Citizens and Sodomites: Persecution and Perception of Sodomy in the Southern Low Countries (1400–1700)


The Southern Low Countries were among Europe’s core regions for the repression of sodomy during the late medieval period. As the first comprehensive study on sodomy in the Southern Low Countries, this book charts the prosecution of sodomy in some of the region’s leading cities, such as Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, from 1400 to 1700 and explains the reasons behind local differences and variations in the intensity of prosecution over time. Through a critical examination of a range of sources, this study also considers how the urban fabric perceived sodomy and provides a broader interpretive framework for its meaning within the local culture.

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Jonas Roelens, Ph.D. (2018), Ghent University, is postdoctoral researcher at that university, where he teaches gender history. His Ph.D. thesis received the Erik Duverger Award. He is co-author of Verzwegen verlangen. Een geschiedenis van homoseksualiteit in België (2017).
List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations

PART I: Methodological and Discursive Framework

1 Introduction
 1 Sodomy: a Contested Historiography
 2 Sodomy: an Urban Vice? Geographical and Chronological Demarcation
 3 Sources and Methodology
 4 Structure
 5 Terminology

2 Sodomy in Religion, Law, and Popular Culture
 1 Introduction
 2 Religious Views on Sodomy
 3 Legal Views on Sodomy
 4 Cultural Views on Sodomy
 5 Conclusion

PART II: Urban Prosecutions

3 Cycles in the Urban Prosecution Policy
 1 Introduction
 2 Cycles in Early Modern Europe
 3 Sodomy in the Southern Netherlands: Facts and Figures
 4 The Sodomite as Scapegoat
 5 Bruges: Sodom of the North
 6 Bruges and Its Reputation: Some Possible Explanations
 7 Conclusion

4 Social Profiles
 1 Introduction
 2 The Young Sodomite
 3 The Bourgeois Sodomite
 4 The Noble Sodomite
 5 Conclusion

5 Clerical Sodomy
 1 Introduction
 2 Clerical Sodomy in Context
 3 Clerical Sodomites in the Southern Netherlands
 4 Sodomy and the Reformation
 5 The Sodomy Trials of 1578
 6 Tridentine Reforms and Same-Sex Desires
 7 Conclusion

6 Foreign Sodomy
 1 Introduction
 2 Discursive Constructions of Sodomy
 3 Migration in the Southern Netherlands
 4 Migrant Sodomites in the Southern Netherlands
 5 Conclusion

7 Female Sodomy
 1 Introduction
 2 Female Sodomy in Theological and Legal Traditions
 3 Female Sodomy Prosecution in the Southern Netherlands
 4 Female Visibility as an Explanation?
 5 Conclusion

PART III: Urban Discourses

8 Gossip, Defamation, and Sodomy
 1 Introduction
 2 Rumors and Gossip in the Early Modern City
 3 Gossiping about Sodomy
 4 Suspicious Communities or Severe Authorities?
 5 Conclusion

9 Sodomy, Religious Conflict, and Urban Memory
 1 Introduction
 2 Anti-Monasticism and the Ghent Sodomy Trial of 1578
 3 Catholic Rehabilitation in City-Chronicles
 4 Sodomy and Urban Memory
 5 Conclusion

10 Sodomy, Witchcraft, and Public Discourse
 1 Introduction
 2 The Remarkable Romance of Mayken and Magdaleene
 3 Female Sodomy in Seventeenth-Century Europe
 4 Female Sodomy and Hermaphrodites
 5 Sodomy and Witchcraft
 6 Conclusion


Appendix Chronological Overview per City
This book is aimed at scholars and students working on the medieval and early modern period, gender history, history of sexuality, criminal history, and urban history.
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