Stolen Women in Medieval England -

Stolen Women in Medieval England

Rape, Abduction, and Adultery, 1100-1500

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This study of illicit sexuality in medieval England explores links between marriage and sex, law and disorder, and property and power. Some medieval Englishwomen endured rape or were kidnapped for forced marriages, yet most ravished women were married and many 'wife-thefts' were not forced kidnappings but cases of adultery fictitiously framed as abduction by abandoned husbands. In pursuing the themes of illicit sexuality and non-normative marital practices, this work analyses the nuances of the key Latin term raptus and the three overlapping offences that it could denote: rape, abduction and adultery. This investigation broadens our understanding of the role of women in the legal system; provides a means for analysing male control over female bodies, sexuality and access to the courts; and reveals ways in which female agency could, on occasion, manoeuvre around such controls.

Product code: 9781108441865

ISBN 9781108441865
Dimensions (HxWxD in mm) H226xW151xS15
No. Of Pages 273
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Series Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series
During the Middle Ages, rape and abduction were understood together as forms of theft. This study of illicit sexuality in medieval England is the first to explore these overlapping offences, examining how women operated within the legal system and the impact this had on their lives.