In early modern England the legal definition of rape underwent an important revision and gradually, from crime against property, rape became a crime against the person. While reflecting the classical, medieval and biblical assumptions, the period brought about new concerns. The purpose of this article is to explore representations of rape in a variety of popular texts of the English early modern period, by focussing attention on broadside ballads, cheap pamphlets as well as accounts of trials that took place at the Old Bailey. These texts constitute valuable sources of information about people’s attitudes and beliefs and help us construct the views of rape circulating in early modern English culture.
early modern English culture; popular press; proceedings of the Old Bailey; representation of rape; street literature