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Marriage, Dowry, and Citizenship in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Marriage, Dowry, and Citizenship in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Marriage, Dowry, and Citizenship in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy
    Book Description:

    Through his research on the status of women in Florence and other Italian cities, Julius Kirshner helped to establish the socio-legal history of women in late medieval and Renaissance Italy and challenge the idea that Florentine women had an inferior legal position and civic status.

    InMarriage, Dowry, and Citizenship in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy, Kirshner collects nine important essays which address these issues in Florence and the cities of northern and central Italy. Using a cross-disciplinary approach that draws on the methodologies of both social and legal history, the essays in this collection present a wealth of examples of daughters, wives, and widows acting as full-fledged social and legal actors.

    Revised and updated to reflect current scholarship, the essays inMarriage, Dowry, and Citizenship in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italyappear alongside an extended introduction which situates them within the broader field of Renaissance legal history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6451-7
    Subjects: History, Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    The nine studies gathered in this volume appeared over a twenty-six-year period, from 1985 to 2011. Originally, they were published as contributions to volumes honoring the research and careers of colleagues and to the proceedings of conferences held in Europe. Allowing for their diverse origins, the studies share a common focus on three interrelated subjects: marriage, women’s property, and citizenship in medieval and Renaissance Italy (1200–1550). While the primary geographic locus is Florence, comparative attention is paid to the laws and customary practices of other cities, including Siena, Lucca, Perugia, Pisa, and Venice, in central and northern Italy. The...

  5. 1 Making and Breaking Betrothal Contracts (Sponsalia) in Late Trecento Florence
    (pp. 20-54)

    Ideally, couples in late medieval Italy contracted a valid Christian marriage in three stages: betrothal (sponsalia) through words of future consent (consensus per verba de futuro); marriage (matrimonium) through words of present consent (consensus per verba de presenti), which alone sufficed to establish a valid, indissoluble union; and consummation through sexual intercourse, which transformed ade futuromarriage into an indissoluble union, while it brought to full perfection ade presentimarriage. The minimum legal age for givingde futuroconsent under canon and civil law was seven years; forde presenticonsent, the couple had to have attained puberty:...

  6. 2 Li Emergenti Bisogni Matrimoniali in Renaissance Florence
    (pp. 55-73)

    Li emergenti bisogni matrimoniali¹ – namely, the urgent necessity at the outset of marriage to adorn brides with extravagant clothing and jewelry, to decorate the nuptial chamber, and to arrange wedding festivities – entailed sizable expenditures of capital on the part of new husbands and their kin in Renaissance Florence. In a legal opinion written in 1400, the Florentine jurist Philippus de Corsinis observed that “even before sexual intercourse, it is necessary for the husband to shoulder the expenses for his wife’s clothing and other accessories, as well as other expenses related to the wedding.”² In another opinion, Paulus de...

  7. 3 Materials for a Gilded Cage: Nondotal Assets in Florence, 1300–1500
    (pp. 74-93)

    Dowries customarily accompanied brides into marriage in late medieval Italy. In commercial and financial centers like Florence, husbands typically received dowries in the form of cash payments or their equivalents, such as credits in the city’s public debt (Monte comune), which were easily converted into cash. Under the prevailing system of theius commune– the common body of legal rules, regulations, and juristic doctrines developed primarily from Justinian’sCorpus iuris civilis– ownership and management of a dowry temporarily passed to the husband during the marriage. He could invest, mortgage, and convert a dowry into other property as he...

  8. 4 The Morning After: Collecting Monte Dowries in Renaissance Florence
    (pp. 94-113)

    Mining the data-rich records of the government-sponsored Dowry Fund (Monte delle doti) of Florence, in operation from 1425 until the midsixteenth century, Molho’sMarriage Alliance in Late Medieval Florence(1994) has illuminated the fund’s pivotal role in the city’s public finances and the matrimonial strategies of its “affluent, powerful, and well-established families.”¹ The fund was established with the following objectives: to raise monies to defray galloping war outlays and to alleviate the burden of providing nubile women with attractive cash dowries necessary for contracting honorable childbearing marriages and, by extension, for replenishing Florence’s plague-depleted population. For the city’s topmost families,...

  9. 5 The Seven Percent Fund of Renaissance Florence
    (pp. 114-130)

    Previous studies of the ownership of government debt in fifteenth-century Florence and early modern cities have concentrated on the role of the public debt in fiscal policy and the distribution of wealth.¹ Taking a different tack, this chapter investigates the accepted legal practice of encumbering claims to government debt, and its role in securing credit transactions and in shaping the decisions of a heterogeneous group of investors holding government debt in Florence. Although scholars have often noted the existence of such encumbrances, their function has never been examined systematically. The encumbrances chosen for investigation here were attached to credits lodged...

  10. 6 Wives’ Claims against Insolvent Husbands in Late Medieval Italy
    (pp. 131-160)

    Transfers of property between husband and wife in late medieval Italy have been the subject of numerous monographs since the 1970s. These studies have drawn upon, but also depart from, the standard accounts of legal historians, notably Brandileone, Ercole, Pertile, and Bellomo.¹ Where previous scholarship was preoccupied with the survival and revival of Roman law, later scholarship has been busy charting the demographic, social, and ideological history of the medieval family and the role women played within and between families.² Although their perspectives and aims differ, there is broad agreement that a momentous shift was underway in the twelfth century:...

  11. 7 Women Married Elsewhere: Gender and Citizenship in Medieval Italy
    (pp. 161-188)

    “In many sections of our law,” the early-third-century Roman jurist Papinian declared, “the position of females is inferior to that of males.”¹ It is unnecessary to rehearse the gender-specific rules that disabled Roman women, unmarried and married, in the spheres of private and public law; these have been amply documented and examined. It is also well known that three centuries later theCorpus iuris civilisof the emperor Justinian eliminated various disabilities limiting women’s capacity to contract, to make a last will, and to inherit. In the public sphere, Roman women were excluded from offices and honors, from performing the...

  12. 8 Dowry, Domicile, and Citizenship in Late Medieval Florence
    (pp. 189-196)

    Countlessconsilia, or legal opinions, produced by Florentine jurists for both individual clients and municipal judges from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries concerned the disposition and devolution of dowries. Especially prominent were disputes regarding the wife’s recovery of her dowry on the husband’s predecease, and conversely the husband’s retention of the dowry on his wife’s predecease. In resolving these disputes, jurists considered the material facts, relevant municipal laws, and theius commune– a vast body of Roman civil, canon, and feudal law, including glosses, commentaries, andconsiliadealing with the rights and claims to dotal property. This chapter...

  13. 9 Pisa’s “Long-Arm” Gabella Dotis (1420–1525): Issues, Cases, Legal Opinions
    (pp. 197-214)

    Husbands in late medieval and early modern Tuscany were obligated to pay a contract tax (gabella dotis) on the amount of dowry they acknowledged and legally guaranteed in a standard legal instrument calledconfessio dotis.¹ Questions arose when a citizen contracted marriage, concluded aconfessio dotis, and paid the contract tax in a foreign city, usually where he maintained a separate legal domicile, situated beyond the territorial jurisdiction of his native city. “Jurisdiction” (iurisdictio), a treelike construct with many branches, is used in this chapter narrowly to refer to the robust political and judicial powers that towns, cities, or principalities...

  14. Original Publication Information
    (pp. 215-216)
  15. Appendix 1 Ricordanze of Paolo d’Alessandro Sassetti
    (pp. 217-218)
  16. Appendix 2 Formulario of Iacopo di ser Francesco Toschanelli
    (pp. 219-220)
  17. Appendix 3 Two Consilia of Angelus de Ubaldis
    (pp. 221-229)
  18. Appendix 4 Confessio dotis of Chirico di Giovanni of Florence
    (pp. 230-231)
  19. Appendix 5 The Seven Percent Account of Lorenzo di Bonaccorso Pitti
    (pp. 232-234)
  20. Appendix 6 Selected Jurists and Theologians
    (pp. 235-238)
  21. Abbreviations
    (pp. 239-240)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 241-382)
  23. References
    (pp. 383-452)
  24. Index
    (pp. 453-462)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 463-463)