The Middle Ages and Homosexuality

One of the biggest topics I address in ‘Making of an Empress’ is the Middle Ages view on homosexuality. It is well known today what the Church’s stance is on homosexuality. The belief of homosexuality as a sin is well documented in the pages of the old testament. In the Middle Ages, life was the Church. Rulers bowed down to the leaders of the Church, followed its commandments and condemned those who broke the Church’s laws.

If one researches the topic of homosexuality in the Middle Ages, you would see many different acts compiled in the definition. It was not merely the act between two men (or women). It included solitary acts as well. I would figure many would be guilty of homosexual acts if we still lumped any dumping of “seed” to equate to homosexuality.

Before the fall of the Roman Empire (which began the period known as the Middle Ages) sexuality was not something the ancient Romans put much thought into. It was just not talked about. The Middle Ages changed the view on the topic and issued punishment for committing such acts.

In the height of the Middle Ages if one was found guilty of an act of homosexuality he was punished with castration. If he did not learn his lesson his second offense would result in the loss of his “member”. A third offense resulted in burning at the stake.

There is proof, however, of many kings and queens who were known homosexuals, of course, they were never brought up on charges. I wonder if the most powerful rulers of their time were practicing homosexuals why then did nothing to try to change the views and punishments on the subject.

King James I of Scotland (who is famous for his version of the bible) was a suspected homosexual. Many of his time would refer to him as Queen James. It has been said he was a male chauvinist, perhaps it wasn’t that he hated women but simply he loved men. It is said he oversaw some of the translations of the original text of the bible and made sure words that could be interpreted as either gender were labeled as male, thus making the man the dominate gender.

Edward II of England was another king whose desire for male companionship was widely known. Again, as a king did he not have a responsibility to legitimize his own relationships?

In Making of an Empress, Stelaphina takes on the view of homosexuality. Her beloved cousin, Rupert, is a suspected homosexual. She sees nothing wrong with the love he desires but knows the Church forbids such unions. She fights to make homosexuality legal, obviously a forward thinking woman for her time. There is much opposition from the elder Imperials and the Church. It is a battle she is not willing to concede defeat and continues until others agree with her position.

I have to wonder if the monarchs of this world had the strength to fight for who they loved what our world might be like today.

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