The chapter opens by noting the severe gender imbalance in both sources and attention in the Chinese history of homosexuality. The author cites male-centered and phallocentric attitudes toward sex that led to the invisibility of female homosexual relations. The chapter covers 2000 years of history and so is necessarily uneven. The primary focus is on male homoeroticism in the late Imperial era.
Chapter 7: The History of Same-Sex Unions in Medieval Europe
The history of actual performance of same-sex unions is harder to trace than the textual history of the liturgies and the visual history of depictions of same-sex couples. Question: to what extent are same-sex union ceremonies a carryover of pagan unions (e.g., Roman fraternal adoption) versus a new (and perhaps specifically Christian?) concept?
Chapter 5: The Development of Nuptial Offices
Before 1000, priestly blessing of a marriage was an optional favor. Its absence (or refusal) didn’t make the marriage invalid. There was no standard form for this blessing. It was only considered an expected part of the ceremony for the clergy (priests could marry until the 11th century). Often the blessing was only for the bride, not for the couple as a unit.
Chapter 4: Views of the New Religion
The rise of Christianity in Europe was not the driver of changes in sexual and romantic relations that we often imagine it was. The most significant changes--such as the predominance of monogamy and the expectation of sexual fidelity between married partners--either were already i process or were not closely tied to core Christian teachings.
Chapter 2: Heterosexual Matrimony in the Greco-Roman World
This chapter explains the structures and functions of various male-female relationships, as a prelude to expanding the focus more generally. There were different types of relationships for sexual fulfillment, property contracts, and production of children.
Part IV: The Rise of Intolerance
Chapter 10: Social Change
The fanaticism and intolerance popularly associated with the “medieval” period date primarily to the later middle ages. Prior to the 13th century, social and religious tolerance were more typical. In the 13-14th century this changed, though historians are unclear on the exact reasons. Among the forces that are considered relevant: the rise in absolute government, both secular and clerical, and movements to reform, regularize and enforce power systems.
Part III: Shifting Fortunes
Chapter 7: The Early Middle Ages
Part II The Christian Tradition
Chapter 4: The Scriptures
There were massive changes to attitudes to same-sex relations that can be attributed to Christian influence on Eureopean culture, but that influence was complex and derived from several separate factors including scripture, social dynamics, and theology.
Part I Points of Departure