In fantasy, medieval life is portrayed as all sexual violence and misery. It is not that simple
Whenever a fantasy story goes too far into gruesome violence or simple human exploitation, storytellers like to spout four little words:
Is Sexual and Reproductive Violence Historically Accurate in Medieval Times? To some extent, yes, as the records show. But so does a myriad of other things that seem to easily fall off the storyboard when it’s time to add authenticity.
Other historians point out that, as lustful and gasping as something like a brutal death by caesarean section, such butchery was not as widespread as storytellers would have you believe.
Texts from the time indicate that such extreme measures would generally be applied to women who were already dead – and not, as in “The House of the Dragon”, a fully awake and alert woman with no idea what was about to happen to her.
Janega points out that while medieval times certainly weren’t too kind to women or anyone else who wasn’t wealthy, powerful, and masculine, they weren’t the burlesque of suffering that we have seen. used to seeing on the screen.
“‘Accuracy’ always focuses on the unpleasant aspects of a society, but never on the pleasant ones,” she says. “(It) always encompasses sexual violence and never things like, say, the three field system or fish weirs. They don’t really show how women other than the nobility are a dynamic part of the workforce. Medieval work Women are found in almost all facets of medieval work: as blacksmiths, managers of workshops, brewers of beer, in the production of fabrics, managers of public baths or in trade delegations. addressing the court.”
“It would be more accurate to say it’s fiction, but it reflects the society that creates the art, and that society is chock full of sexual assault, rather than implying that it just has to be done. in the name of bearing witness to a misogynistic past that we no longer know,” says Janega.
It’s easy, and perhaps a little comforting, to look back a few hundred years and decide that things were much worse on every level. While much of this is true, records show that we carry a host of misconceptions about medieval and surrounding eras that make our current reality seem much more sophisticated in contrast.
Of course, it should be remembered that fantasy does not have to resemble history at all. If the vast recesses of the imagination can birth icy giants and bring the dead back to life, surely they can invent a world where social structures are not defined by pervasive suffering. And if there is going to be fire and blood, perhaps there are more creative, even more historically accurate ways to portray it.