Journal of Social History

Journal of Social History 33.3, Spring 2000



    Robinson, David M., 1965-
  • Banditry and the Subversion of State Authority in China: The Capital Region During the Middle Ming Period (1450-1525)
    Subject Headings:
    • Brigands and robbers -- China -- Beijing -- History.
    • China -- History -- Ming dynasty, 1368-1644.
      Highway banditry in Ming China's Capital Region during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries owed much to the strong state presence radiating outward from Beijing. The essay opens with a survey of general patterns of banditry in the Capital Region. It then analyzes the social, political, economic, military, ethnic, and geographic features that contributed the region's distinctive forms of violence. It concludes with a preliminary comparison of Capital Region banditry and coastal piracy.

      Due to administrative interstices, inadequate supervision, access to arms, and economic privation, the thousands of imperial troops in the Capital Region intended to protect the interests of the throne were often the most likely to turn to brigandage. In the same way, recipients of imperial favor such as eunuchs, imperial in-laws, and high officials, often used their privileged position to engage in illegal activities, including acting as fences for local brigands. Even officials responsible for eradicating banditry maintained strong links to brigands and other marginal elements of Ming society. The study argues that brigandage need not be a phenomenon of the periphery, but can also grow out of a strong state presence.

    Barke, Megan.
    Fribush, Rebecca.
    Stearns, Peter N.
  • Nervous Breakdown in 20th-Century American Culture
    Subject Headings:
    • Neurasthenia -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
      This article traces the rise of the term and concept, nervous breakdown. It emphasizes the reasons the concept gained ground, particularly between the 1920s and 1950s, as an explanation for various new or newly-pronounced professional diagnoses and as a plea for some time and space for individual recovery. While nervous breakdown had medical overtones, it emphasized a collapse of personal understanding but also the possibility for personal reconstitution. The causes for the popularity of nervous breakdown, ranging from shifts in standards in the 1920s, altered gender roles, and changing pharmacology, also help explain the concept's decline after the 1960s; but surprising persistence is discussed as well.
    Huggins, Mike.
  • More Sinful Pleasures? Leisure, Respectability and the Male Middle Classes in Victorian England
    Subject Headings:
    • Leisure -- Great Britain -- History -- Victoria, 1837-1901.
    • Middle class men -- Great Britain -- History -- Victoria, 1837-1901.
    • Great Britain -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
      'Respectability' had great ideological power in Victorian society. But current analyses of middle-class leisure are seriously flawed in over-marginalising less respectable behavior.

      The paper begins by examining 'respectability' and the non-work contexts where pressures for compliance were strongest, such as the home and the church. It then explores a range of leisure contexts where pressures were far weaker, and where more sinful pleasures such as the drinking of alcohol, gambling, betting and sex outside marriage were more likely to be found.

      First there were life cycle contexts. Middle-class teenagers, younger unmarried men and men whose families had grown up were far more likely to fall for such temptations. Second, certain middle-class occupational groupings, such as artists, travelling salesmen or those in the drink trade were also more likely to pursue a less respectable lifestyle. Third, the hold of respectability was less strong in locational contexts away from the tyranny of neighbours. The more liminal nature of locations such as the racecourse and the seaside, or the anonymity of large urban areas, and the range of pleasures on offer, could open up multiple leisure identities.

    Edwards, Kathryn A.
  • Female Sociability, Physicality, and Authority in an Early Modern Haunting
    Subject Headings:
    • Roy, Huguette, fl. 1628 -- Spiritualistic interpretations.
    • Apparitions -- France -- Franche-Comté -- History -- 17th century.
    • Women -- Social networks -- France -- Franche-Comté -- History -- 17th century.
      When a nameless spirit visited Huguette Roy during the spring of 1628, Huguette became a local sensation. Neighborhood women, Franciscan preachers, and Jesuit intellectuals all tried to identify and control the apparition, who remained invisible to everyone save Huguette. She saw a helpful, if ethereal, young woman, and the spirit's gender was only confirmed when it explained that it was Huguette's aunt, Leonarde. As both a female vision and an aunt, Leonarde became manageable and understandable. All of those associated with the haunting---believers and doubters alike---assumed that standards and attributes of womanhood, as defined in the seventeenth-century Franche-Comté, would be applicable to the spirit, in particular woman's innate physicality. Leonarde confirmed and conformed to these beliefs. Moreover, she, Huguette, and their supporters manipulated these standards to enhance their legitimacy. In the process all of the participants abandoned any sense of paradox that physical standards were being applied to an entity who was by nature non-physical or, at least, whose physicality did not conform to worldly, corporeal standards. Womanhood, in whatever form, became a universal category with physicality as its primary component.
    Heijden, Manon van der, 1966-
  • Women as Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Seventeenth-Century Holland: Criminal Cases of Rape, Incest, and Maltreatment in Rotterdam and Delft
    Subject Headings:
    • Rape -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century.
    • Incest -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century.
    • Wife abuse -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century.
    • Women -- Crimes against -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century.
      This article started with questions about the position of women in criminal cases of rape, incest, and maltreatment in seventeenth-century Holland. Did contemporaries consider women who suffered from rape, incest, and maltreatment as victims of sexual and physical abuse? Furthermore, did honour play any role in these court cases? The purpose of this study was to determine whether raped, assaulted, and maltreated women were viewed as victims by contemporaries. Criminal records show that judges, neighbours, and plaintiffs made significant distinctions among these offenses. According to current views of sexual abuse, raped, assaulted, or maltreated women are without any doubt the victims of their perpetrators. The modern perspective is that victim and perpetrator are prime subjects in such criminal cases. However, seventeenth-century lawyers, judges, plaintiffs, accused, and witnesses did not focus their attention on victim and perpetrator only. Egmond rightly pointed out that judges were also focused on the crime itself. This so-called 'offence-oriented' legal mentality implied that young girls were seen as accomplices or co-offenders in many cases of incest. Furthermore, criminal cases of rape, incest and maltreatment not only concerned the honour and reputation of the victim and the perpetrator, but also of neighbours and family members. Indeed, although the latter did not stand trial or risk conviction, their good reputation was endangered as well.
    Lehfeldt, Elizabeth A.
  • Convents as Litigants: Dowry and Inheritance Disputes in Early-Modern Spain
    Subject Headings:
    • Convents -- Economic aspects -- Spain -- Valladolid -- History -- 17th century.
    • Nuns -- Spain -- Valladolid -- Economic conditions -- 17th century.
    • Dowry -- Spain -- Valladolid -- History -- 17th century.
    • Inheritance and succession -- Spain -- Valladolid -- History -- 17th century.
      This article examines the contentious and frequently litigious relationship between convents and the families of professed nuns in early-modern Spain. From the mid-sixteenth century forward Spanish convents entered into oftentimes protracted lawsuits over disputes involving these nuns' dowry payments, yearly maintenance allowances, and inheritance rights subsequent to their profession. Because the parties to these disputes were willing to risk long-standing and mutually beneficial relationships to defend their social and financial interests in court, these clashes are significant for what they reveal about the complex social matrix involving nuns, their families, and convents. Nuns demonstrated a profound sense of connection to family property. Despite the physical and spiritual barriers of the cloister, nuns used their dowries and other property interests to exercise fiscal influence and autonomy. Convents, on behalf of these nuns, asserted a temporal identity by filing lawsuits in the secular courts of the day. Finally, families worked vigorously to protect the integrity of their patrimonies even though this protection frequently conflicted with their support for female monasticism. As such these disputes illuminate a complicated social world in which the lives and interests of professed religious women continued to intersect with the calculations and preoccupations of their families.
    Leneman, Leah.
  • "No Unsuitable Match": Defining Rank in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland
    Subject Headings:
    • Marriage law -- Scotland -- Edinburgh -- History.
    • Social status -- Scotland -- Edinburgh -- History.
    • Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Scotland -- Edinburgh -- History.
      In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, when entry into the professions was still fluid, and 'rank' rather than 'class' characterised social relationships, status depended on finely graded nuances. A unique source that reveals the minutiae of perceived differences in rank and status---and moreover on a gendered basis---is the record of Declarator of Marriage cases heard before Edinburgh Commissary Court. Scottish law continued to recognise (as 'irregular' but legal) marriages constituted by a promise of marriage followed by intercourse between the parties. If the man denied the promise the woman could sue him in court and, if unable to prove a marriage, still had the possibility of being awarded damages for seduction. In such cases it was in the interests of the man's lawyer to prove that the woman could not have expected marriage when she had sex with him since she was of a lower rank, while the woman's lawyer naturally disputed this. From these cases specific strands emerge: upward and downward mobility of fathers, occupations of the women themselves, and a surprisingly great stress on the woman's education.


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