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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter provides a brief overview of the book The Language of Abuse: Marital Violence in Later Medieval England and its chapters. In the medieval era, only egregious cases of abuse that were beyond the control of both family and neighbours appeared before the courts. This perception undoubtedly is compounded by the fact that many court records have perished or been discarded since the Middle Ages. As a result, we cannot possibly expect surviving records to offer a precise reflection of actual rates of marital violence in the medieval period. Court records and literature together offer valuable insight into general attitudes towards the causes of marital violence. This book contributes to the small but growing field of masculinity studies. Spousal abuse in the Middle Ages was as much about men as it was about women. Medieval England forced men to shoulder a double burden.

Keywords: Language; later medieval England; marital violence; spousal abuse

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