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Violent Discipline or Disciplining Violence?: Experience and Reception of Domestic Violence in Late Thirteenth- and Early Fourteenth-Century Paris and Picardy

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This article explores medieval French attitudes towards physical intra-familial violence, and asks why some acts of brutality were defined as reprehensible and deviant 'violence', while others were lauded as normal patriarchal discipline of a deviant victim. Using legal records from Picardy and Paris, repertoires of violent gestures are analysed and set in the context of the interplay of the practice of domestic violence, canon law discussions, and contemporary legal proceedings. Thirteenth-century legal and moral discourse condemned excessive domestic violence; yet, paradoxically, the power of violence to communicate and to correct was widely acknowledged. The article concludes by exploring popular literature's engagement with this ambivalence.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/147800409X377910

Affiliations: Merton College, Oxford

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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