Gender Studies •  History and Latin America

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Private Passions and Public Sins: Men and Women in Seventeenth-Century Lima

María Emma Mannarelli
Translated by Meredith Dodge
Translated by Sidney Evans

Premarital sex, consensual relations, bigamy, polygamy, births out of wedlock, and clandestine affairs between clergy and laity were common components of everyday society in colonial Latin America. Private Passions and Public Sins focuses on the frequency and significance of illegitimacy and extramarital relationships in Lima, Peru, during the seventeenth century. Lima was Maria Mannarelli's selection for this study because it was the administrative, commercial, and religious center of the Viceroyalty of Peru and was home to numerous ethnic and social groups.

Chapter one deals with the Iberian family and extramarital relations in fifteenth-century Spain. Chapter two reconstructs the unequal numbers of men and women in Lima's population throughout the century. Chapter three shows the reactions of civil and church authorities and ordinary citizens to extramarital relationships. Chapter four explores adultery and chapter five follows with illegitimacy and its significance in Lima's society.

The relationship between illegitimacy and women is the focus of chapter six, with a view of colonial women and the emphasis on control of sexuality. The problem of child abandonment resulting from extramarital relationships is discussed in chapter seven.


Maria Emma Mannarelli is associate professor of history at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru.

Sidney Evans is a translator with more than fifteen years experience in social, political, and economic fields. He resides in Lima, Peru.

Meredith D. Dodge, an independent historian, has devoted nearly two decades compiling, translating, and editing the Vargas papers along with John Kessell, Rick Hendricks, and Larry D. Miller.

Lyman L. Johnson is professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is also the general editor for UNM Press's Dialogos series.

Maria Emma Mannarelli is associate professor of history at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru.


"Mannarelli has certainly done an admirably thorough job with (her) sources...The texture of everyday personal life is palpable in these pages."


Journal of Anthropological Research

"Mannarelli has made an important contribution to our understanding of how sexual transgressions served the ends of reinforcing the rigid social and racial structure of Lima during the seventeenth century. This classic study fully deserves close attention by scholars and students in the field and certainly merits the wider circulation that will result from its translation."


Catholic Historical Review

6 x 9 in. 224 pages 4 tables