Consensual and Forced Relations in Mexico, 1740–1854
This chapter discusses incest as a “crime against nature.” This claim was supported by the 1817 Diccionario de la lengua castellana, which defined the offense as “a carnal sin committed by relatives within prohibited degrees.” Despite placing sodomy and incest in the same category, ecclesiastical and civil officials roundly condemned the former but maintained a nuanced perspective on the latter. Generally speaking, they found incest nefarious and unnatural when committed by close relatives and when violence was involved, but they considered it understandable and natural when cousins sought to marry their social equals. The chapter demonstrates how incest cases from late colonial and early modern Mexico revealed how patriarchy and marriage buttressed order and stability.
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