This interdisciplinary volume illuminates the shadowy history of the disadvantaged, sick and those who did not conform to the accepted norms of society. It explores how marginal identity was formed, perceived and represented in Britain and Europe during the medieval and early modern periods. It illustrates that the identities of marginal groups were shaped by their place within primarily urban communities, both in terms of their socio-economic status and the spaces in which they lived and worked. Some of these groups – such as executioners, prostitutes, pedlars and slaves – performed a significant social and economic function but on the basis of this were stigmatized by other townspeople. Language was used to control and limit the activities of others within society such as single women and foreigners, as well as the victims of sexual crimes. For many, such as lepers and the disabled, marginal status could be ambiguous, cyclical or short-lived and affected by key religious, political and economic events. Traditional histories have often considered these groups in isolation. Based on new research, a series of case studies from Britain and across Europe illustrate and provide important insights into the problems faced by these marginal groups and the ways in which medieval and early modern communities were shaped and developed.
Table of Contents
[Jane L. Stevens Crawshaw]
Part I: Health
2. Marginal Bodies and Minds: Responses to Leprosy and Mental Disorders in Late Medieval Normandy
3. "Not So Deformed in Body as Debauched in Behaviour": Disability and "Marginality" in Late Seventeenth- and Early Eighteenth-Century England
[David M. Turner]
Part II: The Law
4. Medieval Singlewomen in Law and Practice
[Sara M. Butler]
5. Aliens, Native Englishmen and Migration: William Herbert’s Considerations in the Behalf of Foreiners (1662)
Part III: Work
6. Down But Not Out: A Case Study in Early Modern Social Mobility from the Margins
[Joel F. Harrington]
7. The Place of African Slaves in Early Modern Spain
8. The Margins in the Centre: Working Around Rialto in Sixteenth-Century Venice
[Rosa M. Salzberg]
Part IV: Morality and the Home
9. Cleaning up the Renaissance City: The Symbolic and Physical Place of the Genoese Brothel in Urban Society
[Jane L. Stevens Crawshaw]
10. Child Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault: Compromised Chastity, Marginalized Lives?
11. Afterword: Constructing Marginality in the Early Modern European City
Andrew Spicer is Professor of Early Modern European History at Oxford Brookes University and a Literary Director of the Royal Historical Society.
Jane Stevens Crawshaw is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow in the Department of History, Oxford Brookes University.