This paper examines the links between the construction of masculinity and the male body in eighteenth century Spain. It scrutinizes unpublished cases of annulments due to impotency in a northern Spanish church court between 1650 and 1750, in the diocese of Calahorra and La Calzada. The proceedings against a hermaphrodite, several castrates, and many impotent men are explored thoroughly. The author follows the lead of James Farr and Joan Scott, agreeing with them that refining sexual differences reinforced social order and hierarchy in Counter-Reformation Europe. But, instead of examining how this was done to clarify the male/female binary hierarchy, the author applies this conceptualization to argue that there were also progressively more reified definitions of manhood in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The article concludes that a legal confidence in the medical profession during the eighteenth century focused attention on the male body and allowed authorities to expose "unmanly" bodies. Communities called upon an increasingly self-assured medical profession to diagnose the physical attributes of non-masculinity, in much the same way they would describe the unhealthy, the abnormal, or the insane.


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pp. 1073-1093
Launched on MUSE
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