the dress of common women and the sale of fish

in 1351 the City Fathers issued a proclamation as to “the dress of common women; and the sale of fish”. what an interesting combination!

“no lewd women may be so daring as to be attired in any kind of vesture trimmed with fur but let every common lewd woman go about with a hood of cloth of ray” and “no one who comes into the city with fish to sell shall be so daring as to stand elsewhere than in Bruggestrete”

These hoods of ray refer to a red and white striped fabric which was the distinguishing mark of a prostitute. In Avignon wenches wore a red rosette, in Switzerland harlots had to wear little red caps.

in 1437 they were back again on the subject of dress “it was in this year ordained that strumpets should wear red hoods and carry white rods in their hands”

if a whore was arrested for soliciting she could “forfeit the upper garment which she shall be wearing and every officer and sergeant of the city shall have the power to take such garments and shall also have the lower half for their trouble”

a man could also be punished and if “found guilty of being a whoremonger or a bawd , his head and beard were to be shaved except for a 2 inch fringe on the head. he was then to be conveyed to the pillory with minstrels”

I’m not sure which would be the greater indignity: the horrible haircut or the medieval minstrels…..

Published in: on October 6, 2008 at 6:12 am  Comments (22)  

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22 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well maybe they wanted all the fishy smells in one spot…

  2. oh alex you must be spoiling for a fight today. first you diss the canadians and now you’re starting on the women…..

  3. hehe… yeah well, you can always count on me for the obvious jokes.

  4. Definitely the minstrels. lol.

  5. That explains Penfold’s head then …….

  6. Long live lewd women! And fish!

  7. Daddyp: I thought it was your genes

    Headbang8: and alliterations 🙂

  8. Yip ‘smacks of the sea’

  9. repeated punishment? that would be a “minstrel cycle”…

  10. conveyed to the pillory with minstrels….what fun.

  11. I’m sorry to see that the always amusing comb-over seems to be going out of style. I only ever see it on really old men in the subway. The younger generations seem to have abandoned it. What a pity.

    be careful what you wish for UB 🙂

  12. So Little Red Riding Hood was a prostitute, huh? And i’ll bet she had fish in that basket of ‘goodies’, too.

  13. “And they were forced to eat Sir Robyn’s minstrels to survive…and there was much rejoicing.”

  14. A prostitute with a white rod in her hand…There’s a joke in there somewhere.

  15. I wonder if it is appropriate to ask some of the blokes I work with about their suspect hair cuts ????

  16. I would like it if every woman in the world who was willing to have sex with me (ok, for money, I know) would wear a little red hat. That would be both very interesting and way easier.

    I thought “minstrel cycle” was very funny.

    Ted Gear

  17. UncleKeith… prostitutes with white rods? They’re obviously blind hookers. They’re the best ones to do because they can’t tell the denominations of the bills you leave on the nightstand for them.

  18. but the pimp waiting outside the door can…..

  19. Does anyone remember the Stan Freberg (I think it was) “Little Red Riding Hood”?

    “Why grandmother, what a big subpoena you have!” “The better to serve you with, my dear…”

    hey sledpress, welcome to the gimcrack! are you a friend of Former Frontier Editor? I had to wikipedia Stan Freberg – sounds like a funny guy

  20. From an old prose joke.

    Old Adam had found Eve delish
    And thanked God for granting this wish
    God asked, “Where’s Eve at?”
    “In stream, washing twat.”
    “I wont get that smell out of fish!”

  21. Hmmmm… minstrel cycle. Very punny. How come they never warn the girls about the guys coming home from war with VD? And who gave the strumpets the VD in the first place? Haruuuumpf!

  22. Archie: you should head on over to tetherdcow – he’s having a limerick competition with a real prize!

    Silverstar: let’s blame the French 🙂


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