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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.

The article investigates whether Hobbes’s political theory gives us reason to expect the systematic subordination of women. It argues that who dominates whom is a matter of victory in the quest to pull allies into ordered alliances. The primary means of gaining allies—force and wiles—depend on both skill-fitness and affective fitness. The analyses suggest that it is sex-linked and gender-linked differences in affective fitness—particularly in the intensity of men’s desire to use religious wiles—that most plausibly explain the subjection of women, both across the spectrum of states of nature and within civil societies. Although Hobbes’s political theory enables us to make sense of how it happened, there is nothing in that theory that either necessitates or should cause us to expect the systematic subordination of women.

In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies

Despite the vast amount of scholarship on Hobbes’s philosophy, his writings on sexuality have gone largely unexplored. This paper offers an interpretation of Hobbes’s writing on that topic. I argue that if we pay attention to his remarks on sexuality, we can retrieve a coherent account of sexual morality, one that takes a strong stance against doctrines of natural sexual morality, replacing them with a commitment to positivism about sexual norms. With this reconstruction of the Hobbesian view of sexual morality in hand, I conclude by exploring some of its implications from a contemporary feminist perspective.

In: Hobbes Studies

This article challenges the idea that Hobbes presents a negative anthropology and shows, to the contrary, that there is a thick web of social relations in his state of nature and laws of nature. It considers the contradiction between human natural equality claimed by Hobbes, and female subjection that de facto characterizes most of his passages on gender relations. The key to this puzzle is found in comparison of the notions of conquest and consent, and of acquisition and institution, comparisons that establish a similarity between paternal authority and despotic dominion. A step towards the solution is provided by the hypothesis that the divide between “vainglorious” and “moderate” is gendered, with women more disposed to moderation than men. This can be explained by the idea that, “for society’s sake,” women in the state of nature appreciate more the advantages of long-term cooperation, even at the price of some subordination.

In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies
In: Hobbes Studies
This book charts the lives of (suspected) thieves, illegitimate mothers and vagrants in early modern Frankfurt. The book highlights the gender differences in recorded criminality and the way that they were shaped by the local context. Women played a prominent role in recorded crime in this period, and could even make up half of all defendants in specific European cities. At the same time, there were also large regional differences. Women’s crime patterns in Frankfurt were both similar and different to those of other cities. Informal control within the household played a significant role and influenced the prosecution patterns of authorities. This impacted men and women differently, and created clear distinctions within the system between settled locals and unsettled migrants.