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social sciences

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Most importantly, and paralleling cases of heresy, inquisitors withheld the names of accusers and witnesses from the suspect, thus removing one of the few advantages that the defense had in the Aragonese Tribunals. Otherwise, the same preoccupation evinced in Aragon concerning social status emerged in this tribunal.

An analysis of Luiz Delgado's trials for sodomy in both Brazil and Portugal between 1665 and 1692 evince a system of persecution based on threats to social order. Allegedly having young lovers whom he sustained, this man of considerable wealth attracted the attention of authorities because he allowed familiarity with social inferiors. That an adult would allow a young man sometimes to sodomize him and treat him in a familiar fashion unbecoming to the rules of social contact indicated a breakdown in social order.

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Despite both the Portuguese and Aragonese tribunals' obsession with homosexual behavior as indicative of social disorder, the sentences applied to the culprits were milder than those for other crimes, especially "judaizing." New Christians, or Conversos, Jews who had been forcibly baptized but secretly practiced the Jewish faith within their homes, were more likely to meet their demise at the stake than men convicted of sodomy.

As the seventeenth century progressed, inquisitors issued milder sentences. Reflecting a greater concern with public scandal, inquisitors preferred to sentence convicted sodomites to exile or the galleys, thus avoiding the necessity of parading them in the auto de fe (or burning of a heretic after pronouncement of judgment). Authorities feared that the public admission of homosexual behavior might persuade others also to engage in it.

Cristian Berco

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social sciences >> Overview:  Brazil

A notably diverse country, Brazil is also home to one of the world's most dynamic glbtq political movements.

social sciences >> Overview:  Europe: Medieval

Although historical sources are comparatively scanty, they do indicate that homosexual behavior occurred throughout the period, and they give insight into its forms and the varying attitudes toward it.

social sciences >> Overview:  Latin America: Colonial

Same-sex sexual practices among the indigenous peoples of Latin America were seen by their Spanish and Portuguese conquerors as evidence of their cultural inferiority and were repressed through both religious and civil means.

social sciences >> Overview:  Mexico

Although Mexico has had a long history of homosexual activity that began before the Conquest, its Latin American machismo has problematized the acceptance of glbtq people.

social sciences >> Overview:  Papacy

The history of the papacy's attitudes toward same-sex relationships is more complex than the virulently antigay pronouncements of the most recent popes would lead one to believe.

social sciences >> Overview:  Portugal

Portugal has made significant progress in recent years toward affording equal opportunity to its glbtq citizens.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  Spain

From a particularly strong application of sodomy laws in the early modern period to a liberalization of sexual mores since the 1980s, Spanish society has displayed an ambivalent and complex relationship to sexual minorities.

arts >> Barcelona Monument

The gay monument in Barcelona, dedicated in March 2011, commemorates the sufferings of glbtq people.

social sciences >> Bruno, Giordano

Burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church, Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno has been seen as a martyr to religious intolerance; only recently has he also been recognized as a queer hero.

arts >> Cellini, Benvenuto

Sculptor, goldsmith, memoirist, and flamboyant pederast, Benvenuto Cellini is one of the greatest artists in the history of Western art.

social sciences >> Joan of Arc

Although condemned to death by the Inquisition for her cross-dressing, almost five hundred years later Joan of Arc was canonized by the Church as a saint.


Alves Dias, João José. "Para una abordagem do sexo proibido em Portugal no século XVI." Inquisição, Congreso Luso brasileiro sobre inquisição. Maria Helena Carvalho dos Santos, ed. Lisbon: Universitaria Editora, 1989. 147-56.

Burshatin, Israel. "Written on the Body: Slave or Hermaphrodite in Sixteenth-Century Spain." Queer Iberia: Sexualities, Cultures, and Crossings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Josiah Blackmore and Gregory S. Hutcheson, eds. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999. 130-56.

Carrasco, Rafael. Inquisición y represión sexual en Valencia: historia de los sodomitas (1565-1785). Barcelona: Laertes, 1985.

Fernández, André. "The Repression of Sexual Behavior by the Aragonese Inquisition between 1560 and 1700." Journal of the History of Sexuality 7.4 (April 1997): 469-502.

Higgs, David. Queer Sites: Gay Urban Histories since 1600. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Monter, William. Frontiers of Heresy: the Spanish Inquisition form the Basque Lands to Sicily. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Mott, Luiz. O sexo proibido. Virgens, gays e escravos nas garras da inquisição. Campinas: Papirus, 1988.


    Citation Information
    Author: Berco, Cristian  
    Entry Title: Inquisition  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated May 25, 2005  
    Web Address  
    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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