Department of Historical and Classical Studies seminar

Masculinity and cuckoldry in early modern English litigation records, presented by Tim Stretton

Historians of female honour long ago identified the prevalence of female plaintiffs in English defamation suits in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The fragility of female honour seems clear, but it is interesting that most suits were brought not by single women, against whom unchallenged accusations of sexual activity could compromise their chances of marrying or employment, but by married women. This paper uses a detailed case study from the 1690s, based on both church court and Chancery records, to explore the extent to which husbands might damn themselves as less than adequate males in their efforts to publicise the supposed failings of their wives.

Tagged in Academic, Humanities