History ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 10-20-2022


Domestic violence in the medieval and early modern periods can be difficult to examine. The people who lived during these periods did not view familial abuse in the ways that we do today; however, this dissertation seeks to explore the topic of domestic violence by examining the religious, legal and cultural backdrop that enabled, and even encouraged abusive marriages and violence within families. Starting with the Patristic fathers, this dissertation traces the attitudes towards sexuality, violence and the sanctity of marriage in the Church and how it responded to accusations of abuse. Similarly, English law from the pre-Conquest up until the Elizabethan era is examined to see what protections existed for wives and how the legal framework often failed to redress violence that targeted women. Finally, an examination of literary and stage culture gives an insight into how society interacted with violence against women in marriage.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Timothy Graham

Second Committee Member

Charlie Steen

Third Committee Member

Anita Obermeier

Fourth Committee Member

Sarah Davis-Secord

Fifth Committee Member

Caleb Richardson




Domestic Violence, Medieval, Early Modern, Gender Studies, Religion, Law, Literature

Document Type


Available for download on Tuesday, December 10, 2024

Included in

History Commons