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Femmes fatales

20 July 2010

Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez and Leona Vicario weren’t the only heroines of the War of Independence… Doña Josefa and Senorita Leona were proper ladies of their times , if engaged in rather improper activities:  Doña Josefa was busy plotting the overthrow of her husband’s employer — the Viceroyal government — and Leona was working both as a spy and propagandist.

There’s a place in a struggle for proper ladies… and improper ones as well.

Julian Rodriguez Marin, EFE (via Latin American Herald Tribune):

Spanish colonial governments in Mexico persecuted and repressed, even with death, female rebels they accused of using their charms to seduce their officers and convince them to switch sides, historian Maria Jose Garrido told Efe.

“The crime of seduction was one of the most frequent accusations against women who joined the insurgency,” Garrido, who has studied the role of women in Mexico’s War of Independence that broke out in 1810, said.

“In 1812, one of the rebel newspapers published two articles inviting women living in New Spain (as Mexico was then known) to take part in the War of Independence in different ways,” the historian said.

…  the authors asked women not to marry Spaniards, while those already married to them were urged to get their spouses to become spies to aid the Mexican cause.

In case of an imminent marriage with a Spaniard, women were asked to make the wedding contingent on the husband switching to the insurgent ranks and educating any children they might have on the side of independence.

And, it wasn’t just the “proper” ladies that contributed to Independence:

Iturbide [then on the Royalist side]… ordered Maria Tomasa Estevez de Salas shot to death after she was convicted of seducing royalist troops in the Salamanca region, and who he said had a great deal of success in her rebel activities because of “her beautiful figure.”

… Carmen Camacho…  seduced a garrison of soldiers into deserting.

In 1815 a judge described these women as one of the worst evils because, due to their sex, they were an instrument for seducing all kinds of people and were capable of carrying messages, spying and trafficking arms under their skirts.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 July 2010 7:25 am

    Hm-m-m-m… we’ll be attending a costume Bicentennial party and I’ve been wondering who to dress as. Frida Kahlo – nah, there will be too many. Doña Josefa? Ugh-ugh… Leona – no gracias. Now though you’ve given me a new idea – Carmen Camacho… that might be more interesting!!!

  2. 25 April 2011 8:54 am

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