The ultimate symbol of feudal barbarism has been the "droit de cuissage" or right of a feudal Lord to sleep with the bride of a vassal on her wedding night. This text demonstrates that it is a myth, under contextual examination nearly all the evidence for this custom melts away, yet belief in it has survived for seven hundred years. The text shows how each era turned the mythical custom to its own ends, in the late Middle Ages monarchists raised the custom to rally public opinion against local lords, and partisans of the French Revolution pointed to it as proof of the corruption of the Ancien Regime.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1: Remnants and Persistences 2: The Droit de Cuissage in the Corridors of History (1789-1854) 3: The Great Dispute of 1854-82: The Droit de Cuissage and the Invention of the Middle Ages 4: Seventy-two Proofs 5: The Body and the Land 6: The Ecclesiastical Droit de Cuissage 7: The Politics of Cuissage: The Social Uses of Persiflage Epilogue App. 1: A Literary Setting of Seigniorial Sexual Abuse App. 2: The Droit de Cuissage in Spain: A Response to Carlos Barros Notes Glossary Chronological Bibliography of Works and Documents Relating to the Droit de Cuissage Index