In a central street of Saragossa there was a house with the windows always closed, through which authentic processions of Franciscan monks marched in and out with their own key. In one of the rooms, several of them, even, came to be locked at the same time with a woman named Francisca (very appropriate). Until the neighbors said enough and put an end to this "specialized lupanar". A simple complaint from a resident on that same street ended with the preferred brothel of the Franciscans in the seventeenth century.
If this process was not buried in centuries of history is because it came to court with all the details. The ecclesiastical judicial archives collect hundreds of stories of forbidden love, terrible sexual aggressions, prostitution, homosexuality and even quarrels in full mass. The historian Juan Postigo immersed himself for months in the diocesan archives of Zaragoza to trace the underworld of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and discovered that, no matter how short the human being is tied, the Criminality always finds nooks and crannies through which to sneak.
"The documents are really explicit, since there was no forensic evidence, the investigators carried out very exhaustive interrogations that have been completely recorded," says the researcher, whose work has been included in the book. The landscape and the ants (Zaragoza's University). As Postigo explains, many of the practices considered illegal were accepted by society, until a turning point made them unsustainable and reached the courts. In the case of the brothel of the Franciscans, the trigger was the discussion of one of the neighbors with the owner of the house.
The judicial processes show small photographs of the customs of the time. One of them tells the stormy relationship between a noble and a maid, which ended with the pregnancy of this. When the woman went to claim help from the man to support the baby, he evaded his responsibilities, so she turned to a Moorish sorceress. A servant listened to the woman in full conversation with the alleged witch and told the nobleman that, influenced by magical practices, he began to have problems to have sexual relations and decided to help the mother of his son.
The feminine gender had to enter within the moralistic canons of a life dependent on the husband. If they wanted to maintain amorous idylls they had to enter the world of illegality
In the moral laws of the time, the public and private are confused. The writings show denunciations against nobles for sleeping with one of their servants. Or, for example, an accusation against an innkeeper's wife for maintaining a relationship with a guest. "Sexuality could only take place within marriage, everything else had to be pursued, and people from different strata could not get together and we constantly met men and women who ignored these norms," says Postigo.
The historian defines the woman as an "agent of permanent transgression" by the strict rules in which they were corseted. "The feminine gender had to enter within the moralistic canons of a dependent life of the husband, if they wanted to maintain amorous idiosyncrasies they had to enter the world of illegality". It also details numerous cases of mistreatment of women, which became a public issue only when they reached particularly cruel levels, as in the case of Agustín Pintor, a man who forced his wife to prostitute himself, hit him when the clients got tired and They stopped paying and walked around the market with their lover openly. "Poverty made women dependent on men," describes Postigo.
Beyond the joke of the barrio, the documents offer detailed descriptions of atrocious events, such as shooting in the middle of the night, mothers who prostitute their daughters or sexual assaults on girls. The writer picks up the murder inside the basilica del Pilar of the silversmith Tomás Teller, who at the end of his prayers received a carabinazo from someone who had carefully prepared the place and the way in which he was going to end his life. It happened on the night of August 29, 1687. "Since the temples were the places where Christian society made most of their lives, they also became the scene of the crimes," explains Postigo.
The neighboring cathedral of La Seo also housed brawls, such as the impressive fist fight that faced two religious in full mass on November 2, 1747. Everything was triggered because one made notice to the other that he had forgotten to read a verse.
Postigo draws a conclusion from the analysis of past crimes: "Tax rigidities only lead people to find cracks to satisfy their instincts, and on many occasions it can be counterproductive to tie people too tight."