Prostitution in the Middle Ages

 

In the Europe of the Middle Ages, there was the paradox of universal tolerance on the one hand and conviction regarding prostitution on the other. Although technically a sin (because it revolves around the act of fornication), prostitution was recognized by the Church and other sectors as a ‘necessary evil’. It was accepted as the fact that young men sought sex regardless of their options, therefore prostitution served to protect respectable women from seduction and even rape. In 1358, the Great Council of Venice declared that prostitution is “absolutely indispensable for the world”. Even though it was accepted as a lesser evil, the Church did not hesitate to declare prostitution a “morally wrong practice”, even though St. Augustine proclaimed that “if prostitution of society is expelled, everything is disrupted by passions.”

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