Women and the Family in Eighteenth-Century Mexico: Law and Practice
AbstractDuring the eighteenth century, Mexican family law remained almost unchanged while the ways in which families chose to use the inheritance law altered significantly. At the beginning of the century, women of most economic classes—from artisan families to the nobility—usually received legally binding dowries that protected them at the death of their husbands and provided their children with inheritances. By the end of the century, however, the practice of awarding dowries had almost completely ceased. This essay explores possible explanations for this change through a discussion of the various ways in which women held power and property, depending upon their position in the family.