Iraq Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

Medieval couple. Source: Dmytro Sandratskyi / Adobe Stock.

What Was Sex Really Like in the Middle Ages? (Video)


Contrary to popular belief, medieval attitudes towards sex were often far from puritanical. Surviving sources, largely influenced by the Catholic Church, give a skewed impression of the era. In reality, medieval people had a more relaxed approach to obscenity and sex. Exploring historical sites like York, we discover a world of pleasure that thrived during that time. Streets like Grapelane reveal the open and regulated nature of sex work, a profession acknowledged and openly practiced. Women involved in this trade, known as "lawn dresses," had specific dress codes to differentiate themselves.

Sex was not limited to commercial transactions; regular flirtations and courtly love were part of everyday life. Surprisingly, even the clergy, known for their piety, engaged in extramarital affairs and operated brothels. Privacy was rare in the Middle Ages, and public displays of sexuality were not uncommon. Dormitories, shared by many, became spaces for intimate encounters. The medieval period challenges our preconceptions, reminding us that our ancestors were not so different from us in their pursuit of pleasure. Despite societal regulations and religious influences, sex was a prevalent and integral aspect of their lives.

Top image: Medieval couple. Source: Dmytro Sandratskyi / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell



Some clergy still run brothels today, which can even involve children. Others turn a blind eye to it.

That's because some clergy are cowards. Others are Church of Satan adherents in disguise, even going right to the top in Canterbury, the Vatican and elsewhere. So too are some historians and their influence on the subject of the history of sexual relations can be considerable.

To be clear, I am not specifically referring to anyone in the video, for I haven't watched it. Nor shall I watch it. I make a general observation that sexual relations, as a strand of history, is often twisted to suit an agenda which is, quite simply, evil by any reasoned definition.

However, as it done subtly and consistently, many do not notice it, including those who unwittingly spread strands of that which they would surely stand against were they to fully understand it all.

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

Next article