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Hellre hustru än änka: Äktenskapets ekonomiska betydelse för frälsekvinnor i senmedeltidens Sverige
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2011 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Better off as wife than as widow : The economic meaning of marriage for noble women in late medieval Sweden (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation studies the economic partnership between husband and wife amongst the Swedish nobility during the fifteenth century. Medieval marriages have been seen as an institution that first and foremost was economically and socially beneficial to men. The dissertation aims to broaden this view by emphasizing the marriages’ importance to women’s economic agency within the prevailing patriarchal structure of medieval society.Through arranged marriages noble families formed political and social networks in order to uphold and secure their positions. In scholarly literature the role of women is often reduced to being a link between men, the father and the husband, enabling property transfers between lineages. This dissertation describes how spouses circumvented the regulations of inheritance to benefit each other and their conjugal family. Furthermore, it discusses how these strategies were economically advantageous for married women whilst sustaining the patriarchal structure.

The legal status of women changed when they became widows, and it has often been pointed out that widows had opportunities and agency that neither unmarried nor married women had. The autonomy that women gained when they married was conditional on the guardianship of her husband. The widow had no guardian, thus being her own mistress. However, based on the high rate of remarriage amongst noble widows this dissertation argues that widow’s legal freedom to handle economic and juridical matters was considerably constrained within the existing gender system. Furthermore, it argues that remarried women’s freedom of action was larger than that of widows. Hence, marriage offered the possibility of forming an economic partnership with a man that represented their conjugal estate in economic transactions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2011. , 166 p.
Stockholm studies in economic history, ISSN 0346-8305 ; 59
Keyword [sv]
Senmedeltid, frälset, kvinnor, äktenskap, kompanjonskap, egendom, hushållsekonomi
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-60120ISBN: 978-91-86071-72-1OAI: diva2:434081
Public defence
2011-09-23, hörsal 3, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-08-09 Last updated: 2015-06-16Bibliographically approved

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Andersson Raeder, Johanna
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