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Medieval Times

Posted by: webmaster on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 09:27 _PRINTPrinter friendly page  _EMAILFRIENDSend this story to a friend
The Sexuality in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages are usually pictured as a romantic era, plenty of epic battles, chivalry, minstrels and prince charming. Reality however, was quite different from what we’ve learned o­n movies or novels, which is nothing but a fancy view from what medieval times truly were. There was nothing so poetic about sexuality in a time when life was surrounded by plagues, famine, and wars. Epidemic diseases such as leprosy were common ground as people were exposed to low-hygiene conditions and extreme poverty.

Living in this almost chaotic social and cultural background, people were compelled to adopt a different behavior. Unlike we witnessed in previous civilizations, the medieval society was not so advanced, which reflected in taboos and lack of information concerning all aspects of life, sexuality inclusive.

Religion starts to gain a substantial influence o­n history of sexuality from then o­n, together with the rooting of patriarchal societies. Marriages were a matter of politics and interests, and used as an economical and social strategy to families, since most of the times there was land and/or monetary dowry involved. Love was still not so important to establish matrimony, because their families, most cases, selected the mates when the bride/groom to marry wasn’t born yet. Every sexual activity was seen as forbidden or profane if its intention was o­nly to have pleasure, and any sexual activity aside of reproduction was named sodomy. Likewise, even o­n a matrimonial basis, any activity besides intercourse itself (such as anal sex, oral sex, and mutual masturbation) was conceived forbidden, not o­nly because they’re contraceptive, but also considered an inappropriate use of the genitalia.

Same way as previous civilizations, in medieval times there was also several contraception methods, although their use was not a common practice as well as not permitted. At the time, these methods were mainly post coital, demanding a consequent abortion. Devices such as primitive condoms made of intestines of farm animals, or unconventional methods such as women actually jumping up and down to eliminate the sperm from within the body are some examples of this methods. But, as we know, Middle Ages were the time of potions and they were used to avoid pregnancies too. Several types of herbs and plants were used as infusions, lotions or potions to cause an abortion, some of them still used now, in some parts of the world.

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