Premarital sex, consensual relations, bigamy, polygamy, births out of wedlock, and clandestine affairs between clergy and laity were common components of everyday society in colonial Latin America. Private Passions and Public Sins focuses on the frequency and significance of illegitimacy and extramarital relationships in Lima, Peru, during the seventeenth century. Lima was Maria Mannarelli's selection for this study because it was the administrative, commercial, and religious center of the Viceroyalty of Peru and was home to numerous ethnic and social groups.
Chapter one deals with the Iberian family and extramarital relations in fifteenth-century Spain. Chapter two reconstructs the unequal numbers of men and women in Lima's population throughout the century. Chapter three shows the reactions of civil and church authorities and ordinary citizens to extramarital relationships. Chapter four explores adultery and chapter five follows with illegitimacy and its significance in Lima's society.
The relationship between illegitimacy and women is the focus of chapter six, with a view of colonial women and the emphasis on control of sexuality. The problem of child abandonment resulting from extramarital relationships is discussed in chapter seven.
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