Om den tvekønnede Cantilupe

Oplæg ved Frederik Pedersen, cand. mag., senior Lecturer in History, University of Aberdeen.

On 23 March 1375, William Cantilupe, the great-nephew of the last pre-reformation English saint, St Thomas of Hereford, was murdered by his cook and squire in his wife’s family’s manor in Scotton in Lincolnshire. Seven Lincolnshire juries indicted fifteeen members of his household, including William’s wife and his chambermaid, and in addition Sir Ralph Paynel, a nobleman living in Caythorp manor some 60 miles south-west of Scotton, for aiding and abetting the murder. The murder has been well known for the last seventy years, but recently I discovered additional records that throw a surprising light over the whole affair: although it has been known for a long time that there was an old enmity between William Cantilupe’s recently deceased brother, Nicholas, and Sir Ralph Paynel who attacked Nicholas’ castle–variously known as Greasley Castle and Greasley Manor—in 1366 Paynel’s motivation for the attack has been obscure up to now.

Among the ecclesiastical cause papers in York we find transcripts of a case initiated in 1368 to secure the annulment of the marriage between Katherine Paynel,  the daughter of Sir Ralph Paynel, and Nicholas Cantilupe. In these transcripts we learn that Nicholas deceived the Paynel family on two counts: when he died of natural causes at the age of 28 in Avignon in 1370 it transpired that he had endowed Katherine with castles which he did not have the right to transfer to her, and when Katherine married him in 1365, it transpired that Nicholas was not a man. According to witnesses, “that place in which his genitals should be was totally flat like the back of a man’s hand”.

On the basis of the transcripts, the chronology of Nicholas’ life and supplementary evidence, it is possible to conclude that Nicholas was genetically a woman having a uterus and fallopian tubes, and that s/he suffered from a condition known as Congential Adrenal Hyperspalia, which, in its more severe forms, virilise females so that they appear externally to be men. The case therefore raises a number of important issues about physical (dis-)ability, the construction of gender and more general questions about relationships between members of English nobility in the North.

Oplægget holdes på engelsk. Den efterfølgende debat vil være på dansk.

Foredraget afholdes mandag den 14. december, 2009, kl. 17.05, i lokale 15.1.61 på gamle KUA. Gratis adgang.


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