This marked the decline of the barber profession. Similar action was taken in France under the reign of Louis XIV. Toward the end of the 18th century the barbers of Europe had completely relinquished their right to perform any of the operations of surgery and dentistry, except in the small towns and out-of-the-way places where doctors and dentists were not obtainable. After the barbers were prohibited from practicing medicine, surgery and dentistry, they became mere mechanics and servants, subject to the whims of fashion. When wigs became the fashion during the 18th and part of the 19th century, barbers became wigmakers. Their profession had lost its ancient dignity and barbers had become laborers, instead of professional men. In England, America and all over the civilized world, the decline of the barber was a spectacle for all to see. Barber shops became hangouts, places where low characters assembled. Smutty stories, malicious scandal and gossip of all kinds characterized barber shops until a few years ago. A barber shop was a place where men showed their lower instincts and where women dared not enter.