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More from Alice Raw

Before Cards of Humanity: Games for Medieval Women

It’s winter in Suffolk, and you and your friends are bored of sewing. What next? Why, a round of ‘Have Your Desire’, of course! In this quick fire dice game, you roll to reveal your fortune. Spoiler alert: you’re probably going to have sex.

Further Reading:
Nicola McDonald, ‘Fragments of Have Your Desire: Brome Women at Play’, Medieval Domesticity, ed. Kowaleski & Goldberg (Cambridge, 2008)

Eleanor Rykener: On reading a trans life, and the long view of queer public sex.

In 1394, a sex worker and a Yorkshireman are arrested in a stable for public sex, and specifically for ‘committing that detestable unmentionable and ignominious vice’, sodomy. The ensuing deposition reveals that Eleanor has been known as John at various times in their life, and has had sex with both men and women. This episode places Eleanor in conversation with other cases of queer public sex, in particular that of Simeon Solomon in 1873.

Further Reading:
For Kadin Henningsen’s article on Eleanor Rykener: https://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2189&context=mff
For the work of Simeon Solomon: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O126681/the-bride-bridegroom-and-sad-drawing-solomon-simeon/
For Neil Bartlett’s A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep: https://www.simeonsolomon.com/documents-online.html

Agnes Wellis: When you kiss someone one time and they think you’re getting married.

If you were sure you had married someone but they didn’t agree, the London consistory court was the place to be. Here, ecclesiastical judges heard contested marriage cases. Disgruntled non-couple couples brought all kinds of evidence: gifts, exchanges of vows, sexual relationships. But for one woman, denying marriage was as simple as admitting that they had made out a couple of times but she had never intended to marry him.

Further Reading:
Shannon McSheffrey, Marriage, Sex, and Civic Culture in Late Medieval London (Philadelphia, 2006)

More in United Kingdom

Rimbaud and Verlaine, “One Hell of a Household!”

Rimbaud and Verlaine, two of the most influential poets in French literature, had a sadistic and dysfunctional relationship – drinking, smoking opium, staying up for days at a time, and writing some of their greatest works. [CW: domestic violence; child abuse; suicide threat; drug abuse]