Stolen Women in Medieval England

Stolen Women in Medieval England : Rape, Abduction, and Adultery, 1100-1500

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This study of illicit sexuality in medieval England explores links between marriage and sex, law and disorder, and property and power. Some medieval Englishwomen endured rape or were kidnapped for forced marriages, yet most ravished women were married and many 'wife-thefts' were not forced kidnappings but cases of adultery fictitiously framed as abduction by abandoned husbands. In pursuing the themes of illicit sexuality and non-normative marital practices, this work analyses the nuances of the key Latin term raptus and the three overlapping offences that it could denote: rape, abduction and adultery. This investigation broadens our understanding of the role of women in the legal system; provides a means for analysing male control over female bodies, sexuality and access to the courts; and reveals ways in which female agency could, on occasion, manoeuvre around such more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1 b/w illus. 8 tables
  • 1139786415
  • 9781139786416

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Laws and legal definitions; 2. Rape; 3. Abduction and forced marriage; 4. Elopement abductions; 5. Adultery; 6. Retaliatory abductions and malicious legal proceedings; Conclusion; Appendix I: ravishment legislation; Appendix II: sources of ravishment cases; more

Review quote

'... offers a rich analysis subdivided into topics that include rape, elopement, forced abduction, adultery, and false accusations ... Dunn displays an admirable ability in scrupulous analysis of court records and legislation, attending to the interests of lawmakers as well as all potentially interested parties ... Above all, one finishes this book wanting to hear a great deal more from Caroline Dunn.' Sara McDougall, The Medieval Review 'Drawing on an impressive selection of primary sources, Caroline Dunn's Stolen Women in Medieval England ... examines male control and female agency through an investigation of several different types of sexual offenses ... this book lays a strong groundwork for further review of female agency in the Middle Ages.' Rutgers Book Review Journal 'The strength of Dunn's study lies in her cogent analysis of sources and how she connects this evidence to changes in the legal statutes and culture in England ... [it] offers new insights on the crimes of rape and abduction as well as the clever ways in which the laity maneuvered in and out of marital unions.' Medieval Feminist Forum 'Stolen Women offers exceptional thoroughness, subtlety, and precision and will be hard to replace as the new standard work on ravishment in later medieval English law.' Kim M. Phillips, Speculumshow more

About Caroline Dunn

Caroline Dunn is Assistant Professor of History at Clemson more

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