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Widows’ lives and rights over family property in the Tang and Song dynasties

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By investigating the Tang-Song examples of widows remaining chastity or inviting a jiejiaofu (second husband) into the deceased husbands’ families, this article analyzes widows’ lives and their right to inherit their deceased husbands’ family properties. The conclusion is that widows had only “rights of management,” but not the “possessive right,” over their deceased husbands’ properties. Moreover, the qualities of widows’ lives in their in-law’s families depended on their relationships with the deceased husbands’ brothers. When being treated unfairly, widows often resorted to “the power of the maternal uncle” in order to defend their benefits.


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