The sale of women in Europe (historical literature)

Door San Daniel gepubliceerd in Verhalen en Poëzie

From the 11th century to the late 1800s, women and children were seen as the property of men. If men were tired of their wives or they had to pay a gambling debt or they wanted to be free, they could put their wives up for sale.


It was an easier way to get out of a marriage that, for whatever reason, did not suffice, than a divorce where you had an alimony obligation.

In such a case, the men registered their wives as merchandise, at an auction house or at a public market. Men could bid on the merchandise. Very often a buyer was already interested and the auction was then a formality to obtain a sales receipt.

"Selling a wife," was easier than divorce, no permission from the church, no paperwork. Only the invoice with paid on it.



The working man opted for the sale rather than the divorce. He simply handed over the ownership to the highest bidder, as you would now do with cattle.

Women who were not happy in their marriage could ask their husbands to be sold. Then an agreement could be made in advance. The woman could then refuse the potential buyer. She was able to do this for reasons of economic improvement. You could also sell your wife for a night or a week, although that smells of prostitution again.



Nowadays we are surprised by such auctions and certainly in Europe, but marriage in those years was more a matter of economic security and not so much an expression of love. Until 1753, marriages were more contracrual agreements than festive occasions. The husband and wife formed an economic unit from marriage on and the wife was part of the husband's possessions.

In Europe, the women's market is almost a thing of the distant past, but in rural India it is still very common. In any case, a UNICEF study found that even in 2009, 8-year-old girls were being married out to men aged 40 . Or transferred as a debt payment.



 As far as we know, in England the last documented woman was sold in 1913. Her husband had sold her to his colleague for the amount of £ 1, as evidenced by the Leeds archives.

The authorities did not intervene in these auctions, it prevented, domestic violence, women losing their home and yet having to live somewhere, which would be a burden on the community. In our country alone, between 1780 and 1850, 300 documented cases of woman sales have come to light.          



Women did not have equal rights and by applying for sale themselves they could escape a bad marriage and they had a little more control over their lives.

A film that caused a lot of commotion in 1993 was 'Indecent proposal' with Robert Redfort as an older, filthy rich millionaire. He comes across a couple who have just gambled away their last money in Las Vegas. He finds the girl very attractive and offers the couple 1 million dollars to have her one night ... the rest of the film revolves around moral objections, values and norms, feelings of guilt '  



So women's markets or selling them or their favors is a thing of the past in Europe? No definitely not! let us not focus for a moment on baboon countries, with African tribal chiefs, or Arab areas or Asiatic backward areas. Let's stay closer to home. We are not going to talk about dowries or such.

In Bulgaria there is a brides market. Girls are taken out of school the first time they have their period and are prepared for marriage. The following link is a documentary about the use of girls selling in Bulgaria to men who can afford it. Bridal market Bulgary.

It is worth looking at. A quote from the documentary: "It doesn't by any means justify the disturbing idea that women are property that you can sell, pray on and buy, and how that shapes these girls" lives from day one. They are brought up not to discover who they are and their ambitions, but instead of obey and serve their future husbands. ”.

"Grooms pay an average of $ 290 to $ 350 for their young brides, Ms Larsson reports, however, the price can go much higher."

So women are possessions with utter ignorance of the fact that they are creatures that should be equals, you can praise them, you can bid on them or you can buy them. They are brought up to serve their future men. and not to develop or discover their talents.

'Is it not nice' that these countries are now finding a place in our European union. What to think of Lituanian beauties who present themselves on dating sites to marry 80-year-old Dutch farmers;

But the Netherlands is different right? No, not really.

Meidenmarkt (maidenmarket) in Schoorl, North Holland


"In the sixteenth century, namely 1573, a Meidenmarkt (maidens market)was referred to for the first time. One Janus van Schagen then told of" peasants, spinsters and lushes that came rolling down the high duyn (dune). "Since that time many young people gather in the marriageable age in and around this place, hoping to secure a relationship, and at the time it was no exception that a meeting at the Meidenmarkt eventually led to a marriage.

Pentecost is originally a pagan harvest festival, a thanksgiving festival for the harvest that was brought in. Later a religious background was attached to it. Many villages had the celebration of the Pentecostal Blom: the election of the prettiest girl in the village. Originally there were also markets all over the country during Pentecost where single boys and girls came together to find a partner. Schoorl is the only place in the country where the Girl Market is still very much alive.


"It is not clear why this traditional fertility ritual originated and is still being continued in Schoorl. In the sixteenth century, before the reclamation of swamps and land, most of Noord-Holland was a marshy area. Schoorl must have been noticed because of the high dune landscape, making it a logical place to gather "During the Meidenmarkt beer and gin flow abundantly."


"The boys gather at the foot of the dune. That usually starts early in the morning. The first youngsters come in around 8 a.m. The girls start flirting with the boys who are passing by, who in their turn try to make an impression.

Schoorl is proud of their Meidenmarkt. It is therefore deeply rooted in the village tradition. "


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Schouten : Meidenmarkt te Schoorl

Johnson, Isaac (2004) [1901]. Slavery Days in Old Kentucky. A True Story of a Father Who Sold His Wife and Four Children. By One of the Children. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Menefee, Samuel Pyeatt (1981). Wives for Sale: An Ethnographic Study of British Popular Divorce. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-88629-2.

Gayle Rubin (2006), "4 The Traffic in Women", Feminist Anthropology, pp. 92–95, ISBN 978-1-4051-0196-7

09/02/2020 18:44

Reacties (1) 

09/02/2020 19:35
Wat is (al dan niet gedwongen) prostitutie anders dan een 'meidenmarkt'?
De echte winsten gaan in de meeste gevallen toch vooral naar de pooiers.
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