Love Locked Out by James Cleugh
Medieval society had two apparently incompatible characteristics: lofty ideals, represented in the Code of Chivalry, and a sexuality often marked by an unrestrained wildness and the practice of perversions unknown in earlier times.
Seemingly blameless activities such as dancing in the streets, public bathing, even processions of religious flagellants, could, and often did, become riotous orgies. The Black Mass and witchcraft were widely practised: their most spectacularly notorious exponent, Gille de Rais, once the respected companion-in-arms of Joan of Arc, went unpunished by Church or State for many years.
This book is a study of the excessive sexuality of the Middle Ages. It is the author's theory that much of the blame for it can be laid at the door of the Christian Church. In teaching that sex, except for the procreation of children, was sinful, the Church locked love outside society's normal and natural activities, and added an extra spice to forbidden pleasures. Its insistence on celibacy in the enclosed and over-populated society of nunneries and monasteries served only to increase the incidence of sexual relations among the lower clerical orders.
Love Locked Outis a frank book, but not a sensational one. It discusses simply and with much historical detail, the reasons for this libidinous society: the vicious effect of plagues and 'the pox'; feudal laws which allowed a lord to do much as he wished with his serfs; the misery and poverty of the great mass of the people, and the influence of the Middle East with its freer attitudes to sex and luxury.
London/New York/Sydney/Toronto: Spring Books, 1963. 320 pp.
Hardcover. Very good.