Parents dropping their kids at school ‘being approached by prostitutes’ in Hull

It was in the ‘public place’, the city brothel, that the greatest proportion of foreign prostitutes could be found. Many came from the north-west, sorely tried by various cries and by war, where life was hard for women in Flanders, Artois, Picardy, Hainaut and Barrois provided women for the boredellos of all the cities of the Rhone valley. Typically, they started from Arras, Liege, Amiens or Tourna, then worked in 3 or 4 cities sometimes moving on independently , sometimes in the company of others, resembling a female ‘Tour de France’ as in later compagnonnage. Popular language was right: the “abbess” of the brothel was the ‘mother of the girls’.

When they were admitted into the city brothel, prostitutes had to swear an oath to the authorities, pay their weekly rent to the madam, give a few pennies to the night watch for protection, and contribute to heating costs. Furnished with a nom de guerre – Margot la Courtoise, Lat Petite Normande, Marion la Liegeoise, etc. – bejeweled and finely dressed, they then ‘earned their fortune’ outside churches, in the marketplaces, or in the taverns.  They sang in the streets in the evening to attract customers, who m they brought back to the Grande Maison.  They were supposed to turn away married men and underage youths and not to share a customer with another girl, although they could have several men at once, on the condition that the men were not related.  Fees were one blanc the esbattement, a sum equivalent to what a woman could earn in half a day’s work in the vineyards. They could expect from 3 to 6 times that when they agreed to spend the night with a ‘young son’.* (*Prostitutes paid rent and they paid off the night watch.  They were exempt from the tillage, which was also the case in Besancon. They ate their meals either at the Grande Mayson or the tavern.  They sang

or chanted in the streets in the evening.  Felix Platter describes their rich clothes and their wiles for luring young men to the brothel. Prostitutes usually received a customer for a half-hour.  This is the length of time always cited by a prostitute or madam to assure the authorities that the ‘contract’ had been fulfilled, or to get a customer to relinquish a bedroom.  Sometimes there were candles to measure the time, and in Italy prostitutes were called ‘whores by the candle’.)

It goes without saying that it is hazardous to attempt to a global estimate of fees, but one blanc seems to have been the current price in the 15th century for the most expedite service.  In June 1462 a woman could be hired for 2 blancs to do a day’s work in the vineyards.  Young ‘clandestine’ prostitutes, 15 to 17 years of age, were paid from 2 to 6 blancs.  In the bathhouse of St Philibert, members of a group that also dined well left Jeanne Saignant 3 or 4 gross for a good evening. On occasion the prostitutes also accepted payment in kind – a good dinner.

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https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7386243/hull-school-children-prostitutes-hessle-road-coltman-street/

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