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7864Re: bohemian sexual freedom (Was bohemian adamites)

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  • Annah Almaziful
    Jul 9, 2003
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      Rosanne,

      The Bohemian women, especially townswomen, did, to use modern
      terminology 'own' their sexuality and their right to seuxal satisfaction. C=heck
      'Marriage and Family in Medieval Bohemia' by John Klassen (referenced in
      my other post two seconds ago). He uses divorce/annullment records to
      explore the nature of sexual relationships in the 14th and 15th century- LO=TS
      of case studies.

      To summarize, dating and mating occurred rather similarly to the way it doe=s
      now. People came together at markets, fairs and festivals, exchanged gifts=,
      and fooled around, sometimes even had sex. Women who claimed damages
      - for false proposal of marriage and subsequent loss of virginity- could ex=pect
      to receive about three months' wages for the plucking of their flower. Unwe=d
      mothers did exist, and non-virginhood did not appear to be an impediment to=
      marriage. People in Bohemia also travelled farther than other Europeans to=
      find mates. Frequently people from significant distances would marry and
      relocate. Women chose their sexual partners - in one case a woman asked for=
      divorce because her husband could not give her children, and she wanted to =
      bear progeny. Often their signals would get crossed - one young man thought=
      that because a girl held hands with him, they were married (the girl was
      asking for the annullment!). Women's pleasure and involvement in mating
      rituals is obvious and the Church made no noises of disapproval about thei=r
      premarital sex etc etc like we would think they would. Women fought for =
      what few rights they had, and, according to the surviving records Prof.
      Klassen uses, were active participants in all aspects of sexual relationshi=ps.

      Of course all was not peachy for ladies, spousal abuse was rampant and, as =
      in current times, they could really only hope for a gentle husband. Wealthy=
      townswomen or women of noble status could reasonably expect to have an
      arranged marriage. John Klassen makes much of the Bohemian style of
      dowry which ensured a woman a modicum of financial independence and
      allowed her to be an equal in an arranged marriage. Laws were in place to
      prevent husbands from access to this money, protecting the bride's financia=l
      standing.

      John Klassen's work is based on a small number of surviving records and
      cannot possibly be representative of the whole of bohemian society. What I =
      get from his research is that our notion of the 'extraordinary' medieval wo=man,
      who was closer to the modern woman in her expectation and achievement of
      certain rights and freedoms, is not so extra-ordinary after all. In medieva=l
      Bohemia, it appears, women who used the channels available to them to
      improve their lot in life were in slightly higher numbers than we expect. I=n
      other words, an ordinary woman - not touched by God or a highly poetic nun =
      or a finessing noblewoman or any of the legendary medieval women- could
      be personally successful in life, survival, and happiness.


      [snipped by moderator. Do not include entire posts in your replies.]
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