“Accidental” Courtesans

survival sex worker

I spend a lovely afternoon discussing the interesting path some of our personas take on their way to becoming sex workers with fellow Trimarian, Katherine la Vynour.

Along the way we have a fascinating conversation about labor in the medieval and pre-modern worlds, and the troubling ways modern labor is headed right back to the middle ages. We narrowly avoid bridging over into a few different podcasts and manage to stay on track despite the workings of some delicious red wine. What options did women have for employment, paying the bills, and having a bit of money laying around to live on their own terms? How did those options differ for men and women? Join us as we examine the links between labor, sex work, and gender.

Show Notes

Several of the links Katherine Swynford are  no longer online, but here’s a virtual tour of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Scotland as it would have looked in 1318 (which is a little before Katherine la Vynour’s or Katherine Swynford’s time but not by much [a few decades]).  

The Medievalist website maintains a list of links to letters written by a number of  medieval women.

Wanna find out what English-speaking people in the 1400s were calling their (and other’s) genitals? It’s a fascinating linguistic rabbit-hole to dig into, and you’ll be surprised how many of the slang terms we use today are older than you might think!

If you’re looking for something to read, we have recommendations!

A reprinted edition of Anya Seton’s novel about Katherine Swynford, called Katherine.

Alison Weir’s biography of Lady Katherine Swynford, Mistress of the Monarchy. The UK title that Katherine couldn’t call to mind while we were recording is Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess.

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Episode Credits

Mastermind: Evanne Floyd (Lucretia Lepida/Gwlados Vachan)
Sound Engineering: Wyatt Lee Updyke
Script Manager: Kate DuVall (Sophia Berkeley)

  • Intro Music: The King of Denmark’s Galliard, written by John Dowland and published in 1604 in Lachrimæ, or Seaven Teares. Perfomed by I Solipsisti. Provided by MusOpen. Sounds provided by ZapSplat and AmbientMixer.
  • Outro Music: Lachrimae Gementes, written by John Dowland and published in 1604 in Lachrimæ, or Seaven Teares. Perfomed by I Solipsisti. Provided by MusOpen.

Podcast ambience provided by ZapSplat and Tabletop Audio.

Edited with Audacity.

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