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Credit, reputation, and masculinity in British urban commerce: Edinburgh, c. 1710–70

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Abstract

This article draws on cases of public insult from the Edinburgh consistory court to explore constructions of credit and reputation during the eighteenth century. Scotland's unique legal context offers new insights into the honour of men and women, replacing the received view that female honour was almost entirely about sexual honour and complicating our understanding of male honour among the middling sort. In contrast to studies that view the credit of men and women as principally contradictory, this study instead identifies significant points of both overlap and divergence in male and female reputation and discusses honour as a family matter. Unlike in England, levels of defamation litigation in Scotland remained high through the eighteenth century, and both the social composition of defamation litigants and the types of insult they brought to court remained consistent. However, the forms and settings of disputes over honour changed, reflecting the interiorization of conflict as the eighteenth century progressed.

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