Right, there haven’t been enough link-extravangaza-style posts round here lately. What (early modern) topics do you, dear readers, want to learn more about this summer?
Did people get hayfever in the 17th century? Any nice poems written about sneezing?
This is more of a theme than a topic, but what about early modern mirrors? One could move from painting to emblems to poetry to prose, examine their use in different discourses (political satire, neoplatonic philosophy/medicine, witchcraft, rhetoric, etiquette manuals); it could be quite interesting.
Social history of costume.
Ooo I like mirrors. Do that one.
Homosexuality in woodcuts.
I’ve always wondered about how the boundaries for the city (and what kinds of criminal prosecution happened where) moved. I’m under the impression — I have no idea why — that, for instance, the Borough of Southwark (where I was married) was used as a dumping ground for bawdy houses, etc., and that many vices were not as harshley prosecuted as long as they happened south of the Thames. This could be total crap, BTW. But the idea of the changing boundaires of the city and how high-crime areas changed/moved is interesting to me.
Can anyone help me with information about 17th century murder trials? For instance, would the judge have donned a black cap to give the verdict; would the accused have someone to speak for them? I’m writing a book about Anne Green (I hope no one else is).
Not sure about the black cap, but I can tell you that the accused would have to conduct their own defence in court, if it was a felony charge (ie, subject to the death penalty). Defence lawyers began to be allowed in court in the early decades of the 18th century (though not officially until the 19th century). On the other hand, there were very few prosecution lawyers either, except in a few high-profile treason trials; most cases were prosecuted by the victims themselves (or by relatives or other close associates).
Can you remind me who Anne Green was?
Thanks for your reply. Anne Green was hanged for infanticide in 1650, taken for dissection and then found to be alive and revived by Drs Petty and Willis. It’s a GREAT story. She was tried at Oxford Assizes but there are no details anywhere of her trial and I’m not a historian so don’t know quite where to look.
I thought I’d heard of her. OK. As far as I know, the Oxford Assize records haven’t survived. (They would be at The National Archives in Kew if so.) Even if they had, they wouldn’t tell you anything about what happened at the trial itself.
However, there are a number of contemporary printed pamphlets, some of which may have some detail on the trial itself; I don’t know how much. Anyway, I’ve downloaded some to look at later, and if you’d like, I can email you copies as PDF files.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of secondary literature on both infanticide and on trials. I’ll modestly (ha ha) recommend my own online bibliography which has sections on infanticide and on courts and trials:
You should also look at The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, which has the printed reports of the trials held at the Old Bailey during the 18th century. During this time, trial procedures were starting to change, but only starting to, and many trials would have been very similar to those held a century earlier.
And apart from looking into the trial reports themselves, start by looking at historical background section which has a very good essay on trial procedures:
That’s brilliant. Thanks so much. Yes, I’d already tried Kew and got a knock-back. But I shall try all the sources you list (esp your own). My website is http://www.maryhooper.co.uk – I’m a children’s writer. But this will be my first adult book. Thanks again! Mary.
Hi there. I am a multimedia teacher in Northern Ireland and am also fascinated by the case of Anne Green. Sharon, I wonder if you come across anything of interest in any pamphlets of the era, whether I could possibly join the “mailing list”. Great website by the way, I look forward to working my way through some of the publications listed.
Jennifer, I tried to email you, but it got returned for ‘fatal errors’ in your address. Can you email me (email@example.com)? Thanks…
As part of my dissertation research I’ve been reading a good book edited by William Cohen entitled Filth: Dirt, Disgust, and Modern Life which focuses on the perceptions and boundaries of filth primarily in nineteenth-century Europe and European colonies. Any chance we could hear about perceptions of filth and dirt from early modern times?
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