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Showing posts by: Elizabeth Loupas click to see Elizabeth Loupas's profile
Apr 3 2014 11:00am

Extra Virgin: Historical Virginity Tests

The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth LoupasToday we're pleased to welcome author Elizabeth Loupas, whose The Red Lily Crown is out this week! Elizabeth's book is set in 1574 Florence, when the Grand Duke de Medici was dying. So of course there are intrigues, and secrets, and romances, and all sorts of delicious things. Elizabeth is here to talk about the various tests for virginity women have had to endure, just to prove their purity. Thanks, Elizabeth!

Throughout most of history, men have been a little irrational on the subject of virgins. What with patrilineal succession and all, they seemed to think that marrying a virgin would assure them that their children would be their own. The trouble was—how to be sure a girl really was a virgin? Naturally they couldn’t just take her word for it.

Enter virginity tests.

There were four basic types. One was the blood-on-the-sheets-on-the-wedding-night sort of test, which was much beloved of European royalty. For as long as the test existed, of course, girls figured out ways to get around it (chicken’s blood, anyone?), and we’ve all read many scenes in novels in which shy or slightly-too-experienced brides have faked this supposedly infallible test. Sometimes even with the encouragement of their new husbands!

[Sure, how could that not be foolproof?...]