The Practice of Patriarchy

Gender and the Politics of Household Authority in Early Modern France

By (author) Julie Hardwick

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

22 September 1998

Length of book:

256 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271017839

The Practice of Patriarchy examines the lives of notaries and their families in the French city of Nantes during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Making creative use of judicial and notarial records, Julie Hardwick brings to life a little-known aspect of early modern culture: the daily experience of middling urban families—from work to family to neighborhood to involvement in local politics.

Hardwick explores the unique position of notaries as recorders and orderers of the hierarchies of daily life. Notaries functioned as a nexus where the political, legal, social, and economic met. They mediated between state and subject, between literate and oral cultures, between borrowers and lenders, and between men and women.

For middling urban families such as these, gender and household relations were at the heart of their own personal lives as well as their public actions. From the work of notaries, to household and kin relations, to local networks of credit and sociability, to public life and political culture, Hardwick delineates the complex hierarchies through which men and women defined their roles, their families, and their communities. The Practice of Patriarchy is ideal for courses in women’s history and early modern European history.