Stories

Sexy (medieval) times

While total abstinence for holy people was a popular idea in the Middle Ages, the established attitude to sex for the general population – not too much, not too little, and only between married heterosexuals – reflected ideas about its importance to a healthy lifestyle. Historian Katherine Harvey explores the perennial issues sex presents, and how medieval societies dealt with them.

Words by Katherine Harvey

  • In pictures

About the author

Katherine Harvey

Dr Katherine Harvey is a medieval historian based at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of ‘The Fires of Lust: Sex in the Middle Ages’ (Reaktion, 2021), a Sunday Times Paperback of the Week. Her writing has appeared in publications including BBC History Magazine, History Today, The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement, and The Atlantic.