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With these dire words of warning from Augustine, even Ecclesiastics saw the benefit of keeping houses of ill repute operating in medieval cities. In an effort to prevent potential problems, civic officials permitted prostitution to function within the city walls so long as it was regulated and turned a profit. Municipal authorities recognised the usefulness of prostitution in the Late Middle Ages and capitalised on making profits from brothels.
Council records provided detailed information on the administration of brothels, and recorded all delinquencies. Account books gave Hammer an idea of the types of payments made to, and taken from the brothels. He illustrated his point using the former Austrian city of Bolzano now Italy.
The brothel keeper changed on average every two years but this could be a longer or shorter period. The brothel keepers were sworn in by the mayor and in cities like Vienna, brothel keepers were only women. Once a woman was in a brothel, there was little chance she could get out. Regulations controlled prostitutes within the brothels, down to what they were allowed to wear, for example, there was a law that stipulated prostitutes were prohibited from wearing any jewellery in the city of Bolzano.
Their lives were exposed to violence and brutality as brothel keepers were permitted to harshly discipline their prostitutes. In spite of tight civic controls, cities encountered problems with keeping marauding soldiers from raiding the brothels. In addition to this issue, was the problem of sweeping religious change throughout Europe. With the coming of Lutheranism and a new sense of morality, brothels fell into decline. Martin Luther preached fiercely against prostitution and ordered the brothels closed.
Sopron, Hungary Sopron is a city located on the Austrian-Hungarian border. The brothel in Sopron was located in the northern end of the city, in the first ring of suburbs between The brothel in the city was located on the eastern border, away from the market.