Letter stating the dowry of Carmen Mora Mas and capital of Pascual Vilarroya Andreu

Gender and life cycle: marriage

Gender and property

In traditional culture, marriage was subordinate to family interests. People sought to arrange marriages between families of the same social class or area. The woman was transferred from the guardianship of her father to that of her husband. And what the woman contributed to the marriage generally came from the parents’ shared possessions. Its value meant the difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ marriage for her. Although the husband became the administrator and manager of these assets, they belonged to the wife, and she could recover them in the event of dissolution of the marriage or widowhood.

Legal regulations and how they were applied clearly reflect a patriarchal society in which the woman’s role was relegated to a secondary position. Throughout history, the development of private property, along with the development of maternal hereditary rights, has confirmed the status of the male figure as the head of the family and the woman’s subordination to him. The man is thus placed in the role of owner and manager of the assets, having responsibility for them, whereas the woman is relegated to a role that allows her almost no access to any assets, preventing her from being autonomous and leading her into a life of dependence.