|Netherlandish Proverbs by Bruegel the Elder, 1557|
"Thomas Nashe's use of the word cotquean in his An Almond for a Parrot (1590) is found in a significant context which takes us straight back to the satirical world of the earlier misericords, for in it he refers to a husband 'groping his own hens like a cotquean.' The same insulting insinuation -- of effeminacy persumably -- lies behind Dame Chat's assertion that Hodge came:
... creeping into my pens,in Gammer Gurton's Needle (ante-1563). A piece of popular literature published in the Netherlands c. 1550 was entitled 'Of the "Hen-Groper" whose wife went to plough the land...', which sounds as if it must be related to Martin Parker's broadside ballad entitled 'The Woman to the plow; And the Man to the hen-roost; OR A fine way to cure a Cotquean' (1629), once again showing that for a man to concern himself with hens and eggs was felt to be fatally effeminating. In Flemish art the hennetaster (hen-groper) is a type of the effeminate man (and, as we have seen, in the Elizabethan mind too)."
|- The Secret Middle Ages by Malcolm Jones|