Monthly Archives: December 2020

Bishops and Domestic Violence

By Isabel Harvey, 21/12/2020.

Protagonists: Galeozzo Garganello, a layman from Bologna, and his wife, the noblewoman Lucretia Past.

Source: Archivio Apostolico Vaticano, Congregazione dei Vescovi e Regolari, Positiones, 1605, Lett. B-F. Bologna. (See the sources here)

In Bologna in 1605, the Bishop submitted a case to Rome that seemed to get more complicated every day. Galeozzo Garganello and the noblewoman Lucretia Pasi were newly married, but already the young woman was seeking asylum away from the marital home. She “was in danger of being poisoned, or in other way losing her life by the actions of […] Garganello her husband,” and “several times he heavily bet her.”(1) In addition, Galeozzo frequented a prostitute and kept her in the marital home in the presence of his wife Lucretia. The Bishop was informed of the situation by Lucretia, “showing him the beatings, and the bad actions done by her said husband.”(2) So, he removed the woman from the clutches of her husband and found her a safe place, which was at first her parents’ home. Then Lucretia wished to enter a convent: this refuge was generally suggested by the Bishops and chosen by the mismarried women. Since these women had to obtain a license from Rome in order to enter the convent, the Bishop acted as her representative to the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars and obtained this permit. Lucretia thus entered the convent, with the intention of spending the rest of her days there. This solution suited her: she gave up asking for a divorce and therefore for her dowry of 5000 scudi, and in exchange her husband payed her alimenti, the annual allowance for roof and food in the convent. 

The Bishop and Lucretia both thought they had solved the problem. However, when it was time to pay, Galeozzo fought back. After prevaricating for a while, saying he was opposed to the choice of the monastery, he went to two local secular courts, where, after five years of trials, he obtained an order forcing Lucretia’s return to his home. The Bishop refused to enforce these judgments, considering the danger for Lucretia too severe. Galeozzo Garganello then wrote the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, the congregation responsible for Lucretia’s acceptance into a convent, and asked his wife to be sent back home, arguing that he “took a wife for having a succession, and also because he do not have the gift of continence.”(3) Rome quickly communicated this request to the Bishop, who was exasperated by Galeozzo Garganello’s behavior. Lucretia, on her side, refused to leave the monastery, but the nuns did not want to keep her for free. The Bishop sincerely feared for her safety. Rome thus launched a second investigation, in order to confirm the judgment of the Bishop who had suggested the divorce. 

In this case, many power dynamics and power games were conditioning the life of Lucretia, and fortunately, mostly in a positive way. The Bishop of Bologna, who refused to recognize the judgments of the secular courts on the pretext of the woman’s security, was certainly also motivated by an ambition to strengthen the predominance of ecclesiastical courts over secular authorities. Here, he was following in the footsteps of the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars who, precisely in the years of the pontificate of Clement VIII (1592-1605), were working to affirm ecclesiastical jurisdictions over secular powers. Galeozzo Garganello sought to circumvent the Bishop’s bias by appealing to Rome, aiming to short-circuit the Bishop’s authority, while naively presenting a change of opinion to those who had authorized the entrance of Lucretia Pasi into the convent. 

As in this case, the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars regularly dealt with family dramas, and did not hesitate to get involved in the problem even if, in the end, its capacity for intervention remained limited. In fact, Rome was called to intervene in cases of domestic violence whenever the woman found refuge in a convent, as in the case of Lucretia Pasi. The Cardinals of the Congregation took the opportunity to gather as much information as possible, preparing for a possible legal battle if the violent husband sought the help of another ecclesiastical court, for example the Sacra Rota of Rome. Bishops, for their part, tried to resolve these scandalous matters before the case reached higher authorities. In this case, the numerous letters exchanged between the Bishop and the Congregation show the extent of conjugal and family violence, which only interested the Episcopal justice when the life of the woman was in danger.

(1) AAV, CVR, POS, 1605, Lett. B-F. Bologna. (perche correva pericolo d’esser velenata, ò in altro modo perdere la vita per mano di Laeazo Garganello suo marito) / (più volte havendola malamente battuta)

(2) AAV, CVR, POS, 1605, Lett. B-F. Bologna. (et mostrandoli le percosse, et li mali deporti di detto suo marito)

(3) AAV, CVR, POS, 1605, Lett. B-F. Bologna. (prese moglie per haver successione, et anche per non haver il dono della continenza)

Bishops and Domestic Violence: Sources

By Isabel Harvey, 21/12/2020.

Archivio Apostolico Vaticano, Congregazione dei Vescovi e Regolari, Positiones, 1605, Lett. B-F. Bologna.

Letter from the Bishop of Bologna to the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.

Alli mesi passati fu concessa licentia da questa sacra Congregatione à Lucretia Pasi da Bologna d’intrare un Mon.rio et ivi dimorare sino per tutta sua vita, perche correva pericolo d’esser velenata, ò in altro modo perdere la vita per mano di Leazo Garganello suo marito, per causa che volendo alli anni passati detto suo marito tenere una meritrice in casa et nel proprio letto cond.a sua moglie, et più volte havendola malamente battuta essa fu astretta ricorrere à Monsignore Arcivescovo. Et mostrandoli le percosse, et li mali deporti di detto suo marito otenne licentia di starsene in casa de suoi parenti separata da esso et benche detto suo marito per fuggir d’esser astretto à darli li alimenti ottenne per due sentenze che essa dovesse ritornare con lui et desse egli come asserisce sigurtà di non offenderla. Nondimeno Monsignore Arcivescovo et Monsignore Vicelegato informati delle mali qualità di quest’homo et del pericolo della vita di questa donna non hanno mai voluto far esseguire le dette sentenze anzi con sue lettere hanno informato questa sacra Congregatione et persuaso à non permettere, che habitino insieme; come ne farà fede Monsignore Gesso. Hora adunque che detta Lucretia è intrata nel Monasterio et si procede con detto Galeazzo per li alimenti, havendo presso di lui beni per scudi 5000 dilla dote di detta sua moglie, egli ricorre alle Signorie loro Illustrissime dimandando che la vole presso di se sotto colori come esso dice che habbi preso moglie per goderla, et non per starsene separato […].

Et primo perche non è vero che habbi animo sincero di volerla presso di se, ma lo fà per non darli gl’alimenti nel Monastero benche habbi detti beni per scudi 5000 di dote, poi per più commodamente et copertamente forse privarla di vita.

2o. perche egli più volte ha fatto instazia che intrasse un monasterio come per fede si da in mani di detto Reverendissimo Monsignore Gesso si che si scopre che se essa se ne stasse senza dimandarli gl’alimenti, che lui non cercheria che andasse appresso di lui.

3o. Perche i mali disporti di quest’homo non solo sono sofficienti à causar che se ne stià separata, ma anco sariano sofficiente per far il divortio.

Cioè per la molta sua sevetia in batterla la quale molto si deve attendere con donna nobile come è questa et che ha portato 5000 scudi di dote.

Poi per l’adulterio comeesso, et tante volte retirato da detto suo marito, anzo nel quale anco horà si ritrova

[…]

Letter from Galeazzo Garganello to the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.

Gio. Galeazzo Garganella da Bologna devotissimo oratore di Vostra Signoria Illustrissima doppo esser stato alcun tempo con Lucretia Pasi sua moglie, essa sedotta da Maligni, tentò contro di lui il divortio per tre sentenze conformi la prima del Vicario, la 2a della Rota di Bologna, la 3a da Monsignore di Vigevane Vice legato all’hora di Bologna gli fu relassato […]. Et quando l’oratore pensava conseguire l’effetto di tante spese fatte per cinque anni continui doppo haver causato, et assecurato la moglie con grossissima sigurtà da un ordine di Vostra Signoria Illustrissima fu impedito comandando che fosse posta in un monastero. Ma perche Monsignore Illustrissimo l’oratore prese moglie per haver successione, et anche per non haver il dono della continenza, et ha per giustitia per tre conformi ottenuto che detta sua moglie torni con esso lui, non havendo sofficiente causa di star separata. Humilmente hora ricorre à Vostra Illustrissima supplicandola restar servita di non Impedir la giustitia comandando al moderno Vice legato, e non all’arcivescovo qual’è sospettissimo all’oratore, che faccio esseguire il suo mandato, che il tutto si riceverà per gratia. 

Sex Crimes and Religious Crimes: The Case of Regula Bleuler

1730, Zurich.

By Adrina Schulz, 04.12.2020.

 The deposition of Regula Bleuler from 1730 illustrates the intensity with which Reformed Zurich authorities investigated religious transgressions, even during trials of seemingly unrelated sexual crimes. In fact, the adultery and fornication accusations against Bleuler, as well as her allegations of sexual assault against Heinrich Wirth, were overshadowed by questions about her religious activities. This case took place two centuries after the initial phases of the Zurich Reformation, showing the continued and even increased relevance of confessional boundaries. 

Regula Bleuler was called before the Zurich court several times in November, 1730. She had already given birth to four children out of wedlock by this point, at least one of which had since died, and was pregnant with a fifth. She had been imprisoned three times for fornication (“hureyen”), including a stay in the stocks. After this latest punishment, she had been exiled and told that the next punishment would be physical, even the capital (“Leib und Leben”). She was caught in Eglisau, part of Zurich’s territory, and was officially imprisoned because of a new case of adultery, committed with Heinrich Wirth. Bleuler argued that the encounter had been a case of sexualized violence (for the difficulties inherent to using the modern definition of rape in the early modern period see, among others: Loetz 2015). Bleuler stated that Wirth had dragged her by the arm (“bey den arm gezehrt”) and had had sex with her (“beschlaffen”) even though she had defended herself (“gwehrt”). Wirth’s version of the story involves no force but simply states that he committed adultery with Bleuler (“die ehe gebrochen”). The court protocols do not record a conviction or punishment for either party, but from the court’s questioning, it seems that the authorities did not believe Bleuler’s version of events. Eventually, she also admitted to receiving a whore’s income (“2 1/2 t[al]er hurenlohn”) for the act, which, of course, does not mean that sexualized violence did not occur.

However, the court quickly switched to another line of questioning, regarding Bleuler’s religious activities while in exile. Although she first claimed that she only received alms (“Allmosen”) at Rheinau abbey, she eventually admitted that she had also studied with a religious man (“geistlichen Herren,” later called a “pfaff,” a Reformed word for a Catholic Priest) there. She had learned the 10 Commandments (“X. Gebott”) and the rosary (“Rosen-kranz”) from him. She even declared that she had done this out of her own initiative, and that she had furthermore had to kneel before an altar to Mary (“Sie habe zum Althar zum Mutter Gottes-bild knien müßen”) and that she had put a finger on a book, but had not had to say anything (“ihre finger auf ein buch legen, jedoch kein wort reden müßen”). These actions seem to have troubled the Reformed Zurich authorities as much as, or even more than, her sexual activities, as their description takes up multiple pages of testimony. The court protocols are accompanied by letters in support of Bleuler, one of which even focuses solely on her possible conversion to the Catholic (“papistichen”) confession. This letter states that she knew little about either the Catholic or the Reformed faith and that she had erred out of ignorance (“unverstand”), closing with the plea that she be allowed to stay in Zurich rather than be exiled again.

Thus, Zurich authorities investigated confessional matters seriously and extensively. Sexual crimes were also punished severely, as shown in previous case studies, but in the trial of Regula Bleuler, they take a backseat to discussions of prayers, holy books, and conversion. On the other hand, this case also highlights how little many Zurich inhabitants knew about confessional differences and religious doctrine, or at least how little they claimed to know. Bleuler and those supporting her had good reason to portray her as ignorant and thus as less guilty, but their claims of ignorance seem to have been accepted by the court, meaning they were plausible. Although authorities were extremely concerned with religious doctrine and difference, ordinary men and women did not always follow suit.