Category: history

Big Love leads to twelve ladies gagging

October 18, 2012 | By | 1 Comment

Anthropologists have long theorized that when cannibals eat a human heart, it’s a gesture of respect: by ingesting the seat of power of an enemy, they are emboldening and protecting themselves. Inuits, for example, are said to have eaten the hearts of witches they killed so that they wouldn’t be haunted. But the message is […]


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If you need someone from history to hate today, let me introduce you to Giovanni Pietro Lion

August 30, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

In my last post, I covered the basics of convertites in late medieval and early Renaissance Italy: basically they were holding tanks for marginalized women. In convertites, vulnerable, ostracized women were in essence concentrated under one roof — all the better to take advantage of, as the story of a Venetian priest named Giovanni Pietro […]


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Breasted misfits

August 28, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

While I was researching my book, I became obsessed by nunneries. It turns out there’s plenty of good info out there, in English, on Italian nunneries from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance — particularly on how they were basically permanent storage lockers for unwanted or troublesome women. I wound up learning a lot […]


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Yes, there is such thing as “forced divorce”

August 16, 2012 | By | 1 Comment

“Forced divorce.” It has a nice ring, maybe, but surely it’s an impossibility: no outsider can make a couple legally dissolve their marriage, right? Not so fast, at least for those of us interested in time travel to ancient Rome. Then and there, forced divorce wasn’t as prevalent as arranged marriage, but it was a […]


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