Jonathan Healey’s recent post at The Social Historian (“Adventures in the world of social, economic, and local history”) is well worth reading for its analysis of sixteenth-century thought (“All this, of course, speaks to one of the biggest fears of the age: the fear of disorder”), but the title will give an idea of why I was drawn to it and am posting it here: “‘The Foulest Place of Mine Arse is Fairer than thy Face.’” It opens with a scene (quoted in lurid detail in court records) of a set-to between Mistress Foster and Agnes Haycroft on Michaelmas Eve in 1544, full of delightfully vile insults:
Frideswide was incensed. ‘That brazenfaced hore’, she said. ‘That meseld faced and skaled hore Haycroft wiff, she will never be contended till she be dreven owt of towne with basons as hir mother was’.
‘Mother,’ she said, ‘if I had bene there I wold have knoked hir furryd cap & her hed together’.
By this time, Agnes Haycroft was back, and she challenged Frideswide. ‘Wold you have don it’, she scoffed, ‘yow pockye nosed howswife’.
To this, Frideswide exploded: ‘Agnes Haycroft nay thou pokey nosed hore, feiste thow, thow meseld faced hore, thow camest to towne with a lepers face & a skalled hed, And I defye the[e] utterly, for I wold thow knewist yt that the fowlest place of myn arse ys fayrer then thy face’.
Or, as another witness had it: ‘avaunte thou pockye hore and mesellfaced hore, the fowlest place of my arse is fayrer then thy face’.
It’s worth it just for the name Frideswide, but there’s so much more! (Via MetaFilter.)