Domestic Secrets: Women and Property in Sweden, 1600-1857 by Maria Ågren

By Maria Ågren

Among the 17th and 19th centuries, women's position within the Swedish economic climate was once renegotiated and reconceptualized. Maria Agren chronicles alterations in married women's estate rights, revealing the tale of Swedish women's estate as not only an easy narrative of the erosion of criminal rights, yet a extra complicated story of accidental consequences.

A public sphere of influence--including the wife's relations and the neighborhood community--held sway over spousal estate rights all through many of the 17th century, Agren argues. round 1700, a crusade to codify spousal estate rights as an arcanum domesticum, or family mystery, aimed to extend potency in felony selection making. New regulatory alterations certainly decreased familial interference, yet additionally they made households much less more likely to supply land to ladies.

The creation of the print medium ushered estate matters again into the general public sphere, this time on a countrywide scale, Agren explains. Mass politicization elevated sympathy for girls, and public debate popularized extra revolutionary rules concerning the fiscal contributions of ladies to marriage, resulting in mid-nineteenth-century criminal reforms that have been extra favorable to girls. Agren's paintings complements our figuring out of ways societies have conceived of women's contributions to the basic associations of marriage and the relations, utilizing for instance a rustic with far-reaching impression in the course of and after the Enlightenment.

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Extra info for Domestic Secrets: Women and Property in Sweden, 1600-1857 (Studies in Legal History)

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A third study builds on source material from eighteenthcentury Roslagen (the coastal area north of Stockholm). Finally, I have used some randomly chosen wills from Värmland (Fryksdalen) and Dalarna (Stora Tuna). 42 Not surprisingly, these records have been used extensively by historians in Sweden and the other Nordic countries, but mainly within the field of history of crime, despite the fact that the bulk of their content consists of civil cases, not crime. 43 It must be stressed that the court records do not only include information on contested (and therefore possibly less normal) cases.

As the state became stronger in the course of the early modern period, it firmly asserted its presence in the courts, for instance, via bailiffs. Consequently, the early modern local courts catered to the needs of both local communities and the state. They could start the day by reading a few government announcements, then go on to hear witnesses in a fornication case, solve a dispute over fishing rights between hamlets in two different parishes, investigate the facts in a complicated case of conflicting inheritance claims, and finally register a will and a couple of land sales.

And while the two views could be played out against each other, they could also be combined in inventive and unorthodox ways. In a society, where the printed legal code included the Ten Commandments, Christian arguments were patently relevant to the law. Moreover, while the law devoted most of its attention to safeguarding inherited land, it conceded that forms of property other than inherited land should be regarded as common to the spouses. These two images were not employed in a social vacuum, however.

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