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Non-Elite Women's Networks Across the Early Modern World

258 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Non-elite or marginalized early modern women—among them the poor, migrants, members of religious or ethnic minorities, abused or abandoned wives, servants, and sex workers—have seldom left records of their experiences. Drawing on a variety of sources, including trial records, administrative paperwork, letters, pamphlets, hagiography, and picaresque literature, this volume explores how, as social agents, these doubly invisible women built and used networks and informal alliances to supplement the usual structures of family and community that often let them down. Ten essays, ranging widely in geography from the eastern Mediterranean to colonial Spanish America and in time from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, show how flexible, sometimes ad hoc relationships could provide crucial practical and emotional support for women who faced problems of livelihood, reputation, displacement, and violence.
Author Bio
Elizabeth S. Cohen is Professor emerita of History at York University in Toronto. Based on research in the criminal court records of early modern Rome, her articles explore themes of women, work, family, youth, artists, prostitution, crime, street rituals, self-representation, and oralities. With Thomas V. Cohen, she has co-authored Words and Deeds in Renaissance Rome Trials Before the Papal Magistrates (University of Toronto Press, 1993) and Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, 2nd edition (ABC-Clio, 2019). With Margaret Reeves, she has co-edited The Youth of Early Modern Women (Amsterdam University Press, 2018). Marlee J. Couling completed her Ph.D. in History in July 2022 at York University. Her work uses judicial records to examine the alliances of non-elite women in seventeenth-century England. She specializes in the study of early modern social history and is especially interested in female networks, crime, gender, and emotions, particularly sympathy, empathy, grief, compassion, and trust.