Challenging the way the Middle Ages have been treated in general histories of sexuality, Sexuality in Medieval Europe shows how views at the time were conflicted and complicated; there was no single medieval attitude towards sexuality any more than there is one modern attitude. Focusing on marital sexual activity, as well as behavior that was seen as transgressive, the chapters cover such topics as chastity, the role of the church, and non-reproductive activity.
Combining an overview of research on the topic with original interpretations, Ruth Mazo Karras demonstrates that medieval culture developed sexual identities that were quite distinct from the identities we think of today, yet were still ancestral to our own. Using a wide collection of evidence from the late antique period until the fifteenth century, this fully revised third edition has been updated to include the latest scholarship throughout, including expanded coverage of Islamic and Jewish cultures and new ideas on how medieval sexual violence relates to the modern world. A new companion website supplements the text featuring an interactive timeline of key events, links to key primary sources, and references to further reading.
Sexuality in Medieval Europe is essential reading for those who study medieval history and culture.
Ruth Mazo Karras is Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. Her books include the Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe edited with Judith M. Bennett (2013), Unmarriages: Women, Men, and Sexual Unions in the Middle Ages (2012) and From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Late Medieval Europe (2002).
List of figures Acknowledgments 1 Sex and the Middle Ages 2 The sexuality of chastity 3 Sex and marriage 4 Women outside of marriage 5 Men outside of marriage Afterword: medieval and modern sexuality Further reading Index