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Let me count the

ways: canonists
and theologians
contemplate coital
positions
James A. Brundage
The fascinated horror that characterized treat-
ments of sexual problem: by medieval Churchmen
is particular& evident in their attempts to provide
guidance for Christians corccerning the intimate
details of marital relations. ,Christian moralists,
canonists, and theologians from the patristic
period onward commonly maintained that only one
posture was appropriate and natural for human
sexual intercourse. This article examines the eJorts
of successive generations of Chrzstian teachers to
account for this belief and to discourage variations
jrom the prescribed coital position. The article
ronrludes with a brief discussion of some survivals
of mrdieval sex law in modern U.S. statutes and
decisions.
Social control of sexual behavior is a fact of
life in every human society; mcdicval
Western Europe was no exception to this
rule (Leclercq 1979:6-7).* Indeed. mrdicval
society was more concerned with sexual
behavior than many other so&tics have
been, in part at Icast brcausc thr Wcstcrn
Church monitored the intimate details of its
members sexual activities with fascinated
horror (Tender 1977: 165). Lcarncd
Christians, from the Churchs second
century onward, claboratcd a moral systrm
that sought to restrain sexuality within strict
limits. With few cxccptions, patristic writers
and theologians throughout the middh agrs
considcrcd all sex impurr and degrading.
Sexual relations, cvrn bctwccn married pcr-
sons, tainted those involved with the pungent
aroma of sin. Without lust there could bc no
sexual activity, and sexual relations thcrc.
fort reprrscntrd in some dcgrce thr triumph
of concupisccncc over virtue, piety, an d
reason (Erickson 1976: 191). The mcdicval
Church, in short, loathrd sex (Esmrin 1929 -
35, 2:120; Duby 1978:16).
Mrdicval theologians and canonists wcrc,
howcvcr, prepared to tolcratc marriage,
dcspitc thr fact that married persons usually
did havr sex with one another, on the
grounds that marital sex, dcplorablr as it
might br, was necessary for reproduction.
But sex undcrtakcn for love, or, rvcn worst,
simply lbr plcasurc, was unaccrptablc to
many mcdicval writers on moral problrms.
In thr cyrs of the moralists the grrat offcnsc*
of secular writers about love and marriagr
was not that they condonrd adultcry (al-
though some of them did so), but rather that
they endorsed sexual plcasurc as a central
valur in emotional relationships, whcthcr
within marriage or outside of it (Flandrin
1972 : 13.5 1; Liebbrand and Liebbrand
to have escaped the attention, one suspects,
1972a:570- I). Since sexual pleasure in mar-
of many of his readers.
riagc troubled theologians and canonists, For clear and certain prohibitions of
111~ physical posture that couples adopted
coital experimentation we must turn to the
during sexual relations also worried them, penitential literature of the seventh and
liar they suspected that pleasure and posture eighth centuries. The penitentials, when
might br related. dealing with the shortcomings of the laity,
&ilal positions did not concern many
wr::t~~ wl svxwtl morality during the early
ccl~.~lri~h of Christian history. St John
I~;,I~~sc~w (about 675 to 748) even went
20 liar ;I\ to ;\rgnt* that married couples might
hit\rc intercourse in any way that they liked
(MPG !)6:258):
singled out sexual offenses for ;iominent,
often harsh, attention (Erickson 1976:195),
The treatment of marital sex in the peni-
tcntials was far more explicit than it had
been in the earlier (or, for that matter, was
to !JC in much of the later) moralistic litera-
ture. This was particularly true of coital
positions, which the penitcntials described
Car more explicitly than earlier writings had
done. Basically the penitential authors
assumed that the so-called missionary* posi-
tion (woman supine below, man prone
above) was the normal, natural position
But this prrmisaivr, WCII lighthearted, atti-
for human sexual intercourse and that any
~utlc* toward marital sex was atypical. Marc
deviations from this position were sinful.3
I.rpl.VWlltilti\ ~, and more influential, was
Thr pcnitentials most commonly described
ih\ .icGtudc of St Jrsomc (about 347-
deviant coital positions either as retro or as
.I I !)/20) :t
u tergo.4 Coitus a tergo (or in tergo) meant
t c*trrosexual anal intercourse, while coitus
.\I1 IWI~ crl.woti.~. rn,m\ wife i, filthy-but w ir too
rrtro meant hrtcrosexual vaginal intercourse
xdrtrt .I low II your rwn \DOUW. lhr wicr man with the woman kneeling and the man
should Io\r hir wif; with cool &acretion, not with hot
&wt~. Ihc. ru\h of plca~rc should tmt rule him, nor
cntcring hc,r from behind (sometimes called
4tould hv Ir;cp unhwding into bed. Nothing i\ naticr
the knee-chest position).6
that) to Iu\r vour OWII wife a\ if\he ww vour mistrw.
The penitential5 gave no reason fiJ r their
ban on irregular coital positions. John T.
,Jc.tn-Louis Flandrin has recently suggested Norman, Jr. concluded that the penitential
th.rt this passage in Jeromes Aduersus Jovi- writers may have proscribed coital attitudes
trfnrt~~ may have been designed to dissuade other than the missionary position be-
~uplc\ from adopting unusual or novel cause they believed, mistakenly, that intcr-
coital positionx in their search for greater course in this position provided the greatest
~xual plcaaurc (1981 : 119-20). Hi\ sug- chance for conception to take place (1965:
gchtion has merit; but Jeromes rcfercncc, 163).6 More recently Pierre Payer has qucs-
if such ir was, to experimental pleasures in tionrd Noonans conclusion, arguing that
the m,trriagc bed WA\ 50 artfully vcilcd as the concern of the penitential writers was
mainly with penalizing r&o intercourse, not
because they deemed it contraceptive, but
rather because they found it unseemly or
even sodomitical (1980:359, 381). I believe
that Payer is partly right: the context of
remarks about deviant coital positions in
the penitentials seems to indicate that the
writers were not primarily concerned with
optimizing procreation. They seem instead
to have been intent on discouraging behavior
that sought to increase pleasure in sexual
relations. That, I suspect, was the link
between Jeromes dark mutterings about
the moral evils of excessive love-making
and the penitential writers concern about
deviant coital positions. They may, in addi-
tion have linked sexual experimentation of
this type with the lascivious practices of
prostitutes, who attracted custom, especially
from married men, by featuring novelty in
their sexual repertoire.
The penitential authors clear opposition
to sexual pleasure of all kinds and under all
circumstances, either within marriage or, a
forfiori, outside of it, supports this reading
oftheir treatment ofdeviant sexual positions.
The Penitential of Archbishop Theodore of
Canterbury (668-90), for cxamplc, held
that married men should never see their
wives naked-perhaps because* this might
be plcasurablc in itself, or else because it
might lead to bouts of excessive inter-
course (Haddanand Stubbs 186!)-73,3:201;
Kottjc 1981:35). Jonas of Orleans (d. 843)
was more explicit: married men, he dc-
clarcd, have no license to have sex with their
wives whenever or however they please.
Jonas equated this mistaken belief that in
marital relations anything goes .vith the
immoderate intercourse forbidrien by St
Jerome (MPL 106:172-4). Jonas further
contended that those who believed that,
because God had crew.:d the sex organs,
people were therefore allowed to have sex
for pleasure, were also wrong. Sex for
pleasure, Jonas warned, was an abuse, God
created the genitals for procreation only;
use of these organs for pleasure or enjoy-
ment was illegitimate, sinful, and a per-
version (MPL 106:184-5).
Eleventh-century canonists and moralists
reiterated these prohibitions. Burchard of
Worms (about 965 to 1025) in his Decretum,
as well as in the Corrector (an anthology of
penitential passages, mainly from book nine-
teen of the larger work), condemned dog-
style coitus (tanino more), although he con-
sidered it a minor offense that required only
five or ten days of penance on bread and
wa:er. A more severe moralist, St Peter
Damian (1007-72). classified the use of
deviant cbital posiiions with other un-
natural sex acts and accordingly pre-
scribed a severe penance: twenty-five years
of fasting and penance for married pelions
over the age of twenty, or life-long fasting
and penance for married persons over the
age of fifty who committed such wicked acts
(MPL 145:172-3).
After the mid-eleventh century, however,
the style of dealing with deviant roital
positions changed abruptly. Explicit de-
scriptions of non-standard coital positions
disappeared from the literature and writers
once more classed this type of disapproved
behavior in the vague cattagory of %n-
natural acts. The new treatment is clearly
evident, for example, in the Decretum of
Bishop Ivo of Chartres (1~~40-1116). Ivo
said nothing explicit about oital positions.
Instead he drew from the patristic authori-
ties, especially St Augustine, vague con-
83
demnations of crimes against nature,*
(MPL 161:685,6f@ unnatural practices,
(MPL 161:685-6, 696) excessive inter-
course, (MPL 161:6%-7) and the like. It
is significant that Ivo reached back to
resurrect patristic condemnations of in-
decent, filthy, shameful, and immodest
sexual behavior by married couples an2
classified all non-legitimate use of thn
sexual members within marriage as ad&.
tery (mocchia; MPL 161:634,645).
When Gratian composed his Concordia
discordantium canonum about a half-century
later, he treated the sexuai activities of
married couples in much the same way as
Ivo had done; he also borrowed a good
many of the canons that Ivo had used.
Gratian made it plain that he believed that
sex should have minimal importance in the
marriage relationship. Couples who married
because of sexual attraction to one another,
he declared, were fornicators, not respect-
able married folk.* BUL even if they married
for the wrong reasons, such as lust, he added,
they were truly married and could not later
opt out of the union on the grounds that
they had entered it for improper purposes.*
fhr aim of marital sex was to produce
.
children, not to pleasure the married couple,
and those who gave priority to pleasure were
married fornicators.
Relying on the authority of St Jerome
and St Augustine, Gratian maintained that
there was nothing filthier than excessive
love of ones wife, expressed by having
~cxual intercourse beyond the minimal
amount necessary for reproduction.*t And
if minimal frequency of intercourse was the
that Christian couples ought to aim
seemed a consistent corollary that
they *hotrId avoid experimental positions
and techniques that served primarily to
enhance pleasure.
When Gratian deployed his authorities
to spell out his views, he relied principally
on St Jerome. Extraordinary sensual
pleasures (extraordinarias voluptatcs), he in-
sisted, have no place in Christian marriage;
those who seek such pleasures are guilty of
impurity and wantonness.* And just what
were these extraordinary sensual plea-
sures? According to Gratian they consisted
of whorish embraces (uoluptar~s au&m, quae
de meretricum capiuntur ampiexibus) ; this sort
of thing, as Jerome tells us, was bad enough
when practiced by a harlot; it was even more
damnable in the sacred precincts of the
marriage bed.t3 These expressions, and the
argument in which they were embedded,
were intended, I believe, to ban the use of
coital positions other than the so-called
missionary* position by married couples.
Certainly, as we shall shortly see, some
twelfth- and thirteenth-century canonists
understood them that way.
Gratian believed that extraordinary
sensual pleasures and whorish embraces*
were unnatural. This label raises a number
of problems: the chief one is that it is difficult
to discover where Gratian intended to draw
the line-if indeed he had any definite line
in mind-between natural and unnatural
sexual activities. Clearly he considered oral
sex and anal intercourse, either hetero-
sexual or homosexual, unnatural. But did
he intend to include heterosexual vaginal
intercourse in unorthodox positions within
the category of unnatural xx acts?
The dccretist commentators of thz late
twelfth and early thirteenth centuries at-
tempted to clarify the matter. Rolandus,
writing a decade or so after Gratian,ts
declared tlatiy that extraordinarias uoluptates
and whorish embraces went beyond the
natural order, but failed to specify in what
way. Rolandus declared that marital sex
ought to be practised with reason and dis-
cretion. His explanation of this statement
made it clear that he meant both that the
frequency of marital intercourse should be
restricted and that the way in which coitus
was accomplished ought to be restrained.
Stephen of Tournzi (d. 1203), writing about
1160, also hinted that excessive pleasure
in marital sex was culpable and perhaps
unnatural as well t* Sicard of Cremona, who
wrote about twenty years after Stephen of
Tournai, was inclined, however, to restrict
the meaning of unnatural sex to non-
vaginal intercourse.tg
The difficulties and uncertainties in dis-
covering the meaning of passages dealing
with these topics are not accidental. Robert
of Fiamborough advised confessors and
others who dealt with sexual conduct that
they should nevrr describe specifically what
they meant by unnatural or extraordi-
nary sexual behavior, lest they furnish
their audience with occasions for sin (Firm
1971: 196). Still some writers hinted that the
passages I have referred to did deal with
variations on the common pattern of scxuai
inlercourse. The anonymous Fragmenturn
~antahigiensc, probably written in the 1 i5Os,
taught that excessivr* marital sex and
extraordinarias uofuptates meant coitus against
the order of nature,* a formulation that
might well include intercourse in non-
standard positi0ns.m The Summa Reginettsis,
approximately a generation later, stated the
matter more positively: marital intercourse,
according to this commentary, is never crimi-
nal, so long as it follows the natural order,
even though some authorities held other-
wise.21 Among the rigorist authorities to
whom this passage refers were the anony
mous Summa Parisiensis, Peter the Chanter,
and especially Huguccio.** But none of these
explicitly defined the unnatural behavior
that they condemned.
The first plain and unambiguous con-
demnation of marital intercourse o,her than
in the missionary* position that I have
found in the commentators on Gratian
occurred in the glossa ordinaria compiled
shortly after 1215 by Johannes Teutonicus.
The ordinary gloss specifically labeled mari-
tal intercourse with the woman facing away
from the man as sinful and strongly sug-
gested that it was unnatural as we11.23
The ordinary gloss also seemed to distinguish
between v+ai intercourse in variant posi-
tions and Aodomy, which the gloss used
to mean both extra-vaginal heterosexual
cottus and homosexual intercourse.24 Other
writers, however, used unnatural as a
synonym for sodomy,26 while still others
broadened the use of sodomy to inciudc
all the types of behavior that the ordinary
gloss described as unnatural* (Goering
1976:39).
We have little reason to believe that the
rigorist theories of the more extreme canon-
ists and theologians greatly affected the
practices of ordinary married couples, many
of whom might have sympathised with the
views ascribed to the thirteenth-century
Runcarian heretics, who taught that mortal
sin was not committed below the belt.26 It
is not without significance, too, that the
io>nography of marriage changed sharply
during the twelfth century. Early medieval
artists usually symboiised marriage by de-
picting a couple holding hands, often in the
85
presence of a cleric; during me twelfth
century this convention began to give way
to a new symbol of the married state: the
matrimonial bed (Frugoni 1977, 2962).
Toward the middle of the thirteenth
century the treatment of coital positions
changed once more. For one thing the
canonists, who were perhaps never entirely
comfortable with the topic, ceased to discuss
the matter; the new locus of discussion lies
in the nractical handbooks for confessors.
.
the summac
treatises of
confessorurn, and in the academic
the theologians. In addition,. the
post-1250 tteatments of the theme become
oncr again more detailed and specific.
Typica! of the new approarh is the gloss
apparatus of William of Rcnnes (about 1250)
to thr Summa ae penilcntia of St Raymond of
pctiafort (I 175- 1275). In his discussion of
marital coitus that is not conducted in thr
usual fashion, William held that if the
partners cmploycd novel positions in order
to hrightcn their enjoyment, they sinned
mortally. Rut if they had intercourse in some*
unusual position bccausc they wcrc afraid
of crushing a fetus in the womans uterus,
then their conduct was without sin. Likc-
Wi W ihVsS Or Wmc other rcasmahlc cause
rxcuscd variations from the missionary
position in marital rc+uionr.z7
Ihc krarrciscan theologian, Alexander of
Halas (ihJ Ut I185 t0 1245), aiso excusced
non-standard COitd positions cmploycd by
reason of health or other physical problems,
\uch as obcsitv. Usr of thcrc unnatural
positions, hr added, is an evil, but a hsrrr
one and tolcrahlc under such circum-
\titIKIn --cxccpt whcrr coitus r&o is CfJ U-
rc,rncd. Srx in this position-the fashion
c&brutc~,, hr callrd it-can nrvrr bc tolrr-
MIT! and is always mortally smful (Alcx-
ander of Hales 1924- -48:2-2.3.5.2.1.8.3).
Similar. hut , even more detailed. treat-
ments appear in the Comnwntariu (finished in
1249) by St Albert the Great (about 1200 to
1280) on the Sm&ues of Peter Lombard.
Albert taught that no type of natural
coitus was mortally sinful in marriage, hut
that variations from the natural position
were venially sinful if they were adopted in
order to increase sexual pleasure. The mis-
sionary position, he taught, was dictated by
human anatomy as the natural position
for intercourse; it was also the optimal
position for conception. Albert discussed
four other coital positions: lateral (side-by-
side), seated, standing, and backward (a
lergo). While the first three of these were
morally blameworthy unless adopted for
adequate cause, Albert refused to pro-
nounce them mortally sinful. His moral
reservations about the backward position
were grcatcr than they were about the
others; cvrn so, hc did not consider back-
ward intcrcoursc a mortal sin for married
couples.
St Alberts best-known pupil, St Thomas
Aquinas (1224-74), took a less pcrmissivc
view. In all sexual beings, hc wrote, the
male plays an active role, thr fcmalc a
pa&r one; and .so it ought to hc in human
sexual relations (Thomas Aquinas 18115
I .98.2). Any deviation from the natural
uosition in marital intercourse was a bestial
act and violated the role assignments of the
scxcs (Thomas Aquinas 18g5 2 2.154,11).
While hc had nothing good to say about
whorish pleasures in marital sex, St
Thomas rcfuscd to condemn marital coitus
as mortally sinful, unless the principal goal of
the parties was pleasure
Aquinas Supp. 49.6).
Although Flandrin has argued otherwise,
I see no significant change in the teaching
of moralists and theologians concerning
coital positions during the fourteenth cen-
tury.** True, there was greater amplifica-
tion of discussion in some cases-and four-
teenth-century theologians did tend to dis-
cuss issues at great length-but there was
little change in substantive teaching on
these matters. William of Pagula (fl. 1314-
31), for one, dealt with coital positions in
detail. He described the missionary posi-
tion as the proper one, with the lateral
position as a variant of it. Seated and
standing coitus he regarded as more signifi-
cant variants on the natural* sex act, but
still permissible. William noted that some
authors considered this position mortally
sinful; however, he would allow it for good
reason, such as illness, pregnancy, or gross
obesity.30 A contemporary of William of
Pagula, Pierre de La Palude (about 1277 to
1342) discussed the subject in very similar
terms. His treatment placed the matter of
coital positions within the context of a
discussion of situations in which marital
sex is sinful. Pierre de La Palude listed six
such circumstances: in addition to deviant
coital positions, his list included sex for
pleasure, sex in sacred places, sex during
menstruation, sex in late pregnancy, and
sex prccedcd by extensive kissing, fondling,
and embracing (La Paiude 1552:367-8).
Some theologians, however, considered
Pierre excessively rigorous in his teaching
on the morality of marital sex (Tender 1977 :
201-2). Late medieval penitential writers
featured treatments of marital sexual con-
duct in general, and coital positions in
particular, very similar to those of Pierre de
La Palude and William of Pagula (Flandrin
1981: 158-9).
The evidence seems to show that late
medieval society had reached no general
consensus concerning the seriousness of devi-
ations from conventional marital sexual
behavior. There seems to have been a
popular belief, on the one hand, that what-
&dr their personal peculiarities, the sexual
relations of married couples were by defini-
tion without sin; preachers who taught
otherwise scandalized the faithful (Kelly
1975:261, n. 49; Ladurie 1978:151). At the
other end of the spectrum, some writers
held that even if n&standard coital posi-
tions were either morally blameless or only
venially sinful, they still might cause birth
defects in children and ought to be avoided
for that reason (Lemay 1978:397).
A few late medieval theologians adopted
a moderate t !ew of sexual transgressions
within marriage. Marcus von Weida, for
example, maintained that sexual sins in
marriage were common but not serious
enough to require confession and formal
penance. Those guilty of such sins, Marcus
iaught, could earn forgiveness simply by
blessing themselves with holy water, saying a
p&r nmkr, or giving alms.31 Others saw the
matter quite differently; and a few of the
major moral writers of the Reformation
pe&d considered non-standard coital posi-
tions a heinous kind of unnatural sex.
After all, one of them remarked, it was the
practice of having sexuai intercourse with
the woman on top that caused Cod to send
the Biblical flood (Romans 1.26-7)-a
drastic cure for this perversion (yindner
1929: 162).
Intimate dewils of personal behavior,
such as a preference for unconventional
coital positions, did not often get into the
87
records of the ecclesiastical courts, Even so,
one occasionally runs across a case in which
such matters could possibly have been at
issue.a2 Such cases are exceedingly rare; they
are unlikely to represent a significant fraction
of the actual tise of non-standard coital posi-
tions by married couples.
A striking feature of medieval discussions
about the morality of different coltal posi-
tions is the role that nature plays in the
trcatmcnt of this theme. The concept of the
natural coital position as a moral standard
was remarkabiy flexible. Many writers main-
tained that the cissionary position was
proper because it was natural and con-
dcmncd all others because they were %m-
natural. They also rejected anal and oral
scx because they were unnatural too dnd
justified the rejection because these he-
havior:,, they thought, did not occur in
nature-by which they meant among
animals, The same authorities compounded
confusion, however, when they banned
coitus (1 &rgo precisely because it was animal-
like! The confusion in the USC of the term
natural probably reflects in part the
transition from the early medieval habit of
using nature as a simple rhetorical dcvicc
to the nrw use of nature as a philosophical
concept, a dcvelopmenr that seems to have
begun with the work of William of Conches
(1080-1145) (G&y-Pons 1975.28). But
while this may account fi*r some of the
inconsistencies, it dot! little to clarify the
ambiguities that bc*fuddle the reader in so
many of the texts I have cited. Presumably
mrdieval rc*aders were often as baffled as w(
arc by some of thcsc* Sibylline pronounce-
mcnts.a3
BUI confusion over thr idea of natural
sex is not peculiar either to Europe or to the
middle ages. The abominable and de-
testable crime against naturettU is still known
to modem American law and appears in
the statutes of a dozen of our States.as In
the past, our courts have sometimes been
quite as fuzzy as any medieval moralist
about the precise meaning of this timc-
honored phrase. Current authorities limit
it to anal and oral intercourse, either hetero-
sexual or homosexual,a7 and the U.S.
Supreme Court held in 1976 that the term
was not unconstitutionally vagueeas Ameri-
can case law, incidentally, is not clear as to
whether statutes prohibiting unnatural
sex apply to marital sexual relations or not:
some have held that it may so apply,30
while others denv it. In any event, a pro-
secution has apparently never been brought
on this issue, or at least none has resulted in a
published appellate decision. This seems to
confirm the cynical judgment that such
laws as these are unenforced because we
want to continue our conduct, and un-
repealed because WC want to preserve
morals (Slovenko 1967:271, n. 16).
our
One final conclusion emerges: in the
medieval discussions concerning coital posi-
lkJ nS in marriage. we have one further
cxamplc of that rejection of pleasure, especi-
ally sexual pleasure, that has been so charac-
teristic of Christian moral teaching for so
long (Flandrin 1982:102). This clement of
Christian tradition has made a curiously
lasting imprc5sion on our 5ocicty. It is
certainly no accident that in everyday speech
and thought we commonly identify morality
almost exclusively with sexual conduct.
When WC speak of someone as immoral, it
is almost always to their sexual activitits
88
that we refer, and scarcely ever to other .No tes
matters. It is quite possible for a person to be
a glutton, a drunkard, a gambler, a spend-
Cf. I Root (= 1 Connecticut Reports), p. xxvi
thrift, a tx< cheat, a thief, or a murderer !7g3).
without being labeled immoral*. Clearly,
Sc Jerome, Advtrrus Jovinianum, cited in Gratian,
C. 32 o. 4 c. 5. Texts from Gratian and the other parts
sexual behavior is at the core of our notions
about morality (Dworkin 1966: 1004; Flan-
drin 1977: 196-7).
It is sobering, even depressing, to reflect
upon the pall that the teaching that I have
surveyed here has cast upon the lives and
intimate joys of so many generations of
married men and women, who were scarcely
able to beget a child without pangs o;con-
science and mortal dread lest they enjoy the
experience and die without repenting il
(Colli and Montinari 1967, 4/2:134-5;
Zeimentz 1973:236).
Appendix
A comparative /able o/ ptnancts fir coitus in tcrga and
COilUS rem0
Ptni~mlial In @a R&o
Finian 2 3 (adult) yrs.
2 (boy) yrs.
7 (habitual) yrs.
Theodore 2 I 40 dayr
Theodore 22 IO-15 yrs.
Cumean IO.15
2 yrs. (boy)
3 or 4 (adult) yn.
7 (habitual) yrs.
Bedr 3.38 40 davr
Bedc 3.39 4 quia yrs.,
sodomiticum
scclus cst
Egbcrl5.19 3 yrs. (adult)
2 (boy) yrb.
Burchard,
Corrector 49
Burchard,
Decretum 19.5
Burchard, 3 yrs. (adulc)
Decretum
2 yrs (boy)
17.39
Haltigar 6 IO yrs. (cleric)
of the r?orbur iuris caaoonici will be cited from Friedbera
1879, while the glossa or&aria will be cited from ch:
4 vol. edition published at Venice in 1605. For the
influence of Jerome% polemic on medieval views of
sex and marriage, see Delhaye 1951:65-86.
s
Cummean (ca. 650), Potniftnliah 10.15 (Bielcr
1963: 128); Bede (ca. 672/73-735), Pocnilenliah 3.38
(Haddan and Stubbs 1869-73,3:329; Wasserschleben
I851 :224); Egbert of York (ca. 750), Pmitmfi& 5.19
(Haddan and Stubbs l869-73,3:422; Wasserschleben
1851 : 237) ; Finnian of Clonard (d. ca. 550), Ptniknliaie
(Bieler l963:74); St Columban (d. before 615),
Patni~mlialt B.3 (Bieler 1963: 100); Theodore, Arch-
bishop of Canterbury (668-90), Pmitmtiafe 14.21-22
(Finsrerwalder 1929:309; Haddac and Stubbs 1869-
73,3:l89).
,
Payer 1980:357 identifies a ltrgo with anal inter-
course, but he seems fo assume that all anal inter-
course is homosexual. Neither the texts nor, in most
cases, the contexts require this interpretation. Bieler
1963:74 seems to have made the hame assumption,
for example in his translation of Finnian, where he
renders In lcrgo uero fomicanrcs as Those practicing
homoaexuality.Thedistinction r uickly becomesclear
when one compares the texts shown in the Appendix.
s
A number CT other positims could easily be
meant-for example standing p Bitions, sitting posi-
tions, side-by-side Fsitions-but the three that I have
described are the variations most commonly depicted
in Greco-Roman erotic art and may, perhaps, have
been mob, likely to have been familiar to early medieval
writers; Mountfield 1982 contains numerousexamples
s
On the implications of the knee-chest position
for conception, s;e Masters and lohnson 1966-86.
,
B&hard ofworms, Co&r48 (Wasserschleben
1851:642) and Dtcrehm 19.5 (MPL 140:959). In
Dtcrthtm 17.39 (MPL 140:926-7), however, coitus
in ltrga calls for three years of penance (reduced (0
two years for child offenders). Boswell 1980:205-6
seems not to have noticed the differences between
homosexual and heterosexual anal intercourse in
Dewurn 19.5, a failure that seriously flaws his drgu-
ment.
s
Gratian, C. 32 q. 2 d.p.c. I.
s
C. 32 q. 2 d.p.c. 5 and c. 6 (= Ivo Dtcrtrum 8.65
and Panorm& 6.27j.
89
I. C. 32 q. 2 d.p.c. 2 and c. 7 (= Ivo, Dtcrttnm
10.55); C. 32 q, 4 c. 7; D. 25 d.p.c. 3.
II
C. 32 q. 2 c. 3 ( = Ivo, Dtnrlum 8.234) ; C. 32 q.
4 c. 5.
II
C. 32 q, 4 c. 12.
II
C. 32 q. 4 c. 14; C. 32 q. 7 c. I I (= ho, Detrttum
9.110).
II
C. 32 q, 7 c. 12 (=lw+ Dttrtfum 9.115), 13
(= Ivo. Dtcrtfun 9.105. 14 (= Ivo. Dtcrttmn 9.106).
as wcllas C. 32 q. 7 c. I i; cited aho&, and C. 32 q. 4 ;.
I I (= Ivo, Dtmfm 8.279 and 31 I).
10
The identification of Rolandus as Pope AIL%-
ander 111 and the conventional dating of his Summa,
which depended upon that identification, are now
serioucly qucstioncd; Noorran 1977:21-48; Wcigand
1980%44.
I
Rolandus, Summa to C. 32 q, 4 c. I2 v. txtm-
ordinaries uolupta~r and C. 32 q. 4 c. I4 v. uolupk?&s
two (Thaner 1874: 174-j),
Ii
Rolandus, Summa to C. 32 q. 4 c. 5 v. omalor
ardtntior (Thaner 1874:173).
IS
Stephen of Tournai, Summa to D. 5 c. 2 v.
vofupfus (Schultc 1891 :l5),
IS
Sicard of Cremana, Summa to C. 32 q. 2,
London, British Library, MS. Add. 18367, fol. 58va-
vh: Extraordinaria autcm pollutio trihria spargitur.
Nam alia fit contra ordincm iuric, ut fomicatio, alia
contra ordincm nature, ct hoc aur cum hruto animali,
aut in similitudine wxus, aut in mcmbro ad hoc a
natura non deputato, alia prctcr ordincm nature qw
fit citra pudenda mulicrir.
1))
Fragmtntum Canfabrigitnw to C. 32 q. 2 c. 3 v.
guirquil, Cambridge University Library, MS. Add.
3321 (I), f. 23~: Uchcmcnr etc. Id c.st hua uxorccrmtra
ordiwm nature tttcns adttlter est. Frug, Cuntab. to
C. 32 q, 4 c. 5 v. nihil inftrt~l, f. 24~: Nota qui uchemcm
amator pruprie uxurib adultcr wt. Uchemenn cst illr
qui pwtcrordinum naturecognoacit propriam uxorcm,
ucl qui p&m ctiam in sollempnitatibur cam cog-
noscit, uel tcmporr partus, ttel ctiam qtti interim in
.rmorem eius ardct, qui deliberate apud SC quud ctiam
*i alter& c.sct uxor non minus ca utcretur. Frag,
Cantab. to C. 32 q. 4 c. I2 v. txtraordinoniar uoluptofts,
f. 25~: Extraordinaria uolupta* est quando cognowit
aliquam prrtrq propriam ucl quando prop&m extra
nrdincm nature cognacit.
21
Summa Rtgintnsic to C. 32 q 4 c. 5 v. ad&r,
Vat. Reg. lat. 1061, fol. 37rb (Wcigand 1981:55). For
dn interwing parallel wr Maimonidrz, Co& 5.1.21.9
(Rabinowitz and Crwman 1965: 135).
t*
Summa Parisimsi to C. 32 u. 4 ;. I4 and C. 33
q. 4 c. 7 v. sint tulpa (McLaughlin IC52:244, 252);
Miillrr 1954:ljl: Brundage 1980:3tX-7; Wcigand
1981:53.
&Us uoluptatis quam sic amplius lieret mortaliter
peccat. Si autem uxor pregnans est et timeat de suf-
focatione partus et proptcr hoc non audet ascendere
ad earn ex parte anteriori, non pccat ex altera parte
ascendens.
II
Two possible cases occur m Dupont 1880:335,
456. In one of them a certain Hebertus Agoulant was
presented on a charge ofincontinence with his wife, a
formula that suggests some sort of irregular matri-
monial coitus (cf. C. 32 q. 2 d.p.c. I). The record in
the other case reports that Johannes Pomier et uxor
cjus non henc se habent ad lectum. They promised to
do better in future and were let off with a warning.
It is impossible to say with certainty just what the
problem was; some sort ofdeviant intercourse seems a
possibility, but there are many others.
11
Tom% Sknchez, De mafrimonio 9.16.1, cited in
Flandrin 1981: 130.
Ia
The complexities of meaning and reference are
even murkier when naturr is used as a moral test
for judging homosexual behavior; see Boswell 1980:
I I - 15,303-29.
a4
Coke 1669:58. Buggrry is a detestable and
abominable sin, among Christians not to be named,
committed by carnrl knowledge against the ordinance
of the Creator and order of nature, by mankind with
mankind, or with brute beast, or by womankind with
hrutc beast. Tbr omission of womankind with
womankind suggrsts a surprising naivete on Cokes
part.
1.5
Alabama, Co& (1975) s. 13. I. I 10 (crime against
nature); Arizona, Rcu. Sfufs. S. 13.141 I (the infamom
crime against nature), Louisiana .S~otutcs Atmolatcd,
Rev. Stat. 14:89 (crime against nature); Idaho, Code
5. 18-6605 (infamous crime agait,st nature); Mas-
rachusctts, Amal~amatcd Laws, General Lawa, c. 272
$. 34 (the abominable and detestah:? crime against
nature). ah well as I. 35 (unnattudl and lascivious
acts); Mieisbippi, Codr (1972) s. 97-29-59 (un-
natural inlcrcoursr); North Carolina, (;mcrra~ . %htl er
h. 14-177 (crime against nature); Oklahoma Stutulrs
Annotated 21 s. 886-7 (crime against nature); Rhode
Ibland, Gmtraf laws 11 -lo- 1 (abominable and dc-
testable crime agaimt nature); ~mnessee Code An-
not&d s. 39-3714 (crimr against nature); Virgima,
Co,+ (1950) s. 18.2-361 (crime agrinst ?aturc).
Y
State v. Altwater, 29 Idaho lfe7, 157 P. 256
(1916), cited and ad:pted in Starr v. Larsen, 81
Idaho90.337 P.2d I (1951), holds that the infamous
crime against nature mvans not only sodomy, but
also all unnatural carnal copulations. For a more
recent marvel ofjudicisl vagueness maqurrarling as a
drlinition of the rrimc against naturr. see Williams v.
State, 316 So.2d 362 (Alabama, 1975).
37 Commonwealth Gallant, 369 v. N.E.Pd 707
(Massachusetts, 1977) at 712: Balthazar v. Suaerior
Court, 428 F. Supp. 425 (197;) at 433,434; Pedple v.
Babb, 229 P.2d 843 (California. 19511 at 845.
ss
W&wright v.. Stone, 94 S.Ct. 190, 414 U.S.
21, 38 L.Ed.2d 179 (1976).
Je
Neville v. State, 290 Md 364, 430 A.2d 570
(1981) at 578 (but see also the dissenting opinion of
Davidson, J., at !8l); State v. Schmit, 273 Minn.
78, I39 N.W.2d 800 (1965) at 809; Cole v. Stan,
I75 P.2d 376 (Okiahoma, 1945); State v. Nelson,
199 Minn. 86 at 94.271 N.W. 114 (1937) at 118.
so
Mentek v. State. 71 Wis.2d 799. 238 N.W.2d
752 (1976); State v. P&her, 242 N.W.id 348 (Iowa,
1976) at 358; Pot \ Ullman, 81 S.Ct. 1752, 367 U.S.
497,6 L.Ed.Zd 989 (1961).
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