Top 10 sex and love stories

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, from Monday we're hosting a Love & Romance Week! First up: from love letters to chastity belts, we round up 10 of the best sex and love stories to feature on our website.

This article first featured on HistoryExtra.com in May 2014

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Sex in Ancient Greece: to have or not to have?

Sex was always in front of peoples’ eyes in the ancient world, and it didn’t just indulge viewers, but often tricked them simultaneously into questioning their own sexual customs and actions as well. Here, Dr Michael Scott discusses the sexual material that went on show in the Cycladic
Museum in Athens in 2010…

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Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn: Suzannah Lipscomb dispels myths about the lovers who changed history

They are two of history’s most captivating figures, their romance-turned-tragedy known the world over. But what was the true nature of the relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and how did Anne come to lose her head? Here, Tudor historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb dispels some of the myths that surround one of history’s most iconic couples.

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Revealed: love letters from First and Second World War soldiers

Letters sent by soldiers to their wives and sweethearts during wartime have been compiled in a new book. Taken from the First and Second World War archives of the National Army Museum, the letters and photographs reveal the personal stories of soldiers and their loved ones during the turbulence of war.

 

The mad, bad and over-sexed Gods of Olympus

In Egypt they claimed to have given birth to pharaohs, while in Rome they were said to have led respectable citizens into orgiastic rituals of drink and sex. Now, a new book traces the history of the Greek Olympian gods and their transformations from antiquity to the present day…

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Celibacy ‘bitterly contested in 11th century’

It has for priests been the 900-year norm. But according to the authors of Religious Men and Masculine Identity in the Middle Ages, celibacy was at first met with fierce criticism. In their volume, Patricia Cullum and Katherine J Lewis claim there were anxieties that if clerics were celibate they would all become sodomites, because they were not allowed to be married.

Victorian Valentine’s Day Cards

A selection of handmade Valentine’s Day cards crafted during the Victorian period went on display at Manchester Metropolitan University earlier this year. One card, titled “The Bark of Love”, featured a fairy in a gilded carriage drawn by two swans. Another, rather saucy card, included what was possibly a pair of Victorian undergarments, with the message, “I think of you with inexpressible delight”.

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Sexual relations with PoWs sparked fears of immorality

Sexual relationships between female British civilians and prisoners of war (PoWs) in the 1940s prompted government fears of a rise in ‘immorality’, new research suggests. In a study published in the Journal of Contemporary History, Professor Bob Moore from the University of Sheffield explores archive documents revealing that the British government attempted to limit fraternisation between female civilians and Italian and German PoWs employed to alleviate the Second World War domestic labour shortage.

Revealed: the British First World War officer who married a nurse who wanted him dead

Gravely wounded during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, Captain Harry Oldham from the West Yorkshire Regiment was condemned to death by an Irish nurse who mistook him for German spy. Yet, in an unexpected turn of events, the pair married two years later, and went on to have three children…

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Historical sex objects to feature in classrooms

An 18th-century chastity belt and phallic Roman amulets are to be used to enrich sex education for secondary school pupils. In an attempt to help students discuss challenging topics, researchers from the University of Exeter are to launch a new taster course for schools that teaches sex education through the examination and discussion of ancient artefacts.

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Did Robin Hood have a love interest before Maid Marian?

Experts in the legend of Robin Hood have dismissed a ballad that claims the famous outlaw had another love interest before Maid Marian. 
Archivists at Nottinghamshire County Council have on file in its Valentine’s archive records a ballad in which Hood’s love interest before Maid Marian is said to be Clorinda, the Queen of the Shepherdesses. 
In the ballad, titled Robin Hood’s Birth, Breeding, Valour and Marriage, Robin asks for Clorinda’s hand in marriage.

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