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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2017

Houses and the Range of Wealth in Early Modern Gender- and Intergenerational Relationships

From the book Band 18 Housing Capital

  • Margareth Lanzinger and Janine Maegraith


Throughout early modern times, house ownership in the area of southern Tyrol was of high significance. The house formed an economic entity that combined living space as well as workplace and was an assemblage of buildings, plots, objects, investments, and legal claims that served multiple purposes. The land market in this area was interwoven with the privileges accorded to relatives, the constraints of separation of marital property, specific inheritance practices, and an imbalance in gender relations. This contribution discusses the rationale of access to house ownership and the different ways in which access to this could be achieved. We investigate what was considered as constituting a house and what belonged to it. We explore the contemporary definition of a house and ask how the value of a house was determined. Finally, based on brief case studies from rural and urban areas, we explore potential repercussions of the legally structured competing interests of widowers and widows, on the one hand, and relatives, stepchildren, and children, on the other. The resulting analysis demonstrates a variety of situationally shaped solutions that resulted from litigations and negotiations in different social contexts and within a legal framework that clearly favoured descendants and next of kin over widowed spouses.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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