Castration and Culture in the Middle Ages
Castration and castrati have always been facets of western culture, from myth and legend to law and theology, from eunuchs guarding harems to the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century castrati singers. Metaphoric castration pervades a number of medieval literary genres, particularly the Old French fabliaux - exchanges of power predicated upon the exchange or absence of sexual desire signified by genitalia - but the plain, literal act of castration and its implications are often overlooked.
This collection explores this often taboo subject and its implications for cultural mores and custom in Western Europe, seeking to demystify and demythologize castration. Its subjects include archaeological studies of eunuchs; historical accounts of castration in trials of combat; the mutilation of political rivals in medieval Wales; Anglo-Saxon and Frisian legal and literary examples of castration as punishment; castration as comedy in the Old French fabliaux; the prohibition against genital mutilation in hagiography; and early-modern anxieties about punitive castration enacted on the Elizabethan stage. The introduction reflects on these topics in the context of arguably the most well-known victim of castration in the middle ages, Abelard.
Larissa Tracy is Associate Professor of Medieval Literature at Longwood University.
Contributors: Larissa Tracy, Kathryn Reusch, Shaun Tougher, Jack Collins, Rolf H. Bremmer Jr, Jay Paul Gates, Charlene M. Eska, Mary A. Valante, Anthony Adams, Mary E. Leech, Jed Chandler, Ellen Lorraine Friedrich, Robert L.A. Clark, Karin Sellberg, Lena Wånggren
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A History of Calamities The Culture of Castration
The Archaeology of Castration
The Beauty of Roman Eunuchs
3 Appropriation and Development of Castration as Symbol and Practice in Early Christianity
Castration the Sexualization of Torture and Anxieties of Identity in the South English Legendary
Castration and Genital Mutilation in Medieval Frisian Law
Social Valuing of the Male Legal Subject
Castration in Early Welsh and Irish Sources
The Performance of Masculinity and Masculine Identity in La dame escolliee
11 Eunuchs of the Grail
A Castration Motif in Guillaume de Lorriss Romans de la rose
Eunuchry in De Vetula and Jean Le Fèvres La Vieille
Early Modern Fear of Castration
Vikings Slave Trade and the Value of Eunuchs
Castration and Cruelty in the Old Norse Sturlunga saga
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Abelard Alfred’s Anglo-Saxon Anglo-Saxon England animal Annals beauty beaver Bremmer Byzantine Cambridge castration and blinding century Chrétien de Troyes compensation cultural discourse Dublin Earinus early Christian early modern Eickels emasculation England eunuchs female saints feminine fisher king ﬂesh Frisian Law gender genital mutilation Grail Guillaume’s hagiography Historia calamitatum History holy homosexuality husband Ibid Icelandic Iean Iean’s inﬂicted inﬂuence injury tariffs Irish king Kueﬂer Larissa Tracy Latin law codes Lex Frisionum London male body male saints man’s Manly martyr masculine identity Medieval Europe Middle Ages narrative nobleman Norse ofthe Oiseuse Old Norse Oraekja Oxford penis Perceval physical practice punishment rape references reﬂect role Roman Rose sexual Shaun Tougher Skoptsy slaves social society South English Legendary Sporus Studies Sturla Sturla Sighvatsson Sturlunga saga testicles third gender Torture and Brutality trans translation University Press Vetula Viking violence virgin volume Welsh Welsh law wergild wife woman women wound