Women and Crime in Early Modern Holland
Manon van der Heijden, Leiden University
Crime is men’s business, isn’t it? Women are responsible for 10 percent of crime in Europe. Yet, if we look at the Dutch Republic in the early modern period, we find that in the towns of Holland women played a much larger role in crime. In a number of early modern towns about half of the criminals convicted in court were women. These women were in vulnerable positions and thus more likely to become involved in crime. They also had a relatively independent status and led remarkably public lives. Manon van der Heijden convincingly shows that it is the very combination of women’s vulnerability and independence that accounts for the high female crime rates in Holland between 1600 and 1800.