The Violent Abuse of Women in 17th and 18th Century Britain (Hardback)
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The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are the gateway between the medieval world and the modern, centuries when the western societies moved from an age governed principally by religion and superstition to an age directed principally by reason and understanding. Although the worlds of science and philosophy took giant strides away from the medieval view of the world, attitudes to women did not change from those that had pertained for centuries. Girls were largely barred from education – only around 14% of women could read and write by 1700 - and the few educated women were not permitted to enter the professions.
As a result women, especially if single, were employed in menial jobs or were forced into a life of petty crime. Many survived by entering the ‘oldest profession in the world’.
The social turbulence of the first half of the seventeenth century afforded women new opportunities and new religious freedoms and women were attracted into the many new sects where they were afforded a voice in preaching and teaching. In a time of unprecedented and unbridled political discussion, many better educated women saw no reason why they should not enter the debate and began to voice their opinions alongside those of men, publishing their own books and pamphlets. These new and unprecedented liberties thus gained by women were perceived as a threat by the leaders of society, and thus arose an unlikely masculine alliance against the new feminine assertions, across all sections of society from Puritan preachers to court judges, from husbands to court rakes.
This reaction often found expression in the violent and brutal treatment of women who were seen to have stepped out of line, whether legally, socially or domestically. Often beaten and abused at home by husbands exercising their legal right, they were whipped, branded, exiled and burnt alive by the courts, from which their sex had no recourse to protection, justice or restitution. Many of the most brutal forms of punishment were reserved exclusively for women, and even where the same, they were more savagely applied than would be the case for similar crimes committed by men.
This work records the many kinds of violent physical and verbal abuse perpetrated against women in Britain and her colonies, both domestically and under the law, during two centuries when huge strides in human knowledge and civilisation were being made in every other sphere of human activity, but social and legal attitudes to women and their punishment remained firmly embedded in the medieval.
This is undoubtedly a very well-researched book. Many sources are cited and there are appendices giving the full texts of contemporary reports of court cases.NetGalley, Colin Edwards
Rating: 5 out of 5NetGalley, Krisztina Farkas
This is a well-researched account of how women were unfairly and sometimes brutally treated. I was quite shocked learning about all the mistreatments and inhumanity, both physically and mentally, what women had to go through. Even though that I’ve previously looked into women’s treatment in the Victorian Era, I was taken aback by the extent of such accounts.
The Violent Abuse Of Women in 17th and 18th century Britain is a vital and important piece of women’s history, giving insight into the vicious and horrific treatments of women during the end of the Medieval and beginning of the Modern period in Britain. It is informative and very well researched.Kendal Parker, Blogger
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To say this book is a joy to read would probably be badly phrased. It would be better to say this is a passionate and informative account of the subject and especially of judicial violence. It also did not surprise me to learn that the author has written a book about Samuel Pepys as his diary is quoted several times as an example of the legally and socially acceptable use of violence and sexual assault a ‘respectable’ man could perpetrate against women at the time, without consequences. The book charts changing attitudes towards judicial violence and violence against women in particular over the time period and is illustrated well, without being gratuitous.Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger
There is no doubt that this is an excellent piece of research and will be an invaluable resource for students of this subject. It’s a difficult book to read, however, the content is very upsetting in places and it got to the point where I didn’t want to read any more. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read some of it, however, as it’s important to be aware of our history, no matter how unpleasant.NetGalley, reviewed by Fiona McKinlay
Pimm has done an excellent job in researching the histories of each individual form of abuse, and provides plenty of examples of their use, often quoting from original documents at length.Naomi Clifford
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Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Jackelyn Santana
I highly recommend this book. It's educational and it's a must-read to be reminded of the sacrifices made by women in the past years so that we can honor them when we embrace the liberties they weren't as fortunate to enjoy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Serena Richards
I hesitate to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but the writing was very solid and enjoyable.
This was definitely not a light or pleasant read but I do think it’s an important one. I had to skip past some of the most horrific stories as it was just so unpleasant to read. I thought I was pretty aware of the historical mistreatment of women but I had not realised how commonplace it appeared to be. A shocking and eye opening book.NetGalley, reviewed by Christine Wallace
This is a well researched book and the use of contemporaneous newspaper and trial reports together with diary entries of the time give an immediacy to the period.NetGalley, reviewed by G Heard
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Jane Guilfoyle
I found this to be extremely fascinating and interesting read. I also found it hard to read at times. It was good to find out how women were treated then compared to nowadays. Although a lot has changed over the years there is still some of it relevant in the present day (although not as bad in the western countries compared with other countries).
The book was well written and the author has done some solid research. I would recommend reading it if you like history and/or equal rights.
A very insightful read.NetGalley, reviewed by Rachel Fox
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Tara Keating
A well written and thought out book, interesting and shocking. A good read for those interested in history, equality and equal rights.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, reviewed by Colleen Louw
I found this book incredibly interesting, well written and well researched. I recommend it highly.
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