A figurine from Stare Bielsko. Sexuality in Middle Ages
By Arkadiusz Przybyłok
International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol.1 (2014)
Abstract: Medieval authorities of the Church unequivocally condemned sex in its all manifestations. At least, that was their formal stand in this case. Though, relics of the literature, art and archaeology undermine this “prudish” point of view. A ceramic figurine from late Middle Ages, found in Stare Bielsko, shows a couple that is having sex and can be a good example of not such sanctimonious way of thinking. Originally, the figurine could be a handle of a lid which was glazed green. It seems that figurine’s ideological essence is not so far from social standards of decadent Gothic.
Introduction: By examining medieval sources word for word, reading another bans, guidebooks for preachers and confessors, considering Middle Ages as devoid of fleshly aspects, boring and unattractive period could be something obvious. But, in that case, we should ask one question: how did medieval people maintained their kind?
Question if sex itself was a sin was not an exact problem in Middle Ages – the real problem they had to consider was if sex in a married life should be permissible. At first, it appears to be a taboo. But books margins, including, of course, church ones, are full of obscene drawings. Just by the side of councillors and good citizens, questioned in municipal documents, we can find also noticed prostitutes and pimps. In the confessors textbooks we can read about weird practises that could be born in shattered minds of monks who had written those books – which sounds even more probable. Nevertheless, I would like to avoid repeated adducing of examples of places where guilds of prostitutes existed or telling about women who put a fish into their vaginas once again, because literature treating about those topics is very abounding. However, I would like to focus on some material sign of medieval sexual liberation.