By the early 14th century, Kilkenny was the largest inland settlement in Ireland. Its annual eight-day fair attracted merchants from far and wide. In 1306, among those hoping to sell goods at the fair was William Douce, a leading merchant in Dublin. However getting goods from Dublin to Kilkenny was no easy task.
The overland journey took a traveler south through the lawless upper Barrow valley. Any merchant laden with goods was vulnerable to brigands and outlaws. William Douce however did not have to worry about his own personal safety. In 1306 the seventy mile journey, which would take several days, was undertaken by his serving man.
The road leaving Dublin took this serving man south west avoiding the Wicklow Mountains, home to Gaelic Irish rebels. Twenty miles south west of Dublin the serving man broke his journey at the town of Naas. Shortly after he arrived in the town, while he was still taking his goods off his horse, he met a local woman Cristiana la Sadelhackere. Cristiana was what as known in the medieval world as mulier communis (common woman) or a prostitute. In the course of their conversation she and the serving man came to an agreement that that in return for goods worth two shillings that ‘he should lie with her’.