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Mother feeding her child

Contraception was officially condemned because it made sexual pleasure an end in itself rather than part of the procreative process. Bernard of Gordon (fl. 1305), a physician who trained at the renowned French medical school in Montpellier, considered that the sexual appetite of animals ‘is for the species and not for pleasure. In women it is the contrary. They desire [intercourse] not only on account of the species but also on account of pleasure'. Since the onus of contraception fell to women, it was believed that their lust for non-reproductive gratification should not be encouraged.Votive offering excavated from Forum of Augustus, Rome.

MS of Wilhelm von Oranse, 1387. Wien Ambraser Collection No 7. Source: Ahuin Schultz. Deutsches leben im XIV und XV. Jahrhundert, Vienna 1892.