The exclusion of women from inheritance and their unequal access to family assets and specific resources are issues of pressing current concern both at the level of international development strategies and of research connected to these. But women’s exclusion from inheritance is also an open question in the field of historical research, especially research into inter- and intra-generational transmission of assets in Europe in the past. This inheritance disparity proves on closer inspection to be an underlying principle of the whole medieval and early modern patrimonial system with decisive consequences for social organisation and public administration down to the 19th century, at least in Italy. None the less, for all its centrality, the exclusion of women from intestate succession has been the victim of a skewed perspective that has tended to privilege, in Italian historiography at any rate, analyses focused on the dowry system. The reasons for this invisibility derive in part from the inadequate dialogue between women’s history and legal history. But they also result from the attention that historical research has devoted to feminine agency (the autonomy, initiative and entrepreneurship of women and their negotiation of the existing norms to their own best advantage) at the expense of gender asymmetries. In this essay I will show first of all how deeply embedded the exclusion of women is in Italian legislation of the medieval and early modern periods. I will then discuss some aspects that sparked debate among jurists and disputes between private citizens. These two lines of enquiry, regulation and practical problems, are the necessary starting point for further research and reflection on the succession and social reproduction strategies actually pursued by families.
|Numero di pagine||33|
|Rivista||RIVISTA DI STORIA DEL DIRITTO ITALIANO|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2018|