Marc Angelucci: modern martyr like ancient Saint Vincent

Marc Angelucci, martyr

A voice that witnesses to the truth cannot be extinguished.

{ vox veritatis testis extingui nequit }

Marc Angelucci, a civil-rights attorney who worked selflessly for decades to overcome gender injustices against men, was murdered on July 11, 2020. Among much other important work, this Angelucci worked for years to get sexist selective service overturned in court. He was victorious through a U.S. District Court ruling that declared sexist selective service to be unconstitutional. The media, Congress, and dominant elites have largely ignored Angelucci’s victory for gender equality. The U.S. Selective Service System itself continues to require only men to register to have their bodies drafted for death in war.

Marc Angelucci was a hero quite unlike the hypocrites, posers, popularity-seekers, speech-policers, and panderers the U.S. has nurtured over the past decades. Consider, for comparison, the career of Niel L. Golightly. By worldly standards, Marc Angelucci had a much less successful career than has Niel Golightly. Angelucci was murdered as a relatively low-profile civil rights attorney uncovering local-government corruption, addressing family court travesties, and helping men falsely accused of rape. These are very unfashionable concerns. Niel Golightly, in contrast, ascended to the top of corporate public relations. About six months ago, he was hired as the lead spokesperson and Senior Vice President of Communications at the Boeing Company.

In 1987, Niel Golightly sought to provide better for the common defense and exclude women from the mortal dangers that men face in combat. He was then a fighter pilot and lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Golightly wrote an article questioning including women in combat. Combat forces are a small share of overall military personnel. Non-sexist selective service registration is operationally reasonable even if only men are subject to death in combat. In his article, Golightly supported only men being subject to death in combat:

Before we impose combat duty on women, we should understand that successful warfare depends less on manual or mental skills than on an amalgam of intangible human qualities including cohesion, morale, efficiency, esprit, and aggressiveness. We should ask ourselves not only whether women can physically and mentally perform basic combat functions — shooting a rifle, operating a mis­sile system, loading bombs on a carrier deck — but, as well, whether women and men can adapt emotionally to the socially radical step of fighting side-by-side. The debate must acknowledge some of the basic realities of armed service.

The young Niel Golightly failed to recognize basic realities of gynocentrism. In the U.S., a majority of voters are women, 70% of consumer spending is controlled by women, women predominate among elementary-school teachers and news journalists, and women are more active than men in social networking on social media. When women want an opportunity that only men have, women easily get it. When women don’t want a burden that only men have, only courageous heroes like Marc Angelucci speak up for gender justice. So it is with women in combat and sexist selective service registration.

From a 29-year-old fighter pilot questioning women in combat, but not sexist selective service, Golightly as a 62-year-old corporate executive came to understand women’s power. On July 2, 2020, Golightly resigned from his position as Boeing’s lead spokesperson. A Boeing Company press release explained:

Niel’s decision to resign stems from an employee complaint that brought to the Company’s attention an article he wrote in 1987 while serving in the military, about whether women should serve in combat.

Boeing does not agree with the views expressed in the article, and it does not reflect Niel’s views today. “My article was a 29-year-old Cold War navy pilot’s misguided contribution to a debate that was live at the time. My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive. The dialogue that followed its publication 33 years ago quickly opened my eyes, indelibly changed my mind, and shaped the principles of fairness, inclusion, respect and diversity that have guided my professional life since. The article is not a reflection of who I am; but nonetheless I have decided that in the interest of the company I will step down,” said Golightly.

This cowardly, foolish decision wasn’t a rash one:

“Niel and I discussed at length the article and its implications for his role as the Company’s lead spokesman,” said David Calhoun, President and CEO. “I greatly respect Niel for stepping down in the interest of the company. I thank him for his contributions to the Boeing Company, which have been substantial even in a short time. Our Executive Council and I thank him and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Mr. Calhoun added, “I want to emphasize our Company’s unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its dimensions, and to ensuring that all of our employees have an equal opportunity to contribute and excel.”

Principles of fairness, inclusion, respect, and diversity are now claimed to require the resignation a person who 33 years ago wrote against having women in combat, but didn’t write against sexist selective service. Principles of fairness, inclusion, respect, and diversity actually meant to Marc Angelucci what those words are rightly understood to mean. Often those words now merely provide cover for bigotry, exclusion, viciousness, and ideological purification. Such deceptive practices lead to airplanes crashing.

We now live in a nasty, brutish world very different from what Marc Angelucci sought. The modern martyr Marc Angelucci belongs in the tradition of the ancient martyr Saint Vincent of Saragossa. In the third century, Vincent became a deacon in a nascent Christian church in Spain. Fearing the growth of Christianity, the Roman Emperor Diocletian sought to force all to worship the dominant, traditional Roman gods. Vincent refused. He had a different understanding of the truth about god. Dacian, Emperor Diocletian’s governor for Spain, threatened Vincent:

“Dare you, unhappy man,” says he,
“to violate with coarse words
this law of gods and emperors,
a law both sacred and civic
that humankind must obey?
Does not pressing danger rouse
you in your passionate youth?
This is an order you must accept.
Either with incense and vegetation
you now supplicate this altar,
or you pay with bloody death.”

{ “audesne, non felix,” ait,
“ius hoc deorum et principum
violare verbis asperis,
ius et sacratum et publicum,
cui cedit humanum genus?
nec te iuventae fervidae
instans periclum permovet,
hoc namque decretum cape:
aut ara ture et caespite
precanda iam nunc est tibi,
aut mors luenda est sanguine.” }

Having the high and mighty threaten him didn’t intimidate Vincent:

Do it thus, with whatever powers,
whatever authority you have,
I openly resist, go ahead!
Hear what our voice is:
Christ and the Father are God,
we are his servants and witnesses.
Tear out, if you can, our faith!
Torture, imprisonment, iron claws,
flaming plates hissing,
even the ultimate punishment itself,
death, are merely play to Christians.
Oh, how vain and inane is
the brutish decree of Caesar!
You order that I worship divinities
carved by a worker’s hand
or refined by hollow bellows,
divinities lacking in voice and step,
immobile, blind, mute.
For these divinities, you raise costly,
gleaming shrines of marble;
for these, mooing cattle you
strike in the throat and sacrifice.

Your gods are also demons!

{ age ergo, quidquid virium,
quidquid potestatis tibi est,
palam reluctor, exere!
vox nostra quae sit, accipe:
est Christus et Pater Deus:
servi huius et testes sumus;
extorque, si potes, fidem!
tormenta, carcer, ungulae
stridensque flammis lammina,
atque ipsa poenarum ultima
mors Christianis ludus est.
o vestra inanis vanitas
scitumque brutum Caesaris!
condigna vestris sensibus
coli iubetis numina
excisa fabrili manu,
cavis recocta et follibus,
quae voce, quae gressu carent,
inmota, caeca, elinguia.
his sumptuosa splendido
delubra crescunt marmore,
his colla mugientium
percussa taurorum cadunt.

divique et idem daemones. }

A bright, energetic person fearlessly speaking the truth enrages the principalities, powers, and rulers of gynocentrism in this world — the preservers of wickedness in high places. Just so, Vincent’s defiant statement infuriated Caesar’s governor of Spain. The governor shouted:

Stuff his mouth,
the immoral one will speak no more.
His speaking voice will be imprisoned.
Quick, give him to the executioners,
those underworld conductors of the accused.
They feed on cut flesh.
Now the government’s law will be done;
the slanderer will feel it.
He will not, free of punishment,
amuse himself in destroying our gods.

{ os obtrudite,
ne plura iactet inprobus.
vocem loquentis claudite
raptimque lictores date,
illos reorum Plutones
pastos resectis carnibus.
iam faxo ius praetorium
conviciator sentiat,
inpune ne nostris sibi
dis destruendis luserit. }

Christians understand death not as imprisonment in the underworld, but for the deserving liberation to spend eternity with God. Christians were famous for fearlessness in the ancient Roman Empire.

The Spanish governor put Vincent to worse punishment than the quick gunshot killing that Marc Angelucci suffered. First the executioners held Vincent’s arms behind his back and slammed him up and down until they had broken all his limbs. Then they tore the flesh off his ribs so that his throbbing heart and lungs were exposed. His executioners tore at him so much that they tired and had to rest. Watching, the governor exclaimed:

He rejoices, smiles, challenges
the torturer to sharper torture!
You practice techniques of power
for the deaths of all criminals
that in this contest make no progress.
Pain’s very art is being conquered.

{ gaudet, renidet, provocat
tortore tortus acrior!
nil illa vis exercita
tot noxiorum mortibus
agone in isto proficit,
ars et dolorum vincitur. }

Vincent challenged the governor to take up the torturing himself and be even more brutish. Vincent proclaimed a certain invincibility:

You error, blood-thirsty one, if from me
you think you are exacting punishment
when you kill by tearing apart
limbs subject to death.
Another exists, is within me,
whom no one is able to violate.
That one is free, quiet, whole,
exempt from mournful pains.
This, which you labor to destroy
with such furious power,
is only a vessel made from clay,
inescapably destined to be broken.
Yet why not strive now
to cut and flog that
which stands within, which
tramples on your madness, tyrant?
This, this you must attack, this you must destroy,
this that is invincible, insurmountable,
that is subject to no storms,
but rests under God alone.

{ erras, cruente, si meam
te rere poenam sumere
cum membra morti obnoxia
dilancinata interficis.
est alter, est intrinsecus,
violare quem nullus potest,
liber, quietus, integer,
exsors dolorum tristium.
hoc, quod laboras perdere
tantis furoris viribus,
vas est solutum ac fictile,
quocumque frangendum modo.
quin immo nunc enitere
illum secare ac plectere
qui perstat intus, qui tuam
calcat, tyranne, insaniam.
hunc, hunc lacesse, hunc discute,
invictum, inexsuperabilem,
nullis procellis subditum,
solique subiectum Deo. }

The governor in response ordered that punishment recommence more harshly. He demanded that Vincent provide all his writings so that those books could be burned. Vincent refused, declaring:

You, malignant one, threaten
our spiritual writings with fire;
you yourself will more justly burn with this,
for the swords of Heaven
are vindicators of our volumes,
burning by thunderbolt the tongue
that is your broker of such venom.
See the glowing ashes that indicate
Gomorrah’s crimes;
Sodom’s cold ashes also provide
a witness of everlasting death.
This is your example, serpent.
Soon sulfurous soot
and coal mixed with pitch
will envelop you in the deepest Hell.

{ quem tu, maligne, mysticis
minitaris ignem litteris,
flagrabis ipse hoc iustius.
romphaea nam caelestium
vindex erit voluminum
tanti veneni interpretem
linguam perurens fulmine.
vides favillas indices
Gomorreorum criminum.
Sodomita nec latet cinis,
testis perennis funeris.
exemplar hoc, serpens, tuum est,
fuligo quem mox sulphuris
bitumen et mixtum pice
imo inplicabunt Tartaro. }

These words shocked Vincent’s persecutor. He turned pale, then red. His eyes rolled frantically, he gnashed his teeth and foamed at the mouth. He then ordered that Vincent be pressed into a burning, spiked bed by a heavy iron plate.

Vincent was wholly invincible. With eyes on Heaven, he endured the brutal torture. Then, with his legs stretched in stocks, he was thrust into a pitch-black dungeon. There he was laid on broken pots having jagged corners and sharp points. But God smashed the stocks binding Vincent’s legs, bathed the dungeon in bright light, and clothed the broken pots with tender flowers. An angel invited Vincent to join in the companionship of celestial angels:

Arise, illustrious martyr,
arise, secure in your self,
arise, our companion,
and join our kind union.
Now to the end you have fulfilled
your duties under menacing punishment.
With your noble departing in death,
every suffering you have traversed.
Oh most invincible soldier,
bravest of the brave,
now for you the savage, bitter
torments themselves tremble at their conqueror.
The God Christ, who watched this,
compensates you with eternal life.
He with generous right hand crowns
you associate of his cross and his mother.
Lay aside this frail vessel,
a fabric of earthen framework
that dissolves and dissipates,
and come in freedom to the sky.

{ exsurge, martyr inclyte,
exsurge securus tui,
exsurge et almis coetibus
noster sodalis addere.
decursa iam satis tibi
poenae minacis munia,
pulchroque mortis exitu
omnis peracta est passio.
o miles invictissime,
fortissimorum fortior,
iam te ipsa saeva et aspera
tormenta victorem tremunt.
spectator haec Christus Deus
conpensat aevo intermino,
propriaeque collegam crucis
larga coronat dextera.
pone hoc caducum vasculum
conpage textum terrea,
quod dissipatum solvitur,
et liber in caelum veni. }

Vincent and the angel began to sing together. The light shining in the dungeon broke through the closed doors. The dungeon keeper noticed the light. He peeked inside and was astonished to see flowers and Vincent walking freely and singing.

News of the strange happenings in Vincent’s dungeon reached the governor. He was furious. He ordered that Vincent be taken from the dungeon and placed outside for further punishment. A throng of faithful persons from the town gathered around him. They built for him a soft bed. They tended his wounds. When Vincent rested his head on that soft bed, his soul went straight to God in Heaven. He died not under torture, but supported with the generous love of good people.

Marc Angelucci delighted in court victories over the reigning authorities of gynocentric injustice. More than a decade ago, he worried that he would die in a plane crash and that his promising appeal of blatant discrimination against men by domestic violence shelters would vanish. He wrote argument notes so that another attorney could argue the case if he himself died in a plane crash. Angelucci probably never imagined that one day he would be murdered.

Marc Angelucci believed that men deserve rights and justice, just like any other human beings. Today, vicious tribes destroying civilized life smear men’s rights and justice for men as if they were demonic ideas. “Angelucci” literally means angel of light. Marc Angelucci is an angel of light. May Angelucci continue to inspire men and women in righteous progress toward gender justice for all.

Now you shine brightly, sharing
in the exalted robe of the angels.
As an indomitable witness,
you washed your robe in streams of blood,
when the minister of idols,
encircled with dismal laws,
would with iron and chains force
you to worship the gods of the tribes.

{ nunc angelorum particeps
conlucis insigni stola,
quam testis indomabilis
rivis cruoris laveras,
cum te satelles idoli
praecinctus atris legibus
litare divis gentium
ferro et catenis cogeret. }

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:


Marc Angelucci served for many years as Vice-President and Board Member of the National Coalition for Men (NCFM), a leading men’s human rights organization. Here’s NCFM’s eulogy for Marc. Angelucci appeared in The Red Pill, Cassie Jaye’s wonderful documentary about the men’s rights movement. Here’s Cassie Jaye’s eulogy for Marc. A Voice for Men, a pioneering website advocating for men, has hosted a video memorial in which Marc Angelucci’s friends and colleagues struggle to accept the reality of Marc having been murdered. Alex Baker, who has worked extensively with Marc, wrote a brave eulogy for his friend. While I never met or talked with Marc Angelucci, for about two decades I have known and admired his work.

Marc Angelucci’s pioneering victory against anti-men sex discrimination in services for domestic violence victims is Woods v. Horton, 167 Cal.App.4th 658 (2008). Marc mentioned his concern about dying in a plane crash before he could argue this appeal in his presentation to the International Conference on Men’s Issues 2019 (see time 17:43 in the above video). Anti-men sex discrimination, gender profiling, and gender stereotyping sadly continue in the historically anti-men gender-bigoted field of domestic violence issue advocacy and services. Even after his landmark court victory, Angelucci continued to struggle for gender justice in addressing domestic violence.

The Washington Examiner reported on Niel Golightly’s resignation from the Boeing Company. That news report has links to its sources. It provided me with the link to the Boeing Company press release of July 2, 2020, which is quoted above. It also provided me with the link to Golightly (1987), which is also quoted above. News organizations that don’t include in their articles links to their sources apparently want to keep you ignorant so that they can more easily manipulate you. Such news sources deserve to be ignored.

The subsequent issue (February, 1988) of the journal containing Golightly (1987) printed comments about Golightly’s article. None of the comments mentioned sexist selective service registration. Lieutenant Lori Melling, U. S. Navy, A-7 Pilot, stated:

It is difficult to believe that Proceedings would publish an article so reminiscent of the arguments used against integrating blacks into the ranks.

I can assure Golightly that there is no need to create “mil spec” tampons. As a female A-7 pilot who has transited the Pacific to Hawaii and frequently spends lengthy periods in the cockpit on long-range strikes, I can assure anyone who is concerned that normal female aviators (we have nine) do not have a problem in such an environment.

I have never been treated “with patronizing tolerance, as the unit’s mascot,” whether I was the only woman in my squadron or one of many. Our squadron shares the strong bond of camaraderie that comes from long hours away from home and from the challenging and difficult experiences we have been through together as pilot and wingman or pilot and electronic warfare officer. As long as commanders do not tolerate sexual fraternization, the presence of women does not degrade a unit’s morale.

In theory, the military services could maintain a database of all service members’ DNA and require any woman who becomes pregnant to have DNA paternity testing to detect and punish illicit sexual fraternization. For many reasons, such sex policing is unimaginable in the U.S. military today. In practice, fairly policing “sexual fraternization” isn’t easy.

On July 3, the day after Boeing announced that Niel Golightly had resigned as its lead spokesperson, Lori Gattuso, née Melling, posted a comment under Golightly (1987). She strongly supporting effective freedom of thought and expression:

It is truly a shame that Mr. Golightly was forced to resign over this article. I was a (female) Navy A-7 pilot at the time and went on to fly F/A-18’s. I disagreed with the article and even wrote a rebuttal, but he made some excellent points and he had the right to be heard; in fact he still has the right to his opinion, or at least he should have the right to his opinion. To lose his job over an article he wrote 33 years ago is a sign that our country is becoming a totalitarian state. I hope that Mr. Golightly keeps his honor and does not snivel for social approval during what must be a difficult time for him. Time to stop mentally castrating our fighters.

Castration culture is real. I think Marc Angelucci would be delighted with Lori Gattuso’s sense of fairness, justice, and respect for men.

Saint Vincent was born in Saragossa and become deacon in the Christian church at Saragossa under Bishop Valerius of Saragossa. Bishop Valerius had a speech defect. He thus had in his place Vincent preach throughout the diocese of Saragossa. The life and death of Saint Vincent is celebrated with a feast day in the Christian liturgical calendar. Here are some hymns used for Saint Vincent’s feast day. More on Vincent as celebrated in the Christian liturgy.

The above quotes concerning Vincent are from Prudentius, Book about the Crowns {Liber Peristephanon} 5, The Passion of Saint Vincent the Martyr {Passio Sancti Vincenti Martyris}. Prudentius, a highly educated former Roman official probably born in Spain, wrote Liber Peristephanon about the year 400 GC. Prudentius’s account of the martyrdom of Vincent is its earliest surviving written testimony. It probably wasn’t, however, the first one written. Prudentius displays Vincent’s skill in speaking. More generally, Prudentius uses Latin words in sophisticated ways and is intensely concerned with the effects of words. On Prudentius’s concern for speech, Nicholas (2017).

Prudentius also describes Saint Vincent in Liber Peristephanon 4, A Hymn in Honor of the Eighteen Holy Martyrs of Saragossa {Hymnus in Honorem Sanctorum Decem et Octo Martyrum Caesaraugustanorum}, vv. 77-108. The eighteen holy martyrs of Saragossa apparently were martyred under an earlier persecution of Christians. Vincent is thought to have been martyred in 304 GC under Emperor Diocletian.

The first quote above (vox veritatis testis extingui nequit) is from Prudentius, Liber Peristephanon 10, The Declarations of Saint Romanus the Martyr against the Pagans {Sancti Romani Martyris contra Gentiles Dicta}, v. 9. Witness and martyr are linguistically closed related:

Romanus is described as a witness of the truth. Testis is the Latin translation of the word martyr which in Greek means ‘witness’ (μάρτυς).  …

martyr: (Gr. μάρτυς) originally meaning (judicial) witness, it eventually came to mean the supporter of God who (suffers and finally) dies to confess Christian faith. The latter connotation was developed and fluctuated during the second century.

Tsartsidis (2016) pp. 104, 139.

Prudentius vigorously criticized what he regarded as false gods and idolatry. He ridiculed traditional Roman religion:

You pray to Venus, then earnestly pray also to an ape;
The sacred snake of Aesculapius is acceptable to you,
yet a crocodile, an ibis, and a dog are objectionable?
Set up devout little altars for leeks,
venerate the bitter onion or pungent garlic!
Are your smoke-grimed house-spirits pleased with incense
yet consecrated vegetables are rejected?
So why are fireplaces believed to have greater majesty
than that born in a cultivated garden?
If there’s divinity in fireplaces, there’s also divinity in leeks.

{ Venerem precaris, conprecare et simiam.
placet sacratus aspis Aesculapii,
crocodillus, ibis et canis cur displicent?
adpone porris religiosas arulas,
venerare acerbum caepe, mordax allium.
Fuliginosi ture placantur lares
et respuuntur consecrata holuscula?
aut unde maior esse maiestas focis
quam nata in hortis sarculatis creditur?
si numen ollis, numen et porris inest. }

Liber Peristephanon 10.256-65. The crocodile, ibis, and dog are animials sacred in ancient Egyptian religion. Romans traditionally had household gods associated with a home’s hearth. On this passage, Tsartsidis (2016) pp. 182-6. Idolatry was a central concern of Lucretius, the great Roman debunker of dominant delusions, in his De rerum natura.

The quoted Latin texts of Prudentius are from Thomson (1949) vol. 2, with my English translation, benefiting from that of id. Specific citations (by chapter.verse in Thomson’s edition of Peristephanon): 10.9 (A voice that witnesses to the truth…), 5.42-52 (Dare you, unhappy man…), 5.54-75, 92 (Do it thus, with whatever powers…), 5.95-104 (Stuff his mouth…), 5.131-6 (He rejoices, smiles…), 5.153-72 (You error, blood-thirsty one…), 5.186-200 (You, malignant one…), 5.285-304 (Arise, illustrious martyr…), 5.9-16 (Now you shine brightly…).

[images] (1) Photo of Marc Angelucci, used in accordance with fair-use rights under U.S. copyright law. This low-resolution image is important for showing the character of the deceased in this non-commercial tribute to his life. (2) YouTube video of Marc Angelucci giving his presentation “Sue the Bastards” at the International Conference on Men’s Issues 2019, held in Chicago, presentation on August 17, 2019. Video thanks to An Ear for Men / A Voice For Men.


Golightly, Lieutenant Niel L., USN. 1987. “No Right to Fight.” Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. Vol. 113/12/1,018 (December 1987).

Nicholas, Lucy. 2017. “Pagans and Christians: A battle over the power of speech in the poems of Prudentius.” Online.

Thomson, Henry John, ed. and trans. 1949. Prudentius. Loeb Classical Library 387, 398. Vol. 1, Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Tsartsidis, Thomas. 2016. Commentary on Prudentius’ Hymn to Romanus 1-650 (Peristephanon 10). PhD in Classics. The University of Edinburgh.

Flamenca: medieval romance of Archimbaut & her husband Guillem

men slaves carry woman

Without even offering him a bride-show, the Countess of Nevers decided that her son Guillem should marry Queen Archimbaut of Bourbon. That would be a highly advantageous marriage for the family. The Count was distraught at the thought of his son leaving home to live with the Queen in Bourbon. He protested to his wife:

“Lady,” said he, “may I die by violence
if I approve such a match as this!
What you propose I take amiss.
Would you have me to dwell apart
from him who is dearest to my heart?

{ “Sener,” fai s’il, “glazis m’esteinna
S’ieu ja o voil ni o volrai!
Car m’o dizes trop m’en esglai;
Volrias doncs qu’ieu tramezes
La ren del mon c’al cor plus m’es?” }

The Countess insisted. The Count of Nevers thus had no choice but to accept his son’s marriage to the Queen of Bourbon.

Archimbaut, Queen of Bourbon, was delighted to hear that the Count of Nevers had accepted her proposal to marry his son Guillem. She assembled an entourage of 100 well-equipped knights to travel to Nevers to take her groom. She arrived on Thursday, three days before the appointed marriage date. As soon as she saw Guillem, her heart burst into flame:

While outwardly she made no show,
hot that heat within did glow.
Within she burns, without she thrills;
I think therefore it was chills
and fever this distress did bring.
Yet fatal be her sufferings,
were not at hand a remedy
one of such happy potency
that it was not a bitter glass,
but sweet and clear, and lightly clasped;
and any healthy woman would stand
to suffer pain in foot and hand
forever, but to have the feeling
one day of such delightful healing,
a cure so exquisitely taken.

{ Que nuilz semblanz non par defors
De la calor que sufr’el cors,
Qu’el art dedinz e defors trembla.
E per so ges nom par ni sembla
Que de calor sia sos mals.
E pero si fora mortals
S’aitan tost non agues mescina.
Mais el la trobet bon’e fina,
C’al penre non fon ges amara,
Anz si fon si douza e si clara
Qu’el mon non es nuilz homs tan sans
Que non degues voler quels mans
Els pes agues totz amortitz
Tostems, sol un jorn fos garitz
Per medicina tan veraia. }

Dido’s love for Aeneas was never as intense as this. The Queen wanted to have her man right there and then:

Queen Archimbaut is much distraught
by love and love’s eagerness.
She feels such anguish and distress
to wait for Sunday’s date, more pleased
to have had some clerk or priest
seal her healing on Friday or Saturday.
She would be more than glad to pay
in cash — no credit would be sought,
if such indulgence could be bought.

{ Enz Archimbautz forment s’esmaia,
Sil destreinh l’amoros consires:
Granz penal fon e granz martires
De l’esperar tro al dimenegue.
Ben volgr’ aver abbat o clergue
Que lail des lo venres ol sapte:
Si per compra ni per acapte
Pogues trobar tal indulgenza,
Del pagar non volgra crezensa. }

Religious strictures of procedure and calendar, obstinate to commerce, constrained the poor woman. Three restless nights she endured as she eagerly waited for her Sunday wedding night.

On Sunday, both the wedding Mass and the wedding dinner were extravagant. Five bishops and ten abbots, lavishly vested and robed, conducted the ceremony. The length of the Mass troubled Queen Archimbaut. When she was finally invited to kiss Guillem, she felt as regal as Juno. After the Mass, they went to the wedding dinner. It was truly a special-day banquet, with every food and drink imaginable present in massive quantities. Many different entertainers were moving and singing about the banquet room, adding further expense. All the special-day provisions didn’t matter to Queen Archimbaut:

But Archimbaut’s eyes turn aside
often toward him who holds her heart.
She wished the guests would all depart
from table, for then she would have him.

{ Mais l’ueil d’En Archimbaut si viron
Soen et lai on sos cors era.
Per so vol cascuns se levera,
Avan mieg manjar, de la taula. }

Yet the wedding banquet went on and on:

The jongleurs now begin the fun:
one takes his lute and plucks the string,
meanwhile another sweetly sings.
Queen Archimbaut viewed as trite
all this, and were it not that night
promised reward for her devotion,
I do not think that a drink or portion
could ever heal her.

{ Li juglar comensan lur faula,
Son estrumen mena e toca
L’us, e l’autres canta de boca.
E tot aiso fon grans enueig
A N’Archimbaut, e si la nueg
D’aquest dan noil feses emenda
Ja per poiso ni per bevenda
Non cuh que jamais revengues.
Emenda n’ac. }

Wedding ceremonies are for the families, relatives, friends, and of course the grooms. Most self-respecting brides have no interest in wedding arrangements.

For a bride, a wedding should be all about the couple. Queen Archimbaut brought to her wedding night considerable skill and experience in coupling:

That night with the man she lay
and made him husband, one would say,
for she was a master, well-skilled;
no man, however ill-willed
he might have been, or how untried,
but would have willingly complied.
And so she made Guillem tame:
strength nor guile could withstand her flame
or make resistance to her charms.
She kissed and held him in her arms
firmly, but with such tenderness
as caused the husband no distress.
In any case, he didn’t lose shape
yielding with grace to her constraint.

{ Car la nueg jac ab la puncela
E si la fes domna noella,
Car d’aquo era ben maïstre.
Nulla dona de si mal istre
Non fo que, si el la pregues,
Endesen no l’endomengues.
Leu pot doncas adomesgar
Flamenca que nos saup tornar
Ni per forsa ni per engien.
Suau la baiza e l’estrein
E gardet si al plus que poc
Noil fassa mal on que la toc;
Consi que fos, aquella ves
Anc non s’en plais ni clam non fes. }

Queen Archimbaut didn’t merely sexually serve her husband. She was willing to be his servant, if only gender norms permitted:

Archimbaut was in heart rejoiced,
having all she wished and desired.
And nothing more does she require,
but to serve and please him right,
whom she would honor and delight.
She would have gladly handed him
comb, ribbon, mirror for his beard,
had shame not stopped her equal hand.

{ En Archimbautz al cor jauzen,
Car tot ha cant vol ni desira;
De nulla ren mais non consira
Mais com pogues en grat servir
Leis cui vol onrar e blandir.
Si nol fos vergonha trop granda
El eis li dera sa garlanda
E sa penche e so mirail. }

Many men, both in ancient Roman and in medieval Europe, were reluctant to marry. But what man wouldn’t want to marry a woman like Archimbaut?

Not just warmly receptive and sexually vigorous, Queen Archimbaut was also extremely beautiful. Even other women acknowledged her beauty:

You may know well when women praise
another, she is fair indeed,
for women would not have agreed
on three in all the world to call
as having loveliness exceptional.
“We know much more than you,” they say,
“of woman’s beauty and its way.
You men are satisfied if she
gives you a welcome graciously,
speaks kindly, and with gentleness.
But she who sees the dame undress,
or go to bed or rise from sleep,
wise would be her counsel keep,
nor tell the servants what she’s seen.”
It’s thus they speak, sharp-tongued and mean,
thus trying, with belittling word
to dim the beauty that our Lord
bestows on those whom He loves best.
Achimbaut was not distressed
by any such discourtesies.
Because they found null to criticize
in her, they held their peace. But they
would have had many things to say
could they have found the least thing wrong
with her. None would have kept her tongue.

{ Quan las domnas sa beutat lauzon,
Ben podes saber bela es,
Qu’en tot lo mon non n’a ges tres
En que las autras s’acordesson
Que del tot lur beutat lauzesson,
Ans dizon: “Mielz conoissem nos
Beutat de dona non fahz vos:
Vos autreus tenes per pagat
Si domna es de bon agrat,
E queus sone gent eus acuilla;
Mais qui la ve quan si despueilla,
Quan si colca o quan si leva,
Ja non dira pois tanta reva,
Si savis es, a las serventas.”
Aissi so malas e dolentas
E volon baissar es estreiner
Lo ben que a dat Nostre Sener
A cella que plus vol ni ama.
Ges d’aizo Flamenca nos clama
Ni non s’en deu per ren clamar,
Que leis non volon ges blasmar,
Quar non i trobon lo perque;
E non s’o laisson per mais re ,
Car, si tan ni quan n’i trobesson ,
Ja nous pensetz que s’en laissesson. }

Jealousy in men has support in a fundamental gender difference in parental knowledge. With less biological basis for being jealous, women nonetheless are sometimes extremely jealous.

Queen Archimbaut became insanely jealous about the Queen of France’s favoritism toward Guillem. The royal French court came to Bourbon to celebrate Queen Archimbaut’s marriage to Guillem. Not anticipating any trouble, Archimbaut had asked the French Queen to bring Guillem to Bourbon when the royal procession passed through Guillem’s city of Nevers. The French Queen honored Guillem with a seat next to her in the royal procession. Moreover, she took his hand and led him out from church after the royal procession had gone to Mass.

When the procession arrived at the banquet in Bourbon, the Queen of France continued to favor Guillem. After dinner, he was the first she asked for a dance. In addition, she gave him a love-sleeve for his lance. The King of France privately indicated his concern to Queen Archimbaut. She wasn’t worried about causes of jealousy, but the King insisted:

“Queen Archimbaut, causes of this sort
shall I think swirl about to try
you before 15 days have gone by.”
“My King, put jealousy aside,
It would mislead you and misguide.”
At that the King shook his head.
“Will you not be jealous?” he said,
“By God, you will, and it is true
that you will have good reason, too.”

{ “Don Archimbaut, aquest conortz
Cueig eu ben que sobre vos torn
Anz que siu passat .xv. jorn.”
“No i movas, domna, gelosia,
Que ja per ren non o seria.”
Adonc ela son cap secos:
“Dizes que non seres gelos?
A la fe Deu! vos si seres,
E ben leu razon vos n’aures.” }

The French Queen took Guillem to evening church service and then led him back again. They talked happily. Pulling him close to her going into the dining room, she gave him a light squeeze on the buttocks. That infuriated the French King and drove Queen Archimbaut mad. The French Queen even embraced and kissed Guillem in front of Archimbaut. She thought that she was greatly honoring him as Guillem’s wife.

The royal entourage departed, leaving Queen Archimbaut burning with jealousy. She wrung her hands and was near to tears. She thought to go to Guillem and claw his cheeks or gouge his eyes. But Guillem was with his fellow knights. Archimbaut, like most authorities today, wanted to keep domestic violence against men strictly secret. She flung herself down on a couch and complained as if she were in pain. Wishing she were dead, she thought to never get up, but feared what others would say. As too often is the case, she was filled with anti-meninist sentiment:

She kept saying: “Lord! Whatever made
me marry? Good God! I was mad.
And was I not well off before?
May evil come to my family for
advising me to do what is
no good for any woman!
A husband I have, a husband!
Alas! What woe comes to my life!
By jealousy I’m so torn and racked,
I do not know how to act.

{ E diz soen: “Laz! quem pensiei
Quan pris mollier? Deu! estraguiei.
E no m’estava ben e gent?
Oi lo! Mal aion miei parent
Quem cosselleron qu’ieu preses
Zo don ad home non venc bes!
Aras avem mollier, mollier!
Lasset! Mout mi pot esser fer
Que gelosia mi destreina;
Non sai de qual guisam capteina. }

Her jealousy was all his fault. She, the poor dear, was quite a sight:

She shows a pitiable plight:
she starts nothing, does nothing right.
Oft’ she goes out, oft’ she returns,
inwardly suffers, outwardly burns.
Jealous is she who does such things!
She bleats, imagining she sings;
she roars, imagining she sighs.
She understands not otherwise.
The pater noster of the ape
she says, but her words have no shape.
All day she grumbles, growls, berates.
The sight of strangers irritates.
When one does happen to appear,
she puts on a most busy air,
whistles, not to reveal her pain,
mumbles: “I can scarcely refrain
from kicking you outdoors headlong.”

{ Ben es intratz e mala brega:
Ren non acaba ni eissega.
Soen vai dins, soen defora;
Deforas art, dedins acora.
Ben es gelos qui aisi bela:
Quant cuja cantar et el bela,
Qpant cuja sospirar, bondis.
Neguna ren non eissernis:
Lo pater noster diz soen
Del simi, que res non l’enten;
Tot jorn maleja e regana,
E fail gran dol li genz estraina.
Quant hom estrainz era intratz,
El si fes mout afazendatz
E siblet per captenemen.
Suau diz: “A penas tein m’en
Que nous get fors en decazeig! }

She thought all women gazed upon her husband with lust, so she sought to keep all women from their home. She figured for sure he would get another woman pregnant. She feared that he already had done so, and would soon be turning over 30% of his income to that other woman in child support. She raged against herself, tore her hair, scratched her cheeks, bit her lips, ground her teeth, shivered and burned.

Filled with anger and hate, she abused her husband. She called him false and a liar. She barked:

I know the wiles, the soft caress
of hands, the feet that gently press.
With whom do you think you have to do?
I know the tricks as well as you.

{ Eu conosc ben los guins els sinz,
Els mas estrinz el pes causins.
Cui pessatz vos aver trobat?
Aitan sai con vos de barat }

Her husband Guillem had beautiful blond hair. Believing that a clerk’s haircut would make her husband more chaste, she resolved to have him tonsured. She summoned a chaplain to do the deed. When the chaplain came to Guillem with comb and scissors, Guillem, bewildered, questioned why:

The chaplain couldn’t reply to him
for sorrow, that he had to trim
a head of hair that shone more bright
than a bright leaf of gold that might
have been wrought at Montpellier
where it’s brightest, so men say.

With scissors of no great size, but
well-sharpened and most keen to cut,
the chaplain sheared the locks. Temple
and neck he shaved, and made an ample
tonsure on top, all clean and fair.

{ Le capellas nom poc respondre
De gruneza car si vol tondre
Sos cabeillz, ques eron plus saur
Ques una bella fuilla d’aur,
De cel c’a Monpeslier si bat,
On plus hom lo troba colrat.

Ab unas forfes ben tallans
Que ges non ero massa grans,
Le capellans sa crin li tol.
Los pols li botoisa el col,
E fail corona gran e large. }

All the household wept as they saw the loss of Guillem’s hair. The maid Bellepile did as savy, active women do:

Bellepile burned not the hair.
Ah no! She wrapped it in a mesh
of silken fabric, white and fresh.
And with it a fine loop she’ll weave
for fastening a mantle-sleeve
or belt, which later she will bring
Flamenca as an offering.
A thousand kisses then shall press
it and wear it to nothingness.

{ Na Bellapila, ans las met
En un bel cendat blanc et net
Et obrar n’a un bel fresel
Per far afflibles de mantel,
E per joia lo donara
A Flamencha quan fag sera.
E car seran mil ves baisat
Cil cabeil ans que siu usat! }

News of this terrible violence to Guillem’s head spread around the country. All came to know that Queen Archimbaut was a horribly jealous wife. They composed ballads about how she abused Guillem. Some even sang them to her. She, unaware of her ridiculousness, became angrier and more unreasonable. She insisted:

The prudent woman is keen and wary.
What if some vile female adversary,
aping the wiles of courtly love —
a thing that she knows nothing of —
should make his virtue go astray?

{ Quan savis es, quel venga dans.
E que faria s’us truanz,
Ques fenera d’amor cortes
E non sabra d’amor ques es,
L’avia messa en follia? }

No other woman had ever thought that way about the men-abasing medieval sexual feudalism of courtly love. Gender bigotry others know to love, but Queen Archimbaut was wholly ignorant of women’s privilege.

Archimbaut decided to keep Guillem imprisoned in a tower. He would be imprisoned there in spacious quarters with two serving men. The only woman that would be allowed to visit him would be Archimbaut herself. Guillem couldn’t leave to go to work. In fact, he didn’t have to work at all. He received fine food and drink and was spared extremes of hot and cold. Unlike women of leisure, he couldn’t go outside his tower home except to go to church and to the baths, accompanied by his wife:

He knew not what to do, poor child.
With the fierce threats and rantings wild,
this jealous wife so grieved her man,
that death, not life, seemed a better land.
And if the day was bad, the night
was worse. Just boredom with her, no delight.
Of solace and comfort, he had none
to lighten his affliction.

Keen is Guillem’s misery
which makes him languish, yawn, and sigh.
He suffers sorrow and distress
caused by his woman’s surliness.
He has drunk many a bitter tear
and finds life sorrowful and drear.

{ Li bona res non sap ques fassa.
Mout ergueil e mouta menassa
L’aven del gilos a suffrir;
Sos viures val meins de morir.
Sil jorn a mal , pietz ha la nug
Car ren no i te mas sol enug;
E sa pezansa, e sa mort,
Non troba ren que la conort.

Mout trais Flamenca greu trebail,
Car mout sospir et mout badail,
Mout angoissa e mout sospir
L’aven per son marit suffrir,
E mouta lagrem’a beguda.
Dolenta es et irascuda. }

In another medieval romance, a girl rescued Lancelot from imprisonment in a tower. Archimbaut guarded the tower herself to ensure that no other woman could get to Guillem, or he to any other woman. What was the poor husband to do? Would he have to endure the misery of his jealous wife imprisoning him for the rest of his life?


*  *  *  *  *

The above is Flamenca Queered, part 1. See also part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

Read more:


The above story is based on the thirteenth-century Old Occitan Romance of Flamenca. Flamenca offers a subtle critique of courtly love predominant among the troubadours writing and singing Old Occitan lyric. “Flamenca has been judged by critics to be one of the major masterpieces of thirteenth-century vernacular literature.” Walkley (1996) p. 87. The Old Occitan quotes above are from the Old Occitan Flamenca text in Hubert & Porter (1962). The English translations are based on id., but include my significant, small changes. The translations aren’t a faithful representation of the Old Occitan Flamenca, but are strongly and consistently related to it.

Archimbaut is perhaps the most interesting character in Flamenca. Archimbaut isn’t a static type conventional in literature of courtly love:

Commentator and editor Ulrich Gschwind wonders why no one has proposed calling the thirteenth-century Occitan Romance of Flamenca the ‘Roman d’Archimbaut’ instead. Gschwind poses an intriguing question, for it is true that Archimbaut, the romance’s jealous husband or gilos, undergoes more profound personal changes than either of the other two major characters, and the narrative hinges on these metamorphoses.

Moreau (2009) p. 41. Archimbaut (the Old Occitan spelling) is also spelled as Archambaut and Archambaud in modern translations and studies.

The author of Flamenca isn’t known. The text itself refers to a Bernardet in a way consistent with that being the author’s name. Bernardet seems to have had an association with a lord of Alga. Alga was a castle that the Roquefeuille family owned. It’s located in Rouergue, Department of Aveyron, France. Blodgett (1995) pp. xi-ii. Flamenca is a learned, sophisticated poem:

the poet was a figure of considerable erudition, who, perhaps like William, “studied at the University of Paris, quite possibly under the renowned German scholar and philosopher, Albertus Magnus” (Stebbins 509). He was, finally, in some way within the sphere of influence of the lords of Alga, and may have been a monk in the monastery at Nant.

Id. p. xii. From the discovery of the unicum Flamenca manuscript in 1834 through to late in the twentieth century, even highly learned literary scholars have commonly failed to read Falmenca with sufficient sophistication.

With threadbare academic cant and frequent appeals to the authority of academic cult heroes, a Princeton literature PhD candidate in the course of strongly affirming dominant academic ideology argued that Flamenca is subversive:

Flamenca’s very radical subversion lies in its refusal to accept a view of the subject as radically ‘outside’ medieval power dynamics, or as purely self-determined. The modernity of Flamenca is paradoxically the recognition of the weight of medieval discursive tradition on the subject. Yet, be it in terms of temporality, gender or binary logic more generally, Flamenca does not, I have argued, emphasize the weight of tradition in a resigned, fatalistic manner. Truer to Derrida than to Foucault, it does not set out to reverse the anteriority of discursive forces to the ‘natural,’ desiring subject, but rather deconstructs their opposition, and the dominoes of binary logic then continue to falter. … Flamenca is also a strong injunction for the modern reader: not despite, but with and because of her or his temporal distance from the text, to think in and through ‘out-of-jointedness’ in the name of the anti-formulaic, always pressing and never realized, ethical imperative to make things more just.

Samuelson (2016) p. 453. My interpretation of Flamenca above is consistent with queer subversiveness truly practiced in seeking justice.

For an accessible analysis of Flamenca relevant to the adaptation above, Walkley (1996). For a freely available English prose translation, Prescott (1933). Zufferey & Fasseur (2014) is the most current scholarly edition of the Old Occitan text. Meyer (1901) is good, freely available critical edition. Scrivner et. al (2013) documents an arduous project to make the Old Occitan text machine-readable and computable. McGuire & Scrivner (ND) provides an online presentation of the text and Blodgett’s English translation. Presenting texts online in an innovative but enduring form is quite difficult. Here’s a list of editions and translation of Flamenca. Here’s an additional list of editions, translations, and scholarly notes and resources.

The Flamenca verses quoted above are (cited by the verse numbers of the Old Occitan text of Hubert & Porter (1962)): vv. 53-8 (“Lady,” said he…), 164-78 (While outwardly she made no show…), 179-87 (Queen Archimbaut is much distraught…), 313-6 (But Archimbaut’s eyes turn aside…), 317-24 (The jongleurs now begin the fun…), 326-39 (That night with the man she lay…), 345-52 (Archimbaut was in heart rejoiced…), 559-76 (You may know well when women praise…), 877-885 (Queen Archimbaut, causes of this sort…), 1022-31 (She kept saying…), 1036-52 (She shows a pitiable plight…), 1136-9 (I know the wiles, the soft caress…), 3563-68, 3581-85 (The chaplain couldn’t reply to him…), 3586-94 (Bellepile burned not the hair…), 1196-1200 (The prudent woman is keen and wary…), 1344-51, 1400-05 (He knew not what to do, poor child…). The verse numbers in Meyer (1901) are very close to, but not identical to, those of Hubert & Porter (1962).

[image] Woman in a sedan chair carried by her men slaves in São Paulo, Brazil, about the year 1860. Source image via Wikimedia Commons.


Blodgett, Edward D., trans. 1995. The Romance of Flamenca. New York: Garland.

Hubert, Merton Jerome, trans. and Marion E. Porter, ed. 1962. The Romance of Flamenca. A Provençal poem of the thirteenth century. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

McGuire, Michael and Olga Scrivner. ND: Not Dated. “The Flamenca Project: Le Roman de Flamenca (The Romance of Flamenca).” Online presentation of the Old Occitan text of Meyer (1901) and the English translation of Blodgett (1995).

Meyer, Paul. 1901. Le roman de Flamenca: publié d’après le manuscrit unique de Carcassonne, traduit et accompagné d’un vocabulaire. Bibliotheque Francaise du Moyen Age, 8. Deuxième édition entièrement refondue par Paul Meyer. Tome premier. Paris: Bouillon.

Moreau, John. 2009. “The Perversion of Time: Jealousy and Lyric in The Romance of Flamenca.” The Modern Language Review. 104 (1): 41-54.

Prescott, H. F. M. 1933. Flamenca. Translated from the thirteenth-century Provençal. Here attributed to Bernardet the Troubadour. London: Constable & Co.

Samuelson, Charles. 2016. “Queering temporality and the gender binary in Flamenca.” Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies. 7 (3): 431-455.

Scrivner, Olga, Sandra Kübler, Barbara Vance, Eric Beuerlein. 2013. “Le Roman de Flamenca: An annotated corpus of Old Occitan.” Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Annotation of Corpora for Research in Humanities. 6: 85-96. (Supplementary: online presentation of part of Old Occitan text of Flamenca).

Walkley, Maxwell. 1996. “Comic Elements in the Thirteenth-Century Provençal Romance ‘Flamenca.’Arts: The Journal of the Sydney University Arts Association. 18: 98-107.

Zufferey, François, ed., and Valérie Fasseur, trans. (into French). 2014. Flamenca. Lettres Gothiques, 32551. Paris: Le Livre de Poche.

Guillem’s prayers and Rosalía’s “Di mi nombre”: about gyno-idolatry

cover of Rosalía's album, El mal querer
Thinking only of his burning love for Flamenca, Guillem in thirteenth-century Provence went to church with an inn-keeper preoccupied with money-making. They both knelt at an alter of St. Clement. After Peter, Clement was the first or second Bishop of Rome and holder of the keys of Heaven. Associated by name with mercy, Clement is thought to have struck his pick-axe into the earth and released a gushing stream of water for thirsty men laboring in a quarry. Guillem thirsted for love:

He prayed to God with devotion
and to Our Lady St. Mary,
St. Michael and his host of angels
and all the saints, for each could help;
he said two Our Fathers, perhaps three,
and also a little prayer
that a holy hermit had taught him
about the seventy-two names of God
as they are said in Hebrew,
in Latin and in Greek.
This prayer keeps a man ready
to love God and brave
so as to act with prowess every day.
He finds pity in God —
everyone who recites and believes in it —
and no one will come to a bad end
who believes in it heart and soul
or inscribes it over his front door.
After Guillem had said that prayer,
he took a Psalter and opened it;
he found a verse he knew well,
which was Dilexi quoniam {I love pussy}.
“Now God is quite aware of what we want,”
he murmured and closed the book.

{ Deu a pregat devotamen
e ma domna sancta Maria,
san Michel e sa compania
e totz sans, c’usquecs li valgues;
dos paters nosters diis o tres,
et una orason petita,
que l’ensenet us sanz hermita,
qu’es dels .LXXII. noms Deu
si con om los dis en ebreu
et en latin et en grezesc.
Cist orazon ten omen fresc
a Dieu amar e corajos,
consi fassa tot jorn que pros;
ab Domideu troba merce
totz hom que la dis e la cre,
e ja non fara mala fi
nuls homs que de bon cor si’i fi
o sobre si la port escricha.
Quant Guillems ac l’orazon dicha
un sautier pren e ubri lo;
un vers trobet de que.l saup bo:
Zo fon Dilexi quoniam.
“Ben sap ar Dieus que voliam,”
ha dih soau, e.l libre serra. }[1]

Did the lovesick Guillem really perceive among the sacred psalms of David the words “I love pussy”? The typical meaning of quoniam is “because / since,” as in the usual reading of Psalm 116:1 in the Vulgate translation:

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.

{ Dilexi quoniam audies Domine vocem deprecationis meae. }

However, using quoniam to mean “vagina” is well-attested in medieval Latin. That’s less formal than using the classical Latin word cunnus. Of the two possible meanings of quoniam, a perceptive scholar observed, “it is fairly obvious from the context which one Guillem chooses.”[2]

Guillem’s prayers occur in the thirteenth-century Old Occitan Romance of Flamenca. No medieval authors discuss Flamenca. With the exception of a few verses, it survives only in a poor-quality, late-thirteenth-century manuscript copy that includes a few emendations in a late-fourteenth-century hand. This unicum manuscript was discovered in 1834.[3] Its principal editor, the eminent French philologist and medievalist Paul Meyer, stated in 1865:

Flamenca is the creation of a spirited man who wished to write an agreeable work that would represent the most brilliant aspects of courtly life in the twelfth century. It is a novel of contemporary manners.

{ Flamenca est la création d’un homme d’esprit qui a voulu faire une oeuvre agréable où fût représentée dans ce qu’elle avait de plus brillant la vie des cours au XII siècle. C’était un roman de moeurs contemporaines. }[4]

Meyer in 1901 emphasized the distinctiveness of Flamenca:

Flamenca is a novel of manners to which nothing can be compared in the vast romantic literature of the Middle Ages. It is the work of a man of infinite spirit and a spirit far superior to his time. This very superiority may have detracted from the success of this novel, for its qualities of fine observation and elegant narration could be appreciated only by few.

{ Flamenca est un roman de moeurs auquel rien ne peut être comparé dans l’immense littérature romanesque du moyen âge. C’est l’oeuvre d’un homme d’infiniment d’esprit et d’un esprit très supériorieur à son temps. Il se peut que cette supériorité même ait nui au succès du roman, dont les qualités de fine observation et de narration élégante ne pouvaient être appréciées que du petit nombre. }

Belief that Flamenca is a “novel of manners” may have controlled the view of two scholars who edited Flamenca and translated it into English in 1962. They declared:

Worthy of note with reference to the love depicted in Flamenca is the fact that William’s {Guillem’s} feeling for his lady contains a strong religious element. The practices of piety and of love are mingled and at times become almost identical. There is, however, no evidence of irreverence or of blasphemy. William remains as fervent a servant of God as he is of his lady, and there is no hypocrisy involved in their carrying on their courtship during the church service.[5]

For a century after Meyer’s study in 1865, Flamenca wasn’t well-appreciated. Hardly a novel of manners, Flamenca “is built on a playful juxtaposition of sacred and profane.” Guillem is a “humorously heterodox lover.” An open-minded and perceptive reader of Flamenca should recognize “the light-heartedness with which the romance’s author disposes of religious language in order to create new and whimsically erotic meaning.”[6]

Flamena on pedestal in tower

The context of Guillem’s prayers makes clear the erotic focus. Both Guillem and his inn-keeper host were oblivious of the Christian God when they entered the church:

Both go straight to church,
but they did not share the same thought:
All of Guillem’s concerns turned
on love, he had no other thoughts,
and the host thought of profits
and how to appoint his baths,
for his thoughts were directed toward
tomorrow when his guest would bathe.

{ Amdui s’en van dreg al mostier,
mais non son ges d’un consirier,
quar Guillems a som pensamen
tot en amor, qu’als non enten,
e l’ostes pensa de gazain
e conssi appareil som bain,
car be.s pensa que l’endemia
sos ostes aqui.s bainhara. }[7]

After Guillem finished his prayers and closed the book (the Psalter), the subsequent verse underscores his earthly orientation: “Unwaveringly he kept his eyes on the earth {Ades tenc los oils clis vas terra}.” The next verse indicates an exception. Before Guillem left the church, he looked for where his beloved lady sat. Given Guillem’s preoccupation with his love for Flamenca, the exchange between Guillem and his host immediately after their prayers is reasonably interpreted allusively:

Immediately his host said: “Ho,
sir, you certainly know how to pray!
We have a very ornate altar
and many glorious relics;
you must already know this
because you are a very learned man.”
— “Host, perhaps I am, but I do not make
myself out to be too joyful or happy
if I am able to read my Psalter well
or chant responses
and say the lesson from the lectionary.”
— “Sir, you are well worth much more.”

{ Abtan sos ostes li dis: “Eia!
sener, ben mout sabes orar.
Mout avem saïnz ric autar
e mout gloriosa vertut;
vos o aves ben conogut
que de letras sabes assas.”
– “Ostes, ben sai, mais no m’en fas
ges ara trop gai ni trop leri,
si ben sai legir mon sauteri
e cantar en un responsier
e dir leisson en legendier.”
– “Sener, ben mout ne vales mais!” }

The glorious altar and ornate relics suggest allusively Flamenca’s body, locked away in a tower. Guillem is a learned man in the sense that he had the education of both a knight and a cleric. But he doesn’t read his Psalter well in its established religious sense. Dismissing the joy and happiness from pious devotion, the host declared that Guillem is “well worth much more.” To Guillem, “much more” would be enjoying sex with Flamenca. Underscoring that implicit reference, the host went on to describe the situation with respect to Flamenca and her husband.

portrait of Calvinist Théodore de Bèze

In contrast to the failures of modern scholars in writing about Flamenca, Théodore de Bèze, a learned young man from a noble and good Catholic family in sixteenth-century France, combined fine observation with insightful poetry. Apparently gazing upon a painting or statue of a nude woman, Bèze mused:

Something like the fold that twin plums often make,
something like the lines drawn by Apelles’s hand,
some such thing divides for you a smooth lower belly,
some such thing joins for you thigh to thigh.

{ Qualis pruna sinus contingit saepe gemella,
Qualis Apellaea linea ducta manu,
Tale tibi quiddam levem discriminat alvum,
Tale tibi quiddam iungit utrumque femur. }[8]

Most men delight in women’s vaginas, which historically have been much more favorably represented than men’s penises. Without remedial learning, most men often experience women’s vaginas dominating their attention. That focus can produce in men disturbing thoughts:

But no, I’m mistaken, for there’s truly no line there:
your belly’s lower part has no embarrassing organ.
Through what part then descends the golden stream?
Through what part is love’s endearing sickness soothed?
I’m perplexed. Yet if you’ve a little crack, if any little crack,
may I perish, if your little crack isn’t just an outlined sketch.

{ Immo, fallor ego: nam nulla his linea prorsus,
Inque utero pars est nulla pudenda tuo.
Aurea quanam igitur descendunt parte fluenta?
Languidulus quanam parte quiescit amor?
Haereo, si qua tamen tibi rimula, rimula si qua est,
Rimula, dispeream, ni monogramma tua est. }

In contrast to Guillem’s gyno-idolatry, Théodore de Bèze recognized, as Jonathan Swift did, that women are human beings who, like all primates, urinate. At the same time, Bèze poignantly depicted gyno-idolatry. Enthralled in gyno-idolatry, men’s perception of reality fails. At the focus of his attention, what does he see? There’s truly no line there, or is there an outlined sketch? Even just a sketch of a vagina or a meaning of a word contextually inappropriate is enough to cause men’s minds to perish.

Our ignorant and repressive age scarcely tolerates Théodore de Bèze’s classical Latin poetry. Bèze wrote his poem on gyno-idolatry while moving among the intellectual and social elite in mid-sixteenth-century Paris. He was well-respected and much admired. A seventeenth-century author described Bèze as being “loved by the great, polished and cultivated in every way.”[9] Bèze subsequently became a leading biblical scholar and an eminent disciple of John Calvin. In 1564, Bèze succeeded John Calvin as the spiritual leader of the Republic of Geneva. Théodore de Bèze thus became the leader of the Calvinist religious movement. Today, upholders of gynocentric orthodoxy and gyno-idolatry have more pervasive and oppressive influence than Calvinists ever did.

Gyno-idolatry is now highly corporatized. In 2018, Sony Music, the third-largest global music company and a subsidiary of the massive multi-national Sony Corporation, released the young Barcelonian singer-songwriter Rosalía’s second album, El mal querer {The Bad Loving}. That album built upon her senior thesis concerning Flamenca.[10] In a Spanish newspaper interview, Rosalía explained:

The novel {Flamenca} is about the story of a woman who marries a man who out of jealousy ends up imprisoning her. It is an exploration of a dark love for a couple; the main character is this woman who takes power, matures and has strength to the end … and what is clear in the end is the power that this female figure takes.

{ La novela trata de la historia de una mujer que se casa con un hombre que por celos la acaba aprisionando. Es una exploración de un amor oscuro de pareja; el personaje principal esta mujer, toma poder, madura y fuerza hasta el final… y lo que queda claro al final es el poder que toma esta figura femenina. }[11]

Recognizing market demand, a Spanish book publisher re-issued Flamenca in Spanish translation over the marketing banner: “The novel that inspired El mal querer of ROSALÍA / A feminist classic of the 13th century {La novela que ha inspirado El mal querer de ROSALÍA / Un clásico feminista del siglo XIII}.” The publisher’s promotional blurb states:

This 13th-century Occitan novel, of unknown authorship, is absolutely relevant to us today, since it represents a feminist claim that deals with current issues such as mistreatment, jealousy, consent, gender violence, and freedom of choice.

{ Esta novela occitana del siglo XIII, de autoría desconocida, resulta absolutamente vigente en nuestros días, ya que supone reivindicación feminista que trata temas tan actuales como el maltrato, los celos, el consentimiento, la violencia de género, la libertad de elección. }[12]

On Rosalía’s El mal querer, the song “Di mi nombre {Say my name}” seems to refer to Guillem’s reading of “Dilexi quoniam” in Flamenca. In the lyrics of “Di mi nombre,” the woman says to her lover-man:

Say my name …
put your body against mine
and make the bad be good,
make impure what is blessed.

You pray to me atop your body,
and in the corner of your bed,
and in the final moment,
say to me my name to its face.

{ Di mi nombre
Pon tu cuerpo contra el mío
Y haz que lo malo sea bueno
impuro lo bendeci’o

Ya me rezas sobre tu cuerpo
Y en la esquina de tu cama
Y en el último momento
dime mi nombre a la cara }[13]

When Abram, forefather in faith to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, arrived in the land to which the Lord had directed him, he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. Calling on God, saying the name of God, and crying out to the Lord are central religious practices of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.[14] Gyno-idolators say the name of their woman love.

Multi-national corporations and associated mobs now closely police what names persons may say. In the thirteenth-century Old Occitan novel Flamenca, Guillem recognized and said the name of his love in reading Psalm 116:1. That name makes explicit the nature of gyno-idolatry. El Pais, The Guardian, The New York Times and other organs on the commanding heights of the gynocentric propaganda apparatus have proclaimed Rosalía’s El mal querer a magnificent gamechanger with great socio-political significance. If all would follow Guillem in explicitly saying the name of their god, that would liberate minds, foster understanding, and bring a revolution for true gender equality significantly closer.

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:


[1] Romance of Flamenca vv. 2287-2302, Old Occitan text (with editorial marks elided) and English translation (modified insubstantially) from Blodgett (1995). Subsequent quotes from Flamenca are similarly sourced. For a freely available Old Occitan text, Meyer (1901). For a freely available English translation, Prescott (1933).

This post uses the Old Occitan name Guillem for the relevant character in Flamenca. That’s equivalent to the Old French / modern French name Guillaume, and the English name William.

With respect to Flamenca as a whole, “all the rites and ceremonies of mass, as well as the whole liturgical calendar, are put to use by William in his amorous scheming.” Sankovitch (1981) p. 219. Biblical references in Flamenca frequently function ironically:

Parallels are drawn between the characters and Biblical figures that are invariably ironic. Speaking, for example, of his brotherly relationship with Flamenca, William construes himself as Cain and her as Abel if his love for her should fail. Elsewhere William is figured as Babylon in Revelations and possibly as Christ, when his hostess’s wife praises his mother in such as way as to suggest Mary. The Bible, then, is evoked humorously both to play upon the weaknesses a character may possess, and the absurdity of his association with anything divine marks William, the character most frequently figured, as rather silly.

Blodgett (1995) p. xviii.

Flamenca refers to itself in v. 254 as a novas. The Old Occitan term novas is much broader than romance. It can be translated as “news” or “tale.” The full titles Le Roman de Flamenca (French) and The Romance of Flamenca are modern, perhaps inappropriate, creations. Blodgett (1995) pp. xii-xiii, xx-xxi.

[2] Hill (1965) p. 81. On medieval texts using quoniam to mean vagina, see id. and note [2] and related text in my post on medieval priests against celibacy. Hill aptly observed, “Critics seem consistently to have missed the point of this passage.” Blodgett noted:

The significance of the choice {of Guillem’s Psalm text} lies in its meaning: “I have loved, since the Lord will clearly hear the voice of my prayer” (Or: I love the Lord, since He has heard the voice of my prayer).

Blodgett (1995) p. 431, n. 120. Like other critics, Blodgett missed the meaning of the text to Guillem.

Guillem’s practice in praying in church helps to date the text:

The modem practice of conducting the mass from a missal came into general usage by the end of the thirteenth century. Its function prior to that time was shared by the three books, namely, the sacramentary, lectionary and breviary, which gathered together psalter, antiphonal and hymnal. William is referring to these collections of prayers, lessons and chants.

Id. n. 122 (internal reference omitted).

[3] The unicum manuscript of Flamenca is in France, Bibliothèque Municipale Carcassonne MS. 34. Gabriel Delessert, Prefect of the Department of Aude, discovered this manuscript in 1834. He sent it to the poet-philologist Francois Reynouard, who published an extract and some commentary in 1838. On the textual history of Flamenca, Hubert & Porter (1962), pp. 4-6, and Blodgett (1995), pp. xxxviii-xli.

Flamenca, vv. 2713-20, survives in the fourteenth-century Vega-Aguiló Codex (Barcelona, Biblioteca de Catalunya, MS 7-8 / Palma de Mallorca, Biblioteca de la Societat Arqueològica Lul·liana, Codex E). Those verses may have come from an earlier source.

[4] Meyer (1865) p. II (French text), my English translation. Flamenca is now generally thought to be a thirteenth-century work. The subsequent quote is similarly from Meyer (1901) p. IV.

[5] Hubert & Porter (1962) p. 24. According to Hubert & Porter, Flamenca is “a true novel of manners.” Id. p. 3.

[6] This and the previous two short quotes are from Boitani (2019) pp. 93, 108. Gyno-idolatry is deeply entrenched in medieval European literature. Consider, for example, a couplet from an Old French love song written about 1300 to an earthly lady:

To whom should I make a cry,
Except to you in my pain?

{ Où en doi faire clamour,
S’à vous non, de ma dolour? }

Guy le Châtelain de Coucy, “I thought to live well without love {Bien quidai vivre sans amour}” 5.7-8, Old French text and English translation (modified to be more literal) from A. S. Kline. Medieval Christians would regard as much more efficacious crying out in pain to God or Holy Mary, the mother of God.

[7] Flamenca vv. 2268-75. Cf. Matthew 6:34. The subsequent quotes are Flamenca v. 2303 and vv. 2309-20. Blodgett translated “Ades tenc los oils clis vas terra” as “Unwaveringly he kept his eyes on the floor.” The Old Occitan noun “terra” literally means “land.” With respect to the text’s literal reference, Guillem was looking at the floor of the church, which surely wasn’t dirt. However, the word “terra” seems to signify Guillem’s carnal, earthy interests in contrast to spiritual interests more appropriate to liturgy. Thus above for v. 2303 I’ve used “earth” to translate “terra.”

[8] Théodore de Bèze, Iuvenilia (first edition, 1548), Epigrams 74, “To a Certain Girl {Ad quandam}” vv. 1-4, Latin text from Summers (2001) p. 284, my English translation, benefiting from that of id. p. 285. Apelles was a highly regarded ancient Greek painter. He was especially famous for life-like depiction. The subsequent quote is similarly from id. vv. 5-10, which ends the epigram. For a freely accessible text of Bèze’s Iuvenilia, Machard (1879).

Bèze’s family was known to donate generously to the Catholic Church. His father, Pierre de Bèze, had a licentiate in law and was bailiff of Vézelay. Théodore de Bèze obtained a license in law in 1539. He described his ancestors as “noble and good.” Summers (2001) p. xix.

In 1543, Théodore de Bèze secretly married Claudine Denoese. The future Protestant printer Jean Crespin witnessed the marriage. Id. p. xxi. Denoese wasn’t of noble descent, and perhaps wasn’t Catholic. In 1548, Bèze repudiated the Catholic Church and fled from Paris to Geneva. He arrived in Geneva in late October 1548. Id. p. xxx. He married Claudine Denoise in Geneva in November, 1548. As a woman, Claudine reportedly led a “chaste and exemplary” life. Id. p. xxxi.

[9] According to the Jesuit priest Louis Maimbourg in his book Histoire du Calivinisme (Paris, 1682), as reported by Summers (2001) p. xxii. Théodore de Bèze served as the spiritual leader of the Republic of Geneva from 1564 to 1580, when he voluntarily retired. Bèze had a long and productive life:

in 1605 he slipped away quietly into death, after years of decline, and after a lifetime of service to the Church. He had written nearly a hundred tracts and treatises, defended reform doctrines in numerous colloquies, been friend and advisor to men and women of the highest station, and carried on considerable correspondence, the reprinting of which has already extended into twenty volumes, with more to come.

Summers (2001) p. xxviii.

[10] Rosalía studied at the Catalonia College of Music {Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya / ESMUC}. She explained:

El Mal Querer project is, in fact, my senior thesis, which took me two years to write. The album features songs I wrote taking Flamenca as an inspirational starting point. Production-wise, I researched about a possible bridge between electronic sound and roots music like this one and then I designed a show to accompany the project’s songs.

Interview in Yalcinkaya (2018). The transcription of Rosalía’s remarks seems to have misunderstood Flamenca as flamenco. I’ve thus corrected flamenco to Flamenca above.

[11] Interview in Linés (2018), my translation from the Spanish.

[12] From Roca Editorial webpage for its edition of Flamenca, translated into Spanish by Anton M. Espalader, published in June, 2019. Roca Editorial Director Carol Paris echoed this claim in a newspaper interview:

We publish it as a novel that is absolutely relevant, dealing with current issues such as mistreatment, jealousy, consent, gender violence, women’s freedom … .

{ Lo publicamos como una novela que es absolutamente vigente, al tratar temas tan actuales como el maltrato, los celos, el consentimiento, la violencia de género, la libertad de las mujeres… . }

In Llanos Martínez (2019). For an example of a U.S. undergraduate student uncritically parrotting such blather, Wilson (2020).

Roca Editorial’s translator Anton M. Espalader engaged in astonishing eisegesis:

Flamenca gives Rosalía the opportunity to build an album with feminist content, although that feminist reading is done from the current perspective. “The text has the audacity to consider men and women as absolute equals, both intellectually and morally. It also does so through a powerful female lead character: Flamenca is not only intelligent, she is also cultured,” says the translator.

{ Flamenca da pie a Rosalía a construir un disco de contenido feminista, aunque esa lectura feminista se haga desde la perspectiva actual. “El texto tiene el atrevimiento de considerar al hombre y la mujer como absolutos iguales, tanto en lo intelectual como en lo moral. Lo hace además a través de un poderoso personaje protagonista femenino: Flamenca no solo es inteligente, también es culta”, dice el traductor. }

Llanos Martínez (2019). In truth, Flamenca draws upon the literary tradition of the Sindibad / seven sages / Dolopathos. Hubert & Porter (1962) p. 15, Blodgett (1995) p. xiv. Moreover, a central theme of Flamenca is the men-abasing ideology of courtly love. A perceptive scholar with scholarly integrity stated:

Three scholars have called Guillaume and Flamenca the perfect courtly lovers, the ideal embodiments of the code; but this is somewhat like calling Don Quixote the perfect knight or the ideal embodiment of chivalry — true in a way but hardly adequate as an account of the author’s complicated treatment of the ideal in question.

Damon (1964) p. 608. Flamenca has been read as a debasement of the ideals of courtly love:

We are invited to see what the deification of love and the glorification of the rehearsed response may produce: not an ennobling struggle in pursuit of an ideal, leading to human perfection, but a series of studied maneuvers in pursuit of a garden-variety end, leading only to cheapening of self.

Shedd (1967) p. 65. Men act as servant-slaves to women under the ideals of chivalry and courtly love. Such ideals don’t lead to human perfection or gender equality. More generously interpreted, Flamenca lightly mocks “the overly rarefied and idealized language of troubadour love songs.” Boitani (2019) p. 108.

[13] From lyrics of “Di mi nombre” (full title: “Say my name — Chapter 8: Ecstasy {Di mi nombre – Cap 8: Éxtasis},” from Rosalía’s album El mal querer (2018). Above is my English translation of an excerpt from the lyrics.

In Rosalía’s “Di me nombre,” the words / phrase “Di me” and “Dime” form a pun with Dhimmi. That’s a transliterated Arabic word referring to non-Muslims living with inferior status within an Islamic state. Men have a similar status within the traditional ideology of courtly love and especially within present-day gynocentrism.

Some have raised questions about cultural appropriation of Romani culture in Rosalía’s El mal querer. Wang declared:

I can’t make any rulings right now, as I still currently lack the complete historical context — but this discussion feels worth thinking about. It has surely complicated my understanding of flamenco, and having a wider contextualization of genres, which so often get narrowly classified into digestible binaries, seems like a move in the right direction.

Wang (2018). Much discussion about whether Rosalía has engaged in cultural appropriation of Romani culture lacks any understanding of the extent of cultural appropriation in Rosalía’s album and in art and culture generally.

[14] On Abram calling on the name of the Lord in Canaan, Genesis 12:8. Cf. Romans 10:13, Philippians 2:9-11, Acts 4:12. More on calling upon the name of God.

[images] (1) Cover art for the album El mal querer by the artist Rosalía. Obtained via Wikimedia Commons, where it’s used with justification regarding copyright. This image clearly draws upon Christian iconography. It also appears to be derived in part from a painting made in 1400 showing Venus being worshipped by six men. I use this low-resolution cover art image for scholarly commentary and criticism concerning the relation of El mal querer to gyno-idolatry, to Flamenca, and to dominant cultural power world-wide today. (2) Woodcut illustration of the giant woman Flamenca on a pedestal in a tower. Made by Florence Wyman Ivins for use in Bradley (1922). This woodcut appears on an opening page of that book. (3) Portrait of Calvinist leader Théodore de Bèze. Painted according to the British school of painting in 1605. Preserved as accession # 368 in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. Via Wikimedia Commons. (4) Rosalía’s music video for “Di mi nombre” from her album El mal querer (2018), via YouTube.


Blodgett, Edward D., trans. 1995. The Romance of Flamenca. New York: Garland.

Boitani, Giulia. 2019. “A Note on Liturgical and Mystical Quotations in Flamenca.” Medium Aevum. 88 (1): 93-115.

Bradley, William Aspenwall. 1922. The Story of Flamenca: the first modern novel, arranged from the Provençal original of the thirteenth century. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Damon, Phillip. 1964. “Courtesy and Comedy in Le Roman de Flamenca.” Romance Philology. 17 (3): 608-615.

Hill, Thomas D. 1965. “A Note on Flamenca, Line 2294.” Romance Notes. 7 (1): 80-82.

Hubert, Merton Jerome, trans. and Marion E. Porter, ed. 1962. The Romance of Flamenca. A Provençal poem of the thirteenth century. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

Linés, Esteban. 2018. ‘Rosalía: “Ni yo ni mi música hemos cambiado.”La Vanguardia. Online, posted Oct. 30, 2018.

Llanos Martínez, Héctor. 2019. “La novela medieval que inspiró ‘El mal querer’ de Rosalía renace en las librerías.” El Pais. Online, posted Sept. 4, 2019.

Machard, Alexandre. 1879. Les Juvenilia de Théodore de Bèze. Paris: I. Liseux.

Meyer, Paul. 1865. Le roman de Flamenca, publié d’après le manuscrit unique de Carcassonne. Paris: A. Franck.

Meyer, Paul. 1901. Le roman de Flamenca: publié d’après le manuscrit unique de Carcassonne, traduit et accompagné d’un vocabulaire. Bibliotheque Francaise du Moyen Age, 8. Deuxième édition entièrement refondue par Paul Meyer. Tome premier. Paris: Bouillon.

Prescott, H. F. M. 1933. Flamenca. Translated from the thirteenth-century Provençal. Here attributed to Bernardet the Troubadour. London: Constable & Co.

Sankovitch, Tilde. 1981. “Religious and Erotic Elements in Flamenca: The Uneasy Alliance.” Romance Philology. 35 (1): 217-223.

Shedd, Gordon M. 1967. “Flamenca: A Medieval Satire on Courtly Love.” The Chaucer Review. 2 (1): 43-65.

Summers, Kirk M., ed. and trans. 2001. A View from the Palatine: the Iuvenilia of Théodore de Bèze. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, v. 237. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Wang, Steffanee. 2018. “Rosalía’s El Mal Querer proves she’s a complicated genius.” Fader. Online, Nov. 5, 2018.

Wilson, Georgina. 2020. “Bridging Past, Present and Future Through Art: El Mal Querer and Le Roman de Flamenca.” University of North Florida, Undergraduate Student Research. Faculty mentor: Dr. Nuria Ibáñez.

Yalcinkaya, Gunseli. 2018. “Rosalía is the Catalan star reshaping the sound of global pop.” Dazed. Online, posted Nov. 2, 2018.

medieval priests desired and defended women against celibacy

The Christian Church from its beginnings has been gynocentric. Christians understand God to have become incarnate as Jesus in his mother Mary’s womb. Mary thus encompassed Jesus, just as Christians have always believed their churches to do. Since both men and women typically favor women relative to men, Christian gynocentrism naturally developed. Medieval Christian priests served and venerated mother church. Moreover, many medieval priests desired and defended women against institutional church efforts to require celibacy.

naked couple in medieval garden

While today’s priestly class is tending toward banning heterosexuality to combat a socially fabricated rape epidemic, medieval priests strongly favored heterosexual relations. They urged the laity to enter into equal conjugal partnerships of marriage. Some priests likewise entered conjugal partnerships. However, the First Lateran Council (1123) declared that priests could not get married, nor live with concubines. The Second Lateran Council (1139) forbid married priests from celebrating mass. Apparently in response to canon law on celibacy being flouted, the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) authorized sanctions against unchaste priests.[1] Some men throughout the ages have experienced sexless marriages. Some men have gone their own way to avoid gynocentric oppression. Nonetheless, medieval church leaders forbidding priests to marry or live with women significantly affected many priests’ lives.

Some medieval priests protested vigorously against the prohibition on priests marrying or living with women. A clerical poem from about 1200 declared wittily:

One sins criminally who wishes to separate
what God has joined — woman to man.
We rightly are led to call them terrible thieves.

Oh, what anxious sadness, what heavy torment —
we must send away our sweet pussy!
This, Roman Pope, you have decided wrongly.
Beware that you don’t die from the extreme crime.

It isn’t innocent, but indeed truly noxious,
that what God has taught, the Pope strives to abolish.
God himself has ordered men to have women,
but our Pope has ordered this to be prohibited.

The Old Testament teaches us to multiply.
Where the New prohibits this can nowhere be found.
This lesson is carried forward to modern times,
against which no reason can be tendered in argument.

God himself has pronounced a curse
upon the man who doesn’t make another generation.
I thus advise you for this reason
to multiply, so that you have benediction.

{ Peccat criminaliter qui vult separare
quos Deus conjunxerat, foeminam a mare,
tales dignum duximus fures appellare.

O quam dolor anxius, quam tormentum grave
nobis est dimittere quoniam suave;
hoc, Romane pontifex, statuisti prave:
ne in tanto crimine morieris cave.

Non est Innocentius, immo nocens vere,
qui quod Deus docuit, studet abolere;
jussit enim Dominus foeminas habere,
sed hoc noster pontifex jussit prohibere.

Gignere nos praecipit Vetus Testamentum,
ubi Novum prohibet, nusquam est inventum;
a modernis latum est istud documentum,
ad quod nullum ratio praebet argumentum.

Dedit enim Dominus maledictionem
viro, qui non fecerat generationem:
ergo tibi consulo per hanc rationem
gignere, ut habeas benedictionem. }[2]

Medieval clergy perceived scriptural affirmation of their great appreciation for women’s genitals. Giraldus Cambrensis, who became Archdeacon of Brecon and served as a clerk to two archbishops, recorded in 1197:

I also heard a prior of a certain house of canons chiding his chaplain before the bishop in this manner, “He is good, but he is a great lover of pussy.” To which he replied, “I shall show you by authoritative citations from the Psalter that I should love pussy. David wrote, ‘I have loved pussy,’ and elsewhere, ‘behold pussy,’ ‘pussy is good,’ ‘pussy is sweet,’ ‘pussy forever,’ and ‘pussy is confirmed.'” The chaplain concluded from these quotations that one might firmly keep that which the psalmist mentions, approves, and confirms in so many passages.

{ Item audivi priorem domus cujusdam canonice capellanum suum coram episcopo corripientem in hune modum, “Bonus esset, sed nimis diligit quoniam.” Cui ille: “Probo per auctoritates Psalterii quod debeo diligere quoniam! David enim scripsit, ‘Dilexi quoniam,’ et alibi, ‘vide quoniam,’ et ‘quoniam bonus,’ et ‘quoniam suavis,’ et ‘quoniam in saeculum,’ et ‘quoniam confirmata est,'” concludens ex his quia firmiter haberi potest quam tot psalmista locis commemorat, approbat, et confirmat. }[3]

The chaplain misinterpreted the meaning of quoniam in the Latin translation of the psalms. In that context, quoniam means “because / since.” The chaplain, however, interpreted quoniam there to mean “pussy” — a well-attested meaning of quoniam among learned medieval speakers and writers. Historically, women’s genitals have been much more favorably represented in comparison to men’s genitals. While the chaplain misinterpreted scripture, he almost surely accurately represented many medieval priests’ views on women’s genitals.

While many medieval priests delighted in women’s genitals, they maintained some sexual morals. Incest was a common aspect of relations among traditional Greco-Roman gods and mythic figures. Secular societies today have little moral basis for condemning consensual incest among adults. In contrast, a medieval cleric who defended priests marrying women was highly judgmental about incest:

Closely related women, daughters, and granddaughters —
to defile those is evil, like nothing but deception.
Have your woman rightly, and in this you should delight.
Thus you should so more safely wait for the last day.

{ Proximorum foeminas, filias, et neptes
violare nefas est, quasi nil deceptes:
vere tuam habeas, et in hac delectes,
diem ut sic ultimum tutius expectes. }[4]

This cleric’s term for a man having sex with a woman, “defile {violare},” reflects deeply rooted disapprobation of men’s sexuality. Medieval culture developed a more affirmative view of men’s sexuality that some medieval clerics expressed in practice, if not in their diction.

Medieval clerics respected nature as governing human sexuality. Today, sexually disadvantaged persons often turn to pornography. Prior to recent decades, sexually disadvantaged persons or persons with enormous sexual desires more often turned to sexual acts with non-human animals. Within Catholic and Orthodox Christian church teachings (the teachings of other Christian churches vary), viewing pornography and engaging in bestiality are regarded as serious sins. A medieval cleric who argued against priestly celibacy strongly condemned even mutually pleasurable, respectful sexual relations between men and non-human female animals. Perhaps alluding to Scottish men and sheep, he declared:

May there be no ambiguity about my mind’s devotion.
I was born within the bounds of the English nation.
By the nature of living men, all men are
to plow with their wives, not yoke with ewes.

{ Ne sint in ambiguo uota mee mentis,
Natus sum in partibus anglicane gentis.
Natura cuiuslibet est uiri uiuentis
Iungi cum uxoribus et non cum iumentis. }[5]

Medieval priests who rejected priestly celibacy didn’t wholly eviscerate Christian sexual morality. They opposed bestiality. At the same time, they regarded sex between a man and a woman as good, even if the man was a priest or monk.

monk embracing woman

Prohibiting priests from marrying women or living with women arguably encouraged priests to be sexually promiscuous, to pay for whores, and to cuckold married men. A medieval cleric complained:

What are you doing, Oh Pope, in taking away our female one-and-only?
Granting more, you but increase causes of sex crimes.
I would believe less evil occurs by permitting a female one-and-only,
thus sparing other girls and women protected in marriage.

Deprived of their own, what should priests do?
You shift them to grinding secretly,
not sparing any married woman.
Punishment or disgrace won’t dissuade them.

Famous Bacchus in pleasure is cup-bearer,
dissolute, drunk, a slave of love.
How may night work be possible for another,
without dying in harm for eternity?

If one wants to punish well the poor,
that shouldn’t be other than to make them wealthy.
When the poor are forced to work sexually a lot,
they will ponder other than to enjoy pleasure.

{ Quid facis, o pontifex, unam adimendo?
sed tu crimen cumulas, plures largiendo.
Minus malum crederem unam permittendo
parcere sic aliis, nuptas muniendo.

Quid agant presbyteri propriis carentes?
alienas violant clanculo molentes,
nullis pro conjugiis foeminis parcentes,
poenam vel infamiam nihil metuentes.

Notus in deliciis Bacchus est pincerna,
dissolutus, ebrius, Venerisque verna,
esse possit aliis quomodo lucerna,
nisi ad interitum dampna per aeterna?

Si quis velit pauperem bene castigare,
non oportet aliud quam inpauperare;
cum cogantur inopes multum laborare,
cogitabunt aliud quam luxuriare. }[6]

With cutting irony, the cleric suggests that the Pope is perversely punishing the poor. Faithfully married priests are sexually poor in the sense that they have only one sexual partner. Christians understand God to be particularly attuned to the cries of the poor. Christians should help the poor. By dissolving priests’ marriages, the Pope punishes those poor priests by making them wealthy in other women seeking their sexual services. Those priests then couldn’t take pleasure in their sexual work because it would became excessive and exhaustingly burdensome.

Medieval priests had various thoughts on being deprived of the women with whom they lived. A poem probably from the thirteenth century preserves some debate within a local church council:

Thus begins the teacher and prelate of the council,
a man well-grounded in canon law:
“Lords, this has the status of a serious inquiry.
To remove maids isn’t a treatise of the trivial.

The prelature, not the law, divides human beings
that nature joins across their fragile persons.
To live chaste lives is too harsh a rule;
only angelic life is pure.”

After he said this, an elder came with trembling step:
“I consign to others, Lords, that which is my fascination.
The prelate wants to remove my maid.
Since I’m impotent in sexual battle, I’ll be content.”

A crafty cantor hears, hence cries out loudly:
“If you all don’t value what he has given up,
you thus want others to be deprived of this liveliness?”
The elder is greatly befuddled with embarrassment.

Therefore he takes to emend his vow thus:
“I do not wish, Lord cantor, to transfer my female cook,
but it’s agreeable to hide her from the laity temporarily,
so that we may be able to withstand the prelate’s commands.”

The steward says: “This cannot pass.
A female beast rules over me. I would allow her to bang away,
but the one-eyed whore refuses to leave.
I desire to exchange her for the elder’s cook.”

Then all in the assembly laughed together.
“Come on! Our steward isn’t truly stupid.
As no one would advise, for the worst hide,
he thinks to have the elder’s charming woman.”

{ Incipit capituli doctor et praelatus,
vir in jure canonico bene fundatus:
“Gravis hic est quaestionis, domini, status :
removere famulas, non levis est tractatus.

Non humana dirimit lex, et praelatura,
quod inter se fragilis copulat natura;
vitae castae regula nimium est dura:
vita sola angelica est pura.

Hinc est gradu senior tremulo sic fatus:
“Ego credo, domini, quod sum fascinatus;
vult removere famulam meam praelatus;
impotens ut praelio, ero contentatus.”

Audit cantor callidus, ergo sonat cum clamore:
“Quid si vos supponere non estis in valore,
vultis ergo reliquos privare hoc vigore?”
confusus est senior magno cum rubore.

Ergo suum votum sic caepit emendare:
“Nolo, cantor domine, coquam alienare,
ad tempus ob laicos placet occultare;
ut possimus praesulis jussis obviare.”

Ait cellarius: “Non potest hoc transire;
me regit una bestia, sinerem salire,
sed meretrix monocula renuit abire;
cum senioris coqua cuperem cambire.”

Tunc in consistorio omnes corrisere,
“En! noster cellarius non est stultus vere,
quod pro cute pessima, quam nequit consilere,
senioris lepidam cogitat habere.” }[7]

So highly did medieval clerics value heterosexual intercourse that the elder seems to have regarded himself as unworthy to live with a woman if he couldn’t sexually service her. Yet he was probably a learned man with a wide range of interesting life experiences. A woman might appreciate him and enjoy living with him irrespective of his sexual capabilities. The steward, in contrast, was enduring men’s all-too-common fate of having wives rule over them. No man, whether impotent or not, would enjoy living with a domineering, one-eyed whore.

Within predominately Christian medieval Europe, affirming the potency of religious men had great public importance. A Galician-Portuguese poem probably from the thirteenth century suggests a response to disparaging the efficacy of mendicant monks’ prayers:

A friar that they say is impotent —
he really doesn’t fit the case,
for he knows how to fornicate,
and so his cock’s quite competent;
he gets the girls he lies with pregnant,
making sons and daughters aplenty,
so I would say he’s well equipped.

Instead of ‘impotent’ I would say
his cock is stiff and ready to fuck,
for look at his women giving suck;
three gave birth on the same day,
and he’s got the others now expecting,
so that the friar, by my reckoning,
is well-equipped, with power to stay.

‘Impotent’ is not the word
for one who’s given so many children
to Marinha, and now a different
girl he fucks will soon give birth,
and there are many others he fucks;
I’m sure that such a friar must
be equipped with a cock that works.

{ A hũu frade dizen escaralhado
e faz pecado quem lh’o vai dizer
ca, pois el ssab’arreytar de foder,
cuyd’eu que gaj’é, de piss’arreitado;
e, poys emprenha estas com que jaz
e faze filhos e filhas assaz,
ante lhe digu’eu bem encaralhado.

Escaralhado nunca eu diria,
mays que traje ant’o caralho arreyte,
ao que tantas molheres de leyte
ten ca lhe pariron tres em hũu dia
e outras muytas prenhadas que ten;
e atal frade cuyd’eu que muy ben
encaralhado per esto sseria.

Escaralhado non pode sseer
o que tantas filhas fez em Marinha
e que ten ora outra pastorinha
prenhe que ora quer encaecer
e outras muytas molheres que fode;
e atal frade bem cuyd’eu que pode
encaralhado per esto sseer. }[8]

Mendicant monks begged for food and money. They promised prayers for the souls of their benefactors. The men-abasing ideology of courtly love associated men’s prayers with men seeking sexual relations with women. The underlying thrust of this poem seems to be that the friar’s “prayers,” unlike those of many courtly lovers, are efficacious in relation to women.

Medieval men religious probably didn’t have sexual relations more often than did women religious. Matheolus, a courageous medieval activist struggling against gynocentric oppression and gyno-idolatry, bluntly declared of nuns:

They pretend that they wish to see their fathers and mothers,
that their brothers and relatives are lying sick,
but so as to satisfy their pussies they stroll
the country with their cunts. Thus, thus they often wander
outside their cloister!

{ Patres et matres se fingunt velie videre,
Infirmos fratres consanguineosque jacere,
Ut sacient “quoniam” cum “quippe” suis spaciantur
Per totam patriam. Sic, sic quam sepe vagantur
Extra claustra! }[9]

A medieval cleric protesting against canon law prohibiting clergy from marrying or living with women evoked God’s will:

What the God the Father has concede, who can oppose?
The solitary can be freed for wholeness and to unite.
He commands peasants to work, knights to fight,
and above all clerics to love.

We clerics will have two concubines,
monks and canons, the same number or three,
and deans and prelates, four or five.
Thus finally we will fulfill divine law.

{ Quod papa concesserat, quis potest vetare?
cuncta potest solvere solus, et ligare:
laborare rusticos, milites pugnare
jussit, at praecipue clericos amare.

Habebimus clerici duas concubinas:
monachi, canonici, totidem vel trinas:
decani, praelati, quatuor vel quinas:
sic tandem leges implebimus divinas. }[10]

In Christian understanding, divine law urges humans to procreate. Yet Jesus also instructed his followers to practice love through care for the poor, the marginalized, and the disadvantaged. Under the cleric’s proposed scheme, the sexual welfare of all women, as usual, is assured. But what about men? Since the number of women and men is about equal, if some men have more than one woman, other men will have none. Christians should care about sexual inequality and sexually impoverished men.

naked, unhappy monk

While prohibiting priests and clerics from marrying or living with women isn’t reasonable in itself, such a prohibition is beneficial as part of a broader requirement for Christian religious men to be celibate. Men naturally love women and compete with each other in making extraordinary efforts to serve women. That tends to produce harsh sexual inequality among men winners and losers. Christian religious men should show preferential concern for sexually poor men, the losers. By sacrificing their joy in having sexual relations with women, Christian religious men improve the sexual prospects of sexually impoverished men. More importantly, Christian religious men witness that Christ, who was a fully masculine man, loved women and men equally. By embracing celibacy, Christian religious men show that, by conscious acts of will, oppressive gynocentrism can be resisted and love for men encouraged.

*  *  *  *  *

Read more:


[1] Medieval works criticized priests for having heterosexual and homosexual sexual relations. For example:

you rise in the morning, say mass,
and consecrate the body of Christ
after lying in the arms of a whore,
though she is less of a sinner than you.

{ mane surgens missam dicis,
corpus Christi benedicis,
post amplexus meretricis,
minus quam tu peccatricis! }

Carmina Burana 91, “Concerning Priests {De sacerdotibus}”, incipit “Remember, priests {Sacerdotes, mementote},” st. 10, Latin text and English translation (modified slightly) from Traill (2018). Similarly, “stop habitually chasing / after mindless sex {neque iuxta ritum / lectum petis infrunitum}.” Id. 23.2-3.

[2] About priests’ concubines {De concubinis sacerdotum}, incipit “The rule of Priscian thoroughly voided {Prisciani regula penitus cassatur},” vv. 22-40, Latin text from Wright (1841) pp. 171-2, my English translation. Wright attributed this poem to Walter Map (Mapes), the author of De nugis curialium. While Walter Map may have authored it, the evidence is diffusely circumstantial. Subsequent quotes from this poem are similarly sourced.

De concubinis sacerdotum, v. 29, contains a pun on the name Innocent {Innocentius}. Pope Innocent II (born as Gregorio Papareschi, pope from 1130 to 1143) presided over the Second Latern Council. Pope Innocent III (born as Lotario dei Conti di Segni, pope from 1198 to 1216) presided over the Fourth Latern Council. De concubinis sacerdotum apparently was written about this time. On the history of priestly celibacy, Cholij (1993).

De concubinis sacerdotum was a source for Juan Ruiz’s brilliant early fourteenth-century Spanish work, Libro de buen amor. Ruiz’s song of the Talavera clergy quotes De concubinis sacerdotum v. 26.

[3] Gerald of Wales {Giraldus Cambrensis}, Jewel of the Church {Gemma ecclesiastica}, Latin text from Brewer (1861) vol. 2, pp. 345-6, English translation (modified slightly) from Marchand (1999) p. 48, n. 12.

While the Latin word quoniam usually means “because / since,” quoniam was in medieval Europe also a well-recognized term for a women’s vagina. It’s used in that way in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbuy Tales, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue:

And truly, as my husbands told me,
I had the best pussy that might be.
For certainly, I am all loving
in feeling, and my heart is combat-ready.

{ And trewely, as myne housbondes tolde me,
I hadde the beste quoniam myghte be.
For certes, I am al Venerien
In feelynge, and myn herte is Marcien. }

The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, vv. 607-10, my modern English translation. The Wife of Bath had five husbands. Quoniam was “a harmless and not uncommon medieval euphemism.” Marchand (1999) p. 43. It’s used in that sense in De concubinis sacerdotum v. 26. Editors of that text, however, didn’t recognize that usage and proposed emending it:

I wager that many examples of quoniam as a euphemism for pudendum have been lost in our editions because of similar misunderstandings.

Id. p. 46.

In the text from Giraldus Cambrensis, the cited Latin Psalm texts (with modern numbering) are:

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
{ dilexi quoniam audies Domine vocem deprecationis meae. } (Psalm 116:1)

See how I love because of your precepts; revive me, Lord, according to your mercy.
{ vide quoniam praecepta tua dilexi Domine iuxta misericordiam tuam vivifica me. } (Psalm 119:159)

Praise the Lord, give thanks to the Lord, because he is good, because his mercy endures forever.
{ alleluia confitemini Domino quoniam bonus quoniam in aeternum misericordia eius. } (Psalm 106:1)

Taste and see, because the Lord is sweet; blessed is the man who hopes in him.
{ Gustate et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus; beatus vir qui sperat in eo. } (Psalm 34:8)

Because his mercy has been confirmed over us, and the truth of the Lord remains forever.
{ Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum. } (Psalm 117:2)

These texts are mainly from the Vulgate, but they include some readings from other Latin translations. Both Jerome and Augustine recognized dangers in using “sweet {suavis}” in translating scripture. Carruthers (2006) pp. 12-13.

[4] De concubinis sacerdotum vv. 69-72.

[5] About the priests’ convocation {De convocatione sacerdotum / Convocacio sacerdotum}, st. 31 in MS. Oxford, Bodley 851 (written perhaps c. 1375), st. 27 in MS. Cambrige, Trinity College 0.2.45 (written after 1248 in the 13th century), Latin text from Rigg (1992) p. 233, my English translation benefiting from Rigg’s:

Lest there’s any doubt at all as to my persuasion:
I was born within the bounds of the English nation.
For all virile living men this the proper course is
To have sex with their own wives, not with cows or horses.

Id. I’ve attempt to bring into English the play between iungere and iumenta in the Latin.

Living under systemic sexual oppression of men, some medieval Englishmen apparently did commit bestiality. An account of a chaplain’s visit to purgatory, apparently written in Yorkshire, England, in the first half of the fourteenth century, described a group of men in purgatory: “they have committed foul disgraces of filth in lusting beasts {flagicia turpia et in bestias fede lasciuientes commiserunt}.” Peter Bramham’s account of a chaplain’s visit to purgatory, ll. 111-2, from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 462, folio 284vb. Latin text from Easting (1996) p. 225 (simplified textual presentation), my English translation.

No complete version of Convocacio sacerdotum has survived. The text of De convocatione sacerdotum in Wright (1841), pp. 180-2, is incomplete. Wright’s text comes from two manuscripts, MS. Cotton Vitellius A. x., and MS. Titus A. xx. It doesn’t include the above stanza. Convocacio sacerdotum claims to have included ten thousand priests. See v. 22. It could have continued long beyond Consultatio sacerdotum, which encompassed thirty voices of church officials. Without compelling evidence, Wright attributed both poems to Walter Mapes.

[6] De concubinis sacerdotum vv. 5-20. This poem concludes:

Behold, now on behalf of clerics much I have adduced,
and also on behalf of priests I have approved many women.
I have sinned. Any priest who is with his sweet
pussy, say an “Our Father” for me.

{ Ecce jam pro clericis multum allegavi,
necnon pro presbyteris multa comprobavi,
pater-noster nunc pro me, quoniam peccavi,
dicat quisque presbyter cum sua suavi. }

Id. vv. 74-7. Ziolkowski (1987), p. 31, identifies this “Our Father {Pater noster}” as an “erotic pater noster,” meaning a euphemism for having sexual intercourse. In response to Löfstedt (1988), Ziolkowski (1996) put forward an additional example from Boccaccio, Decameron, Day 7, Story 3. Poggio, Facetiae 214, also includes a clear reference to an erotic pater noster. See my post on the penis as blessed peacemaker. Ziolkowski apparently didn’t recognize that quoniam in De concubinis sacerdotum v. 75 means vagina / pussy. Cf. De concubinis sacerdotum v. 26.

[7] The Priests’ Deliberation {Consultatio sacerdotum}, incipit “The clergy and the presbyters recently gathered to allay {Clerus et presbyteri nuper consedere},” vv. 13-40, Latin text from Wright (1841) p. 174, my English translation. Consultatio sacerdotum shares many verses with De convocatione sacerdotum. One or both apparently influenced the song of the Talavera clergy in Libro de buen amor.

Consultatio sacerdotum includes the voices of thirty church officials. They are a deacon {decanus}, doctor and prelate {doctor et praelatus}, elder {senior}, cantor {cantor}, steward {cellarius}, scholar {scholasticus}, administrator of church buildings {structuarius}, canon {canonicus}, the former first representative of the curia for the city {primus in urbe olim curialis}, twenty presbyters / priests {presbyteros}, and a monk-preacher {monachus ita praedicator}.

[8] Fernando Esquio, Cantiga d’escarnho, “Song about a Friar Said to be Impotent,” Galician-Portuguese text and English translation (modified slightly) from Zenith (1995) pp. 236-7 (song 111). Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas has a slightly different text. Here’s a modern musical arrangement of “A un frade dizen escarallado” by Xurxo Romaní & Koichi Tanehashi from their album Gravação (2009).

[9] Matheus of Boulogne (Matheolus), Lamentations of Little, Little Matheus {Lamentationes Matheoluli} vv. 1235-9, Latin text from Van Hamel (1892) (Klein, Rubel & Schmitt (2014) is a better text, but not readily available), my English translation, benefiting from that of Correale & Hamel (2005) p. 390. Id., n. 4, argues convincingly that quippe here parallels quoniam in referring to the vagina. Matheolus uses quippe similarly in other verses:

Solomon calls the vagina’s mouth an insatiable cunt;
the vagina has no bottom.
{ Os vulve Salomon vocat insatiabile quippe,
Fundo vulva caret }

So you want to make an old woman die in her face with laughter?
Grab her by the pussy or hold her by the cunt.
{ Ut vetulam facias risus vultu dare leto
Per quoniam capias vel eam per quippe teneto }

Lamentationes Matheoluli, vv. 1209-10 and 1368-9, sourced as above. On the first quote, cf. Proverbs 30:15-6. Both quotes seem to refer to proverbial or conventional expressions that shouldn’t be interpreted literally. Matheus wrote Lamentationes Matheoluli about the year 1290.

[10] Consultatio sacerdotum vv. 169-76. Medieval society commonly was divided into different estates having different social purposes. Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. These different estates were evoked in medieval estate satire.

[images] (1) Naked couple in a forest clearing. Illustration for the month of Gemini (May / June). From a Portable Psalter (Gallican), made late in the fifteenth century. Folio 5v in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Liturg. 60. (2) A monk embracing a woman. Illumination in a Book of Hours made in the third quarter of the fifteenth century for the diocese of Nantes in France. On folio 12v in Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. lat. 33. (3) Naked, unhappy young monk. Illumination in Psalter (Gallican version), known as the The Luttrell Psalter. Made between 1325 and 1340 in Lincolnshire (northern England. Folio 54r in British Library, Add MS 42130.


Brewer, J.S. 1861. Giraldi Cambrensis: Opera. London: Longman. (description of book, vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 5)

Carruthers, Mary. 2006. “Sweet Jesus.” Pp. 9-19 in Wheeler, Bonnie, ed. Mindful Spirit in Late Medieval Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, US.

Cholij, Roman. 1993. “Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church.” Pp. 31-52 in Neame, Alan, and José T. Sanchez, eds. 1993. For Love Alone: reflections on priestly celibacy. Slough, UK: St. Pauls.

Correale, Robert M., and Mary Hamel. 2005. Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales. Vol. 2. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

Easting, Robert. 1996. “Peter of Bramham’s Account of a Chaplain’s Vision of Purgatory (c. 1343?).” Medium Ævum. 65 (2): 211-229.

Klein, Thomas, Thomas Rubel, and Alfred Schmitt, eds. 2014. Lamentationes Matheoluli. Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann. (review by Linda Burke)

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Traill, David A. 2018, ed. and trans. Carmina Burana. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, 48-49. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Van Hamel, Anton Gerard, ed. 1892. Mathéolus, Jean Le Fèvre. Les lamentations de Mathéolus et le livre de leesce de Jehan Le Fèvre, de Ressons: poèmes français du XIVe siècle. Paris: Bouillon.

Wright, Thomas, ed. 1841. The Latin Poems Commonly Attributed to Walter Mapes. London: Printed for the Camden society, by J.B. Nichols and Son.

Zenith, Richard, trans. 1995. 113 Galician-Portuguese Troubadour Poems. Manchester: Carcanet, in association with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Instituto Camões.

Ziolkowski, Jan M. 1987. “The Erotic Paternoster.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen. 88 (1): 31-34.

Ziolkowski, Jan M. 1996. “The Erotic Pater Noster, Redux.” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen. 97 (3): 329-332.