Church thinkers like Saint Jerome announced that carnal relations were "filthy" even within the bounds of holy matrimony: "The wise man should love his wife with cool discretion," Jerome opined, "not with hot desire- Nothing is nastier than to love your own wife as if she were your mistress."
So writes Tony Perrottet in the introduction to his interesting, funny and informative piece on appropriate coitus in the Middle Ages. The Church was so obssessed with sex that it actually took to writing policies on appropriate positions and punishments for sinful positions. Only one position, of course, was appropriate. Positions not appropriate (with accompanying punishment):
Dorsal sex (woman on top): three years
Lateral, seated, standing: 40 days
Coitus retro -’ rear entry: 40 days
Mutual masturbation: 30 days
Inter-femural sex -’ ejaculation between the legs: 40 days
Coitus in terga -’ anal sex: three years (with an adult); two years (with a boy); seven years (habitual); 10 years (with a cleric)
Wow. Having sex with a woman on top is as bad as having anal sex with a woman but not as bad as having anal sex with a boy.