Patricia Seed and Love, Honor, and Obey

        I.            Gerónimo and Juana (a Mexican Romeo and Juliet)

A.      Children of rival Mexico City merchants who want to marry (1591)

B.      Gerónimo’s father shackled him, locks him up in a room

C.      Gerónimo’s uncle smuggles out a note to a local priest

D.      Priest threatens to excommunicate father if Gerónimo is not released

E.       Father relents in face of threat, police free Gerónimo, and Gerónimo and Juana marry

F.       Romeo and Juliet

1.  Same time period, and similar problem

2. But Gerónimo and Juana protected by a strong church

3. Romeo and Juliet, in a story that is more about England than Italy, had no strong church to turn to

      II.            The Pro-Children stance in marriage choice of the early colonial church

A.       Will

1. Galvanized by Protestant challenge, Council of Trent (1545-63) led RCC to emphasize will over pre-destination

2. This was quickly applied to the sacrament of marriage (and was a major conflict with the Protestants)

3. Since marriage was a sacrament, interfering in free will was morally wrong in Church opinion

4. Trent was most strongly honored in Spanish RCC

a.       Spanish theologians broadly supported it

b.      Spanish culture had long supported the idea, despite medieval law

B.      Love

1. Seed rejects an historical tradition that suggests that romantic love as a basis for marriage is a modern notion

2. Rather, finds strong evidence for the idea in medieval/early modern Spain, but with conflicts

a.       Medieval Spain saw love as enslaving passion

b.      Influence of Thomas Aquinas changed this idea; love seen more as an expression of will

                                                                                                         i.            Culture, and Church, develops a belief in the ability to control one’s own emotions

                                                                                                       ii.            Enslaving passion notion never completely disappears

C.      Honor

1. Precarious combination of self-esteem and respect shown by the community

2.  Included dignity conferred by rank/position and personal integrity

3. Moral virtue both the manifestation and the justification of honor

4. Sexual Honor

a.       Principle concern for female honor

b.      Yet Spanish had highest illegitimacy rate in Europe

c.       Could  also bring dishonor to father, brother, husband

d.      Because of severity of shame, society often conspired to cover up transgressions

e.      In this light, protecting a female’s  honor more important than family wishes

5. Promises and Vows

a.       Upholding these the principle concern for male honor, along with courage

b.      The reliability of verbal vows takes on extra importance in a world of low literacy

c.       Also, were considered an expression of free will

d.      Culture, and Church, generally assumed that engaged couples were sexually active

e.      Church and male relatives of female would enforce promises of marriage

    III.            Transition

A.      In early 1700s, concerns of parents noted for first time Church records

1.  Documents in the 1500s and 1600s showed a universal condemnation by Church and society of parents who interfered with marriage choices

2.  After 1700, Church begins to see this as a conflict of wills (parental will vs. child’s will)

B.      Changes in honor

1. Increasingly less emphasis on word of honor after 1670s

2. This meant that gradually, Church could not be as sure that promises had been made

3. Increasing participation of non-whites in marriage also lessened need to defend the honor of white women and their families

a.       “Virtuous conduct” no longer a white preserve

b.      Distinctions between elite and non-elite behavior less clear

c.       Slow shift from covering up to public shame after 1700

C.      Changes in enforcement

1. State stopped exiling promise-breakers in late 1600s

2. Instead, jailed them for three years

3. Church allowed choice between dowry and jail (as opposed to forcing marriage) when a marriage promise was not kept

4. Lowering of penalties accelerated loss of value of a verbal promise

D.      Interest and Patriarchy

1. Influence of mercantilism and Machiavelli gave greater respect to rational self-interest and monetary gain through commerce and trade

2. Father’s economic role as head of the family business reinforced patriarchy

    IV.            Honor as Status

A.      Decline of traditional aristocracy and rise of capitalists meant both very concerned about status and how to get it

B.      Increasing racial inter-marriage in 1700s eroded many traditional markers of status, furthering the shift to wealth as key marker

C.      Pre-1700, poor and rich parents alike emphasized same things in family honor; rich after 1700 more focused on wealth-based status

1. Increased use of objection to marriages based on economic inequality

2. Increasing involvement in world capitalism shifts emphasis to money and need of family to expand and protect resources