Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit




Nere Jone Inxaustegi Jauregi: Women looking for freedom: divorce in 17th and 18th centuries Basque Country

Vortrag im Rahmen des Oberseminars Frühe Neuzeit


jauregiCatholic Chruch prohibits divorce, and it was not until 1932 when the first Spanish Divorce Law got into force. However, it is possible to read the word divorce in early modern records. How is that possible? The explanation is easy: in that period, divorce was like nowadays separation: a separation of goods and cohabitation but an impossibility to remarry. Documents from Basque and Spanish archives show that it was the women who asked for the divorce. The causes for divorce were related to their husbands: an abusive behavior, a waste of their dowries and/or adultery. When a woman started the divorce process, she went back to family home or professed into a religious convent. In the meantime, the request was evaluated by the Bishop of Calahorra-La Calzada while the civil legislation decided about the goods. In almost all the cases, the divorce was obtained, and women usually had their dowry back. A divorce could occurred in a noble marriage but also when the husband was a merchant or a craftsman, therefore the only difference was the amount of goods or money that women received as a compensation, since depending on the economic situation of the husband the amount would be bigger. So, this paper is focused on the divorce in early modern Basque society: how the spouses were affected by the public opinion, but also how they afforded their new economic and social situation. In order to learn about these cases, records from public and ecclesiastical archives will be used.

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