Pavel Stuj

In my dissertation, I am focusing on the problematics of the history of criminality and the history of marginalized strata of society (micro- and gender history). I examine the phenomena of early modern infanticide in the context of popular printed literature, which has been an overlooked and underestimated source in historical research for a very long time. I try to demonstrate the influence of context, the repetition of similar topics and even the completely opposite meaning of formally similar texts. Infanticide was believed to be a common practice (as we can see in many contemporary broadsheets), committed by unmarried women especially from the lower strata of society. Women were depicted as monstrous mothers, bloody creatures, worse than wild beasts. After the year 1550, a certain panic concerning child-murder becomes evident and many writers tried to profit from this atmosphere. Printing press and new businesses focused on publishing pamphlets and broadsheets, fixed attention on dozens of short stories and poems dealing with murderous parents. On the other hand, the real crime of infanticide also existed and the circumstances of this crime were also described in detail by jurists, which can be demonstrated in the example of published law treaties. Moreover, these texts can be further compared with particular criminal proceedings, where we can find many details about everyday life in the early modern cities and villages and obviously different motives, personal background and defence strategies by women accused of infanticide.