This study is at its best in its discussion of late medieval Florence, the author’s area of specialization, which allows her to make use of archival materials that offer a fine-grained view of the life experiences of women involved in the trade. The book makes broad statements about medieval prostitution generally; although the Italian emphasis is obvious, the geographical and chronological focus are never stated (a book written largely about Italy is perfectly all right, but it should be identified as such). In fact, the arguments, based largely on Italian material with some French and Spanish examples, are of general applicability. Payment for sex was simultaneously condemned and tolerated: “The aim of the condemnation was not necessarily to eliminate the phenomenon but rather to distance oneself from it while immediately attesting that prostitution was impossible to thwart” (3–4). The church’s attitude “was neither static nor exempt from internal contradictions but...

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