Sex Associated with the 1559 Luna Expedition

By

David B. Dodson
December 2017

The Spaniards on the 1559 Luna Expedition had some basic human needs: water, food, shelter… and sex. At times, priority of these needs was inter-changeable. This article speaks to unmarried sex and illicit living arrangements amongst the participants of Luna Colony as well as the mariners associated with the Luna Fleets.

Background

Sex is a natural desire for all of mankind—both men and women—as a means for procreation, sharing in a marriage, as well as personal enjoyment and satisfaction. However, the Spanish world of the 16th century was well overseen by the stringent tenants of the Catholic Church, as well ruled by a very religious Emperor Charles V and his son King Philip II. Under Philip’s tenure, sex outside of marriage was perhaps even more frowned upon or at least required careful discretion. But shutting down “illicit sex” was about like preventing the sun from rising or setting. It just was not going to happen!

The laws that governed and imposed fines on acts called “public sins” on the expedition—those that were not defined as criminal—were given to Governor Luna by Viceroy Velasco with the concurrence of the Audiencia (High Court of New Spain) on April 3, 1559. The laws were part of the complete instructions on how the expedition and the subsequent towns were to be governed. The article reads:

They (the ordinary judges)[1] shall take special care to punish public sins[2] such as blasphemy, prohibited games[3] [sic], fornication,[4] witchery, soothsaying, usury, and other similar sins, and all of those which may set a bad example. Of these they shall take great care, lending all diligences thereto without giving favor[5] [sic] with any person whomsoever.[6]

Thus, the episodes and evidence of “public sins” presented below indicates that the money-strapped Crown decided to make one be cautious of indiscreet sex by taxing it via financial penalties based upon the magnitude of the sin. In other words, the more egregious or blatant the participation in sex out of marriage, the higher the imposed fine. And to encourage people to think twice about participating in criminal and immoral activities, typically a reward was offered to anyone that turned in the offender. Further, since the rulers of Spain had primacy over the Catholic Church in the New World, the fines recovered from sex offenders overseas apparently were not distributed to the Church in Spain, but as the rulers of Spain saw fit. The discussion below relates such punishments and fines were not insignificant, and thus the revenues not miniscule.

Sex Before the Luna Armada Set Sail

The single soldiers that went on the Luna Expedition were not beyond trying to take young, single women along for “comfort,” probably under the guise of a servant. But Viceroy Luis de Velasco—an experienced and battle-worn soldier himself in the past—was not naïve to the ways or needs of a soldier venturing off to a foreign land and possible death. When he arrived from Mexico City to Tlaxcala to give his farewell speech to the departing expedition—although very sick—he still must have inquired amongst the peoples and asked questions, for he quickly made an assessment of the cadre Luna had assembled. After the expedition had departed Tlaxcala, after the official farewell delivered by the viceroy, Viceroy Velasco wrote to Luna and directed him to remedy the problem of having single women on the expedition, especially those of “questionable reputations.” The letter reads:

And I charge you for the service of his Majesty not to permit an unmarried woman of suspicious character to embark, for you know how much she will offend, and that one public mortal sin is enough to cause an army to be lost. They have informed me that the ensign of Don Alonso de Castilla took a young woman from the town, and they tell me that she is a singer, and that the captain does not object to her going in the company. This you will remedy. They also tell me that the woman of Porras whom they call La Lechera (the bedder, or prostitute) and her daughter have been in Tepeaca. She is the one who importuned us in Mexico, and went in the company of Don Alonso. Please find out whether they intend to go (on the expedition), and make them come back. The old woman may be given a whipping [sic] upon her return.[7]

Thus, the viceroy reminded Luna—who was also an experienced soldier with Coronado in the American Southwest and Native insurrection in New Spain—that certain morals needed to be maintained to insure order amongst the soldiers. The viceroy helped ensure that such discipline would be kept by typically sending secular clergy as well as very experienced Dominican frays on the expedition. Indeed, the Dominican frays were so strict to the tenants, or rules, of the expedition as it concerned treatment of the Native populations that they hindered the expedition in circumstances that required compromises or exceptions in order for the expedition to succeed. However, it appears that when it came to “public sins,” the religious were more understanding and forgiving, especially those of starving and destitute peoples. Indeed, driving a desperate person to suicide with public derision or humiliation for a “minor infraction” would have been a sin in itself.

 

Sex for Food at Santa Cruz de Nanipacana

In late February 1560 the Luna expedition left Ochuse (Pensacola Bay) to relocate the main settlement near the Native village of Nanipacana, located on the lower Alabama River. The expedition had hopes of bartering for portions of the Native’s abundant food supply. The lengthy trek upward began with a meager food supply and by the time the main expedition arrived at the village, the colonists were already suffering from severe starvation. But upon arrival, Luna and the colonists found out that the Natives had subsequently decided that they were not going to be friends with the Spanish and share their food supply and had taken what they had across the river and hid themselves beyond the reach of the Spanish. To further injure the Spanish, the natives implemented a scorch-earth policy for many leagues around their old town, burning or pulling up anything that was edible. The Spanish resorted to eating last year’s acorns and any herbs, shoots, and roots they could find. However, what tree or bush leaves or roots the Natives had left alone were poisonous, and many soldiers, men, women, and children died after ingestion. Many expeditions were sent out up and down the rivers to obtain maize and other foodstuff from other Native populations, but most came back empty-handed. It became a period of famine.

It was during this time that death seemed to be all around and everywhere, and the peoples became desperate, with some soldiers hung for trying to steal a brigantine to sail away from their misery.[8] A few very hungry women began to offer sex to the soldiers for a portion of their meat rations, which raised the value of meat. However, as more women began to barter, sex became so cheap that choosing a woman lost its luster, and the practice ceased.

The actual Spanish wording in the narrative is “discreet” as to pass the required religious approval for printing of the history. Thus, the “basic” translation from an interview with participating Luna soldiers reads as follows:

Very many died (from starvation) and those that remained seemed but to be left in another world and did not fight. Therefore no sword was removed nor harquebus fired against an enemy, nor did any come out of there[9] where they made the first accommodation.[10] Together, they said, it was the first few days in amores (passions or sexual favors),[11] which many women engaged,[12] which raised the value of meat, for to eat came to be so cheap to barter this other (sex), that who were they to choose; and as such it stopped. 

The narrative does not mention if anyone was fined for the illicit sex, but that was the least of the problems facing the expedition. And since the “sex for food market” apparently imploded on its own without intervention by the religious on the expedition, it was probably best that such matters were just overlooked or just forgotten. Indeed, like today, talking about sex in “proper company” is still somewhat a taboo subject.

 

Sex by Mariners

Other instances of the sexual adventures amongst individuals associated with the Luna expedition that resulted in condemnation and fines concerned Captain Felipe Boquín and the ship’s pilot Gonçales Gayon. Both their instances of “illicit sex” became recognized by the authorities because some crewmembers on their ships turned them in to the authorities. Remember, informers received a portion of any fine imposed on the guilty as a reward!

To explain the disloyalty of the crew members, it should be noted that while captains and pilots were typically associated with a particular vessel again and again, the crews were not. The crews typically were hired for one voyage at a time on the vessel of which they were recruited.  Consequently, there was little loyalty to the masters of the vessels. Any disgruntled or mistreated seaman could augment their salary after a voyage by being a “good Christian” and report these “sex crimes” against “God and King” with impunity.

One of the accused Spanish captains, Felipe Boquín, was the owner of the 145-ton sailing vessel named the San Amaro that sailed with the Luna armada in 1559 to la Florida. The San Amaro was sunk during the hurricane that struck the fleet on September 19th and 20th of 1559. Boquín sailed back to Mexico on another ship—the San Juan—to personally deliver Luna’s post-hurricane report of the disaster to Viceroy Luis de Velasco in Mexico City.

Earlier in his career, Captain Boquín had been a successful mariner and eventually in 1551 obtained his own vessel and became one of the few owner-captains that sailed back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean with the armadas and returning treasure fleets. Boquín must have been somewhat of a rascal because he had a history of complaints filed against him by crewmembers, including over-charging for ship’s medical services while sailing aboard his vessels.

On July 4, 1555, Boquín was punished by the Spanish government in Spain for carrying contraband (undocumented and taxed silver) back to Seville from the Indies. The captain was also charged with having sex outside of marriage. The captain had been relieving his boredom on the long passage in the arms of a passenger.[13] A translation from AGI. Indiferente General 2005 relates:

Also, adding one crime to another (that of contraband), the said

Felipe Boquín, carried in his ship as a passenger—-a widow woman—

who was called Catalina. He got together with her and they became

lovers, eating and drinking together in one bed, which he did with

little fear of God.[14] 

While Captain Boquín enjoyed that voyage of intimacy with Catalina and probably dreamed of a good profit sailing with contraband in the ship’s hull, it was a very costly affair. Boquín was heavily fined.[15] On July 18, 1556, a Royal Decree was issued concerning Boquin’s smuggling and amorous adventures during the voyage. The convicted Captain Boquín was ordered to pay 60,000 maravedis to the king’s coffers, the equivalent of over 200 gold coins. It must be assumed that Captain Boquín and the widow woman enjoyed their sixty-day or so voyage, as costly as it was for the captain, which one could apportion at a rate of 1,000 maravedis a day! The widow apparently was not charged. Interestingly, a sealed Royal Cedula—previously issued on June 6, 1556, in Valladolid to the officials of the Casa de la Contratación of Seville—ordered to award the fine from Boquín to Marie Fiala as a merced, or gift from the king.[16]

Two years earlier than Captain Boquin’s punishment, the Spanish pilot, Gonçalo Gayon, had also been fined for an illicit sexual relationship. Gayon was the pilot with Captain Juan de Renteria on the second expedition that the Viceroy of Mexico sent out to rediscover the bay of Ochuse (Pensacola Bay) in late 1558. He also served as a secondary pilot on the Luna Armada as well as the major pilot on all the resupply fleets to the Luna settlements. He subsequently piloted three reconnaissance expeditions related to the Punta de Santa Elena on the Atlantic Coast.

Pilot Gayon publicly sinned in the eyes of the Catholic Church and the Crown for living with a woman outside the bonds of marriage. He was fined 10,000 maravedis or the equivalent of over 36 gold pesos. The record of his 1554 indiscretion reads as follows:

Item: The said deputy treasurer Alonso Ortiz de Urrutia was charged with 12 pesos 2 tomines, which are the third part of 10,000 maravedis that Gonçalo Gayon was fined for living in sin[17] by the Alcalde Mayor and Juan de Herrera was the notary and the said Alonso Ortiz de Urrutia signed it. Alonso Ortiz de Urrutia.[18] 

In summary, both mariners participated in “illicit sex.” Both were turned in to the authorities and heavily fined, but it appears their lovers were not. It is apparent that their indiscretions were forgiven after paying their fines and did not affect their future careers as mariners since both continued in naval service to the Spanish Crown and especially for the Luna Expedition.

 

Conclusion

Sex was just a part of life in the 16th century as it is today. Common peoples were willing to risk public rebuke and governmental fines for some pleasure in their hard lives, as well as trade or barter sex to stay alive. Most ancient histories and classical tales are full of sexual exploits of the wealthy, powerful, and heroic adventurers and make for curious reading (The Iliad, The Odyssey, Leda and the Swan) while the common folk (sans bars with drunken men and prostitutes) are generally just mentioned living a hard, mundane and servile life in support of the aforementioned. Even the biographies and histories of the Hernán Cortes and his fellow First Conquerors indeed record many amorous liaisons with the Native population and illegitimate births from their 1521 conquest of Mexico. Interestingly, such liaisons are the only remaining legacies that actually tie modern Mexicans to kinship with the great Aztec ruler Montezuma.

Most of the Spanish records concerning all kinds of sex activity in the Spanish development of the New World can be found in the “discreet” testimonies found in Inquisitional investigations. R. Wayne Childers has translated hundreds of these documents, and some are indeed pornographic.

Therefore, the importance of sex should not be underestimated in the historical record in the development of the New World. The few instances I have discussed above are but a few of the obvious examples of sex by common, everyday peoples one can find in the documents related to the participants on the Luna Expedition; and if one looks harder, the documents truly allude to many more!

Footnotes

[1] The law stated that these judges shall not be lawyers or specially trained prosecutors, etc. The judges were to be laymen akin to a justice of the peace.

[2] pecados publico…public sins.

[3] juegos prohibidos….prohibited games, such as cards and dice.

[4] amancebamientos…basically, sex outside the bonds of marriage….Also, adultery, illicit cohabitation, fornication, prostitution, infidelity.

[5] disimular…hide, conceal, suppress, or to favor as in “looking the other way.”

[6] Priestley, I, 29, The Instructions Of The Viceroy To Don Tristán, April 3, 1559.

[7] Herbert Ingram Priestly, The Luna Papers, Vol. I, 55.Velasco To Luna, (written at) Tlaxcala, May 12, 1559.  Also, the last line reads “dar vn jubon para la buelta”….give a whipping upon her return. The word “jubon” is utilized as a shortened version of “jubon de azotes,” which is “a whipping at the cat’s tail,” so called, because it fits as close to the back as one’s doublet or a close-fitting outer garment. Priestly translates the word “jubon” as a “waist” or another word for a doublet, but I do not believe Velasco was intending to reward the “old woman” for her harmful actions, but to punish her.

[8] Priestley, I, 169, Another Opinion By A Private Person, Polonça, June 15, 1560.

[9] Meaning that the Natives did not show themselves to the soldiers, but instead stayed hid.

[10] alojamiento…accommodation or lodging…a settlement.

[11] amores…love making, but in this instance “sexual favors” is more appropriate.

[12] The soldiers would have been afforded a ration, and it is unclear how many of the colonists were provided a ration, if any at all. The women would definitely have been on the lower priority for receiving foodstuff, and thus the bartering of sex for meat was a possible proposition—at least for a while till the “market’ imploded.

[13] Pablo E. Perez-Mallaína, translation by Carla Rahn Phillips, Spain’s Men of the Sea, Daily Life on the Indies Fleets in the Sixteenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1998, 164.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Also, equal to 160 silver ducados or ducats.

[16]  See ES.41091.AGI/22.15.424//INDIFERENTE,425,L.23,F.242V-243R.

[17] amançebado Cohabiting with a concubine.

[18] AGI. Contaduria 877,  March 8, 1554.

Sources

 

David B. Dodson, translation, unpublished manuscript.

AGI. CONTADURIA 877.

AGI. INDIFERENTE 425.

AGI. INDIFERENTE 2005.

Pablo E. Perez-Mallaína, translation by Carla Rahn Phillips, Spain’s Men of the Sea, Daily Life on the Indies Fleets in the Sixteenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1998.

Herbert Ingram Priestly, The Luna Papers, Florida State Historical Society, Deland, Florida, 1928.

+ Article

The Spaniards on the 1559 Luna Expedition had some basic human needs: water, food, shelter… and sex. At times, priority of these needs was inter-changeable. This article speaks to unmarried sex and illicit living arrangements amongst the participants of Luna Colony as well as the mariners associated with the Luna Fleets.

Background

Sex is a natural desire for all of mankind—both men and women—as a means for procreation, sharing in a marriage, as well as personal enjoyment and satisfaction. However, the Spanish world of the 16th century was well overseen by the stringent tenants of the Catholic Church, as well ruled by a very religious Emperor Charles V and his son King Philip II. Under Philip’s tenure, sex outside of marriage was perhaps even more frowned upon or at least required careful discretion. But shutting down “illicit sex” was about like preventing the sun from rising or setting. It just was not going to happen!

The laws that governed and imposed fines on acts called “public sins” on the expedition—those that were not defined as criminal—were given to Governor Luna by Viceroy Velasco with the concurrence of the Audiencia (High Court of New Spain) on April 3, 1559. The laws were part of the complete instructions on how the expedition and the subsequent towns were to be governed. The article reads:

They (the ordinary judges)[1] shall take special care to punish public sins[2] such as blasphemy, prohibited games[3] [sic], fornication,[4] witchery, soothsaying, usury, and other similar sins, and all of those which may set a bad example. Of these they shall take great care, lending all diligences thereto without giving favor[5] [sic] with any person whomsoever.[6]

Thus, the episodes and evidence of “public sins” presented below indicates that the money-strapped Crown decided to make one be cautious of indiscreet sex by taxing it via financial penalties based upon the magnitude of the sin. In other words, the more egregious or blatant the participation in sex out of marriage, the higher the imposed fine. And to encourage people to think twice about participating in criminal and immoral activities, typically a reward was offered to anyone that turned in the offender. Further, since the rulers of Spain had primacy over the Catholic Church in the New World, the fines recovered from sex offenders overseas apparently were not distributed to the Church in Spain, but as the rulers of Spain saw fit. The discussion below relates such punishments and fines were not insignificant, and thus the revenues not miniscule.

Sex Before the Luna Armada Set Sail

The single soldiers that went on the Luna Expedition were not beyond trying to take young, single women along for “comfort,” probably under the guise of a servant. But Viceroy Luis de Velasco—an experienced and battle-worn soldier himself in the past—was not naïve to the ways or needs of a soldier venturing off to a foreign land and possible death. When he arrived from Mexico City to Tlaxcala to give his farewell speech to the departing expedition—although very sick—he still must have inquired amongst the peoples and asked questions, for he quickly made an assessment of the cadre Luna had assembled. After the expedition had departed Tlaxcala, after the official farewell delivered by the viceroy, Viceroy Velasco wrote to Luna and directed him to remedy the problem of having single women on the expedition, especially those of “questionable reputations.” The letter reads:

And I charge you for the service of his Majesty not to permit an unmarried woman of suspicious character to embark, for you know how much she will offend, and that one public mortal sin is enough to cause an army to be lost. They have informed me that the ensign of Don Alonso de Castilla took a young woman from the town, and they tell me that she is a singer, and that the captain does not object to her going in the company. This you will remedy. They also tell me that the woman of Porras whom they call La Lechera (the bedder, or prostitute) and her daughter have been in Tepeaca. She is the one who importuned us in Mexico, and went in the company of Don Alonso. Please find out whether they intend to go (on the expedition), and make them come back. The old woman may be given a whipping [sic] upon her return.[7]

Thus, the viceroy reminded Luna—who was also an experienced soldier with Coronado in the American Southwest and Native insurrection in New Spain—that certain morals needed to be maintained to insure order amongst the soldiers. The viceroy helped ensure that such discipline would be kept by typically sending secular clergy as well as very experienced Dominican frays on the expedition. Indeed, the Dominican frays were so strict to the tenants, or rules, of the expedition as it concerned treatment of the Native populations that they hindered the expedition in circumstances that required compromises or exceptions in order for the expedition to succeed. However, it appears that when it came to “public sins,” the religious were more understanding and forgiving, especially those of starving and destitute peoples. Indeed, driving a desperate person to suicide with public derision or humiliation for a “minor infraction” would have been a sin in itself.

 

Sex for Food at Santa Cruz de Nanipacana

In late February 1560 the Luna expedition left Ochuse (Pensacola Bay) to relocate the main settlement near the Native village of Nanipacana, located on the lower Alabama River. The expedition had hopes of bartering for portions of the Native’s abundant food supply. The lengthy trek upward began with a meager food supply and by the time the main expedition arrived at the village, the colonists were already suffering from severe starvation. But upon arrival, Luna and the colonists found out that the Natives had subsequently decided that they were not going to be friends with the Spanish and share their food supply and had taken what they had across the river and hid themselves beyond the reach of the Spanish. To further injure the Spanish, the natives implemented a scorch-earth policy for many leagues around their old town, burning or pulling up anything that was edible. The Spanish resorted to eating last year’s acorns and any herbs, shoots, and roots they could find. However, what tree or bush leaves or roots the Natives had left alone were poisonous, and many soldiers, men, women, and children died after ingestion. Many expeditions were sent out up and down the rivers to obtain maize and other foodstuff from other Native populations, but most came back empty-handed. It became a period of famine.

It was during this time that death seemed to be all around and everywhere, and the peoples became desperate, with some soldiers hung for trying to steal a brigantine to sail away from their misery.[8] A few very hungry women began to offer sex to the soldiers for a portion of their meat rations, which raised the value of meat. However, as more women began to barter, sex became so cheap that choosing a woman lost its luster, and the practice ceased.

The actual Spanish wording in the narrative is “discreet” as to pass the required religious approval for printing of the history. Thus, the “basic” translation from an interview with participating Luna soldiers reads as follows:

Very many died (from starvation) and those that remained seemed but to be left in another world and did not fight. Therefore no sword was removed nor harquebus fired against an enemy, nor did any come out of there[9] where they made the first accommodation.[10] Together, they said, it was the first few days in amores (passions or sexual favors),[11] which many women engaged,[12] which raised the value of meat, for to eat came to be so cheap to barter this other (sex), that who were they to choose; and as such it stopped. 

The narrative does not mention if anyone was fined for the illicit sex, but that was the least of the problems facing the expedition. And since the “sex for food market” apparently imploded on its own without intervention by the religious on the expedition, it was probably best that such matters were just overlooked or just forgotten. Indeed, like today, talking about sex in “proper company” is still somewhat a taboo subject.

 

Sex by Mariners

Other instances of the sexual adventures amongst individuals associated with the Luna expedition that resulted in condemnation and fines concerned Captain Felipe Boquín and the ship’s pilot Gonçales Gayon. Both their instances of “illicit sex” became recognized by the authorities because some crewmembers on their ships turned them in to the authorities. Remember, informers received a portion of any fine imposed on the guilty as a reward!

To explain the disloyalty of the crew members, it should be noted that while captains and pilots were typically associated with a particular vessel again and again, the crews were not. The crews typically were hired for one voyage at a time on the vessel of which they were recruited.  Consequently, there was little loyalty to the masters of the vessels. Any disgruntled or mistreated seaman could augment their salary after a voyage by being a “good Christian” and report these “sex crimes” against “God and King” with impunity.

One of the accused Spanish captains, Felipe Boquín, was the owner of the 145-ton sailing vessel named the San Amaro that sailed with the Luna armada in 1559 to la Florida. The San Amaro was sunk during the hurricane that struck the fleet on September 19th and 20th of 1559. Boquín sailed back to Mexico on another ship—the San Juan—to personally deliver Luna’s post-hurricane report of the disaster to Viceroy Luis de Velasco in Mexico City.

Earlier in his career, Captain Boquín had been a successful mariner and eventually in 1551 obtained his own vessel and became one of the few owner-captains that sailed back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean with the armadas and returning treasure fleets. Boquín must have been somewhat of a rascal because he had a history of complaints filed against him by crewmembers, including over-charging for ship’s medical services while sailing aboard his vessels.

On July 4, 1555, Boquín was punished by the Spanish government in Spain for carrying contraband (undocumented and taxed silver) back to Seville from the Indies. The captain was also charged with having sex outside of marriage. The captain had been relieving his boredom on the long passage in the arms of a passenger.[13] A translation from AGI. Indiferente General 2005 relates:

Also, adding one crime to another (that of contraband), the said

Felipe Boquín, carried in his ship as a passenger—-a widow woman—

who was called Catalina. He got together with her and they became

lovers, eating and drinking together in one bed, which he did with

little fear of God.[14] 

While Captain Boquín enjoyed that voyage of intimacy with Catalina and probably dreamed of a good profit sailing with contraband in the ship’s hull, it was a very costly affair. Boquín was heavily fined.[15] On July 18, 1556, a Royal Decree was issued concerning Boquin’s smuggling and amorous adventures during the voyage. The convicted Captain Boquín was ordered to pay 60,000 maravedis to the king’s coffers, the equivalent of over 200 gold coins. It must be assumed that Captain Boquín and the widow woman enjoyed their sixty-day or so voyage, as costly as it was for the captain, which one could apportion at a rate of 1,000 maravedis a day! The widow apparently was not charged. Interestingly, a sealed Royal Cedula—previously issued on June 6, 1556, in Valladolid to the officials of the Casa de la Contratación of Seville—ordered to award the fine from Boquín to Marie Fiala as a merced, or gift from the king.[16]

Two years earlier than Captain Boquin’s punishment, the Spanish pilot, Gonçalo Gayon, had also been fined for an illicit sexual relationship. Gayon was the pilot with Captain Juan de Renteria on the second expedition that the Viceroy of Mexico sent out to rediscover the bay of Ochuse (Pensacola Bay) in late 1558. He also served as a secondary pilot on the Luna Armada as well as the major pilot on all the resupply fleets to the Luna settlements. He subsequently piloted three reconnaissance expeditions related to the Punta de Santa Elena on the Atlantic Coast.

Pilot Gayon publicly sinned in the eyes of the Catholic Church and the Crown for living with a woman outside the bonds of marriage. He was fined 10,000 maravedis or the equivalent of over 36 gold pesos. The record of his 1554 indiscretion reads as follows:

Item: The said deputy treasurer Alonso Ortiz de Urrutia was charged with 12 pesos 2 tomines, which are the third part of 10,000 maravedis that Gonçalo Gayon was fined for living in sin[17] by the Alcalde Mayor and Juan de Herrera was the notary and the said Alonso Ortiz de Urrutia signed it. Alonso Ortiz de Urrutia.[18] 

In summary, both mariners participated in “illicit sex.” Both were turned in to the authorities and heavily fined, but it appears their lovers were not. It is apparent that their indiscretions were forgiven after paying their fines and did not affect their future careers as mariners since both continued in naval service to the Spanish Crown and especially for the Luna Expedition.

 

Conclusion

Sex was just a part of life in the 16th century as it is today. Common peoples were willing to risk public rebuke and governmental fines for some pleasure in their hard lives, as well as trade or barter sex to stay alive. Most ancient histories and classical tales are full of sexual exploits of the wealthy, powerful, and heroic adventurers and make for curious reading (The Iliad, The Odyssey, Leda and the Swan) while the common folk (sans bars with drunken men and prostitutes) are generally just mentioned living a hard, mundane and servile life in support of the aforementioned. Even the biographies and histories of the Hernán Cortes and his fellow First Conquerors indeed record many amorous liaisons with the Native population and illegitimate births from their 1521 conquest of Mexico. Interestingly, such liaisons are the only remaining legacies that actually tie modern Mexicans to kinship with the great Aztec ruler Montezuma.

Most of the Spanish records concerning all kinds of sex activity in the Spanish development of the New World can be found in the “discreet” testimonies found in Inquisitional investigations. R. Wayne Childers has translated hundreds of these documents, and some are indeed pornographic.

Therefore, the importance of sex should not be underestimated in the historical record in the development of the New World. The few instances I have discussed above are but a few of the obvious examples of sex by common, everyday peoples one can find in the documents related to the participants on the Luna Expedition; and if one looks harder, the documents truly allude to many more!

Footnotes

[1] The law stated that these judges shall not be lawyers or specially trained prosecutors, etc. The judges were to be laymen akin to a justice of the peace.

[2] pecados publico…public sins.

[3] juegos prohibidos….prohibited games, such as cards and dice.

[4] amancebamientos…basically, sex outside the bonds of marriage….Also, adultery, illicit cohabitation, fornication, prostitution, infidelity.

[5] disimular…hide, conceal, suppress, or to favor as in “looking the other way.”

[6] Priestley, I, 29, The Instructions Of The Viceroy To Don Tristán, April 3, 1559.

[7] Herbert Ingram Priestly, The Luna Papers, Vol. I, 55.Velasco To Luna, (written at) Tlaxcala, May 12, 1559.  Also, the last line reads “dar vn jubon para la buelta”….give a whipping upon her return. The word “jubon” is utilized as a shortened version of “jubon de azotes,” which is “a whipping at the cat’s tail,” so called, because it fits as close to the back as one’s doublet or a close-fitting outer garment. Priestly translates the word “jubon” as a “waist” or another word for a doublet, but I do not believe Velasco was intending to reward the “old woman” for her harmful actions, but to punish her.

[8] Priestley, I, 169, Another Opinion By A Private Person, Polonça, June 15, 1560.

[9] Meaning that the Natives did not show themselves to the soldiers, but instead stayed hid.

[10] alojamiento…accommodation or lodging…a settlement.

[11] amores…love making, but in this instance “sexual favors” is more appropriate.

[12] The soldiers would have been afforded a ration, and it is unclear how many of the colonists were provided a ration, if any at all. The women would definitely have been on the lower priority for receiving foodstuff, and thus the bartering of sex for meat was a possible proposition—at least for a while till the “market’ imploded.

[13] Pablo E. Perez-Mallaína, translation by Carla Rahn Phillips, Spain’s Men of the Sea, Daily Life on the Indies Fleets in the Sixteenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1998, 164.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Also, equal to 160 silver ducados or ducats.

[16]  See ES.41091.AGI/22.15.424//INDIFERENTE,425,L.23,F.242V-243R.

[17] amançebado Cohabiting with a concubine.

[18] AGI. Contaduria 877,  March 8, 1554.

+ References and Related Works

Sources

 

David B. Dodson, translation, unpublished manuscript.

AGI. CONTADURIA 877.

AGI. INDIFERENTE 425.

AGI. INDIFERENTE 2005.

Pablo E. Perez-Mallaína, translation by Carla Rahn Phillips, Spain’s Men of the Sea, Daily Life on the Indies Fleets in the Sixteenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1998.

Herbert Ingram Priestly, The Luna Papers, Florida State Historical Society, Deland, Florida, 1928.

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