Women's Bodies, Women's Property German Customary Law Books Illustrated in the Fourteenth Century

Group IX: Woman's limited rights to alienate or bequeath property

Landrecht I, 31,1

Oldenburg 21r
Dresden 12r
Wolfenbuttel 18r

see below for detailed page sections


During their lifetime a husband and wife hold all property in common. If the wife dies during her husband's lifetime, with the exception of her dowry, she may bequeath neither movable nor immovable (land) property, if she has any, to her immediate heirs. A wife cannot alienate any of her property without the permission of her husband, who is legally empowered to prevent this. In Wolfenb├╝ttel and Dresden register 6 we see the wife attempting to sell a garment to a man, while her husband takes hold of her interfering in the transaction and stopping it. Oldenburg turns the buyer into an unmarried woman; the husband does not put his hand on his wife, but only points at the transaction as if to complain. This illustration lacks the forceful intervention of the others: the women outnumber the men and the wife is not isolated between two competing men.