Anton Blok combines anthropology and history in a comparative exploration of the links between honour and violence in widely different settings. He draws on material from two interrelated projects: micro-studies of the rural mafia in Sicily, and banditry in the Dutch republic, each set in its historical context. Blok discusses the social role of marginal people, such as those in 'infamous occupations' from chimney-sweeping to prostitution, arguing that the most despised members of society are often the most indispensable. He examines how nicknames reflect and reflect on cultural codes, and how the authority of female rulers throughout the centuries has relied on their singleness. The book also includes studies of the social meanings of violence, including public executions, rural banditry, and the minor differences which underlie violent conflicts. Drawing on the work of thinkers from Georg Simmel to Norbert Elias, Anton Blok explores the complex interrelations between honour and violence in European societies. This highly original work will be of great interest to scholars and students of history, anthropology and sociology.