'An enjoyable romp, smart as well as funny. It left me fully satisfied, with a big smile on my face.' Dan Jones, Sunday Times


'Masterful. There is no better guide to what occurs betwixt the sheets of the medieval bedroom than Katherine Harvey.' Kate Lister, author of A Curious History of Sex


'Learned, fun and full of surprises - a fascinating, wide-ranging guide to medieval sexual attitudes and experiences.' Fara Dabhoiwala, author of The Origins of Sex


The medieval humoral system of medicine suggested that it was possible to die from having too much - or too little - sex, while the Roman Catholic Church taught that virginity was the ideal state. Holy men and women committed themselves to lifelong abstinence in the name of religion. Everyone was forced to conform to restrictive rules about who they could have sex with, in what way, how often, and even when, and could be harshly punished for getting it wrong. Other experiences are more familiar. Like us, medieval people faced challenges in finding a suitable partner or trying to get pregnant (or trying not to). They also struggled with many of the same social issues, such as whether prostitution should be legalized. Above all, they shared our fondness for dirty jokes and erotic images.


By exploring their sex lives, The Fires of Lust brings ordinary medieval people to life, and reveals details of their most personal thoughts and experiences. Ultimately, it provides us with an important and intimate connection to the past.


'With unabashed directness, a delicate touch of wit, and constant humanity, Katherine Harvey surveys the world of medieval sex and sexuality . . . Here, in all its messy complexity, is medieval life - life laid bare, but always with respect and care. A triumph.' John H. Arnold, author of Belief and Unbelief in Medieval Europe


'A lively and readable account rooted in a deep knowledge of the scholarly literature on sexuality in medieval western Europe. Harvey's specialism in the history of medicine provides particular depth, and is integrated with legal and cultural material to create a sparkling and convincing whole.' Ruth Mazo Karras, author of Sexuality in Medieval Europe



The Fires of Lust - with SIGNED bookplate!