Violence, property and ‘bad speech’
Women and trespass litigation
in Medieval women and urban justice
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This chapter examines women’s roles in trespass litigation, revealing a wide range of misbehaviour, including physical and verbal assault, theft and damage to property. These pleas allow us to access urban life, and its sometimes turbulent nature, in vivid detail, and the chapter utilises these pleas to explore the nature and implications of women’s involvement in misbehaviour, as both victims and perpetrators. The chapter examines the nature of this misconduct and the ways that this transcended gendered patterns of honour and wrongdoing that have dominated other studies, instead showing how women’s involvement in trespasses encompassed the full range of offences that fell within this category. It discusses the role of family and household ties in trespasses and the resultant litigation, including the way that ties between husbands and wives played out in court. It also explores the use of litigation as an important part of the process of restoring damaged reputations and publicising the misdemeanours of others.

Medieval women and urban justice

Commerce, crime and community in England, 1300–1500

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