Ugh, Game of Thrones. Am I right? No. Collectively we are now all wrong about it.
As we draw a once great television series, that now has all the gravitas and world building of an eighties hair fantasy on fast forward to a close, there was one little thing that made me laugh and then laugh again.
Was it Sansa telling her sad-ass uncle to sit down? Yes, but also no. It was the fact that the theoretical response to preventing dynastic war in Westeros is to create an elective monarchy. That right there is just a chef’s kiss piece of poorly understood history.
As always, to understand why I think this is funny we’re going to need to unpack some stuff, and the first thing is probably what an elective monarchy is. I regret to inform you of the fact that it ain’t some sort of advancement away from other monarchical systems. It’s just a bog-standard type of medieval monarchy and you find them in such places as: Macedon, Byzantium, the Holy Roman Empire (shout out to a real one), Venice, and my people in Bohemia – just to name a few.
This week in the godforsaken wasteland that is Twitter where I hang out for some reason (?), the public has been treated to the absolute gift that is a bunch of dudes insisting that women, in their experience do not like sex. No, they do not see this as linked to their person, and it is as fucking hilarious as you are imagining. WITNESS:
Or how about your boy Scott?
These responses came as a woman sensibly pushed back against the Alyssa Milano’s proposed Sex Strike (I know.) to protest the new and draconian abortion bills in Alabama and Georgia. (That is a whole other mess for a whole other day, because there is already so much to unpack here.)
Now you and I can see that these dudes are out here straight telling on themselves, but they simply do not see it that way. Why is that? Well aside from being world-class douche nozzles, I would make the argument that there is a historical and philosophical basis for this particular way of seeing things, as wild as it is.
I was lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Danièle Cybulskie on The Medieval Podcast the other week. Have a listen if you want to know exactly, why widows were so sexy, why it can be hard for us to find our LGBT friends in medieval texts, and what the nicest looking dildo in the medieval period was made from.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Justin on the Meg John and Justin podcast to have a chat about my current work on the concept of the objectification of sex. Highlights include chat about incels, sodomy, and what Thomas Aquinas’s deal is. Have a listen!
Loves, you may have had the pleasure of being alerted, in the Guardian (which is a SWERF and TERF-ridden rag of a paper, but hey-ho), to the important findings of Professor Sarah Rees Jones and her team at the University of York’s extremely important discovery of the story of Sister Joan of Leeds.
Joan of Leeds, in an OG proof of the fact that you cannot defeat a bad bitch (you just cannot do that), in that in the year of our Lord 1318 got Archbishop William Melton of York’s attention to the point that our boy had to write out a note…
To warn Joan of Leeds, lately nun of the house of St Clement by York, that she should return to her house…
See, your man was straight up MAD that Joan had…
…impudently cast aside the propriety of religion and the modesty of her sex … [and] … out of a malicious mind simulating a bodily illness, she pretended to be dead, not dreading for the health of her soul, and with the help of numerous of her accomplices, evildoers, with malice aforethought, crafted a dummy in the likeness of her body in order to mislead the devoted faithful and she had no shame in procuring its burial in a sacred space amongst the religious of that place…
Why? Well, because she…
…turned her back on decency and the good of religion, seduced by indecency, she involved herself irreverently and perverted her path of life arrogantly to the way of carnal lust and away from poverty and obedience, and, having broken her vows and discarded the religious habit, she now wanders at large to the notorious peril to her soul and to the scandal of all of her order.
In other words, Joan was out to catch some D and she didn’t care if she had to fake her own death and make a dummy to replace her during burial so she could sneak out of her nunnery in order to do that.
For those who have managed to escape the morass that is the twitter hellscape, a brief recap before we get on to making a historical point™. Burchard of Worms was the Bishop of Worms, which was an extremely influential Holy Roman Imperial city, and which we generally think of now in relation to the Diet of Worms, where Martin Luther (who is just a second-rate Jan Hus, but whatever), was tried. Burchard, however, was working five blissful centuries before Luther came on the scene, i.e. at the end of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh centuries, and he was massively influential in making canon, or Church, law. He is also very well known for making his own penitential.
For those who were not raised Catholic, a penitential is – more or less – a book that gives guidance to priests who are giving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which was known as the Sacrament of Penance in the medieval period. This is where Catholics (aka any non-Orthodox Christians in the medieval period) go into a little booth and tell a priest what sins they have committed. The priest then tells them what penance they have to do in order to be forgiven of the sins and reconciled with God.