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The most famous poem in the Polish language, ‘Pan Tadeusz’ by Adam Mickiewicz, tells of the foray – an institution where the nobles might carry out acts of vigilante violence. Generally speaking, noble families would make use of the court system in search of justice, but if they could not gain justice within the courts system, they might seek vengeance through violent collective action. In some cases, the reason why estates were being raided and their inhabitants attacked was that noble families claimed to be defending the family honor. They might say that a lady’s honor had been insulted if she were jilted at the altar or if she had been seduced into sexual activity when she was betrothed. The nobles might, on the other hand, feel that a widow who had freely chosen her new husband out of love had contracted a misalliance and that they – whether they were fathers, brothers or other relatives or interested parties – were determined to imprison the widow, to coerce her, and even to torture her to enforce their judgment on her. The foray or zajazd is a prism through which to glimpse the use of domestic violence in conflict over freedom of choice in marriage.

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This is an author's accepted manuscript of an article published in The History of the Family, 18(3), 278-288. Copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2013.826590.

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