Seemingly innocent is it not?
I love history. Every day is a learning experience while researching the origins of some of our more commonly used words. What are goosebumps? I always believed them as that freakish chill sending my forearm hair on edge with an added shake or two or that odd book series my little sister read.
So alas, as you’ve learned my first favorite thing is to look up the definition, indulge me, kindly…
“Definition of goosebumps: a roughness of the skin produced by the erection of its papillae especially from cold, fear, or a sudden feeling of excitement.”
-an evocative description, but oddly fitting, by that Merriam Webster fellow or gal-
But occasionally and often innocently while foraging a little deeper, you might stumble into something that makes you say, “Are you f’ing kidding me?” And swear while throwing your last grain of salt over a left shoulder to never mutter such terminology again.
And why salt over the left? because the devil’s face lingers there.
I never thought I lived in a box, but I can’t believe how lacking my brilliance, positive affirmations allowed only, might be.
What is this great discovery? Do you already know? I, obviously, developed another case of me-not-so-much…
The coined term “goosebumps” in medieval England referred to contracting venereal disease, most likely gonorrhea or syphilis, and their hosts were twelfth-century prostitutes known as the “Winchester Geese,” because of how they’d bare their white breasts to customers. In turn getting bit by a Winchester goose wasn’t something you’d want to write home about while visiting London’s dirty south side.
(Although less than a third of the population could read or write.)
Keep in mind these working women were in service of the church, an official license granted by the crown, under a Roman-Catholic pimp known as Henry of Blois. He also happened to be the younger brother of King Stephen which gained him the title Bishop of Winchester, making him the second most wealthy and influential man in England. His kingly brother being #1.
Bros before hoes, right?
The Liberty of the Clink, a 16th-century term, contained several parishes within Southwark and an illustrious prison, hence the term, “tossed in the clink.” This hide of land was under no other jurisdiction, so any illicit activities not allowed within the city of London lived here, dubbing the area as London’s 1st red light district.
The prostitutes were forced to follow a strict code of conduct and were broken into three ranks paying fines, rents and taxes to none other than our “panderer” friend the Bishop. Later the king sanctioned, “Ordinances Touching the Government of the Stewholders in Southwark Under the Direction of the Bishop of Winchester.”
*example of a “Stew-House”
1) No brothel-keeper to prevent his whores entering or leaving the premises at will. Fine: 3 shillings and 4 pence.
2) All brothel-keepers to send their whores away from the date of these rules’ proclamation until next Whitsuntide. Fine: 100 shillings.
3) No brothel-keeper to open for business on holy days. Fine: 50 shillings.
4) Bailiff to ensure all whores are expelled from the Liberty on holy days. Fine: £10. No brothel-keeper shall attempt to hinder this process. Fine: 40 shillings.
5) Quarterly searches of every brothel must be carried out to ensure no woman is imprisoned there against her will. If any such woman is found, Bishop’s officers must escort her safely out of the Liberty.
6) No brothel-keeper to lend any of his whores more than 6 shillings and 8 pence. Sums above that to be considered void by the Bishop’s courts.
7) No disputes involving over 40 shillings to be taken to the Bishop’s sourt. These must go to the King’s court instead. Fine: £10.
8) No brothel-keeper to employ general staff beyond his wife, one washerwoman and one ostler.
9) All whores to wear some agreed garment indicating their profession. Each whore to pay brothel-keeper 14 pence a week for her chamber on the premises.
10) No brothel-keeper to imprison any customer on his premises for refusing to pay. Defaulters must be taken to the Bishop’s court instead. Fine: 20 shillings.
11) No brothel-keeper to knowingly accept a nun or another man’s wife as one of his whores without permission from the Bishop’s officials. Fine: 12 pence.
12) All brothel-keepers must register new whores arriving on their premises with the Bishop’s officials. Penalty for the brothel-keeper: 40 shillings fine. Penalty for the whore: 20 shillings fine plus a session in the cucking stool and expulsion from the Liberty.
13) All brothel-keepers to safely return any customers’ property left with them for safekeeping. Fine: 20 shillings.
14) No whore to entice any man into the brothel by pulling on his coat or any other item of clothing. Fine: 20 shillings.
15) No brothel-keeper’s wife to entice any man into the house against his will. Fine: 40 shillings.
16) Constables to search every brothel once a week for any infringements. Fine for impeding this search: 100 shillings.
17) No whore to be prevented from boarding wherever she wishes. Fine: 20 shillings.
18) No whore to remain in the Liberty on holy days between 8:00am and 11:00am, or between 1:00pm and 5:00pm.
19) No whore to keep a lover of her own “against the use and custom of the manor”. Penalty: Three weeks in prison, plus 6 shillings and 8 pence fine, plus a session in the cucking stool and expulsion from the Liberty.
20) No whore to engage in spinning or carding. No whore to throw stones at passers-by or pull faces at them for refusing to come in. Fine: 3 shillings and 4 pence.
21) No chore to chide with any man or make a fray. Fine: Three days in prison plus a fine of 6 shillings and 8 pence.
22) No brothel-keeper to open for business on holy days between matins and noon or between 2:00pm and 6:00pm.
23) No whore to be found in the Liberty between sunset and dawn on any day when the King’s Parliament or Council is sitting at Westminster. Fine: 6 shillings and 8 pence.
24) Any constable or bailiff aware of a breach in these rules but failing to report it to the Bishop’s court can be imprisoned for as long as the court sees fit.
25) No brothel-keeper to employ an ostler on a contract of longer than six months.
26) No constable or bailiff to accept bail personally from his prisoners. Bail must be administered by the Bishop’s court. Fine: 6 shillings and 8 pence.
27) Each whore’s final customer of the day must be allowed to stay overnight. Fine: 6 shillings and 8 pence.
28) No brothel-keeper to operate a boat in any way contrary to the custom of the manor. Fine: 6 shillings and 8 pence.
29) Any whore keeping her own brothel in the Liberty must obey these rules. Fine: 20 shillings.
30) No brothel-keeper to accept any whore he knows is pregnant. No whore to work while pregnant. Fine: 20 shillings (for the brothel-keeper); 6 shillings and 8 pence (for the whore).
31) No bailiff to allow an offender bail without the court’s authorisation. Fine: 100 shillings.
32) No brothel-keeper to let any whore work on his premises if he knows she has “the burning sickness” (probably gonorrhoea). Fine: 20 shillings.
33) No bailiff or constable to be paid more than 4 pence for an arrest, except in exceptionally serious cases involving a large sum.
34) No man in the Liberty to cause an assault by breaching these rules. Fine: 3 shillings and 4 pence.
35) No whore to wear an apron. Fine: “After the custom of the manor”.
36) No brothel-keeper to sell food or drink from the same premises. Fine is set at the discretion of the steward and the constables.
37) No whore or brothel-keeper to engage in coin-clipping.
38) Unclear. Thought to contain a measure against foreign pimps.
39) No brothel-keeper to allow cursing or blasphemy on his premises, as this often led to trouble.
And while this seems to protect a few rights of the fine-feathered flock with the Bishop of Winchester as their “protector” it also sent them straight into unmarked graves known 1st as the “Single Womens’ Churchyard” and later as the “Cross Bones,” as they were undeserving of a Christian burial and sadly more than single women were found there. Situating the graveyard far from any parish churches made it a perfect stomping ground for body snatchers.
Brotherly backward logic, bent on earning a dollar at another’s expense, convinced themselves or others who might be swayed, the implementation would save good Catholic women from rape as men were returning, many with the clap, from crusade or other perversions forbidden by the church.
The subjugation of women continues… 😦
Write On! ❤ Jess
P.S. Believe it or not, my WIP coming in today at 77,000 words, has ventured here.