, and was richly attired. That was the Great Devil to whom she had once more dedicated and promised herself body and soul. Him she worshipped and before him she knelt, and unto him she rendered other suchlike honours. But she pretends not to know with what words and in which fashion she prayed. She only knows that once she heedlessly pronounced the name of Jesus. Then the above-mentioned

THE HEREIN mentioned, malefic and miserable woman, Walpurga Hausmännin, now imprisoned and in chains, has, upon kindly questioning and also torture, following on persistent and fully justified accusations, confessed her witchcraft and admitted the following. When one-and-thirty years ago she had become a widow, she cut corn for Hans Schlumperger, of this place, together with his former servant, Bis im Pfarrhof by name. Him she enticed with lewd speeches and gestures, and they convened that they should, on an appointed night, meet in her, Walpurga’s, dwelling, there to indulge in lustful intercourse. So when Walpurga in expectation of this sat awaiting him at night in her chamber, meditating upon evil and fleshly thoughts, it was not the said bondsman who appeared unto her, but the Evil One in the latter’s guise and raiment and indulged in fornication with her. Thereupon he presented her with a piece of money, in the semblance of half a thaler, but no one could take it from her, for it was a bad coin and like lead. For this reason she had thrown it away. After the act of fornication she saw and felt the cloven foot of her whoremonger, and that his hand was not natural, but as if made of wood. She was greatly affrighted thereat and called upon the name of Jesus, whereupon the Devil left her and vanished. 194


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She had used the said little bones to manufacture hail; this she was wont to do once or twice a year. Once this spring, from Siechenhausen, downwards across the fields. She likewise manufactured hail last Whitsun, and when she and others were accused of having held a witches’ revel, she had actually held one near the upper gate by the garden of Peter Schmidt. At that time her playfellows began to quarrel and struck one another, because some wanted to cause it to hail over Dillingen Meadows, others below it. At last the hail was sent over the marsh towards Weissingen, doing great damage. She admits that she would have caused still more and greater evils and damage if the Almighty had not graciously prevented and turned them away. After all this, the Judges and Jury of the Court of this Town of Dillingen, by virtue of the Imperial and Royal Prerogative and Rights of his Right Reverence, Herr Marquard, bishop of Augsburg, and provost of the Cathedral, our most gracious prince and lord, at last unanimously gave the verdict that the aforesaid Walpurga Hausmännin be punished and dispatched from life to death by burning at the stake as being a maleficent and well-known witch and sorceress, convicted according to the context of Common Law and the Criminal Code of the Emperor Charles V and the Holy Roman Empire. All her goods and chattels and estate left after her to go to the Treasury of our most high prince and lord. The aforesaid Walpurga: to be led, seated on a cart, to which she is tied to the place of her execution, and her body first to be torn five times with red hot irons. The first time outside the town hall in the left breast and the right arm, the second time at the lower gate in the right breast, the third time at the mill brook outside the hospital gate in the left arm, the fourth time at the place of execution in the left hand. But since for nineteen years she was a licensed and pledged midwife of the city of Dillingen, yet has acted so vilely, her right hand with which she did such knavish tricks is to be cut off at the place of execution. Neither are her ashes after the burning to remain lying on the ground, but are thereafter to be carried to the nearest flowing water and thrown thereinto. Thus a venerable jury have entrusted the executioner of this city with the actual execution and all connected therewith.

Great Devil struck her in the face and Walpurga had to disown (which is terrible to relate) God in heaven, the Christian name and belief, the blessed saints and the Holy Sacraments, also to renounce the heavenly hosts and the whole of Christendom. Thereupon the Great Devil baptized her afresh, naming her Höfelin, but her paramour-devil, Federlin … Since her surrender to the Devil, she had seemingly oft received the Blessed Sacrament of the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, apparently by the mouth, but had not partaken of it, but (which once more is terrible to relate) had always taken it out of her mouth again and delivered it up to Federlin, her paramour. At their nightly gatherings she had oft with her other playfellows trodden underfoot the Holy and Blessed Sacrament and the image of the Holy Cross. The said Walpurga states that during such-like frightful and loathsome blasphemies she at times truly did espy drops of blood upon the said Holy Sacrament, whereat she herself was greatly horrified … She confesses, also, that her paramour gave her a salve in a little box with which to injure people and animals, and even the precious fruit of the field. He also compelled her to do away with and to kill young infants at birth, even before they had been taken to Holy Baptism. This she did, whenever possible … She rubbed with her salve and brought about the death of Lienhart Geilen’s three cows, of Bruchbauer’s horse, two years ago of Max Petzel’s cow, three years ago of Duri Striegel’s cow, two years ago of Hans Striegel’s cow, of the cow of the governor’s wife, of a cow of Frau Schotterin, and two years ago of a cow of Michel Klingler, on the village green. In short, she confesses that she destroyed a large number of cattle over and above this. A year ago she found bleached linen on the common and rubbed it with her salve, so that the pigs and geese ran over it and perished shortly thereafter. Walpurga confesses further that every year since she has sold herself to the Devil she has on St. Leonard’s Day exhumed at least one or two innocent children. With her devil-paramour and other playfellows she has eaten these and used their hair and their little bones for witchcraft. She was unable to exhume the other children she had slain at birth, although she attempted it, because they had been baptized before God …



11.10 Witchcraft as a Problem for Political Leaders (1580) Jean Bodin (1529/30–96) was a leading French writer on law, politics, history, and religion at the time of France’s civil wars of religion. He saw witchcraft and atheism as “treason against the majesty of God.” On the Demon-Mania of Witches (1580) was published in French, German, Italian, and Latin and was highly influential. Bodin argued that political rulers should take the lead in suppressing magic, witchcraft, and demon worship and punish practitioners harshly, with death if necessary. In Demon-mania, Bodin shows his command of both late medieval and renaissance legal thought, and of contemporary judicial practice. Source: J. Bodin, On the Demon-Mania of Witches (Paris, 1580). In R.A. Scott (Ed. and Trans), On the Demon-Mania of Witches (Toronto: CRRS, 2001), pp. 203–18.

The sixth crime is even more horrible … they even dedicate them right from the mother’s womb … which is a double parricide with the most abominable idolatry imaginable.… The seventh and the most common is that witches make an oath and promise the Devil to lure as many as they can into his service … The eighth crime is to call upon and swear by the name of the Devil as a mark of honour, as witches do having it always on their lips, and swearing only by him, except when they renounce God.… The ninth is that witches are incestuous, which is the crime they have been charged with and convicted of from earliest times.… The tenth is that witches make a profession of killing people, and worse of murdering little children, then boiling them to render their humours and flesh drinkable … The eleventh crime is that witches eat human flesh, especially of little children, and of course drink their blood … The twelfth is particular, killing with poisons or spells, which is distinct from simple homicide … The thirteenth crime of witches is to kill livestock … The fourteenth is … killing crops and causing famine and sterility in an entire region. The fifteenth is that witches have carnal copulation with the Devil … There then are fifteen detestable crimes, the least of which merits a painful death. This does not mean that all witches are guilty of such evils, but it has been well established that witches who have a formal compact with the Devil are normally guilty of all or of most of these evil deeds. If with the crime of witchcraft it is established, either by confession or by witnesses, or by factual evidence

Some people raise objections to burning witches, even witches who have a formal pact with Satan. For it is principally against those witches that one must seek vengeance with the greatest diligence and utmost rigour, in order to bring an end to the wrath of God, and His vengeance upon us.… For we showed initially that the first occupation of witches is to deny God and all religion. The law of God condemns that person who has left the true God for another to be stoned, which all the Hebrew commentators say is the most terrible form of execution. This point is very significant. For the witch whom I have described does not just deny God in order to change and take up another religion, but he renounces all religion, either true or superstitious, which can keep men in the fear of committing offence. The second crime of witches is, after having renounced God, to curse, blaspheme and scorn Him, and any other god or idol which he feared. Now the law of God declares as follows, “Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. He who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death.” [Lev. 24:16] … The third crime is even more abominable. Namely, they do homage to the Devil … Now witches are not content to worship, or only to bow down before Satan, but they offer themselves to Satan, pray to him and invoke him … The fourth crime is even greater: many witches have been convicted, and have confessed to promising their children to Satan.… The fifth is even worse; that is, that witches are frequently convicted by their confession of having sacrificed to the Devil their infant children before they are baptised. They raise them in the air, and then insert a large pin into their head, which causes them to die and is a crime more bizarre than the one before.…



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innocent. But I say that one who is convicted on acute presumptions is not innocent: for example the one who was discovered with his bloody sword near the murder victim with no one else around, plus other conjectures which we have pointed out.… How much more necessary it is then, to prescribe corporal punishments when the presumptions against witches are strong. And when there is factual evidence one must impose capital punishment: for example, if the one accused of witchcraft was found in possession of human members, especially of little children, one must not hesitate to pronounce the death sentence.… If it happens that a witch invokes or calls on the Devil, one must without doubt pronounce sentence of death, for the reasons stated above; and not only of death, but one must condemn such monsters to be burned alive, according to the general custom observed from earliest times in all Christendom. We have spoken chiefly about witches who have a sworn compact and a formal partnership with the Devil. But there are other kinds of witches … who are not so loathsome, but who still have partnership with the Devil in diabolical acts, such as those who tie codpieces, which is an abominable wickedness.… For the result of it is that it is necessary to dissolve the marriages, or at the least it binds them in sterility, which in plain terms is a sacrilege.… There are also those who profess to cure by removing a spell, as they claim, or by diabolical means drive off a storm, and prevent rains and hail … those who meddle in fortune telling by hand lines … conjurers and charmers have a formal compact with the Devil, as well as all those who practise Necromancy, Psychagogy, Goety, and other such things.… Now it is a double impiety in the person of those who are priests and pastors. But the impiety is much greater when the priest or pastor has a pact with Satan and he converts a sacrifice into a despicable sorcery.… How much more punishable then is the sorcerer-priest who, instead of consecrating, blasphemes execrably.… Thus the priest … who has been charged and convicted of setting spells with mirrors, or rings, or axes, or sieves, or other such things which are performed even without formal invocation of the Devil merits death, and the others banishment.… After the priests and ministers of God, the magistrates who are guardians and depositories of justice must be investigated, and if necessary, punished should any be found. For if there is a magistrate involved he will always let witches escape, and will maintain in this way the reign of Satan. And the first presumption against the magistrate

that the witch caused someone’s death, the crime is even greater, especially if it is a child … The difficulty, however, very often lies solely with the proof, and judges find themselves hampered only by that. If then there are no valid witnesses, or confessions by the accused, or factual evidence, which are the three proofs we have described on which a death sentence can be based, but there are only presumptions, one must distinguish whether the presumptions are weak or strong. If the presumptions are weak, one must not convict the person as a witch—nor acquit her either. Rather, one must declare that it will be more fully investigated, and in the meantime release the accused. Now the wickedness of witches is usually done at night, in a deserted place, away from people, and by means one could never suppose or think of. It is sufficient, therefore, to have strong presumptions to impose corporal punishment in such a revolting case, and up to but not including bodily death. That is to say, beatings, amputations, brandings, life imprisonments, fines, confiscations, and other such penalties except banishment, unless the witch is confined to a particular place.… If then a witch is seized in possession of toads, lizards, communion wafers, or other strange bones and ointments, and if she is rumoured to be a witch, such presumptions are very strong and compelling. Or if in the past she was brought before the courts, and never cleared, it is an extremely compelling presumption. Or if she has been seen coming out of the stable or sheepfold of her enemy, and then later the livestock of the sheepfold dies. Or if those whom she threatened have died afterward or fallen into a languor, especially if there were several of them, it is a most powerful presumption. Because of these presumptions, even though there was no other proof from confession or witnesses, one must however pronounce sentence according to the above mentioned penalties, up to and excluding death. This is the rule that we must adhere to, setting aside the death penalty, and softening the rigour of the laws when one proceeds upon presumption. And one must not be governed by those who claim that judges must not sentence anyone to corporal punishment on presumptions, however strong they may be.… After the trial is carried out and completed on strong presumptions … one must prescribe a sentence of corporal punishment: otherwise there will never be punishment for wicked deeds if one punishes only the crimes for which one has obvious proof.… I certainly admit that it is better to acquit the guilty than to condemn the


LIves unCoveRed

offence to God to pardon such horrible wickednesses committed directly against His majesty, since the smallest prince avenges his injuries with capital punishment. So those who let witches escape or who do not carry out their punishment with utmost rigour, can be assured that they will be abandoned by God to the mercy of witches. And the country which tolerates them will be struck by plagues, famines, and wars—but those who take vengeance against them will be blessed by God, and will bring an end to His wrath. This is why one who is charged and accused of being a witch must never be simply let off and acquitted, unless the calumny of the accuser or informer is clearer than the sun.…

who is a witch is when he makes a joke of such witchcraft. For under the pretense of laughter he brews his fatal poison.… But what penalty does one merit who pledged himself to Satan in order to be cured of an incurable illness, although we have shown above that out of ten there is scarcely one who gets better, and even then only from spells? In this case the ignorant person would to some degree be excusable from capital punishment, but not an educated man.… It is not within the power of princes to pardon a crime that the law of God punishes with death, such as the crimes of witchcraft. Moreover, princes do a great

Figure 11.3 Witches Destroy a Town Witches threatened human health and habitation, as we see here in their sending fire to destroy a town.



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11.11 A Miller Faces the Inquisition (1584–86) Peasants and rural people often had ideas about the world that diverged strongly from what the Church taught. The rural Italian miller Menocchio (1532–99) read widely, and the more he read, the further he moved from official teachings on God, on the human soul, on how the world had been created, and what it all meant. The Inquisition examined him and brought him to heel, but only temporarily—this document closed his first trial with an admission of guilt, but when he carried on spreading his views, the inquisitors would return to condemn him as a heretic and execute him. Source: Trial of Domenico Scandella before the Inquisition. In Andrea Del Col (Ed.), Domenico Scandella, Known as Menocchio: His Trials before the Inquisition (1583–1599), translated by John A. Tedeschi and Anne C. Tedeschi (Tempe: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1996), pp. 40–45 and 100–04.

I did have some ideas that were bad, but the Holy Spirit enlightened me and I beseech the mercy of Almighty God, of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit, and may he kill me if I am not telling the truth.” Questioned, he replied: “I beseech God to let me die if I ever told anyone: ‘Believe this about Christ and the Virgin Mary and do not believe that,’ and if I ever said it, I would certainly know it. It may be some bad people who maliciously accused me of it. And it is true that I had dealings with that painter of Porcia, but I do not know that he is a Lutheran, although it is true that he said he observed Lent out of fear. I do not know if not observing Lent makes a person a Lutheran, but I do believe that one who goes around teaching bad things and eats meat on Friday and Saturday is a Lutheran.” When he was told to name all his companions, otherwise more rigorous measures would have to be taken against him, because it seems impossible to this Holy Office that he should have learned so many things and not have companions, he replied: “Sir, I do not remember ever teaching anyone, nor have I ever had any companions in these opinions. And the things I said I got from that book of Mandeville that I read.” Questioned, he replied: “For the last twenty years I have not observed Lent because I ate cheese and milk.” When he was told: “It emerges from the trial that you never observed Lent,” he replied: “As for eating meat, I never ate meat, but during Lent I always ate milk, cheese and also some eggs, and I also told others that to eat cheese and milk at Lent is not a sin.” Asked if he has grown-up children and if they too share these opinions, he replied: “Yes sir, I do have them and God forbid that they should have these opinions.” …

28 April 1584 Held in the city of Portogruaro in the palace that is the residence of the most celebrated podestà … in the presence of the reverend Giovanni Battista Mara, canon and vicar of Concordia and the reverend father Felice Montefalco, inquisitor general for the entire patriarchate of Aquileia and diocese of Concordia, and of Pietro Zorzi, podestà of the aforesaid city. Led before them was Domenico Scandella, called Menocchio.… The judges ordered that … Domenico be released from his bonds and set at liberty, which was immediately done, and they ordered that all the previous trial records be read to him, so that, after hearing them, he could ratify, confirm and approve them under oath, and he took that oath and was cautioned to tell the truth. There, in the presence of the persons named above, after the preceding trial records were read to Domenico … he ratified, confirmed and approved them, saying that everything had been written down and had been said by him, and he signed in confirmation of the aforesaid ratification. After this was done, the aforesaid reverend lord vicar and father inquisitor decided to interrogate Domenico anew in the presence of the above-mentioned podestà. When he was asked how long he had persisted in his opinions, he replied: “For five or six years, since I was given that book entitled Il cavallier Mandavilla.” … Questioned, he replied: “When my father and my mother died, I was small and I never had any business with anyone who was a heretic, but I have a subtle mind and I sought after lofty things which I did not know about. And of the things I said, I do not know if they are true, but I want to be obedient to the Holy Church, and 199


of God is in all people, and when man does good works, the spirit rejoices. I believe that anyone who has studied can be a priest without being consecrated, because it is all a business. As for extreme unction, I do not believe it is anything and is worth anything, because it is the body that is anointed and the spirit cannot be anointed. About the sacrament of baptism I believe that as soon as we are born we are baptized, because God who has blessed all things baptizes us. And this baptism is an invention and priests begin to devour souls even before they are born and devour them continually even after their death. As for the sacrament of the Eucharist it is a way of governing men, devised by men through the Holy Spirit; and the Mass was thought up by the Holy Spirit, just as the adoration of the host, so that men will not be like beasts. I like the preaching about men living in peace, but as for preaching about hell, Paul says one thing, Peter another. I think it is just a business, the invention of men who know more than others. … I believe that the Holy Scripture was given by God, but then was added to by men. Four words only would suffice in this Holy Scripture, but it is like the books of battle that grew and grew. As for the things in the Gospels, I believe that some are true and some the evangelists made up out of their own heads, as we see in the Passion narratives where one says it one way and one in another way.” When he was asked: “Did you say that Holy Scripture was devised to deceive men?” he replied: “Yes sir, I said that.” Questioned, he replied: “I believe that the saints were honest men who did good works, and because of it Our Lord God made them saints, and I believe that they pray for us. As for their relics, such as an arm, a body, a head, a hand or a leg, I believe that they are just like ours when they are dead and we should not adore or revere them.” Questioned, he replied: “We should not adore their images, but only the one God, who created the heavens and the earth. Don’t you see that Abraham cast down all idols and all images and adored only one God?” Questioned, he replied: “As for indulgences, I believe that they are good, because if God has put a man in his place, who is the pope, and he sends a pardon, that is good because it is as if we receive it from God, since these indulgences are given by someone who is acting as his steward.”

Asked if his wife is alive, he replied: “Yes sir, and I never talked to her about these things.” … Questioned, he replied: “It is true I said that if I were not afraid of the law, I would say a lot of things to shock people, and I also said that if I had the grace to go before the pope, or a king or a prince who would listen to me, I would say many things, and then if I was killed for it, I would not care.” When he was asked to tell everything that was on his mind and that he wanted to say, he replied: “I have this idea that to speak Latin is a betrayal of the poor, because in a lawsuit poor people do not know what is being said and are harmed by it, and if they want to say four words they need a lawyer. It seems to me that under this law of ours the pope, cardinals and bishops are so great and rich that everything is the Church’s and the poor are hurt by it, who if they have two rented fields, they belong to the Church, to some bishop or cardinal. It also appears to me that these Venetian rulers have a lot of thieves in that city, so that if one goes there to buy something and asks: What do you want for that stuff?” they say one ducat, even if it is only worth three marcelli, and I wish that they would show some justice. I wish that everyone believed in the majesty of God and were honorable people and did as Jesus Christ asked, who answered to those Judeans who asked him what law there should be “Love God and your neighbor.” The majesty of God has given the Holy Spirit to everyone: to Christians, to heretics, to Turks and Jews, and they are all dear to him and are all saved equally. And you others, priests and monks, you want to know even more than God and are like the Devil and want to become gods on this earth and have the same knowledge as God, in the guise of the Devil, and the more one thinks he knows, the less he knows. I believe that the law and the commandments of the Church are just a business and they live on it. I like this about the sacrament, that after one has confessed, he goes to take communion and receives the Holy Spirit and one’s spirit is joyful. As for the sacrament of marriage, it was not God who made it, but men: once man and woman exchanged vows and this sufficed, and then later came these human inventions. Of the sacrament of confirmation, I believe it is just a business, the invention of men, since everyone has the Holy Spirit, and they seek to know and know nothing. Of the consecration and ordination of priests, I wish they were done at age sixty and I believe that the spirit 200


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safe doors, in which all offenders, even murderers, have always been placed, and no other prison stronger or more severe than it can be found in the city of Concordia.” Questioned, he replied: “Domenico Scandella has never left this jail, nor did he try to, except when I conducted him to church to make his penances imposed by the sentence … and other times still I took him to hear Mass and receive communion, but usually I had him receive communion in prison since I did not have enough guards to take him to church.” Questioned, he replied: “I know that he fasted many Fridays: except when he was so sick that we thought he would die, and from then on it seems to me that he did not fast, but many times, on the other fast days, he would say to me: ‘Tomorrow bring me only some bread, because I want to fast, and no meat or anything else fat.’” Questioned, he replied: “From certain signs I recognized that he was very penitent of his error, because many times I quietly went up to the door of his cell to hear what he was doing or saying, and I heard him praying, and other times I saw him reading a book that had been given him by the priest Ludovico, and I know that your reverence saw it when you went to the prison to see and visit him. And he also has an Office of the Madonna, which has the seven psalms and other prayers, and he also asked me many times to find him an image before which he could say his prayers, and so his son bought him one.” … Questioned, he replied: “Many times he spoke to me about those follies of his that he had believed in previously, saying that he knew well that they were really follies, but he had never held them so deeply that he firmly believed them, and that it was through the temptation of the Devil that such extravagant thoughts had come into his head.” Questioned, he replied: “The hearts of men are not so easily known except by God, but from what I have seen in him, it is my opinion that he has repented his error and that in the future he will persevere in this good resolve.” The same day There appeared Ser Domenico Scandella before the same persons as above, who as soon as he was conducted before the most reverend and most illustrious bishop, and the most reverend inquisitor general, and the reverend and most excellent vicar, prostrating himself on the ground tearfully beseeched pardon for his errors with humble words and supplications.… Questioned, he replied: “I am deeply repentant that I have offended my Lord God, and I wish now that I had not said the foolish things that I said, into which I

Asked if he believes that indulgences come from the merits of the saints and from Our Lord Jesus Christ, he replied: “Indulgences come only from the Holy Spirit, and this Holy Spirit is the will of God.” … Questioned, he replied: “No sir, I do not believe that on the day of judgment we will be resurrected in the body, which to me seems impossible, because if bodies were resurrected they would fill the heavens and the earth. And the majesty of God will see our bodies with his intellect. It is not different than if we wanted to build something, shut our eyes and visualized it in our mind and intellect, and thus saw it with that intellect.” Questioned, he replied: “I believe that the empress in this world is greater than the Madonna, but in the hereafter the Madonna is greater, because there we are invisible.” Questioned, he replied: “Yes sir, it is true that when the empress passed through I said she was greater than the Madonna, but I meant in this world. And in that book about the Madonna, she was never sent or paid so many honors. In fact, when she was brought to be buried, she was dishonored when someone tried to lower her from the shoulders of the apostles and his hand would not come unstuck. And this was in the life of the Madonna.” At the conclusion, since the hour was late, the aforesaid Domenico was ordered to be conducted back to the episcopal prison in the city of Concordia. At which point he exclaimed: “My lords, I beg you, by the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to settle my case; and if I deserve death, send me to it; and if I deserve mercy, exercise it, because I want to live as a good Christian.” The proceedings were read back to him, and he ratified and signed them.… 19 January 1586 Before the most reverend and illustrious lord Matteo Sanudo, bishop, duke, count and marquis of Concordia, and the most reverend lord Evangelista Pelleo, inquisitor general for the diocese of Concordia, and the reverend and most excellent lord vicar, in Portogruaro, in the episcopal palace, there appeared Ser Giovanni Battista de Parvis, guard and jailer of the episcopal prison in Concordia. After taking an oath from the hands of the reverend lord inquisitor, with his hand on Scripture, questioned, he replied: “I have had Ser Domenico Scandella in my custody from the day of his sentencing until today in the prison of the bishop of Concordia, which is between two cellars through which one reaches the prison, which is strong and secure, with three stout and 201


advice of their board of experts, determined that they should mitigate and commute the sentence previously emitted against Ser Domenico, mitigating and commuting it as follows: in the place of perpetual imprisonment they assigned the aforesaid Domenico the village of Montereale, which he was to consider as his prison and never attempt to leave without the permission of the Holy Office; similarly that he was to offer a suitable security of two hundred ducats as guarantee that he would not leave the place assigned to him as a prison and present himself as often as required, and in the event that he should fail to meet this obligation, half of the fine was to be applied to the Arsenal of the most illustrious Dominion, and the other half to the expenses of the Holy Office; similarly that the aforesaid Domenico in the future was never to speak of or mention his wrongheaded opinions, except detesting them and reproaching himself for his frivolity and vacuity; similarly that he should be obligated to wear continually and publicly over his other clothing the vestment described in the sentence; similarly that, instead of the fast imposed on him as penance, since he is old and ill he should dispense alms every Friday according to his own possibilities; similarly that he should be obligated six times yearly to confess his sins and receive the most holy Eucharist … The above sentence was promulgated by the forenamed judges on the day and at the place given above … in the presence of the following witnesses present at the publication of the sentence: the aforesaid Domenico and the witnesses Alvise Cumino, carpenter, son of the deceased Sebastiana of Udine, Francesco, son of the deceased Pietro Celi, and Giovanni, son of the deceased Pietro Biason of the castle at Sesto, inhabitants of the city of Portogruaro. And there, after the publication of the above sentence, Domenico Scandella, in compliance with it, offered as surety two hundred ducats, as specified, through his bondsman Daniele de Biasio, presently a resident of Fanna. This Daniele de Biasio presented himself as bondsman for the sum of two hundred ducats on behalf of Domenico in case the sentence was contravened, and in compliance with the sentence.

stupidly fell blinded by the Devil and not understanding myself what he was telling me.” … And when he was asked: “If it should please the Holy Office that you continue to make your penance in prison, would you stay willingly?” he replied: “I would do whatever was pleasing to our most holy majesty.” And these were his actual words: “If I did not have a wife and children, whose love pulls at me, since I, if I remain in this place, will be their ruin, I would willingly stay as long as I live to do penance for my offenses to the Lord Jesus Christ.” And he said this clasping his hands and raising them from his eyes to heaven. … Questioned, he replied: “Two years have passed and I now begin a third year in prison.” Questioned, he replied: “I am fifty-three years old, going on fifty-four and have seven children, boys and girls, and my oldest son has a wife and children, and my wife is about fifty years old. As for my possessions, I am very poor and only have two rented mills and two fields which I lease and with these I supported and support my poor family.” Questioned, he replied: “The prison in which I am confined is harsh, earthen, dark and humid, so that I was very sick this winter and lay four months without getting out of bed. And this year I had swollen legs, and I also swelled up in the face, as you can see, and I almost lost my hearing, and became weak and almost beside myself.” And truly while he was saying this he was very pale in appearance, and an invalid in his body, and in a poor way.… Same day and place, as above The full congregation was convoked, consisting of the most reverend and illustrious bishop, the reverend father inquisitor, and the reverend vicar, assisting the most celebrated Iacopo Pizzamano, the podestà, with the participation of the most excellent Giovanni Francesco Palladia degli Olivi, Valerio Trapola dai Colli and Girolamo Pigozzino, doctors of law. After considering the supplication presented on behalf and in the name of Domenico Scandella, and having examined the testimony of the jailer and of Domenico himself, perceiving signs of true repentance in the aforesaid Domenico, upon the



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Reading Questions 1. Some women found the convent to be a prison, and some found it to be a safe space where they could have more freedom to run their own affairs. How do these different views emerge in the readings? 2. Authorities who took charge over women’s religious lives sometimes fought hard to distinguish those who had religious visions from those who had demonic vision. Why are the authorities presented here so suspicious and even fearful of the ideas and visions that women might have? 3. The Malleus Maleficarum was written by a theologian, and Demon-Mania was written by a lawyer. How do their views differ, and how are they similar? 4. All of these authors were deeply afraid of the devil and the threat he posed to society. What powers did they imagine the devil to have, and how did they aim to counter these?



Living Apart Together: Jews, Muslims, and Christians Few early modern cities had that kind of mixture of peoples and religions that we now take for granted. In fact, many thought that a city or country could only be strong if its people practiced a single religion. Foreigners were feared, hounded, and sometimes expelled— though some might be given the “opportunity” to convert to the religion of the dominant group if they wished to avoid exile. Muslims, Jews, and Christians had lived together in Iberia for centuries, but in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries this coexistence was challenged with religiously driven expulsions and forced conversions. Jews were forced to leave in 1492, and Muslims soon afterward. While religious toleration became a key issue in many parts of Europe, it was nowhere as intense as in Spain and Portugal. Other places aimed to lock up Jews in walled ghettos, which were designed like plague hospitals to contain contagion. We see here official documents of expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain, accounts of how some Iberian and French converts practiced their ancestral faith secretly, and how Catholic officials aimed to find and discipline them. The London poem slamming the Dutch shows that hatred of foreigners also marred relations between different Christian groups, though some English advocated formally readmitting Jews, who had not been allowed to settle openly and officially since an expulsion in 1290.

12.1 Expelling the Jews from Spain: The Official Order (1492) Iberia was the only part of Europe where Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived together. Their relations over hundreds of years were friendly, antagonistic, sometimes violent, and always complex. Jews lacked the territory and military power of the Christians and Muslims and were most vulnerable to riots and forced conversions. Tensions increased throughout the fifteenth century, and from 1480 the Inquisition targeted Jewish converts who were suspected of being disloyal Christians who secretly continued to practice the Jewish faith. In 1492, weeks after monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella had defeated the last Muslim ruler in a crusade to Christianize Spain, they announced the Edict of Expulsion, 205


granting all remaining Jews 90 days to either convert to Christianity or dispose of their property and leave Spain. Source: The Edict of Expulsion. In Edward Peters, “Jewish History and Gentile Memory: The Expulsion of 1492,” Jewish History 9, no. 1 (1995): 23–28.

made and is being made, and by many guilty persons have been discovered, as is very well known, and accordingly we are informed by the inquisitors and by other devout persons, ecclesiastical and secular, that great injury has resulted and still results, since the Christians have engaged in and continue to engage in social interaction and communication they have had means and ways they can to subvert and to steal faithful Christians from our holy Catholic faith and to separate them from it, and to draw them to themselves and subvert them to their own wicked belief and conviction, instructing them in the ceremonies and observances of their law, holding meetings at which they read and teach that which people must hold and believe according to their law, achieving that the Christians and their children be circumcised, and giving them books from which they may read their prayers and declaring to them the fasts that they must keep, and joining with them to read and teach them the history of their law, indicating to them the festivals before they occur, advising them of what in them they are to hold and observe, carrying to them and giving to them from their houses unleavened bread and meats ritually slaughtered, instructing them about the things from which they must refrain, as much in eating as in other things in order to observe their law, and persuading them as much as they can to hold and observe the law of Moses, convincing them that there is no other law or truth except for that one. This proved by many statements and confessions, both from these same Jews and from those who have been perverted and enticed by them, which has redounded to the great injury, detriment, and opprobrium of our holy Catholic faith. Notwithstanding that we were informed of the great part of this before now and we knew that the true remedy for all these injuries and inconveniences was to prohibit all interaction between the said Jews and Christians and banish them from all our kingdoms, we desired to content ourselves by commanding them to leave all cities, towns, and villages of Andalusia where it appears that they have done the greatest injury, believing that that would be sufficient so that those of other cities, towns, and villages of our kingdoms and lordships would cease to do and commit the aforesaid acts. And since we are

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Aragon, Sicily, Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, the Balearic Islands, Seville, Sardinia, Cordoba, Corsica, Murcia, Jaen, of the Algarve, Algeciras, Gibraltar, and of the Canary Islands, count and countess of Barcelona and lords of Biscay and Molina, dukes of Athens and Neopatria, counts of Rousillon and Cerdana, marquises of Oristan and of Gociano, to the prince Lord Juan, our very dear and much loved son, and to the other royal children, prelates, dukes, marquees, counts, masters of military orders, priors, grandees, knight commanders, governors of castles and fortified places of our kingdoms and lordships, and to councils, magistrates, mayors, constables, district judges, knights, official squires, and all good men of the noble and loyal city of Burgos and other cities, towns, and villages of its bishopric and of other archbishoprics, bishoprics, dioceses of our kingdom and lordships, and to the residential quarters of the Jews of the said city of Burgos and of all the aforesaid cities, towns, and villages of its bishopric and of the other cities, towns, and villages of our aforementioned kingdoms and lordships, and to all Jews and to all individual Jews of those places, and to barons and women of whatever age they may be, and to all other persons of whatever law, estate, dignity, preeminence, and condition they may be, and to all to whom the matter contained in this charter pertains or may pertain. Salutations and grace. You know well or ought to know, that whereas we have been informed that in these our kingdoms there were some wicked Christians who Judaized and apostatized from our holy Catholic faith, the great cause of which was interaction between the Jews and these Christians, in the cortes which we held in the city of Toledo in the past year of one thousand, four hundred and eighty, we ordered the separation of the said Jews in all the cities, towns and villages of our kingdoms and lordships and [commanded] that they be given Jewish quarters and separated places where they should live, hoping that by their separation the situation would remedy itself. Furthermore, we procured and gave orders that inquisition should be made in our aforementioned kingships and lordships, which as you know has for twelve years been 206


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ply with this command and should be found in our said kingdom and lordships and should in any manner live in them, they incur the penalty of death and the confiscation of all their possessions by our Chamber of Finance, incurring these penalties by the act itself, without further trial, sentence, or declaration. And we command and forbid that any person or persons of the said kingdoms, of whatever estate, condition, or dignity that they may be, shall dare to receive, protect, defend, nor hold publicly or secretly any Jew or Jewess beyond the date of the end of July and from henceforth forever, in their lands, houses, or in other parts of any of our said kingdoms and lordships, under pain of losing all their possessions, vassals, fortified places, and other inheritances, and beyond this of losing whatever financial grants they hold from us by our Chamber of Finance. And so that the said Jews and Jewesses during the stated period of time until the end of the said month of July may be better able to dispose of themselves, and their possession, and their estates, for the present we take and receive them under our Security, protection, and royal safeguard, and we secure to them and to their possessions that for the duration of the said time until the said last day of the said month of July they may travel and be safe, they may enter, sell, trade, and alienate all their movable and rooted possessions and dispose of them freely and at their will, and that during the said time, no one shall harm them, nor injure them, no wrong shall be done to them against justice, in their persons or in their possessions, under the penalty which falls on and is incurred by those who violate the royal safeguard. And we likewise give license and faculty to those said Jews and Jewesses that they be able to export their goods and estates out of these our said kingdoms and lordships by sea or land as long as they do not export gold or silver or coined money or other things prohibited by the laws of our kingdoms, excepting merchandise and things that are not prohibited. And we command all councils, justices, magistrates, knights, squires, officials, and all good men of the said city of Burgos and of the other cities, towns, and villages of our said kingdoms and lordships and all our new vassals, subjects, and natives that they preserve and comply with and cause to be preserved and complied with this our charter and all that is contained in it, and to give and to cause to be given all assistance and favor in its application under penalty of [being at] our mercy and the confiscation of all their possessions and offices by our Chamber of Finance. And because this must be brought to the notice of all, so that no one may pretend

informed that neither that step nor the passing of sentence [of condemnation] against the said Jews who have been most guilty of the said crimes and delicts against our holy Catholic faith have been sufficient as a complete remedy to obviate and correct so great an opprobrium and offense to the faith and the Christian religion, because every day it is found and appears that the said Jews increase in continuing their evil and wicked purpose wherever they live and congregate, and so that there will not be any place where they further offend our holy faith, and corrupt those whom God has until now most desired to preserve, as well as those who had fallen but amended and returned to Holy Mother Church, the which according to the weakness of our humanity and by diabolical astuteness and suggestion that continually wages war against us may easily occur unless the principal cause of it be removed, which is to banish the said Jews from our kingdoms. Because whenever any grave and detestable crime is committed by members of any organization or corporation, it is reasonable that such an organization or corporation should be dissolved and annihilated and that the lesser members as well as the greater and everyone for the others be punished, and that those who perturb the good and honest life of cities and towns and by contagion can injure others should be expelled from those places and even if for lighter causes, that may be injurious to the Republic, how much more for those greater and most dangerous and most contagious crimes such as this. Therefore, we, with the counsel and advice of prelates, great noblemen of our kingdoms, and other persons of learning and wisdom of our Council, having taken deliberation about this matter, resolve to order the said Jews and Jewesses of our kingdoms to depart and never to return or come back to them or to any of them. And concerning this we command this our charter to be given, by which we order all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be, who live, reside, and exist in our said kingdoms and lordships, as much those who are natives as those who are not, who by whatever manner or whatever cause have come to live and reside therein, that by the end of the month of July next of the present year, they depart from all of these our said realms and lordships, along with their sons and daughters, menservants and maidservants, Jewish familiars, those who are great as well as the lesser folk, of whatever age they may be, and they shall not dare to return to those places, nor to reside in them, nor to live in any part of them, neither temporarily on the way to somewhere else nor in any other manner, under pain that if they do not perform and com207


days following the crime under the said penalty, under which we command whichever public scribe who would be called for the purpose of reading this our charter that the signed charter with its seal should be shown to you all so that we may know that our command is carried out. Given in our city of Granada, the XXXI day of the month of March, the year of the birth of our lord Jesus Christ one thousand four hundred and ninety-two years. I, the King, I the Queen, I, Juan de Coloma, secretary of the king and queen our lords, have caused this to be written at their command. Registered by Cabrera, Almacan chancellor.

ignorance, we command that this our charter be posted in the customary plazas and places of the said city and of the principal cities, towns, and villages of its bishopric as an announcement and as a public document. And no one shall do any damage to it in any manner under penalty of being at our mercy and the deprivation of their offices and the confiscation of their possessions, which will happen to each one who might do this. Moreover, we command the [man] who shows them this our charter that he summon [those who act against the charter] to appear before us at our court wherever we may be, on the day that they are summoned during the fifteen

12.2 Going into Exile: Iberian Jews around the Mediterranean (1495) The Jews who left Spain as religious refugees spread across the Mediterranean area. Some went to Muslim states in North Africa or into the Ottoman or Mamluk empires, others to Genoa, Naples, and other large Italian coastal cities, and others to Portugal. This anonymous account notes the difficulties of securing safe passage and settlement when there were many people who were ready to take advantage of the situation faced by many thousands of exiles. Source: Anonymous account (1495). In Jon Cowans, Early Modern Spain: A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), pp. 24–27.

wherever there was any doubt on mathematical questions in the Christian academy of that city they referred them to him.… In the course of the three months’ respite granted them they endeavored to effect an arrangement permitting them to stay on in the country, and they felt confident of success. Their representatives were the rabbi Don Abraham Senior, the leader of the Spanish congregations, who was attended by a retinue on thirty mules, and R. Meir, the secretary to the king, and Don Isaac Abarbanel, who had fled to Castile from the king of Portugal, and then occupied an equally prominent position at the Spanish royal court.… Rabbi Isaac of Leon used to call this Don Abraham Senior Sone Or (Hater of Light) because he was a heretic, and the end proved that he was right, as he was converted to Christianity at the age of eighty, he and all his family, and R. Meir with him. Don Abraham had arranged the nuptials between the king and the queen. The queen

And in the year 5252 (1492), in the days of King Ferdinand, the Lord visited the remnant of his people a second time [the first being the anti-Jewish pogroms, or mob attacks, of 1391], and exiled them in the days of King Ferdinand. After the king had captured the city of Granada from the Ishmaelites [Muslims], and it had surrendered to him … he ordered the expulsion of all the Jews in all parts of his kingdom.… Even before that the queen had expelled them from the kingdom of Andalusia. The king gave them three months in which to leave. It was announced in public in every city on the first of May.… The number of the exiled was not counted, but, after many inquiries, I found that the most generally accepted estimate is 50,000 families, or, as others say, 53,000. [Editor’s note: some historians today consider this estimate too high.] They had houses, fields, vineyards, and cattle, and most of them were artisans. At that time there existed many academies in Spain.… [In Salamanca] there was a great expert in mathematics, and 208


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of Tlemcen, named Abraham, the viceroy who ruled the kingdom, made part of them come to his kingdom, and he spent a large amount of money to help them. The Jews of Northern Africa were very charitable toward them. A part of those who went to Northern Africa, as they found no rest and no place that would receive them, returned to Spain, and became converts, and through them the prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled: “He hath spread a net for my feet, he had turned me back.” For, originally, they had all fled for the sake of the unity of God; only a very few had become converts throughout all the boundaries of Spain; they did not spare their fortunes, yea, parents escaped without having regard to their children. When the edict of expulsion became known in the other countries, vessels came from Genoa to carry away the Jews. The crews of these vessels, too, acted maliciously and meanly toward the Jews, robbed them, and delivered some of them to the famous pirate of that time, who was called the Corsair of Genoa. To those who escaped and arrived at Genoa the people of the city showed themselves merciless, and oppressed and robbed them, and the cruelty of their wicked hearts went so far that they took the infants from the mothers’ breasts. Many ships with Jews, especially from Sicily, went to the city of Naples on the coast. The king of this country was friendly to the Jews, received them all, and was merciful toward them, and he helped them with money. The Jews who were in Naples supplied them with food as much as they could, and sent around to the other parts of Italy to collect money to sustain them. The Marranos in this city lent them money on pledges without interest; even the Dominican brotherhood acted mercifully toward them. But all this was not enough to keep them alive. Some of them died by famine, others sold their children to Christians to sustain their life. Finally, a plague broke out among them, spread to Naples, and very many of them died, so that the living wearied of burying the dead. Part of the exiled went over the sea to Turkey. Some of them were thrown into the sea and drowned, but those who arrived there the king of Turkey received kindly, as they were artisans. He lent them money to settle many of them on an island, and gave them fields and estates. A few of the exiles were dispersed to the countries of Italy, in the city of Ferrara, in the counties of Romagna, the Marches, and Papal State, and in Rome. Before the expulsion, the king of Spain had stretched forth his hand against the Marranos and investigated their secrets, because they observed part of the laws

was the heiress to the throne, and the king one of the Spanish nobility. On account of this, Don Abraham was appointed leader of the Jews, but not with their consent. The agreement permitting them to remain in the country on the payment of a large sum of money was almost completed when it was frustrated by the interference of an official, who referred to the story of the cross [a reference to Judas betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver]. Then the queen gave an answer to the representatives of the Jews, similar to the saying of King Solomon: “The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord, as the rivers of water. He turneth it whithersoever he will.” She said furthermore: “Do you believe that this comes upon you from us? The Lord hath put this thing into the heart of the king.” Then they saw that there was evil determined against them by the king, and they gave up hope of remaining. But the time had become short, and they had to hasten their exodus from Spain. They sold their houses, their landed estates, and their cattle for very small prices, to save themselves. The king did not allow them to carry silver and gold out of his country, so that they were compelled to exchange their silver and gold for merchandise of cloths and skins and other things. One hundred and twenty thousand of them went to Portugal, according to a compact which a prominent man … had made with the king of Portugal, and they paid one ducat for every soul, and the fourth part of all the merchandise they had carried thither; and he allowed them to stay in his country six months. This king acted much worse toward them than the king of Spain, and after the six months had elapsed he made slaves of all those who remained in his country, and he banished seven hundred children to a remote island to settle it, and all of them died. Some say that there were double as many. Upon them the scriptural word was fulfilled: “Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people,” etc. He also ordered the congregation of Lisbon, his capital, not to raise their voices in their prayers, that the Lord might not hear their complaining about the violence that was done unto them. Many of the exiled Spanish went to Mohammedan [Muslim] countries, to Fez, Tlemcen, and the Berber provinces, under the king of Tunis [in North Africa]. Most of the Muslims did not allow them into their cities, and many of them died in the fields from hunger, thirst, and lack of everything. The lions and bear, which are numerous in this country, killed some of them while they lay starving outside of cities. A Jew in the kingdom 209


thousands of the Marranos burned and confiscated their fortunes without number.… It seems that this was from the lord to destroy these Marranos, who halted between two opinions, as if they had made a new law for themselves. Their end shows that they did not sanctify the name of the Lord in the hour of their death. When they asked them in which religion they wanted to die, they chose Christianity, in order to die an easier death, and they died with a cross in their hands. Only a few of them died as Jews, and of these few, most were women.

secretly, and he had ordered the Jews in every city to proclaim in the synagogues that whoever knew of any Marrano who gave oil to the lighting of the synagogue, or money for any holy purpose, must reveal his name on penalty of excommunication. Thus the preachers made proclamation in the synagogues in the presence of the royal officials.… Oh, how that sword of excommunication wrought havoc among the Spanish Jews, who, wherever they turned, found hardship and misfortune! By means of this accusation the Spanish king had many

12.3 A Jewish Ghetto in Southern France (late 1500s) As a young man, Thomas Platter followed the example of his father, Felix, and grandfather, Thomas, and travelled from Switzerland across Europe, getting an education, learning about different places and peoples, and making himself literate in different languages. His diary contains vivid accounts of urban life, including this description of the Jewish quarter of Avignon, one of the oldest in France, and the life led by its inhabitants. Source: Thomas Platter, memoir. In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Journal of a Younger Brother (London: F. Muller, 1963).

renew, for they are almost all tailors, and end by reselling them as if they were new; for their shops are all on the ground floor, and as they have no other light than comes from the sky, it is so dusky in them that it is not easy to tell the difference. They took us to a temple. It was underground, a veritable cellar, getting its light from a room above through an opening. A blind rabbi preaches there to women, in bad Hebrew, for the dialect of the Jews of Avignon is mixed with Languedocean words. In the room above, however, they preach to men in good Hebrew. It is light there, and the holy of holies is guarded by grilles, through which only the chief rabbi may pass. Above it hangs a chandelier with more than a hundred lamps of glass filled with oil, which are lit on feast days.

After dinner we went to the Street of the Jews, which is closed by gates at its two extremities. There are about five hundred of them there, engaged in dealing in clothes, jewels, cloth, armour, etc., in short, in everything that a man may wear. If they have not got something that is demanded of them, they have such good credit that merchants hasten to send it to them secretly; they pay for what they use and return the rest. They are not permitted to buy either house, garden, field, or meadow, within or without the town; they are also forbidden to follow any trade other than those that I have mentioned, except money-changing. They pay a good price for old clothes, and give more than one would have dared to ask; but as they charge dear for what they sell, the result is that they have the old clothes for nothing. These they repair and



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12.4 How to Be a Practicing Muslim in a Catholic Country (1400s) Mudejars were Spanish Muslims who did not convert or flee after the last Islamic Kingdom of Granada was conquered in 1492. Within a decade, they lost the freedom to practice their religion openly and so had to be very discrete. This Summary of Islamic Law offered a guide to those who wanted to continue practicing their faith in secret. Source: Ice de Gebir, “A Mudejar Summary of Islamic Law.” In L.P. Harvey, Islamic Spain, 1250-1500 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), pp. 88–90.

Do not cause sin or consent to sin, for if you do you participate in it. Do not falsify weights and measures, nor be guilty of deceit or treachery, do not engage in usury. Do not drink wine or any other intoxicating thing. Do not eat pork, nor any carrion flesh, nor blood, nor any suspect thing, nor anything which has not been properly slaughtered, nor anything offered on an altar or to a creature [i.e., any sacrifice to a divinity other than God]. When you meet a Muslim, greet him with your salāms, and assist him in whatever is to God’s service, and visit him when he is sick, and carry out his interment should he die. Oppose any Muslim who transgresses the law or the sunna in any way. Let anyone who speaks, speak well or keep silent and let him not speak evil, even if it be the truth. When you sit in judgment, be a faithful judge; do not take usury; abstain from covetousness; be faithful to your lord, even though he is not a Muslim, because he will become your heir should you have nobody else to inherit from you; pay him his due; honor the rich and do not despise the poor; beware of envy and wrath; be patient; do not follow enchanters nor fortune tellers, nor those who interpret omens, nor astrologers, nor those who cast lots, but your Lord alone. Do not live in the land of the unbelievers, nor in any land without justice, nor among evil neighbors, nor should you keep company with bad Muslims. Live among good men, and spend up to a third of your wealth, and more if you can do so without harm, and so long as you have no cause to regret it. Do not play at draughts [checkers] or any other idle pastime.

Principal Commandments and Prohibitions Worship the Creator alone, attributing to him neither image nor likeness, and honoring his chosen and blessed Muhammad. Desire for your neighbor [proximo] that good which you desire for yourself. Keep constantly pure by means of the minor and major ritual ablutions, and the five prayers. Be obedient to your father and your mother, even though they be unbelievers. Do not swear in the name of the Creator in vain. Do not kill, do not steal, do not commit fornication with any creature. Pay the canonical alms [azaque, i.e., zakāt] Fast during the month of Ramadan. Make the Pilgrimage [hajj]. Do not sleep with your wife unless both you and she are in a state of ritual purity. Honor the day of Assembly [i.e., Friday], above all during the holy times, with all purity and with devout prayers, and with visits to the holy men of the law and to the poor. Honor the scholars [of the law]. Serve in defense of the law both with your goods and with your person. Honor your neighbor [vecino], whether he be a stranger or a relative or an unbeliever. Give lodging willingly to the wayfarer and to the poor man. Do not break your word, your oath, your bond, or your guarantee, unless it be something which be contrary to the law, when you must make an act of expiation. Be faithful, do not trade in goods which you know to be stolen.



If you are truly repentant, you will deserve everlasting praise. Hold this world in contempt, and have worthy hope for the future, and you will receive everlasting life and blessings. Do not employ the practices, uses, or customs of the Christians, nor dress like them, nor should you have their images, nor those of the sinners, and you will be free from infernal sins. [Here the word translated “practices” could possibly mean “conversations,” but in the context “practices” is the more likely interpretation.]

Do not take pleasure in what is forbidden, and do not hanker in your heart after that which is not yours. Beware of the Enemy: forgive him who leads you astray, and ask forgiveness of him whom you lead astray, and avoid overweening pride. Obey those who are older than you, be merciful on those who are younger, and be the brother of those who are the same age as yourself. Do not be two-faced; be a peace-maker between people; put those who have gone astray back on the right path; calm down those who are angry, and please Allah. Set the captive free with your wealth; bring aid to the orphan and to the widow, and you will be a neighbor to your Lord. Learn the law, and teach it to everyone, for on Judgment day you will be called to account for it, and sent to heaven or the flames of hell. Stand in the way of those who are disobeying the law or sunna, because those who commit the sin and those who stand by and do nothing are equal in sin; strive in this respect, and you will please Allah.

You are to carry out and to preserve the sayings, teachings, uses, customs, habits, and way of dress of that excellent and blessed one, Muhammad, on whom be benediction and peace, and those of his Companions, on whom Providence bestowed such grace, and on Judgment Day you will be one of those who enter paradise without being subjected to the test.

12.5 Living Undercover (1504) Written by a mufti to Spanish Muslims who had been forced to convert to Christianity, this fatwa spells out how they can outwardly follow Christian rituals as “moriscos” (i.e., Muslim converts to Catholicism) while inwardly maintaining their Islamic faith. Source: “Oran Fatwa of 1504.” In L.P. Harvey, Muslims in Spain, 1500–1614 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp. 60–63.

heart), and [perform] ritual ablutions after major pollution, even if by plunging into the sea.

Know that idols are carved wood and hard stone which can cause you no harm and can do you no good, it is to Allah that the kingdom belongs. Allah did not take to Himself a son, and alongside Him there is no other god, so He is the one you must worship, and you must display perseverance in your adoration of Him.

If you are prevented from praying, then you should make up at nighttime what you have had to omit during the day; and when ritually pure water is for practical purposes lacking, then you must wipe yourself clean, even if it is just by rubbing your hands clean on a wall. If that is not possible, the generally held view is that the prayer and its execution are not required in the absence of water or clean stone, although you should make some slight pointing motion with your hands or face toward clean earth or

So [you must carry out] ritual prayer (salat), even though only by making some slight movement, and [you must contribute] ritual alms (zakat), even though as if apparently it is some hypocritical show of generosity to a beggar (for Allah does not look at your face, but into your



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require, continue to put your trust in the faith. If they say to you: “Curse Muhammad,” then, bearing in mind that they pronounce it as “Mamad,” curse “Mamad,” and signify thereby the Devil, or else the Jewish Mamad, since it is a common name among them.

stone or a tree such as would have been ritually acceptable for that purpose (this is as taught by Ibn Naji in his commentary to the Risala, and is based on the Prophet’s words: “Take from them whatever they can bring”). If, at the hour of prayer, they force you to prostrate yourself before their idols, or make you attend their prayers, maintain it as your firm intention to consider what they do as forbidden, and have it as your desire to carry out the prayer specified in Islamic law, bow down to whatever idols they are bowing to, but turn your intention toward Allah. Even if the direction is not that of Mecca, that requirement may be disregarded, as it is in the case of prayer when in danger on the battlefield.

If they say, “Jesus is the son of God,” say that if they force you to, but let it be your intention to say it without the words in the possessive case [i.e., “of God”], namely, that servant of Allah, the son of Mary, who is rightly revered. If they say, “Say the Messiah is the son of God,” then say that, but intend it to be a genitive possessive phrase, in the same way as one can say “the house of God,” without meaning that God actually resides there. If they give you the order, “Say Mary is His wife,” then say that, but intend the possessive pronoun to refer to her cousin, who married her in the time of the Israelites, and then separated from her before the birth or else mean that God out of his might and power brought about her marriage.

If they oblige you to drink wine, you may do so, but let it not be your intention to make use of it. If they force pork on you, eat it, but in your heart reject it, and hold firm to the belief that it is forbidden. In the same way, if they force you to do anything which is forbidden.

If they say Jesus died on the cross, mean by that that he perfected thereby the mortification of his flesh, his suffering, and the publishing of his praise among mankind, and that Allah brought this about when he raised him to heaven.

If they would have you marry their daughters, that is permissible, for they are people with a scripture, and if they oblige you to give your daughters in marriage to them, then you should cleave firmly to the belief that that is forbidden, were you not under duress, and abhor it in your hearts, so that you would do otherwise, if you were able.

Anything which presents difficulties to you should be sent to me, and, God willing, we will set you aright in the light of what you write.

In the same way, if they force upon you the taking of usury, or some other unlawful thing, do it, but reject it in your heart, and only keep back for yourself the original capital sum invested, and if you repent, then give the rest away as charity.

I pray that Allah may so bring it about that Islam may be worshipped openly without ordeals, tribulations or fear, thanks to the success of the attack of the noble Turks. We reassure you before Allah that you have served him, and done his command. You must reply. Greetings to you all.

If they oblige you to pronounce words of blasphemy, do what they ask, but employ whatever stratagems of equivocation you can, and if you do pronounce the words they

Dated at the close of Rajab 910 [A.D. 1504].



Figure 12.1  A Morisca and Her Daughter (1529) Dress was one of the most outwardly visibly signs of being a Morsica or Morisco, and those who converted to Catholicism were suspected of being secret Muslims if they refused to change the style of their clothing. German artist Christoph Weiditz shows a mother and daughter together, suggesting that these cultural patterns will perpetuate themselves as one generation models them for the next. 214


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12.6 You Are What You Wear—Or Are You? (1567) Francisco Núñez Muley (1490–1568) was a Morisco nobleman who here writes to Spanish King Philip II asking that Moriscos not be prosecuted for continuing to use traditional Moorish names, wear Moorish dress, and follow Moorish dietary customs. Muley argues that these were cultural traditions and not signs of any lack of Catholic faith. A few years later a Morisco rebellion triggered savage reprisals and the forced relocation of many Moriscos into more Catholic areas of Spain. Source: Francisco Núñez Muley, petition to King Phillip II (1567). In D. Englander et al., Culture and Belief in Europe, 1450–1600 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), pp. 301–03.

they find the money? And how much will also be lost in the Moriscos’ jewellery and clothes which have to be destroyed? … And Crown income from Moriscos’ [taxes] will also fall. We are persecuted by ecclesiastical and secular courts; yet we are all loyal vassals, obedient to His Majesty and ready to serve him with our wealth. Never could it be said that we have committed treason from the day we surrendered … Our wedding feasts, dances and celebrations are no obstacle to becoming Christian … Our music is not found in Africa or Turkey, but is a provincial custom; whereas if it were the ceremony of a sect it would be found elsewhere … There is even less reason for regarding the women’s use of henna as a Moorish rite; it is only a tradition for cleansing the head and is therefore healthy … This is not against the faith but beneficial to the body … And what good would come from forcing us to keep the doors of our houses open? It would allow thieves to rob us and the lustful to have access to women … If anyone wanted to be a Moor and follow their ceremonies couldn’t they do so at night? Of course they could! Mohammedanism requires solitude and retreat. Therefore it matters little whether doors are open or closed if the intention is there; there is punishment for him who does what he should not, for nothing is concealed from God. But what of our baths, are they for rituals? Certainly not! Many people come to them and they are mostly Christians. The baths are dens of filth; by contrast Moorish ritual requires cleanliness and solitude … There have always been baths throughout the world, and if they were once prohibited in Castile it was because they sapped the strength and courage of warriors. The natives of this kingdom do not have to fight, nor do the women need strength, but only to be clean: if they do not wash there, or in rivers and streams … where are they to wash? …

When the people of this kingdom were converted to the Christian faith, there was no regulation compelling them to abandon their dress, language or customs associated with their festivities; and indeed that conversion was forced and against the agreed surrender terms when King Abdilehi gave up this city to the Catholic Monarchs … And now these new pragmatics, seemingly easy to fulfil, in reality create great difficulties which I will relate to Your Lordship so that he may be filled with pity, love and charity for this miserable people and solicit their protection with His Majesty, as presidents have always done in the past. The dress of our women is not Moorish but merely provincial, just as in Castile and other regions it is usual for the inhabitants to have distinctive headdress, skirts and hose. Who can deny that our dress is very different from the apparel of Moors and Turks? And even that varies: the dress of Fez differs from what is worn in Tlemcen [Barbary states]; nor is dress the same in Tunis and Morocco; and the same variation occurs in Turkey and other kingdoms. Yet all of these would be identical if there really was a dress peculiar to Mohammedans. We are visited by Christian clergy and laymen from Syria and Egypt clothed like Turks in their caftans and headdress; they speak Arabic and Turkish, know neither Latin nor Castilian, yet they are nonetheless Christians … Our women inherit bridal and other dresses from three or four generations and keep them until they are needed. What advantage can anyone derive from prohibiting our dress, which we have paid for with many ducats? Why should they want us to forfeit over three millions in gold which we have invested in it [the manufacture of clothes], thereby ruining traders, merchants, silversmiths and other craftsmen who make a living through the manufacture of garments, hose and jewellery for Morisco women? If the 200,000 women of this kingdom are to change their dress from head to foot where will 215


old to learn Castilian in the years remaining to them, and all the more so in the [stipulated] brief period of three years, even if they did nothing else but go to school. This is clearly a measure designed to weaken us … and those who could not sustain such hardship would leave the land or become brigands … What people in the world are more vile and despicable than the negroes of Guinea? Yet they are allowed to speak their language, play their instruments and dance, in order to keep them content. What I have written here is without malice; my intentions are good. I have always served the Lord our God, the Crown, and the naturals of this kingdom … and for over sixty years I have negotiated on these matters. May Your Lordship have mercy on us and not desert those who are powerless. May he undeceive His Majesty, remedy these ills and do what is required of a Christian gentleman; that God and His Majesty may be served and this kingdom be forever in your debt.

To require our women to unveil their faces is only to provide opportunity for men to sin after beholding the beauty of those they are attracted to; while the ugly will find no one willing to marry them. They cover themselves because they do not want to be known, just like Christian women: it is an act of modesty to avoid molestation … Our ancient surnames serve to identify people and preserve lineage. What could be gained by losing these records? … But the greatest inconvenience of all would be the loss of our Arabic language. How can a language be taken away from a people, the natural language in which they are reared? The Egyptians, Syrians, Maltese and other Christian peoples speak, read and write Arabic, yet are Christian like us … Our people are born and grow up in small communities where Castilian has never been spoken or understood—except by the priest, curate or sacristan, and even they speak always in Arabic. It will be difficult and practically impossible for the

12.7 Conversion: A Jew in Italy Converts to Christianity (1569) What did it mean to convert at a time when all religions considered themselves ultimate? Some converts were persuaded by preachers, some forced by threats of violence, some saw opportunities for personal advancement, and some even tried moving back and forth, even though religious authorities punished this severely. Here the young glassmaker Isaac describes how he learned of Christianity from co-workers, went to sermons, and talked with noblemen and preachers, before being baptized as a Catholic. He promised to bring other Jews to Christianity, though Venice’s inquisitors seem to have had doubts about the young man’s motivations and honesty. Source: Conversion testimony to Inquisition in Venice (1569). In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 339–40.

e Paolo, where there was a preacher very learned in the Hebrew language, possibly from Ferrara. Messer Pietro Loredan, who was Savio del Consiglio, was there in front of me, and, as the most reverend preacher spoke in the Hebrew language about the faith, he, Messer Pietro Loredan, would say to me, “Mark this passage,” and so on several times. This most noble lord invited me to see him from day to day, and on one occasion I went in person to talk to the aforesaid preacher and to the honourable Messer Antonio Boldu together. Messer

I will tell you that I came into contact with Christians through the craft I had to work at on Murano, and I had a licence from the Cattaveri to stay outside the Ghetto to work at night upon my trade, for I have a privilege from the government to make glass globes, and the honourable Messer Antonio Boldu got me the licence from the Cattaveri. Many times, over three or four months, did we talk and argue over matters of faith, and since I would not understand what he said about Christianity he took me to a sermon at Santi Giovanni 216


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for more than a year, and resorting to various methods such as prayer and fasting, I besought God to give me the light and grace to understand these difficulties in the Scripture, and hence the Majesty of God inspired and summoned me to the holy Catholic faith by means of holy baptism. I have been baptized for no purpose other than the saving of my soul, and so I wish to persevere to the end, and I will accept death for the faith as readily as any other good fortune, and I hope to be the means of bringing other Jews to the light of the holy Christian faith.

Antonio made me buy a Hebrew book entitled Galatinus, which has been translated from Hebrew into Latin. I used to read that book every day with Messer Antonio, and he explained to me some passages of the greatest importance concerning the advent of the Messiah. On encountering some difficult passage I would visit the Jews in the Ghetto and get them to expound it to me, and so I asked certain learned Levantine Jews whether it was true that the blessed Jesus Christ came as the Messiah. They answered, “Yes, but one cannot see it.” And so, arguing and talking and thinking continually

12.8 Doubting Conversion: The Spanish Inquisition Investigates a Morisco (1622) What did it mean to convert? For many early moderns, religion was more about rituals and traditions than about doctrines. This meant that they might move “officially” from one religion to another if forced to by authorities or circumstances, but they would continue practicing familiar domestic rituals and family traditions rooted in their (different) religious backgrounds. Some authorities, and particularly the Spanish Inquisition, found this unacceptable. Their interrogations and heresy trials often hinged on what dietary preferences, family names, clothing, and language really meant. Source: Investigation of Diego Díaz. In Richard L. Kagan and Abigail Dwyer (Eds. and Trans.), Inquisitorial Inquiries: Brief Lives of Secret Jews and Other Heretics, second edition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), pp. 148–79.

of that town, am fifty years old and a married man.” This was his answer. Asked to say and declare where he was born and where his parents were from, he said, “My parents were born in the town of Daimiel.” This was his answer. Asked to declare if he was descended from Moors or moriscos or from any other bad sect reproved by our Holy Catholic faith, and if on different occasions some people who were disgusted with him had called him “Moor” and this defendant did not respond, make a scene, or defend himself at all, he said, “I deny it. [text missing, trapped in the book binding] No one has said such words to me, nor [illeg.] has there been cause for them. If someone had said this, I would have known to defend myself and would have defended myself, since I do not come from any bad sect of Moors or moriscos or of those reproved [by the Holy Office].” This was his answer.

Confession of Diego Díaz, resident of Belmonte In the city of Cuenca, on the sixth day of the month of November of sixteen hundred twenty-two, Diego Díaz, resident of Belmonte, appears before me, the notary, to give his confession in this case. I received his oath, which he made to God our Lord, to tell the truth regarding all he may be asked. He made his confession as follows: Asked to say and declare what his name was, where he was born, who were his parents, and in what city, town, or place he was baptized, and what, at present, were his employment, age, and [marital] status, he said, “My name is Diego Díaz. I was born in the town of Daimiel and baptized in the parish of Santa María in the same town. I am the legitimate son of Andrés de Solis and Teresa de Torres, who are now dead. At present I live in the town of Belmonte, [where I’ve lived] for the past ten years. I work as a meat-cutter in the butcher shops 217


asked him to lard something, he larded it with olive oil, which is what the Moors do. … Speaking in anger he has sworn to God that no one in Algiers pays any taxes or dues. He should be made to declare how many times he was in Algiers, why he went, if he went with any other person … who he lived and associated with … what kind of clothes he wore, if he spoke with any Christians during his time there, and in what law he told the Moors he lived. Also, living in the Law of Muhammad [—line cut off—] and observances of the Law of Jesus Christ: Therefore, he does not regularly hear Mass on Sundays and feasts of obligation. It is well known that he goes on those days to the butcher shop and that when he comes back, he lies down and does not leave his house until one or later. On some occasions he has told his servants to stay in the house all morning when it is a feast day and that their chores are more important than Mass. If once or twice he has heard Mass, it has been to dissimulate and conceal [his true faith]. Also, on Fridays, vigils, fasts, and other such days of abstinence, he has eaten and ordinarily eats meat. He has also made the others in his household, children and wife, eat it, even though they were all healthy and not ill enough to do so. Being healthy, with malicious intent, on those same days and sometimes at the same meal they ate fish, tuna, cheese, and other things noxious to [one’s] health and even more noxious for [those who are] ill. Also, it is assumed that he never prays Christian prayers and that he has not taught them to his children and does not have a rosary. If he does [have a rosary], I ask that he show it, and that he be made to state whether or not he has taught his children the prayers. Also, he has sheltered certain moriscos in his house, and has shut himself up in a room with them and spoken in an unknown language. I ask that he be made to declare the content of their conversation and whether the language was algarvesia, and if he knows how to speak and understand it, and where he learned it. Also, it is to be assumed that he has performed and performs other ceremonies of the sect of Muhammad, and that he has continued to perform them over the whole course of his life at any time he could without attracting attention. It is also to be presumed that he knows other people who are Moors by caste and in their hearts, and that as his accomplices they have concealed his deeds so that they will not be punished. In particular, it is known that he has concealed a certain person who is related to him whom he knows is an adherent of the aforementioned sect. I accuse him of these deeds.

He was asked to say and declare why, if it was true that he was not descended from moriscos or Moors or from any other bad sect and was not of a bad sect himself, he had participated in and witnessed ceremonies of the moriscos. Why has he not heard Mass on Sundays or festivals of obligation? Why has he eaten meat and fish together on Fridays and fast days, shaved his head, and forbidden lard and pork from touching his stew pot? Why has he cooked his food with oil and said things in foreign languages? Why has he not made sure his children are instructed in Christian doctrine or in reciting the prayers or in using the rosary to this end? He said, “I am a good Christian, fearful of God our Lord and of my conscience. If in the past some things have obliged me to eat meat during fasts, it has been in public and with permission from my doctor and confessor because I was ill with ‘salty phlegm.’ It has not been for any other reason. This past summer I was ill with … a cough for which I was bled twice. When the barber [-surgeon] saw that the bleeding wasn’t working, he told me to shave my head, which I did. This is why I shaved my head, and not for any other reason. I have taught Christian doctrine to my children, as is my duty.” This was his answer. He said it was the truth, by the oath he swore. He did not sign because he does not know how to write. Before me [signed] Baltassar Irigoyen y Alamoria First Prosecutorial Accusation [undated]: I, the prosecutor, put before Your Lordship an accusation against Diego Díaz, meat-cutter, resident of Belmonte. Being a baptized Christian and enjoying the exemptions and prerogatives faithful and Catholic Christians enjoy, he has, without fear of God or of the Justice of this Holy Inquisition, with great scandal to the Christian nation, hereticated himself and apostasized from our holy Catholic faith and evangelical law of Our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. He has crossed over into the perverse sect of Muhammad, the sect to which the ancestors of Diego Díaz adhered and in which they believed and whose ceremonies they conducted, believing that in this sect they would be saved and knowing that it was contrary to our holy Catholic faith. The first accusation is that, in observance of the sect of Mohammed, [Díaz] continually changed his shirt on Friday … He has never eaten pork [tocino] … nor did he allow anyone to boil pork in his pot. And whenever anyone 218


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My wife and children have never changed their shirts on Thursday nights. My wife can sometimes go three weeks without changing her shirt, because she is ill with pain, as my neighbors will attest. Whenever the washerwomen come to the house, I change my shirt without stopping to notice whether it’s Friday or some other day of the week.” … To the Second Charge: He said, “My neighbors will testify to the fact that my wife and children and I have eaten pork from our stew pot, as will María Múñoz, the pork seller.” To the Third Charge: He said, “I don’t recall having said people should go to Algiers, for in Algiers there are neither taxes nor duties, nor having said that I had been there many times. I was in Algiers only once, as I said in my first audience. None of those who went with me to Algiers is currently in Spain. Neither are any of those I saw while I was there. In the six months I spent in Algiers I dressed in Moorish garb in order to get closer to the boats. I asked for work at the docks, which I obtained … I spoke in Algerian with some of the Christians, whose names I don’t know. One said he was from Toledo and the other from Granada. To the Fourth Charge: He said, “I have heard many masses on Sundays and feast days without missing any except for when I was sick and on some days when I had to work, as Father Sanchuelo, Father Hoz, and the sacristan of [the church of] San Francisco in Belmonte, all natives of this city, will tell you …” To the Fifth Charge: He said, “I have eaten meat on some of the prohibited days because of the illness I had. Because I couldn’t eat it, I would ask if there was any fish and they would give me a little and I would eat it with the meat. My wife has been and still is so ill that she can only eat meat, but even so, she never ate it on the prohibited days. Of my children, the oldest is six now and the next one, four. They ate meat sometimes, but I don’t remember when I gave it to them.” To the Sixth Charge: He said, “I never recite any prayers other than the Christian ones. I don’t know any others. I have taught them to my children, and I do have a rosary that I left just now in my jail cell. Every suit of clothes I have has one.” To the Seventh Charge: He said, “The people I spoke to were from Valencia. Since I had lived in the Kingdom of Valencia, I spoke with them in that language. They were very old …” To the Eighth Charge: He said, “I have not committed any crime, neither do I know of any person who has sinned by keeping the Law of Muhammad.”

Also, knowing that what is contained in this accusation is true, and having sworn to tell the truth in all of his audiences, he has not done so. For this he has been gravely warned and [in spite of this] it appears he has said things that bear little resemblance to the truth, such as the statement that he threw himself overboard from a fishing boat to swim to shore in Spain. It is not believable that [an Algerian] fishing boat should be able to get so close to enemy territory. I demand that he declare if he was also a fisherman or for what reason the fishermen brought him in their boat. For all of this I ask and beg Your Lordship to accept my report as true and … well proven, and to accept Diego Díaz as the author of the aforementioned deeds and as a Mohammedizing heretic, pernicious apostate, and fomenter and concealer of other Mohammedizers. For this, may he incur the penalty of excommunication, and may the loss of all his goods go along with this, said goods to be applied to the chamber and treasury of His Majesty. May the person of Diego Díaz be handed over to the secular arm of justice. May he and his descendants incur the prohibitions and other penalties established by law in these kingdoms as the legitimate customs [for dealing with] apostatizing heretics. May these penalties be carried out against his person and his goods with all possible rigor so that he may be punished and may serve as an example to others. Also, if necessary to prove my accusations, I ask that the aforementioned Diego Díaz be tortured, that the torture be applied and withdrawn as many times as is necessary until he has fully confessed to his crimes and the crimes of others. Above all, I ask that justice be done in all things. I swear that I do not enter this accusation out of malice. [signed] Doctor Alonso de Vallejo This accusation was read and shown, under oath and in the proper form, to Diego Díaz and his lawyer. We ask him to respond in truth to the content of the aforementioned accusation, which he has in his possession, to read charge by charge and respond to each of the accusations in turn. To the First Charge: He said, “I’ve been in Belmonte for about ten years, more or less, and haven’t left there unless it was during Lent or for some task associated with my trade. Thursday nights, because that’s when I had to settle accounts with my boss, I put on a good shirt. Friday nights I take it off again because that’s when I have to cut the meat. Sometimes in summer, I change my shirt two or three times in the same week … 219


neck. And then I only [ate meat] with license from the surgeon and barber. I deny having changed my shirt on Fridays for bad reasons. I did so because on those days I don’t work. As for the rest that I have said in my confession, I repeat it here as evidence in my favor … I said in my confession that when I was in Moorish lands they violently and forcibly circumcised me and other moriscos, which they did because they knew we were Christians. What consoled me at that time was knowing that in my soul I had not abandoned the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as I had not. Rather, I suffered. If we had not submitted [to circumcision] they would have killed us. Your Lordship will find that all the witnesses against me disagree [among themselves] or are sole witnesses. They do not agree as to time, place, or circumstances. Many have not ratified their testimony, and therefore their testimony may not be taken as proof. They testify against me because they are my sworn enemies. Because of their hatred for me they have made depositions against the truth. I therefore discount them and contradict their testimony with my oath and the necessary protestations. The only thing that hurts my case is the disgrace of my nation and my ancestors. Most of all, I suspect Antonio Malo and Maria Laguna his wife, who threatened me … because I had a tavern next to theirs. Mine had a good reputation for treating customers well. Theirs had a bad reputation for their bad treatment, which consisted of dispossessing guests of their goods by playing card games with them with marked decks, and swindling them in other ways. His wife drinks. Thus, because they are criminals and because of the aforementioned exception, their witness testimony is invalid. I also suspect Ana, Antonio Malo’s maid, who used to be my maid. Out of hatred and rancor she would speak out against me. While she was still a servant in my house, I went one night to look for her. I found her in the Vrejona House, where they sell aguardiente. There she was, drunk, stretched out on the floor. I threw a jug of water over her to wake her from her stupor. From that day on, she has not returned to my house.”

To the Ninth Charge: He said, “I have told the truth and have not perjured myself. If I had followed and kept the Law of Muhammad I could be in Algiers right now, since it is a land of plenty and full of vice. When I got there, they wanted to marry me off, but because I follow the law of Our Lord Jesus Christ I returned to Spain in a fishing boat …” Defense I, Diego Díaz from the town of Belmonte, prisoner in the jails of this Holy Office, respond to the charges and accusations made by the prosecutor of this Holy Office, which ask that I be punished for saying that I have abandoned the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ and professed the law of the false and perfidious Muhammad, and which state that to this end I have not heard Mass on Sundays or on festivals of obligation, have eaten meat on Fridays and fast days, have changed my shirt on Fridays, and have done other superstitious things in diminution of our holy Catholic faith. To these and all the other things contained in his complaint and accusation I respond: Your Lordship’s servant, I ask that Justice be served by setting me free and condemning my accuser to the cost of my trial, for the following reasons. First, because the lack of information regarding time, place, and specificity of action and other substantive details other than those stated in the complaint and accusation lack any relation to the truth. Thus, I deny them, for they are prejudicial. I affirm what I have already said and stated in my confession, which should count in my favor. As I have said to your Lordship many times, I always go to Mass on Sunday and festivals of obligation and weekdays, when I am able, except for the times I have been ill. Not only have I heard Mass, but I have made many charitable donations to monks and clerics so that they would say masses for my soul, my health, and my success, and I have done other charitable good works as a good and faithful Christian. I deny that I ate meat on Fridays and fast days. If I did, it was only because of the attacks I get of [coughing?] and sores on my head and



L i v i n g Ap a r t T o g e t h e r : J e w s , M u s li m s , a n d C hri s t i a n s

12.9 A Jewish Woman in Germany (late 1600s–early 1700s) Glückel of Hameln (1646–1724) describes how, when she was just a child, the Jewish community of Hamburg was forced out of the city to the suburban town of Altona, 15 minutes away. Many large cities did this to maintain the Christian purity of the area within the walls, while still enjoying the economic advantage of having Jewish merchants and bankers close at hand. Jews needed a permit to enter Hamburg, and the whole community could be fined if violators were discovered. In spite of this, when the Swedes invaded, the Jews rushed to defend Hamburg. Glückel’s text is a rare autobiography by a Jewish woman and merchant and contains moralizing tales, accounts of her business life, and descriptions of interactions between Jews and Christians. Source: Glückel of Hameln, memoir. In Beth-Zion Abrahams (Ed. and Trans.), The Life of Glückel of Hameln: Written by Herself (London: East and West Library, 1962).

often took their life in their hands because of the hatred for the Jews rife among the dockhands, soldiers and others of the meaner classes. The good wife, sitting home, often thanked God when her husband turned up safe and sound. In those days we were hardly forty families all told. No one was very rich, but everyone earned an honest living. Chayim Furst was the richest among us, with a fortune of 10,000 Reichsthalers, then came my father, of blessed memory, with 8000, others followed with 6000, and a few more with 2000. But great love and a close community spirit reigned among them, and in general they all enjoyed a better life than the richest man today. If a man were worth only 500 Reichsthalers, he could well be satisfied; and everyone was happier with whatever he had than nowadays when even the rich can never get enough. Of them, indeed, it is said: none dies seeing the half of his wishes fulfilled. As for my father, no man had a greater trust in God; and if it hadn’t been for the gout, he would have further increased his fortune. But, as it was, he was able to set up his children in a decent respectable style. When I was about ten years old, war broke out between the Swedes and the King of Denmark, God heighten his fame! There is little new I can tell of it, for I was still a child and forced to remain at my studies. I do remember we had the coldest winter known for fifty years; and it was called the “Swedish winter” because, everything being frozen, the Swedes overran the country. Once, on a Sabbath, the alarm went forth: “The Swedes are coming!” It was early in the morning and everyone was still asleep. We leaped from our beds, nebbich, and ran fairly named all the way to Hamburg, where we took up posts of defense, some with the Sephardim and some with the Christian burghers.

My good mother brought me into the world, the year of Creation 5407 [1646–47], in this city of Hamburg. Even if our sages say, “it is better not to be born,” meaning that men have so much to endure in this sinful world, still I thank and praise my Creator that He made me according to His will and beg Him to take me under His holy charge. My father gave his children, girls and boys, a secular as well as a religious education. And whoever came hungry to my father’s house went forth fed and satisfied. Before I was three years old, the German Jews, I am told, were all driven out of Hamburg. Thereupon they settled in Altona which belonged to the King of Denmark, who readily gave them letters of protection. This city of Altona lies barely a quarter of an hour from Hamburg. About twenty-five Jewish families were previously settled in Altona, where we had our synagogue and cemetery. After we newcomers had remained there for some time, we finally succeeded with great difficulty in persuading the authorities of Hamburg to grant passes to Altona Jews, so we might enter and do business in that city. Such a pass was valid for four weeks, it was issued by the burgomaster and cost one ducat; when it expired another had to be procured in its stead. However, if you got to know the burgomaster or his officials, the old pass might be renewed for a second four weeks. This meant, God knows, a great hardship for our people, for all their business lay in Hamburg. Naturally, many a poor and needy wretch would try and slip into the city without a pass. If the officials caught him, he was thrust into prison, and then it cost all of us money and trouble to get him out again. In the early dawn, as soon as our folks were out of synagogue, they went down to Hamburg, and towards evening, when the gates were closed, back they came to Altona. Coming home, our poor folks 221


that we may serve Him with all our heart and once more offer our prayers in the holy Temple in the holy city of Jerusalem! Amen. So the Jews, as I said, dwelt in Hamburg, and my father dealt in precious stones and other wares like a Jew who knows how to turn everything to account. The war between Denmark and Sweden continued to increase in violence. Luck lay with the Swedes; they despoiled the Danish king of all his possessions, and advanced on Copenhagen, besieged it, and were like to capture it. But the Danish king withstood the siege, thanks to the loyalty of his counselors and subjects, who stood by him through thick and thin. Moreover he enjoyed the aid of the Almighty, for he was a righteous God-fearing king who had always dealt kindly with us Jews. Although we lived in Hamburg, each of us had only to pay his six Reichsthalers tax to the king, and we were quits. Later, the Dutch rushed to the support of the Danes. Their ships sailed up the sound, the backbone of the war was broken and peace ensued. But Denmark and Sweden have never been on good terms, and even when they declared themselves friends and allies, one is always ready to pick a bone with the other.

In this way we remained in the city a short while without permission. Finally, my good father was able to arrange matters, and he was the first German Jew allowed to resettle in Hamburg. Others followed suit, and soon almost all were back in Hamburg again. Those who had always lived in Altona continued, of course, to stay there. Government taxes were light in those days, and everyone regulated his own settlement. But we had no synagogue and no right of residence; we dwelt in Hamburg purely at the mercy and favour of the Town Council. Yet somehow the German Jews managed to come together and hold prayers in private houses, as best they could. If the Council got wind of it, at least they winked at the matter. But when the clergy discovered it, they became intolerant and drove us forth, and then like timid sheep we had to betake ourselves to the synagogue in Altona. This lasted a good while, till we crept back to our little Hamburg prayer-rooms. So from time to time we enjoyed peace, and again were hunted forth; and so it had been to this day and, I fear, will continue in like fashion as long as the burghers rule Hamburg. May the Lord, in the abundance of His mercy and loving kindness, have compassion on us and send us His righteous Messiah, so

12.10 Targeting Refugees: The Dutch Threat to London (1593) Dutch refugees and migrants flooded into England in the later sixteenth century. While initially welcomed, they became the target for English anxieties. This anonymous poem, posted in 1593 on a church reserved for Dutch Protestants, voices complaints still heard today: Migrants are frauds and thieves who steal jobs and goods, cram together into houses, bribe officials to ignore illegal behavior, lie about religious persecution, and threaten the local traditional way of life. Source: “Dutch Church Libel” (1593). In Arthur Freeman, “Marlowe, Kyd, and the Dutch Church Libel,” English Literary Renaissance 3 (1973): 50–51.

The Dutch Church Libel

The Marchant doth ingross all kinde of wares Forestall’s the markets, whereso’ere he goe’s Sends forth his wares, by Pedlers to the faires, Retayl’s at home, & with his horrible showes: Undoeth thowsands In Baskets your wares trott up & downe Carried the streets by the country nation, You are intelligencers to the state & crowne And in your hartes doe with an alteracion, You transport goods, & bring us gawds good store

Ye strangers yt doe inhabite in this lande Note this same writing doe it understand Conceit it well for savegard of your lyves Your goods, your children & your dearest wives You Machiavellion Marchant spoyles the state, Your usery doth leave us all for deade Your Artifex, & craftesmen works our fate, And like the Jewes, you eate us up as bread 222


L i v i n g Ap a r t T o g e t h e r : J e w s , M u s li m s , a n d C hri s t i a n s

Since words nor threats not any other thinge canne make you to avoyd this certaine ill Weele cut your throtes, in your temples praying Not paris massacre so much blood did spill As we will doe iust vengeance on you all In counterfeiting religion for your flight When ’t’is well knowne, you are loth, for to be thrall your coyne, & you as countryes cause to flight With Spanish gold, you all are infected And with yt gould our Nobles wink at feats Nobles said I? nay men to be rejected, Upstarts yt enjoy the noblest seats That wound their Countries brest, for lucres sake And wrong our gracious Queene & Subjects good By letting strangers make our harts to ake For which our swords are whet, to sheed their blood And for a truth let it be understood Fly, Flye, & never returne. Per. Tamberlaine.

Our Leade, our Vitaille, our Ordenance what nott That Egypts plagues, vext not the Egyptians more Than you doe us; then death shall be your lotte Now prize comes in but you make claime therto And every merchant hath three trades at least And Cutthroate like in selling you undoe us all, & with out store continually you feast: We cannot suffer long. Our pore artificers doe starve & dye For yt they cannot now be sett on worke And for your worke more curious to the ey[.] In Chambers, twenty in one house will lurke, Raysing of rents, was never knowne before Living farre better than at native home And our poore soules, are cleane thrust out of dore And to the warres are sent abroad to rome, To fight it out for Fraunce & Belgia, And dy like dogges as sacrifice for you Expect you therefore such a fatall day Shortly on you, & yours for to ensewe: as never was seene.

12.11 Observing the Ottomans in Istanbul (1562) Fear and fascination marked European attitudes toward the Turks. One of the few who got a privileged look inside the Ottoman Empire was Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq (1522–92), ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor to Suleiman the Magnificent from 1555–62. Busbecq’s letters on his experiences opened a rare window onto Ottoman politics, religion, life, social relations, and military strategy. He contrasted Ottoman order, discipline, and meritocracy with Europe’s many divisions and its nobility’s fixation with blood and class over personal worth and effort. Source: Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, letters (1562). In Edward Seymour Forster (Trans.), The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, Imperial Ambassador at Constantinople, 1554–1562 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1927), pp. 34–42 and 231–43.

done away with, and that only the central shrine of the church remains. As for the site of the city itself, it seems to have been created by nature for the capital of the world. It stands in Europe but looks out over Asia, and has Egypt and Africa on its right. Although these latter are not near, yet they are linked to the city owing to ease of communication by sea. On the left lie the Black Sea and the Sea of Azof, round which many nations dwell and into which many rivers flow on all sides, so that nothing useful to

My first desire was to visit the church of St. Sophia, admission to which was only granted as a special favour; for the Turks hold that the entrance of a Christian profanes their places of worship. It is indeed a magnificent mass of buildings and well worth a visit, with its huge vault or dome in the middle and lighted only by an open space at the top. Almost all the Turkish mosques are modelled upon St. Sophia. They say that formerly it was much larger and that its subsidiary buildings spread over a large area but have now been 223


remarkable columns are also to be seen in the city. One of them stands in the neighbourhood of the caravanserai where we lodged, the other in the market which the Turks call Avret-Bazar, that is, the Women’s Market. … At Constantinople I saw wild beasts of various kinds— lynxes, wild cats, panthers, leopards, and lions. One of these was so well broken in and tamed that it allowed the keeper before my eyes to pull out of its mouth a sheep, which had just been given to it to eat, and remained quite calm, though its jaws had barely tasted blood. I also saw a quite young elephant which greatly amused me, because it could dance and play ball.… There had been a camelopard (giraffe) among the animals at Constantinople, but it had died just before my arrival. But I had its bones, which had been buried, dug up for my inspection. This animal is much taller in front than behind; it is, therefore, ill adapted for carrying a rider or a load. It is called a camelopard because it has a head and neck like a camel’s and a skin covered with spots like a leopard’s. … The land which discovered all the arts and all liberal learning seems to demand back the civilization which she has transmitted to us and to implore our aid, in the name of our common faith, against savage barbarism. But all in vain; for the lords of Christendom have their minds set on other objects. The grievous bonds wherewith the Turks oppress the Greeks are no worse than the vices which hold us in thrall—luxury, gluttony, pride, ambition, avarice, hatred, envy, and jealousy. By these our hearts are so weighed down and stifled that they cannot look up to heaven, or harbour any noble thought or aspire to any great achievement. Our religion and our sense of duty ought to have urged us to help our afflicted brethren … As it is, we seek the Indies and the Antipodes over vast fields of ocean, because there the booty and spoil is richer and can be wrung from the ignorant and guileless natives without the expenditure of a drop of blood. Religion is the pretext, gold the real object.

man is produced through the length and breadth of these countries which cannot be transported by sea to Constantinople with the utmost ease. On one side the city is washed by the Sea of Marmora; on another side a harbour is formed by a river which Strabo calls, from its shape, the Golden Horn. On the third side it is joined to the mainland, and thus resembles a peninsula or promontory running out with the sea on one side, on the other the bay formed by the sea and the above-mentioned river. From the centre of Constantinople there is a charming view over the sea and the Asiatic Olympus, white with eternal snow. The sea is everywhere full of fish.… The fishermen are usually Greeks rather than Turks. The latter, however, do not despise fish when they are placed before them, provided they are of the kind which they regard as clean; they would sooner take deadly poison than eat the other kinds. I may mention in passing that a Turk would rather have his tongue cut out or his teeth drawn than taste any food which he looks upon as unclean—frogs, for example, and snails and tortoises. The Greeks entertain similar scruples.… At the end of the promontory, which I have mentioned, is the Palace of the Sultans, which, as far as I can judge (for I have not yet myself entered it), is not remarkable for the splendour of its architecture or decoration. Beneath the Palace, on lower ground, stretching right down to the sea, lie the Imperial Gardens. It is usually held that the ancient Byzantium lay in this quarter. … No place could be more beautiful or more conveniently situated. As I have already said, you will look in vain for elegant buildings in Turkish cities, nor are the streets fine, being so narrow as to preclude any pleasing appearance. In many places there are remarkable remains of ancient monuments, though one cannot help wondering why so few have survived, when one considers the number which were brought by Constantine from Rome.… In the space occupied by the ancient Hippodrome two serpents of bronze are to be seen, also a fine obelisk. Two

Frankfurt, December 16, 1562.



L i v i n g Ap a r t T o g e t h e r : J e w s , M u s li m s , a n d C hri s t i a n s

12.12 In Awe and Fear of “The Great Turk” (1601) Europeans commonly personified the entire Ottoman Empire and its Sultan as “The Great Turke,” conveniently merging state and ruler in a way that emphasized how strange and fearful they found it. Giovanni Botero’s (1540–1617) discussion of the “greatness” and wealth of the Turkish Empire shows how Europeans were alternately awed and appalled by the paradox that Christian Europe’s most formidable enemy had a government and military made up of Christian converts—renegades (adult converts) and the levy of Christian children taken to Istanbul and raised as Muslims. Source: Giovanni Botero, An Historical Description of the Most Famous Kingdoms and Commonweales in the World, translated by Robert Johnson (London, 1601).

more than seven hundred thousand persons, which if it be true, it is twice as much as may be said of Paris. Aleppo is a great citie in Syria, and the staple of the whol traffique of Asia. Tauris was the seate of the kings of Persia, but taken from them in our days, and thought to containe more than two hundred thousand persons. Amongst all the cities of Afrike, Cair by many degrees may challenge the principallity, though some men compare Cano to it for greatnes. This citie may well be called the garner, not only of Egypt, but of the greater part of Afrike and India, whose treasures being conveyed, first by the red sea, and from thence over-land to Cair upon the backs of camels, are at length disstributed through all the regions of the Mediterranean sea. This Empire from small beginnings hath risen to such greatnes, partly by their owne armes, partly by the discords of the Christians, that at this day it is the only terror of the Christian commonwealth. Since those beginnings it hath been their hereditarie practise to stande upon their guard to prevent their enimies; in their journeys to use admirable celeritie; to keepe their forces readie, and at hand; not to have many irons at one time in the fire; not long to manage war with any one nation, lest by practise they become better warriors than themselves, not to spend their time and treasuere in voyages of base acount; nor at one cast to set at all, but to proccede leisurely and advisedly, and, which is not the least policie amongst many, that their princes march in person in most of their journeys. Divers other lessons they observe, by which in the space of 300 yeares they have attained unto a most mightie dominion; and that too, since the yeare 1500 to this day, they have almost doubled. The government is meerely tyrannicall: for the great Turke is so absolute a Lord of all thinges contained within the boundes of his dommions that the inhabitants do account themselves his slaves, not his subjects:

Under the Empire of the Turke is comprehended the better Part of the ancient threefold division of the earth. He holdeth in Europe the whole sea coast, which from the borders of Epidaurus stretched it selfe to the mouth of Tanais. What so ever lieth betweene Buda and Constantinople, and from the Euxine sea to the banks of Savus, is his. In that perambulation is contained the greater part of Hungarie in all Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedon, Epire, Greece, Peloponnese, Thrace, and the Archipelago with the Hands He holdeth in Asia and Afrike all that is betweene Velez de la Gomera and Alexandria in Egypt, betweene Bugia and Guargula, betweene Alexandria and the citie Siene, and from the Cittie Suez as farre as Swachen. The hugeness of this territorie may be immagined by the circuit of some of the parcels: Palus Mcotis (wholly his) spreadeth it selfe one thousand miles into the land: two thousand and seven hundred miles do hardly incompasse the Euxine sea. The coast of the Mediterranean sea (as much as is subject to him) containeth in circuit 8000 miles. Egypt, wholly his, is esteemed five hundred miles long. From Tautis to Buda is 3000 and 200 miles: so farte [sarte?] from Derbent uppon the Caspian sea to Aden upon the red sea, and from Balsara upon the persian gulfe, to Tremissen in Barbarie, is accounted little lesse than 4000 miles. In the sea, he is lord of the most noble Islands of Ciprus, Eubea, Rhods, Samos, Chio, Losbos, and many other in the Archipelago. In this progresse are contained many most puissant kingdoms, abounding with all sorts of sustinance for the use of man. For what provinces are richer in crone [corne?] then Egypt, Afrike, Syria and Asia? What region more flowing with all good things then Hungarie, Greece and Thrace? In these provinces he hath fower cities of inestimable wealth, Constantinople, Cair, Aleppo and Tauris. Constantinople exceedeth all the cities in Europe in populousnes, for it is thought that there are therein 225


of theyr parents, and delivered to the training of this or that schoomaster, are made Mahumetans before they preceive it, and so by reason of their young yeares forgetting their father and mother, depende wholy upon the pleasure of the Grand-Seignior, yeelding him all dutifull and acceptable service, as their maintainer and advancer to honor and riches. His forces consist in horsemen, footmen, shipping, Corne and treasure. As touching his treausre, it is generally received, that he enioyeth little lesse then eight millions of ordinarie revenue. And where some men thinke, that out of so large a dominion a greater revenue may be raised, therein they deceive themselves, in not calling to remembrance, that the nation give their minds to nothing but to war, not take care of any thing, but provision of armour …

no man is master of himselfe, much lesse of his house wherein he dwelleth, or of the field which he tilleth, excepting certaine families in Constantinople, to whom for some good service, immunity was granted by Mahumet the seconde. Neither any man be he never so great, standeth secure of his life, his goods or estate, longer then Dureante beneplacito of the grand Seignior. By two pollicies he establisheth this tyrannicall government; first by disturnishing the people of weapons; secondly by putting all commands into the hands of renegados, whom hee taketh as tithe from their parents in their childhood. By this subtilty he gleaneth the provinces of the flower and sinews of their strength (for the likeliest and ablest springals are chosen:) and secondlie, with the same meanes he armeth himselfe and secureth his estate. For these young lads being taken from the laps

12.13 Allowing the Jews to Return to England (1649) This document is a 1648 petition requesting that the new English republican government of Oliver Cromwell reverse the order expelling the Jews from England. The expulsion had been one of Europe’s first, dating to 1290 and King Edward I, and it was finally overturned in 1656. While Jews had been “officially” expelled, a handful lived in London, and England was generally more tolerant of Judaism than other European countries, such as Spain, during the early modern period. Source: John Cartwright, The Petition of the Jews for the Repealing of the Act of Parliament for Their Banishment out of England (London, 1649).

The Petition of the Jewes

great Massacre of them, in the Reign of Richard the second, King of this Land, and their banishment ever since, with the penalty of death to be inflicted upon any of their return into this Land, that by discourse with them, and serious perusal of the Prophets, both they and we find, that the time of hereall draweth nigh. Whereby they together with us, shall come to know the Emanuell, the Lord of life, light, and glory, even as we are now known of him. And that this Nation of England, with the Inhabitants of the Nether-lands, shall be the first and readiest to transport Izraells Sons & Daughters in their Ships to the Land promised to their fore-Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for an everlasting Inheritance. For the glorious manisfestation whereof, and pyous meanes thereunto, your Petitioners humbly pray that the inhumane cruel Statute of banishment made against them, may be repealed, and they under the Christian

For the Repealing of the Act of Parliament for their banishment out of England. Presented to his Excellency and the generall Councell of Officers on Fryday Jan. 5, 1648. With their favourable acceptance thereof. Humbly sheweth, That your Petitioners being conversant in that City, with amongst some of Izraell’s race, called Jewes, and growing sensible of their heavy out-cryes and clamours against the intolerable cruelty of this our English Nation, exercised against them by that (and other) inhumane exceeding 226


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(Christ Jesus.) For the glorious accomplishing whereof, your Petitioners do, and shall ever addresse themselves to the true Peace, and pray, &c.

banner of charity, and brotherly love, may again be recieved and permitted to trade and dwell amongst you in this Land, as now they do in the Nether-lands. By which act of mercy, your Petitioners are assured of the wrath of God, will be much appeased towards you, for their innocent blood shed, and they thereby dayly enlightened in the saving knowledge of him, for whom they look dayly and expect as their King of [e]ternall glory, and both their and our Lord God of Salvation

This Petition was presented to the generall Councell of the Officers of the Army, under the Command of his Excellencey, Thomas Lord Fairfax, at White-Hall, on Jan. 5. And favourably recieved with a promise to take it into speedy consideration, when the present more publik affaires are dispatched.

Figure 12.2  The Wandering Jew (1640) This image and the corresponding lyrics illustrate the old myth that Jews as a people were condemned to wander the earth as a punishment for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This was used to justify the regular expulsions of Jewish populations by European towns and territories from the late medieval to the early modern period. 227


12.14 Toleration—Or Conversion? (c. 1650) England had been among the first nations to expel the Jews as a group in 1290. Moses Wall here translates a book published by a Jewish refugee rabbi in Amsterdam to help make the case for allowing Jews to resettle in England. While thinly veiled economic and political reasons were paramount, British Christians could reassure themselves that the fundamental reason for accepting Jews into Christian England was so that they could convert to the true faith of Protestant Christianity. Source: Moses Wall, The Hope of Israel (London, 1652).

wretched Generation is unworthy of the name of Men, much more of Christians) yet will unthankfully cry out, What have we got by all these troubles? and what hath been done? surely this Jew shall rise up in judgement against such unchristian Christians; for he in his Epistle Dedicatory says, The whole world stands amazed at what the Parliament hath done; besides he cordially and openly owns the Parliament, who as far as I know never did him nor his Nation any further good then to pray for them; (though we hope, and pray, that their favour may extend to realities, towards that people, to whome certainly God hath made many, and great Promises, and shortly will give answerable performances:) but many among us who injoy peace under them, and many other blessings, (too many for an unthankful Generation) doe refuse to acknowledge them, doe curse them whom God hath blessed, and even in their prayers to that God who cannot be deceived, or imposed upon; doe vent themselves against this present Government, in expressions so wilde and false, that such Language would be accounted most unworthy, in our addresse to any considerable person, much more then to the great God. I shall only adde this, sc. Do not think that I aime by this Translation, to propagate or commend Iudaisme (which its no wonder if the Author doth so much favour, especially in his thirtieth section) no, through Grace I have better learned the truth, as it is in Jesus, but to give some discovery of what apprehensions, and workings there are at this day in the hearts of the Jewes; and to remove our sinfull hatred from off that people, whose are the Promises, and who are beloved for their Fathers sakes; and who of Jewes, we shall hear to be, ere long, reall Christians.

This discourse of a Jew comming to my hand, and having perused it, I thought it not inconvenient to make it speake English; for the benefit of my Country-men, who wait for redemption of Izrael; and at the same time of the Gentiles also. That the Author is a Jew, ought to be no scandal to us (though some of Christian Gentiles are ignorant of, and scandalized at the notion of the conversion of the Jewes, as the Jewes of old were, concerning our being converted, and grafted into the true Stock, as in Acts 11.3.) for though God hath reflected them, yet not for ever: Rom. 11.25, 26. And also the many prophesies both in the Old, and New Testament, which concern their being received againe to grace, gathered from this dispersion, and settled in their own Land; and their flourishing estate under, now our, and then their and our Prince, Jesus Christ the Messiah, who will then triumph gloriously, and all his people with him; these and many more Promises would want a fulfilling (which the God of Truth will never suffer) if there should not be the revolution of a time, in which they shall be converted, and grace and peace be poured out upon Jewes and Gentiles; though first upon the Jew, then the Gentile. But besides this, the Author expresseth so much learning that he deserveth honour of all; so much ingenuity, and (so far as his light reacheth) so great a measure of the knowledge and fear of God, that he may wel be set for a pattern to us Christians, who profes much better than he, but live much worse. One thing is very remarkable in him, that wheras many of us (like them who canot see Wood for Trees) though inviorned with mercies in these late revolutions, (I speake not to them who measure mercies only, or chiefly, by plentiful tables, full purses, rich accouterments, and the like; that



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12.15 The Jewish Community in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612) Antonio de Sosa was a Catholic priest who spent time in Algiers and wrote a fascinating description of how Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived and interacted in this fast-growing port city that was the center of Mediterranean piracy and slaveholding. Source: Antonio de Sosa, Topography of Algiers (1612). In Maria Antonia Garcés (Ed.), An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612), translated by Diana de Armas Wilson (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 181–83.

Each year the Jews pay a tribute of fifteen hundred doblas to the king, which equals six hundred escudos of gold, but this is nothing compared to what the rulers extort from them every day, because for the slightest complaint or on a slender occasion, they skin them alive and fleece them of whatever they have by making them pay fines. To collect the tribute that they pay yearly to the king—which expense is shared by all according to what they have—and to speak for all and compose agreements for their whole nation, the Jews tend to elect certain leading figures, who are like counselors. They also elect another Jew to head them all, whom the king confirms and whom they call a caciz. The Jews are so ill-treated by all Turks, Moors, and Christians, that it is something incredible to see. When coming upon a Jew, even a prominent one, a small Moorish boy will make him remove his skullcap from his head and take off his slippers, which the boy will use to slap his face a thousand times, and the Jew will not dare to move or defend himself, having no remedy but to flee. In the same way, if a Christian encounters a Jew on a street, he will give him a thousand slaps on the neck, and if the Jew tries to hit the Christian back and is seen by some Moor or Turk, they will favor the Christian, even though he be a vile slave. And they will scream at him to kill that “dog” of a Jew—regarding this as his just deserts and unremitting penance for the great sin and obstinacy of his tribe. And for this very reason, many Jews turn Turk every day, and among them there are some very wealthy men. But none can remain Moor or Turk for many years, since they cannot envision being good Muslims or believing in the law of Muhammad. They are as much Jewish in one manner as another. The dress of the Jews is always the same, since they all wear wide linen trousers and shirts; a long black smock, resembling a cassock, that falls below the knee; and a kind

The third kind of inhabitants or neighbors of Algiers are Jews, who have three origins: some come from Spain, others from the island of Mallorca or from the Balearic Islands, and others are natives of the lands of Africa. They all make a living in trade (as is their custom everywhere). Many keep shops of haberdashery in which they sell notions of every kind. Some are peddlers, selling the same goods in the streets from baskets and boxes hung from their arms, and loudly advertising their wares to possible buyers. There are Jews who are tailors, workers of coral, or venders of oil and soaps. Many Jews buy clothing and other items that the corsairs have robbed, and they sell them back to Christian merchants, making a good profit. … Jews make up the majority of the silversmiths of Algiers, because very few are renegades and none are Moors. In the same way, Jews alone mint the coins of gold, silver, and bronze, since they are in charge of the Treasury, where they engage in great deceits and falsehoods, counterfeiting money or mixing quantities of copper to coin it into an alloy. And because no investigations are made into this, an infinite number of false coins of every kind may be found in Algiers, all of its kingdoms and provinces, and those of its neighbors. Some Jews teach their children to read Hebrew and write in Arabic, but none is truly learned or experienced in writing. As for their Jewish dreams and ceremonies, all are very ignorant and greatly obstinate. I can attest to this, having debated with some of them not infrequently. The Jews are dispersed across two neighborhoods that contain some 150 houses. Both neighborhoods feature a synagogue where Jews congregate on Saturdays and celebrate their holy days with great observance. Every day many of them go there to pray, and they intone many of their Psalms aloud in Hebrew.



of black or sometimes white burnus over all this. Those Jews who come from Spanish lands wear round berets of Toledo needlework. Those of Mallorcan, French, or Italian extraction wear something like half-sleeves of black wool, a part of which fits over the head and the other part hangs beneath the back of the head. And those Jews from Africa and Soria wear a white linen circlet wrapped around their heads over a red or quilted cap, covering their entire necks not unlike the style of Moors, except that they must exhibit the front of their heads, with hair falling to almost the middle of their foreheads, which identifies them as Jews. Those who come from Constan-

tinople and Turkey wear turbans on their heads, as is the custom there, of some very fine fabrics marked with the color yellow. Some Jews wear tmak, or boots, but they must be black ones, as no Jew is allowed to wear shoes of any kind or color, although they all wear slippers. Although some Jews are wealthy, they largely live in great poverty, and they always smell of goat, the same as their houses. They maintain their slaughter houses apart from the rest because, in keeping with their Jewish ceremonies and superstitions, they will not eat the meat of an animal killed by a Moor or Christian, as do other Algerians.

Reading Questions 1. Religion was a touch point for all early modern people, and the quickest way for them to distinguish those whom they identified—and sometimes feared—as different. What kinds of rules did they use to contain the “threat” of those who practiced other religions, and how did these people respond? 2. Religion was thoroughly wrapped up in the details of daily life—the foods people ate, the clothes they wore, and the names they gave their children. Where do we see this in these readings, and why were these rituals and traditions so important? How did this give men and women distinct roles in preserving religious identity? 3. European Muslims could appeal to rulers in the Ottoman Empire or North Africa for help against persecution, but European Jews had no such powerful rulers to call on. How does this change the ways in which Jews defended their communities and practices? 4. Many religious refugees were created by the fears and pogroms of the early modern period. What happened when the differences were not religious, but national, as in the Dutch Church Libel?



Other Worlds: Migration and Emigration Early modern Europeans moved across the globe on voyages of exploration, trade, and conquest. Our early accounts of settlement in Asia and in the Americas offer contrasts between those areas where Europeans considered themselves quite inferior and others where they considered themselves distinctly superior. They treated others as property, particularly black Africans and Central Asian Circassians, but resented it deeply when others, like the Barbary privateers and pirates, treated them in the same ways. Since few Europeans wished to make the long and uncertain voyage overseas, they made the most of a few very optimistic and propagandistic accounts to draw in settlers. Europeans were painfully aware of how Chinese, Indian, and Turkish societies seemed to be better at recognizing and rewarding individual value and achievement, to the benefit of all inhabitants. They aimed to draw in more colonists, though as the letters of a woman from New Spain show, this could be a very hard sell. The harrowing experience of the young black nobleman Job shows that Europeans often had a hard time acknowledging the political and social structures of other cultures.

13.1 Black and White Enslaved Peoples in Africa (1600) This selection is from a 1600 edition of A Geographical History of Africa by Leo Africanus. The young Muslim diplomat known as al-Hasan al-Wazan was captured in 1518 by Christians, forcibly converted, and baptized by Pope Leo X (hence his Christian name) before disappearing (possibly back to North Africa) in 1527. This passage could not have been written by al-Hasan al-Wazan, but it shows how his authority as an “insider” was long used to sell books on Africa in England. The text compares enslaved blacks on Portuguese plantations with enslaved whites on the Barbary coast, emphasizing the cruel treatment of the latter while remaining silent on the worse treatment given to the former. It also fails to note that while white slaves on the Barbary coast could earn their release, black slaves in European colonies were condemned to slavery until death. Source: Leo Africanus, A Geographical History of Africa (London: G. Bishop, 1600).



labours: being bound to bring in so much every day to their masters, and they themselves in liue of the rest, which many times is nothing at all, or (if it were possible) lesse then nothing. They have alwaies the chaine at their neckes and feete, being naked winter and sommer, and therefore are sometimes scorched with heate, and otherwhiles frozen with cold. They must not faile in any iotte of their duties, and yet though they do not, it can not be expressed with that cruelties they are tormented. They use for the chastizing and torture of their bodies, chaines or iron, dried sinewes of oxen, but-hoops steeped in water, boiling oile, melted tallow, and scalding hot lard. The houses of those Barbarians resound againe, with the blowes that are given these miserable men, on the feete and bellie: and the prisons are filled with hideous lamentations and yellings. Their companions haire at this noise standes an end, and their blood freezeth within them, by cinsidering how neere themselves are to the like outrages. They passe the nights in prisons, or in some caves of the earth, being hampered and yoaked together like brute beasts. Heere the vapor and dampe choaketh them, and the uncleannes and filth of their lodging consumeth them (as rust doth iron) even alive. But though the labours of their bodies be so grievous, yet those of their minds are much more intolerable, for (besides that they want such as might feed them with the word of God, and with the sacraments, and might teach them how to live and die well, so as they remaine like plants without moisture) it can not be expressed, with what forcible temptations their faith is continuallie assailed. For not onelie the desire to comeforrth of these unspeakable miseries, doth tempt them; but the commodities and delights also wherein they see others to live, that have damnablie renounced their Christianity. The persecutors of the primitive church, to induce the Martyrs denie Christ and so sacrifice to their idols, tried them first with torments, and then with case and delights, which they propounded unto them, if they would become as themselves. For to those, who in the middest of winter were throwne into frozen lakes, there were cottarwise appointed soft and delicate beds, with a fire kindled hard by, and a thousand other restoratives and comforts; to the end they might be doublie tempted, both by the rigour of the cold which benummed them, and by the sweetness of thinges comfortable and nourishing, which allured them. The Christian slaves are at this day no lesse tormented; for on the oneside, they are afflicted with the beggerie, nakedness, hunger, famine, blowes, reproches, and tortures, without any hope in a manner ever to come out thereof: and on the other side they see them that have

Of the Negros. Most of the Islands inhabited by the Portugals, especially those of Saint Thomas and Madera, besides the Portugals themselves, containe a great multitude of Negro-slaves, brought thither out of Congo and Angola, who till the earth, water the sugar-canes, and serve both in the cities, and in the countrie. These are for the most part gentiles, but they are daily converted rather through continual conversation, then any other helpe that they have; and it is a matter of likelie, that in processe of some few yeeres, they will all become Christians. There is no greater hinderance to their conversion, then the avarice of their masters, who, to hold them in the more subiection, are not willing that they should become Christians. Of the poore distressed European Christians in Africa, who are holden as slaves unto the Turkes and Moors. But the best and most sincere Christianity in all Africa, is that of those poore-Christians, who are fettered by the feet with chains, being slaves to the Arabians and Turkes. For besides them that have remained there ever since the daies of Barbarossa and other Turkish captaines (which were brought into the mediterran seas by the French) … there passeth not a yeere, but the rovers and pirates of those parts, without graunting any league or respite to the Northern shore of the Mediterran sea, take great numbers of Christians from off the coasts of Spaine, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicilia, yea even from the very mouth of Tyber. It is generallie thought, that the number of slaves, which are in Alger amount to eighteene thousand. In Tunis, Bon, and Biserta there are great multitudes: but many more in Fez, and Maroco; as likewise in Mequenez and Tarodant, and in divers other cities of those kingdomes. The estate surely of these distressed people is most woorthie of compassion, not so much for the miserie wherein they lead their lives, as for the danger whereto their soules are subject. They passe the day in continuall travaile, and the greatest part of the night without repose or quiet, under insupportable burdens, and cruell stripes. Beasts among us labour not more, nor are more slavishly intreated. Yea, albeit under those brutish Barbarians, they endure all that toile, which beasts do here with us: yet are they neither so well fed, nor so carefully looked unto, as our beasts commonly are. They weare out the whole day in the sunne, raine, and winde, in continuall labour, sometimes carrying burdens, sometimes digging or ploughing the fields, and otherwhiles in turning of hand-milles; feeding of beasts, or in performance of other 232

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orable orders, whose exercise it is, to moove and sollicite for the freedome of captives. The one is called La orden de la Merced, and it flourisheth most in Aragon; and the other (which is farre greater) in named Del Resgate or of raunsome or redemption, the which although it largely extendeth over all France, yet at this day above all other places, it is most ride in Castilia. From whence some of them have gone into Sicilie, to the kingdome of Naples, and to Rome: and have there begun to lay foundations of their convents. These two religious orders gather every yeere mightie summes of money, wherewith they make speedie redemption of the forsaid captives. They send their Agents to Fez, and to Alger, who managing this affaire, with no lesse diligence, them loialtie, redeeme first

reneged our holy faith for Mahumets superstition, to live in all worldly prosperitie and delight, to abound with wealth, to flourish in honour, to governe cities, to conduct armies, and to enjoy most ample libertie. But amidst all these so great miseries, they have a double comfort. The one is of priests, who together with themselves were taken captive. These men sometimes administring the sacraments, and other whiles delivering the word of God in the best menner that they can, are some helpe and assistance to others, being for this greatly reverenced and respected amongst them. The other is of the religious in generall, who contend and labour for their freedome. Wherein Spaine deservith most high commendation. For there be two most hon-

Figure 13.1  King of Kongo Giving Audience to the Portuguese and His Subjects (1400s) This engraving shows the balance of power in the Kongo in the early period of Kongolese– Portuguese relations. The Portuguese trader–explorers bow and prostrate themselves before the Kongolese king, who is here depicted with symbols of monarchical rule recognizable to a European audience. 233


so redeemed, are set free both from the one and from the other. Whereupon there are very few borne in Spain, who dying, leave not some almes behinde them, for the ransoming of slaves. The fathers of redemption have gone also many times to Constantinople: where in the yeere 1583 by the order of Pope Gregorie the thirteenth, they redeemed five hundred persons. The brotherhood also of the Gonfalone in Rome, labour verie diligently in this point, who in Sixtus Quintus’ time, redeemed a great number of captives. Of whom many also, urged partly by the hardness of servitude, and partly by the sweetness of libertie, free themselves, either by that which they gaine over and above their masters due, or by their good demeanour, or else by flight. And they flie awaie, sometimes by repairing speedily to such fortresses as the king of Spaine hath in Africke and in Barbarie: and otherwhiles they seize on some shipping, or on the selfe same galleies wherein they are chained. Many also retire themselves to the Prince of Brisch, etc. who willingly receive and arme them, using their assistance in the warre which they continually make with the Turkes of Alger.

all the religious, and priests, and after them those of the younger sort, first the king of Spaines subjects and then others. They alwaies leave one religious man in Alger, and another in Fez, who informe themsleves of the state and qualitie of the slaves, with their necessitie, to make the better way for their libertie the yeere following. The king of Spaine (whom is most concemeth) furthereth this so charitable a worke, with a bountifull and liberall hand. For ordinarily he giveth as much more, as the foresaid orders have gathered and collected by way of almes. For this is so good an enterprise, that by the ancient canons no other is so much favoured and allowed of. Yea S. Ambrose and other holy men have pawned, for the deliverie of Christian captives, the chalices and silver vessels of their churches. And Saint Paulinus for the same end and purpose, solde his owne selfe. For all other actions of charitie are some spirituall, and others corporall, but this in a very eminent degree is both spirituall and corporall togither. For among corporall miseries the servitude of infidels is most grievous, and among spirituall calamities the danger of apostasie is of all others the greatest: but those slaves

13.2 Into India: Making Unfamiliar Worlds Familiar (1497) Portuguese mariner Vasco da Gama (1460s–1524) took four ships into the Indian Ocean in 1497 to open direct trading links with Indian and Asian merchants. In Calicut, he encountered Thomist Christians, whose traditions went back to the early Christian era, and a host of multilingual traders and officials from around Africa and Central Asia whose familiarity with local customs and expectations far exceeded his. The anonymous author describes what he encounters in familiar terms, rendering all Muslims as “moors” regardless of their origins. Source: Journal of the first voyage of Vasco da Gama (1497). In E.G. Ravenstein (Ed. and Trans.), A Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama, 1497–1499 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1898), pp. 48–59 and 60–63.

convicts to Calicut, and those with whom he went took him to two Moors from Tunis, who could speak Castilian and Genoese. The first greeting that he received was in these words: “May the Devil take thee! What brought you hither?” They asked what he sought so far away from home, and he told them that we came in search of Christians and spices. They said: “Why does not the King of Castile, the King of France, or the Signoria of Venice send thither?” He said that the King of Portugal would not consent to their doing so, and they said he did the

[Arrical.] That night [May 20] we anchored two leagues from the city of Calicut, and we did so because our pilot mistook Capua, a town at that place, for Calicut. Still further there is another town called Pandarani. We anchored about a league and a half from the shore. After we were at anchor, four boats [almadias] approached us from the land, who asked of what nation we were. We told them, and they then pointed out Calicut to us. On the following day [May 21] these same boats came again alongside, with the captain-major sent one of the 234

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[Gama goes to Calicut.] On the following morning, which was Monday, May 28th, the captain-major set out to speak to the king, and took with him thirteen men, of which I was one. On landing, the captain-major was received by the alcaide, with whom were many men, armed and unarmed. The reception was friendly, as if the people were pleased to see us, though at first appearances looked threatening, for they carried naked swords in their hands. A palanquin was provided for the captain-major, such as is used by men of distinction in that country, as also by some of the merchants, who pay something to the king for the privilege. The captain-major entered the palanquin, which was carried by six men in turns. Attended by all these people we took the road of Calicut, and came first to another town, called Capua. The captain-major was deposited at the house of a man of rank, whilst we others were provided with food, consisting of rice, with much butter, and excellent boiled fish. The captain-major did not wish to eat, and as we had done so, we embarked on a river close by, which flows between the sea and the mainland, close to the coast. The two boats in which we embarked were lashed together, so that we were not separated. There were numerous other boats, all crowded with people. As to those who were on the banks I say nothing; their number infinite, and they had all come to see us. We went up that river for about a league, and saw many large ships drawn up high and dry on its banks, for there is no port here. … [A Christian Church.] When we arrived [at Calicut] they took us to a large church, and this is where we saw:— The body of the church is as large as a monastery, all built of hewn stone and covered with tiles. At the main entrance rises a pillar of bronze as high as a mast, on the top of which was perched a bird, apparently a cock. In addition to this, there was another pillar as high as a man, and very stout. In the center of the body of the church rose a chapel, all built of hewn stone, with a bronze door sufficiently wide for a man to pass, and stone steps leading up to it. Within this sanctuary stood a small image which they said represented Our Lady. Along the walls, by the main entrance, hung seven small bells. In this church the captain-major said his prayers, and we with him. We did not go within the chapel, for it is the custom that only certain servants of the church, called quafees, should enter. These quafees wore some threats passing over the left shoulder and under the right arm, in the same manner as our deacons wear the stole. They threw holy water over us, and gave us some white earth, which the Christians of this country are in the habit of putting

right thing. After this conversation they took him to their lodgings and gave him wheaten bread and honey. When he had eaten he returned to the ships, accompanied by one of the Moors, who was no sooner on board, than he said these words: “A lucky venture, a lucky venture! Plenty of rubies, plenty of emeralds! You owe great thanks to God, for having brought you to a country holding such riches!” We were greatly astonished to hear his talk, for we never expected to hear our language spoken so far away from Portugal. [A description of Calicut.] The city of Calicut is inhabited by Christians. They are of tawny complexion. Some of them have big beards and long hair, whilst others slip their hair short or shave the head, merely allowing a tuft to remain on the crown as a sign that they are Christians. They also wear moustaches. They pierce the ears and wear much gold in them. They go naked down to the waist, covering their lower extremities with very fine cotton stuffs. But it is only the most respectable who do this, for the others manage as best they are able. The women of this country, as a rule, are ugly and of small stature. They wear many jewels of gold round the neck, numerous bracelets on their arms, and rings set with precious stones on their toes. All these people are well-disposed and apparently of mild temper. At first sight they seem covetous and ignorant. [A messenger sent to the King.] When we arrived at Calicut the king was fifteen leagues away. The captain-major sent two men to him with a message, informing him that an ambassador had arrived from the King of Portugal with letters, and that if he desired it he would take them to where the king then was. The king presented the bearers of this message with much fine cloth. He sent word to the captain-major bidding him welcome, saying that he was about to proceed to Calicut. As a matter of fact, he started at once with a large retinue. [At anchor at Pandarani, May 27.] A pilot accompanied our two men, with order to take us to a place called Pandarani, below the place [Capua] where we anchored at first. … When we were at anchor, a message arrived informing the captain-major that the king was already in the city. At the same time the king sent a bale, with other men of distinction, to Pandarani, to conduct the captain-major to where the king awaited him. The bale like an alcaide, and is always attended by two hundred men armed with swords and bucklers. As it was late when this message arrived, the captain-major deferred going. 235


the captain with his right hand to come nearer, but the captain did not approach him, for it is the custom of the country for no man to approach the king except only the servant who hands him the herbs, and when anyone addresses the king he holds his hand before the mouth, and remains at a distance. When the king beckoned to the captain he looked at us others, and ordered us to be seated on a stone bench near him, where he could see us. He ordered that water for our hands should be given us, as also some fruit, one kind of which resembled a melon, except that its outside was rough and the inside sweet, whilst another kind of fruit resembled a fig, and tasted very nice. There were men who prepared these fruits for them; and the king looked at them eating, and smiled; and talked to the servant who stood near him supplying him with the herbs referred to. … And the captain told him he was the ambassador of a King of Portugal, who was Lord of many countries and the possessor of great wealth of every description, exceeding that of any king of these parts; that for a period of sixty years he and his ancestors had annually sent out vessels to make discoveries in the direction of India, as they knew that there were Christian kings there like themselves. This, he said, was the reason which induced them to order this country to be discovered, not because they sought for gold or silver, for this they had such abundance that they needed not what was to be found in this country. He further stated that the captains sent traveled for a year or two, until their provisions were exhausted, and then returned to Portugal, without having succeeded in making the desired discovery. There reigned a king now whose name was Dom Manuel, who had ordered him to build three vessels, of which he had been appointed captain-major, and who had ordered him not to return to Portugal until he should have discovered this King of the Christians, on pain of having his head cut off. That two letters had been instructed to him to be presented in case he succeeded in discovering him, and that he would do so on the ensuing day; and, finally, he had been instructed to say by word of mouth that he [the King of Portugal] desired to be his friend and brother. In reply to this the king said that he was welcome; that, on his part, he held him as a friend and brother, and would send ambassadors with him to Portugal. This latter had been asked as a favor, the captain pretending that he would not dare to present himself before his king and master unless he was able to present, at the same time, some men of this country.

on their foreheads, breasts, around the neck, and on the forearms. They threw holy water upon the captain-major and gave him some of the earth, which he gave in charge of someone, giving them to understand that he would put it on later. Many other saints were painted on the walls of the church, wearing crowns. They were painted variously, with teeth protruding an inch from the mouth, and four or five arms. Below this church there was a large masonry tank, similar to many others which we had seen along the road. … The king sent a brother of the bale, who was a lord of this country, to accompany the captain-major, and he was attended by men beating drums, blowing anafils and bagpipes, and firing off matchlocks. In conducting the captain-major they showed us much respect, more than is shown in Spain to a king. The number of people was countless, for in addition to those who surrounded us, and among whom there were two thousand armed men, they crowded the roofs and houses. [The King’s Palace.] The further we advanced in the direction of the king’s palace, the more did they increase in number. And when we arrived there, men of much distinction and great lords came out to meet the captain-major, and joined those who were already in attendance upon him. It was then an hour before sunset. When we reached the palace we passed through a gate into a courtyard of great size, and before we arrived at where the king was, we passed four doors, through which we had to force our way, giving many blows to the people. … [A Royal Audience, May 28.] The king was in a small court, reclining upon a couch covered with a cloth of green celcet, above which was a good mattress, and upon this again a sheet of cotton stuff, very white and fine, more so than any linen. The cushions were after the same fashion. In his left hand the king held a very large golden cup [spittoon] … Into this cup the king threw the husks of a certain herb which is chewed by the people of this country because of its soothing effects, and which they call atambor. On the right side of the king stood a basin of gold, so large that a man might just encircle it with his arms: this contained the herbs. There were likewise many silver jugs. The canopy above the couch was all gilt. The captain, on entering, saluted in the manner of the country: by putting the hands together, then raising them towards Heaven, as is done by Christians when addressing God, and immediately afterwards opening them and shutting fists quickly. The king beckoned to 236

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he had not come to see him. The king then said that he had told him that he came from a very rich kingdom, and yet had brought him nothing; that he had also told him that he was the bearer of a letter, which had not yet been delivered. To this the captain rejoined that he had brought nothing, because the object of his voyage was merely to make discoveries, but that when other ships came he would then see what they brought him; as to the letter, it was true that he had brought one, and would deliver it immediately. The king then asked what it was he had come to discover: stones or men? If he came to discover men, as he said, why had he brought nothing? Moreover, he had been told that he carried with him the golden image of a Santa Maria. The captain-major said that the Santa Maria was not of gold, and that even if she were he would not part with her, as she had guided him across the ocean, and would guide him back to his own country. The king then asked for the letter. The captain said that he begged as a favor, that as the Moors wished him ill and might misinterpret him, a Christian able to speak Arabic should be sent for. The king said this was well, and at once sent for a young man, of small stature, whose name was Quaram. The captain-major then said that he had two letters, one written in his own language and the other in that of the Moors, that he was able to read the former, and knew it contained nothing but what would prove acceptable; but that as to the other he was unable to read it, and it might be good, or contain something that was erroneous. As the Christian was unable to read Moorish, four Moors took the letter and read it between them, after which they translated it to the king, who was well satisfied with its contents. The king then asked what kind of merchandise was to be found in his country. The captain said there was much corn, cloth, iron, bronze, and many other things. The king asked whether he had any merchandise with him. The captain-major replied that he had a little of each sort, as samples, and that if permitted to return to the ships, he would order it to be landed, and that meantime four or five men would remain at the lodgings assigned them. The king said No! He might take all his people with him, securely moor his ships, land his merchandise, and sell it to the best advantage. Having taken leave of the king the captain-major returned to his lodgings, and we with him. As it was already late no attempt was made to depart that night.

These and many other things passed between the two in this chamber, and as it was already late in the night, the king asked the captain with whom he desired to lodge, with Christians or with Moors? And the captain replied, neither with Christians nor with Moors, and begged as a favor that he be given a lodging by himself.… [Presents for the King.] On Tuesday, May 29, the captain-major got ready the following things to be sent to the king, viz., twelve pieces of lambel, four scarlet hoods, six hats, four strings of coral, a case containing six wash-hand basins, a case of sugar, two casks of oil, and two of honey. And as it is the custom not to send anything to the king without the knowledge of the Moor, his factor, and of the able, the captain informed them of his intention. They came, and when they saw the present they laughed at it, saying that it was not a thing to offer to a king, that the poorest merchant from Mecca, or any other part of India, gave more, and that if he wanted to make a present it should be in gold, as the king would not accept such things. When the captain heard this he grew sad, and said that he had brought no gold, that, moreover, he was no merchant, but an ambassador; that he gave of that which he had, which was his own [private gift] and not the king’s; that if the King of Portugal ordered him to return he would intrust him with far richer presents; and that if King Camolim would not accept these things he would send them back to the ships. Upon this they declared that they would not forward his presents, nor consent to his forwarding them himself. When they had gone there came certain Moorish merchants, and they all depreciated the present that the captain desired to be sent to the king.… [A Second Audience, May 30.] On Wednesday morning the Moors returned, and took the captain to the palace, and others with him. The palace was crowded with armed men. Our captain was kept waiting with his conductors for fully four hours, outside a door, which was only opened when the king sent word to admit him, attended by two men only, whom he might select. The captain-major said that he desired to have Fernao Martins with him, who could interpret, and his secretary. It seemed to him, as it did to us, that this separation portended no good. When he had entered, the king said that he had expected him on Tuesday. The captain-major said that the long road had tired him, and that for this reason



13.3 Into America—Unfamiliar Worlds and Peoples (1497) The Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512) claimed to have been present on many of the early important voyages that Iberian explorers made across the Atlantic. His writings and claims were certainly exaggerated, but they persuaded German cartographer Martin Waldsmuller to name these lands “America” in his honour in 1506. Here Vespucci writes to the head of Florence describing Indigenous peoples in terms less condescending than Columbus, with attention to appearance, clothes, customs, and physical skill. The Iberian emphasis on conquest, control, and taking slaves is equally clear. Source: Amerigo Vespucci, Letter to Piero Soderini, edited and translated by G.T. Northrup (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1916), pp. 1–22.

infinite numbers of people upon the beach, and they had their women and children with them: we went, ashore, and found that they were all laden with their worldly goods.… They are of medium stature, very well proportioned: their flesh is of a colour the verges into red like a lion’s mane: and I believe that if they went clothed, they would be as white as we: they have not any hair upon the body, except the hair of the head which is long and black, and especially in the women, whom it renders handsome: in aspect they are not very good-looking, because they have broad faces, so that they would seem Tartar-like: they let no hair grow on their eyebrows, nor on their eyelids, nor elsewhere, except the hair of the head: for they hold hairiness to be a filthy thing: they are very light footed in walking and in running, as well the men as the women: so that a woman recks nothing of running a league or two, as many times we saw them do: and herein they have a very great advantage over us Christians: they swim (with an expertness) beyond all belief, and the women better than the men: for we have many times found and seen them swimming two leagues out at sea without anything to rest upon. Their arms are bows and arrows very well made … and in some places the women use these bows: they have other weapons, such as fire-hardened spears, and also clubs with knobs, beautifully carved. Warfare is used amongst them, which they carry on against people not of their own language, very cruelly, without granting life to any one, except (to reserve him) for greater suffering. When they go to war, they take their women with them, not that these may fight, but because they carry behind them their worldly goods, for a woman carries on her back for thirty or forty leagues a load which no man could bear: as we have many times seen them do. They are not accustomed to have any Captain, nor do they go in any ordered array, for every one is lord of himself: and

Your Magnificence shall know that the motive of my coming into … Spain was to traffic in merchandise: and that I pursued this intent about four years … whence it was that I made preparation for going to see part of the world and its wonders … King Don Ferrando of Castile being about to despatch four ships to discover new lands towards the west, I was chosen by his Highness to go in that fleet to aid in making discovery: and we set out from the port of Cadiz on the 10th day of May 1497, and took our route through the great gulf of the Ocean-sea: in which voyage we were eighteen months (engaged): and discovered much continental land and innumerable islands, and great part of them inhabited: whereas there is no mention made by the ancient writers of them: I believe, because they had no knowledge thereof: for, if I remember well, I have read in some one (of those writers) that he considered that this Ocean-sea was an unpeopled sea: and of this opinion was Dante our poet in the xxvi chapter of the Inferno, where he feigns the death of Ulysses.… We sailed on till at the end of 37 days we reached a land which we deemed to be a continent.… we found a place sufficiently secure for the ships, and anchored half a league from land, on which we saw a very great number of people: and this same day we put to land with the boats, and sprang on shore full 40 men in good trim: and still the land’s people appeared shy of converse with us, and we were unable to encourage them so much as to make them come to speak with us: and this day we laboured so greatly in giving them of our wares, such as rattles and mirrors, beads, spalline, and other trifles, that some of them took confidence and came to discourse with us: and after having made good friends with them, the night coming on, we took our leave of them and returned to the ships: and the next day when the dawn appeared we saw that there were 238

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or six days: and then they leave him alone and return to the village: and if the sick man helps himself, and eats, and drinks, and survives, he returns to the village, and his (friends) receive him with ceremony: but few are they who escape: without receiving any further visit they die, and that is their sepulture: and they have many other customs which for prolixity are not related. They use in their sicknesses various forms of medicines … many times I saw that with a man sick of fever, when it heightened upon him, they bathed him from head to foot with a large quantity of cold water: then they lit a great fire around him, making him turn and turn again every two hours, until they tired him and left him to sleep, and many were (thus) cured: with this they make use of dieting, for they remain three days without eating, and also of blood-letting, but not from the arm, only from the thighs and the loins and the calf of the leg: also they provoke vomiting with their herbs which are put into the mouth: and they use many other remedies which it would be long to relate: they are much vitiated in the phlegm and in the blood because of their food which consists chiefly of roots of herbs, and fruits and fish: they have no seed of wheat nor other grain: and for their ordinary use and feeding, they have a root of a tree, from which they make flour, tolerably good, and they call it Iuca, and another which they call Cazabi, and another Ignami … we found that they made bread out of little fishes which they took from the sea, first boiling them, (then) pounding them, and making thereof a paste, or bread, and they baked them on the embers: thus did they eat them: we tried it, and found that it was good: they had so many other kinds of eatables, and especially of fruits and roots, that it would be a large matter to describe them in detail … they have no horses nor mules, nor, saving your reverence, asses nor dogs, nor any kind of sheep or oxen: but so numerous are the other animals which they have.… The soil is very pleasant and fruitful, full of immense woods and forests: and it is always green, for the foliage never drops off. The fruits are so many that they are numberless and entirely different from ours. Many tribes came to see us, and wondered at our faces and our whiteness: and they asked us whence we came: and we gave them to understand that we had come from heaven, and that we were going to see the world, and they believed it. In this land we placed baptismal fonts, and an infinite (number of) people were baptised, and they called us in their language Carabi, which means men of great wisdom.… We had now been thirteen months on the voyage: and the vessels and the tackling

the cause of their wars is not for lust of dominion, nor of extending their frontiers, nor for inordinate covetousness, but for some ancient enmity which in by-gone times arose amongst them.… … They speak little and in a low tone: they use the same articulations as we, since they form their utterances either with the palate, or with the teeth, or on the lips: except that they give different names to things. Many are the varieties of tongues: for in every 100 leagues we found a change of language, so that they are not understandable each to the other.… they eat at all hours: and they eat upon the ground without a table-cloth or any other cover, for they have their meats either in earthen basins which they make themselves, or in the halves of pumpkins: they sleep in certain very large nettings made of cotton, suspended in the air: and although this their (fashion of) sleeping may seem uncomfortable, I say that it is sweet to sleep in those (nettings): and we slept better in them than in the counterpanes. They are a people smooth and clean of body, because of so continually washing themselves as they do … Amongst those people we did not learn that they had any law, nor can they be called Moors nor Jews, and (they are) worse than pagans: because we did not observe that they offered any sacrifice: nor even had they a house of prayer: their manner of living I judge to be Epicurean: their dwellings are in common: and their houses (are) made in the style of huts, but strongly made, and constructed with very large trees, and covered over with palm-leaves, secure against storms and winds: and in some places (they are) of so great breadth and length, that in one single house we found there were 600 souls: and we saw a village of only thirteen houses where there were four thousand souls: every eight or ten years they change their habitations: and when asked why they did so: (they said it was) because of the soil which, from its filthiness, was already unhealthy and corrupted, and that it bred aches in their bodies, which seemed to us a good reason … When they die … some they bury with water and victuals at their heads: thinking that they shall have (whereof) to eat: they have not nor do they use ceremonies of torches nor of lamentation. In some other places … when a suffering or infirm (person) is as it were at the last pass of death, his kinsmen carry him into a large forest, and attach one of those nets, of theirs, in which they sleep, to two trees, and then put him in it, and dance around him for a whole day: and when the night comes on they place at his bolster, water with other victuals, so that he may be able to subsist for four 239


port we tasted little of our own, which suited our game well: for the stock of provisions which we had for our return-passage was little and of sorry kind: where (i.e., there) we remained 37 days: and went many times to their villages: where they paid us the greatest honour: and (now) desiring to depart upon our voyage, they made complaint to us how at certain times of the year there came from over the sea to this their land, a race of people very cruel, and enemies of theirs: and (who) by means of treachery or of violence slew many of them, and ate them: and some they made captives, and carried them away to their houses, or country: and how they could scarcely contrive to defend themselves from them … and so piteously did they tell us this that we believed them: and we promised to avenge them of so much wrong: and so we departed from those people, leaving

were already much damaged, and the men worn out by fatigue: we decided by general council to haul our ships on land and examine them for the purpose of stanching leaks, as they made much water, and of caulking and tarring them afresh, and (then) returning towards Spain: and when we came to this determination, we were close to a harbour the best in the world: into which we entered with our vessels: where we found an immense number of people: who received us with much friendliness: and on the shore we made a bastion [fort or barricade] with our boats and with barrels and casks, and our artillery, which commanded every point: and our ships having been unloaded and lightened, we drew them upon land, and repaired them in everything that was needful: and the land’s people gave us very great assistance: and continually furnished us with their victuals: so that in this

Figure 13.2  Portolan Chart (1492) A cartographic chart used to guide sailors as they travelled along the coasts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The portolan marked major coastal features and wind directions. 240

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and try by every means to make them friends: in case they would not have our friendship, that we should treat them as foes, and so many of them as we might be able to capture should all be our slaves: and having armed ourselves as best we could, we advanced towards the shore, and they sought not to hinder us from landing, I believe from fear of the cannons: and we jumped on land, 57 men in four squadrons, each one (consisting of) a captain and his company: and we came to blows with them: and after a long battle (in which) many of them (were) slain, we put them to flight, and pursued them to a village, having made about 250 of them captives, and we burnt the village, and returned to our ships with victory and 250 prisoners, leaving many of them dead and wounded … We arranged our departure, and seven men, of whom five were wounded, took an island-canoe, and with seven prisoners that we gave them, four women and three men, returned to their (own) country full of gladness, wondering at our strength: and we thereon made sail for Spain with 222 captive slaves: and reached the port of Calis (Cadiz) on the 15th day of October, 1498, where we were well received and sold our slaves. Such is what befell me, most noteworthy, in this my first voyage.

them very friendly towards us: and having repaired our ships, and sailing for seven days out to sea between northeast and east: and at the end of the seven days we came upon the islands, which were many, some (of them) inhabited, and others deserted: and we anchored at one of them: where we saw a numerous people who called it Iti: and having manned our boats with strong crews, and (taken ammunition for) three cannon shots in each, we made for land: where we found (assembled) about 400 men, and many women … and when we had come with our boats to about a bowshot of the land, they all sprang into the water to shoot their arrows at us and to prevent us from leaping upon shore … and so much did they persist in preventing us from landing, that we were compelled to play with our artillery … and when the next day arrived, we beheld coming across the land a great number of people, with signals of battle, continually sounding horns, and various other instruments which they use in their wars: and all (of them) painted and feathered, so that it was a very strange sight to behold them: wherefore all the ships held council, and it was resolved that since this people desired hostility with us, we should proceed to encounter them

13.4 Tense Encounters: Early Portuguese Travellers in China (1500s) Europeans were obsessed with finding new and more direct sea routes to China in order to replace the land routes that had become difficult to use. They were in awe of the Chinese, but the Chinese were less impressed with them and put some of the first Portuguese sailors in jail until they could decide what to do with these prying foreigners. Source: Letter of Cristovao Vieira. In J.H. Parry (Ed.), The European Reconnaissance (London: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 124–28.

When Fernão Perez arrived at the port of China, he ordered the interpreters to write letters to the effect that there had come a captain-major who had brought an ambassador to the king of China. The interpreters wrote these according to the custom of the country, thus: “A captain-major and an ambassador have come to the land of China by command of the king of the Firingis with tribute. They have come to beg, according to custom, for a seal from the lord of the world, the son of God, in order to yield obedience to him.” … This is the substance of

the letter that they wrote, without giving an explanation of it to Fernão Perez, nor his being at any time aware of it: only the interpreters said that the letter had been well done according to custom and as they had comprehended the substance of it. In the city of Pinquim [sic] within the palace of the king the letter of our lord the king was opened, and there was found therein the reverse of what the interpreters had written. It therefore appeared to them all that we had entered the country of China deceitfully, in order 241


and placed guards in them, and would not allow them to carry on trade or to pay dues, and had a fortress made of stone covered with tiles and surrounded with artillery, and inside many arms; and that they had come to Cantão by force, and that they carried bombards in quantities, reconnoitring the rivers; that they fired off bombards in front of the city and in other prohibited places. The Malays said that the ambassador of the king of Portugal who was in the country of China had not come in truth, that he had come falsely to the land of China in order to deceive, and that we went to spy out the lands, and that soon we should come upon them; and that as we had set up a stone on the land and had a house we should soon have the country for our own; that thus we had done in Malaca and in other parts; that we were robbers. A chief mandarin said, that we had asked him by letter for a residence or houses in Cantão; … it seemed to him very bad, that in place of obedience we asked him for a residence in the country. Another mandarin said, that in the year 1520 in the Island of Trade the Firingis knocked off his cap and gave him blows and seized him when he was going to collect the customs dues by order of the mandarins of Cantão. To these things the king replied, that “these people do not know our customs; gradually they will get to know them.” He said that he would give the answer in the city of Pequim. (He soon entered it, and the same day fell ill. Three months later he died without having given any answer.) With this reply that the king gave the grandees were not much pleased; and the king soon sent word to Cantão, that the fortress that the Portuguese had made should be demolished, and likewise the whole town; that he desired no trade with any nation; that if anyone came he was to be ordered to return.… As soon as we arrived at Cantão they brought us before the pochacy, and he ordered us to be taken to certain jail-houses that are in the store-houses of foodstuffs, and Thome Pirez did not wish to enter them, and the jailers put us into certain houses in which we were thirty and three days, and thence they took Thome Pirez with six persons to the prison of the pochacy which they call libanco, and me with four persons to the prison of the tomeçi where we were imprisoned ten months. All the goods remained in the power of Thome Pirez. They treated us like free people; we were closely watched in places separate from the prisoners. During this time the amelcaçe who was then there ordered Thome Pirez and all the company to be called. In like manner they summoned the Malays. He said that the king ordered that our lord the king should deliver up to the Malays the country

to spy out the land, and that it was a piece of deception that the letter to the king was written differently from the other letters. The king thereupon commanded that we should come no more to his palace to do reverence, and soldiers and a guard were placed over us. The custom with ambassadors in Pinquim is to place them in certain houses with large enclosures, and there they are shut in on the first day of the moon; and on the fifteenth day of the moon they go to the king’s palace, some on foot, and some on jades with halters of straw; and proceed to measure their length five times before a wall of the king’s palace all in order with both knees on the ground and head and face flat on the earth. Thus they remain until they are commanded to rise. Five times do they do this at this wall. Thence they return and re-enter the locked enclosures. It was to this reverence that they commanded that we should come no more. The interpreters were asked why they had written a false letter and one not conformable to that of our lord the king. They said, that they had written it according to the custom of China; that the letter of our lord the king came closed and sealed, so that it could not be read nor opened; that it had to be given into the king’s hands; that we were from a far country, and did not know the custom of China, which was great; that in future we should know it; that they were not to blame, as they had written the letter according to custom. The mandarins were not satisfied with the reply.… The king … took up the business of our answer; because there had been brought to him three letters against the Portuguese,—one from two mandarins in Piquim, another from the mandarins of Cantão, and another from the Malays, the substances of which were as follows, viz.:— “The mandarins who went to the Island of Trade to receive the customs dues by order of the mandarins of Cantão beg to inform the king, that, when they had gone in such a year and day to collect the customs dues, there came Firingi folk with many arms and bombards, powerful people, and did not pay the dues according to custom; and they are constructing fortresses; and they have also heard say that these people had taken Malaca and plundered it and killed many people. That the king ought not to receive their present; and if he wished to receive them that they should say upon what kingdoms the kingdom of the Firingis bordered; and that he would command them that he was not willing to receive them.” The letter of the mandarins of Cantão said, that the Firingis would not pay the dues, and they took dues from the Siamese and seized them and boarded their junks 242

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on the road), also three or four lads in this prison by reason of the heavy fetters as I have said above, Christovão d’Almeida, also Jorge Alvarez, both Portuguese (the scrivener of the prison being fuddled with wine killed him with lashes, and he died in six days). The interpreters in Pequim were taken prisoners and killed, and their servants given as slaves to the mandarins for belonging to traitors. The head juribasso died of sickness, the other four were beheaded in Pequim for having gone out of the country and brought Portuguese to China. Pero de Freitas in this prison and Thome Pirez died here of sickness in the year 1524 in May. So that of all this company at present there are only two here, as I have said above.

of Malaca which he had taken from them. Thome Pirez replied that he had not come for that purpose, nor was it meet for him to discuss such a question; that it would be evident from the letter that he had brought that he knew nothing of anything else. He asked what force there was in Malaca; that he knew that there were three hundred Portuguese men there, and in Couchim a few more. He replied that Malaca had four thousand men of arms on sea and on land, who were now combined and then scattered; and that in Ceilāo there was a varying number. … We came in thirteen persons; and, as I have said, there have died Duarte Fernandez (when we went to Pequim he died in the hills, being already sick), Francisco de Bedois (when we came from Pequim he died

13.5 Protesting Exploitation of Indigenous People (1552) Spanish settler Bartolomé de las Casas (1474–1566) went to New Spain as a soldier in 1502 and gained an encomienda, or license, to control an Indigenous village and its labor supply. The Spanish used this feudal system to attract and reward settlers, but it fostered extreme exploitation, and after becoming a priest in 1512 (and later Bishop of Chiapas), de las Casas became a vocal critic of it. This 1552 document for a debate with the theologian Juan Gines de Sepulveda on the relative rights of the Spanish and the Indigenous peoples sets out some of his views. De las Casas still believed in converting Indigenous peoples to Christianity, and his appeal to treat them fairly was based both in ideas about natural and divine law and justice, and in the desire to spread Catholicism. Source: Bartolomeo de las Casas, “Thirty Propositions” (1552). In Jon Cowans, Early Modern Spain: A Documentary History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), pp. 64–68.

the world.… It is not likely that anyone would resist the preaching of the Gospels and Christian doctrine. … 4. Among those chosen to spread and preserve the faith and the Christian religion, … Christian kings are very necessary for the Church, so that with their arms and royal forces and temporal riches they may aid, support, preserve, and defend the ecclesiastical and spiritual ministers.… 5. The high pontiff, given the authority he has been given over the earth by Jesus Christ, may impose obligations on Christian princes and kings … if he sees that it is necessary or very desirable … to undertake expeditions for Christian purposes, for which he can also require contributions from all of Christendom.…

1. The Roman pontiff, canonically elected Vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of Saint Peter, has the authority and power of Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God, over all the men of the world, whether Christians or infidels. [He uses it] whenever he sees that it is necessary to guide and lead men to eternal life and remove the obstacles to it.… He uses and must use such powers with the infidels who never entered the holy Church through holy baptism, exercising one kind of authority over those who never heard the news of Christ or his faith and another kind over the faithful who are still faithful or who were at one time. 2. Saint Peter and his successors had and still have the obligation … to see to it with all diligence that the Gospels and the faith of Jesus Christ be preached throughout



15. The monarchs of Castile and Leon, Ferdinand and Isabella, … had singular qualities, more than those of any other Christian princes, and so the Vicar of Christ granted them said care and task. It was by nothing other than divine authority that they were instituted and invested with the highest dignity that kings have ever had on this earth.… Among other excellent qualities they had two, which are: one, that in addition to inheriting from their ancestors the recovery of all of these kingdoms of Spain from the hands of the Mohammedan tyrants who are enemies of our holy Catholic faith, at the cost of much spilling of royal blood, they themselves, with their own royal persons, and with incomparable efforts recovered the great kingdom of Granada, and finally restored it to Christ and the universal Church. The other was that at their own expense and by their own favor, expedition, and command, they discovered those broad and extensive Indies, using the bold Christopher Columbus, whom they honored with the title of First Admiral of the Indies.… … 20. The kings of Castile are obligated, by formal precept of the Apostolic [illegible], and also by divine law, to seek with all due diligence to send qualified ministers to preach the faith throughout that world, calling and summoning its peoples to come to the wedding and feast of Christ.… … 22. The kings of Castile are obligated by divine law to seek to have the faith in Jesus Christ preached in the way that he, the Son of God, left order specifying.… The universal Church has always had the custom, and in its decrees it has ordered, and the holy scholars have argued and explained in their books, that this be done peacefully and lovingly, and softly, with care, and as teachers, with gentleness and humility, and with good examples, inviting the infidels, especially the Indians, who are so gentle, humble, and peaceful by nature with gifts and donations, taking nothing from them. And in this way they will consider the god of the Christians to be good and gentle and just, and in this way they will want to be his and to receive his Catholic faith and holy doctrine. 23. To conquer them first by war is a method that is contrary to the law and the gentle yoke and light and soft burden of Jesus Christ. It is the same one that Mohammed and the Romans used, with which they terrorized and plundered the world; it is the same one that the Turks and the Moors use today … and so it is very evil, tyrannical, and unworthy of the melodious name of Christ, causing

9. It is a just and worthy thing that although the primary reward of the Christian kings for the services they render to God and to their mother the universal Church with their royal persons does not consist … in worldly and physical things, for those are all of little substance and are transitory; but rather the ultimate and true reward is to reign with Christ, … but the high pontiff grants to them and makes a remunerative donation in those kingdoms for the same reason for which he granted them in the first place, as is just … 10. Among the infidels who have distant kingdoms that have never heard Christ’s gospel or received the faith, there are legitimate lords, kings, and princes, and their legitimate lordship, dignity, and preeminence derive from natural law and the law of nations, insofar as that lordship is exercised in the regulation and governance of kingdoms, confirmed by divine evangelical law.… Therefore with the advent of Jesus Christ, those lordships, honors, and royal preeminences and all the rest were not universally or specifically removed. 11. The opinion contrary to the proceeding proposition is erroneous and very pernicious, and whoever stubbornly defends it is guilty of formal heresy. Similarly it is highly impious, evil, and productive of innumerable robberies, and acts of violence and tyranny, ruin and larceny, irreparable damage and the gravest of sins, infamy, stench, and hatred in the name of Christ and of the Christian religion, and an effective obstacle to our Catholic faith.… 12. The said infidels, both lords and their subjects, are not deprived of their domains, dignities, or other goods because of any sin of idolatry or any other sin, no matter how grave and evil it may be.… 13. The infidels cannot be punished by any judge in the world for the precise reason of the sin of idolatry or any other sin, no matter how enormous, great, and evil it may be, committed during the whole time of their infidelity before they received holy baptism of their own free will, especially those whose infidelity is purely a matter of negation, unless they are among those who directly block the preaching of the faith, and who, when sufficiently warned, do not desist, because of evil intent. 14. It was necessary, by divine order, for the high pontiff Alexander VI, under whose pontificate the great New World we call the West Indies was discovered, to choose a Christian king upon whom to impose the task of providing and having the solicitude, diligence, and care to proclaim the Gospels and the law of Christ and to found and spread divine worship and the universal Church throughout all its kingdoms, and so convert and save the native inhabitants living there … 244

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By this encomienda or repartimiento, which was the cruelest kind of tyranny and the one most worthy of the fires of hell that one could imagine, all of those people are prevented from receiving the Christian faith and religion, given that the Spaniards keep them working day and night in the mines and in doing personal service, … and giving them burdens to carry a hundred and two hundred leagues, as if they were worse than beasts. And they chase from the Indian villages the religious preachers, who teach them the doctrine and give them knowledge of God, so that there will not be witness to their violence and their cruelty, and their continuous larceny and homicide. Because of these encomiendas and repartimientos, they suffer continuous torments, robberies, and injustices, and also to their children, wives, and property. Because of these encomiendas and repartimientos, I have witnessed the death of more than fifteen thousand souls in forty-six years, without their having received the faith and the sacraments, and they have depopulated more than three thousand leagues of territory; and I say I have witnessed this.… 29. These encomiendas and repartimientos of men that have been carried out as I have said, as if they were beasts, were never ordered by … the kings of Castile, nor did they ever have any such intention.

infinite new blasphemies against the true God and against the Christian religion, as very long experience in the Indies has shown and is still showing. For they consider Christ to be the cruelest, most unjust, and pitiless God of all. And consequently it is harmful to the conversion of any infidels, and it has led to the impossibility of infinite numbers of people there ever being Christian, in addition to all of the irreparable and lamentable evil and damage mentioned in Proposition II.… … 26. Given that there was never just cause or authorization from princes to make war on the innocent Indians who were safe and peaceful on their lands and in their houses, we affirm that the conquests there were, are, and will always be (in the absence of some new cause) null and lacking legality, unjust, evil, tyrannical, and condemned by all the laws from the time the Indies were discovered until today.… … 28. The devil could invent no greater pestilence to destroy that whole world, to consume and kill all the people in it, and to depopulate it, as he has depopulated such great and populous kingdoms … than the repartimiento and the encomienda of those people. They divided them up and entrusted them to the Spaniards as if they were entrusting them to devils, or as if they were cattle being turned over to hungry wolves.

13.6 An Immigrant Writes Home (1574) Not all Spanish settlers moved out to the countryside. The tanner Alonso Ortiz writes a very familiar type of letter in 1574 from Mexico City to his wife in Spain. He has gone on ahead, and like many immigrant men before and since, he emphasizes how well he has settled and prospered in the hopes of persuading her to gather their children and sail out to join him. His new business partner is willing to fund their passage to the place where, as he notes, God wants him to be. The letter offers a glimpse into the life of one of the thousands who migrated from Spain to the New World. Source: Alonso Ortiz, letter to his wife, Leonor Gonzalez (1574). In Kenneth Mills, William B. Taylor, and Sandra Lauderdale Graham (Eds.), Colonial Latin America: A Documentary History (Wilmington: SR Books, 2002), pp. 125–26.

My Lady, Juan Lopez Sayago gave me some of your letters, and I have others from a sailor who told me he got them from a certain de la Parra, who died at sea. From both

sets of letters, I was most pleased to learn that you and all my children are well. Also, I was very happy to find among the letters given to me by Sayago a missive from my compadre Leonis de la Parra, because even though 245


and this I paid four months before the terminal date. And now, from April 1, 1574, I have rented another house for one hundred pesos de minas, which are thirteen and one-quarter reales for each peso, which I must pay in advance. In addition, I have between six and eight Indians who work with me, and each one that I have brings in thirty pesos, twenty, fifteen, or some only ten. About them I will not say more than that I pay them each week for what they do. I tell you all this so that you might consider that here, where I do suffer, I also earn very abundantly. God has also brought me a partner so that I may not lose more time. He saw immediately my situation, and saw the distress I have over my wife and children, and he understands how much this afflicts me. And when I formed this partnership with him, I made no other condition than that if I wanted to depart for Castile within the three years of our contract, I could do so. He, who will not be leaving because he sees that much profit can be made in the long term, agreed to send 150 pesos to Seville with a merchant friend of his, a sum which is meant entirely for you, that you and the children may come. These pesos are meant to feed you, to pay for the preparation of your belongings and provisions for the trip, and for all other related business, and the money is yours from him. My partner tells me that he wants to provide for your from his house, and that the sum of money is to be understood as yours from him, so that certain people do not suggest that I sent it and that they neither hinder nor interfere with your coming, because your arrival would bring me great joy. So, if you decide to come, send your letter by the advance ship proceeding the fleet on which you will sail. And to those men to whom I am indebted, you may say that on another fleet I will send one hundred hides that will be worth enough for everyone to be paid. With these letters will go also my power of attorney in order that you may act on my behalf, and that you can put me under obligation for the shipping costs, even if they amount to 200 Castilian ducats, that I shall pay upon your arrival. Dated in Mexico City on the eighth of March, Alonso Ortiz

he wrote in his letter of having sent me others, none of them reached me. I will write to him with this fleet, and you can tell him for me that I have been negligent in not writing and that I ask his pardon. Up to now I have simply not been able to write. But be assured that in all I have done, I have asked God and His Blessed Mother to grant me health and, even more, the ability to take advantage of this time and my good health. Thus I have gone on, seeking first the things for which I have prayed; second. the tears that He has seen flow from my eyes; and finally—and most important—all that you, my lady, have prayed for, knowing as I do that I have not been forgotten, that you will have commended me to God and His Blessed Mother. And so they have done these things for me, and I also trust that they will have done as much— and more—for you and the children. Because, over here, even though it seems that one suffers much work and tribulation, one knows that God does no harm and that even a leaf on a tree does not move without His will. I endured difficulties before God guided me here, to the place where I am and will remain. And all that I have suffered since coming is nothing to me because the troubles that you and my children have endured are what give me great sadness and torment, as well as those of your father and mother, and your brothers and sisters. And I now feel it more than ever because God has led me to become a tanner, and there is no better position than this over here. Moreover, the great expectations which I brought, I still have. In order that I will make good use of the health with which God has blessed me, and that this time not be lost, I have worked, and I continue to work, with great care; I try not to spend money wastefully, and I earn much more than I need to make ends meet. There is, in all this, only one thing wrong, and this is that I do not have you and the children with me, because if I did have you here, and if God granted me health, saving even a thousand Castilian ducados each other would mean little to me. To show you what I mean about things here, I have rented a house and tannery from April 1, 1573, until the end of March 1574. This has cost me ninety pesos de tipuzque, which are eight reales [one silver peso] each,


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13.7 Encouraging Migration from New England to Jamaica (1656) Like Spain, England struggled to increase the number of its subjects who would move to the Americas and help establish its colonies there. It frequently happened that the only Europeans willing to move around the Americas were ones who were already there. In this official notice, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England after the execution of King Charles I, serves notice that those who wish to leave New England to set up plantations in Jamaica and the West Indies will be granted special subsidies, privileges, and immunities. Source: Daniel Gookin, To All Persons Whom These May Concern in the Several Townes, and Plantations of the United Colonies in New-England … (1656).

them and their heires for ever near some good harbour in the said Island; Protection (by Gods blessing) from all enemies; a share of all the Horses, Cattle and otehr beasts, wild and tame upon the place freely, Together with other Priviledges and Immunities, the particulars whereof may be known by those who shill see cause to address themselves to the said Daniel Gookin (or such as he shall desire to be helpfull herein, whose names are underneath expressed in writing) who will be ready to make full agreement with them according to his Highness Instructions, and take their reciprocall Ingagements and Subscriptions to remove accordingly. Farther it is desired that such as incline to the Design aforesaid, do make known themselves without delay, it being his Highness Pleasure that the work of Transporting should be begun before the end of September next. Dated this 25 of March 1656.

To all Persons whom these may Concern, in the Several Townes, and Plantations of the United Colonies in New-England. It is hereby declared, That his Highness the Lord Protectour of the Commonwealth of England &c: hath Commissioned and Impowered Daniel Gookin dwelling at Cambridge in the Massachusets, to make agreement with any convenient number of the English in the Colonies of New-England, who shall desire to remove themselves or families into Jamaica in the West-Indies, now in possession of the State of England; And for their better Incouragement, His Highness (bearing a special affection for the people of New England, being very desirous to have the said place inhabited by a stock of such as know the LORD, and walk in his Fear,) will graunt them, Ships for transportation; a sufficient proportion of Land to



13.8 A Portuguese Missionary’s First Impressions of Japan (1549) Catholic missionaries, and particularly the Jesuits, were quick to take up the routes established by sailors, merchants, and traders. Francis Xavier (1506–52) was among the first to arrive in Japan, and his work would establish a Catholic community there that lasted for many decades before being forced underground. Source: Francis Xavier, Relation (1549). In J.H. Parry (Ed.), The European Reconnaissance (London: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 124–28.

help to their learning quickly prayers and religious matters. It is a land where there are but few thieves in some kingdoms, and this by the strict justice which is executed against those that are, for their lives are never spared. They abhor beyond measure this vice of theft. They are a people of very good will, very sociable and very desirous of knowledge; they are very fond of hearing about things of God, chiefly when they understand them. Of all the lands which I have seen in my life, whether those of Christians or of unbelievers, never yet did I see a people so honest in not thieving. Most of them believe in the men of old, who were (so far as I understand) persons who lived like philosophers; many of them adore the Sun and others the Moon. They like to hear things propounded according to reason; and granted that there are sins and vices among them, when one reasons with them pointing out that what they do is evil, they are convinced by this reasoning. I discerned fewer sins in the laity and found them more obedient to reason, than those whom they regard as fathers and priests, whom they call Bonzes. … There are many … errors and evils among these Bonzes, and the more learned are the worst sinners. I spoke many times with some of the wiser, chiefly with one who is highly regarded by all in these parts, both for his letters, life, and dignity, as for his great age, he being eighty years old, and called Ningit [Ninjitsu], which is to say in Japanese “truthful heart”; he is as a bishop amongst them, and if the term could be applied to him, might well be called “blessed.” In many talks which I had with him, I found him doubtful, and unable to decide whether our soul is immortal, or whether it dies with the body; sometimes he told me yes, at others no, and I fear that the other learned are alike. This Ningit is so great a friend of mine, that it is a marvel to see. All, both laity and Bonzes like us very much, and are greatly astonished to see how we have come from such distant lands as from Portugal

By the experience which we have of this land of Japan, I can inform you thereof as follows. Firstly, the people whom we have met so far, are the best who have yet been discovered … It is a people of very good manners, good in general, and not malicious; they are men of honor to a marvel, and prize honor above all else in the world. They are a poor people in general; but their poverty, whether among the gentry or those who are not so, is not considered as a shame. They have one quality which I cannot recall in any people of Christendom; this is that their gentry howsoever poor they may be, and the commoners howsoever rich they may be, render as much honor to a poor gentleman as if he were passing rich. On no account would a poverty-stricken gentleman marry with someone outside the gentry, even if he were given great sums to do so; and this they do because they consider that they would lose their honor by marrying into a lower class. Whence it can clearly be seen that they esteem honor more than riches. They are very courteous in their dealings with another; they highly regard arms and trust much in them; always carrying sword and dagger, both high and low alike, from the age of fourteen onwards. They are a people who will not submit to any insults or contemptuous words. Those who are not of gentle birth give much honor to the gentry, who in their turn pride themselves on faithfully serving their feudal lord, to whom they are very obedient. It seems to me that they act thus rather because they think that they would lose their honor if they acted contrarily, than for fear of the punishment they would receive if disobedient. They are small eaters albeit somewhat heavy drinkers, and they drink rice wine since there are no ordinary wines in these parts. They are men who never gamble, because they consider it a great dishonor, since those who gamble desire what is not theirs and hence tend to become thieves. They swear but little, and when they do it is by the Sun. There are many persons who can read and write, which is a great 248

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so differently about God and the method of salvation, that we may be persecuted by them with something stronger than words. What we in these parts endeavor to do, is to bring people to the knowledge of their Creator and Saviour, Jesus Christ Our Lord. We live with great hope and trust in Him to give us strength, grace, help, and favor to prosecute this work. It does not seem to me that the laity will oppose or persecute us of their own volition, but only if they are importuned by the Bonzes. We do not seek to quarrel with them, neither for fear of them will we cease to speak of the glory of God, and of the salvation of souls. They cannot do us more harm than God permits … It is well that we should give you an account of our stay in Cangoxima [Kagoshima]. We arrived here at a season when the winds were contrary for going to Miaco [Kyoto], which is the chief city of Japan, where the King and the greatest lords of the Kingdom reside. And there is no wind that will serve us to go thither, save only five months from now, and then we will go with the help of Our Lord. It is three hundred leagues from here to Miaco, according to what they tell us, and we are likewise told great things of that city, which is said to contain more than ninety thousand houses; there is also a great university frequented by students therein, which has six principal colleges and more than two hundred houses of Bonzes, and of others like friars who are called Ieguixu [Zen-shu], and of nuns who are called Hamacata [Amakata]. Besides this university of Miaco, there are five other chief universities whose names are these, Coya [Koya], Nenguru [Negoro], Feizan [Hieizen], Taninomine [Tamu no mine]. These are in the neighborhood of Miaco, and it is said that there are more than 3,500 students in each one of them. There is another university, a great way off, which is called Bandou [Bando, the Ashikaga Gakko] which is the best and biggest in Japan, and more frequented by students than any other. Bandou is a great lordship where there are six dukes, and a chief one among them, whom the others obey. This chief owes allegiance to the King of Japan who is the great King of Miaco. They tell us such things of the greatness of these lands and universities, that we would prefer to see them before affirming and writing them; and if things be as they tell us, then we will write of our experiences in detail. In addition to these principal universities, they say that there are many other smaller ones throughout the kingdom. During the year 1551, we hope to write you at length concerning the disposition that there is in Miaco and its universities for the knowledge of Jesus Christ Our Lord to be spread therein. This year two Bonzes are going to India who have studied

to Japan, which is more than six thousand leagues, only to speak of the things of God, and how people can save their souls by belief in Jesus Christ; saying that our coming to these lands is the work of God. One thing I tell you, for which you may give many thanks to God Our Lord, that this land of Japan is very fit for our holy faith greatly to increase therein; and if we knew how to speak the language, I have no doubt whatsoever that we would make many Christians. May it please Our Lord that we may learn it soon, for already we begin to appreciate it, and we learned to repeat the ten commandments in the space of forty days which we applied ourselves thereto. … Here they are not now surprised at people becoming Christians, and as a great part of them can read and write, they very soon learn the prayers; may it please God to give us tongue whereby we can speak to them of the things of God, for then we would reap much more fruit with His aid, grace, and favor. Now we are like so many statues among them, for they speak and talk to us about many things, whilst we, not understanding the language, hold our peace. And now we have to be like little children learning the language; God grant that we may likewise imitate them in true simplicity and purity of soul, striving by all means to become like them, both as regards learning the language as in showing the simplicity of children devoid of malice. … They neither kill nor eat anything which they rear. Sometimes they eat fish; there is rice and corn, albeit little; there are numerous herbs, on which they live, and some fruit but not much. This people live wonderfully healthy lives and there are many aged. The Japanese are a convincing proof of how our nature can subsist on little, even if it is not a pleasing sustenance. We live in this land very healthy in body, God grant that we may be likewise in our souls. A great part of the Japanese are Bonzes, and these are strictly obeyed in the places where they are, even if their sins are manifest to all; and it seems to me that the reason why they are held in such esteem is because of their rigorous abstinence, for they never eat meat, nor fish, but only herbs, fruit, and rice, and this once a day and very strictly, and they are never given wine. There are many Bonzes and their temples are of but little revenue. By reason of their continual abstinence and because they have no intercourse with women (especially those who go dressed in black like clergy) on pain of death, and because they know how to relate some histories or rather fables of the things in which they believe, it seems to me they are held in great veneration. And it may well happen that since they and we feel 249


selves in making a declaration concerning the Articles of Faith in Japanese, somewhat copiously, for it to be printed (because all the principal persons here know how to read and write) so that our holy faith may be understood and spread throughout many parts, since we cannot go to all. Our dearest brother Paulo will translate faithfully into his own tongue everything which is necessary for the salvation of souls. From Cangoxima, fifth of November of the year 1549. Your most loving brother wholly in Christ, FRANCISCO

in the universities of Bandou and Miaco, and with them many other Japanese to learn the things of our law. On St. Michael’s day we spoke with the duke of this land, who gave us great honor, saying that we should keep well the books in which was written the law of the Christians, and that if it was the true and good law of Jesus Christ, it would be troublesome to the Devil. A few days afterwards he gave leave to all his vassals that those who might wish to become Christians could do so. This good news I write at the end of the letter for your consolation, and that you may give thanks unto God our Lord. It seems to me that this winter we must occupy our-

Figure 13.3  Job, Son of Solomon, High Priest of Bonda (1734) The young African nobleman Job was captured, enslaved, and brought to America. His image survives because, unlike many enslaved Africans, he attained his freedom after advocates in America and England took up his cause and published an account of what had happened, including this portrait with the text. Once freed, Job returned to Africa by way of England. 250

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13.9 A Young Black Nobleman in the British Empire (1734) Of the millions of black Africans forcibly shipped across the Atlantic, only a handful returned. One who stands out is a west African youth of noble birth who was captured and enslaved in America. He was eventually liberated by public subscription and then returned to Africa via England. Source: Thomas Bluette, Some Memoirs of the Life of Job, the Son of Solomon High Priest of Boanda in Africa (London: Richard Ford, 1734).

his Man; and JOB sent to an Acquaintance of his Father’s, near Gambia, who promised to send to JOB’s Father, to inform him of what had happened, that he might take some Course to have him set at Liberty. But it being a Fortnight’s journey between that Friend’s House and his Father’s, and the Ship sailing in about a Week after, JOB was brought with the rest of the Slaves to Annapolis in Maryland, and delivered to Mr. Vachell Denton, Factor to Mr. Hunt, before mentioned. JOB heard since, by Vessels that came from Gambia, that his Father sent down several Slaves, a little after Captain Pike sailed, in order to procure his Redemption; and that Sambo, King of Futa, had made War upon the Mandingoes, and cut off great Numbers of them, upon account of the Injury they had done to his Schoolfellow. Mr. Vachel Denton sold JOB to one Mr. Tolsey in Kent Island in Maryland, who put him to work in making Tobacco; but he was soon convinced that JOB had never been used to such Labour. He every Day shewed more and more Uneasiness under this Exercise, and at last grew sick, being no way able to bear it; so that his Master was obliged to find easier Work for him, and therefore put him to tend the Cattle. JOB would often leave the Cattle, and withdraw into the Woods to pray; but a white Boy frequently watched him, and whilst he was at his Devotion would mock him, and throw Dirt in his Face. This very much disturbed JOB, and added to his other Misfortunes; all which were increased by his Ignorance of the English Language, which prevented his complaining, or telling his Case to any Person about him. Grown in some measure desperate, by reason of his present Hardships, he resolved to travel at a Venture; thinking he might possibly be taken up by some Master, who would use him better, or otherwise meet with some lucky Accident, to divert or abate his Grief. Accordingly, he travelled thro’ the Woods, till he came to the County of Kent, upon Delaware Bay, now esteemed Part of Pensilvania; altho’ it is properly a Part of Maryland, and belongs to my Lord Baltimore. There is a Law in force, throughout the Colonies

Of the Manner of his being taken Captive; and what followed upon it, till his Return. IN February, 1730. JOB’s Father hearing of an English Ship at Gambia River, sent him, with two Servants to attend him, to sell two Negroes and to buy Paper, and some other Necessaries; but desired him not to venture over the River, because the Country of the Mandingoes, who are Enemies to the People of Futa, lies on the other side. JOB not agreeing with Captain Pike, who commanded the Ship lying then at Gambia, sent back the two Servants to acquaint his Father with it, and to let him know that he intended to go farther. Accordingly, having agreed with another Man, named Loumein Yoas, who understood the Mandingoe Language, to go with him as his Interpreter, he crossed the River Gambia, and disposed of his Negroes for some Cows. As he was returning Home, he stopp’d for some Refreshment at the House of an old Acquaintance; and the Weather being hot, he hung up his Arms in the House, while he refresh’d himself. Those Arms were very valuable; consisting of a Gold-hilted Sword, a Gold Knife, which they wear by their Side, and a rich Quiver of Arrows, which King Sambo had made him a Present of. It happened that a Company of the Mandingoes, who live upon Plunder, passing by at that Time, and observing him unarmed, rush’d in, to the Number of seven or eight at once, at a back Door, and pinioned JOB, before he could get to his Arms, together with his Interpreter, who is a Slave in Maryland still. They then shaved their Heads and Beards, which JOB and his Man resented as the highest Indignity; tho’ the Mandingoes meant no more by it, than to make them appear like Slaves taken in War. On the 27th of February, 1730, they carried them to Captain Pike at Gambia, who purchased them; and on the first of March they were put on Board. Soon after JOB found means to acquaint Captain Pike that he was the same Person that came to trade with him a few Days before, and after what Manner he had been taken. Upon this Captain Pike gave him leave to redeem himself and 251


He lived some time with Mr. Denton at Annapolis, before any Ship could stir out, upon account of the Ice that lay in all the Rivers of Maryland at that Time. In this Interval he became acquainted with the Reverend Mr. Henderson, a Gentleman of great Learning, Minister of Annapolis, and Commissary to the Bishop of London, who gave JOB the Character of a Person of great Piety and Learning; and indeed his good Nature and Affability gain’d him many Friends besides in that Place. In March, 1733, he set sail in the William, Captain George Uriel Commander; in which Ship I was also a Passenger. The Character which the Captain and I had of him at Annapolis, induced us to teach him as much of the English Language as we could, he being then able to speak but few Words of it, and those hardly intelligible. This we set about as soon as we were out at Sea, and in about a Fortnight’s Time taught him all his Letters, and to spell almost any single Syllable, when distinctly pronounced to him; but JOB and myself falling sick, we were hindered from making any greater Progress at that Time. However, by the Time that we arrived in England, which was the latter End of April, 1733, he had learned so much of our Language, that he was able to understand most of what we said in common Conversation; and we that were used to his Manner of Speaking, could make shift to understand him tolerably well. During the Voyage, he was very constant in his Devotions; which he never omitted, on any Pretence, notwithstanding we had exceeding bad Weather all the time we were at Sea. We often permitted him to kill our fresh Stock, that he might eat of it himself; for he eats no Flesh, unless he has killed the Animal with his own Hands, or knows that it has been killed by some Mussulman. He has no Scruple about Fish; but won’t touch a bit of Pork, it being expressly forbidden by their Law. By his good Nature and Affability he gained the good Will of all the Sailors, who (not to mention other kind Offices) all the way up the Channel shewed him the Head Lands and remarkable Places; the Names of which JOB wrote down carefully, together with the Accounts that were given him about them. His Reason for so doing, he told me, was, that if he met with any Englishman in his Country, he might by these Marks be able to convince him that he had been in England. On our Arrival in England, we heard that Mr. Oglethorpe was gone to Georgia, and that Mr. Hunt had provided a Lodging for JOB at Limehouse. After I had visited my Friends in the Country, I went up on purpose to see JOB. He was, very sorrowful, and told me, that Mr. Hunt had been applied to by some Persons to sell him, who pretended they would send him home; but he feared

of Virginia, Maryland, Pensilvania, &c. as far as Boston in New England, viz. That any Negroe, or white Servant who is not known in the County, or has no Pass, may be secured by any Person, and kept in the common Goal, till the Master of such Servant shall fetch him. Therefore JOB being able to give no Account of himself, was put in Prison there. This happened about the Beginning of June, 1731, when I, who was attending the Courts there, and had heard of JOB, went with several Gentlemen to the Goaler’s House, being a Tavern, and desired to see him. He was brought into the Tavern to us, but could not speak one Word of English. Upon our Talking and making Signs to him, he wrote a Line or two before us, and when he read it, pronounced the Words Allah and Mahommed; by which, and his refusing a Glass of Wine we offered him, we perceived he was a Mahometan, but could not imagine of what Country he was, or how he got thither; for by his affable Carriage, and the easy Composure of his Countenance, we could perceive he was no common Slave. When JOB had been some time confined, an old Negroe Man, who lived in that Neighbourhood, and could speak the Jalloff Language, which JOB also understood, went to him, and conversed with him. By this Negroe the Keeper was informed to whom JOB belonged, and what was the Cause of his leaving his Master. The Keeper thereupon wrote to his Master, who soon after fetch’d him home, and was much kinder to him than before; allowing him a Place to pray in, and some other Conveniences, in order to make his Slavery as easy as possible. Yet Slavery and Confinement was by no means agreeable to JOB, who had never been used to it; he therefore wrote a Letter in Arabick to his Father, acquainting him with his Misfortunes, hoping he might yet find Means to redeem him. This Letter he sent to Mr. Vachell Denton, desiring it might be sent to Africa by Captain Pike; but he being gone to England, Mr. Denton sent the Letter inclosed to Mr. Hunt, in order to be sent to Africa by Captain Pike from England; but Captain Pike had sailed for Africa before the Letter came to Mr. Hunt, who therefore kept it in his own Hands, till he should have a proper Opportunity of sending it. It happened that this Letter was seen by James Oglethorpe, Esq; who, according to his usual Goodness and Generosity, took Compassion on JOB, and gave his Bond to Mr. Hunt for the Payment of a certain Sum, upon the Delivery of JOB here in England. Mr. Hunt upon this sent to Mr. Denton, who purchas’d him again of his Master for the same Money which Mr. Denton had formerly received for him; his Master being very willing to part with him, as finding him no ways fit for his Business. 252

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the Company’s Ships should go to Gambia, in which he should be sent back to his Friends without any Ransom. The Company then ask’d me, if they could do any Thing more to make JOB easy; and upon my Desire, they order’d, that Mr. Oglethorpe’s Bond should be cancelled, which was presently done, and that JOB should have his Freedom in Form, which he received handsomely engross’d with the Company’s Seal affixed; after which the full Sum of the whole Charges (viz. Fifty-nine Pounds, Six Shillings, and eleven Pence Half-penny) was paid in to their Clerk, as was before proposed. JOB’s Mind being now perfectly easy, and being himself more known, he went chearfully among his Friends to several Places, both in Town and Country, One Day being at Sir Hans Sloan’s, he expressed his great Desire to see the Royal Family. Sir Hans promised to get him introduced, when he had Clothes proper to go in. JOB knew how kind a Friend he had to apply to upon occasion; and he was soon cloathed in a rich silk Dress, made up after his own Country Fashion, and introduced to their Majesties, and the rest of the Royal Family. Her Majesty was pleased to present him with a rich Gold Watch; and the same Day he had the Honour to dine with his Grace the Duke of Mountague, and some others of the Nobility, who were pleased to make him a handsome Present after Dinner. His Grace, after that, was pleased to take JOB often into the Country with him, and shew him the Tools that are necessary for Tilling the Ground, both in Gardens and Fields, and made his Servants shew him how to use them; and afterwards his Grace furnished JOB with all Sorts of such Instruments, and several other rich Presents, which he ordered to be carefully done up in Chests, and put on Board for his Use. ’Tis not possible for me to recollect the many Favours he received from his Grace, and several other Noblemen and Gentlemen, who shewed a singular Generosity towards him; only, I may say in general, that the Goods which were given him, and which he carried over with him, were worth upwards of 500 Pounds; besides which, he was well furnished with Money, in case any Accident should oblige him to go on Shore, or occasion particular Charges at Sea. About the latter End of July last he embark’d on Board one of the African Company’s Ships, bound for Gambia; where we hope he is safely arrived, to the great Joy of his Friends, and the Honour of the English Nation.

they would either sell him again as a Slave, or if they sent him home would expect an unreasonable Ransom for him. I took him to London with me, and waited on Mr. Hunt, to desire leave to carry him to Cheshunt in Harlfordshire; which Mr. Hunt comply’d with. He told me he had been apply’d to, as JOB had suggested, but did not intend to part with him without his own Consent; but as Mr. Oglethorpe was out of England, if any of JOB’s Friends would pay the Money, he would accept of it, provided they would undertake to send him home safely to his own Country. I also obtained his Promise that he would not dispose of him till he heard farther from me. JOB, while he was at Cheshunt, had the Honour to be sent for by most of the Gentry of that Place, who were mightily pleased with his Company, and concerned for his Misfortunes. They made him several handsome Presents, and proposed that a Subscription should be made for the Payment of the Money to Mr. Hunt. The Night before we set out for London from Cheshunt, a Footman belonging to Samuel Holden, Esq; brought a Letter to JOB, which was, I think, directed to Sir Byby Lake. The Letter was delivered at the African House; upon which the House was pleased to order that Mr. Hunt should bring in a Bill of the whole Charges which he had been at about JOB, and be there paid; which was accordingly done, and the Sum amounted to Fifty-nine Pounds, Six Shillings, and eleven Pence Half-penny. This Sum being paid, Mr. Oglethorpe’s Bond was deliver’d up to the Company. JOB’s Fears were now over, with respect to his being sold again as a Slave; yet he could not be persuaded but that he must pay an extravagant Ransom, when he got home. I confess, I doubted much of the Success of a Subscription, the Sum being great, and JOB’s Acquaintance in England being so small; therefore, to ease JOB’s Mind, I spoke to a Gentleman about the Affair, who has all along been JOB’s Friend in a very remarkable Manner. This Gentleman was so far from discouraging the Thing, that he began the Subscription himself with a handsome Sum, and promised his further Assistance at a dead Lift. Not to be tedious: Several Friends, both in London and in the Country, gave in their charitable Contributions very readily; yet the Sum was so large, that the Subscription was about twenty Pounds short of it; but that generous and worthy Gentleman before mentioned, was pleased to make up the Defect, and the whole Sum was compleated. I went (being desired) to propose the Matter to the African Company; who, after having heard what I had to say, shew’d me the Orders that the House had made; which were, that JOB should be accommodated at the African House at the Company’s Expence, till one of

Of JOB’s Person and Character. JOB was about five Feet ten Inches high, strait limb’d, and naturally of a good Constitution; altho’ the religious 253


Occurrences, that, notwithstanding his usual Mildness, he had Courage enough, when there was occasion for it: And I remember a Story which he told me of himself, that is some Proof of it. As he was passing one Day thro’ the Country of the Arabs, on his way home, with four Servants, and several Negroes which he had bought, he was attacked by fifteen of the wild Arabs, who are known to be common Bandetti, or Robbers in those Parts. JOB, upon the first Sight of this Gang, prepared for a Defence; and setting one of his Servants to watch the Negroes, he, with the other three, stood on his Guard. In the Fight one of JOB’s Men was killed, and JOB himself was run thro’ the Leg with a Spear. However, having killed two of the Arabs, together with their Captain and two Horses, the rest fled, and JOB brought off his Negroes safe. JOB’s Aversion to Pictures of all Sorts, was exceeding great; insomuch, that it was with great Difficulty that he could be brought to sit for his own. We assured him that we never worshipped any Picture, and that we wanted his for no other End but to keep us in mind of him. He at last consented to have it drawn; which was done by Mr. Hoare. When the Face was finished, Mr. Hoare ask’d what Dress would be most proper to draw him in; and, upon JOB’s desiring to be drawn in his own Country Dress, told him he could not draw it, unless he had seen it, or had it described to him by one who had: Upon which JOB answered, If you can’t draw a Dress you never saw, why do some of you Painters presume to draw God, whom no one ever saw? I might mention several more of his smart Repartees in Company, which shewed him to be a Man of Wit and Humour, as well as good Sense: But that I may not be tedious, what I have said shall suffice for this Head. As to his Religion, ’tis known he was a Mahometan, but more moderate in his Sentiments than most of that Religion are. He did not believe a sensual Paradise, nor many other ridiculous and vain Traditions, which pass current among the Generality of the Turks. He was very constant in his Devotion to God; but said, he never pray’d to Mahommed, nor did he think it lawful to address any but God himself in Prayer. He was so fixed in the Belief of one God, that it was not possible, at least during the Time he was here, to give him any Notion of the Trinity; so that having had a New Testament given him in his own Language, when he had read it, he told me he had perused it with a great deal of Care, but could not find one Word in it of three Gods, as some People talk: I did not care to puzzle him, and therefore answered in general, that the English believed only in one God. He shewed upon all Occasions a singular Veneration for the Name

Abstinence which he observed, and the Fatigues he lately underwent, made him appear something lean and weakly. His Countenance was exceeding pleasant, yet grave and composed; his Hair long, black, and curled, being very different from that of the Negroes commonly brought from Africa. His natural Parts were remarkably good; and I believe most of the Gentlemen that conversed with him frequently, will remember many Instances of his Ingenuity. On all Occasions he discovered a solid judgment, a ready Memory, and a clear Head. And, notwithstanding the Prejudices which it was natural for him to have in favour of his own religious Principles, it was very observable with how much Temper and Impartiality he would reason in Conversation upon any Question of that kind, while at the same Time he would frame such Replies, as were calculated at once to support his own Opinion, and to oblige or please his Opponent. In his Reasonings there appeared nothing trifling, nothing hypocritical or overstrained; but, on the contrary, strong Sense, joined with an innocent Simplicity, a strict Regard to Truth, and a hearty Desire to find it. Tho’ it was a considerable Disadvantage to him in Company, that he was not sufficient Master of our Language; yet those who were used to his Way, by making proper Allowances, always found themselves agreeably entertained by him. The Acuteness of his Genius appear’d upon many Occasions. He very readily conceived the Mechanism and Use of most of the ordinary Instruments which were shewed to him here; and particularly, upon seeing a Plow, a Grist Mill, and a Clock taken to pieces, he was able to put them together again himself, without any farther Direction. His Memory was extraordinary; for when he was fifteen Years old he could say the whole Alcoran by heart, and while he was here in England he wrote three Copies of it without the Assistance of any other Copy, and without so much as looking to one of those three when he wrote the others. He would often laugh at me when he heard me say I had forgot any Thing, and told me he hardly ever forgot any Thing in his Life, and wondered that any other body should. In his natural Temper there appeared a happy Mixture of the Grave and the Chearful, a gentle Mildness, guarded by a proper Warmth, and a kind and compassionate Disposition towards all that were in Distress. In Conversation he was commonly very pleasant; and would every now and then divert the Company with some witty Turn, or pretty Story, but never to the Prejudice of Religion, or good Manners. I could perceive, by several slight 254

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buker to read it, and no one can read it but those who are instructed after a different Manner from that in which the Arabick is commonly taught. However, I am apt to think that the Difference depends only upon the Pointing of the Arabick, which is of later Date. JOB was well acquainted with the historical Part of our Bible, and spoke very respectfully of the good Men mentioned in Scripture; particularly of JESUS CHRIST, who, he said, was a very great Prophet, and would have done much more Good in the World, if he had not been cut off so soon by the wicked Jews; which made it necessary for God to send Mahomet to confirm and improve his Doctrine.

of God, and never pronounced the Word Allah without a peculiar Accent, and a remarkable Pause: And indeed his Notions of God, Providence, and a future State, were in the main very just and reasonable. His Learning, considering the Disadvantages of the Place he came from, was far from being contemptible. The Books in his Country are all in Manuscript, all upon Religion; and are not, as I remember, more than Thirty in Number. They are all in Arabick; but the Alcoran, he says, was originally wrote by God himself, not in Arabick, and God sent it by the Angel Gabriel to Ababuker, some time before Mahommed was born; the Angel taught Aba-

Reading Questions 1. We can see that Europeans took different approaches to those parts of the world that they began sailing to in the early modern period. How were their responses to the Americas different from their responses to Africa and Asia? Why? 2. How seriously should we take the religious motivations that Europeans often cited as their reason for wanting to control other places and peoples? 3. What challenges did early settlers face as they aimed to adapt to life overseas? Did they see their new homes as simply extensions of their old life, or did they see them as places shaped by the cultures of the people already living there? 4. How do the economics and politics of colonialism and slavery clash with the expectations of an African noble like Job?



Danger, Disease, and Death Death was the great leveller, as our sources here—Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish—amply show. Religious differences notwithstanding, Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believed that in time of death whole communities should respond to mourn the departed and protect and support those left behind. We find many common themes across all religious traditions, and differing views of how the body of the deceased should be protected, preserved, and promoted. Death was a spiritual event that levelled all social distinctions, but it was also a physical reality, and we see that medical students in France and England could be quite callous in their treatment of cadavers. That said, various rituals aimed to ensure that the body got into the grave and that the soul made it to the afterlife in such a way that ghosts would not return to haunt the living.

14.1 Death on the Road: The Dangers of Travel (1550s) Death was not only a threat for those who were aged. In this instance, 15-year-old Felix Platter is heading from Basel to Montpellier to study medicine at university and almost doesn’t make it, due to some Swiss highwaymen. Source: Felix Platter, journal (1550s). In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Beloved Son Felix (London: F. Muller, 1962), pp. 32–34.

some sort, to keep out of the rain. After wandering about for a long time we found a village, but were refused hospitality there. So we hired a young man to show us the way through the wood, and he led us to a place called Mézières. There was a wretched inn there with a few houses scattered around it. It was kept by a woman, who could find space for us only on the ground floor, in a room open to all the four winds. In this room was a long table, at which sat a number of Savoyard peasants and beggars, eating roasted chestnuts and black bread and drinking cheap wine.

On the 13th of October the weather changed and it began to rain, which annoyed me a great deal. We were soaked going through the French villages on the way to Romont. When we arrived at this place we stopped at the Lion to dry our clothes. After dinner we took the road to Lausanne. In the hamlet of Rue, Thomas lost us and we had to wait a long time until he found us again. The night came, with a thick mist, and we lost our way. We came into the forest of Jurthen, where it was not safe to travel at that time. We wanted nothing more than a barn, a shelter of 257


account with the woman of the inn. Cautiously we pulled the old bed away from the door and went out. They were all asleep. We went to the stall and got out our horses, and as we did so the guide joined us. He told Robert, who was the only one of us who understood French, that the men had meant to rise early and wait for us in the forest, and there attack us. But we were leaving three hours before daylight, and they were still in a deep sleep, thanks be to God. We promised the guide a reward if he would lead us to Lausanne by a by-road, for we feared that other bandits might lie in wait for us on the main road. He led us through the wood, and when the dawn came, we rejoined the road, giving thanks to God. Towards noon we came to Lausanne, which is three miles from Fribourg, and stopped at the Ange. We were soaked to the bone and drooping with weariness. Our horses were in no better state, for they had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours. We told people in Lausanne of the dangers we had been through, and when we mentioned the name of the place, they said that it was a wonder that we had not all been killed. Murders were committed daily in the forest of Jurthen by a band led by a man called Long Peter. Not long afterwards he was broken on the wheel in Berne, and among other confessions he declared that he had planned to kill some students at Mézières. Thomas learned this in Berne after his return from Montpellier, and told me of it in a letter …

We would gladly have continued our journey if it had not been that we were wet through from the rain and the night was dark. We were obliged to stay, even though the woman declared that she had neither bed nor stable. We settled our horses as well as we could in a low and narrow stall, where they remained all night saddled and bridled. As for us, we had to sit down beside the rascals at the table and content ourselves with the same fare. We soon realized what kind of people we had to deal with, for they eyed our weapons and taunted us, though we took care not to give them cause for annoyance. They got drunk and went staggering out of the room to lie down beside the fire that still burned in the hearth in the next chamber. They soon fell asleep. It was this that saved us, for we learned next morning from our guide that they had intended to kill us; he had heard them plotting as he lay awake on the straw. We too had been uneasy about them. We closed the shutters and pushed a broken bed against the door. Then, having set our naked rapiers on the table, we watched all night. I was a prey to all sorts of terrors, for I was young and had never travelled before. After we had gone a long time like this, Robert and Thomas agreed that it would be wise to take advantage of the men while they slept—we could hear them snoring—and, recommending ourselves to God, go quietly in search of our mounts, and leave in no matter what direction. We had already settled the

14.2 How to Survive into Old Age (1683) Roger Bacon (1214–92), a Franciscan friar, bases his prescriptions for good health on the ancient Greek doctrine of the four humors. An imbalance of humors—in this case, too much phlegm—can cause illness, while purging through vomiting, laxatives, and urination restores balance and health. Baths may bring on or may prevent grey hair, depending on whether they add or draw moisture from the body. Source: Roger Bacon, The Cure of Old Age and the Preservation of Youth, translated by Richard Browne (London: Printed for Tho. Flesher, 1683).

But Avicenna in his first Chapter Of the Complexions of Ages and Kinds affirms, that not only Phlegm, but that all strange and extraneous Humours are the Causes of these Accidents. I judge this to be true; but it is Phlegm especially that doth the thing. Therefore Vomit is useful, especially afternoon, as Avicenna saith in his fourth Tract of Adorning: Neither

Of things which refresh and recreate Old Age, and hinder its Accidents. All Wise Men who have discoursed of this Matter, do unanimously agree in this; That those things which purge Phlegm, do cast out the humour, which is the cause of Greyness and the Original of the Accidents of Old Age. 258

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which Clyster these things ought porperly to be, Mercury, Dwarf Elder, and Elder, so they be well mixt and strained in the Clyster. Such a gentle Clyster is very profitable for Old Men, whose Nature is weaker. But is should seem, that Purgative rather brings on than restrains Grey Hairs, and provokes the Accidents of Old Age, so that they approach the sooner, rather than it puts any stop to their coming, because Hippocrates affirms, as Avicenna testifies in the Chapter Of Exercise, that Purging Physick draws from the Body the greater share of the Natural Moisture, which is as it were the Substance of Life. This is true, if such Physick be administered, as doth indifferently purged every Humour; or if it be given to such as are well enough in Health, and do not lack the vertue of a Medicament. Black Hellebore also well prepared doth separate the Humour, that is the Cause of these Accidents; and Avicenna saith, that its Nature is to change the evil Complexion of the Body, and to bring on a better. The Use also of Bathes is profitable for a fasting Stomach: for it consumes the Phlegmatick Moisture, especially in those that are of a cold Constitution. In like manner Gargarisms, as Aristotle saith in his Book Of the Secrets of Secrets. Old Men also are to be bathed fastings, especially they that are Phlegmatick. For it is better that a Man should receive from the Moisture of the Bath, than the Bath from the Moisture of a Mans Body. But the Bath draws the Humours to the Superficies and Skin of the Body; and therefore seems rather a Cause than Impediment of Greyness, and rather to make Men grey than to preserve them from Grey Hairs. Therefore we have added, that Fasting must precede, and Evacuation of Superfluities be before Bathing, as Hippocrates saith.

ought a Man to take a Vomit every day, but once or twice a Month, as Rasy teacheth in his Regiment, in his Book to Almansor, in the Canon Of Vomit. And so all the Latin Physicians do agree in this. Galen’s Purge is Pilule de Mastiche and Aloes: For they purge Phlegm, as [illegible] saith in his Book Of Greyheadedness. Also the Purge that Haly appoints, and Avicenna likewise, hath this Property, namely, to purge gently the hurtful Humours, without any harm to the Native Moisture. And therefore Purging is proper, which we ought to use in extruding these kind of Humours; and it must be understood of that Purgation, wherein there is no Laxative but Aloes. And such Aloes ought to be Hepatica, as saith Royal Haly. Its Attraction is not from far and remote Parts, but from those it meets in its way, that is, from the Stomach and Guts, and the remoter Place of its Attraction is the Liver without the Veins, as is manifest in the second Canon, in the Tract of Hierae. It seems also very likely that every kind of Rue hath the Power of Purging these things. For Aristotle in his Epistle to Alexander appoints, that she should take Rue every Morning. He saith that Rue drives away the Phlegm of the Stomach, that it is the Life of the Liver, that it stirs up the Natural Heat, and dispels Windiness. Haly also saith this in his Regiment. Old Men ought to be purged, not with sharp and violent Purgatives, but with milder, as with Broth of Pullets, &c. and other gentle things as with Myrobalans Chepuli, and many of the same kind. Besides, Citrull-Seed is useful in purging the Reins and cleansing of Humours. Rue also purgeth the Head and Reins, Stomach and Liver, as we have said before. A Clyster also that purgeth Phlegm well, restrains the Accidents and Weaknesses of Old Age, as Avicenna saith in his Canon Of things that keep back Grey Hairs: In



14.3 Death of a Jewish Rabbi (1509) In Jewish and Christian communities alike, dying and funerals followed certain rituals: Friends and relatives would gather around the dying person to gain lessons and a blessing, and after death the communal life of schools and shops might be suspended until after the community had brought the deceased from the home to the place of worship and on to the grave. Many competed discreetly to be among the mourners or pallbearers of those of high status. Some Italian Jews added homilies honouring the dead one and dramatic torch-lit processions, though Iberian Jews who had migrated from Spain rejected these as being too much like Christian ceremonies. Source: The Death of a Jewish Rabbi (Padua, 1509). In Robert Bonfil, Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy, translated by Anthony Oldcorn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 268–69.

while the funeral homilies were being delivered. All of this was decided by those in charge [i.e., the community leaders] with the acquiescence of Rabbi Abraham Mintz. The following day, Sunday, before leaving the synagogue, the entire congregation made its way to his house, where there was a large courtyard with a large room in it. The rabbis and notables stepped to the fore, raised up the deceased, and carried him on their shoulders to the room in the courtyard, whose walls had been draped in black. A black cloth was also spread over the benches. The body was laid on a raised bench. All around were other benches, on which the books he had used during his lifetime were arranged. Alongside his pillow a Sefer Torah was placed, in a new case. Next to the books stacked around the bier, Rabbi Abraham Mintz, his children, and another son of the deceased rabbi, God rest his soul, took their places. They were wrapped in their Taletoth [i.e., ritual shawls] and bowed down in sign of mourning. Then the whole congregation took their places all around the room, which was packed from one end to another. Then forty great torches, or lamps as they are called, made of white wax, each one worth a Rhenish groat, the equivalent of nine marcelli, were taken out and distributed to the rabbis, the notables, and the most distinguished young men of the Yeshivah. They lined up in pairs, in order of their importance. I, too, the least of all, received a torch and was paired off with Rabbi Judah del Medigo, the son of Rabbi Elijah of blessed memory. We all stood thus around the bier and then we lit them. My master Rabbi Isserlein got up onto a special podium and delivered a homily until noon. Then we extinguished the torches. The leaders of the community then stepped forward and picked up the bier, which was wrapped in black serge. During the procession the bearers were changed, so that

Shortly before dying, he sent for all the rabbis of Padua, among them my teacher, Rabbi Isserlein, and these brave men of Israel gathered around his bed. Then he bid them persevere in the study of the Torah and in the observance of its precepts, and he commanded that the Master (the rabbi) be the one to show them the way to follow and the works they should accomplish. Then in their presence he conferred rabbinical ordination upon Rabbi Isserlein and ordered them to do him honor. He laid his hand upon him, blessed him and commanded him saying, “Now I am dying. May the Lord be with you. Do not allow the book of the Law of Moses to be removed from your mouths.” Rabbi Abba Shaul [del Medigo] and I also were there to receive his blessing. After which, his son Rabbi Abraham Mintz approached, with his own children. The dying man had them come next to him on the bed, placed his hands upon their heads, kissed them and embraced them. When he had finished blessing his descendants, he composed his feet upon the bed and died, passing away on a Friday night at the ninth hour. He was ninety-eight years old … The next day, Saturday, after evening prayers, the notables of Padua gathered in the Great Synagogue, to discuss how best to honor that great man in accordance with the obligation to pronounce funeral homilies for learned men and heads of Yeshivot. It was decided that the whole community, adults and children, would fast the following day, the day of his burial. It was decided to close all banks and to abstain from work so that everyone could come to pay homage to the deceased. It was further decided to dismantle the gates and wooden stalls around the Yeshiva, on which members of the Yeshivah rested during their discussions, to construct the coffin, which all of the rabbis and notables would then carry on their shoulders, as well as to keep torches burning all around 260

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then he too was laid in the tomb, while those present raised their voices high in lamentation. Whereupon we put out our torches and accompanied the deceased’s children and the other members of his family to the room draped in black we spoke of earlier. There everyone took their places and until evening came on funeral homilies on the text “This for Judah” … All of these honors were done to the above-mentioned deceased by the notables and rabbis of Padua.

all the students of Yeshivah and the notables of the community participated in his transportation, from which everyone else not considered worthy was excluded. When we arrived at the cemetery, we lit the torches again, and other funeral homilies were pronounced. Rabbi Hirtzen then came forward, recited the prayer, and raised up a great lamentation. A Sefer Torah was then lowered into the grave, in a new case so that it would keep for a long time, at the end where the deceased’s head was to lay,

14.4 Fighting Plague (1541) In times of plague, government officials sealed up the homes of the dead, isolated all those who may have come into contact with a plague victim, and carried out investigations to determine where the illness may have come from. Venice even had a separate quarantine island in its lagoon to isolate goods and people who might bring infection into the city. Source: Plague measures in Venice (1541). In David Chambers and Brian Pullan (Eds.), Venice: A Documentary History 1450–1630 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 115–17.

macy he obtained the medicines; whether the patient was bled from a vein or by cupping-glasses; whether the parish priest or [other] priests and friars have been to the house to hear confession and give the rites of the Church; whether any relative or friend has been there to visit and how many times; whether they have been at the bedside or merely in the house; whether any of the neighbours has come in to help around the house, as often happens; whether any goods have been taken out of the house, and where, and to whom. This examination, which must be performed thoroughly and shall exact other information as seems appropriate to those responsible, shall be carried out in the presence of the parish priest or sacristan of the parish church, together with two residents of the parish. The last-named must sign [the record of] the examination, which must then be presented to the Provveditori alla Sanita [civic health officials], who will issue such orders as they see fit. If the doctor has made only one visit to the sick person, no matter whether he has taken his pulse or merely stayed at the door and examined the urine, he shall be placed under a ban for twenty-two days.…

Ordinances to be observed when plague is discovered in the city, that steps may be taken to ensure that, by God’s grace, it does not spread further. When the [Health] Office has been notified that a death has occurred in the city within a few days or hours [of the onset of illness], the doctor of the Office must be sent to view the body, and examine it thoroughly to see if there is an abscess, carbuncle or other symptom. If plague is found, the whole house must immediately be placed under a ban, with all its inhabitants and others too who have had contact with it. Then the notary and an attendant at the Office must be sent to examine the inhabitants on oath and under threat of punishment. The master of the house must first be examined, and then the others separately, to establish the likely provenance of this disease. The notary must take special care to ask if the sick or dead person has been in any house where anyone has died; whether foreigners have lodged with him; whether goods have been brought to him from foreign parts; for how many days he has been ill; how many times the doctor has visited him; from which phar-



Figure 14.1  The Dance of Death at Basle The dance of death was a common image found throughout medieval and early modern Europe. Showing kings and beggars, old and young, male and female all joining in a line dance led by a skeleton emphasized the lesson that death is the “great equalizer” that eliminates all earthly class distinctions.


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14.5 Stealing Bodies from the Grave (1554) Some medical students wanting to study anatomy had to take matters into their own hands—quite literally. Grave robbing had to be done in the dead of night with the help of accomplices, and as Felix Platter finds out, you could sometimes end up digging up the corpse of someone you knew. Source: Felix Platter, journal (1550s). In Sean Jennett (Ed. and Trans.), Beloved Son Felix (London: F. Muller, 1962), pp. 88–90 and 126.

inwards. We did an autopsy and found, among other curiosities, various veins vasorum spermaticorum, which were not deformed, but followed the curve of the legs towards the buttocks.… Encouraged by the success of this expedition, we tried again five days later. We had been informed that a student and a child had been buried in the same cemetery of Saint-Denis.… The two corpses were disinterred, wrapped in our cloaks, and carried on poles as before as far as the gates of the town. We did not dare to rouse the porter this time, so one of us crawled inside through a hole that we discovered under the gate—for they were very negligently maintained. We passed the cadavers through the same opening, and they were pulled through from the inside. We followed in turn, pulling ourselves through on our backs; I remember that I scratched my nose as I went through. The two subjects were carried to Gallotus’s house and their coverings were removed. One was a student whom we had known. The autopsy revealed serious lesions. The lungs were decomposed and stank horribly, despite the vinegar that we sprinkled on them; we found some small stones in them. The child was a little boy, and we made a skeleton of him. When I returned to my lodging early in the morning, the shop boy who slept with me did not hear me ring, and he did not wake even when I threw stones against the shutters. I was obliged to go for some sleep to the house of one of the Frenchmen who had been with us. After this the monks of Saint Denis guarded their graveyard, and if a student came near he was received with bolts from a crossbow. Beatrice, Catalan’s former servant girl, who had drawn off my boots when I had first arrived in Montpellier, was executed on the 3rd of December. She was hanged in the square, on a little gibbet that had only one arm. She had left us a year before to go into service in the house of a priest. She became pregnant, and when her child was born, she threw it into the latrine, where it was found

My principal study was anatomy. Not only did I never miss the dissections of men and animals that took place in the College, but I also took part in every secret autopsy of corpses, and I came to put my own hand to the scalpel, despite the repulsion I had felt at first. I joined with French students and exposed myself to danger to procure subjects. A bachelor of medicine named Gallotus, who had married a woman from Montpellier and was passing rich, would lend us his house. He invited me, with some others, to join him in nocturnal expeditions outside the town, to dig up bodies freshly buried in the cloister cemetery, and we carried them to his house for dissection. We had spies to tell us of burials and to lead us by night to the graves. Our first excursion of this kind took place on the 11th of November 1554. As night fell Gallotus led us out of the town to the monastery of the Augustins, where we met a monk, called Brother Bernhard, a determined fellow, who had disguised himself in order to help us. When we came to the monastery we stayed to drink, quietly, until midnight. Then, in complete silence, and with swords in hand, we made our way to the cemetery of the monastery of Saint-Denis. There we dug up a corpse with our hands, the earth being still loose, because the burial had taken place only that day. As soon as we had uncovered it we pulled it out with ropes, wrapped it in a flassada, and carried it on two poles as far as the gates of the town. It must then have been about three o’clock in the morning. We put the corpse to one side and knocked on the postern that is opened for coming and going at night, and the old porter came in his shirt to open it for us. We asked him to bring us something to drink, under the pretext that we were dying of thirst, and while he went in search of wine three of us brought the cadaver in and carried it directly to Gallotus’s house, which was not far away. The porter was not suspicious, and we rejoined our companions. On opening the winding sheet in which the body was sewn, we found a woman with a congenital deformity of the legs, the two feet turned 263


dead. Beatrice’s body was taken to the anatomy theatre, and it remained several days in the College. The womb was still swollen, for the birth of the child had occurred

no more than eight days before. Afterwards the hangman came to collect the pieces, wrapped them in a sheet, and hung them on a gibbet outside the town.

Figure 14.2  The Dissection of the Body of Tom Nero As this satirical image shows, for early modern people posthumous indignity and humiliation were a real threat. William Hogarth here depicts the dissection of the body of an executed criminal and emphasizes the disgrace of having one’s cadaver end up in a surgical theater for teaching anatomy. The body is penetrated, sliced open, and put on display, and the violation is driven home by a common dog, who chews on an organ. 264

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14.6 Visitors from Beyond Death (1572) Early modern Catholics believed that ghosts were souls of the dead who left purgatory to communicate with the living, often in order to warn them or to seek some help in passing on to heaven. Early modern ghosts haunted people more often than places, and here a young Italian medical student gets a visit from a close friend who had just died. His account of it, written much later, shows both strong skepticism about popular beliefs and a tinge of lingering doubts as to whether there might not be something to it after all. Source: Girolamo Cardano, De vita propria liber (Paris, 1643). In P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (Ed. and Trans.), The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), pp. 32–33.

mer. Now, simply because I found out the same evening that my particular friend Galeazzo del Rosso had died at the very hour … I shall not explain this incident as a superstitious happening. First, the whole thing could have been part of an uninterrupted dream. Secondly, as I said, it may have proceeded from some natural cause such as an overheated imagination. Thirdly, when people saw I had been deeply impressed by the unusual event and had kept myself indoors the whole day because of fear, they may have invented a story about his dying at that time—and he had actually died much earlier—and shifted the time of death to daybreak on that day because not many people have died of disease at that particular hour. In consequence, I shall not place this prodigy in the category of “miracle,” since in so many ways it has proved to be unconvincing. But, each person who has similar experiences must decide for himself, according to whether or not he has a sounder case.

(a) On the night before 13 August 1572, I had a light in my room, I was wide awake, and it was a little past the second hour of the night, when lo and behold I became conscious of a very loud noise on my right, as if someone was unloading a wagonload of planks. I looked over my shoulder. The noise was coming from the entrance to my bedroom, from the recess in which my servant was sleeping. The door, by the way, was open, I saw an estate-manager come into the room. For many reasons I kept staring back at him, and in consequence on the very threshold he uttered the words, Te sin casa: and when he had said this, he vanished. (b) The following happened to me while I was a student in Pavia. One morning, before I had woken up, I heard a knock on the wall. The house next door was empty. While I was rousing myself, and then again later, where was another knock, as though someone were using a ham-

14.7 Muslim and Jewish Rituals around Death and Burial in Algiers—A Portuguese Priest’s View (1612) Europeans had a strong sense of the “art of dying well” as a Christian: calm, collected, and confident. They were fascinated with how Muslims and Jews treated their dead, since Christian customs emphasized the connection between proper burial and securing an eternal life in heaven. Source: Antonio de Sosa, Topography of Algiers (1612). In Maria Antonia Garcés (Ed.), An Early Modern Dialogue with Islam: Antonio de Sosa’s Topography of Algiers (1612), translated by Diana de Armas Wilson (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 247–52.

[Among Muslims] when the time of death approaches, a dying man will be accompanied by men only, a woman by

women. All those gathered about the dying person insist that he or she call constantly upon Muhammad, right 265


produced by the trees there. The janissaries also have a great enclosure, a very long and wide corral outside the Gate of Bab ‘Azzun and toward the east. They are buried there and in no other place. If someone dies on Friday (their holy day), they do not take him out for burial until midday, the time of the salat, and then they pass through a mosque and take the body into it during the service, where everyone prays for the deceased. Having exited the gates of the city, they tend to place the deceased over some tomb of their marabouts and saints, who are buried there in chapels, as we said. When I asked someone why they did this, he wittily responded that the deceased would receive from the marabout the power to enter Heaven, whereas I say that it must be to walk faster and more robustly toward Hell. Having arrived at the place of the tomb, the first thing they do is to take the turban of the deceased, which they carry (as we said) over the bier, and toss it three times on the ground. And calling many times upon Muhammad, they place the body very quietly and carefully into the tomb, which is made in such a manner that the body does not fall or bump against the earth, because they claim that it is the gravest of sins to mistreat the deceased. Then the relatives give the poor (who tend to gather there on such occasions) some pieces of bread or dried figs as alms. The tendency is to give them mainly dried figs, because the Algerians claim that they gain as many pardons as there are seeds within the fig. Extremely poor people who die are simply covered over with earth. The rest are placed in a hole made in the ground, which is covered with some stones, the gaps very carefully sealed with lime and plaster. But after these burials it often happens that, because the stones are small and slippery, jackals and dogs and other animals who are experienced gravediggers come by night and dig up and eat the bodies, so that in the morning nothing is found but bones. Ordinarily they put over these graves some large and well-wrought stones, with another two small and rounded stones, one at the head and the other at the feet. Almost all the deceased have their tombs raised a bit from the earth, two or three or four handspans high and with some steps made of glazed ceramic tiles or white stones, whatever the family wishes and can afford. The great kings and governors are buried in large kubbas, which resemble small chapels crowned with cupolas, very prettily decorated, and entered through a narrow door that is always closed with a lock and key. All around these chapels there are windows, where light can enter,

up until speech and senses are lost. For this they tend to place the head of the dying person toward the east, just as when they make the salat. Soon after death, they stretch the body on the ground and, having undressed it and placed it on some planks, they wash it with soap and hot water or with white earth. There is no secret part that is not thoroughly washed and scrubbed; they especially scrape the soles of the feet with a knife or blade, so vigorously that there is barely any skin left there. After this they dress the body, whether man or woman, with a laundered shirt and a very white pair of drawers. Then wrapping it in a sheet that covers everything—feet, hands, and head—they place the body again on the earth. Muslims in charge of washing the dead do nothing else for a living—men for men, and women for women. The washing done, relatives and friends of the deceased arrive and place the body on a bier rented from the marabouts. They then cover the body with a large cloth of colored silk and, if the dead person was a man, they put his turban atop the cloth, as he would have carried it when alive. The family must have received a license (there is no burying without a license) to bury the body from the Administrator of Goods of the Muslim State Treasury: this functionary represents the king in finding out the identity of the dead in order to claim their goods, in the way we mentioned that the Grand Turk and, in his name, the kings of Algiers inherit from the dead. The family, then, take the deceased out into the street, where those invited to the funeral rites await, along with friends and relatives. These do not include women, who never accompany the dead—not even a mother, daughter, or very close relative. The wealthiest and most leading citizens also invite some two, three, or four marabouts, who accompany the deceased and pray for him aloud, as if singing, and their song is nothing more than a constant repetition of “Allah, Allah,” which means “God is, and God will be.” They do not tend to carry candles or lit torches, as we Christians do. The deceased is accompanied by marabouts and other men, as we said, who walk alongside the bier in long strides. And opposite to the usage of other nations of the world—Christians, Jews, and gentiles—the deceased is always carried head first and feet last. The place of burial is always outside the city. In Algiers especially, everyone is generally buried in two different parts or fields: one outside the Gate of Bab ‘Azzun and the other outside of Bab al-Wad. Some bodies, although few, are buried in their farms, which become common grounds after serving as burial sites, and anyone can pick the fruit 266

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they do so very slowly and quietly. Later they will shake their shawls out very softly, and with great care because, if they stand up noisily or shake their shawls robustly, they would do harm to the small, innocent souls of the children. Such are the doctrines, or persuasions, of the marabouts. It is also general usage that no fire be lit in the house of the deceased for the first three days after the death. If the family must eat something at home, it cannot be roasted or stewed. Food can be sent to them from the outside, however, by friends and relatives. During these three days, their custom is to give alms for the love of God, as well as bread and figs to the poor for the soul of the deceased, as much as he or she tended to eat at a meal. They wear no manner of mourning garments, although after the death of a husband, son, or father, the women tend to wear a saffron or black veil about the house for a few days. The chief sign of grief and loss among men is that they neither shave nor touch their beards for a month, although few actually do this and for not too many days. As in other things, the Jews are very superstitious about their burials. They also wash and scrub their deceased with soap and hot water, dress them in freshly laundered garments, wrap them in new bed linen, and carry them to the gravesite with much company. But until they arrive outside of the city, they do not dare to recite their psalms or prayers, because the Turkish and Moorish boys would pelt them with a hail of stones. But once they have entered into the country, they begin to recite their Psalms in Hebrew until they arrive at the burial site, which is located outside the Gate of Bab al-Wad, to the left, entirely surrounded by a low wall to keep out animals. And this costs them no small amounts of money. With great wailing and much sighing, they bury their dead there, not stretched out on the ground, however, but rather squatting. The Jews also often place great stones on top of the tomb, and some others at the head and feet, similar to the customs of Turks and Moors, and some with names and epitaphs of the deceased. Their women, not their men, also tend to cry over the sepulcher on Thursday afternoons, when you can see the gravesite all covered over with disheveled Jewish women, crying loudly and moaning over their dead ones. Apart from this, the Jews tend for a whole year after the death of a loved one to come together in the house of the deceased for one or two or more days a week. And to the sound of certain wooden clappers that they play, synchronized with each other and with their hand claps, they

although some have no more than a door to let the light shine through. In the middle of this little chapel is the tomb, raised from the ground with some stairs of stone, tiles, or bricks, as I said earlier, and very nicely worked in the same way, with two round stones, at the head and feet of the deceased, where they tend to inscribe an epitaph, or some words from the Qur’an, together with the name of the deceased and the quality of his personhood. Wealthy people also tend to hire one or two marabouts, whom they place, armed, in a tent over the tomb of the deceased, if he or she is not buried in a chapel. These marabouts remain by the tomb for some four, five, six, and eight days, or however many they wish, night and day, locked in there praying for the deceased. And every afternoon, close to evening, the relatives of the deceased send them something to eat. And at the end of the mourning period, the marabouts are very well paid in cash. The morning after the burial, friends and relatives visit the tomb. Weeping over it, they make the salat and pray for some time. When the men are done, the women come, along with their friends and relatives, to do the same. And afterward, while the women sit together in conversation, having brought up from the nearby seashore many small white bean-shaped stones, they take them in the right hand and pass them to the left (as if counting one, two, three, four). While counting, they repeat the phrase “Subjan Allah,” meaning “God’s morning,” which is like saying “may God give the deceased clarity in the next world.” And when it comes time to depart, they leave all the stones over the tomb, and those who do not use the stones pray with beads, like us Christians, repeating with each bead the same words of “Subjan Allah.” After three days, they return for the same ritual: to visit the tomb and pray for the deceased. And for the entire year afterward, it is the custom for the women to visit their dead on Monday mornings, Thursday afternoons, and Friday mornings. Some men may visit on the same days, usually during the mornings. Everyone, both men and women, stops to pray for the dead when passing a tomb or burial site, no matter what day it is. This is why the small stones remain there all the time. Their marabouts and learned men have persuaded them that when they visit the tombs like this, the spirits of the dead come out to be with them, and that the spirits of the men or women sit down on those stones placed at the head of the tomb, but the spirits of boys and girls sit down on the shawls of their mothers, grandmothers, or sisters, who tend to either sit or lie down over their tombs. And when they arise to return to their homes, 267


and scratch herself to pieces, emitting so many “Ohs!” and such pained voices that no ear can bear to hear her. Jewish men are not accustomed to put on mourning garb, but their women do wear black headdresses and garments for many days. And what we said about Jewesses—that they make a loud group lament for their dead—Turkish, Moorish, and renegade women also do. Their mothers and daughters also tear out their hair and scratch their faces until they are much bloodied; but they do so only on the day of the death or, at most, for some two or three days in a row and no more.

sing aloud and voice many praises of the dead person, expressing much pain and grief. They also mess up and tear out their hair in a circle, and give themselves blows, scratching and wounding their faces. The woman of the house who is most bereaved will, at the very least, bloody her entire face and that of her daughters and sisters, if she has them. The other women, who are not so affected, will only tear out their hair and slap themselves. And if the bereaved woman cannot collect a large crowd of Jewish women to raise their voices in a common lament, she will place herself in a corner of her house

14.8 Popular Burial Customs in Spain (1500s) Funeral customs and ceremonies varied considerably among peasant groups. Here two Spanish bishops describe some of the popular beliefs that they were aiming to suppress, including the idea that washing the body of a dying person could clean away sins. The bishops suspected that some rituals had come from the mixing of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions, and indeed all thought that the dead body had a spiritual power that had to be controlled through rituals and possibly drawn on through amulets. Source: Visitation report of the Bishops of Segovia (1529) and Mondonedo (1541). In P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (Ed. and Trans.), The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), p. 62.

Diego de Ribera, Bishop of Segovia, Visitation Report (1529)

Antonio de Guevara, Bishop of Mondonedo, Report of Visitation (1541)

In some places in this diocese, when the body of a dead person is being taken to the church, it is the custom to stop every so often and perform a number of ceremonies; and after they have entered the church with the corpse, while Mass is being said they clutch hold of the bier at certain times—another ceremony. In other places, after the corpse has been buried they come with crosses to the house of the deceased for the offering (all of which gives rise to a bad example); and when this has been awarded, from that point onwards, when they take a deceased person to be buried they do not, by way of ceremony, stop en route except when those who are carrying the corpse become tired or when there is a changeover of bearers. Once they have entered the church, they do not touch the bier with the corpse or change its position except when they take it to the grave.

During our visit we were informed that some people who know nothing about their religion wash a man all over while he lies on his death-bed, thinking that this will wash away their sins. They also shave his beard and later make charms of it. Since this is a Jewish and Morisco rite, we anathematise, curse, and excommunicate all persons who henceforth make such things, or see them made and do not denounce those who make them. In addition, we condemn each such person to pay 10,000 maravedis and to do public penance at the principal Mass on Sunday.


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Reading Questions 1. Death was seen as the “great equalizer” that erased all social distinctions. Yet different religious and national groups had quite distinct customs around comforting and burying the dead. What differences do you see, and what did they mean? 2. Plague was both common and feared. How did different customs, rituals, and practices aim to control it? 3. We saw earlier how the doctrine of the four humors governed European approaches to life and health. How did it also govern their approach to old age and death?


Sources Figures

7.3 “Urbanus and Isabel,” David le Jolle, c. 1814–20. Courtesy of Rijksmuseum. 8.1 “A Bathhouse,” from Facta et dicta memorabilia by Valerius Maximus, c. 1470. Heritage Image Partnership Ltd./Alamy. 8.2 Cesare Vecellio (c. 1530–c. 1601), Habiti antichi et moderni di tutto il mondo, 13v. Venice, 1598. Prisma Archivo/Alamy. 9.1 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Beggar Boys Eating Grapes and Melon. The Artchives/Alamy. 10.2 The death of Thomas Cranmer at the stake, burned for heresy in 1556. Protestant reformer. Executed during the reign of Mary I. Woodcut. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 12.1 Christoph Weiditz, “Trachtenbuch,” Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, Hs. 22474. 13.1 King of Kongo giving audience to the Portuguese and his subjects. Before 1850. The Picture Art Collection/ Alamy. 14.1 The dance of death at Basle. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 14.2 The dissection of the body of Tom Nero. Etching by W. Hogarth, 1751. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0.

3.1 A bathing room attendant applying the method of cupping to a male customer in an active bathing house. Engraving by C. Luyken (?). Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 3.2 Chart: venesection, 15th century manuscript. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 4.1 Thirteen diagrams of a child in the womb in various positions; two obstetrical chairs and several obstetrical instruments. Etching by F. Sesone, 1749. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 4.2 Hans Weiditz, Education of Children, 1532. Woodcut. bpk Bildagentur/Art Resource, NY. 5.1 In a Spitalfields silk weaver’s shop two contrasting apprentices, Tom Idle, asleep, and Francis Goodchild, engrossed in his work, sit at their looms overseen by their master. Engraving by Thomas Cook after William Hogarth, 1749. By William Hogarth. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 6.1 Mother Louse, witch. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 6.2 Textiles: two women preparing for silk spinning (top), and the equipment used (below). Engraving by R. Benard after Louis-Jacques Goussier. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 7.1 A man and a woman are weighed to assess their wealth for the purpose of marriage, she has a coffer full of coins on her lap, he has a small sack. Both families are pulling on the scales; representing a malevolent view of Jewish marriage. Engraving. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. 7.2 The workings and signing of a marriage contract. By Abraham Bosse. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0.

Text 3.1 From P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, ed. and trans., The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (Macmillan Press, 1999), pp. 96–97. Reproduced by permission of Springer Nature.


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3.2 Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press, from William Eamon, Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 185 and 187. © 1994 by Princeton University Press. Permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center. 3.4 From Terence Scully, ed. and trans., The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L’arte et prudenza d’un maestro cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (University of Toronto Press, 2008), pp. 263, 343, 357, 593, and 597. Reproduced by permission of the publisher. 3.5 From Oliva Sabuco de Nantes Barrera, The True Medicine, ed. and trans. Gianna Pomata. The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe 4 (Iter, Inc.; Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2010), pp. 84, 186, 188. Reproduced by permission of Iter Press and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria University in the University of Toronto. 3.7 From P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, ed. and trans., The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (Macmillan Press, 1999), pp. 46–48. Reproduced by permission of Springer Nature. 3.8 From P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, ed. and trans., The Occult in Early Modern Europe: A Documentary History (Macmillan Press, 1999), pp. 48–49. Reproduced by permission of Springer Nature. 3.10 From J.S. Bach, Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) (1732–34), trans. Z. Philip Ambrose. Reprinted by permission of Z. Philip Ambrose. 4.3 “Of the Termes,” in Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (Printed for Simon Miller, 1671), S2969B, Henry E. Huntington Library. Published with permission of ProQuest as part of Early English Books Online. 4.5 From James Wolveridge, M.D., Speculum Matricis; or, The Expert Midwives Handmaid (1669), W3319A, Folger Shakespeare Library. Published with permission of ProQuest as part of Early English Books Online. 4.6 “Of the Likeness of the Privities of Both Sexes,” in Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (printed for Simon Miller, 1671), S2969B, Henry E. Huntington Library. Published with permission of ProQuest as part of Early English Books Online. 4.7 From William Sermon, The Ladies Companion; or, The English Midwife (1671), P1132, British Library. Published with permission of ProQuest as part of Early English Books Online.

4.8 From Hilary Marland, ed. and trans., “Mother and Daughter Were Saved”: The Memoirs (1693–1740) of the Frisian Midwife Catharina Schrader (Rodopi, 1987). Reprinted by permission of Brill. 4.9 From Gene A. Brucker, ed. and trans., The Society of Renaissance Florence: A Documentary Study (University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 126–28 and 134–36. © Renaissance Society of America 1998. Reprinted by permission of the Renaissance Society of America. 4.11 From Julia O’Faolain and Lauro Martines, ed., Not in God’s Image (Harper & Row, 1974), pp. 225–26. © Julia O’Faolain and Lauro Martines. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN. 4.12 From Jane Sharp, The Midwives Book (Printed for Simon Miller, 1671), S2969B, Henry E. Huntington Library. Published with permission of ProQuest as part of Early English Books Online. 4.13 From Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline. org, version 8.0, 22 October 2018), June 1677, trial of midwife aged poor women (t16770601-6), and October 1679, trial of wench (t16791015-2). CC BY NC 4.0. 4.14 From Ambroise Paré, On Monsters and Marvels, trans. Janis L. Pallister (University of Chicago Press, 1982), pp. 3–4. © 1982 by the University of Chicago. Reproduced by permission. 4.15 From Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, “Blood Parents & Milk Parents [Parents de Sang, Parents de Lait],” in Women, Family, and Ritual in Renaissance Italy, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 151–52. Reproduced by permission of the Société de démographie historique. 4.18 From Robert Bonfil, Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy, trans. Anthony Oldcorn (University of California Press, 1994), pp. 251–52. © 1994 Regents of University of California Press. Reproduced by permission of University of California Press. 5.1 From Monica Chojnacka and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Ages of Woman, Ages of Man: Sources in European Social History, 1400–1750 (Pearson Education, 2002), pp. 19–22. Reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis Books UK. 5.2 From Robert Pemell, De morbis puerorum; or, a Treatise of the Diseases of Children (1653), P1132, British Library. Published with permission of ProQuest as part of Early English Books Online. 5.3 From Laura Cereta, Collected Letters of a Renaissance Feminist, ed. and trans. Diana Robin (University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 37–43. © 1997 by the University of Chicago. Reproduced by permission. 272

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