Manon van der Heijden
“Sexual Assault” and “Sexual Abuse” in Europe, 1500-1850
Up to now, historical research has treated violence mainly with reference to war, murder or massacre. Francisca Loetz argues for a new, complementary approach to history of violence as an interpersonal form of social action experienced as unacceptable behavior and aiming to subjugate the victim in everyday life. Analyzing cases of what the sources call “sexual assault” and “sexual abuse” in the city state of Zurich between 1500 and 1850, Loetz discusses fundamental methodological problems such as: how can violence be defined as a concept? What makes violence what it is in a given society? Why is early modern “sexual assault” and “sexual abuse” not equivalent to modern rape and abuse? How does Zurich compare with pre-modern Europe?