Like today, the problem of male impotence in the Middle Ages was often serious, and had important consequences for marriages and families. A recent article deals with the issue, explaining how it showed up in court cases in 14th century York.
‘Privates on Parade: Impotence Cases as Evidence for Medieval Gender’, by Frederick Pederson, a senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, analyses two cases where wives attempted to annul their marriages because they claimed their husbands were impotent. They are among six cases from the city’s records that deal with impotence that survive from the Middle Ages.
These cases were adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts, also known as consistory courts, where decisions were based on canon law. Church officials were responsible for issues relating to marriages and could pronounce an annulment in cases of impotence.
Click here to read this article from Medievalists.net