men forced to offer sacrifices amid intimate-partner violence

one man begin sawed into two

Contrary to widely propagated lies, men suffer terribly from intimate-partner violence. Both old, fat men and young, handsome men are victimized. What domestic-violence experts teach to women also applies to men. No man is safe from those who claim to love him.

Consider the case of Enguerrand I de Boves. He was born in France in the middle of the eleventh century. Enguerrand married Ade de Marle. She had previously been married to Aubry, Viscount of Coucy.[1] Enguerrand’s marriage to Ade de Marle made him Lord of Marle. Ade had two children, Thomas and Robert, within her marriage to Enguerrand. He apparently suspected that at least Thomas (his “reputed {ut dicitur}” son) wasn’t his biological child. Enguerrand divorced Ade, most plausibly for betraying his reproductive interests despite professing to love him.[2]

Although Enguerrand showed more backbone toward Ade than many men show toward their wives, Enguerrand typically allowed women to dominate him. Guibert of Nogent noted of Enguerrand:

He was so much devoted to women’s love that, whatever women surrounded him, whether they were indebted to him in love or money-seeking women, he would do almost nothing but what their impudence dictated.

{ amori foemineo adeo deditus, ut quascunque circa se aut debitas aut usurarias mulieres haberet, nihil pene faceret, nisi quod ei earundem petulantia dictitaret. } [3]

After Enguerrand divorced Ade, he became enamored of Sibylle de Porcien. She was Count Godfrey’s wife. Godfrey was a very handsome man and much younger than Enguerrand. However, Godfrey and Sibylle were having marital problems, and Sibylle was a woman with strong, independent sexuality:

Her husband was fulfilling his martial duty less than she would have desired. Whether she kept herself from other men can be know from this one thing: she would have never come to such a public and monstrous scandal if she had not descended one step at a time through clandestine evil acts. In particular, she was already pregnant with another man’s child when she married the man who is now her husband. Her past debaucheries everyone knows.

{ Cui, cum minus quam volebat mariti debitum redderetur, utrum alia sese cohibuisset, hoc uno sciri potest, quod ad tam evidentis et immanis flagitii saltum nunquam venisset, nisi clandestinorum malorum gradibus descendisset, praesertim cum externis concubitibus gravida veniret ad istum, quem nunc obsidet. Nam praeteritarum ejus libidinum ea apud omnes }

Enguerrand and Sibylle had a secret affair. She then left her husband and married Enguerrand. Both her former husband Count Godfrey and her father, Roger, Count of Porcien, were furious with Enguerrand for what he had done. Both sides killed many men in the resulting violence against men.

Enguerrand subsequently had to make a humiliating sacrifice for his wife Sibylle. As Enguerrand became old and put on weight, his social status declined:

He was ridiculed by tavern-keepers and butchers for getting old and fat — many pounds with many years.

{ sui aevi gravitatem caupones et macellarii irriderent } [4]

In light of these personal developments, his wife Sibylle took decisive action:

His wife, with the pretense of chastity but really because of his age and fatness, began to refuse to have sex with Enguerrand. She, however, would not be deprived of her customary enjoyment of lovers. So she began to lust for a suitable young man.

{ uxor, cum jam sub specie continentiae pro senio et corporis mole aspernaretur Ingelrannum, veteri tamen amasiorum usu carere non poterat. Unde et juvenem idoneum cum amaret } [5]

What could an old, fat, sexually desperate husband do in this situation? Some might say he should divorce his wife and find a new one, or at least find an eager girlfriend. But Enguerrand had already been divorced once. Real-world divorce is expensive in a variety of ways. After Enguerrand’s divorce from Ade, Thomas de Marle, Enguerrand’s reputed son with Ade, hated him and violently attacked him and his allies. Divorce often promotes family violence.

Rather than divorcing Sibylle, Enguerrand resolved that sharing is better than lacking. He apparently accommodated Sibylle’s desire in order to be allowed to have sex with her:

Enguerrand kept her away from all communication with the young man, until she drove Enguerrand so mad with sexual enticements that he summoned the young man, set him up in their house, and betrothed her very young daughter to him to conceal the young man’s wicked affair with Enguerrand’s own wife.

{ eam Ingelrannus ab ejus omnino confabulatione arceret, tantis repente hominem lenociniis dementavit, ut eum ad se accersiret, in domo sua statueret, filiam suam parvulam ad palliandos amores nefarios pactis sponsalibus daret }

Husbands historically have shared their wife with other men when the wife was reluctant to work outside the home. But for good evolutionary-biological reasons (powerfully re-enforced by gynocentric paternity laws) men typically prefer that, for a woman with whom they hope to have children, she exclusively have sex with him. Enguerrand sacrificed an exclusive arrangement with his wife in order to avoid the harm and violence of divorce.

Even young men are forced to offer sacrifices because of intimate-partner violence. Consider a situation of complicated intimate partnerships and violence in ancient Rome. The gladiator Encolpius apparently became a sexual consort for the wealthy married merchant Lichas, and perhaps also had sex with Lichas’s wife. The wealthy, highly privileged woman Tryphaena owned both Encolpius and a sixteen-year-old servant youth named Giton. Encolpius and Giton had a consensual sexual relationship. Exploiting her position of power and authority over Giton, Tryphaena frequently sexually assaulted him. Encolpius and Giton fled from Tryphaena’s household and thus became runaway slaves. Tryphaena was enraged by the loss of her beloved chattel and her sexual privilege. Lichas was enraged that Encolpius had deserted him to be with Giton. The grave risks of further intimate-partner violence are obvious.

Tryphaena, Lichas, Encolpius, and Giton found themselves unexpectedly together on a ship at sea. With Tryphaena keen to sexually assault Giton, Encolpius courageously defended the youth:

Thrusting my fists into Tryphaena’s face, I cried out in a clear and free voice that I would use violence if that wicked woman didn’t abstain from hurting Giton, for she was the only person on the ship who deserved a beating.

{ intentans in oculos Tryphaenae manus usurum me viribus meis clara liberaque voce clamavi, ni abstineret a Gitone iniuriam mulier damnata et in toto navigio sola verberanda. } [6]

A brawl subsequently broke out. Tryphaena, her maids, Lichas, and other subservient men were on her side; Encolpius, Giton, Eumolpus, and Eumolpius’s servant-man fought against them. Blood streamed from wounds on both sides, yet the intimate-partner violence raged undiminished. Then Giton dramatically offered a horrific sacrifice:

Then the supremely brave Giton put a razor to his own manly genitals and threatened to excise the cause of all the misery.

{ Tunc fortissimus Giton ad virilia sua admovit novaculam infestam, minatus se abscisurum tot miseriarum causam }

Tryphaena quickly responded with an offer of forgiveness for all past offenses. The warring parties then established a formal peace treaty. Lichas was compelled not to disparage Encolpius about his relationship with Giton:

Lichas, you express your understanding that you will not pursue Encolpius with insulting words or grimaces, nor inquire where he sleeps at night. If you do so inquire, you will pay him two hundred denarii for each injurious act.

{ Licha, ex tui animi sententia, ut tu Encolpion nec verbo contumelioso insequeris nec vultu, neque quaeres ubi nocte dormiat, aut si quaesieris, pro singulis iniuriis numerabis praesentes denarios ducenos. } [7]

Tryphaena was compelled not to sexually harass Giton without pay:

You will give the youth no repugnant demand for a hug, a kiss, or to be held tight in sexual intercourse, without for each act paying a hundred denarii.

{ tu nihil imperabis puero repugnanti, non amplexum, non osculum, non coitum venere constrictum, nisi pro qua re praesentes numeraveris denarios centum. }

A woman paying a subordinate for sexual services that she demands is more just than her receiving those services for free. In our more ignorant and barbaric age, women who raped men can receive state-mandated monthly payments from their victims. While the treaty that ended this intimate-partner violence was far from perfect, at least it established peace.

Cuckolding and castration culture cast a long, dark shadow over human history. Men too often have been called upon to make enormous sacrifices to stop intimate-partner violence. Women must take equal responsibility for stopping intimate-partner violence. But that’s not enough. Establishing a propitious environment for human love is the most important task for everyone.

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[1] Ade de Marle is also known as Adèle of Marle and Adèle of Roucy. Aubry of Coucy is also known as Alberic de Beaumont, seigneur de Coucy. Enguerrand I de Boves became Count of Amiens in 1085 and Lord of Coucy in 1086. Bourgin (1907) p. 133, n. 1. Ade and Enguerrand had their first son, Thomas de Marle, in 1073.

Enguerrand had “a very close relative {plurima sibi consanguinitate affinis}” with another Enguerrand who became Bishop of Laon in 1098 or 1099. Bishop Enguerrand of Laon apparently died in 1104. Guibert, Monodiae 3.3; Bourgin (1907) p. 132, n. 1. Both Bishop Enguerrand of Laon and Enguerrand de Marle were probably grandsons of Aubry of Coucy and hence first cousins. Bourgin (1907) p. 133, n. 1;  Archambault (1996) p. 124, n. 10.

An Enguerrand associated with Laon participated in the First Crusade, 1095-1099. Writing about the First Crusade, Guibert reported:

But count Stephen, with certain bishops of our kingdom, among whom were Hugh of Soissons, William of Paris, fine, noble men, who were splendid, accomplished young rulers, and Enguerrand of Laon — would that he had been as preeminent in his religious belief as he was in appearance and eloquence — together with many dignitaries of all ranks, entered the city of Constantinople.

{ At Stephanus comes cum quibusdam pontificibus regni nostri, inter quos Hugo Suessionicus, et Parisiorum Guillelmus illustris indolis generisque viri, qui praesulatui suo in primaevo flore clarissimis moribus ministrabant, et Engelrannus Laudunensis, vir sicut forma et eloquentia, utinam sic religione! conspicuus, cum multa ordinum omnium dignitate moenia Constantinopolitana subintrant. }

Guibert of Nogent, Gesta Dei per Francos {God’s Deeds through the Franks} 8.6, Latin text from Guizot (1825), English trans. from Levine (1997). Archambault identifies this Enguerrand as Enguerrand de Marle. Archambault (1996) p. 125, n. 12. It seems to me more probably Bishop Enguerrand of Laon.

[2] Guibert repeatedly refers to Thomas de Marle as “Enguerrand’s reputed son {ut dicitur Ingrelranni filium}.” E.g. Monodiae 3.11. Benton states:

He {Enguerrand} divorced Adèle of Roucy, the mother of Thomas of Marle, on charges of adultery, leading Guibert to say throughout this work {Monodiae} that Thomas was Enguerrand’s “reputed” son.

Benson (1970) p. 148, n. 2. Archambault, however, argues:

Guibert is not casting doubt on Thomas’s legitimacy, or casting aspersions on Enguerrand’s first marriage to Ade de Marle, Thomas’s mother, when he states: “contra Thomam, quem irremediabiliter ipse, qui dicebatur pater, oderat {against Thomas, who irremediably hated that one who is called his father}.” He is showing, rather, how unnatural Enguerrand’s sentiments have become toward Thomas de Marle, whom both he and he second wife, Sibylle, intend to disinherit.

Archambault (1996) p. 169, n. 113. I think Guibert is both depicting “unnatural” familial sentiments and recording doubt about Thomas’s legitimacy. Guibert states of Enguerrand: “in entering into marriages he had been unfortunate {cum in sortiendis matrimoniis infortuniosus esset}.” Monodiae 3.3. Guibert also describes Thomas’s intense hatred toward both Enguerrand and Sibylle. That hatred is plausibly the hatred of a son toward those who had exposed his mother’s adultery and his illegitimacy in contemporary eyes.

[3] Guibert of Nogent, Monodiae {Songs of Self} 3.3, Latin text from Bourgin (1907), my English translation benefiting from those of Archambault (1996) and McAlhany & Rubenstein (2011). All subsequent quotes from Monodiae are similarly sourced. The subsequent quote above is also from Monodiae 3.3.

[4] Guibert, Monodiae 3.14. Enguerrand was a lord and a count. Being ridiculed by inn-keepers and butchers is a stunning status reversal. The Latin text refers wittily to the “weight of his age {gravitas aevi}”; gravitas, used here ironically, is a venerable Roman virtue.

[5] Guibert, Monodiae 3.11. The subsequent quote above is from id. While less so in medieval Europe than in today’s high-income countries, marriage turning sexless has always been a risk.

[6] Petronius, Satyricon 108, Latin text from Heseltine & Rouse (1913), my English translation benefiting from that of id. and Walsh (1996). All subsequent quotes from the Satyricon are similarly source. The next quote above is also from Satyricon 108.

[7] Petronius, Satyricon 109. The subsequent quote above is from id. The denarius was an ancient Roman silver coin.

Payments of 200 and 100 denarii were enormous sums relative to the income of ordinary Roman men. The Satyricon is thought to have been written about 64 GC. Toward the end of the first century GC, men engaged in unskilled agricultural labor on estates in Roman Egypt earned roughly 5 obols per day. A denarius was worth 28 obols. Hence the daily wage for men engaged in unskilled labor was about 0.2 denarii a day. For the equivalence and data, Harper (2016) Table 2, p. 814, and Figure 9, p. 828. Here’s Harper’s extensive dataset on Roman prices and wages.

[image] One man being sawed into two parts. Illumination on folio 107r in Epistolarium (Amiens) {Épistolier à l’usage d’Amiens}. Illumination by Maître d’Antoine Clabault, made about 1490. Preserved in Bibliothèque nationale de France as Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal. MS-662.


Archambault, Paul J., trans. 1996. A Monk’s Confession: the memoirs of Guibert of Nogent. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Benton, John F., trans. 1970. Self and society in Medieval France: the memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Bourgin, George, ed. 1907. Guibert of Nogent. Histoire de sa vie: 1053-1124. Paris: Picard.

Guizot, François, trans. 1825. Histoire des Croisades. Collection des mémoires relatifs à l’histoire de France, 10. Paris: Brière.

Harper, Kyle. 2016. “People, Plagues, and Prices in the Roman World: The Evidence from Egypt.” Journal of Economic History. 76 (3): 803-839.

Heseltine, Michael and W. H. D. Rouse, trans., revised by E. H. Warmington. 1913. Petronius Arbiter, Seneca. Satyricon. Apocolocyntosis. Loeb Classical Library 15. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Levine, Robert. 1997. The Deeds of God through the Franks: a translation of Guibert de Nogent’s Gesta Dei per Francos. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.

McAlhany, Joseph, and Jay Rubenstein, trans. 2011. Guibert of Nogent. Monodies and the Relics of Saints: the autobiography and a manifesto of a French monk from the time of the crusades. New York, NY: Penguin Books. (review by Scott G. Bruce, review by Bruce L. Venarde)

Walsh, Patrick G, trans. 1996. Petronius Arbiter. The Satyricon. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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