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In southern France and northern Spain, troubadours travel from court to court, singing Provencal songs of courtly love that sometimes describe love between men and between women.
In Flanders, The Life of Saint Godelive, the story of a martyred 12th-century noble-woman who was later named patroness of the country, mentions in an aside that women are by nature prone to almost uncontrollable lusts and that they most frequently satisfy these lusts with one another, especially when sleeping together in the same bed.


The Council of Paris, a local church body, forbids nuns from sleeping in the same bed and mandates that a lamp be left burning through the night in convent sleeping quarters.

c. 1250

The first recorded legislation against male sodomy in scandinavia is The Norwegian law of the Gulathing. Men found guilty are banished from civilized communities as permanent "outlaws."


Thomas Aquinas, One of the Roman Catholic Church's most influential theologians, begins teaching at the University of Paris. He synthesizes 1,200 years of sex-negative Christian writings into one unified system of sexual morality, including same-sex eroticism among sexual acts that are "against nature."


In Japan, Tachibana Narisue compiles the Kokon Chomonju ("Collection of Stories Heard from Writers Old and New"), which includes a number of romantic tales of the monk-boy love prevalent in Japanese Buddhism.


Spain: Alfonso X of Castile issues Las Siete Partidas, one of the first Civil law codes in Europe to make "sins against nature," including sodomy, capital crimes. The punishment for sodomy is castration followed by stoning to death.


Orleans, France: a new law code mandates punishments for both men and women who commit same-sex acts: removal of the testicles or the clitoris, respectively, for a first offense; removal of the penis or breasts for a second offense; and burning at the stake for a third offense.

c. 1270

France: New laws enacted by St. Louis (Louis IX) make bougerie ("anal intercourse") a capital crime punishable by burning at the stake. Although civil authorities enforce the law, cases are still tried before a bishop.

September 28, 1292

Ghent (in present-day Belgium): John, a knife maker, is sentenced to be burned at the stake for having sex with another man. This is the first documented execution for sodomy in Western Europe.


Philip IV of France orders the arrest of all Knights Templar on charges of heresy and sodomy as a pretext for confiscating the knights' extensive wealth. The leaders of the religious order are burned at the stake in 1314.


France: Arnold of Verniolle, a Franciscan sub deacon is convicted of sodomy and heresy. The court records provide an account of how someone like Arnold, who is attracted to young men, goes about finding sexual partners in rural France. Arnold is sentenced to live the remainder of his life imprisoned in chains and with nothing but bread and water for sustenance.


England: Known for his male lovers, Edward 11, loses out in a power struggle with his estranged wife and a cabal of the country's barons. His assassins, rumor has it, execute him by ramming a red-hot poker into his rectum.


Two women and fifteen men are arrested and tried on charges of sodomy in Mechelen (in present-day Belgium). Only one man is executed.

April 9, 1424

Florence: Bernardino of Siena (canonized in 1450) brings a three-day series of sermons against sodomy and other forms of lust to a climax with a spectacular bonfire of "vanities"-cosmetics, wigs, and lewd attire. The preachings of Bernardino and others strengthen public opinion against same-sex relations and influence authorities to take more stringent action to suppress them.


The Mexica Aztecs (in present-day Mexico) establish dominion over surrounding peoples. Aztec law mandates marriage and punishes both male and female same-sex acts with death.


Florence becomes the first European city to set up a special authority to prosecute crimes of sodomy. Called the Uffiziali di Notte (Officers of the Night), this special court prosecutes more than 10,000 men and boys over the next 70 years. About 2,000 are believed to have been convicted. Most avoid further punishment by paying fines.


Pope Nicholas V authorizes the papal Inquisition to prosecute male sodomy.

c. 1475

In present-day Peru, the Inca emperor Capac Yupanqui, according to word-of-mouth accounts chronicled a century later, energetically persecutes men who have sex with other men, burning them alive in public squares and destroying their homes. Most of those persecuted are members of recently subjugated peoples.


Leonardo Da Vinci is twice anonymously denounced to Florentine authorities for alleged acts of sodomy. He is acquitted of the charges for lack of witnesses.

November 1. 1494

Florence: The fanatical monk Savonarola blasts citizens for their "abominable vice," commanding them to renounce their mistresses and "beardless youths."


Florence: Savonarola's campaign against vice, including sodomy, is resisted by the Compagnacci, a group of young men, many of whose leaders have been convicted on sodomy charges. The youths jeer and harass the preacher's followers in the streets and squares of the city.

Spain: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella amend the sodomy laws. Henceforth, those found guilty of the crime will 'II be burned at the stake and have their property confiscated instead of being castrated and stoned to death.


Spain: Fernando de Rojas writes his tragicomic masterpiece, La Celestina. The title character is a wily old woman whose debaucheries have included sex with other women.


Florence: A large group of young men converge on the government palace to protest the current crackdown on sodomy and to demand the release of men recently arrested.

October 5, 1513

Spanish conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovers a community Of cross-dressing, males in present-day Panama and, according to eyewitnesses, feeds at least 40 of them to his dogs.


Authorities in Florence, influenced by youth protests, decrease the fines for sodomy convictions levied on men aged 18 through 25. Studies of contemporary municipal court and population records indicate that as many as one Florentine man in twelve would be charged with sodomy at some point in his youth.


Martin Luther accuses Catholic clergy and monks of being sodomites in his Warning to His Beloved Germans.


Netherlands: New statutes make "unnatural vice" a capital crime.

Charles V promulgates a law as part of the Constitutio of the Holy Roman Empire that specifically forbids female same-sex relations as well as male.


England: Henry VIII's government transfers authority for prosecuting "buggery" from the Church to civil courts. The new law makes anal intercourse punishable by hanging.


Japan: Takeda Shingen, a 22-year-old daimyo (warlord), signs a contract with Kasuga Gensuke, his 16-year-old lover, vowing that he has never had-and has no intention of ever having-sex with a certain Yashichiro, and pledging his fidelity to Kasuga on penalty of divine retribution.


Francis Xavier begins his mission in Japan. Writing to a Jesuit colleague, he reports that the Japanese have only one major fault: no one finds the "sin against nature ... abnormal or abominable."


Portuguese missionary Father Pero Correia, writing from Brazil, asserts that same-sex eroticism among indigenous women is quite common, in fact as widespread as in Africa, where he was previously stationed. Native Brazilian women, he observes, carry weapons and even form same-sex marriages.


Calvinist Geneva: Officials begin to pay closer attention to the sin of sodomy, especially among the city's burgeoning foreign population. Records through 1670 list one beheading, one hanging, six drownings, six banishments, and four whippings, all for sodomy.


Pope Pius IV begin s a campaign in Rome to rid the city of "Sodomites."


Geneva: A woman charged with fornication with a man confesses that she also had sex with a woman four years ago. She is drowned.


Oda Nobunaga, one of the most revered and feared warlords in the history of Japan, dies, ambushed by a confederate. At Nobunaga's side, faithful to the end, is his adolescent lover, Mori Panmaru.


Christopher Marlowe's tragedy Edward II is probably the first play written in English to portray a male couple's love relationship sympathetically.


Francis Cabral, a Catholic missionary, informs the Vatican in a letter that the casual attitude toward same-sex relations he sees everywhere in Japan is a major barrier to Japanese acceptance Of Christianity.

c. 1600

The word "tribade" (from a Greek root meaning "to rub") emerges in Western Europe as a term describing women who enjoy each other sexually.


Jesuit emissary to china, Matteo Ricci, is one of many Europeans who are shocked to find that "unnatural vice" is not only legal and widespread among the Chinese, it is even discussed in public.

May 24, 1610

The Virginia Colony passes the first anti sodomy law of the American colonial period.


Michelangelo's grandnephew publishes the first printed edition of the artist's poems, substituting female pronouns for male in the love verse. The originals are not made available in printed form until 1863.

November 30, 1624

In the Virginia Colony, Richard Cornish is hanged for allegedly making advances on a ship's steward. His conviction and execution, angrily contested by his brother and others, is the first to be recorded in the American colonies.

c. 1630

China: The Classified Brief History of Love contains a detailed chapter on duanxiu ("cut sleeve"-see A.D. 1) love, with anecdotes recounting two millennia of male-male relationships.


England: The Earl of Castlehaven is convicted on sodomy charges brought by his son, who fears that the male servant his father favors may inherit part of the Earl's property. The Earl is beheaded.

November 11, 1634

Ireland: "An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery" is passed by the Irish House of Commons, making anal intercourse punishable by hanging. The primary advocate of the act is Anglican Bishop John Atherton.

November 15, 1636

The Plymouth Colony (in present-day Massachusetts) issues the first complete legal code in the colonies. "Sodomy, rapes, buggery" constitute one of eight categories of crimes punishable by death.


Thomas Bartholin's revision of his father's Institutiones Anatomicae, the most influential European anatomy text of the century, provides authoritative support for the theory that an enlarged clitoris is the cause of lesbian desire.

December 5. 1641

The second man to be hanged for the "vice of buggery" in Ireland is Bishop John Atherton.

December 5, 1642

A Massachusetts Bay servant is sentenced to be whipped for "unseemly practices" with another woman in the first documented example of legal prosecution in North America for same-sex relations between women.


Brazil: Portuguese colonial authorities extend laws forbidding same-sex relations to include women as well as men. The punishment is burning at the stake.

March 6, 1649

Plymouth, Massachusetts: Ttwo married women are charged with "lewd behavior each with other upon a bed." Charges are dropped against Mary Hammon, at 15 the younger of the two, but the older woman, Sara Norman, is forced to confess her "unchaste behavior" in public.

c. 1650

China: A novelist and short story writer Li Yu amuses readers with tall tales and adventure stories that include accounts of same-sex relations.


Japan: Authorities declare a ban on all-boy troupes of kabuki actors in an attempt to fight the current craze for man-boy love. Before long, troupes of older males take their place.


Portugal: Francisco Correa Netto, a cathedral sacristan, writes a series of love letters to a guitarist and musical instrument maker named Manuel Viegas. The oldest surviving openly homoerotic letters in a modern European language, Netto's writings tell a tale of seduction, passionate lovemaking, and, ultimately, betrayal: Viegas deserts Netto to marry a woman and turns the letters over to Church authorities for possible prosecution by the Portuguese Inquisition.

March 1, 1656

Connecticut: the New Haven law code is the first in the American colonies to make same-sex acts between women punishable by the death penalty. The code quotes Romans 1:26 ("if any woman change the natural use into that which is against nature") as the basis for the law.


Japan: Ihara Saikaku's Life of air Amorous Woman includes a brief account of sex between the book's heroine and a female employer.


Japan: Ihara Saikaku publishes The Great Mirror of Male Love, 40 tales of love between older and younger men. Half the stories describe samurai affairs; the other half spotlight kabuki actors and their admirers.


England: Aphra Behn, considered by many to be the first professional woman writer, writes "To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More than Woman," in which she teasingly defends her sexual attraction to a young woman.


China: Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty Emperor Kang,xi has three of his son's servants executed when he learns that they have been procuring male youths for themselves and his son.