Movie Review: Dangerous Beauty

Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) kisses her lover, Marco Vernier (Rufus Sewell) in, "Dangerous Beauty".

Late 16th century Venice, where a woman can be a nun, a wife or a courtesan. For Veronica Franco, the free spirited girl scorned by because of her lack of wealth, the choice is an obvious one…

Veronica Franco and the ‘Cortigiane Oneste’: Attaining Power through Prostitution in Sixteenth-Century Venice

Veronica Franco, painted by Domenico Tintoretto (1560–1635)

Franco was a published author, a poet, and counted the King of France among her lovers.

John Rykener, Richard II and the Governance of London

Medieval London Quiz

Its narrative of cross-dressing, male prostitution, gay sex, clerical promiscuity and the like seems to offer a rare window onto late medieval sexuality and sexual mores.

Genre Medievalisms: Geek Goes Chic!

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in HBO's, 'Game of Thrones'. Photo courtesy of (TV Guide)

Is Cersei a collection of bad medieval stereotypes? Have nerds gone mainstream? Were American cowboys a modern retelling of the medieval knight? Put down that comic, put away your bag of dice, and indulge your inner nerd.

Medieval Viagara

medieval anatomy figures

Over a thousand years before Viagra was invented, medieval men were looking for ways to treat erectile dysfunction. We take a look at the prescriptions offered in one of the most popular medical textbooks from the Middle Ages.

How to restore virginity – advice from Caterina Sforza

Caterina Sforza

If you follow the advice of Caterina Sforza, ‘you will see that thing become so narrow that you yourself will be in admiration.’

The medieval roots of gender and sexuality in Spanish colonial law

Marie Kelleher

Marie Kelleher will discuss the medieval roots of gender and sexuality in Spanish colonial law, beginning with the written law (both secular and ecclesiastical) and how it defines the parameters of respectable female behavior.

Chaucer the Love Poet: A Study in Historical Criticism

Wife of Bath

This thesis is an historically based inquiry into the aesthetic function and moral significance of the themes of marriage, fornication, and adultery in Chaucer’s poetry about sexual love

The Trouble with ‘Female Sexuality’

medieval woman and unicorn

Using medieval western art to speak of female sexuality is difficult.

Intersex in the Middle Ages

Statue of Hermaphrodite - Louvre

A brief look at how the medieval world viewed the Intersex individual.

Medieval Books for Christmas

The Middle Ages - Johannes Fried

It’s that time of year again – the mad scramble for the perfect Christmas gift for the historian, nerd, avid reader on your list. Here are a few suggestions for you – new releases for December and January!

How Witches Looked in Medieval Art

Hans Baldung - The Witches Sabbath (1510 AD)

I recently visited the British Museum and enjoyed their Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibit which runs until January 11th, 2015. It displays art depicting witches from the middle ages up to the late nineteenth century. This post looks at a few late medieval interpretations of witches and the artists behind these works.

‘Hag of the Castle:’ Women, Family, and Community in Later Medieval Ireland

Sheela-na-gig from the Fethard wall in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, detail, 12th c.

In a letter written as part of his work for the Irish Department of the Ordnance Survey in 1840, Thomas O’Conor recorded his reaction to a “Sheela- na-gig” sculpture—the image of a naked woman shown exposing her genitalia (fig. 1)—that he saw on the old church at Kiltinane, Co. Tipperary.

Transvestites in the Middle Ages

Saint Pelagia

An examination of the lives of the transvestite saints whose legends and myths help set Western attitudes toward transvestism.

The Episcopal Body and Sexuality in Late Medieval England

Thomas Becket, with mitre, pall and cross, being consecrated.

How was long-term celibacy thought to affect the health of religious men? How could medical knowledge help clerics to achieve bodily purity?

Gender and Matrimonial Litigation in the Church Courts in the Later Middle Ages: The Evidence of the Court of York

Van Eyck - Arnolfini Marriage (1434)

If some later medieval males thought the courts were biased, what might the female perspective have been?

Prevention Strategies and Changes in Sexual Mores in Response to the Outbreak of Syphilis in Europe in the Early Modern Age

Maria Salviati portrait by Pontormo, c. 1543.

Prevention Strategies and Changes in Sexual Mores in Response to the Outbreak of Syphilis in Europe in the Early Modern Age By Eugenia Tognotti Journal of Ancient Diseases and Preventive Remedies, Vol.2:2 (2014) Abstract: In the same way as AIDS in the 20th century, syphilis was the sexual scourge of the 16th century. Both of these […]

The Lewd, the Crude and the Downright Rude: Heterosexual Sex in Medieval Western Europe

Royal 6 E VI   f. 61  Royal 6 E.IV f.61 (min)

If one has never really considered thinking about sex in the Middle Ages, it is useful to pause and think of what images pop up when one does.

An Analysis of Child Sexual Abuse During the Byzantine Empire

The fresco of queen Simonida Paleologus, Gračanica monastery, Serbia

During the Byzantine Empire, child sexual abuse was more prevalent and less stigmatized than it is today.

On the Significance of Secrecy in the Medieval Arabic Romances

Brooklyn Museum - Layli visits Majnun in the Grove

In this essay, I analyze the keeping and divulging of secrets as they relate to aspects of love and sexuality portrayed mainly in a selection of medieval Arabic romances known as the ‘Udhri love stories.

Nicolette : action transvestite, or, who and what is the heroine of Aucassin et Nicolette?

Aucassin and Nicolette, 19th-century oil-on-canvas by Marianne Stokes

In this paper, I will show how Nicolette is constantly, deliberately, changing, in appearance and identity, from the beginning of the story, and how she is thus Izzard’s action transvestite.

The Depiction of Jews in the Carnival Plays and Comedies of Hans Folz and Hans Sachs in Early Modern Nuremberg

Hans Folz - Carnival Plays

This study will thus demonstrate that the Bakhtinian model and its critics both contribute to our understanding of the Fastnachtspiel and the development of early modern German attitudes toward Jews.

The Fabulous Saga of Guðmundr inn ríki: Representation of Sexuality in Ljósvetninga saga

Ljósavatn, Iceland - Photo by Hansueli Krapf

Guðmundr, a powerful goði living in the late 10th and early 11th century, was subjected to sexual insults by his rivals Þorkell hákr and Þórir goði Helgason. These sexual insults described him as effeminate and cowardly, and the thesis shows that the Ljósvetninga saga text follows suit with these slurs.

Caught in Love’s Grip: Passion and Moral Agency in French Courtly Romance

The art of courtly love

French royal courts in the late twelfth century were absolutely smitten with love. Troubadaours traveled from place to place reciting stories of knights and the ladies they wooed.

A figurine from Stare Bielsko. Sexuality in Middle Ages

figurine from Stare Bielsko

ceramic figurine from late Middle Ages, found in Stare Bielsko, shows a couple that is having sex and can be a good example of not such sanctimonious way of thinking.

medievalverse magazine