The king considers whether Havana’s black women should be forced to dance, 1623

English Translation
I the King, to Don Francisco Venegas, my governor and captain–general in the Island of Cuba and in the City of San Cristóbal of Havana or to the person in whose command lies its government. The black freemen (morenos) of the city have made it known to me that in the public festivals that occur in the city, such as the celebration of Corpus Christi and other solemn feast days, the black married women are ordered to leave their houses and participate in the dances and balls. Being that they are decent women, and not used to such things, and when they try to excuse themselves from attending, they are fined, without having incurred any other infraction. Since there are unmarried women that could attend, I have been petitioned that I order that these married women and unmarried women in religious communities that do not wish to find themselves in such celebrations, not be obliged to attend, nor should they be fined, since attendance only leads to the inconveniences and dangers that they would have us consider. And as my Royal Council of the Indias has reviewed the request, I have thought it best to turn the matter over to you, and I command that you should resolve the matter accordingly.    

Spanish Original
El Rey. D. Francisco Venegas, mi Gobernador y Capitán General de la Isla de Cuba y Ciudad de San Cristóbal de la Habana, o a la persona, a cuyo cargo fuere su gobierno. Por parte de los morenos horros de esa ciudad se me ha hecho relación que en las fiestas públicas que se hacen en ella, como son los días del Corpus y otras de solemnidad que se celebran, mandan a las morenas casadas que salgan por fuerza a las danzas y bailes, siendo como son mujeres honradas y no habituadas a cosas semejantes, y que cuando se excusan de hacerlo, las llevan penas pecuniarias, sin incurrir en otro delito, habiendo gente soltera que lo pueda hacer, suplicándome fuese servido de mandar que las casadas y doncellas recogidas que no quieren hallarse en semejantes fiestas, no les obliguen a ello, ni las penen en cosa alguna, supuesto que de hallarse en ellas, sólo sirve de los inconvenientes y daños que se dejan considerar. Y habiéndose visto en mi Real Consejo de las Indias, he tenido por bien de dar la presente, por la cual os mando proveáis en lo aquí referido lo que convenga.    








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