chapter  3
22 Pages

Disputes

ByNancy Locklin

Chapter three, “Disputes,” opens by speculating on the cause of the conflict between Moricette Nayl and Marie Dufrost despite the marriage connecting their families. Moricette’s own status as an unemancipated, unmarried, 35-year-old woman is placed into the context of the legal obligations of parents to adult children. The chapter then moves onto conflicts within families, even among siblings, and the tendency for disputes to arise over property. There were legal steps one could take in preventing or repairing property disputes, such as the use of notarized inventories and declarations delineating exact ownership. People might equally use gifts to reward service, even though customary law required that all heirs inherit equally. This leads to brief consideration of the marginalized status of children born out of wedlock, who are not entitled to inherit, and of foundlings. There is evidence suggesting Moricette might have been a foundling taken in by the Nayls. The chapter concludes by addressing other sorts of conflicts that might arise in a community, out of jealousy, fear, or rage. There were informal ways of settling such disputes, but when they failed people had no choice but to turn to the formal justice system.