Many many thanks to D P Denman for organising this blog hop to celebrate love in all its forms and fashions. Below you will find links to all the terrific authors who are taking part and also a link to a major Rafflecopter giveaway – enter it and you can win not only a Kindle but a whole load of ebooks to put on it.
Now I could just cut to the chase and provide the links to save the readers who are just here for the giveaways from having to scroll but nope! If you want to win a Kindle you can use that scroll bar, and for the people who stick around and read my post I’ve got a smaller private giveaway just for the fun of it.
First of all, a picture.
Not very impressive, is it? Until you consider that this is the oldest known depiction of two humans making love [or the oldest known piece of pornography if you have the kind of mind that insists on looking at everything that way]. This pebble has been painstakingly chipped to show the entwined limbs of lovers. It is thought to be over 13,000 years old, dating from the Ice Age, and was found in a cave in a desert area of Judea. Click the picture to go to the BBC website for more information on the carving and what it may represent.
What it represents to me is that the meeting of hearts, minds and sometimes of bodies, too, has been a major preoccupation for human beings since there WERE human beings. Lovers of all types, shapes, sizes and sexes have pledged to each other, sometimes fleetingly, for the heck of it, just for an hour, and sometimes with deep and abiding commitment.
This image dates to 500BC and shows part of a ceremony of union described by Herodotus at about that time, by Lucian in 50AD and, astonishingly, by Gerald of Wales writing of Ireland in the 12th century AD. Here is Lucian’s account of the ceremony in the words of a participant:
We consider appropriate to [these relationships] what you do in regard to marriage – wooing for a long time and doing everything similar so that we might not fail to obtain the friend, or be rejected. And when a friend has been preferred to all others, there are contracts for this and the most solemn oath, both to live together and to die, if necessary, for each other, which we do. From the point at which we have both cut our fingers and let the blood run into a chalice, dipped the tips of our swords in it, and both drunk it together, there is nothing that could dissolve what is between us.
Gerald’s account is, naturally, scathing because he was a devout churchman and anything involving the letting and consuming of blood was considered to be a pagan mockery of communion. But even in Catholic France during the 16th century it was possible for lovers to make a life together through the legal act of affrèrement – ‘brothering’. Originally designed so that two brothers or other close relations could share a house and property equally, it was also applied to men who were not related to each other but who wished to become legal and equal partners. The new “brothers” pledged to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ — one bread, one wine, and one purse. There are many historians who pooh-pooh any suggestion that some of the people who signed contracts might have been lovers but honestly! If there was a way to make your lover your heir, to live with him as a partner, both in business as well of the heart, wouldn’t you take it?
Buccaneers certainly did, changing the name of affrèrement to matelotage and settling areas of the Caribbean and Spanish Main in colonies of same sex couples with locally recognised and approved rights of inheritance and fidelity. Until death do us part was as important to them as to the men of Scythia or the people today who choose to marry.
There have been good times, bad times, times of acceptance and times of persecution but I believe things are getting better and I hope that they continue to do so.
Okay you’ve been very patient so here’s the link to the Rafflecopter and for those of you who’d like to enter the private giveaway please comment below with the name of the century in which affrèrement was practised in France for a chance to win an ebook from my backlist, and a unique sheep related product!!
Happy Valentines and don’t forget to follow the links below.