Prosecuting Women

A Comparative Perspective on Crime and Gender Before the Dutch Criminal Courts, c.1600–1810


In the early modern period women played a prominent role in crime. At times they even made up half of all defendants. Female criminality was a typically urban phenomenon. Why do we find so many women before the Dutch criminal courts?

In Prosecuting Women Ariadne Schmidt analyses the relation between female crime and the urban context by comparing prosecution patterns in various Dutch cities. Prosecuting Women looks beyond the bare figures, examines the personal circumstances of criminal women and shows how women's illegal activities were linked to the socio-economic context of the locality and varied over time. The local interplay between crime and the responses of the authorities gave every city a specific dynamic in its pattern of prosecuted crime.

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Ariadne Schmidt, Ph.D. (2001), is professor of history of urban culture, in particular of Leiden, and lecturer in social and economic history at Leiden University. She has published widely on early modern urban history, gender history, family history and the history of women's work.
All interested in the history of crime and gender, urban history and the history of women's lives.
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