Advertisement

Sodomy, Politics, and Male-Male Desire

  • Richard E. Zeikowitz
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The Order of the Knights Templar, once a highly respected military order, came under serious attack in the early fourteenth century and in the course of a few years was disbanded.1 Historians unanimously agree that the motivation of Philip IV of France, who led the persecution of the order, was economic and political. Boswell notes that with the Templars’ “international treasury” sitting in Paris, it is not surprising that Philip “cast his eye hungrily upon the prosperous order.”2 Malcolm Barber sums up Philip’s position: “the Templars were particularly obnoxious to Philip the Fair as a wealthy, exempt and predominantly aristocratic enclave in a country whose king had made considerable progress towards subduing the pretensions of the feudal nobility”3 Barber also observes that because charges of heresy and indecent acts were at the center of the subsequent trials of the Templars, Philip was evidently tapping into the ongoing persecution of “sodomitical heretics.”4 Boswell maintains that the current harsh penalties for those found guilty of committing sodomy made it the most politically effective accusation to bring against the order. He goes on to point out that in France, “mere suspicion of the act was considered sufficient to warrant such torture that many of the knights died under it.”5 James Given asserts that “King Philip the Fair … used and abused inquisitorial procedures to destroy the Knights Templar.”6

Keywords

Fourteenth Century Intimate Friend Initiation Ceremony Early Fourteenth Century Late Fourteenth Century 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    There is a good deal of literature on the Templars. For a general history of the order, see Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), and Edith Simon, The Piebald Standard: A Biography of the Knights Templars (London: Cassell, 1959). The most recent full-length study of the Knights Templar in England is Thomas M. Parker, The Knights Templar in England (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1963). For a study of the trial in England, see Clarence Perkins, “The Trial of the Knights Templars in England,” English Historical Review 24 (1909): 432–47. Henry Charles Lea offers a full account of the persecution of the Templars in Europe in A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, vol. 3 (New York: Harper, 1887), pp. 238–334. For a more recent, detailed study of the events leading up to the trials as well as facts regarding the trials themselves, primarily in France, see Malcolm Barber, The Trial of the Templars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978). Anne Gilmour-Bryson offers an engaging discussion of the charges of sodomy leveled against the Templars in “Sodomy and the Knights Templar,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 7 (1996): 151–83. Her article is also useful for its wealth of references to primary sources of the various trials.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    James B. Given, Inquisition and Medieval Society: Power, Discipline, and Resistance in Languedoc (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), p. 165.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    John H. Arnold, Inquisition and Power: Catharism and the Confessing Subject in Medieval Languedoc (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), p. 79.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Anne Gilmour-Bryson, The Trial of the Templars in the Papal State and the Abruzzi (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1982), p. 17. For a complete list of the charges in English, see Barber, The Trial of the Templars, pp. 248–52.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Vern Bullough, Sexual Variance in Society and History (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1976), p. 395.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    “Item de osculis dixit, quod recipiens dixit ei, quod punctus ordinis erat, quod dictus receptus oscularetur recipientem in ore, et in umbilico et in fine spine dorsi” (quoted in Konrad Schottmüller, Der Untergang des Templer-Ordens, vol. 2 [Berlin: Mittler, 1887], p. 43). James Noel Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), notes that the “back or it lower part could…be used…for anus” (quoted in Gilmour-Bryson, “Sodomy and the Knights Templar,” 157 n22).Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    Iohannes de Villaribus: “Gonterius et Ymbricus fratres dicti ordinis… duxerunt eum ad partem camere, ubi fuit receptus et fecerunt eum spoliari et ambo unus post alium osculati sunt ipsum in ore, in umbilico et in fine spine dorsi et duxerunt ipsum ad preceptorem.” Iacobus de Castilhione: “De oculus dixit, quod recipiens osculatus fuit eum in fine spine dorsi, secundo in umbilico, tercio in ore.” Both quotations are taken from Heinrich Finke, Papsttum und Untergang des Templerordens, vol. 2 (Münster: Aschendorf, 1907), pp. 329 and 331.Google Scholar
  8. 21.
    “dixit quod ipse cohabitavit cum quatuor fratribus ejusdem ordinis, videlicet, cum fratre Stephano de Bosco…et cum tribus aliis fratribus jam defunctis de quorum nominibus non recolit, dicens quod quando jacebat et cognoscebat eos, ipsi cogniti ponebant os versus terram et cum pedibus et manibus sustinebant se, et ipse qui loquitur ascendebat supra ilium quern carnaliter volebat cognoscere et intromitebat virgam suam virilem per anum ipsius sic prostrati, dicens etiam quod quinquagesies et pluribus vicibus cognovit predictos” (quoted in Roger Sève and Anne-Marie Chagny-Sève, Le Procès des Templiers d’Auvergne (1309–1311) [Paris: Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques, 1986], p. 148).Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Most of the testimony at the English trials conforms closely to that given by Radulphus de Barton: “Item super 30. articulo, qui sic incipit: ‘Item, quod in receptione fratrum,’ etc. respondit, quod osculantur in ore, et caetera contenta in articulo negavit…Item interrogatus super 40. articulo, qui sic incipit: ‘Item, quod fratribus,’ etc. dicit, quod nec audivit, nec scivit, nec intellexit, quod contentum in articulo fuit praeceptum, vel super hoc licentia data” (quoted in David Wilkins, Concilia magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae, vol. 2 [London, 1737], p. 336).Google Scholar
  10. 29.
    For a good survey of the important events during the reign of Edward II, see May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1301–1399 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1959), pp. 1–96; Anthony Tuck, Crown and Nobility 1272–1461: Political Conflict in Late Medieval England (Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1985), pp. 50–83. For a detailed study of political and administrative affairs in Edward II’s reign, see T. F. Tout, The Place of the Reign of Edward II in English History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1914). There are also several biographies of Edward II. Hilda Johnstone, Edward of Carnarvon 1284–1307 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1946), offers a study of Edward’s early years. A well-illustrated but undocumented study of Edward’s life is Caroline Bingham, The Life and Times of Edward II (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973). For a recent biography, see Mary Saaler, Edward II 1307–1327 (London: Rubicon, 1997). For a very readable but undocumented account of the events leading up to the death of Edward II, see R. Perry, Edward the Second: Suddenly at Berkeley (Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire: Ivy House, 1988). There are also two fairly recent studies of Gaveston: Pierre Chaplais, Piers Gaveston: Edward II’s Adoptive Brother (Oxford: Clarendon, 1994); and J. S. Hamilton, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall 1307–1312: Politics and Patronage in the Reign of Edward II (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988). The two authors have opposing views on the relationship between Edward and Gaveston: Chaplais is not convinced that it was sexual while Hamilton maintains that it was.Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    Alan K. Smith, “Fraudomy: Reading Sexuality and Politics in Burchiello,” Queering the Renaissance, ed. Jonathan Goldberg (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994), p. 85 [84–106].Google Scholar
  12. 34.
    For a thorough discussion of all the major chronicles of the reign of Edward II, see Antonia Gransden, Historical Writing in England II: c. 1307 to the Early Seventeenth Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982), pp. 1–42.Google Scholar
  13. 35.
    Charles T. Wood, “Personality, Politcs, and Constitutional Progress: The Lessons of Edward II,” Studia Gratiana 15 (1972): 524 [521–36].Google Scholar
  14. 36.
    British Museum, MS. Cotton Cleopatra D. IX, fols. 83–85, quoted in George L. Haskins, “A Chronicle of the Civil Wars of Edward II,” Speculum 14 (1939): 75 [73–81]. Except for the first phrase, the English translation is taken from Chaplais, Piers Gaveston: Edward II’s Adoptive Brother, pp. 12–13. Chaplais suggests that firmitatis should be emended to fraternitatis (p. 13 n42).Google Scholar
  15. 37.
    Annales Paulini, in Chronicles of the Reign of Edward I and Edward II, ed. William Stubbs, vol. 1 (1882–83; repr. Wiesbaden: Kraus, 1965), p. 257: “Hic statim Petrum de Gavastone ab exilio in Angliam revocavit”; Annales Londonienses, in Chronicles of the Reign of Edward I and Edward II, ed. Stubbs, vol. 1, p. 151: “quern revertentem rex retinuit secum unice dilexit.”Google Scholar
  16. 40.
    Vita Edwardi secundi monachi cuiusdam Malmesberiensis, ed. and trans. N. Denholm-Young (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1957), p. 1; trans. Denholm-Young, p. 1.Google Scholar
  17. 41.
    Johannis de Trokelowe, Annales Edwardi II, Angliae Regis, ed. Thomas Hearne (London, 1729), p. 4.1 am using Saalers translation of ultra modum (Edward II 1307–1327, p. 35).Google Scholar
  18. 43.
    Alan Bray and Michel Rey, “The Body of the Friend: Continuity and Change in Masculine Friendship in the Seventeenth Century,” English Masculinities: 1660–1800, ed. Tim Hitchcock and Michèle Cohen (London: Longman, 1999), p. 68 [65–84].Google Scholar
  19. 46.
    Annales Paulini, ed. Stubbs, 1:262: “Karolus et Ludowicus patrui reginae, cementes quod rex plus exerceret Petri triclinium quam reginae, cum indignatione ad Franciam remigarunt.” I conclude that the classical Latin meaning of triclinium is still current in the Middle Ages since this word is not included in either J. F. Niermeyer, Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus (Leiden: Brill, 1976) or R. E. Latham, Revised Medieval Word-List from British and Irish Sources (London: Oxford University Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  20. 49.
    Robert of Reading, Flores historiarum, ed. Henry Richards Luard, vol. 3 (1890; repr. Wiesbaden: Kraus, 1965), p. 331.Google Scholar
  21. 50.
    Leviticus 18:22, Biblia sacra Latina ex biblia sacra vulgatae editionis (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1970): “Cum masculo non commiscearis coitu foemineo, quia abominatio est” [You shall not lie with a male as with a woman because it is an abomination].Google Scholar
  22. 54.
    Robert of Reading, Flores historiarum, ed. Luard, 3:229; trans. Gransden, Historical Writing in England, p. 21. I have substituted “copulations” for “bed” in her translation and emended “should not love.” While in classical Latin, concubitus could mean lying together (for sleeping or dining) or copulation, it is apparently the latter sense that had currency in the Middle Ages. R. E. Latham, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (London: Oxford University Press, 1975), defines it as “lying together (sexual).”Google Scholar
  23. 56.
    Thomas de Burton, Chronica monasterii de Melsa, ed. Edward A. Bond, vol. 2 (London, 1867), p. 355. This comment occurs following his report of Edward’s death and thus he apparently draws this conclusion as he looks back over Edward’s life. For a discussion of the possible date of Thomas’s chronicle, see Bond’s introduction, Chronica monasterii de Melsa, 1: lxi–lxix.Google Scholar
  24. 57.
    Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, ed. Henry Thomas Riley, vol. 1 (London, 1863–64), p. 120.Google Scholar
  25. 59.
    The most recent major study of Richard II, is Nigel Saul, Richard II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997). Other major studies are Anthony Tuck, Richard II and the English Nobility (New York: St. Martins Press, 1974), and Anthony Steel, Richard II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1941); see also Gervase Mathew, The Court of Richard II (New York: Norton, 1968). The Lords Appellant were Thomas, duke of Gloucester, Henry, earl of Derby, Richard, earl of Arundel, Thomas, earl of Warwick, and Thomas, earl of Nottingham (later duke of Norfolk). For a detailed examination of each of the Lords Appellant, see Anthony Goodman, The Loyal Conspiracy: The Lords Appellant under Richard II (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1971). Richard’s relations with the nobles throughout his reign is studied in Richard H. Jones, The Royal Policy of Richard II: Absolutism in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1968). For a wider historical view of the Lancastrian affinity that centered on John of Gaunt, see Simon Walker, The Lancastrian Affinity 1361–1399 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990).Google Scholar
  26. 62.
    Henry Knighton, Knighton’s Chronicle 1331–1396, ed. and trans. G. H. Martin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 360; trans. Martin, p. 361. Historians agree that this is unmistakably a reference to the deposition of Edward II; see Saul, Richard II, p. 158;Tuck, Richard II, p. 102; Martin, ed., Knighton’s Chronicle, p. 360 nl.Google Scholar
  27. 67.
    For a detailed discussion of the major chronicles of the reign of Richard II, see Gransden, Historical Writing in England II, who devotes a chapter to Thomas Walsingham and his chronicles (pp. 118–56) and studies all the other chronicles in the following chapter (pp. 157–93). Louisa D. Duls, Richard II in the Early Chronicles (The Hague: Mouton, 1975), concentrates on how the events that occurred between 1386 and 1388 are reported in the major chronicles. Her most thorough discussion is of Knighton’s chronicle; see pp. 35–51. Two other valuable studies are provided by George B. Stow; see his article, “Richard II in Thomas Walsingham’s Chronicles,” Speculum 59 (1984): 68–102, and his essay, “Chronicles Versus Records: The Character of Richard II,” in Documenting the Past: Essays in Medieval History Presented to G. P. Cuttino, ed. J. S. Hamilton and P. Bradley (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1989), pp. 155–76. Walsingham’s chronicles are also briefly discussed in John Talyor, English Historical Literature in the Fourteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987), pp. 64–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 68.
    Although V. H. Galbraith proposed a rather late date of composition for the Chronicon Angliae, ca. 1394–97, historians have recently argued for a date closer to the events recorded, namely, ca. 1388; see Stow, “Richard II,” 77–79. The Historia was completed ca. 1402, but in his introduction to his edition of the text, Stow suggests that the first half of the work was written ca. 1390–92; see Historia vitae et regni Ricardi secundi, ed. George B. Stow, Jr. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977), p. 14.Google Scholar
  29. 69.
    Westminster Chronicle, 1381–1394, ed. and trans. L. C. Hector and Barbara Harvey (1966; repr. Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), p. 42: “Contigit ipso die quod quidam miles regis, nomine Jacobus Beernes, regi summe familiaris, ictu fulminis cecus efficeretur in presencia regis…. Ob hoc rex jussit clerum pro-cessionaliter ad tumbam Sancte Ethelthrethe Virginis devotissime pergere quatinus interveniente populi devota oracione excecatus visum recuper-aret”; trans. Hector and Harvey, p. 43.Google Scholar
  30. 73.
    Thomas Walsingham, Chronicon Angliae 1328–1388, ed. Edward Maunde Thompson (London: Longman, 1874), p. 372: “submurmurantibus ceteris nobilibus et baronibus ac indigne ferentibus tantae promotionis appetitum in viro dudum tarn mediocri, quern non plus ceteris commendabant vel generis sui sublimitas vel reliquarum virtutum dotes.” Tuck notes that the nobles were especially furious at this appointment because de Vere “had received…an honour which had hitherto been bestowed upon only one man who was not of royal blood, and he was the greatest of magnates at Edward Ill’s court” (Richard II, p. 85). De Vere was however an aristocrat. Gervase Mathew points out that de Vere “was a magnate in his own right, ninth Earl of Oxford and Chamberlain of England and husband of the King’s first cousin, Philippa de Coucy” and thus not technically a “mignon” or “favourite” (The Court of Richard II, p. 19).Google Scholar
  31. 77.
    Knighton, Knighton’s Chronicle, ed. Martin, p. 392. Martin oddly omits “abominable” from his translation. The Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P. G.W. Glare (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982), defines nefandus, a, urn as “wicked, impious, heinous” when referring to persons, and “abominable” for “other things involved in wicked conduct.” I am reading nephandi here as “abominable” since Knighton is referring not merely to the men’s character but also the actions they perform on the king. Furthermore, “abominable” situates Knighton’s condemnatory label in a biblical/religious context, which is perhaps the meaning Knighton had in mind given that he was an Augustinian canon who devotes many pages to the Lollard controversy. Din-shaw notes that “the adjective ‘nephandum,’ [is] traditionally (after Saint Paul…) used for same-sex sodomy” (Getting Medieval, p. 105). On the association between the Lollards and sodomy, see Dinshaw, Getting Medieval, pp. 55–99.Google Scholar
  32. 80.
    Walsingham, Chronicon Angliae, ed. Thompson, p. 374. Compare the Westminster chronicler’s report of the same situation: “Rex…permisit dominum Michaelem de Poole comitem Southfolchie libertate gaudere et penes eum retinuit, et ad quemcumque locum se divertere contingebat deinceps fuit ipse cum eo” [The king…not only allowed Michael de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, to enjoy his freedom but kept him in his own society, so that wherever circumstances took the king he was henceforward joined by the earl] (Westminster Chronicle, ed. Hector and Harvey, p. 178; trans. Hector and Harvey, p. 179). In the discussion that follows I examine how Walsingham’s language creates an eroticized picture of Richard’s relations with his favorites at this time. For the actual articles of impeachment brought against Michael de la Pole, see Knighton, Knighton’s Chronicle, ed. Martin, pp. 362–69. For an in-depth study of the affair, see J. S. Roskell, The Impeachment of Michael de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, in 1386 in the Context of the Reign of Richard II (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  33. 83.
    Thomas Favent, Historia sive narracio de modo et forma mirabilis parliamenti apud Westmonasterium, ed. M. McKisack, Camden Miscellany 14 (London: Offices of the Society, 1926), p. 3. I am reading obcecarunt as a variant spelling of occaecarunt.Google Scholar
  34. 95.
    I am drawing on Jonathan Dollimore, who defines “perversion” as “a concept involving: (1) an erring, straying, deviation, or being diverted from (2) a path, destiny, or objective which is (3) understood as natural or right—usually right because natural (with the natural possibly having a yet higher legitimation in divine law)”(Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault [Oxford: Clarendon, 1991], p. 104).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 96.
    John Gower, Chronicon tripertita, The Complete Works of John Gower, ed. G. C. Macaulay, vol. 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1902), p. 220; The Major Works of John Gower, trans. Eric W. Stockton (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962), p. 297.Google Scholar
  36. 97.
    Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, ed. Henry Thomas Riley, vol. 2 (London, 1863), p. 148; emphasis added.Google Scholar
  37. 100.
    Historia, ed. Stow, p. 166; emphasis added. With the exception of the first phrase, English translation is taken from Ordelle G. Hill and Gardiner Stillwell, “A Conduct Book for Richard II,” Philological Quarterly 73 (1994): 322 [317–28].Google Scholar
  38. 101.
    Adam of Usk, Chronicle of Adam Usk 1377–1421, ed. and trans. Chris Given-Wilson (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), p. 62: “per sertos doctores, episcopos et alios, quorum presencium notator unus extiterat, deponendi regem Ricardum…committebatur disputanda.” Given-Wilson accepts Usk’s claim that he was present at the meeting because elsewhere in the chronicle “Usk refers to himself as compilator presencium—‘the compiler of the present work.’” Given-Wilson goes on to explain that “‘Notator’ had more of the meaning of a notary or scribe, a person publicly authorized to draw up memoranda and so forth” (Chronicle of Adam Usk, p. lxxxiv).Google Scholar
  39. 104.
    See Annales Ricardi secundi, regis Angliae, in Johannis de Trokelowe et Henrici de Blaneforde, monachorum S. Albani, chronica et annales, ed. Henry Thomas Riley (London: Longman, 1866), pp. 252–87. An English translation of the thirty-three articles of the deposition is printed in Chris Given-Wilson, ed. and trans., Chronicles of the Revolution 1397–1400: The Reign of Richard II (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), pp. 172–84.Google Scholar
  40. 106.
    Lee Patterson, Chaucer and the Subject of History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), p. 187.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard E. Zeikowitz 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. Zeikowitz

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations