The State of Men in Early Modern England
In England, until the later twentieth century, state personnel were almost always male. Historians of gender and of the state have generally ignored this fact, or taken it as a given which does not require investigation. This project would historicise the maleness of the state, showing shifts in the extent to which women were excluded from officeholding and certain groups of men predominated, and considering the implications of these changes for the daily practice of gendered and state power. Using a range of records from parishes and law courts, this thesis will explore who officeholders were, what they did and how these changed as something like the modern state emerged in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It will focus particularly on violence, the creation and breaking of spatial barriers, and control over resources, highlighting competing codes of manhood, the roles of gender and the state in the ‘civilising process’, complexities of power in the public sphere and gendered ideas of domestic and community management. Using the analytical categories of gender and state in combination offers a way into the operations of gendered power and the changing forms of male domination in early modern England.