Original Research

Intervroulike seksualiteit in die latere Middeleeue: ʼn Ideëhistoriese oorsig

Johann Beukes
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2074 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2074 | © 2020 Johann Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 November 2019 | Published: 25 June 2020

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Johann Beukes, Department of Philosophy, Faculty Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Female same-sex relations in the later Middle Ages: An idea-historical survey. This article presents an idea-historical survey of attitudes towards women who were involved in same-sex relations from the middle of the 11th century to the middle of the 15th century, how these attitudes manifested themselves in later Medieval societies and what the reflections about these women involved at the time. Taking as its premise the inclusion of ‘female sodomy’ in an extensive 11th-century (per Damian’s Liber gomorrhianus, 1049) articulation of ‘sodomy’ as every possible form of ‘irrational fornication’, and employing Foucault’s critique of modern, heteronormative scientia sexualis, themes presented in the article include the 11th-century construction of gender-inclusive ‘sodomy’ and the postulation of ‘the female sodomite’, the distinction between simple and complex taboos, transgressing and transcending modes of resistance to complex taboos, four significant developments during the 12th century (the subtle heterosexual distinction between male and female homosexuality, the critique of marriage as an institution, female same-sex relations as an agency for social change and a platform for the initial economical emancipation of women), the rise of the libertine beguine orders in the first decades of the 13th century, and ‘uniformity’, ‘homogenity’, as well as the rise of ‘minorities’ (including the ‘sexual minority’) within the characteristic cultural intolerance of the 14th and early-15th centuries. The historical development of ideas regarding female same-sex relations in the later Middle Ages must in the end be indicated as part of a regressive Medieval prelude to modern scientia sexualis.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This idea-historical survey of female same-sex relations in the later Middle Ages impacts numerous disciplines and sub-disciplines, inter alia Medieval Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, History of Ideas, Medieval History, Church History, Sociology, Dogmatics, Practical Theology and Philosophy of Religion.


female sodomy; Michel Foucault (1926–1984); history of sexuality; homosexuality in the Middle Ages; libertine beguine sexuality; Medieval female same-sex relations; pre-modern lesbian; transgressing and transcending resistance to taboos


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Crossref Citations

1. Die mediëvalistiese karikatuur van seksuele verval in Laat-Middeleeuse vrouekloosters
Johann Beukes
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doi: 10.4102/ve.v43i1.2415