This article is a condensed version of Amer’s book-length study Crossing Borders: Love Between Women in Medieval French and Arabic Literatures, identifying likely Arabic sources for several medieval French romances that involve same-sex relationships (of various sorts) between women, including a cross-dressing-driven marriage between women.
Crompton provides an in-depth study of European and American laws addressing homosexual acts between women, from 1270 on. Prior to this study, the general historical understanding was that lesbians were ignored by the law, based mostly on an unwarranted generalization from English law. In fact, lesbian acts were criminalized in legal systems in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland, and were considered equivalent to male sodomy.
Included for completeness’ sake as the collection in general is relevant. However as this article concerns itself with women who are “single” due to slavery, it provides essentially no useful information relevant to economic and social independence.
The material is organized by topic and covers both literature produced within the target period, and materials (such as medical literature) that were available to people in that era. In some chapters, the latter predominates, though there is usually a discussion of new editions or translations available in the Renaissance.
The revival of interest in, and knowledge of, the works and life of Sappho as part of the general revival of classical culture in the Renaissance created a major context for discussing female homoeroticism, although the myth of Sappho’s abandonment of women for a fatal desire for Phaon was also popular.