Sodomy and Migration in Europe during the Early Modern Period
During the 17th and 18th centuries, sodomy was widely persecuted across Europe, with France and the Dutch Republic being especially brutal. Same-sex relations between women were largely unmentionable in Europe during this time, but when flaunted, were denounced using extreme language. Migration during this period was largely caused by demographic pressures, resulting in a significant movement from densely populated areas to regions like Prussia and Russia where Habsburg authorities played an important role. The article highlights some significant demographic differences between countries such as London and France.
Table of Contents
- Sodomy in Europe during the Early Modern Period
- Same-Sex Relationships between Women in Europe
- Migration across Europe during the Early Modern Period
- Demographic Differences between European Countries
- The Role of Habsburg Authorities in Migration
Q: Why was sodomy particularly brutal in France?
A: France was brutal in its persecution of sodomy, but executions were few and far between, and most were subjected to sustained harassment and short prison terms upon arrest. Since the number of infâmes (sodomites) in Paris was estimated to be around 20,000, the alleged prevalence of homosexuality was blamed on foreigners, such as the Spanish and French envoys attending the negotiations for the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, who introduced the “Catholic vice.”
Q: How were lesbians treated during the early modern period?
A: During the early modern period in Europe, same-sex relations between women were largely unmentionable, but when these relationships were flaunted, the language used to denounce them was extreme. Punishments such as sermons were often the extent of punishment, with executions being rare except in extreme cases such as a German woman executed for sodomy with her female lover. Although documentation on same-sex relations between women is even rarer, we do know that lesbianism was attributed to nuns, and that some young ladies in 17th-century France fell in love with each other.
Q: What caused migration during the early modern period in Europe?
A: Migration during this period was largely caused by demographic pressures, resulting in a significant movement from densely populated areas to regions like Prussia and Russia. The Habsburg authorities played an important role in this great resettlement project. Frederick William of Brandenburg issued the Edict of Potsdam inviting the Huguenots to settle in his territories, while Prussian king Frederick the Great attracted over 280,000 immigrants with various incentives. The states that were able to attract immigrants fared better due to the uncertainty of demographic regeneration from a country’s own resources.
Q: What were some demographic differences between London and Paris during the early modern period?
A: London experienced massive population growth in the 18th century, with 7,500 people migrating to the city annually. It was unfortified and never captured by foreign enemies, unlike Paris. France had a wider variation of migration patterns, with differences between seasonal, temporary, and permanent migration. Poorly resourced mountainous regions had to send their population to urban areas for employment opportunities, resulting in a makeshift economy. Large numbers of people migrated outside of Europe to find work and a better life. French people, in comparison to other Europeans, were reluctant to leave the continent.
Q: What were some factors that contributed to the growth of Bordeaux during the early modern period?
A: Bordeaux was an impressive city, with opulence and wealth derived from extensive commerce. It was also finely situated on the banks of the Garonne River and boasted a massive number of ships and vessels. The Grand Théâtre was the hallmark of the Bordeaux boom, exemplifying the city’s splendour.
Sodomy and migration were two significant issues during the early modern period in Europe. While sodomy was widely persecuted across Europe, the number of executions for sodomy was much lower than the number of persecutions. Same-sex relations between women were a largely submerged and unmentionable topic, but when they were flaunted, the language used to denounce them was extreme. Migration during this period was largely caused by demographic pressures, and Habsburg authorities played an important role in this great resettlement project. By highlighting the demographic differences between countries like London and France, we can see how these factors contributed to the growth of various European cities during this time.