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The House on Sant Pere Street: Four Generations of Women's Land Holding in Thirteenth-Century Barcelona

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The house on Sant Pere Street on the outskirts of Barcelona, leased from the Monastery of Sant Pere de les Puelles in the early thirteenth century by the widow Ermessenda Montserrat and subsequently passed through three generations of her female decendents, provides a case study for exploring larger issues of women's land holding in the neighborhood of Barcelona dominated by the Monastery. An important landowner during the thirteenth century, the Monastery maintained archives holding over 500 parchments from the period. The majority of these documents concern the Monastery's exploitation of its land holdings through a complex network of leases and subleases. Women appear often as lessees acting both individually and in concert with other family members. A systematic study of this documentation reveals the vital role women played in the management of both urban buildings and agricultural lands. This study shows that the Montserrat women were representative rather than exceptional examples of women's participation in property holding in thirteenth-century Barcelona.


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