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Modern and Medieval Myth-Making

  • Albrecht Classen
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The modern interest in medieval or Renaissance chastity belts finds a fairly easy explanation in Thomas Huonker’s foreword to Eduard Fuchs’s (1870–1940) most popular and widely disseminated six-volume Illustrierte Sittengeschichte vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart (Illustrated History of Morality from the Middle Ages to the Present), first published between 1909 to 1912 by Albert Langen in Munich, later even reprinted numerous times in paperback, and also translated into various languages.1 Irrespective of its almost scandalous nature—at least for early-twentieth-century sensibilities— this enormous popularity might perhaps have been an additional reason for it being severely criticized and even persecuted by the authorities. Huonker observes that since the second half of the nineteenth century the scholarly genre of Sittengeschichte (History of Morality) tremendously gained in interest because “[d]ie prüden, förmlichen und steifen Bürger dieser Jahrzehnte fasziniert von der Entdeckung [waren], die ihnen die Sittengeschichte lieferte, daß nämlich die nackten Tatsachen des sittlichen und sexuellen Gebarens nicht nur anderer Völker, sondern auch der eigenen Vorfahren ihre gewagtesten Träume und Phantasien bei weitem überboten” (the prudish, formality-fixated, and stiff bourgeois from those decades were fascinated by the discovery that the history of morality offered them; that is, the naked facts of the moral and sexual behavior not only of other peoples, but also of their own forefathers, by far exceeded their most daring dreams and phantasies).2

Keywords

Sixteenth Century Fifteenth Century Courtly Love Sexual Perversion Wedding Night 
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.

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Notes

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    A medieval example would be the anonymous thirteenth-century verse novella Aucassin et Nicolette where the king lies in child-bed, whereas the queen fights on the fields; for an English translation, see Albrecht Classen, ed., Eroticism and Love in the Middle Ages, 5th rev. and expanded ed. (Mason, OH: Thomson Custom Publishing, 2004), 415–44; for a history of this topos,Google Scholar
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