History of Sex and Sexuality from 1559 - 1639

About the history of sex and sexuality from 1559 to 1639 A.D. including trivia about homosexuality, the church, and the first scarlet letter in America.

UNCENSORED HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HISTORY OF SEX

1559 Pope Paul IV began compiling the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of books deemed off limits to Catholics due to blasphemous or profane content. To date, over 4,000 titles have been thus listed, including the total output of Balzac, Dumas, Stendhal, and Alberto Moravia. In 1962 Pope John XXIII decreed that new authors would be given a chance to justify the content of their books before being added to the list. The Church stopped publishing the Index in 1966.

1560 In the wake of history's first recorded syphilis epidemic, Gabriel Fallopius invented the condom, a linen sheath which Mme. de Sevigne was later to describe as "gossamer against infection, steel against love." Fallopius was also the author of De Morbo Gallico ("The French Disease") in which he recommended postcoital cleansing of the genitals to prevent infection.

1565 Mass-scale erotic convulsions swept the Convent of Nazareth in Cologne. According to the German doctor De Weier, who investigated the phenomenon, the nuns would throw themselves on their backs, shut their eyes, raise their abdomens erotically, and thrust forward their pudenda. Other such cases were documented by De Weier in his book De Praestigiis Daemonum.

1585 St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi endured one of history's first documented masochistic obsessions. She would run madly about the convent grounds, rolling around on thorns and burrs, whip herself savagely, and beg the other nuns to bind her tightly to posts and hurl globules of hot wax at her. She was entrusted with the guidance of her convent's novices and was once found forcing one of her charges to thrash her. St. Mary was canonized in 1671.

1611 Two unmarried women who were discovered to be pregnant on arrival in Virginia were immediately returned to England. In the next years, many such girls were returned in an attempt to stamp out the risk of promiscuity in the colony.

1624 Richard Cornish became the first man to be convicted of a homosexual offense in America. Despite extremely flimsy evidence, he was hanged for forcing a young man into unnatural sexual relations. Two men were later pilloried and had their ears sliced off for protesting that Cornish "was put to death through a scurvie boys meanes & no other came against him."

1634 In Loudun, France, Jeanne des Anges, a nun, suffered nightmarish erotic hallucinations and convulsions and ultimately a false pregnancy after being spurned by the Cure Grandier. For his part in Jeanne's misfortunes, the cure was burned at the stake; the nun herself was widely venerated. The incident was the basis for Aldous Huxley's 1952 novel, The Devils of Loudun and Ken Russell's 1970 film The Devils.

1639 The first woman forced to wear a distinctive mark on her clothing for a sex offense resided in Plymouth, Mass. Mary Mandame was charged with "dallyance diverse tymes with Tinsin, an Indian" and "committing the act of uncleanse with him." She was sentenced to be whipped through the town's streets and at all times to wear a badge of shame on her left sleeve under penalty of being burned in the face with a hot iron if she neglected to do so. Tinsin was whipped at the pillory for "allurement & enticement."

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