History of Sex and Sexuality from 1484 - 1555

About the history of sex and sexuality from 1484 to 1555 including trivia about syphilis, the sistine chapel and more.

UNCENSORED HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HISTORY OF SEX

1484 Pope Innocent VIII was elected. He was nicknamed "the Honest" because he was the first pope to acknowledge his illegitimate children publicly.

1492 Syphilis made its premier appearance in the Old World. While some physicians theorize that Columbus carried the disease back from America, others have suggested that venereal organisms had long been in Europe but in a far less potent form. In any event, an epidemic swept Europe beginning in the mid-1490s, sparked by the French assault on Naples. Thousands of warring French and Neapolitan troops were stricken with what became widely known as the French disease, to the chagrin of the French monarch, Charles VIII, and the troops ensured its spread elsewhere upon disengaging from battle and returning home. The scourge hit Germany in the summer of 1495, Holland and England by 1496, India and the Middle East by 1498, and China by 1505. In 1500 Cesare Borgia was stricken with genital ulcers. In the early 1500s the Italian poet Girolamo Fracastoro introduced the word syphilis in his epic poem "Syphilis, or The French Disease," and the German Ulrich von Hutten dedicated a graphically detailed account of his own syphilitic deterioration to a Roman Catholic cardinal.

1529 During Cardinal Wolsey's trial for treason, he was accused of giving Henry VIII syphilis by persistently whispering in the king's ear.

1532 After nearly five years of obstinately rejecting King Henry VIII's advances, Anne Boleyn finally allowed him to seduce her. He had already had an affair with her sister Mary and-it was strongly rumored-one with her mother. He certainly liked the family; his fifth wife was Anne's cousin.

1535 An ecclesiastical tribunal in Toledo, Spain, found a Catholic priest named Valdelamar guilty of rape, blasphemy, consorting with prostitutes, and extorting the favors of a young woman in exchange for absolution and sentenced him to a mere 30-day house arrest and a fine of two ducats. Such leniency for debauching clerics was said to be commonplace in the early 16th century.

1542 Andrew Boorde, in his A Dyetary of Health . . . the boke for a good husbande to lerne, solemnly warned that eating lettuce killed sexual desire: "Lettyse doth extynct veneryous actes." He offered an antidote, saying that figs "stere a man to veneryous actes, for they doth urge and increase the sede of generacyon." Boorde later became Bishop of Chichester, where, probably due to eating too many figs, he was publicly defrocked for keeping three prostitutes in his chambers.

1546 Martin Luther died. According to his Table Talk, "women ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon to keep house and bear and raise children."

1552 Sir Walter Raleigh was born. Long after, while he was having dinner with his son-also named Walter-and a few friends, the younger Walter drunkenly revealed that he had that morning visited a whore, who had kicked him out, saying, "Your father lay with me but an hower ago." Sir Walter promptly boxed his son's ears.

1555 Pope Paul IV ordered the removal of Michelangelo's paintings from the Sistine Chapel on the grounds that they were obscene. After a storm of protest, a compromise was agreed upon and the pope ordered the naked figures (including all the angels and the Virgin Mary) in The Last Judgment to have clothes painted on them. Michelangelo's pupil Daniele da Volterra executed the task and afterwards was commonly known as "the Breeches Maker."

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