10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

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Translation of a fascinating article by Canadian blogger, writer and teacher David Morton on various aspects of sexuality in the era of the European Middle Ages.

If it were not for the medieval Christian church, Sigmund Freud would probably be left without work: we adopted many basic ideas about sex and morality from those dark times when the overwhelming majority of types of sex were characterized by a short but succinct word fornication. Adultery and fornication were sometimes punished by death, excommunication and other anathemas. At the same time, the Church often condoned prostitution, realizing that it was evil, but in the conditions of life of people in such a rigid moral system, it was a necessary evil.

At the same time, as is usually the case, the most curious about the intimate side of life turned out to be the judges and punitive - priests, monks and theologians. Although at the beginning of the Middle Ages, clergymen received the right to marry and have children, but those of them who lived in monasteries did not feel any better.Driven by curiosity and having the opportunity to observe the secular life from the outside, theologians left a lot of descriptions and evidence, thanks to which we have a good idea of ​​how sex was in the Middle Ages.

1. Courtly love: you can look, but do not dare touch

The church forbade openly demonstrating sexual interest, but allowed that love and admiration can have something in common with sex. Courtly love is commonly understood as the relationship between a knight and a beautiful lady, and the knight is very desirable to be courageous, and the object of his worship - inaccessible and / or innocent. It was allowed to be married to someone else and to observe loyalty, the main thing is not to show reciprocal feelings towards your knight in any way.

This idea allowed us to sublimate erotic impulses, turning the stern warriors into anxious young men, in the respite between glorious campaigns writing poetry and songs about the love of their Beautiful Lady. And fighting, by all means it was necessary to dedicate to Dame feats and conquests. Neither of which sex was out of the question, but ... who did not think about him?

2. adultery: keep your pants buttoned up, sir

For those who were serious about the dictates of Christian morality, sex did not exist at all.Sex was permitted only in marriage. Premarital or extramarital relations were punished very harshly, even to the death penalty, and the Church also often acted as a court and executioner.

But it was not only Christian law. Marital fidelity was the only reliable way for men of noble origin to be sure that their children were indeed theirs. There is a case in which the French king Philip, having caught his own daughters in connection with some of his vassals, sent two of them to the monastery, and killed a third. As for the guilty courtiers, they were executed by brutal public execution.

In the villages, the situation was not so acute: sexual promiscuity was present everywhere. The church struggled with this, trying to force sinners to enter into legal marriages, and in the event that people did so, granted forgiveness.

3. Sexual positions: no diversity

The church also dictated exactly how people should have sex. All poses except “missionary” were considered a sin and were forbidden. Oral and anal sex and masturbation were also banned - these types ofcontacts did not lead to the birth of children, which was, according to the purists, the only reason for making love. Violators were punished severely: three years of repentance and the ministry of the church for sex in any of the "deviant" positions.

However, some theologians of that time suggested evaluating sex more gently, for example, positioning permissible poses in this order (as sinfulness increases): 1) missionary, 2) on the side, 3) sitting, 4) standing, 5) behind. Only the first position was recognized as pleasing to God, the rest were suggested to be considered “morally dubious”, but not sinful. Apparently, the reason for such mildness was that representatives of the nobility, often suffering from obesity, were not able to have sex in the most sinless position, and the Church could not help but go to meet the sufferers.

4. Homosexuality: Only the death penalty

The position of the Church regarding homosexuality was firm: not under any pretext! Sodomy was characterized as “unnatural” and “ungodly” occupation and was punished only in one way: by the death penalty.

In the definition of homosexuality, Peter Damian in his work "Gomorrah" listed the following ways to have sex: single masturbation, mutual masturbation,intercourse between the hips and anal sex (the latter, by the way, was considered so unacceptable that many authors tried not to even mention it in their books). St. Thomas Aquinas has expanded the list so that it includes all forms and types of sex with the exception of vaginal. He also attributed lesbianism to sodomy.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, sodomites were taken to be burned at the stake, hanged, starved to death and tortured, of course, in order to "expel the demon" and "atone for sin." However, there is evidence that some members of high society still practiced homosexuality. For example, the English King Richard I, called the Lionheart for exceptional courage and military skill, was said to have had a sexual relationship with his brother at the time of the meeting with his future wife. The king was also convicted that during his visits to France he “ate from the same plate” with the French king Philip II, and at night “slept in the same bed and had passionate love with him”.

5. Fashion: Is it a codpiece or are you just very happy to see me?

One of the most popular men's fashion accessories in the Middle Ages was a codpiece - a flap or pouch that was attached to the front of the trousers to emphasize masculinity by focusing on the genitals.The codpiece was usually stuffed with sawdust or cloth and buttoned or tied with a braid. As a result, the crotch area of ​​the man looked quite impressive.

Boots with long and sharp toes, which also had to hint at something less long in the pants of their wearer, were considered the most fashionable shoes.

These items of clothing can often be seen in the paintings of Dutch artists of the time. There is a portrait of Henry VIII, one of the main mods of his era, depicted dressed in a codpiece and boots.

Of course, the Church did not recognize this “devilish fashion” and tried in every way to prevent its spread. However, its power did not extend to the king of the country and his closest courtiers.

6. Dildos: size corresponding to the sinfulness of desire

There is some evidence that artificial penises were actively used in the Middle Ages. In particular, the entries in the "penitential books" - sets of punishments for various sins. These records were like this:
“Have you done something that some women do with objects that have the form of a phallus, the size of which corresponds to the sinfulness of their desires? If yes, you must repent on all holy holidays for five years! ”

Dildos had no official name before the Renaissance, so they were designated by the names of objects that have an elongated shape. In particular, the word "dildo" comes from the name of an oblong loaf of bread with dill: "dilldough."

7. Virginity and chastity: just repent

The Middle Ages highly valued virginity, drawing a parallel between the chastity of the simple woman and the Virgin Mary. Ideally, the girl should take care of her innocence as the main wealth, but in practice it was rare for anyone: morality was low, and men were rude and persistent (especially in the lower class). Understanding how difficult it is for a woman to remain chaste in such a society, the Church made it possible to repent and allow sins, not only for unfaithful girls, but even for those who gave birth to children.

Women who chose such a path of “cleansing” should repent of their sins, and then atone for them, joining the cult of the Virgin Mary — that is, devoting the rest of their days of life and service to the monastery.

By the way, many people believe that in those days girls wore so-called “chastity belts”, but in fact these terrible devices were invented (and tried to be used) only in the 19th century.

8. Prostitution: prosperity

Prostitution flourished in the Middle Ages.In large cities, prostitutes offered their services anonymously, without disclosing their real names, and this was considered an honest and perfectly acceptable profession. It can be said that at that time the Church silently approved prostitution, at least, did not try to hinder it.

Oddly enough, commodity-money relations in sexual relations were regarded as a way to prevent adultery (!) And homosexuality, that is, as something without which it is impossible to do. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "If we ban women from selling their bodies, lust will spill out into our cities and destroy society."

The most privileged prostitutes worked in brothels, less — they offered their services on city streets, and in the villages there was often one prostitute for the whole village, and her name was well known to the inhabitants. However, there the prostitutes were treated with contempt, they could be beaten, disfigured, or even thrown into prison, accusing of vagrancy and debauchery.

9. Contraception: do what you want

The church has never approved contraception, as it prevents the birth of children, but most of the efforts of the clergy were aimed at combating "unnatural" sex and homosexuality,therefore, in the matter of protection, people were left to themselves. Contraception was seen more as a minor moral offense than a serious transgression.

In addition to the most common method of protection by interrupting sexual intercourse (that is, by extracting the penis from the vagina before ejaculation), people also used condoms from the intestines or urinary and gall bladders of animals. Such condoms have been used many times. Apparently, their function consisted not so much in protection against unwanted pregnancy, as in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, in particular, syphilis widespread in Europe.

Also, women prepared herbal tea and herbal infusions, which were then placed in the vagina and, with varying degrees of effectiveness, played the role of spermicides.

10. Sexual dysfunctions: sick, remove panties

If a man, for an unknown reason, could not have sex, the Church sent “private detectives” to him - the experienced women from the village who examined his “household” and evaluated the general state of health, trying to identify the cause of sexual impotence.If the penis was deformed or there were other pathologies visible to the naked eye, the Church gave permission for divorce due to the inability of the husband to continue the race.

Many medieval European doctors were fans of Islamic medicine. Muslim doctors and pharmacists were the first to notice such a problem as erectile dysfunction, and developed drugs, therapy, and even a special diet for such patients.

Source factroom.ru.

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  • 10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages


    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages

    10 facts about how sex was in the Middle Ages