Forbidden Desire in Early Modern Europe: Male-Male Sexual Relations, 1400–1750

Oxford Univ. Apr. 2024. 576p. ISBN 9780198886334. $32.95. HIST
Historian Malcom (Rebels, Believers, Survivors) takes on a subject that has been the focus of several micro studies throughout the years: the appearance of homosexual behavior among men in pre-modern Europe. He looks at the big picture by examining a vast array of sources—archival, printed, and from 15 languages—across the continent. Chapters focus on the Ottoman Empire, Italy, England, and the Netherlands. Malcolm’s statements are carefully argued, airtight, and well-documented. Historical claims are made visceral through his storytelling that incorporates and references laws, literature, and religions. The major crux of the book encompasses isolated cases of sodomy prosecution to communities of same-sex-attracted men.
VERDICT A significant contribution to the debate on the making of modern sexualities and an essential read for historians and serious students of premodern European history. Both general readers and scholars will undoubtedly come away with new insights from this meticulously researched and argued book.
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