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Journal > Volumes > 35 (2004) / 4 (Winter)
Women, Honor, and Violence in a Castilian Town, 1600–1650
Scott K. Taylor
Siena College

Honor in early modern Castile has been seen as a code that determined social behavior, notably by defining women’s identities in terms of sexuality and by limiting their behavior. Examining criminal cases that feature nonelite women from Yébenes, a small town near Toledo in Castile, shows that in practice honor was a rhetoric that women used to make their way through the social relations of their communities as they asserted themselves and protected their interests. Through their speech and actions, women defined their own honor in broader terms than just sexuality, incorporating aspects like creditworthiness and the defense of their families. Further, women did not always rely on their male kin to defend their honor. Instead, they deployed slander, physical violence, and even the rituals of the duel—just as men did when defending male honor—to articulate and defend their social position in their communities.

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