Prostitution frem til ca. 1600

Artikler

In the Middle Ages, prostitution was quite common, especially in the cities. The Church’s attitude towards the phenomenon was rather ambivalent, but in practice, they leaned on the views Father Augustin – that prostitution was a kind of safety valve in an orderly society. In the North, prostitution was tolerated, but the official society resented whores and brothels.

Legislation on prostitution in the Late Middle Ages

The Scania Market attracted prostitutes from the Hanseatic cities, and regular brothels are featured here since 1336. At the same time, special restrictions regarding the dress of the whores were introduced. They were only allowed to dress simply and cheaply. In 1496, King Hans ordered the Danish whores to wear a cap, part black and part red, and only to dress in cheap cloth – loose hair was reserved for untouched women. In addition, they were referred to living in special neighbourhoods in Malmö and Copenhagen.

In the cities, guilds and companies watched over the moral behaviour of their members, and the guild members were threatened with large penalties, if they were caught “committing adultery”. If a married member was caught, the punishment might even be the pranger, that is, the man was tied to a pole and whipped, or even expelled from the city.

In 1522, Christian 2., abolished the enforced dress and allowed the whores to dress as they pleased. However, to ensure that no one confused them with “honest women”, they were not allowed to wear robes. It became punishable by death to use violence on whores – and if you drank up all your money, clothes or other possessions in the “house of women of easy virtue”, it was not possible to file a complaint. However,  the legislation of Christian 2. did not survive his fall, and during the rest of the 16th century the whores had to put up with restrictions regarding their dress and home – they were referred to specific neighbourhoods on the edges of town, but the baths often worked as a blind for immorality and pleasure.

After the Reformation, prostitution was sought to be punished

After the Reformation, prostitution was regarded in a more severe way, perhaps as a result of the sudden emergence if syphilis. Officially recognized brothels seem to have disappeared soon after this, but prostitution as such was still tolerated in the mid 16th century. After this, the prostitutes were persecuted intensely and they were punished by the pranger, mutilation and death penalty, if they continued working the streets. For example, in Helsingør during the 1590s no less than 22 prostitutes were banished from the city, while in 1605, three prostitutes were executed “as a deterrent to others”. In spite of these severe punishments, prostitution was not wiped out.

 

Om artiklen

Forfatter(e)
Stefan Pajung
Tidsafgrænsning
1336 - 1605
Medietype
Tekst
Sidst redigeret
8. august 2011
Sprog
Dansk
Litteratur

Matthiessen, Hugo: De kagstrøgne (1964).

Nielsen, Beth Groth: Letfærdige qvindfolk (1999).

Pedersen, Kenno: Stadens døtre (1989).

Merete Bøge Pedersen: ”Indenfor ægteskab – udenfor ægteskab”, i Den Jyske Historiker, 98-99 (2002).

Udgiver
danmarkshistorien.dk

Relateret indhold

Om artiklen

Forfatter(e)
Stefan Pajung
Tidsafgrænsning
1336 - 1605
Medietype
Tekst
Sidst redigeret
8. august 2011
Sprog
Dansk
Litteratur

Matthiessen, Hugo: De kagstrøgne (1964).

Nielsen, Beth Groth: Letfærdige qvindfolk (1999).

Pedersen, Kenno: Stadens døtre (1989).

Merete Bøge Pedersen: ”Indenfor ægteskab – udenfor ægteskab”, i Den Jyske Historiker, 98-99 (2002).

Udgiver
danmarkshistorien.dk