Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in by Michael Rocke

By Michael Rocke

"This is an excellent paintings of scholarship, most unlikely to overpraise.... It marks a milestone within the 20-year upward thrust of homosexual and lesbian studies."--Martin Duberman, The AdvocateThe males of Renaissance Florence have been so popular for sodomy that "Florenzer" in German intended "sodomite." within the overdue 15th century, as many as one in Florentine males had come to the eye of the professionals for sodomy by the point they have been thirty. In 1432 The workplace of the evening used to be created in particular to police sodomy in Florence. certainly, approximately all Florentine men most likely had a few type of same-sex adventure as part of their "normal" sexual lifestyles. Seventy years of denunciations, interrogations, and sentencings left an awfully precise list, which writer Michael Rocke has utilized in his brilliant depiction of this bright sexual tradition in a global the place those same-sex acts weren't the deviant transgressions of a small minority, yet a vital part of a regular masculine id. Rocke roots this sexual intercourse within the broader context of Renaissance Florence, with its social networks of households, juvenile gangs, friends, patronage, workshops, and confraternities, and its busy political lifestyles from the early years of the Republic throughout the interval of Lorenzo de' Medici, Savonarola, and the start of Medici princely rule. His richly designated e-book paints a desirable photo of Renaissance Florence and calls into query our smooth conceptions of gender and sexual identification.

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Domestic themes proliferated in Tuscan art, as artists reelaborated traditional scenes of mother and child and introduced new ones portraying family life, marriage, and childhood. 42 This solicitude toward the very young might have stiffened Florentine resolve to repress sodomy, perhaps seen as a way to control adolescent sexuality more firmly or to protect boys from the sexual lust of adult men, which all too often involved intimidation, abuse, or outright rape. Marriage also received new impulses and support from various quarters.

Hard to prove, his views are nonetheless suggestive. Some parents, he alleged in Siena, "permit their sons to do every disgraceful, evil, and sinful thing possible," referring to sodomy, "and the reason they allow it is to obtain civic offices or money. 102 Bernardino was suggesting that sodomy functioned at times as an exchange of favors or influence, the son's sexual companionship in return for his father's political advancement or other benefits. 104 Bernardino also had much to say about men who pursued boys.

17 In another 24 Forbidden Friendships exemplary case from 1348, Agostino di Ercole, described as "dedicated . . to the vice against nature," first recounted his attempt to sodomize a youth in an inn, foiled by the suspicious host, who threw them out. Then he named ten others he had sodomized on various occasions. 18 These and similar cases suggest that a good deal of noncoercive homosexual activity probably went on in Florence "publicly and openly," as it was said, without arousing much concern among either the community or the authorities.

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