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Chapter Summary

The toll of European conflicts and immigration to the Americas, producing the effect of both real and virtual widowhood, contributed to the appearance of similar figures throughout Castile. Expanding on Hurtado's observation, the kingdom of Castile could thus be called a kingdom of widows, making this region fertile ground for an investigation of widowhood. The choice of focusing on Toledo rests upon a combination of factors involving both the diversity of resources available and the city's rich cultural heritage. This introductory chapter of the book analyzes the manner in which Castilian widows simultaneously condoned and confounded gender boundaries as they took on the duties associated with household headship and economic survival. It addresses the interplay between poverty and charity, where widows appear as both recipients and donors.

Keywords: Castilian widows; household headship; poverty; Toledo



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