It was a kind of lustful enchantment. I feel a purer more unearthly feel than I ever did. He slid into bed next to her, kissing her over and over; they fell asleep with arms entwined.
Historians have long acknowledged that Victoria had a high libido—some have implied she was some kind of sexual predator who devoured a tolerant but exhausted husband. She was undoubtedly extremely passionate, the fact of which clashes with the strong associations Victoria often carries of dour old age and puritanical condemnation.
Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast. A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know and nothing you don't. In the nineteenth century, it was assumed that women with strong libidos were pathological: Some were given clitoridectomies or had leeches placed on their perineums.
Others were told to abstain from meat and brandy, use hair pillows, douche with borax, have cold enemas, or adhere to strict vegetable diets. In , a doctor reported that the most likely candidates for nymphomania were virgins, widows, or women with blond hair aged sixteen to twenty-five. Projection was prevalent in the Victorian medical profession. Most female illnesses were thought to derive from troublesome pelvic organs.
The greatest sources of knowledge about the female organs were assumed to be male gynecologists, which made the bodies of women a secret even, or perhaps especially, to themselves. The Medical Registration Act specifically excluded women from becoming qualified doctors.
Sex education for girls was unthinkable. British doctor and author of books on masturbation William Acton even argued that some married couples were so ill informed that their marriages were never consummated.
You cannot help but feel some sympathy for Dr. In , Robert Tait wrote:. The majority of women enter the married state with but a very hazy notion of what its functions are… there is a false modesty on these subjects ingrained in our English life which has to be paid for in much suffering amongst women.
For many married women, sex was a chore, not something to be enjoyed. Albert did not record his views on sex, but it is clear that he satisfied his wife.
And he certainly admired her, writing to his brother approvingly about her oft-praised bosom. Despite the intensity and obvious physicality of his relationship with Victoria, who was certain she was the only woman to whom Albert had ever made love, there has been some speculation that Albert was gay. Albert loved his wife, but socially and intellectually he preferred male company. While he did not enjoy the after-dinner port drinking and male banter that were then the custom— usually leaving to play chess alone or sing duets with Victoria—his closest friendships were with men.
There is no evidence that Albert had a physical relationship with a man, but many have suspected he did. Lytton Strachey stated that Albert did not take after his cheating father for two possible reasons: His intense attachment to his tutor is unsurprising, given the absence of his mother. Some have also pointed to the strong culture of homoeroticism at many male colleges such as those that comprised Oxford and Cambridge and public schools such as Eton in the nineteenth century, and there is no reason to think Bonn would be exempt.
Intimate behaviors—passionate declarations of love, sharing of beds, and kissing—that today would be called homosexual did not attract a label.
He and Victoria had an intimate and satisfying marriage, and Victoria was the chief protector and creator of the memory of Albert. No one seriously gossiped about it while he was alive, at a time when homosexuality was not considered an identity but something people occasionally dabbled in, often as teenagers and young men and women. According to Michel Foucault, the beginning of the categorization of homosexuality as an identity did not come until And ultimately, the fact that Albert did not ogle or admire other women was one of the things Victoria loved most about her husband.
It made her feel secure, protected. It was also excellent revenge on the popular, pretentious society women who circled the royal court. It was a stupid thing to say, and Victoria fumed: The marriage between Victoria and Albert is one of the greatest romances of modern history.
It was genuine, devoted, and fruitful. Together, they ushered in an era when the monarchy would shift from direct power to indirect influence, and from being the fruit of the aristocracy to becoming the symbol of the middle class. They restored and raised the stature of the monarchy, preserving it from the revolutions that toppled the aristocracies and royal families in Europe during the same years that Victoria and Albert were widely feted in Britain.
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