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Wounded Honour. The Question of Honour in New-Pärnu on the Basis of Town Council Records from the End of the 16th Century

Among other things, the New-Pärnu Town Council records book covering the last decades of the 16th century, which falls into the era of Polish rule in that region, contains numerous court cases involving town residents. A significant portion of cases that were brought before the magistrates’ court or the bailiff’s court in New-Pärnu at that time involved the question of honour. More precisely, they were motivated by the wounding of personal honour. This is an indication of how important the preservation of one’s honour and good reputation was for people of that time. The unquestionable importance of honour is reflected in the many various medieval and Early Modern regulatory sources, such as town privileges, civic regulations, skras and other such documents. At the same time, court records bring to light people’s immediate attitude towards honour as well as the rules and regulations associated with it. This article closely examines court cases concerning questions of honour in New-Pärnu during the last decades of the

16th century. The primary question is what were the typical cases of wounding honour like, in other words how was a person’s honour wounded and how were the conflicts that arose from such instances resolved. Yet what these court cases from New-Pärnu have to say about the broader meaning and importance of honour and dishonour in town society are of no less interest.

The supreme sensitivity of people in questions of honour is vividly expressed in the New-Pärnu town council records from the end of the 16th century.