If I Lose Mine Honour, I Lose Myself: Honour among the Early Modern English Elite
Moving beyond the preoccupation of honour and its associations with violence and sexual reputation, Courtney Thomas offers an intriguing investigation of honour’s social meanings amongst early modern elites in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England.
If I Lose Mine Honour I Lose Myself reveals honour’s complex role as a representational strategy amongst the aristocracy. Thomas’ erudite and detailed investigation of multi-generational family papers as well as legal records and prescriptive sources develops a fuller picture of how the concept of honour was employed, often in contradictory ways in daily life. Whether considering economic matters, marriage arrangements, supervision of servants, household management, mediation, or political engagement, Thomas argues that while honour was invoked as a structuring principle of social life its meanings were diffuse and varied. Paradoxically, it is the malleability of honour that made it such an enduring social value with very real meaning for early modern men and women.
- Division: Scholarly Publishing
- World Rights
- Page Count: 320 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
"Thomas’s book sheds fresh light on honor culture: a vitally important and yet still understudied subject in early modern English, and more generally European, history. It takes seriously the notion that honor was a social virtue, something that helped guide and give meaning to individual and collective action, and details the peacekeeping and community-maintaining aspects of honor culture and the overlapping honor responsibilities of men and women. The study also makes a major methodological intervention: the case for reading mentalities through family papers is powerfully made and expertly executed and, as such, may serve as a model for future studies. Finally, it also advances our theoretical conception of honor and honor culture by means of a lucid and systematic analysis across disciplines of the specialist literature on the concept. Much more than a crucial study of English elite culture, "If I lose mine honour" is an important intervention in early modern European cultural history."
Brendan Kane, Department of History, University of Connecticut
"This book offers a valuable reconsideration and reexamination of early modern honour. As Thomas proves, although honour was a slippery and changeable concept in the early modern period, it was nonetheless critical to the elite women and men who sought to understand and embody it. If we are to better understand the lives and experiences of early modern people, we must consider honour as both practice and ideology. Thomas employs a wide and revealing range of early modern sources, from personal correspondence to philosophical treatises, and from commonplace books to suits from the Court of Chivalry, demonstrating not only a range and depth of scholarship, but a lively and perceptive creativity. Thomas’ analyses of femininity and masculinity are especially astute, offering a much-needed explanation of the ways that honour influenced constructions of early modern gender identity."
Amanda Herbert, Folger Shakespeare Library
Author InformationCourtney Erin Thomas received her PhD in history and renaissance studies from Yale University. She has previously taught at both Yale University and MacEwan University.
Table of contents
Introduction – Approaching Honor
Chapter One – Men and Honor
Chapter Two – Women and Honor
Chapter Three – Honor, Local Reputation, and the Household
Chapter Four – Honor and the Family
Conclusion – The Importance of Honor
Subjects and Courses