Voices of Nimes
Women, Sex, and Marriage in Reformation Languedoc
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Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of Pages: 400
Width: 16.4 cm
Height: 24 cm
Most of the women who ever lived left no trace of their existence on the record of history. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women of the middling and lower levels of society left no letters or diaries in which they expressed what they felt or thought. Criminal courts and magistrates kept few records of their testimonies, and no ecclesiastical court records are known to survive for the French Roman Catholic Church between 1540 and 1667. For the most part, we cannot hear the voices of ordinary French women - but this study allows us to do so. Based on the evidence of 1,200 cases brought before the consistories - or moral courts - of the Huguenot church of Languedoc between 1561 and 1615, The Voices of Nimes allows us to access ordinary women's everyday lives: their speech, behaviour, and attitudes relating to love, faith, and marriage, as well as friendship and sex. Women appeared frequently before the consistory because one of the chief functions of moral discipline was the regulation of sexuality, and women were thought to be primarily responsible for sexual sin. This means that the registers include over a thousand testimonies by and about women, most of whom left no other record to posterity. Women also featured so prominently before the consistories because of an ironic, unintended consequence of the consistorial system: it empowered women. Women quickly learnt how to use the consistory: they denounced those who abused them, they deployed the consistory to force men to honour their promises, and they started rumours they knew would be followed up by the elders. The registers therefore offer unrivalled evidence of women's agency, in this intensely patriarchal society, in a range of different contexts, such as their enjoyment of their sexuality, choice of marriage partners, or idiosyncratic spiritual engagement. The consistorial registers, therefore, let us see how independent, self-determining, and vocal women could be in an age when they had limited legal rights, little official power, and few prospects. As a result, this book suggests we need to reconceptualize female power: women's power was not just hidden, manipulative, and devious, but also far more public than historians have previously recognized.
The book offers fascinating details of confessionally "mixed marriages" and their tensions. * Brian Sandberg, Journal of Modern History * ...it would be unwise to deny our pleasure, as works about women, families and sexuality are scarce concerning the Protestant Midi on the second half of the 16th century. The book, furthermore, demonstrates the current dynamism of Early Modern gender studies, both in French and British historiography-and we can but rejoice of it. * Review of modern and contemporary history of Nimes & du Gard * [An] elegant and against-the-odds readable journey into women's lives in southern France during a period of social change and religious turmoil. It's a humane and brilliantly told story. * Dan Jones, Waterstones Favourite History Books of the Year 2019 * An exhaustive study ... constitutes a substantive display of scholarly acumen ... The women of Lipscomb's narrative are less devious and more direct about their needs. They have been lucky to find such a gifted chronicler. * Kate Maltby, The Financial Times * This impressive study vividly re-animates the lived realities of ordinary women in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Languedoc...This work is essential reading for specialists and students of gender, consistories, and the Protestant Reformation, while its engaging prose and opening chapters on life in Languedoc and how consistories operated make it accessible to all those interested in early modern France. * Linda Briggs, Queen Mary University of London, French Studies * Lipscomb's painstaking study ... offers new insights into everyday life and popular morality in Reformation France. A finely wrought and colourful mosaic ... the overall result is ... richly satisfying. * Professor Alexandra Walsham, Literary Review * [R]eaders of The Voices of Nimes will come away with a vivid sense of women's daily life in a sixteenth-century French town and will learn much from the book. * Allan Tulchin, Shippensburg Univeristy, H-France Review * This impressive study vividly re-animates the lived realities of ordinary women in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Languedoc essential reading for specialists and students of gender, consistories, and the Protestant Reformation, while its engaging prose and opening chapters on life in Languedoc and how consistories operated make it accessible to all those interested in early modern France * Linda Briggs, French Studies * The Voices of Nimes is a work of meticulous archival research that not only presents [...] past conversations but breathes them into vivid life. It takes a proficient, passionate and witty storyteller like Lipscomb to detail these stories in a way that transports and moves the reader. * Dr Joanne Paul, History Today * This is a splendid read. The author has not overplayed her stories. She has not needed to. This is scholarly writing at its readable best. * Dr. G. R. Evans, Church Times * This is a beautiful book, grippingly written, and destined to be a classic of social history * Professor Sir Simon Schama * Fascinating book... exceptional fresh insights into gender relations, social life, and religious belief among first generations of protestants in the French Midi * Robin Briggs, All Souls College, Oxford * Essential reading for all those interested in the hidden stories of the Reformation and hearing the everyday voices so often left out of history books * Kate Mosse, Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth and The Burning Chambers *