This interdisciplinary volume discusses the division of the early modern material world into the important legal, economic, and personal categories of mobile and immobile property, possession, and the rights to usufruct.

The chapters describe and compare different modes of acquisition and intergenerational transfer via law and custom. The varying perspectives, including cultural history, legal history, social and economic history, philosophy, and law, allow for a more nuanced understanding of the links between the movability of an object and the gender of the person who owned, possessed, or used it. Case studies and examples come from a wide geographical range, including Norway, England, Scotland, the Holy Roman Empire, Italy, Tyrol, the Ottoman Empire, Greece, Romania, and the European colonies in Brazil and Jamaica. By covering both urban and rural areas and exploring all social groups, from ruling elites to the lower strata of society, the chapters offer fresh insight into the division of mobile and immobile property that socially and economically posed disadvantages for women.

By exploring a broad scope of topics, including landownership, marriage contracts, slaveholding, and the dowry, this book is an essential resource for both researchers and students of women’s history, social and economic history, and material culture.

part Part I|45 pages


chapter 1|31 pages

Gender, law, and material culture

ByAnnette Caroline Cremer

chapter 2|12 pages

Early modern political philosophy on rights of ownership

ByAmelie Stuart

part Part II|73 pages

Gifts, symbolic values, and strategies

chapter 3|15 pages

Landed Property as marital gifts

Women and landownership in fifteenth-century Norway
BySusann Anett Pedersen

chapter 4|26 pages

Married women’s testaments

Division and distribution of movable property in seventeenth-century Glasgow
ByRebecca Mason

chapter 5|27 pages

Hybrid legal cultures among the early modern Tyrolean nobility

Marriage contracts and the symbolic value of assets
BySiglinde Clementi

part Part III|44 pages

Women’s access to immobile property

chapter 6|23 pages

Fenced in or out?

Women and landownership in early modern southern Tyrol
ByJanine Maegraith

chapter 7|18 pages

Women, land, and usufruct in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire

A case study of Vidin and Antakya 1
ByFatma Gül Karagöz

part Part IV|36 pages

Women, law, and property in colonial contexts

chapter 8|15 pages

In her own right

Gender, slaveholding, and movable goods in colonial Jamaica
ByChristine Walker

chapter 9|18 pages

Land, slaves, and honour

Women’s ownership and possession in colonial Brazil (Paraíba)
ByLuisa Stella de Oliveira Coutinho Silva

part Part V|61 pages

Women and property in transitory zones

chapter 12|23 pages

Starting a married life

Women and goods in the mid-nineteenth-century Romanian towns of Piteşti and Câmpulung
ByNicoleta Roman

part Part VI|22 pages


chapter 13|20 pages

Movable goods and immovable property

Interrelated perspectives
ByMargareth Lanzinger