26 August 2008

Directions - Domestic Abuse

structuring notes: A few places to start looking. Am inclined to divide female participation in violence as functions of economics (violence dealing with prostitution, domestic violence over acquisition and distribution), reproduction (infanticide, rape and infidelity), and religion (look into this later, not sure how relevant witchcraft really is in France during this period, though Huguenot/Catholic conflicts may provide possible direction)...definitely going to fall off topic, but as a node for future reference. Today's reading: Women before the Bench: Female Litigants in Early Modern Normandy (Zoë A. Schneider) Focussing primarily on the Norman experience, and a good outline on the strikingly disenfranchising economic restrictions placed on women. Not of particular usefulness at the moment, but interesting as a legal extreme. Of note: Wives explicitly may not sue husbands for battery unless he gouges out her eye or breaks her arm. (Ancien coustumier de Normandie, c. 1280) When reformed, the specifics are taken out but general principle still holds that “A wife may render a complaint to Justice for an injury made to her person, and pursue it even if she is disavowed by her husband, as long as the injury is atrocious.” (Coutume de Normandie, Art. 543, 1583) Would be interesting to see if there are cases of this being upheld -- and which situations (if any) are considered atrocious. Early Modern Perspectives on the Long History of Domestic Violence: The Case of Seventeenth-Century France (Julie Hardwick) Lots of potential here. Discusses the early modern distinction between corrective and abusive domestic violence within France and court-granted separations of person and property. She focusses a bit on the idea of class in motivating domestic violence -- economic motivations for lower classes, and reproductive motivations for higher. Likewise, judicial redress seems to have been sought more by lower classes (she suggests this is prestige-motivated, but it could be worth pursuing the possibility that courts were/were percieved to be more sympathetic to economic issues) It's mentioned that one fifth of the complaints are of men against their wives, but no examples are given -- investigate? The economic causes are interesting from a social level. Lower classes of men and women both are responsible for family income -- and in many of the cases Hardwick cites, it seems that it is the woman who is the principle bringer (and dispenser) of income (lineage properties as an example). Most of these cases that she cites follow the general theme of man-wants-money-for-socialising -> woman-refuses-or-criticises -> violence. Her suggestion through the work seems to be that lower class women had an overall easier time of coping with domestic violence -- certainly in terms of seeking redress and help. The densely packed living situations she alludes to, and instances of neighbours intervening and providing testimony, shelter and social pressure all were certainly more prevalent in lower castes than higher. While the nature of domestic violence is such that a true estimation of its frequency is nearly important, she does draw a good line between what was considered acceptable (ie, "rational" corrective violence, delivered upon provocation [verbal or otherwise] and without excessive anger. And, not surprisingly, social intolerance for any sort of violence when a woman is pregnant is far higher than when not) “The woman has not been formed from the foot of the man, but from one of his sides in order to show that she is a companion, not a slave.” (2121 ADR BP3985, folder 1654, February 10, 1654, and 1717 ADR BP5985, folder 1653, January 30, 1653) seems to have been popularly upheld -- another royal prosecutor seems to feel that at while light correction (? Define this.) are considered within a husband's authority, it is not a right that extends to "violence". There seems to have been an effort to judge each case on its merits and provocation, rather than developing a codified system of what was considered acceptable and beyond civility. Causing visible physical injury seems to be a line between correction and abuse. Cuts, black eyes, bruises, torn clothing or disheveled appearance are all cited repeatedly by witnesses, and instances of community intervention seem common -- she offers many examples of this. More interestingly, the impetus for secrecy seems to be far more the domain of the abuser vs the abused than in current society -- being the subject of a husband's violence does not seem to have the strong overtones of humiliation (at least, to the lower classes) to the wife, but rather the social shame seems to belong exclusively to the husband (unless, of course, provocation is considered a mitigating factor) Help seems to have been offered cross-class, from a non-legal point of vioew. She cites the case of Louise Desvignes: Over a period of fifteen years, "neighbors, family members, a doctor, a marquise, “several ladies of high rank,” and her parish priest all offered various kinds of help and mediation." (6259 ADLA B5833, July 31, 1680.60 ADR BP4045, June 2, 1720.61 ADR BP3985, folder 1641, December 21, 1641.62 ADR BP3984, folder 1682, September 22, 1682, and January 9, 1683.) More instances of higher class women (and perhaps men/religion) intervening are mentioned, and might be worth following up on. Allegations of sexual misconduct seem to be far more detailed (and cited) in higher-class society. This may be the lack of economic motivation -- social preoccupation with being seen as the head of the household -- or simply less fear of social censure. The example of Dame Anne Raoul and her husband Louis Delaroche is an extreme example of this -- in front of their staff, witnesses testify that they saw her slapped, kicked, locked in a small room for weeks with only bread and water, and quite abusively raped in a vinyard in front of fifteen or sixteen peasants. Fear (one assumes) and obedience to his orders even involves the servants in the abuse -- holding and tying her down to be beaten at his orders. To a friend, the poor woman confides (after just being slapped by her husband) that "he had “mistreated” her several times but that “she had not wanted to complain for fear of scandal.” When slapped in front of another woman, her friend's only response was to tell the husband that “if he did that in fun, it was too hard and if he meant to hurt her he had succeeded.” (ADLA B5842, May 31, 1690.) Should see if there's more to support this suggestion, or if it is a (relatively) isolated/exceptional incident, though the husband's lack of secrecy, and the complacency of both servants and friends suggests it is not. Further Reading to track down: B. C. Hacker, "Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance", (Signs, on jstor) Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France "Courting Families: Litigation and the Political Economies of Daily Life in Early Modern France" Julius Ruff, Violence in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2001) Merry Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 2nd ed. (Cambridge,2000) Olwyn Hufton, The Prospect before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500–1800 (New York, 1996) Kristen B. Neuschel, “Noblewomen and War in Sixteenth-Century France,” Changing Identities in Early Modern France, ed. Michael Wolfe (Durham, NC, 1996) Frances Dolan, “Household Chastisements: Gender, Authority, and ‘Domestic Violence,’” in Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, ed. Patricia Fumerton and Simon Hunt (Philadelphia, 1999) Farr, “Pure and Disciplined Body.” Farr, Hands of Honor Julie Hardwick, The Practice of Patriarchy:Gender and the Politics of Household Authority in Early Modern France (UniversityPark, PA, 1998)

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