For the authorities of medieval Europe, both secular and ecclesiastical, dissent struck at the roots of an ordered, settled world. But why was the danger felt to be so great and so immediate from a minority of mostly poor and powerless individuals.
In Sex, Dissidence and Damnation , Jeffrey Richards looks at the persecuted lives of heretics, witches, Jews, prostitutes, lepers, and homosexuals to examine the motivation behind intolerance in the Middle Ages. Richards argues that, above all, it was deviation from the sexual norms of the Church which authorities sought to suppress. At a time when the Second Coming was expected, sexual deviance was seen as having a malignant influence, not just in an individual life, but on the world at large.
Richards provides a comprehensive look at medieval sexuality, both in terms of society's official attitudes and its unofficial practices. He bases his study firmly within the context of the medieval psyche, charting the shifting perceptions of sex, dissidence, and damnation throughout the Middle Ages. Offering an insightful study of historical intolerance, Sex, Dissidence and Damnation enables readers to form their own judgements about how--if at all--attitudes have changed since then.