Jane Bitomsky
Jane Bitomsky

Project Title: 'Pleading the Belly': A study of deviations from the seventeenth century English ideal of pregnancy

Principal Advisor: Dr Dolly MacKinnon

Project Abstract: This project qualitatively explores the lives of pregnant criminals in seventeenth-century England. It considers how maternal agency was utilised to deny or fake a pregnancy. The first part of this thesis focuses on the criminal defence of 'pleading the belly', and analyses cases involving its usage. The second part of this thesis examines legal records of infant murder (or infanticide), and seeks to explain the motives and context that led to the commission of this crime.

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