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Monsters in the village? Incest in nineteenth century France.


Lost deep in the consciousness of mankind, incest continues to suggest hotror. Beyond just the crime, the taboo has created the monster. (1) But in France, since the end of the nineteenth century, the social imaginary of incest is undoubtedly telated to poverty and the rural world. Creating a mental map of this crime, French society had relegated incest to peasants and distant villages. A picture of these criminals can also be painted: drunkards, savages and idlers. They represent the worse of humanity: the "hot monster" led to the path of crime by his passionate and vivid nature. (2) In less than one hundred years, this monster's face had been shaped. We can understand this construction given the importance of the family as the society's mainstay. In the patriarchal structure of the family, the father guaranteed the good order in his home. But the growing publicity of incest cases in the late nineteenth century revealed the existence of the crime and the criminal father's image to the entire society. Introducing horror and immorality into their homes, incestuous fathers became pariahs and were seen to endanger the moral society of the nineteenth century.

In fact, the definition of the crime became gendered. "The man who easily forgets that love is consent and often drifts to brutality in sexual pursuit--this brutality often resulting in rape and abduction--doesn't always spare his children. Incest is much more frequent among men than women," wrote the alienist Charles Fere in 1899. (3) Beyond the vision of male violence, fathers were the incarnation of authority. Through this conception, incest could be defined as a broken link. The importance of the family in the nineteenth century French society gave this transgression a criminal character. Every person in charge of the education of young children--an age when sexuality is normally prohibited-had betrayed the confidence of the society. Therefore, incest was no longer a question of biology. As they were the moral authority in charge of young children, step parents or lovers were also concerned by this prohibition.

However, a society's morals do not always necessarily dictate the codes of justice. Since 1791 and all throughout the nineteenth century, the French justice refused to criminalize incest. Incest was not a crime but a moral prohibition that did not enter into legal jurisdiction. However, this phenomenon can be approached through the judicial archives kept in French departements. In fact, for each French departements a court of justice named Com d"assises was created in 1808 for judging crimes defined by the penal code. Then, the revision of the code in 1810 did consider the aggravating circumstances of attentat a la pudeur or rape of a children under fifteen years old when committed by a person "of the class of those who have authority over the person to whom they committed the attempt." (4) Cases of rape, murder or infanticide allow us to analyse incest in daily life. At the same time, the growing importance of forensic scientists in the penal field contributed to reinforce the definition of the crime. Their corpus of debates and theses, published all along the century, give us a key to enter into the medical definition of incest. (5) Some contemporary social researchers can also be helpful. Observing the French poor in the nineteenth century, Louis-Rene Villerme or Frederic Le Play provided a window into incest's sphere. (6) To write a history of incest doesn't come down to a history of crime but rather to a history of perception and invisibility. Though French historians have studied sexual criminality, a specific analysis of incest has never been done. (7) Nevertheless, such a study appears to be essential for the historian who wants to understand how a common crime, perpetuated in distant villages, could be understood by the justice system and populat opinion. Or how incest, a juridically and socially silent crime, was revealed by a nineteenth century which contributed, paradoxically to construct it and to confine it to the rural world and the monstrosity? At last, such a study amounts to one simple question: how the visibility of an invisible crime is built by a society?

Committed within the confines of the private home, incest is linked to the history of private life and the nineteenth century housing structure. However, in a village where neighbors are ubiquitous and people are constantly observing each over, the crime doesn't remain a secret. Rumor and opinion spread until finally the justice system is obliged to acknowledge the crime.

House of crime

Most nineteenth century observers maintained that the housing situation of the poor was the trigger for immoral behaviours. (8) In 1832, the July Monarchy reestablished the Academic des sciences morales et politiques in order to continue the observation of the masses already begun in the eighteenth century. (9) But a slippage occurred between the two centuries in the growing fear of poor and indigent. Hygiene and illness were no longer seen as the threat that morality now was. Povetty and close quarters were understood as the path to crime. All along the century, the housing structutes of the workers were undoubtedly the more suspicious ones. Louis-Rene Villerme, about Etaques street in Lille, reported: "I have seen lying together fellows of both sexes and of very different ages, most of them without a shirt and of a repulsive dirtiness. Father, mother, old peoples, childten, adults, squeeze up against each others and pack into the place. 1 stop ... 1 prefer the reader to finish the painting himself, but I warm him: if he wants it complete, his imagination has not to draw back in front of any of the disgusting mysteries that happen into these impure levels, within the darkness and the drunkenness." (10)

The housing structures of the criminals were described in the exact same words by the French magistrates in the 1830s when the justice system began to understand the interior of the family as proof of guilt. This translation of the methods, from the social enquiry to the judicial practice, could be explained by the attempt of the French justice system to rationalize the crime. The detailed descriptions of the criminal interiors provided the magistrates a window into the crime. In 1874, a police investigation of the Brunot home was ordered by the attorney of Versailles. The father, Eugene Brunot, was accused of several rapes of his oldest daughter. The police inspector reported that "The Brunots lives in a poor cottage ... Their home is one of the poorest: their only furniture is two low rustic wooden beds, some chairs, and a worm-eaten sideboard. They sleep on hay covered with a sheet and use their clothes as blankets." (11) After his description, he concluded that "the most profound poverty and a complete rift reign in this house." (12)

The housing structure became, along with the medical report, a confirmation of incest. The same observation can be made in the Roze case. This father of three children was charged in 1892 for an attentat a la pudeur on his daughter. We can read in the accusation that "When Mr. And Mrs. Roze lived together in Boutigny, they didn't have enough beds for each of their children, so they often made their daughter, Marie-Roze, sleep with them." (13) Thus, the first part of the accusation rests on the sleeping arrangements caused by the family's poverty. Throughout the nineteenth century, the justice system called on experts to describe and establish a layout of the house of the accused because lack of intimacy was seen as an indicator of the crime. Only the poor were concerned by this allegation. The bourgeois could afford houses with private rooms. Therefore, they were considered the pillar of morality because of their ability not to be seen. However, beyond the archives and stories its tell us, could we effectively think about incest as a crime of poverty and proximity? In fact, the visibility provoked by the village structure itself made the poor more incestuous than the bourgeois. Unlike the elite, they couldn't afford their privacy. During the nineteenth century, French villages were a space without intimacy: "everyone [was] under the watchful eye of the other. Transgressions [were] difficult and only [occurred] with the more or less tacit consent of the others." (14)

In that way, the housing structure seemed to give birth more to omniscient sight than to immoral behavior. A glance but also an ear confirmed by Marie Desgres in her testimony in the Huet case: "I am his nearest neighbor, with only a thick wall separating us. I can therefore hear everything that goes on in his house, especially when there is quarrelling, which happens often." (15) The house is part of the crime: the criminal family and the neighbors made it a living actor in the incest. Indeed, familial and neighbors' complicity in the crime was assumed by the perpetual lake of privacy. The whole family--brothers, sisters, grandmothers, and uncles--lived together in the same house. While incest often occurred at night, it also occurred during the day. Several members of the family or just one could have been aware of the crime.

In 1868, Alphonse Devien was convicted for attempted rape of his two daughters, Augustine and Anais. Over several years, he had tried to rape his daughters. "One night the whole family was together shelling heans. Mrs. Devien went into another part of the house in order to replace the candle that had just gone out. Taking advantage of the dark, the accused approached his daughter and put one of his hands under her clothes, while with the other hand he continued to shell beans so as not to arouse the suspicion of the other children. These touches caused the young girl great pain. The same night, she confessed to her mother, who felt that the incident should be kept silent. (16) This complicity of the mother happened often. Mothers adopted a complex attitude of complicity with their husbands combined with solidarity with their children in an attempt to maintain the family's unity. The imprisonment of the father by a conviction would indeed mean a significant loss of income for the family. Likewise, these women often also themselves faced the violence of their husbands.

Sometimes, external links also comprised familial complicity. In 1865, Nicolas Banchieri was accused of attentat a la pudeur sans violence of his niece. In this case, the victim's mother was also the sister of the defendant. The grandmother of the victim, Celestine, decided to press charges against Nicolas Banchieri. However, the mother, Philomene, decided to defend her brother by accusing Celestine of conspiracy. "My mother-in-law wants to hurt me. Throughout the six years I have been married, she has continually caused fights between me and my husband. She is the one who makes up all sorts of lies to destroy my family." (17) This case reveals the complexity of the familial structure under criminal pressure. Philomene effectively had to choose sides. Considering her brother to he the one in danger, she therefore decided to defend him, though she must have also received pressure from her own family. "The family is a living reality, which, in this occasion, expects from it members an outward demonstration of complete cohesion, thereby supposing the implementation of a protective silence intended to support the guilty while protecting the family circle," concludes Sylvie Lapalus after studying cases of parricide. (18) In the case of incest, protection also appears to be the family's guarantee of safety and honor.

This conception of the house explain that the compartmentalization was seen as the solution to resolve the crime. The potential publicity of an immoral and a dangerous sexuality indult by this lake of privacy was one of the major fear of the French society. In order to prevent scandals, the magistrates used to argue for the construction of individual houses with private rooms. In the French conception, the private life provided a moral way of life for the poor. "We will recommend as a cure against the crimes committed by ascendants: ... to favor the creation of housing projects, as those built by the Philanthropic Society, that safeguard the laws of decency in the poor families," concluded Anatole Berard des Glajeux, former president of the Cour d'assises in his memoirs. (19)

Following the example of the social enquiries, the crime of incest was first apprehended by the magistrates through the housing structures. The privacy-lessness gave this home a criminal dimension that justified the desire of the philanthropists to build houses with private rooms. The silence of the private life was seen as the best way to cure the incest or just to avoid the scandals in the rural world.

The revealed crime

Usually, as a result of the housing structure, the whole village was aware of a case of incest within it community. In the villages of France, rumor slowly transforming into opinion was one of the common ways to reveal the crime. Charles Loring Brace saw this surveillance of the rural community as a better protection against the crime. By committing it "the whole family [became] a kind of pariahs; they [were] morally tabooed, and [grew up] in a vicious atmosphere of their own, and really [came] out much worse than a similar family in the city. This phenomenon [was] only a natural effect of the best virtues of the rural community." (20) But the rumor system is a complex one and is hard to identify. It does not appear as efficient as Charles Loring Brace would have us believe, Did the taboo really exist in these villages? Was the family actually pushing aside the community because of a case of incest and the moral prohibition that accompanied it?

Many trials show us that instead of prohibition, the village put a veil of silence on the crime, thereby effectively becoming accomplices. In several cases, the neighborhood was aware of the crime long before the trial. "Several inhabitants of the community were aware of his perverse conduct, but he was so dreaded that they all kept silent," wrote the prosecuting attorney in the Canet case in 1842. (21) Incest with both of his daughters went back ten years and maybe even more. (22) Ten years had therefore passed without a complaint against him. That kind of behavior could be explained by the normalization of private life and the desire not to interfere. (23) Silence could also be explained by a nonexistent taboo. In fact, the universal unwritten code of mankind could be questioned by such attitudes. (24)

Beyond the silence, the rural community used to take part in the crime. The participation of the village was evident in the numerous secrets that were revealed in confessions to the other inhabitants. Many came out immediately after the crime. Disoriented and helpless, the victim often tried to search for some help after the first attempt. For example, after a day at work, Edouard Gouvier, fourteen years old, returned to his house. His father suddenly jumped on him and raped him. During the crime, a neighbor, Auguste Lebris, heard the child's cries and interrupted the rape by knocking on the door. Edouard went after him and confessed what had just happened. Auguste Lebris confirmed this in front of the magistrate in charge of the investigation: "he had just told me that, while they were lying together, his father had tried to do it from behind... . 'That's not possible,' I responded. 'But yes,' the child replied, 'it is true'. I made the child understand that these things are none of my business." (25) The unwillingness of Auguste Lebris to hear this confession put Edouard in a difficult situation. Alone and helpless, he decided to return to his father's home. But after three other attempts, he went to the gendarmerie and filed a formal complaint. Somehow, the neighbor's refusal to help this child held with the general behavior of the village. Auguste didn't want to be bothered with or to interfere in a private matter.

That's why confessions were more often given to the extended family of the victim. Family members who didn't live near the victim were a better outlet for help. Unlike the neighborhood, the family members were concerned by the crime because they had interest in preserving the honor of the family. Despite everything, the neighbors sometimes helped to resolve the crime. Their common answer was the placement of the child in another town. For ten years, Genevieve Silvestre had been raped by her father. Her mother tried several times to stop the crime by reprimanding her husband. She confessed her sit' uation to Adelaide Parent, her coworker, who answered, that "she should send her daughter either to Paris or somewhere else." (26) The family was again the most successful way to avoid the spectre of the judicial system. But this piece of advice gave by a coworker and a neighbor to the mother is also an example of the ordinary private resolution of the crime in the nineteenth century. It shows a form of habituation to the crime and a good knowledge of its methods of resolution by the village residents.

Several others outlets for resolution existed hut remained confined to the private sphere. The most common way to stop the crime without judicial intervention remained the victim's removal or escape from the family. Prostitution, begging or the search for work were the three paths of the resolution. The victim's choice lied in the escape from the father and in the search for work in a bigger town. "On December 23, 1872, the d'Assy daughter, 15 years old, was arrested in Paris claiming that she was broke and that for one month she had been living a life of debauchery, and that, because she had left her father, a painter from Sucy, because he abused her." (27) Lost in the city, surviving by begging or prostitution, some of these victims were finally arrested by the police.

Sometimes, it was the mothers who helped resolve the crime. Several times, the wife of Charles Noutre tried to take away her daughter. But each time, her husband went to see his daughter and brought her back to the house. Her last attempt was to "place her in an apprenticeship in the home of her aunt, Mrs. Grisier and with her own daughter, Mrs. Riasse." (28) Mrs. Noutre tried all the different ways to save her daughter. She contacted several members of her family in order to avoid the spectre of the judicial system. She is an example of the ordinary private resolution of the crime in the nineteenth century.

Lastly, neighbors sometimes decided not to remain silent. Some of them made a public denunciation. In the Roze case, the attorney received an anonymous letter stating that "shameful things are happening in the village of Beaubry, near Previllers. I'm referring to a father who abuses his child of 10 or 12 years old. His mother spoke to me in front of a witness. I don't wish to identify myself since the mother has denounced this monster as she said she would. I waited until today. The mother knows and does the younger brother who can also inform you of this affair." (29) The tone of the letter reveals that, somehow, incest was not meaningless but at the same time, remained a private crime. The most important thing to notice is that, before 1880s, the denunciation used to come from the victims or a family member. From then on, the anonymous letters and the public denunciations appeared in the trials. Thus, something changed between the beginning of the century and the 1880s that made the neighbors more implicated into the crime. We can assume that, in the 1880s, a kind of acceptance of incest and sexual crimes that obliged the neighborhood to refuse to be implicated in its and, thus, to denounce it, began to come to an end.

Although, for the village, the crime used to be confined to silence and the level of rumor, even after 1880s, the common attitude toward incest involved refusals or unofficial response.

The village and the public crime

More than the neigborhood and the village residents, the authorities were called for the resolution of the crime. "The father's arrest is an extreme measure that the interested parties only chose reluctantly. The father's incarceration means the loss of the family's livelihood and many women shrink hack at this thought. The parish priest and the municipal authorities are also involved, because they know that the family would become a burden to the parish which is not always capable of taking on such a burden or even willing to do so." (30) This assertion by the Canadian historian Marie-Anne Cliche finds an echo in the French history of rural criminality. As long as the crime stayed in the village, the authorities' behavior hovered between silence and resolution of the conflict. In nineteenth century France, these authorities could be divided into three main figures: the parish priest, the mayor and the juge de paix. Despite of the movement of dechristianization, the parish priest remained a powerful figure in some French departements in the south and west of France. The victims often confessed to them because they thought of themselves as sinners. But they were also looking for moral advice in a situation they didn't always understand. Marie Goaty, eleven years old, was raped by her father for the first time in 1844. She lived with her family in the village of La Ciotat in southern France. After the first rape, she came to see the village priest in order to ask him what to do. After the meeting, she went to see a friend and reported the conversation: "the priest advised me to no longer sleep at my father's house and to from now on always sleep at your house. He also said that each time he tries to take any liberties with or tries to keep me close to him that I should call you right away so that you can come get me." (31) This strategy of avoidance remains the one provided by the priest. Thus, he is in accordance with a time that considers incest to be a crime of promiscuity. The resolution of this matter was for him to banish the desire from the house.

If the parish priest embodies the moral authority, the mayor and the juge de paix are, on the contrary, the highest figures of the state and judiciary in the village. They had the power to arrest an assailant red-handed or, at least to inform the attorney of incest occurring in the village. Mayors and juges de paix were also easily accessible to the victim and could quickly arrive at the crime scene. Therefore, they were often the first to receive the victim's confession. In 1838, the mayor of Saint-Cloud, Berthon, wrote to the king's attorney about a case of incest involving the birth of a newborn: "I received a circumstantial confession from the young victim. I had a hard time convincing hert to talk, but finally by using gentleness and patient persuasion, I was able to convince her to tell the truth." (32) In that case, the victim wasn't looking for help, but as the mayor, Berthon had heard about the newborn. In the nineteenth century, an illegitimate newborn was worse than the incest itself. His authority obliged him to avoid an immoral reputation for the village that he represented. But by providing help to the victim, he also guaranteed his dominant position in the village.

After acknowledgement of the crime, mayots or juges de paix notified the judiciary. This last scene of the crime is almost like a public arena where neighbors and families competed with each other. Erving Goffman has already noted the changing roles of people in any given situation. (33) When they are confronted with the justice's mirror, neighbors and families would act differently. They changed their discourse and adopted a different attitude. "The village keeps the memory of all eventful episodes of the families' lives. Reputations are made and untied by it. The set of familial itineraries builds the moral history of the village, ... The sum of familial reputations founds the village's popularity." (34)

In nineteenth century, judicial investigations were led by the juge d" instruction. He was the one who interrogated witnesses, ordered forensic expertise and managed the police inquiry. He played a central role in the prosecution of the case before the Cour d'assises. For this reason, the judges were continually under the watch of the Lord Chancellor and his administration. Jean-Louis Eude, who was the juge d'instruction in charge of the Cadio case, was described as a man of "indisputable abilities along with a great trial experience ... His judgement is prompt and perfectly dependable." (35) In fact, this sense of judgement was important during instructions which consisted in testimonials rather than material evidence. In 1848, during the Cadio instruction, Jean-Louis Eude heard thirteen witnesses. Any material evidence was used to confirm the first denunciation of the victim followed by several

inhabitants of her village. But, in front of the magistrate, the testimonies were expressed in silence or unspoken words. One of the witnesses, Joseph Gautier, was a servant of Cadio, the defendant. He explained: "I saw the defendant Cadio throw his daughter Guillemette out during the night four or five times, and sometimes he followed after her and stayed out for some time. I never followed him to find out what he was doing." (36) The suggestion made by Joseph in his testimony could be explained by fear. In front of the magistrate, sitting in his office, justice became a reality. Finally aware that the consequences of their testimony could mean a sentence of hard labor for life, some witnesses retreated in their accounts.

Some inhabitants decided to side with the defendant. They tried to excuse his behavior and to save his reputation. "Cadio is an excellent farmer It is pitiful that he indulges in drunkenness because without this, he never would have committed the acts for which he is accused," testified Cadio's employer, Charles DesgouIIes. (37) In this testimony, he also saved his own reputation. The village could not admit to having let incest be permitting under its watchful gaze. In its own way, it preserving its own moral reputation by trying to save the accused.

But the most important fact is that the term "monster" never entered into the inhabitants' testimonies. In the 163 trials studied, inhabitants and family members almost never judged the assailant as a monster. Even the justice system was silent until the late 1870s when the term "monstrous act" appeared for the first time in the pieces of the trials. So, where did the monster come from? In his study on monsters, Frederic Chauvaud analysed the construction of this figure by the judicial system. (38) In his conception, the judiciary built monsters as an alternative to unexplained criminal behavior. Additionally, we can consider this conception as the result of an elaboration that had begun several years before. Since the 1850s, the debates on consanguinity and degeneration alongside the growing observation of criminals by forensic anthropologists may have influenced the construction of the figure of the monster. Both arguments explained why, later in the century, the anonymous denunciations only begun to assimilate the assailant to the monster. (39)

The same comment could be made for the "incest" word which was not much used by the rural community until the end of the century. If the term appeared sometimes in the magistrate' language, we have to wait the revelation of some cases by the French newspapers in 1870s to see the word spread into the rural society and some of their testimonies. (40) In the first half of the century, only a few numbers of novels or rags, in telling stories of infanticides or murders, broached the incest. (41) Even in the final complaint, the word of the crime: "incest" was never written. This harmony between the unspoken words of the village residents, and the silence of the denunciations in the rags or in the novels, allow us to see the absence of incest in the French public opinion before the 1880s.

This question about the absence could also find an answer in the study of the results of the trial. After the crime, how did the village deal with the judgment of one of its members for incest? "One of the most striking things about incest, that most extraordinary and heinous of transgressions, is it capacity to be ordinary." (42) As Linda Gordon has noted, incest remains an ordinary crime. For the village, it publicity represents more a moment of tension than an extraordinary event. But returning to normal village life after the crime remains a difficult exercise. We can't know how an acquitted parent would be welcomed upon his return. Would he be watched even more carefully by his neighbors? We can suppose, however, that the memory of the crime didn't remain in the village. During his trial, Charles Noutre was described as a drunkard, an idler, and a man without morality by several inhabitants of the village. Sentenced in 1861 to fifteen years of hard labor, he asked for a pardon in 1868. As a result, an inquiry was ordered by the general attorney to discern his morality standing. The gendarme in charge reported that "the judgment of the aforementioned Noutre was greeted with sad surprise in the village of Janvry. His pardon would be welcomed with great pleasure. Noutre had an excellent reputation; he has maintained the respect and sympathy of the entire village." (43) Furthermore, the memory of the village turned against Noutre's wife who was represented as an immoral woman whereas during the trial in 1861, the inhabitants had testified to her respectability. This unexpected change of mind might be explained by a blaming of the wife. She was the one who had pressed charges against her husband. Therefore, she was responsible for the suffering of the village. Somehow, she had put an entire community in danger for a crime that was not worthwhile.


Writing the history of incest remains a difficult task. The historian has to analyze the unspoken words and the little voices of a family in crisis. Rural incest is part of the "few cases, dispersed or otherwise isolated, but sufficiently convergent to reveal a particular concern: the one of rustic brutality." (44) But, if we take the time to listen at them, these cases tell us the ordinary story of a rural community: the feeling of protection, the fear of change that transcends the crime's construction. Undoubtedly, incest is a crime in nineteenth century France. But, until the 1880s, it didn't appear like a strong prohibition or a taboo. By contrast, after 1880, the monster was everywhere: newspapers, the judicial system, and anthropologists used, from this point on, the image of the monster when describing crimes of incest. How can we explain such a convergence? Three (acts could explain the shift. The first came with the belief in rising crime rates: The introduction of statistics in 1827 contributed to the feeling that crime had suddenly increased in 1860, Then the studies of degeneration and the origin of incest's prohibition introduced the idea of a threat of a biological and social link to incest. This theory of hereditary defects could also explain the construction of the figure of the monster. Lastly, the first publication of incest cases in the newspapers of the 1880s spread the crime into the rest of society and cemented the monstrous face of incest by making the link among science, justice, and public opinion. Therefore, the monster theory deserves to be nuanced and perhaps to be understood more as a construction than as a reality.

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List of abbreviations used in the endnotes:

A.D.: Archives Departementales.

A.N.: Archives Nationales.

B.N.F.: Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.

(1.) In the nineteenth century France, two crimes particularly embodied the taboo: the incest and the parricide. By criminalizing the domestic family, these two crimes represented the major fear of a patriarchal society. See Sylvie Lapalus, La mort du vieux: une histoire du parricide au XIXe siecle (Paris, 2004).

(2.) See Frederic Chauvaud, Les crimineis du Poitou au XJXe siecle. Les monstres, ies desespere's et les voleurs (Paris, 1999): in this major work, Frederic Chauvaud distinguishes three types of monsters: the cold monster, the hot monster and the enigmatic one. See also Frederic Chauvaud, "Les figures du monstre dans la seconde moitie du XIXe sie cle," Ethnologic franqaise 21, 3 (1991): 243-253. This figure was also studied by AnneEmmanuelle Demartini, L'affaire Lacenaire (Paris, 2001). Finally, two collectives works were made upon this question: Regis F3ertrand and Anne Carol, eds., Le "monstre songumarre," Imaginaire et societe (Aix-en-Provence, 2005); Anne Caiozzo and AnneEmmanuelle Demartini, eds., Monstre et imaginaire social (Paris, 2008).

(3.) "L'homme qui oublie plus facilement que l'amour est consentement et qui se laisse souvent aller a la brutalite dans la poursuite sexuelle, brutalite objectivee par le viol et le rapt, n'epargne pas toujours ses enfants. L'inceste est beaucoup plus frequent chez l'homme que chez la femme." Charles Fere, L'instinct sexuel. evolution et dissolution (Paris, 1899), 98.

(4.) "De le classe de ceux qui ant autorite sur la personne envers laquelle ils ont commis l'attentat." Code Penal (Paris, 1810), 81. The French penal code separated rape into several crimes; attentat a la pudeur sans violence (article 331), attentat a la pudeur avec violence and rape (article 332). All these crimes are aggravated when the defendant has influence on his victim (article 333). Faustin Helie, a French jurist, assimilated the incest to an "attentat commited without violence, aid of the authority, the moral constraint, the seduction. The ascendant takes advantage of his authority in order to corrupt the mi nor" ("attentat commis sans violence, a I'aide de l'autorite, de la contrainte morale, de la seduction. L'ascendant abuse de sa puissance pour corrompre 1e mineur." Faustin Helie, Pratique criminelle des corns et tribunaux, resume de la jurisprudence sur les codes d'instruction criminelle et penale (Paris, 1877), 11,354).

(5.) See Franco is-Emmanuel Fodere, Traite de medecine legale et d'hygiene publique ou de police de sante (Paris, 1813). See Ambroise Tardieu, Etude medico-legale surles attentats aux moeurs (Paris, 1857). See Louis Penard, De I'intervention dumedecin legiste dans les questions d'attentats aux moeurs (Paris, 1860). The jurists and the forensic scientists didn't have the same perception of the crime. Thus, Louis Penard assimilated the incest to an attentat a la pudeur or a rape and confined his definition to a physiological observation: "attentat a la pudeur, the hymen membrane is intact or not much compromised; rape, when the hymen membrane completely broken can permit a complete intromission" ("attentat a la pudeur, la membrane hymen restant intacte ou peu compromise; viol, lorsque la membrane hymen completement rompue peut permettre Pintromission complete." Louis penard, De I'intervention du medecin legiste dans les questions a"attentats aux moeurs, 12-13).

(6.) See Louis-Rene Villerme, Tableau de I'etat physique et moral des ouviers dans les man ufactures de coton, de laine et de soie (Paris, 1840). See Frederic Le Play, Les ouvriers europeens: e'tude sur les travaux, la vie et la condition morale, des populations ouvrieres del'Europe (Paris, 1855).

(7.) The main work on this subject remains Georges Vigarello, A History of Rape: Sexual Violence in France from the 16th to the 20th Century, translated by Jean Birrell (Cam bridge, 2001). See also Anne-Marie Sohn's study of conjugal sexuality: Du premier baiser a l'alcove. La sexualite des Francois au quotidien, 1850-1950 (Paris, 1999) and her article "Les attentats a la pudeur sur les fillettes en France (1870-1939) et la sexualite quotidienne," Mentalite's 3, (1989): 71-111. Incest was also broached by Frederic Chauvaud, Les passions villageoises au XIXe siecle. Les emotions rurales dans les pays de Beauce, du Hurepoix et du Mantois (Paris, 1995) and Elisabeth Claverie and Pierre Lamaison, L'impossible mariage. Violence et parente en Gevaudan, XVIIe, XVIUe et XJXe siecles (Paris, 1982).

(8.) See footnote 6.

(9.) See Olwen H. Hufton, The Poor of Eighteenth-Century France: 1750-1789 (Oxford, 1979), 62-63.

(10.) "J'ai vu reposer ensembie des individus des deux sexes et d'ages rrfe difterens, la plupart sans chemises et d'une salete repoussante. Pere, mere, vieillards, enfans, adultes, s'y pressent, s'y entassent. Je m'arrete ... le lecteur achevera le tableau, mais je le previens que s'il tient a l'avoir fidele, son imagination ne doit reculer devant aucun des mysteres degoutants qui s'accomplissent sur ces couches impures, au sein de l'obscurite et de 1'ivresse." Louis-Rene Villerme, Tableau de I'etat physique et moral des ouvriers, 83.

(11.) "Les epoux Brunot habitent une pauvre chaumiere ... leur interieur est egalement des plus pauvres; deux mauvais bois de lit des plus rustiques, quelques chaises et un buffet vermoulu component tout leur mobilier. lis couchent sur la pailte reconvene d'un drap et prennent pour couvertures leurs vetements." A.D. Yvelines, 2U583, 28 December 1874 (Brunot).

(12.) "La misere la plus profonde et la division la plus complete regnent dans cette maison." Ibid.

(13.) "Quand les epoux Roze habitaient ensemble a Boutigny, n'ayant pas un nombre de lits suffisant pour chacun de leurs enfants, ils faisaient le plus souvent coucher avec eux leur fille Marie Roze." A.D. Seine-et-Marne, UP51816, 16 April 1892 (Roze).

(14.) "Chacun [etait] sous le regard de l'autre. La transgression [etait] difficile et n'[existait] qu'avec le consentement plus ou moins tacite des autres." Philippe Aries and Georges Duby, eds., A History of Private Life: IV. From the Fires of the Revolution to the Great War, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, 1990).

(15.) "Je suis sa plus proche voisine, un mur epais nous separe simplement. Je suis done a meme d'entendre ce qui se passe chez lui, surtout quand on y fait du tapage, or, e'est ce qui arrive souvent." A.D. Loire-Altantique, 5U190/I, 13 February 1876 (Huet).

(16.) "Un soir, toute la famiile etanr reunie pour ecosser les haricots, la femme Devien se rendit dans une autre partie de la maison afin de remplacer la chandelle qui venait de s'eteindre. Profttant de l'obscurite, 1'accuse s'approcha de sa fille et lui porta une de ses mains sous les vetements, de l'autre main, il continuait a remuer les haricots pour ne pas eveiller les soupcons des autres enfants. Ces attouchements firent eprouver a la jeune fille les plus vives douleurs, elle en rendit compte le soir meme a sa mere qui crut devoir garder le silence." A.D. Seine-et-Marne, UP51644, 15 April 1868 (Devien).

(17.) "Ma belle-mere me veut du mal. Depuis six ans que je suis mariee, elle n'a cesse d'exciter des querelles dans mon menage. C'est elle qui invente toute sorte d'infamies pour perdre ma famille." A.D. Alpes-Maritimes, 2U24, 7 July 1865 (Biancheri).

(18.) Sylvie Lapalus, La mort du vieux: une histoire du parricide au'Xl'Xc siede (Paris, 2004), 185.

(19.) "Contre les crimes de moeurs des ascendants, nous indiquerons comme remedes: ... favoriser les creations des logements economiques, comme ceux de la Societe philanthropique, qui sauvegardent les lois de la pudeur dans les families pauvres." Anatole BerarddesGlajeux, Souvenirs d'un president d'asshes, les passions criminelles, leurs causes et leurs remedes (Paris, 1893), 183.

(20.) Charles Loring Brace, The Dangerous Classes of New-York and Twenty Years' Work Among Them (New-York, 1872), 49.

(21.) "La perversite de sa conduite etait connue de plusieurs habitants de la commune, mais il etait tellement redoute que tous gardaient le silence." A.D. Seine-et-Mame, UP51721, 24 May 1842 (Canet).

(22.) The limitation for the prosecution of a rape was ten years in the nineteenth century.

(23.) See Norbert Elias, The 'civilising process' (revised edition) translated by Edmund Jephcot (Oxford, 2005).

(24.) Some recent works have been made on the anthropological term of taboo: Carmela Pignato, Totem, Mana, Tabu: Archeologia di concetti antropalogici (Roma, 2001), Aurelio Rigoli, Incesto e tabu: linee di un probtcma anthropologico (Messina, L989).

(25.) "II venait de me raconter, qu'etant couche avec son pere, celui-ci avait chcrche a lui faire ca par derrierc. ... 'Ce n'est pas possible' lui ai-je repondu 'mais si', avait repliquc 1'enfant, 'e'est bien vrai'. La-dessus, je lui avais fait observer que e'etaient des choses qui ne me regardaient pas." A.D Loire-Atlantique, 5U225, 12 October 1891 (Gouvier).

(26.) "Elle ferait mieux d'envoycr sa fille a Paris, soit ailleurs." A.D. Seine-et-Marne, UP51407, 4 November 1842 (Silvestre).

(27.) "Le 23 decembre 1872, la fille d'Assy, agee de 15 ans, se faisait arrfetei a Pans en disant qu'elle etait sans ressources, que depuis un mois elle menait une vie de debauche et qu'elle avait quitte son pere, ouvrier peintre a Sucy, parce-qu'il abusait d'elle." A.D. Yvelines, 2U568, 4 April 1872 (d'Assy).

(28.) "Placee a Paris en apprentissage chez une autre tante la femme Grisier et chez la fille de celle-ci la dame Riasse." A.D. Yvelines, 2U481, 26 October 1861 (Noutre).

(29.) "II se passe des choses honteuses a Beaubry pres de Previllers. Je parle d'un pere qui abuse de son enfant agee de 10 a 12 ans. Sa mere m'en a parle devant temoin. Je ne veux pas me nommer ayant attendu que la mere denonce ce monstre comme elle me l'avait dit. J'ai attendu jusqu'a aujourd'hui. La mere le sait, le frere plus jeune qu'elle, aussi, il peut vous renseigner la-dessus." A.D. Seine-et-Marne, UP51816, s.d. (Roze).

(30.) "L'arrestation du pere constitue une solution radicale, mais a laquelle les personnes interessees ne recourent pas sans reticences. En effet, 1'cmprisonnement du pere signifie la disparition du gagne-pain de la famille et bien des femmes reculent devant cette perspective. Le cure et les autorir'es municipales aussi, car ils savent que la famille tombera a la charge de la paroisse qui n'est pas toujours capable d'assumer un tel fardeau ou disposee a la faire." Marie-Anne Cliche, "Un secret bien garde, I'inceste dans la societe tradi-tionnelle quehecoise, 1858-1938," Revue d'hiswire de I'Amerique fnmcaise 50, 2 (1996): 201-226, 220.

(31.) "Monsieur le cure m'a bien recommande de nc plus coucher chez mon pere et de coucher toujours chez vous et que, routes les fots qu'il voudrait prendre avec moi quelques libertes ou me retenir auprcs de lui, de vous appeler de suite pour que vous veniez me chercher." A.D. Bouches-du-Rhone, 208U4/48, 5 August 1845 (Goaty).

(32.) "J'ai recu de la jeune fille les aveux les plus circonstancies sur le crime dont elle a ete victime. J'ai eu quelques peines a la decider mais enfin, en employant la douceur et une indulgente persuasion, je l'ai amene a dire la verive." A.D. Yvelines, 2U294, 24 May 1838 (Boudrillet).

(33.) See Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New-York, 1959).

(34.) "Le village conserve en memoire tous les [pounds sterling]venements marquants de la vie des families. C'est en son sein que se font et se defont les reputations. L'ensemble des itineraires familiaux construit 1'histoire morale du village. ... La somme des reputations familiales fonde a,son tour la renommee du village." Annick Tillier, Des crimindles an village: femmes infanticides en Brctagne (1825-1865) (Rennes, 2001), 245.

(35.) "Capacite incontestable jointaunegrande experience des affaires, ... Sonjugement est assez prompt et parfaitement sur." A.N., BB/6{II)/151, s.d. (Eude).

(36.) "j'ai vu quatre ou cinq fois Pinculpe Cadio mettre dehors pendant la nuit sa fille Guillemette et quelquefois, alors, il sortait apres elle et restait dehors un certain temps. Je ne I'ai jamais suivi pour savoir ce qu'il faisait." A.D. Loire-Atlantique, 5U150/2, 22 December 1847 (Cadio).

(37.) "Cadio est un excellent cultivateur. ... II est malheureux qu'il se livre comme il le fait a l'ivrognerie car sans cela, je ne pense pas qu'il aurait commis les actes qui lui sont reproches." ibid.

(38.) See Frederic Chauvaud, Les criminels du Poitou au XlXe sieck.

(39.) An example of an anonymous letter and of the use of the term monster can be found in footnote 24.

(40.) See Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu, Perils recits des desordres ordinaires. Les fails divers dans la presse francaise des debuts de la Ule Republique a la Grande Guerre (Paris, 2004).

(41.) Only three rags were found for the period 1791-1898 at the B.N.F. Concerning the novels, Rene-Francois de Chateaubriand wrote in Rene (Paris, 1802) a love story between a brother and his sister hut never pronounced the word "incest." He suggested more the crime than he described it (the two protagonists never kissed each other or told each other their feelings).

(42.) Linda Gordon, Heroes of their own lives: the politics and history of family violence: Boston, 1880-1960 (Chicago, 2002), 204.

(43.) "La condamnation dudit Noutre a ete accueillie a Janvry par une triste surprise, sa grace serait apprise avec le plus grand plaistr. Noutre jouissait d'une excellente reputation, il a conserve l'estime et la sympathie de toute la commune." A.D. Yvelines, 2U481, 16 February 1868 (Noutre).

(44.) "Cas peu nombreux, disperses sinon isoles, mais suffisamment convergents pour reveler une inquietude particuliere: celle d'une brutalite rustique." Georges Vigarello, Histoire du viol, 83.

By Fabienne Giuliani

Universite de Paris 1
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Author:Giuliani, Fabienne
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Date:Jun 22, 2009
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