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Ideas and Society in Early Modern Europe: The Debate about Gender and Identity.

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Presentation on theme: "Ideas and Society in Early Modern Europe: The Debate about Gender and Identity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ideas and Society in Early Modern Europe: The Debate about Gender and Identity

2 1. What are the seven ages of man and the three ages of woman? 2. What can we discover by analyzing the female life cycle according to early modern categories? 3. What can we learn about women’s economic role when we analyze it through the category of gender? You will need to answer some questions on your own: see slides 24, 26, 27, 28.

3 ManWoman 1. Infancy1. Virgin 2. Childhood2. Wife 3. The lover3. Widow 4. The soldier 5. The justice 6. Old age 7. Extreme old age





8  Sexual organs and activity  “male sexuality was the baseline for any perception of human sexuality, and the female sex organs were viewed as the male turned inside out or simply not pushed out” (p. 60)  sexual intercourse as impure / sinful … but sexual desires divinely willed  containment of sexual intercourse  Protestant esteem for marriage and sexual desire  common notion of “rampant female sexuality” (p. 62)  pornography: visual and verbal with religious and political implications

9  Sexual crimes and deviance  fornication: pre-marital sex  as a stage towards marriage or as a result of rape  options for unmarried pregnant women  to bring a legal case against a man for rape in defence of honour  to hide pregnancy  to induce an abortion: a capital offence in the Holy Roman Empire as of 1532  to have the baby: stigma of unwed motherhood varies  leave the baby with a foundling hospital  to kill the baby: infanticide a capital offence  “More women were executed for infanticide in early modern Europe than any other crime except witchcraft” (p. 67)

10  Sexual crimes and deviance  midwives had to help enforce laws against infanticide  asylums for “fallen women”: similar to convents  “punishment and penitence” (p. 69) Louis XIV and the Salpêtrière (1656): “hospital” for prostitutes, fornicators, adultere Salpêtrière  Etienne Jeaurat, Transport of the Prostitutes to the Salpêtrière (1745) Transport of the Prostitutes to the Salpêtrière

11  Same-sex relations  words: homosexual (1869), lesbian (1730s), sodomy  a capital offence for women in Holy Roman Empire (1532); not a criminal offence in England  gender inversion worse than female homoeroticism  “close relationships among women were probably far more common than legal records would indicate” (p. 73).  “romantic friendships” (p. 75) did not necessarily involve genital contact

12  Marriage  “the clearest mark of social adulthood for both women and men” (p. 80)  choice of spouse  parents, family members  ideal husband, ideal wife (p. 76)  nuclear family household: northern and western Europe: marriage in mid-twenties  complex family household: southern and eastern Europe: marriage in late teens  marriage and law: divorce, establishment of marriage  dowry (p. 79)

13  Marriage  age of marriage: rural / urban  more egalitarian for spouse of similar age  Women continued to identify with their birth family.  The emergence of the middle-class house wife.  Singlewomen  nuns  poor women: domestic servants, “spinsters”  legal worries about “masterless women”


15  Motherhood  nursing  wet nurses: poor; regulation of

16  the death of a husband  poverty  opportunities  control of families  control of inheritance  control of business  likelihood of remarriage: widowers / widows; young widows / old widows  households of older women

17  questions of continuity (p. 96)  discontinuities (p. 97)  How is gender a useful category of historical analysis when considering the female life cycle?

18  Work Identity and Concepts of Work  Women’s Work in the Countryside  Mining and Domestic Industry  Women’s Work in Towns and Cities  questions for you to answer in preparation for class  Craft guilds  questions for you to answer in preparation for class  Investment, Managing, and Purchasing

19  male / female work rhythms: age, class, training (for men); biology (for women)  professionalization: a vehicle for male dominance and exclusion of women  the concept of vocation (wife and mother) as a limitation for women  relegation of women’s activity to “domestic work” and “housekeeping”  skilled vs. unskilled labour: economic consequences, mechanization

20  “Whatever its sources, the gendered notion of work meant that women’s work was always valued less and generally paid less than men’s” (p. 105)  “All economies need both structure and flexibility, and during the early modern period, these qualities became increasingly gender-identified: male labour provided the structure, so that it was regulated, tied to a training process, and lifelong; female labour provided the flexibility, so that it was discontinuous, alternately encouraged or suppressed, not linked to formal training, and generally badly paid. Women’s work was thus both marginal and irreplaceable” (p. 105)

21  gendered division of agricultural labour: physical strength, child care;  exceptions: work in vineyards, silk growing  “Whatever their source, gender divisions meant that the proper functioning of a rural household required at least one adult male and one adult female” (p. 106).  Women’s agricultural labour could be physically taxing.


23  seventeenth century: “feminization of agriculture” (p. 106)  new crops: labour-intensive  care for animals  increasing demand for women’s labour  gendered division of labour in the rural household  other economic activity  selling agricultural produce / small goods at markets  selling labour in rural areas  domestic service in rural households  migration to cities

24  women‘s labour is “ancillary” (p. 110) in mining  proto-industrialization = domestic / cottage industry = putting-out system: an early form of capitalist enterprise  increase in economic value of labour  Employment of entire households tended to break down gendered divisions in labour  employment of individual women as seasonal labourers: Women’s income is supplemental / secondary; women are economically inferior to their husbands.

25 OccupationSignificance 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

26  forms of economic production in cities organized around a specific craft, e.g. shoe-making  hierarchy: apprentice, journeyman, master  Answer these questions on the following slides : 1. Why did for the most part women have only an informal role to play in craft guilds? 2. Can you name two professional associations in which women were not excluded and played a decisive role? Why were women able to exercise these occupations? 3. Why were women as a rule excluded from craft guilds? Can you come up with four reasons?


28  Hint: You will find only one association in the section on craft guilds. The other is mentioned elsewhere in the chapter.

29  Reason 1:  Reason 2:  Reason 3:  Reason 4:

30  women as investors  women as directors of companies  Glückel of Hameln  restrictions:  money lending  access to land owing to inheritance customs  bequests of property (except for widows and unmarried women)  donations to religious institutions

31  reality of economic activity vs. legal prescriptions  women and consumption  continuities in economic sector  but contribution to the economy  “industrious revolution”

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