February in a medieval garden in France

A medieval French garden - on a cold February day 600 yefars agoEurope is still frozen but we should not complain – and perhaps our predecessors did not mind the cold either. This brilliant painting of a medieval garden yard is from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. The painting is dated to c1410 – so we can celebrate its 600th annniversary. The wattle fencing is exquisite. The sheep are better protected than on a modern farm. The beehives are in good order and produced a more nutritious sweetner than our refined and dangerous sugars.  Mum is modest but  the young girl and boy are exposing  their genitals to the warmth of a fire. It reminds me of a lecture from the president of the students union in my first week at university. He solemnly informed his audience that if, before intercourse, a man spent an hour with his testicles between two lightbulbs it would reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. I never put the theory to the test.

6 thoughts on “February in a medieval garden in France

  1. Meredith

    I sincerely hope he wasn’t putting out such irresponsible advice in an era where condoms were readily available… still, I got a giggle imagining the man who would sit in such a bizarre posture for an hour. Interesting post!

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    Condoms, but so far as I remember, only from barber’s shops. They were austere, like dental surgeries with maybe 3 people having their hair cut and 3 waiting on hard seats. The room was silent except for snips and clips. The young man’s reques for ‘some durex, please’ was met by inquisitive and disapproving stares from all. The barber would produce the goods from amongst the pots of Brylcream. Older men were treated better with the ‘something for the weekend, sir?’ question.

  3. Robert Webber

    Been a bit of a grim morning-caused by humans not weather-and you have given me my first laugh of the day and so for that I thank you.

    And also of course for the beautiful vignette of medieval life!

    Best Wishes
    Robert Webber
    The Hegarty Webber partnership

  4. Gordon Evans

    The barber I frequented well into the 1980’s in New Cross – when condoms were already available in all shapes, sizes, colours and flavours in most High Street chemists – always used to ask as I was paying him “Are you all right for everything?”. It took me a long time to work out what he meant, I guess most of his other customers came from your era, Tom!

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    We’re getting somewhat off-topic here, but on the historical point I date the change to the 1981 AIDS epidemic. Before that, the prim ladies of our student services dept were making coy remarks about the risk of getting girls into trouble if one drank too much. After that, those same ladies came close to giving demos with bananas.
    On the wider issue, I think there are a number of parallels between the medieval era and the post-modern era. They include the planning of multi-functional urban space and a zest for hypocrisy, as when our leaders talk high and live low.

  6. Edward

    I think that the 2 lightbulbs trick would work: after a successful date, some kissing in the taxi home and a spot of petting in the bedroom, I don’t think that the declaration

    “Right, love, I’m just off to pop me nuts between a pair of lightbulbs – see you in an hour: help yourself to some twiglets!”

    would be condusive to any intercourse at all. At least, it never worked for me…


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