History of Sex, Love and Sexuality 1530 - 1750

About the history of sex, love, and sexuality from 1530 to 1750, highlights include spread of condoms, syphilis, laws on adultery, flogging, and Fanny Hill.

Uncensored Highlights in the History of Sex in the Last 500 Years

1530-The word "syphilis" is introduced. According to travel writer Allan H. Mankoff, "It was an Italian, Girolamo Fracastoro, who originated the word 'syphilis' in a 1530 poem, 'Syphilis, sive Morbus Gallicus,' whose hero, a Greek shepherd, Syphilis, is cursed with the disease for doing the god Apollo dirty."

1665-The word "condom" 1st appeared in print. A Dr. Conton, a physician, and a Colonel Condum, of the Royal Guards, were both members of the court of loose-living King Charles II of England. While contraceptives made of sheep intestines had long been in use in the Middle East, it was Dr. Conton who popularized a male contraceptive he created from dried lamb intestines. (This device was oiled to make it flexible.) Although Dr. Conton designed the contraceptive, for reasons unknown it was probably named after Colonel Condum. One of the earliest customers for these contraceptives was that great lover, Giovanni Casanova, who purchased 12 "English caps," as he called them.

1670-The London Dancing Club was founded. According to Ned Ward, author of The Secret History of Clubs, its membership consisted chiefly of "bullies, libertines, and strumpets . . . any person was free to shake their rumps and exercise their members to some tune." Professional prostitutes like Oyster Moll attended and joined in wild orgiastic dancing.

1670--For leaving his wife for another woman, one John Smith of Medfield was fined pound 10 and sentenced to 30 lashes by a Massachusetts court.

1671-In Massachusetts, Plymouth's revised statutes fined ordinary fornicators pound 10, those who were engaged to each other pound 5.

1688-Sir Charles Sedley and his friend Buckhurst (who was the 1st man to keep Nell Gwyn, mistress of King Charles II) streaked up and down the streets of London naked. In 1663 Sedley, a flamboyant rake, had shouted profanities to a crowd as he stood naked on the balcony of the Cock Tavern in Bow Street. He was fined 2,000 marks for his behavior.

1717-Daniel Turner wrote, "The Condom being the best, if not the only preservative our libertines have found out at present, and yet by reason of its blunting the Sensation, I have heard some of them acknowledge that they often chose to risk a Clap, rather than engage cum hastis sic clypearis." The rakes were not using the condoms for contraceptive reasons; they cared little if the women they seduced became pregnant. However, women themselves were beginning to keep contraceptives on hand. Casanova stole a supply of them from a nun with whom he had a sexual liaison and left a poem in their place, hardly a fair exchange. Before the end of the century condoms were widely available and were being used mainly as a measure against infection.

1718-A Treatise on the Use of Flogging, a pornographic book on flagellation, was published. About the same time, a machine that could whip 40 persons at a time was invented. Mrs. Berkeley, an English madam, made pound 10,000 in 8 years from a brothel that featured flagellation.

1750-Fanny Hill, the famous pornographic novel, was published.

1750-In France, Marie Lajon won her case against Pierre Berle, who had kept her locked in a chastity belt.

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