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May 13th 2009
Love, Sex and Marriage in Medieval Britain

A fascinating talk by Leona Cordery

I was so glad that nobody had been sitting on the chair in front of me that evening because I was leaning over it for more. Hearing the “things” that took place in medieval days and, with D.H. Lawrence joining us on our trip to the Zillertal, I did begin to wonder what the Society was coming to. Talk of Free Masons—the stone masons on those days were very free it seemed. Free to carve figures on our Gothic cathedrals of Men and Women exposing or even touching their genitals. People thought that these were the dark ages, but then 19th.century and much of 20th.century Britain seemed to have been much darker, or shall we say less enlightened? Sex seemed to have been just a “normal thing” for mankind as it was for the animal world until later the church / clergy started to wish to curb man’s desires, despite their own hypocritical behaviour. I myself am still disgusted when I think of how learned men thought---in a certain way many still do—of women as 2nd.class beings. The origin of all evil—going back to the serpent / devil and the apple. Much of this seems also to date from the fact that even the most learned of men could not understand a woman—how her body worked, her monthly cycle, bearing and giving birth to children. All very mysterious. People did marry. It seems not only once and that on a grand scale and with the blessing of the church. And Virgins ? What were they ? They were strong women who could stand on their own two feet. Not at all what present-day virginity has come to mean.

Hazel Zeiner


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