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This book examines the treatment of violence by men against women in nineteenth-century England. Criminal law came to punish violence more systematically and severely during Victoria's reign because it was promoting a new, more pacific ideal of manliness. Yet, this apparently progressive legal development triggered strong resistance, not only from violent men but others who engaged in arguments about democracy, humanitarianism and patriarchy to establish sympathy with "men of blood."Read more
- Explores men's violence against women
- Covering nineteenth-century contested ideas of masculinity, femininity and violence
- Joins fields such as criminal justice and gender; history and law; criminal justice history and Victorian studies
Reviews & endorsements
"A masterwork. Weiner traces the intricate process by which English manliness shifted from brutal and bloody viciousness to restraint and self-mastery. Deeply grounded in murder trials, he finds the social, political, and cultural threads to this broad cultural shift...Bringing in the latest scholarship from several disciplines, the reader feels to be in the reassuring hands of a wise and compassionate master. Martin Weiner's book will stand as a stunning achievement for years to come."
Eric H. Monkonnen, Professor of History, University of California, Los AngelesSee more reviews
"A striking feature of nineteenth-century English society was a decline in the level of interpersonal violence. Wiener seeks to provide a fresh perspective on this much discussed change, and grounds his study in a careful examination of criminal records and newspaper accounts, popular attitudes and official decision-making. Wiener's investigation leads to some surprising conclusions, not least a more positive evaluation of Victorian values and policies. His provocative suggestions about the achievements of this culture will force scholars to reexamine their assumptions about the consequences of Victorianism for women and men."
Randall McGowen, Professor of History, University of Oregon
"Martin Wiener has written a carefully nuanced, thought-provoking book. Drawing on a range of sources from court records, home office files and the popular press, he challenges what he calls the 'flattened view' of male violence towards women. He argues that the increasingly sharp distinction of the separate spheres made by the Victorians had the added effect of stigmatizing and criminalizing male violence. The result, he suggests, was that in the Victorian period the courts were at their most active in protecting the 'innocence and weakness' of women. His case is forceful and persuasive. No one interested in gender, violence, or the Victorian period in general can afford to ignore this book."
Clive Emsley, Professor of History, The Open University
"This is clearly an essential book for all scholars of Victorian Britain."
Victorian Studies, Carolyn A. Conley, University of Alabama, Birmingham
"In Men of Blood, Martin Wiener adds not only a great deal of new information but also a much needed conceptual subtlety to our understandings of violence, gender and the law.... this intricate study is far more convincing than the long-established image of cross-class male collusion to oppress women, providing a subtle and enlightening analysis of gender and its utility in understanding not only the victims but also the perpetrators of violence."
Journal of Social History
"The book makes a significant contribution to current debates on history of masculinity and to the central role of the law in the social construction of gender norms in Victorian England...This book will provoke fresh debate on the nature and experience of legal and social reform in the Victorian period, finding wide appeal among historians of crime, gender, the law and the Victorian age." Canadian Journal of History Greg T. Smith, University of Manitoba
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- Date Published: April 2006
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521684163
- length: 316 pages
- dimensions: 226 x 177 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.47kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Violence and law, gender and law
2. When men killed men
3. Sexual violence
4. Homicidal women and homicidal men: a growing contrast
5. Bad wives I: drunkenness and other provocations
6. Bad wives II: adultery and the unwritten law
7. Establishing intention: probing the mind of a wife killer.
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