medieval priests desired and defended women against celibacy

The Christian Church from its beginnings has been gynocentric. Christians understand God to have become incarnate as Jesus in his mother Mary’s womb. Mary thus encompassed Jesus, just as Christians have always believed their churches to do. Since both men and women typically favor women relative to men, Christian gynocentrism naturally developed. Medieval Christian priests served and venerated mother church. Moreover, many medieval priests desired and defended women against institutional church efforts to require celibacy.

naked couple in medieval garden

While today’s priestly class is tending toward banning heterosexuality to combat a socially fabricated rape epidemic, medieval priests strongly favored heterosexual relations. They urged the laity to enter into equal conjugal partnerships of marriage. Some priests likewise entered conjugal partnerships. However, the First Lateran Council (1123) declared that priests could not get married, nor live with concubines. The Second Lateran Council (1139) forbid married priests from celebrating mass. Apparently in response to canon law on celibacy being flouted, the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) authorized sanctions against unchaste priests.[1] Some men throughout the ages have experienced sexless marriages. Some men have gone their own way to avoid gynocentric oppression. Nonetheless, medieval church leaders forbidding priests to marry or live with women significantly affected many priests’ lives.

Some medieval priests protested vigorously against the prohibition on priests marrying or living with women. A clerical poem from about 1200 declared wittily:

One sins criminally who wishes to separate
what God has joined — woman to man.
We rightly are led to call them terrible thieves.

Oh, what anxious sadness, what heavy torment —
we must send away our sweet pussy!
This, Roman Pope, you have decided wrongly.
Beware that you don’t die from the extreme crime.

It isn’t innocent, but indeed truly noxious,
that what God has taught, the Pope strives to abolish.
God himself has ordered men to have women,
but our Pope has ordered this to be prohibited.

The Old Testament teaches us to multiply.
Where the New prohibits this can nowhere be found.
This lesson is carried forward to modern times,
against which no reason can be tendered in argument.

God himself has pronounced a curse
upon the man who doesn’t make another generation.
I thus advise you for this reason
to multiply, so that you have benediction.

{ Peccat criminaliter qui vult separare
quos Deus conjunxerat, foeminam a mare,
tales dignum duximus fures appellare.

O quam dolor anxius, quam tormentum grave
nobis est dimittere quoniam suave;
hoc, Romane pontifex, statuisti prave:
ne in tanto crimine morieris cave.

Non est Innocentius, immo nocens vere,
qui quod Deus docuit, studet abolere;
jussit enim Dominus foeminas habere,
sed hoc noster pontifex jussit prohibere.

Gignere nos praecipit Vetus Testamentum,
ubi Novum prohibet, nusquam est inventum;
a modernis latum est istud documentum,
ad quod nullum ratio praebet argumentum.

Dedit enim Dominus maledictionem
viro, qui non fecerat generationem:
ergo tibi consulo per hanc rationem
gignere, ut habeas benedictionem. }[2]

Medieval clergy perceived scriptural affirmation of their great appreciation for women’s genitals. Giraldus Cambrensis, who became Archdeacon of Brecon and served as a clerk to two archbishops, recorded in 1197:

I also heard a prior of a certain house of canons chiding his chaplain before the bishop in this manner, “He is good, but he is a great lover of pussy.” To which he replied, “I shall show you by authoritative citations from the Psalter that I should love pussy. David wrote, ‘I have loved pussy,’ and elsewhere, ‘behold pussy,’ ‘pussy is good,’ ‘pussy is sweet,’ ‘pussy forever,’ and ‘pussy is confirmed.'” The chaplain concluded from these quotations that one might firmly keep that which the psalmist mentions, approves, and confirms in so many passages.

{ Item audivi priorem domus cujusdam canonice capellanum suum coram episcopo corripientem in hune modum, “Bonus esset, sed nimis diligit quoniam.” Cui ille: “Probo per auctoritates Psalterii quod debeo diligere quoniam! David enim scripsit, ‘Dilexi quoniam,’ et alibi, ‘vide quoniam,’ et ‘quoniam bonus,’ et ‘quoniam suavis,’ et ‘quoniam in saeculum,’ et ‘quoniam confirmata est,'” concludens ex his quia firmiter haberi potest quam tot psalmista locis commemorat, approbat, et confirmat. }[3]

The chaplain misinterpreted the meaning of quoniam in the Latin translation of the psalms. In that context, quoniam means “because / since.” The chaplain, however, interpreted quoniam there to mean “pussy” — a well-attested meaning of quoniam among learned medieval speakers and writers. Historically, women’s genitals have been much more favorably represented in comparison to men’s genitals. While the chaplain misinterpreted scripture, he almost surely accurately represented many medieval priests’ views on women’s genitals.

While many medieval priests delighted in women’s genitals, they maintained some sexual morals. Incest was a common aspect of relations among traditional Greco-Roman gods and mythic figures. Secular societies today have little moral basis for condemning consensual incest among adults. In contrast, a medieval cleric who defended priests marrying women was highly judgmental about incest:

Closely related women, daughters, and granddaughters —
to defile those is evil, like nothing but deception.
Have your woman rightly, and in this you should delight.
Thus you should so more safely wait for the last day.

{ Proximorum foeminas, filias, et neptes
violare nefas est, quasi nil deceptes:
vere tuam habeas, et in hac delectes,
diem ut sic ultimum tutius expectes. }[4]

This cleric’s term for a man having sex with a woman, “defile {violare},” reflects deeply rooted disapprobation of men’s sexuality. Medieval culture developed a more affirmative view of men’s sexuality that some medieval clerics expressed in practice, if not in their diction.

Medieval clerics respected nature as governing human sexuality. Today, sexually disadvantaged persons often turn to pornography. Prior to recent decades, sexually disadvantaged persons or persons with enormous sexual desires more often turned to sexual acts with non-human animals. Within Catholic and Orthodox Christian church teachings (the teachings of other Christian churches vary), viewing pornography and engaging in bestiality are regarded as serious sins. A medieval cleric who argued against priestly celibacy strongly condemned even mutually pleasurable, respectful sexual relations between men and non-human female animals. Perhaps alluding to Scottish men and sheep, he declared:

May there be no ambiguity about my mind’s devotion.
I was born within the bounds of the English nation.
By the nature of living men, all men are
to plow with their wives, not yoke with ewes.

{ Ne sint in ambiguo uota mee mentis,
Natus sum in partibus anglicane gentis.
Natura cuiuslibet est uiri uiuentis
Iungi cum uxoribus et non cum iumentis. }[5]

Medieval priests who rejected priestly celibacy didn’t wholly eviscerate Christian sexual morality. They opposed bestiality. At the same time, they regarded sex between a man and a woman as good, even if the man was a priest or monk.

monk embracing woman

Prohibiting priests from marrying women or living with women arguably encouraged priests to be sexually promiscuous, to pay for whores, and to cuckold married men. A medieval cleric complained:

What are you doing, Oh Pope, in taking away our female one-and-only?
Granting more, you but increase causes of sex crimes.
I would believe less evil occurs by permitting a female one-and-only,
thus sparing other girls and women protected in marriage.

Deprived of their own, what should priests do?
You shift them to grinding secretly,
not sparing any married woman.
Punishment or disgrace won’t dissuade them.

Famous Bacchus in pleasure is cup-bearer,
dissolute, drunk, a slave of love.
How may night work be possible for another,
without dying in harm for eternity?

If one wants to punish well the poor,
that shouldn’t be other than to make them wealthy.
When the poor are forced to work sexually a lot,
they will ponder other than to enjoy pleasure.

{ Quid facis, o pontifex, unam adimendo?
sed tu crimen cumulas, plures largiendo.
Minus malum crederem unam permittendo
parcere sic aliis, nuptas muniendo.

Quid agant presbyteri propriis carentes?
alienas violant clanculo molentes,
nullis pro conjugiis foeminis parcentes,
poenam vel infamiam nihil metuentes.

Notus in deliciis Bacchus est pincerna,
dissolutus, ebrius, Venerisque verna,
esse possit aliis quomodo lucerna,
nisi ad interitum dampna per aeterna?

Si quis velit pauperem bene castigare,
non oportet aliud quam inpauperare;
cum cogantur inopes multum laborare,
cogitabunt aliud quam luxuriare. }[6]

With cutting irony, the cleric suggests that the Pope is perversely punishing the poor. Faithfully married priests are sexually poor in the sense that they have only one sexual partner. Christians understand God to be particularly attuned to the cries of the poor. Christians should help the poor. By dissolving priests’ marriages, the Pope punishes those poor priests by making them wealthy in other women seeking their sexual services. Those priests then couldn’t take pleasure in their sexual work because it would became excessive and exhaustingly burdensome.

Medieval priests had various thoughts on being deprived of the women with whom they lived. A poem probably from the thirteenth century preserves some debate within a local church council:

Thus begins the teacher and prelate of the council,
a man well-grounded in canon law:
“Lords, this has the status of a serious inquiry.
To remove maids isn’t a treatise of the trivial.

The prelature, not the law, divides human beings
that nature joins across their fragile persons.
To live chaste lives is too harsh a rule;
only angelic life is pure.”

After he said this, an elder came with trembling step:
“I consign to others, Lords, that which is my fascination.
The prelate wants to remove my maid.
Since I’m impotent in sexual battle, I’ll be content.”

A crafty cantor hears, hence cries out loudly:
“If you all don’t value what he has given up,
you thus want others to be deprived of this liveliness?”
The elder is greatly befuddled with embarrassment.

Therefore he takes to emend his vow thus:
“I do not wish, Lord cantor, to transfer my female cook,
but it’s agreeable to hide her from the laity temporarily,
so that we may be able to withstand the prelate’s commands.”

The steward says: “This cannot pass.
A female beast rules over me. I would allow her to bang away,
but the one-eyed whore refuses to leave.
I desire to exchange her for the elder’s cook.”

Then all in the assembly laughed together.
“Come on! Our steward isn’t truly stupid.
As no one would advise, for the worst hide,
he thinks to have the elder’s charming woman.”

{ Incipit capituli doctor et praelatus,
vir in jure canonico bene fundatus:
“Gravis hic est quaestionis, domini, status :
removere famulas, non levis est tractatus.

Non humana dirimit lex, et praelatura,
quod inter se fragilis copulat natura;
vitae castae regula nimium est dura:
vita sola angelica est pura.

Hinc est gradu senior tremulo sic fatus:
“Ego credo, domini, quod sum fascinatus;
vult removere famulam meam praelatus;
impotens ut praelio, ero contentatus.”

Audit cantor callidus, ergo sonat cum clamore:
“Quid si vos supponere non estis in valore,
vultis ergo reliquos privare hoc vigore?”
confusus est senior magno cum rubore.

Ergo suum votum sic caepit emendare:
“Nolo, cantor domine, coquam alienare,
ad tempus ob laicos placet occultare;
ut possimus praesulis jussis obviare.”

Ait cellarius: “Non potest hoc transire;
me regit una bestia, sinerem salire,
sed meretrix monocula renuit abire;
cum senioris coqua cuperem cambire.”

Tunc in consistorio omnes corrisere,
“En! noster cellarius non est stultus vere,
quod pro cute pessima, quam nequit consilere,
senioris lepidam cogitat habere.” }[7]

So highly did medieval clerics value heterosexual intercourse that the elder seems to have regarded himself as unworthy to live with a woman if he couldn’t sexually service her. Yet he was probably a learned man with a wide range of interesting life experiences. A woman might appreciate him and enjoy living with him irrespective of his sexual capabilities. The steward, in contrast, was enduring men’s all-too-common fate of having wives rule over them. No man, whether impotent or not, would enjoy living with a domineering, one-eyed whore.

Within predominately Christian medieval Europe, affirming the potency of religious men had great public importance. A Galician-Portuguese poem probably from the thirteenth century suggests a response to disparaging the efficacy of mendicant monks’ prayers:

A friar that they say is impotent —
he really doesn’t fit the case,
for he knows how to fornicate,
and so his cock’s quite competent;
he gets the girls he lies with pregnant,
making sons and daughters aplenty,
so I would say he’s well equipped.

Instead of ‘impotent’ I would say
his cock is stiff and ready to fuck,
for look at his women giving suck;
three gave birth on the same day,
and he’s got the others now expecting,
so that the friar, by my reckoning,
is well-equipped, with power to stay.

‘Impotent’ is not the word
for one who’s given so many children
to Marinha, and now a different
girl he fucks will soon give birth,
and there are many others he fucks;
I’m sure that such a friar must
be equipped with a cock that works.

{ A hũu frade dizen escaralhado
e faz pecado quem lh’o vai dizer
ca, pois el ssab’arreytar de foder,
cuyd’eu que gaj’é, de piss’arreitado;
e, poys emprenha estas com que jaz
e faze filhos e filhas assaz,
ante lhe digu’eu bem encaralhado.

Escaralhado nunca eu diria,
mays que traje ant’o caralho arreyte,
ao que tantas molheres de leyte
ten ca lhe pariron tres em hũu dia
e outras muytas prenhadas que ten;
e atal frade cuyd’eu que muy ben
encaralhado per esto sseria.

Escaralhado non pode sseer
o que tantas filhas fez em Marinha
e que ten ora outra pastorinha
prenhe que ora quer encaecer
e outras muytas molheres que fode;
e atal frade bem cuyd’eu que pode
encaralhado per esto sseer. }[8]

Mendicant monks begged for food and money. They promised prayers for the souls of their benefactors. The men-abasing ideology of courtly love associated men’s prayers with men seeking sexual relations with women. The underlying thrust of this poem seems to be that the friar’s “prayers,” unlike those of many courtly lovers, are efficacious in relation to women.

Medieval men religious probably didn’t have sexual relations more often than did women religious. Matheolus, a courageous medieval activist struggling against gynocentric oppression and gyno-idolatry, bluntly declared of nuns:

They pretend that they wish to see their fathers and mothers,
that their brothers and relatives are lying sick,
but so as to satisfy their pussies they stroll
the country with their cunts. Thus, thus they often wander
outside their cloister!

{ Patres et matres se fingunt velie videre,
Infirmos fratres consanguineosque jacere,
Ut sacient “quoniam” cum “quippe” suis spaciantur
Per totam patriam. Sic, sic quam sepe vagantur
Extra claustra! }[9]

A medieval cleric protesting against canon law prohibiting clergy from marrying or living with women evoked God’s will:

What the God the Father has concede, who can oppose?
The solitary can be freed for wholeness and to unite.
He commands peasants to work, knights to fight,
and above all clerics to love.

We clerics will have two concubines,
monks and canons, the same number or three,
and deans and prelates, four or five.
Thus finally we will fulfill divine law.

{ Quod papa concesserat, quis potest vetare?
cuncta potest solvere solus, et ligare:
laborare rusticos, milites pugnare
jussit, at praecipue clericos amare.

Habebimus clerici duas concubinas:
monachi, canonici, totidem vel trinas:
decani, praelati, quatuor vel quinas:
sic tandem leges implebimus divinas. }[10]

In Christian understanding, divine law urges humans to procreate. Yet Jesus also instructed his followers to practice love through care for the poor, the marginalized, and the disadvantaged. Under the cleric’s proposed scheme, the sexual welfare of all women, as usual, is assured. But what about men? Since the number of women and men is about equal, if some men have more than one woman, other men will have none. Christians should care about sexual inequality and sexually impoverished men.

naked, unhappy monk

While prohibiting priests and clerics from marrying or living with women isn’t reasonable in itself, such a prohibition is beneficial as part of a broader requirement for Christian religious men to be celibate. Men naturally love women and compete with each other in making extraordinary efforts to serve women. That tends to produce harsh sexual inequality among men winners and losers. Christian religious men should show preferential concern for sexually poor men, the losers. By sacrificing their joy in having sexual relations with women, Christian religious men improve the sexual prospects of sexually impoverished men. More importantly, Christian religious men witness that Christ, who was a fully masculine man, loved women and men equally. By embracing celibacy, Christian religious men show that, by conscious acts of will, oppressive gynocentrism can be resisted and love for men encouraged.

*  *  *  *  *

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[1] Medieval works criticized priests for having heterosexual and homosexual sexual relations. For example:

you rise in the morning, say mass,
and consecrate the body of Christ
after lying in the arms of a whore,
though she is less of a sinner than you.

{ mane surgens missam dicis,
corpus Christi benedicis,
post amplexus meretricis,
minus quam tu peccatricis! }

Carmina Burana 91, “Concerning Priests {De sacerdotibus}”, incipit “Remember, priests {Sacerdotes, mementote},” st. 10, Latin text and English translation (modified slightly) from Traill (2018). Similarly, “stop habitually chasing / after mindless sex {neque iuxta ritum / lectum petis infrunitum}.” Id. 23.2-3.

[2] About priests’ concubines {De concubinis sacerdotum}, incipit “The rule of Priscian thoroughly voided {Prisciani regula penitus cassatur},” vv. 22-40, Latin text from Wright (1841) pp. 171-2, my English translation. Wright attributed this poem to Walter Map (Mapes), the author of De nugis curialium. While Walter Map may have authored it, the evidence is diffusely circumstantial. Subsequent quotes from this poem are similarly sourced.

De concubinis sacerdotum, v. 29, contains a pun on the name Innocent {Innocentius}. Pope Innocent II (born as Gregorio Papareschi, pope from 1130 to 1143) presided over the Second Latern Council. Pope Innocent III (born as Lotario dei Conti di Segni, pope from 1198 to 1216) presided over the Fourth Latern Council. De concubinis sacerdotum apparently was written about this time. On the history of priestly celibacy, Cholij (1993).

De concubinis sacerdotum was a source for Juan Ruiz’s brilliant early fourteenth-century Spanish work, Libro de buen amor. Ruiz’s song of the Talavera clergy quotes De concubinis sacerdotum v. 26.

[3] Gerald of Wales {Giraldus Cambrensis}, Jewel of the Church {Gemma ecclesiastica}, Latin text from Brewer (1861) vol. 2, pp. 345-6, English translation (modified slightly) from Marchand (1999) p. 48, n. 12.

While the Latin word quoniam usually means “because / since,” quoniam was in medieval Europe also a well-recognized term for a women’s vagina. It’s used in that way in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbuy Tales, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue:

And truly, as my husbands told me,
I had the best pussy that might be.
For certainly, I am all loving
in feeling, and my heart is combat-ready.

{ And trewely, as myne housbondes tolde me,
I hadde the beste quoniam myghte be.
For certes, I am al Venerien
In feelynge, and myn herte is Marcien. }

The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, vv. 607-10, my modern English translation. The Wife of Bath had five husbands. Quoniam was “a harmless and not uncommon medieval euphemism.” Marchand (1999) p. 43. It’s used in that sense in De concubinis sacerdotum v. 26. Editors of that text, however, didn’t recognize that usage and proposed emending it:

I wager that many examples of quoniam as a euphemism for pudendum have been lost in our editions because of similar misunderstandings.

Id. p. 46.

In the text from Giraldus Cambrensis, the cited Latin Psalm texts (with modern numbering) are:

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
{ dilexi quoniam audies Domine vocem deprecationis meae. } (Psalm 116:1)

See how I love because of your precepts; revive me, Lord, according to your mercy.
{ vide quoniam praecepta tua dilexi Domine iuxta misericordiam tuam vivifica me. } (Psalm 119:159)

Praise the Lord, give thanks to the Lord, because he is good, because his mercy endures forever.
{ alleluia confitemini Domino quoniam bonus quoniam in aeternum misericordia eius. } (Psalm 106:1)

Taste and see, because the Lord is sweet; blessed is the man who hopes in him.
{ Gustate et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus; beatus vir qui sperat in eo. } (Psalm 34:8)

Because his mercy has been confirmed over us, and the truth of the Lord remains forever.
{ Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus, et veritas Domini manet in aeternum. } (Psalm 117:2)

These texts are mainly from the Vulgate, but they include some readings from other Latin translations. Both Jerome and Augustine recognized dangers in using “sweet {suavis}” in translating scripture. Carruthers (2006) pp. 12-13.

[4] De concubinis sacerdotum vv. 69-72.

[5] About the priests’ convocation {De convocatione sacerdotum / Convocacio sacerdotum}, st. 31 in MS. Oxford, Bodley 851 (written perhaps c. 1375), st. 27 in MS. Cambrige, Trinity College 0.2.45 (written after 1248 in the 13th century), Latin text from Rigg (1992) p. 233, my English translation benefiting from Rigg’s:

Lest there’s any doubt at all as to my persuasion:
I was born within the bounds of the English nation.
For all virile living men this the proper course is
To have sex with their own wives, not with cows or horses.

Id. I’ve attempt to bring into English the play between iungere and iumenta in the Latin.

Living under systemic sexual oppression of men, some medieval Englishmen apparently did commit bestiality. An account of a chaplain’s visit to purgatory, apparently written in Yorkshire, England, in the first half of the fourteenth century, described a group of men in purgatory: “they have committed foul disgraces of filth in lusting beasts {flagicia turpia et in bestias fede lasciuientes commiserunt}.” Peter Bramham’s account of a chaplain’s visit to purgatory, ll. 111-2, from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 462, folio 284vb. Latin text from Easting (1996) p. 225 (simplified textual presentation), my English translation.

No complete version of Convocacio sacerdotum has survived. The text of De convocatione sacerdotum in Wright (1841), pp. 180-2, is incomplete. Wright’s text comes from two manuscripts, MS. Cotton Vitellius A. x., and MS. Titus A. xx. It doesn’t include the above stanza. Convocacio sacerdotum claims to have included ten thousand priests. See v. 22. It could have continued long beyond Consultatio sacerdotum, which encompassed thirty voices of church officials. Without compelling evidence, Wright attributed both poems to Walter Mapes.

[6] De concubinis sacerdotum vv. 5-20. This poem concludes:

Behold, now on behalf of clerics much I have adduced,
and also on behalf of priests I have approved many women.
I have sinned. Any priest who is with his sweet
pussy, say an “Our Father” for me.

{ Ecce jam pro clericis multum allegavi,
necnon pro presbyteris multa comprobavi,
pater-noster nunc pro me, quoniam peccavi,
dicat quisque presbyter cum sua suavi. }

Id. vv. 74-7. Ziolkowski (1987), p. 31, identifies this “Our Father {Pater noster}” as an “erotic pater noster,” meaning a euphemism for having sexual intercourse. In response to Löfstedt (1988), Ziolkowski (1996) put forward an additional example from Boccaccio, Decameron, Day 7, Story 3. Poggio, Facetiae 214, also includes a clear reference to an erotic pater noster. See my post on the penis as blessed peacemaker. Ziolkowski apparently didn’t recognize that quoniam in De concubinis sacerdotum v. 75 means vagina / pussy. Cf. De concubinis sacerdotum v. 26.

[7] The Priests’ Deliberation {Consultatio sacerdotum}, incipit “The clergy and the presbyters recently gathered to allay {Clerus et presbyteri nuper consedere},” vv. 13-40, Latin text from Wright (1841) p. 174, my English translation. Consultatio sacerdotum shares many verses with De convocatione sacerdotum. One or both apparently influenced the song of the Talavera clergy in Libro de buen amor.

Consultatio sacerdotum includes the voices of thirty church officials. They are a deacon {decanus}, doctor and prelate {doctor et praelatus}, elder {senior}, cantor {cantor}, steward {cellarius}, scholar {scholasticus}, administrator of church buildings {structuarius}, canon {canonicus}, the former first representative of the curia for the city {primus in urbe olim curialis}, twenty presbyters / priests {presbyteros}, and a monk-preacher {monachus ita praedicator}.

[8] Fernando Esquio, Cantiga d’escarnho, “Song about a Friar Said to be Impotent,” Galician-Portuguese text and English translation (modified slightly) from Zenith (1995) pp. 236-7 (song 111). Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas has a slightly different text. Here’s a modern musical arrangement of “A un frade dizen escarallado” by Xurxo Romaní & Koichi Tanehashi from their album Gravação (2009).

[9] Matheus of Boulogne (Matheolus), Lamentations of Little, Little Matheus {Lamentationes Matheoluli} vv. 1235-9, Latin text from Van Hamel (1892) (Klein, Rubel & Schmitt (2014) is a better text, but not readily available), my English translation, benefiting from that of Correale & Hamel (2005) p. 390. Id., n. 4, argues convincingly that quippe here parallels quoniam in referring to the vagina. Matheolus uses quippe similarly in other verses:

Solomon calls the vagina’s mouth an insatiable cunt;
the vagina has no bottom.
{ Os vulve Salomon vocat insatiabile quippe,
Fundo vulva caret }

So you want to make an old woman die in her face with laughter?
Grab her by the pussy or hold her by the cunt.
{ Ut vetulam facias risus vultu dare leto
Per quoniam capias vel eam per quippe teneto }

Lamentationes Matheoluli, vv. 1209-10 and 1368-9, sourced as above. On the first quote, cf. Proverbs 30:15-6. Both quotes seem to refer to proverbial or conventional expressions that shouldn’t be interpreted literally. Matheus wrote Lamentationes Matheoluli about the year 1290.

[10] Consultatio sacerdotum vv. 169-76. Medieval society commonly was divided into different estates having different social purposes. Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. These different estates were evoked in medieval estate satire.

[images] (1) Naked couple in a forest clearing. Illustration for the month of Gemini (May / June). From a Portable Psalter (Gallican), made late in the fifteenth century. Folio 5v in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Liturg. 60. (2) A monk embracing a woman. Illumination in a Book of Hours made in the third quarter of the fifteenth century for the diocese of Nantes in France. On folio 12v in Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. lat. 33. (3) Naked, unhappy young monk. Illumination in Psalter (Gallican version), known as the The Luttrell Psalter. Made between 1325 and 1340 in Lincolnshire (northern England. Folio 54r in British Library, Add MS 42130.


Brewer, J.S. 1861. Giraldi Cambrensis: Opera. London: Longman. (description of book, vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 5)

Carruthers, Mary. 2006. “Sweet Jesus.” Pp. 9-19 in Wheeler, Bonnie, ed. Mindful Spirit in Late Medieval Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, US.

Cholij, Roman. 1993. “Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church.” Pp. 31-52 in Neame, Alan, and José T. Sanchez, eds. 1993. For Love Alone: reflections on priestly celibacy. Slough, UK: St. Pauls.

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