Sex and the (medieval) city: social hygiene and sex in the medieval urban landscape

A few weeks ago I gave a talk for the London Science Museum Lates on medieval sexuality and the ways in which cities responded to what were considered the competing needs for sex and a harmonious Christian landscape.
Included: swearing, manuscript pictures of penises, and a lot of talk about sex work.
Enjoy!


For more on sex in the medieval period see:
These hoes ain’t loyal – on bad bitches and prostitutes in medieval and hip hop culture
On women and desire
The history of penis in vagina as default sex at Bish!

There’s no such thing as the ‘Dark Ages’, but OK

As a very serious adult, with a respectable career and life, and a healthy ability to let petty shit slide, I spent much too much time last week arguing with strangers on the internet who believe in the myth of the Dark Ages.

The arguments in question focused on a massively inaccurate meme, which some observers of the group pointed out was originally supposed to be about knowledge loss after the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but which some very cool EDGE LORD had changed to be about ‘The Christian Dark Ages’. Please feast your eyes on it in all it’s massive wrongness:

worst

This is, pretty obviously, a bunch of honkey bullshit and also massively incorrect, as many important scholars have noted. As a result, I spent hours of my life – which I will never get back –  pointing out repeatedly that the ‘graph’ in question has nothing to do with reality, and arguing with non-experts about the medieval period.

Continue reading “There’s no such thing as the ‘Dark Ages’, but OK”

On medieval healthcare and American barbarism

As I’ve noted several times, I generally try to ignore whatever is currently passing for ‘governance’ in America at the moment, cuz I just ain’t got the patience, or ability to do all that emotional labour. However, they will keep on doing things that call back to the medieval period, so we’re gonna have to talk about it.

So currently in America, which is defo a first world country and for sure very prosperous and a good place to live, there is some debate about whether or not sick people should be driven into bankruptcy, given the audacity of their instance on being ill. (Have they tried not getting ill? IDK.)

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Keep the word ‘Judeo’ out of your racist mouth Nigel Farage

My loves, it is with a heavy heart that I announce Nigel Farrage is once again saying some meaningless garbage.

I know, I know. You are not surprised, but I am afraid I have to respond to this douche canoe’s latest idiocy – in this case the following tweet:

Farage

For those not up to speed with this particular flavour of British idiocy – at the moment the Archbishop of York, Nigel ‘Why don’t I have a chin? Let’s blame the EU’ Farage, and now Prime Minister Theresa May are all shocked and offended that Cadbury’s promoted an ‘Egg Hunt’ for the National Trust rather than a specific ‘Easter Egg Hunt’.

I know.

All of this is, of course nonsense, and ordinarily I try to ignore Farage as much as possible, being as my well-being is perched on a knife’s edge in today’s political hell scape. However, Farage just referred to England as having a ‘Judeo-Christian’ culture, and I cannot stand for it.

Leaving aside the issue that Jews don’t, you know, celebrate Easter, because they are Jewish, the idea that we here in the UK somehow celebrate the ‘Judeo’ in Judeo-Christian is offensive, given the hundreds upon hundreds of years of bloody repression of Jews in England.

Continue reading “Keep the word ‘Judeo’ out of your racist mouth Nigel Farage”

On chronicles versus journalism, and ruling versus governing

Ohhhh there is a lot to say, is there not? You think that you have starred fully into the depths of the dumpster fire and fully appreciated its heat, its dazzle, its stench, but it just. keeps. burning.

As a medieval historian, one aspect of said dumpster fire that has interested me of late is the concept of ‘fake news’ and what Trump feels the purpose of the press is. More specifically, it is of interest that apparently Trump feels that the press should be taking on the same function during his presidency as commissioned chroniclers did during the medieval period.

Continue reading “On chronicles versus journalism, and ruling versus governing”

On the medieval separation of Church and state, or, putting the ‘holy’ in Holy Roman Empire

Sooooooooooooooooooo, current governments enacting laws based on religious ideology, amiright? Here in the modern Western world, we’ve grown accustomed to governments largely agreeing that we have freedom from and of religion, by and large.  Obviously, at some points (*ahem*), this doesn’t work out and particular individuals push for religiously motivated legislation. This usually doesn’t go well for us women. Funny that.

Often, people who want to do my head in will refer to this kind of religious influenced legislation (or, you know, executive order (*cough*)) as being ‘medieval’, which as I have pointed out several times, is not helpful. More to the point, in this case it’s not even accurate, because there sort of kinda was separation of Church and State in the medieval period, at least in the Holy Roman Empire, but it worked in the exact opposite way.

So the Holy Roman Empire was essentially established on Christmas Day 800 when Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne was a total bad ass, as many important historians have noted, and had essentially united all of Western Europe under his rule, for the first time since the fall of Rome. Boy had his shit on lock, unlike Leo. Leo was, shall we say, not that popular. He showed up in Aachen because he got his ass beat down while on procession through Rome, and almost got his eyes and tongue cut out.

His beat ass showed up at Charlemagne’s court, looking for protection and Charlemagne was like, ‘Hey home boy while I’m here keeping you alive, why don’t you crown me Emperor?’ Leo was like, ‘Say no more, fam’. That’s where the trouble started.

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On the American election, teaching history, and why it matters

This election should not surprise anyone who teaches history. I teach medieval and early modern history at several unis in London.

The study of history in these eras shows us very clearly that Western society is built for white male protestant property owners.

This same society has been built over the bodies of black and brown people, and kept whites without property deliberately marginalised. Within it, the role of women has always been to be scapegoats for the worst of male excess, and vessels for sexual gratification/the getting of heirs.

You should not, therefore, be surprised to see a misogynist racist ruling what has always been a white supremacist society.

As historians, it is our job to show our students the roots of this society – SHOW them the thought processes that have built our world.

Continue reading “On the American election, teaching history, and why it matters”