Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Guest Author Blythe Gifford on Cross Dressing in the Middle Ages

Please join me in welcoming guest author, Blythe Gifford! Today she is here to tantalize us with her article, Cross Dressing in the Middle Ages.


Joan of Arc may be the most famous cross dresser of the Middle Ages, but as I researched my September release from Harlequin Historical, I discovered she was hardly the only one.

I took heart from that when I wrote IN The MASTER’S BED. In it, my medieval heroine runs away from home disguised as a man in order to study at the University. At that time, women were not even allowed into the living quarters to do laundry, let alone into the classrooms to take courses. My heroine ends up living in the 14th century equivalent of a fraternity house, where she manages to maintain her secret for longer than you might expect.

Strictly fiction, you might say. But no. There is a reliable account of a woman in medieval Poland who attended the university there for two years before she was discovered. Her story had a happy ending. She was not punished, but, revered for her scholarship, joined a convent and became the abbess. Like my heroine, when she was disguised, this woman lived in an all men’s hostel and “behaved properly toward others, did not frequent the baths, and attended the lectures diligently.” (Note: I’ve listed the sources for this post below.)

This happened less than fifty years after my story is set, so I felt totally justified in thinking that it COULD have happened the way I wrote it.

In fact, the idea of a woman dressed as a man was not as foreign to medieval people as we might think. Marjorie Garber says the “transvestite female saints of the Middle Ages were legion as well as legend.” At least thirty have been counted. When the miracles started coming, some of these women were even graced with beards.

The common thread in the stories of these cross-dressing saints is that the woman suffers a personal crisis and reinvents herself as a man. In the words of St. Jerome: “As long as a woman is for birth and children she is different from man as body is from soul. But when she wishes to serve Christ more than the world, then she will cease to be a woman, and will be called man."

This is, of course, consistent with the medieval concept of the hierarchy of the universe: God, priest, man, and then, woman, who only reaches God when given permission by the two ahead of her.

The women saints who chose the path of pants were a colorful lot. One, a prostitute, converted to Christianity, changed her name, and dressed as a man. No one discovered her real sex until after her death.

Another, disguised as a monk and accused of fathering a child, refused to expose her true sex in order to prove her innocence. She was expelled from the brotherhood and, still living as a man, raised the child. Seven years later, she was accepted back into the monastery and lived as a man until discovered to be a woman after death. (No reports of who raised the seven year old child after that.)

Yet a third woman, prohibited from joining the monastery, dressed as a man so successfully that she was elected an abbot of the house. Then, accused of rape, she revealed her identity and proved her innocence by baring her breasts in the middle of the court before her father. (Freud, had he lived in medieval times, would have had a field day with that one. I have visions of the monks repeating this tale with relish over cognac and cigars after dinner.)

No male saints, apparently, felt it necessary to don a skirt to grow closer to God. Then, as now, it was more acceptable for a woman to don pants than the other way around.

That is not to imply that it was accepted. The book of Deuteronomy stated "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man” and medieval audiences took that literally. When Joan of Arc was condemned to death for heresy, her mode of dress was a key issue at her trial. Yet unlike so many of her fellow saints, Joan didn’t pretend to be a man. She just thought that riding astride at the head of an army was easier without a skirt in the way.

Of course, she was right, something even Thomas Aquinas, himself a saint, understood. He knew it was “sinful for a woman to wear man's clothes, or vice versa, especially since this may be a cause of sensuous pleasure.” But he allowed a pass under certain circumstances, stating that it might not be a sin if done “on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some similar motive."

And there are examples aplenty of such motives, such as ease and safety when traveling. There are also examples of women who dressed as men in order to save a husband’s life. Two such German tales tell of the wife disguising herself as a man to visit her imprisoned husband, who faces execution because he committee adultery. Dressed as a man, the wife then switches clothes with him and he escapes, leaving her in prison. (This is lauded as the epitome of wifely virtue. Twentieth century women can only ask What was she thinking?) In court, she reveals all, again, yes, by baring her breasts.

There are reports of women dressing as men during the Pre-Lenten carnival and sneaking into a monastery, though no report on what they did once inside. While this all sounds like good, Mardi Gras fun, the reality could be quite different. In Nuremberg, Germany, in 1481, a woman was put into the basement prison for her offense, presumably the standard punishment.

Earlier, the city had banished a woman for nine years because she “walked about in manly ways and wore man’s clothes.” Banishment was the lighter punishment under consideration. The other option was to bury her alive. Of course, this woman was also accused of “permitting her brothers and cousins to have sex with her,” so that might have been the burying offense.

But wait, you say. Were there no men who felt the need to cavort in women’s garb? Well, yes, there were. There are reliable accounts of Franciscan friars escaping the monastery, dressed as woman, to run through the streets. In Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, Margaret Shaus calls the practice “ubiquitous.” It tended to happen, however, during holiday celebrations, the Feast of Misrule or the Pre-Lenten carnivals, when it was practiced by “ebullient, usually youthful, male revelers.”

Exactly the type you would find in a university hostel.

At the University of Paris, those in charge complained that “Priests and clerks…dance in the choir dressed as women, or disreputable men, or minstrels.” There are repeated prohibitions by University governance bodies against loud singing and playing of music, dancing in the streets, and dramatics. The regularity of these pronouncements suggests their ineffectiveness. Then, as now, copious quantities of alcohol were necessary to higher education, and likely contributed to frolicking in the streets in various states of dress.

In discussing cross-dressing, I have not explored sexual preferences or gender identity.

There is a reliable report of a man at Oxford, who called himself Eleanor and worked as a prostitute. He was accused of practicing the “abominable vice” with “three unsuspecting scholars.” It is not clear from the records whether these “unsuspecting” innocents knew his sex at the time. They reportedly visited him “in the marsh,” so they may not have disrobed, but they also visited “Eleanor” often.

Often enough to know?

That, we will leave to the mists of history.

I hope you enjoyed this look backward at an “undressed” part of history and welcome your comments and thoughts.

Sources for this post include: Clothes Make the Man: Female Cross dressing in the Middle Ages, by Valerie R. Hotchkiss; From Boys to Men, Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe, Ruth Mazo Karras; Vested Interests: Cross Dressing and Cultural Anxiety, Marjorie B. Barber; The Cambridge companion to medieval women’s writing, Dinshaw and Wallace; Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, Margaret Shaus; Obscenity: Social Control and Artistic Creation in the European Middle Ages, Jan Ziolkowski; The Seekers: The story of man’s continuing quest to understand his world, Daniel Joseph Boorstin; A Female University Student in Late Medieval Kraków, by Michael H. Shank, published in Signs, Vol. 12, No. 2, Reconstructing the Academy, Winter, 1987, pp. 373-380, and Wickepedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-dressing,_sexuality,_and_gender_identity_of_Joan_of_Arc#cite_note-6.org/wiki/Cross-dressing,_sexuality,_and_gender_identity_of_Joan_of_Arc#cite_note-6)
Picture of Joan of Arc, public domain, from Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490


Author Bio: BLYTHE GIFFORD (http://www.blythegifford.com/)is the author of a four medieval romances from Harlequin Historical, three of which feature characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Her September release from Harlequin Historical line is IN The MASTER’s BED. When not nurturing her first love, writing historical romance, she feeds her muse with art, music, history, long walks, good food and good friends.

(Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved ®and T are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under license.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award!

Wow! I had a lovely surprise in my inbox today :) Romance author, Emily Bryan sent me this very colorful blog award along with a couple rules about accepting it. I have to share my favorite 7 things and then pass the award along to 7 other blogs. So here are my 7 Favorite Things in no particular order:

1. History! Without a doubt, I love all facets of history, and can be completely arrested by documentaries, museums, books, blogs, and so much more. If it's historically related, I'm there!
2. Writing! Obviously I love writing :) Whether I'm writing a story, an article or a blog, the act of writing is very enjoyable for me.
3. Reading! I'm a huge fan of reading. Luckily my hubby shares my love of reading, and we've passed it along to our children as well.
4. Romance! Real life romance, books, movies, I just love--love!
5. My Husband! He's my rock, my man :)
6. My children! My joy!
7. Music! I love to play music, dance to music, listen to music...
Now I get the joy of paying this award forward! Here are seven blogs I find worthy of a Kreativ Blog Award, in no particular order:

1. Mama Writers - Raising kids, writing romance! Need I say more?

2. Seduced by History - A fabulous blog of historical romance authors blogging on history.

3. Chicks of Characterization - Introducing us to tons of romantic stories and authors all the time!

4. Fierce Romance - An author group blog, writing advice, fun stories, inspiration and so much more!

5. Romance University - This is a great blog with guest authors, editors, experts etc... An awesome stop for writers, authors and readers.

6. The Pen and Muse - Book reviews, guest authors, and advice on things from writing to technology!

7. Romance Roundtable - Guest authors and writers sharing their works, inspirations and advice on writing romance!

Thank you again to Emily!!!

What are your favorite blogs to visit?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Guest Blogger Carol Goss on Potent Potables of the Regency Bon Ton

Please join me in welcoming Carol Goss to History Undressed! Today she'll be discussing the very exciting and interesting topic of drinks--aka Potent Potables--in Regency England.

Take it away Carol!

Hello Everyone. I'm Carol Goss, and I hope you'll find this topic as useful in your reading and your writing as I have.

Have you ever wondered why so many scenes in Regency novels involve the imbibing of alcoholic drinks and what those drinks really are? Well, let's see if we can answer those questions.

The first question often asked is, "Why don't they drink water?" The answer is, "Water could be and often was deadly." Deadly? Dead Right!

Especially in towns and cities, the water was polluted as the rivers and streams from which the water was drawn were also the city's or town's sewers. London was especially bad in this regard with its huge population only increasing the pollution of the Thames. In the country, animals drank from and defecated in streams, so those waters often were polluted as well. Even my Sicilian grandfather, though he moved to the United States in the late 1800s, wouldn't drink water. He only drank wine. When offered clean city water after arriving in Detroit, he rejected it emphatically, saying in Sicilian, "Water is for washing, not drinking."

It wasn't until the middle of the Victorian period that sanitation became a public concern and drinkable water became available in developed nations. In fact, many current scientists believe one reason so many children died in earlier times was that whatever they drank was often made with unboiled water.

If a child did manage to reach adulthood, what did that adult drink? The answer is tea, coffee, occasionally hot chocolate – all made, you realize, with boiled water – and alcoholic libations. What were those libations? That depended on what class of society you inhabited. The working classes drank ale and beer if they could afford it and "blue ruin" if they could not. "Blue ruin" is Regency slang for gin. Gin was cheap to make and thus cheap to buy. Often, to make more profit, the distillers adulterated the gin intended for the poor with dangerous additives so it was even cheaper to make and sell. It got the name "blue ruin" because it ruined so many lives and caused so many deaths - as did its equivalent during 1920's Prohibition, bathtub gin.

As for the bon ton, the upper class of Regency society, their potent potables were many for the gentlemen, fewer for the ladies.

Fortified wines were especially prized because the addition of brandy to the wines made them much easier to ship and gave them a longer cellar life than non-fortified wines.

Ladies would drink wine with meals and occasionally drank sherry, a fortified wine that, after fermentation, has brandy added to it which helps preserve the drink. Sherry was and is still considered a wine and thus suitable for the ladies. Sometimes this drink is referred to as "sack" or "Canary" for the Canary Islands where much of the sherry originated.

As for the alcoholic drinks of Regency gentlemen, they had many choices. The two most used in novels are brandy and port. These also seem to have been the most common daily thirst-quenchers for gentlemen during this period though men also drank wine with meals and on other occasions.

When a Regency dinner was over, the servants cleared the table. The women then withdrew to the (with)drawing room for tea while the men stayed at the table, drank port and talked. Port starts with wine which, halfway through fermentation, has brandy added. The port is then put into barrels and aged. Because the brandy stops fermentation, port has more sugar left in the wine and thus a higher alcohol content than sherry. This seems to be the reason it was considered a man's drink rather than a lady's.

Brandy is made by distilling wine and storing it in wooden barrels or casks. This was a man's drink and came in various forms depending on what was used to make the original wine and how that was distilled. Cognac is a well-known type of brandy as is Calvados, which is made with apples and Grand Marnier, which is made with oranges. Men of the ton drank brandy as their usual daily drink or while in their offices handling estate affairs as we might drink water or coffee and with their friends or at their clubs the way we might drink cocktails or mixed drinks. Clubs, however, offered many types of alcoholic drinks.

One drink not often mentioned in Regency novels, but definitely popular in Britain, especially after the Napoleonic Wars, was champagne which, by the way, did not originate in France. Champagne was an accident. British wine enthusiasts who could afford it bought barrels of still wine from Champagne, France. However, those expensive barrels could go bad rather quickly. So these rich men added a little brandy and put the wine in bottles. Later, it was discovered that also adding sugar to the bottle would start a second round of fermentation and - Voila – the still wine became a sparkling wine. The process transferred to France after that. Those French winemakers weren't about to lose the profit on a sparkling wine they could make themselves. One of the most famous producers of champagne in the early 1800's was a woman, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, referred to as the Widow Clicquot because she took over the family winery when her husband died. It was Madame Clicquot who worked to get the tiny bubbles we associate with champagne. She hated the large bubbles that had been in the wine before; in fact, she referred to them as "toad's eyes". She also helped design the riddling rack which is used to move sediment to the neck of the bottle where it can be removed, thus giving us that clear wine with the sparkling bubbles we so prize today.

In his recent book, The Widow Clicquot, Tilar Mazzeo described how she managed to get 10,000 bottles of her high-proof 1811 Veuve Cliccquot past the British blockade of France to Konigsberg where it sold for what would be today $100 a bottle. When the British and Prussians celebrated their first defeat of Napoleon in 1814, they toasted each other in Mme. Clicquot's champagne. Even Napoleon said, "In victory, you deserve champagne; in defeat, you need it." After the Napoleonic Wars, British men ordered Mme. Clicquot's champagne at their clubs by asking for "the Widow". In short, champagne became the wine of celebration we are so fond of today.

There were other drinks that were popular in the Regency as well. Claret is a British term for the wine Americans call Bordeaux. Samuel Johnson, the famous Georgian lexicographer, said, "Claret is the liquor of boys, port of men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy." Another favorite was Marsala, a fortified wine from Sicily that is similar to port. Madeira was also popular, especially Malmsey which is the sweetest version of Madeira. This is also a fortified wine and keeps a long time, even in warm climates, which made it popular even later in Victorian times as the song of seduction, "Have some Madeira, m'dear" so clearly illustrates.

You're probably asking yourself "Where is the whiskey?" Well, most whiskey in the Regency was illegally made in Scotland, where it is spelled whisky and Ireland where it is spelled whiskey.

As punishment for the Scots and Irish rebellions against the Crown, exorbitant taxes were imposed on the production of whiskey and on the stills to make it, for whiskey is a distilled liquor of high alcoholic content. Also, the English, especially those of the upper classes, tended to view the Scots and Irish as barbaric. As you can imagine, this led to thousands of illegal stills and to the smuggling of whiskey for over a century. Thus whiskey did not become a regular British drink until the Victorian period

The only upper class British who might have regularly imbibed that illegal whisky during the Regency would have been the Marcher Lords whose estates bordered Scotland and who often had ties with the Scots dating far back in history. It wasn't until 1823 that the British government passed an act allowing legal stills for a license fee. This led to whiskey, however spelled, making its way into the homes and clubs of the English ton.

I hope you found this discussion interesting and helpful. Thanks for reading. All comments are welcome.
Sources: Wikipedia; winereviewonline.com; princeofpinot.com; vinography.com;
nytimes.com/2008/12/28/books/review/Stern-t.html; The Widow Clicquot by Tilar J. Mazzeo, Collins/HarperCollins Publishers.
Carol's Bio:

Carol Jo Kachmar, who writes as Carol Goss, comes by her knowledge through a voracious love of reading. By age ten, she'd discovered Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre. Those feisty heroines sparked her lifelong love of romance, the Regency, and, of course, England. These passions led to years of teaching English literature and history, both in England itself and in America.

This recent finalist in Beau Monde's Royal Ascot contest now writes while overlooking her own creek and pond in Michigan and being cheered on by her loving, supportive husband and cheered up by three lively but spoiled cats.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Guest Blogger: Sharron Gunn on 16th Century Irish Clothing

Please join me in welcoming special guest author Sharron Gunn to History Undressed today! I've long been fascinated by Sharron's wealth of knowledge and am truly excited for her to be here.

Clothing in 16th Century Ireland

The people who lived in 'the Pale' (stockade, boundary of English residency) were English whose chief city was Dublin. Those who lived 'beyond the Pale' were the Irish Gaels, barbarous and uncouth in English eyes.

The Pale

In the first half of the 16th century, men displayed their wealth by wearing many layers of sumptuous fabric. The portraits of Henry VIII and his contemporaries show clothing which is imposing through sheer bulk -- even the sickly Edward VI looked like king material. Women dressed quite modestly; men flaunted their masculinity.

The Crown encouraged the English administration in Ireland to wear lavish clothing, and so they dressed in the same manner as their London counterparts: doublets, lined with expensive fabric such as satin, velvet, or cloth-of-gold, a jerkin (fitted jacket), knee length was worn over it, cut to display the expensive fabric of the doublet. Over top of all a large, loose, broad-shouldered gown was worn. Under the doublet, they wore a linen shirt, embroidered with black or coloured silk at the neck and cuffs. Hose consisted of breeches of various lengths sewn to stockings covering the lower legs and feet.

In the second half of the century, the layers were reduced as the fashion required men show off a masculine figure. The manly chest was improved with padding (bombast) of horsehair, wool, rags, flax or bran; tight lacing (we're talking about men!) made the waist smaller. Legs were displayed in trunk hose, or breeches and hose.

And let's not forget the codpiece. Or braguette in French. (Never ask for one in a French bakery.) This little item, relatively speaking, of male attire developed at the time tailors perfected the ability to make tight hose--the last quarter of the 14th century. In this period, the codpiece was a bag placed over the genitals. (Cod is an Old English word for 'bag' meaning 'scrotum'.) In the 16th century, the codpiece, ever popular, was stuffed and covered with fabric. Even armour had a plate codpiece. Henry VIII's portrait shows three layers of thick clothing but his padded codpiece is large enough to peek out! Codpieces went out of favour during the reign of Elizabeth I the Virgin Queen. Men wandering around in codpieces didn't fit the image she wanted to portray.

The neck ruff, which developed from the narrow ruched projecting collar of the shirt, appeared after 1556, and, after 1570, extremely elaborate ruffs were possible after starch was invented.

When negotiating with the 'native' Irish, the English would offer an expensive piece of cloth or article of clothing as a gift; 'acceptance was taken to signify the acknowledgement by the recipient of English rule in Ireland'. Turlough Luineach O Neill refused a taffeta hat with a 'band set with bugles' in 1568, likely for this reason. However, in 1578, when negotiations to make him Baron of Clogher and Earl of Clandonnell, his wife was pleased to accept one of Elizabeth I's gowns. About the same time another of Elizabeth's cloth-of-gold gowns was offered to the Countess of Desmond and another noble lady. When the Lord Deputy discovered that two magnificent but second-hand gowns were 'slobbered'--had food stains on the front--he sent to London for new fronts so as not to offend the recipients. Queen Elizabeth slobbered!?

However, the clothing of the lower classes was regulated by sumptuary laws.
Black's Law Dictionary defines these laws as 'made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc.' Traditionally, they were laws which regulated and reinforced social hierarchies and morals through restrictions on clothing, food, and luxury expenditures. In most times and places, they were notoriously ineffective.

In 1536 in the town of Galway, townsmen were ordered to wear 'cloaks or gowns, coats, doublets and hose shaped after the fashion (in England), of country cloth or any other cloth'.

The apprentices of Dublin were limited in 1573 to a coat (loose outer garment) of cloth, decently made without cutting (slashing) or silk embroidery; doublet of the same material; a shirt of Irish cloth with 'a decent band' band of plain falling collar; a ruff one yard long and hose of no more than two yards of fabric. No bombast was allowed in either the breeches or doublet.

Soldiers' uniforms were little different from civilian dress. The English officer's winter dress included a 'cassock' or long coat, lined with baize and trimmed with silk lace, a doublet of canvas lined with white linen and closed with silk buttons, two shirts and two bands or large fall collars, three pairs of leather shoes, three pairs of kersey stockings, venetians or fashionable knee breeches of cloth with silk lace trimming and a coloured felt hat.

'Beyond the Pale' - Irish Gaels

The English ridiculed all aspects of Irish life: clothing, customs and laws. Some Englishmen were quite rabid about it.

In their minds, the Irish were fierce and ungovernable or at best childish. They looked odd because they didn't dress as did mainstream Europeans. They didn't live in cities, but in tiny villages throughout Ireland which made them hard to find. If an English army arrived, the Irish vacated the village and scattered to other villages or hid the vast woods which existed in the 16th century. Worst of all, the Gaelic and Gaelicised lords had old-fashioned laws which allowed them to maintain small armies at little cost and offer stiff resistance to English invasions.

Richard Stanyhurst (1547-1618) set out the minimum social objectives for an English conquest. The conqueror had to impose his laws, fashions, and language on on the vanquished. 'And if any of these three lack, doubtless the conquest limpeth.'

English clothing of the period has been described above. So how was Irish clothing different ... and objectionable?

The léine (linen shirt) was the foundation garment of the Irish and Scottish Gaels. A man's shirt was shorter than the same type of garment for a women. The possession of a yellow shirt, dyed with saffron, indicated a gentleman, and the wealthier he was, the more fabric he had in his léine.

Henry VIII's Act of 1537 prohibited Irish men from wearing shirts of more than seven yards of cloth. There were such complaints from Gaelic noblemen that they were allowed 12 yards by the parliament of 1541. Vassals, horsemen and kerns were allowed nine, and grooms and messengers were allowed seven and laboures seven. Saffron dye was known and used from antiquity and may have reached Ireland and Scotland along with silk perhaps as early as the 10th century. It is made from the stamens of the crocus and is still very expensive; its gold colour, symbolic of the Gaelic nobility, was also banned in the act.

In the first half of the 16th century, the crios (belt) was worn in a way that bloused the léine over it and made the shirt considerably shorter. The brat (mantle, cloak) was made of a long rectangle or a circle of wool cloth. Frieze, cloth with a loopy nap for warmth, often had fringes of contrasting colours.
Gaelic society is called conservative or archaic, and styles common in Europe in an earlier period are worn later in Ireland. A drawing by Albrecht Dürer in 1521 shows four men: the one on the left wears a thick, padded acton (Gaelic: cótun), worn in western Europe in the 13th-15th centuries, and still worn in Scotland and Ireland in the 16th century. The second from the left wears chain mail which has given way to plate armour in much of Europe. The man in the middle wears a mantle with a shaggy lining. The two younger men on the right wear jackets with wide sleeves. All men wear léinte (the linen shirts).
Two men carry great two-handed swords without scabbards, one under the arm
and the other on the shoulder. One man carries a bow and arrows as well as a sword. The two men on the left each carry a miodóg (long knife). The helmets look foreign and may have been acquired on the continent. The three with swords are óglaigh (young warriors) or gall-óglaigh (foreign young warriors) -- they are nobles/gentlemen; the two barefoot men are ceithearnaigh, kerns or foot soldiers of lesser status, whose weapons are the axe and knives.

Sir Henry Sidney campaigned against the Irish Gaels in the mid 1570's; John Derricke celebrated his accomplishments with a poem illustrated by several images. Although insulting in some cases, the woodcuts are thought to be accurate in many details. The influence of the English and Spanish is seen in the rather brief costume of the Irish Gaels; gone are the voluminous léinte.

In an image of the 1570's a chieftain is shown wearing a decorated leather jacket and hat, hose, square-toes shoes and a mantle. The kern (ceithearnach) wears a woollen jacket with a pleated skirt over a léine with full sleeves. He also wears hose and shoes. The horseboy wears a linen or wool léine with full sleeves and roll collar but no hose or shoes.

The following stanzas praise a man for rebellion against the English and choosing to live wild in the woods. It is written in the standard literary dialect used in Gaelic Ireland and Scotland.

A fhir ghlacas a ghalldacht,
bhearras an barr bachalldocht,
seang-ghlac atú do thogha
ní tú deagh-mhac Donnchadha.

O man who follows English ways,
who cut your thick clustering hair,
graceful hand of my choice,
you are not the good son of Duncan!

Ní thréicfea, da madh tú soin,
do ghruag ar ghalldacht thacair--
maisi as fhearr fá fhíadh bhFódla--
'sní bhíadh do cheann corónda.

If you were, you would not give up
your hair for an artificial English mode--
the fairest ornament in the land of Fódla-- (Fódla = Ireland, based on fód, sod or turf)
and your head would not be tonsured.

Fear nár ghrádhaigh an ghalldacht
Eóghan Bán, searc saor-bhanntracht,
don ghalldacht ní thug a thoil,
an alltacht rug do roghain.

A man who never loved English ways
is Eóghan Bán, beloved of noble ladies.
to English ways he never gave his heart:
a wild life he chose.

And here is where we'll leave Irish clothing of the 16th century.


Osborn Bergin, Irish Bardic Poetry
David Dean, Law-Making and Society in Late Elizabethan England
Derricke, John, The Image of Ireland (reprint of 1883 © 1581)
Dunlevy, Mairead, Dress in Ireland: A History
Hunt, John, Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture: A study of Irish tombs with notes on costumes and armour 1200-1600, 2 volumes
McClintock, H.F. et al., Old Irish and Highland Dress
Neville, William, Henry VIII & his Court

Sharron Gunn lives in British Columbia and teaches Irish and Scottish history at the University of Victoria part-time. Of Scottish, French and Irish origin, she was born on the east coast of Canada--some knowledge of the Gaelic and French languages and cultures was inevitable.

While living over eight years in Europe, she studied the languages and history of Great Britain and France. She has a diplôme from the Université de Nancy, France, a B.A. in French and a Masters degree (2nd first degree) in Scottish History and Celtic Studies from the University of Glasgow. She is working hard on her second novel, an historical fantasy set in Ireland.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Incest Within Royal Families & Consanguinity Laws

Royal families throughout history were known for inbreeding...They wanted their lines to be pure royal so. What better way than to literally have it remain within the family?

Here's some of what I found...

Manuel I was married to Isabella, the eldest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella (parents of Catherine of Aragon also) and when she died giving birth to their son, he married her sister Maria of Aragon who bore him 10 children... so remember Henry VIII getting the dispensation to marry his brother's widow, I guess it was just normal to do all this intermarrying!

In 1543, Phillip II of Spain, married Mary of Portugal who bore him a son, Don Carlos aka Prince Carlos of Asturias. Mary died in 1545 a few days after giving birth. Prince Carlos was said to be fragile and deformed. He also began to show signs of mental instability toward his adult years, and his behavior became increasingly erratic. Even still in 1560 he was named heir to the Castilian throne and in 1563 heir to the throne of Aragon. His mental instability increased along with a drinking problem. He was extremely hateful of his father and suspected of contemplating his father’s murder. In 1568, he planned to escape Spain and his father, however, Philip had his son thrown into solitary confinement. He died later that year…but why? There was for a long time rumors of poison, and even some going so far as to accuse Philip of ending his own son’s life. However, some believe he died of natural causes or illness.

What is the reason for all of his mental/deformity issues? Inbreeding! Here’s a perfect example, normally a person has 8 great-grandparents and 16 great-great-grandparents…Carlos had 4 and 6! His maternal grandmother Catherine of Hapsburg and his paternal grandfather Charles V, Holy Roman Emporer were brother and sister. His maternal grandfather John III of Portugal and paternal grandmother Isabella of Portugal were also brother and sister. Joanna of Castile, his great-grandmother was sister to his grandmother Maria of Aragon…

Anne Boleyn was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death--one of the accusations against her being incest with her brother--although it was never proven.

Consanguinity is how close in relations you are, and it was grounds for annullment in the Roman Catholic Church. From 1550 - 1917 marriages within the 4th degree, or beyond third cousins were prohibited, but as we've witnessed through several cases, these relationships easily recieved dispensations from the Pope. Payment to the church was required to recieve a dispensation. So essentially it was about the money. But it was also about avoiding strife. Some documented reasons from The Formulary of Dataria (Rome, 1901) for granting dispensation are:

"smallness of place or places; smallness of place coupled with the fact that outside it a sufficient dowry cannot be had; lack of dowry; insufficiency of dowry for the bride; a larger dowry; an increase of dowry by one-third; cessation of family feuds; preservation of peace; conclusion of peace between princes or states; avoidance of lawsuits over an inheritance, a dowry or some important business transaction; the fact that a fiancée is an orphan or has the care of a family; the age of the fiancée over twenty-four; the difficulty of finding another partner, owing to the fewness of male acquaintance, or the difficulty the latter experience in coming to her home; the hope of safeguarding the faith of a Catholic relation; the danger of a denominationally mixed marriage; the hope of converting a non-Catholic party; the keeping of property in a family; the preservation of an illustrious or honourable family; the excellence and merits of the parties; defamation to be avoided, or scandal prevented; intercourse already having taken place between the petitioners, or rape; the danger of a civil marriage; of marriage before a Protestant minister revalidation of a marriage that was null and void; finally, all reasonable causes judged such in the opinion of the pope (e. g. the public good), or special reasonable causes actuating the petitioners and made known to the pope, i. e. motives which, owing to the social status of the petitioners, it is opportune should remain unexplained out of respect for their reputation."

For more on today's Canon Laws visit these links:

Consanguinity (starts with 108): http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PC.HTM

Dispensable laws:(starts with 1091): http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3Y.HTM

Even though there was a lot of inbreeding throughout Europe, Spain and Portugal were the worst going so far as to marry aunts, uncles, neices, nephews, etc... whereas in the rest of Europe it was usually cousins.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Philip are 2nd cousins once removed from King Christian IX of Denmark, and third cousins through Queen Victoria.

I think the major reason for it all, is because royals marry other royals, so somewhere along the line you will find you're related to someone. And a lot of times they marry for political reasons, to keep peace and property, so if they'd had a marriage in place already that ended in death or for whatever reason, they may offer another marriage to keep their pact.

What do you think about it?