Preface: I am in the process of trying to rewrite the preface historical material for the travel guides, and split it into a separate book. At that point, I want to then go back and do a much better job at doing the travel guide part and history of some of the specific parts of Madrid/Spain as per the original intent of the website. The history part just got overwhelming and hugely disorganized. Doing this requires combing a 189 page document with a 169 page document with a fair bit of overlapping text and information between them. This will be a work in progress, with that work in progress posted as blog posts. After having done the first three eras, the 189 page document is down to 167 pages so progress! Yay! That’s in part because there just doesn’t appear to be much information on this particular era, even as it is defined as an important transition period. It clearly needs to be revisited at some future point. Anyway, onwards.
Enlightenment Spain (1700 – 1810)
The Spanish Enlightenment period from 1700 to 1810 saw some changes for women and lesbians in particular. The brunt of the Inquisition was behind them, but old challenges remained, and new opportunities presented themselves to Spanish lesbians. Sex segregation was common in society, with men and women often living completely separate lives from each other. Consequently, women in women only facilities often had an easier time of finding emotional and physical intimacy with other women. Women living together in this period were also much less suspect than men of being homosexuals.
References to words describing female homosexuality were often ignored by Spanish dictionaries, even when such words appeared to be in regular use in society and even when words describing male homosexuality were included. The first word to appear in the 1734, when machorra appeared in the Diccionario de autoridades. marimacho first appeared the same year, where it was defined as, “A woman, which in her corpulence and actions looks like a man.” Lack of inclusion and recognition or only derogatory references of words referring to homosexual women would continue for the next 270 years.
Mosot had entered the Valencian language by the 18th century, referring originally to women who worked in inns or as mains in bourgeoisie households. By the mid-19th century, the word, written as moçot, had begun to mean “big boy”, denoting women who were not feminine and implying they were lesbians.
Primera, y segunda parte de las novelas amorosas, y exemplares by María de Zayas Sotomayor was published in 1705 and again in 1734, 1764, 1983, 1994 and 2006 in Barcelona. The book contains stories about sexual equality and male violence. It followed themes of her earlier works published in the Hapsburg period, it too approach the topic of female desire from a patriarchal perspective where women do not get to define their own sexual desires.
Infanta of Spain Isabel de Borbón-Parma was born in Spain in 1741. After marrying Joseph II of Austria when she was 17 years old around 1758, Isabel fell in love with his sister María Cristina. The pair wrote over 200 love letters to each other. Isabel died when she was 22.
The work of Sappho was well known in 19th century Spain. In 1797, the brothers José and Bernabé Canga Argüelles published a collection of the works of Sappho alongside other Greek poets which they had translated from ancient Greek. Poesías de Saffo, Meleagro y Museo, a translation by D. Joseph Antonio Conde also published in 1797.