Posted on October 9, 2019 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
This post is safe for work, but the discovery it addresses isn’t exactly clean.
The oldest surviving pages from a 13th-century erotic poem were recently discovered in, of all places, the archives of the Diocese of Worcester.
Le Roman de la Rose (“The Romance of the Rose”) was completed by 1280 by two medieval French poets and famously translated into English by Geoffrey Chaucer.
According to a news release from the University of Bristol — which sent one of its professors to help identify and translate the pages upon their discovery — the handwritten parchment fragments come from the end of the story, in which the sexual encounter is described.
So that could be why the naughtiest parts were in a religious archive, says Professor Marianne Ailes.
“The Roman de la Rose was at the centre of a late medieval row between intellectuals about the status of women, so we have the possibility that these specific pages were taken out of their original bindings and recycled by someone who was offended by these scenes,” she explains.
You can see images of the Roman de la Rose (and more details on what was in these exact pages) on the University of Bristol’s website.