By Carole A. Myscofski

The Roman Catholic church performed a dominant position in colonial Brazil, in order that women’s lives within the colony have been formed and limited via the Church’s beliefs for natural girls, in addition to via parallel ideas within the Iberian honor code for ladies. files left via Jesuit missionaries, Roman Catholic church officers, and Portuguese Inquisitors clarify that women’s day-by-day lives and their possibilities for marriage, schooling, and non secular perform have been sharply circumscribed during the colonial interval. but those related records additionally supply evocative glimpses of the non secular ideals and practices that have been specifically loved or independently built via ladies for his or her personal use, constituting a separate global for other halves, moms, concubines, nuns, and witches.

Drawing on huge unique learn in fundamental manuscript and revealed assets from Brazilian libraries and documents, in addition to secondary Brazilian old works, Carole Myscofski proposes to write down Brazilian ladies again into heritage, to appreciate how they lived their lives in the society created through the Portuguese imperial executive and Luso-Catholic ecclesiastical associations. Myscofski deals designated explorations of the Catholic colonial perspectives of the perfect girl, the styles in women’s schooling, the non secular perspectives on marriage and sexuality, the historical past of women’s convents and retreat homes, and the improvement of magical practices between girls in that period. one of many few wide-ranging histories of ladies in colonial Latin the United States, this booklet makes a very important contribution to our wisdom of the early sleek Atlantic World.

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Extra resources for Amazons, Wives, Nuns, and Witches: Women and the Catholic Church in Colonial Brazil, 1500-1822

Sample text

One of the longer reports from early colonial Brazil was composed by Antonio Rodrigues, who wrote—at Manuel da Nóbrega’s request—to the Portuguese Jesuit community of his travels in Brazil from the 1520s to the 1550s. Rodrigues mentions women only in terms of their service for colonists, or their economic contribution to an indigenous culture: colonists around the new town of Nossa Senhora da Assunção took the daughters of the local Carijós as wives, and the women among the Maias and Boroquis were remarkable spinners and weavers of cotton.

The Captain asked him how, not being married and there being no man among them, they became pregnant: he said that these Indian women consorted with Indian men at times, and, when that desire came to them, they assembled a great horde of warriors and went off to make war on a very great overlord whose residence is not far from that . . 55 Then the account reverted to details most likely gleaned from the lives and culture of Inca villages, with temples for worship of the sun, gold and silver vessels, and isolated communities of women.

The social conflicts of early modern Europe tended to heighten the dichotomous expec- Amazons and Cannibals { 23 } tations, so that religious institutions there challenged the disparate forces of evil, and virtuous men denounced women as demons, witches, or sorceresses. Similarly, in the Brazilian colony, religious and secular leaders alike identified the shocking or anomalous behaviors of indigenous women as not just barbaric, but demonic. Innocent and Compliant: The First Images of Brazilian Women As noted above, many of the earliest reports about Brazilian Indian women portrayed them as simple and vulnerable creatures.

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