HIS 350L • Law / Society Early Modern Europe-W
This class examines how men and women, in criminal and civil lawsuits, interacted with the legal system in the 250 or so years from the early 1500s to the mid 1700s. We will explore the relationship between law and society in early modern Europe from many perspectives. How did emerging national states use courts to discipline subjects and increase their power? How can we explain the vast decline in the number of prosecutions for homicide and the rapid increase in prosecutions for theft? Why did many early modern Europeans believe in the judicial efficacy of torture? Why did patterns of punishment change? Why did infanticide become a national obsession in many European countries? Legal actions over marriage and debt were at high levels. What do those patterns tell us about family life? Whose behavior was criminalized and why? How could different social groups (men and women, rich or working, lawyers or reformers) use the legal system for their own purposes?
Requirements include readings (four books and various articles); a group project; a 12 page research paper. (subject to change)
Tentative Reading: Thomas Cohen and Elizabeth Cohen, WORDS AND DEEDS IN RENAISSANCE ROME: TRIALS BEFORE THE PAPAL MAGISTRATES Laura Gowing, DOMESTIC DANGERS: WOMEN, WORDS, AND SEX IN EARLY MODERN LONDON Cynthia Herrup, A HOUSE IN GROSS DISORDER: SEX, LAW AND THE SECOND EARL OF CASTLEHAVEN Natalie Zemon Davis, FICTION IN THE ARCHIVES: PARDON TALES AND THEIR TELLERS IN SIXTEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE.