Medieval Prostitutionby Jacques Rossiaud
In fifteenth-century France, public prostitution was condoned by all sectors of society. Clerics and municipal officials not only tolerated prostitution, but were often its principal beneficiaries, owning and frequenting brothels quite openly. The explanation of this remarkable state of affairs is just one aspect of Jacques Rossiaud's vivid reconstruction of a part of medieval society that has previously received little attention.
Drawing upon extensive research in medieval archives, the author shows that most fifteenth-century Frenchwomen could expect a life of constant subjugation to male desire. Rape, for instance, was common and considered only a minor crime. He then considers whether public prostitution might paradoxically have been seen by the secular and religious authorities as a means of social control, and of preserving marital stability: the virtue of wives and daughters was best protected by the existence of public brothels, where sexual urges could be satisfied without adultery or rape. Jacques Rossiaud also describes the social background of the prostitutes, brothel-keepers, pimps, and their clientele, providing a vivid overview of the context in which medieval prostitution existed.
Medieval Prostitution will be of interest to medieval historians, as well as to students of the history of the family and sexuality.
- Sterling Publishing
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Meet the Author
Jacques Rossiaud is Professor of History at the University of Lyon.
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