Médiévales, N°27, 1994, pp. 75-93.
The Representations of Prostitution and its Perception in the Urban Society in Germany (XIIIth-XVIth Centuries) – The image of the prostitute in German cities during the late Middle Ages was essentially inspired by ecclesiastical tradition, which used representations of such women to exemplify human fate. Prostitutes were considered as « free » and « poor » women deprived of protection, or as women seduced by the material world. Their weakness rendered the community responsible for their care. However, at the end of the Middle Ages, a new image born of a morality independent of religious tradition prevailed : the prostitute was considered as a whore, using her power to abuse men. This interpretation reflects a new anthropological and community conception in the cities, and one which justified the expulsion and the mutilation of women who did not comply with the ethics of urban morality.