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Who Was Punished, And For What?

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Chapter Summary

Telste proposes an interpretation which presupposes that men and women had different attitudes towards sexuality and fidelity. It is difficult to gauge to what extent whipping was used as a punishment primarily against women in the Middle Ages and in the seventeenth century. This chapter shows that legislation authorised prosecution of men and women for the same type of sexual crimes, both before and after the Reformation. However, in legal practice significantly more men than women were charged for adultery, fornication, and incest during the period 1300 till 1600. Regarding incest, relatively more men than women were charged during the Middle Ages and the post-Reformation sixteenth century. Telste (for the second half of the seventeenth century) notes an even distribution between men and women, irrespective of the degree of kinship involved.

Keywords: adultery; fornication; incest; post-Reformation sixteenth century; Telste



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