By the time of the High Middle Ages, influenced by increasing urbanization and greater familiarity with more homoerotic Muslim civilization, the earlier moderate opposition and grudging toleration of same sex love softened to a more open tolerance, with some remarkable monastic love letters with homoerotic imagery (St Anselm, St Alcuin), a celebration of same sex intimacy in St Aelred of Rielvaulx’s work on Spiritual Friendship, more erotic poetry, and acceptance of open sexual relationships even for prominent bishops (Ralph of Tours, John of Orleans; Roger de Pont L’Évêque) and abbots – especially if they had suitable royal collections. Marbod of Riennes, Baudri of Bourgeuil, a “Spanish Monk“, and other medieval clerics, like Walafrid Strabo (c. 808-849), Notker Balbulus (c. 840-912), Salamo (c. 860-920) were others from this period who left a legacy of homoerotic literature.
However, the increase in open sexual relationships among some monastic groups also led to a reaction, with some theologians starting to agitate for much harsher penalties against “sodomites”, especially among the clergy (St Peter Damian, Alan of Lille). Initially, these pleas for a harsher, anti-homosexual regime met with limited support – but bore fruit a couple of centuries later, with disastrous effects which were felt right through to the present day – and especially the twentieth century.
Other Bishops and Popes
a “Spanish Monk“,
and other medieval clerics, like
Walafrid Strabo (c. 808-849),
Notker Balbulus (c. 840-912),
Salamo (c. 860-920)
Julian of Norwich
St Peter Damian,
Alan of Lille
Gay King Wenceslas (d. 935)
Ss Boris & George (d. 1015)
- The Medieval Flowering of Homoerotic Christiantity
- St. Aelred of Rievaulx, Abbot 12/01
- Catholic Queer Families: SS Bernard of Clairvaux and Malachy