Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England (Hardback)
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Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England allows the reader a peek beneath the bedsheets of our medieval ancestors, in an informative and fascinating look at sex and sexuality in England from 1250 to 1450. It examines the prevailing attitudes towards male and female sexual behaviour, and the ways in which these attitudes were often determined by those in positions of power and authority. It also explores our ancestors’ ingenious, surprising, bizarre and often entertaining solutions to the challenges associated with maintaining a healthy sex life. This book will look at marriage, pre-marital sex, adultery and fornication, pregnancy and fertility, illegitimacy, prostitution, consent, same-sex relationships, gender roles and much more, to shed new light on the private lives of our medieval predecessors.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Amy Hopkins
Warner's Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England is another absolute firecracker of a book, which is exactly what we expect from this author. As a medievalist myself, I love reading books that are accessible to a non-specialist audience, which this most certainly is. Warner packs facts into an enjoyable read, and I hope many people get into medieval history through Warner's work.
It’s well-written, obviously well-researched, and the author is passionate about her subject, which is always important to keep you engaged in reading it.Tudor Blogger
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This book was a well researched masterpiece. I thoroughly enjoyed the topic and how the author used original texts and records to dispel common misconceptions about marriage, relationships, and reproduction of the nobility, the merchant class, and the peasants. Well worth the read if you're interested in the topic!NetGalley, Rae Nason
Kathryn Warner is one of my go-to authors these days, and I usually eagerly anticipate her latest book. I was kind of hesitant about this one, as the title suggested it might enter into territory that was just unnecessary titillation and had no real value. Thankfully that didn’t happen at all.NetGalley, Joanna Arman
Warner’s books on social history have proved to be particular favourites of mine: Living in Medieval England is a book I will certainly revisit. This one was also enjoyable and informative. The author started off dismissing some popular myths about Medieval marriage and relationships: the idea that everyone married in their teens and people only got married in June because of their “annual bath” are soon thrown out.
As usual, Warner draws extensively on court and administrative records. Sources which my own stint in Postgrad Research taught me are extensive and invaluable. The beauty of Medieval records is that the church courts which dealt with moral and martial matters left behind extensive records, so we can discover details which would otherwise be lost. Even I learned things: I didn’t know that it was possible to obtain a kind of annulment (more of a separation as I don’t think either party were allowed to remarry) on the grounds of domestic violence or cruelty.
I would happily recommend this to the curious, history readers and even some historians and I think I will try and get a copy sometime.
An enjoyable and concise social history, which covered a lot of the personal life of people in Medieval England... There were many points I found very interesting and highlighted to share with others, and it definitely sparked my interest!NetGalley, Ruth Fasham
This book gives a chance to the readers to see beneath our medieval forefathers’ bedsheets in an informative and fascinating look at sex and sexuality in England from 1250 to 1450. It investigates the prevalent attitudes toward male and female sexual behavior, as well as how these attitudes were frequently determined by those in positions of power and authority. It also delves into our forefathers’ inventive, surprising, bizarre, and often amusing solutions to the challenges of maintaining a healthy sex life. This book will examine marriage, pre-marital sex, adultery and fornication, pregnancy and fertility, illegitimacy, prostitution, consent, same-sex relationships, gender roles, and other topics in order to shed new light on our medieval forefathers’ private lives. It was such a great beginning to medieval adultery or sex life in England. If you are interested in kind of these subjects you should give a chance to this one.A Tudor Reader
Extremely interesting!Books Monthly
I read other books about Sex and Sexuality in other ages and they're always informative and well researched.NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso
This is no exception and I enjoyed it learning something new.
The book is structured into many short chapters, some, such as marriage, is presented over a few chapters. So, each one is very specific. I like that, as I think it’s better than a longer one that deals with multiple aspects of a common theme.Coffee and Books
It presented abduction, which was as horrible as it sounded. All topics are covered, including an overview on homosexual relationships and how historians are dealing with this topic that is so difficult to research. She also mentioned transgender, which was interesting.
Another topic covered is consent, and her presentation of the age of consent as it was legislated and the way it evolved to this day was really fascinating. I like that she included some references to future timelines, but without making too many comparisons. Her style of writing is lovely and easy to follow, making it a real page-turner. I highly recommend the book.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Magdalena Šejdová
I liked reading this book; it is for everyone interested in medieval intimacy. Many aspects described for medieval England appeared also in different parts of Europe.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Caroline Palmer
A fascinating, well-written, and informative look at the lives of men and women in Medieval England. This book answered many of my questions and gave real life examples from every rank of society.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Tara Keating
This is such a well written and constructed guide to the morals, customs and practices of sex, sexuality and marriage in Medieval England, Kathryn Warner is adept at discussing with sensitivity the topics in this book, sometimes amusing (at the start) however these go on to cover subjects such as rape, incest, abduction, consent (inc ages) sometimes hard to read, but needs to be read and understood! I particularly liked the inclusion of trans and same sex relationships , including treating them with the full respect due and didn’t diminish them in the discussion too. A well written, interesting and thoughtful insight into sex and sexuality in medieval times.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Barbara Bernstein
Sex is the great constant of life. From generation to generation we do it, or we go extinct. And every generation thinks they have invented it. In this short book Kathryn Warner takes a detailed look at it, or as detailed as the sources allow.
This is a very interesting book. In seventeen chapters Warner covers the gamut of human sexuality in the later Middle Ages in England. It is well-written, and answers a lot of questions. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Aisha Bari
These time periods are my favourite to read about! I find them utterly fascinating and this was no exception! A lot of the information is not 100% accurate due to lack of official records but I found the author wrote it all beautifully and in a way which was understandable
'Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England' is a very detailed and informative book. Warner covers a breadth of topics from marriage, to incest. It is a fascinating insight into the lives of medieval England, from the highest nobility to more ordinary people, especially as so many examples are used throughout. Warner's writing style is very engaging, and particularly at the start quite humorous... One thing that I very much appreciated was how much Warner handled more sensitive topics covered by her research. Some of the topics were difficult to read about, such as forced abduction, incest and rape. However Warner dealt with them very carefully and respectfully, which made it easier to read. Similarly the inclusion of same sex relationships and trans people was very well handled, and I was glad Warner did not ignore or minimalise them in her discussion.NetGalley, Sophia Nicol
This was so fun to read! That being said, this is what I studied for part of my undergrad, so I think I'm a little bit more interested in it than your average reader. It would be a great read for someone studying the evolving opinions regarding sex, marriage, and sexuality, though.NetGalley, Terri Bonney
Warner gives lots of examples, and each with a little tidbit that makes it unique. With my medieval history background, it was really fun to put these examples in context with the things I learned in college.
Overall, this was a quick and easy read.
I see this book as a great point of research about how life was on the medieval era, and it provides us with links, name books from where all the info came from and that is really important. I can say that this book keep me motivated to finish and it show us his content in an interesting way. I never thought that kidnaps for marriage were so frequent or that having sex outside the marriage weren’t that frown upon (between two unmarried people), yeah in this book you can find a bit of everything, I really suggest you grab a copy in the book store or in the library and read this book for yourself.NetGalley, Marta Ribeiro
Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England was an interesting book. I enjoyed reading it because I adore medieval history!! I once had a professor who taught medieval and middle-ages history. Her specialty was on history of England. She studied at Oxford for a few years for her doctorate. It was so much fun! This book reminded me of my professor's lectures. Some people might find the topic kind of boring but I love it! I think this book did a pretty good job being entertaining.NetGalley, Erin Kathleen Ratliff
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Annie Buchanan
Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England is a well written guide to the morals, habits, and customs surrounding marriage and sexual congress in Medieval England written by Kathryn Warner. Due out 31st Aug 2022 (UK release) from Pen & Sword, it's 208 pages and will be available in hardcover format.
I enjoy history and especially English history with bonus engagement on my part for late medieval to the early modern periods. This selection hit a lot of high points for me. The author has done a good job of selecting the (very) mildly salacious stuff which we never get to read about in school history classes whilst remaining layman accessible and without anything salacious enough to scandalise one's maiden auntie. It's arranged thematically in chapters, each of which concern a particular subject with some overlap: appearance & dress, marriage (several chapters on different situations and social classes), relationships, abductions, adultery/ecclesiastics renouncing and marrying, pregnancy & childbirth, menstruation, illegitimacy, ravishment, age of consent, consanguinity, same sex relationships, gender roles (including a solid discussion of transgender and inequality for women property holders), and work and role models.
This is a layman accessible and eminently readable book. Despite the bonafides of the author, it's not written in formal academic language, although there are copious careful chapter notes and citations in the text as well as a bibliography. The comprehensive bibliography and index will provide many hours of further background reading for readers who wish for more in-depth background.
Definitely not a formal academic work, but fascinating for history fans who want a readable & understandable book about the subject. The author does a good job of writing objectively about the class and gender disparities and inequalities of the time which actually have some chillingly appropriate relevance in our own time.
A must read addition to the series for those studying social history and exploring how people lived and loved in England during Medieval England.NetGalley, Anne Morgan
A fascinating and comprehensive narrative on the subject and related areas including laws and family histories.NetGalley, Helen Frost
The book is not afraid to dispel popular misconceptions in this area of knowledge and also to tackle the more sensitive areas. I was impressed by the seeming depth of the research and the vast number of examples and substance behind the information. I was particularly fascinated by the surprisingly forward thinking in places of the era and refreshing equality, not always but it certainly gave me food for thought and challenged my own assumptions.
A real treat and I feel my eyes were opened and I learned a lot from this, thank you.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Heidi Malagisi
When we think about the more intimate moments in the medieval period of European history, a few misconceptions and myths come to mind, thanks to historical fiction and medieval movies. The idea that girls as young as twelve were married off to much older men was the norm, and there were such things as chastity belts. Everyone was filthy and smelled awful, so they only married in the spring when they would take their annual baths. And the brilliant idea that the wealthiest lords of the village were able to have their way with the bride on her wedding day. The latest book by Kathryn Warner, “Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England,” aims to eliminate these myths to reveal the truth of the intimate lives of those who lived during the medieval period.
Thank you, Pen and Sword Books and Net Galley, for sending me a copy of this book. I have enjoyed the previous book in Pen and Sword’s Sex and Sexuality series on Tudor England by Carol McGrath, so when I heard that Kathryn Warner was writing the next book on Medieval England, I jumped at the chance to read it.
Warner begins this book by exploring the cleanliness of those from the medieval period and how they dressed. Cleanliness was vital in all aspects of life; the people took baths more than once a year. She then tackles the marriage myths, exploring everything from young marriages and marriages year-round to the moments when relationships did not work out well and even abductions and forced marriages. We also encounter stories of domestic violence, the rituals of birth and baptism, prostitution, adultery, illegitimacy, and sexuality. These tales also include their methods for healthy sex, how they dealt with abortions, and how same-sex relations were viewed at every level of society.
Warner examines literature, historical documents, and archeological clues to help her audience better understand the past. What Warner does brilliantly is the fact that she incorporates stories from every rank of society, from monarchs to peasants between 1250 and 1450, to tell a sweeping tale of sex and sexuality in medieval England. I found this book extremely enlightening and a fantastic resource for understanding the medieval period. It illuminates the shady areas of the past to dispel myths that have been circulating for a while now.
Warner has yet again combined her meticulous research with well-written prose to give her audience an informative read for medievalists and medieval history nerds alike. If you want to learn more about how medieval England viewed the more intimate moments in life, I recommend you read “Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England” by Kathryn Warner.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Lynn Eager
You hear on the news of people that have been sexually violated and the lifelong damage that occurs, was this considered a violation of the modern era? Kathryn Warner touchs on these questions in an informative history book. It was interesting to peek into the sex lives of couples from the 14th century, initially, I assumed this book would lean to fiction, this was not the case. l've wondered how much pleasure the couples derived out of sex, since the end result were children and at some point, no children,
Most of the information was common, but bits and pieces were eye opening. One such was the process of checking whether or not the man was impotent, which required the use of prostitutes and their ability to arouse the gentleman, through the use of touching and observation of genital. Another example, which could be straight out of the news when a young girl was forced into a marriage with a man quite a bit older than she, which was against our norms, it is a crime. Unfortunately, the abuse of young women has and will always be a part of history.
This is a well-researched work. In spite of the subject matter, it is easy to understand and doesn’t have a lot of erudite language.NetGalley, Juliane Silver
It has a lot of interesting information. Who knew, people in Medieval England thought that women had more sexual desires than men. In fact, some health books provided information on how to relieve the tension. It dispels some myths like there were a lot of weddings in June because they had bathed in May and were not that smelly yet...
It is a very manageable read in organization, language and length. If you are interested in this time period, pick it up. There is very likely something in here that you didn’t know.
This is an extremely interesting book. Factual and fascinating at the same time. The amount of information is staggering and it is well written and extensively researched. The book is divided into sections which makes, quite a difficult subject, easier to read.NetGalley, Steve Cripwell
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in medieval history.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Heather Bennett
Intel and informative as well as being a fun and easy read about a seldom talked about piece of history! A must buy!!!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Sandra van der Plaats
There are quite a few persistent rumours about life during the Middle Ages, which - luckily are debunked in this book.
In contrast to the current standard where money, property and status offers one freedom and be in the world, I found it fascinating to learn that highborn in those days had less freedom to marry whom the wanted; besides, being a heiress was a great risk for any girl/women back then - they could be abducted, raped and/or forced to marry a man who was after their property - mind, marriages were for life in those days, and could only be annulled on the basis of incest (relations in the 7th degree were banned and considered incestious ( > remember that Eleonor and Louis had their marriage annulled on the ground of consanguity in the fourth degree - ; moreover, this law greatly limited the choice of finding a spouse for any king/queen/highborn). Rape and adudction was never a reason to annull a marriage!
In addition, of course, there are also the stories about the improbably high infant mortality, illegitimate children, adultery, punishments, inheritance, jobs for women, personal hygiene, washing basins that were recorded in wills(!) and on what days people were not allowed to have sex (by law), et&.
This book gives a fascinating insight into the lives of people during the Middle Ages, whether they be highborn or of lower class. Besides, I found the little facts and the etymology of certain words very interesting. (One of my mother tongues is Frisian, and I can read Middle English.)
Meticulously researched (the notes take up 30 plus pages!), this book is another sublieme addition to the Pen & Sword Books treasure trove! Their selection offers valuable and enjoyable editions for many history buffs and libraries again and again, whether they deal with ancient Rome, asylums, the Middle Ages, or WWI, and they have become my no. 1 source for history books on various subjects.
I would like to thank Pen & Swords for allowing me to read this advanced copy on this fascinating period in time. A wonderful and highly recommended read!
***** 5 stars.
It covers the period between 1250 and 1450 and the slightly mad things that people were doing at the time. It really does cover a lot of ground, pre-marital sex, prostitution and incest, all the fun stuff. I really liked the very concise writing and I flew through it. The short chapters mean it’s very easy to put down and pick up again which I think for a non fiction book like this is really important.NetGalley, Charley Munro
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Hayley Graham
I am a big history fan and love any sort of history books. So when I saw this book I thought it would certainly be an interesting take on history from that period. It was a very good read and certainly interesting seeing history from that side of things. Recommend
Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England by Kathryn Warner strives to debunk persistent myths regarding peoples' lives in the medieval ages. Over the course of seventeen chapters Warner covers cleanliness (people certainly bathed more than once a year), marriage and everything accompanying it (mostly only royals married young), pregnancy, rape, and same-sex relationships.NetGalley, Elizabeth McLaughlin
This book is everything I've ever wanted when arguing with people about how medieval people lived and behaved. It is comprehensive and discusses what the author could find about both the upper and lower classes, as they had very different societal expectations and experiences.
A good portion of this book is a list of 'case files' after discussing the issue of the chapter. I'd recommend having a basic knowledge of the time as well, to understand the relevance of many of the people mentioned. All in all, I read through this title very quickly and I'd recommend it to anyone looking to flesh out their understanding of the medieval ages.
Really enjoyed this, factual without getting bogged down.NetGalley, Victoria Matthews
A well-written book looking into medieval sexuality- both legal and illegal. From the sumptuary laws, regarding permitted clothing according to rank and title, to marriage, 'marital debt', adultery, and unchaste clerics.NetGalley, LOIS ELIYAHU
This in-depth research uses many examples of people's behaviour from everyday life to throw light on a riveting subject. The book debunks many myths with humour and reliable facts.
An excellent read.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Nat Anne-Marie
This was not only very informative and well-researched, but also enjoyable to read because of Warner's ability to write in a manner that is uncomplicated, despite the subject/content.
Even though I don't research topics regarding Medieval England, this did not stop me from being interested in the book and from wanting to understand more about what the body represented in Medieval England. Warner does a great job of making academic research understandable to someone like myself (someone without a background in it).
The author did a fantastic job on a subject that is difficult to research and it was an informative read.NetGalley, Heather Wood
I felt it answered lots of interesting questions and definitely delivered its offering. How on earth did people live under those conditions, flourish and procreate was a mystery! No longer. I enjoyed dipping in and out of the chapters which really covered every aspect of sex and relationships in context with rulers and rules of their time. Thanks for the interesting read.NetGalley, Janet Preece
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Jaime Burns
If you enjoy historical romance this book adds a little depth to what the husband & wife really did while alone in their chambers! As a medical provider I found myself cringing and wondering HOW people ever believed some of the healthcare tips and medical care given in Medieval times was truly lucky it didn’t kill the person being treated...
I have to commend the author Kathryn Warner on her extensive research into the sex and sexuality of Medieval England. I am surprised the human species did not die out with the excellent medical care given. As always if in doubt - just bleed the patient.
Thank you for this very interesting look into a somewhat closed door subject. I really enjoyed reading this book!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Alya Gonz
As Kathryn Warner states in the introduction and then proceeds to debunk throughout this short history book, there are certain myths about the Middle Ages that, even though they might not be as widespread as they used to be, still are entrenched in the popular consciousness. Myths about child marriage, expressions and forms of sexual attraction, bodily (lack of) cleanliness, and that women had no rights at all.
Warner focuses her critique of popular misrepresentations of Medieval culture and mores on cinema and, tangentially, historical fiction. But whilst those are still significant today, I would argue that currently the main and greatest offender is the Fantasy genre, where Medieval and Medievalish settings are as much a staple as magical swords and everyday wear cloaks, and where most take the warped depictions of a feudal society as truthful historical reality (looking at you, "Game of Thrones" fans and your "back in those times..." arguments). Of course, Warner's book doesn't deal with the ins and outs of feudalism and governance that Fantasy distorts for plot purposes, but with sexuality and related topics, which is just as wrongly depicted in Fantasy as in historical romance. Case in point, the endless arguments over child marriage and sexual violence sparked by one particularly infamous episode in GOT, when defenders of the show (and books) would use the "realistic for the times" defence and even some named Margaret Beaufort as an example of child marriage and consummation/maternity being "normal for the Middle Ages."
In 'Sex and Sexuality in Medieval England', Warner demonstrates, succinctly, with sources and people named with their full names and residence, that no, this wasn't normal and Margaret Beaufort was an outlier. Next time some Fantasy fan comes to me with arguments of this kind, I'm going to tell them to read this book. Next time some Romance reader asks me why I detest the "romantic" abduction trope, I'll refer them to this book.
It's an invaluable book, especially for a non-academic and for simple readers who love history but don't have the background (or the patience) for ponderous scholarly tomes. In seventeen chapters, Warner covers the whole range of sexuality-related aspects from appearance to cleanliness to love languages, illegitimacy, prostitution, rape and abduction, same-sex relationships and gender roles. She touches on popular topics such as marriages with a huge age gap to more obscure ones such as what they thought of people of the same gender sleeping together in the same bed. You will learn so many things about sex and sexuality in the late medieval period, from the early 1300s to the mid-to-late 1400s, with specific examples and dates, because you can't generalise and apply what was true for 1340 to the year 1440, and Warner makes this crystal clear.
The author doesn't hide the difficulties in surmising the thoughts and attitudes of the period due to lack of sources and the fact that existing sources have an aristocratic slant, so she's careful to not say that because nobles did and thought something, commoners did too. I appreciated this intellectual honesty very much, Warner taught me a fair bit about the struggles a medieval scholar faces with interpreting sources, and that made me also appreciate her style of presenting her information by citing specific circumstances happening to specific people in specific years, which others might find dry and perhaps even boring. So-and-so did such-and-such on the town of Prettyton in Whatsitsnameshire won't be everyone's cup of tea as regards reading history, but it worked for me, maybe because I already have a decent familiarity with the period and the country, so if you are at least passingly familiar with Medieval England, even if only from the bodice rippers you filched from your ma, you will too.
And more importantly, you'll learn the true facts. Most of them were known to me thanks to exposition and familiarity, but even I learnt new things I had never heard about. I didn't know, for example, that foteball (football, or soccer if you're American) was played as part of celebrating weddings, and that "ravishment" or abduction of well-off women wasn't exclusive to women because underage males were also abducted for exactly the same reasons, and how much the custody and guardianship of noble and wealthy children cost. So many fascinating little details in this book!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Janalyn Prude
In “sex and sexuality in medieval England“ there was so much to learn. I am so attracted to medieval times in England and around Europe so when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it and I am so glad I did! The stories in this book or not long but are also interesting and they run the gambit from legitimate marriages to illegitimate, legitimate children to illegitimate to women needing to be intimate so she Will not die of an overdose of poison… You’re going to have to read that one for yourself. There was so much in this book pregnancies, masturbation and even stories about four-year-old children getting married. I know I am forgetting something but trust me when I say this even comes close to sounding interesting to you it is way more than what I’m saying. Oh I love this book it was so good and so worth reading. Anyone who loves history will love this book they do not talk about detailed sex so don’t think it’s a Roddick it isn’t at all and I totally loved it! I don’t think there’s anything in the book to be offended over. I know a lot nonfiction books are dry and academic but this one isn’t at all it is so interesting and so worth reading it’ll make you laugh and make it think it’s like a totally different world in the medieval times and this book covers at all.
This book gives a chance to the readers to see beneath our medieval forefathers' bedsheets in an informative and fascinating look at sex and sexuality in England from 1250 to 1450. It investigates the prevalent attitudes toward male and female sexual behavior, as well as how these attitudes were frequently determined by those in positions of power and authority. It also delves into our forefathers' inventive, surprising, bizarre, and often amusing solutions to the challenges of maintaining a healthy sex life. This book will examine marriage, pre-marital sex, adultery and fornication, pregnancy and fertility, illegitimacy, prostitution, consent, same-sex relationships, gender roles, and other topics in order to shed new light on our medieval forefathers' private lives.NetGalley, Ece Karadag
This goes far beyond what the title suggests, offering detailed analysis of marriage, contraception, abortion and much more. Offering case studies of individual experiences brings such depth to this book, too. It’s very well written and will appeal to many readers, including those who may balk at non-fiction.NetGalley, Louise Gray
This book was fascinating but also terrifying at the same time.Georgi Black
I for one as a woman would not have wanted to be born during medieval times!
‘Men came of age at twenty-one, married women at fourteen, and unmarried women at sixteen.’
‘Girls could marry and consummate their marriage at age twelve and boys at age fourteen.’
Many chapters I found really interesting such as learning about marriage and childbirth. Some chapters were upsetting. To read about children being married off and having babies when they were a baby themselves. (Under the age of 16) This was a law that lasted for 600 years!
Highly recommend for history lovers and if you enjoy medieval history.
Thank you Pen And Sword for gifting me this book!