The Tudor sex guide

At the dawn of Henry VIII's reign, the church, the crown and medics each had views on acceptable forms of romantic activity. Lauren Johnson offers eight tips on navigating the Tudor period's sexual minefield...

(Photo By DEA/G DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images)
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Don’t have sex on Wednesdays

The church had such strict rules about when, where and how people could have sex that, at first glance, it appears sexual activity was almost totally forbidden. Sex was not allowed on Wednesdays, Fridays or Sundays; throughout Lent, Advent and Pentecost; before major holy days; when a woman was menstruating, confined before pregnancy, for a month after childbirth and while she was breast-feeding; three days before taking communion; during daylight hours; naked; or in any position other than missionary.

In fact, any sexual act going against the ‘natural order’ – that is, for procreation – was legally classed as ‘sodomy’. This meant that a range of activity, from the lesser sins of wet dreams, masturbation and oral sex, through to the ‘abominable vices’ of incest, bestiality and homosexual acts, was condemned.

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