Facts History SEX

15 Sex Facts Your History Teachers Didn’t Want You To Know About

15 Sex Facts Your History Teachers Didn’t Want You To Know About

1. 18th-century empress of Russia Catherine the Great employed “foot ticklers” to turn her on.

Catherine and other czarinas, like Anna Leopoldovna, employed girls and eunuchs as full-time foot ticklers to arouse them sexually. The ticklers also told obscene stories to help get the empresses in the mood to have steamy fun with their husbands (or their lovers), and they were well-paid for their tickling services. If only that was still a career option.

2. The first cock rings were made from goat eyelashes.


Cock rings were commonly used in Jin- and Song-era China (around 1200) and were made from the eyelids of goats. The goats’ eyelashes were usually left on to add an extra bit of stimulation for the humans involved. Argh. What’s even stranger is that you can still buy “natural goat eye cock rings” online today. Nope.

3. And the first dildos were made of stone.

World Archaeology Prehistory Museum – Blaubergen / Creative Commons

This ancient stone penis is one of the oldest depictions of male genitalia ever to be discovered. It came from Germany’s Hohle Fels cave, and it’s around 28,000 years old. Later versions of dildos were covered in leather sheaths to make them softer (and warmer), although the word “dildo” wasn’t used until the Restoration era, in a bawdy British poem about the popularity of imported Italian dildos:

“You ladies all of merry England

Who have been to kiss the Duchess’ hand,

Pray, did you not lately observe in the show

A noble Italian called Signor Dildo? …”

4. Sexy “petting parties” really took off in the 1920s.

Twitter: @FlapperCloche

Many bold young women in the 1920s rejected their parents’ strait-laced, prudish, Victorian models of propriety and instead went to specially organised “petting parties” with the express purpose of pairing up with boys, kissing them, cuddling, touching them, and having a bit of under-the-girdle action. They didn’t have full sex though: Times hadn’t changed that much.

5. And so did hardcore pornography.

It’s a common misconception that people were strait-laced 100 years ago. Almost as soon as cameras were invented, people started taking nude photos like this and selling them as postcards (discreetly, of course). Many showed penetrative intercourse as well, and “non-standard” sexual practices like lesbianism. You certainly wouldn’t want to accidentally post any of them to your mum.

6. Victorian doctors used to masturbate their patients.

Sony Pictures

Women’s “hysteria” (i.e. anxiety, irritability, nervousness, and other symptoms of being a woman with few rights in a restrictive patriarchal society) was seen as a serious problem during the Victorian period. But doctors discovered these symptoms could be temporarily relieved with a “pelvic finger massage” (heh) that, if done correctly, would induce a “hysterical paroxysm.” Well…yes indeedy.

7. King Edward VII spent a lot of time in a French brothel.

The brothel was called Le Chabanais, and it was one of the most exclusive in Paris. In the 1880s, it was a favourite haunt of “Bertie”, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, who would go on to become King Edward VII. He spent so much time at the brothel that a special loveseat was made for him (pictured), which was used to support his considerable weight as he boned a series of French courtesans.

8. You could buy sex guidebooks in 18th-century London.

Prostitution was legal in the capital, and guidebooks were published and updated every year to help men find the sex worker who was right for them. The guides contained prices, ages, appearance, techniques, reviews, and the sort of activities the women were willing to do (in lurid detail). It was a bit like a mucky version of TripAdvisor.

9. And scandalous sex clubs were all the rage too.

Sex clubs were all the rage in the 1700s as well, and one of the most notorious clubs was the “Beggar’s Benison“, in St Andrews, Scotland. Members would meet to read banned books like Fanny Hill, and to have sex with willing girls. New members were initiated in a ceremony that involved wanking into a shared bowl, and drinking out of a penis-shaped glass. Er…OK.

10. By 300AD, Rome had 45 brothels, and they were so popular they had to stay closed until the late afternoon.

If they’d been open in the mornings, no one would have bothered to go to work. Prostitution was fully legal in Rome, and men would also offer their services. At one point, a census showed there were 32,000 sex workers operating in the city. “Road signs” shaped like penises pointed the way to the nearest pleasure house.

11. Romans used special “brothel tokens” to pay for sex.

Discovery Channel

To defeat the language barrier faced by soldiers stationed throughout the Empire, the army came up with these tokens, which featured a full range of sexual activities and positions. The coins (spintriae) had different values based on the sexual activity depicted. All the soldiers had to do was point and pay. Clever.

12. Ancient Roman women would use the sweat scraped from gladiators’ skin as an aphrodisiac.


Romans didn’t use soap; they preferred to cover themselves in oil and then scrape the accumulated sweat and dirt off themselves with a sharp tool called a strigil. Many aristocratic Roman women would have had the hots for a specific gladiator (in much the same way as people have crushes on celebs today), so they would buy their gladiator’s body grease and use it as a moisturiser and lubricant.

13. Sex poems were very popular in medieval France.


Before Pornhub, people were getting their rocks off by listening to travelling players perform comic, filthy sex tales and poems called fabliaux, with titles like “The Maiden Who Couldn’t Hear Fuck”, “The Knight Who Made Cunts and Assholes Speak”, “The Priest Who Peaked”, and “Berangier of the Long Asshole”. Maybe HBO should take note. You can read “Berangier of the Long Asshole” here, if you really want to.

14. Medieval women would cheat on “virginity tests”.!.jpg / Creative Commons

The “pure, virtuous” medieval woman was expected to be a virgin on her wedding night. However, women (handily) had access to under-the-radar guides on how to fake virginity. One book states: “the day before her marriage, let her put a leech cautiously on her labia; then blood will flow out here, and a little crust will form in that place…in having intercourse the false virgin will (bleed and) deceive the man.” Urgh.

15. And impotence trials were a thing in medieval France.



There were very few ways a woman could divorce her husband in 1500s France, but there was one dealbreaker: They were allowed an annulment if they could prove that their husband couldn’t get it up. These tests took place in court. A man would have to make himself ejaculate in front of a jury (no mean feat), and potentially have sex with his wife, too.

And you thought Judge Judy was dramatic.


One reply on “15 Sex Facts Your History Teachers Didn’t Want You To Know About”

I have a copy of a late 18th century guide to the whores of Edinburgh. I indulge myself when it comes to books .

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