Valentine day special (on the trashy side)
Dean, Trevor (2008) “Fornicating with nuns in fifteenth-century Bologna”, Journal of Medieval History, 34/3, 374-382.
In the mid years of the 15th century, the penalties for abducting or having sex with nuns became increasingly harsh in Northern Italy. In Lucca, the mere attempt to engage in sexual relations with nuns mandated decapitation. But most prosecuted case reveal a marked leniency, as most offenders were simply fined (p.376).
Having sex with nuns was a social activity. It required contacts within the nunneries and sometimes among the clergy. Numerous go-between broke encounters with nuns. Wet-nurses would take care of the babies born from nuns and interlopers (a widow in this case) helped the escapees.
Those having sex with nuns were both foreigners and citizens (p.377). Having sex with a nun was sacrilege (one could be exiled) so those accused of doing so commonly underlined that their partners had not yet been veiled (i.e. was an apprentice but not a real nun yet).
The Order of Saint Mary Magdalen was founded in 1227 and provided shelter to repentant prostitutes and tried to marry them. It helped to blur the distinction between nunneries and brothels. Pimps commonly forced their former protégés to receive clients inside the convents (p.378).
The late 14th and early 15th century had been times of havoc for the congregation. Many had to reform, change location, merge with others or even close. Conflicts and disorders weakened discipline and increased opportunities for scandalous behaviours (p.379). Briberies commonly opened the doors of the dormitories to lustful men (p.380).
According to G. Ruggerio, it seem that trials were not that common and confined to particularly scandalous and infamous cases (numerous pregnancies, complicity of the abbess, escapes). But illicit sexuality was actually rarely prosecuted even though the 1450s saw a somewhat strengthening of the government reactions. Nonetheless prosecuted cases remained rare (1.5 a year on average).
Although nuns were commonly accused to be lustful, poems indicate that the public saw other reasons for these unruly behaviours: forced monacation of young girls (p.381). On the other hand, T. Dean estimates that the actual cases may have been fewer than often estimated and actually altogether rare and that convents may have been policed and protected better than assumed by G. Ruggerio (p.382).