A hermaphrodite in the Archives nationales: Paris, AN X1A 14

The endlessly rich but also endlessly daunting records of the Paris Parlement have become increasingly user-friendly with the arrival of some search aids and databases provided by the wonderful Institut d’Histoire du Droit:  http://www.ihd.cnrs.fr/spip.php?rubrique3&lang=fr

A word search in one of their databases, the “Parlement civil (1347-1363 and (1381-1391), for the term “succession” yielded the following all too brief account of a sex change:

http://www.ihd.cnrs.fr/spip.php?article71

Paris, Archives nationales X1A 14, fol. 33r (14 July 1352)

Hermofroditum (…) magis tamen sexu muliebrem participentem, in baptismo prius Claram deinde Franciscum nominatum”. INCAPABLE MAJEUR : “dictum Franciscum hermofroditum indiscretum statum et extra bonam mentem positum.

This is obviously a fascinating case with so much to interest scholars. First, the baptismal name of Claire switched to Francis, a lovely Franciscan continuity, and then the so-interesting possibilities for what precisely was done to provide for this child in terms of inheritance.

(Names, like clothing, as a rule were highly gendered in premodern Europe, and thus name changes are a common feature in reports on hermaphrodites. Literary accounts of ‘women turned men’ would often pun on the similarity of male and female names like Yde and Ydé: https://intersex.hypotheses.org/3888. Canon lawyers like Hostiensis asserted that if a male name was given to a girl in baptism this did not affect the validity of the sacrament: https://intersex.hypotheses.org/5289.)

This author has yet to get back to Paris and the microfilm room where the entirety of this case hopefully awaits but promises to make every effort!


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