Although prostitutes and courtesans flourished in most Renaissance Italian cities, little research has documented the presence of such women outside of the major centers of Rome, Florence, and Venice. This study focuses on the spaces occupied by the prostitutes of Ferrara in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Spatially controlled both by legislation and by common practices, prostitutes navigated in a circumscribed world riven by conflict and competing interests. Neither the modalities of these spatial practices nor the houses and structures the women used or inhabited have received scholarly attention. The article includes previously unknown information about the establishment, location, and operation of the city's public brothels, about spatial control, and about the ways in which the city was structured to restrict women believed to be unruly.

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