Penitentials were handbooks carried by some priests in the Middle Ages that delineated various sins for private confession and their penances. They were full of strict limitations as to what constituted pious behavior. They went on and on. To digest it all, James A Brundage, a scholar of the Crusades, aggregated the complex rules about sex into this excellent flowchart.Wait, so you could only have sex on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays that weren't feast days, or in Lent, Advent or Easter week? Wow, that is pretty amazing.
Brundage originally published the chart in his book Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe, which is now a standard text in Medieval history, lauded on several sites like The History Blog. The book's publisher, upon learning of my appreciation for this chart, allowed me to share it here as well.
Penitentials were condemned by the Catholic church in 829, but some were still around centuries later.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Legitimate Sex, or Sin?
A flowchart based on a Medieval penitential: