Inheritance in the Lands of the Loire, 1050-1200 AD, A Contrast to Nordic Practice

Livingstone, Amy (2017) Inheritance in the Lands of the Loire, 1050-1200 AD, A Contrast to Nordic Practice. In: Donations and Inheritance: Strategies, Relations and Historical Developments from the Late Roman Period to Modern Times. Routledge, London, pp. 115-129. ISBN 9781315182704, 9781138195837

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Inheritance in the lands of the Loire was fluid and largely dictated by family circumstance. Unlike the Nordic regions or Roman practice, there were no laws that prescribed how much property a donor could give away or regulations assuring family members (such as children and wives) of a specific portion of family property. There customs in place that governed family interactions and distribution of property. Dower, for example, usually consisted of a third of the husband’s property. Further it was customary for donors to secure the consent of all family members who had a potential right or claim to the property being alienated. Yet these customs would not be codified until much later in the middle ages (1454 AD).

For the aristocrats living in western France in the Central Middle Ages, this meant that inheritance could take a variety of forms. In spite of assertions made by some scholars, most notably Georges Duby, there was no one preferred form of inheritance. Most aristocratic families did prefer inheritance strategies that provided support for all progeny, including divisible and collective inheritance. Some families did practice primogeniture and invested the first born male with titles and the lion’s share of family property, but this inheritance option did not necessarily preclude younger children from a share of family property or support. This commitment to children grew out of family ethos that was based in affection for and care of all variety of kin.

The fluidity of inheritance practice meant that aristocratic family could adjust how they passed along their resources from generation to generation. This provided them with some flexibility as family circumstance change. But because there were no laws governing inheritance, donors were free to give away as much of their property as they liked, which could have deleterious effects for their children and kin. Aristocratic inheritance in the lands of the Loire in the Central Middle Ages thus provides a marked contrast to the laws and regulations that their Nordic peers were putting in place in these same centuries.

Keywords:Medieval History, Inheritance, Medieval Aristocratic Life, Medieval aristocratic women, Loire
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:50361
Deposited On:08 Aug 2022 08:22

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