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  • A Goat, A Man and Two Prostitutes September 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval , trackback


    Beach recently ran across this sordid but fascinating episode in Otis, Prostitution in Medieval Society (71). Those of a sensitive disposition might just want to go and do the washing up now. Those who are determined to read on prepare yourselves…

    Significant, too, is the Venetian court register that records, in the trial of a man who, accused of having had carnal relations with his goat, claimed as extenuating circumstances a physical infirmity preventing his having normal relations with a woman, [so?] that the judge called in two of the city’s prostitutes to ‘do numerous experiments’ in order to verify the accused’s claim, much as today a psychiatrist is called in to verify a plea of insanity!

    The reference has proved a little difficult to chase down. It is reported by Otis as being in a S Chojnacki essay in a 1972 book, Violence and Civil Disorder in Italian Cities 1200-1500 (211), edited by the incomparable Lauro Martines. Unfortunately Violence is not on Beach’s bookshelves. It is available, though, in snippet form on Google Books thanks to which Beach can report that the man was called Simon Furlan and that  ‘he was sentenced only to the loss of his hands [!] and a branding’. The Latin (in a note) is fun. The two prostitutes were ‘peccatrices’ and they were asked to ‘facere multa experimenta’ on the terrified Simon. Was the judge watching on or did the peccatrices give a report to the Venetian report? The date is given as 1365 in another book: Sodom and Gomorrah: On the Everyday Reality and Persecution of Homosexuals in the Middle Ages. This book claims that Simon, only lost his right hand. The fate of the goat is not recorded but it will not have been pretty.

    Any other medieval prostitutes would be gratefully welcomed into Strange History: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com