ABOUT CHIVALRY, SEX AND MIDDLE AGES
Hi there people. My name is Daniel, Im a sexologist specialised in sexual education and a nurse. Im going to write from time to time in this blog, I hope you enjoy it. Mainly I will write about sex and history so you can see for yourselves how we have changed, but I wont stop there, I have plenty of things to tell you about!
So, lets get into it. Here you have 5 facts about sexuality in the Middle Ages, mainly in Europe.
1. Adultery: Sir, keep your pants on!!: For anyone serious about Christian morality sex was not an option. This was only permited inside the marriage, but pre-marital or post-marital sex was a serious risk. Priests were required to report adulterers and fornicators and punishment could go from years in jail to death penant.
2. Sexual positions, or put A inside B: The Church even dictated how you were supposed to have sex. Anything other tan missionary position was considrerd unnatural. Woman on top or sex from the rear were not favored because Church thought that they altered the natural male-female order. Obviosuly oral and anal were considered sin because they were practiced only for pleause and not procreatrion. These were the official ideas of the Church, but some “progressive” theologians began to question these ideas. Albertus Magnus named five sexual positions and ranked them from most acceptable to least acceptable: 1) missionary, 2) side-by-side, 3) sitting, 4) standing and 5) a tergo. Magnus said the missionary was the only completely “natural” position; the others were “morally questionable but not mortally sinful.
3. Homosexuality: The Church’s stand on homosexuality was bluntly stated by the Catholic theologian, Peter Damian in his Book of Gommorah. Sodomy was defined as “acts against nature” and included the following: solitary masturbation, mutual masturbation, copulation between the thighs (interfemoral sex), and copulation “in the rear,” or anal sex (the last phrase was so upsetting to some readers, it was often left out). St. Thomas Aquinas expanded the definition of sodomy to include all acts other than vaginal intercourse. He also named lesbianism a sin. The church began to prosecute sexual sinners in the 12th and 13th centuries. Sodomy was punishable by death, which could involve mutilation, burning at the stake, hanging, and, in the case of priests caught in the act, being hung in a suspended cage until they starved to death.
There is, however, evidence of highly placed figures that were homosexuals. King Richard I (the Lionheart) of England was thought to be homosexual; it is rumoured that he met his wife Berenegaria while in a sexual relationship with her brother, the future King Sancho VII of Navarre. It is also reported that he and King Philip II of France were sexually involved. An historian of the time said they “ate from the same dish and at night slept in one bed” and had a “passionate love between them”.
4. The Fashion of Virility: Is that a codpiece, or are you happy to see me??: One of the most popular fashion accessories of the Middle Ages was the codpiece – a flap or pouch
that attached to the front of the crotch of men’s trousers and accentuated it in such a way as to emphasize or exaggerate the genitals. They were stuffed with sawdust or cloth and held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. The crotch was often extremely large or gave the idea of an erect penis. The word, codpiece, comes from the Middle English word, cod, which means scrotum. Another symbol of virility in fashion was a style of shoe called the poulaine. These were long, pointy-toed shoes, that were also meant to suggest the size of the wearer’s penis – the longer point, the more virile the man. Codpieces and poulaines are frequently seen in the paintings of the Dutch artist, Pieter Breugel. There is a portrait of Henry VIII, one of the great “fashion horses” of the later Middle Ages, wearing both. Understandably, the Church did not appreciate these articles of clothing, calling them “fashions of the devil.”
5. Dildos, a size to match your sinfuls desires!!: There are some references to the use of dildos by women in the Middle Ages, in particular, this one in a Church “penitential,” a book that prescribes punishments for sins. “Have you done what certain women are accustomed to do, that is to make some sort of device or implement in the shape of the male member of a size to match your sinful desire? If you have done this, you shall do penance for five years on legitimate holy days.” The word dildo was not actually used until the Renaissance period, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, but one fanciful explanation of its origin was a small elongated loaf of bread flavored with dill, thus “dilldough.”
I will come with mucho more in the next weeks, meanwhile you can check my twitter account: @NurseproSex, there I post everyday about sexuality, history, sexual health, etc.