In a previous article, we discussed how pornography came to be defined in European, especially English, society. But pornography has a much longer history. As long as these did not spread to the general public, it was not a problem for the European rulers.
Ordinary European aristocrats believed that such statements did not affect the educated community, but that the ignorant public could be misled by them. A great example of this is Mark Antonio Raimondi’s book “E Modi” (Krama) or “Sixteen Ways to Make You Happy.”
Before the Europeans invented the printing machine, Europe had hand-made books. Many of these became religious texts. Even in such books, small pictures depicting sexual activity are found in some places. However, it was not until Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1430s that the risk of the book becoming as popular as that of the general public increased.
In 1524, the Renaissance painter Julio Romano came to the northern Italian city of Mantua to design the new palace of Duke Frederick II, Gonzaga, Palatza Te. Romano was also tasked with decorating the interior of the palace with murals. Many of these were themed with erotic themes. Romano copied sixteen paintings designed for this purpose, and Raimondi traveled to Rome, where he created carvings, prepared a book, and printed copies.
This time he was arrested and imprisoned by the Pope’s regime, and the copies he created were destroyed. It is believed that no copy of this original book survives to this day. Romano, meanwhile, continued his work in Mantua without any danger from the authorities.
It is not hard to understand why the church would imprison Raimondi and not harass Romano. The church felt that the publication of the book by Raimondi was a danger to the public. Its sexual orientation was not “moral” in the way approved by the church. But since Romano’s paintings were created in the palace of an aristocratic aristocracy, they did not risk corrupting the common people. It was their basic belief that educated aristocrats would not be corrupted by such paintings.
A woman’s sexual satisfactionEven in European society in the 18th century, sexuality was not openly discussed. Against this background, John Cleland’s memoir, Fanny Hill’s Memoirs, published in 1748, caused a great deal of controversy. It can be said that so far most of the discussions about sex have been about that party. It can also be said that there was not much discussion about the feelings of an individual. There was almost no discussion in the general society about the sexual function of the human body.
Although written by a man, the protagonist of “Fanny Hill Memoirs” is a woman, so it is a book that discusses a woman’s sexual satisfaction. The book was banned at the time, and secret copies appeared on various occasions.
In the early 1960s, “Fanny Hill’s Memoirs” was republished in 1963, after losing the lawsuit over pornography laws against Lady Chatterley’s boyfriend. Even then a case was filed against it and the publishing house lost the case. However, these two lawsuits changed the laws on pornography in Britain, and years later Fanny Hill’s memoirs were published without interruption.
By the end of the 18th century, philosophical and revolutionary ideas were spreading in France. At the same time, there were questions about the limits of sexuality. But with the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, other forms of creation emerged. Questioning the aristocracy and especially discrediting them was a necessity in the age of the French revolutionaries. An easy way to attack individuals, and aristocratic society in general, was to expose their sexual activity. Thus, various leaflets were very common at that time.
The main targets of these attacks were King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. According to pamphlets distributed in France at the time, the king was variously advertised as impotent and gay. Queen Marie Antoinette was accused of having an affair with the king’s brother as well as his maid. Regardless of the veracity of these facts, it is possible that these statements doubled and tripled the anger and resentment of the king and queen.
These leaflets were instrumental in setting the stage for the assassination of King Louis, Queen Marie Antoinette, and other members of the aristocratic family under the revolutionary rule.
On the one hand, this explains one reason why the former European ruling elite controlled the spread of “pornographic expressions” among the general population. In addition to “corrupting” the people, they risked questioning the existing social order and its rulers. Morality was one of the weapons of the ruling and clergy.
Pornography, which had hitherto been created by the aristocracy for the aristocracy, was democratized during the French Revolution. That is, the general public began to create them. But it is certain that the revolutionary French also realized that this situation was very dangerous. Therefore, after the turbulent period of the French Revolution, the French government regained such control.