Bed sharing between men in ancient times

One of the biggest challenges facing medieval historians, and perhaps especially historians of medieval sexuality, is interpreting the actions of individuals at a remove of several centuries. Take, for example, the case of King Richard I of England, who has sometimes been considered something of a gay icon. The main evidence for Richard’s homosexuality comes from the chronicle of Roger of Howden, who recorded that
Richard I of England greets Philip II of France, from a 13th C. (French chronicle, BNF/Wikimedia Commons)

Richard…remained with Philip, the king of France, who so honoured him that for a long time they ate every day at the same table and from the same dish, and at night their beds did not separate them. The king of France loved Richard as his own soul, and they loved each other so much that the king of England was absolutely astonished.

For many modern readers, the fact that the two men shared a bed can mean only one thing: they were having a sexual relationship. But, as historians such as John Gillingham and Stephen Jaeger have pointed out, such an interpretation rests heavily on the projection of modern practices and perceptions onto the distant past. For high-status medieval men, sharing a meal and a bed had more to do with politics than sex, and the same was true of other intimate gestures such as kissing and handholding. Such behaviours served as tokens of peace or reconciliation, and as demonstrations of alliance and favour. So when Henry II learnt of his son’s attachment to the French king, he was shocked not because he thought Richard was homosexual, but because he had formed an alliance with his father’s worst enemy.
The Dream of the Magi, from the Queen Mary Psalter (England, 1310-20), British Library

The gulf between medieval and modern views of bed-sharing becomes even clearer if we consider some medieval depictions of the Magi. According to St Matthew’s Gospel, three wise men from the East came to visit the infant Jesus at Bethlehem. On their journey, they encountered Herod. He asked that, once they had found the child, they should tell him of its whereabouts, for he too wanted to worship Jesus. But God warned the wise men in a dream that they should not return to Herod. The Dream of the Magi became a popular image during the later middle ages, and was depicted in a variety of settings, from psalters to stained glass windows, sculptures and wall-paintings.

From a modern perspective, two things are remarkable about such images. The first is that, even when sleeping, the trio (who have by now become kings) wear their crowns. The second, more striking, feature of these depictions is that the trio are always to be found to be sharing a single bed; in some images they even appear to be naked – except, of course, for the crowns which indicate their exalted social status. Given that these are revered figures with a place at the heart of one of the most important stories in the Christian tradition, it seems unlikely that medieval illustrators were trying to suggest that the Three Wise Men were engaged in some form of ménage à trois.

That the Magi could be widely depicted in what the modern eye can view only as an extremely compromising position surely reflects a significant shift in attitudes to bedsharing between the middle ages and the modern day. This shift has significant implications for our understanding of the sexuality of Richard I – and indeed for our wider understanding of medieval sexualities and behaviours.

you gon’ regret this


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Hii stori yote itatusaidia aje? Ama its just a faggots bedtime story


Another one burns the closet

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The closet couldn’t hold you forever…


Worst bed time story ever. I guess you will be sharing a bed with a tree carrier tonight.

Leviticus 18:22


Before the shit storm comes…it has a been a point of concern to the historians but I guess we live in times of too much immorality we can’t separate true friendship or fellowship from perverted acts of sex…in the old days men’s were very close to one another and they had very good support systems not what we have where as men we relate based on material stuff or marital statuses…even the friendship between Lincoln and his secretary of state baffles his wife and so did for most men coz twas based on ideology sharing and off course merry making and visiting a few ‘Sabina joys’ of that era…

Now I know where Shakespeare got that Strange Bedfellows comment:eek::eek::eek:

ungesema tu unataka kudinywa rasa.
you dont have to justfy faggtory which i think is fine if the partners are in agreement with alot of intelectual rhetoric.
even ancient greek taught the priest the mordern day sodomy.
as long you dont shove and tell.
gross eeeewwww


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Very pro gay comment.

Very gay post.

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Aaai boss, hata kama ni ushoga just go ahead bila story mob. ama umekosa mtu?


I completely agree, some say that lincoln was gay but i think that’s not the case, todays society is too over sexualized , i remember back in the days it was okay to hold hands with a guy while walking, try that today and you will be branded a homo.