Medieval attitudes towards homosexuality

sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,614
San Diego
What we want to know is what those sources are, who wrote them, why they might have had a reason to tell such a story, and their proximity to the event.
Sheesh- its like I'm saying when You drop a plate, it will break, and you guys want citations about the brand of plate.

Its an argument.
Clearly one you folks don't follow. Perhaps that's my fault.

1- you can not rely on historical first sources in regards to proscribed behaviors because people are not honest reporters.
That a culture writes down its attitudes toward a forbidden behavior as being forbidden tells you nothing about how the people on the street actually felt or behaved, other than to imply that people must be DOING it, else it would not be mentioned as proscribed.
to wit: Smoking pot is against the law- and we have had a 'war on drugs'- and yet a large percentage of the population routinely smokes pot and even more thinks its no big deal.

2- That to glean insight as to how people actually felt or behaved in the past, you often find clues in the contemporary rumors and other stories that can not be factually proven.

to wit: Richard III WAS a hunchback with a withered arm. Scholarly denials aside- it turned out he was a hunchback- but had no withered arm.
recent experiments have shown that a hunchback with his afflictions could do everything first source describe him as doing- destroying the recent argument of those depictions refuting his being a hunchback.

This suggests that, since historians accept the Edward II WAS at the very least bisexual... that there must have been rumors to that effect circulating during his life and around his death-
The truthful details of how he died is immaterial to the fact that the rumor focused on his homosexuality, and NOT on what really was at play.
The exaggeration of the rumor- that it was a RED HOT poker ( which does not make impalement any more deadly nor painful ) reveals an Attitude about men who took it in the butt.
A medieval attitude.

Not really horror. Not really revulsion. But a humorous sense of "just deserts".

As to the chruch- it is mere proof that a group can condemn a behavior they secretly indulge.
I have seen zero argument to prove the clergy of the pre-renaissance was somehow immune to the faults and foibles of the clergy today.
 
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aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,738
USA
First, let me congratulate you on the ability to write so much without actually saying anything! If nothing else, you can problem be a great lawyer if you can learn the jargon.

But nobody, not just us, cares about anybody else's (not just you) ignorant/uneducated/make believe/rumor opinion on anything, especially in a history forum. You are substantiating a whole lot of opinions and trying to play them off as fact. You've been called out on it. Your eventual response with some articles disproved nearly everthing you'd previously written, which tells everyone you picked them purely by their name, and didn't read them before hotlinking them in a long winded response.

Do better. You want to prove something, then bring primary and secondary sources.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,864
Blachernai
So I'm actually with you on a lot of this in terms of methodology, but we're ending up in totally different places. Let's see if we can figure out why that is.

Sheesh- its like I'm saying when You drop a plate, it will break, and you guys want citations about the brand of plate.

Its an argument.
Clearly one you folks don't follow. Perhaps that's my fault.

1- you can not rely on historical first sources in regards to proscribed behaviors because people are not honest reporters.
That a culture writes down its attitudes toward a forbidden behavior as being forbidden tells you nothing about how the people on the street actually felt or behaved, other than to imply that people must be DOING it, else it would not be mentioned as proscribed.
to wit: Smoking pot is against the law- and we have had a 'war on drugs'- and yet a large percentage of the population routinely smokes pot and even more thinks its no big deal.
I would argue that a culture that writes down its forbidden behaviour as being forbidden is in fact good evidence for what a certain set of elites perceive to be going on. Church canons are often used for doing this sort of history: the ecclesiastical elite are not going to weigh in on matters that no one is doing. For a recent case of this, see Tannous, Jack. The Making of the Medieval Middle East: Religion, Society, and Simple Believers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018, p. 135. Of course, that doesn't tell us how widely something is being done or what common attitudes are towards it, merely that some guy at the top doesn't like it.

2- That to glean insight as to how people actually felt or behaved in the past, you often find clues in the contemporary rumors and other stories that can not be factually proven.
And sometimes those rumours and stories are false. This is especially true with politics, where everyone has enemies and sometimes those enemies write the histories. A case in point is Basil II "the Bulgar-slayer", famous for his brutal act of allegedly blinding a defeated Bulgar army and then leaving one out of every ten men with one eye to guide the others home. Turns out, however, that this story is greatly exaggerated and a piece of propaganda from a century later. This goes to show that these things need to be handled on a case by case basis.

This suggests that, since historians accept the Edward II WAS at the very least bisexual...
Who says that? What does it mean to be bisexual in medieval England?

that there must have been rumors to that effect circulating during his life and around his death-
The truthful details of how he died is immaterial to the fact that the rumor focused on his homosexuality, and NOT on what really was at play.
The exaggeration of the rumor- that it was a RED HOT poker ( which does not make impalement any more deadly nor painful ) reveals an Attitude about men who took it in the butt.
A medieval attitude.
Rumours and stereotypes play into each other. For example, we get stories of Byzantine eunuchs being engaged in what we would term to be homosexual behaviour, yet is there actually any reason to believe that as a population group they were especially prone to homosexuality? Rumours are extremely enlightening for contemporary attitudes, I agree, however, I still want to see the source of those rumours. Are they widespread? Do they appear in only one letter from half a century later?

I have seen zero argument to prove the clergy of the pre-renaissance was somehow immune to the faults and foibles of the clergy today.
Of course they almost certainly did, but I'm interested in what sources tell us about it and their attitudes. Clerics today do not live in the social and economic system of the thirteenth century, and so the comparison can only go so far.

We also need to be careful with equating clerical celibacy and a need to engage in homosexual activity. Christianity as a whole is divided on clerical marriage. Medieval Orthodox priests could marry, just as they do today. That the Latin church had to continue to fight against clerical marriage into the twelfth and thirteenth centuries suggests that it was rather a deeply rooted practice.
 
Aug 2019
51
Southwest Florida
You're not telling me anything I don't know, nor are you tugging on any heart strings. How many professions that only work 3/4 of the year to draw a full annual salary come without a risk of future employment for the length of a full career? You're upset because tomorrow brings questions of future employment. Well, I guess welcome to the world of every single other working adult, because everyone else has had to and will always have to deal with that same problem, including most other public professions.

And tenure by its design was to protect college professors so they could teach alternative and thought provoking, though sensitive, topics without fear of getting fired for offending someone, which makes sense since its in college that ADULTS are supposed to be questioning the truths. And again, for adults. Why should K-12 teachers get tenure? So they can safely recite info from the teachers edition of a textbook in a public school full of children, to make sure they pass their standardized tests with high enough scores to gain funding and appease administrators? The very fact that some K-12 teachers in the US even get tenure is more indicative of a problem in my eyes.

I'm not anti-teacher. I'm anti-special treatment.

In the end, you proved my point though. I said that teachers aren't doing anything to change incorrect info in their textbooks, and though that offended you (not my intent) you listed out quite a few reasons why you think its impossible to do anything about said wrong info.
I hear your points . . . never thought you 'anti-teacher' just felt you weren't recognizing how the system has changed and how politically impotent we had become . . . FTR I am retired and employment (for me) is not at issue, academic freedom is, it is the newbies who are getting pushed around . . . OK we have done this ... lets move on.
 
Jul 2018
31
Istanbul
Ottomans were earliest to make it legal. Actually it was more than that :D They even promoted it. I mean it was for them, the show off how they are different than peasants. For them, having sex with a woman was dull and boring. It was only to reproduce. Having sex for fun ? Then you had to buy a boy. Not sure how true it is but they say Mehmet 2 actually beheaded a Romanian vassal king and his son because the king refused Mehmet 2 to have his son. So Mehmet 2 got angry and executed them both. Some say the reason Vlad Tepes(Count Dracula's inspiration) was so obsessed with impalement was because his brother Radu the Handsome(the nick is suggestive itself) was -i an way- impaled by Murat 2 or even if it is a slander towards Murat 2, we now that Mehmet 2 and Radu (similiar ages) shared the same bed. It isnt recorded if this sharing the same bed is jsut because they were close friends or did the have sex.

I mean Vlad may have grown a traumatic character and got obsessed with ''impaling'' due to knowing his brothers sexual affairs with possibly Mehmet 2 or worse so with Mehmets father Murat 2 or actually even himself pleasing Murat 2 when he was a child.

Google Image Result for https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Trenecito.jpg ( my favourite)
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,740
I would argue that a culture that writes down its forbidden behaviour as being forbidden is in fact good evidence for what a certain set of elites perceive to be going on. Church canons are often used for doing this sort of history: the ecclesiastical elite are not going to weigh in on matters that no one is doing. For a recent case of this, see Tannous, Jack. The Making of the Medieval Middle East: Religion, Society, and Simple Believers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018, p. 135. Of course, that doesn't tell us how widely something is being done or what common attitudes are towards it, merely that some guy at the top doesn't like it.
Exactly!

Legislation against something is pretty good at least indirect evidence of its presence and practice.

What we've got with western Catholicism in the Middle Ages is also the institution of confession, followed by penance. Even when not needing to reveal things said in confessions the canons of the time did make Latin glossaries over the sins committed and their prescribed standard penance. If running into a sin you have to be able to name and codify it in Latin. And going by that Sodomy was a known and recognized grave sin.

Link to this, p. 90:
After incest, the most harshly treated sexual sin was homosexuality; while this is certainly not a surprise, the treatment of this topic in the penitentials is by no means homogeneous. For example, a homosexual penitent might expect to fare better when confessing to a priest who uses an Irish penitential or in ninth century France, than they would if they confessed to a priest who used an Anglo-Saxon penitential.
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