The secrets of Magpie Lane : prostitution in medieval Oxford. / Kavanagh, Helen.

In: The Local Historian, Vol. 45, No. 1, 01.01.2015, p. 40-54.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Published

Standard

The secrets of Magpie Lane : prostitution in medieval Oxford. / Kavanagh, Helen.

In: The Local Historian, Vol. 45, No. 1, 01.01.2015, p. 40-54.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Harvard

APA

Vancouver

Kavanagh H. The secrets of Magpie Lane: prostitution in medieval Oxford. The Local Historian. 2015 Jan 1;45(1):40-54.

Author

Kavanagh, Helen. / The secrets of Magpie Lane : prostitution in medieval Oxford. In: The Local Historian. 2015 ; Vol. 45, No. 1. pp. 40-54.

BibTeX

@article{1eacba9a6b9e439cb6a543423f7678bb,
title = "The secrets of Magpie Lane: prostitution in medieval Oxford",
abstract = "This essay was the winner of the British Association for Local History {\textquoteleft}Medieval and early modern essay prize{\textquoteright} for 2014. It begins by considering the terminology of prostitution and {\textquoteleft}sex trades{\textquoteright} in medieval England and links this with the colourful nomenclature of streets, lanes and {\textquoteleft}red light districts{\textquoteright} of a variety of medieval towns and cities. In Oxford what later became (decorously) Magpie Lane was known in the Middle Ages as {\textquoteleft}Gropecunt Lane{\textquoteright} (or variants on that theme). Kavanagh therefore considers the topography of prostitution, looking at possible reasons why areas such as this were so favoured for illicit and nocturnal activities, and identifies that in the special circumstances of Oxford the proximity to colleges and to religious houses was certain to have been a powerful determinant. She then assesses the attitudes of the Church towards prostitution and sexual activity, including contemporary examples of incontinence among the clerics of Oxford, and then turns to the abundant evidence for similar irregularity among the students of the university, its colleges and halls. Examples of specific cases are given, and there is discussion of the punishments which were meted out to women who offended. The inquisitions conducted by the chancellors of the university give further evidence, and Kavanagh makes comparisons between Oxford and other towns and cities, and between England and Continental Europe. Her concluding argument is that prostitution in English towns and cities was not necessarily similar – and that in particular the attitudes of the authorities varied from place to place. In places such as Southwark and Sandwich there were licensed brothels, whereas Oxford, for example, had no such facility.",
author = "Helen Kavanagh",
year = "2015",
month = jan,
day = "1",
language = "English",
volume = "45",
pages = "40--54",
journal = "The Local Historian",
number = "1",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - The secrets of Magpie Lane

T2 - prostitution in medieval Oxford

AU - Kavanagh, Helen

PY - 2015/1/1

Y1 - 2015/1/1

N2 - This essay was the winner of the British Association for Local History ‘Medieval and early modern essay prize’ for 2014. It begins by considering the terminology of prostitution and ‘sex trades’ in medieval England and links this with the colourful nomenclature of streets, lanes and ‘red light districts’ of a variety of medieval towns and cities. In Oxford what later became (decorously) Magpie Lane was known in the Middle Ages as ‘Gropecunt Lane’ (or variants on that theme). Kavanagh therefore considers the topography of prostitution, looking at possible reasons why areas such as this were so favoured for illicit and nocturnal activities, and identifies that in the special circumstances of Oxford the proximity to colleges and to religious houses was certain to have been a powerful determinant. She then assesses the attitudes of the Church towards prostitution and sexual activity, including contemporary examples of incontinence among the clerics of Oxford, and then turns to the abundant evidence for similar irregularity among the students of the university, its colleges and halls. Examples of specific cases are given, and there is discussion of the punishments which were meted out to women who offended. The inquisitions conducted by the chancellors of the university give further evidence, and Kavanagh makes comparisons between Oxford and other towns and cities, and between England and Continental Europe. Her concluding argument is that prostitution in English towns and cities was not necessarily similar – and that in particular the attitudes of the authorities varied from place to place. In places such as Southwark and Sandwich there were licensed brothels, whereas Oxford, for example, had no such facility.

AB - This essay was the winner of the British Association for Local History ‘Medieval and early modern essay prize’ for 2014. It begins by considering the terminology of prostitution and ‘sex trades’ in medieval England and links this with the colourful nomenclature of streets, lanes and ‘red light districts’ of a variety of medieval towns and cities. In Oxford what later became (decorously) Magpie Lane was known in the Middle Ages as ‘Gropecunt Lane’ (or variants on that theme). Kavanagh therefore considers the topography of prostitution, looking at possible reasons why areas such as this were so favoured for illicit and nocturnal activities, and identifies that in the special circumstances of Oxford the proximity to colleges and to religious houses was certain to have been a powerful determinant. She then assesses the attitudes of the Church towards prostitution and sexual activity, including contemporary examples of incontinence among the clerics of Oxford, and then turns to the abundant evidence for similar irregularity among the students of the university, its colleges and halls. Examples of specific cases are given, and there is discussion of the punishments which were meted out to women who offended. The inquisitions conducted by the chancellors of the university give further evidence, and Kavanagh makes comparisons between Oxford and other towns and cities, and between England and Continental Europe. Her concluding argument is that prostitution in English towns and cities was not necessarily similar – and that in particular the attitudes of the authorities varied from place to place. In places such as Southwark and Sandwich there were licensed brothels, whereas Oxford, for example, had no such facility.

M3 - Article

VL - 45

SP - 40

EP - 54

JO - The Local Historian

JF - The Local Historian

IS - 1

ER -