Best medieval excuse for cheating on your hubby!

Dainty yet deceptive!

I’ve been spending time in my storage space trying to organize some of my books to sell, and I came across yet another of those volumes of esoteric lore that I have always loved to collect…and probably won’t end up selling.

Written with a droll cynicism worthy of an oral interpretation by the late actor George Sanders, Simons’ Book of World Sexual Records (Bell Publishing Co., NY, 1975–or MCMLXXV, as the copyright notice prefers) features not so much nuts-and-bolts statistics but often subjective assessments on the part of the sly author, Mr. G.L. Simons…

For our purposes today, what caught my eye was item #347: “Adultery—Most Snobbish Excuse.”

Let us travel back to the High Middle Ages, the era of the troubadours, those lyric poets who spun songs of chivalry and courtly love…

The troubadours sang of everything from combat to romance...

The troubadours sang of everything from combat to cuddling...

In one of the Provencal narrative poems of romance (the troubadour tradition started in a region of France called Occitania), a wife is accused by her husband of dallying with someone else…

The husband pouts and waits for a reply...

The husband pouts and waits for a reply...

But the lady is up on the latest troubadour sounds, and she’s aware of a song that tells of a cuckold named Gawain, who actually took pride in the fact that his woman surrendered herself in adultery to (in the words of G.L. Simons) “so valiant a warrior as the Red Knight.”

Our cornered cuckoldress thinks quickly…

You can see the wheels turning in her head...

You can see the wheels turning in her head...

“My Lord,” she finally says to her irate hubby (again according to G.L. Simons), “you have no dishonor on that account, for the man I love is a noble baron, expert in arms, namely Roland, the nephew of King Charles!”

Hubby doesn’t know what to say to that! Should he, like Gawain, swallow his penile pride and praise his wife for her good taste in paramours? And should he even, as G.L. Simons notes, “be filled with confusion at his unseemly interference” in his wife’s erotic affairs?

Ah, how silken the web that is woven—and how taut!

One thing’s for sure—if Madame Bovary had used that excuse, the poison might not have been necessary!

In the 1949 film, Jennifer Jones as Emma Bovary flirts with Louis Jourdan as hubby Van Heflin fumes.


I got the black-and-white public domain images of medieval life from a cool site called Karen’s Whimsy. Pay her a visit!


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