Florentine Officers of the Night
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Officers of the Night (Ufficiali di notte e conservatori dell'onestà dei monasteri) were a Florentine court that focused particularly on sodomy, and also related misdemeanours such as prostitution. It operated in Florence, Italy from 1432 until its closure on December 29, 1502.
The name of the magistry derived from the nocturnal activities of sodomitical encounters.
The organization consisted of six elected members based on annual votes; members had to be male, over 45 years of age, and married. They erected letter boxes (tamburo) around the city in which citizens were encouraged to drop anonymous notes about suspected activity. Between 1432 and 1502, its years of activity, about seventeen thousand men came to its attention (which represents a great number in a population of about forty thousand). The court was often criticized for being too lenient.