Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

On the margins. Crime, gender and migration in early modern Frankfurt am Main, 1600-1800

The central aim is to systematically study differences in crime patterns and social control between migrants and non-migrants in early modern Frankfurt am Main.

2012 - 2016
Jeannette Kamp

In crime history the notion that migrants were more vulnerable to becoming criminals and to being prosecuted for it is widespread. The ‘mobile poor’s’ lack of social support networks in the ‘anonymous city’ is often cited as reasons for them getting involved with the law more often than non-migrants. However, there is little systematic research that actually studies the these assumptions about the differences in crime patterns between migrants and non-migrants. This Ph.D. research aims to do exactly that. Using the city’s court records, the Criminalia, this project will examine differences in prosecution and punishment (top-down) between migrants and non-migrants as well as looking at the uses of justice and the importance of support networks (bottom-up). 

The stereotypical female offender in the early modern city is young, poor and from out of town. Several scholars have indicated that the proportion of female offenders in the city was much higher than that on the countryside as a result of the different nature of the lives of urban women: they lived a more independent and public lifestyle which increased their risk to become involved with the law. At the same time, the loss of social and economic support networks – often present in more traditional close-knit communities – made the women more vulnerable in times of hardship.

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