This book offers a comparative perspective on Northern and Southern European laws and customs concerning women’s property and economic rights. By focusing on both Northern and Southern European societies, these studies analyse the consequences of different juridical frameworks and norms on the development of the economic roles of men and women.

This volume is divided into three parts. The first, Laws, presents general outlines related to some European regions; the second, Family strategies or marital economies?, questions the potential conflict between the economic interests of the married couple and those of the lineage within the nobility; finally, the third part of the book, Inside the urban economy, focuses on economic and work activities of middle and lower classes in the urban environment. The assorted and rich panorama offered by the history of the legislation on women’s economic rights shows that similarities and differences run through Europe in such a way that the North/South model looks very stereotyped. While this approach calls into question classical geographical and cultural maps and well-established chronologies, it encourages a reconsideration of European history according to a cross-boundaries perspective.

By drawing on a wide range of social, economic and cultural European contexts, from the late medieval to early modern age to the nineteenth century, and including the middle and lower classes (especially artisans, merchants and traders) as well as the economic practices and norms of the upper middle class and aristocracy, this book will be of interest to economic and social historians, sociologists of health, gender and sexuality, and economists.

chapter |27 pages


North versus South – gender, law and economic well-being in Europe in the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries
ByAnna Bellavitis, Beatrice Zucca Micheletto

part I|77 pages


chapter 1|16 pages

Community of goods, coverture and capability in Britain

Scotland versus England 1
ByDeborah Simonton

chapter 2|15 pages

Between parental power and marital authority

How merchant women stood the test of customary laws in Brittany in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries 1
ByNicole Dufournaud

chapter 3|15 pages

Exceptional women

Female merchants and working women in Italy in the early modern period 1
BySimona Feci

chapter 4|14 pages

Married women’s property rights in the nineteenth century in France and Spain

A North–South case study
ByMarion Röwekamp

chapter 5|15 pages

From legal diversity to centralization

Marriage and wealth in nineteenth-century Greece
ByEvdoxios Doxiadis

part II|57 pages

Family strategies or marital economies?

chapter 6|12 pages

Marriage, law and property

Married noblewomen’s role in property management in fifteenth-century Norway
BySusann Anett Pedersen

chapter 7|15 pages

Class privileges and the public good

The monti dei maritaggi in early modern Naples 1
ByVittoria Fiorelli

chapter 9|15 pages

Undivided brothers – renouncing sisters

Family strategies of low nobility in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Tyrol 1
BySiglinde Clementi

part III|107 pages

Inside the urban economy

chapter 10|16 pages

The ‘egalitarian trend’ in practice

Female participation in capital markets in late medieval Leuven
ByAndrea Bardyn

chapter 11|17 pages

Women and credit in eighteenth-century Venice

A preliminary analysis 1
ByMatteo Pompermaier

chapter 12|15 pages

Married women, property and paraphernalia in early modern Scotland

ByRebecca Mason

chapter 13|13 pages

Women at work in a Southern European town

Women, guilds and commercial partnerships in Venice in the sixteenth century 1
ByEmilie Fiorucci

chapter 14|14 pages

Law, wives and the marital economy in sixteenth-century Antwerp

Bridging the gap between theory and practice
ByKaat Cappelle

chapter 15|12 pages

Women, law and business formation in early modern Paris

ByJanine M. Lanza

chapter 16|18 pages

Bankruptcies, a gateway to gender history

The example of women book traders in Paris in the nineteenth century 1
ByViera Rebolledo-Dhuin