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'BBC 4, Inside the Medieval Mind'

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Ken
Compulsive Reader
Location: Truro, Cornwall, UK

'BBC 4, Inside the Medieval Mind'

Postby Ken » Thu August 12th, 2010, 3:39 pm

We in the UK are being spoiled at the moment by a feast of documentaries on TV about the Middle Ages: ‘The Normans’, ‘Norman Walks’, ‘Inside the Medieval Mind’, ‘Christina, A Medieval Life’, etc.

Yesterday, I watched ‘The Medieval Mind’, with Robert Bartlett, where he reviewed the medieval attitude to sex! A few of the, somewhat sexist, ideas expressed follows. You might find some of the programme content interesting and perhaps controversial:

“Following the accepted view of the four humours:
Man is Hot and Dry which is ‘Good’,
Woman is cool and moist, which is ‘Bad’.”

As one cleric noted: “This fact makes the woman more sexually voracious and possessing of a greater desire for coitus than a man – for something foul is drawn to something good!”

The event in the Garden of Eden is quoted as proof of the wickedness of woman:

“The Devil tricks Eve rather than Adam, attacking human nature where it seemed at its weakest. Eve was Satan’s bait – poison for men’s souls! This betrayal was such that it could never be forgiven. The wickedness of woman is greater than all other wickedness!

The proof of this is that the eyes of a woman receive menstrual blood (that unclean, foul and disgusting liquid) during her period – the look of a menstruating female could, of itself, cause disease in a man! Women are literally poisonous!”


Women in general were treated like property. One instant quoted was that in 1319, King Edward 11 sent the Bishop of Exeter to inspect Philippa of Hainault as a prospective bride for his young son. The bishop’s report reads much like a property survey: “The lady has not uncomely hair, black and brown in colour. Her eyes are blackish brown and her nose is fairly smooth, yet it is no snub nose; her mouth, fairly wide; her lips, somewhat full, particularly the lower lip. Her neck, shoulders and all her body and lower limbs are reasonably well shaped. All her limbs are well set and unmaimed. The damsel will be on St. John’s day next, 9 years”. Apparently this description was well received and the marriage went ahead, but some years later.

Naturally, as I'm sure you all know, I do not share these medieval ideas and have always acknowledged women as the fairer and stronger sex!!!!!!!!! :o

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Libby
Avid Reader
Location: Lancashire
Contact:

Postby Libby » Thu August 12th, 2010, 8:07 pm

Yes, this was a fascinating programme. In fact I think it's about the third time I've watched it!

We are being very spoiled with some excellent history programmes at the moment.
By Loyalty Bound - the story of the mistress of Richard III.

http://www.elizabethashworth.com

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LoobyG
Compulsive Reader
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Postby LoobyG » Fri August 13th, 2010, 12:48 pm

I've definitely enjoyed 'The Normans' so far, it's been one of the only things worth watching on the telly box recently :) Norman walks looks very interesting too. I love the Tudor period, don't get me wrong but I'm feeling very tudor'ed out and it's so refreshing to have some good history programmes on a different history period.

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
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Postby EC2 » Fri August 13th, 2010, 4:55 pm

I've not watched that one yet, but yes, the statements are one version of the medieval attitude towards sex at the more mysogynistic end of matters. Just like today, it's not a case of one size fits all (!!!). The view about women being cold and men being hot was one idea and led to the advice that coitus should be as quick as possible before the bloke was seriously weakened by the woman.
However, another school of thought said that both women and men produced seed and that a woman's seed wouldn't descend unless she had a orgasm - and since the main reason for intercourse was in order to procreate and to ensure that a woman's seed descended and she was able to conceive, the bloke had to spend time arousing her.
The bottom line is that there there were several different theories running side by side and that attitudes to sex did vary, although they were still never like our free for all!
I have a good friend in Medieval academia who teaches medieval sex lives, and she was keen to emphasise to me that there were many different attitudes to the subject within the medieval world.

Someone I know on Facebook is studying with professor Bartlett at St Andrews, and mentioned to him that one of my favourite reference works was England under the Norman and Angevin Kings - and apparently he was very touched. What a nice man - especially as from my perspective I hold him in awe! :)
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Libby
Avid Reader
Location: Lancashire
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Postby Libby » Fri August 13th, 2010, 5:05 pm

Well I'm a bit slow. It's only just dawned on me that it's the same person. :o
By Loyalty Bound - the story of the mistress of Richard III.



http://www.elizabethashworth.com


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