“The 14th century is not ‘Georgian’, you raving lunatic!” I hear you cry. Quite right too. But this medieval suggestion for curing lovesickness is too brilliant not to share. And, in any case, who’s to say some desperate soul didn’t give it a shot a few centuries later (she asked, busily clutching at straws)?
So, your friend has been unceremoniously dumped, or has ill-advisedly fallen in love with someone he shouldn’t have. How do you cure him of those gloomy meditations, those languishing sighs? Look no further:
“… let an unsightly hag be sent into his presence, of evil appearance and with wretched garments, and put a cloth on which is blood between her knees and let her say these words to the man of love: ‘That is a bad love-lady you have, for she is bibulous, stinking, and she has epilepsy, & pisses the bed, and her skin is foul and covered with sores’ and let her say every other thing to him that will seem fit to herself, and unless he speak to her, pull the cloth on which is the blood from her and strike it in his face, and say to him in a loud voice: ‘Thus is your love-lady’. And if he be not cured by this he is not a man but a devil incarnate, and he will not be cured for all eternity.”
- From De Amore Hereos (Anon), c.1350
And so, in summary:
a) Find an unsightly hag.
b) Persuade said hag to stand before your lovesick friend & spew forth a stream of abuse about his beloved.
c) If he is not moved to speak, throw a cloth covered in (menstrual?) blood into his face while shouting “Thus is your love-lady”.
What do we think?
[Further reading: Mary F. Wack’s Lovesickness in the Middle Ages]
Image: Detail from ‘Hasta La Muerte’ by Francisco Jose de Lucientes (1799)