Bitter Bonds: A Colonial Divorce Drama of the Seventeenth Century
In 17th-century Batavia, Cornelia von Nijenroode, the daughter of a geisha and a Dutch merchant in Japan, was known as ""Otemba"" (meaning ""untamable""), which made her a heroine to modern Japanese feminists. A wealthy widow and enterprising businesswoman who had married an unsuccessful Dutch lawyer for social reasons found that just after their wedding, husband and wife were at each other's throats. Cornelia insisted on maintaining independent power of disposal over her assets, but legally her husband had control over her possessions and refused to grante her permission to engage in commerce. He soon began using blackmail, smuggling, and secret accounts to channel her wealth back to the Dutch Republic. Cornelia fought back and tried to get a divorce. The struggle-complete with legal subterfuge, mutual recriminations, and even public brawls - would drag on for fifteen years and culminate in only a partial victory for Cornelia. Leonard Blusse, weaves together a wealth of vivid details about women in colonial societies in East and Southeast Asia. The book provides fascinating insights into the rigorous jurisprudence of the day, and sketches the policies of the ubiquitous East India Company.
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