Julie Hardwick's Sex in an Old Regime City opens with a moving description of a garter left behind at a foundling hospital in Lyon around three hundred years ago that reads, “I am going away but not leaving you” (1). While the meaning of the garter for mother and for child can only ever remain unknown to the historian, its existence and survival throughout the centuries evokes the physical and emotional labor that came with having children in Old Regime France. Indeed, it is precisely those labors—rather than the act of reproduction itself—that forms the subject of Hardwick's brilliant examination of intimacy among young workers in Lyon between the middle of the seventeenth century and the French Revolution. Delving into the “archive of reproduction,” Hardwick presents a world where sex between young people stood very much at the center, not only of the lives of the couple themselves but also...

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