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The inquisition and the repression of erotic and pornographic imagery in early nineteenth-century Madrid

The inquisition and the repression of erotic and pornographic imagery in early nineteenth-century Madrid
The inquisition and the repression of erotic and pornographic imagery in early nineteenth-century Madrid

This article focuses on the repression of erotic and pornographic imagery (artworks, statues and figurines) by the Inquisition in Madrid during the last six years of its existence between 1814 and 1820. This period in the Inquisition's history has tended to be overlooked and dismissed as insignificant. After tracing the history of the Spanish Inquisition's desultory attempts in earlier years to suppress sexual imagery deemed to offend public piety, this article examines an unusual cluster of cases involving erotic or pornographic images during those six years. The article examines these cases and argues that we need to eschew simplistic narratives in which historians have presented the Inquisition as a moribund institution pathetically pursuing insignificant cases. The documentary evidence suggests that the inquisitors in Madrid were, if anything, fiercely determined to restore the fortunes of the Inquisition and its position within the absolutist monarchy of King Fernando VII. The inquisitors’ campaign against erotic and pornographic imagery was, alongside a focus on freemasonry, part of a quest for political and social legitimacy in a changing and increasingly hostile environment.

0018-2648
60-81
Soyer, FranÇois
3ccef83c-fad6-46be-b6a0-300d69a30528
Soyer, FranÇois
3ccef83c-fad6-46be-b6a0-300d69a30528

Soyer, FranÇois (2018) The inquisition and the repression of erotic and pornographic imagery in early nineteenth-century Madrid. History, 103 (354), 60-81. (doi:10.1111/1468-229X.12545).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article focuses on the repression of erotic and pornographic imagery (artworks, statues and figurines) by the Inquisition in Madrid during the last six years of its existence between 1814 and 1820. This period in the Inquisition's history has tended to be overlooked and dismissed as insignificant. After tracing the history of the Spanish Inquisition's desultory attempts in earlier years to suppress sexual imagery deemed to offend public piety, this article examines an unusual cluster of cases involving erotic or pornographic images during those six years. The article examines these cases and argues that we need to eschew simplistic narratives in which historians have presented the Inquisition as a moribund institution pathetically pursuing insignificant cases. The documentary evidence suggests that the inquisitors in Madrid were, if anything, fiercely determined to restore the fortunes of the Inquisition and its position within the absolutist monarchy of King Fernando VII. The inquisitors’ campaign against erotic and pornographic imagery was, alongside a focus on freemasonry, part of a quest for political and social legitimacy in a changing and increasingly hostile environment.

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The Inquisition History 2018 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 18 April 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 23 January 2018
Published date: January 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 420162
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/420162
ISSN: 0018-2648
PURE UUID: dbc74abd-d425-4b87-bd5b-108e56f1dec5

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Date deposited: 27 Apr 2018 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 00:33

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Author: FranÇois Soyer

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