white or mixed-race man. By the seventeenth century in some parts of Latin America, mixed-race individuals - termed 'castas' - were the largest population group. They rarely officially married and during the period 1640-1700 in Central Mexico, 66 per cent of births to mixed-race women were out of wedlock. Though the Catholic Church officially decried extra-marital sexuality, it never refused to baptize the children and even occasionally sponsored group weddings to regularize a number of informal unions at one time. Had they known about such practices, commentators such as Thomas Edwards or Johann Feustking would have been just as horrified as they were about European religious groups in which women played a prominent role.


1. GottfriedArnold, UnpartheiischeKirchenundKetzerhistorievomAnfangdesNeuenTestaments bis aufdas Jahr Christi 1688 (Frankfurt: Thomas Fritschens sel. Erben, 1729), p. 1108. My translation.

2. Quoted in Barbara Ritter Dailey, 'The visitation of Sarah Wight: Holy Carnival and the revolution of the saints in civil war London', Church history, 55 (1986), p. 447.

3. Quoted in Hilda Smith, Reason's disciples: Seventeenth-century English feminists (Urbana: University ofIllinois Press, 1982), p. 55.

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