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16 Gender and Law in Milan

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Chapter Summary

One finds only scattered references to women in Milan or to gender differentiation in law, with the important exception of an essay by Maria Carla Zorzoli and now some insightful chapters in Chiara Porqueddu's massive study of the Pavese patriciate. If one goes by the judgement of one of the Colonna of Rome, writing to Carlo Borromeo, one would have to say that the laws of Milan proved "disadvantageous" for women at least in comparison with Rome. The statutes of 1216 made it clear that women in Milan did not have the same inheritance rights as men. Milan was hardly peculiar in wanting to protect the property that was seen as the mainstay of female welfare from a husband's debts. Cremona too prevented women from alienating dotal property without spousal permission but also allowed wives to defend their dowries from their husbands' creditors.

Keywords: Carlo Borromeo; Chiara Porqueddu; Cremona; gender; Milan; Milanese laws



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