Same-sex Sexuality in Later Medieval English Culture

Tom Linkinen

Same-sex Sexuality in Later Medieval English Culture

Tom Linkinen

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

376 pages | 7 halftones | 6 x 9
Cloth $130.00 ISBN: 9789089646293 Published June 2015 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
This volume investigates the state of same-sex relations in later medieval England, drawing on a remarkably rich array of primary sources from the period that include legal documents, artworks, theological treatises, and poetry. Tom Linkinen uses those sources to build a framework of medieval condemnations of same-sex intimacy and desire and then shows how same-sex sexuality reflected—and was inflected by—gender hierarchies, approaches to crime, and the conspicuous silence on the matter in the legal systems of the period.


1. In search of same-sex sexuality and later medieval English


2. Primary sources: Discussing the versatile past

3. Secondary sources: Discussing medieval sexuality

I - Framing condemnations: Sodomy, sin against nature, and crime

1. Judgement of sodomy

2. Sin against nature and fallen f lesh

3. Disturbing gender boundaries

4. A crime lacking law

II - Silencing the unmentionable vice

1. Silence around same-sex sexuality

2. Repeated silencing as shared knowledge

III - Stigmatising with same-sex sexuality

1. The two kings and their rumoured lovers

2. Sodomitical religious opponents

3. Accumulating accusations

IV - Sharing disgust and fear

1. “Stinking deed” and “spiteful fij ilth”

2. Fear of sin against nature in one’s nature

3. Sharing nightmares of sin against nature

4. Placing same-sex sexuality out of this world

V - Sharing laughter

1. Laughing at same-sex sexuality

2. Chaucer’s Pardoner, “geldyng or a mare” and more

VI - Framing possibilities: Silences, friendships, deepest love

1. Possibilities behind silence and confusion

2. Closest friends

3. Deepest love


1. From stinking deeds to deepest love

2. Closing with queer possibilities



Primary sources

Secondary sources


Review Quotes
“A rigorous yet warm-hearted book that provides an excellent systematic guide to a variety of possible conceptualizations of, and reactions to, same-sex sexual desire, sexual activity, and love. . . . In addition to a wide-ranging engagement with other scholars, the book is particularly valuable as a collation of primary sources relevant to this area of study. It should be highly recommended for teaching purposes and for those new to the field, and even experienced sexual historians are likely to find at least one unfamiliar reference or fresh interpretation within these pages.”
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