"Dangereuse liberté: Elites, couples et justice urbaine dans les Pays-Bas médiévaux"

M. Greilsammer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Fundamental legal rights have been granted to women in the Low Countries since the 13th century, but were they allowed to marry according to their own free will ? The analysis of the cities’ policy towards the marriage of emancipated women shows that this was not the case. The fact that, since the 13th century, women received the right to plead, to inherit and to earn their living by themselves, did reinforce the fear of their social and political environment. The legal actions taken against couples who tried to marry freely is precisely linked to the positive development of the legal status for women. As the authorities began to fight women’s demands for independance, they invented a kind of legal fiction : the accusation of abduction of emancipated women. The elites could not accept the possibility of women being free to choose their husband, as it put at risk the economic stability of their families and the society at large. This article shows that such an opposition to the free will of emancipated women regarding their marital choice is in fact inversely proportional to the improvement of their legal status in the Low Countries.\
Original languageFrench
Title of host publicationCouples en justice, ive-xixe siècle
EditorsClaude Gauvard, Alessandro Stella
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherEditions de la Sorbonne
ISBN (Electronic)9791035104214
ISBN (Print)9791035104214
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Open Edition Books: 2021

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