We all know the Renaissance had its share of perverts and dirty messages, but I think my delicate sensibilities have finally been tested in this initial installment of "Renaissance, you're so gross!" I give you the following images of early modern ass kissing.
The first image comes from Strange Nevvs from Newgate and the Old-Baily: or The Proofs, examinations, declarations, indictments, conviction, and confessions of I. Collins and T. Reeve (1651). The pamphlet describes crimes of two clergymen (and others) accused of blasphemy and partying too hard on Sundays. I've included the accompanying text that describes the terrible (actually it's pretty funny) blasphemy above the image of the two men engaged in such "uncivil behavior as the kissing of one another's breeches, more lively represented by this figure:"
Wow. I don't know what's worse, the ass kissing or the whole thing about drinking the Blood of Christ and then pissing out God.
The pamphlet is full of descriptions of blasphemous and sexual acts, but the author certainly seems to revel in telling us all the dirty details for, uh, "educational purposes."
The next image is from A letter to Mr. Marriot from a friend of his: wherein his name is redeemed form that detraction G.F. Gent. hath indeavoured to fasten upon him, by a scandalous and defamatory libell, intituled "The great eater of Grayes Inne, or, the life of Mr. Marriot the cormorant" (1652). John Ben Marriott was a lawyer known as "the great eater" who's name became a by-word for gluttony. He was the subject of several coarse pamphlets like The Great Eater of Grayes Inne, which described at length how he ate a banquet set for 20 men, stole dogs and other strange things to cook, and concludes with a few gross recipes. Basically, he was a fatty. Here's the frontispiece of A Letter, his answer to the attacks:
Burn! That'll show 'em.
I especially like how the publisher felt he could show a picture of an ass, but not spell out the word "arse". Because that would just be crude.
For good measure, I'll include one more dirty thing from the 17th century-- the best "long s" ever published:
Whew! I'm officially grossed out.