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Sex and Sexuality in Stuart Britain (Paperback)

British History P&S History Social History Tudors & Stuarts 17th Century

By Andrea Zuvich
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 50 black and white
ISBN: 9781526753076
Published: 30th June 2020

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Peek beneath the bedsheets of Stuart Britain in this frank, informative, and captivating look at the sexual lives of the peoples of the British Isles between 1603 and 1714. Popular Stuart historian Andrea Zuvich, “The Seventeenth Century Lady”, explores our ancestors’ ingenious, surprising, bizarre, and often entertaining beliefs and solutions to the challenges associated with maintaining a healthy sex life, along with the prevailing attitudes towards male and female sexual behaviour. The author sheds light not only on the saucy love lives of the Royal Stuarts, but also on the dark underbelly of the Stuart era with histories of prostitution, sexual violence, infanticide, and sexual deviance.

• What was considered sexually attractive in Stuart Britain?
• At which ages would people be old enough for marriage?
• What were the penalties for adultery, incest, and fornication?
• How did Stuart-era peoples deal with infertility, sexually-transmitted illnesses, and child mortality?

Find out the answers to these questions - and more - as fashion, food, science, art, medicine, magic, literature, love, politics, faith and superstition of the day are all examined, leaving the reader with a new regard for the ingenuity and character of our seventeenth and early eighteenth-century ancestors.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

How did people have sex in Stuart Britain? Same as us of course. Only if they got an STD there were no antibiotics to help them out. One of the reasons they wore wigs, aside from male pattern baldness, was because of syphilis. They also believed coffee caused impotence. They had no reliable birth control (though they tried) and c sections weren't a thing due to a lack of anesthesia so women died in droves due to childbirth. There was no deodorant and a lack of clean water, sanitation, and soap so body odor was a problem as we're rotten teeth. Yet, they loved sex and this book goes into the many aspects of sex and family practices as the two are tied together and that makes for an interesting book and an even more interesting afternoon and evening reading about it. The author keeps it light, interesting, straightforward, and historical. No embarrassment or pornography. The fascinating tidbits are endless and if you are interested in Stuart Britain this book is a good fun read for a change from the heavier tomes of history one usually finds to read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a review.

NetGalley, Barbara Schuur

The book is definitely thorough. I don't think there's an aspect of sexuality that hasn't been covered. It also serves as a great spring board for finding out more about the subject as many contemporary sources are mentioned that you can go away and read for yourself. It's written with a sense of humour too, which helps break down the stiffness (sorry) and awkwardness of discussing the ins and outs (sorry again) of the sex lives of the Stuarts.

Interested? Of course you are. Who wouldn't be?

Read the full review here

Love British History

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I think we all have this kind of curiosity about sex and sexuality in past times, and how it was potentially different to what we experience today. I found the book really thorough and the author dealt with the subject with a sense of humour, which was great. I feel I have a better understanding of part of history that is not often discussed - we're often wrapped up in the politics of an age, and so to learn more about such a 'human' subject that is relevant to all layers of society was really eye-opening. I feel like I know much more about our Stuart ancestors now, after reading the book!

NetGalley, Jo Romero

“So, get your tankard of cock ale, sit back in your cane chair by the crackling fire, and as the smells of wood smoke and tobacco from a nearby pipe mingle with the hearty scent of freshly baked pigeon pie wafting in from next door, let us go back in time to the Stuart period…”

In this book, Zuvich tracks the macro-trends in sex and sexuality in Stuart-era Britain, using examples of real people to provide touching or hilarious illustrations thereof. She discusses the opinions of the general population towards various forms of then-considered “deviant” sexual practices, various aspects of motherhood, lust, and love. This book reminded me vividly of the Love exhibition that I was able to see at the Louvre Lens a couple of years ago, where examples of graphic pornography from this era were on display for those willing to look. In the second part of the book, Zuvich briefly examines the sexual lives of the various Stuart monarchs (as well as Oliver Cromwell in the interregnum period).

Zuvich’s voice is fresh and witty. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this, which is very high praise coming from me. While I found her use of exclamation points a bit too liberal at various points in the book, this only served to highlight her enthusiasm and thorough knowledge of the material. This book was a broad overview of the period. It would not serve to make anyone an expert on Stuart era sexual politics, but serves as an excellent introduction to the era and a highly amusing read... I would still recommend this book to anyone interested in giggling over the many oddities of the Stuart era British.

NetGalley, Émilie Weidl

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

EVERYTHING I WANTED TO KNOW BUT DIDNT WANT TO ASK. So many things. Definitely for the curious history buff. Loved all the new information! Who knew. Thank you for this!

NetGalley, Ashley Davis

This was an incredibly fun historical read. I have always been fascinated by the sexual history of the past. What were people really like? What were people’s sex lives ? What were the mores? This book does a great job putting the Stuart era of England into perspectives from the peasants to the merchant class to the royals themselves. It reads like a fun romp through the most exciting parts of history.

Definitely give it a read if you love the Stuart era or are interested in learning more about it.

NetGalley, Joanna Pentikis

About Andrea Zuvich

Andrea Zuvich is a seventeenth-century historian specialising in the House of Stuart (1603–1714), as well as a historical advisor and author of historical fiction. She is the host of the popular ‘The Seventeenth Century Lady’ blog and has degrees in History and Anthropology from the University of Central Florida. Zuvich has appeared on television and radio discussing the Stuart period and gives lectures on the Stuart dynasty throughout the UK. She was one of the original developers of and leaders on the Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace. Zuvich, a Chilean-American born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now lives in England with her family. This is her sixth book.

Perfect Partner

The Victorian Guide to Sex Desire and Deviance in the 19th Century (Paperback)

An exciting factual romp through sexual desire, practises and deviance in the Victorian era. The Victorian Guide to Sex will reveal advice and ideas on sexuality from the Victorian period. Drawing on both satirical and real life events from the period, it explores every facet of sexuality that the Victorians encountered. Reproducing original advertisements and letters, with extracts taken from memoirs, legal cases, newspaper advice columns, and collections held in the Museum of London and the British Museum, this book lifts the veil from historical sexual attitudes.

By Fern Riddell

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