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This seminar concludes our investigation of different forms of crime in early modern Europe. This week we will consider vagrancy. We will divide into groups looking at the British Isles, the German states, and the rest of Europe.

Seminar Questions

  • What were the forms and nature of vagrancy across early modern Europe?
  • What were contemporary attitudes and responses to vagrancy?

Required Reading

You should each select and read one book or three articles or book chapters relevant to the state(s) you are studying.


Beier, A.L., and Paul Ocobock, eds, Cast Out: Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical Perspective (Athens, OH, 2008)

De Munck, Bert, and Anne Winter, eds, Gated Communities? Regulating Migration in Early Modern Cities (Farnham, 2012)

Hignett, Kelly, 'Co-option or Criminalisation? The State, Border Communities and Crime in Early Modern Europe', Global Crime 9 (2008), 35-51.

Jütte, Robert, Poverty and Deviance in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 1994)

Nichols, Tom, The Art of Poverty: Irony and Ideal in Sixteenth-Century Beggar Imagery (Manchester, 2007)

Nichols, Tom, ed., Others and Outcasts in Early Modern Europe: Picturing the Social Margins (Farnham, 2007)

The British Isles

B.E., A new dictionary of the canting crew (London , 1699)

Dionne, Craig, and Steve Mentz, eds, Rogues and Early Modern English Culture (Ann Arbor, 2004)

Gotti, Maurizio, The Language of Thieves and Vagabonds: 17th and 18th century Canting Lexicography in England (Tübingen, 1999)

Head, Richard, The canting academy (London, 1674)

Kilday, Anne-Marie, 'Hurt, harm and humiliation: community responses to deviant behaviour in early modern Scotland', in Judith Rowbotham, Marianna Muravyeva, and David Nash, eds, Shame, Blame, and Culpability: Crime and Violence in the Modern State (Abingdon, 2014), pp. 124-140.

The German States

Boes, Maria, 'The Treatment of Juvenile Delinquents in Early Modern Germany', Continuity and Change, 11 (1996), 43-60

Coy, Jason Philip, Strangers and Misfits: Banishment, Social Control, and Authority in Early Modern Germany (Leiden, 2008)

The Rest of Europe

Dean, Trevor, Crime and Justice in Late Medieval Italy (Cambridge, 2007), Chapter Seven.

Heijden, Manon van der, Women and Crime in Early Modern Holland, trans. David McKay (Leiden, 2016), Chapter Six.

Laitinen, Riitta, Order, Materiality, and Urban Space in the Early Modern Kingdom of Sweden (Amsterdam, 2017)

Further Reading

Beier, A.L., Masterless Men: the Vagrancy Problem in England, 1560-1640 (London, 1985)

Cavallo, Sandra, Charity and Power in Early Modern Italy: Benefactors and their Motives in Turin, 1541-1789 (Cambridge, 1997)

Evans, Richard J., ed.,The German Underworld: Deviants and Outcasts in German History (London, 1988)

Hitchcock, David, J., Vagrancy in English Culture and Society, 1650-1750 (London, 2016)

Howard, Sharon, Law and Disorder in Early Modern Wales: Crime and Authority in the Denbighshire Courts, c.1660-1730 (Cardiff, 2008), Chapter Six.

Kinney, Arthur F., ed., Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars: A New Gallery of Tudor and Early Stuart Rogue Literature Exposing the Lives, Times, and Cozening Tricks of the Elizabethan Underworld (1973; rept. Amherst, 1990)

McMullan, John L., The Canting Crew: London's Criminal Underworld, 1550-1700 (New Brunswick, N.J., 1984)

Romano, Dennis, 'Vecchi, poveri, e impotenti: The Elderly in Renaissance Venice', in Stephen J. Milner, ed., Marginal Groups in Premodern Italy (Minneapolis, 2005), pp. 249-71.

Stuart, Kathy, Defiled Trades and Social Outcasts: Honour and Ritual Pollution in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, 1999)