Office—St. John's College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TP, England. E-mail—[email protected]
University of Cambridge, St. John's College, Cambridge, England, lecturer in history.
The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, Clarendon Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Reformation Europe, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Ulinka Rublack is a writer, educator, and historian. She serves on the faculty of St. John's College of the University of Cambridge in England, where she is a lecturer in history. Rublack's primary areas of academic and research interest include both the social and cultural history of early modern Europe, with a particular focus on Germany. Within this subject, she is especially interested in how power is wielded within society, the relationship between religion and identity, cultural exchange, gender, and emotions. She has done a number of in-depth investigations into the role of gender during the early modern history of Germany, and how women were involved in crime during that period. In addition to her academic endeavors, she has written several books based on her research, including The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany and Reformation Europe, and served as the editor for Gender in Early Modern German History.
In The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, Rublack works under the theory that it is through conflict that communities best reveal the ways in which they have been developed. Over the course of the book, she addresses the circumstances that brought women to court in southwest Germany from approximately 1500 to 1700, looking at both criminal trials and other cases. The examples vary widely, including everything from infanticide to petty theft, and Rublack looks at both Protestant and Catholic records to glean much of her information. Underlying Rublack's research is the commonly held theory that the social structure of Germany during the Reformation period was based upon the family and the household as the primary foundation, and it was from this basis that order and discipline originated in German society. However, Rublack also stresses that this was not always the case, and that in some instances women behaved in a manner that deviated from the norm. These women, having gone astray from what was considered acceptable in society, prompted gossip and discussion in their social circles and undermined the accepted values and morals that normally served to strengthen the community. Likewise, trials and court cases prompted even more discussion, and women who had been accused of wrongdoing fared better if they schooled their emotions and behaved in as contrite a manner as possible when facing the law. Many of the deviant behaviors that led to arrest were considered uncivilized, and any parallel drawn between the act and those of animals could draw leniency and compassion, when it was suggested that the woman charged knew no better. However, societal opinion tended to divide by gender, with women unlikely to side with other women, and instead condemning them, while men were more lenient toward women. This is in direct contrast to the court system, where, in cases pertaining to marriage, the court consistently found in the husband's favor. Lynda Stephenson Payne, in a review for the Historian, remarked that "Rublack's accomplishment is that her careful readings of these cases produce a complex picture of gender relations during the Reformation and Thirty Years' War." Marian Matrician, writing for the Journal of Social History, stated of the social commentary of the cases that Rublack included that "the challenging voices of many of these women, their often initially bold rebuttals and self-justifications are refreshing in their steely bravado, although they cover a world of anger, fear, and frustration."
Reformation Europe attempts to get into the mindset of the European Protestants of the sixteenth century. Over the course of the book, Rublack addresses the works of a number reformers of the period, both Protestant and humanist, analyzing what is known of their personalities, the regions in which they lived, and what is revealed through their work in order to get a clearer picture of the ideas behind their actions. She includes Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Zwingli, Charles V, Erasmus, and Margaret of Navarre, in her study, and pays particular attention to King Francis I and his role in the evolution of Reformation beliefs and society. As a number of other historians have done, Rublack challenges the concept that Protestantism was merely an austere and minimalist form of Christianity, but the heart of her book consists of a number of questions she brings up regarding the circumstances that affected many of the thinkers and reformers of the time. For instance, how much of Luther's actions and success were the result of his having lived in a small town with a fairly liberal-minded university, as well as access to a printing press? Wayne C. Bartee, in a contribution for History: Review of New Books, acknowledged that "a brief work like this is necessarily limited. Only a brief background of the Protestant protest is offered." Timothy G. Fehler, writing for the Journal of Church and State, observed that "the book makes for an engaging read with its rich collection of anecdotes and observations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Central European History, January 1, 2001, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 566; fall, 2001, Joel F. Harrington, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 566; summer, 2005, Judd Stitziel, review of Gender in Early Modern German History, p. 475; March 1, 2007, Andrew Colin Gow, review of Reformation Europe, p. 139.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May 1, 2000, J. Harrie, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 1714; July 1, 2003, R.B. Barnes, review of Gender in Early Modern German History; March 1, 2006, F.J. Baumgartner, review of Reformation Europe, p. 1296.
Church History, June 1, 2006, Peter Matheson, review of Reformation Europe, p. 421.
Clio, fall, 2004, "Where Is ‘Total History’? Studying Early Modern ‘Europe’," p. 113.
German Studies Review, October 1, 2003, John Theibault, review of Gender in Early Modern German History, p. 622.
Historian, summer, 2001, Lynda Stephenson Payne, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 884.
Historical Journal, March 1, 2001, "Women and the Everyday in Early Modern Europe," p. 291.
History: Review of New Books, January 1, 2003, Wendy A. Maier, review of Gender in Early Modern German History, p. 75; January 1, 2006, Wayne C. Bartee, review of Reformation Europe, p. 51.
History Today, May 1, 2000, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 54.
International History Review, March 1, 2006, R. Po-cha Hsia, review of Reformation Europe, p. 148.
Journal of Church and State, spring, 2006, Timothy G. Fehler, review of Reformation Europe, p. 464.
Journal of Germanic Studies, February, 2005, Sylvia Brown, review of Gender in Early Modern German History, pp. 68-69.
Journal of Social History, summer, 2001, Marian Matrician, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 1013.
Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 2004, Maria R. Boes, review of Gender in Early Modern German History, p. 248.
Sixteenth Century Journal, fall, 2000, B. Ann Tlusty, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 836; spring, 2004, Carrie Euler, review of Gender in Early Modern German History, p. 209; fall, 2006, David Mayes, review of Reformation Europe, p. 807.
Social History, May 1, 2000, R. Po-chia Hsia, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, p. 228.
Times Higher Education Supplement, May 11, 2007, "Accidental Shift in Morality," p. 20.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (June 1, 2005), "Die Reformation in Europa"; December 1, 2005, Amy R. Caldwell, review of Reformation Europe.
Institute of Historical Research,http://www.history.ac.uk/ (December 1, 2001), Robin Briggs, review of The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany.
University of Cambridge History Department Web site,http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/ (May 28, 2008), faculty profile.