Is This Love? Same-Sex Marriages in Renaissance Rome

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Author:
Giuseppe Marcocci g.marcocci@unitus.it

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In 1578, a same-sex community that gathered in a church, performing marriages between men, was discovered in Rome. Documentary evidence now verifies this story, reported by many sources, including a passage of Michel de Montaigne's Travel Journal, but which was for a long time denied by scholars. While briefly reconstructing this affair, this article explores the complex emotional regime surrounding the episode. In particular, it argues that those who participated in the ceremonies did so not only as an expression of affection for their partners, but also in an attempt to legitimize their relationships in a rite that imitated the Counter-Reformation sacrament of marriage. This approach challenges the predominant historiography on the birth of homosexuality and helps us to better understand the sentiments of those who were part of a same-sex community in Renaissance Rome.

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