I heard back fro Guido Ruggiero, writer and historian who wrote, among other titles, The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice. Yes, I read it! (No, I didn’t tell my coworkers at the private Catholic school.) It was really fascinating. Ruggiero, who’s the History Department chair at the University of Miami, read through hundreds of legal documents in the Venice state archives to research court cases involving marriage, adultery, rape, and homosexuality. Rape was hardly punished at all (sadly, I wasn’t too surprised by that) while homosexuality usually carried a death sentence, by particularly nasty methods such as decapitation or burning.
I had contacted Guido because his book focuses on Renaissance Venice, while Casanova lived in the 18th century. Were laws, punishments, and sexual mores the same? When Casanova and his six buddies “pleasure” (in their words) a kidnapped woman one night, was that really no big deal, as C tells us? Guido replied to my email to recommend books by Joanne Ferraro, who has written a number of books on Venice and sex (those two just seem to go together), so good ol’ Alibris is sending me one title now. The research never ends!