The Trial of Jeanne Catherine: Infanticide in Early Modern Geneva

By Sara Beam

© 2021

In 1686 in Geneva, a single mother named Jeanne Catherine Thomasset is charged with poisoning two young children: her own illegitimate daughter and the son of a rural wet nurse. So begins a harrowing criminal trial during which authorities interrogate Jeanne Catherine several times, sometimes with torture, to determine the truth.

The Trial of Jeanne Catherine is a suspenseful historical mystery that offers students the opportunity to learn about motherhood, child rearing, gender, religion, local politics, and the practice of criminal justice in early modern Europe. This edition provides the complete trial transcript as well as the deliberations of the Genevan authorities and relevant correspondence.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 166 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.4in x 9.0in
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    ISBN 9781487587673
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    Regular Price: $65.00

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This page-turning translation of a seventeenth-century infanticide trial tells the story of a single mother accused of poisoning two children, including her own.

The Trial of Jeanne Catherine: Infanticide in Early Modern Geneva

By Sara Beam

© 2021

In 1686 in Geneva, a single mother named Jeanne Catherine Thomasset is charged with poisoning two young children: her own illegitimate daughter and the son of a rural wet nurse. So begins a harrowing criminal trial during which authorities interrogate Jeanne Catherine several times, sometimes with torture, to determine the truth.

The Trial of Jeanne Catherine is a suspenseful historical mystery that offers students the opportunity to learn about motherhood, child rearing, gender, religion, local politics, and the practice of criminal justice in early modern Europe. This edition provides the complete trial transcript as well as the deliberations of the Genevan authorities and relevant correspondence.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 166 pages
  • Illustrations: 2
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.4in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Sara Beam skillfully marshals the testimony of family, neighbours, doctors, and magistrates and traces the brisk and unrelenting path from a mother’s visit to her execution. With sharp and poignant strokes Beam articulates the social codes that hedged her, the judicial processes that condemned her, and the questions that remain."


    Nicholas Terpstra, University of Toronto

    "Jeanne Catherine’s trial for infanticide vividly reveals the expectations of women and motherhood and the workings of the law in early modern Geneva. Not only are the documents evocative and the people complex, but Beam’s clear introduction, careful translation, and useful accompanying materials make the trial ideal for use in the classroom."


    Allyson M. Poska, University of Mary Washington

    "This is an example of the best of modern scholarship. It provides English-speaking readers access to a lengthy early modern case of infanticide. For those wanting access to ideas about gender, motherhood, and the voices of peasants, they will find all this and more in this book. Anyone will be enthralled by the story found in this trial."


    William G. Naphy, University of Aberdeen
  • Author Information

    Sara Beam is a professor of History at the University of Victoria.
  • Table of contents

    List of Illustrations

    a. City of Geneva
    b. Map of the Centre of the City
    c. Map of Region around Geneva including the Village of Laconnex
    d. Birthing Room with Midwife
    e. Sample Manuscript from the Trial

    Introduction

    1. Historical Background

    Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    Protestant Republic of Geneva
    Laconnex
    Court Officers and Criminal Procedures
    Proving a Crime: Torture and Punishment
    Good Mothers and Bad Mothers
    Prosecuting Poisoning and Infanticide

    2. Understanding the Text

    The Archival Source
    Notes on the Translation

    3. List of Important Characters
    4. Glossary

    5. The Trial 

    May 6, 1686: Report of auditeur Humbert
    May 6, 1686: Statement of Jeanne Thomasset
    May 6, 1686: First Interrogation of Jeanne Thomasset after Arrest
    May 7, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council  
    May 7, 1686:  Interrogation of Abraham Clerc
    May 7, 1686: Interrogation of Pierre Quiby
    May 7, 1686: Testimony of Jeanne Vautier
    May 7–17, 1686: Witness Testimony Collected at Laconnex
    May 7, 1686: Second Interrogation of Jeanne Thomasset 
    May 8, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 8, 1686: Report of auditeur Bagueret 
    March 4, 1685: Letter Written by Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    April 13, 1685: Letter Written by Samuel Thomasset
    May 8, 1686: Third Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    May 10, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 10, 1686: Fourth Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    May 10, 1686: Interrogation of Louise Ducré
    May 10, 1686: Interrogation of Jeanne Marie Favre
    May 10, 1686: Interrogation of Pierre Favre of Avully
    May 10, 1686: Confrontation between Louise Ducré and Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    May 11, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 11, 1686: Fifth Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    May 14, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 15, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 15, 1686: Sixth Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset (with torture)
    May 17, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 17, 1686: Seventh Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset (with torture)
    May 17, 1686: Deposition of châtelain Sarasin
    May 17, 1686: Reports of Physicians and Surgeons
    May 17, 1686: Testimony of Daniel de la Flechère 
    May 18, 1686: Testimony of Jeanne Vautier
    May 19, 1686: Eighth Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset (with torture)
    May 22, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 24, 1686: Letter Written by Jean François Thomasset and Other Relatives
    May 24, 1686: Letter from the Bailiff of Nyon, Nicolas Steiguer
    May 24, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 24, 1686: Report regarding Evidence of Powder Found inside the Corpses of the Two Dead Children
    Undated Invoice Submitted by the Two Surgeons
    Undated Invoice Submitted by the Two Physicians 
    May 24, 1686: Ninth Interrogation of Jeanne Catherine Thomasset 
    May 24, 1686: Declaration of Surgeons regarding the Death of Samuel Thomasset
    May 25, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 26, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    May 28, 1686: Letter Written by Jean François Thomasset and Other Relatives
    May 28, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    June 2, 1686: Letter Written by Romier Laisné, a Relative of Jeanne Catherine 
    July 5, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    July 16, 1686: Summary of the Trial against Jeanne Catherine Thomasset 
    July 18, 1686: Letter from Romier Laisné
    July 19, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    July 23, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    Late July 1686: Letter Written by Jean François Thomasset
    July 23–24, 1686: Four Letters Exchanged between the Bailiff of Nyon and the Small Council
    July 24, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    July 26, 1686: Final Sentence against Jeanne Catherine Thomasset
    July 26, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    July 26, 1686: Report of auditeurs Perdriau and Master of the Keys
    July 27, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    July 27, 1686: Report of the Ministers Who Heard Jeanne Catherine’s Final Confession
    July 31, 1686: Deliberations of the Small Council
    July 31, 1686: Testimony of Pierre Seure

    References

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