That’s not what sodomy is, but OK

[CW mention of a count of historical sexual violence – nothing graphic, but it is there. Be safe!]

My friends, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but sodomy is not just butt stuff. It is also – and this is crucial – not just gay stuff either. (OK. I love to tell you this.)

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I assure you, medieval people bathed.

I can’t believe I have to write this down right now, but my dear friends, medieval people bathed regularly.

Yes. I assure you. I am very serious. It is true.

In fact, medieval people loved a bath and can in many ways be considered a bathing culture, much in the way that say, Japan is now. Medieval people also very much valued being clean generally in an almost religious way.

This is not to say that getting clean was as easy for medieval people as it is for us now. But medieval people were very clever and had ways of getting around that.

Continue reading “I assure you, medieval people bathed.”

On Virtual Tours of Medieval London

Pals! Did you know that when I am not writing you swear filled screeds over here, I also work with Placecloud, where I make site-specific podcasts and videos about London?

Well I do! I’ve got several placecasts about the sites of medieval and early modern sex work there, including some videos, but most excitingly I also have a new virtual tour online there – Eleanor Janega’s London.

If you want to take a virtual walk around some of my favourite medieval London locations, this is the way to do it.

Enjoy!

On colonialism, imperialism, and ignoring medieval history

We have a lot of fun, don’t we, when we talk about how people argue that the medieval period was the Dark Ages based on the fact that the feel some type of way about it? Now, can I call people who think this ridiculously incredulous and basic? Yes. And I do. Thanks for asking. Having said that, the general ignorance of the medieval period is not from nothing.

On the one hand, you could argue that the idea that the middle ages was a bad time where people were generally stupid, unwashed, and rolling about in the muck on medieval people’s own conceptions of knowledge. As Sara has pointed out to us before, medieval people considered themselves to be attempting to access a perfect knowledge which had been deteriorating since the fall of man. As a result, they attempted to emulate the knowledge of the people who came before them – i.e. Roman and Hellenic thinkers. They thought that past systems of knowledge were inherently better than their own, and, well, it’s hard not to take people at their word, you know?

But let’s be real, that is absolutely not the main reason people think the medieval period was a stupid time. That idea comes squarely from the way we tend to uphold the (frankly, misapplied) idea of the Renaissance, and also the fact that people simply aren’t taught about the medieval period other than as a contrast to said Renaissance.

Now here is the thing, there are a lot of reasons why this has happened. Part of it is down to the fact that the medieval period is hard to teach because everywhere is so different. Part of it is because if people aren’t taught about something, then odds are they can’t teach about it later. And part of it is that if you are taught over and over again that the medieval period was Very Bad and that the Renaissance saved us all from its darkness, then you believe that.

Today we are talking about why it is that this particular narrative is the one taught in classes all across the white world, and I regret to inform you that the answer is colonial imperialism. Yay.

Continue reading “On colonialism, imperialism, and ignoring medieval history”

On sexualising the “other”

Friends, we are as ever living in a society that spends a lot of time and energy attempting to uphold what it sees as “normal”. Normality, after all, doesn’t police itself, or even hold up as a concept without strenuous effort from the people invested in it. What we’re thinking about today is that in our society over time if something isn’t “normal” it is probably also sexual. Because sexual stuff is bad and therefore Not Normal and what we in the overthinking stuff game tend to refer to as “other”.

The other can vary from society and society and place to place, but here in Europe and in the areas that Europeans subjugated there is an underlying default, and that is a white straight dude. This was certainly true in medieval Europe, where, as you may have noticed men bossed everyone the fuck around and decided that they were defo the norm.

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