Judging Maria de Macedo
A Female Visionary and the Inquisition in Early Modern Portugal
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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As is, I suppose, the case with many manuscripts, this project began as something quite different. When I first arrived in Lisbon in September 2001, I would never have guessed that my research would lead me to microhistory. I had originally intended to seek an answer to a fairly basic sociopolitical question: During the period of...
Introduction: A Journey to Another World
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On February 20, 1665, Maria de Macedo, the wife of a midlevel official of the Portuguese Treasury, was arrested by the Inquisition of Lisbon, having just given what was to become the first of many depositions before the Holy Office. In that deposition, she did not hesitate to reveal that, from the age of ten, she had had a series of visions...
I. THE MILLENARIAN BACKGROUND
1. The Millenarian Tradition in Early Modern Portugal
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All Western prophetic traditions begin with the messianic beliefs of the Jews and the early Christians. Impelled by the despair of national disaster and the hope for national liberation, the Jewish prophets predicted the coming of an Anointed One, the Messiah, who, in a time of cosmic struggle between good and evil, would come with the...
2. The Evolution of Sebastianism
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On August 4, 1578, the Portuguese lost not only a battle but their army, their treasure, most of their nobility, and their king, in whom so much hope had been placed. They were soon to lose more, however. Sebastian had not secured the succession in case of failure, and the only other member of the Avis dynasty of any standing was...
II. THE VISION AND THE TRIAL
3. Maria de Macedo and the Vision in Her Own Words
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The story of Maria de Macedo began in 1635 and came to an end in 1667, at least according to the extant documentation. These thirty-odd years were an interesting period in Portugal for at least two reasons: one, they comprehended the entire length of Portugal’s struggle to free itself from Spanish domination; and two, they coincided with...
4. The Trial of Maria de Macedo
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All investigations undertaken by the Inquisition began with a denunciation, someone reporting suspect activity to the Holy Office, and an examination of the who? and why? of denunciations forms an essential part of the analysis of any inquisitorial prosecution. This is certainly true in the case of Maria de Macedo and the details of this...
III. UNDERSTANDING THE ARTIFACTS
5. The Element of Time in Maria’s Visions
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In order to fully understand the layers of meaning in the visions of Maria de Macedo, it will be helpful to begin by examining her narrative closely in regard to a single element: the passage of time. At first glance, her story may seem to be an example of the fully developed narrative of Sebastian and the Hidden Isle that was becoming more and more...
6. A Glimpse of Paradise: Unlocking the Meaning of Maria’s Visions
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The principal elements of Maria de Macedo’s visions were her belief in Sebastian as the Hidden King and her belief in the existence of the Hidden Isle, so one might be tempted to say that this simply made her an orthodox sebastianista of the mid-seventeenth century. Such a conclusion would, however, be incorrect, and for at least...
7. Utopia’s Judges: Understanding Inquisitorial Subculture
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In the previous chapter, I appraised the varied and sometimes disparate elements of Maria de Macedo’s vision as artifacts, discovering the origins and assessing the value of those elements. The result was a glimpse into the world of seventeenth-century popular culture in Portugal, as Maria selected, worked, and reworked elements of different...
Conclusion: The Intersection of Two Worlds
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What have we learned from this examination of Maria de Macedo’s vision and her trial? Certainly, in the case of Maria herself, we have seen that her vision was a composite creation, a mosaic made of pieces from a wide variety of popular legends and beliefs. It began as a strange dream experience, the exact psychological...
Appendix: Transcription of Maria’s Pamphlet
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2011