Married Women and the Law in Premodern Northwest Europe

Front Cover
Cordelia Beattie, Matthew Frank Stevens
Boydell Press, 2013 - History - 248 pages
There has been a tendency in scholarship on premodern women and the law to see married women as hidden from view, obscured by their husbands in legal records. This volume provides a corrective view, arguing that the extent to which the legal principle of coverture applied has been over-emphasized. In particular, it points up differences between the English common law position, which gave husbands guardianship over their wives and their wives' property, and the position elsewhere in northwest Europe, where wives' property became part of a community of property. Detailed studies of legal material from medieval and early modern England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Ghent, Sweden, Norway and Germany enable a better sense of how, when, and where the legal principle of coverture was applied and what effect this had on the lives of married women. Key threads running through the book are married women's rights regarding the possession of moveable and immovable property, marital property at the dissolution of marriage, married women's capacity to act as agents of their husbands and households in transacting business, and married women's interactions with the courts. Cordelia Beattie is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh; Matthew Frank Stevens is Lecturer in Medieval History at Swansea University Contributors: Lars Ivar Hansen, Shennan Hutton, Lizabeth Johnson, Gillian Kenny, Mia Korpiola, Miriam Muller, S. C. Ogilvie, Alexandra Shepard, Cathryn Spence.
 

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Contents

Uncovering Married Women
1
1 Inheritance Property and Marriage in Medieval Norway
11
2 Spousal Disputes the Marital Property System and the Law in Later Medieval Sweden
31
Marriage and the Law in Medieval Ireland
53
4 Married Women Crime and the Courts in Late Medieval Wales
71
Some Reconsiderations
91
6 Londons Married Women Debt Litigation and Coverture in the Court of Common Pleas
115
7 Married Women Contracts and Coverture in Late Medieval England
133
Married Women and Legal Capability in Late Medieval Ghent
155
9 For His Interest? Women Debt and Coverture in Early Modern Scotland
173
10 The Worth of Married Women in the English Church Courts c15501730
191
Evidence from Early Modern Germany
213
Index
241
Backcover
249
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