Researcher analyses the masculinity of revolutionist Francisco de Miranda from a gender perspective

By 28 octubre, 2021Arts and Humanities

Francisco de Miranda, known as a forerunner of Venezuelan independence and sometimes called the universal American, travelled for much of his life, lived through the French Revolution and the emancipation of USA and promoted the Hispano-American territories. An enlightened idealist that the historian of the University of Valencia (UV) Mónica Bolufer has studied from a new perspective in her article published in Gender & History, one of the most prestigious international journals on history.

Painting of Miranda by Arturo Michelena

“It’s hard to frame Miranda with a single label”, says Bolufer, professor at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History. “Deepening in the contradictions of his thinking and his life is a way to better understand and in more detail the era of Enlightenment and the revolutions he lived”, says the researcher.


The conclusions of the article, published in the framework of European project CIRGEN (Circulating Gender in the Global Enlightenment: Ideas, Network, Agencies), funded with an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) of 2.5 million euros, do not classify Miranda, but raise the paradoxes of the Enlightenment and revolutions. Despite advances in politics, the enlightened were reluctant to admit equality between men and women.


The researcher has focused this historical analysis on three areas: the presence and treatment of gender in Francisco de Miranda’s travel diaries, in his relationships with women, and in the way he constructed his own image as a man.


The image of the popular women with whom he had sexual encounters is constructed in his writings from his privileged position as a man attentive to his pleasures; he almost never even mentions his name. However, given the context in which he was born and the world in which he lived, it is worth noting his comments in favour of single mothers, whom he defended from social ostracism, which was unusual at the time. “To present oneself as a Latin lover, as has sometimes been done, means to take for granted the stale stereotypes that relegate the private lives of ‘great men’ to the realm of the anecdotal and rugged. What is needed is to analyse it in its cultural and political context”, says Mónica Bolufer.


Francisco de Miranda shows esteem on several occasions for intellectual conversations with intelligent women, sometimes from a paternalistic position. He becomes somewhat aware of the roles and demands that are attributed to each genre. On some occasions, he admits that civil rights should be recognised for older women, although this awareness was not reflected in his plans for post-revolutionary society.


“This analysis of the figure of Francisco de Miranda from the point of view of gender history, biography and the history of subjectivity is pioneering. Until now, his figure had been studied as that of a cosmopolitan illustrator who travelled through the New and Old Worlds, and was an activist and military man who lived through the U.S. War of Independence and participated in the French Revolution. The only mentions of the model of masculinity he represents and his relationship with women were the rather topical references of his active sex life”, concludes the UV expert.



Article: Mónica Bolufer. «A Latin American Casanova? Sex, Gender, Enlightenment and Revolution in the Life and Writings of Francisco de Miranda (1750–1816)». Gender & History, Vol.0 No.0 March 2021, pp. 1-20. ISSN: 0953-5233