While men invoked rage that had led them to retaliate against a violent wife, women preferred to speak about anguish and desperation.They did so, in Davis’s view, because rage was not a proper excuse for them.
What did it disclose about their emotions, their passions, affects, sentiments, and appetites?
And how did this new knowledge shape social norms and practices?
In such cases, husbands, brothers or fathers felt dishonoured in their own right and challenged in their quest for manliness.
Even though male honour had a sexual subtext as well, there remained a crucial gender difference.
To answer those questions, encyclopaedias offer a good starting point.
They began to be published at the beginning of the eighteenth century and were explicitly aimed at informing the public about any matters of interest.
The latter varied according to social class, age, religion, and national belonging.
Most conspicuously, they varied according to gender.
Emotions, whether lost or retrieved, come in socially specific and culturally diverse forms.
Honour, for instance, was an emotional disposition deeply ingrained in nineteenth-century European society, and yet, it took multiple shapes and translated into different practices.
Here as everywhere, gender differences, as Natalie Zemon Davis has shown in her work, are a fascinating research topic.