In Tudor England, the Church imposed sexual abstinence several days a week, as well as feast days and fast days. Of course, it was impossible to enforce these rules, admits historian Tracy Borman who explores the Private Lives Of The Tudors in a new documentary series starting on Tuesday. So most people were either good At even the most intimate moments of their lives they were surrounded by attendants, courtiers and ministers. On a royal wedding night, the ritual of the bedding ceremony was a public reassurance that the marriage had been consummated — and was legally binding. A new documentary called the Private Lives of the Tudors starts on Tuesday.
Not such a prude after all: the secrets of Henry VIII’s love life - HistoryExtra
While the church advocated regular but moderate sex within marriage — for mutual comfort and procreation — Tudor medicine stated the importance of sex for health. Without it, fluids and vapours were thought to build up in the body and cause fits, fever and illness. Aristocratic wives were expected to be models of chastity in order to produce heirs but their husbands might seek sexual satisfaction elsewhere, typically with women of the lower classes. Indeed, Henry is often compared to his lusty and syphilitic contemporary, Francis I of France, whose antics leave the English king in the shade. Henry certainly had no official mistress in the French style, although he did offer this title to Anne Boleyn , who refused it.
The fascinating 'sex rules' of King Henry VIII's Tudor England
In fact, there were so many rules regarding when and how often you could have sex in Tudor England, it's a wonder anyone was able to do it at all. Let's take a look at some of the outlandish laws that were put in place in 16th century England so that people would not be compelled to indulge in those awful "vices. According to historian Lauren Johnson, people were also supposed to abstain from sex throughout Lent, Advent and Pentecost; when a woman was menstruating; when a woman was pregnant, and for a month after giving birth, and also when she was breast-feeding. Sex was also forbidden before major holy days, three days before taking communion and during the day.
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. One 15th-century couple got married by Beverley Gate in Hull while milking a cow. This rather nebulous arrangement sometimes led to unions later being rejected by one or other party, transforming legitimate payment of the marriage debt into illicit fornication. All legally acceptable.