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Were Medieval Prostitutes Marginals? Evidence from Sluis, Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire , tome 87, fasc. This article examines prostitution in late medieval Sluis, the port suburb of Bruges. It aims to place prostitution in its appropriate social and urban context, within a major port town with a large transient population. This study also serves a second purpose, i. Prostitutes have traditionally been seen as perfect examples of marginals, but that view is overly simplistic, given the diversity within the industry.
Instead, the article argues that individual prostitutes were, indeed, marginalised, yet prostitution itself cannot be described as marginal, and even performed a vital role in medieval society. Dit artikel bestudeert de prostitutie in de laatmiddeleeuwse havenstad Sluis, nabij Brugge — een agglomeratie die hoofdzakelijk bevolkt werd door buitenlanders die er slechts tijdelijk verbleven.
We benaderen dit onderwerp vanuit het perspectief van de sociale en stadsgeschiedenis. Het traditionele beeld als zouden prostituees systematisch gemarginaliseerd zijn, is veel te simplistisch en strookt niet met de werkelijkheid.
This article 1 poses a question that seems, at fi rst sight, to require an obvious answer: In fact, prostitutes provide a convenient example to explain the very idea of marginality. How convincing is the idea that all prostitutes had common, inalienable characteristics? How convincing is the view that prostitutes formed a distinct and clearly identifi able group? Recent work has tended to draw into question the usefulness of simple groups and categories, and to emphasise instead the different personal circumstances and social networks within a single group.
The result of such work has generally been to emphasise variety, to demonstrate that groups seem less cohesive when studied closely than they do from afar. Senescence prompted some of these men to seek retirement, that is to say that old age impacted on the activities of some members of the House of Lords in a manner that was independent of their place within that group 2. Let us accept this idea, that a group of persons might share a status, but that their activities and identities as members of that group might be determined by individual circumstances.