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Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is a low budge film filled with big name actors: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, etc.. This movie was in theaters in early 2012 and is available now at Redbox. The plot revolves around two adolescent kids - a boy and a girl - who do not fit into society but do fit well with each other. They run away together, 'sleep' together, and then get married.

When the two slept together, they did precisely that: they slept. At no time were they shown naked, though they did remove their outer garments and go swimming in their underwear. I would classify their relationship as cute.

Did such things happen in the Middle Ages? It should be understood that survival was difficult in the Middle Ages, so kids had to grow up fast. On the other hand, girls usually did not achieve menarche until they were about sixteen; which is to say, they had their first menstrual period, after which they were capable of getting pregnant, at age sixteen, which is about four or five years later than most girls in the United States today. This difference is probably due to eating; girls today eat much more than girls did then, so their reproductive capacities develop faster. So, psychologically they might have been more mature than adolescents are today, but sexually they were less developed. Though they very probably did not have sex as adolescents, they certainly knew about sex. Most people were poor peasants who lived in single-room houses, meaning that children would be in the same room with their parents when their parents had sex. Children would also see animals - cows, pigs, dogs, etc. - mating.

Children in the Middle Ages were sometimes betrothed to each other as infants, but they did not live together or have sexual relations until much later. Though abortaficients were common at the end of the Roman Empire, they were forbidden by the Catholic Church and so were not available, as far as we know, in Western Europe during most of the Medieval period. Our knowledge of such things is uncertain, because such things would not have been recorded, because if abortifacients were used, they were done secretly and so we would have no record of them. Though it is impossible for us to know with certainty, my opinion is that people during most of the Middle Ages avoided unwanted children not by terminating their pregnancies but rather by not having sexual intercourse before marriage. This would not have been very difficult, considering the fact that girls normally married younger than they do today. A normal American girl today reaches menarche at age eleven or twelve, but does not marry until twenty-five or thirty, so there are about fifteen years during which she could get pregnant before marriage. In the Middle Ages, girls reached menarche at about sixteen and they also married at about the same age, so they only had to avoid sex for a short time.

There was a practice called bundling, in which boys and girls would sleep together in the same bed, but they would be fully clothed, bundled in cloth, and therefore sex was impossible. Even if it had not been impossible, medieval teenagers might have chosen not to have sex before marriage. Almost everyone in Western Europe was Christian, and it seems that they had real Faith, so perhaps they followed the teachings of the Catholic Church and practiced virtue, remaining pure until marriage. Perhaps, but maybe not. Strong faith does not always lead to strong virtue. During the Middle Ages, people were passionate, because life was hard and only the strong survived. Looking at life in a casual, disinterested way, as most Europeans do now, was hardly possible then. Life was a struggle, and passion was necessary to keep on struggling, so it seems that even faithful Catholics committed serious sins. Personally, however, I prefer to think well of people, so I can imagine adolescent boys and girls sleeping together, bundled up, warm and intimate, but not losing control of themselves and doing something that they regret afterward. I can imagine a situation similar to the one portrayed in this movie. It might have happened like that.