Work of the Fellows: Monographs

Of Good and Ill Repute: Gender and Social Control in Medieval England

Hanawalt, Barbara A. (Fellow, 1997-98)

New York: Oxford University Press, 1998

From the publisher's description:

To be labeled "of ill repute" in medieval society implied that a person had committed a violation of accepted standards and had stepped beyond the bounds of permissible behavior. To have a reputation "of good repute", however, was so powerful as to help a person accused of a crime be acquitted by his or her fellow peers. Labeling a person in medieval times was a complex matter. Often, unwritten codes of behavior determined who was of good repute and who was not. Members of the nobility committing a "fur-collar crime" might have considerable leeway to oppress their neighbors with violence and legal violations; however, a woman caught without appropriate attire and without the proper escort hazarded the label of a "woman of ill repute." Gender, class, social statutes, wealth, connections, bribes, friends, and the community all played a role in how quickly or how permanently a person's reputation was damaged.

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality; History; English History; Crime; Middle Ages; Social Control; Social History