Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence

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Oxford University Press, Mar 5, 1998 - Social Science - 384 pages
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"This is a superb work of scholarship, impossible to overpraise.... It marks a milestone in the 20-year rise of gay and lesbian studies."--Martin Duberman, The Advocate The men of Renaissance Florence were so renowned for sodomy that "Florenzer" in German meant "sodomite." In the late fifteenth century, as many as one in two Florentine men had come to the attention of the authorities for sodomy by the time they were thirty. In 1432 The Office of the Night was created specifically to police sodomy in Florence. Indeed, nearly all Florentine males probably had some kind of same-sex experience as a part of their "normal" sexual life. Seventy years of denunciations, interrogations, and sentencings left an extraordinarily detailed record, which author Michael Rocke has used in his vivid depiction of this vibrant sexual culture in a world where these same-sex acts were not the deviant transgressions of a small minority, but an integral part of a normal masculine identity. Rocke roots this sexual activity in the broader context of Renaissance Florence, with its social networks of families, juvenile gangs, neighbors, patronage, workshops, and confraternities, and its busy political life from the early years of the Republic through the period of Lorenzo de' Medici, Savonarola, and the beginning of Medici princely rule. His richly detailed book paints a fascinating picture of Renaissance Florence and calls into question our modern conceptions of gender and sexual identity.

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User Review  - AlexTheHunn - LibraryThing

Rocke presents a detailed study of male culture and same-sex relationships in Renaissance Florence. This book, more than any other single work changed my views on the nature and origin of homosexuality -- although such was not Rocke's purpose. Read full review

Forbidden friendships: homosexuality and male culture in Renaissance Florence

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

From the fiery sermons of Bernadino of Siena, Savanarola, as well as from general gossip, modern students of 15th-century Italy have long suspected that Florence witnessed a great amount of sodomy ... Read full review


Florence and Sodomy
Change and Continuity in the Policing of Sodomy in the Sixteenth Century
Penalties Levied
Statistical Tables

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Page 4 - In this small city of around only 40,000 inhabitants, every year during roughly the last four decades of the fifteenth century an average of some 400 people were implicated and 55 to 60 condemned for homosexual relations. Throughout the entire period corresponding to the duration of the Office of the Night, it can be estimated that as many as 17,000 individuals or more were incriminated at least once for sodomy, with close to 3,000...

About the author (1998)

Michael Rocke is the Nicky Mariano Librarian of the Biblioteca Berenson at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, in Florence.

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