The Changing Status of Prostitution Within the Thought of the Medieval Church

Kayleigh Heister, Dr. Melodie Eichbauer, Department of Social Science, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd S, Fort Myers, FL 33965.

Prostitution is probably the world's oldest profession. The Romans had a particular set of rules to regulate the activities of prostitutes, and the medieval Church clung to those beliefs at the outset, as evident by the legal collections. Stances taken toward the profession became more complicated at the end of the twelfth and into the beginning of the thirteenth century with the expansion of commerce and cities. Some, such as the jurist Gratian and Pope Alexander III, wrote intensely about prostitution in a negative light. The process of accepting a business transaction for sex was one of the more severe crimes for the church. Others were willing to tolerate the profession for the greater good of society. Still others, such as the Dominican and Franciscan friars, focused intently on the pastoral care and the saving of their souls. This paper juxtaposes legal collections, and court cases against mendicant thought to flesh out each's stance towards prostitution and how they effected society. The topic of prostitution within religious thought of the Middle Ages is important because it illustrates an example of societal change and the crucial role the Church played in the medieval world.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Kayleigh Heister

Institution: Florida Gulf Coast University

Type: Poster

Subject: History

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5154