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social sciences

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Europe: The Enlightenment  
 
page: 1  2  

Nevertheless, there are many prominent homosexuals from this period, including Gustavus III of Sweden (1771-1792), Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia (1712-1786), Count Giuseppe Gorani (1740-1819), and Grand Duke Giovanni Gastone of Florence (1671-1737).

Among the more colorful homosexual figures was Admiral Pierre-André Suffren de Saint-Tropez (1729-1788), who commanded the French fleet in the Indian Ocean. He encouraged homosexuality aboard the ships he commanded and enjoyed matching up older and younger sailors in "marriages."

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Marquis Charles-Michel de Vilette (1734 - 1793), Voltaire's protégé, was alleged by satirists to be a spokesman for French homosexuals; books promoting homosexuality were (falsely) attributed to him.

Enlightenment thinkers explained homosexuality outside the framework of theology. For example, Montesquieu (1689-1755), one of the most important philosophes, attributed it to national custom. In general, the Enlightenment discussions of homosexuality were a confusing mélange making reference to disease, nationality, and even sin.

For example, Pierre Bayle's Dictionnaire historique et critique (1697, with many subsequent editions) considered homosexuality the result of clerical celibacy. In the entry "On Sodomy" in his Dictionnaire philosophique (1764), Voltaire proclaimed adult homosexuality to be an abomination. Nonetheless in his legal critique, Prix de la Justice et de l'Humanité (1777), he argued for decriminalization of homosexuality.

More radical was the great Danish historian and playwright, Ludvik Holberg (1684-1754): he argued for government indifference to what he regarded as fundamentally a private matter.

As a result of the Enlightenment's discourse on sexuality, a greater openness towards sexuality became apparent and the framework for discussing homosexuality was transformed from viewing it as a sin against the divine to a greater tolerance of the human.

John D. Stanley

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    Bibliography
   

Blanc, Olivier. Les Libertines: Plaisir et liberté au temps des Lumières. Paris: Perrin, 1997.

Cassirier, Ernst. The Philosophy of the Enlightenment. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1951.

Coward, D.A. "Attitudes to Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century France." European Studies Review 10 (1980): 231-55.

Gorani, Giuseppe. Mémoires. Paris: Gallimard, 1944.

Jones, Howard Mumford. Revolution and Romanticism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974.

Hatfield, Henry Caraway. Aesthetic Paganism in German Literature, from Winckelmann to the Death of Goethe. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964.

Lever, Maurice. Les büchers de Sodome. Paris: Fayard, 1985.

Merrick, Jeffrey, and Bryant T. Ragan, eds. Homosexuality in Modern France. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Solé, Jacques. L'amour en Occident à l'époque moderne. Paris: Albin Michel, 1976.

Steakley, James D. "Sodomy in Enlightenment Prussia." Journal of Homosexuality 16 (1988): 163-75.

Tarczylo, Théodore. Sexe et liberté au siècle des Lumières. Paris: Presses de la Renaissance, 1983.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Stanley, John D.  
    Entry Title: Europe: The Enlightenment  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated November 14, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/europe_enlightenment.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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