Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Monday, December 25, 2017

Jennie Hodgers Becomes Albert Cashier

Albert Cashier/Jennie Hodgers (born 25 December 1843)


When reporter Ida Tarbell queried the Adjutant General's Office in 1909, asking whether any women had participated in the Civil War, the answer she received from the U. S. Army was unequivocal. According to the Records and Pensions Office,
. . . no official record has been found in the War Department showing specifically that any woman was ever enlisted in the military service of the United States as a member of any organization of the Regular or Volunteer Army at any time during the period of the civil war. It is possible, however, that there may have been a few instances of women having served as soldiers for a short time without their sex having been detected, but no record of such cases is known to exist in the official files.
And yet, as you might have guessed, that response was not quite true. By 1909, as DeAnne Blanton writes in an essay for the National Archives, the Adjutant General's Office did indeed have more than ample documentation of "the service of women soldiers."

Albert Cashier in his army uniform
According to the website of the Civil War Trust, there are about 400 documented cases of women disguising themselves as men in order to fight for the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War.

I've already posted about one of these four hundred women, Sarah Emma Edmonds, who returned to her life as a woman after the end of the war, eventually marrying. She was even granted a pension in 1886 for her service as a soldier. She is now hailed not only for her military service but as a significant figure in GLBTQ history.

Today's post highlights an equally complex figure, Albert Cashier, who has now been recognized for his role as "a transgender pioneer." He is featured in the We've Been Around documentary series of short films celebrating the lives of just a few of these remarkable men and women. (For the film on Albert Cashier, click here.)

Born Jennie Irene Hodgers in Ireland on 25 December 1843, Cashier was generally evasive about his early life and, when pressed, produced contradictory details and stories.

According to some much later accounts, the young Jennie dressed as a boy in order to find work--frequently this cross-dressing is attributed to Jennie's stepfather, who needed the child's income to support the family after the boy's mother had died.

Newspaper stories at the time of Cashier's death reported that he had arrived in New York as a stowaway, though the year of his arrival in the United States is not clear. A pamphlet compiled by the Saunemin [Illinois] Historical Society claims that Cashier was eighteen when he arrived in the United States from Ireland.

Once in the country, Cashier found a home in Belvidere, Illinois, and lived there as a man, supporting himself as a laborer and farmhand. 

On 6 August 1862, Cashier enlisted in the 95th Illinois Infantry, Company G, as Albert D. J. Cashier, serving three years. As part of Grant's Army of the Tennessee, Company G fought in some forty battles, including the battle of Vicksburg, where Cashier fought well. (The Illinois 95th traveled nearly 10,000 miles during the war.)

In May, 1863, Private Cashier participated in the Siege of Vicksburg, during which time he was captured while performing a reconnaissance mission. He escaped by wrestling a gun away from a Confederate and was chased on foot, narrowly reaching the safety of the Union lines.
After Vicksburg, Cashier's exploits continued. In Jean Freedman's account,
[Cashier] served in Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks’s Red River campaign in the spring of 1864, marching for miles in the Louisiana heat; by December of that year, [he] was in Nashville, fighting with the Army of the Cumberland in its hard-won victory over John Bell Hood’s forces. [His] final combat experience came during the siege of Mobile, Ala., a fight that did not end until after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.
Along with the rest of his regiment, Cashier was mustered out of the army at the end of the war, on 17 August 1865.

Cashier's headstone,
Sunny Slope Cemetery,
Saunemin, Illinois
Cashier continued his life as a man after leaving the army, returning to Belvidere, where he seems to have opened a gardening business with a fellow soldier.

About 1869, he relocated to Saunemin, Illinois, working as a farmhand and at a variety of odd jobs, including lamplighter, janitor, gardener, and chauffeur. As a man, Cashier voted in elections and claimed his army pension.

He lived productively and quietly for over forty years after the war--until an unfortunate accident in 1911. While working on an automobile for a former employer, Cashier broke his leg and had to be hospitalized. Although his female body was discovered by the doctor who treated him, the doctor agreed to keep his anatomical "secret."

Cashier was transferred to the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Quincy, Illinois, where his identity was also respected. Although his story eventually leaked out, he continued to be visited and supported by members of his former military company, and public pressure ensured that his pension continued to be paid. (For a deposition providing testimony about Cashier's military service, evidence taken after Cashier's complex sexual identity had been revealed, click here.)

But his story was picked up and published in several newspapers, and by 1913, suffering from declining physical and mental health, Cashier was judged to be "insane," transferred to Watertown State Hospital for the Insane. As Jason Cromwell writes in Transmen and FTMs: Identities, Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities, the commitment "seems dubious at best."

There he was placed in the women's ward and forced back into female garments--so restrictive and cumbersome to Cashier, in his physical decline, that he tripped and broke a hip. Never recovering from his accident, he died on 10 October 1915, six months after entering the mental hospital.

Frequently moved and much restored,
Albert Cashier's home,
Saunemin, Illinois
Cashier was given a funeral with full military honors in East Moline. His body was returned to Saunemin, where he was buried in his uniform, his headstone reading, "Albert D. J. Cashier, Co. G, 95 Ill. Inf."

In the 1970s, another headstone was provided for his grave, adding to Cashier's name his long-disxarded birth name, "Jennie Hodgers."

Albert Cashier is the subject of a musical, The Civility of Albert Cashier, now in development For information about the musical, including a gallery of images from workshop productions and a sampling of the musical performances, click here.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nzinga, Queen of Ndongo and Matamba

Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (died 17 December 1663)


Given my educational and professional background, I usually write about historical women with whom I have some familiarity and experience, either from the classroom or from my own research and reading.

Close-up view of a statue of
Queen Nzinga,
Luanda, Angola
(contrast to romanticized European view
of Nzinga, below)
But I recently ran across a reference to Nzinga, queen of  Ndongo and Matamba, also known as Queen Anna Njinga Mbande. I am ashamed to admit that I don't know much at all about the history of any of the kingdoms, states, and peoples of Africa, and so I had never heard about this remarkable ruler of the Mbundu people.

Today's post isn't one that reflects any expertise or deep knowledge on my part--still, I hope that it piques your interest to explore further.

Sometimes (as well) known by the name Dona Ana de Souza, Nzinga was born about the year 1583, the daughter of Ngola (King) Kiluanji Kia Samba and his queen, Guenguela Cakombewas.

By the time of Nzinga's birth, the Mbundu people had already had a long and troubled history with Portuguese invaders, would-be colonial rulers, and slave traders, who had first arrived in the area at the end of the fifteenth century and, in 1575, had established the colony of Luanda.

Nzinga's father, who became king about the year 1592, had begun to resist Portuguese raids into his territory for slaves. At some point in the early seventeenth century, about the year 1617, King Kiluanji was replaced by his son, Mbandi, Nzinga's half brother. 

The circumstances surrounding this event aren't clear--many online sources suggest the king was deposed by his "illegitimate son," adding that Mbandi killed Nzinga's son (or the queen's son, it's not clear). Others claim that Nzinga and her husband fled after her father was deposed, others that they remained behind after Ngola Kihuanji was replaced by his son, still others that the king was not deposed but, more simply, died, to be followed on the throne by his son.

According to Hettie V. Williams's entry on Nzinga in the Encyclopedia of African American History, because of King Kiluanji Kia's resistance to supplying them with slaves, the Portuguese enlisted the aid of neighboring Imbangala warriors to attack him, thus "bringing the kingdom to its knees." After Mbandi's succession, Nzinga and her husband, fearing for their safety, left the kingdom. (Williams indicates that the child Mbandi killed was Nzinga's son.)

Whatever the circumstances of Mbandi's rise, the first solid detail about Nzinga's political life is dated to 1622, when she served as her brother's emissary to the Portuguese governor, João Correia de Sousa, in Luanda. 

Before meeting with the governor, she is said to have been baptized, acquiring her Portuguese name, Ana de Sousa, deriving from the name of the governor's wife, who served as her godmother. By all accounts Nzinga's baptism seems to be regarded today as a wily act of political expediency.

In a singularly strategic gesture, Nzinga seems also to have outwitted a Portuguese attempt to humiliate her--finding herself in a room with only one chair, clearly designated for the governor, she realized that to be left standing while the governor sat was a ploy to demonstrate her inferiority.

To avoid this move, she chose to sit on the back of one of her attendants, thus removing any suggestion that she was inferior to the Portuguese man with whom she was dealing. (The moment was captured in a drawing of the meeting made by an observer.) 

The contemporary illustration,
 drawn by Italian priest Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo,
of Nzinga during the peace negotiations of 1622 

Nzinga successfully negotiated a treaty with the Portuguese, ending the conflicts between them and her brother, as king. Mbandi retained his throne, and the Portuguese agreed to limit their slaving efforts. (Though the Portuguese do not seem to have honored the terms of the treaty to which they had agreed.)

In 1624 (or 1626, sources differ), following her brother's death, Nzinga became queen. Again the details are unclear--according to some accounts, Mbandi committed suicide, with Nzinga first assuming the role of regent for his son; according to at least one other source, Nzinga murdered her brother in order to gain the throne for herself; in other sources, the Mbundi people resisted female rulers, and Nzinga sought assistance from the Portuguese to establish her rule; others sidestep the issue and simply say she became queen after her brother's death.

Or, in the account offered by Williams, Nzinga's brother died "in mysterious circumstances," and she "subsequently seized power." 

Whatever the circumstances, and however Nzinga became queen, the task facing her was a daunting one. According to Alexander Ives Bortolot's account on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website, 
In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, states on the Central African coast found their economic power and territorial control threatened by Portuguese attempts to establish a colony at Luanda (in present-day Angola). Many of these states had become regional powers through trade in African slaves. It was the growing demand for this human labor in New World colonies such as Brazil that ultimately led Portugal to seek military and economic control of this region. Old trading partners came under military attack by Portuguese soldiers and indigenous African raiders in search of captives for the slave trade, and rulers were forced to adapt to these new circumstances or face certain destruction. One leader who proved to be adept at overcoming these difficulties was the queen of Ndongo, Ana Nzinga.*
Having become queen, Nzinga realized that she needed to carefully negotiate a position between the hostile Portuguese slave traders and the aggressive African neighbors surrounding her. Betrayed by the Portuguese with whom she had negotiated the 1622 peace treaty, she was ultimately forced to flee Ndongo, eventually establishing herself as queen of Matamba. (Interestingly, in establishing herself as the ruler of Matamba, Nzinga defeated and replaced the ruling queen, Mwongo Mataba.)

There, she offered sanctuary to runaway slaves as well as to runaway African soldiers, trained by the Portuguese. She was also able to incite rebellion in Ndongo, ruled after her flight by her sister, installed as a puppet ruler by the Portuguese--but who in reality acted as a spy for Nzinga.

In 1641, after the Dutch seized control of Luanda, forcing the Portuguese out, Nzinga negotiated an alliance with this new European colonial power. With the help of the Dutch, she went to war against the Portuguese, gaining some victories and suffering some defeats.

Notably, she "led troops into battle, dressed as a man, took the title of ngola or king, and kept male concubines"!

By 1651, the Portuguese having reestablished themselves in Luanda, Nzinga returned to Matamba, sued for peace, and negotiated a new settlement. She turned her attention to rebuilding the now combined kingdom of Ndongo and Mtamba, devastated by years of war. Given Matamba's geographical location, she was able to establish the kingdom as a trading power.

Achille Devéria's nineteenth-century
drawing of Queen Nzinga

She also resettled former slaves and, without a male heir to succeed her, consolidated her political power to ensure the future of her state. 

Nzinga reconverted to Christianity before her death, at age eighty-one, on 17 December 1663.

Following her death, civil war divided Matamba between followers of her sister, Barbara, and of Nzinga a Mona, an Imbrangala warrior who was a member of her court. The forces supporting Barbara were ultimately victorious

In addition to a novel and several books for children, there is a full-length historical study of Nzinga, Linda Heywood's Njinga of Angola: Africa's Warrior Queen. 

*The Metropolitan Museum of Art's history of art timeline, where Bortolot's essay appears, "pairs essays and works of art with chronologies,telling the story of art and global culture through the Museum’s collection." The essay on Nzinga is part of a larger series on "Political African Women of the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries."


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Beatriz Galindo, Humanist Scholar and Teacher

Beatriz Galindo, scholar and tutor (birth of her pupil Catherine of Aragon, 16 December 1485)

Note: My 16 December 2015 post on Beatriz Galindo has somehow been deleted (oops!), and although I've restored it, or tried to restore it, it may not show up in the appropriate spot in the 2015 archive! So I've reposted it here, in 2017, just in case . . . 
Today is the anniversary of the birth of Catherine of Aragon, and so I thought I would post today not about the woman who would become part of Henry VIII's marital misadventures, but instead about the woman who was her tutor, the humanist scholar Beatriz Galindo, known for her scholarly proficiency and mastery of Latin as "la Latina."

A fifteenth-century painting of
Beatriz Galindo, "la Latina"
Beatriz Galindo's date of birth is not known--estimates range generally from 1464 to 1474.

Born in Madrid, she was was the daughter of a family of the lesser nobility, and it seems that her parents intended Beatriz for the religious life. 

To further her understanding of the prayers, music, and ritual of the cloister, she began to study Latin, but, given her manifest gifts, she received Latin instruction at the grammar school of the University of Salamanca, where she and Luisa de Medrano were among the first female students. 

Galindo acquired further training from the University of Salerno, where she received diplomas in philosophy and Latin. Although the information I have is fragmentary (and sometimes contradictory), it seems that both Galindo and Medrano lectured at the University of Salamanca, Medrano in poetry and history, Galindo in rhetoric, philosophy, and medicine. Galindo is credited with having written Latin poetry and commentaries on Aristotle, though only a few letters and a will survive.

A sculpture honoring Beatriz Galindo,
Madrid
By 1486, her reputation had brought Galindo to the attention of Queen Isabella of Castile. Well aware of her own educational deficiencies, Isabella brought the scholar to court, where she would tutor the queen in Latin. Galindo seems also to have become something of an advisor to Isabella and perhaps also to have served as her secretary at times. 

In addition, Galindo became the tutor for Isabella's daughters, with most sources focusing on her training of the two youngest, Juana and Catalina (later Catherine). Isabella also appointed Galindo as the director of a school for the children of the nobility that the queen had established at court. 

In 1491, Galindo married the courtier and captain Francisco Ramirez (nicknamed "il Artillero"), her dowry supplied by the Spanish monarchs--sources vary as to whether she had two children or five children. (Or whether the widowed Ramirez had three children, and then the couple added two more, for a total of five.)

The surviving façade of the
Hospital de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora
Widowed after 1501, she retired from the court and dedicated herself to the foundation of charities, notably the Hospital de la Concepción de Nuestra Señora (the Hospital of the Conception of Our Lady), popularly called the hospital of la Latina.

Galindo drafted the organization's constitution and rules for government. (The hospital and adjoining convent were destroyed in the early twentieth century when the streets were widened, though the façade was preserved.) 

She also founded the Convento de la Concepción Jerónima (also called the Convento de La Latina) in 1509 for nuns of the Hieronymite order.

Beatriz Galindo died in Madrid on 23 November 1534.

One of the most reliable sources is an article from a 2006 edition of a supplement to El Mundo, which you can read by clicking 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Marianna Martines: An "Incomparable" Musician "Endowed with Superior Genius"

Anna Catharina ("Marianna") Martines (died 13 December 1812)


Born in Vienna on 7 4 May 1744, the musician Anna Catharina Martines was the daughter of Nicolo Martinez and his wife, Maria Theresia.

Anna Cathariana--"Marianna"--Martines
Her surname, unusual in Austria, was from her paternal grandfather, a Spanish soldier who had settled in Naples. Martines's father, Nicolo, was born in Naples, took up his father's military career and became a soldier, serving in the forces of the Habsburg Archduke Charles, whose claim to the Spanish throne triggered the War of the Spanish Succession. Charles did not become the Spanish king, but he was elected as Holy Roman Emperor in 1711.

As for Nicolo, he had come to Austria with Charles's forces and married the Austrian Maria Theresia. in order to remain in Austria, Nicolo turned from a military to a civilian career, taking up the post of papal nuncio, a diplomatic representative of the pope, in the Habsburg court.

His success in that role reflects his liberal education and his friendship with intellectuals and artists, like the Italian poet and librettist Pietro Antonio Trapassi, with whom the family shared a house in Vienna.

About Trapassi and his significance in her family, Marianna Martines would later write: "But in all my studies, the chief planner and director was always, and still is, Signor Abbate Metastasio [Trapassi's pseudonyym] who, with the paternal care he takes of me and of all my numerous family, renders an exemplary return for the incorruptible friendship and tireless support which my good father lent him up until the very last days of his life.”

As Martines notes, Trapassi oversaw her musical education. Under his direction, Anna Catharina, who would later rename herself Marianna, showed early promise as a musician, both as a singer, training with the Neapolitan composer Niccolò Porpora, and as a keyboardist, taking lessons with Franz Joseph Haydn. (Haydn seems to have lived in the same building in Vienna.)

Showing some promise as a composer, Martines began studying with the German composer Johann Adolph Hasse and with Giuseppe Bonno, an Austrian composer (of Italian origins, as his name suggests), who was a composer for the imperial court.

Marianna Martines would perform for the court as a child; as an adult, she would go on to perform for the Empress Maria Theresa.

Given her sex and social class, Martines did not have a professional appointment (like court musician), nor was she paid for her performances. However, although she remained in Vienna, she garnered a reputation throughout western Europe. She established a vocal studio, where she trained her own students, and she maintained professional friendships and associations with other musicians, including Mozart, with whom she is known to have performed.

Although she did not travel, Martines was elected to the Accademia Filarmonica (Philharmonic Academy) of Bologna in 1773 (the motet she composed for the academy was never performed, however.)

Marianna Martines,
portait by Peter Anton Lorenzoni
During her life, Martines is known to have composed over two hundred works in multiple genres. Her legacy survives in her musical compositions, about sixty-five of which are known to survive today.

As an interesting note, the English musicologist Charles Burney, the father of novelist Fanny Burney, saw Martines perform when he was in Vienna:
Her performance indeed surpassed all that I had been made to expect. She sung two airs of her own composition, to words of Metastasio, which she accompanied on the harpsichord, in a very judicious and masterly manner; and, in playing the ritornels, I could discover a very brilliant finger. To say that her voice was naturally well-toned and sweet, that she had an excellent shake, a perfect intonation, a facility of executing the most rapid and difficult passages, and a touching expression, would be to say no more than I have already said, and with truth, of others; but here I want words that would still encrease the significance and energy of these expressions. The Italian augmentatives would, perhaps, gratify my wish, if I were writing in that language; but as that is not the case, let me only add, that in the portamento, and divisions of tones and semi-tones into infinitely minute parts, and yet always stopping upon the exact fundamental, Signora Martinetz was more perfect than any singer I had ever heard: her cadences too, of this kind, were very learned, and truly pathetic and pleasing.
For an excellent and thorough essay on Martines, I recommend the entry at the Encyclopedia of World Biography, which you can access by clicking here. For the perspective of a musician, I recommend the essay on Martines posted by the Soprano in the City, 

For more information on Martines's surviving work, the Women of Note: Celebrating Two Hundred and Fifty Years of Music by Women website posts technical details (click here). Scores are available here, at the International Music Score Library.

There is also a full-length study, Irving Godt's Marianna Martines: A Woman Composer in the Vienna of Mozart and Haydn.