This section of the site contains information about my scholarly research.  To learn more about it select one of the following research projects or categories:

Doctoral research in crime, justice, and society in fourteenth-century Provence

Postdoctoral research into masculinities

Both these projects benefited from the very generous funding provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC).  For information on Council funding, please visit the SSHRCC website.

Other research related areas:

Publications

Conference papers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctoral research into crime, justice, and society in fourteenth-century Provence

Summary
Results (publications, conference papers, and courses)

Summary of
Doctoral Thesis (taken directly from thesis
)

This thesis uses records of criminal inquisitions from 1340 to 1403 to take up the question of social regulation.  These records were created in the Provencal town of Manosque.  In the pre-plague era, the population of this town is estimated to have been approximately 5 000 souls.  The majority of these were Christian labourers, but the town also supported successful artisans and craftsmen, as well as professionals such as barbers, physicians, notaries, and lawyers.  It housed, moreover, an important Jewish community which played a vital role as the town’s financier.

Both the criminal court of Manosque and all rights over justice were seigneurial possessions.  Like the town itself, therefore, they belonged to the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, sometimes called the Hospitallers.  The criminal court of the Hospital had jurisdiction over the entire town and its environs.  Only those men who could prove privilegium clericali were exempted from its justice and referred to an Episcopal court.

The court of the Hospital wielded justice to promote social stability.  It enforced the town’s criminal statutes, a limited code negotiated between the community and the Hospital in the late thirteenth century.  It also prosecuted offences not contained in the statutes, including murder and treason.  Yet even as it limited the freedoms of the townspeople, it was used by them in order settle their own disputes.

The court entertained a large number of slander and insult cases.  Likewise, it prosecuted a substantial number of assault cases.  In these, as in all matters, it proceeded according to the strict rules of Roman Law.  This was a law of proof and condemnations could only be obtained pursuant to the testimonies of at least two irreproachable eye witnesses, or based on a free confession.  Torture was almost never used.  Yet Roman Law did imbue the court with the ability to prosecute matters on its own initiative.  Thus, while the court was sometimes moved to prosecute based on a denunciation it had received, other times it proceeded ex suo officio.

The ritual of the court was a public one.  This ceremony projected judicial concerns into the consciousness of the population.  It broadcast the details of trials to all townsmen and townswomen, immediately embroiling the community in the machinations of justice.

Once a criminal inquisition was begun, involved parties were summoned to appear before the judge.  When this happened, the court notary diligently recorded their testimonies.  Testifying, like denouncing, afforded individuals the opportunity to use the forum of the court for their own purposes.  The court therefore became a tool wielded to defend or attack honour and manoeuvre within society.  It was, however, one of several venues available for such manoeuvring.  This thesis attempts to situate the place of the court amongst a complex network of regulators and other social agencies.

The court possessed regulatory powers not normally associated with medieval secular judicial bodies.  This is perhaps best illustrated through its ability to regulate people’s private lives.  Through prosecutions of adultery, wife assault, and honour fights, the court interfered in areas often conceived of as being private.

The court also exerted considerable and varying forms of regulation in the public domain.  As a tool of the vassal of the king, the court was indirectly answerable to the crown.  At times, therefore, the crown attempted to wield its justice for issues of national importance.  More frequently, though, the court was wielded by the seigneur to enforce his own rights over the town.  Just as often, it was used by the townspeople themselves to settle disputes touching upon property and material wealth, and to protect their physical well-being.  In each of these scenarios, regulation was enacted differently.

So, the basic question posed herein is this: how did this court operate as a social regulator and what were its relationships to the broader network of societal agents?

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Results of
Doctoral Thesis

Conference papers:

“Contra omnes et universos: Criminal bands and the Underworld of a Provençal Town (1340 - 1403).” Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, CUNY, April 2002.

“Family and Violence in the Later Middle Ages: Examples from a Provençal Town (1340 – 1460).” International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds. July 2001.

“Hec sunt lapides: Jewish-Christian Stereotypes in a Provençal Town Seen Through Medieval Criminal Registers.” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2001. 

“Whence Springs the Lie? Motive and Judicial Fraud in the Manosquin Criminal Court (1340 – 1403)”.  Shell Games: Annual Conference of the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies.  University of Toronto, April 2001. 

“La petite école de Manosque aux XIVe et XVe siècles”. 53o Congrès de l'Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique française. Montreal, October 2000.

“Crime, justice et société en Provence à la fin du Moyen Age : problèmes, méthodes, directions de recherche”. Colloque FCAR, U.Q.A.M.  Montreal, March 2000.

“Procès de maléfice intentés contre des femmes au XIVe siècle en Provence.” Genèse de l’état dans l’espace français médiéval: bilan des recherches récentes dans le cadre de l’équipe FCAR, U.Q.A.M.  Montreal, October 1997.

“To Wash the Dog’s Head: Women and the 14th Century Malefice Trials of Provence.”  International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  May 1997.

Publications:

“Whence Springs the Lie? Motive and Fraud in the Manosquin Criminal Court (1340-1403)” in Shell Games: Studies in Scams, Frauds, and Deceits (1300 – 1650), eds. M. Crane, R. Raiswell, and M. Murray. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2004:
123 – 144.

 “Keeping it in the Family? Domestic Violence in the Later Middle Ages: Examples from a Provençal Town (1340 - 1403)” in Love, Marriage and Family Ties in the Middle Ages, eds. Miriam Muller, Isabel Davis, and Sarah Rees-Jones. Turnhour: Brepols, 2003: 277 - 297.

 “De l’eau, du grain et une figurine à forme humaine.  Quelques procès pour sortilèges à Manosque au début du XIVe siècle,” Memini: Travaux et documents. Vol. 2 (1998).

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Postdoctoral research into medieval masculinites

Description
Results (publications, conference papers, and courses)
Online data

Description
of Postdoctoral Research

Title:
Violence, Honour, Family and Friendships: Constructing Medieval Masculinities, 1300 – 1400

Abstract:
For over thirty years now, feminist and women’s historians have been performing the necessary task of revising traditional approaches to medieval history.  These authors have opened up access to information previously unavailable on the Middle Ages and have succeeded in underlining women’s contributions to the medieval world.  In addition to this research, and coupled with it, has been the development of the field of Gender Studies, which attempts to better understand the workings of gender identity as a function of society.[i]  When these two approaches are combined, the result is a line of investigation that addresses the fundamental issue of what it meant to be a woman during Middle Ages and, more importantly, how being female influenced not only women’s actions but also their perceptions.  This search for female gender within an historical context has helped establish that gender is fluid, shifting over time and subject to social forces such as religion and politics.  It has dispelled the notion that concepts such as “feminine” are a feature of nature, and shows them to be more properly functions of historical processes.[ii]

More recently, the call went out to study the question of historical masculine identity.  In the field of History, initial critics were quick to point out that all traditional history has been men’s history and that such an investigation would therefore be redundant.  In the field of Gender Studies too, the addition of a male element caused a stir.[iii]  Yet, as Harry Brod wrote, “While seemingly about men, traditional scholarship’s treatment of generic man as the human norm in fact systematically excludes from consideration what is unique to men qua men.”[iv]  Just as in language the term “man” was traditionally used to refer to all human beings, this fabrication of generic human experience precluded scholars from analysing those that were unique to males.  Moreover, from the viewpoint of social history, it negated the existence of diverse male experiences spread across the socio-economic panorama.[v]  Thus, it did not take into account the manner in which the experiences of a male monk differed from those of a male labourer or from his lord.  As a direct result of being male, each of these men experienced the world around him in different ways and came to experience a different version of masculinity from the others.  These unique experiences in turn influenced how they viewed their world and engaged it.  Although women’s historians had already been adeptly illuminating female gender across the social spectrum, it was more recently that researchers have begun to focus the same lens upon the substance of medieval masculinities.  The 1990 Fordham University conference “Gender and Medieval Society: Men.” led to the collection of essays entitled Medieval Masculinities.[vi]  The editor of this work remarked quite rightly that if it is legitimate to ask how being a woman influences female actions, then it must thus be legitimate to pose the same question of men.  She also pointed out that since gender is very much defined in terms of opposites it is all the more crucial that we develop full research into not only historical femininities, but masculinities as well.  A decade later, the need to expand upon the diversity of historical male experience is still being felt.[vii]

The fourteenth-century criminal records from the Provencal town of Manosque offer a novel vantage point from which to study the concept of medieval masculinities.[viii]  The choice of these documents is novel for two reasons.  To date, those studies that have appeared have, almost without exception, neglected the Mediterranean altogether, a region that produced such strong concepts of manliness during the Middle Ages that they continue to be felt today.  Secondly, the overwhelming majority of studies produced thus far have relied upon traditional sources, normally stemming from medieval literature.  While there is great merit in such works, it seems imperative that a study be conducted based on sources that reflect daily life to compare with those literary ideals.  In point of fact, the transcripts from the Mediterranean criminal court of Manosque preserve the actual words and deeds of ordinary medieval men who found themselves at the wrong end of the law.  Although relatively few clerics appeared before this secular court, the men who did came from a variety of economic backgrounds ranging from peasants to local elites and minor nobility.  A section of these registers was used to compile my doctoral thesis entitled Crime, Justice and Social Regulation, the premise of which was to analyse how a medieval court of law acted within a network of social regulators.  In writing this thesis, however, an immense amount of data gathered from over 1,500 trials was omitted since it did not conform to the problematic of regulation.  Much of this neglected data addresses instances of male violence, ranging from tavern brawls to wife abuse, a phenomenon rarely seen in medieval documents, to vendettas and rape.  The men accused in these cases entered oral depositions into the official record, as did their kinsmen, allies, wives and enemies.  The richness of these testimonies, coupled with the description of the men’s actions, sheds enormous light onto how these individuals perceived of concepts such as honour, power, and family, their relationship to one another, and the importance they played in their daily lives.  In short, the testimonies act as written evidence of how these men formulated their sense of masculinity.  While violence will be the primary tool used to reveal masculinity, it will be combined with secondary themes such as male passion.  This is certainly well illustrated through the many adultery trials preserved from Manosque.  Again, the testimonies recorded by adulterers and their lovers illuminate important aspects of private masculine identity otherwise unavailable.  Added to this are records of alliances that were formed between men, whether familial or confraternal.  These can be used to explore how, why, and when men related to one another.  Through records of violence, passion and association, it is possible, I believe, to begin a reconstruction of the various medieval masculine gender identities that existed.


[i] On the merging of Gender Studies and History, consult J. Scott, “Gender: a useful category of historical analysis,” American Historical Review, 91 (1986): 1053-1075.
 
[ii] See the introduction written by Catherine R. Stimpson in Harry Brod, The Making of Masculinities: The New Men’s Studies (Boston: Allen & Unwin) xii.
[iii] A fact which is taken up in the Introduction to the recent work Gendered Pasts.  Historical Essays in Feminity and Masculinity in Canada,  K. McPherson, C. Morgan and N. Forestell, eds (Toronto: Oxford U P, 1999).
[iv] Brod, Ibid, 3.
[v] The call to study more than the so-called great men of the past was clearly sounded by at least one author.  See T. Fenster Medieval Masculinities, Clare A. Lees, ed. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1994) x.
[vi] Ibid.
[vii] In a recently published book, one author noted “There is growing awareness that medieval men, and medieval masculinities, equally require theorizing and detailed analysis.  This volume is the first multi-disciplinary contribution to that endeavour written for students of medieval history.” See the opening page of Masculinity in Medieval Europe, D. M. Hadley, ed. (Essex: Addison Welsey Longman Ltd, 1999).
[viii] The value of using criminal sources to reflect upon gender has already been demonstrated by Angus McLaren.  To date, however, this approach has only been applied to the recent past.  I believe it is extremely well-suited to the Middle Ages and that this approach should be adapted as such.  See Angus McLaren, The Trials of Masculinity. Policing Sexual Boundaires, 1870-1930 (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1997).
[ix] Andrée Courtemanche, La richesse des femmes: patrimonies et gestion à Manosque au XIVe siècle (Montreal: Bellarmin, 1993).

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Results (publications, conference papers, and courses)

The postdoctoral research traced how certain medieval Mediterranean males became “masculine” and what their gendered identities entailed.  It analyzed how gender influenced life experience and performative words and deeds.  It was specifically interested in how gender imposed social and cultural obligations and expectations.  Although it had set out to observe an evolution in masculinity from 1300 – 1400, the project's findings indicate more continuity than change.  Overall, the postdoctoral research contributes to the scholarly understanding of pre-modern gender acquisition and identity formation by exploring practical historical records.  This contribution comes in three areas: development of ideas through classroom teaching, communication of ideas and findings at scholarly conferences, and publication of findings.  Each area is outlined here:

The parameters of the project allowed for two courses to be developed and taught.  The first was a fourth-year undergraduate seminar offered through the History Department of York University, Toronto, in 2002 - 2003.  This year-long course, HIST 4200: Culture & Society in Medieval Europe, allowed me to test my ideas about gender and culture on a willing audience.  The forty participants in the seminar, who were divided into two groups, worked with my edited primary documents and interpreted them through the lens of contemporary scholarship.  These students helped me to explore the data contained in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century archival records with an eye toward better understanding the cultural significance of sex and gender.  The end result was a strong success.  Two of the students produced prize-winning essays and several of them were inspired to begin Master’s degrees in History.

The second course was developed and taught in the winter of 2004.  It was a graduate seminar offered through the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.  This intensive weekly seminar, MST 3207S: Law, Love, Sex, and Society in the Later Middle Ages engaged nine Masters and PhD candidates.  Each student was assigned a specific topic related to one of the themes of the course.  Again, the course exploited newly discovered archival evidence, although in this case some of the documents were untranslated from the original Latin.  The graduate students successfully engaged these difficult sources and interpreted them based on extant scholarship.  At the end of the course, each student submitted a publication-length final essay based on original research.

 The postdoctorate also provided the opportunity to travel and deliver papers at scholarly conferences.  These papers were:

“Crime, Justice, and Society: Approaches, Difficulties, and New Directions.”  Guest speaker, University of Toronto, 14 October 2004

“Judicial Ritual as Public Discourse in a Late Medieval Provençal Town: The Example of Manosque.” The Discourse of Law and Justice in Medieval Europe. Twenty-fourth Annual Medieval Studies Conference, Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University, New York City, 27 March 2004.

“The Search for the Father in Fourteenth-Century Provençal Society: Evidence from Manosque.” Thirty-ninth International Congress on Medieval Studies, The Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 7 May 2004.

 “Gendered Violence: Findings from a Provençal Town” Eighty-Third Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Manitoba, 3 June 2004.

The project's findings will also be available shortly in published form.  The following articles and book chapters are forthcoming:

“Learning to be a Man: Public Schooling and Apprenticeship in Late Medieval Manosque." Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 35, no. 2 (June 2009): 113 - 135. Click here to link to the online version.

“The Search for the Father in Fourteenth-Century Provençal Society: Evidence from Manosque.” in Aventiuren des Geschlechts. Konzeptionen von Männlichkeit in der Literatur des 13. Jahrhunderts, eds. Michael Mecklenburg and Matthias Meyer. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, 2006: 39 – 59.

 

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Online data

The results of the fourteenth-criminal database were made available to interested researchers during the course of the Fellowship.

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Publications

Monograph:

Curia: A Social History of a Court, Crime, and Conflict in a Late Medieval Town. Forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press.

Articles:

"Learning to be a Man: Public Schooling and Apprenticeship in Late Medieval Manosque." Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 35, no. 2 (June 2009): 113 - 135. Click here to link to the online version at ScienceDirect.

"En marge de la justice. Les marges décorées des registres de justice provençaux du XIVe siècle." Provence historique, t. LIX, fasc. 235 (mars-avril 2009): 3 - 25.

“The Search for the Father in Fourteenth-Century Provençal Society: Evidence from Manosque” in Aventiuren des Geschlechts. Konzeptionen von Männlichkeit in der Literatur des 13. Jahrhunderts, eds. Michael Mecklenburg and Matthias Meyer. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin, 2006: 39 - 59.

 “Whence Springs the Lie? Motive and Fraud in the Manosquin Criminal Court (1340-1403)” in Shell Games: Studies in Scams, Frauds, and Deceits (1300 – 1650), eds. M. Crane, R. Raiswell, and M. Murray. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2004:
123 – 144.

 “Keeping it in the Family? Domestic Violence in the Later Middle Ages: Examples from a Provençal Town (1340 - 1403)” in Love, Marriage and Family Ties in the Middle Ages, eds. Miriam Muller, Isabel Davis, and Sarah Rees-Jones. Turnhour: Brepols, 2003: 277 - 297.

 “De l’eau, du grain et une figurine à forme humaine.  Quelques procès pour sortilèges à Manosque au début du XIVe siècle,” Memini: Travaux et documents. Vol. 2 (1998).

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Conference Papers

Presenter, Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, Vancouver, April 2008. Title of paper: "At the Fringe of Justice: Marginalia in Fourteenth-Century Provencal Court
Records."

Presenter, Toronto Renaissance and Reformation Colloquium. October 2007. Title of paper: “Sweet Old Poison: Tales from the 14th Century Criminal Archives of Provence."

Presenter, Sir Wilfred Laurier Annual Medieval Colloquium.  September 2006. Title of paper: “Delicious Poison in the Archives: Social History, Criminal Records and the 14th Century Case of the Black Widow.”

Presenter, 1ST Annual Symposium of the Friends of the Medieval Studies Society of the Royal Ontario Museum. March 2006. Title of paper: “Scandal, Pogrom, and Multiculturalism in Fourteenth-Century Provence: the Case from Manosque.”

Presenter, Canadian Historical Association. June 2004. Title of paper: “Gendered Violence: Findings from a Late Medieval Provençal town.”

Presenter, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2004. Title of paper: “The Search for the Father in Fourteenth-Century Provençal Society: Evidence from Manosque.”

Presenter, The Discourse of Law and Justice in Medieval Europe. March 2004. Title of paper: “Judicial Ritual as Public Discourse in a Fourteenth-century Provençal Town: The Example of Fourteenth-century Manosque.”

Presenter, Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, CUNY, April 2002.  Title of paper: “Contra omnes et universos: Criminal bands and the Underworld of a Provençal Town (1340 - 1403).”

Presenter, International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds. July 2001. Title of paper: “Family and Violence in the Later Middle Ages: Examples from a Provençal Town (1340 – 1460).”

Presenter, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan. May 2001. Title of paper: “Hec sunt lapides: Jewish-Christian Stereotypes in a Provençal Town Seen Through Medieval Criminal Registers.”

Presenter, Shell Games: Annual Conference of the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies.  University of Toronto, April 2001.   Title of Paper: “Whence Springs the Lie? Motive and Judicial Fraud in the Manosquin Criminal Court (1340 – 1403)”.

Presenter, 53o Congrès de l'Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique française. Montreal, October 2000.  Title of Paper: “La petite école de Manosque aux XIVe et XVe siècles”.

Presenter, Colloque FCAR, U.Q.A.M.  Montreal, March 2000.  Title of paper: “Crime, justice et société en Provence à la fin du Moyen Age : problèmes, méthodes, directions de recherche”.

Presenter, Genèse de l’état dans l’espace français médiéval: bilan des recherches récentes dans le cadre de l’équipe FCAR, U.Q.A.M.  Montreal, October 1997.  Title of paper: “Procès de maléfice intentés contre des femmes au XIVe siècle en Provence.

Presenter, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  May 1997.  Title of paper: “To Wash the Dog’s Head: Women and the 14th Century Malefice Trials of Provence.”

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