The marketplace

The market square was a central and public place in the early modern period. Parallel to the trade, diversion and entertainment, there were also discussions, arguments and - for all to see - punishment. Leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers and satirical prints allowed market visitors to take part in the disputes.

On the market

Market women on the Maubert square in Paris, etching
by Jacques Aliamet after a painting by Etienne
Jeaurat, 1753, reproduction

The dispute over the trousers

Since the 14th century, the time in which trousers became a piece of clothing associated with men, the so-called “dispute over trousers” has been a common narrative and visual motif, especially in Central Europe. Numerous surviving copperplate engravings, woodcuts and etchings bear witness to this today. Either a married couple fought over a pair of trousers or several women fought over them and questioned the man's dominance.



Disputes over pants and marital supremacy. A 91 / printing and publishing v. C. Burckardt's Nachf. in Weissenburg (Alsace)'.2012,7020.6 © The Trustees of the British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

    A woman as poet and scholar - the controversial case of Christiane Marianne von Ziegler (1695-1760)

    Abusive poems and prints in books reached a wide audience beyond the marketplace in book collections and libraries. Both opposing sides knew how to use this medium in a targeted manner in the 18th century.

    Christiane Marianne von Ziegler was a successful writer and was in the public eye as the founder of one of the first literary-musical salons in Leipzig. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), as Thomaskantor, set her cantata texts to music and Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700–1766) printed her articles in the moral weekly The Reasonable Tadlerinnen. She repeatedly had to publicly defend her work as a poet:

    Nor will it be possible to cite any law that excludes women from pursuing the wisdom that can be acquired through the sciences. But it is to be lamented that as soon as a noble inclination to this or that science manifests itself in one woman or another; as soon as she takes up the pen, [...] she must see herself exposed to harsh judgements, blasphemy, vilification, and the most sensitive encounters.

    Christiane Marianne von Ziegler, Dies.: Vermischete Schriften in gebundener und ungebundener Rede. Göttingen: Universitäts-Buchhandlung, 1739, 394–399, hier 396

    1733 verlieh ihr die Universität Wittenberg die kaiserlich privilegierte Dichterkrone einer »Poeta laureata«, die auf einen antiken Brauch zurückgeht. Die Verleihung des akademischen Grades erlaubte es ihr, an den Universitäten des Reiches zu lehren. Dies war ein Aspekt, den einige Studenten einer Frau nicht zugestehen wollten. In Schmähgedichten würdigten sie ihre schriftstellerische Arbeit herab und machten sie lächerlich.

    Poets, throw down your pen,
    And let ropes=pins be handed to you,
    For a great poetess
    Is now abusing your manhood's mark [...]
    Look, Celtes, you crowned hero
    From the darkness of your grave
    How shamefully the wicked world
    Has torn your wreath round,
    Tell Opiz, does the wreath make the poets?
    Does the diploma teach us?
    Now that the wreath also honours fools,
    It insults you, you great lights,
    Otherwise you were rich in fame and laurels,
    Now you are like a woman.

    anonymManuskript, Transkription eines Auszugs nach: Cornelia Caroline Köhler: Frauengelehrsamkeit im Leipzig der Frühaufklärung […]. Leipzig 2007, 225–228 Leipzig, Universitätsarchiv: Rep. AA Sect. I Nr. 40, Bl. 5r–6v

    Chapter selection


    Kupferstich auf dem man verschiedene Personen auf einem Marktplatz sieht

    Dispute arena marketplace

    Court arena

    Dispute arena screens and sounds

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