In premodern Europe, the window constituted one of the most important interfaces between a private house and the public street. In the densely built-up cities this often translated into conflicts at and around windows. A considerable body of early modern literature about window-related conflicts has survived, but it has hardly been studied by historians. In this article I will examine two major (and interrelated) aspects of this violence: the throwing of objects out of windows and the damaging of windows from the outside. It will become clear that conflicts involving windows offer insights into the dialectics of sociability and disorder in the premodern city. What is more, the story of broken windows exemplifies the interplay between rituals of conflict and the symbolic meanings of a certain object of material culture: glass windows. To conclude the article I will highlight general differences between windowrelated violence in the past and the present and suggest what these differences can tell us about changing attitudes toward urban and domestic spaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts