History of Sex and Sexuality from 1640 to 1677

About the history of sex and sexuality from 1640 to 1677 A.D. including trivia about homosexuality, polygamy, and the discovery of sperm.

UNCENSORED HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HISTORY OF SEX

1640 Philippe, Duke of Orleans, was born. He was raised as a girl so that he would not be a rival to his brother, the future Louis XIV. He played the part well, leading his soldiers into battle while wearing high heels, a long black perfumed wig, and elaborate jewelry-but no hat, because he didn't want to spoil his hairdo. His wife commented, "He was more afraid of the sun, or the black smoke of gunpowder, than he was of musket bullets."

1649 The earliest lesbian trial in America took place in Plymouth when Goodwife Norman and Mary Hammon were charged with "lude behavior upon a bed, with divers lascivious speeches allso spoken." Goodwife Norman was found guilty and sentenced "to make publick acknowlidgment. . . . of her unchaste behavior," yet the charges against Mary Hammon were dropped.

1653 An 89-year-old man was executed in England for adultery.

1655 L'Ecole des Femmes was published-an anonymously penned guide, for women only, to the joys of sex, including practical tips on methods of contraception and how to choose a proper merkin (pubic wig).

1655? The Frankish Diet, a Protestant body, legalized bigamy as a means of replenishing the population of Europe, badly decimated by the recent Thirty Years' War.

1656 Found guilty of "lewd and unseemly behavior," Captain Kemble of Boston was placed in the public stocks for two hours. His crime: kissing his wife in public on the Sabbath after a three years' sojourn at sea.

1658 Plymouth Puritans passed the infamous adultery law which required a female offender not only to be whipped but to wear for the remainder of her life the letter A on her breast. Failure to comply at all times meant she was liable to have the letter A branded on her face with a red-hot iron. The horror of this disgusting righteousness was brilliantly portrayed by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter.

1665 The word condom first appeared in print in A Panegyric upon Cundum by the notorious rake John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. The word was not derived from the legendary but mythical Dr. Condom, but more likely from the Latin cunnuns (for the female pudenda) and dum (implying an inability to function).

1672 The price of a woman shipped out of England to Virginia for the express purpose of helping to populate the new colonies was calculated in tobacco. Those being advertised as "young, handsome, honestly educated maids, of honest life and carriage" fetched 120 lb. of tobacco-about $20.

1677 While peering through a microscope at a specimen of his semen, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch microscopist discovered sperm. They were "little animalcules that moved forward with a snaillike motion of the tail," Leeuwenhoek and his codiscoverer Stephen Hamm reported. Leeuwenhoek noted: "What I here describe was not obtained by any sinful contrivance. . . but the observations were made upon the excess with which Nature provided me in my conjugal relations." Nevertheless, few scientists recognized the connection between the wriggling creatures and conception. Many assumed them to be parasites. Others theorized that miniature likenesses of the organisms in question were concealed in the tip of the spermatozoa and that they slowly expanded upon entering the female. One biologist claimed he had observed perfectly formed microscopic roosters in the seed of roosters and tiny horses in the semen of that animal.

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