Let the Right One In.*

*Note: This post is not about vampire children, but rather medieval sexploits. Sorry. But, the title is a double entendre, so by all means filmfan, keep reading if you’re intrigued.

Justin Bieber’s dream birthday is a party at a Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament Castle. Wow, it’s like we’re best friends.

Hey guys, hey. It’s our blog birthday. Blogthay. Blirthgay. Blirdigirthbay.  Do you know what I received for my actual birthday last year? Welp, aside from the traditional gun and bottle of scotch, I got three pages from a 14th century book of hours. I don’t know who my parents killed to get them, but I will pay whatever the going rate is these days to the Church for absolution. So in that spirit, I bring you a brief, loving, and very highly absofruitly accurate tale of medieval sexual misconduct and mistrial.

Once upon a time there was a place called “France” in an age long long ago called “the Later Middle Ages.” In this mystical land lived a man named Martin Guerre, who married a girl named Bertrande. They were childless for eight years, and it’s very possible that since the medieval mindset towards child-rearing was fairly close to that of the Duggers, that the marriage either went unconsummated, or after one horribly awkward night, Martin slept on the pullout in the living room.

Either way, he was a little shit who apparently stole grain from Bertrande’s father and abruptly disappeared in 1548 over the Pyrenees. This was all the better for his wife, but by Catholic law, she couldn’t remarry unless her husband was proved to be dead.

So here’s the juicy bit: about eight years later, a guy shows up at Bertrande’s saying he’s Martin. He looks the same if you squint, and knows weird stuff about Martin, and he convinces most people in the village, including Martin’s own sisters, and apparently Bertrande. She lets him stay, and get this shit, he immediately knocks her up. Twice. Hmmmm.

After three years, “Martin’s” uncle, Pierre (what a douchey name), starts to suspect something. A solider comes through town and says “Hey, whoa, that dude Martin Guerre totally lost a leg in some war we were in together somewhere.” Pierre has his sons-in-law attack Martin, but Bertrande intervenes Pocohantas-style. Some of the villagers accuse Martin of arson for no apparent reason, but Bertrande hires a lawyer and he is acquitted.

Pierre doesn’t give up though, and brings a fraudulent lawsuit against Martin in Bertrand’s name. Bertrande is rull pissed, but is forced to testify against Martin, and admits that even though at first she thought it was her husband SHE TOTALLY REALLY KNEW IT OBVIOUSLY WASN’T HIM AND SO THEY HAD A LOT OF SEX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then, it gets fucking heartbreaking. Fake Martin, whose name was apparently Arnaud (which is a really hot name b.t.dubs.), challenges her in the middle of his trial that if she would swear he wasn’t her husband, he’d be gladly executed. BUT SHE TOTALLY REMAINED SILENT CAUSE SHE LOVED HIM GUYSS$S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!!1

After more than 150 testimonies claiming the man was or wasn’t Martin, Arnaud was sentenced to death. There was an appeal, and officials decided Bertrande had been forced by that shitbag Pierre into giving false evidence against Arnaud, because his knowledge of Martin’s life and story checked out perfectly. BUT (this shit is so dramatic, I’m sorry), THEN……………………………..

THE REAL MARTIN GUERRE SHOWS UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING RETRIAL.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!111!

Oh my Lord, I just can’t take it. Pass me the smelling salts.

Arnaud is immediately given the death penalty again, and four days after the retrial, he was hanged in front of Bertrande’s house, and, as was the custom, his body was left there as a warning to other criminals. That fucking sucks, Bertie.

The real Martin had apparently gone to seek his fortunes in war with no intention of returning to his family. After he did indeed lose a leg, he lived in a monastery. He returned home upon hearing the news of the trial (which was very sensational at the time), and initially refused his wife’s apologies, telling her she should have not taken another man. Ahhhh, men.

This is, in fact, a well-trod area of history, popularized in something like three operas from the 18th and 19th centuries, then repopularized, ANTHROPOLOGICALHYPHENHISTORYSTYLEWHUTUPPP, in the 1980s by Natalie Zemon Davies (which is required reading for lots of History Methods and Fake Science Anthro classes), and then made into an opera by the guys who brought you Les Mis, a couple of movies, and another musical by nobody I knew.

So, that’s my closing contribution to our Blogoversary Celebration. I know I speak for MRG and LHB when I say that the past year of being very clearly so much internet famous has been a pleasure, a privilege, and a somethingelsethatstartswithp. From our little class in Bath, to our respective second-tier mid-sized east-coast liberal-arts colleges, we at for shame! have stayed devoted to bringing you, dear readers, the most scandalous, most salacious, most sexy shit history has to offer. And we will continue to do so until the sun explodes (or we’re forced to abandon this and erase all possible traces so as not to ruin our careers in the public sector/academia).

(or until someone gives us a coffeetablebook deal).


6 Comments on “Let the Right One In.*”

  1. mgiac3090 says:

    MRG here, first time commenter, long time fan. Just wondering, JAF, does Martin Guerre (who Wiki also calls Daguerre) have anything to do with the dude who invented daguerreotypes much, much later? Blanking on his first name, but it’s SomethingFrench Daguerre (I really could have just looked it up, but it’s better this way).
    Because that would be cool.
    Okay bye now.

    • freeja03 says:

      MRG- I’m gonna be for real here, I have no idea. And I feel like only extensive, and largely impossible research could help me find out, considering the records are spotty. As someone once told me, “No one wrote anything down until the Enlightenment, right?” They were absolutely correct. But thanks for bringing that up, and dreaming big history-web dreams.
      Your Affectionate Friend,

  2. Michelle says:

    Happy blogaversary! Please keep these posts coming, I’m addicted!!! xoxo

  3. lbar216 says:

    Thanks, Michelle! We’re so happy you’re enjoying the blog. (I’ve still been meaning to try those apple cider doughnuts that you posted some time ago!)

  4. subseti says:

    Sounds a lot like the back story on which the Bollywood film Paheli is based on. Have you ever heard of that? From wikipedia: “Paheli is based on the short story written by Vijayadan Detha and tells the story of a wife (Rani Mukerji) who is left by her husband (Shahrukh Khan) and visited by a ghost, disguised as her husband, who is in love with her and takes her husband’s place.” and “The story has been previously adapted into film, Duvidha (1973) by Mani Kaul.”

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