“Every quarter of it abounds with grave obscenities” (Richard of Devizes)

woodcut-of-norman-london-from-a-recent-edition-of-fitzstephens-book-e1404912782503

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of London, this one written by Richard of Devizes in the late twelfth century, i.e., at the same time – although not in the same tone – that William FitzStephen wrote his (see February 5th posting) …

“I do not like at all that city.  All sorts of men crowd together there from every country under the heavens.  Each race brings its own vices and its own customs into the city.  No one lives in it without falling into some sort of crimes.  Every quarter of it abounds in grave obscenities … .  Whatever evil or malicious thing that can be found in any part of the world, you will find it in that one city.  Do not associate with the crowd of pimps; do not mingle with the throngs in the eating-houses; avoid dice and gambling; the theatre and the tavern.  You will meet with more braggarts here than on all France; the number of parasites is infinite.  Acrobats, jesters, smooth-skinned lads, Moors, flatterers, pretty boys, effeminates, pederasts, singing and dancing girls, quacks, belly-dancers, sorceresses, extortioners, night-wanderers, magicians, mimes, beggars, buffoons: all this tribe fill all the houses.  Therefore, if you do not want to dwell with evil-doers, do not live in London”.

 

 

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