Crossing boundaries: women's gossip, insults and violence in sixteenth-century France

Suzannah Lipscomb

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Using evidence from cases recorded in the registers of the consistories of southern France, the author investigates the way in which Languedocian women policed each other's behaviour, enforcing a collective morality through gossip, sexual insult and physical confrontation. In contrast to case studies by other historians, it is argued here that gossip does appear to have been a peculiarly female activity, but far more than simply being an outlet for malice or prurience, it gave women a distinctive social role in the town. No less evident is the involvement of women in physical violence both against each other and against men, violence which, though less extreme than its male counterpart, nonetheless occupies a significant role in the proceedings of the consistories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-426
Number of pages19
JournalFrench History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011

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