Vigilante Justice vs. the Noblewoman's Freedom of Choice in Marriage and Love: The Foray/Zajazd in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 18th Century
Part of a panel on “Domestic Disturbances: Political Implications of Domestic Violence in Early Modern Europe”
The most famous poem in the Polish language, Pan Tadeusz by Mickiewicz tells of the foray - an institution where "the gentry, as the way of rebels is, were wild and quick to hang their enemies." If the szlachta felt that justice was not being done within the courts, they would seek vengeance through violent collective action. Due to the fact of a weak central government, this was one method of law enforcement in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In many cases, the reason why estates were being raided and their inhabitants attacked was that the szlachta claimed to be defending a lady's honor. They might say that a woman's honor had been insulted if she were jilted at the altar or if she had been seduced into sexual activity when she was betrothed. The nobles might, on the other hand, feel that a widow who had freely chosen her new husband out of love had contracted a misalliance and that they - whether they were fathers, brothers or other relatives or interested parties - were determined to imprison the widow, to coerce her, and even to torture her to enforce their judgment on her. The foray or zajazd is a prism through which to glimpse conflict over women's freedom of choice in marriage and love.
Lynn Lubamersky. "Vigilante Justice vs. the Noblewoman's Freedom of Choice in Marriage and Love: The Foray/Zajazd in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 18th Century" European Social Science History Conference, University of Glasgow. Glasgow, Scotland. Apr. 2012.
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