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Women and crime in Sixteenth-Century Wales

Howard, Elizabeth Anne 2020. Women and crime in Sixteenth-Century Wales. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis is the first full-length study of women and crime in sixteenth-century Wales. After the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543, Wales fell under English legal jurisdiction. As such, Wales provides a key setting through which to question the development and implementation of a new system of criminal law. The sixteenth century is a period that has been somewhat neglected by historians of crime, as has the location of Wales. To address this gap in research, this study uses the detailed depositional evidence from the Great Sessions from c.1542 to 1590. This thesis draws especially on evidence from the counties of Montgomeryshire and Flintshire, due to the richness of the surviving source material in these counties’ gaol files, and the fact that these two counties were part of the same Great Sessions circuit. The study of the relationship between gender and crime has been much more vibrant. This thesis builds on previous research by placing women’s experiences as perpetrators and victims at the forefront of the investigation into Welsh crime. I examine the three main categories of offence that women experienced – theft, homicide, and witchcraft – and question how a woman’s gender affected her treatment before the law. Indeed, the central arguments here examine the differences between criminal allegations made against women in their original formats, and how these accusations were changed and modified throughout the legal process. While gender acts as the central theme of this thesis, a secondary theme of space, place, and location has been used as framing tool through which to explore how sixteenth-century Welsh people understood and reacted to crime. This innovative approach, inspired by the work of gender historians such as Amanda Flather, has provided new insights into the contexts in which early modern crime was committed and experienced.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2020
Date of Acceptance: 27 March 2020
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2022 15:59

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