12 April 2019

Women in Malta in the 18th Century

  • Venue: Central Bank of Malta, Binja Laparelli, Valletta
  • Date From: 12/04/2019 15:00:00
  • Date To: 12/04/2019 16:00:00
  • Contact Person: Mr Emanuel Cachia
  • Contact Email: [email protected]

Professor Yosanne Vella

Central Bank of Malta Public Lecture

Professor Yosanne Vella (University of Malta), will deliver a lecture on

Women in Malta in the 18th Century

This presentation will discuss findings from a number of papers on women in Malta in the 18th century. After over 20 years of research the author will look back on this research as a whole and reflect and share some conclusions.   

In the criminal reports and court proceedings of the 18th century one comes across a large number of women, almost equal to the number of men getting into all sorts of trouble, and of course women were not just troublemakers but also victims of crime especially violent crime.  Some women were appallingly injured; attacked by relatives, neighbours and sometimes by strangers, the attackers tended to be male but at times women could also fall victims to physical attacks by other women too.

This presentation also hopes to shatter some myths on 18th century Maltese women, one in particular is the myth that women did not work outside the home.  One of the main strengths of Malta's economy in the 18th century was agriculture and this was one area where women were employed.  As in other European countries, textile production was particularly demanding of female labour.  There are various examples in the records of Maltese women who were cotton spinners or weavers, or who worked in the cotton business. Women were also frequently shop owners.

The Roman Catholic faith and its values, have been highly influential in Maltese society for a long time, and this is one area were women can be found. On the other hand in 18th century Malta, the belief in magic and its power was fairly widespread and Christianity never succeeded in uprooting it entirely.  There are various cases of incidents where Maltese women were brought in front of the Maltese Inquisitor's tribunal accused of dabbling in the occult.  By focusing on these two very different trajectories for women: one where women enter religious life and the other where women utilize magic as part of religious ritual, the presentation will show how women fared within a strong Catholic society. 

It is hoped that this presentation will contribute to our knowledge on 18th century Maltese women and their lives.

Registration is required on [email protected]

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