Gay rights and LGBTQI movements in Europe

First national march for gay rights and freedoms, Paris, April 4, 1981

The history of gay rights movements, initially LGBT and later LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex), can be understood only in light of the forms of persecution and oppression faced by individuals who had emotional and sexual relations with persons of their own gender and/or did not conform to the social expectations of their own gender. Their emergence dates back to the first half of the nineteenth century. There has been an increasing awareness of the demands made by the LGBTQI movement during the early twenty-first century, notably with regard to measures for combatting discrimination, which are at the foundation of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000).

Doubts regarding faith

Première page de la Genèse. Bible polyglotte d’Alcala de Henares (1515-1517).First page of Genesis. Polyglot Bible of Alcala de Henares (1515-1517).

Early modernity was a moment of re-composition, and even fracture, of the connection between intellectual activity and the form and expression of faith. The traditional intellectual framework had to be redefined in the face of humanist textual critique, along with the challenge presented by the Protestant break and the often-problematic opening that the encounter with Native Americans, Africans, and Asians represented for Europeans. A twin movement emerged from this, one which was not without its tensions and contradictions: the redefinition of doctrine and catechization, which had major consequences on the faithful’s tendency to believe, with belief and the expression of faith being reduced with difficulty to a more or less enlightened consent to a doctrinal framework, however modernized.

National Architectures in Europe

Hôtel de ville de Stockholm, façade donnant sur le lac Mälar. Arch. Ragnar ÖSTBERG (1911-1923). J. ROOSVAL dir., Stockholms Stadshus, Stockholm, Gunnar Tisells tekniska förlag, 1923. Paris, Bib. Nordique. Stockholm's city hall, facade on the lake Mälar. Arch. Ragnar ÖSTBERG (1911-1923). J. ROOSVAL dir., Stockholms Stadshus, Stockholm, Gunnar Tisells tekniska förlag, 1923. Paris, Bib. Nordique. 

The concept of a national architecture was born in the eighteenth century in England, where the Neo-Gothic emerged as a symbol of the kingdom’s influence and would soon been reoriented by the Arts and Crafts movement towards the vernacular. In Germany, the completion of Cologne Cathedral gave the movement an ultra-romantic appearance, which competed with the Rundbogenstil. In France, the Neo-Gothic, which was theorized by rationalist architects close to Viollet-le-Duc, competed with the more regionalist Neo-Romanesque movement. National architectures then proliferated in Europe from 1880 to 1920. The primary ingredients of this architectural recycling of the past included popular culture (Hungary), the mythical roots of territories (Finland, Catalonia), and the natural beauty of local materials (Sweden).

French engravers in the face of Jansenism during the Eighteenth Century

Bernard Picart (1673-1733), The chained nuns, or the Destruction of Port-Royal des Champs, burin engraving, circa 1709, Paris.

The religious crises connected to Jansenism affected the careers of many early eighteenth century French engravers, who either went into exile, or served as the secret correspondents of French engravers who had settled in England or Holland, which became platforms for the diffusion of polemical engravings. In the 1760s, the participation of French engravers in clandestine Jansenist initiatives compelled them to emigrate definitively, or to stay abroad for many years. Once they emigrated, they often completely changed their artistic orientation.

French Protestant Artists and the Refuge

Abraham-César Lamoureux (1635-1692), Equestrian statue of Christian V, gilded lead, ca. 1685-1688.

Faced with the wars of religion of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many French Protestant artists chose exile to save their lives, preserve their freedom of religion and, more rarely, to put their art at the service of their faith. Their departure roughly followed the chronology of the Refuge of French Protestants, with two peaks nearly a century apart (1562-1598 and 1660-1695), as well as its geography, since these artists generally favoured the courts and large cities of Protestant lands such as England, Holland, Prussia, and Geneva.