John Mage on Sodomy

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Sat Dec 2 14:38:42 MST 2000

Charles Brown wrote:

> *****   Re: Littleton: it's Adorno's fault
> jmage at
> -clip-
> >parliament first made sodomy a statutory criminal offense (indeed, a
> felony - i.e. punishable by death) in england in 1536. the same
> parliament (and in the same year) that legislated the dissolution of
> the monasteries. the legislation against sodomy was part of a
> conscious campaign directed from the office of royal secretary thomas
> cromwell to weaken opposition to the dissolution.
> -clip-
> >after first rather insultingly explaining to james that with the new
> revenue he would be able to stop being a commercial sheep grazer &
> start being a king, and that the monks 'are a kind of unprofitable
> people, that lived idly upon the sweat and labours of the poor' he
> continued that: "[the monks] profess chastity, willful poverty and
> to the first that is chastity, I dare be bold to say,
> that unless your monks be more holy in Scotland than ours were in
> England, there reigneth nowhere more carnality, incontinency,
> buggery, sodomy and lechery, and other abominations, than is used in
> cloisters, among monks, cannons, nuns, friars..." [incidentally,
> sadler was totally unpersuasive and unsuccessful, and perhaps among
> the reasons was that he did not understand how minimal in fact were
> the realizable revenues of the scots monasteries]
> (((((((((((((((

> CB: If I understand John correctly, is he saying that sodomy laws were only
>incidently directed at sodomy as part of a main politicaleconomic effort to dissolve
>the monasteries as part of the rise of the capitalists in England ?

Well, Charles, I  think you formulated the question correctly.
I don't know if John says what you attribute to him, but
he is quite incomprehensible above.

Also Doyle raised a very important question (Hi Doyle).
How is the _class_ involved in the creation of sodomy
laws? How does sodomy differ from society to society?
Why was sodomy practiced in the monasteries of England?
Was the dissolution of monostraries by the parliament
_really_ aimed at banning sodomy? or were there other
dynamics at work there? If I understand
John correctly, he implies that sodomy laws
were part of a moralistic attempt by the rising
British bourgeoisie to weaken the power of monks
who were seen as "unprofitable
people, that lived idly upon the sweat and labours of the poor".
But this does not _explain_ why sodomy
existed in the first place, especially among the monks.
If so, was sodomy a really serious threat to
bourgeoisie or an obstacle to capitalism?

I am not also sure to the extend to which
sodomy laws were that _central_ to the rise of
capitalism in Britain . John romanticizes the issue a
little bit, me thinks, unintentionally sliding into
a cultural analysis.


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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