Show simple item record

dc.contributor.authorBaker, Jennifer 15:31:05 (GMT) 15:31:05 (GMT)
dc.description.abstractThis thesis demonstrates how seventeenth century English women in abusive marriages employed limited survival strategies to separate from their violent husbands. It explores the ecclesiastical and magisterial court systems built on deeply rooted political, religious, and cultural attitudes towards women, marriage and marital violence, using urban London cases during the last quarter of the seventeenth century as a lens through which to observe the social and legal toleration of violence in the marriage without commensurate punishment. By using cases from across the social hierarchy, what emerges is a picture of a society deeply affected by the political and religious upheaval that began in the sixteenth century and influenced cultural attitudes towards marital violence that merely reasserted earlier systems of gendered marital hierarchy even as it reframed and redefined these systems of authority. Longstanding canon law defined the possible ways women might secure a separation and survive financially without remaining in an abusive relationship through divorce or desertion by reason of cruelty that changed little over the centuries. The narrow avenues available to women also presented a third option: murder. The limits of social toleration bound authority and the seventeenth century English toleration for violence in the family made it difficult to define and demonstrate when marital violence had crossed from legitimate methods of correction to illegitimate forms of abuse. Establishing this burden of proof was one of an abused wife’s most significant obstacles in court and shaped their approach even as social ideals and perceptions of women shaped how the court viewed women. Most women never experienced excessive violence in their marriage. While these cases are exceptional, they also exemplify the deep-seated religious and socio-cultural customs that shaped normative ideals that tolerated this abuse. Despite the extreme physical, sexual, mental, and emotional assault that violated contemporary notions of reasonable modes of correction, these cases demonstrate how society, the church, and the state understood the abuse, failed to punish the violence, and at the same time allowed the violence to be a legitimate ground for women to separate themselves from abusive husbands. In this way, it is possible to use the exceptional to illuminate everyday attitudes.en
dc.publisherUniversity of Waterlooen
dc.subjectearly modern Europeen
dc.subjectBritish historyen
dc.subjectgendered violenceen
dc.subjectdomestic violenceen
dc.titleDeath, Divorce, and Desertion: Strategies of Survival in Abusive Marriage in Seventeenth Century Englanden
dc.typeMaster Thesisen
dc.pendingfalse of Waterlooen
uws-etd.degreeMaster of Artsen
uws.contributor.advisorKroeker, Greta
uws.contributor.affiliation1Faculty of Artsen

Files in this item


This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record


University of Waterloo Library
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
519 888 4883

All items in UWSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved.

DSpace software

Service outages