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The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany$
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Ulinka Rublack

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208860

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208860.001.0001

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Gossip, Silence, or Accusation

Gossip, Silence, or Accusation

(p.16) 1 Gossip, Silence, or Accusation
The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany

Ulinka Rublack

Oxford University Press

A central paradox of early modern government was the disjunction between an ever-widening programme of moral policing and the lack of corresponding investment in preventive measures and police officials. This made authorities highly dependent on communal cooperation in the prosecution of crime. In order to understand which women and which crimes were most likely to end up before the court, this chapter identifies those who preferred out-of-court settlements, and looks at how gossip could alert authorities to crime, and the conditions under which policing could operate. It explores three concrete cases to show how typical female offences — fornication, infanticide, and adultery — were talked about in urban communities.

Keywords:   immorality, gossip, fornication, infanticide, adultery, settlements

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