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three pairs of lovers with space


The first published edition, 1881

Jean-Jacques Bouchard, born in Paris on 30 October 1606, was an erudite young Dr. of Civil and Canon Law, who travelled in 1630-1 from there to Rome in 1630-1 and on to Naples the next year, mostly then remaining in Rome until he was fatally wounded and died there on 27 August 1641. Despite his profession, he was a libertine who said he had tasted “every quarry” of the flesh,[1] and his memoirs about his travels, written just afterwards but not published until 1881,[2] are invaluable for the sexual mores he witnessed and recorded.

Bouchard’s account is written in the third person, using “Orestès” as a pseudonym for himself.  He transliterated his French into Greek letters for words or passages he thought sensitive, and these are represented in italics in what follows, while Bouchard’s frequent expressions in Latin and Italian are translated without distinction from the French. The translation is this website’s from the text edited by Emanuele Kanceff and published in 1977 as Journal by Giappichelli.[3]

Journey from Paris to Rome

Orestès describes how he set out from Paris:

Orestès submitted himself to being with a young gentleman from Auvergne, who was leaving being a page in the household of Monsieur, the King’s brother,[4] named [blank], and another young son of Paris, who took pride in being of the high nobility and made valour a profession, a haberdasher of Lyon named Brouart, and a lawyer of the King, from Draguignan in Provence. In this company, Orestès left on a Tuesday at eleven in the morning, 29 October 1630, the penultimate day of his twenty-fourth year, by St. Victor’s Gate. [p. 43]

At the end of the second day of travelling, the company stayed at Montargis, 23 leagues from Paris:

There, after supper, this young son of Paris lay down in the bed the Lyonois and the Provençal had reserved for themselves, and persuaded also Orestès to come to lie beside him. The Lyonois mutinous, comes to rough words, and addressing himself principally to Orestès, wants to pull him by force out of the bed. Orestès, fearing to embark on a quarrel in which even his companion could abandon him, willingly gets out of this bed and goes to that of the young page. [p. 45]

The Parisian having also withdrawn to another bed, then tried in vain to persuade Orestès, but he did not want to. ...

Gaston de France, Duke of Orleans, ca. 1628 (Château de Blois)

[…] this page got up next to Orestès on this occasion and the others: there being nothing there more simple and devout than this young boy, who had nevertheless been raised in a court that was extremely impious and debauched, above all for boys[5]; although this page strongly affirmed the contrary to Orestès, saying that Mr. d’Orleans forbade his pages to frig one another or to play with their own yards, moreover giving them leave to see women as much as they wished, and sometimes even coming at night to knock on the door of their bedroom with five or six wenches whom he shut up with them for an hour or two.[6] [p. 45]

After their next day’s travel, 31 October, they stayed at Bosny:

There the Parisian, irritated with Orestès over the Montargis affair and out of jealousy for the page whom he saw that Orestès caressed more than him, began to offend him with insinuating words. [p. 45]

Three days later, the Parisian already gone elsewhere, they dined at Molins on the Allier:

There the Pole left the company, as also the page, who drew towards the Auvergne, separating himself from Orestès not without tears and kisses; he promised him to fight at the first encounter against the young son of Paris to get revenge for the insolent and malicious words which Orestès reported to him that the Parisian had had for him, and to avenge Orestès too. [p. 47]

Journey in the Kingdom of Naples

Bouchard stayed in this Kingdom, then ruled by the Spanish, for eight months in 1632. Its capital was then the third largest city in Europe (after Constantinople and Paris). He says that what he reports what he saw with his own eyes (p. 237).



Besides this, it is necessary to know that [the Spanish] esteem their country so highly that they only come to Naples under constraint or out of extreme necessity, or because of some crime: and I have heard it held as a maxim in this country amongst the Spanish there that those who live in Naples cannot live in Spain. And it is necessary here to make a nice but true remark: that the principal crime that brings the Spanish to Italy is sodomy[7]. And one day, as I asked certain Spanish monks if it was true that the Spanish nation was as inclined to this vice as it was said to be in Italy, and as I have already remarked it really is, he replied that it was not and that one should not judge from what those who were in Italy did, because all those who find themselves inclined to this come to Italy at the persuasion and on the advice of their confessors, in order to avoid the scandal and the great danger which they run in Spain, where sodomy is a case for the Inquisition. [p. 255]

Gargiulo Domenico Piazza Mercato Naples ca 1654
The Piazza Mercato, Naples by Domenico Gargiulo, ca. 1654

Italian Foreigners

In general one can say that the Neapolitans hate and mistrust collectively all the other nations of Italy, but three especially: the Calabrians, whom they hold to be infamous people […] for people without faith, and devoted to all sorts of lasciviousness: a Calabrian bugger, a Calabrian fucks pack animals, they say; [p. 258]

On the special hatred between the Neapolitans and the Romans:

for as in Rome the Neapolitans are held to be great thieves, assassins, swindlers, sodomites, braggarts, niggards, and ridiculous in their gestures, and above all in their language, so that a comedy is seen as no good if it does not have a little Neapolitan, in the same way the Neapolitans mock and mimic Roman speech for ridicule, as also their other gestures and habits; they esteem them the greatest sodomites on earth, the greatest poltroons and cowards; people without words and without faith; traitors, hypocrites, thieves, self-interested and extremely stingy; and neither the one nor the other are much mistaken in the judgement which they make. [p. 259]



by Pierre Joubert

Fine allure. Young Cavaliers

One must accord to them being of fine allure, even above all the rest of the Italians, at least those whom I have seen. Most are tall, straight, squarely proportioned with blond hair and white and vermilion complexion and blue eyes, the men even more than the women, being generally better-looking than them, above all the young boys who are in this country unequalled in all the rest of Italy in point of beauty, kindness, vivacity, accompanied by a certain martial gravity. This they know very well and so they take the best advantage of their age that they can: there not being one of these little cavaliers who does not have first half a dozen grown-up cavaliers at the rear, who are to them exactly what rogues are to wenches in Paris, enjoying them ordinarily and in preference to all others, in payment of which they take them under their protection, interest themselves in their quarrels, procure them good catches and then take care to make those pay who want to dally intimately with this nobility, which takes no scruples about treating with and even submitting itself to the bourgeois provided the latter is willing to pay the price which is ordained, for each little cavalier in Naples has his rate, and one knows how much one must give to a cavalier of the seggio di Nido,[8] and to one of the other lesser districts, and how much to a duke, marquess, count etc., for example two doppia, four gold scudos, one doppia;[9] and to one who is not titled, one gold scudo; and he who does not want to have a beating from the protectors need not even think of trying to haggle. In short, today the minor Neapolitan noble youths are the most infamous in Italy, giving themselves up to no other employment than that infamous profession which they carry out even publicly, hanging out all day long on the crossroads of streets and in the squares in order to attract clients; and it is the only serious exercise and most honest diversion that they have. In this they are so imitated and followed by all other youths, whether bourgeois or from outside, from the provinces of the kingdom, who come to study in this city, that if Naples is outstripped by Rome for the number of Buggers, as without doubt it is, with everybody participating in Rome, and in Naples only horsemen, philosophers and scholars, as the merchants, artisans and the rest of the population are not strongly inclined to this, Naples far surpasses Rome for the number and for the beauty and good price of Bardashes. I have expanded upon these particularities which I have heard spoken of in Naples, in order to leave it to the reader to judge who of the Romans and Neapolitans are right in accusing each other of sodomy, but I believe that they are all both right and wrong. [pp. 270-1]


by Alessandro Algardi, 1635-6

The ecclesiastical foundations and revenues are much greater even than in Rome, where there is no church as rich as Monte Olivero, Sto. Sverino, Sto. Martino and a good enough number of others, which have twenty, thirty, forty and fifty thousand scudos of revenue. This great wealth makes the ecclesiastics of Naples infinitely licentious and debauched, being devoted to all sorts of vices, principally to cards, wine, women and boys; and what is worst, they do it almost in public, mixing with laymen, and there is no festival, course, ball, comedy or other public rejoicing where the monks are not to be found, in carriages, on horse, in feluccas or in chairs, and enjoying all there is most beautiful and best in the city; in short, one can say that Naples is a paradise for people of the church and especially monks, for apart from the great conveniences and the licence which they possess by the indulgence of their superiors and the tolerance of the people, who are accustomed to it, there is impunity for them for all sorts of crimes: the secular arm cannot arrest or even know an ecclesiastic even if he does not have a tonsure; apart from that, all the churches and convents are as much inviolable places of asylum, where, for this reason, there are always a good number of malefactors retired, and you see in Naples little churches where they cannot hold two or three hundred people, there will be six and ten banished refugees, who drink, eat and sleep in the church, not without a beautiful girl or little boy, there where they do a thousand wickednesses and insolencies; amongst others I saw once two or three young people, rather beautiful boys, in Sta. Maria Rotunda, where the Neapolitan cavaliers went as to a brothel, and once saw there while passing, in the benitier which I considered to be a very ancient tripod, bottles of wine which these gentlemen had put to cool in the holy water. [p. 279]



On Sorrento, which he visited in September 1632:

Orestès remarked that in general the women are ugly and the boys beautiful. [p. 428]

[1] Moreover, Tallemant des Réaux says he was “reputed a great bugger” (Historiettes, edited by A. Adam, Paris, 1960-1, vol. 2, p. 761).

[2] As Les Confessions de Jean-Jacques Bouchard, Parisien, suivies de son voyage de Paris à Rome en 1630. Publiées pour la première fois sur le Manuscrit de l’Auteur, Isidore Liseux, Paris, 1881.

[3] In Turin, being two volumes with a single pagination.

[4] Gaston Duke of Orleans, the 22-year-old brother of the King, Louis XIII, and heir presumptive to the throne. “Monsieur” was the appellation of the King’s next brother in age.

[5] Here Bouchard is alluding to the Duke of Orleans’s reputation as a sodomite.

[6] John Addington Symonds quoted this passage from Bouchard in his ground-breaking A Problem in Modern Ethics (London, 1896) p. 48 with the comment: “This prince was of the same mind as Campanella, who, in the Città del Sole, laid it down that young men ought to be freely admitted to women, for the avoidance of sexual aberrations. Aretino and Bemi enable us to comprehend the sexual immorality of males congregated together in the courts of Roman prelates.”

[7] The jargon used here to mean sodomy literally means “the subtle art”.

[8] Literally the “seat of Nido”. The Neapolitan nobility were organised into five districts, of which the seggio di Nido was one of the most influential.

[9] A scudo was a gold coin of 3.38 grams; a doppia was double that.




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