I will be presenting my paper, “Katherina Hetzeldorfer and the Consequences of a Woman Living as a Heterosexual Man in Fifteenth-Century Germany,” at the fourth annual Conference by the Association of Renaissance Studies at the University of Toronto.This year’s theme is “Revealing the Renaissance: (De)constructing Early Modern Identities.”
The conference takes place on Friday, 16 March 2018, from 9 am to 4 pm at Victoria College, University of Toronto.
In Early Modern Christian Europe, gender was assigned at birth, and it was generally understood to be a fixed category that would not change in a person’s lifetime. A person’s gender determined their character, legal status, and the social roles they were expected to perform. In fifteenth century Germany, women crossdressing as men were understood to be posing a threat to the social order. For women who did this, and lived and loved as men, the threat was considered especially great, as Katherina Hetzeldorfer’s case demonstrates. In 1477, Hetzeldorfer was tried and executed for an unnamed crime. However, from the context of the evidence presented at her trial, and the 1356 Speyer dress code laws, I argue that she was convicted of crossdressing as a man, as well as posing as a male lover. Her punishment was swift and harsh, and the case deserves a closer examination to understand what threat she posed, and why it resulted in a death sentence.
I hope to see you there!