Medieval Manuscripts Depicting Marriage, Love, and Sex

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Via: How And When Did People Get Married In The Medieval Period? | HistoryExtra

We recently did a guide on how to pull off the ‘top castle wedding’, so it got me thinking about how funny Medieval manuscripts are. So today, I wanted to present some strange and wacky ones that depict marriage, love, and all the awkward phases in between.

A Fright Between Mother and Child

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Via: (theawesomedaily.com)

It's one thing to give birth, but another thing entirely to show shock and horror when you lay eyes on your child. Maybe this mother is terrified at how similar they look to their baby, or the child spoke when it came out of her womb? Regardless, I would be concerned if a mother started acting this way. 

Honey, I Tried to Hunt that Witch, Again.

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Via: 37 Hilarious Medieval Reactions That Sum Up Your Life (runt-of-the-web.com)

Marriages are full of challenges, but who knew witches and curses would be such a big problem in the Middle Ages? Here we have a king who went too far with his witch hunting and how he has to explain to her poor wife why he now has a horse’s behind. 

A Showoff

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Via: 154 Art History Tweets That Prove Nothing Has Changed In 100s Of Years | Bored Panda

I see three gay or straight men presenting their dicks in a size competition. It's no different from cars or the latest fad today; people are always trying to have the biggest and the best. There is a myth that if you have the bigger appendage, you have a better chance of winning and keeping a partner. 

Happy Wedding Day

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Via: Love and Marriage: Medieval Style - Medievalists.net

Here we have a couple placed before a holy priest. However, no one looks pleased about being forced to hold hands! 

The priest is pulling the man forward after what could have been a silly dispute between the couple just before the ceremony. Maybe he forgot the wedding ring? 

She has a hand on one hip, looking unimpressed, whilst the priest looks like he has a long day of weddings ahead. I feel for all three in this snapshot. 

The Wedding Ring is too Big.

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Via: https://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2019/09/a-wedding-gallery-.html 

Don’t you hate it when you buy your partner a ring, but it is too large for her small frame? Usually, it would be a headache as you need to pay more money to get it fitted again, but here, despite having a king and queen, they are acting like it is the end of everything. They have the money, and yet they are pouting and looking clueless.

An Unusual Couple in a Tug of War

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Via: Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages A Frame Around Infinity (jannagnoelle.com)

Although probably intended to be a man and women declaring their vows, here it looks more like two women expressing their love before a holy man. The priest, through it all, looks concerned that he might be caught but is still going ahead with the union. Everyone else around the couple acts wholesome. 

The raised gestures of the couple suggest they are regaling each other with deep love, and they look into each other’s eyes with soft smiles. They are marrying for love. 

An Unimpressed Queen

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Via: Medieval Dating Tips; or, How to Bag Yourself an Eligible Lord or Lady – Just History Posts

What we see here looks to be a father or brother of a lady being introduced to a potential husband. The young woman does not look amused as the lord leans in close to kiss her on the cheek.

It was not uncommon for marriages to be significant age gaps between a lord and a lady. Often this meant questionable partnerships by today's standards, but if a family could better their social standing, they would trade daughters for this upper hand. This picture shows the dynamics of all these factors and a fed-up lady. 

Couple Getting Frisky in Public

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Via: https://www.pinterest.nz/thurmansmith707/medieval-couples/

Often people of the past today are read as prudish, but this is not the case. Instead, we have a couple getting frisky in public, and the woman in the background seems to be in a world of her own, oblivious to the event in the foreground.

The scene could also be read as a couple dancing, and because the lady’s robes are so long and heavy, her dancing partner has to carry them and keep his form. The lady is drunk or oblivious to this as she palms his face with one hand, and he frowns. It could show thus not the energetic nature of their union but the small things we do for those we love. 

Her Drunk Partner Proposed to her with a Pineapple.

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Via: Love, Sex, and Marriage in Medieval Europe | by Sal | Lessons from History | Medium

Don’t you hate it when your partner holds off on popping the question? It's even worse when he does it drunk and throws you a burger ring or a wet pineapple ring! I can’t see anything except that scene; her face just seals the whole scenario.

I imagine it began with him drinking a couple of rounds of mead, buying a pineapple on the way home and at some point finding that a slice looked reasonably similar to a gold ring. The harvest might have been bad that year, so the only way he could secure the cutest girl in the village was to present a ring of that value. So pineapple ring: a logical way to ask for a girl’s hand in marriage. 

A Fun Night at Home!

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Via: On cuckolding – a thing – Going Medieval (going-medieval.com)

You would think depictions of sex in Medieval manuscripts would be tabu, but it was pretty popular for the cheeky monks in the monasteries. The bed here looks like a bath wrapped in covers and stuffed with pillows, and the woman is soo keen she stripped down the moment they arrived home. On the other hand, the man looks shocked, bearly registering what was happening before half his clothes flew and he is being dragged over to her—lots of fun here. 

Nun’s Grew Dicks on Trees During Medieval Times

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Via: Medievalist shares ripe fruit of penis tree | Times Higher Education (THE)

This is perhaps my favourite on this list because it is so strange. But, seriously, whatever the dicks on trees are meant to represent does not matter, for just the image alone is pure comedy gold. Perhaps it is a metaphor for monks who joined the monastery to hide their homosexuality from the outside world. Or maybe they had to lead lives of celibacy made them repress deep desires but came out in pen?

Foreplay with the Devil

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Via: Naughty Nuns, Flatulent Monks, and Other Surprises of Sacred Medieval Manuscripts | Collectors Weekly

There are many depictions of foreplay, sex, and strange happenings in Medieval Manuscripts. I imagine the monks got bored writing text after text and needed some fun occasionally. So we have in this example a devil-like creature during arrows into a half-fish man, and I won't even say where the arrow is aiming for, but who knew we’d have gay erotica?

The Night Watcher

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Via: An Illustrated Guide to Medieval Love - Medieval manuscripts blog

We have a couple passionately making love and a creeper that hangs over them with a club. It could be a home invasion, but what is generally more likely is a cheater being confronted as their moment of cheating. Even during these times, cheating was a morally sinful act that often led to social outcasting or even death.

Roosting on Eggs

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Via: Weird Trippy Sex Pictures From Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts - Flashbak

I can’t even begin to explain why a monk sits butt-naked on a collection of human-sized eggs. Perhaps he suppresses a desire for a child of his own? A deep desire to become something more than… a man? Monks lived together, but it must have been very lonely at times, and a desire to live normal life and get married to a family might have haunted many a dream. 

After I did some research, I found that the eggs represented both the sun and a source of life. So maybe he just had a cold bottom after all of this theorizing?

It Needs to Cook Longer!

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Via: Marriage in the Margins: Romantic Frolics in Medieval Manuscripts | (wordpress.com)

Here we have an ordinary coupling having a dispute about cooking a chicken. Although perhaps a mundane task, it tells us a lot about the lives of a married couple, that even then, they would bicker every so often.

Intertwined in Love

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Via: Marriage in the Margins: Romantic Frolics in Medieval Manuscripts | (wordpress.com)

Who could ask for anything more than to be wrapped in the long neck of your amorphous bird-human partner? I know I could not ask for anything more romantic!

Final Remarks

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Via: Medieval Images of Love - Medievalists.net

I was expecting to find many more funny images of Medieval manuscripts depicting marriage and love, but most were more wholesome or dry. Thus, this post evolved into a showcase of how love, marriage, and sex is depicted in this artistic medium and highlighted how these things were impacted by society. 

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