In the sheets of history (H. Pigaillem)

The author of this work, Henri pigaillem presents us in alphabetical order the meaning of the many words and expressions known or to be discovered in the field of sexuality! In this real historical dictionary of amorous passion, we are immersed from antiquity to the present day in the intimacy of famous characters, where the origin of ancestral practices and feelings are revealed and explained to us.

Love letters

The first messages of love found in Mesopotamia date back to the 3rd millennium BC. They were encrusted on clay tablets using a pointed reed. Love correspondence was reserved in Roman antiquity only for intellectuals, members of wealthy families and merchants who alone knew how to write.

At the end of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance it was fashionable to declare your love through a poem or a song. If he belonged to a high social rank, the author could address himself to a troubadour, even to a court poet.

In the Age of Enlightenment, amorous missives stripped of the preciousness of salons to become more licentious. In the 19th century they changed again in substance and in form, romanticism obliges! Passion is still raging today, but modern tools have done away with the handwritten love letter.

Large horizontals

This name was attributed to the rich courtesans (always working in a lying position) who appeared in the 19th century under Napoleon III. They lived in the chic districts of Paris with a luxury essential to maintaining their rank! The most famous were La Païva, Cora Pearl, Valtesse de la Bigne (maintained by Jacques Offenbach) Apolline Sabatier (mistress of Charles Beaudelaire) La Castiglione to name a few. Cultivated, salonnières, having a taste for music, they could simultaneously lead a career as an actress, dancer, writer, singer.

The large horizontals recruited their clients from men of letters, financiers, bankers, ministers and deputies. They entertained in their salons and also frequented dating houses to acquire financial independence. Queens of elegance reigning over all the other courtesans, they brought all the refinements of modern make-up into fashion. At the end of the 19th century, they were called Liane de Pougy, Mata Hari, La Belle Otero, Sarah Bernard. The Great War heralded their decline.

Bois de Boulogne

Prostitution in the Bois de Boulogne is very old. The castle of Madrid was used by François I er to shelter his adulterous loves, then in the XIX E century it was one of the meeting places of the great courtesans under Napoleon III. In the aftermath of the First World War it was the beginning of “great debauchery”. In the 1950s, the police arrested up to 150 people for '' public indecency '': we met prostitutes, transvestites, homosexuals, voyeurs, exhibitionists. Despite a decree banning night-time pedestrian traffic, the die-hards still remain numerous.


Charlemagne tried in vain to drive prostitutes from Paris, while, four centuries later Luis IX relegated them to the limits of the capital. They had been assigned cabins called "bordeaux" located at the edge of the water, unsanitary places, without hygiene where they lived at the mercy of disease. It was not until an ordinance from Charles V in 1367 that clean and decent places emerge in Paris, supervised by a guard charged with enforcing modesty.

These women were subjected, in the rest of the kingdom, to the vigilance of a "king of the ribauds" often the executioner of the city. The priests appealed to the provost to suppress the Bordeaux wines, but the traders whose sales were in decline demanded their restoration. Later, the prostitutes formed a corporation with its regulations and statutes. The streets they occupied were baptized Pute-y-musse (the whore who hides there) Trotte-putain, Tire-vit (saw meaning penis) poil-au-con (rue Pélican) Gratte-cul, Trace-Putain (rue Beaubourg) ... so many significant names !!

La Brayette

This is the ancestor of the fly, which appeared in the Middle Ages to highlight the penis of riders. In the armor she appeared in the form of a small iron mesh bag surrounding the sexual attributes. As can be seen from his armor kept at the Tower of London, King Henry VIII was famous for having the biggest brayette in the court!


From the Second Empire to the First World War, the demi-mondaine was a woman of light morals maintained by rich libertines. She was referred to as the "casserole" by reference to her exaggerated laughter similar to the cry of a hen. The expression "to smell the casserole" or "to cocotter" means to emit a perfume of low quality. Indeed, some casseroles or demi-mondaines knew neither the manners nor the laws of a distinguished world.

Some erotological expressions

When the woman rides on the man it is called 'riding her donkey'
When the man kisses the woman in the cellar it is called `` putting the box in the barrel ''
The woman is lying down putting both her legs on the man's arms this is called 'back squeeze' or 'tumble'
The man and the woman kiss each other straight it is called `` crane feet ''
The seated woman rolled up to the navel inserting a candle in her part it's called 'the Christmas candle'
When the woman is upside down and the man above, it is '' the ordinary '' or '' good Christians ''
The man being on his knees, the woman with the skirts rolled up bends, presenting the behind to the man, this is called `` the confession of the Jesuits ''
The woman appears naked in front of the god Priapus, it is `` the holy ecstasy ''

Paris Opera

The Paris opera house was for a long time the main seraglio in the capital. Sovereigns, ministers, great lords, notables, bankers came to draw their mistresses from among the young dancers. Tsars, kings and princes on official visits to Paris made it a 'duty' to reserve a box at the opera. The ambassadors and rulers of the East claimed that maintaining a dancer was access to Mohammed's paradise. The Shah of Iran offered to buy all the dancers to complete his harem. The chief of protocol managed to dissuade him (without causing any diplomatic incident)!

The second part of this work entitled 'Extracts from love letters' includes unpublished passages from letters from famous people such as Henri IV, Pierre de Ronsard, François I e, Héloïse and Abélard, Gabrielle d'Estrées, Anne of Austria, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Marquis de Sade, Mozart, Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Honoré de Balzac, Richard Wagner, Auguste Rodin, Claude Debussy, Albert Einstein ... and many others! !

The author, treating this work in a crude and realistic way, leads us without ambiguity in the narration of terms and very libertine situations not necessarily known to the general public. Perhaps it is better to advise it for adults. Nevertheless according to Henri Pigaillem the history (without pretense) of the passionate love still conceals many mysteries and remains an inexhaustible subject!

In the sheets of history. Historical dictionary of amorous passion, by Henri Pigaillem. Ed Telemaque, 2016.

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