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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the main ways in which early medieval lawmakers concerned themselves with women. Law codes put forward ideologically loaded representations of women, and they reflected concerns to ensure both their protection and their control by men. At the same time, they also dealt with highly practical issues and were subject to continual amendment as new and ever more complicated cases were brought before lawmakers. They reveal a conflicted and ambiguous attitude towards women: as highly prized assets and a crucial form of symbolic capital, but also a heavy financial burden, a liability, and a weak point in the safeguarding of family honor. We consider the valuation of women in terms of compensation for homicide, injuries, and insults; the regulation of marriage and of sexual crimes; and property, to which women and men had differential access.

Keywords: law, women, gender, crime, violence, marriage, sex, family, property

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