The Free Sexual Morality of the Renaissance

According to historians, sexual relations during the Renaissance era played a very important role in human lives. Irresponsible lifestyle, unfaithful spouses, erotic dancing and orgies were so very typical for that period of time. People’s sexual activity was characterized as hyperactivity and there was nothing wrong about that. Every woman of that time dreamt about a strong, muscular man of extensive sexual experience. A perfect woman for a man was the one, who was craving man’s love until her mature age.

Physical insatiability was typical both for Renaissance men and Renaissance women. The latter were showing even more sexual activity in comparison with men. The girls of that time were looking forward to the moment, when they could make love to a man. Young men and women tried to get married as early as possible. A Renaissance philosopher once wrote: “The laws of nature are the most important laws of all. The nature has not done anything in vain: we were given noble body parts in order to use them, not to ignore them.” The most convincing argument for a woman to get married was the idea that remaining a single woman for long might eventually result in psychological instability and constant hysteria. Marrying a well-built, strong man was the best way against that horrible disease.

When a girl was getting married, a lot of attention was paid to her innocence. There was a saying in the Middle Ages: “It would be better to sleep with a hedgehog than with a bride that has lost her virginity.” Girls were basically divided into two groups: worthy girls, virgins that is, and worthless girls, who lost their innocence prior to their wedding day. A worthy bride would wear a wreath that was like a crown of innocence. A worthless bride was supposed to wear a veil.

Another important ritual of those times was connected with the proof of a girl’s innocence. A husband would hang blood-stained sheets in a street so that everyone could see that his wife was a virgin. There was also another ritual that was typical to that time – sharing a bride-bed. It was believed in a lot of countries that a wedding was illegal only when a groom and a bride would go to bed publicly, while other people were watching.

That ritual was absolutely not serious, even funny on some occasions, especially amid princes. A marriage was considered to be a conditional thing to happen, something like a political agreement. It often happened so that a groom was absent at the moment of the “solemn ceremony of going to bed.” A groom’s duties could be fulfilled by his official deputy. He would go to sleep with his bride and finish it all up himself.

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