Kas Euroopas oli keskajal vägistamine tavaline?

Kas Euroopas oli keskajal vägistamine tavaline?

Lugesin hiljuti artiklit (norra keeles), milles väideti, et vägistamine oli keskajal palju vähem levinud kui tavaliselt arvatakse ja täpsemalt, et see oli palju vähem levinud kui see, mida on kujutatud raamatus G.R.R. Martini oma Laul jääst ja tulest raamatud.

Tundub, et see viitab peamiselt kolmele allikale:

  • Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist: "Vägistamine Islandi saagades: ülevaade naiste seksuaalsete rünnakute kohta vanapõhja maailmas", Pereajaloo ajakiri, 2015.
  • Hans Jacob Orning: Kvinner og politikk på Island ja senmiddelalderen, Tidsskriftet Fortid, 2012.
  • Hans Jacob Orning: "Vaen ja konfliktide lahendamine faktides ja väljamõeldistes hiliskeskaegsel Islandil", Steinar Imseni (toim.) Seadusandlus ja riigi moodustamine: Norra ja selle naabrid keskajal, Akadeemia Forlag, 2013.

Pange tähele, et ma pole ühtegi neist uuringutest ega artiklitest ise lugenud, ainult algselt lingitud artiklit.

Selle peamine väide näib olevat see "Keskaeg, mis tundub tume, on 15. sajandil Itaalias loodud eksiarvamus" ja see "Keskaega kujutatakse sageli seksuaalse rünnakuna".

Mõned peamised punktid, mille ta toob välja, väidavad, et seksuaalne rünnak või vägistamine oli keskajal üsna haruldane:

  • Kui vägistamine oleks tavaline, oleks ajaloolased leidnud selleaegsest kirjandusest sellele rohkem viiteid.
  • Paljud keskaegsed ühiskonnad panid au sisse suure veoauto, mis oleks vägistamise tõsiseks kuriteoks teinud. See kajastub vägistamise eest määratud karistustes. Skandinaavias oleks teid selle eest süüdi mõistetud ebaseaduslikuks kuulutajaks, üks tolle aja karmimaid karistusi. Bagleri saagades on ka lugu, kus mees tapetakse millegi eest, mis võis olla vägistamine, kuigi ta oli pärit ühiskonna kõrgematest kihtidest.
  • Katoliku kirikul oli sel ajal ühiskonnas väga silmapaistev koht ja samuti oli tal väga kompromissitu vaade abieluvälisele seksile.

Artiklis mainitakse ka mõningaid põhjuseid, miks vägistamine oleks võinud olla sagedasem:

  • Seda võidi kasutada vastaste häbistamiseks ja demoraliseerimiseks sõdade või tüli ajal, kuid selliseid sündmusi kirjeldavas kirjanduses on selle kohta vähe juttu.
  • Orjade vastu tahtmist seksimist ei pruukinud pidada vägistamiseks. Orjad polnud aga Skandinaavias keskaja lõpus ja keskajal levinud.

Artiklis endas on muidugi palju muudki, kuid ma kardan, et ma ei viitsi kogu asja tõlkida. :) Lisaks on see ja mõned selle argumendid, mida ma siin parafraseerisin, seotud peamiselt Skandinaaviaga, kuid võimalike vastuste korral oleksin väga huvitatud kuulda võimalikest erinevustest kogu Euroopas.

Igatahes, nagu ma pealkirjas küsin: Kas vägistamine ja/või seksuaalne rünnak oli Euroopas keskajal tavaline?


Ainus aus vastus sellele küsimusele on Me ei tea.

Et väita, et kuritegu või mis tahes tegevus oli ühel või teisel ajaperioodil rohkem või vähem levinud kui teine, tuleb pidada kirjalikke dokumente. Keskajal toime pandud kuritegude kohta on meil aga vähe andmeid. IIRC, igasugused andmed tavaliste kuritegude ja muude tegevuste kohta algavad alles umbes 1500, võib -olla isegi 1600. Need on kas kriminaalkohtu kirjalikud dokumendid, mis piirduvad kuritegudega, mille toimepanija vastutusele võeti, mitte kuriteod, kus süüdlane on teada, kuid mitte süüdistatuna, rääkimata kuritegudest, mille puhul kurjategijat kunagi ei tuvastata - või laiaulatuslikest, mis puudutavad kuritegevuse kurvemaid detaile kui täpsust. Selle tulemusel eeldame sageli, et üksi jäetud enamik talupoegi elab kuritegevuseta elu, sest nende kohta ei teatata kuritegudest: vaikuse alateadlik argument. Tegelikult olid nad sageli kõigi ettekujutatavate kuritegude ohvrid või toimepanijad.


Kirjandusallikad on ebausaldusväärsed, õigusallikad on ebausaldusväärsed, juriidilised andmed on ebausaldusväärsed.

Alustame kirjandusallikatest. Kui vägistamist ilmub kirjandusallikates palju, võib see tähendada, et see on elus tavaline. Või võib see tähendada, et inimesed arvasid, et vägistamislood on huvitavamad või illustreerivad olulist kontseptsiooni.

Olen kindel, et palju on intuitiivne. Sama kehtib juriidiliste allikate kohta. Vägistamist käsitlevate seaduste levimus ja karistuste raskus näitavad midagi vägistamiste kohta, kuid mitte kuriteo sagedust. Näiteks Ameerika uimastiseadused on aastate jooksul metsikult võnkunud nende raskusastme ja rõhuasetuste osas, kuid tegelik uimastitarbimine näib muutustega ainult lõdvalt korreleeruvat.

Isegi kohtudokumendid on täiesti kasutud, kuna me ei tea, mil määral on ametivõimud seadusest huvitatud või võimelised seda täitma. Eelkõige on vägistamine kuritegu, mille täitmine on harva järjepidev.

Niisiis, kas on võimalik teada saada?

Vihjete leidmiseks on mitu võimalust. Geneetiline testimine võib tuua mõningaid teadmisi. Näiteks on mõned teadlased väitnud, et nad leiavad tõendeid sagedaste vägistamiste kohta geenide jaotumisel erinevate populatsioonide vahel. Teooria kohaselt soovitab populatsioonis palju "võõrast" DNA -d vägistamist. Muidugi võib see tähendada ka rohkem prostitutsiooni. Või üldiselt rohkem armastust.

Kirjanduslik analüüs võib anda mõningase ülevaate, kuid see on keerulisem kui lihtsalt viidete loendamine. Peamine on otsida viiteid, mis on "üllatavad" - st mille jaoks pole erilist motivatsiooni loosse kaasamiseks. Mida puutujam viide, seda parem. Muidugi on need andmed alati väga killustatud, kuid sageli väärtuslikud. Ma ei tea, kas keegi on sellist analüüsi eriti vägistamise suhtes rakendanud, aga ma isiklikult pole oma lugemisest selliseid viiteid leidnud, mis jätab mulle mulje, et vägistamine oli piisavalt ebatavaline, millest ei räägita juhuslikult seda.

See on üsna nõrk avaldus, kuid sellest tugevamaid järeldusi on raske toetada.


Tahtsin teie küsimust kommenteerida ja kuigi mu maine on piisavalt suur, et vastata, pole see piisavalt hea, et kommenteerida (lubades mul rumalalt vastata, aga ainult targalt kommenteerida, hmm?).

Artiklis öeldakse (aitäh Google'i tõlge):

Kuna vägistamine oli keskajal sedavõrd äärmiselt raske kuritegu, ei osuta arvata, et see võis olla tavaline.

Sisse Eraelu ajalugu: Paganlikust Roomast Bütsantsini, lk 469, Michel Rouche kirjutab:

Kuuendal sajandil karistasid frangid vaba naise vägistamist rahatrahviga ainult 62 1/2 soliidi; Karl Suur suurendas trahvi 200 soliidini; tõendeid võib -olla selle kohta, et kuritegu on muutunud tavalisemaks.

Kaks erinevat ajaloolast, kes kasutavad sisuliselt samu andmeid (karistuse rangus) tõendina vastupidistele järeldustele?

Hoolimata sellest, et vastuseks võib esitada küsimusi:

  • Mis on tavaline (iga kuues inimene vägistati oma elu jooksul)?
  • Mis on tavaline (x% inimestest, kes panevad elu jooksul vägistama)?
  • Mis on vägistamine (nõusolekuta seks)?
  • Mis on nõusolek?
  • Kes võib nõusoleku anda?
  • Millised tingimused lubavad või keelavad nõusoleku andmise?

Erinevalt enamikust postitustest, mida ma kirjutan, pole see tänapäeva meedias millegi külge seotud, ma lihtsalt juhtusin uurima prostituute (nagu üks) ja arvasin, et jagan, sest see on minu ajaveeb ja miks mitte? Ha!

Prostitutsiooni uurimine keskajal ei ole lihtne, eriti keskaegses Inglismaal. Prostitutsioon ei olnud tingimata naise ainus elukutsevalik ja on palju näiteid naistest, kes kasutasid prostitutsiooni oma igapäevase sissetuleku täiendamiseks. Tsentraliseeritud õiguse puudumine kogu Inglismaal annab kogu riigis pidevalt erineva suhtumise prostituutidesse, mis oli juba oluliselt erinev mandri omast. Üldreeglina tundus, et Euroopa on tunduvalt leebem ja aktsepteerib okupatsiooni kui vajalikku kommunaalteenust ning kuigi paljud riigid rakendasid piirangupoliitikat, oli see suunatud prostituutide, mitte prostituutide enda vastu. Eelkõige abielus meestel, vaimulikel ja juutidel oli keelatud neid patroneerida ning neile pandi selle eest vahele suured rahatrahvid, samal ajal kui bordellisse sisenemine ei mõjutanud nende sisenemist.

Varakeskaegses Prantsusmaal seisis prostituute silmitsi avaliku alandamisega, püüdes kaubandust maha suruda. Kuid hilisematel sajanditel tekkis selge äratundmine, et meestel, eriti vallalistel, olid vajadused. Neid vajadusi teadvustades nägid ametivõimud ka seda, kuidas neile vajalike teenuste osutamisega raha teenida, ja nii tekkisid linnaametnike hallatavad avalikud bordellid. Tingimusel, et nad maksavad ametivõimudele iganädalase summa, lubati neil naistel ilma sekkumiseta ja ahistamiseta kaubelda. Ülejäänud Euroopa oli seksitöötajate suhtes suuresti salliv. Põhjendus oli selles, et bordellide tegutsemise võimaldamine andis ametivõimudele teatud kontrolli tööstuse üle, lõi konkreetsed valdkonnad, kus mehed said diskreetselt lõbutseda, kaitses süütuid naisi ja piiras häirimist, mida põhjustasid tänaval reklaamivad prostituudid. Avalikult tegutsevate bordellide idee ei saanud Inglismaal kunagi kinni, mis säilitas negatiivse suhtumise okupatsiooni ja karistas kõiki kaasatud naisi, neid, kes lubasid sellel tegutseda, ja kliente. Inglismaal oli prostitutsiooni eest rohkem süüdistusi kui üheski teises Euroopa riigis, isegi rohkem kui teatud piirkondades Itaalias, kus kaubandus oli täielikult keelatud.

Keskaegne prostituut ei võtnud peaaegu kunagi oma ametit oma kontrollimatu iha rahuldamiseks, motivatsioon oli peaaegu alati rahaline. Kuigi oli palju täiskohaga prostituute, oli ka naisi, kes kasutasid seda lihtsalt vahendina oma esmase sissetulekuallika tugevdamiseks eriti rasketel aegadel, kuid murettekitavam oli neid naisi, kes müüdi nende pereliikmete nimel. raha perele. Kuna prostituudiks ei olnud ranget määratlust, puudus ka nende juriidilise kohtlemise järjekindlus. Kui Londonis nimetati Stewside'i piirkond mitteametlikult Punaste laternate piirkonna keskaegseks ekvivalendiks, siis Coventry linnas võidi iga üksik naine, kes üüris endale toa, vahistada prostitutsiooni kahtluse tõttu, mis ajendas ametivõime vallalistel naistel ruumide rentimise täielikult keelama. Linnades, kus prostitutsioon oli laialt levinud, kuid seda ei kontrollitud, eeldati, et kõik pimedas tänavatel rändavad naised on müügiks saadaval ning juhtumid, kus identiteedi eksitamine põhjustas vägivalla, olid tavalised. Nii paljud linnad nõudsid, et prostituudid riietuksid üldsusest eristumiseks kindlatesse riietesse, enamik aga nõudis daamidelt triibulist kapuutsi. Eriti edukad hoorused sattusid kohtu alla rikkalike seaduste (seadused, mis piirasid riideid ja värvi, materjali jne, mida teatud klassid võiksid kanda) rikkumise eest, mitte teo eest, mis teenis neile esmakordselt raha.

Prostituutide karistamine kogu Inglismaal näitab, et puuduvad kooskõlastatud jõupingutused, et tegeleda “probleemi ” ja veel mitmete pealiskaudsete meetmetega, mis on mõeldud pigem kergete hoiatusmeetmete asemel prostitutsiooni täielikuks likvideerimiseks. Southamptonis koondasid paljud naised oma ressursid ja kolisid kõik samale tänavale, et rentida ruume, kust nad saaksid end müüa. Tundus, et nad tegutsesid seal mitu aastat, enne kui kohalik religioosne kogukond esitas eriti valju kaebuse, sundides ametivõime naisi edasi viima, kuid reaalset karistust nad ei saanud. Kõige tavalisem sanktsioon, mis leiti Inglismaa linnamäärustes, hõlmab linna kohtutäiturit, kes eemaldab naise kodu uksed ja/või aknad, muutes selle elamiskõlbmatuks ja kindlasti ebameeldiva võimaliku kohtumise kohaks. Hiljem asendatakse see ilmsemate avaliku alandamise meetoditega, kus naine viidi väljapoole linnamüüre ja saadeti välja. Sutenöörid või bordellide omanikud seisid samuti avalikult alandatud, kuid neid ähvardasid ka karmimad trahvid ja vanglakaristused.

Hilisemal keskajal sai kristlik arusaam ümberkujundatud prostituudist ja#8217 võimust Egiptuse püha Maarja ja Maarja Magdaleena kultusest ning avalik arvamus muutus hoorude suhtes pehmeks. Selle asemel, et olla naised, keda tuleb halvustada, hakati neid naisi nüüd heategevusse ajama ning loodi riiklikke vahendeid, et aidata naisi, kes üritavad põgeneda seksitööst. Sellele vaatamata ei lubatud paljudel aladel teadaolevalt oma keha müüvaid naisi oma kohaliku koguduse liikmeks, enne kui nad on patuelu kõrvale jätnud, ehkki peame ka märkima, et neid on palju, arvukalt andmed kirikuinimeste prostituutidega vahelejäämise kohta. Karistus, mille eest oli raske (kirikumeestele). Kokkuvõttes oli suhtumine prostitutsiooni täiesti vastuoluline. Ühest küljest olid need vajalikud abivahendid, mida nõuti (ja mis kiideti heaks), et osutada teenust vallalistele meestele, teisest küljest olid nad patukauplejad, keda tuli linnast välja saata, et nad ei rikuks oma tegudega linna mainet. Parem oleks tõesti olnud Euroopas prostituut ja nautida sekkumisvaba, täiesti seaduslikku elu, kuigi hinnaga …

Trans. Henry Thomas Riley, Liber Albus: Londoni linna valge raamat, (John Russel Smith 1862)

Trans. & amp. P.J.P Goldberg, Naised Inglismaal 1275-1525, (Manchester University Press, 1995)

P.J.P. Goldberg, Naised, töö ja elutsükkel keskaegses majanduses, (Clarendon Press, 1992)

Henrietta Leyser, Keskaegsed naised: naiste sotsiaalne ajalugu Inglismaal 450-1500, (Pheonix, 2002)

James A. Brundage, Õigus, seks ja kristlik ühiskond keskaegses Euroopas, (Chicago ülikooli ajakirjandus, 1987)

Ruth Mazo Karras, Tavalised naised: prostitutsioon ja seksuaalsus keskaegses Inglismaal, (Oxfordi ülikooli kirjastus, 1998)

Edith Enne, Keskaja naine, (Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1989)

James A. Brundage, "Seks ja kanooniline õigus" Keskaegse seksuaalsuse käsiraamat toim. Vern L. Bullough ja James A. Brundage (kirjastus Garland, 1996), lk 33–51

Ruth Mazo Karras, Prostitutsioon keskaegses Euroopas aastal Keskaegse seksuaalsuse käsiraamat toim. Vern L. Bullough ja James A. Brundage (kirjastus Garland, 1996), lk 243-261

Barbara A. Hanawalt, "Naissoost kurjategija neljateistkümnendal sajandil" aastal Naised keskaegses ühiskonnas, toim. Susan Stuard (The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976), lk 125–141

Ann J. Kettle, "Hävitatud teenijad: prostituudid ja teenivad tüdrukud hilisemas keskaegses Inglismaal" Matronid ja marginaalsed naised keskaegses ühiskonnas toim. Robert R. Edwards ja Vickie Ziegler (The Boydell Press, 1995), lk 19–33

P.J.P Goldberg, „Naistetöö, naiste roll hilisemas keskaegses põhjas”, lk Kasum, vagadus ja ametid hilisemas keskaegses Inglismaal toim. Michael Hicks (Alan Sutton Publishing, 1990) lk 34–51

Jane Tibbetts Schulenberg, "Pühakute elud naiste ajaloo allikana 500-1100" Keskaegsed naised ja keskaja ajaloo allikad toim. Joel T. Rosenthal (The University of Georgia Press, 1990) lk 285-321


Millised olid keskajal kõige levinumad kuriteod?

Keskajal olid levinumad kuriteod vargused ja mõrvad. Need moodustasid ligi 90 protsenti kõigist kuritegudest. Muud levinud kuriteod hõlmasid varastatud kaupade ostmist, vägistamist, riigireetmist ja süütamist.

Vargust karistati keskajal väga karmilt, kuigi täpne karistus muutus kogu aja jooksul ja sõltus riigist. Levinud karistus varguse eest oli varga käte maharaiumine, et takistada kuritegu kordamast.

Mõrv oli keskajal kõige levinum kuritegu, kuigi see oli palju vähem levinud kui vargus. Seda karistati peaaegu alati surmaga. Näiteks mõrva toimepanemises süüdi mõistetud naised kägistati surnuks ja seejärel põletati.

Igasugust kuritegu karistati keskajal väga karmilt. Vanglad olid haruldased ja kurjategijaid hoiti tavaliselt kuni karistamiseni ajutiselt vanglas. Karistuste näideteks olid trahvid, moonutamine ja varudesse paigutamine.

Sageli oli raske avastada, kes kuriteo toime pani, seetõttu kasutati katsumusi. Näiteks võitluskorraldust kasutati, kui aadlit süüdistati kuriteos. Aadlik pidi võitlema sellega, kes teda süüdistas, ja kes võitis, peeti õigeks. Kaotaja suri sageli lahingus.


Kuritegevus ja karistus keskajal

Keskaeg oli karmide karistuste ja karmide piinamiste aeg kuritegude eest, mis tänapäeval tunduvad tühised. Inimestel võeti pea maha ja jäsemed lõigati ära, hulkurid olid sageli piitsutatud ja varudesse aheldatud.

Inimesed elasid hirmuolukorras, arvates, et nad on järgmine ohver.

Isegi katoliku kirik kasutas piinamist ja vangistust, et saada inimestelt ülestunnistusi sõltumata sellest, kas nad olid süüdi.

Piinamine ja karistamine on kestnud tuhandeid aastaid. Rooma ja Kreeka seadustes oli kirjas, et piinata tohib ainult orje, lõpuks muutusid seadused ning vabad mehed piinati ja pandi kuritegude eest vangi.

Inimestel lõigati varastamiseks sageli parem käsi, inimesi peksti, põletati elusalt, sirutati riiulile ja abielurikkumisi toime pannud naised uputati.

Inimeste vette lämmatamine oli tavaline tava. Inimesed keedeti õlis, silmad põletati näpitsatega ja sõrmed maha. Lahmimine ja brändimine olid tavalised.

Tudori ajal oli Inglise seadused praktiliselt suunatud piinamisele. Ebamõtlemist peeti kuriteoks ja inimesed pandi varudesse, et linnade inimesed saaksid neid lüüa.

Diskrimineeriti just vaesemaid klasse. Erandiks olid isandad ja kõrged ametnikud. Kohtud ja kohtunikud eksisteerisid, kuid olid erapoolikud ja sageli olid kohtuotsused teada juba enne asja arutamist, kui inimene kohtusse ei ilmunud, loeti nad ebaseaduslikuks ja nende vara arestiti ning temast said kuningad.

Outlaws koondas end ringi rändama ja kuritegusid toime panema, kuulsaim neist on põhjus Robin Hood.

Mida karmim kuritegu, seda kohutavam karistus. Kui mees paneks toime vägistamise, tapmise või röövi, riputataks nad puuri, et inimesed näeksid nende aeglast surma.

Mõnel juhul võeti nad vahetult enne surma maha ja lõigati neljaks (lõigatud neljaks tükiks), et valu tapaks, mis on kõige julmem viis surra. Avalikud piinamise väljapanekud olid tavalised.

Poomised ja avalikud piinamised kuulutaksid välja kuningad mehed, inimesed tuleksid kaugelt ja sageli toovad endaga kaasa lapsi. Seda julgustasid valitsejad, kes arvasid, et see hoiab ära kuritegude toimepanemise, tuues linnaelanikesse hirmu.

Keskaegsetel linnaelanikel oli karistuse toimumisest väga lähedane arusaam, kuna nad olid sageli karistuse ajal kohal.

Kuigi mõrvarid hukati sageli, karistati enamikku keskaegseid väiksemaid õigusrikkumisi kurjategija avaliku häbistamisega.

Tänapäeva standardite järgi võivad inimesed arvata, et see oli karm, kuid kuritegevus ei olnud nii laialt levinud kui tänapäeva ühiskonnas.

Samuti halastasid inimesed vanglas viibijaid ja vangid lasti sageli välja toitu paluma. Keskaja ametnikel puudusid ressursid või raha sobivate vanglate ehitamiseks ning inimesed surid sageli enne kohtuprotsessi haigusesse.

Tänapäeva ühiskonnas ei kasuta me piinamist karistusvahendina, kuna ajaloo edenedes muutus piinamine vähem viljakaks, alles 100 aastat tagasi peeti seda barbaarseks tavaks.

Paljudes kaasaegsetes riikides pole mõrvade ja vägistajate tapmine lubatud.

Mõnes kultuuris nõustatakse varastamiseks jäsemete lõikamist, kuigi seda ei kasutata laialdaselt, kuid mõnes ühiskonnas hukatakse inimesi endiselt.


Dekameroni veeb

Keskaja teisel poolel muutusid munitsipaal- ja kuninglikud seadused palju laiahaardelisemaks ja paremini korraldatuks. Kohalike seadusandjate ja kiriku vaheliste konfliktide tõttu kaldus kodanikuõigus mõnikord kanoonilistest vaadetest oluliselt kõrvale. Kui kohtusüsteem hakkas seksuaalkäitumise seadusi rangemalt jõustama, astus nende ette üha rohkem õigusrikkujaid ja kuigi hooruse ja abielurikkumise juhtumid moodustasid valdava osa kohtutegevusest, ei olnud muud ebatavalisemad kuriteod nagu intsest, sodoomia, masturbatsioon ja vägistamine eriti aeg -ajalt (Brundage, 461). Lisaks jäi katku-aastatel Veneetsias sookuritegude koguarv samaks, mis oli varem, vaatamata enam kui kolmandiku linna elanike kaotusele. See viitab sellele, et võimud jahtisid kurjategijaid entusiastlikumalt või üritasid inimesed pääseda musta surma karmist reaalsusest, elades seksuaalselt vabamat elu (Brundage, 491). Viimane tundub tõenäolisem ja võib -olla isegi tunnistatakse selles Dekameron, arvestades paljude lugude tugevat seksuaalset sisu brigata püüdes katku unustada.

Intsest oli pärast hoorust ja abielurikkumist üks levinumaid seksuaalkuritegusid. Neljas Lateraani kirikukogu kehtestas 1215. aastal intsesti kohta "nelja kraadi reegli", mis kehtestati uuesti ja mida enamik kohtuid selle aja jooksul üldiselt järgis. Abielu verest või abiellumisest lähisugulaste vahel (nelja kraadi piires) oli seadusega keelatud ning ainus võimalus abielluda paaridega, kes olid seotud "perekondliku läheduse või sugulusega", oli paavsti enda nõusolekul (Brundage, 434). Lisaks tekkis ilmne ja ebaõnnestunud vaimne suhe nii ristivanema kui ka lapse vahel ning ristiema ja ristiisa vahel, ja seega kuulutati abielud selliste inimeste vahel verevalumiks (Brundage, & quot; Seks ja Canon Law & quot; 43). Tegelikult on kaks juhtumit Dekameron mis hõlmab seksuaalvahekorda jumala-suhete vahel: VII.3, milles vennas Rinaldo magab koos oma ristilapsema emaga, ja VII.10, kus Tingoccio magab koos oma ristilapsema emaga, siis sureb ja naaseb surnust, teatades oma vennale, et see tegu polnud patt. Järgmises lõigus jutustab Tingoccio:

Mu vend, niipea kui ma sinna jõudsin, kohtas mind üks, kes tundus teadvat kõiki mu patte peast. ja järsku meenus mulle, kuidas olin oma ristilapsema emaga edasi läinud. Ja kuna ma ootasin selle eest palju suuremat karistust. Alustasin. hirmust üleni värisema. Ma ütlesin: & quot; Ma armastasin oma ristlapse ema. & quot; Ta naeris selle üle hästi ja ütles: & quot; Ole koos sinuga, loll! Ristilapse ema kohta pole siin all midagi erilist. & Quot; Mul oli seda kuuldes nii kergendus, et oleksin võinud nutta (547).

Mõlemas loos on selge, et kurjategijad mõistavad, et nad panevad toime teo, mida tavaliselt nimetatakse patuks, kuid kumbki paar ei ole selle eest mingil viisil karistatud, nagu enamik neist, kes hoiatavad või abielurikkuvad. Dekameron ei kannata sisulisi karistusi. Oluline on märkida, et intsest oli aristokraatia seas tavalisem kui talupojad. Arusaadavatel põhjustel soovisid need, kes olid heal järjel või üllas suguvõsas, sageli abielluda oma ringkonnas (Brundage, 434).

Soodomia oli ka suhteliselt tavaline süütegu, kuid selle määratlemise osas esines mõningaid lahkarvamusi. Kuigi mõned arvasid, et sodoomia hõlmab sperma mis tahes "loomulikku" kasutamist (näiteks anaalseks, masturbeerimine ja oraalseks), olid teised, kes kasutasid sodoomia määratlust lähemale sellele, mida me praegu kasutame. James Brundage'i sõnul peeti sodoomiat eriti levinud vaimulike seas (kellel tehniliselt puudus seaduslik väljund oma seksuaalsele ihale) ja linnades (472). Üldiselt karistasid homoseksuaalsusega seotud sodomiakte kohtud karmilt, sageli kastreerimise või poomise teel (Brundage, 473). See ettekujutus on märkimisväärselt karmim kui Boccaccio omavoliline märkus, et Ciappelletto (I.1) armastas naisi ja kvoote, kui koerad armastavad oma vastandis head jämedat pulka, ta tundis suuremat naudingut kui kõige rikutum mees maa peal "(26). Kuigi abielurikkumine ei olnud abielu lahutamise õigustatud põhjus, kuulutas paavst Innocentius IV, et naine, kelle abikaasa püüdis teda veenda anaalseks vahekorras nõusoleku andmiseks, võib saada lahutuse (Brundage, 455).

Masturbatsioon, mida mõnikord kaasati sodoomia määratlusse, ei peetud varasemal keskajal suureks kuriteoks, ehkki seda hakati tegema hiljem. Thomas Aquinas pidas seda üheks kõige tõsisemaks patuks, sest see oli & kvoodi vastu loodusele & quot, mitte aga sigimiseks, samas kui 1388. aastal pakkus peapiiskop Guy de Roye, et see on nii tõsine patt, et sellega peaksid tegelema ainult piiskopid (Richards, 31). Selle arvamuse muutuse võis tuua katku algus, mis tõi kaasa üldised hirmud rahvastiku vähenemise pärast ja võib -olla põhjustas üldist muret "seemnete raiskamise" pärast (Richards, 32). Aastal Dekameron, masturbeerimisele viidatakse vaid põgusalt ja isegi siis pole viide otsene: & quot; abtess] korraldas edaspidi, et ta külastab teda sagedaste ajavahemike tagant, ilma et see häiriks teda kaasnunnade kadedusest, ilma armukesteta, kes lohutasid end salaja nii hästi kui nad suutsid "(IX.2, 658).

Vägistamine ja muud seksuaalselt vägivaldsed teod olid teema, mille üle kanonid ja teoloogid ei nõustunud kohaliku omavalitsuse õigusega. Kui kirik keskendus kõigis seksuaalse kontaktiga seotud küsimustes väga individuaalsele nõusolekule, ei karistanud kohtud harva vägistajaid ega neid, kes sooritasid naiste vastu igasugust seksuaalset rünnakut. Hilisemal keskajal Veneetsias ei olnud vägistamine haruldane ega peetud tõsiseks kuriteoks, välja arvatud juhul, kui sellega olid seotud lapsed, eakad või aristokraatia liikmeks olnud ohver (Richards, 39). Vägistamise tagajärjel kaotasid paljud naised oma sotsiaalse staatuse ja abielu, samas kui nende ründajad kirjutati & quotyouthful meeste seksuaalsuse ohvriteks (Richards, 40–41). Mõnikord võib mees oma naise ründaja vastu oma abikaasa "kuritegeliku kõrvalepõikamise" eest meetmeid võtta. Seega peeti tema vägistamises tegu mehe vastu, kuna teda peeti tehniliselt tema omandiks (Brundage, 471).

Loomulikult oli selle aja jooksul toime pandud ka väiksemaid seksuaalselt hälbivaid tegusid, millest osa kandis karistust ja osa mitte. Näiteks, kui ristsidumine ei kandnud seaduse järgi teadaolevaid karistusi (Brundage, 473), peeti rasestumisvastast vahendit väga patuseks, kuna see takistas sigimist ja võrdsustati seega abordiga. Nagu masturbeerimine, coitus interruptus edutati hilisemal keskajal väiksest suureks patuks ja paljud kohtud lisasid selle viieteistkümnendaks sajandiks rubriiki & quotsodomy & quot (Richards, 32-33).

(A.M.S.) Boccaccio, Giovanni. Dekameron. Trans. G. H. McWilliam. New York: Pingviin, 1972.

Brundage, James A. Seadus, seks ja kristlik ühiskond keskaegses Euroopas. Chicago: Chicago ülikooli ajakirjandus, 1987.

Brundage, James A. & quot; Seks ja Canon Law. & Quot Keskaegse seksuaalsuse käsiraamat. Ed. Vern L. Bullough ja James A. Brundage. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996, lk 33-50.

Richards, Jeffrey. Dissident ja hukatus: vähemusrühmad keskajal. New York: Routledge, 1994.


10 halvimat eksiarvamust keskaegse elu kohta, mida saaksite fantaasiaraamatutest

Mõni troop on keskajast inspireeritud fantaasiajuttudesse niivõrd juurdunud, et on ahvatlev arvata, et need kujutavad endast keskaegse elu tegelikke aspekte. Kuid sageli on need lood vaid tugevdavad müüte ja väärarusaamu keskaja elust.

Ülemine pilt Dragonlance sari, mida ma armastan, kuid on pseudokeskaegsusest läbi imbunud.

Üks asi, mida keskaja ajast rääkides on oluline meeles pidada, on see, et see hõlmab pikka aega - alates 5. sajandist kuni 15. sajandini - ja hõlmab suurt hulka Euroopa riike. Te märkate, et tänu siinsetele töödele hõlmab suur osa siinsetest purustustest 14. sajandi Inglismaad Ajaränduri juhend keskaegse Inglismaa kohta Ian Mortimer ja Joseph Gies ja Frances Gies teosed (kuigi teine ​​allikas, Eksiarvamused keskajast , katab natuke rohkem maad). Kuid mõte on selles, et keskaeg oli tegelikult palju rikkam, kui keskaegsed seaded paljude mõõkade ja nõiduste kohta panid teid uskuma.

Kas fantaasiaromaanid peavad olema ajalooliselt täpsed? Kindlasti mitte. Osa maailma ehitamise lõbust on uute ideede väljamõtlemine või erinevate kultuuride ja ajaperioodide elementide ühendamine ning isegi ajalooliste müütide ja väärarusaamade integreerimine. Aga kui loete palju raamatuid või vaatate palju filme pseudokeskaegse seadistusega, võib teil tekkida ekslik mulje, et teate, milline oli elu keskajal. Lisaks pakub tõeline ajalugu uusi ideid, mida võiksite tulevikus oma lugudesse lisada.

Ja see ei tähenda, et kõik keskaegsed seaded libisevad nendesse müütidesse vaid paljudel.

See postitus oli inspireeritud sellest põnevast teemast reddit 's r/AskHistorians, mida me mõni aeg tagasi esile tõime. Siin on väärarusaamad, kusjuures debunkery on allpool:

1. Talupojad olid üksainus klass inimesi, kes olid üksteisega enam -vähem võrdsed.

On lihtne arvata, et keskajal jagunesid inimesed kergesti väga laiade klassideks: kuninglikud, aadlikud, rüütlid, vaimulikud ja kõige vaevalisemad talupojad. Kuid see, et teie nime ees ei olnud "ütlemist", "isandat", "quotsiri", "isa", "venda" (või nende naissoost analooge), ei tähenda, et te ei oleks mures oma sotsiaalse seisundi pärast. Praegu on tohutult palju inimesi, keda võiksime üldiselt nimetada "talupoegadeks", kuid selles laias kategoorias oli tegelikult erinevaid inimesi.

Mortimer juhib tähelepanu sellele, et näiteks 14. sajandi Inglismaal on teil oma villeinid, inimesed on seotud kindla isanda maaga. Villeineid ei peetud vabaks rahvaks ja neid võis müüa koos isanda maaga. Ja vabad inimesed kuulusid erinevatesse sotsiaalsetesse ja majanduslikesse klassidesse. Näiteks võib vabapidaja saada piisavalt edukaks, et üürida mõisahärra mõisa, tegutsedes sisuliselt isandana. Ja külas võivad mõned perekonnad omada enamust poliitilisest võimust, varustades enamikku kohalikke ohvitsere. Me võime kalduda neid inimesi pidama "talupoegadeks", kuid neil oli palju keerukamaid mõtteviise enda kohta koos kogu sellega kaasneva klassiärevusega.

2. Kõrtsid olid rahvamajad, mille all olid suured ühised saalid ja üleval toad.

Pseudokeskaegses fantaasias nii kindlalt juurdunud pilte nagu kõrtsikõrts on vähe. Teie ja teie seltskond naudite põhiruumis paar lippu õlut, kuulete kogu kohalikku lobisemist, seejärel minge oma privaatsesse üürikambrisse, kus magate (üksi või armukesega) klompsul madratsil.

See pilt ei ole täiesti väljamõeldis, kuid tõde on natuke keerulisem - rääkimata huvitavast. Kui ühendate keskaegses Inglismaal linna võõrastemaja alehouse'iga, saate tõenäoliselt midagi selle fantaasia võõrastemaja sarnast. There were inns where you could rent a bed (or, more likely, a space in a bed), and these inns did have halls for eating and drinking. But these were not public houses innkeepers were generally permitted to serve food and drink only to their guests. And, Mortimer points out, you would likely find a single room with several beds, beds that could fit up to three people. It was only in the most upscale inns that youɽ find chambers with just one or two beds.

There were establishments for drinking in these cities as well: taverns for wine and alehouses for ale. Of the two, alehouses were the rowdier establishments, more likely to function as your Medieval Mos Eisley. But ale and cider were often made at home as well a husband might expect his wife to be skilled in brewing. The Gieses note in Life in a Medieval Village that a tavern in an English village was often someone's home. Once your neighbor opened up a fresh batch of ale, you might go to their house, pay a few pennies, and sit and drink with your fellow villagers.

There are other options for accommodations as well. Travelers could expect the hospitality of people of equal or lesser social class, enjoying their food and beds in exchange for tales from the road and a tip. (Mortimer says that, if you were lucky enough to stay with a 14-century merchant, the digs were much nicer than any inn.) Or you might go to a hospital, which was not just for healing, but also for hospitality.

3. You would never see a woman engaged in a trade such as armorer or merchant.

Certainly, some fantasy stories will cast women in equal (or relatively equal) positions to men, carrying out the same sorts of trades that men might carry out. But in many fictional stories, a woman who makes armor or sells good would seem out of place — although this does not universally reflect Medieval reality. In England, a widow could take up the trade of her dead husband — and Mortimer specifically cites tailor, armorer, and merchant as trades open to widows. Some female merchants were actually quite successful, managing international trading ventures with impressive capital.

Women engaged in criminal activity as well, including banditry. Many criminal gangs in Medieval England consisted of families, including wives with their husbands and sisters with their brothers.

Image from the Holkham Bible Picture Book, via the British Library Board .

4. People had horrible table manners, throwing bones and scraps on the floor.

Sorry, even in the Middle Ages, members of polite society, from kings to villeins, followed certain etiquette, and that etiquette involved good table manners. In fact, depending on when and where and with whom you were eating, you might have to follow very strict procedures for eating and drinking. Here's a tip: If a lord passes you his cup at the dinner table, it's a sign of his favor. Accept it, backwash and all, and pass it back to him after you've had a sip.

5. People distrusted all forms of magic and witches were frequently burned.

In some fantasy stories, magic is readily accepted by everyone as a fact of life. In others, magic is treated with suspicion at best or as blasphemy at worst. You might even hear the Biblical edict, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

But not all claims of magic in the Middle Ages were treated as heresy. In her essay "Witches and the Myth of the Medieval ɻurning Time,'" from Misconceptions About the Middle Ages, Anita Obermeier tells us that during the 10th century, the Catholic Church wasn't interested in trying witches for heresy it was more interested in eradicating heretical superstitions about "night-flying creatures."

And in 14th-century England, you might consult a magician or a witch for some minor "magical" task, such as finding a lost object. In Medieval England, at least, magic without any heretical components was tolerated. Eventually, the late 15th century would give rise to the Spanish Inquisition, and we do see witches hunted down.

Witch burnings weren't unheard of in the Middle Ages, but they weren't common, either. Obermeier explains that, in the 11th century, sorcery was treated as a secular crime, but the church would issue several reprimands before it would resort to burning. She puts the first burning for heresy at 1022 in Orleans and the second at 1028 in Monforte. It's rare in the 11th and 12th centuries, but becomes a more common punishment in the 13th century for relapsed heretics. However, it depends where you are. In the 14th century, you probably won't be burned as a witch in England, but you may very well get the stake in Ireland.

6. Men's clothing was always practical and functional.

Yes, Medieval people of various classes were interested in fashion, and sometimes fashion — particularly men's fashion — got pretty absurd. Early clothing is more functional, but during the 14th century, men's fashions in England were both body-bearing and rather experimental. Corsets and garters were common for men, and increasingly, popular fashions encouraged men to show off the shape of their hips and legs. Some aristocratic men wore gowns with sleeves so long they were in danger of tripping on the cuffs. It became fashionable to wear shoes with extraordinarily long toes — one such shoe, imported from Bohemia, had twenty-inch toes that needed to be tied to a man's garters. There was even a fad of wearing one's mantle so that the head went through the arm hole rather than the head hole, with the sleeves functioning as a voluminous collar.

Image: Selection of Medieval leather shoes from the Museum of London .

It's also important to note that fashions would trickle down from royalty, through the aristocracy, and down to the common folk. In the seasons after a fashion appeared among the nobility, a less expensive version would appear among those of lesser stations. In fact, sumptuary laws were passed in London to prevent people from dressing above their stations. For example, a common woman in 1330s London was not permitted to line her hood with anything but lambskin or rabbit fur, or risk losing her hood.

7. Servants were all low-class people.

Actually, if you were a high-ranking individual, chances are that you had high-ranking servants. A lord might send his son to serve in another lord's manor — perhaps that of his wife's brother. The son would receive no income, but would still be treated as the son of a lord. A lord's steward might actually be a lord himself. Your status in society isn't just based on whether or not you were a servant, but also your familial status, whom you served, and what your particular job was.

Something you might not expect about servants in English households in the late Middle Ages: they were overwhelmingly male. Mortimer points to the earl of Devon's household, which had 135 members, but only three women. With the exception of a washerwoman (who didn't live in the household), the staffers were all men, even in households headed by women.

8. Medicine was based on pure superstition.

Admittedly, if you're looking outside of Troonide mäng, a lot of healing in fantasy novels is just plain magical. You've got your cleric class who gets their healing from the gods, and otherwise you might have someone on hand who can dress a wound or make a poultice.

And yes, a lot of Medieval medicine was based on what we would consider today mystical bunk. A great deal of diagnosis involved astrology and humoral theory. Blood letting was a respected method of treatment, and many of the curatives were not only useless — they were downright dangerous. And while there were medical colleges, extraordinarily few physicians were able to attend.

Still, some aspects of Medieval medicine were logical even by modern standards. Wrapping smallpox in scarlet cloth, treating gout with colchicum, using camomile oil for an earache — these were all effective treatments. And while the notion of a barber-surgeon is a horrifying one to many of us, some of those surgeons were actually quite talented. John of Arderne employed anesthetics in his practice, and many surgeons were skilled in couching cataracts, sewing abscesses, and setting bones.

From John Arderne's De arte phisicali et de cirurgia, via Wikimedia Commons .

9. The most powerful military force consisted of armored knights riding into battle.

James G. Patterson, in his essay "The Myth of the Mounted Knight" from Misconceptions About the Middle Ages, explains that while the image of the mounted knight might have been a popular one during Medieval times, it didn't match the reality of warfare. Armored cavalry, he explains, can be incredibly useful — even devastating — against untrained revolutionaries, but they were far less useful against a trained foreign infantry. Rather, ground forces, including knights on foot who frequently served as officers, were invaluable in battle. Even during the Crusades, when the image of the mounted knight seemed synonymous with glory in battle, most the actual battles involved sieges.

In the 14th century, English warfare focused increasingly on archery. In fact, Edward III prohibited football in 1331 and then again in 1363 in part because people were spending too much time playing football and not enough time practicing their archery. The English archers were able to repel many a French cavalry force.

10. Only men's sexual pleasure was important.

A common belief during the Middle Ages was that women were more lustful than men. A lot more lustful, in fact. Rape was a crime in 14th century Medieval England, but not between spouses. A wife could not legally refuse her husband's advances, but a husband could not refuse his wife's advances either. The popular belief was that women were always longing for sex, and that it was bad for their health not to have intercourse regularly. A woman's orgasm was also important another common belief was that a woman could not conceive without an orgasm. (Unfortunately, this also made rape impossible to prosecute if the victim became pregnant Medieval English scholars believed women's bodies had a way of, in the modern parlance, shutting things down.)

So what was an unmarried woman to do? Well, if she couldn't find a husband, the English physician John of Gaddesden recommended that she find a midwife who could get the job done manually.


Hanged, Drawn, And Quartered: A Multi-Step Medieval Execution

Wikimedia Commons Being hanged, drawn, and quartered often involved being dragged to the site of your death by horse.

In Medieval England, one of the most serious crimes was high treason. Since the punishment had to fit the crime, the Medieval execution method of being hanged, drawn, and quartered combined several forms of torture.

Usually, being “drawn” simply meant that the person was pulled by a horse to his final destination. However, sometimes this word took on a far grislier meaning when it referred to drawing the person’s intestines out of his body later on in the process.

As for being hanged, that step is self-explanatory. But in many cases, the person didn’t die from the hanging itself. Instead, executioners would hang the victim until he was on the edge of death and then release him so he would still be alive for the real horror — the quartering.

Wikimedia Commons An illustration of Sir Thomas Armstrong’s execution for treason in 1684.

This began with castrating the prisoner, throwing his genitals — and sometimes his intestines — into a fire. The prisoner was then decapitated.

Finally, as the word “quartering” implied, the body would be chopped into at least four pieces and chucked into a boiling concoction of spices. This prevented birds from picking at the remains and allowed for the body parts to be publicly displayed across the country as a grisly warning.

Though typically thought of as just a British punishment, this execution method was actually practiced throughout Europe.

The most famous victim of this fate was William Wallace, since his fight to secure Scottish freedom from the English in the 1290s was inherently treasonous. Depicted in the 1995 film Braveheart, Wallace’s execution was even more brutal in real life.

Wikimedia Commons Hugh Despenser the Younger being “drawn” for high treason in 1326.

In Wallace’s case, he was drawn by four different horses that were each tied to one of his limbs. This was usually done to prisoners the king despised most. After the execution, Wallace’s remains were famously scattered around England as a warning to other potential traitors.

Shockingly, this practice was used for about 500 years after Wallace’s infamous execution — until it was finally outlawed in 1803.


37. Middle-Aged Teens

A useful indicator for the quality of life—or lack thereof—in a certain time or place is the average life expectancy. Since a man born between 1276 and 1300 in Medieval England could only expect to make it to 31 years old, life must have been really tough. Good news for the ladies, though: women born in the same time period on average made it past childbearing age. Phew!

Wikimedia.Commons

Decameron Web

The Middle Ages in Europe witnessed a universal paradox of tolerance and condemnation with regards to prostitution. While technically a sin (because it hinged on the act of fornication), prostitution was recognized by the church and others as a necessary, or "lesser evil" (Karras, 246). It was accepted as fact that young men would seek out sexual relations regardless of their options, and thus prostitution served to protect "respectable" townswomen from seduction and even rape. In 1358, the Grand Council of Venice declared that prostitution was "absolutely indispensable to the world" (Richards, 125). In general, declarations proclaiming the necessity of prostitution were not quite so enthusiastic. Indeed, the church did not hesitate to denounce prostitution as morally wrong, but as St. Augustine explained: "If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts" (Richards, 118). Thus, the general tolerance of prostitution was for the most part reluctant, and many canonists urged prostitutes to reform, either by marrying or by becoming nuns. In fact, there were many religious sanctuaries set up specifically for prostitutes who wished to quit the profession (Bullough, 183).

Prostitution in the Middle Ages was, much as it is today, primarily an urban institution. Especially in Italy, efforts were made early on by municipal governments to expel prostitutes from the cities, but to no avail. The demand was simply far too great, as not only young unmarried men, but men with wives and even members of the clergy considered themselves in need. Many cities tried to solve the problem by banishing prostitutes to certain areas of town. Often, these quarters turned into "criminal underworlds" associated with the poor and the undesirables of the city, the most famous existing in Bologna (Brundage, 464). (We may think here of neighborhoods such as Malpertugio, in which Andreuccio meets Fiordaliso, in II.5.) Vern Bullough provides interesting note: streets with the word "rose" in them, he observes, were most likely designated for prostitution during this period, as the phrase "to pluck a rose" was a common metaphor for the act of hiring a prostitute (Bullough, 182).

Another almost universal restriction placed on prostitutes pertained to the clothing they were allowed to wear. In order to set them apart from "decent" women and avoid confusion, the church required that prostitutes adopt some type of distinctive clothing, which each particular city government was allowed to select. For example, in Milan the garment of choice was a black cloak, while in Florence prostitutes wore gloves and bells on their hats (Richards, 119). According to Bullough, a citizen who found a prostitute clothed in anything other than the official dress had the right to strip them on the spot (Bullough, 182).

Many cities decided to take advantage of the situation and earn a little money, setting up municipal brothels with laws and restrictions prohibiting beatings of the prostitutes by brothel keepers, restricting the number of customers a prostitute might entertain in one day, and of course demanding a certain percentage of all earnings (Karras, 246). In 1403, about forty years after ending a long policy of expulsion, the municipal government in Venice established its own brothel in the Rialto, which has since become the traditional center of prostitution in the city. Later, there were attempts to set up other brothels, but this only led to more expulsions in order to regulate the trade and finally to strict compromises between these businesses and the church (Richards, 125-126).

Those who argued against prostitution suggested all sorts of reasons for its existence. For some it was the product of poverty, for others greed or lustfulness, and according to some people, even the stars had something to do with it (Brundage, 464). There were also those who justified prostitution on the grounds that it was a viable economic activity and was primarily directed towards the earning of money rather the gratification of sexual desires (at least, for the prostitutes themselves). As a matter of fact, when it came to economics, concubinage was often an appealing option formal contracts involving agreements of sexual fidelity, support obligations and the like were frequently drawn up between partners. Concubinage could be an easy way for poorer families to make beneficial social connections and gain monetary support for their unmarried daughters. Once in a while, concubinage even led to marriage (Brundage, 446).

Prostitution in the Dekameron

There is really only one obvious instance of prostitution in the Dekameron: the "young Sicilian woman. willing to any man's bidding for a modest fee," who swindles Andreuccio in II.5. This young woman is presented as extremely clever and exceedingly cruel. She seems to have created quite a network for herself, but she is by no means a "high class prostitute." Also called "courtesan mistresses," these women, who restricted their business to the nobility, began to appear in the later Middle Ages as a result of urbanization and the growing popularity of the ideal of romantic love (Bullough, 184). In general, prostitution seems to be a topic which Boccaccio avoids, contrary to his treatment of certain other sexual behaviors.

(A.M.S.) Boccaccio, Giovanni. Dekameron. Trans. G. H. McWilliam. New York: Penguin, 1972.
Brundage, James A. Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Bullough, Vern L. "Prostitution in the Later Middle Ages." Sexual Practices and the Medieval Church. Ed. Vern L. Bullough and James Brundage. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1982, pp.176-86.

Karras, Ruth Mazo. "Prostitution in Medieval Europe." Handbook of Medieval Sexuality. Ed. Vern L. Bullough and James A. Brundage. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996, pp. 243-60.

Richards, Jeffrey. Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages. New York: Routledge, 1994.


Syphilis, sex and fear: How the French disease conquered the world

H istory doesn't recount who gave Cesare Borgia syphilis, but we do know when and where he got it. In the summer of 1497, he was a 22-year-old cardinal, sent as papal legate by his father, Pope Alexander VI, to crown the king of Naples and broker a royal marriage for his sister, Lucrezia. Naples was a city rich in convents and brothels (a fertile juxtaposition in the male Renaissance imagination), but it was also ripe with disease. Two years earlier, a French invasion force including mercenary troops back from the new world, had dallied a while to enjoy their victory, and when they left, carried something unexpected and deadly back home with them.

His work accomplished, Cesare took to the streets. Machiavelli, his contemporary and a man with a wit as unflinching as his politics, has left a chilling account of his coupling with a prostitute who, when he lights a lamp afterwards, is revealed as a bald, toothless hag so hideous that he promptly throws up over her. Given Cesare's elevated status, his chosen women no doubt were more enticing, but the sickness they gave him (and suffered themselves) was to prove vicious. First a chancre appeared on his penis, then crippling pains throughout his body and a rash of itching, weeping pustules covering his face and torso. Fortunately for him and for history, his personal doctor, Gaspar Torella, was a medical scholar with a keen interest in this startling new disease and used his patient (under the pseudonym of "Niccolo the young") to record symptoms and attempted cures. Over the next few years, Torella and others charted the unstoppable rise of a disease that had grown men screaming in agony as their flesh was eaten away, in some cases down to the bone.

I still remember the moment, sitting in the British Library, when I came across details of Torella's treatise in a book of essays on syphilis. There is nothing more thrilling in writing historical fiction than when research opens a window on to a whole new landscape, and the story of how this sexual plague swept through Europe during the 1490s was one of the turning points in Blood and Beauty, the novel I was writing on the rise and fall of the Borgia dynasty.

By the time that Cesare felt that first itch, the French disease, as it was then known, had already spread deep into Europe. That same year, Edinburgh town council issued an edict closing brothels, while at the Italian university of Ferrara scholars convened an emergency debate to try to work out what had hit them. By then the method of the contagion was pretty obvious. "Men get it from doing it with women in their vulvas," wrote the Ferrarese court doctor baldly (there is no mention of homosexual transmission, but then "sodomy", as it was known then, was not the stuff of open debate). The theories surrounding the disease were are as dramatic as the symptoms: an astrological conjunction of the planets, the boils of Job, a punishment of a wrathful God disgusted by fornication or, as some suggested even then, an entirely new plague brought from the new world by the soldiers of Columbus and fermented in the loins of Neapolitan prostitutes.

Whatever the cause, the horror and the agony were indisputable. "So cruel, so distressing, so appalling that until now nothing more terrible or disgusting has ever been known on this earth," says the German humanist Joseph Grunpeck, who, when he fell victim, bemoaned how "the wound on my priapic gland became so swollen, that both hands could scarcely encircle it." Meanwhile, the artist Albrecht Dürer, later to use images of sufferers in propaganda woodcuts against the Catholic church, wrote "God save me from the French disease. I know of nothing of which I am so afraid … Nearly every man has it and it eats up so many that they die."

It got its name in the mid 16th century from a poem by a Renaissance scholar: its eponymous hero Syphilus, a shepherd, enrages the Sun God and is infected as punishment. Outside poetry, prostitution bears the brunt of the blame, though the real culprit was testosterone. Men infected prostitutes who then passed it on to the next client who gave it back to a new woman in a deadly spiral. Erring husbands gave it to wives who sometimes passed it on to children, though they might also get it from suckling infected wet-nurses.

Amid all this horror there were elements of poetic justice. In a manifestly corrupt church, the give-away "purple flowers" (as the repeated attacks were euphemistically known) that decorated the faces of priests, cardinals, even a pope, were indisputable evidence that celibacy was unenforceable. When Luther, a monk, married a nun, forcing the hand of the Catholic church to resist similar reform in itself, syphilis became one of the reasons the Catholic church is still in such trouble today.

Though there has been dispute in recent years over pre-15th-century European bones found with what resemble syphilitic symptoms, medical science is largely agreed that it was indeed a new disease brought back with the men who accompanied Columbus on his 1492 voyage to the Americas. In terms of germ warfare, it was a fitting weapon to match the devastation that measles and smallpox inflicted travelling the other way. It was not until 1905 that the cause of all this suffering was finally identified under the microscope – Treponema pallidum, a spirochete bacterium that enters the bloodstream and, if left untreated, attacks the nervous system, the heart, internal organs and the brain and it was not until the 1940s and the arrival of penicillin that there was an effective cure.

Much of the extraordinary detail we now have about syphilis is a result of the Aids crisis. Just when we thought antibiotics, the pill and more liberal attitudes had taken the danger and shame out of sexual behaviour, the arrival out of nowhere of an incurable, fatal, highly contagious sexual disease challenged medical science, triggered a public-health crisis and re-awoke a moral panic.

Not surprisingly, it also made the history of syphilis extremely relevant again. The timing was powerful in another way too, as by the 1980s history itself was refocusing from the long march of the political and the powerful, to the more intimate cultural stories of everyman/woman. The growth of areas such as history of medicine and madness through the work of historians such as Roy Porter and Michel Foucault was making the body a rich topic for academics. Suddenly, the study of syphilis became, well, there is no other word for it, sexy.

Historians mining the archives of prisons, hospitals and asylums now estimate that a fifth of the population might have been infected at any one time. London hospitals during the 18th century treated barely a fraction of the poor, and on discharge sufferers were publicly whipped to ram home the moral lesson.

Those who could buy care also bought silence – the confidentiality of the modern doctor/patient relationship has it roots in the treatment of syphilis. Not that it always helped. The old adage "a night with Venus a lifetime with Mercury" reveals all manner of horrors, from men suffocating in overheated steam baths to quacks who peddled chocolate drinks laced with mercury so that infected husbands could treat their wives and families without them knowing. Even court fashion is part of the story, with pancake makeup and beauty spots as much a response to recurrent attacks of syphilis as survivors of smallpox.

And then there are the artists poets, painters, philosophers, composers. Some wore their infection almost as a badge of pride: The Earl of Rochester, Casanova, Flaubert in his letters. In Voltaire's Candide, Pangloss can trace his chain of infection right back to a Jesuit novice who caught it from a woman who caught it from a sailor in the new world. Others were more secretive. Shame is a powerful censor in history, and in its later stages syphilis, known as the "great imitator", mimics so many other diseases that it's easy to hide the truth. Detective work by writers such as Deborah Hayden (The Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphilis) count Schubert, Schumann, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Flaubert, Van Gogh, Nietzsche, Wilde and Joyce with contentious evidence around Beethoven and Hitler. Her larger question – how might the disease itself have affected their creative process – is a tricky one.

Van Gogh paints skulls and Schubert's sublime last works are clearly suffused with the awareness of death. But in 1888, when Nietzsche, tumbling into insanity, wrote work such as Ecce Homo is his intellectual grandiosity genius or possibly the disease talking? There is a further layer of complexity to this. By the time Nietzsche lost his wits, tertiary syphilis had undergone a transmutation, infecting the brain and causing paralysis alongside mental disintegration. But many of its sufferers didn't know that then. Guy de Maupassant, who started triumphant ("I can screw street whores now and say to them 'I've got the pox.' They are afraid and I just laugh"), died 15 years later in an asylum howling like a dog and planting twigs as baby Maupassants in the garden.

Late 19th-century French culture was a particularly rich stew of sexual desire and fear. Upmarket Paris restaurants had private rooms where the clientele could enjoy more than food, and in opera foyers patrons could view and "reserve" young girls for later. At the same time, the authorities were rounding up, testing and treating prostitutes, often too late for themselves or the wives. As the fear grew, so did the interest in disturbed women. Charcot's clinic exhibited examples of hysteria, prompting the question now as to how far that diagnosis might have been covering up the workings of syphilis. Freud noted the impact of the disease inside the family when analysing his early female patients.

"It's just as I thought. I've got it for life," says the novelist Alphonse Daudet after a meeting with Charcot in 1880s. Tema raamatus In the Land of Pain, translated and edited by Julian Barnes in 2002, the writer's eye is unflinching as he faces "the torment of the Cross: violent wrenching of the hands, feet, knees, nerves stretched and pulled to breaking point," dimmed only by the blunt relief of increasing amounts of morphine: "Each injection [helps] for three or four hours. Then come 'the wasps' stinging, stabbing here, there, everywhere followed by Pain, that cruel guest … My anguish is great and I weep as I write."

Of course, we have not seen the end of syphilis – worldwide millions of people still contract it, and there are reports, especially within the sex industry, that it is on the increase in recent years. But the vast majority will be cured by antibiotics before it takes hold. They will never reach the point, as Cesare Borgia did in the early 16th century, of having to wear a mask to cover the ruin of what everyone agreed was once a most handsome face. What he lost in vanity he gained in sinister mystery. How far his behaviour, oscillating between lethargy and manic energy, was also the impact of the disease we will never know. He survived it long enough to be cut to pieces escaping from a Spanish prison. Meanwhile, in the city of Ferrara,his beloved sister Lucrezia, then married to a duke famed for extramarital philandering, suffered repeated miscarriages – a powerful sign of infection in female sufferers. For those of us wedded to turning history into fiction, the story of syphilis proves the cliche: truth is stranger than anyone could make up.

A Cultural History of Syphilis will be broadcast on Radio 3 on 26 May.


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